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Saturday, April 09, 2005


In many ways the US has a very admirable culture & a deep commitment to free enterprise which explains, at least as much as the advantages of history & geography, their status as the world's wealthiest sizeable state.

However, despite their free marketism, the cost of running America does seem to be substantially increased by their addiction to lawyers.

OK to some extent this shows an admirable concern for fair play & in some ways the piecemeal redistribution that is carried out by being able to sue anybody rich is their more individualistic alternative to redistributive socialism.

On the other hand
A TOP Wall Street executive has won £15.5 million in damages from the banking group UBS in one of the largest sex discrimination awards made to an individual.

Laura Zubulake, 44, a former director for the bank’s Asian shares sales desk in New York, sued the Swiss financial giant after being told by a male executive she was too "old and ugly and she can’t do the job".

A jury in Manhattan decided she should receive £4.8 million in compensation and a further £10.7 million in punitive damages from Europe’s biggest bank.

The damages were in part compensation for lost earnings Ms Zubulake endured after she was fired from her £370,000-a-year job in 2001.

Ms Zubulake said she hoped the verdict, which came after three years of protracted legal wrangling, would encourage "all women on Wall Street who experience similar things ... I hope it sends a message to women on Wall Street to stand up for their rights and for what they believe".

UBS had argued that she was not discriminated against because she was a woman but because she "had performance problems" and was not a team player.

"She did not improve and she didn’t even acknowledge that there was a problem that she needed to address," the bank’s lawyer argued.

The bank claimed that Ms Zubulake was not discriminated against because of her gender and that her boss, Matthew Chapin, treated men just as badly as he treated women. It said that male and female UBS staff alike had complained about him.

Mr Chapin testified that Ms Zubulake was hard to work with since she was both "highly disobedient and confrontational".

The jury believed Ms Zubulake’s version of events, however. "It was obvious for us," said Monica Iwinski, one of the jurors sitting on the case.

During her earlier evidence Ms Zubulake said she was "appalled" to have been invited by a male superior to a strip club in Boston.

She testified that she was belittled by her boss in front of co-workers and denied lucrative client accounts.

Ms Zubulake also said she had been discriminated against by being excluded from events to which the firm’s clients had been invited. She said these included "more than one baseball game" and two golf outings.

Ms Zubulake said she was sacked because she complained to US employment regulators.

A spokesman for the bank said it would appeal against the award.

"We regard the amount awarded as excessive and will now move to set aside the verdict. UBS is committed to its diversity efforts and will continue to ensure that it has an open and diverse work environment," he said.
Who wins & who loses here? Well she wins to the extent that she will not lose a penny by not working for the next 44 years (plus interest payments). And her lawyers win - on both sides.

Who loses? UBS lose.
Who else? Well next time the question comes up as to whether these Swiss bankers should invest in America or do as much of the work as possible in Switzerland (or Ireland or Edinburgh or Singapore if speaking English is required) somebody in America will be out (moving money can be done anywhere even more easily than making jeans abroad). Worse - next time somebody is interviewing for a job or promotion are they going to give it to a minority member (I know women are a majority but they still class as minority) or to somebody they don't have to walk on eggshells around. If society gives one group special rights but isn't willing to pay for it those who get loaded with that cost will shy away from getting involved with such "problem" people. A UKIP member said something similar about not employing a woman of childbearing age.

Such costs aren't tangible because the losses are borne by people who never get the jobs in the first place not by somebody who can't be pleasant to the boss on 370,000 grand.

I am not saying that she is entirely in the wrong, or her boss in the right - he sounds like a bit of a shit too (tho' a jury of 6 women & 2 men sounds like dodgy) but that courts are not likely to provide a better approximation to justice. If the boss really was misusing his position go to his boss - if the whole company is anti-women & you are that good cross the street, it will be their loss (if they don't lose then they were right).

