Jeb Kinnison on Life and Love

Welcome to my blog. In between promos for my books, I write on topics from the news and cover the research reports on relationship, diet and health issues, as well as whatever I think is interesting and likely to be new to my readers. I respond to all reasonable comments and invite you to add your email to the mailing list or add the RSS feed to your reader so you’ll see new posts.

I try to respond to comments, but there are too many on some of the popular pages and its slows page loading, so I’d recommend you comment over at the forum: Forum Link — http://jebkinnison.boards.net/ — where there are other knowledgeable people who can answer questions.

I’ve started a new blog about my science fiction books and related topics, so please visit SubstrateWars.com for more.

55th Amazon Review of Avoidant – “The Most Helpful Book I Have Read in My Entire Life.”

Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner has sold tens of thousands of copies since it was published two years ago. I am gratified by the number of people who have written me to tell me it helped them, and the thriving community at the Jeb Kinnison Attachment Type Forum which discusses attachment issues and helps people who have been injured.

Today’s really good Amazon review:

on September 25, 2016

 

This book literally changed my life. I am a woman and always had an attachment style that is sometimes fearful avoidant sometimes dismissive avoidant. Everything the author describes about avoidant people matches perfectly what I am, what I did or do and how I feel. I stumbled across other avoidants in my life and like the author says the relationships between me and other avoidants were always short lived because the “why bother” factor was just too much.

This book is priceless both for avoidants like me and for non avoidants. I think almost everyone in their life will happen to date some avoidants, especially if you are still single above 30. This book gives you the tools you need to exactly understand where you stand. It saves you so much pain. For me, it has helped understand why I always feel caged when in a relationship, why I never seem to find the right person despite being very attractive and extremely fit. Also it allowed me to understand how poor my communication is and how out of touch with my emotions I am.

Many of the men I dated told me I behave like a man. I always act like I don’t give a damn about relationships (and in most cases I don’t give a damn for real). I could never figure out why they would say so and the book clarified that avoidants are more often men than women so now I also understand why my dates had that feeling that I behaved like a man.

I would seriously give this book 100 stars. So far I can honestly say it has been the most helpful book I have read in my entire life. I read many books about relationships but this went right to the core, the root reason, why my relationships were always disfunctional. As an avoidant, they were bound to be disfunctional because I made them so. Now with this awareness I think I can learn to be better and hopefully start a secure and mature relationship

Journalism or Government Propaganda? The Revolving Door

Fourth Estate? Or wholly-owned subsidiary of the Entertainment-Government Complex?

Remember the public image of crusading journalists uncovering malfeasance and bringing down the mighty? Our narratives about reporters include Woodward and Bernstein uncovering the Watergate scandal and helping to bring down Nixon. Why do today’s journalists shy away from investigating anything that might reflect badly on the Party of Government?

Journalism is a declining occupational category, with newspapers and magazines gutted by loss of advertising revenue and low-paid or unpaid scribblers on the Internet undercutting the market for news and opinion writing. Here’s the BLS statistics on job prospects for the profession:

Quick Facts: Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts
2015 Median Pay $37,720 per year
$18.13 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 54,400
Job Outlook, 2014-24 -9% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2014-24 -4,800

$37K is a poverty-level salary in Manhattan or DC. With employment shrinking, many new graduates in media and journalism programs are forced to work at Starbucks or take those low-paid Internet clickbait writing jobs.

As a result, journalism can become just a springboard to work in government PR, which in turn gives entry to high-paying lobbying or TV personality positions. Occupations that become very low-paying tend to be of interest only to those who already have wealthy family backing and can afford to give up current pay for future status and influence — as seen in publishing. And the revolving door allows a few lucky partisan journalists to move into government PR, then cash in afterwards. The recent trend to marriage links and occupational crossover between Silicon Valley, East Coast media, and the White House staff is a warning sign of the merging of executive branch, administrative state, and media interests, weakening media’s ability to report truthfully on issues.

