Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Nun & The Letter from Nigeria

My Aunt Cathleen was too kind for her own good. She was a tiny woman, thin, a TB survivor & badly dressed because she gave away money instead of buying clothes. Oxfam was her boutique of choice, she liked the prices. We knew her both by her religious name of Sr (Mary) Aloysius and as Aunt Cate. 

That was a different Ireland, you had Aunts in convents & brothers and sisters in classes with your cousin's brothers & sisters: an Ireland not yet used to low child mortality or the cool of modernity. Despite having five aunts nuns, two bachelor uncles and one childless married aunt we had seventy one first cousins. All now dead but one, the nun-aunts, swept away, Salve Regina sung in old womens' fading, cracking voices by their Sisters, my father & his brothers crying. The Batchelor uncles too, gone. The price of a wonderful childhood is an adulthood burying those you loved.

Cate was a Mercy Sister and lived was the poverty-vowed life of a nun in a small Yorkshire convent. She elected by her sisters as Mother of the small community in brass-band Barnsley. Her clothes were so bad they were a shame to my parents. My mother tells the story that she & Dad decided to buy her a coat one year she arrived home without one, my mother suspecting she had given it away. Aloysius demurred, she could buy a coat much cheaper in England if she had a little money. Next year she return in what my mother described as " a black rag so old it had faded green that you wouldn't put under the dog". Clothes were not her priority.

With few or no novices coming from the developed world the Sisters of Mercy were not alone in advertising for them in the developing world. Did Sr Aloysius place the advertisements or was it the organised by the order? An ad that ended with "If you would like to be a Sister of Mercy, write to the Convent of Mercy, Barnsley" was published in a Missionary Magazine distributed in Nigeria.

That was before email, before email scams. A letter arrived, from a boy, desperate for an education but too poor to continue at school. My Aunt sent ten shillings. The correspondence continued between the boy and the tiny nun, encouragement to continue despite the hardships, and, when she could small sums of money. 

Aunt Cate kept her own council on the correspondence. In the last years of her life I think she suffered from the dementia that has haunted my father and his siblings but I do not think she would have spoken about her charity."When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."

The good is oft interred with their bones….

The boy, yes there was a boy, Boniface Ezaegu, is now the Barrister General of the Ebonyi State in Nigeria. In memory of the woman who helped him he is helping others: he financed and built the Sr Mary Aloysius High School in his home district.  There are Four hundred & fifty students and a staff of twenty. A red bus is proudly marked in my Aunt’s name. Her religious sisters are justifiably proud. So am I.

There may be morals to be drawn here but I don’t want them. Aunt Cate was kind; the memory of that kindness lives on far from home, in a country she never visited.  Somehow I get pepper behind my eyes when I read that the anniversary of the death this tiny quiet woman, January 19, is a school holiday and the students have mass in her memory. I picture them, bored, distracted as children often are, thinking of other things, at mass, in a small town in Nigeria, very far away.

In The Name of The People, The Hive Mind Delusion

There is a delusion, common amongst left-wing politicians & those who believe them, that we share a hive mind. They speak of a need for “us” to control some aspect of commercial life: “we must decide” is spoken as if this mythical hive mind had a moral compulsion.

Mr Boyd-Barrett of the wonderfully named “People before Profit” regularly speaks of the need for this “we” to control banking decisions & loan capital allocations but he is just the exhibitionist in this particular brothel, all politicians hint & nod at the idea of this hive mind, this fictional “We” who could do things better than crude anarchic markets. They want us to believe that there is a common consciousness, replete with our total collective wisdom which could allocate resources better, make better commercial decisions,  create a better world.

In their world we are ants, worker ants striving for some goal, not of our choosing but of theirs. We, as ants, are too stupid, too short-sighted to know what is good for us. Our individual decisions are the mere whims of children. The adults in the form of Government will make the decisions for us. Our labour, the resources we generate will be taken & used for "us". 

There is no hive mind, no shared consciousness, no “We” taking decisions. There are only politicians making grand plans & at the level of foot soldiers, bureaucrats in offices making decisions for on the basis of rules laid down rather than customer desires, bureaucrats obeying their own rules & ideas but with no stake in the outcomes.

"We" does not exist.

Decisions made by non-stakeholders are invariably bad decisions. 
Government decisions are always made by people who will suffer no loss or financial pain for that decision. By contrast decisions made by privately owned companies always have direct consequences for the people involved. With no tax payer to pillage & competitors willing to serve customers, fear is a constant accompaniment & goad. Serve the public or die!

