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Totalitarianism, well and alive in Europe

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Inquisitor Posted: Sat, Mar 8 2008 11:12 AM

It’s now a law in Norway that large, publicly-traded companies must have at least 40% women in their corporate boards … or risk dissolution:

"A woman comes in, a man goes out. That’s how the quota works; that’s the law," says Kjell Erik Øie, deputy minister of children and equality, in the centre-left "Red-Green" coalition government in Oslo. "Very seldom do men let go of power easily. But when you start using the half of the talent you have previously ignored, then everybody gains."

Businesses fought hard against the legislation, but they lost:

… even in Norway the quota went ahead only after years of ferocious debate and some resistance. As one male non-executive director who has survived the recent cull of boards put it, "What I and a lot of people don’t understand is why it is seen as good for business to swap seasoned players for lip gloss?"

But such scepticism was not as widespread as one might expect. Ansgar Gabrielsen, 52, a Conservative trade and industry minister, and former businessman, is the unlikely champion of the quota. In 2002, in the then centre-coalition government, he publicly proposed a 40% quota on publicly listed boards without consulting cabinet colleagues. The law would be enacted in three years, he announced, only if companies failed to comply. The challenge was huge. Out of the 611 affected companies, 470 had not a single female board member.

Gabrielsen’s reasoning at that time set the terms of the debate that followed. The quota was presented less as a gender-equality issue, and more as one driven by economic necessity. He argued that diversity creates wealth. The country could not afford to ignore female talent, he said. Norway has a low unemployment rate (now at 1.5%) and a large number of skilled and professional posts unfilled. "I could not see why, after 30 years of an equal ratio of women and men in universities and having so many women with experience, there were so few of them on boards," he says.

Source. 

 If "diversity creates wealth", why would profit-oriented firms oppose the legislation? Real socialist "logic" at work here.

  

 

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BWF89 replied on Sat, Mar 8 2008 1:23 PM

Reminds me of last year in health class when I was debating my health teacher on anti-smoking leglislation in resteraunts. She kept saying that if smoking were banned in resteraunts they would actually make more money because of all the people who don't go to reseraunts as often as they'd like to because people area allowed to smoke there. I mentinoed that if there were really that many people the businesses would ban smoking themselves to raise profits. But she didn't seem to understand the logic.

Europe is on it's way to the crapper and in more ways than one.

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Political correctness rears its ugly head yet again...

"There is no kind of freedom and liberty other than the kind which the market economy brings about. In a totalitarian hegemonic society the only freedom that is left to the individual, because it cannot be denied to him, is the freedom to commit suicide." -Ludwig von Mises
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lebear replied on Sun, Mar 9 2008 3:08 PM

Oh yea, feminism is the new thing! 

There's currently an investigation going on in Sweden, that will lead to a proposal of a new constitution (last one was ratified in 1974, we don't quite have the American constitutional tradition over here), and they're seriously considering a feminist perspective to it... uhm.

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Joakim replied on Mon, Mar 10 2008 3:01 AM

Yeah, I dont see it going anywhere else. Even the most "rightist" and "freedom loving" parties in sweden are still more left than the democrats. And so many people to the right completely buy into their rethoric. I might have to emigrate to New Hampshire or... New Zeeland or whatever, because I can already just sense all these moronic laws being made right now. I have the feeling that Sweden is going to hell, and if the socialists win the next election, with Mona Sahlin as prime minister, I really, really, might have to consider getting out. 

 Interesting thing about the proposal in Norway is that it has not lead to more women, or at least not THAT many more, in actual numbers, being employed for these sort of jobs. Instead, companies in Norway find women that have the sort of competence it takes, and hire them... and these women are already employed by various other firms... so these women that have the skills needed are called Golden Cows (I think), simply because they are sitting in, I dont know, 10 or more boards at the same time. And there's a sort of quiet understanding that they are only there on paper.

The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false front for the urge to rule it. - H. L. Mencken
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Kakugo replied on Mon, Mar 10 2008 3:55 AM

Like all legislation which drapes itself in the mantle of "equality", "human rights" and so on I wonder if this legislation was not written on more mundane purposes. First purpose is, of course, to increase the "value" of women already doing the job: you can be in more than one board at at a time, no problem. These women would become extremely sought after (and much better paid, of course). Second purpose is to "share the booty" more equally: my personal experience tells me that corporate boards are usually crammed full with former politicians who, for a reason or another, cannot be elected anymore or wish to have a less fatiguing job than continously cajoling electors and robbing taxpayers. Since Scandinavian politics has been crammed full with women for the past thirty-odd years it doesn't take a genius to figure out that more former politicians will find a nice, well paid place to wait for retirement. Third purpose is probably pretty similar to the second and it will allow university personell similar advantages to those given to politicians.

