The Seven Questions of Basic Income Implementation

From the first meeting of our Implementing a Basic Income in Australia group, I presented my outline of what I think are the fundamental questions which need to be answered before a Basic Income can actually be implemented.

In order to answer these questions we want to organise a range of experts on social and economic issues into working groups so that they can discuss the consequences of each decision and how it will be beneficial or detrimental to society, economics, welfare, well-being, employment, power imbalance, freedoms, etc.

The questions are:

  1. How Much / How Often?
    $1 – $10,000+ / Paid daily – Paid annually
  2. What scale is it implemented on? Where?
    Small town? Council? City? State? National.
  3. Who gets it?
    Everyone? Citizens? Residents? 18+? Based on tax return submission? etc
  4. How is it funded?
    Local government? Federal Govt? Increased taxes? New (resource?) taxes? Debt? Transaction tax? Charity? Crowd funding? New money straight to the people?
  5. How long will it run for?
    2 years? 10 years? Indefinitely? 5 years on, 5 years off, etc?
  6. What does it replace?
    Replace all welfare? Just unemployment benefit? Nothing? Minimum wage? Wait and see?
  7. Will there be a transitional period? What will it look like?
    Instant implementation, or gradual implementation over time?

(Have I missed any? Please leave a comment below if I have!)

The answers to each of these questions often influences the answers to others. For example, if you want a National (Q2) Basic Income, it will be virtually impossible to fund that through Charity of Crowd sourcing (Q4), but there is a chance that you could fund a Partial Basic Income (Q1) for 2 years (Q5) in a small remote town (Q2) via charity (Q4).

Of course, a partial income in a small remote town isn’t the ultimate goal, so then we’re talking about a first step implementation. A trial, or a demonstration of value, hoping that it will grow to other towns or else convince enough of the population to enact a nationwide Basic Income. In this case, we’d have to design the best “initial test case implementation” and then a second “Ultimate goal implementation” and perhaps even design the strategy which will take us from the initial test to the ultimate goal.

Whether we want a small test case first or not is still to be answered. I don’t believe the NHS, medicare, welfare etc had incremental steps to implementation, so perhaps it is an error to think that a Basic Income would need it. Perhaps we should instead be focusing on the best possible design for Australia, and then fight for grassroots support of that system while lobbying political parties and getting the support of influential think tanks.

This is all just a first step. We still need to reach out to existing Basic Income organisations (BIEN, QUT, Utrecht University (BIParty NL) etc) to see what information, research and conclusions they are able to share with us which will help inform our answers to these questions.

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The problem with the new atheist movement is…

I had a short conversation with a good friend yesterday which consisted of him (an atheist) telling me that the problem with the atheist movement is that they don’t provide an alternative option to replace the role that religion has fulfilled in our society for so long.

I often have atheist friends tell me that the new atheists are doing it wrong. That they should be doing X other thing instead of what they are doing, or that they should also be doing Y, or that they are wasting their time because some particular philosopher destroyed the notion of God hundreds of years ago, so this is all old news.

All of these sorts of criticisms of the new atheist movement strike me as exceedingly odd.

It is like claiming that climate change activists are doing it wrong because they aren’t personally replacing the coal and petroleum industry with an alternative energy infrastructure. It is like claiming that websites like Skeptical Science are a waste of time because climate scientists have known for decades that climate change is caused by humans. I never heard climate change advocates making these arguments because it is obvious that they are nonsensical. The alternatives exist independent of the activists, and the scientific consensus isn’t reflected in public opinion – therefore the activism is still needed! The atheist movement is no different.

So, when I hear that the new atheists should provide an alternative structure to religion, I think: No, that already exists. It comes from philosophy (morality), science (explanations of the world), sports teams, family, hobbies groups, etc (community). The atheist agenda isn’t to transform society – it is simply to fight for representation in a society which has clearly declared that non-belief is unacceptable, untrustworthy and to be despised.

My understanding is that the atheist movement as we currently know it was basically started by Dawkins giving this TED talk. I think he very clearly outlines why we need this movement, and what its objective is. And I agree completely with him.

