Abortion and Lisbon

29 September, 2009

It’s annoying to see another crackpot letter in The Irish Times  last Friday arguing that we should vote No to the Lisbon Treaty because of the abortion issue.  The letter,  from Rev Anthony Scully, includes this choice extract:

The European Union has embraced the “Culture of Death”. Yet again, Europe has become a slaughterhouse. Millions of its own children have been exterminated. Defenceless human beings have been and are being denied the right to life.  A vote for the Lisbon Treaty is a vote for the culture of death.

This is crazy stuff, and I’m surprised that The Irish Times gives space to such inflammatory and perverse outpourings.

Already (even in Ireland) we implicitly, and necessarily,  recognise that the death of a foetus does not warrant the same legal protection as the death of a child or adult.  For otherwise our law would require that, every time a woman becomes pregnant but fails to deliver a live baby in due course, there would be a full and formal legal Inquest into the “death” of the “person” . 

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The Government, and particularly Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey,  seem determined to annoy the majority of the population by reducing the permitted blood alcohol limit for drivers from 80m milligrams to 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.  So as usual we get more legislation, when what we need is better enforcement of existing laws.  This contrasts sharply with the UK, where the Government sensibly opted for applying resources to law enforcement rather than reducing the limit from 80mg to 50mg.

The adverse social effects of the proposed change will be enormous, particularly in rural areas, and are simply not outweighed by potential savings in road deaths or injuries.  There is no evidence that any such savings exist to any material extent.

In an earlier post on this topic, I said:

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  1. The EU is a friend, it has helped you out of the ditch in the past,  and it wants a Yes vote – it may have bad habits, and you know that a No vote is really in its own interest – but you’d buy a real friend another drink even if they were over the limit already, wouldn’t you?
  2. Neutrality is morally indefensible anyway
  3. Cóir want us to vote No
  4. Sinn Féin want us to vote No
  5. The Kevin Myers reason: see this post Read the rest of this entry »

Standards of literacy must be slipping in Dublin theatre-land. 

But before getting on to that, there was a fascinating article in the Daily Telegraph on 29th August:  “Councils issue crib sheets to prevent grammatical howlers on signs”.  There’s a mixture of good and bad news here for those who think that the battle for the apostrophe is not yet lost.

Council staff are being issued with an “idiot’s guide” on how to use apostrophes and other punctuation marks correctly in a bid to stem their misuse in street signs and official notices.  Read the rest of this entry »

The media are full of stories marking the first anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers.   This one in the Telegraph  is worth reading, and contains a section which caught my attention (to say the least).

Until Paulson let go of Lehman, the markets implicitly believed that no big bank would be allowed to fail. “All financial assets were priced on the belief that there was a state ‘put’ in the system,”  [Danny Gabay] the former Lehman director says. “After abandoning Lehman, governments had to prove that ‘put’ still existed to restore confidence in markets. The cost of proving it has been $9 trillion.” Read the rest of this entry »

One of the rigidities of the Irish economy that is frequently discussed is the fact that we have a very high minimum wage, at €8.65 per hour.  This is particularly an issue because our main trading partners, and our main competitors for inward direct investment, have lower minimum wage rates. 

The appropriate level is more important than many will admit; it is often argued that very few Irish workers are actually paid as little as the minimum rate, so reducing it would not have any favourable impact on competitiveness, employment levels and comparative production costs.  However this ignores the fact that the minimum wage is a benchmark against which the relative wages of other, more highly paid, workers are judged and set.  If the minimum wage drops, this makes room for wages at all levels in the conomy to move back towards the sort of levels that our competititors pay.

I suggest that we should stop setting our minimum wage rate in a vacuum.  We are such an exposed economy that we cannot ignore what our direct competitors are doing.  I’m not suggesting that we should look at Eastern European wage rates, but there is surely an argument for a system which will flex our rate based on what happens in relevant countries. Read the rest of this entry »

Back in June, when I made this earlier post in my blog, it was clear that if an annual property tax (APT) were to be introduced, some sort of offset was needed, so that those who had recently bought a house and paid stamp duty would not effectively be paying on the double.     “Perhaps stamp duty payments already made could be allowed as an offset against property tax liability for up to 5 years…..Less important than the precise mechanism is that the Government recognises that some announcement on the principle of an allowance is needed at an early date, to avoid a potential buyers’ strike.”

The good news is that the Commission on Taxation has recognised this in section 4.13:  Read the rest of this entry »