Thursday, September 30, 2004


Leftists will never learn

"The Nordic country may have been boasting for decades about its fantastic parental pay and rights packages and its nurseries on every street corner, but according to a leading academic in the field, we have all been duped. Dr Catherine Hakim, a sociologist at the London School of Economics who specialises in women's employment and women's issues, says in a book out this week that what we have been told about the Swedish experience amounts to "true lies".

What we have heard over the past few decades about life there is technically true - there is a well-developed system of family-friendly initiatives that allows women more maternity leave, better pay and more flexible working opportunities. But when you look more broadly at the whole picture, at where women fit into the wider employment map across Sweden, there are a few nasty surprises.

What we all expect - but what is never actually said - about Sweden and countries such as Norway and Denmark is that because they have such a forward-thinking attitude to the needs of working parents, women have a much better deal, are able to work more effectively and to progress better. Wrong, wrong and wrong again, says Hakim. "Swedish women don't have it made - they still end up paying a price in terms of their career or employment. What you find, if you look closely at the figures, is that there is a pay threshold in Nordic countries below which are 80% of all women, and above which are 80% of all men.

"What is more, the glass ceiling problem is larger in family-friendly Sweden than it is in the hire-and-fire-at-will US, and it has also grown as family-friendly policies have expanded. In Sweden 1.5% of senior management are women, compared with 11% in the US.".....

75% of Swedish women are working in the public sector - traditionally the lower-paid, lower-qualified end of the employment market - while 75% of men are working in the racier, more demanding private sector. What has happened through the years of family-friendly policies, she says, is that private companies have reduced their number of female employees because they can't afford the cost of the generous maternity packages".

More here. (Via Swedish blogger Johan Norberg).


"The Welsh Development Agency has been accused of "political correctness gone mad" after staff were advised not to use "offensive" terms like "nit-picking" and "brainstorming". Around 500 of the WDA's employees across Wales have attended training sessions instructing them in how to avoid offending minority groups.

Last night, the WDA said that under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act it had a legal obligation to train its staff in equality and diversity issues. But former North Wales Tory AM David Jones, who will be standing for his party in Clwyd West at the next general election, described the advice issued to the agency employees as political correctness gone mad.

He said, "Someone who works for the WDA as a manager told me they had been on a two-day political correctness course. It seems that the term 'nit-picking' is unacceptable because it originated at the time of the slave trade, when slaves had their hair examined for lice. "In the case of 'brainstorming', the term should not be used because it is considered insulting to people suffering from mental illness.

"I find it absolutely ludicrous that at a time when Wales desperately needs to attract and develop support for business, time and money is being spent on this kind of nonsense. "It is a perfect example of the kind of nonsense Michael Howard was referring to a few weeks ago in his attack on political correctness."

In a recent speech at Stafford, Tory leader Michael Howard launched a scathing attack on political correctness. He said, "In Britain today, political correctness has gone mad. And it is driving people crazy. "There are so many examples of political correctness, it's hard to know where to start. But here are just a few, to get us going:

"Staff warned by their local council not to drape England flags from office windows during the last World Cup - in case it offended those supporting other teams.

"A father of four who chased a gang of vandals with a rolling pin for his own protection because they had just smashed his shop window was bound over to keep the peace and charged with carrying an offensive weapon.

"A magistrate who, when considering a publican's request for an extra hour's drinking, ruled that St George's Day was not 'a special occasion' - even though the publican had not encountered any such problem with a similar request for the Chinese Year of the Goat.

"It would be easy to go on and on, because the examples are countless. In some cases, the exercise of political correctness is relatively harmless. It provides good knocking copy for fulminating commentators, orfor late-night radio chat shows. But in many other cases it is not. We cannot simply dismiss every example as an isolated case of stupidity or zeal or plain barminess.

"The systematic spread of political correctness has a corrosive effect on our society. "It makes people believe that there is something odd about what would otherwise be considered normal behaviour. It provides officials with an excuse to meddle and interfere in people's lives, where they have no business to. It leads to expensive, time-consuming and pointless litigation. It plays into the hands of extremists. And it undermines people's respect for the institutions of our country."

More here

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