What we as individuals want matters to the economy. We each take decisions every day about our spending, guiding businesses to our needs by our purchases & investments. The We-speakers would absolve business from that guidance substituting their goals for our individual goals, their priorities for ours. That is not we, that is them.

Every cent we spend guides resources into fulfilling our needs for cheaper, better different products & services. Enterprises that fail that guidance, that do not serve us, die & in a biological analogy, resources of labour, capital, land they held are salvaged for use in enterprises attempting to satisfy us. In a free market resources are allocated not where a few hundred politicians & a few thousand bureaucrats want but to satisfy the wants of all of us. That efficient resource allocation makes us all richer.

Private property is not some middle class illusion but a fundamental essential to that process. Mr Boyd Barret & ultimately every politician that speaks of “us” controlling some aspect of commercial life, must abandon private property rights & its role in economic calculations.

Limiting the government’s role in the economic life of the nation is the easiest best road to prosperity. Private property is the basis of that limitation. 

Ants don't own anything.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

CIE, Making Us All Poorer, With Government Help

Yesterday the Government announced they were "giving" CIE* another €36 million.

Nothing says so much about our thoughtless, intellectually torpid time as the silence with which the theft of €36 million extra from the country was greeted. No outrage was voiced, no economist excoriated the government and no taxpayers rioted at the waste. Have we become inured to waste because of the colossal figures Government has burnt on the banks?

Let me translate the news story from offialese into some semblance of truth:
“Yesterday the Grand Panjandrum of Transport, Leo Varadkar, announced that in addition to the €242 million that the loss making Government “transport company” was to receive this year, another €36 million would be robbed as a gift to this waste-wealth.”

That €278 million must be robbed from wealth producing parts of the economy to subsidise commercial operations that customers do not want, that have no reason to exist & are merely waste of wealth to satisfy the political urges of the powerful.

How do we know this? Not just because passenger numbers are falling, and they are plummeting, but because of the losses. Economies are run on money prices. In a normal commercial operation, say a real transport company, declines in sales are the signal that something is seriously wrong. Losses are a signal disaster. The product is not attracting enough buyers to be viable.

Prices are pain, guiding resources into the best use. The market, not the Government, is the ultimate democracy as people guide the market with their power as consumers. Taking decisions over & over again consumers preferences guide resource to their most efficient use, making all of us richer. Government uses its coercive powers to buck that democracy, to force us to spend our money on something we clearly do not want. Instead of the decisions taken over and over again of ordinary people, CIE obeys the decisions of Trades Unions & bureaucrats in an unholy marriage of destruction.

The Social Engineers & know-betters insist they do know better how to organise the economy. They will say that there are “non-economic” values to be taken into account. What the mean by this is that THEIR issues are much higher in priority than everyone else’s, they are entitled to distort the economy, steal wealth and ultimately make us all poorer EVERY year in pursuit of their goals. 

 Economics is just the ONLY way of measuring the cost of various values. As the great Thomas Sowell said “There are, of course, noneconomic values. Indeed, there are only noneconomic values. Economics is not a value itself but merely a method of trading off one value against another. If statements about "noneconomic values" (or, more specifically, "social values" or "human values") are meant to deny the inherent reality of trade-offs, or to exempt some particular value from the trade-off process, then such propositions need to be made explicit and confronted.”

The KnowBetters have no intention of making anything explicit. By shovelling vast amounts of stolen wealth into CIE, some of it stolen from companies that compete with CIE, the Government distorts the economy, refusing to let the decisions of ordinary people have effect. What we are watching is the expensive fetishisation of some types of transport & their public ownership. Public transportation does not need to be publically owned or controlled: markets will provide a better & more flexible system than any the bureaucrats could design & do it without robbing the public.

Population densities in most urban centres are far too low for mass transit systems & this is especially the case in Ireland. Instead of thinking up schemes which require enormous transfers of wealth we would do much better to allow markets to solve those parts of the transport system that are seen as having problems. Every single task that CIE does could be done better, cheaper & with no theft from us all by private operators. CIE is a wealth waste that Ireland, particularly Ireland’s poorest people, cannot afford. Instead of stealing money on its behalf Mr Varadkar should be announcing its demise, break up & sale. Sadly a man who was elected for being an economic realist has signed off on nightmarish waste of wealth.

*CIE is Ireland's Publically owned Transport Company, operating the monopoly rail network & Dublin Bus among other transport interests.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Defending Michelle Bachmann

Defending Michelle Bachmann is a very difficult task. I'm not even going to try. Bachmann is the quintessential Red State representative & Ireland does not understand the Red States. I admire her firm pro-life beliefs & her Tea Party activity however the whiff of Christian Theocracy she carries is too much for me. It should not hide the fact that Bachman is as often more right than wrong & much of what she gets wrong is in scope or presentation, not fact.

