Friday, 6 March 2009

Tom Harris MP upsets the Left

I've often pointed to the Shibboleth of the left which believes that uniquely in human experience, procreation is immune from economic incentives. It is obvious to me that the reason that we have such a huge number of teenage single mothers, is because the incentives in the system are to get pregnant as soon as possible.

It is simple. You're a 16 year-old girl living at home and going to a crap school. Neither you home life or education has equipped you for anything other than the most mundane employment. Home is a cramped, state-owned property which you share with a number of siblings and unfortunately a series of your mother's boyfriends, some of whom are abusive.

By getting pregnant, you will have access to

  1. Your own flat
  2. Independence (of a sort)
  3. The unconditional love of another human, over whom you have complete control.
  4. An independent, secure income for life, albeit a small one.
  5. If you're lucky in the source of sperm, access to his income too.
  6. A sense of meaning for your life
The problem, morally with this, is that the state, and the unfortunate sperm-donor picks up the tab. That is a 16-year old makes a decision and the tax-payer (which is unlikely ever to include her) and a man are forced to pay for her decision under the full violence of the Law. Secondly it's a trap, which condemns the young woman to a lifetime of benefit dependency, a lifestyle which she will hand on to her offspring. The right have been saying this for ages: we need to change the incentives in the system, in order to make
  1. The prospect of waiting a few years before procreating more attractive
  2. Doing so whilst in a stable loving relationship less financially punished
  3. The financial outcome for early single parenthood a little worse.
Tom Harris, a Labour MP makes a half-hearted stab at making these points in a post entitled "the Return of Morality"
They become pregnant because they have absolutely no ambition for themselves. They have been indoctrinated with the lie that they’ll never amount to anything, and have fulfilled that prophesy by making no effort to achieve any qualification. Very often they live with parents (or a parent) who have no jobs themselves, who are setting the example of benefit dependency for all their offspring.

Such young women see parenthood as one way of achieving a level of independence and self-worth. And they’re right, because that’s more or less what they get: a flat and therefore some privacy, an income for the first time in their lives
Naturally this has provoked widespread applause from the right, and a great wail of betrayal from lefties, who accuse him of pandering to right-wing "Bullying". Donpaskini, for example says
There are several words for powerful, middle-aged men who choose to pick on teenage girls, but the one which best sums up Tom Harris is bully. You will never, ever read him use this kind of language about anyone who has any kind of power or influence, it's always those who can't answer back who he chooses to pick on
But this fails to address the salient point. How is it moral for us to have a system which encourages a caste (for it is determined by birth) of people for whom a state-dependent lifestyle is taken, quite literally, with their mother's milk? That is other people are forced, by law, to pay for the lifestyle of this caste. The left, however do not see it this way.
[Tom Harris] doesn't seem to know that a majority of lone parents work, that 60% of young women felt more positive about education after they became pregnant than before or that 79% said that motherhood had increased their determination to get a good job....
40% of lone mothers did not "feel more positive about education on getting pregnant, Meanwhile 79% of young women told a researcher they "wanted a good job". This is hardly hard evidence that single parenthood is brilliant for society, or indeed the young women in question. Donpaskini is really scraping the barrel, and retreats into a vindictive orgy of play-ground name-calling, and describes the Labour MP, effectively as a class-enemy, because he's white, rich and middle-aged. This is the ultimate insult on the left, because it is an a-priori fact that wealthy white people cannot know anything about anything.

Even Unity is usually forensic in demolishing arguments - he takes issue with the idea that number of teenage births has risen - He says they haven't much, but I would counter that they've been very high for a long time, and fertility rates amongst non-working sections have gone up, as those hard-pressed tax-payers have gone down (pdf). Consistently poor statistics does not absolve a system from blame. But in the issue of choice he merely states that single parenthood on benefits is not voluntary, no evidence: he merely states his opinion. He challenges...
...the myth than suggests that people actively choose to live on welfare benefits - which the vast majority of them don’t. Living on the pitiful sums that we pay out to individuals and families in order to keep the wolf from the door is NOT an active choice, its something that people resort to when they believe, rightly or wrongly, that they have no other viable choices open to them, or at least nothing by way of an alternative that would improve their lives sufficiently to make it worth their while.
Whether or not it's voluntary is mere semantics: It's a trap, which young women walk into willingly for the reasons I outlined at the start of this essay. Whether walking into a clear trap against advice of teachers, government etc... is 'voluntary' depends on whether you think a 16 year-old girl is a rational, free person. Unity clearly thinks not.

