economics of a madhouse Greed has created a climate in the UK where people get themselves in financial trouble, but a businessman is considered exploitative if he makes money, argues Tony Phillips

28 September, 2007
Page 13 
W ithout doubt I am part of the most oppressed minority group in the country: I am white, male, heterosexual and in business. Now, I know that if I refer to being white, I may offend the race lobby. If I mention male, I may offend the feminist lobby, and mentioning heterosexual could risk offending the homosexual lobby.
There! I have now probably offended three of the most vociferous groups in the country. Were my grandfather and father alive, they might have thought the Nazis or Communists had won the wars. Even to express the slightest dissenting view can lead to one being branded as a fascist or extremist. I am neither. What has happened to freedom of speech in my country?feminist principlesDuring the 1960s, I was an ardent feminist, as I saw women, usually called secretaries, running many companies while their male bosses were swanning around taking three-hour liquid lunches or out on the golf courses most afternoons making so-called contacts. Meanwhile, the ladies did all the work - often with little respect - and were expected to act as coffee-maker and even shopper for their inadequate bosses.Nowadays, I feel it has often gone too far the other way, particularly at the BBC, where being a glamorous young woman appears to be the only qualification needed. After all, how many young men do we now see on our screens? Watching some of the young women talking about various sports appears ridiculous to me - they just read it off the autocue.That leaves business, where no one stands up for us. Let us think about the latest media obsession: higher interest rates. To me, people take out larger mortgages than they can afford, because they are so greedy that they think of a home as a means of making money, rather than a place to live in.Yet if we in business borrow money and get into trouble, there is never a word of sympathy for us. Society just says: "It's your own fault, you should know better." business dilemmaWhy are we, in business, considered useless if we fail, yet accused of being greedy and exploiting people if we make money? Very few ever stop to think that if we did not make money, there would be no work for anyone and that the money we pay in taxes keeps all these non-productive people in the public sector in their well-paid, cushy jobs and high pensions.Why, even today I read that we in the private sector are virtually paying for two pensions - our own and to subsidise the enormous inflation-proof pensions of the public sector. This is surely the economics of a madhouse.I'm sure you'll be amazed to hear that I have, on occasions, been called tactless. That is not so. Once, when a friend and his wife were staying with us, I rushed into the bathroom when his wife was in the bath. I quickly said: "Good morning sir, have you seen my glasses?" The "good morning" was courtesy and the "sir" was tact. n



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