Bachmann does outrage not always from choice but because far too much of the truth is regarded as an outrageous slander on Good People & Know Betters. In 2008 there was  outrage when she questioned Barack Obama's attitude to America in the light of his friendship with Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers. None of the Outraged seemed bothered by Wright's appalling sermons or the twenty years Obama gave sitting in a pew listening to his bile, nor that Ayers was a Marxist terrorist bomber. Instead the outrage focused on Bachman's impudence, her failure to play the game. She was denounced as not being "bi-partisan". Four years on we can only regret that she got so little credit for being right.

Now she has done it again by by alleging that Hilary Clinton's deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin had family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. This was greeted with the usual round of outrage & horror, even from Republican luminaries such as John McCain & John Boehner.

The problem is, Bachman was right if not on the import, on the facts. Huma Abedin's mother, Saleha Mahmood Abedin is the founder of the Islamic Sisterhood, the female counterpart to the MB. Saleha Mahmood Abedin is Professor of Sociology at King Abdulaziz University Women's College & Associate Professor of sociology at Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 
The important piece about her CV is her founding & continued work with the Islamic Sisterhood. The Sisterhood campaigns for a variety of issues but most tellingly for the legalisation of Female Genital Mutilation & Child Marriages. It is a very twisted sisterhood.

Senator Joe McCarthy was a bully & a bigot but when he said Communists were infiltrating & operating at the highest levels of the US Government, he was right. Many who are now revered as victim-heroes of McCarthy's witch-hunts were more than willing to to put the US under Stalin's heel. Flinging charges of "McCarthyism" at those who point out that Bachmann had facts on her side reveals little but the intellectual bankruptcy of the charger.

Mrs Bachmann may be wrong that there is a concerted Islamic infiltration of the US State Department but her allegation, that Hilary Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff had family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood was utterly accurate. Imagine for a change that we are talking about a Republican Secretary of State employed the daughter of a member of the Argentinian Junta & then hared a platform with daughter & Dad. I wager we would hear very little about "sins of the father" and a lot of very articulate outrage. However that would be the Junta are gone, not a threat to either the security of the US or her allies. The Muslim Brotherhood & Sisterhood are on the other hand, very much alive.

None of us would want to be judged on our parents views, however mild but we might expect some questions if we worked in Foreign Affairs & our mother was the worlds leading campaigner for the legalisation of FMG & a founder & governing member of an organisation which claims  Christians were second class citizens & that secularism & atheism were the work of Satan to be smashed? 

Hillary Clinton shares a platform with Saleh Abedin
 in Jeddah,Saudi Arabia.
Huma Mahmood Abedin is in no way responsible for her mother's evil campaigns. No one could expect a daughter not to have ongoing contact with their mother, however depraved that mother's views on women possessing their full genitalia. What we might expect is a better, more logical response than the execration of Bachmann.

"Ms Abedin has received full security clearance" would have been a start. "Ms Abedin retains cordial relations with her mother but does not share her political views" would be an advance. Instead, in a way that demeaned American Muslims, the wagons have been circled & Bachmann is targeted for being wild & dangerous. Much has been made of a threat to Ms Abedin in the wake of the controversy, the subtext is that this was Bachmann's fault. In the absence of any evidence it made a good stick with which to beat Bachmann.

There are rightly no religious tests for Government posts & the strength of the US is it's continued ability to accept & integrate people of all faiths & none. That process demands trust & transparency.

It is entirely illogical not to expect questions about the founder of the Islamic Sisterhood when her daughter & the Secretary of State appear on a platform with her. The family of anyone involved in the international campaigns for world wide religious law, legalised female genital mutilation & child marriage could only expect to be questioned on their precise relationship to that kin. Ms Clinton is not a private employer & her actions affect her country. She has faith in Hume Abedin, in the interest of both her country & her employee she needs to make clear the basis of that faith. In the absence of such clarity, with nothing but doting affirmations & vicious attacks in the air one is entitled to ask why such clarity is so difficult to give?

Anglo Irish, Matrix Churchill & Unanswered Questions.....

Remember Matrix Churchill, the Arms to Iraq trial that collapsed in 1992? 
The charges laid against Anglo staffers today may lead to just the same defence though not perhaps to the same resounding collapse.

