For every action there’s a reaction

A couple of weeks back, in the context of a professor who’d been reprimanded over a lame joke in a lift which upset a vinegar-drinking feminist, I said this:

If this keeps up, segregated workplaces will look like an increasingly attractive proposition. At the very least, sensible men will avoid certain women at all costs – and certain companies.

A few days ago, several readers alerted me to this article:

Call it the Pence Effect, after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who has said he avoids dining alone with any woman other than his wife. In finance, the overarching impact can be, in essence, gender segregation.

Well, yes. As I’ve mentioned before, the logical solution to the alleged problem that women are routinely sexually harassed at work by men is segregation of the sexes. And if men are placed in a situation whereby they can have their livelihoods ruined by a mere allegation from a woman, this segregation will be self-imposed.

Now, more than a year into the #MeToo movement — with its devastating revelations of harassment and abuse in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and beyond — Wall Street risks becoming more of a boy’s club, rather than less of one.

So women demanded to work alongside men, then complained about how men behaved around them, and are now complaining men are avoiding them. I’m beginning to think there’s a grain of truth in some of those stereotypes.

“Women are grasping for ideas on how to deal with it, because it is affecting our careers,” said Karen Elinski, president of the Financial Women’s Association and a senior vice president at Wells Fargo & Co. “It’s a real loss.”

Having allowed the issue of women in the workplace to be hijacked by lunatic feminists bent on poisoning relations between the sexes, ordinary women are now finding their careers are suffering. Maybe they should have policed their own ranks a little better?

There’s a danger, too, for companies that fail to squash the isolating backlash and don’t take steps to have top managers be open about the issue and make it safe for everyone to discuss it, said Stephen Zweig, an employment attorney with FordHarrison.

“If men avoid working or traveling with women alone, or stop mentoring women for fear of being accused of sexual harassment,” he said, “those men are going to back out of a sexual harassment complaint and right into a sex discrimination complaint.”

For the SJWs pushing this insanity, this is a feature not a bug. Their aim is to hold arbitrary power over men such that, no matter what they do or don’t do, their lives can be destroyed.

For obvious reasons, few will talk openly about the issue. Privately, though, many of the men interviewed acknowledged they’re channeling Pence, saying how uneasy they are about being alone with female colleagues, particularly youthful or attractive ones, fearful of the rumor mill or of, as one put it, the potential liability.

Men aren’t stupid, and they will create strategies which enable them to politely go through the motions with female colleagues just enough to avoid a discrimination suit, but otherwise keep their distance. Men are very good at doing this with men they don’t like, so it won’t be too hard to do it with women. For example:

A manager in infrastructure investing said he won’t meet with female employees in rooms without windows anymore; he also keeps his distance in elevators. A late-40-something in private equity said he has a new rule, established on the advice of his wife, an attorney: no business dinner with a woman 35 or younger.

The changes can be subtle but insidious, with a woman, say, excluded from casual after-work drinks, leaving male colleagues to bond, or having what should be a private meeting with a boss with the door left wide open.

There are as many or more men who are responding in quite different ways. One, an investment adviser who manages about 100 employees, said he briefly reconsidered having one-on-one meetings with junior women. He thought about leaving his office door open, or inviting a third person into the room.

This amused, however:

Finally, he landed on the solution: “Just try not to be an asshole.”

That’s pretty much the bottom line, said Ron Biscardi, chief executive officer of Context Capital Partners. “It’s really not that hard.”

Oh, you think being nice is going to protect you? Sure, not being an asshole will stand you in good stead with 99% of female employees, but as the article says:

“Some men have voiced concerns to me that a false accusation is what they fear,” said Zweig, the lawyer. “These men fear what they cannot control.”

So they’ll take back control. Instead of having formal events the men will just meet for drinks independently, inviting a few like-minded chaps from other firms around to dispel any charge they’re at a works function.

