Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Whole “Marriage Definition” Thing

This is probably as politically-incorrect as one can possibly be these days. The usual disclaimers apply – what I’m saying here doesn’t represent any organization, just my opinion.

This whole definition-of-marriage thing is pretty distorted in the media and online “conversation” (to use the term loosely). It’s held up as a step toward civil rights, and maybe that’s understandable, since people with same-gender attraction have definitely been discriminated against historically and even persecuted. I don’t think anyone is happy about that fact. If you look at the country today, most people are all for treating people fairly and with respect. So then people ask, why the objection to re-defining marriage?

What it all comes down to for me is that it’s not about an adult’s right to have his or her lifestyle sanctioned by the government. No one has that right. Of course we can choose our lifestyle, but I don’t get the government to give me special treatment because I like video games or because I serve in my church calling. People who like to skateboard or hunt or smoke or play basketball or party all night don’t get to have laws passed to guarantee them equal exposure in the media or school literature. The law should preserve people’s rights to choose lifestyles, but it shouldn’t institutionalize them.

So what about marriage? Well, that’s not about lifestyles. It’s about brining human beings into the world. Creating a physical body for the children of God. Granted, not everyone believes that last part, but society as a whole considers human life sacred (even most atheists), so we have laws about that. In other words, laws about marriage are not about adults’ rights at all; they are about children’s rights. A child has a right to a mother and father. A child has a right to not be introduced to sexuality in Kindergarten by a government employee. (Having a mom and a dad in a text book doesn’t present a sexual issue because it’s just about families – kids get that. A dad and a dad brings up the notion of why, and how the child got there – subjects kids deserve to hear first from their parents, and when their parents decide they’re ready.)

That is why the law needs to preserve a proper definition of marriage. Children have a right to the kind of family that will give them the best chance at success in life. Of course, marriage isn’t just about children. But the parts that aren’t don’t really need government support. If people want to live together without being married, or if insurance companies want to cover a domestic partner, or even if they want to file taxes jointly, I’m not complaining about that.

And finally, to make sure this is clear: This is not about civil rights! There are already laws to preserve safety and freedom. There are no socially-accepted lynchings or people trying to make separate schools for people who are attracted to the same gender or to restrict votes. Trying to compare this to the civil rights movement diminishes the importance of that movement. And ironically, the people pointing that finger are often themselves the ones making hateful comments at huge groups of people. But that’s fine, they can talk all they want. The point is that no one’s civil rights are being violated here. Except, arguably, the children, whose schools and other government institutions are going to force them do deal with issues they shouldn’t even have to think about. We need to leave them alone and let adults pursue their lifestyles on their own time.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Debt and Taxes

Okay, time for another political rant.

Say you’re a parent, and you’re low on money, but your kids want cell phones. No problem, you say, you’ll just borrow some money. So you take out a loan and get them cell phone plans. You take some of the kids’ money to help pay for the plan, but you also have to pay back the loan. They kids are happy, but soon they tell you they need text messaging added to their plan. It seems like a good idea, since not getting it could cause them to rack up insane bills, so you take out another loan and buy a text plan. You take more of their money but also have to pay off the loan. Now they need data plans, so they can browse the web and use GPS and stuff. Again you take out a loan. Again, they’re happy with what they have, but at this point you have some tough decisions to make. You don’t have the money to pay off all these loans, and the charges never end because the kids will always expect their phone and data plans. So you can keep taking out loans until your credit is so bad no one will give you money, at which point you lose everything, including the phones. Or you can take away the phones. You’ll still have the loans to pay off, and the kids won’t be happy, but at least the charges will stop. (Of course, not getting the phones in the first place was an option too in the beginning, but it’s too late for that now.)

The analogy here is, of course, government spending and the national debt. We want the debt to be smaller, but anytime someone proposes to cut spending, they’re treated like heartless monsters who want to destroy people’s lives. But there really aren’t a lot of choices. We can cut spending, even to worthwhile projects, or we can keep taking out loans (which just increases the problem, obviously). There’s always raising taxes, but that’s not really a solution either, because from the citizens’ perspective, having money taken away isn’t that much different from having money depreciate due to the debt. In the case of a family instead of the government, there is also the chance of increasing income. But the government doesn’t produce any wealth; it’s a cost center. So the only way to reduce debt is to reduce spending. Which means cutting stuff that’s valuable but doesn’t have to come from the government.

Needless to say, raising the debt by a third in four years makes me very unhappy.