Australia's Discrimination Commissioner assumes discrimination rather than proving it
Frank Chung comments on a race-obsessed public servant. If discrimination can be proved that is one thing but assuming it from statistics is very different.
Why is it different? Because different groups have different priorities. Indians, for instance gravitate to small businesses where income can be hidden. There's a tradition of that in India. So, in case you haven't noticed, we have a LOT of Indian taxi-drivers -- a mostly cash business. I was a taxi-driver myself once so I know a bit about it. And there are Indian restaurants all over as well.
So does the over-representation of Indians in taxi-driving prove discrimination against white and East Asian taxi-drivers? It's all a nonsense. East Asians for instance have a strong bent towards the professions. So you won't often find bright East Asians in big business. They are more likely to be the big businessman's doctor or medical specialist. Is that discrimination we have to worry about?
From his name, I am assuming that Frank Chung is partly of East Asian ancestry and he clearly doesn't feel discriminated against
AUSTRALIA’S Race Discrimination Commissioner is being paid $340,000 a year by taxpayers to peddle racist pseudoscience.
In fact, Dr Tim Soutphommasane’s title could be more accurately described as “Commissioner for Racist Discrimination”, given his obsession with skin colour and apparent distaste for anyone from an “Anglo-Celtic or European background”.
Or in other words, white people.
In a risible piece of research released by the Human Rights Commission and the University of Sydney Business School on Tuesday, the good doctor lamented the fact that only eight executives in ASX 200 companies have a “non-European background”.
Similarly, of the 30 members of the Federal Ministry, there is “no one who has a non-European background” and only “one who has an indigenous background”.
Amusingly, that means Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt — who is indigenous with part English, Irish and Indian heritage — is at once part of the problem and part of the solution, according to Dr Soutphommasane.
He goes on to rattle off similar numbers for the state and federal public service and university administrations. “All up there are 11 of the 372 CEOs and equivalents who have a non-European or indigenous background,” he said.
“A mere cricket team’s worth of diversity. These are dismal statistics for a society that prides itself on its multiculturalism. They challenge our egalitarian self-image. And they challenge our future prosperity as a nation. If we aren’t making the most of our multicultural talents, we may be squandering opportunities.”
Like a modern-day Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle, Dr Soutphommasane — magnifying glass and colour wheel in hand — has taken a meticulous taxonomic study on his voyage through corporate Australia.
“Of those who occupy 2490 of the most senior posts in Australia, 75.9 per cent have an Anglo-Celtic background, 19 per cent have a European background, 4.7 per cent have a non-European background and 0.4 per cent have an indigenous background,” he said.
“Described another way, about 95 per cent of senior leaders in Australia have an Anglo-Celtic or European background. Although those who have non-European and indigenous backgrounds make up an estimated 24 per cent of the Australian population, such backgrounds account for only 5 per cent of senior leaders.
“In a society where nearly one-quarter is estimated to have a non-European or indigenous background, the findings of our latest study challenge us to do better with our multiculturalism.”
Naturally, these findings have led Dr Soutphommasane to call for “cultural targets and quotas across the business, academic and political worlds”, according to Fairfax.
There are three pretty obvious problems with this.
Firstly, Dr Soutphommasane seems to be talking out both sides of his mouth. He says he wants “cultural targets”, but then admits his real problem is with “European and Anglo-Celtic” peoples. How similar are the cultures of Norway and Greece, or Ukraine and Portugal?
Secondly, Dr Soutphommasane does not seem to understand the meaning of “egalitarian”, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “believing in or based on the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities”.
Equality of opportunity is not the same thing as equality of outcome. As US economist Milton Friedman said, a society that “puts equality of outcome ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom”.
“The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests,” he said.
Which leads to the third point. Proponents of race and gender quotas like Dr Soutphommasane believe equality of opportunity is impossible due to the pseudoscience of “unconscious bias” — a kind of modern-day phrenology which claims everyone is incredibly racist and sexist even if they don’t think they are.
Unconscious bias, also called implicit bias, first emerged in 1998 with the rollout of something called the implicit association test and immediately spread like wildfire through western institutions, spawning a multimillion-dollar industry of consultants who, Clockwork Orange style, reprogram the racism out of workers.
It seems to be one of Dr Soutphommasane’s most deeply held beliefs. In 2014, he blamed unconscious bias for the “bamboo ceiling”, recounting a traumatic incident in which a friend asked whether he worked “in the finance or IT section”.
“My new friend’s faux-pas was not that he had made certain assumptions about me,” he wrote. “His mistake was that he had revealed some assumptions that might have been better kept to himself.”
Unfortunately, the scientific basis of the IAT — and so the entire concept of unconscious bias and the associated obsession with mandatory quotas — has effectively collapsed.
Even the creators of the IAT, Harvard social psychologists Anthony Greenwald and Mahzarin Banaji, have distanced themselves from its current usage, admitting that it does not predict “biased behaviour”.
In 2015, they wrote that the problems with the test make it “problematic to use to classify persons as likely to engage in discrimination”. As The Wall Street Journal put it last year, “the politics of the IAT had leapfrogged the science behind it”.
And yet people like Dr Soutphommasane soldier on undeterred, even in the face of mounting evidence. It was Dr Soutphommasane, for example, who hailed the Victorian government’s “blind recruiting” trial in 2016, in which applicants’ resumes are de-identified of name, gender, age and location.
But hilariously, a study last year by the behavioural economics team in the Prime Minister’s department, known as the “nudge unit”, actually found blind recruiting has the opposite intended effect.
According to the study, led by Harvard professor Michael Hiscox, Australian Public Service recruiters “generally discriminated in favour of female and minority candidates”.
“We anticipated this would have a positive impact on diversity — making it more likely that female candidates and those from ethnic minorities are selected for the shortlist,” he told the ABC. “We should hit pause and be very cautious about introducing this as a way of improving diversity, as it can have the opposite effect.”
There may be many reasons for the lack of one-to-one population representation at the very highest levels of business and politics — but for the Race Discrimination Commissioner, when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
For someone who is paid $340,000 a year to come up with this dross, it’s not surprising the concept of meritocracy is a foreign one. Or is that being racist?