Thursday, February 26, 2009

Loose morals?

I note there is some consternation within the Government in respect of the number of young women who are becoming pregnant.

As readers may know, I was concerned throughout my life by the impact of loose morals on the welfare of many young women. However, having studied the statistics released today, I am puzzled as to why it should be regarded as deleterious for a married woman aged 17 years to give birth.

Now, accepting that I am an "old fogey", I understand that the status of women has improved considerably since we first gave a limited right of voting to some women in 1870. It has also come to my attention that moral standards have mutated in an unimaginable way.

I am told that about 42,000 girls under the age of 18 became pregnant in 2007 and that as many as half of these resulted in the induced abortion of the unwanted baby. Now this is a matter of consternation, even though it appears that the British government is unclear of what it disapproves; is it the process of abortion or the process of pregnancy? For if a young woman and her husband wish to undertake the pleasures of family life, for what reason should they be discouraged?

The response of the Government is to promote the value of contraception - which I understand to be methods for preventing conception. A sum of some twenty million pounds has been mentioned. Further reports suggest that instruction booklets have been made available to parents of growing children advising them not to discuss moral matters; I confess to perplexity about how this might assist.

It is my perception and experience that most young women are more than capable of making up their own minds when they wish to have children and whom they wish to marry. Some however are driven by poverty or desperation to trade their womanhood and their fertility; such young women need advice and assistance. Their situations cannot be changed by a pill, an injection or another artifice; nor can any moral code circumvent their desperation and misery.


Monday, February 23, 2009

A Tale of Two Sites

The government-financed news service, the British Broadcasting Corporation, has intimated to me that the Queen's ghillie has put up a display on the "Web" relating his efforts to combat the deteriorations of the political economy. Furthermore it indicates it has been done in imitation of the excellent President Obama.

There is a kind of competition that cheap magazines like to run, setting out two drawings with subtle differences. I have therefore perused the two web-sites in an endeavour to spot any differences.

Mr Brown states that the British government offers Real Help Now; President Obama talks of Recovery.

Alas, the difference is so transparent that a tiny child would suffer little hardship in placing a finger upon it. For President Obama appears to be aware that he has been trusted with large sums of public money; and he appears intent on explaining his expenditure, almost down to the last dollar. The website explains, as if to an audience of adults, that a sum amounting to some $787 billion dollars is to be disbursed in projects and pledges to account for every penny. It is a colossal sum.

Mr Brown, in contrast, lists no such expenditure. Indeed a cursory survey of his web-site suggests that his government continues to play with magic money. For instance the site refers to child benefit payments of £20 to families. A little research tells me that the total additional payment to each family is in fact £4.50. For what is the history of this payment? It is an increase for one child only announced in last year's budget by the chancellor Mr Darling, to take effect on April 1. It has now taken effect on January 1, an additional payment of £1.50 per month for three months. Even worse, the government has delayed announcing this year's budget by a full month until April so there will be no further possible increases for additional children.

Mr Brown states that pensioners have received a "£60 increase". He omits to mention that this is a £60 increase in an annual payment, that is to say an increase of some £5 per month.

Rather more disturbing is the Prime Minister's claim that some £10 billion has been committed to public investment on "schools, hospitals, roads and railways". There is no explanation, no accounting for this expenditure; indeed my own overhearing of conversations among public servants suggests to me that in some respects the reverse is taking place. Some of those responsible for government investment are being ordered to reduce it for fear of the future commitment against public revenues when existing borrowing has risen substantially. In addition spending on hospitals and school is at risk because many projects are to be financed by private companies who must raise their own capital.

I do not dispute the objective; I do question whether the Prime Minister and the Chancellor understand the difficulty in spending public money fast and effectively. Indeed it appears they have persistently underachieved their plans over the course of ten years and failed to deliver their announcements.

There is much that could be said about this but I must recall Her Majesty's frequent refrain: "Oh do not trouble me with such details, Mr Gladstone."

So most of all, this Tale of Two Sites exemplifies the difference between a liberal government and a socialist government. For a liberal government trusts the people to support good government - and is accountable to the people; whilst a socialist government demands that the people place unwitting trust in its every action.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

A double birthday

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the births of two of the greatest men of my era. I refer on the one hand to the American president Mr Abraham Lincoln and on the second hand to the chronicler of animal life, Mr Charles Darwin.

In extending my sincere and profuse congratulations to both gentlemen, I must proffer a confession that to some extent I erred in judgement of both at the time of their greatest achievement.

This morning I chanced upon a discussion as to which of these two gentlemen was the greater in their impact upon humanity. It should be stated that both have most obviously had a lasting impact upon humanity, perhaps to an extent that could not be claimed for my own limited achievements.

It is nevertheless my opinion, expressed without hesitation, that President Lincoln was the greater. The course of action that he pursued was not determined solely by the hand of fate; indeed I resisted it at the time. It is a marvellous and terrible thing that a democracy should have to resort to brutal force to assert the will of the majority; it is equally terrible that such slaughter should be required in the interests of justice.

President Lincoln created a great nation out of a lawless confederation. He created a sense of justice linked to power that twice during the 20th century appears to have willingly undertaken missions to preserve the world from tyranny. This is a hard thing, even for a powerful nation, and has most obviously led his most recent successors to make mistakes, to err on the side of force rather than of justice. And yet his legacy continues, most obviously in the election of a president of African descent, a symbol of hope to disenfranchised millions around the Globe.

As for Mr Darwin, I have discussed his heritage previously. I bow to the greatness of his intellect and believe he was a gentleman of personal virtue and would have been greatly disturbed at the horrors unleashed by those who claimed to be his philosophical heirs. And yet he used the words "survival of the fittest" and appears to have had little doubt that humanity was a part of this process. I have heard that he was motivated to prove the commonality of mankind with a view to demonstrate the error of slavery. Indeed Mr Darwin alone was not responsible for philosophies that sought to set man against man and may have wished to counter them. One is reminded somewhat of Mr Marx, who worked in the British Library and, I understand, was venerated through much of the world for much of the 20th century whilst unspeakable horrors were visited upon nations in his name. It is also stated, I believe, that much of modern medicine would not exist without Mr Darwin. This seems not to be the case as he was not unique in developing his ideas, even though, it would appear, he was unusually correct about matters which were not to be confirmed until many decades later.

I do not wish to denigrate Mr Darwin's genius nor to understate the impact of his theories. It may be they have fundamentally changed man's view of himself; it is also possible that they have left humanity adrift and confused about his purpose and place in this world. Mr Darwin spoke the truth as he found it; his genius did not extend to providing guidance to Man about how to cope with such self-knowledge.