One recent example:

The Obamaworld-social media industry mind meld continues: White House strategic communications adviser Rachel Racusen is leaving to join Snapchat as director of communications, based in New York City.

Racusen, who has done two separate stints in the White House communications office (working at MSNBC in between), finished up work at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Tuesday and will start her new job Sept. 19. Over the past year, Racusen has focused on projects aimed at capturing the president’s legacy, from the economy to the environment. Before first joining the White House staff in May 2013, Racusen served as director of public affairs for the Federal Emergency Management Agency for two years and as deputy national communications director for Obama’s reelection campaign….

Racusen joins a long line of Obama veterans who have found jobs in the tech sector after serving in the government, from former press secretary Jay Carney (Amazon) to former senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer (GoFundMe). And Snapchat is a popular White House presence already: Michelle Obama joined the platform in June, about a month after she and the president welcomed Snapchat chief executive Evan Spiegal and with his now-fiancee, Miranda Kerr, to the Nordic state dinner.

The relationships and mixing between government and media are getting too tangled to follow:

  • ABC News President Ben Sherwood, who is the brother of Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, a top national-security adviser to President Obama.
  • His counterpart at CBS, news division president David Rhodes, is the brother of Benjamin Rhodes, a key foreign-policy specialist.
  • CNN’s deputy Washington bureau chief, Virginia Moseley, is married to Tom Nides, who until earlier this year was deputy secretary of state under Hillary Rodham Clinton.
  • White House press secretary Jay Carney’s wife is Claire Shipman, a veteran reporter for ABC.
  • NPR’s White House correspondent, Ari Shapiro, is married to a lawyer, Michael Gottlieb, who joined the White House counsel’s office in April.
  • The Post‘s Justice Department reporter, Sari Horwitz, is married to William B. Schultz, the general counsel of the Department of Human Services.
  • [VP] [The President’s current Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications and] Biden’s [former] communications director, Shailagh Murray (a former Post congressional reporter), is married to Neil King, one of the Wall Street Journal‘s top political reporters.

George Stephanopoulos blazed the trail from campaign staffer for Mike Dukakis to White House press secretary to high-paid anchor on ABC. Lesser staffers have to settle for high-paid positions at Google and Facebook and the like, where their connections help bond the Party of Government and Silicon Valley social media closer — the big Internet powers know they could be hurt by regulation, and promoting progressive ideas and repressing contrary points of view can keep their businesses safe from the scrutiny of antitrust and regulatory agencies.

Sylvia Burwell is another Dukakis staffer who cashed in:

While still in college, she served as an intern for West Virginia Congressman Nick Rahall, as governor’s aide to Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, and worked on the Dukakis/Bentsen campaign… She later worked on the Clinton/Gore campaign.

She was an Associate at McKinsey & Company from 1990 through 1992. On the night in July of 1993 when Deputy White House counsel Vince Foster committed suicide in a Virginia park, Burwell searched Foster’s office garbage for documents wanted by the Clintons before the police investigation commenced. Burwell was questioned during the Whitewater investigations regarding the purpose of her search of Foster’s garbage and the fate of the documents she discovered. She served as Staff Director for the National Economic Council from 1993 to 1995. She was Chief of Staff to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin from 1995 to 1997. Mathews served as Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 1998, along with future Center for American Progress founder John Podesta. In 1998, Bowles left and Podesta was elevated to chief of staff, and Burwell moved to the OMB to serve as Jack Lew’s deputy director from 1998 to 2001…

On March 3, 2013, President Obama nominated Burwell to head the White House Office of Management and Budget…. In October 2013, during the United States federal government shutdown of 2013, Burwell sent the email initiating the process that closed national parks, visitors’ centers and even the “panda-cam” at the National Zoo. “Agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations,” Burwell wrote in a memo to heads of executive departments and agencies. She ordered the action because there was no “clear indication” that Congress would strike an agreement on a continuing resolution before the end of the day Tuesday. “We urge Congress to act quickly to pass a Continuing Resolution to provide a short-term bridge that ensures sufficient time to pass a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year, and to restore the operation of critical public services and programs that will be impacted by a lapse in appropriations,” Burwell said in a statement.

