Positive gender discrimination, The Storm and Mike Fry.

Very, very slowly sexual equality in the work place is approaching. The subject is aired frequently. Lip service is paid to the idea. Legislation exists and some countries have done something effective – such as Norway.
In Norway there is now a legislative requirement, which is actively enforced, for all companies to have not less than 40% female representation on the board. When this was first proposed, by a male politician, there was the expected uproar and considerable flapping amongst the industrialists. The lack of suitable candidates was mentioned. The adverse effect on well qualified male competitors for positions was highlighted. Despite all of which, the legislation was enacted and – surprise, surprise – the overall effect was measurably positive.
So when are we going to see the same efforts made over here? Have any of the usual parties mentioned the topic? Of course not, because they are all completely in the pocket of industrialists.

Now, an Independent MP could introduce such legislation as a private member’s bill because there are no ‘money’ implications for the Treasury/Government.
Vince Cable, the Lib-Dem ‘Shadow Chancellor’ and professional economist, has recently published a book called ‘The Storm’. It is a lucid account for the general reader of the recent banking and finance storm that has engulfed the world, starting with the origins of the sub-prime mortgages in the USA and ending up with the most recent events.
To my eye there are two startlingly large gaps in his world view. Firstly, he appears entirely out of sympathy with even the broad brush hypotheses advanced in such publications as ‘The Limits to Growth’ published by the Club of Rome in the early 70’s and subsequently updated. Secondly, though he employs the term ‘zero sum game’ to characterise the position of some critics of perpetual economic growth – which I would not, he misperceives the scope for growth that is available to us.
In reading this book I got no assurance that Mr. Cable is able to step aside momentarily from his economic theory based conceptualisation of economic growth, to view the wider objective reality which is that we inhabit a physically closed system within which any and every possible permutation of the key variables results in the inescapable conclusion that perpetual economic growth is impossible. The additional scope that he identifies, arising from new fossil fuel discoveries, technical advances, changing demand patterns, etc. and which he views as his ‘escape from jail’ card, are, of course, still within the inelastic boundaries of the planet’s physical composition.
Two, at least theoretical, options to break the impasse exist and have been aired in the past, space colonisation and asteroid mining. Both are of no current utility, though perhaps future generations may be able to employ them. Meantime, we are all, perforce, Neo-Malthusians.
Until this Saturday just gone, I had never seen traffic direction by uniformed personnel in Haydon Bridge. The occasion was the memorial service for Mike Fry, the just retired drama teacher from Haydon Bridge High School. He died, at the age of 59, from a brain tumour.
The Church and grounds were packed, with the proceedings relayed on a PA system for those unable to get in. The roads and car parks for hundreds of yards around were filled with cars. The school yard was jammed too.
For a man, in death, to call forth such an enormous response is exceptional but, without a shadow of doubt, he was an exceptional man. Committed, enthusiastic, energetic, warm, painstaking and lovable.
I feel privileged to have known Mike for many years and clearly hundreds of others felt the same.
Teachers matter a great deal to us all, whether we are students or parents. What job could be more important than equipping the young for life? They deserve our gratitude and support at all times.


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