Sean Quinn didn't just bet on Anglo Irish Bank, he attempted to take it over by a back door method by betting the shares would rise in value- taking out Contracts for Difference. 

He got it wrong. 

The shares fell continuously in part because the combination of his bet becoming known & the early revelation (by Merrill Lynch analyst Phil Ingram) of the bank's likely parlous financial state and partly because share buyers & analysts were incresingly dubious about the banks hitherto stellar performance. 
Quinn was either woefully ill advised or wonderfully autocratic. The Contracts for Difference contained no stop loss, no end point where the deal was off. The more the shares fell, the worse Quinn's position became. Short selling, a normal market mechanism where borrowed shares are sold & bought back at a lower price, was accelerating the fall. 

In the end the only solution was to buy out the shares.
To do this Quinn needed to borrow money from Anglo Irish itself. If this was done it was strictly illegal under company law.

Quinn could not hold the massive block of shares for long and that was obvious to the markets. The prospect of a massive unloading was depressing the already bad share price & threatening the bank's capitalisation. Thus this overhang became a concern to all of the authorities: the Banking Regulator, the Central Bank & through the Department of Finance, ultimately the Minister for Finance.

Anglo solved the problem.

They solved it by loaning money to ten customers, the "Golden Circle", to buy a large body of shares of the shares. These loans, if they occurred, were strictly illegal under company law.
This leaves a number of questions which have been asked but never answered about the role of the The Banking Regulator, The Central Bank, Department & The Minister Mr Cowen.

  1. When did Mr Cowen as Minister for Finance become aware of Mr Sean Quinn's enormous contracts for difference exposure on Anglo Irish Bank Shares?
  2. What effort did Mr Cowen or his Department make to clarify the ownership of Anglo Irish Bank in the first three months of 2008 given that there were strong indications that the Quinn Group or Mr Sean Quinn had built a considerable stake in the bank through a combination of CDFs and direct share purchase?
  3. When did Mr Cowen become aware that the positions held by Mr Sean Quinn on Anglo Irish Bank Shares was untenable and needed to be unwound?
  4. Did Mr Cowen, or officials at the Department of Finance, the Financial Regulator and the Governor of the Central Bank express any concern to either Mr Sean Quinn or Anglo Irish Bank management or board at the short selling of the banks stock resulting from the rumours about the size of Mr Sean Quinn's CDF position?
  5. When and by whom was approval given, as is required by law, for either Mr Sean Quinn or the Quinn Group to own ten per cent or more of Anglo Irish Bank?
  6. Did Mr Cowen discuss such approval with the Central Bank or its Governor?
  7. If such approval was given then why were the public and other shareholders not informed?
  8. If approval was not sought and given then why & by whom was the law flouted?
  9. When did Mr Cowen become aware that the twenty five per cent stake that resulted from this unwinding of Mr Sean Quinn's position was beyond Mr Quinn’s capacity and thus overhung the market, threatening a catastrophic slide in Anglo Irish Bank's share price, capitalisation and very existence?
  10. What contact did Mr Cowen, or officials at the Department of Finance, the Financial Regulator and the Governor of the Central Bank have with the board and management of Anglo Irish Bank on the issue of this shareholding and its implications for the bank in March and April 2008?
  11. Did Mr Cowen, officials at the Department of Finance , the Financial Regulator or the Governor of the Central Bank indicate in any way to Management or Board at Anglo Irish Bank that the bank should place its own shares?
  12. Did Mr Cowen, officials at the Department of Finance , the Financial Regulator or the Governor of the Central Bank question how ten business people were induced to buy shares in a bank whose share price had been in steep decline for several months and barely one month after the bank had suffered a near fatal catastrophic sell of on March 17th?
  13. Did Mr Cowen, officials at the Department of Finance, the Financial Regulator or the Governor of the Central Bank ask or were aware from where the €451,000,000 used by the ten businessmen came?
  14. Did Mr Cowen discuss or become aware in 2008 that Anglo Irish Bank had loaned these monies to the purchasers of the Quinn ten per cent ?
  15. What effort was made by the financial regulator, the Governor of the Central Bank and Mr Cowen to check if this stake was in anyway financed by loans from the bank itself?
  16. Did Mr Cowen discuss the matter of the purchase of Anglo Irish Bank shares with Mr Brian O Farrell, a member of the Golden Circle that bought the Anglo Irish shares, at the fundraising dinner in the Shelbourne Hotel in March 2008 at which Mr Farrell was one of only 13 payed-up invitees?
  17. Did Mr Cowen discuss the purchase by ten businessmen of Anglo Irish Bank shares from the Quinn tranche when he attended a dinner for himself and his top Department officials at the bank headquarters on April 24th 2008?
  18. These questions have never been answered. Questions 9-16 go to the heart of not just this trial but the also to the heart of the worst, most expensive financial scandal ever to occur in Ireland.
  19. There is for the Dublin & London Exchanges where Anglo was once listed another question, not pertinent to the trial but to fate of the other shareholders in early 2008, a group ill served by company management, the stock Exchanges & the regulatory Authorities:
  20. Did the shareholding of Mr Sean Quinn or the Quinn Group in Anglo Irish Bank reach or exceed thirty percent at any stage during his purchases and the unwinding his CDF position?

