Starling: Shouldn’t Every Child Be Born Equal?

May 27, 2015

[Opinion column written by Jonathan Starling]

Shouldn’t every child be born equal?

The birth of a child to Mr Wales Windsor-Mountbatten and his wife Kate Middleton recently highlighted that within Britain [which includes Bermuda], not every child is born equal.

The birth of any child is a wonderful thing and certainly something for the family to celebrate.

However, it seems this is no ordinary child…

To me, it seems fundamental that every child should be born with the same political rights and the same equality of opportunity. These ideals are, after all, ones that people have fought and sacrificed for.

This birth however highlights that, despite these sacrifices, despite these struggles, these ideals remain just that – ideals and not the reality. Indeed, this birth poses some very real questions to our claims of living in a democracy.

In a democracy every child should be born equal. Instead, this child is born into a public role and into a position of status and privilege, of taxpayer subsidised extreme luxury, simply by virtue of whose womb it has emerged from.

In a democracy every child should have an equal opportunity to aspire to be, someday, elected as head of state of their people, of their country. Instead, this child automatically becomes the fourth in line to the head of state, not by any merit or popular vote, but simply by virtue of whose womb it has emerged from.

A monarchy is not a democracy

We cannot claim to be a democracy as long as we retain a fundamentally undemocratic system of an inherited head of state.

We can claim to have some trappings of democracy – in as much as we are a liberal parliamentary democracy – and this is something to be grateful for. It is a good deal better than the feudal, absolute or totalitarian tyrannies of the past and present.

However, we are not a true democracy as long as we retain this fundamental inequality of birth, with some destined to become head of state simply by virtue of whom they were born to.

Let’s be clear – the only way to become our head of state is through the lottery of who gave birth to them.

Let that sink in.

You, your child, your grandchild, no matter how smart and successful they are, can never become our head of state – unless, of course, your womb is part of the ‘royal’ family.

Child poverty

This birth also raises the question of why should we celebrate the birth of this one child any more than another, especially in this time of austerity, where too many of our own children are growing up in poverty?

Indeed, in the homeland of our colonial masters there are some 3.5 million children growing up in poverty.

To date Bermuda does not keep statistical data on child poverty in Bermuda. However, the 2007 Low-Income Thresholds Study indicates that 11% of two-parent households with one child fell below the low-income threshold; for single-parent households with one child the figure was 14%. With the economic crisis now in its seventh year and austerity having taken its toll, no doubt the number of our children living in poverty has increased since.

And instead we’re asked to marvel at this one ‘royal’ birth, and spend public monies to celebrate it rather than to end child poverty. As a society it seems clear we have misplaced priorities.

This birth makes clear that we do not have a democracy – we are not born equal. And in doing so it highlights the inequalities of wealth and status in our society.

Can we truly be a democracy while so many of our children live in poverty, let alone never have the opportunity to be elected our head of state?

Every baby born is unique, deserving of protection and all the support and care we can provide. However, no baby is superior to another, regardless of their race, sex or family [or other demographic attribute].

As a society we should aspire for every child to have no limits on their ambition, opportunity or political rights. Our children deserve the best, and ensuring all children are born equal is perhaps the best ideal we can strive for.

Being pro-republic is not being anti-British

Republicanism has a long and proud tradition within British history – and we do, whether one supports independence or not, share that same history with our colonial masters.

Indeed, perhaps the most clearly expressed British republican sentiments date to the 17th Century – and the Putney Debates remain a rich inspiration for all who aspire for a just and democratic society.

Mrs Windsor’s claim to the British throne however, the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha [the name was changed to ‘Windsor’ during WWI due to anti-German sentiments] only dates to the 20th Century – Edward VII [yes, our hospital bears his name] being the first monarch from this House. And the preceding dynasty, the House of Hanover, dates only to the 18th Century, with George I being the first British head of state from this House.

British republicanism is, in fact, older and more indigenously ‘British’ than Mrs Windsor’s claim to the title of head of state.

Actions

I encourage all of us to question our claims to being a democracy and hope others will join me in calling for an end to this undemocratic institution, and its replacement with a republic.

I also encourage the media to spend their resources to look at child poverty in Bermuda, and for the Government to spend its resources on reducing and – eventually – eliminating child poverty here.

I would also encourage readers – if they are able – to donate to either The Family Centre* or the Coalition for the Protection of Children* [or a children’s charity of your choice].

