Same-Sex Marriage is not a subversion of the institution of marriage

March 4, 2012 2 comments

Today, Cardinal Keith O’Brien wrote in Sunday Telegraph that same-sex marriage is wrong. As a Catholic, I beg to differ.

I believe Cardinal O’Brien to be a fabricator of untruths. For this I direct you to a paragraph written by the Cardinal:

In Article 16 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, marriage is defined as a relationship between men and women. But when our politicians suggest jettisoning the established understanding of marriage and subverting its meaning they aren’t derided.

I know direct you to Article 16 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights:

Article 16.

  • (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  • (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  • (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Nowhere in Article 16 does it say that marriage is an exclusive arrangement between a man and a woman. It just says that men and women (of legal age) can marry. Men can marry men, women can marry women and men can marry women.

Also in Article 16, it states that dissolution of a marriage is allowed. Not so in the Catholic Church. For Cardinal O’Brien to invoke Article 16 is disingenuous and for him to provide an addendum to an international document without democratic support is immoral.

Marriage has always existed in order to bring men and women together so that the children born of those unions will have a mother and a father.

By that logic, and actually the logic of the Church, that infertile couples must have their marriage annulled due to the fact that they can’t produce children – the only product of marriage. But that also means that widows and widowers must be condemned if they so choose to remain unmarried.

This view point comes from a man whose employment revolves around celibacy and being married to the Church. I have no problem with this, it’s an admirable quality to dedicate one’s life to a cause. However, Cardinal O’Brien must also acknowledge the historical context as to why celibacy was forced on the priesthood – to protect the wealth of the Catholic Church from claims to its estate from children of priests. There is nothing in the New Testament (for which Christians derive the majority of their faith and understanding from) to say that those who dedicate themselves to the Church cannot dedicate themselves to a family. To love. Conversely, there is nothing in the teachings of Jesus Christ that marriage is a union exclusively between a man and a woman.

Those of us who were not in favour of civil partnership, believing that such relationships are harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of those involved, warned that in time marriage would be demanded too.

Yes, those who have argued for civil partnerships have then argued for marriage. Yes, civil partnerships will, for some, be “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of those involved” because they, as Christians, cannot be physically, mentally nor spiritually satisfied with the legal rights of marriage. This is because, as I am sure Cardinal O’Brien is aware, that marriage is much more than legal rights but of a spiritual and emotional union between the couple and God. To have that denied, when you are a believer, creates insurmountable stress, thus creating all the “evils” that the Cardinal lists.

As a Catholic, I know that attendance rates in Britain have dropped off in recent years and it is unsurprising considering the illiberal behaviour of a surprisingly liberal branch of the Church. The success of the Church has always been down to its ability to adapt, but I fear that those who seek to “preserve” it are in fact destroying it.

The recent Ordinariate will erode the tenements of the faith. The Ordinariate do not believe in the faith of the Church. They don’t accept transubstantiation. They just don’t like women or gays. By appeasing to these types of people, the idea of transubstantiation, the sanctity of Mary (an unmarried woman, I hasten to add) and the emphasis placed on the Angels and Saints will all be eroded to suit a small minority who are bigotted.

The Ordinariate, Cardinal O’Brien, is more corrosive to the Catholic Church as a whole than allowing a few people who love each other to marry. Who knows, attendance rates might go up if they are allowed to marry.

Categories: Uncategorized

Scrap the FTT, have a Bourse Tax instead

January 20, 2012 1 comment

At 10.53 on 20th January 2012, the Telegraph reported on their live blog:

10.53 A German Government spokesman says that an EU-wide financial transaction tax is still the goal, but that there may be a possible bridge with the UK via a bourse tax.

What is a bourse tax?

Frankly, I have no idea beyond speculating that it’s a tax on transactions within a stock exchange. A bourse is an organized market where tradable securities, commodities, foreign exchange, futures, and options contracts are sold and bought. The very things which would be taxed under a FTT anyway.

The fact that it is limited to the individual exchanges would mean that it is an attractive deal to the British. However it does raise complications, considering that the largest Pan-European exchange, Euronext, merged with NYSE in 2007. Another large European exchange, OMX is a Scandinavian exchange with activities in Norway. Confining finance and the taxation of finance to the Eurozone will only create more problems than solutions.

However, with the smaller exchanges, such as the Deutsche Boerse, this confinement could happen without angering any non-eurozone interests.

The Relationship between Unemployment Rate and Worker Productivity

January 19, 2012 2 comments

 This relationship was stumbled upon as I was doing some sampling on the Labour Force Survey dataset for another project.

As can be seen from the Box Plot below, a pattern emerges when output per worker (productivity) is run against the standardised unemployment rate. For the normal unemployment rate (6 per cent) productivity is between 0 per cent and 1 per cent – this is good as the economy is growing.


When unemployment is high, between 7 and 8 per cent, productivity is either negative or stagnant. This can be used to indicate recessions. What is interesting, however, is that when unemployment is very high, 9+ per cent, productivity is also high. I am inclined to suggest this is so due to either a recovering economy or a desire, on behalf of workers, not to become unemployed.