Allow me a personal comment but I have formed a low opinion of many persons (be them women or otherwise) who entered particular positions because of "reserved quotas". And I'll stop there. Again Americans clamoring for "a more equal world through politics" should be sent to Europe to work for a couple of years. They'll be cured of their infatuation soon enough.

One final word: how many Norwegian companies will follow the examples of Sweden's IKEA (which relocated headquarters to the Netherlands) and Tetrapak (which moved to Switzerland)? How many will become easy picking for foreign comapnies after having sapped of their vital strength?

 

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Solomon replied on Mon, Mar 10 2008 5:24 AM

BWF89:
She kept saying that if smoking were banned in resteraunts they would actually make more money because of all the people who don't go to reseraunts as often as they'd like to because people area allowed to smoke there. I mentinoed that if there were really that many people the businesses would ban smoking themselves to raise profits. But she didn't seem to understand the logic.

It's this exact same ignorance that's shockingly prevalent among our ruling class (not to mention college economics faculties).  E.g. it's no arcanum that if women were in fact as productive as men, or rather if they produced as much, and have been working up to now for a smaller wage, then they would apodictically dominate all industries; and yet oddly enough little facts like this never seem to reach the ears of legislators.

One would think that in a planned economy and in the age of information politicians would have some knowledge of economics (but I guess then we wouldn't have a planned economy any more). 

 

Diminishing Marginal Utility - IT'S THE LAW!

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When freedom is only available to " the good ol' boys network" who collude to keep an organization all male and to limit the freedom of others, then there are bound to be repercussions at some point. For there to be not a single Norwegian corporation with a woman on the board indicates that there is a very big problem in that corporate culture. To me it indicates misgynic practices and a waste of talent. Human nature has evolved quite a bit in American and European culture, but that evolution of culture has not been without its difficulties, usually in the first throes of change. Norway's forcing the hand of corporations to include women on their boards is not much different from the American slavery issue when, for the sake of using unpaid human labor for the economic convenience of plantation owners, those owners were able to justify their actions by telling themselves that black people were subhuman and therefore okay to use as slaves. For years afterward, white people colluded to keep black people from getting jobs, until bit by bit, enough people spoke up to right things. When people or government are up to no good, then it's time for a change. Just what kind of justification do you think Norwegian male board members have used to keep women off the boards? In the United States, women didn't even have the right to vote until the past century and are yet to have a female president (although I hope this happens after Ms. Clinton is out of the running!) Most countries of the world have had female leaders, whether they be elected officials or queens, and those women showed themselves to be equal to the task. I'm sure women will do just as well as board members. Even the Constitution of the United States, that haloed document, which was based on the constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy, left out women, unlike those "savage" Iroquois who had the manly self-confidence to include women in the ruling body. The "founding fathers" left out that part, the women, in their all-male remake of what the Iroquois were doing with so much more regard for their women. What sort of misogynic rationalization do you think the founding fathers used to justify their actions? America formed as a reaction to Europe's mistakes, yet, freedom somewhat in hand (as U.S. bureaucrats whittle away at it), looks to Europe as if it were some kind of cultural mecca to tell us how to live. Yet as you can see from this action in Norway, the Norwegian good ol' boys network has been a while in breaking, so someone has stepped in for the cause of women in business just as someone stepped in for the cause of slavery and women's and black people's right to vote in the States. it's too bad such an action was needed in Norway. You would think that such an old culture would have the intelligence to recognize and use the talent of its women. Why do men hate women so much? What are the roots of this? It's not everywhere, but it's in enough places that you have to wonder what is wrong with so many men that they hate women to the point that they would want to exclude them? Don't those men recall that they came from a woman's body? Is that something terrifying to them? Do they cringe that they needed a woman's breasts, love, protection and want to run away in shame? Even in the responses to this Norwegian political action, the misogyny reads loud and clear in some of the letters. Had that misogyny not been present in those boardrooms, women would have already been on those boards and there would have been no need for such an action. I think a lot of men need to look at their attitudes. Do men want to be like Islamic brutes who stone women and marginalize their lives or do men want to be equal, respectful and appreciative participants with the other half of the human race ?
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Except women (as well as men) have no right to be on a corporate board. If they are indeed capable of increasing the firm's returns, then they will be assigned such positions. The government has no right to barge in and, like a dictator, force the owners of firms to accept employees they do not want to hire, for whatever reasons (of course, many of these firms no longer follow the profit-motive, so corrupted they are by the state's very existence.) It's one thing for a culture to advance to a point that women are treated solely on their merits, another for the government to force such changes down people's throats. It is hardly analogous to ending slavery or extending the vote to women.