Even if you disagree with my passionate belief in democracy and a republic, even if you are an ardent royalist, surely you can agree that such a donation is a far better way to mark this birth than firing cannons and other such pomp?

*For avoidance of any doubt, neither the Coalition for the Protection of Children or The Family Centre are in any way affiliated with me, nor do they necessarily take any position regarding republicanism or royalism. I only cite them as organisations that I see as contributing greatly to reducing child poverty – or at least its symptoms – in Bermuda.

- Jonathan Starling

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Comments (13)

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  1. ..... says:

    Jonathan you better stick to your day job. Although I might agree with a small part of your opinion piece, by you using such language as, “simply by virtue of whose womb it has emerged from,” says a lot about your maturity level.

    You should have a bit more respect for the Royal Family. Especially considering you aspire to become a politician.

  2. hmmm says:

    Maybe you should have a couple of kids, and fully take on the responsibilities, suddenly half of your guff will become of secondary importance.

  3. aceboy says:

    Take your Marxism elsewhere please.

    I bust my backside providing a good life for my children, I do not intend to do so for anyone else’s children, particularly if they squirt them out constantly from multiple partners.

  4. serengeti says:

    “no baby is superior to another, regardless of their race, sex or family [or other demographic attribute].”

    So you would agree then Jonathan that every baby born in Bermuda should have Bermuda status automatically, right? The right to live here, work, get scholarships, buy real estate, and vote. Right?

    • hmmm says:

      I’ll help you with that one:

      Sourced from his comments on Bernews:

      “J Starling says:

      April 30, 2015

      Every child born in Bermuda and living in Bermuda until the age of majority (currently 18 years of old) should have the right to vote/be Bermudian.”

  5. hmmm says:

    “And instead we’re asked to marvel at this one ‘royal’ birth”

    Are we, I wasn’t asked to marvel at anything !!!!!!

    I think it is down to an individuals preference, you could completely ignore it if you wanted. Freedom of choice.

    You chose not to ignore it, weird eh !

  6. Richard T says:

    I agree with the need to help children however I disagree with your other thoughts. The age of republics is over as most see practicality is best. The royal family has no real power to govern the lives of the British. They occupy a ceremonial role. You and the rest of your Karl mark loving communists have to understand that your revolution is over, no one cares about perceived privileged.

    Fact: There will never be a British Republic

    Fact 2: Most communist’s states have failed and have turned to a hybrid of capitalist and socialist policies lead by populist’s dictators.

    The good thing is that the world is becoming more balanced as more countries and starting to balance capitalist and socialist policies.

    • Hang up and try your call again says:

      What you failed to include is that the existing Marxist regimes also curtail personal freedoms, are inherently corrupt and rule through fear and retribution. Would Starling be willing to live with that reality for “idealism”?

  7. PBanks says:

    The call for more attention paid to charities dedicated to less well-off children has great merit.

    The royalist/republican discussion may eventually get proper, reasoned debate, but it’s a shame that several are attacking the messenger instead of the message.

  8. hmmm says:

    Are you running for election in the next election JS?

  9. GTA says:

    Unfortunately no, not every child can or ever will be born equal. Child birth is not democratic, some children are born with sever disabilities, no matter race, creed or social status. Some children are born out of wedlock, without ever knowing their fathers. Some children are born from rape and incest, some are born with parents who are children themselves. Some children are born without a defined gender. No matter what country or society you are born in, you will be born in slightly different circumstances than the next. Life is not equal, it is not natural to be equal, everyone is unique, and with this you will always have extremes at either end of the spectrum. I have no issue with your proposal for people to donate their time or money to help others, that is their choice. However you must be prudent with your choices, because in any Democracy the majority will rule over the minority, and the reality is we are not equal in such a system.

  10. Troglodyte says:

    Republic. For the people and of the people seems the best choice JS…power lying with the people as the sovereigns, having taken it from royal family and any government..as it’s supposed to be in the U.S., the grand experiment… Real juris comes from a correctly run republic. Alas not everyone will take possession of their inherent sovereignty hence we’ll continue to have citizens with privileges which are not juris(rights) and can be taken away. We, the people everywhere should learn what the Kabalists know, Divine Rights.

  11. overboardhope says:

    Let’s not trash the Royal Family. They try hard.