Monday, March 12, 2012

Great Moments in European Political Correctness

Europe is in shambles. Nations are going bankrupt. There are riots in the streets. So you would guess that the folks at the European Commission are focused on some big issues.

But you would be wrong. The eurocrats in Brussels have much bigger fish to fry. They’re addressing the unmitigated horror of inadequate female representation in corporate boardrooms and contemplating continent-wide quotas.

I’m not kidding. Here are some excerpts from the New York Times report.
Frustrated that her previous efforts to get more women into the top echelons of European business have not yielded stronger results, Viviane Reding, the senior justice official in the European Union, was to announce a new effort Monday that could result in legislation requiring that women occupy up to 60 percent of the seats on corporate boards. …E.U.-wide rules were now needed, she said. “Personally, I don’t like quotas,” Ms. Reding said. “But I like what the quotas do. Quotas open the way to equality and they break through the glass ceiling.” Countries that have quotas “bring the results,” she said. Ms. Reding has long campaigned for major changes in European boardrooms and had given industry “a last chance” to improve its record on placing women in top management.

Isn’t that nice. She doesn’t like quotas, but she has no choice because she gave industry a “last chance” to engage in gender bean counting and they didn’t comply.

I wonder if it’s ever occurred to this über-bureaucrat that it’s not her job to tell private companies who to hire, fire, or promote?

As an aside, the New York Times manages to demonstrate its bias by directly implying that “genuine equality” only exists if boardrooms have equal numbers of men and women.
Having now concluded that self-regulation has failed, Ms. Reding has set her sights on legislation that could, if enacted, drastically speed up a revolution in the position of women in the workplace that began many decades ago but has so far failed to deliver genuine equality in many areas of business.

Has it ever occurred to the reporter that “genuine equality” exists when everyone has an equal chance and government doesn’t put a thumb on the scale? But regardless of what he thinks, doesn’t good journalism mean keeping his opinions to himself?

Maybe I’m just too old fashioned.

Let’s return to the meat of the story and the actions of Ms. Reding. In this passage, I like how she blames “society” because companies didn’t kow-tow to her voluntary suggestions.
In the announcement to be made Monday, Ms. Reding will call for a new round of consultations with governments, trade unions, companies and civil groups. The move comes a year after she called on companies to take voluntary steps to increase the representation of women on boards to 30 percent by 2015 and to 40 percent by 2020, by replacing departing male directors. …Ms. Reding said that the severe economic downturn in Europe that has pressured companies to focus on their bottom lines was not responsible for the failure of her voluntary initiative. “It is really a question of society,” she said.

The story continues with discussion of the onerous plans being concocted by Ms. über-bureaucrat.
Ms. Reding said that the consultations, beginning Monday and ending on May 28, would determine the proportion of women that should be on boards under any E.U.-wide legislation; whether quotas should apply to state-owned companies as well as publicly listed ones; whether both executive and nonexecutive boards should be covered by the rules; and what sanctions should apply to companies that do not meet the objectives, and if there are circumstances where exceptions are necessary.

Unfortunately, the private sector in Europe has the same cringing approach as their counterparts in the United States. Instead of boldly saying that corporate boards are a private matter for shareholders to decide, representatives from big companies accept the intrusion and merely complain about implementation.
…the European Round Table of Industrialists, a forum for the chairmen and chief executives of major multinational companies, has warned that big divergences among sectors and national traditions meant any measures should remain voluntary. “Societal changes take time,” said Carlo Bozotti, the chief executive of STMicroelectronics, a semiconductor company, and the head of a group at the Round Table looking at the issue. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution for industrial companies from multiple sectors, of various structures, and from diverse cultural backgrounds,” he said.

The article concludes with an assertion that “gender-diverse” boardrooms lead to better economic performance. That may very well be true, but it suggests that shareholders are deliberately sacrificing income and wealth in order to retain something akin to an old boys’ network. That seems rather implausible, to say the least.
There is plentiful evidence from business consulting firms including McKinsey & Co., and from Catalyst, a nonprofit research group, that companies with gender-diverse management teams experience higher growth in their share prices, better-than-average operating profits, and outperform their rivals in terms of sales, return on investment capital and return on equity, according to the report. That research showed that women asked more questions and made fewer reckless decisions, proving that “women are not a cost, women are a benefit,” Ms. Reding said.