Religions cause people to make decisions which harm themselves and people around them, and they do so because they believe that the creator of the universe commands it. They don’t do it because they are intentionally trying to harm people, or because they are necessarily biggoted – they do it because the book commands it.

Yes, there is overlap. Yes, sometimes bigoted people will use the bible to justify their bigotry (as if that is much better), but just as often people will be bigoted just because they believe that the creator of the universe has commanded them to be!

How do you rationally argue against that?

You can’t. You literally cannot make a single argument against “I have to be a bigot, because the creator of the universe has told me that I must behave this way.” The basis of the position is not founded on rational thought – it is founded on authoritarian command. Therefore the only way to correct the erroneous bigoted position, is to undermine the authoritarian command itself. You have to show that the belief in the commander is false. It is the only viable option.

Let’s make this crystal clear. At the very same party where this criticism of the new atheists took place, another good friend pointed out that she was a feminist prior to discovering christ herself and becoming a true believer. In doing so, despite it going against everything she felt and believed, she knew that because God was real and because the Bible was his true word, she must submit herself to her husband, she must see gay people as sinners, and other such commanded positions. These were not positions she wanted to hold – it was just what the bible very clearly told her.

Multiply that experience across the population, and you now have a basis for terrible laws and government policy which leads to vilification and sexism.

Or, lets look at another example of religion doing harm. As I write this article a news story is running about a Jehovah’s Witness family denying their son a blood transfusion. This will kill their son. Do you think they actually want their son to die? Do you think they have some sort of weird bigotry against blood transfusions?

No. They just believe that the creator of the universe has commanded them to do this, so they are obeying the command.

You cannot rationally argue against this position. You can only rationally argue against the underlying belief in a universal creator and master.

And that is what the atheist movement is all about. Fixing the actual problem.

For too long religion has influenced politics, law and social convention despite evidence. And as the “Nones” have grown in number over the decades, their influence has stayed non-existent. This is the problem. This is what the atheist movement cares about.

If you too are worried that the atheist movement might be wildly successful, and leave devastation in their wake as millions of people wake up without religious structures to prop up their meager existence – then go and start your own Humanism Organisation which provides everything religion does, just without the God stuff, and fill that gap. Just don’t be surprised when you find out people are surprisingly capable of filling the gap all on their own with the innumerable other options which already exist.

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If I were in charge… (Part 1)

If I were in charge of a country, I would change 3 significant things:

  1. I would legalise and monopolise all illegal drugs
  2. I would implement a universal basic income
  3. I would rigorously secularise society

Put the cartels out of business legalise drugs

Part 1. The War on Drugs has Failed

This is no secret. It is well documented now, in all sorts of ways. It costs many billions each year, it causes more harm than good, costs lives, creates crime, and completely fails to deliver on its one objective. Drugs are more accessible, cheaper, and more numerous than at any other point in history.

We need a new approach.

Portugal has been the only country to really give decriminalisation a serious go. And it has worked remarkably well for them. But decriminilisation is a weird halfway sort of solution. Sure, it isn’t ‘criminal’ any more, but it still isn’t legal. It becomes more like speeding.

If I were in charge, pending rigorous expert consultation and comprehensive review, I would immediately take steps to create a centralised government drug production and wholesale distribution system.

Dare to legalise drugs

Initial Education

While the infrastructure was being set up, I would ensure adequate educational material was made available and regularly presented to kids of all ages, at least once a year throughout all of high school warning of the side effects and risks of drugs (in all forms), ensuring that everyone in society grows up with a valid understanding of drugs, not a fear based one. TV commercials, paper, radio, and mail-drops of informational pamphlets would also be done at this early stage to inform the public of the changes, and provide them with access to a website where more information and drug facts could be accessed.

With the warnings and education in place, the drugs would start being produced, and retail outlets would be licensed. Either directly through pharmacists, or similar to how liquor outlets are currently handled in Australia. Either way, the government would handle the production and wholesale distribution to private, highly regulated, thoroughly trained and licensed retail outlets. Every shipment of every type of drug would have information sheets which go with each batch, providing crucial information relevant to the dosage, side effects, risks, interactions etc that should be known before taking that drug.

