Archive for December, 2003
A recent poll shows strong that 55 percent of Americans support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Whatever one thinks of gay marriage itself, a Constitutional amendment banning it is ludicrous. A constitution is a framework for a nation’s government, not a means by which trendy political disputes are resolved. There is no constitutionally justified reason why gay marriage should even be a federal issue, and hence no justification for the federal government to have any say on what marriage is or is not. Having said that, the policy that states should enact is such: gay marriage should be recognized, but it should be recognized as just that: gay marriage. Allow me to explain:
In a free society, adult individuals are free to engage in any consensual activity they desire. In a rational government, they are also able to form any contract between them and have it be legally recognizable and binding – assuming that the contract does not impose obligations on anyone else and is enforceable. Ignoring its social and moral ramifications, marriage is just such a contract. Certainly there is more to marriage than a legal contract, but from the government’s perspective, that’s all it should be seen as – a contract to share finances, certain legal obligations, and custodial rights. Legally, marriage is a special kind of contract –a standardized way of creating a complex legal entity. It certainly would not be feasible for the courts or for couples to have to draw up their own unique marriage contract, with all the details covering all potential eventualities. It would take dozens of lawyers, and it still wouldn’t have hundreds of years of precedent to cover all the possibilities. To simplify all that, we have a standard marriage contract that can be handled by a single public notary. Are there any valid reasons not to extend this contract to couples of the same sex?
On the face of it, the answer is no — there is nothing particularly special about the sex of the people entering into a marriage. Now some might cite a harm to children of such relationships, social harms, etc – but that is nonsense I will not go into here. There is clearly a demand for such a contract, and it is the function of government to provide it. Given the above arguments, there is clearly a valid reason to legalize gay marriage.
There is a problem however. The fact of marriage is used by many private entities to provide various privileges when entering into various legal contracts. Examples are spousal benefits provided by employers, insurance firms, and other private business that take marriage into consideration. If no distinction is made between traditional and same-sex marriages, then the firms would not be able to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. In fact, this is precisely what the gay lobby wants. If traditional and same-sex marriages are not delineated, then all private (and public) entities that consider marital status would be forced to use the government’s definition of marriage. Now some companies (like Disney) might be fine with that – but many others clearly will not be – and for good reasons, since homosexuality, for example, (is statistically at least) very bad for your health. There are many other valid and invalid reasons to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, but whatever they are, it’s not the job of government to judge them. Individuals own their lives and may choose to engage or not to engage in trade with whomsoever they please for whatsoever reason. The “homosexual agenda” – if there is such a thing – does not recognize this. Their goal is to use government coercion to impose a certain non-discriminatory social view on the public. Whether you believe that homosexuality is moral or immoral, using government to force that view on everyone else is clearly wrong.
What’s the solution? The solution is to create a new marriage contract for homosexual couples and treat as such – a separate legal contract. Private individuals will then be free to recognize it — and provide the same benefits to gay couples or not to. Government should not provide special benefits to anyone – whether they are single, or in a traditional or non-traditional marriage. Since it respects contracts however, partners of gay marriages would still retain the same custodial and inheritance rights as those of straight ones.
Whether the People be led by the Lord,
Or lured by the loudest throat;
If it be quicker to die by the sword
Or cheaper to die by vote—
These are the things we have dealt with once,
(And they will not rise from their grave)
For Holy People, however it runs,
Endeth in wholly Slave.
Whatsoever, for any cause,
Seeketh to take or give
Power above or beyond the Laws,
Suffer it not to live!
Holy State or Holy King—
Or Holy People’s Will—
Have no truck with the senseless thing.
Order the guns and kill!
Once there was The People—Terror gave it birth;
Once there was The People and it made a Hell of Earth.
Earth arose and crushed it. Listen, O ye slain!
Once there was The People—it shall never be again!
From Rudyard Kipling’s ‘MacDonough’s Song.’ Found at Objectivism.net
The new design of the WTC has been unveiled (photos) – after Daniel Libeskind was forced to compromise on his original monstrosity. I don’t particularly like the new design either – the top third is just a useless lattice – with a wind turbine added in for “environmental” reasons. Still, it will be the tallest building in the world at 1,776 feet – a nice touch. The entire WTC project is estimated to cost $12 billion, with $5 billion being paid by taxpayers.
One further comment: some people are questioning whether the new tower could withstand another 9-11 style attack. While the tower should be designed with all reasonable safety precautions in mind, withstanding a 9-11 type of attack should not be a consideration. Terrorism is not and should not be regarded as a natural and inevitable phenomenon – it is the job of the security agencies to prevent terrorist acts, not the job of architects, airlines, and engineers to waste their resources on building terrorist-proof facilities. The hundreds of billions spent on terrorist-proofing everything from airports to credit card processing centers should be regarded as an unnecessary expense made necessary by the failure of America’s foreign policy and security agencies, not a natural part of doing business.
