Tuesday, November 20, 2007

British Doctors' revolt at anti-white bias

ONE of Britain's most eminent consultants has claimed white male doctors are being denied bonuses because of politically correct "reverse discrimination" by the National Health Service. David Rosin, a former vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons, says female and ethnic minority consultants are being given preferential treatment to meet artificial quotas.

Rosin, also a former president of the Association for Cancer Surgery, failed to get the top "platinum award" award 10 years in a row despite being backed in his application by the royal college and his NHS trust. He said: "When I asked a previous president [of the Royal College of Surgeons] why I had been unsuccessful, the answer came back immediately: `What do you expect? You are not black, you are not female and you have all four limbs.' "

Rosin's comments are likely to provoke a row about whether policies to promote equal opportunities in the NHS have led to positive discrimination. Figures show a dramatic increase in the number of women and ethnic minorities winning merit awards over the past five years. They can add up to 73,000 pounds to a consultant's annual salary of about 112,000.

Ministers and NHS chiefs have been encouraging more women and ethnic minorities to apply. Supporters say that in the past the vast majority of the extra payments went to an "old boys' network" of sometimes "mediocre" white male consultants. However, Rosin, who retired from his NHS post as a senior consultant surgeon at St Mary's NHS Trust hospital, London, in June, believes it has now tipped into positive discrimination. "It is time that someone spoke up concerning the reverse discrimination with respect to merit awards," he wrote in a letter to the magazine Hospital Doctor. "In the politically correct environment in which we live, there is now definitely reverse discrimination."

He was incredulous at his failure to get a platinum award, despite being editor of an international medical journal, editing 16 textbooks and publishing more than 100 peer-reviewed medical papers. He said he was also on call for the NHS every second night for his first 14 years as a consultant and helped to introduce a new form of cancer surgery clinic and many new minimal access surgical techniques.

Rosin was supported by a council member of one of the royal medical colleges, who, asking to remain anonymous, said: "As in any situation where people are trying to correct what is perceived as a wrong in the past, an element of bias will be introduced. The feedback one hears from these committees is that, where there is a fine balance between two candidates, then there will be a willingness to recognise the merits of someone who has been previously disadvantaged."

About half of Britain's 33,000 consultants receive an award at some level, ranging from œ2,850 to œ73,158. The scheme costs the NHS at least 250m pounds a year.

Aneez Esmail, professor of general practice at Manchester University, whose research in 1998 showed how few women and ethnic minority consultants got the awards, denied that standards had been compromised. "More women and ethnic minorities are successful but the actual standards are not compromised," he said. "Previously, mediocre white candidates were getting awards and you really had to be quite exceptional as a woman or ethnic minority to get an award. With more transparency and clear criteria there is greater competition and more women and ethnic minorities are successful. People like Mr Rosin may lose out."

His 1998 research, published in the British Medical Journal, showed that white consultants were given 95% of bonuses despite making up just 74% of the eligible consultant workforce. Nonwhite consultants earned just 5% of bonuses despite making up 14% of the eligible consultant workforce.

A follow-up paper in 2000-2001 found that white consultants received 37% more bonuses than nonwhite consultants and men gained 25% more bonuses than women. However, this year's data, released by the health department, show that the percentage of women applicants succeeding in getting bronze awards, worth about 34,000 on top of their annual salary, is now equal to that of men.

Doctors would not be expected to apply for the four top awards until they had been consultants for a decade. Women taking breaks to have children have therefore been less likely to apply. As many British Indian consultants as white British consultants are also now being awarded the first level of bonus, worth 2,850.

Professor Hamid Ghodse, medical director of the committee which decides on who gets awards, acknowledged that it had actively been trying to get more women and ethnic minority consultants to apply for bonuses - and would continue to do so.


The world should give thanks for America

By Mark Steyn

Thanksgiving (excepting the premature and somewhat undernourished Canadian version) is unique to America. "What's it about?" an Irish visitor asked me a couple of years back. "Everyone sits around giving thanks all day? Thanks for what? George bloody Bush?" Well, Americans have a lot to be thankful for.

Europeans think of this country as "the New World" in part because it has an eternal newness, which is noisy and distracting. Who would ever have thought you could have ready-to-eat pizza faxed directly to your iPod? And just when you think you're on top of the general trend of novelty, it veers off in an entirely different direction: Continentals who grew up on Hollywood movies where the guy tells the waitress "Gimme a cuppa joe" and slides over a nickel return to New York a year or two later and find the coffee now costs $5.75, takes 25 minutes and requires an agonizing choice between the cinnamon-gingerbread-persimmon latte with coxcomb sprinkles and the decaf venti pepperoni-Eurasian-milfoil macchiato. Who would have foreseen that the nation that inflicted fast food and drive-thru restaurants on the planet would then take the fastest menu item of all and turn it into a Kabuki-paced performance art? What mad genius!