Retail Scenario

The retail outlets would be responsible for ensuring the customer meets age restrictions (most likely 21+ for most drugs, but definitely based on scientific rigour rather than ideology), limiting the quantity purchased per customer, providing cursory verbal information, warnings and queries to ensure the customer understands the risks (as pharmacists currently do for prescription drugs), and of course, giving information pamphlets/booklets with the purchased drugs.

User Consequences

Now, all drug users have a clean reliable source of known quantities of drugs. This will significantly reduce risk of poisoning and overdose. Plus all users have readily accessible information about risks, rather than trusting ‘friends’ and random strangers to advise them. This too will have a significant impact on overdoses, overuse, addictions, bad interactions and many other risks typically assumed to be the fault of the drugs, rather than the fault of ignorance.Remember prohibition it still doesn't work legalise drugs

Crime Results

With a reliable government source, drug dealers will all be rapidly put out of business.

All of the drugs will be sold with a high tax rate and commercial mark up, so drug dealers might be able to keep lower prices. However, people will tend to prefer the certainty of knowing they are getting pure quality of known concentrations from reliable outlets over slightly lower prices. The profitability of large drug running organisations and organised crime groups will simply disappear, and with it, those groups will die a quick death. Most organised crime will simply disappear because most of them depend on their drug sales to maintain cash flow.

With the death of most organised crime groups, violence will decline. Turf wars, inter-gang rivalry, and violence to intimidate and maintain control will disappear with them. This fact is already being demonstrated with marijuana legalisation in Colorado, with violent crime declining by 5.2% in the first 6 months. Legalise all drugs, and it will be much more significant.

Revenue and Expenses

The biggest positive will be the significant new income source taken from crime syndicates and given to the government for the benefit of the public.

The costs of policing drug crime are significant, and these will nearly completely be eradicated over the course of a couple of years. The savings there alone will be immense, but they will be nothing compared to the revenue generated by the sale of the drugs, and the tax revenue generated from the retail outlets.  If there is one thing we have learned over the last 50+ years of drug prohibition, it is that druglords make more money than just about anyone else in society

Some of that revenue would be lost to the initial costs – creation of the farms, laboratories and distribution networks. Ongoing staff costs, maintenance etc will be easily covered by the revenue of sale. The significant profits and the taxation from retail sales would then need to be all used for specialised drug-related concerns in society.

Investment into Education

First, there would be the education side. Some of the money would need to be put into ensuring schools can adequately teach children about the drugs, so that no one is left ignorant of their risks and dangers. So a certain amount would be invested into schools every year and specific teachers, teacher trainings, materials, and other overheads associated with this.

Medical Expenses and Drug Abuse Support

Secondly, most of the money would need to go into ‘medical’ support. This would consist of counselling, addiction treatment, rehab and outright medical expenses generated as a consequence of drug abuse. As part of the constant exposure to drug information provided under this system, constant reminders about counselling, psychological support, and medical assistance would be forever pushed on all drug users, so that no one is ever left feeling isolated, vulnerable and trapped by their drug use. This fact alone will save more lives than any other measure in my opinion (and cut medical costs by helping people avoid the devastating outcomes of untreated abuse).

One of the biggest problems created by the war on drugs is the labelling of drug abuse victims as criminals, forcing them to feel trapped by their situation, pushing them deeper into desperation, crime, isolation, mental illness etc. By breaking that stigma alone, lives will be saved, people will be helped back to functional productive members of society, and everyone will benefit.

Scientific Investment

If money remains, or after a few years of keeping enough money in buffer to compensate for fluctuating incomes and expenses, a fund should be generated for scientific research. By having easy access to all known drugs on the planet, scientific research should be delved into with rigour. Medical applications, long term consequences on individuals, society as a whole, psychology, physiology, etc. The ability to finally get some real research done on these most remarkable of chemicals will yield amazing commercial prospects for the country as new medical applications and treatments will be pioneered there exclusively.

Related to this is the fact that by controlling virtually all drug production, wholesale sales, and regulation of retail sales of drugs, it would finally be possible to get actually reliable statistics on the usage rate of drugs. Governments would be able to monitor just how much of each drug is consumed, and the track that against adverse health affects, long term outcomes etc. Rather than just polling people, and roughly guessing. It would even be possible to recruit far more people into long term health studies of specific drugs, rather than trying to infer the outcomes indirectly.

