In a perverse way it's comforting to know that economic progress in other countries is also hampered by loony left wing thinking. Without wishing in any way to deny our own politicians credit for coming up with barmy social engineering plans it has to be said that many of them have been borrowed or adapted from our former colonial master, Great Britain.
For example the current obsession with the number of women on the boards of publicly quoted companies seems to concern leftie meddlers (most of whom have never run a business) more than it does the women who are apparently being denied the joys of sitting in endless meetings and answering damn fool questions from analysts at the AGM.
Maria Miller, the UK Women's and Equalities Minister has rightly dismissed calls from the Guardian reading Labour front bench that targets should be set for the number of women in top executive posts. In February 2011 a report from Lord Davies of Abersoch set a target of 25% female representation on the boards of Britain's Top 100 Companies by 2015.
The report was welcomed by ministers according to a report in The Sunday Times (London) and PM David Cameron went so far as to suggest that quotas could be introduced to get women top executive jobs. So the UK government, which at times seems to experience difficulty in running its own affairs, now presumes to tell private enterprise how to run their businesses. Loony tunes.
Presumably if Marks and Spencer or Waitrose don't have the necessary quota of women on the board then they will have to shut up shop because they would be trading illegally. Either that or they would be subject to a fine to help balance George Osborne's deranged quantitative easing experiments. And just supposing women said that they would rather not be on the main board thanks very much. Would they be press ganged into the job? Would their children be taken from them by social workers until they agreed? You can see how unworkable this is can't you?
There has to be a reason that there are now only two female executives in the FTSE Top 100 companies; Angela Ahrendts of Burberry and Alison Cooper of Imperial Tobacco. It probably has nothing to do with the imagined glass ceiling in the corporate structure and everything to do with the fact that most women don't actually want to be part of the cut and thrust of the corporate world at such a senior level. High flyers don't necessarily need to join the board to earn a fortune in the business world.
The real problem comes with all the busy bodies who would never make the board of anything but dictate that big business should have quotas for women directors or face stiff fines. As Maria Miller points out though "women want and expect to reach the top on merit, not because of political correctness but because of economic reality". Sadly, economic reality is a concept that very few airy fairy lefties fail to grasp.
Precisely the same applies in SA to what is now known as BBBEE (Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment ) and affirmative action. The hoops that companies have to jump through to make sure that they are BBBEE compliant has spawned an entirely superfluous industry of non-economically productive people whose sole job it is to make sure that companies that actually produce widgets have enough points to be able to deal with the ANC government.
And if you deal with other BBBEE companies it boosts your score so the whole BBBEE racket feeds on itself. It doesn't matter a jot that you can supply school chairs to the Department of Education at a quarter of the price of the approved bidder... if you haven't got the BBBEE points you're not in the game. Multiply this throughout the economy and can you imagine the cost inefficiencies?
The added advantage of a system like BBBEE is that it keeps big business in its place. It reminds the running dogs of capitalism who's boss because if you don't keep the government happy then you're going to go out of business. This is why very few businessmen dare criticise the ruling party and why the government can get away with so much skulduggery. The usual checks and balances of a democracy simply don't exist in SA. The organisations that purport to speak for business are nothing but timid poodles.
Then there's affirmative action, less spoken about than ten years ago but still very much in evidence. For example, if you're a white boy who came top in his law exams you will still have to get used to the fact that a legal firm has to appoint people based on colour. The same goes for accounting firms, medical schools, civil engineering and heaven knows what else.
If you're a black boy who came top in his law exams nobody is ever going to believe that you were appointed to a position in a legal firm because of your brain power. It was because of your colour and that has to be the most insulting racist slur you could ever imagine. Which is why smart and qualified young black South Africans are keen to work overseas where they can prove their worth against the best the world has to offer and return with credible CV's.
The ANC has only favoured the mediocre with its social tinkering over the years. They are the ones who benefit from BBBEE and AA. What we should be doing is encouraging and rewarding excellence but how can you expect that sort of thinking from a bunch of venal, squabbling commie deadbeats?
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