Saturday, March 31, 2007

There's a fundamental wrong in letting some people marry

Found in the Sydney Morning Herald (31st Mar 2007)

Just the right kind of mirror I love to hold up to society. ;-)


There's a fundamental wrong in letting some people marry
Lisa Pryor
March 31, 2007

The views I am about to express are not very fashionable. They are certainly not politically correct. But I believe what I am about to say must be expressed to protect the institution of marriage.

Too often in the media, currency is given to the theory that everyone should be allowed to marry regardless of gender, outlook and whether the two people are creating a suitable family environment in which to bring up children.

Well, it is time to ask some hard questions about this attitude. The only way we will save marriage is to reclaim the institution for the mainstream. Marriage is for normal people who want to raise children in a healthy and secure environment. This is why we should ban religious fundamentalists from marrying.

Fundamentalists of all religions engage in unnatural practices. The unconventional views they hold inevitably lead to their children being teased in the playground and, no matter what studies may show, there is surely a greater risk they will grow up to be fundamentalist themselves if they are exposed to dangerous ideas from a tender age.

No matter what fundamentalist propaganda may claim, fundamentalism is not sanctioned by nature. There is not a single species in the animal kingdom which stresses the infallibility of the Bible or adheres to the teachings of the Koran. Even in the higher orders of primate, no species has conclusively shown faith in the virgin birth or the second coming. Animals tend to be atheist, pagan or animist, which shows that these views are surely instinctive, normal, natural and right.

Maybe you think it is OK for humans to differ from animals. Maybe you think consenting adults should be able to do what they like regardless of whether the average person agrees with their views.

Such a liberal approach is a slippery slope. When we allow fundamentalists to marry it says that fundamentalism is OK. It encourages these people to foist the fundamentalist agenda on the rest of the community. Before long they will be trying to "convert" people to their "religions". Should we risk this? Fundamentalists are a small minority of the population, so only a small number of people would be inconvenienced by a ban. It would not even be discriminatory as fundamentalists would still have the right to marry - so long as they renounced their religion.

Let's not forget that we are not just talking about consenting adults. When you allow fundamentalists to marry it encourages them to have children. Sure, they might still have kids even if they cannot marry in the eyes of the law, but why legitimise it? Children are the true victims of fundamentalist marriages. Children don't get a say when they are born into a household practising a fundamentalist lifestyle. Tiny children should not be subjected to cultural experiments and social engineering. Imagine how confused and guilty children would feel when they were indoctrinated with the bizarre idea that they were born with the stain of original sin and were in fact so inherently bad that a man had to bleed to death to make it all OK.

Imagine also the teasing that children who have grown up in these "families" would be subjected to in the playground when other kids find out about their unusual views and practices. What are normal parents supposed to do when their children arrive home asking uncomfortable questions because they have been exposed to these groups at an age when they are too young to understand?

Before you know it, fundamentalist parents will be insisting preschool children read storybooks about the fundamentalist lifestyle in order to better understand it. There will be colouring books directed at four-year-olds showing Jesus turning water into wine and walking on water, as if it were gospel.

What hope does a child indoctrinated with this sort of propaganda have of growing up to be normal? Can you really tell me they will not be more likely to grow up fundamentalist themselves?

Before you accuse me of hate speech, I should point out that I bear no grudge against fundamentalists personally. "Love the fundamentalist, hate the fundamentalism" is my policy.

I suppose one chink in this argument is that banning a minority from marrying is utterly unfair, inhumane and intolerant. Kind of like the ban on gay marriage.

People only protect what they love,
but they can love only what they know

Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Thursday, March 29, 2007

One cent too high?

YawningBread put up a good analytical critique on the issue of salaries in the Singapore administrative service. I thought i should add 2 more cents in and ask if it is due to flawed logic?


in the first 20 years,

the model worked. Everyone pulled together.

having tasted the fruits of success, the model required 'tweaking'. We have tweaked.

We thought we should retain talent in the civil service, and simplistically, we thought, an individual's only incentive towards public service is the size of his pay packet. So, therefore, the simplistic logic meant that we had to pay for the best. Not necessarily the object of the work, or the intrinsic value of patriotism, but just the size of the dollar value of their 'talent'.
(which also means, as a society, we also put dilly-squat on concepts such as "serving the country", since it doesn't require any form of 'sacrifice' at all!)

The best in any private industry are always paid the best salaries. Any lesser, and they can leave for somewhere better. (can, not WILL. we confused those 2 concepts somewhen back in the 80s).

In Singapore's Civil service, the "best" come from our scholastic training, graded by educators who apply a subjective assessment of an individual's ability that determines his starting position on the grid. There are no real market forces within the public service; it would take an act of gross stupidity and negligence for one to be fired in the civil service. Bright prospects are sent around the various departments, like pidgeons stopping briefly, before being shuttled on to their next position. (which could be a cause for the mismash of policies that didn't seem to make coherent sense, as each bright prospect attempted to make his/her own mark to add to their service docket before moving on to their next position)

Why then should we be benchmarking civil service pay rates to the best in the private sector when the "market forces" are different? In a civil service, one can easily rise up to a senior position by showing some level of competence, the ability to flow with the political wind, and to avoid being caught in mistakes or potholes.

In the private sector, you rise because you are deemed to be able to deal with bigger things (and the corresponding bigger pay packet, and accountability/responsibility that comes with it)

It cannot be that such salary structures are due to the concept of preventing corruption, since if that is the argument, then by extension, we are accusing the civil service in richer countries in the EU, and the US, and other countries ahead of us in GDP to be corrupt, since their ministers are insufficiently paid in relation to the 'wealth' they manage.

Can civil service salaries at the top level come down then?

Can we ever reverse the logically-flawed course we have taken?

Or is this the grand strategic path to make SG salaries (private and public) in general so attractive that the best talent rather work here than be working in NY or London?
(A case of building a better mousetrap, and hoping that they will come eat here?)

Did we even consider that besides the huge disparity in income, public servants in Singapore also generally pay less tax than their equivalents in other 1st-world countries? (which in turn, magnifies their income streams vis-a-vis international benchmarks even further?)

Will the illusion that Singapore is successful fail one day due to such little slip-ups in logic?

truly, a slippery slope we are sliding down on.


link to original article.