Invest in Children

One final investment option for the new drug based revenue stream, if there is the money available for it, is to invest in parental support.

This is a bit of a wildcard, but it seems to me like most drug abuse doesn’t come from drug addiction nearly so much as it comes from feeling trapped and useless (see the rat park research). One half of that equation is being unable to fend for oneself – unemployable, destitute, desperate poverty etc. We will deal with this issue in step 2 of this piece.

But the other half of the equation (or at least, another aspect of it) is growing up in an abusive or dysfunctional household.

As a society we already try to prevent children suffering through abusive upbringings. And this is great, but no doubt most of them slip through the cracks because abuse and maltreatment isn’t always obvious. It also isn’t always intentional. Often parents just find themselves overwhelmed. Unsure of themselves. Potentially even inadequate (surprise! Just giving birth to a human doesn’t make you a great parent!).

So the wildcard idea here is to invest in family support initiatives. Definitely keep providing strong support to abused and maltreated children, but also start extending support to parents who just wish they had more help with caring for and raising their children. The idea here is something of a government initiative Super Nanny program. Nannies who come and visit for one work day per week (mornings, middays or bedtimes) or more if required, to help advise parents on how to deal with troubled children, structure and support. Lighten the load and inject alternative unbiased professional experience into the household, and hopefully the children will have better lives for it.

My intention with this idea is to help reduce the number of people who grow up harbouring psychological trauma, mild as it may be, at the hands of misguided parents. I don’t mean to over-generalise here, but like it or not, parents have the biggest impact on our lives, and if you are unlucky enough to get one who repeatedly tells you you are useless, or ugly or a failure at life, or the cause of all of their problems….etc then there is a good chance that these sorts of psychological traumas will follow you for your life, and for some people, these traumas can cause them to seek escape into drugs.

Like I said – wildcard idea, and far from validated. Just an idea at this stage, which I am happy to receive feedback on.

Ultimate Outcome

So in summary, the government produces and wholesales all (currently illegal) drugs to highly regulated retail outlets who sell to very well informed customers who have significant psychological and medical support provided to them should they need it. Drug cartels would be put out of business, reducing violent crime significantly as crime syndicates lose their main source of funding. Policing can focus on actually protecting people rather than arresting drug users, the government has more money all round, and scientific research will undoubtedly find innumerable medical applications for most of the drugs, selling the technology/knowledge/application/treatment globally, creating even more revenue for the nation.

legalise regulate educate medicateCost?

I really don’t see one.

I know, I know: More people will have access to drugs, and drugs are dangerous!

Access will be there, but most people, even if offered heroin for free at a party, would still decline. Hell, alcohol is ever present in our society and I turn that down all the time! Just because something is available does not automatically mean people will start doing it. There has to be a desire to do it.  Just ask a Dutch person whether they smoke marijuana and take mushrooms or not – most don’t.

Secondly, if people want drugs, they can already get them! This is the current situation! The difference is that when you have problems, you have no real support. And your chances of having problems are significantly increased because of the unreliable source, the materials the drugs are cut with, and the lack of education around the drug usage. The only ‘education’ we currently have is “Don’t do it.”

Abstinence only sex education causes more pregnancies than real sex education, and abstinence only drug education causes more death and harms than real drug education.

So, when we get over this automatic assumption that ‘doing drugs’ is the bad thing, and start to think in terms of actual harms – overdoses, adverse health affects, psychological illnesses etc – then we can start to assess which system causes more harm. Does the current system which provides no support and proper education and reliable sources cause less harm than the system outlined here?

I doubt it very much.

Not only do we have easy comparisons between the USA and the Netherlands showing that the country with legal access to drugs actually has LOWER usage, but we have the obvious fact that support and education create better outcomes than ignorance, violence and unreliable sources.

So again.. I can’t see an actual negative.

End the war on drugs. Legalise and monopolise drug production and lets make the world a better, more inclusive and supportive place.

 

Part 2 to follow soon.

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When you’re stuck in a political ideology, reality looks like a competing ideology.

