The UK government has unleashed its latest weapon ready to destroy any still surviving business – as well as whatever remains of our individual freedoms. The vicious new Equality Act came into force earlier this month.
The progressive Con-LibDem coalition decided to implement the draconian equality laws proposed by Labour’s Harriet Harman and championed by current Home Secretary and minister for women and equality Theresa May. (Note: Safest way to recognize a nation is doomed? Look for things like ministries for ‘women and equality’.) Undoubtedly David Cameron, our faux-conservative leader and champion of political correctness, is feeling all warm and fuzzy for having imposed on Britain the most radical-PC law to date.
The Equality Act introduces a myriad of ‘rights’ which will allow staff to sue for any perceived offense imaginable.
It also creates the concept of ‘third party harassment’, meaning an employee can overhear a joke which was not even directed at them, perceive it to be offensive and then sue the employer. Workers can sue if they feel any comments ‘violate their dignity’, create an ‘intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment’, etc. A one-off incident is enough – the ‘victim’ doesn’t need to have warned the ‘offender’ that their comments were unwelcome.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the legislation extends to everyone in the workplace; hence staff can sue their employer even if they were offended by something said by a vendor, customer or contractor.
Basically, the law aims to prevent anyone being offended by anything and any person, and allows workers to sue if their fragile feelings do get hurt. And as the years of rampant political correctness have already created a nation ready to take offense at even the most trivial remark, the lawyers and employment tribunals will undoubtedly soon find themselves very busy.
But wait, there’s more. Questions about a prospective employee’s health are now banned; it is for example illegal to ask how much time off work a person has taken. ‘Discrimination’ of any sort based on health is also illegal – for instance, staff who take a large number of sick days or periodically miss work because they are looking after an elderly or disabled relative will find it easy to sue for discrimination if they feel they have been treated unfairly.
Employees will be able to claim they were discriminated against because of a disability of any nature. Worse still, they no longer have to prove they were treated less favorably than non-disabled colleagues – the employer is guilty until proven innocent! (For instance, dyslexic workers who have been barred from carrying out certain tasks because of their tendency to make spelling mistakes can sue under the legislation.)
Another new category introduced by the law is ‘discrimination by association’, which allows workers to sue if they feel they have been disadvantaged because of an employer’s perceived prejudice against a relative (e.g. a gay brother). Combined discrimination has also been introduced – workers can claim they were treated unfavorably because of a combination of factors, for instance age and gender… to make sure some will stick, in case one allegation fails.
Shocking enough? Well, we aren’t finished yet! It is also illegal to discriminate against someone for the ‘perception’ that they are one of the ‘protected’ groups (for instance gay) – even if they are not. As you can see, anyone can sue for discrimination on any ground, whether plausible or not, and the burden of proof is not on them but on the employer (who clearly has no way to prove his or her innocence in such cases.)
On top of that, employment tribunals will have power to ‘recommend’ changes to a company’s business practices, such as imposing diversity and equality standards, rather than just dealing with the case of the individual who brings a claim.
A small part of the Equality Act is yet to be implemented (but undoubtedly will soon be) – the requirements for larger companies to publish the differences in pay between male and female employees and take action to remove them; and affirmative action to recruit more female and ethnic minority staff (regardless of their suitability for the position).
Who will benefit from all this lunacy? Lawyers of course, and a (likely significant) number of people keen to extort money from their employers or exact revenge on their co-workers and bosses for perceived wrongs. One thing is certain – discrimination claims will skyrocket and the burden of red tape will increase exponentially. And if businesses – already struggling to recover from the recession – end up facing ruin, so be it. Who needs those evil, greedy capitalists anyway? (According to the British Chambers of Commerce the employment law ‘reforms’ will burden business with £11.3 billion in extra costs.)
The UK has already been one of the worst places to run a business (at least based on my experience from a handful of countries worldwide): the burden of an ever-growing stream of new rules and regulations, massive bureaucracy and red tape strangling companies of all sizes, constant changes (and rarely for the better) to the law including tax laws (which have already been among the most complex); not to mention the ever increasing tax burden (especially when one includes individual taxes).
Yet all that has not been enough for our progressive governments. And the madness will undoubtedly not end with the Equality Act either. Why would anyone in their right mind invest their money, time and hard work to build a business in such an insane anti-business environment?
One might have thought there would be some resistance to such disastrous ‘progressive’ experiments, especially at a time when we could use all the jobs and entrepreneurial activity we can get.
But, alas, it appears much of the country has been successfully infected with the equality/diversity/fairness disease and as such sees nothing wrong with the so-called Conservative party wholeheartedly embracing this highest of all ideals. Sadly, in a country that has long ago rejected and destroyed any traditional and moral values – along with last remnants of common sense – equality/diversity/fairness (i.e. the chief tenets of political correctness or, if you prefer, Cultural Marxism) have become the new, true religion.