Burwell was confirmed as Department of HHS secretary on June 5, 2014.

And today CNN is running her opinion piece on Obamacare’s success and bright future without explicitly noting she’s in charge of the agency running Obamacare.

CNN is owned by Time-Warner, a communications company extensively regulated by the FCC, an obsolete but still powerful agency whose commissioners are appointed by the President and control broadcast and cable TV. ABC is owned by Disney, which also owns ESPN and also depends on cable monopolies for its outsized profits. MSNBC and NBC are notoriously close to the current administration, and they are owned by Comcast, who… are you seeing the pattern?

Marilyn Tavenner started a nurse, then rose to chief executive of a hospital owned by HCA (Hospital Corporation of America, profit-making megachain), rising in the corporation before resigning to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Resources in the Cabinet of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine [now Hillary Clinton’s VP candidate.] She was in charge of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services which was responsible for the horrendously botched rollout of Obamacare and its Healthcare.Gov website.

She resigned January of 2015, and by July had been appointed President and CEO of AHIP, the health insurance industry organization and lobbying group.

These incestuous and corrupt linkages mean government regulatory authority is gradually undermining journalist’s independence, nurturing a shared worldview — a hothouse bubble — making nonpartisan reporting difficult. Most journalists are progressive-leaning Democrats, though some are still trying hard to be evenhanded. But the bubble in which they live and hobnob socially with White House staffers and other apparatchiks and lobbyists in DC and NYC makes it very hard for them to see their own biases and report fairly, when they know breaking news “difficult” for the socially-approved candidate will hurt them socially or result in a decline in their access to government sources. It’s easy to make it as a reporter or opinion writer by rewriting press releases and forwarding talking points given to you by friendly insiders — and time-consuming and often fruitless to follow independent leads to do investigative reporting revealing government malfeasance. It makes people you know and like look bad. It might help a candidate you can’t stand! …

The uniquely awful choice between Clinton and Trump is driving journalists to new lows in partisan reporting. The New York Times discussed the problem:

If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?

Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career. If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, nonopinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable.

But the question that everyone is grappling with is: Do normal standards apply? And if they don’t, what should take their place?

Covering Mr. Trump as an abnormal and potentially dangerous candidate is more than just a shock to the journalistic system. It threatens to throw the advantage to his news conference-averse opponent, Hillary Clinton, who should draw plenty more tough-minded coverage herself. She proved that again last week with her assertion on “Fox News Sunday” that James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had declared her to be truthful in her answers about her decision to use a private email server for official State Department business — a grossly misleading interpretation of an F.B.I. report that pointed up various falsehoods in her public explanations.

And, most broadly, it upsets balance, that idealistic form of journalism with a capital “J” we’ve been trained to always strive for.

This week’s episode of Hillary’s ongoing medical issues had her exiting the 9-11 memorial ceremony early. Captured only by amateur video because the press corps was prevented from following her, the talking points issued by her people went from allergies, to fainting in the (80-degree) heat, then finally (after the video became public) to the claim that she had been diagnosed days earlier with pneumonia, but kept on with her relentless schedule against doctor’s orders until she was overcome.

Partisan apologists immediately sent up flak memes to cover up the revelation that all previous talking points had been lies:

A 68-year-old woman, with pneumonia, still kept a schedule that most of us wouldn’t make it through, flying here and there, holding multiple events and briefings a day.

That’s not weak. That’s actually strong and tough as hell.

One wag responded:

If you spin a story faster than lightspeed, does it go back in time and rescue the candidate from that deep trench she fell into?

