Saturday, 9 February 2008

Until men have babies, this pay gap will remain

The original report isn't yet available on the Commons website, but journos in receipt of embargoed copies filed their stories for today's papers. The thrust of the committee's spin is clear; despite 30 years of equal pay legislation women still earn 17.2% less than men, which is grossly unfair and firms should be forced to pay them the same money. Oh dear. Another bunch of twunts.

Right, this is post-grad economics, so do try to keep up at the back.

Discrimination is not an evil. We discriminate in favour of the most capable candidate when we appoint people to jobs. We discriminate in favour of tractors over racing cars when we choose a vehicle to pull a harrow. All this is 'good' discrimination and is not only entirely legal, it is essential for economic efficiency.

Point two. Employment discrimination on grounds other than for economic efficiency is termed 'taste discrimination' and is a bad thing and largely illegal. Taste discrimination includes discrimination on grounds of race, sex or religion (the last is important in Northern Ireland).

Point three. The aim of the firm is to maximise profit. Firms other than micro 'mom and pop' enterprises very rarely practice taste discrimination. Very often the opposite is true; Grunwick Film labs deliberately employed Asian women over white working class men because they would work for less, and the firm earned itself the bitter hatred of the Union movement. Taste discrimination is more likely to be found in public sector organisations than in private sector ones.

Point four. Employment, promotion and reward decisions that are made in the furtherance of economic efficiency are made on the grounds of an employee's qualifications, experience and an 'employability factor' (are they acquainted with a toothbrush and an iron, and refrain from swearing at customers).

Point five. It's been ten years since I did my Masters, and the pay gap then, when I studied this subject, was 18%, and it's hardly moved. There was a substantial body of economic research into this pay gap, all of which found that the pay gap attributable to taste discrimination was somewhere in the region of 3% to 5% - meaning that 13% - 15% of the pay gap was attributable to other factors. The reason for this larger difference is essentially simple; men and women of the same age with exactly the same qualifications and 'employability' often differ substantially in the third factor, experience. The reason why women have less cumulative experience than men is because they spend significant periods out of the workplace when having babies. And that's it.

Take two 30 year olds, John and Janet, working for the same firm. They started on the same day, with exactly the same degree from the same university, and both are equally bright, personable and compliant. John has 9 years of experience since joining the firm, but Janet only has 6, having had two children and having taken advantage of the firm's enlightened and progressive 'career break' scheme. John earns a fifth more than Janet because his additional experience makes him more efficient.

It angers me when twunts such as Judy Mallaber, the Labour MP who led the enquiry, suggest that the 18% gap is all due to capitalist private enterprise exercising taste discrimination against women. It's untrue. It's a lie. And what's more it's deadly dangerous.

If the firm is forced by law to ignore Janet's years out of the workplace having babies and is forced to pay her the same as John, the firm becomes less efficient, and therefore less competitive, and the economy as a whole is the loser. Twunts.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Livingstone's loathsome Jihadist chum banned from UK

Al-Qaradawi, who preaches the most loathsome and repugnant hate in the name of Islam, and has previously been one of Mad Ken's closest chums, has been refused a visa to enter the UK at last. The so-called Muslim Council of Britain has accused the government of bowing to pressure from "pro-Zionist and neo-conservative lobby".

Livingstone accuses anyone who doesn't share his unbounded admiration for Qaradawi of being an 'Islamophobe'. Heck, that's better than being a violent and deranged Whisky drunk, I guess.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Labour's biggest failure

The publication of the Commons' Public Accounts Committee's report today makes depressing reading. Forget the moral arguments over the welfare slavery of millions and the tax cost of £13 billion a year, look at the economic arguments.

Unemployment will never be zero; employment is a stock concept, with people constantly moving into and out of work, and at any one time there will be people in between jobs. There will also be those of working age whose physical or mental disabilities make them completely unemployable. This 'frictional' level of unemployment is the minimum for a healthy economy.

There will also be unemployment from structural changes in the economy; as mining and heavy manufacturing, for instance, wind down there will be a lag before workers in these industries re-skill and find new work. The UK has largely passed through this stage, and we should have no significant structural unemployment.

Demand deficient unemployment occurs when the economy can't sustain the number of jobs that the working population are available to fill. We have none of this; our economy has been hugely strong, with a great hunger for workers that has drawn labour from half way around the globe.

Finally there is involuntary and voluntary unemployment. Someone is involuntarily unemployed if they would accept a job at the going wage rate but for whatever reasons can't get one. There is little involuntary unemployment these days in the UK.

We must therefore conclude that the 25% of those of working age in the UK who are currently workless are made up either of the frictionally unemployed (a small percentage) and the voluntarily unemployed, and that the reason voluntary unemployment is so high is that the welfare benefits system is so generous.