Had this happened to a cleaner with no other job opportunities & not a high flying kick ass type job then I would have sympathy - but then the lawyers, who are on a percentage, wouldn't have touched it.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


A letter of mine in today's Herald (Thurs)
Also published with my grammer improved by the Scotsman

Dear Sir,
The words of the judge in the Birmingham Vote Fraud trial cannot be ignored particularly in present circumstances. He said that the evidence was "overwhelming", that " There are no systems to deal realistically with fraud and there never have been. Until there are, fraud will continue unabated", that "Frauds of this magnitude require a considerable degree of organisation and manpower, not to mention supervision and co-ordination. It would be unthinkable for them to be the work of a few hothead activists", & of Prescott's reforms which made fraud possible on this scale that this was "positive assistance to fraud "...... "Short of writing 'Steal Me' on the envelopes, it is hard to see what more could be done to ensure their coming into the wrong hands".

We are going into an election for which 7 million postal ballots have been issued. It is likely the total Labour vote will be under 9 million (1/3rd of the 59% who voted last time). The possibilities are obvious. Fraud in Birmingham has been enormously more obvious & equally importantly, one sided, than anything that happened in the Ukraine. The Electoral Reform society says "We do not believe electoral fraud is confined to Birmingham" & it is likely they are correct which makes this election potentially the most antidemocratic since 1832.

It is now the duty of the leaders of all other parties to seek a judicial review establishing, as a minimum, that postal ballots should be counted separately & announced separately & that in any case where the result changes because of posted votes that person not be considered "duly elected" until a thorough police investigation of a random selection of posted votes has been made.
Yours Faithfully
Neil Craig

This was also sent to a number of southern newspapers yesterday morning but have not been used. I made a couple of phrasing errors which I have corrected here - that's what comes of writing in a hurry.

I see the Birmingham Lib Dem chief is going to court on this. The country owes him a enormous debt for his refusal to let this go - "for evil to triumph all that is required is for good men to do nothing". Let us hope that the opposition parties strongly support him.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


According to the Independent & a certain but not overwhelming number of reports here has been massive deliberate voting fraud in Birmingham by the Labour party (or at least by large numbers of members in a very open way without any honest members of the party or it's leadership noticing).

Labour knew when they set up the system that handing out postal votes like confetti was, in the judge's words, an invitation to fraud.
A Judge has delivered a devastating indictment of the postal voting system championed by ministers as he found six Labour councillors guilty of electoral fraud. He said checks against corruption were "hopelessly insecure" and accused the Government of being in denial about the risks to democracy.

Richard Mawrey QC, sitting as an electoral commissioner in Birmingham, found "overwhelming" evidence of fraud in last year's city council elections that would "disgrace a banana republic". The elections, where several Labour candidates bucked the trend to win, were dogged by claims of intimidation, bribery, "vote-buying', impersonation and even the creation of a "vote-forging factory".

Mr Mawrey said: "Bordesley Green and Aston were not isolated incidents but part of a Birmingham-wide campaign by the Labour Party to try, by bogus postal votes, to counter the adverse effect of the Iraq war on its electoral fortunes."

The judge said Government claims that guards against vote-rigging were in place revealed a "state not simply of complacency but of denial". He said: "There are no systems to deal realistically with fraud and there never have been. Until there are, fraud will continue unabated."

Mr Mawrey said rules allowing voting slips to be sent to addresses other than those on the electoral register gave "positive assistance to fraud", and was scathing that they were posted in identifiable envelopes. He said: "Short of writing 'Steal Me' on the envelopes, it is hard to see what more could be done to ensure their coming into the wrong hands.

Frauds of this magnitude require a considerable degree of organisation and manpower, not to mention supervision and co-ordination. It would be unthinkable for them to be the work of a few hothead activists, working behind the backs of the candidates and their party."
This is saying that Labour deliberately set up a system for fraud & that it is "unthinkable" that the party knew what they were doing in Birmingham.

There are just under 7 million postal votes being sent out. Last time "The total electorate was 44,401,238 of whom 26,366,992 voted - a turnout of 59.38%" so even if Labour get 1/3rd of the vote it will only be about 9 million tops. Worse - assuming fraud will be concentrated in key marginals which seems likely Labour hardly need any ambulant voters at all.

