It’s hard to describe the shock and outrage experienced in Ireland upon hearing of the latest tasteless stunt by Youth Defence. In a move which goes against all basic decency, the group parked a horrendously offensive anti-abortion billboard outside the office of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. After being swamped by a torrent of indignation, Youth Defence now claims that the van was not supposed to park there, but was stuck in traffic or having a break and its all just a giant coincidence. Its twitter feed began unleashing attacks upon all critics as though it was the victim. The ad company has since cancelled its contract with Youth Defence. Regardless of intention, the refusal to apologise and the lack of shame over the hurt caused has no defence.
Hell used to be a central part of Christianity, playing as big a role as Heaven. Yet growing up as a practicing Catholic and even as an altar boy, I don’t remember ever hearing anything about Hell. It is as though priests are embarrassed to mention it and would rather forget all about it. In some places Hell as been down played to the point of merely being the absence of Heaven. Yet the thing about religion is that you can’t throw any of it away and the threat of Hell still simmers on. It still exercises a grip of fear over many believers and revulsion among non-believers. Continue reading “Whatever Happened To Hell?”
If I were to mention crime, most people would picture a man (possibly of dark skin) hiding in an alleyway ready to jump out and steal your wallet. Or perhaps a burglar who sneaks into your house at night to steal your television. Or someone who will break into your car and steal it because you parked it in a bad area. Or a shifty looking teenager shoplifting from the local corner store. However, there is a type of crime that is greater than all of these combined. A crime not committed by poor ethnic minorities, but by wealthy white professional in offices. A crime committed not by the desperate underclass but by the elites of society. A crime that costs society more than all other thefts combined, yet rarely results in prosecution. I am talking about white collar crime. Continue reading “The Other Kind Of Crime”
It’s fair to say that almost all people value our democratic government and are thankful we don’t live in a dictatorship. We value the ability to chose our leaders and influence our nation’s policies. However, it is also fair to say that almost all people know there are many flaws in our system. We complain about the distance between our leaders and the people. Every election raises the question of how much influence ordinary people actually hold and there seems to be an endless list of broken promises. The people’s voice is easily ignored and unpopular policies are often pushed through. So allow me to propose an idea for direct democracy that would solve this problem and bring the people and the government closer together. Continue reading “A Proposal For Direct Democracy”
Pick any economics textbook and they will tell you about how people are motivated by incentives. These are what guide the economy and ensure it functions. As Adam Smith famously said, we get food from butchers and bakers not through charity but because they have an incentive to sell and make a profit. But what happens when incentives lead people in a negative direction? What if people have an incentive not to help others but make a profit from them? One common problem known to health economists is known as supplier induced demand and occurs when doctors put making money ahead of helping their patients. Continue reading “Wrong Kind Of Incentives”
All religions are caught in a bind. A bind none can escape and dooms them whichever option they chose. The bind is at the core of all practicing religions and cannot be ignored. The bind is over the unignorable question of what to do about non-believers. How should churches view those who do not agree with them? It is considered cruel to threaten them with Hell yet if they do not they are implying their rules do not matter. There is no third option that is both compassionate while maintaining the integrity of the church. Either way, religion loses. Continue reading “Religion’s Double Bind”
There are few things in life as soul-crushing and depressing as being unemployed. In our modern society, people are defined by their work; your job is who you are. Those without a job are therefore excluded from society and feel as though their very identity is in question. Words cannot fully express the overwhelming sense of shame and humiliation that the unemployed feel. Even in times of severe recession they still blame themselves. There is a severe stigma attached to unemployment that makes them outsiders in society. Unemployment is a social curse that robs people of their dignity and self-respect. Continue reading “The Shame Of Unemployment”