The Matrix Churchill trial collapsed because the directors of the precision engineering firm had been advised the the Government on how to sell the arms with which sale they were charged. 

We need to how much of the Anglo/Quinn share debacle was advised by government or its agencies.It is time that those who wielded power, who were paid magnificent salaries to guard our interests & who have retired on annual lottery winnings of pensions should start telling the truth. 

4 years & €70 billion later, that is not an unreasonable request. 

Monday, 23 July 2012

Quota Sows: Making Women Second Rate Canditates

Last week the Oireachtais in it's wisdom made every female candidate for a political party a second rater & the politicians did this in the firm belief they were "helping" women. With friends like that ...

There has been a bubbling background complaint culture that women were "under-represented" in the Dáil, a view of representation that divides humans into warring classes & insists that any difference on an outcome metric is obviously the result of discrimination. We know where that thinking originates & it is not a healthy place. By a piece of wonderfully selective thinking the complainers believe that one may only be properly represented by ones own gender while believing that gender has no effect on choices/ambitions/non-sexual desires. 

Gender is massively important until they say it's not.

Internal party politics is merely the politics of an odd subset of Irish life. Each party has it's own shibboleths & key phrases but essentially all share a common ground of purpose. This informs the choices where members are allowed make electoral choices. Mostly they are so allowed because party bosses know that this is the most effective way of keeping campaigning canvassers on board. For their own twisted reasons the proponents of Gender Quotas insist that sexism is endemic among those ordinary Irish people and using the metric of Women in Politics they have what they consider to be proof. After all if the world was fair would women not make up 50% of EVERY metric....... 

As a county director for elections for a large (the largest as it turns out) Irish Political party I was privileged to work with five successful County Council female candidates (their gender was irrelevant to me: I had thirteen people to get elected) all of whom were selected by their fellow party members for being the best, most electable, able available. That will never happen again. Now female candidates are to be selected because the know-betters say the must be selected. The wonderful, capable, savagely organised ladies with which I worked have been demoted by affirmative action to a form of  gender politics serving handicap. 

Gender Quotas demean women, turn them not into candidates but second class candidates, there only by grace of legal fiat, not talent. ideas, or persuasionThe intention was to have women taken seriously, instead this law merely turns women's candidates into a must have accessories, baubles to be brought along to the political party. Ordinary party members are expected to give their time & effort but not have decide for whom to apply that effort. .This is perfectly in line with the infantilising & demonising of ordinary people by the Knowbetters.

Any new woman standing for a political party will now be tainted by this patronising nonsense.  When, as the proponents intend it will, the quota is set at 50% of candidates all of the female candidates will be Quota Sows, not standing on their merits but on gender & bad law.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Same Sex Marriage- Neither Compassionate nor Logical

There are few ways as guaranteed to get yourself into trouble as by opposing Same Sex Marriage.

It is far worse than the cliché of the Stealers Wheel song, neither jokers nor clowns but beset on one side by fascists intent on silencing any debate on an issue they have decreed closed but on the other by the last of the disgusted in Wicklow, sick that they once shared a conservative platform with me.

The Yeuch! factor has ceased to matter other than as a personal irritant. The tiny, dwindling minority whose social politics are informed by their disgust at gayness ("they kiss in public and as for what they do in private Mavis!") have neither power nor influence and forfeit their influence as soon as they reveal their prejudice. Yeuch! factor argument that has best been expressed by Michael Cook, editor of mercatornet. Cook believes that homosexual sex is so intrinsically wrong, so morally disordered that the decision to decriminalise homosexulaity is to admit to a false equivalence in law with heterosexual sex which makes Same Sex Marriage impossible to oppose. One might ask why male homosexual acts should be so threatening of the social order given that female homosexuality was never a crime in the first place?

