Some laws we can change; others will be changed for us
 
Some laws we can change; others will be changed for us
10 APRIL 2017 8:19 AM

Winter has gone, but it is still not so warm that I cannot gripe—this week about low pay for women and—as usual, yet again, and likely to continue—Brexit.

I have some gripes.

Gripe #1: Gender pay gap very much still among us
Good news is that legislation is now addressing the issue of gender pay differentials, but it is news I am still griping about. Why is it that in 2017 we should even be talking about gender gaps in both pay and seniority, considering, according to Business in the Community, in the U.K. women make up 47% of the workforce? That’s almost half, which is also my maths when it comes to Brexit (see below).

It was encouraging to see U.S. firms, such as Hilton, sign the White House Equal Pay Pledge last November.

The United Kingdom passed a law in February 2016 making gender pay gap reporting mandatory, and last week underlined when employers of more than 250 persons must publish all the juicy details—it is April 2018, by the way.

As to why this is needed (do we need to ask?), the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016 shows us:

• Only five nations have closed 80% of this gender gap, and of course four of them are in Scandinavia (yes, nearly everyone there is free now to pay 220% of their income in taxes—before you write in!). The other nation is Rwanda. Really? According to The Washington Post, that came about because women there united following the hideous civil war and genocide of the early 1990s. Cynics might argue there were far less men around the place, and women took their chance when it came.
• Malta is the worst-performing European Union nation, with an index of only 0.664%, with 1 meaning total equality. Meanwhile, for six months, Malta has had the presidency of the E.U. (interesting in light of Gripe #2).
• I put in some fake (fake news!) birth dates for a woman just newly left university and entering the workforce today. She might be happy to know that according to the WEF “the pace of (gender pay equality) change has slowed over the last three years,” and she will be 190 years of age before equality is total. With the way longevity is increasing, she might just make it, although what the social security system will be like by then might scare us all.
• I love maps, no, truly love maps, and this one shows us all just how bad we are.
• Iceland is No. 1, and that’s where I am going on vacation next week.

Gripe #2: Brits now have to stay home
Why the U.K. has decided two years of Brexit negotiations are a good use of time has never been clear to me. Also, it seems very shortsighted to me to vote on membership purely based on the idea that it will help us control our borders, when everything we do today is very much globalized.

Now our politicians who have risen to the top following the referendum see their legacies as being connected with Brexit and thus will not budge, because politicians never do U-turns until such time as they do.

Prime Minister Theresa May reputedly voted to remain.

Everyone tends to vote selfishly—how we conduct our lives goes a very long way to how we fill in our ballot papers. As an immigrant myself for the good part of two decades in the U.S., and with a wife (she’ll be 214 before full gender pay equality is reached) I met there who is Italian, I am alien to the idea of cutting ties, not building them, regardless of how much the U.K. government says we are on a golden path to something or other. My vote was selfish.

I will continue moaning about Brexit. This week will be my most childish gripe because now everyone realizes, according to a new poll from Cheapflights.co.uk, that going to Europe will be more expensive. Hoteliers on the mainland will not like this, as Brits—seeking that elusive sun—are among the biggest E.U. travelers to the continent by number, duration and spend.

The poll was conducted on 28 March, the day before the U.K. government handed over the letter to the European Union officially saying that 51.9% of us wanted to leave them.

According to that poll, now that there seems less likelihood of turning back around in terms of leaving the EU, Brits have suddenly realized that, quite annoyingly, mainland Europeans might not welcome us with open arms and, much worse, it will cost a lot more to understand no one likes us.

Instead, they told the website they might start to take vacations further afield—that is, to non-E.U. destinations. But the poor exchange rate we are now assuming is the new normal is not likely to help us there either.

I assume we’ll just have to wait a few more years so that global warming means no one will want to leave.

And if you combine both these gripes, what it means is that now U.K. women will have more money but less chance to spend it in Europe, or it means mean that the corporate world will just reduce the pay of Average Man so that equality exists but not in the way anyone wanted or imagined it.

I also like the suggestion that one Canadian writer has that, if the U.K. leaves the EU, Scotland should join Canada. Ken McGoogan says that Scotland is a lot closer to Canadian province Newfoundland than, for example, Hawaii is to California and that he and millions of other Canadians have Scottish ancestry.

I now hereby campaign that England should have this right, too. I say, so as to stay in the EU, English voters campaign to become part of Italy.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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