In a culture where nobody takes any responsibility for their own actions and everyone is a victim, taking offense has become a national sport. People’s lives and livelihoods are routinely destroyed for falling foul of any of the myriad new laws, rules and regulations aimed at enforcing PC; freedom of speech and individual liberties have been stripped away.
Supposedly, this is all for our benefit – for we will create a fair and equal society and everyone will be happy in our new Utopia.
As a wise man once said: Marxism didn’t fail with the fall of the Soviet Union; it has instead been fully implemented in the West.
Having grown up in a formerly communist country, it seems the UK (and much of Western) population is far more brainwashed with political correctness than we ever were with communism. Worst of all, they don’t even realize it. Perhaps that’s what inevitably happens with complacent, comfortable, distracted peoples who have thrown away the values that once made them great. (Of course the mere concept of objective and true values is now rejected; everything, morality included, is relative. That which makes people feel good about themselves is good, everything else is judgmental and hence evil.)
I can see why imposing equality of outcome has proven so popular with the very many who benefit from it. And when it comes to those who are forced to pay dearly for such ‘progress’? That’s where indoctrination and coercion come into play. After all, who could ever object to the pursuit of “social justice” (code for forced equity), right?
Collectively as a society we are in complete denial of reality, having happily embraced our pretty illusion that we are all special, all equal, equally important, equally smart, equally valid.
Therefore, if some people earn more than others and wealth is not equally distributed, it is a clear sign we live in an ‘unfair’ society and some people are oppressed or discriminated against. Such injustice must therefore be rectified by government intervention. If women earn on average less than men it can only mean gender discrimination (you didn’t think the fact women take months or years off work to bear children, work far shorter hours, and tend to choose professions that are financially less lucrative could have anything to do with this, did you?). If certain groups of pupils do worse at schools than others, it must be racial discrimination, or class discrimination (how dare you think intellectual faculties, hard work or dedication could be the true reasons).
And so we have, step-by-step, legislated a perverted, delusional and coercive version of equality and increasingly made it a crime to treat (and pay) people according to their abilities, efforts and achievements.
Many consider this a good, ‘fair’ thing. As C. S. Lewis recognized, “The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept. And therefore resents. Yes, and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation.”
Self-interest aside, for anyone who does believe such preposterous fairy-tales – it may be time to wake up from your Marxist dream. People are self-evidently unequal. Some are more virtuous, intelligent, attractive, fit, moral than others. Some are more apt for certain tasks and professions than others. Some work hard and others less so. There is nothing ‘unfair’ about them being employed and rewarded accordingly.
Everyone who wants to can be a valued member of society, in whatever role fits their God given and acquired abilities. But one can not force others to consider him or her a better man or woman than they are – it’s not something that can be legislated; it has to be earned.
When people are free, outcomes are naturally unequal. Whether you like it or not, human liberty results in economic and social inequality. You can have either equality or liberty, but not both.
And so it is of no surprise that these great ideals we like to worship are never reached by protecting individual freedoms. Quite the opposite; they are always achieved by removing rights and liberties. Equal outcome requires tyranny, forced suppression of the rights of some in order to enhance the rights of others, be it through progressive taxation and redistribution, affirmative action and special rights for certain protected groups, or rules and laws which restrict freedom of some for the benefit of others. Wherever you look, we’re enforcing equal outcomes rather than equal standards for all. (Of course this near absolute control over all aspects of life and business goes hand in hand with the creation of an ever-growing and all-powerful bureaucracy.)
And yet all that is apparently a price most people are more than willing to pay. For what were once (granted, a rather long time ago) proud, self-reliant and free people, decades of welfare state and ever expanding and intrusive government have transformed into mere slaves, dependent on the state for handouts and guidance. Indeed the only freedom many wish for now is freedom from any responsibility.
As Ben Franklin wisely said, “Those who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety, and will lose both.”
I shall leave you with the timeless words of C. S. Lewis…
“Democracy is the word with which you must lead them by the nose… You are to use the word purely as an incantation; if you like, purely for its selling power. It is a name they venerate. And of course it is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated. You then make a stealthy transition in their minds from this political ideal to a factual belief that all men are equal… You remember how one of the Greek Dictators (they called them “tyrants” then) sent an envoy to another Dictator to ask his advice about the principles of government. The second Dictator led the envoy into a field of grain, and there he snicked off with his cane the top of every stalk that rose an inch or so above the general level. The moral was plain. Allow no preeminence among your subjects. Let no man live who is wiser or better or more famous or even handsomer than the mass. Cut them all down to a level: all slaves, all ciphers, all nobodies. All equals. Thus Tyrants could practise, in a sense, “democracy.” But now “democracy” can do the same work without any tyranny other than her own. No one need now go through the field with a cane. The little stalks will now of themselves bite the tops off the big ones. The big ones are beginning to bite off their own in their desire to Be Like Stalks.” (C. S. Lewis; Screwtape Proposes a Toast)