 

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Grant replied on Mon, Mar 10 2008 10:09 PM

Men don't collude against women, or at least haven't in any capacity for a very long time. Some men may have irrational biases against women, but the opposite is also true. Shareholders of large firms tend to care about one thing and one thing only: making money. If monkeys with funny hats would raise the share price, then they'd vote in monkeys.

If you correct for factors like education and IQ, there is really no difference between the pay of men and women holding the same job in America. While more women attended college than men, men tend to have more technical degrees (such as engineering). Also, most studies show high-IQ men outnumbering high-IQ women. The reasons for this seem to vary depending on the study, but most of the things I've seen indicate the variance of IQ in women is lower (I'm sure raising them playing with Barbie dolls vs. a boy's legos doesn't help). I'm sure its probably similar in Norway.

Personally I think the idea that men discriminated against women is largely overblown. Yes, women were treated like crap, but so were men. Women were provided for but largely treated like property, while men were free but expected to provide for women and die fighting needless wars. Its always sounded like equal-opportunity stupidity to me.

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ofinterest replied on Mon, Mar 10 2008 10:28 PM
You are using the very mindset and some of the types of justifications that have through the ages justified bad behavior. When not a single member from the female sex sits on a corporate board, that indicates that women have been barred from that company by the collusion of the group. That group is limiting the freedom of those business women to pursue their happiness. That board is using its own freedom to limit the freedom of another group on the basis of sex. It's called sexual discrimination. When one group is limiting the freedom of another, then who's going to correct the situation when the players refuse to correct themselves? Women have the right to pursue their happiness too. People learn. Men don't drag women by the hair neanderthal style anymore. It's no longer acceptable for a man to use the 'rule of thumb' to select a switch (no bigger than a man's thumb) with which to beat his wife. Women can go to college now, whereas before, men used their freedom to limit the freedom of women to pursue an education. We don't allow slavery anymore and frown on those who still do such as the north African Arabs stealing black youths from countries south of them. You sound like you are just another misogynist using poor rhetoric to justify wrongdoing. Even good rhetoric couldn't justify what is morally wrong and goes against freedom. Democracy is built on a moral foundation of freedom, but our understanding of freedom has improved over the years. We learn. We grow. We recognize when we've made mistakes and we do it better. Freedom is such a fine balance. It's not all of one thing, or all of another, but doing the best we can so all can have their freedom and adjusting when we know more. I agree that people earn their place, but what if some of those people have been prevented from earning their place? Let's say you wanted to try out for the soccer team, but another group didn't like you and got together to make sure you couldn't even try out. Or let's say you did get to try out, and they pull a bunch of dirty tricks to trip you and make you look bad? Sometimes wisdom can be not going where we are not wanted and sometimes wisdom is recognizing that there is wrongdoing that needs to be corrected because someone's freedom is being stepped on. Europe is facing this very question of freedom with the Muslim problem. The Islamic religion dictates that Shariah law overrides civil law as well as demanding that everyone become a Muslim. If they don't become Muslims, then they are to be treated subserviently. This religion calls for removing the freedoms from all people except Muslims. Muslims collude as a group to promote this religion that allows for the brutal treatment of its women, that justifies raping European women, that kills people they disagree with politically. Almost every European country is familiar with finding the murdered bodies of various outspoken individuals who have had the courage to speak against that horrible religion and its aim to destroy freedom all over the world. Do you think it's right for Muslims to try to curtail the freedom of others because their religion tells them to? It's so very easy to justify wrongdoing, but the price we pay for it extends even to the wrongdoers. When we take others' freedom we sap the vitality of the people as a whole. We create resentful splinter groups that you can be sure will in some way retaliate. Maybe those angry women will take it out on their male children or on their husbands. You see what I mean? There's no getting away with it. I can tell you that those brutal Muslim men are not loved by the wives they beat. What kind of household would forego love for brutality? What kind of company would forego the talents of its female business associates for male exclusivity? What kind of country would limit the freedom of certain groups for the sake of a dominant group?
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Inquisitor replied on Mon, Mar 10 2008 10:48 PM

First of all, if I sound like a misogynist to you it is because you're not understanding what I'm saying. I could just as easily say you sound like a "fascist" to me (albeit of the diversicrat type, to borrow an expresson of Byzantine's.)

Secondly, if a group of people have no desire to associate with me, and will not respond to arguments to the contrary, I just leave them be. I do not force them to. You are equating aggression with dissociation. They're not the same, like it or not. No one but the owners of the firm have a say in how it is run, and if they're mindful of their profits, they will pay attention to the opinion of their customers too, or risk losing their patronage, so their clients have a say by extension. A profit-oriented firm will quickly hire the most efficient employees when they are available, but this certainly gives no one the right to force them to do so. Notice in nothing I said did I condone the actions of individuals who fail to treat women according to their merit, if that is indeed what they did.

Thirdly, paragraphs are your friend.

