The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'legislated morality'
Apparently, next week is National Singles Week, an event to highlight the growing proportion of the population that is uncoupled, dispel myths about all singletons being desperately unhappy, and push for the government to reform laws that penalise people for being single. (Note: this is the British government; the Australian government firmly believes in the absolute supremacy of the nuclear family and is as likely to look favourably on alternatives as it is to sign the Kyoto protocol or start inviting controversial art-house filmmakers to screen their wares on its relaxed and comfortable shores.)
About 48 per cent of the adult population is now single, and by 2010 more than 40 per cent of households are expected to be occupied by single people.
(Is this one-person households? Being uncoupled I can understand, though I can't imagine 40% of households in Britain being occupied by people who can afford to live alone. Not unless they redefine bedrooms as separate households or somesuch.)
The survey, timed to coincide with National Singles Week, which begins on Monday, found that 82 per cent of those questioned said that being single gave them "an opportunity to try new life experiences" and 89 per cent said that travelling alone "boosted their confidence" and allowed them to be more spontaneous and adventurous.
"There are disadvantages to being single. Apart from some financial ones, there are social ones as some couples think of single people as predatory and many older single people are lonely," Ms Knowles said.
Colour me surprised. Our enlightened PM lines up alongside the Axis of Medieval, ruling out giving gay relationship status equivalent to marriage, which is "one of the bedrock institutions of our society" and "very much about the raising of children". Howard insists that this is not discriminatory, even though unmarried couples pay extra taxes and are not entitled to certain benefits, in effect subsidising those whose lifestyle meets the approval of John Howard's god. (Australia is a liberal democracy; you have the right not to be relaxed and comfortable, living in the suburbs in a state-sanctioned heterosexual breeding partnership, pumping out children to fight for God and Empire and spending your weekends polishing the Holden Commodore in your driveway or punting the footy to little Darren in the backyard, but you'll pay extra taxes if you do as that sort of thing should not be encouraged. Make it easier on yourself and conform.)
Family values masquerading as social justice: The conservative government of Australia extends its social-engineering-through-taxation scheme, with a plan to punitively tax non-breeders and use the proceeds to pay people to have children ("be fruitful and multiply", as the Good Book (which was written back in the days when the world was underpopulated) says). The amount of tax Australians pay is becoming increasingly dependent on their divergence from John Howard's model of Judaeo-Christian family values. It's chequebook paternalism, folks.
The promotion of virtue and the eradication of vice: The conservative Catholic archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, has proposed a punitive tax on divorcees, taxation benefits for married couples and linking old-age pensions to number of children produced. That will teach those inconsiderate non-breeders. Moderate religious leaders have distanced themselves from Pell's hard line. He may, however, have the Prime Minister's ear (Little Johnny is rather inclined towards legislating morality; witness his purging of moderates from the Drug War Council and his push to outlaw fertility treatment for unmarried women, for example), though whether he could push this through parliament right now is another story.
(Insert topical Morrissey lyric here) The institution of marriage, once nigh-mandatory for all not sworn to religious solitude, is in decline; according to Peter McDonald of the Australian National University, one in four young people today will never marry, mostly out of choice. This is partly because of the trend towards postponement of marriage; however, even counting de facto relationships, long-term coupling is also in decline.
Professor McDonald said coupling trends in Australia had changed drastically but had now settled and were expected to stay put. This allowed the ANU to estimate Australia's future marital make-up. "It's extremely unlikely we'll go back to the extremely early marriages that we had in the '50s and '60s, when women were married as teenagers, which is pretty amazing now," he said. "People just got married, very often, to the first person they went out with. They didn't think about it very much. These days, people often have several partners before they get married."
That probably won't stop our back-to-the-1950s federal politicos; how much do you want to bet that tax breaks towards early marriage (i.e., punitive taxation for single people) or some similar social engineering scheme will be floated in Federal Parliament...