In this charged environment, the question is how the response to #MeToo might actually end up hurting women’s progress. Given the male dominance in Wall Street’s top jobs, one of the most pressing consequences for women is the loss of male mentors who can help them climb the ladder.

Oh dear. It turns out a movement accusing men of sexual harassment en masse has some drawbacks. Who would have thought?

“Advancement typically requires that someone at a senior level knows your work, gives you opportunities and is willing to champion you within the firm. It’s hard for a relationship like that to develop if the senior person is unwilling to spend one-on-one time with a more junior person.”

I brought this up in my latest podcast. In practice, career progression is made by one-on-one brown-nosing, which is often harder for women to do than men for precisely the reason it may be misconstrued. The answer is to stop using this as a method of personal advancement.

Men have to step up, she said, and “not let fear be a barrier.”

That ship sailed so long ago it’s circumnavigated the globe and is nudging us in the back. Over to you, ladies.

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An untypical protest

Heh:

France’s PM has announced a six-month suspension of a fuel tax rise which has led to weeks of violent protests.

Edouard Philippe said that people’s anger must be heard, and the measures would not be applied until there had been proper debate with those affected.

Good work, comrades.

The difficulty for Emmanuel Macron is that this is exactly the kind of capitulation to the street that he has vowed to stop. There will be no change of direction, he repeats to all who will hear, because that would only store up worse problems for the future.

The thing is – and I defy you to show me a British newspaper that makes this distinction – the French public were ready to accept reforms to the labour laws of the sort that traditionally bring the unions onto the streets. In fact, Macron did push through such reforms and the unions did strike, and the public refused to back the strikers. I remember all the complaining about the disruption to SNCF services when I was working in Paris, but the majority knew major reforms are necessary. What they clearly don’t support is their foppish president sacrificing the living standards of ordinary people on the altar of environmental hysteria. Most commentators will say this was a typical French uprising against reform and modernisation – plus ça change – but it wasn’t.

Macron had all the goodwill he could have wished for from a population who wanted to change; instead he chose to hit them hardest on a vanity project. That should be the story here.

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Hubris

This morning I came across this tweet:


Catherine Noone is an Irish senator and practicing solicitor. This tweet is a good example of something I find myself talking a lot about these days: hubris.

Tesco are an outfit at the end of an extraordinarily complex, technologically advanced, and finely-tuned supply chain which enables farm produce to be freshly available on supermarket shelves in city centres day after day with no interruptions. Looked at in isolation, the entire operation is nothing short of miraculous, an achievement of human endeavour which rivals the space programme.

But the metropolitan middle classes with social science, humanities, and law degrees think they’ve found something wrong with it. For some reason, the global experts in packaging, transport, storage, and retail operating on razor-thin margins have decided to use a few million tonnes of unnecessary plastic. Perhaps it was a decision made late on a Friday night when they all wanted to go to the pub, and never got around to revisiting it? Silly people! They spend millions on computer controlled warehouses, yet they can’t even get their packaging right.

I have the advantage over most of those wringing their hands over food packaging of having actually worked on a large vegetable farm, including a few days in the packing plant. The farm would come to life at about 5 or 6am, everyone would be in the fields picking by 7am, and by 1 or 2pm the first produce would be coming into the yard, some of which would go into the packing plant. Between 2 and 5pm several large lorries from the major supermarkets would pull in, get loaded up, and be off to the distribution centres from where the produce would be sent to all four corners of the UK, where it would appear on shelves at 7am the next morning. One thing I noticed, being a part-time forklift driver, was that clever packaging was essential for rapid loading and unloading. Everything needed to be packed in such a way it could be stacked on a pallet and put on a lorry with a forklift. We used to being loose veg in from the fields in small lorries or with a tractor and trailer, and it was a right pain. This is why we had a packing plant.

