Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Racial, gender quotas in U.S. financial bill?

What one finds when reading congressional legislation is invariably surprising. Take the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill, for instance, which was created by merging Senate and House bills. When the Senate returns from recess one of its first actions will be to vote on the bill, which passed the House on June 30.

I was searching the bill for a provision about derivatives. What did I find but Section 342, which declares that race and gender employment ratios, if not quotas, must be observed by private financial institutions that do business with the government. In a major power grab, the new law inserts race and gender quotas into America's financial industry.

In addition to this bill's well-publicized plans to establish over a dozen new financial regulatory offices, Section 342 sets up at least 20 Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion. This has had no coverage by the news media and has large implications.

The Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the 12 Federal Reserve regional banks, the Board of Governors of the Fed, the National Credit Union Administration, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau...all would get their own Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.

Each office would have its own director and staff to develop policies promoting equal employment opportunities and racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of not just the agency's workforce, but also the workforces of its contractors and sub-contractors.

What would be the mission of this new corps of Federal monitors? The Dodd-Frank bill sets it forth succinctly and simply - all too simply. The mission, it says, is to assure "to the maximum extent possible the fair inclusion" of women and minorities, individually and through businesses they own, in the activities of the agencies, including contracting.

How to define "fair" has bedeviled government administrators, university admissions officers, private employers, union shop stewards and all other supervisors since time immemorial - or at least since Congress first undertook to prohibit discrimination in employment.

Sometimes, "fair" has been defined in relation to population numbers, for example, by the U.S. Department of Education in its enforcement of Title IX, passed in 1972 as an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which pertains to varsity athletic opportunities for male and female undergraduates.

Title IX was intended to protect against sex discrimination, but not to allow the use of quotas. Indeed, it specifically prohibited arbitrary leveling of student numbers by gender.

Yet in 1997 the courts essentially sided with an interpretation of the law promulgated by the Department of Education that left universities with no choice but to adopt a proportionality standard for college sports if they wished to avoid lawsuits. If 55% of the students are female, then 55% of the varsity sports slots have to go to women. Financial institutions might have to meet a similar proportionality standard.

Lest there be any narrow interpretation of Congress's intent, either by agencies or eventually by the courts, the bill specifies that the "fair" employment test shall apply to "financial institutions, investment banking firms, mortgage banking firms, asset management firms, brokers, dealers, financial services entities, underwriters, accountants, investment consultants and providers of legal services." That last would appear to rope in law firms working for financial entities.

Contracts are defined expansively as "all contracts for business and activities of an agency, at all levels, including contracts for the issuance or guarantee of any debt, equity, or security, the sale of assets, the management of the assets of the agency, the making of equity investments by the agency, and the implementation by the agency of programs to address economic recovery."

This latest attempt by Congress to dictate what "fair" employment means is likely to encourage administrators and managers, in government and in the private sector, to hire women and minorities for the sake of appearances, even if some new hires are less qualified than other applicants. The result is likely to be redundant hiring and a wasteful expansion of payroll overhead.

If the director decides that a contractor has not made a good-faith effort to include women and minorities in its workforce, he is required to contact the agency administrator and recommend that the contractor be terminated.

Section 342's provisions are broad and vague, and are certain to increase inefficiency in federal agencies. To comply, federal agencies are likely to find it easier to employ and contract with less-qualified women and minorities, merely in order to avoid regulatory trouble. This would in turn decrease the agencies' efficiency, productivity and output, while increasing their costs.

Setting up these Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion is a troubling indictment of current law. Women and minorities have an ample range of legal avenues already to ensure that businesses engage in nondiscriminatory practices. By creating these new offices, Congress does not believe that existing law is sufficient.

Cabinet-level departments already have individual Offices of Civil Rights and Diversity. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance are charged with enforcing racial and gender discrimination laws.

With the new financial regulation law, the federal government is moving from outlawing discrimination to setting up a system of quotas. Ultimately, the only way that financial firms doing business with the government would be able to comply with the law is by showing that a certain percentage of their workforce is female or minority.

The new Offices of Women and Minorities represent a major change in employment law by imposing gender and racial quotas on the financial industry. The issue deserves careful debate - rather than a few pages slipped into the financial regulation bill.


What does it mean when thousands of "Americans" mourn the death of a preacher of terrorism?

In the words of his admirer, the Islamochristian and former CNN Mideast editor Octavia Nasr, Fadlallah "hated with a vengeance the United States government and Israel," "regularly praised the terror attacks that killed Israeli citizens," was a Holocaust denier, and was "designated a terrorist by the U.S. Treasury Department."

The mainstream media constantly demands of us that we assume, without examination, that most Muslims in the U.S. -- all but a few "wackos," such as are found in "any religious group" -- are loyal citizens who love Constitutional liberties, abhor jihad terrorism, and have no intention of bringing Sharia here, at any time or in any way, in whole or in part, now or in the future.

So why would "thousands" of Shi'ites in Detroit be mourning this cleric, who green-lighted the 1983 Hizballah attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241? Hizballah's founder Hassan Nasrallah has said, "If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide." Wouldn't patriotic, pluralistic American Muslims oppose Fadlallah, and not engage in such a public display of mourning, simply as a matter of principle?

Or could it be that we've been sold a bill of goods about what Muslims in the U.S. really think, and need to examine that subject much more closely?

Meanwhile, the noble Niraj Warikoo of the Detroit Free Press tells his readers that this bloodthirsty jihadist was "controversial." Yes, the U.S. government makes some claims about him, but the Muslim leaders mourning him in Detroit say those claims are inaccurate, and well now, that settles it, doesn't it?