But Americans aren't novelty junkies on the important things. The New World is one of the oldest settled constitutional democracies on Earth, to a degree the Old World can barely comprehend. Where it counts, Americans are traditionalists.

We know Eastern Europe was a totalitarian prison until the Nineties, but we forget that Mediterranean Europe (Greece, Spain, Portugal) has democratic roots going all the way back until, oh, the mid-Seventies; France and Germany's constitutions date back barely half a century, Italy's only to the 1940s, and Belgium's goes back about 20 minutes, and currently it's not clear whether even that latest rewrite remains operative. The U.S. Constitution is not only older than France's, Germany's, Italy's or Spain's constitution, it's older than all of them put together.

Americans think of Europe as Goethe and Mozart and 12th century castles and 6th century churches, but the Continent's governing mechanisms are no more ancient than the Partridge Family. Aside from the Anglophone democracies, most of the nation-states in the West have been conspicuous failures at sustaining peaceful political evolution from one generation to the next, which is why they're so susceptible to the siren song of Big Ideas - communism, fascism, European Union.

If you're going to be novelty-crazed, better the zebra-mussel cappuccino than the Third Reich.

Even in a supposedly 50/50 nation, you're struck by the assumed stability underpinning even fundamental disputes. If you go into a bookstore, the display shelves offer a smorgasbord of leftist anti-Bush tracts claiming that he and Cheney have trashed, mangled, gutted, raped and tortured, sliced 'n' diced the Constitution, put it in a cement overcoat and lowered it into the East River. Yet even this argument presupposes a shared veneration for tradition unknown to most Western political cultures: When Tony Blair wanted to abolish, in effect, the upper house of the national legislature, he just got on and did it.

I don't believe the U.S. Constitution includes a right to abortion or gay marriage or a zillion other things the Left claims to detect emanating from the penumbra, but I find it sweetly touching that in America even political radicalism has to be framed as an appeal to constitutional tradition from the powdered-wig era.

In Europe, by contrast, one reason why there's no politically significant pro-life movement is because, in a world where constitutions have the life expectancy of an Oldsmobile, great questions are just seen as part of the general tide, the way things are going, no sense trying to fight it. And, by the time you realize you have to, the tide's usually up to your neck.

So Americans should be thankful they have one of the last functioning nation-states. Europeans, because they've been so inept at exercising it, no longer believe in national sovereignty, whereas it would never occur to Americans not to. This profoundly different attitude to the nation-state underpins, in turn, Euro-American attitudes to transnational institutions such as the United Nations.

But on this Thanksgiving the rest of the world ought to give thanks to American national sovereignty, too. When something terrible and destructive happens - a tsunami hits Indonesia, an earthquake devastates Pakistan - the United States can project itself anywhere on the planet within hours and start saving lives, setting up hospitals and restoring the water supply.

Aside from Britain and France, the Europeans cannot project power in any meaningful way anywhere. When they sign on to an enterprise they claim to believe in - shoring up Afghanistan's fledgling post-Taliban democracy - most of them send token forces under constrained rules of engagement that prevent them doing anything more than manning the photocopier back at the base.

If America were to follow the Europeans and maintain only shriveled attenuated residual military capacity, the world would very quickly be nastier and bloodier, and far more unstable. It's not just Americans and Iraqis and Afghans who owe a debt of thanks to the U.S. soldier but all the Europeans grown plump and prosperous in a globalized economy guaranteed by the most benign hegemon in history.

That said, Thanksgiving isn't about the big geopolitical picture, but about the blessings closer to home. Last week, the state of Oklahoma celebrated its centennial, accompanied by rousing performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein's eponymous anthem:

"We know we belong to the land

And the land we belong to is grand!"

Which isn't a bad theme song for the first Thanksgiving, either.

Three hundred and 14 years ago, the Pilgrims thanked God because there was a place for them in this land, and it was indeed grand. The land is grander today, and that, too, is remarkable: France has lurched from Second Empires to Fifth Republics struggling to devise a lasting constitutional settlement for the same smallish chunk of real estate, but the principles that united a baker's dozen of East Coast colonies were resilient enough to expand across a continent and halfway around the globe to Hawaii. Americans should, as always, be thankful this Thanksgiving, but they should also understand just how rare in human history their blessings are.