If you want just-in-time logistics, you need to pack things properly. Also, as mentioned in this post by someone who knows what they’re talking about, the plastic serves a vital function in keeping the produce fresh. I am sure it is also used to keep moisture and creepy-crawlies out in some instances. Now I don’t know the optimum packing methods to achieve all this, but I think it’s a reasonable assumption that those who have a billion dollars worth of skin in the game have worked it out. The idea that vegetable supply companies use “excess” packaging is so ludicrous only the seriously dim and neo-religious could believe it. And of course, if they removed the packaging there would be uproar about food waste. That campaigns against this imaginary problem have such support is indicative of several things, not least the increasing divide between those who work white-collar jobs in air-conditioned offices in large cities and those who actually make the country function.

In any conversation on this topic, you’ll inevitably get someone – usually a woman with a good salary, nice handbag, and plenty of shoes – smugly state that they buy their vegetables loose from the local organic shop and “they’re perfectly all right”. Which is true, but you’re not going to be able to feed cities of between 2 and 5 million people via small shops filled with bent, muddy, and cracked vegetables chucked in cardboard boxes. Well you could, but not while maintaining the standards of living everyone now demands. These people are the equivalent of the apocryphal American kids who don’t know milk comes from cows.

One of the paradoxes of the population becoming more educated is they seem to know less. The middle classes are increasingly backing trendy causes – gender equality, renewable energy, fuel taxes, carrier bag bans – without having the slightest idea how the world functions beyond their bubble. They’ve never been on a farm, toured a factory, walked through the turbine hall of a working power station, seen the spaghetti-like piping in a refinery, watched a giant crane lift something into place, or stood on a platform built in the middle of a hostile sea to provide the life-blood their society depends on. They don’t know how things are done and who does them. All they know is they’re doing it wrong and they know best. Like I said: hubris.

This won’t end well.

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Token Leaders

This story describes a good example of a widespread phenomenon:

Rep. Barbara Lee will be joining the House Democratic leadership team, filling a key void for the caucus after its elections earlier this week left the group without a woman of color in the top ranks.

Lee is expected to fill a new position being created by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to oversee the Steering and Policy Committee, the panel that determines committee assignments for Democrats.

The decision to elevate Lee comes as a group of House Democrats, disappointed by both Lee’s narrow loss in the race for caucus chair earlier this week and that lack of a woman of color in leadership, was planning to ask Pelosi to do just that.

Don’t have a minority in a position of leadership in your organisation? Well, just invent a new position, have a minority fill it, and pretend they are now a leader.

This phenomenon was discussed in yesterday’s podcast with William of Ockham, after he spoke of a highly-competent woman who found herself holding down a position which appeared to have been created just for her. When local content legislation started gaining traction in the various oil patches around the world, organisations ballooned as positions were invented to fill with locals allowing quotas to be met. I knew an Azeri who’d previously worked for BP in Baku who told me his department went from about 5 people to 15 even though its function and workload remained the same. He got out of there pronto.

If a functioning, profitable organisation is told to put more people of X in position Y, they are less likely to replace the Y incumbent with X than create new positions with the Y-label attached and fill them with X. So rather than prominent companies hiring female CEOs, they demonstrated their commitment to diverse leadership by elevating the HR function to director level. Some years back I attended a town hall meeting where the senior management of an oil major took questions from the drones on how they intended to deal with an extended period of low oil prices. The assembled big cheeses were all men, except for the HR representative. In the three hours that followed nobody asked her a single question, because unless there is a headcount reduction in the pipeline nobody cares what HR has to say. But as the session was drawing to a close the HR director seized the microphone and delivered a five minute monologue answering questions nobody asked. One must always justify one’s existence in an organisation.

This is probably why some people are agitating for diversity to be separated from HR into its own function: it will open up another female position in the (shudder) C-suite. A few weeks back, as part of my course, I was asked to read this article regarding the high turnover of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs). It contained this gem of a line:

Let’s start with a simple question: What does a CMO actually do? Surprisingly, there is no clear, widely accepted answer.

