Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The King is dead, long live the Republic!

It appears that the Blogs may not be much longer for this world. As a result, I have taken it upon myself to preserve the wise words of one of the contributors. What strange old world is this, that has such geezers innit?

1 - In the Beginning there was darkness,

and what was so bad about that?

2 – So, young man. Where do you think you're coming from then, at this time of night?

It is intended by the provided of this page that matters political should be presented by wise personages or people of sufficient belief in their own rightness that they will post opinions and in doing so an opportunity is provided for those matters to be discussed. Well, that is sort of how it was explained to me!

So, what do I think politics is? this is the "what's it all about, Kingy?" moment.

Two words. Choice. Change.

These twin Ccs are for me what defines all forms of politics and all political viewpoints. Depending on your views you either favour more choice in the world than there is at present or you favour there being less choice available or that the choice be available to only certain people. Similarly with change you either believe the society that you live in needs to change in some or all areas, or you believe that everything is fine as it is.

I believe in making as much choice available to people who are deemed by our society to be adults as is possible. Restrictions on those choices should only occur where they infringe on the rights of other people both adult and non-adult to make choices of their own.

I believe that to do this the society in which I live needs to change. Many of those changes would be quite radical. However, I don't propose that this change happen overnight. Indeed, I believe the society is currently unprepared or ill-equipped to take on such adult roles.

One might say we need to embark on a state of permanent revolution!

Isn't it time it was your choice for a change?

3 - Pearl's a Sinner.

In a recently released, secretly taped conversation with a friend, Pres. Bush spoke of how he wouldn't fire gays because he was himself a sinner. The nature of the remarks themselves did come in for some comment in the media, and to be honest the ‘I’m a sinner’ defence is a little too much of a catch all. For example one might just as easily say “I can’t fire homicidal maniacs from the cabinet because I’m a sinner”. Not that I’m personally implying that being gay is equivalent to being a homicidal maniac. Still, it occurred to me that one aspect of the President’s behaviour was not as widely commented on. The consistency between what he had said in that conversation and what he has done in office, and how rare such consistency appears to be in public life.

Odd as it may sound he was saying something in private and demonstrating in public something that we could do with seeing more of in public life. Consistency is sadly lacking in the practice of modern politics. In part because too many people are primarily, indeed we might say solely concerned, with ‘winning’, even if that means completely changing their own expressed views in order to do so. For me this can only be possible with a complete denial of that which a person should be in politics for. What I believe people should be in politics for is the furtherance of ideas they actually believe in.

Politics is meant to be the contest of ideas of how we can live our lives, and it is up to the voters to decide which ideas are most appropriate, or which sit most comfortably with them. The voters should do this after being presented with these ideas by people of ability who have given their all to show why these ideas that they have chosen to articulate are the best and most appropriate to a given situation. If the person presenting the ideas simply changes their mind in order to get themselves into a position of power or influence then what is the real difference between they getting elected and someone else who originally held those beliefs?

Being a partisan politician and expressing at the limit of your voice, to stretch your abilities to attain a position to be able to do what you hold in your heart to be true and to use your mind and your skills to defend those same beliefs is part of what constitutes the democratic politics of the republican model we have.

Hypocrisy is often mistakenly identified in people who say do as I say and not as I do. In actuality true hypocrisy is to expect people to do something that you do not believe to be the right thing in the first place. If the President was being properly hypocritical he might have commented that he saw nothing wrong in being gay but that he was going to fire people to assuage the Christian right or that he thought being gay was a terrible thing but than he wouldn’t be taking any action because it was likely to be politically dangerous to do so.

I seem to recall Neal Stephenson making a somewhat similar point in The Diamond Age. He probably made the point a lot better though.

4 - Whatever happened to...

It might be possible, if we examine the broader picture, to drag the discussion, began by Dr. Ed Walsh, out of the mire that Mr. Kevin Myers comments dragged it into a few months back. Much has been written about the specifics while missing some of the elements of the broader picture. It is often overlooked that the overall increase in percentage terms that lone parents constitute of the national birthrate is as much due to increased numbers of people in relationships being unable to afford to have children due to burdensome mortgages and insane commutes, as it is to do with an increase in numbers of people having children alone.

Article 41 of the constitution states "The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home."

This would appear to be part of the reasoning behind having specific payments for parents that are caring for their children who are not married. Society and parents would be better served if we removed the distinction between parents that the One-Parent Family Payment creates by removing this payment completely. In turn we would increase the payments available to all families by way of moving the money currently given directly to the unmarried parent to child benefit. This change would at a stroke remove the opportunity for abuse inherent in One-Parent Family Payment, whereby a couple pretend that one parent is raising the child when both parents are in fact together.

This increase in child benefit being means tested in incremental steps if necessary to ensure that it is targeted at those who need it most. People who have made a public commitment to each other and who take the responsibility to provide a secure home for their children are both forced out of that home to work in order to afford it, to spend increasing amounts of their lives commuting to work, and to spend mortgage payments levels of money on childcare. We should be able to rebalance the state incentive to those who are prepared to make a commitment to each other and to their children without leaving anyone in poverty as a result.

Parents are parents and children are children. It is unclear why the state should give money to some and not to others based on factors other than economic circumstances.

5 - The Hokey Cokey

You can get some feel for the campaign so far at MGB's Blog of illusions.

All in all, the "YES" to a coke boycott campaign has rested on the fact that people who work for Coke and are union activits get murdered by paramilitaries in Colombia (presumably by right wing ones, but since no one has been nicked for it, it remains a presumption).

What is unknown is do non-union Coke employees get murdered in Colombia at all? Or at a higher/lower rate than the union members? What is the murder rate for other union members in other companies in Colombia? My sources suggest that the turnout will fall short of what is needed for a binding referendum. In UL, this figure is about 1800, it has to be 20% or more. With only one sabbatical officer position up for contest, interest is very low in the elections in general and the "YES" campaign have not made the necessary efforts to educate or enthuse the electorate. I'd reckon it will fall well short of reaching 1500, and also that the YES campaign will struggle to get 35%. Following on to the NUIM rejection of this issue and NUIG decision that it wasn't worth putting to the student body; it may be that the folks outside the pale are less willing to indulge their inner flake.

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