Friday, May 14, 2010

Crossing the Line

As one who just wrote about the Sask. Governments attempt to allow civil marriage commissioners to opt out of performing gay marriages, I thought the following articles would be appropriate. But in this case we have the flipside happening. Myself, normally a champion of restricting what I believe is Anti-gay bigotry find myself appalled at this current law suit going through Britain.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1278538/Gay-couple-sue-B-amp-B-snub-Christian-owners.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

In this case, these people who own the bed and breakfast are not government officials, they are not receiving money from taxpayers, nor are they on public property in any way. They operate a bed and breakfast in their home, and thus I think this suit is ridiculous. Though I might not agree with Mrs. Wilkinson's view, I give her the respect to allow her to enforce her beliefs in her private area.

This being said, this leads to some other questions, for if we assert that being gay is immutable (like race) then by allowing this, there is an increased likelihood that there will be discrimination of other kinds. Though this danger exists, and I would find it terrible for a black couple to be denied a place to stay at a Bed and Breakfast because of their race, I think that the danger to PERSONAL liberty is higher if this suit succeeds. For if it does a precedent has been set that would allow for the government to control ANY speech that it might find hateful or discriminatory, a dangerous thing indeed. Just look at the history of the Alien and Sedition Acts that the U.S. Government passed in the late 1700's and you will see my point.

Comparative Effectiveness

When I was at the gym the other day, I picked up a copy of Business Week and turned to a fascinating article that they had on Obama's Healthcare Reform Bill...the full article can be found here.

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_14/b4172064340424.html

As the article points out, one of the main problems that the U.S. healthcare system faces is its over-reliance on expensive drugs and treatment, when many times a cheaper alternative exists. I applaud Obama and his effort to decrease the overall cost of healthcare by doing research into drugs that are cheaper yet just as effective in treating a sickness. I just hope that the "research" phase of it actually is implemented.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Rights of Civil Servants

When does an individuals relgious freedom trump that freedom of a civil liberty? This is the question that the Saskatchewan Court System will be deciding on over the coming months. The Sask Party has brought forth a Bill in the Legislature that would allow commissioners to refuse couples asking to be married, on religious grounds. This legislations was introduced because the story of Orville Nichols, a commissioner who refused to marry a same-sex couple in 2005, even though Gay marriage is legal in Canada. The couple, though getting married by another commissioner, brought Nichols before the SK Human Rights Council, which then fined Nichols a pretty penny for his refusal.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/saskatchewan/story/2010/05/13/sask-gay-rights-marriage-commissioner-courts.html

So where do we cross the line? When does a religious feeling trump government law? Though I respect the commissioners belief against gay marriage, he is legally required to perform ceremony's that the Government of Canada has deemed legal. Supporters of the Sask party's bill claim that this bill is a necessity because if it is not implemented it requires commissioners to put their rights to religious freedom at risk.

Opponents on the other hand, claim that this bill would allow for many other forms of discrimination. Let me give two examples. First, a Jewish Commissioner is asked to perform a ceremony that would unite a Jewish woman and a Christian man. Under this proposed bill, the commissioner would be able to deny his services, because in Judaism for a Jew to marry someone outside of Judaism is a grave offense. Or lets say that black man and a white woman want to get married, a commissioner might be able to claim that the "Bible does not allow me to sanction inter-racial marriages". Though these examples seem outlandish based upon cultural norms of the day, why are gay people any different?

So in my opinion, if the government of Canada has recognized the right of gay couples to get married, any civil servant - those who provides a government service and is financed by taxpayers should be required to uphold the law regardless of personal belief. If a commissioner does not want to abide by the legal LAW of the land he should not be allowed to be involved in a civil service. On the other hand, if said commissioner wants to abide by religious law, he should become a member of the clergy.

An Environmental Atrocity

The events over the past month in the Gulf Coast highlights the dilemma that we as a Nation are facing. Either the United States can continue to support itself on a dirty source of fuel, a fuel that is both running out and has long term environmental impacts, or it can implement policies that encourage the development of renewable energy resources, albeit at higher prices to the consumer.
Two articles recently posted on my facebook highlight the challenges that we face...both the high cost of government subsidies on the oil industry, as well as the opposition to clean energy projects...such as the Wind Farm recently approved in Cape Cod.

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/05/big_oil_discount.html

- About Oil Industry Subsidies

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2010/05/13/though_wind_power_isnt_free_benefits_justify_extra_cost/?comments=all&plckCurrentPage=2

- Cape Wind Project

Before we can truly move on to a sustainable future...we must have the true costs of energy passed to the consumer. Yes it will mean higher prices and economic loss, but do we care more about the "short term" economic costs or the "long term" environmental and economic costs that exist if we continue with the status quo?
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