That argument is a bad version of slippery slope-ism. It appeals to the state to uphold a particular sexual morality to prevent social breakdown & must do that by extending the state’s power into every bedroom. This argument/rational is  incapable of of promulgating a rational socio-legal view of marriage because it denies the need to do so, ignores the intrinsicality of homosexuality (allying with those who see gender as a construct) & insists that gays are a danger to the social order.

Worse, many, like Mr Cook, seem to believe that making an aspect of human behaviour illegal removes that behaviour completely from effect. This touching & simplistic faith in the efficacy law to alter behaviour & the belief that legal & coercive interventions in moral  behaviours are themselves moral are best regarded as merely confused. Yeuch! factorists, however articulate, do not make a persuasive argument against or mount a useful defence against Same Sex Marriage.  

It was the tactics of proponents that made me question the orthodox dogma on Same Sex Marriage.

If everyone from, the faux-conservative David Cameron to every publicity seeking show-biz hustler, is for same sex marriage why the anger, the immediate & ferocious bullying of any opposition? Why if the case is so incontrovertible for Same Sex Marriage must opponents be labeled bigots & silenced with such ardor?

Big changes need big debate.

Instead of debate on this huge redefinition of marriage & its significance for society we have a mob enforced silence, platitudes & pusillanimous agreement.

In any case we no longer really have debates but a culture war with battles run as Yu-Gi-Oh! contests, the Equality card trumping all others & ending the contests. Debates allow light to shine on issues & people to make up their own minds based on free choices, Yu-Gi-Oh! duels confirm existing positions without any exchange of information or knowledge.

Debates demand free speech & a willing search for truth, but the interplay of ideas is tainted by Marxist concepts of class & exploitation & by underlying Marxist or post-Marxist sociological assumptions about cultural hegemony, role of free speech & the nuclear family as an exploitative association to the point that these taints & assumptions are implicit, normalised & force real debate to start with a massive ground clearing exercise.

Equality is the great shibboleth of the this tainted order. Outcomes must be the same, end results non-divergent, numbers equal across each & all metrics or the secular sin of discrimination has been committed. So pervasive & unquestioned has this nonsensical idea become that in the US legal system evidence of different outcomes for any artificial class ( all classes are artificial but forgive the tautology) across any metric is evidence ipso facto of discrimination.

There is no popular movement for Same Sex marriage, no crusade, not even from gay men, for its ratification, but Same Sex Marriage has become the litmus test for compassion & with-it-ness. Compassion & with-it-ness are vital to intellectually & morally bankrupt politicians in a world impervious to their efforts. Cameron can't run Britain but he can appear all warm, fuzzy & fashionable by advocating Same Sex Marriage. Fianna Fail & the Irish Labour Party, a pair of bankrupt political movements going nowhere, have seized on Same Sex Marriage for the same reason. Other politicians, believing nothing, heeding nothing but the next headline & next poll will follow suit.

In Ireland we have become so used to public figures saying nothing at great length that the curt dismissal of any answer that takes more than fifteen seconds to deliver has become routine & acceptable. Unfortunately serious debate cannot be had in ten-second-sound-bites & the pattern of our public discourse now deprives us of any useful dialectic in the public sphere. Vincent Browne does not want considered, layered informed answers; his is an audience for light entertainment. The definition of entertainment is elastic.

In a debate about arguments are central, not the speakers personae. In the truncated Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel fought on Same Sex Marriage it is about cards and the speakers sexuality is a central one.

I am queer & I have suffered is a card that sits just around the Ace of Trumps & Equality card in value. In response I am forced to play the sexuality card just to stay in the duel: stick your mantras, I am a gay man and I oppose Same Sex Marriage. I'm not opposed to clear legal arrangements for gay people nor opposed on the grounds of disbelief in our capacity as humans to love & for that love to be as transcendent & durable as that between heterosexual couples. I oppose the complete, utter re-definition of marriage as a shocking intrusion by the political state and a grave danger to society.

In the un-debate about Same Sex Marriage proponents strive to create a class who are oppressed by the current cultural hegemony, a group against whom the sin of discrimination is committed. In truth no discrimination exists. Only by re-defining marriage as an institution in which gender is irrelevant (marriage should be gender neutral) & whose social purpose is the gratification of adult's needs for romantic gesture (I am not allowed to show my love) & community affirmation (my relationship is devalued by our not being allowed marry) can discrimination be alleged.

It is hard to think of a bigger change to the significance of a social institution than the proposal of Same Sex Marriage and that change, that sweeping redefinition & repurposing of marriage should concern everyone, gay, straight or undecided. Marriage is the basic building block of society, essential to our human lives. It's redefinition affects society in which we all have a stake. The glibly hypocritical “If you don't like gay marriage don't have one” is a massive untruth: under this re-definition of the institution everyone gets a gay marriage.