 

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Nitroadict replied on Tue, Mar 11 2008 12:08 AM

Yeah, I would've jumped in myself, but I stopped three sentences into that wall of text.  Perhaps something is wrong with his/her computer and/or web  browser

In any case, sexism goes both ways; this is why I can hardly take feminism, while possibly noble, seriously anymore, especially with the after-effects of feminization in public schools. 

Of course, if public schools weren't more or less lawfully, socially & politically expected to be mandatory, it might not be a problem...

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graham34 replied on Wed, Mar 12 2008 9:39 PM

Joakim:

Yeah, I dont see it going anywhere else. Even the most "rightist" and "freedom loving" parties in sweden are still more left than the democrats. And so many people to the right completely buy into their rethoric. I might have to emigrate to New Hampshire or... New Zeeland or whatever, because I can already just sense all these moronic laws being made right now. I have the feeling that Sweden is going to hell, and if the socialists win the next election, with Mona Sahlin as prime minister, I really, really, might have to consider getting out. 

I am basically resigned to Europe self-destructing over the course of my lifetime. There are just so few people speaking out in the manner required against the consensus. It's not so bad for me personally - I've grown up in a wealthy environment and will be able to decide how and where I spend my adulthood - but it's going to be very bad for a lot of people when the whole thing collapses.

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Joakim replied on Thu, Mar 13 2008 2:54 AM

Yeah I have a sense that its gonna get pretty bad, especially with the EU. What strikes me as most fantastic is that most people I talk to don't see the EU becoming a full state, sort of like an European version of USA. They are not even hiding it anymore, and yet people refuse to believe it.

For instance, EU is drafting a constitution. We, in Sweden, pay 10% of our tax money to EU every year. This is equivalent with a 10% federal tax. Difference is, we are not shown it on our tax receipts. 

If the EU really was a "free market agreement" which is  how the right wing people here sell it, why have a constitution of 1000s of pages? You could summarize free trade on a post card.

The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false front for the urge to rule it. - H. L. Mencken
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Does an individual have a right to be an ignorant jerk?  I argue that he does - as long as being a jerk does not involve agression.  Does anyone have a right to have a particular job with a particular company?  I argue that they do NOT, the only obligation from the company to continue to employ or the employee to continue to be employed would be a mutually agreed contract.

If liberty is the basis for society, then the highly qualified candidate who is passed over for whatever reason has every right to quit the job and found their own enterprise or get a job with a company they like more.  In fact they can tell all their friends and coworkers about the situation, and so discourage them from working at the original company.  To demand that the State force the original company to hire or promote them is inconsistent with liberty.  It also begins/reenforces entitlement and rent-seeking behavior.  

Is it in the best interest of a company to seek the most highly qualified individuals at the lowest prices for positions within their business?  Absolutely!  Gender, ethnicity, creed, nationality - no characteristic should alter a decision about maximizing business performance.  Maximizing business performance is what enables the growth of prosperity in society, and delivers benefits to all consumers.  Does it damage a business to base their hiring and promotion decisions on "immutable characteristics"?  I think it does.  However, no one but the business owner has a right to demand and enforce a change in their hiring/promotion practice.

The market will punish inefficient business, and reward efficient business.  To initiate government violence destroys liberty. 

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You are using the very mindset and some of the types of justifications that have through the ages justified bad behavior.

I apologize for not reading your whole post; paragraphs are your friend. Just wanted to make one small point: "discrimination" isn't illegal in a free society. The market usually punishes discrimination, because the tolerant person will outcompete the discriminator. But aggression is what's illegal, and the only thing that's illegal, in a free society. Forcible discrimination is illegal, and forcible integration is also illegal.

You can call the discriminator a jerk, but if he doesn't initiate aggression against anyone, you can't honestly liken him to the Taliban. As you yourself said, the "brutal Muslim men" in question "beat" women. That's aggression.

--Len.

 

 

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reidbump replied on Thu, Mar 13 2008 10:40 AM

Inquisitor:
Thirdly, paragraphs are your friend.
 

I just had to say that this sentence made me laugh out loud. 

"Paper money has had the effect in your state that it will ever have, to ruin commerce, oppress the honest, and open the door to every species of fraud and injustice." - George Washington
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BlackSheep replied on Thu, Mar 13 2008 11:23 AM

I thought I would point out a psychology article on the subject: Is There Anything Good About Men

Equality before the law and material equality are not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time. -- F. A. Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty

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 That really is an excellent article.  I am going to get a female perspective on it, as I am having my wife read it.  

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Joakim replied on Mon, Mar 17 2008 6:07 AM

Yeah well, in sweden all children, when born, have their blood taken and stored in a DNA database. In fact, this was how the killer of Anna Lindh was caught, or at least one of the reasons he was convicted.

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