Followed by:

In our research we’ve interviewed more than 300 executive recruiters, CEOs, and CMOs; conducted multiple CMO surveys; performed an analysis of 170 CMO job descriptions at large firms; and reviewed over 500 LinkedIn profiles of CMOs. We’ve discovered extreme variations in the responsibilities CMOs are given and in the skills, training, and experience of the people who occupy the role.

The article’s main thrust is that the CMO role is ill-defined and CEOs have no idea what to do with them. So how did we end up here? Well, just ask Nancy Pelosi.

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A tale of two protests

While I was wandering around the centre of Annecy on Saturday I came across a parade of the gilets jaunes – yellow vests – protesting Emmanuel Macron’s fuel tax hike. It was very peaceful, mostly middle aged folk carrying the flag of the Haute Savoie region accompanied by a couple of gendarmes who didn’t look as though they expected trouble. Those marching stopped to natter to locals they passed on the way.

This was in stark contrast to the scenes in Paris over the weekend where cars were tipped over and set on fire, monuments defaced, and shops looted. Judging by the Arabic and anarchist graffiti on display my guess is the yellow vest protest in the capital has been hijacked by the usual troublemakers. In other words, what is going on in Paris isn’t representative of what is happening everywhere else. This is the case for most things in France.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Macron uses the violence in Paris to smear the entire movement. If he does, the division between the capital and the countryside will grow even larger. That won’t be good for anyone.

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The Desert Sun Podcast #004

Another long podcast, this time with the blogger William of Ockham during which we discussed business, economics, feminism, gay rights, rugby, and more. He lives in Australia meaning we had to do it over Skype, and unfortunately the sound quality suffered greatly as a result. Hopefully the subject matter is interesting enough for you to ignore the shortcomings in the sound. The good news is you can hear my side of the conversation just fine.

You can listen to it on iTunes here, Player FM here, download it here, or listen on the blog by clicking the link below:

If you liked this podcast, please consider supporting me on my Patreon page.

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Enough is enough

It’s not surprising people are turning to violence:

What began as protests over President Macron’s fuel tax has transformed into general anger at high living costs.

Mr Macron says his fuel policies are needed to combat global warming.

So global warming is an existential threat, is it? Okay, but:

France is heavily dependent on nuclear power, which Mr Macron pledged to reduce to 50% of the national energy mix by 2035 by closing 14 of the country’s 58 reactors.

If global warming is really going to kill us all within decades, the problem of nuclear waste disposal and fear of accidents would seem rather small indeed. That politicians are closing nuclear power stations is proof that even they don’t believe global warming is an existential threat, or even a serious one.

That is on top of the closure of all four of France’s remaining coal-fired power plants and investment of billions of euros into renewable energy.

And that’s what this is all about: elites in government making life more expensive for the ordinary citizen so they can virtue-signal to other elites and the wealthy, middle-class idiots who support them. Like I said, no wonder people are turning violent. I’m amazed it’s taken this long.

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Lost generations

The other day David Thompson wrote a post on an article in New York magazine featuring various women whose marriages have fallen apart and they’re blaming it on political differences with their spouses. But a perusal of the article and David’s commentary suggests perhaps these women are simply unsuited to long-term relationships, being as they are selfish, deluded, and insistent on making everything in their lives political. There’s also more than a hint of mental illness at work. Consider this from a woman in – you guessed it – Brooklyn:

I’ve been sexually assaulted and raped, but for a long time I didn’t identify in that way. I didn’t like the idea of seeing myself as a victim. It’s only recently, with the amount of coverage [sexual assault has been getting] that I’ve realized, Oh, if I verbally dissented, just because I didn’t fight someone off doesn’t mean I wasn’t assaulted and raped.

