I think This is one of Ollie\’s

As you know, Oliver Kamm now writes leaders for The Times. This sounds a little like him. Linguistically, at least.

It is the time for the best employers to press the competitive advantage that the best employment policies bring them. This means proactively encouraging women to return to the labour market after having children.

Also logically: if encouraging women to return after having children were indeed a competitive advantage then companies would indeed be doing it. That some do and some don\’t shows that it is a competitive advantage for some and not for others. But Ollie thinks we should change the law anyway….umm, why?

5 thoughts on “I think This is one of Ollie\’s”

  1. The Pedant's Apprentice

    Is your linguistic detective work based, Tim, on the strikingly non-idiomatic English of “It is the time”? He’s employing the intrusive “the” beloved by New Labour non-English speakers such as Two Jags.

  2. I wondered whether it was the second one on Fannie and Freddie, but I decided it was none of them. Us Kamm-spotters are handicapped by the fixed word length (about 580) and – one would assume – the fact that as a new boy he probably isn’t going to have all his guns blazing at Noam and Neil until a few weeks into the job.

  3. “if encouraging women to return after having children were indeed a competitive advantage then companies would indeed be doing it.”

    You’re falling into the same fallacy here as the economist who sees a £5 note on the street, and refuses to pick it up on the grounds that if it were really there, someone would already have done so.

  4. Well, it’s just obvious that, if it’s a competitive advantage, it’s blatantly unfair on its face and ought to be legislated out of existence.

    In the panorama of the market as seen by some, “doing well” of any kind whatever is merely evidence of unseen skulduggery and exploitation, whether of consumers or employees.

    I once worked for a major chemical firm which had two plants about twenty miles apart in adjoining counties. One was unionized and the other not. For years, the company negotiated the wages in the unionized plant and then adjusted the non-unionized plant to slightly higher levels. The union went into court against the company’s “unfair labor practice” and won their case: henceforth, raises at the non-unionized plant could not exceed those at the other. Not too long after, they went back into court, terming it an “unfair labor practice” that the non-union plant got even the same wage
    as theirs: the non-union workers, they averred, got part of their wages dishonestly– as a bribe to remain non-unionized. I don’t know how that one turned out. Another thing I remember vividly was that, at the unionized plant (I worked in both at different times.), the union made it virtually a capital offense for a male employee to give a female any physical assistance whatever. There were a sprinkling of gals (in the mid-’60s) originally taken on during WW II. In the lab where I worked, it was occasionally necessary for a technician to go get a supply of some chemical or reagent and some of those might be in a 50-lb bag, a carboy, or even in a 55-gallon drum weighing 4-500 lbs. Such occasions arose less than maybe 3 or 4 times a year. But young, able-bodied men were forbidden to lend any assistance to women of an age to be their mothers–even for the few minutes it would take to carry a bag or roll a drum a dozen yards or so. The suggestion had been made many times to let lab personnel simply call for delivery of what they needed by labor-pool personnel but the union was intent on its “work rules” and would never agree. It seemed that they were possessive about “their jobs” and regarded the women–originally hired to substitute for the absent men–as interlopers, akin to “scabs” (strikebreakers).

  5. Tim and John B:

    You’re both partly right–just not seeing “competitive advantage” quite clearly (either of you).

    Every extant firm has competitive advantage of one or more kinds. Some are theirs due to circumstances of nature or of law or other factors. But ALL firms are forced (by competition) to focus on only SOME of the potential areas which present themselves.

    Its true that not everything that might be exploited is seen; but no matter how many potential advantages may be found, it is simply axiomatic that not all can be profitable; each firm must select its own on which to focus.

    There’s a very old saying–applicable to every business not a monopolist. It’s embodied in a sign my best friend’s had in his office for many years:







    Many firms allow individual customers to
    choose through their selection of offered goods and services; others make the choice themselves and cater to a smaller universe. The rule is absolute–but it’s not magic or even mysterious: it’s just a general description of the playing field on which competition occurs.

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