Friday, December 31, 2010

Critical remarks on awards

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Its interesting what the latest awards in New Zealand have thrown up in terms of notable people.
The winner of the Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business was William Gallagher, who has developed his family-owned company from a "10-man" operation into a global enterprise employing over 1000 people. Impressive as this might appear, it strikes me as a fairly typical business owner. If we believed the rhetoric of socialists and socialism this is a guy who ought to be selfishly screwing a new women each week, extorting wealth from employees and shareholders, deceiving customers with poor products or misleading disclosure.
Is that what we are all lead to believe is the basis of capitalism? Well, people are ambivalent I guess. Of course not all participants in the market place are honest people. There is a broader context to people's lives, yet this 'smear' has long been made against capitalism. The idea is that capitalists have to be 'restrained' from their selfish exploits. The point is that most are humble, generous people who do the right thing. Far from being 'selfish' in the misguided sense conveyed by socialists, those deceivers in business tend to be 'altruistic' actors playing the system, or some conflicted hybrid of the two systems. We actually do not live in a capitalist society, we live in a 'mixed economy' with elements of both systems. Do we imagine that Russian business owners are 'suddenly honest' because they have switched to dominantly markets, or do we expect them to behave with some influence from the past.
Now Mr Gallagher might not be a perfect exponent of capitalism. I suspect that he is probably a Christian and a rather concrete-minded person, not a stalwart of ideology, either way. I suspect he does make morally-questionable decisions, but that is otherwise a hard-working, effective leader who has created a successful business. He perhaps rationalises that he is being charitable in the altruistic sense, when in fact he is just being confident and generous. That is the sense of life that I think most 'capitalists' display.

Another winner of the award was lawyer Miriam Dean, QC. Reading her profile I am inclined to think that she is the best exponent of reverse discrimination that we could possibly see.
"Dean was the first woman partner at..Russell McVeagh McKenzie Bartlett in 1987, before going out as a barrister sole in 1995. Through the 1980s she was the firm's sole woman litigator, a situation that has now reversed with Russell McVeagh's litigation team dominated by women.
Speaking to the Herald this year, Dean said there was a growing recognition that the often understated, holistic approach sometimes favoured by women in law - as opposed to the aggressive male stereotype - could be far more effective. More and more cases were being resolved outside the court structure".
This strikes me as a gross generalisation. I suspect she prefers working with women. Do women have their strengths....without a doubt. Is Ms Dean merely expressing her appreciation for women, I don't question. Has she gone too far? Perhaps. The idea that women are more 'holistic' is nonsense. They are generally better communicators, but I would suggest men are generally recognised as better logical thinkers. The idea that men are 'aggressive' is a smear, because it can be equated also with confidence, pride and competitive. Can men also be insecure, vain and complacent; most definitely. So why make any of these points. Is why not unnecessarily elevating women? Does she do women any service by 'artificially' elevating their capabilities? Is this all about drawing attention to her role in elevating the perception of women?
I did not find these comments helpful, but perhaps they were only offered as ad hoc remarks. One of the most difficulty aspects about being interviewed is that one's responses are only as good as the interviewers questions. Its very hard to derive something from nothing.

I am never particularly impressed by awards. I think they don't particularly convey values which are healthy. i.e. Public service gives a person extra points, whereas I think there is no better way to improve people than conditional help rather than the 'unconditional' support offered by 'charitable' people. The other aspect is 'personal autonomy'. It strikes me as far easier to develop a proven business model, as opposed to starting from scratch.
Andrew Sheldon

ConvinceMe.Net - Anyone up for a debate?