Australia: This old Leftie is so good at projection he should run a movie theatre

Projection is of course seeing your own faults in others. It is an old deceptive strategy. Even Jesus Christ condemned it (Matthew 7:3-5). Bob Ellis below keeps saying Leftists "can't say" various things when they in fact say most of them all the time. He attributes speech restrictions to conservatives when it is Leftists who are always trying to suppress anything they dislike in the name of "hate speech". Reading the stuff below you would think that it was conservatives who constantly say "There's no such thing as right and wrong" -- when that is in fact the mantra of the Left. Ellis did once say a few reasonable things but maybe in his old age the booze has got to his brain. He certainly seems to live in a very distorted mental world. Unsurprisingly, the rant was published by Australia's public broadcaster

The Right's dirty tricks are many and cunning and foul and they stink in the nostrils of our neighbourly democracy - disfranchising 200,000 students, vagrants and people between addresses for instance, disqualifying George Newhouse, pretending Hicks, Habib, Haneef and Tony Tranh have somehow, somewhere imperilled Australia, pretending interest payments under Hawke and Keating weren't half, in real terms, of what they are now. But their most remarkable success, I think, has been to abolish - or terminally diminish - the concepts of 'better' and 'worse', and 'right' and 'wrong'.

We're not allowed to use them any more. We can't say, for instance, that many, many Russians are worse off now than they were under Gorbachev Communism, even those that beg on the streets now, as they never used to, or get hunted down and shot for dissident journalism. We can't say that four million Iraqis, those that have fled their homes and can't go back, are worse off now than they were under Saddam. We can't say Cubans are better off than they were under Batista, though 97 percent of them can read now versus 3 percent then, and no-one starves or lacks hospital treatment, even American tourists, even Michael Moore.

We actually can't say these things. We can't say privatisations make things worse though they always do, with Qantas less safe, ETSA more expensive, British Railways more dangerous, Telstra a nightmare of punishing greedy incompetence and higher phone fees. The concepts of 'better' and 'worse' can't apply to privatisations, the Right has decreed. Privatisations are inevitable, modern, trendy, fashionable, the future. If they turn out worse for you, tough titty. They're great for us, the shareholders. I invite you to name one entity that privatisation has made better, just one. Not 'more efficient', which means a lot of people get sacked and the services get worse, and scarier. Not 'more flexible and marketplace-oriented' which means it all goes overseas. Better; better for you. No? Not one? Funny, that.

And we can't say it's 'wrong' to torture people. We don't know what torture is - sleep deprivation, waterboarding, snarling dogs that threaten exhausted men's genitals being not quite cruel enough; torture is that which might 'occasion death' Don Rumsfeld says, so the question doesn't arise. Waterboarding is only 'abuse'; abuse is fine.

We can't say it's wrong to kill a hundred thousand Iraqi people, more than died at Hiroshima, because a ruler of theirs might be hiding a big bomb somewhere, so long as we call it 'minimising civilian casualties', and say we acted on 'the best advice available', then it's not wrong any more. That advice wasn't wrong; it was the best advice available, though Hans Blix's advice, which was right, was available too. Funny, that.

It's not wrong either to give 297 million dollars to Saddam Hussein to buy weapons with, or French perfume, so long as we did it inadvertently. It's not wrong to shoot Iraqi women and children in their moving cars in city streets so long as we do it inadvertently. There's no concept of 'manslaughter' in Americanised Iraq, it seems, the sort that gets you years in gaol for running over a child. We can blam away at civilians to our heart's content so long as we think they acted suspiciously. We're the good guys, and mistakes occur and they're a sad necessity in war. We regret all that, but we're not to blame. They didn't stop their car soon enough, and we 'followed the correct procedures' and blew them all away.

It's not wrong to send back women and kids in leaky boats into stormy seas, or stand by callously while they drown. These drownings serve the greater good. They stop desperate intelligent people from 'jumping the queues', the queues you used to see any day outside the embassies in Kabul when the Taliban ruled, and shot you for trying to leave. It isn't wrong to turn up in a classroom and march off weeping school kids into Villawood and traumatise their classmates; it's a regrettable necessity. Otherwise more little kids might come here and learn in school how to be good Australians, and we couldn't have that.

It's acceptable, apparently, ask Blackwater, to kill people if you offer their families twelve thousand dollars for each dead breadwinner, dead mother or dead child. That makes it all right. Twelve thousand dollars makes it all right. The convicts on Death Row should be told of this. A telethon could raise the money and set most of them free.

What's wrong about all this is not just that it happens but that John Howard seems to think it's fine, or he says he does. He uses the weasel words, mimimising casualties, regrettable necessity, inevitable dangers, and he goes to the soldiers' funerals and hugs their mothers and wives. He's good at all this, he says the right words, he talks the talk, regrettable necessity, served his country.

