Friday, November 20, 2009

Turkey in Europe

Michael Heaver's Blog: Is Turkish EU membership now dead in the water?

I don't really get the objection to Turkey joining, apart from German racism.

Greece supports it, and so do all our major parties.

I agree with some "hold" on Turkish free movement of labour util we have more equal economies, but I see no reason Turks are to be considered lower than the Dutch, Greeks, Italians, Latvians or Romanians (etc).

The territory of Turkey is integral to all European history, and the Ottoman Empire, as the precursor to Ottoman Turkey was a central part of the European power system in the 18th and 19th century.

Plus, Turks are often nice people and have really great food.

Against DNA Databases

The influence of DNA in crime prevention is underestimated - we must stand up for the DNA database | LabourList.org

I find this among the most disturbing articles I have ever read on LabourList.

Government is a function of out lives as people and communities. We do not exist as functions of government.

From the perspective of this contributor there is no conceivable reason why the entire population should not be DNA tested, and totalitarian control imposed.

Here is why that should not happen. Government can be a force for good, but often oppressive people (elected or appointed) gain access to state and/or police power. Those people often (on any fair reading of history) act a forces of oppression.

While we need to advocate for the use of government as a force for good, we need to be aware that government can be oppressive.

Mr. Zarb-Cousin wants to turn us all into a sort of URL for the government to control.

That's dreadful.

It's much better to preserve freedom, even if some crimes go unpunished.

Legalise Brothels

Belle de Jour? | LabourList.org 2.0 | LabourList.org

Prostitution is a human universal.

That's because people (mostly men, but some women also) want to have sex (yes, have sex, not "make love") and finding somebody to have sex with is not always that easy.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to have sex; and no way to ensure everyone who wants sex will find a "free" partner.

Prostitution satisfies this need.

People (male and female) become prostitutes for many reasons. Some male prostitutes at least do it because they like sex, or they prefer having sex for money rather than doing other kind of work.

If both sides in a sex-work transaction act reasonably, I don't see any problem.

The problem of course is with trafficking, pimping, and the dangers of working the streets.

There is a clear solution to this: government-run or government inspected brothels (for both men and women), in which safety is ensured, bills are settled, and healthcare provided. Such brothels worked successfully in France for decades, and still work in Germany, and Nevada come to that.

Private/escort based services seem to be almost as safe. (Call outs to hotels etc.)

The difference with theft and murder is that they are in and of themselves detrimental to society. A fair exchange in a sex-worker relationship may not fit in with your aesthetics or religious morality, but presents no problem to civil society.

I don't pay for sex, and in truth don't have the money; but I would certainly be willing to do so if I did and if both sides acted fairly.

Legalised brothels are the way to go.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Goverment Paid Child Care and a Guaranteed Minimum Income

A good day for parents, for Labour and for Gordon - LabourList.org

The Sunday Times is reporting today that Gordon Brown has decided to change his mind on withdrawing the relief on childcare tax vouchers.


In this case I thought the government's original position that this was not a good targetted use of money made sense.

But what has become clear is that state benefit programs which benefit the middle class as well as the working class (e.g. tThe NHS, child benefit, old age pensions) are virtually untouchable whereas benefit programs which only target the poor (e.g. jobseeker's allowance, housing benefit, income support/ESA) are subject to continual massive hostility from a right-wing driven effort to libel the "undeserving poor."

This echoes experience in the US where non-means tested programmes such as Medicare and Social Security are untouchable, but programmes to help the poor are repeatedly attacked.

I think the solution to this is to moved to a Guaranteed Minimum Income, distributed by the state to all (regardless of wealth). Such a programme would cost a lot in taxes, but since the selfish middle class would get it as well, it would be able to ensure a real safety net for the poor.