It's an article of faith among bien pensant liberals that all institutions in society must achieve perfect gender parity. Consider, for example, the left’s outrage at the dearth of women employed at Google and other tech firms (despite the fact that far fewer women study computer science than men) or its efforts to lower physical standards so that more women become firefighters (despite the fact that most people in burning buildings would rather their lives be saved than politically correct mandates be met).
The demand for gender equality apparently extends to less savory lines of work as well. Last week, columnist Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post lamented the fact that “Chinese politics may be the ultimate old boys’ club.”
“Of the 25 members of the Politburo, only two are women,” Marcus fretted. “Female membership on the larger Central Committee has actually fallen, from 7.6 percent in 1969 to 4.9 percent today. Just one of 31 provincial governors is a woman.”
Left out of the lament was the fact that “Chinese politics” consists of murderous, one-party rule. (She didn’t even note this in a column whose publication coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.) Marcus also wrote, “Meanwhile, the notion of a Hillary Clinton-like figure poised to lead the country—indeed, even to serve as its chief diplomat—seems remote,” as if the installation of a military dictator is the equivalent of the democratic election of a president.
There were a couple of ways that Marcus could have dealt with the unpleasant realities of the Chinese regime and still left her basic argument intact. She could have made the—admittedly tendentious—argument that if the Chinese government had more female members, it might be a less brutal regime. Or at the very least, she could have added a weaselly “to be sure” caveat, noting, say, that of course she would rather a democratic China than a dictatorial one that happened to have a few more women in positions of power.
But Marcus didn’t even manage that—no, hers was a simple demand that more women sit atop tyrannical regimes. In that vein, The Scrapbook awaits future Marcus columns in which she bemoans the lack of women in the American Nazi party, or argues that the real crime of the Khmer Rouge was not having equal numbers of males and females leading its execution squads.
For those of us who believe in the market system, there is something unsettling about the thought of the billionaire bosses of Google, Apple, Adobe, Intel, two Disney subsidiaries, and Intuit sitting around a table and agreeing not to compete for staff. Facebook declined an invitation to join the conspiracy. These are the self-styled “disrupters”, believers in the virtues of a market system that allows them to compete for customers even if, especially if, that competition destroys existing enterprises.
Some three hundred years ago Sir Walter Scott asked, “Breathes there a man with soul so dead who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land.” Well, in America corporations are legally deemed “persons,” so the answer to Scott’s question is “Yes,” at least when it comes to tax payments. In this globalized world corporations are “multi-national,” run by executives who may never have set foot in the lands they declare to be “home” for tax purposes. Nothing illegal about it all: These firms play by the rules written for them by the governments in which they do most of their business. And their executives do have a fiduciary obligation to the owners of the business, their shareholders, to minimize their tax payments to the greatest extent possible within the law. Moreover, to some extent their continued search for benign tax regimes puts something of a limit on the ambitions of national tax collectors, witness the unhappiness of France with the low taxes on offer in Ireland, which is coming out of the recession in which over-taxed France remains mired.
President Obama will partner with Google for the "first-ever Presidential Hangout Road Trip," Google announced today.
"Next Tuesday, at 9pm EST, President Obama will deliver his annual State of the Union address to Congress. Later that week, you'll have the chance to connect with the President and speak about his administration’s plan in the first-ever Presidential Hangout Road Trip," claims Google in a blog post.
In an NBC interview, Google's Eric Schmidt reminded America that "It's important to remember these 5 billion people are just like us. They're just trapped in bad poverty and bad governance and so forth." The CEO of Google was referring to those in the world who don't have smartphones:
As the New York Times reports, "The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday fined Google $22.5 million to settle charges that it bypassed privacy settings in Apple’s Safari browser to show advertisements, and violated an earlier privacy settlement with the agency."