The family predates the state & the state has little business reordering it for some current fashion. Same Sex marriage is an intrusion into the social meaning of family & marriage by the state, not some compassionate crusade by the powerless. The State could get out of marriage altogether, by adopting the libertarian view that marriage is best handled (like everything else) by private arrangements in civil society, allowing any group the marriage of their choice & neutralising the need for any debate on the appropriateness of a one size fits all policy. Since the argument of proponents is that the change to Same Sex Marriage is irrelevantly tiny this argument is certainly not on their agenda. It may yet surface from opponents of the move.

Marriage is not about the whims of adults, nor is it based on their romantic entanglements. Marriage, as a social institution, is centrally about the creation, rearing & socialising of children. That is its meaning to society. Couples & individuals may enter marriage for all sorts of reasons, even intending NOT to have children but the social meaning of the institution, not its meaning to any one couple or individual, is what matters.

One central barrier to rational debate on these issues is the widespread & unshakeable belief that relationships only have the meaning we ascribe to them ourselves, with no wider implications or meaning.  

The purpose of marriage is different from individual conceptions or reasons for marriage so too is it separate from the accidental. Spouses die, or are unfaithful, what was intended as a long term or even lifetime contract is abandoned, maybe even on whim. These are individual failings, not purposeful nature or function of the institution.

In the culture war has become a destructive article of faith & therefore an unmentionable heresy to question, that all family models are equal.
The nuclear two parent family was radioactive to all totalitarian movements of the 20th century & the needs of Nazi's & Marxists to destroy private life have spilled over into a fundamental dislike of the nuclear family in a public discourse polluted by Marxist ideological tropes.

Outcomes are not the same across all models: children do best when reared in a two parent father & mother model family. David Blakenhorn put marriage’s advantages for children most succinctly “Marriage is the planet’s only institution whose core purpose is to unite the biological, social and legal components of parenthood into one lasting bond.” No amount of anecdotal evidence (my nephew was a the child of a single mother) or appeals to personal offence ( I'm a single mother & I find what you say offensive) outweigh the masses of data collected in almost all countries. Shifting the legal definition & social purpose of marriage away from that model threatens the very basis of life & society but just as our public discourse is now stripped of the knowledge of how classical liberalism created prosperity & widespread technological progress, so too has it been denuded of even trace knowledge of a social order more complex than we can understand.

Children, whether it pleases the activists or not, are the product of heterosexual sex. Children, biologically, have a father & a mother. We can either acknowledge and celebrate who we are or do as the Same Sex Marriage proponents would have us do: reducing a man to a sperm donor/sperm inserter & a woman to convenient tank incubator in our central family law. This this reductionist notion of human sexuality is disrespectful of our humanity, distorts the law & can only be disastrous for society.

Same Sex Marriage puts at the heart of family law an implicit endorsement of that form of prostitution that is surrogacy. Wombs-for-rent are in the main a third world phenomenon as the desperate use the only marketable item they have to achieve some kind of gain. As a libertarian/minarchist I have argued that the state ought not be in the business of forbidding & preventing “capitalist acts between consenting adults” (Nozick) but the concept of consent must be distorted by the enormous financial abyss between the surrogate mother & rich westerners. If prostitution is an evil here surely trans-national prostitution aimed at some of the world’s poorest women is questionable? It is not a trade to place at the centre of the meaning of family law.

Biology has meant that for all of human history parents were of both genders. That essential gender difference is vital in the rearing & socialisation of children. Neither parents nor parenting are gender neutral . Children need & are entitled to a father & mother. Nothing comes before a child's right to that essential human construct. Enshrining Same Sex Marriage in law requires that right to be written out & dismissed. Even to bring up the family as a rights issue is to invite the invective of cadre of activists for whom the nuclear family is is a culturally created prison-camp.

The argument's from children's rights has been up-ended & looking-glassed by Same Sex Marriage proponents in a hideous way: arguing that because Gay couples have children not allowing Same Sex Marriage discriminates against those children. In fact it is the exact opposite: those children must not be deprived of their origin. No child is the product of homosexual union, always there is a father & mother nor can any good come from enshrining an asexual, de-gendered model of the family in law.

The penny-dreadful Barack Obama took that argument to a risible level when he reasoned that he had to support Same Sex Marriage because his children could not understand why the gay parents of their friends could not marry. In effect Mr Obama was arguing to be allowed construct a society based on the beliefs & comprehension of his children. Deliberately constructed societies are dangerous since society is much more complex that we understand, to reduce social construction to that which White House teenagers could understand is beyond comment.