You didn’t realise you’d been sexually assaulted and raped until the definition was expanded a year ago by hardcore feminists to include any sexual encounter which is not supervised by two woke lawyers and a (female) high court judge. Now perhaps this woman was raped and assaulted in the traditional sense of the terms, but I rather think if this were the case she’d have realised it immediately, not at the advent of a political movement. And what’s the betting she knew and admired the guy who supposedly assaulted her? Oh, wait:

My husband and I have been together 14 years and I’ve mentioned it vaguely, but I’ve never given him details, partly because one of the guys is still in my life, and they’re kind of friends.

Her husband is “kind of friends” with a guy who raped her? Yeah, Trump’s really the issue here.

Recently we had some friends over for dinner, and we had an argument about whether this kind of trial by mob that’s happened in the press is unfair. My friends, a man and a woman, took the position that a man shouldn’t have his reputation ruined because of an allegation. I disagreed, and as the conversation kept going, I got upset.

There’s a school of thought, held by misogynistic dinosaurs, that women cannot handle robust debate and burst into tears when pressed on a difficult topic. There’s another which says emotionally unstable women make poor dinner party guests.

Finally I said that it’s obvious none of them had been sexually assaulted,

Ah yes, the Natalia Antonova approach to debating.

Later my husband told me he thought my intellectual points were good, but he didn’t respond to the emotional outburst I had.

I imagine he was deeply embarrassed.

But really, I wish he would feel like, Fuck those guysI want to punch them. How dare somebody treat the woman I love like this? I hate that happened to you. That’s what I’m looking for.

You want your husband to start punching dinner guests because they disagree with your view that men aren’t entitled to due process when accused of rape?

I mean, I wrote to the man who assaulted me, the one who’s still in our lives. He said he didn’t remember, and that it turned his stomach to think I’d been carrying around this thought about him, but he fell short of accepting responsibility.

As with so many of these cases, this woman needs psychological help. Instead she’s got pandering journalists from New York magazine.

Sticking with the topic at hand, here’s a letter to an agony aunt:

I feel like a ghost. I’m a 35-year-old woman, and I have nothing to show for it. My 20s and early 30s have been a twisting crisscross of moves all over the West Coast, a couple of brief stints abroad, multiple jobs in a mediocre role with no real upward track. I was also the poster child for serial monogamy. My most hopeful and longest lasting relationship (three and a half years, whoopee) ended two years ago. We moved to a new town (my fourth new city), created a home together, and then nose-dived into a traumatic breakup that launched me to my fifth and current city and who-knows-what-number job.

To be fair to this lady, she’s at least tried to settle down into a normal life. What I suspect is lacking is a serious investigation as to why her relationships have gone wrong, particularly those parts for which she’s responsible.

For all these years of quick changes and rash decisions, which I once rationalized as adventurous, exploratory, and living an “original life,” I have nothing to show for it.

If this describes the period in which she was in her successive relationships, it explains a lot.

I have no wealth, and I’m now saddled with enough debt from all of my moves, poor decisions, and lack of career drive that I may never be able to retire. I have no career milestones and don’t care for my line of work all that much anyway, but now it’s my lifeline, as I only have enough savings to buy a hotel room for two nights. I have no family nearby, no long-term relationship built on years of mutual growth and shared experiences, no children. While I make friends easily, I’ve left most of my friends behind in each city I’ve moved from while they’ve continued to grow deep roots: marriages, homeownership, career growth, community, families, children.

She at least understands she has a problem and, crucially, that her situation is a result of her own poor decisions. This puts her much further down the road to recovery than most women in her position. Now the advice she gets from the agony aunt us beyond useless, which is a shame because she still seems to be living in cloud-cuckoo land:

I used to consider myself creative — a good writer, poetic, passionate, curious. Now, after many years of demanding yet uninspiring jobs, multiple heartbreaks, move after move, financial woes, I’m quite frankly exhausted. I can barely remember to buy dish soap let alone contemplate humanity or be inspired by Anaïs Nin’s diaries.

Sorry, but this sounds like a middle-class whine that your dreams of becoming an artist never came to fruition, probably because of a dearth of talent and an unwillingness to knuckle down and learn a discipline. What this has to do with your relationship status isn’t clear, but my guess is living with anyone with this mindset would become tiresome very quickly.