I just watched the Bolt Report and found myself raging at an interview with Tim Blair (32min in) about the ‘bias’ of the ABC. Apparently all of the main reporters on the ABC are lefties, and there are no conservatives.

This is the problem with ideologues – they don’t see the middle. They don’t see reality. The only see “My position” and “everything left/right of my position” which is clearly biased (because it doesn’t agree with me).

The line which made me lose it was this one:

…on global warming, well you know that’s a fantastically long record of bias. You will remember a few years ago when the ABC actually ran a British global warming skeptic documentary and afterwards Tony Jones had to run a sort of a television counseling session for traumatised ABC viewers. It was hilarious.

Here’s the deal – reporting the scientific consensus is NOT a political ideology. If the ABC reported the GM crops were dangerous, and that wifi causes cancer, or that alternative medicine was just as valuable as real medicine, then you would have a case for claiming that the ABC had a left wing bias (ie: reporting things believed by many left wing extremists, that are otherwise not based in reality), but they don’t. The ABC is designed to report reality, and when your ideological view is so far out of alignment with reality, then that reporting might appear biased to you, but that is because of your own bias.

Playing the non-scientific documentary about climate change skepticism WAS prsenting a bias. A right wing bias, which has no connection to reality.  You can’t assert your right wing ideology as a basis for changing the reporting of scientific facts. End of story.

Bolt followed up the line above with:

the assumption seems to be… that conservative journalists can’t be impartial, but the left can

highlighting my point, which is that if your bias is so far to the right (or left) that you think that objective reporting is biased, then there is nothing anyone can do to help you. Genuinely objective journalists, genuinely reporting the news as objectively as possible look ‘left’ to you, because they are left of your position. This doesn’t make them actually lefties, it is just how the appear to the right.

And similarly, if you ask the socialist groups out there who want capitalism torn down completely, they will tell you that the entire media is right wing. Maybe the ABC needs to get more socialist reporters on it, you know, to balance out all of that right wing bias it has by defending vaccines and denying the efficiency of homeopathy….or whatever it is that pisses the far left off.

You can’t force an objective organisation to start saying that vaccines kill, that GMOs are harmful or that global warming isn’t happening! Doing so is to move it from objective fair reporting towards your ideological bias, and while, obviously, that is the real goal here, I am pretty sure most people would agree that leaving the ABC as an objective source is far more desirable than bringing in a few conservative reporters…which is what Bolt seems determined to do… ‘in order to balance’ the network out.

Because obviously 10 people in the middle of a see saw is always balanced out by one person far out on the tip of ONE side.

 

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Australia’s Welfare Needs to be Increased, not Cut Back

I was told over Facebook just today that these new changes to welfare and medicare that The Liberal Party are trying to bring in won’t make anyone starve. Of course this claim shows a complete ignorance of what life is like on Newstart and disability, and also highlights how strong ideological thinking is, where evidence and data are ignored because an ideology tells us that something should be better, so we assume it is better.

Why find out whether people are struggling to survive on Newstart currently, and then get the data on how the new changes will change their situation, when we can just outright assert that there won’t be any real negative change, and then assume we are right?

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Why Militant Atheism is Necessary

Militant Atheism is necessary as a force to counteract the unbalanced political and social power that popular religious belief systems have wielded for too long through their powerful standardising of beliefs. It is impossible to persuade people to change their point of view when their point of view is not actually their own and they don’t care about the subject matter. As such, the only option left is to challenge the foundation of the belief structure itself so as to undermine the authority of the people who decide what their followers should and should not believe.

For, Against and Other

It is true that on any contentious point you will get people with extreme points of view on each side. You will also get a lot more people right in the middle who don’t care, and then a complete spectrum in between of people who care, and may have opinions leaning one way or the other. What matters though, is that most of these people, particularly those who are not in the ‘extreme point of view’ position, can have their views changed by evidence and reason.

