The sexual revolution reconsidered

You have GOT to read A. N. Wilson’s article in the London Mail entitled ” I’ve lived through the greatest revolution in sexual mores in our history, the damage it’s done appalls me”.  An excerpt, with my emphases:

“I have been divorced. Although I was labelled a Young Fogey in my youth, I imbibed all the liberationist sexual mores of the Sixties as far as sexual morality was concerned.

I made myself and dozens of people extremely unhappy — including, of course, my children and other people’s children. . . . [Read more...]

The Father of the Year. . .

. . .is Bill Clinton.

Clinton was named the “Father of the Year” by the National Father’s Day Council on Wednesday.

The group selected Clinton for his “profound generosity, leadership and tireless dedication to both his public office and many philanthropic organizations,” Dan Orwig, chairman of the National Father’s Day Committee, said in the announcement.

via Bill Clinton named ‘Father of the Year’ – POLITICO.com.

Profound generosity, tireless dedication to his public office and the rest of it are well and good.  But what do they specifically have to do with Fatherhood?  “Tireless dedication” to one’s work can well mean neglecting one’s children.  No disrespect to the former president, but his one daughter is all grown up now, so what made him such a good dad this particular year?

Who might be better candidates for Father of the Year?

The French case against gay marriage

 

France is also fighting a battle against gay marriage.  But religion and politics are not really entering into it.

For Patrick Laplace, the mayor of this trim little town, the Socialist government’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in France is a colossal mistake.

Laplace has not taken his stand for political reasons. He belongs to the Radical Party, a loyal ally of the majority Socialist Party in Parliament. Nor has he decided for religious reasons. Laplace has faith in God but puts no stock in the organized church. His opposition, he said, arises from a rational analysis defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman for family and filiation.

“And I’ve heard no one here in Blerancourt who disagrees with me,” Laplace, a 59-year-old former banking executive, said in his ornate town hall rising from the flatlands 75 miles northeast of Paris.

As President Francois Hollande’s government prepares to have its comfortable majority vote gay marriage into law, probably late next month, thousands of mayors, deputy mayors and other small-town officials across France have risen up to voice their opposition.

The movement largely ignores political and religious lines, according to its organizers. Instead, they say, it dramatizes another line, one that divides Paris, with its trends and politics, from the countless smaller communities around France where most people remain attached to timeless values in a tradition-heavy society with deep Christian roots. . . .

Here in France, the battle over gay marriage is being fought in the street and in the media, not in the courts. France being France, it is a battle that revolves around ideas and philosophy, not legalities.

via Local officials in France voice opposition to gay marriage – The Washington Post.

Marriage is already a  secular affair under the Napoleonic Code, with these mayors performing virtually all weddings, which then can be solemnized in a church.  Would that Americans could address the issue in terms of ideas and philosophy!

But there is also a cultural divide between a sophisticated elite that assumes it can just change whatever it doesn’t like and ordinary folks who constitute traditional society.

The first recording of a family Christmas

The Wall family Christmas of 1904 has been preserved on the equivalent of an early dictaphone.  The link gives more details, including samplings.  (Be sure to play the one of the 7-year-old singing, with his big finale.)

Curators at the Museum of London have discovered what they believe to be the first ever recording of a family Christmas.

They were made 110 years ago by the Wall family who lived in New Southgate in North London.

There are 24 clear recordings on wax cylinders which were made using a phonograph machine between 1902 and 1917.

Music curators say the sound quality of the music recorded is outstanding.

Cromwell and Minnie Wall had nine children, eight of whom appear on the recordings. All the recordings are bursting with vibrancy and life, according to Julia Hoffbrand who is the curator at the Museum of London who helped restore the recordings.

Wall Family

 

via BBC News – Curators discover first recordings of Christmas Day.

May you and your family continue this tradition, handed down from generation to generation, century to century, of having a Christmas celebration “bursting with vibrancy and life.”

If you have a big estate, die or give it away by January 1

Income taxes for everyone are not the only taxes that will jump up, should we jump off the fiscal cliff.  The estate and gift taxes will also soar dramatically. George Will is sardonic about it:

If you have worked hard for five decades, made pots of money and now want to squander it all in Las Vegas on wine, women and baccarat, go ahead. If, however, you harbor the antisocial desire — stigmatized as such by America’s judgmental tax code — to bequeath your wealth to your children, this would be an excellent month to die. Absent a congressional fix before Jan. 1, the death tax, which is 35 percent on estates above $5 million, reverts to 55 percent on those above $1 million.

via George F. Will: Fixing the tax code at the cliff’s edge – The Washington Post.

Rather than dying, many wealthy folks are giving their money away to their heirs, something else that will be heavily taxed after January 1.  From CNN Money:

Currently gifts and estates of up to $5.12 million are exempt from taxes, but as part of the fiscal cliff, any portion of a bequest that exceeds $1 million will be taxed next year — and at a 55% rate (currently, the rate is 35%). That will kick in unless Congress and the president agree to extend the current exemption or agree on a new one. Many older Americans are not waiting to see if that happens.

“It’s crazy,” said Richard Behrendt, Director of Estate Planning for Baird’s Private Wealth Management. “I bet more wealth is transferred this year than in the past 10 years combined.”
Jonathan Blattmachr, a principal of Eagle River Advisors in New York who has lectured groups of estate planners about the expiring exemption, said the amount given away in 2012 will be three or four times that of any other year.

The drop to a $1 million exemption means that the tax bill on gifts or estates of $5.12 million will go from zero this year to $2.266 million next year, according to Blattmachr.

What do you think about the estate tax?  One strain of puritanism has always disapproved of the “idle rich,” such as those trust fund kids on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous jetting to Monaco and other of the world’s playgrounds.  The thought is, people should earn their wealth by hard work, not just live off of the hard work of their forebears.

Then again, inheritance is related to the unity of the family across generations.  Also, those with inherited wealth are not necessarily “idle,” since they usually have to keep the family business in good working order.

The inheritance tax is often devastating to farmers and owners of small businesses.  Farmers are often cash poor, but land rich.  That is, the soaring price of land makes them wealthy on paper, in terms of assets, but they don’t necessarily have much actual money.  Frequently, when the landowner dies, the farm has to be sold to pay the estate taxes.  The heirs don’t have that kind of money even if they want to continue the family farm.  The same can hold true for small businesses, which often have to be dissolved upon the death of the owner when the heirs can’t come up with the cash to pay the inheritance tax.

Supreme Court to rule on gay marriage

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases that may settle the legal status of gay marriage in this country.  The court will rule on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage in federal law as being between one man and one woman.  It will also rule on Proposition 8, the referendum in which California voters rejected gay marriage, only to have the vote stricken down by a federal court.

Supreme Court to hear same-sex marriage cases – The Washington Post.

What do you predict will happen?

Our legal system has long been tinkering with what marriage is supposed to be.  For example, the definition of marriage as a permanent, for-better-or-worse estate was changed by no-fault divorce laws, but I don’t recall anyone complaining much.


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