Woman's Day

Wed, 2017/03/08 - 3:11pm | Your editor
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Today is International Woman's Day and as a senior citizen I am delighted that my sex is now being fostered. This was not always so. At my first job as a journalist, with McGraw-Hill in Brussels, where I wound up as acting bureau chief for Business Week a mere 2 years after joining the firm as a US hire, they sent an executive from New York to fire me for becoming pregnant, which moreover ended my company Blue Cross-Blue Shield medical coverage. I could have sued under Belgian law but was warned that if I did, I would never get another job in US journalism again. I wound up getting hired by a British competitor to Business Week, The Economist, before my daughter was born, and after we all moved to Paris.

There I ran into a different obstacle to equal rights, when a Radcliffe College friend, nee Livanos, and I, were denied the right to become members of the local Harvard Club by its president, an American banker. He headed what was then First National City Bank, a job with incredible benefits and little work, so it was possible that he didn't even know that she was a member of a wealthy Greek shipping family. The Harvard club president had to resign and return home to the US a few years later because of a scandal involving exchange control violations, and he had to give up his fabulous Paris expat lifestyle.

About 6 years later, having again been hired from the US rather than locally, again without job protection, I was fired again, this time by 60 Minutes, a part of CBS, and again by a Harvard man. My husband was in Iran after Khomeini had taken power and our daughter was in the American Hospital in Neuilly sur Seine with a serious and as yet undiagnosed illness (which turned out later to have been appendicitis, which Doctor Nodoh who was treating her insisted was not a possible diagnosis.) I was ordered to go to Italy with Barry Lando and refused because of her, and he fired me. (He was in France to avoid a libel charge over a program he had made in the US about the Vietnam war, and facing budget cuts ousted me.) This time I got smart and sued under French law and was awarded damages and pension rights and various other goodies thanks to a dual national lawyer with whom I had gone to high school.

And 60 Minutes and the whole CBS operation in France as set up to avoid French taxes became undone, costing the zealous defenders of ethical behavior further massive fines and legal trouble for years afterwards.

I met the McGraw-Hill man who had fired me years later and he apologized for not daring to risk his own career by refusing. Such, such were how things went in the 1960s to 80s.


Today's UK budget contained few giveaways: a credit of £2 bn for the stressed British social care budget and a special deal for helping small shops and  pubs to pay their rates  (local property taxes) when their earnings cannot. However there was no move against the online Amazon competition to local stores not subject to rates. Pubs and local tobacco sellers also were helped by no new “sin taxes” on drink and cigarettes beyond what had already been announced. The cigarette tax increase announced may further encourage smokers to quit as it is £7.35 per 20-fag pack, even higher than the level in New York State. Of course it encourages shopping duty-free or vaping.

There will be a new “sin tax” starting next year on soft drinks with more than 5 and 8 grams of sugar per 100 milliliters at 18 pence and 24 pence respectively, the money going to fund the Department of Education.

Meanwhile the tax free dividend allowance introduced in the last budget has been cut back. Higher taxes for national insurance were imposed on the self-employed and the rate will rise further in future years. Non-resident Britons will be taxed on their pensions. As the child of two German Jews whose later years were made easier by their German pensions into which they had contributed before they emigrated, I consider this a serious injustice.

More today from Britain, Canada,Finland, Israel, Nevada, Mexico, India and Germany. including a new stock pick.

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