How affirmative action ruined Iceland

Affirmative action, according to Wikipedia; “…refer to policies that take race, ethnicity, or gender into consideration in an attempt to promote equal opportunity”.

This is an issue that not everyone agrees on. In the sense that this can give people a chance that would perhaps not get one otherwise is a good thing, but the Icelandic style of affirmative action is more sinister.

Here affirmative action does not favour minorities or gender, here it favours political parties and family connections. The new word for corruption is “networking”. Networking is all good but in the Icelandic meaning of the word it refers to political affiliations and family ties.

It is more important to be in the right political party, know a high ranking politician or be related to one in order to get a job in the public sector. Education, references, talent and general competence is irrelevant. Affirmative action was made to better society, give people equal opportunity.

This clearly does not work here in Iceland. The reason is simple, when a lawyer is made the head of the Central Bank for example, it is a no brainer. The man might be smart, he might have various experience, but he does not have what it takes to run a Central Bank. For that you need education, experience in the field and you need to be a recognised by your peers as someone who can do the job.

For more simple jobs the same rule applies, but perhaps not as strictly. But the result is the same when this affirmative action is put in place. People who are better suited for the job are left out because someones son, daughter, uncle or a member of the right political party is ahead in line. Education, talent and competence have no place here.yes men in action

The result is obvious, Iceland today is the result of this system. People who where unable to do their jobs properly did them anyway, because they got them handed to them on a silver platter. If someone dared to object that person was called names or ignored completely. Good people got pushed aside to let the fool on the horse take the spot.

An example of this is the Icelandic media as whole. Public office examples are to many to list here because the list is endless. Not just for high profile jobs like judges or heads of institutions. This filtered down the whole social ladder, and I can list a few examples from my past.

A lawyer who was made redundant at a government desk job, for the simple reasons that he was not fit to deliver a simple job. And he refused to use a computer. He couldn´t even photocopy one page (place paper upside down in machine, and press the big green button). He was let go from the government, that is the safest job in the world. He then got another job after a while. As the head of a large company owned by the city councils around Reykjavik.  The reason was that he was an active member of the Independence party, a so called Yes man there. The ones the applaud the leader without question. And of course he ran the company extremely badly. He does not even need to retire like others at a certain age, he just sits there.

Another example is when I, a long time ago, applied for a summer job at an import wholesale company. The application was online, (cool at that time) and the second question of the for was; “who do you know or are related to at the company?”.

Examples, but show how the society really is.  There will always be a bit of family and freinds ties, that is just the way things are. But in Iceland the whole society is soaking with this idea that a family member or a political “yes” person is better than the well educated and in most cases the obviously better person. This results quite simply in a society that is not as fluent as it could be.  Like jumping on one leg instead of running in a 100 meter sprint race.

This is still happening, the same incompetent people get the best jobs, and they usually flunk out after a while, and then the next “yes person” does the same thing. But when they do manage to stick in their job, they tend to ruin the nation, like just happened in the last few years.

This is very bad in the PR and media industry here in Iceland. That is “close to home” in the sense that I work in the field and see it every day. Everyone knows better than the other person, like a “know-it-all” complex.


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