When equality ceases to be about fairness
The European Court of Justice has ruled that unequal insurance premiums amount to sex discrimination. It is, of course, an inviolable human right, according to the European Convention, not to be discriminated against because of one’s gender. Ergo, women drivers may not be shown favour or granted benefit because they happen, on average, to be more careful behind the wheel.
His Grace is genuinely puzzled as to why higher insurance premiums for the elderly and disabled do not amount to ageism or disability discrimination. Why should 17-year-old Kevin, with his GTi modified spoiler, ripping exhaust and interior neon lights, not enjoy the same rate as 50-year-old George, in his accident-free, unmodified and utterly sober Honda Civic Hatchback? Why does life insurance for a gay man with HIV cost more than the straight man? Does that not amount to discrimination on the grounds of sexuality? If health insurance companies take into account pre-existing conditions (as they do), is that not de facto discrimination against someone on the basis of their disability? And are not health insurance premiums generally more expensive for women than men owing to the increased risks their gender suffers because of child-bearing? Will men now be forced to pay an increased premium to cover pregnancy risks?
This ECJ ruling is interesting on a number of levels, not least of which the sheer irrationality and injustice of the judgment. For centuries, insurance companies have based premiums upon risk assessment. They are not concerned with randomly-applied prejudice or unreasoned discrimination: it is assessment based on rigorous evidence, concerned with mathematics, statistics, logic, sound economics, the application of reason and scientific measurement – everything, in fact, that the European Union professes to be founded upon: it is the apotheosis of Enlightenment morality, governance and jurisprudence.
And the EU is fundamentally secular. Secularism purports to be above all superstition and neutral on matter of belief; it asserts that political decisions should be quite independent of religion. Humanism is an ideology which espouses reason, ethics and justice, whilst specifically rejecting supernatural and religious dogma as a basis of decision-making. Secular Humanism is concerned with the pursuit of truth, primarily through science and philosophy.
But the judgment of the ECJ is based on the feeling of what they believe the law ought to be. That belief is irrational: it is decreed by activist judges in faith, irrespective of the science and the facts, which is no different to superstitious dogma prescribed by priests.
Equality that is founded on reason will accord with all that is true, noble, just and admirable. But equality that is founded on unreason can only be a façade of truth, for it can only propagate and perpetuate injustice.
What emerges here is a concept of equality as a universal moral ethic which is irrational: it supplants the science of the highly-trained actuary with the superstition of the zealot judge. And so we observe the EU manifesting a fundamentalist secularism based not upon a notion of morality through reason, experience and scientific inquiry, but through faith in an unknown and unknowable source, the consequence of which will be fewer safer women drivers on our roads and more subsidised dangerous young men, which can only lead to a higher incidence of injury and death.
Insurance companies are supposed to discriminate. But it is not unjust gender discrimination so much as reasoned price differentiation. The equalisation of insurance premiums on the basis of a universal moral ethic is a manifest injustice against those who present a lesser risk.
But, turning back to the tediously soporific matter of pensions and annuities, the ECJ has decreed that men will have to pay more for their pensions than women, because it is an unfortunate biological fact of life that men, on average, do not live as long. Presently, men aged 65 get an income of £3,274 per annum from a £50,000 pension fund, while women receive £2,993.
Is the fact that men die younger not a manifest injustice? Are men not appallingly discriminated against in this regard, that they are carted off to meet their maker before their wives?
Is the ECJ/ECHR going to ensure that the Almighty addresses this appalling anomaly by issuing a divine-right directive that the age-span enjoyed by men and women must henceforth be equal? How otherwise can they rectify the pension injustice?