I want to close with a semi-optimistic note. As crazy as it is for Ms. Reding to try to dictate the number of men and women in corporate boardrooms, at least she’s not complaining about discrimination based on looks or height and trying to get government involved in those areas. At least, not yet.


Militant neo-atheists are busting a gut to drive Christians off the radar, says British TV cook

Delia Smith is mounting a campaign to defend Christianity against attacks by 'militant neo-atheists' – who she claims are engaged in a 'running battle’ with believers. The veteran television chef was prompted to make her outspoken remarks by a series of high-profile rows over the role of religion in modern life.

Ms Smith, 70, said: 'There is a running battle going on... and militant neo-atheists and devout secularists are busting a gut to drive us off the radar and try to convince us that we hardly exist.’ In the statement posted on her website, – which has two million regular users – the chef added: 'I am a passionate believer but... we are somewhat under the cosh.'

Last night Ms Smith said she had been spurred into action by hearing the atheist scientist, Richard Dawkins, claim recently that religion was increasingly irrelevant in Britain.

Ms Smith said: 'Atheists have been saying that Christianity is dying. 'He [Richard Dawkins] did a survey which said we were not a Christian country, which was cheeky – and not true. 'Secularists and believers have got to work alongside each other. But Christians are alive and kicking. 'I probably will be saying more on this subject. I am concerned about it.'

Mr Dawkins had backed up his claim by saying that the proportion of people identifying themselves as Christians had plunged from 72 per cent to just 54 per cent in the past ten years. He said the findings supported his contention that all signs of religion in British public life should be removed, along with Christian opposition to social changes such as gay marriage and assisted suicide.

'It is clear that faith is a spent force in the UK and it is time our policy-makers woke up to that reality and stopped trying to impose beliefs on society that society itself has largely rejected,' he said.

Ms Smith made her call to her followers as part of an appeal for the aid charity, the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD), saying: 'Whilst the belief battle grabs the headlines, one thing we all stand united on is hopefully our common belief in human life and human flourishing.'

Last month a judge caused fury in the Christian community when he ordered Bideford Council in Devon to stop holding prayers during official proceedings – after an atheist former councillor complained it disregarded non–believers.

On the same day, in a separate test case heard in the Supreme Court, a Christian couple lost their attempt to overturn a £3,600 fine imposed on them for refusing to allow a gay couple to occupy a double room in their hotel.

But Keith Porteous Wood, of the The National Secular Society, said: 'Delia Smith has fallen for a myth in imagining secularists and atheists are somehow endangering her faith. 'It is the Church that is destroying itself with its inhumane pronouncements and unwillingness, in some cases, to admit its own evil-doing. 'When crimes against little children are denied and covered up, people are repelled and walk away.

The prayers ruling was condemned by bishops and Cabinet Ministers. Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles dismissed it as 'illiberal' and personally signed an order giving councils the power to ignore the ban.

Shortly afterwards Baroness Warsi, the Conservative chairman, used a visit to the Vatican to launch an attack on the 'liberal elite' attempting to downgrade the importance of religion in public life.

Ms Smith comes from an ecumenical background, having been baptised into the Church of England and attended a Methodist Sunday School and a Congregationalist Brownie group before converting to Catholicism at the age of 22.

She has written books on religion, including a full-length book on prayer called A Journey Into God. Ms Smith's cookery books are the second bestselling in the UK, earning her £63 million – second only to Jamie Oliver's £101 million. She has presented cookery programmes on the BBC since 1973.


Racism against black and Jewish people is all in their minds, claims veteran comedian Jackie Mason in provocative outburst

I think he is largely right. People have their thoughts but rarely act on them these days

Veteran Jewish comedian Jackie Mason has plunged the BBC’s Desert Island Discs into the centre of a race row by claiming that ‘Jewish and black people’ are no longer the victims of racial discrimination.

Mason, 75, who is regarded as one of the world’s greatest stand-up comedy stars, said some minority groups wrongly believe they are still being persecuted because of an inability to escape the past.

