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Viv ForbesStuck on Red & Other Essays (First Published by “Business Queensland” and “Common Sense” in 1990), pp. 22-24.About the Author»

The Human Rights Commission recently ruled that an Ipswich nightclub could not offer a discount entry price for women to encourage more female patrons. On the same day, a Toowoomba publican was fined $3000 for refusing to serve two aboriginals.

In another discrimination case, 34 women waged a six year legal war against BHP because the company gave preference to men in hiring iron-workers. Despite the fact that another law, the NSW Factories and Industries Act, prevented the employment of women in jobs that require the lifting of more than 16kg, the company was found guilty and the women were awarded over one million dollars in damages.

A devout Anglican in Sydney was fined for refusing to lease his home unit to an unmarried couple and a Brisbane man demanded his right to become a leader of the Girl Guides.

This global mania for a non-discriminatory, unisex, grey world has seen the Black and White Minstrels removed from British Television, an Irish Jokes Competition banned from Wollongong Radio and the Huntsperson Spider renamed in educational literature in South Australia.

Here in Queensland, newspapers have been cowed into refusing job ads for “young girls” or “married couples” — even ads such as “Tea-person required — female preferred” are unacceptable. Thus lots of people are misled into applying for jobs that they have no hope of getting, no matter what is decreed by the hermaphroditic hounds of the Human Wrongs Commission.

The Affirmative Action Agency recently warned Australian companies they are forced to prepare an affirmative action program and submit yearly reports on their progress.

Like naughty children, our great industrial corporations were told, “Late reports or failure to report to the Director of Affirmative Action may result in your organisation being named in Federal Parliament”.

It was once a compliment to be called discriminating — now it is against the law.

Many people see all this coercion as a bit ridiculous, but probably doing some good. In reality, all anti-discrimination or pro-discrimination legislation strikes at our fundamental freedoms and values and will act to the long-term detriment of those it is supposed to help.

The right to discriminate is the essence of free choice. Like freedom of speech, it cannot be limited without being lost.

Probably the most important choice in life is to select a marriage partner. In this decision, people discriminate on the basis of sex, race, religion, age, political beliefs and marital status. Some may even discriminate on the basis of anatomy, astrology, wealth or social status. No amount of legislation, propaganda, education, fulmination or prosecution will change this fact.

People will be similarly discriminating in their choice of business partners, employees, suburbs, tenants, schools or associates. We may not agree with their choice, or their criteria, but the essential point is they have the right to choose freely, on any basis whatsoever, providing there is no fraud, force or breach of contract.

Just as freedom of speech includes the freedom to say distasteful, provocative, or unpopular things, so too does the freedom to choose include the right to discriminate, even on grounds which some people find obnoxious.

The market will act to correct the effects of discrimination and will impose costs on those whose choices are based on prejudice, not logic.

For example, suppose a company refuses to employ Asians, even though Asians work harder for less pay. This employer will face stiff competition from firms with less racial prejudice and more economic sense.

Any disadvantaged group can overcome discrimination by offering to work harder, longer or cheaper. This is how the young, the unskilled, the handicapped and the immigrants have always got jobs.

If, however, a misguided government forces employer to pay them all the same, a prejudiced employer can secretly continue his discrimination at no cost and minorities will have great trouble getting jobs. Once again, legislation have achieved a perverse result.

Discrimination is a fact of life. Consumers discriminate among products. Employees discriminate among employers. And insurance companies, in the business of selling risk protection, discriminate between steel buildings and wooden, between your people and old, between smokers and non-smokers and between men and women. Women may pay higher health insurance because they get pregnant but lower car insurance because they drive more safely. This kind of discrimination is beneficial, efficient and fair. Any attempt to prohibit it by forced unisex averaging merely imposes costs on one class of people for the benefit of another.

Minority groups are harmed in other ways by affirmative action.

Once there is political pressure to employ certain categories of people, all people in that category are automatically degraded. For example, it will be assumed that all women in top positions got their because of their sex, not because of their competence. This harms all competent women and taints their achievements. The assumption that women cannot succeed without political favouritism is a huge insult to them all.

The drive for “balance” based on skin colour, genitals or whatever has reached ridiculous levels in the selection of government committees and cabinets. Some years ago a US Cabinet Minister said of his Coal Commission, “It includes a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple”. He was lynched, not for his selection criteria, but for mentioning the unmentionable.

What is at the end of this road to True Equality? Will we see a gay, atheist male heading a Catholic girls school; a one armed pregnant woman shovelling coal; unisex public toilets and an end to all sex tests at the Olympic Games?