The thought that pops into my mind increasingly often is that young women have been appallingly advised, and the horrific results of this are now being laid bare. The trouble is they are still being given the same advice, and many of them are listening. I’m sometimes accused of being misogynistic or sexist for what I write on here, or what I say in the classroom. Whenever my motivations are questioned I simply say I believe the advice being dished out to young women will leave them disappointed, bitter, and desperately unhappy later on in life. I’ve got nothing against women, indeed I’m rather  fond of them, and I’d much prefer to see them living happy, fulfilling lives. Unfortunately, they’re having their heads filled with third-wave feminist garbage by people who see them as expendable pawns in a never-ending political battle they can’t win. Even some women seem to be realising the damage the malign influence of modern feminism is causing:

I’m 50 years old with four college degrees. I was raised by a feminist mother with no father in the home. My mother told me get an education to the maximum level so that you can get out in the world, make a lot of money. And that’s the path I followed. I make adequate money. I don’t make a ton of money. But I do make enough to support my own household.

I want to tell women in their 20s: Do not follow the path that I followed. You are leading yourself to a life of loneliness. All of your friends will be getting married and having children, and you’re working to compete in the world, and what you’re doing is competing with men. Men don’t like competitors. Men want a partner. It took me until my late 40s to realize this.

And by the time you have your own household with all your own bills, you can’t get off that track, because now you’ve got to make the money to pay your bills. It’s hard to find a partner in your late 40s to date because you also start losing self-confidence about your looks, your body. It’s not the same as it was in your 20s. You try to do what you can to make your life fulfilling. I have cats and dogs. But it’s lonely when you see your friends having children, going on vacations, planning the lives of their children, and you don’t do anything at night but come home to your cats and dogs. I don’t want other women to do what I have done.

The crucial line?

Men don’t like competitors. Men want a partner.

The sooner young women understand this, and learn to balance their careers with their long-term life goals, the better.

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Conflicts of interests

Nothing in this report surprises me:

A rift was growing between Britain and key allies yesterday as European diplomats pushed back on calls for a firmer response to Russia’s weekend naval clash with Ukraine. The fracture in the Western alliance sets the stage for tense exchanges when European, US, and Russian leaders meet at a G20 summit in Argentina later this week.

Anyone want to guess where the fault lines lie? Here’s one side:

Britain, Poland, and the Baltic States have urged other members of the EU 28 to impose extra measures when existing sanctions against Russia are renewed in December.

The calls have been backed by the US.

And here’s the other:

France and Germany, which brokered a ceasefire and tentative peace accord between Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and Petro Poroshenko, the leader of Ukraine, in 2015, are understood to fear such a move could split the bloc and further inflame tensions.

So much for solidarity over the Skripal poisoning, then. One of the most bizarre spectacles in recent times has been the European media and its gullible consumers portraying Merkel and Macron as standing up for Europe against the Putin bogeyman, while Trump is portrayed as a Russian puppet. Yet whenever it comes to actual policy, Germany and France fall over themselves to avoid anything which might damage the commercial interests of their major firms in Russia, and the same media utters not a peep.

Regardless of what the correct approach to Russia is, the double-dealing on the part of Germany and France – saying one thing, doing the other – is inexcusable. Last week Macron was saying he wants an EU army to protect against, among other things, Russian aggression. Merkel’s approach to NATO, Trump, and Russia requires contortions which are seriously impressive for a woman of her age. The hypocritical, self-serving behaviour of France and Germany who, when it suits them, demand ever-more cooperation and integration from smaller EU states is one of the strongest arguments in favour of Brexit.