We are not talking about beating up single parents, or removing their right to a family life. We on "the right" are talking about improving the opportunities for young women so their options include waiting for a better time to give birth. We are talking about removing the huge incentives to get pregnant as soon as possible, perhaps by not putting single parents at the head of the queue for social housing. We are talking about improving the incentives in the tax and benefit system for couples to stay together. That is changing the economic and social incentives in favour of later childbirth, within, where possible, a stable relationship. In truth this encompases a complete redesign of the Tax and Benefits system and a comprehensive overhaul of education. And that's just the start. To address these issues will be a project which will require Thatcheresque doggedness in dealing with the entrenched self-interest of the Labour client state, which will be all too willing to rally together under the banner of "fight Tory cuts".

The left hates the nuclear family, because it turns out healthy, well balanced, self-reliant people who have little need of social services, state benefits or the work of other Labour-voting professions. Whilst all evidence points to the nuclear family being the best place to bring up a child, socialists would rather create a caste of ballot-fodder serfs without employment or hopes, in order to rot society from within. That is the real reason for the reaction Tom Harris has provoked. It certainly is not concern for the poor, benighted single, teenage mum: Marxist cant and crocodile tears.


The Pedant's Apprentice said...

"the Shibboleth of the left" - or is it perhaps a taboo?

Jackart said...

No. It's a belief system, which must be held in order to be acceptable to the leftie tribe. It's a shibboleth, the questioning of which is Taboo.

The P's A said...

That's not what a shibboleth is; read your Bible, my dear sir.

Jackart said...


Shibboleth (IPA: /ˈʃɪbəlɛθ/[1] or IPA: /ˈʃɪbələθ/[2]) is any distinguishing practice which is indicative of one's social or regional origin

The Pedant's Apprentice said...

You said "I've often pointed to the Shibboleth of the left which believes that uniquely in human experience, procreation is immune from economic incentives." How is that indicative of social or regional origin? Unless The Left all cooms from doon t'pit?

Jackart said...

P's A Read the wiki on modern usage and accept you're wrong.

Raedwald said...

A superb post.

God knows how you have the stamina to read that leftist drivel (which I haven't) but someone has to do it ....

Isabella Snow said...

Wow. Almost makes me wish I were a drunk 16 year old again.

Anonymous said...

"socialists would rather create a caste of ballot-fodder serfs without employment or hopes, in order to rot society from within. That is the real reason for the reaction Tom Harris has provoked. It certainly is not concern for the poor, benighted single, teenage mum: Marxist cant and crocodile tears."

Harsh. Sounds a bit like the belief - which you have rightly criticised before - that Labour have created or want to create a totalitarian state. As you rightly say, what they are stupidly doing is creating the groundwork for a future government to create such a state.

They sincerely believe the rubbish they say. They're not malevolent, they're just stupid. They no not what they do.

Anonymous said...


Mitch said...

How many lab MPs and ministers are from single parent familys? and how many from conventional nuclear familys?.
Most from memory are married with a couple of kids.

Candace said...

I held my breath when I read the intro to the piece, but I pretty much agreed with it in its entirety. I don't believe the welfare state provides an 'incentive' as such, but to those who think their opportunities for life are limited, or non-existant, then having a baby just seems like the normal thing to do upon leaving school.

I do take issue with the description of the 'sperm-donor'. Sex, and procreation, is generally a two people event. The man isn't a poor victim as he has control over his sperm and if he chooses to be careless and succumb to fatherhood is as much a victim of his own choices as hers.

A good piece spoilt by resorting to an ages old claim that it is the woman's fault if she falls pregnant, and seeks to any blame from the man involved.

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