Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Three Stupid Things

The first stupid thing this week was that a black Christian couple of impeccable character were informed by social services that they would in future be ineligible to foster children because they believed that homosexuality was wrong. This is a common fundamentalist Christian view (and not just Christian).

As far as I am aware, there is no law in this country which proscribes such an opinion, much as one might deprecate such views: my thoughts turned to 1984 and thoughtcrime. As there is a shortage of decent people able and willing to foster, there is quite a serious price to be paid for this posturing.

The second stupid thing was that the European Court of Justice ruled that insurance companies could not charge different premiums to men and women as this was sexist. As a result women will pay more than the expected value of their claims, and men will pay less.

I await the brave soul who requests the Justices that young drivers should pay exactly the same premiums as their elders in order to avoid any hint of ageism. I guess I will then have to pay quite a bit more myself. This would be a subsidy of course, from lower-risk cases to higher-risk cases which is not only iniquitous but also leads to moral hazard (a person doesn't bear the full cost of their statistically-likely behaviour).

On BBC's Newsnight, anchor Emily Maitlis asked a woman who was unhappy with this judgement whether said woman would be comfortable with insurance companies asking young black men to pay more, if it turned out that their risk of accident claims was higher. To her credit, the woman pointed out that this was exactly what should occur.

Clearly there is a body of opinion (which Emily spoke for in her question) which assumes that any policy which takes account of actual ethnic, gender, age, ... differences is by definition racist, sexist, ageist or whatever. It all worked a lot better with our original understanding, which was the -isms were cases of the imposition of negative opinions/policies in situations where there was in fact no supporting evidence.

On the insurance issue, I was struck by the fact that precisely no important public figure articulated the overwhelmingly popular view that this judgement was illiterate nonsense. Why was that, I wonder?

And the third piece of stupidity? There are a number of minor candidates but nothing has yet forced itself to the level of my first two examples. It can only be a matter of time.