Myers causes a storm

Kevin Myers has finally lost the plot. Writing in the Irish Times(sub. required), he attacks teenagers who, as he says, “Consciously embark upon a career of mothering bastards because it seems a good way of getting money and accommodation from the State.” Despite massive public and media reaction, Mr. Myers has (perhaps wisely) apparently gone into hiding. The article in question is quoted below, judge for yourself.

However, a far right fellow traveler, Mary Ellen Synon, defended Myers case on RTEs Liveline. People will remember Mary, some years ago she wrote an article in the Sunday Independent that was very offensive to the disabled. On that occasion, after Mary had done a disappearing act, Myers was the only one to defend her. There is no doubt that both of them have a talent for defending the indefensible. (A thought? What if both of them wrote an offensive article at the same time, who would do the defending? Mark Steyn, perhaps?).

Anyway, the Liveline programme is a classic. Powerful, emotional, angry and at times very funny. Check out Joe Duffy’s reaction when Mary refers to him as ‘boy’ and the man who told Mary that her head was up her arse. Great stuff.

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.

5 thoughts on “Myers causes a storm”

  1. I think Myers wanted to cause a big fuss and that’s what he’s done. He raises a point, more delicately and more helpfully raised by Ed Walsh, which is, do these benefits act as an incentive for some (mostly) young women to become lone parents?

    I haven’t got a clue, but I know I’ve heard that said a few times and mostly from people who would be described as “working class”. Hard-working, tax-paying people who live in big public housing estates in Tallaght or the flats of Inchicore (and, obviously, other such places) are often the most damning when discussing those whom they perceive to be “spongers”.

    I have no experience of this particular phenomenon, but I know one woman (married) in particular who lives in such a neighborhood and she will tell you that some of these girls are doing exactly as Myers claims. Only, some are not so single as Myers fears. Just that they get more money if the boyfriend is officially living elsewhere. She also says that there are a number of young women who have children and they all live in close proximity to one another and there’s a real doubt about who’s related to whom, which strikes me as a serious problem in the making.

  2. Kevin Myers raises an issue that Brenda Power covered in The Sunday Times on 30 January 2005. Irish policy affords single mothers a comfortable career option. Those are the facts of life as I see spelled out in shopping queues and on street corners in five different Irish cities where I’ve lived. My tax money is supporting this social policy and I am glad that Kevin Myers is pointing out the fallacies in blindly supporting single parenthood over respect for the family or child care for working mothers. For three years, many of my early weekday mornings in a terraced house in Bray were puntuated with gaggles of teenaged moms returning from a Benefits Day piss-up to crash out in a council flat on the other side of my bedroom wall. Their behaviour was state-supported. The neighbour on the other side of their flat called them “spongers” and that was the first time I heard the term uttered in Ireland. No matter matter where I’ve lived–Inchicore, Thurles, or Kilkenny–it’s easy to find the scene repeated.

    How does the single mother career option fit in the content of the 21st century Ireland of knowledge workers that we’ve heard about? Before we blay at Kevin Myers, we should explore the issue he spotlighted. His techniques, though consistent, should not allow us to avoid confronting the issue.

  3. Having read both Myers’ apology and the equally apologetic editorial in today’s Irish Times, I was disgusted by the holier-than-thou sermonising tone of the letters to the editor sandwiched in between. Myers, whose journalism is best represented by the image of a small man poking a sleeping bear with a pointy stick, made an amateurish mistake in using the term bastard. He acknowledges the fact in his apology, but he also reiterates his comments, and rightly so. What if he had written about the issue without using the offending term (as he has done before)? Some mutterings of assent, nothing more. At least the issue has been highlighted now.
    Unfortunatley for Myers, by going one step too far he has now started a debate about himself and the Irish Times, rather than the issue at hand.

  4. Kevin Myers doesnt like the fact that I use SinnFein as my email address.Too bloody bad. I agree with his iconoclasm on many issues.Too bad that hei s apavlovian ,kneejerking ,party liner on the stupid ,inept ,neo Con Trotskyite Iraq war. Bush cant break wind and chew gum at the same time.Perle and company wag him. He attacked Iraq becaue liike Mussolini and Ethiopia they were a soft touch. From Bush I and Clinton the US bombed Iraq for 12 years No planes shot down.Bush wanted the Iraq oil off the market to keepthe price up.He has devalued the fiat nixon dollar , refused to defend our borders, over extended our troops while doing nothing about the Israeli and chinese espionage.Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad.. See Andrew J.Bacevitch New American Militarism..The Truth shallmake us free.John Morrison

  5. I’ve always found Meyers to be thought -provoking and have a core of common sense. Regarding the replies above, John Morrison has provided the best collection of “right on” semi-literate nearly-but-not-quite english words (writing is too strong a discription for it) I have tried to read in a long time. All I can understand from it is he is anti war (who is not?). However, it is nice to see that he is not letting his total inability to use the english language to try and inflict his views on everyone else. It is a classic example of why one should not hit the “submit” button before reading back (or getting someone a little more literate to read the submission).

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