The Church attitude is that civilization, or ‘the system’ or ‘society’ or whatever you want to call it, is best served not by mules but by free men. The purpose of abolishing grades and degrees is not punish mules or get rid of them but to provide an environment in which that mule can turn into a free man.

The hypothetical student, still a mule, would drift around for a while. He would get another kind of education quite as valuable as the one he’d abandoned, in what used to be called the ‘school of hard knocks.’ Instead of wasting money and time as a high-status mule, he would now have to get a job as a low-status mule, maybe a mechanic. Actually his real status would go up. He would be making a contribution for a change. Maybe that’s what he would do for the rest of his life. Maybe he’d found his level. But don’t count on it.

In time – six months; five years, perhaps – a change could easily begin to take place. He would become less and less satisfied with a kind of dumb, day-to-day shop work. His creative intelligence, stifled by too much theory and too many grades in college, would now be reawakened by the boredom of the shop. Thousands of hours of frustrating mechanical problems would have made him more interested in machine design. He would like to design machinery himself. He’d think he could do a better job. He would try modifying a few engines, meet with success, look for more success, but feel blocked because he didn’t have the theoretical information. He would discover that when before he felt stupid because of his lack of interest in theoretical information, he’d now find a brand of theoretical information he’d have a lot of respect for, namely mechanical engineering.
So he would come back to our degreeless and gradeless school, but with a difference. He’d no longer be a grade-motivated person. He’d be a knowledge-motivated person. He would need no eternal pushing to learn. His push would come from inside. He’d be a free man. […]

Motivation of this sort, once it catches hold, is a ferocious force, and in the gradeless, degreeless institution where our student would find himself, he wouldn’t stop with rote engineering information. Physics and mathematics were going to come within his sphere of interest because he’d see he needed them.
Pirsig, Robert (1974) Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The scale at which we are able to operate today is sometimes too big for us to wrap our heads around. By its very nature, scale creates distance, and at distance human concepts start losing their meaning. A consumer is just that: an abstraction of a person who we hope will consume whatever we have to offer. We try to guess what this ‘consumer’ wants so that they will consume more of what we have. And if they do, we will keep track of lots of metrics so that we may better manage the process. And as our processes, metrics and scale continue to grow, we employ technology to help us operate at greater speed and scale. In other words, human beings, the end users of all this, become so far removed from the people who mean to serve them that they simply become just another metric to be managed. The more distance there is between or the more things we do that amplify the abstraction, the harder it becomes to see each other as human. It is not the abundance we need to manage or restrict, it is the abstraction.

We no longer see each other as people; we are now customers, shareholders, employees, avatars, online profiles, screen names, e-mail addresses and expenses to be tracked. Now more than ever, we are trying to work and live, be productive and happy, in a world in which we are strangers to those around us.Sinek, Simon (2014) Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

The argument for and against marriage equality is constantly heated, emotional and at times, misguided and bigoted. The main themes argued against equality either have religious foundations in the definition of ‘Marriage’, or claim that same-sex couples are insufficient as parents. Regardless of the arguments basis, they are all filled with varying degrees of prejudice. It’s not unexpected given that acceptance of homosexuality has only really started within the last 20 years.

Meanwhile in Australia, funds are being cut from social services, education, and environmental protection due to a perceived lack of funding. So what if we could solve both of these problems? What if we take the emotion, religion, value and prejudice out of the equation and focus only on the economics?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the census in 2011 registered 33714 same-sex couples living together, with no information available on the number of same-sex couples that don’t live together. This is a 32% increase in comparison to the 2006 data1. I think it is safe to assume that in any five year period this rate of change will hold steady as a conservative value.

So how much money can be made from these statistical values? According to Australian Securities and Investments Commission the average wedding in Australia costs $362002. So by enabling marriage equality an additional $1.22 billion can be pushed into the Australian economy by existing couples alone3, and a further $78 million every year for new couples. So what does the Government get out of this? A GST revenue of $122 million for existing couples, and an additional $7.8 million every year.

So if money is so short we need to cease University fee assistance (HECS-HELP) to save $87.1 million over three years4, along with taking $2.8 million away from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority5 (just to name a few of the cuts), why are we not looking at simple ways to generate that revenue?

Given the current political climate in Australia where cuts are being made across the board, why isn’t this financial opportunity being pounced on?

What is more important? The oppression of a slice of society and the denial of equality, or generating much needed government revenue?

It is a farce that the support our societies have for marriage equality isn’t shared by the Governments they are represented by. It’s also a shame that the simple argument for equality, inclusion and love are not enough. So when the value of equality falls on deaf ears, the only remaining value understood by a Government is funding.

 

1Australian Bureau of Statistics, (2012). 2071.0 – Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census. [online] Abs.gov.au. Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2071.0main+features852012-2013 [Accessed 22 Nov. 2014].
2Australian Securities and Investments Comission, (2014). How much can a wedding cost?. [online] Moneysmart.gov.au. Available at: https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-your-money/budgeting/simple-ways-to-save-money/how-much-can-a-wedding-cost [Accessed 22 Nov. 2014].
3Assuming all couples would marry.
4Australian Government, (2014). Budget 2014-15 – Budget Paper No. 2: Budget Measures – Part 2: Expense Measures – Education. [online] Budget.gov.au. Available at: http://www.budget.gov.au/2014-15/content/bp2/html/bp2_expense-09.htm [Accessed 22 Nov. 2014].
5Australian Government, (2014). Budget Paper No. 2: Budget Measures – Part 2: Expense Measures – Environment. [online] Budget.gov.au. Available at: http://www.budget.gov.au/2014-15/content/bp2/html/bp2_expense-11.htm [Accessed 22 Nov. 2014].

Morality is not properly the doctrine how we should make ourselves happy, but how we should become worthy of happiness. A man is worthy to possess a thing or state when his possession of it is in harmony with the summum bonum [the highest good].Kant, Immanuel (1909) Critique of Pure Practical Reason