Clinton-style welfare reforms, so long championed by Frank Field in the UK and so long blocked, thwarted and frustrated by the malign manoeuverings of Brown and his Trotskyist cabal, are not a moral punishment for being unemployed; they are a liberating reform that will free millions from Brown's Welfare Slavery, bring billions more back into the British economy as benefits paid are replaced by tax rendered, and end the labour-drag that has seen high and unsustainable immigration into the UK.

Brown's stubborn redistributive socialism has failed, as anyone with any real intellect always predicted it would. He had caused unmeasurable damage to our economy which will take years to repair. The sooner this fool is hounded from office in ignominy the better for the nation.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Some root. Some branch.

Gorbals Mick has launched a 'root and branch' in-depth examination of MP's expenses, by, er, 3 MPs. Including the loathsome David Maclean, the man who nearly succeeded in banning the application of the Freedom of Information Act to our less-than-honourable snouts in the house.

At a time when Parliament's public reputation is (deservedly) lower than a snake's arse such a pointless rearguard fight will only fuel public anger.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Labour's hidden death-courts have no place in our democracy

On a Spring evening in 2005 a car containing three black men was blocked in by police cars belonging to Gun Squad SO19 and 14 armed policemen leapt to deal with the occupants. Two were later convicted of crack-dealing offences. The car contained two working handguns with six rounds of ammunition, two of which were small calibre (possibly .22), as well as a non-working deactivated handgun. The third occupant of the car, 24 year old Azelle Rodney, was shot six times in the head, face, neck and chest. He died.

From the bare facts one might be excused for believing this to have been a straightforward case of death by misadventure; no-one has suggested that Azelle Rodney was ignorant of the purpose of the other two, or of the presence of handguns in the vehicle. Indeed, a Coroner's jury presented with the evidence might easily reach a misadventure verdict. The police officer who fired the fatal shots says he had reason to suspect that Rodney was reaching for a firearm. The CPS have found insufficient grounds to prosecute him.

However, no Coroner's jury has heard the evidence or is likely to. The Coroner has said he cannot hold a lawful inquest because of secret evidence that cannot be made public.

And here we can only conjecture. It could be that a friend or relative of Rodney, or an undercover police or customs officer, had informed police that the trio were more heavily armed than they were - that on the basis of this information that they believed that Rodney could have been reaching for, say, an automatic assault rifle. To make public the identity of such an informant amongst that crack milieu might be to cause their death. It could be that the hypothetical informant has refused or not qualified for a new identity, or that the police are still using them.

For whatever reason, the evidence is 'secret'. In my conjectural case above, it might be that such evidence cannot be given to a jury without exposing the identity of the informant; that whatever the integrity of jury members, they would be subject to threat, intimidation or violence from the drugs milieu to disclose the identity of such an informant.

I suspect it's for reasons very much like these that the government are proposing, in ss. 64 & 65 of the Counter Terrorism Bill, to have the right to hold inquests without juries and to appoint their own coroner if the Minister thinks that it would not be 'in the public interest' to disclose sensitive information to a normal coroner and jury.

They are utterly and completely wrong.

Coroners' inquests are not about the rights of the living, or even less about 'the public interest'; they are about the rights of the dead. It is the right of every British subject who meets a violent or sudden death at the hands of the State to have a jury of ordinary British subjects, under the advice of a coroner who is outside of the criminal justice system, to have the circumstances of their demise examined. It is one of our most ancient rights. It might be that the coroner's jury decides it was our own fault - death by misadventure. Or that we killed ourselves. Or that it was an accident. But our greatest defence lies in the fact that they can also decide, against the wishes of the police, or the CPS, or the government, or the coroner himself, that we were unlawfully killed. This is our final safeguard against the capriciousness of the State, and the basis of the compact between the Crown and the people, in which allegiance is given in return for protection from casual murder.

We cannot permit any government to rob us of this right.
No need to reintroduce dog licences

The growth in the number of 'street legal' Staffordshire bull terriers is obvious to those of us who live within Zone 3. The switch to legal Staffies has come after police action has reduced the numbers of illegal American bull terriers available on the black market. As the Observer reports:
'It appears to be the latest hoodie accessory,' said RSPCA chief inspector Jan Eachus. 'Guns are illegal, knives are illegal, but to walk a dog on the street is not against the law.'
Predictably, Statists are calling for the re-introduction of the dog licence, or for owner licencing, or compulsory taxation and chipping of all dogs. None of these measures are needed.

Let's be clear about this. These people are not owner-occupiers. They live in council houses or housing association flats. Tenancy agreements allow their landlords the right to approve dogs on an individual basis; the scruffy mongrel that is some elderly person's sole companion can be allowed, a fighting or inappropriate dog, whether defined by the Dangerous Dogs Act or not, can be refused and the tenant evicted if they breach their agreement.

All that's needed is for councils and HAs to be told their government subsidies will be decreased unless they act like responsible landlords. Such action will not entirely eliminate the problem, but will certainly reduce it so substantially that it ceases to be one.