On that subject, I’m reminded of something I wrote in a post in April last year:

The Baltic states are completely reliant on Nato to keep the Russians out, which in this case means the United States. However, in diplomatic terms (and probably  a token military one as well) it also means the Brits. If we can imagine a scenario in a few years time when the Russians are massing tanks and troops on the borders of Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania on some pretext and revving the engines noisily, Britain will be one of the countries they will be pleading with to intervene (meaning, persuade the United States to intervene). How Britain responds ought very much to depend on how the Baltic states behaved during the Brexit negotiations.

I’ve noticed that Estonians and Lithuanians have said very little during the Brexit negotiations, and the Latvians have been urging caution. I’m sure it’s occurred to them that with Britain out of the EU they suddenly become a lot more vulnerable to malign Russian influence, be it commercial or even military.

This is why I think the EU will ultimately fail. The European continent, and the islands off it, do have genuine shared interests and concerns but the EU is structured along very different lines. These conflicts are now coming to a head, and at some point in the near future people are going to be asked hard questions as to which alliances matter most to them. I expect it will take some pretty ugly scenes before they find an answer.

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Africa’s choice

I have no problem with this:

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has said he prefers Chinese to Western aid as it comes with fewer conditions.

It has been abundantly clear for years now that, in the main, Africans can’t stand Europeans and Americans. Several reasons are cited for this, the principle ones being Africa’s treatment at the hands of European colonial powers, the racism of white people towards Africans, and the manner in which western companies exploit Africa. This is why, every time an African leader such as Robert Mugabe delivers an impassioned speech denouncing the west, he is given a standing ovation by his peers. I therefore think it is high time European countries left Africa well alone, quit with the neo-colonialist moralising, and sorted out the mess in their own countries. China seems more than willing to fill any gap left by a European and American withdrawal from the continent, and Africans seem to think they will be treated better by their new partners. Good luck to all concerned is what I say.

China has become a major investor in Africa, challenging Western influence on the continent.

It has promised to spend $60bn in investment, aid and loans in Africa over the next three years, mostly in infrastructure development.

What’s there to dislike?

“The thing that makes you happy about their aid is that it is not tied to any conditions. When they decide to give you, they just give you,” Mr Magufuli said.

I doubt this is true and Mr Magufuli hasn’t read the small print about military bases, mineral rights, and work permits for Chinese nationals, but who am I to argue?

On 15 November, Denmark said it had suspended $9.8m (£7.5m) in aid because of “unacceptable homophobic comments” by a Tanzanian politician.

I thought the era of the white man telling Africans what to say and how to think was over, but apparently not.

The European Union (EU) is currently the East African state’s biggest development partner, giving aid of more than $88m annually.

If the Chinese are willing to match this, and Tanzania’s government is happier to work with the Chinese, then where’s the downside?

The EU announced earlier this month that it was reviewing its policy towards Tanzania because of concerns about the rights of gay people and restrictions on civil society groups.

Not decades of kleptocracy, then?

Homosexual acts are illegal in Tanzania.

There was a time when European overlords would travel to the dark continent and force the local population to abandon their savage ways and embrace western moral values. Then that sort of thing went out of fashion, but it seems it’s coming back. Which leaves me with a question: is it okay to start wearing my pith helmet again?

The World Bank has put on hold a $300m loan for an educational project, partly in response to the government’s decision to expel schoolgirls who become pregnant.

I dunno, maybe the government is trying to dissuade schoolgirls from getting pregnant? How’s western policy regarding teenage pregnancies, incentives, and educational outcomes holding up?

Young mothers would be distracted if they were allowed back in school, Mr Magufuli said in a controversial speech last year.

“After calculating some few mathematics, she’d be asking the teacher in the classroom: ‘Let me go out and breastfeed my crying baby,'” he added.

How uncouth! It’s almost as if these swarthy folk down there need civilising. I don’t suppose just leaving Africans to run their own societies is on the table, is it? Little wonder the Chinese are looking attractive. They might run off with Africa’s entire supply of minerals but at least the locals will be spared lectures on their lack of moral virtue. I can’t imagine any amount of aid money is worth that.

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