But he doesn't seem to understand, not even now, that it's simply wrong, dead wrong, to kill people, and it's worse than wrong to kill people who haven't done anything, and it's really wrong to torture people to get them to say things, true or not, that you want them to say, like David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib who in their dodgy confessions under 'quizzing' and 'rendition' impaired and fractured their subsequent lives. And it's wrong to lock up people like Tony Tranh without reason, and wreck his life, and his wife's, and his little son's, without even, thus far, a non-core apology.

And it's wrong that this kind of killing and torture doesn't put Howard and his linguistically slithery co-conspirator Ruddock in gaol, or in the dock in The Hague, or in a public debate on these things with Julian Burnside, or Michael Kirby, or Geoffrey Robertson in the Press Club in Canberra. These are the obvious minimums of response of civilised people in a just society of laws obeyed and crimes forbidden and days in court and jury verdicts and freedom of speech for all. They are the right responses. They serve the good. They make our life on earth better, not worse.

But the Right has its reasons, and 'better' and 'worse' and 'right' and 'wrong' aren't concepts it finds of use any more. When the Right is losing a war it says 'We're making progress in some areas, less progress in others'. When the Right inadvertently murders innocent people in their beds it says 'We're cracking down on an insurgent presence in a dangerous district in Sadr City'. When the Right is randomly kidnapping blameless breadwinners it says 'We're making significant arrests' and 'cleaning out the terrorist presence in a dangerous neighbourhood in Fellujah'.

Kidnapping is what we do, because we're there illegally. 'Making arrests' is what law-abiding people do, in justly constituted societies, after forensic investigation and a stated charge and the reading to the prisoner of his rights which include the right to phone his lawyer. We've kidnapped maybe fifty thousand people in Iraq, and let maybe forty-eight thousand of them go, declaring them probably innocent after months of fruitless torture, the frenzy of their families, the loss or bombing or shooting up of their houses, and the economic ruin of their bloodline's future, without apology, compensation, or even a taxi ride home. Mostly they're just dumped on a remote road and made to walk hundreds of miles to what used to be their family home.

And it's not wrong to do so, we're told. It's only 'mistaken'. 'In war mistakes are inevitably made' John Howard says. And that makes it all right. It's another of his non-core apologies; there will, I guess, be others if he survives in office; many are due.

Right and wrong should come back into the language, I think, and better and worse, even good and bad. Call me old-fashioned, but that's what I think. It's time.

In my late old age, and my darkening humanist despondency (I'm an extremist, fundamentalist, humanist fanatic, my son says unforgivingly but kindly), I've lately thought of issuing a T-shirt, and it reads: 'I think it's wrong to kill people; I think it's wrong to torture people, and wrong to hurt children. That's what I think. I'm a bleeding heart. How about you?'

Because this is all, in the end, a bleeding heart is, and the Right was very shrewd when it made that description of ordinary human decency seem so damning, so naive, so unrealistic in a world of regrettable necessities like the inadvertent killing of tens of thousands of children, and the torture of many with dogs and sleeplessness and simulated drowning. So I'm a bleeding heart, and I believe in right and wrong. And better and worse. How about you?


Conservatism and Christianity have much in common -- says Australian PM

There is a historical look at what they DO have in common here

GOD is not a Liberal, but he sure likes Liberal policies, Prime Minister John Howard has told Korean churchgoers in his marginal Sydney electorate. As the election campaign entered the final week, Mr Howard with his wife Janette, was back in Bennelong today amid fears he could lose the seat to the Labor challenger, former journalist Maxine McKew.

At the Riverside Girls High School hall in Gladesville, Mr Howard addressed a Korean congregation through an interpreter telling them he shared their belief in God and the "transforming influence" of Jesus Christ. "I'm not suggesting that God is either Liberal or Labor," Mr Howard said. "He is neither. "But I am suggesting that the influence of Christianity in such policies as families, individual responsibility ... personal choice and free enterprise sit very comfortably with the values of my party."

After the service, Mr Howard took the opportunity to press the flesh with constituents who will have a major role in deciding his fate in six days' time. It could be one of the last opportunities Mr Howard gets this campaign to convince Bennelong voters to give him another term in parliament.

Asked earlier what he expected to be doing the same time next Sunday, Mr Howard said: "I am planning to be preparing for our fifth term in government and I will be talking to the treasurer and deputy prime minister about that." Mr Howard rejected a suggestion that was a cocky remark. "It doesn't demonstrate hubris - it just demonstrates my quiet expectation," he said.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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