Conditions for the perfect economy

January 12, 2012 2 comments

In a report published by HSBC on predictions for the global economy in 2050, there were listed conditions for which create strong and sustained growth. The variables and models are based on the work of Robert Barro: Determinants of Economic Growth: a cross-country empirical study.

The variables are as follows:

  • degree of monetary stability
  • level of democracy
  • the rule of law
  • the size of government
  • level of education
  • health of population
  • fertility of population

The perfect conditions for the perfect economic model is: a very stable inflation rate, averaging less than 2%; weak democracy; strong rule of law; a high education level where the average years of schooling is 10; a healthy population and a relatively low fertility rate, but high enough to maintain population levels.

Now, most of these are glaringly obvious apart from, perhaps, the bit about weak democracy.

Barro’s work actually showed that too much democracy wasn’t necessarily a good thing for economic growth (of course it may be the best model for social development). He found that at very high levels of democracy, income redistribution becomes a dominant force, which serves to restrain entrepreneurial endeavours. And democracy places a disproportionate weight on winning current votes, potentially at the expense of future votes, and therefore can hinder the investment required for long-term development.
Overall, authoritarian regimes can deliver economic success if the system manages to set in place the incentives that a market-based system naturally delivers, namely competition and a motivation to drive efficiency.

In short, democracy is good but, like most things, you can have too much of it before it becomes detrimental to your economic health.

Central Banks are inhibiting growth

January 11, 2012 1 comment

Last night (10/01/2012) I went to a lecture given by the Governor of the Bank of Japan, Masaaki Shirakawa, at the LSE. The subject was entitled: “Deleveraging and Growth: is the developed world following Japan’s long and winding road?” In short, the simple answer is “yes, based on current trends and without any change of course.”

Mr. Shirakawa delivered a very interesting lecture the centred around, among other things including his love of the Beatles, how central banks should play a role as a guarantor of financial system stability. I have not touched the role of central banks in the past, but my opinion on the role of central banks differs from Mr. Shirakawa and probably from a lot of central bankers too.

My opinion is that the role of central banks should not extend beyond price stability. Why? Because the adoption of a extra-governmental role in guaranteeing financial system stability: a) reduces independence of a central bank; and b) aids in the depression of growth.

The independence of a central bank is undermined when it engages in a role outside price stability because, ultimately, the mechanisms and controls of a central bank are given over to the whims of politicians. For example, Quantitative Easing is a monetary mechanism to produce demand. Whether this actually works is another matter.

The crux of this argument revolves around the depression of growth.

The Bank of England’s base rate dramatically fell from 5% in September 2008 to 0.5% in March 2009, where it has stayed since. UK CPI trend since 2008 has been upward, largely encouraged by low interest rates. The same can be said of the Federal Reserve. QE itself is, arguably, a depressor of growth as the practical results would indicate an entrenchment of non-investment. Lender of last resort encourages the risky banking practices of the pre-2008 crash which aids in financial instability and depressing confidence. Unintended consequences of a policy often extolled by politicians.

By acting in an extra-governmental role, central banks maintain the status quo of “government spending is best”. This, to most economists is crass. Government spending, at best, does little to encourage innovation and enterprise because it is too busy propping up businesses that would otherwise have gone bust.

So, instead of an invigorated and dynamic economy, government spending and central bank intervention in its extra-governmental role is inhibiting growth.

Don’t be fooled by Eurosceptic ‘libertarians’…

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

…as they are just xenophobes.

This applies aptly to the Tory right and UKIP. Some might be theoretically libertarians but by calling for a withdrawal from the EU they cannot call themselves libertarians in practice.

The EU guarantees free trade, the basis for a free market, across member states. Freedom of movement for goods, capital and, most importantly, people.

Any renegotiation of Britain’s membership would precede the removal of these important contributing factors to the British economy.  Britain would become an isolated island with an increasingly discriminatory immigration system.

The EU is not perfect. Any one who says otherwise is deluded. However, it does lay an important foundation for the liberalisation of a global economy. The future of make-up of the world economy will likely be based on political and economic blocs – like the EU is. Like the USA technically is.

Once this shift has occurred free trade can take place between the blocs. It won’t happen in for a long time, but it will happen based on ongoing political and economic trends of co-operation at a supra-national level.

The right wing wish to prohibit this trend. A protectionist measure in the name of freedom.


No fun in Italy

December 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Italy’s €33bn austerity programme is as follows:

• Property tax on first homes, increase on taxes for second and third houses.

• A 2 percentage point hike in VAT from October next year.

• Tax on money brought back to Italy under “shields” for tax evaders.

• Tax on bank accounts, shares and financial instruments.

• Increase in excise duty on petrol.

• Taxes increased on luxury assets such as boats, private aeroplanes and sports cars.

• Cuts to funding for city councils of €1.45 billion per year.

• Minimum retirement age for womens’ pensions raised to 62 from 60. Mens’ minimum retirement age to rise to 66 from 65

Categories: Economy, Europe Tags: , , , ,