(See my previous post on the WTC.)
I’ve updated my art gallery with several new artists, including a new pin-up section and a number of artists from Quent Cordair fine art, who kindly allowed me to feature them. I made the gallery from my collection of 1600 paintings and drawings, the bulk of which come from the Art Renewal Center. (More art links.) You can also browse my photo album and the originals.
Cox and Forkum has a great cartoon about the Wright brothers, celebrating their tremendous achievement, and lamenting the lack of innovation in the aviation industry today.
As Heike Berthold explains, there has not been a radically new civilian aircraft design in 50 years. While technology has surged ahead in every field, today’s jetliners and private aircraft are virtually the same as those of 40 or 50 years ago.
While FAA bureaucrats engage in constant “restructuring,” the weight of government regulation and leftist judges have made it prohibitively expensive to release a new aircraft design and has restricted private flying to a hobby for wealthy individuals who can afford to spend thousands of hours getting the proper certifications. Because the government has made selling aircraft commercially so expensive, more people build their own experimental planes than buy them today, and most U.S. small aircraft are now at least 25 years old. Imagine how difficult the government would have to make selling a new car to force most people to build their own or own a 25 to 50 year-old model. Not surprisingly, the kits being assembled today are often more advanced (using advanced composites and avionics) than the new pre-assembled airplanes being sold today. (And the same kind of attitude pervades space flight.) The technology is here. It is our philosophy that America needs to rediscover.
China’s Communist authorities recently shut down shut down a sex museum and sentenced several people to life for organizing an orgy. The Communist Party quips: “Sex Still a Dirty Word in China.” (More here and here.) While underground porn and prostitution is widespread and tolerated in China’s large urban areas, any attempt to legitimize sexuality is strictly banned. Why?
The short answer is that sex is a strictly selfish action. Romantic love is a profoundly self-interested pursuit of one’s personal happiness. To quote Ayn Rand,
Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man’s character. Only a brute or an altruist would claim that the appreciation of another person’s virtues is an act of selflessness, that as far as one’s own selfish interest and pleasure are concerned, it makes no difference whether one deals with a genius or a fool, whether one meets a hero or a thug, whether one marries an ideal woman or a slut.
In accordance with its collectivist/altruist philosophy, the Communist Party accepts two views of sex: as a somber marital duty, and (more commonly) as a lower animal instinct to be suppressed and hidden. The liberalization of China’s urban youth and the rediscovery of China’s rich sexual history is a threat to the collectivist idea that servitude to the State is the only acceptable function of life. The threat posed by the selfish pursuit of one’s happiness is the driving motivation for authoritarian regimes of all kinds to have joined organized religion in fiercely opposing public acceptance of sexuality as a natural and moral activity.
Fathi Salman, 50, a taxi driver, described the arrest of Saddam as a “black day” for the Palestinians. “This is a black day for all the Palestinians and all the Arabs and Muslims,” he said. “I still can’t believe that President Saddam has been captured by the Americans. Saddam was the only Arab leader who cared about us. He supported the Palestinian cause from the beginning. His arrest is a major setback for the Palestinians. It’s a pity that he didn’t fight.”
Khairiyeh Said, 43, a high-school teacher, said she wept when she watched Saddam in captivity. “I was sitting with my friends when we heard the bad news,” she added. “We all started crying because we love Saddam and we hate [US President George W.] Bush and [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon. This is a big victory for Bush and Sharon and all the enemies of the Palestinian people. We hope the Iraqi resistance will now teach the American dogs a good lesson.”
During the past three years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, Saddam sent millions of dollars to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including US$25,000 for the family of each suicide bomber and US$10,000 for each Palestinian killed in fighting with Israelis.
“I love him so much, I can’t stand watching it while he’s in custody,” Raafat Logman, 23, said as he was shooting pool. “We are surprised. We are so sad,” said Sameh Aloul, 22.
“It’s true,” said a U.S. intelligence official in Baghdad about the arrest of the former dictator. The official wouldn’t give any more details except to confirm that the former dictator had been detained the night before…
Celebratory gunfire erupted across Baghdad as the news of the fallen Iraqi president’s arrest spread across the town. Iraqis showed their joy that the brutal leader had been detained by firing bursts of automatic weapons fire into the air.
My, how the mighty have fallen:
Not surprisingly, liberals are distraught over Saddam’s capture. One remarks “Sigh. All I can think about is the effect of Saddam’s capture on the Dean campaign! … Somebody cheer me up, please!”
Leftists everywhere are secretly (and sometimes openly) hoping for more casualties. The media is doing their part too: not more than a few minutes after the story broke, (yes, I was up) I saw headlines on CNN and MSNBC proclaiming “Saddam’s capture could lead to more violence.” The headlines seem to have disappeared after Iraqis everywhere decided to celebrate rather than vow revenge. Anyway, I have to go work on my data mining project, so read up on the story at Hootinan and the Command Post.