In an edition of the Radio 4 show to be broadcast today, the New York-born star says: ‘I wouldn’t say the Jews or the blacks today are suffering from racism. ‘I don’t think it’s such a terrible disadvantage to be black or Jewish today.’

He added: ‘But because they once were ...... they are still not comfortable enough with the new situation they’re in. ‘They still can’t accept the fact that they are completely accepted everywhere ..... it’s all in their minds.’

Mason, who is currently playing to packed houses in London’s West End, said he doubted whether Jewish people were even being persecuted when he started out as a comedian in the early Sixties.

He said their memories of the horrors unleashed by the Second World War had kept their fears alive. He said: ‘Jews weren’t really suffering anywhere, but they were self-conscious because they have suffered in the past. ‘It was like they couldn’t believe the fact they were being accepted now and they were still nervous about something that hasn’t happened in the last 20 years.’

Mason, who was ordained as a rabbi before opting for a life as a comedian, said many other minority groups shared fears that were equally unwarranted. He said: ‘It’s the same with black people today. They still talk about being persecuted when the white people don’t even feel that.’

Mason’s comments shocked Kirsty Young, the show’s host, who said it was up to the minority groups themselves to identify incidents of racism.

But the star said young people today simply did not care about issues of religion and race any more. He said: ‘The younger the people are the less it matters to them what their identity is in terms of their religion or their colour. ‘Whites and blacks would never marry in those days. Jews and Gentiles would never marry. Today, that type of marriage is very common.’

He said some people who complained of racism were simply covering up for their inadequacies, and the election of President Barack Obama proved times had moved on. He said: ‘I see this with all the minorities. You can’t get a job somewhere. He can’t admit to himself that he is inadequate – they’ll claim it’s anti-Semitism.

‘It’s more imagination. Everybody imagined that it’s impossible for a black person to get elected President of the United States. Whether they are Jewish or white or black, they never thought it was possible for a black person to become President.’

Mason said his distinct Jewish sense of humour often alienated members of that community. He said: ‘A lot of Jews are embarrassed by Jewishness because it reminds them of their parents and grandparents who were refugees and poverty stricken. They were always like an alienated minority. People who are raised that way still have a feeling of “I don’t belong if I’m Jewish so I’d rather you don’t mention it”.’


Australia: Darwin Mayoral candidate hits out at park and street dwellers

Most Aboriginals are quite relaxed about living in the open with minimal shelter -- so they tend to "camp" for extended periods on public land -- in parks, on beach foreshores, etc.

Since they also tend to be alcohol abusers, this is experienced as unpleasant by the rest of the community -- who avoid places where the Aborigines are camped

Mentioning any of that is very "incorrect", however. A dark skin makes you immune from criticism these days

LORD mayoral candidate Katrina Fong Lim has vowed to rid Darwin's streets of itinerants. One of her opponents - rubbish warrior Trevor Jenkins - is homeless.

In a press release entitled "Fong Lim targets itinerants", Ms Fong Lim said Darwin residents had the right to use the city's parks, beaches and shopping centres without having to be humbugged.

"We live in an affluent society and no one should be homeless - however some people, for whatever reason, cannot conform to standard suburban living," she said.

"I believe (the) council has a role in helping address the issue whether it is through better designed and maintained public areas, examining our place in delivering appropriate services and/or looking for innovative solutions such as a possible increase of night and day patrol services."

Ms Fong Lim was quickly criticised by incumbent Graeme Sawyer and community groups, who accused her of demonising the most vulnerable members of our society. Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer said Ms Fong Lim was taking a cheap shot at Darwin's most vulnerable in a bid to score a political point. "Itinerants and homeless people are part of our community too," he said. "It's very cheap for someone to come out and say local government should come out and do something about this."

Mr Sawyer said the council already helped itinerants through its program Homeless Connect and was working with 56 organisations on the issue. It was also working with the Government to house homeless people, he said.

NT Shelter policy officer Morgan Sabbith said homeless people had every right to use the city's parks and beaches. "This is how they live and the rest of us don't like seeing it," she said. "A lot of people have nowhere to go. "There's not enough housing; Aboriginal people are actively discriminated against when they apply for housing."

Ms Sabbith said the best thing to help homeless people was to build shower and toilet facilities around the city, East Point, and near the hospital.



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. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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