Postal voting is also subject to the perfectly legal fraud of getting people to register in marginals (the Tories did that with overseas voters years ago) & of "helping" those in Homes to fill in their forms - imagine even an honest social worker helping a gaga pensioner who wants to vote any party that wants to "send the darkies home".

The western powers made enormous efforts to get Ukraine to rerun their election when there was very limited evidence of fraud. I have written before on their failure to be interested in fraud in Croatia (& Bosnia). If, as seems likely, the UK election is to be run on much more fraudulent terms, I somehow doubt Mr Bush will be demanding a recount.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


I had this published in the Scotsman on 1st April. The bits marked <> were edited (it was quite a long letter) but I think readers here should see the whole thing. I believe there is some genuine movement going on:

< The report on the SNP's policy of cutting corporation tax to kick-start economic growth (Mon front-page & Tues. 29th) by > Professor Midwinter is misinformed.

The case that all the SNP's policies, specifically independence & the concomitant use of oil revenues, could cost 10 billion is arguable either way. However it is unreasonable to use this figure in an argument about cutting corporation tax < & rates >. As he states later since our total corporation tax receipts are 2.1 billion a cut of 1/3rd would be 700 million. Scottish Enterprise already costs us 500 million, for less obvious effect & Holyrood has regularly had an underspend of 500 million. This is therefore clearly affordable.

The argument over whether independence <, requiring the SNP to win both a Parliamentary & referendum majority, is feasible > is a different issue. < As has happened in Quebec,> it is quite possible the SNP could become the leading party < in government > without persuading the electorate to secede.

The Professor is also in error in saying that Ireland's growth preceded the tax cut. Ireland decided on reform in 1989, including cutting business taxes & instituted it within a year. They immediately came out of stagflation. It is true that in face of this success they repeatedly cut corporation tax < further > to it's present level of 12.5% (& that the rate of growth further increased), which is what he is referring to in saying that some tax cuts came after success, but the initial cut came first - the relationship between reform & success is so close that it is not reasonable to deny that the one led to the other. Independence & EU membership, < which are > sometimes credited with responsibility for Ireland's achievement, both came decades earlier & immigration (actually the return of generations of emmigrants), not surprisingly, followed growth.

A point he misses is that the lesson the SNP have learnt from Ireland is twofold. Not just cutting business taxes but also cutting regulation. < It is understandable but unfortunate that Holyrood has made it's presence felt more by increasing regulation than by cutting it. The former is easy for government to do while the latter requires considerable self examination, but for the sake of the nation our MSPs must do it.>

Turning round our economy cannot be done purely by writing a cheque but it can be done by a government willing to make the effort, which includes writing that cheque & backing it. Since each per cent increase in growth means a continuing extra billion of national wealth each & every year the gains to be made exceed the cost many times over. < I may be accused of naivety but > I do not believe < that, with this visible example,> the Scots electorate are either to stupid or to shortsighted to understand this.

Monday, April 04, 2005


There is a very interesting report here on why Ireland's economy is growing.
The authors of the study, Eric Verhulst, Paul Vreymans and Willy De Wit, have performed a multi‑regression analysis, trying to establish the relative weights of 25 possible causes of growth differences, including age structures, education levels, inflation, number of annual working hours, interest rates, the ratio between direct and indirect taxes, the size of the public deficit, the impact of the accession to the EU etc. etc.. The most striking conclusion was that 93% of the differences between growth performances could be explained by govern­ment spending and tax levels.

In 1985, the Irish economy was in a shambles. It was facing excessive budgets deficits and minimal growth. Its GNP p.c. amounted to only 65% of the Belgian level. In addition, Irish unemployment stood at 17% against 10% for Belgium. Until 1985 both countries followed similar Keynesian policies of deficit spending. In 1983 Belgian public spending even exceed­ed 50% of GNP.

I must admit I doubt if economics has reached such a degree of scientific certainty that it is possible to justify saying 93% rather than merely 90%+ of the effect is because of Ireland's fully reproducible economic programme. On the other hand if it was only 20% it would still be well worth running the country competently (as opposed to the present method).

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