Where Religion changes this game, is how it allows large numbers of people to be made to believe the same position, often to the ‘extreme’ point, just by asserting that it is true and providing a bible quote or two. And it really only works with holy texts too. If you get a group of climate change deniers together, and tell them that they should also understand that abortion is fundamentally wrong – then it is unlikely that the assertion will carry any sway with them. There is no reason for that common belief system about climate change to carry over in to the world of the abortion debate. There is no reason to accept the claims of the ‘leader’ in this scenario… but when the leader is actually representative of “God” or a “holy text” or any other sort of manuscript which is somehow meant to hold the secrets of life (in an absolute sense) – then suddenly the leader, who has some sort of special ability to understand, or interpret or present the information known to God or the Holy text/manuscript, can make just about any claim on any topic – because God does actually cover everything… All topics are in fact related to ‘God’.

Every Belief is Related to God

So, religious institutions have a special belief power over people. As soon as someone gives over their ‘Everything belief’ to God or the Bible or the Koran etc, then when their religious source says “Homosexuality is evil”, then the most ambivalent person on earth on this topic is very strongly inclined to simply accept this claim as fact. After all, who can argue with God?

Of course not all people agree about all things in religion. Hence the two great schisms in Christianity. And the break between Judaism and Christianity. And ditto again with Islam. And all of the different forms of Hinduism and Buddhism. And the different denominations of Christianity and Judaism and Islam… etc.

So there may very well be a form of each religion for each specific combination of beliefs. To an extent anyway. But I don’t think most people feel free to ‘shop around’ for their belief system. Most people are born in to it. Or stumble in to it haphazardly – converted to ‘Christ’ by some major life changing experience you don’t usually stop to analyse all of the sub-beliefs that go with the church that you just happened to walk in to. So you end up in some belief system which tells you that slavery is actually OK in Gods eyes… Sorry, wait…no one (publicly) believes that one anymore, so I should use a more modern example. You walk in to a church that believes that homosexuality is a sin and that homosexuals are going to suffer for eternity in hell. Now thanks to your recent “Finding God” experience, you are open and ready to receive the word of God!! Hallelujah! And after all of the niceties and meeting all of the wonderful smiling people, and hearing how loving and wonderful and forgiving God is, and Good and all of that great stuff… you eventually find out that homosexuals are evil and going to hell.

“…That’s odd. I’ve never really though about homosexuality before.” you might think. Maybe never encountered it much – or when you did, simply didn’t care. But now… well now you know that God has ordained it. You know the truth… because “God said it”. The fact that it is people telling you this is irrelevant – they are simply relating to you God’s own words. So what on earth can you do other than believe them????

How long do you think it will take to turn someone who has never given the slightest shit about someone else’s sexuality and private life before, into someone who thinks the homosexuals are evil, when they are surrounded by other people who have been similarly brainwashed by rhetoric claimed to be in the name of the central belief?

The logical cause here is very straight forward.

  1. You believe <religious concept> is true.
  2. Leader of <religious concept> states that <belief>, because <religious concept>
  3. You believe <belief>.

So in order for someone to challenge <belief>, arguing against topics related to the belief is a waste of time: they aren’t the reasons the belief is held. You have to argue against <religious concept> or the leader, because those things are the actual logical causal reason for the belief to be held.

Christians who are disgusted by homosexuals are not disgusted by homosexuals because of anything homosexuals have ever done – they are disgusted by homosexuals because of what their religious leaders have told them. To argue with them about how homosexuality is just a private lifestyle that has nothing to do with them is to miss the point – they don’t CARE about that. What they care about, is their belief system itself. If you want to argue about homosexuality with a Christian who ”hates fags”, then you have to argue about Christianity.

Why This Matters

This matters because the beliefs of the people, determine the policies of the Governments. And when beliefs are artificially created by powerfully people within religious organisations, politics is affected in an imbalanced way. It is imbalanced, because politics engages in the actual topic itself – it will engage in arguments about gay marriage, on the terms of gay marriage. But when the argument isn’t actually about gay marriage, the political process is a complete waste of time. Politicians simply cannot engage in a campaign for Gay marriage, and then spend their time pointing out all of the flaws in Christianity. It isn’t acceptable, and won’t work either. But that is what needs to be done, because the people who are stopping gay marriage equality are doing so because of their religious beliefs, not because of the stuff the politician is talking about.