If children, their genesis, rearing & socialising are not at the centre of the socio-legal meaning of marriage then the State has no reason to forbid marriage to any two people. Since the progeny outcome is irrelevant restrictions on incestuous or any other union not now regarded as licit, are merely based on personal disgust, not rational grounds. Such grounds could not be used as a continuing basis for regulation. Same Sex Marriage is viable as an idea only when the meaning of marriage itself is collapsed.

It is, said the lamp merchant to Aladdin, the smallest, least important of lamps. We are inveigled with the same words concerning the minuteness of the proposed change but a change that alters the meaning of the institution, enshrines a absurdly reductionist notion of human sexuality & a denial of of the natural rights of children at the heart of family law is too large a lamp to hand over easily.

The fundamental changes required by this genie’s lamp necessarily create a cascade of changes which have neither been questioned nor thought through.

Massive linguistic engineering must take place not just to re-order the language surrounding marriage but centrally to give effect to the state’s intrusion into the family. While the Nick Clegg proposes abolishing the terms of husband & wife, Canadian law has been overhauled to remove the word parent: the state defines the relationship between child & “guardian”.

Since Same Sex Marriage creates one social institution of marriage for all couples discrimination, in the sense of recognising a distinction or differentiating, will not be possible. The first implication is for religious freedom. The issue of whether Churches will be forced to celebrate Same Sex weddings against their wishes (Nick Clegg intends that the Established Church in Britain will) is, like many of the issues implied, not possible to yea or nea without the legal changes becoming embedded into jurisprudence, but like Mr Clegg, many Same Sex Activists are clear that for churches or other institutions to refuse will be “discrimination”: an ominous word given that even private individuals are subject to lawsuit in many jurisdictions for minor refusals to cooperate with Same Sex Marriage ceremonies.

The terrifyingly totalitarian ending of Catholic adoption agencies in the UK, closed by Labour’s equality law, shows the dangers of placing dubious equality concepts in all embracing law. Catholic (or any, the law was non sectarian, merely pro the new Anti-Discrimination creed) adoption agencies could not  discriminate or choose, all couples had to be equal. The end of the Catholic agencies demonstrates the evil perpetrated in the name of doctrine & the inability of this new totalitarianism to allow competing or alternative institutions.

Religious freedom is not merely the freedom to worship but to engage in the full practise of faith. Where only non-religious institutions are permitted to exist for any reasons then religious freedom no longer exists. Closing Catholic adoption agencies, forcing Christian & other churches to act against their essential beliefs is a direct & intense attack on religious freedom.

None of this is to say that gay people themselves inherently make bad parents: always the central issue with Same Sex Marriage are the socio-legal changes to the central social institution & the implications of those changes but we must beware of being trapped into pretending that we know enough to equate gay families with those founded by heterosexual couples.

Mark Regnerus’s[link] study of gay parenting is flawed both the possible selection by gay couples of children heterosexuals would not take & the fact that natural children of individuals in homosexual couple adoption had already been through traumatic family disintegration. Outcomes for both groups could only be poor. Regnerus’s sole contribution may be to mark the issue of stability & relationship length for further investigation. The 2005 official brief on same-sex parenting by the American Psychological Association (APA) suffers from mirror-image faults by being selective only of a small sample of prosperous stable couples. No evidence can be adduced either way from flawed, conflicting studies. There is however the issue of what is best for the child. Children are not experimental subjects and arguing that all couples must be treated the same for adoption purposes ( As British law now so treats) ignores the unknowns as a non-risk in favour of religious creed of selective Anti Discrimination. Discriminating or choosing on the basis of children’s potential welfare (all adoption choices are about potential or future happenings) is not just reasonable but necessary. A child is not in this sense, a right but a privilege. Gay people ought not be excluded from adoption, merely in the interests of children given our current state of knowledge, married couples should be given preference.

Gay couples are entitled to give legal effect to their love & partnerships: needless cruelty is not the mark of a well ordered society. Hardships inflicted on gay men & women whose relationships had no legal basis, the terrors inflicted by legal exclusion from deathbeds, funerals or finances of partners served only to demean rather than strengthen the social order. No case can be made for treating gay couples in any way differently from a tax, pension or benefit point of view.

There is within the current flawed Civil Union law the core of a real gay social institution, one that reflects the needs & realities of gay people’s lives. Developing this would be much more useful than the misguided, failing Same Sex Marriage efforts.

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