An Irishman's Diary

 

How did Edward Walsh feel as he found himself sitting outside the warm tepee of political correctness, and in the howling blizzard of reality, after his remarks about unmarried mothers? Kevin Myers writes.

Not very comfortable, probably. Never mind, Ed, I'm used to the vitriolic epistolary hiss in the column inches that besiege me in my little corner here. We can sit together here in the snow and perish together - or maybe think the unthinkable.

Such as that our system of benefits to unmarried mothers is creating a long-term time-bomb. Even as things stand, we are bribing the unmotivated, the confused, the backward, the lazy into making the worst career decision of their young lives, and becoming professional unmarried mothers, living off the State until the grave takes over. Our welfare system is creating benefits-addicted, fatherless families who will be raised in a culture of personal and economic apathy - and from such warped timber, true masts are seldom hewn.

The response of Anne Bowen, policy officer of the One Parent organisation was - naturally - that Ed's remarks were "offensive" and "hurtful". God knows why she didn't say "unhelpful", "unsavoury" or "distasteful", which form part of the usual verbal repertoire of the politically correct. This assesses any political observation not on its factual merits but on the lachrymosity of the audience.

So she naturally declared that it would be extremely "hurtful" to suggest that women would choose single parenthood for financial pain, or that "they would be put themselves before their children". No doubt it is hurtful. But is it true? And how many girls - and we're largely talking about teenagers here - consciously embark upon a career of mothering bastards because it seems a good way of getting money and accommodation from the State? Ah. You didn't like the term bastard? No, I didn't think you would. In the welfare-land of Euphemesia, what is the correct term for the offspring of unmarried mothers? One-parent offspring? But when we use that deceitful term, one-parent, we actually mean fatherless, in the social meaning of the word, though not of course in the genetic sense. The lads who (in Sinead O'Connor's immortal word) are the donors are probably off elsewhere, donating away wherever and whenever they can, and usually without having to pay a penny of child support for the results of their generous donations.

Ed had suggested that mothers of bastards could earn up to €20,000 a year from benefits. Through her gushing tears, Anne inconsolably declared that a lone parent (i.e., a MoB) gets only €148.80 a week, plus €19.30 per child. And indeed, this would be impossible to live on if it were all that the State forked out; but it is not. In addition, the State pays for the MoBs' rented accommodation - worth over €13,000 or more a year. So the MoB's real income could come to nearly €23,000. If you're working, you have to have pre-tax earnings in the region of €38,000 to match that income.

All of which is a long-winded way of describing insanity - because we all agree it is mad to bribe impressionable young women into a life of MoBbery, which is crushingly limiting, with little sense of achievement or personal ambition, and no career to speak of, other - that is - from cash-crop whelping.

And how do MoBs cope when their male bastards (in a literal sense) become metaphorical bastards in adolescence? How does a woman assert her will over a sour, aggressive, uncommunicative teenage boy? Well, she usually doesn't - as a study of the parental backgrounds of gang members in London and New York - where they are ahead of us in such matters - will tell you. Mob members usually have stressed-out MoBs for mothers, and absent FoBs for dads.

The central heresy underlying welfarism is that benefits don't influence general conduct and that all the State is doing is simply helping individuals. Social groups - the argument goes - do not emerge in direct response to welfare payments. That's what liberals in the US said, so they formulated policies that were kind and good, and certainly not ones that were designed to corrupt and deprave. But corrupt and deprave they did. Welfare lines and teenage moms by the hundred thousand emerged as a direct result of the apparently but illusorily attractive State incentive not to work.

Well, even that compulsive sharer of pain, Bill Clinton, knew something tough had to be done: at the instigation of a Republican-dominated Congress, he began a concerted drive against MoBbery, cutting welfare and introducing strong tax incentives for working MoBs. The results were amazing. After 30 years of unbroken increase, the rise in MoBbery was swiftly halted. Welfare handouts plummeted; and 10 years on, two out of three MoBs are now in work.

We just know that's not going to happen in Ireland while debate remains mired in the schoolgirl swamp of what is "hurtful" and "offensive": why, thith howwid talk makes one want to cwy. Even our super-sized MEP, Big Mac, tearfully denounced Ed for his heartless remarks. Well, naturally. After all, Sinn Féin/IRA have strong proprietorial feelings about single-parent families, having made hundreds and hundreds of them out of what had originally been two-parent families: why, God love them, they've even dabbled in making a good few no-parent families.

We have 80,000 MoBs, and the numbers are rising; time to ring the alarm bells. But of course, in Dáil Éireann, we'll get some weepy, sanctimonious bilge over what is "offensive", while the rest reach for the ear-plugs.