The idea of how our democratic system is meant to work, is that the differences in opinions held by it’s constituents are the fuel for the debate and are the basis of debate. Differences in opinion are acceptable, and entirely part of the system – but what is far more important than holding different opinions, is the opportunity to change opinions. Whether they be the opinions of the extremes, or simply swaying the opinions of the people in the middle who don’t really care – as long as evidence, facts, reason and logic can be used to sway numbers to a particular belief about contentious points. And as soon as disproportionate numbers of people have their beliefs determined by an external influences in such a way so as to prevent a change in belief…. then democracy cannot work. Instead, we have a democratic portion of the population, constantly dragging a theocratic portion along with it.

The Real World

There is no better example of this than the Gay Marriage debate. This is the sickest of sick public policy debates to waste anyone’s time in the last few decades. (I wanted to say ‘ever’, but I quickly remembered women’s rights (another Religious doctrine maintained that fight for a while) and before that, slavery (yet another religious doctrine kept that one alive way too long too)).

You see, for this debate, just like women’s rights and slavery, there were people who saw the injustice of the old system, and there were bigots who simply didn’t like the idea of giving equal rights to people who they viewed as lesser than themselves. These two roles exist with and without religion. And if religion was taken off the table, then I think the number of people supporting gay marriage would drastically out number the people who are against it, and the number of people in the middle who don’t care would simply vote for it, because it won’t harm them and will give rights to more people. Problem solved. But because religion is involved, a ‘debate’ rages on the topic as if there is actually some sort of pro and con analysis going on here.

There isn’t!

It is just complete BULLSHIT coming from religious flocks who think that homosexuals don’t deserve the same treatment as them because someone in power has convinced them that ‘God’ said that homosexuals are an abomination. And because of that a priori assertion of lesser value, they then attempt to shackle together ridiculous arguments to rationalise their position after the fact.

Nonsense like “Gay marriage will destroy the institution of marriage” – Yeah bullshit. Tell that to the 50-70% divorce rate already in existence amongst heterosexuals. I feel stupid even pointing that out, because everyone knows that argument is complete rubbish and how ‘destroyed’ the sacred institution of marriage already is!

The point here is that all of the powerful counter arguments made against the ridiculous arguments made by the ‘religious right’ who are 95% of the time behind the anti-gay-marriage movement – are almost completely a waste of time. As articulate and clever, and cutting and poignant and perfect as they are – they are completely wasted. Because the people they are ‘arguing’ against, don’t actually care. They don’t hold the belief themselves. They were never convinced that homosexuals shouldn’t be married – they are simply following the belief pattern handed off to them by their religious leader.

You cannot argue against someone, who doesn’t care about the argument.

And that is why Militant Atheism matters.

If we ever want to get public policy back on to the track of ‘Reason’ and genuine debate between the extreme positions in an attempt to sway the moderates – we need to remove the large class of people who would be moderate, but are pushed to extremes by absolute belief systems forced on to them by religious instruction that they have chosen to believe in.

When someone’s mind is locked in on a belief because of religion, then arguing the points of that belief is useless. You have to address the source of the belief itself – the actual religion.

Needless to say, this same point applies to Creationists inhibiting scientific education, anti-abortionists inhibiting reasonable social programs, people against stem cell research without understanding the science first…anti-euthanasia absolutists… etc Where religion has a position, people are forcibly influenced into that belief position too. Rational debate is therefore impossible, and social policy is improperly affected.

For the sake of a sensible, reasonable, progressive society which continues to IMPROVE – we must throw off the shackles of religion. Because one thing all of these religions have in common, is the absolute forbiddance of progress.

The Bible doesn’t come in wiki format.

Militant Atheism

To me, Militant Atheism is all about stopping the religious groups of our world from exerting their numerical powers and superstitious beliefs over political processes. I don’t care about Jehovah’s Witnesses coming to my door. I don’t care about friends and colleagues praying for me. I don’t care at all what people do in private, or even in public for that matter. What I do care about, is when laws are made which create injustice, inequity and force stagnation of knowledge, and those laws are made simply because too many people have been brainwashed into agreeing with those laws, because a mythology has been used to convince them of that position. Not reason. Not evidence. But mythology.

No longer should our advanced society allow itself to be hindered by mythology.

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