More on this story. Tiny Minority of Extremists Update: "Popular, controversial Muslim cleric mourned," by Niraj Warikoo for the Detroit Free Press, July 10:
Thousands of Shia Muslims in metro Detroit are mourning the death of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a Lebanese cleric who was enormously popular locally but controversial to his critics. Six nights of memorial services at three Shia mosques conclude Sunday at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.

Fadlallah, 74, who had been ill, died Sunday. He was considered a top scholar in the Shia Muslim world, a grand ayatollah whose views had a great deal of influence on everything from marital relations to women to politics. In Dearborn, he was probably the most respected cleric among Lebanese-American Shia Muslims, according to experts and local leaders.

Speaking to hundreds this week inside the Islamic Institute of Knowledge in Dearborn, Imam Mohammed Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights said that Fadlallah was a "man of peace, man of justice ... a man of antiterrorism and antiviolence."

The U.S. government, however, considered Fadlallah to be a terrorism supporter and spiritual leader of Hizballah. It says he sanctioned the 1983 bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut. Fadlallah's supporters say those claims are inaccurate and that he often criticized terrorism.

To many, he was seen as a progressive who was a strong supporter of women's rights....

Yes, as a Sharia supporter, he no doubt strongly supported a woman's right to be beaten if disobedient (Qur'an 4:34), to be one of a stable of four women (plus slave girls) servicing a man (Qur'an 4:3), to have her testimony counted as half that of a man (Qur'an 2:282), etc. etc. etc.


Badly behaved children shouldn't be excused

"Medical" conditions should not be blamed or used as an excuse for children's bad behaviour

'It's not his fault, he's got a disability," said the mother as her son ran around the outpatient clinic causing mayhem. He had just upturned a table, sending magazines skidding across the floor. One of the receptionists began picking them up and looked at me, rolling her eyes.

"He's got conduct disorder, you can't blame him," his mother continued as I ushered them into my room. While I was working in child psychiatry, I'd frequently see children such as this boy whom, to the casual observer, would be branded as "badly behaved". But in medicine, extremes of such behaviour have in recent years attracted psychiatric diagnoses. They are now illnesses. Terms such as "school refusal disorder" and "oppositional defiant syndrome" (hostile and defiant behaviour to authority figures) are labels often given to children. But are these illnesses in the traditional sense? And, if so, what causes them?

A team based at Cambridge University, and funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust, published research last week, which, it is claimed, suggests that abnormalities in the brain may be responsible for anti-social behaviour. This is of great importance because it helps to establish such behaviour firmly in the realm of psychiatric morbidity. The study, based on brain scans conducted on teenage boys who had childhood or adolescent onset "conduct disorder" (characterised by aggressive and anti-social behaviour) shared similar brain patterns – typically less activity in the parts of the brain associated with processing emotions.

I'm not sure that such a reductionist approach is helpful. While the implication is that abnormalities in the brain are the cause of the behaviour, this ignores the fact that our environment and experiences help shape these neurological connections. Are such defects present at birth or do they develop in response to external factors? The research cannot show if parenting skills impact on the presence of such abnormalities.

The sentiment that the mother voiced – that blame cannot be attributed to anti-social behaviour because it is a medical condition – is pervasive. Yet we must take responsibility for our actions, and surely children need to understand this. Of course, there are times when a diagnostic label can be beneficial. It helps professionals understand the problems, and enables access to services and interventions. But the downside to this is that the medicalisation of behaviour comes with a tendency to remove responsibility. Children suddenly become untouchable, beyond reproach or remonstration.

While children can only be held responsible for their behaviour to a degree because they are, after all, minors and are, by definition, still developing emotionally and morally, the medicalisation of behaviour absolves everyone from responsibility.

But the law sees things differently. Adults with anti-social behaviour have also been shown to have structural differences in their brains, but does this mean they can be excused when they break the law? Of course not. I think we're doing children a disservice by giving them the impression that because they now have a medical label, they are unable to control their behaviour. After all, when they become adults, anti-social behaviour is dealt with legally, rather than medically. It also stops us asking about social and environmental factors. The brain may hold the key to our behaviour, but it's not to blame for it.


Courts send children to live with violent parents

These latest findings will be no surprise to anybody who has followed the incessant reports of social worker idiocy -- particularly reports from NSW (in Australia) and Britain

COURTS are delivering children to their abusers and ignoring or disbelieving claims of domestic violence.

Australian academics have found that children are sent to live with abusive parents because lawyers and judges are emphasising shared parenting, at the expense of the child's safety. The investigation also found:

* Professionals in the family law system often do not believe allegations of domestic violence or counsel the innocent parent not to mention it for fear of sounding vindictive and of risking contact with their children.

* After divorce or separation, four in 10 children are scared to spend time with the father and almost one in 10 does not feel safe with the mother.

The Federal Attorney-General's Department commissioned the report as part of a review of 2006 changes to the Family Law Act.

University of South Australia adjunct professor Dale Bagshaw, who co-led a team of academics from UniSA and interstate, said the system needed a complete overhaul to make child safety the highest priority.

"The biggest problem reported to us was kids going into unsafe situations because the emphasis on parental rights has been given the same emphasis as the safety of the child," Professor Bagshaw said.

"We are arguing that ... the safety of the child should be given the highest priority and any accusation of violence should be investigated before the child is sent to stay with the abusive parent."

Professor Bagshaw said throughout the separation process, children felt powerless because they were not given a say about parenting arrangements or their wishes were ignored.

The report's recommendations include that children's welfare needs be paramount, that victims' rights be given priority over children's contact with the perpetrator, and that all family law professionals should have more education on family violence.

Law Society of SA president Richard Mellows said while he could not comment directly on the report, he was aware there were public misconceptions about the legal changes.

He said courts still had to determine what was in the best interest of the child when making parenting orders, and that any proof of violence would be heard in court.

Researchers spoke to more than 1000 adults and more than 100 children.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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