This incessant, intolerant and imperious clamour from a noisy minority for non-sexist newspeak, non-discrimination and affirmative action shows it is not Big Brother we need to fear — it is Big Sister.

Those concerned with preserving our cherished freedoms and traditions and with reducing discrimination should demand the repeal of all this legislative social engineering.

(in order of appearance on Economics.org.au)
  1. Lang Hancock's Five Point Plan to Cripple Australia
  2. Put Windmills in National Parks
  3. Magnifying National Disasters
  4. Please Don't Feed the Animals
  5. Buy Birdsville Made?
  6. The Economics of Flood Risk
  7. Touring Bureaucrats
  8. Our slip-shod laws to blame
  9. Why Wind Won't Work
  10. A Profusion of "Prices"
  11. R.I.P. Ron Kitching - pioneer, explorer, author, family man, entrepreneur, scholar
  12. The Carbon Pollution Lie
  13. Closing Down Australia
  14. The Anti-Industry
  15. The Pyramid Builders
  16. Carbon Tax Bribery
  17. Crown Monopolies
  18. Carbon Tax Job Losses
  19. What Next, a Tax on Water?
  20. Carbon Health Warnings Coming Soon
  21. Growth Mythology
  22. The Tax Collection Industry
  23. Propaganda Puts Paid to Proof
  24. The Milk of the Welfare Teat is Watered Down
  25. "Crops for Cars" as Bad as Everlasting Drought
  26. Poll speech sets record
  27. The Emissions Trading Casino
  28. The Contract Society
  29. A Model Ministry
  30. The Five Point Plan to kill the economy with High Cost Electricity
  31. Put a Sunset Clause in the Carbon Tax
  32. Stuck on Red
  33. Time to Butcher "Aussie Beef"
  34. Carbon Tax Lies and Bribes
  35. The Middle of the Road
  36. United against taxes
  37. Call for Govt administrator
  38. Property & Prosperity
  39. "The Science is Settled" BUT Durban Climate Summit Not Cancelled
  40. No End to Fuelish Policies?
  41. The Right to Discriminate
  42. Sell the CES
  43. Free Water Costs Too Dam Much
  44. Creating Unemployment
  45. Viv Forbes Wins 1986 Adam Smith Award
  46. 1985 news item on Tax Payers United, Centre 2000 and the Australian Adam Smith Club
  47. Having the numbers is not the same as having the truth
  48. Who's Who in the Workers Party
  49. David Russell Leads 1975 Workers Party Queensland Senate Team
  50. Caught in a welfare whirlpool
  51. Global Warming Season
  52. Mining in Queensland, Past, Present and Future
  53. WEATHER IS USUALLY UNUSUAL
  54. Political branch formed
  55. Ron Manners on the Workers Party
  56. Viv Forbes on Libertarian Strategy and the Constant Resources Myth
  57. The New Brisbane Line?
  58. Carbon Lies
  59. We Mine to Live
  60. Save the taxpayer
  61. Solving Three Canberra Problems
  62. Vested Interests in the Climate Debate
  63. Carbon Tax Retrospective?
  64. Carbon Price Propaganda Taxes the Truth
  65. Don't Burn Food for Motor Spirit - Feed People not Cars
  66. Two Big Climate Taxes
  67. Greens Rediscover Hydrogen Car
  68. Atlas of Australia
  69. Shutting Out The Sun
  70. Safety Mania
  71. Coal - Sinking in the Swamps
  72. Hobbling the Competition
  73. Cubic Currency Coming
  74. "Dear Government"
  75. Viv Forbes mocks Flannery in 1988
  76. What we have is not a drug problem but a drug law problem
  77. Smoking, Health and Freedom
  78. Privatise Now! while they are still worth something
  79. The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
  80. The New Federalism
  81. Sunset for Solar Subsidies
  82. The mouse will roar
  83. The Road to Homelessness
  84. Planning & Prosperity
  85. Viv Forbes and Jim Fryar vs Malcolm Fraser in 1979
  86. Quip, Quote, Rant and Rave: four of Viv Forbes' letters to the editor in The Australian in 1979
  87. Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
  88. Our homeless regulation refugees
  89. Progress Party and Workers Party lead The Australian
  90. Viv Forbes in 1978 on loss-making government, the Berlin Wall and misdirected blasts of hot-air
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Forbes has long been active in politics, economic education, business and the global warming debate, and was winner of the Australian Adam Smith Award “For outstanding services to the Free Society” in 1986.Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5