The New Yorker rushed out a cartoon lampooning the coverup:

Hillary Clinton's coverup -- Schwartz, The New Yorker

Hillary Clinton’s coverup — Schwartz, The New Yorker

Others pointed out how much US journalism is starting to look like banana republic propaganda:

Our Leader is Strong Like Ox! -- Anarchyball

Our Leader is Strong Like Ox! — Anarchyball

Ooh, harsh. But fair. We look at people like the Kirchners in Argentina and wonder how they can get voted in despite their obvious corruption. Today many stories in US politics are broken by the British press, who aren’t as constrained by the access favor-trading that has “respectable” news organizations self-censoring and identifying with the power structure they are supposedly a check on.

What’s next? If Trump wins, will Milo Yiannopoulos be appointed White House press secretary? I have to admit he’d be highly entertaining. Would he then go on to anchor the new Trump News Network’s Sunday politics show?

 

If Trump wins, would it be wrong for him to work to dismantle the protected oligopoly cable networks now have, lowering prices for content and getting his own network the advantages Time-Warner, Disney, and Comcast now enjoy? What will all the partisan journalists do when their platforms begin to shrink?

The risks of a Trump presidency are enormous, but Hillary Clinton’s claim that half of his supporters are “deplorables,” meaning people who are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it,” sounds very much like the character assassination progressives apply to anyone who disagrees with them about — anything. Internet memes immediately began to appear mocking her comment:

Les Deplorables -- via Christopher Buckley, source unknown

Les Deplorables — via Christopher Buckley, source unknown

What is the solution to the revolving door of influence and media corruption? One proposal is Glenn Reynolds’ “Revolving Door Tax.” It would also be a good idea for Congress to explicitly prohibit use of tax dollars to do executive branch PR — vast sums are spent to generate pro-government propaganda, contributing to spread of biased information. Progressive claims that such expenditures are necessary to prepare the population to accept programs like the ACA show exactly why they shouldn’t be allowed. The corrupt feedback loop allowing voters to be brainwashed to accept political-class programming needs to be stopped. The regulation of cable TV and high-speed Internet that prevents competition for their local monopolies also needs to end; the extra $50-100 per month paid by hundreds of millions of households is being plowed into acquisition of content providers, and the tiny fraction of their monopoly profits these companies plow back into supporting politicians and PR people is damaging our politics. The similar corrupt feedback loops in banking and finance, healthcare and insurance, energy policy, education — really everywhere government controls a major economic sector — are subjects of other posts.

For more reading goodness:

Death by HR: Biased HR Degree Programs Create Biased HR Bureaucracies
Death by HR: Pink Collar Ghettos, Publishing and HR
Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women…
Death by HR: The Great Enrichment to the Great Slackening
Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming Idiocracy
The Justice is Too Damn High! – Gawker, the High Cost of Litigation, and the Weapon Shops of Isher
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Stable is Boring? “Psychology Today” Article on Bad Boyfriends
Gaming and Science Fiction: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again

Death by HR: The Hiring Game is Rigged! How a Racial Spoils System Replaced Merit

Game Is Rigged - Fallout 3, New Vegas, Bethesda Softworks

Game Is Rigged – Fallout 3, New Vegas, Bethesda Softworks

Today’s news has more evidence that the diversity mantra is driving corporate decisions past the point of illegal discrimination. NRO has “General Mills’s New Product: Quota-O’s,” by Roger Clegg:

The Star Tribune reports that General Mills “is pressuring ad agencies to hire more women and people of color by imposing a diversity benchmark,” so that “the creative departments in agencies bidding for its business [will] be staffed at least half by women and 20 percent by people of color.” General Mills executives said, according to the report, that “they want the people who create its advertising to be more reflective of the people who consume their products.” A General Mills spokeswoman was quoted: “We’ll get to stronger creative work that resonates with our consumers by partnering with creative teams who understand firsthand the diverse perspectives of the people we serve.”

Translation: To figure out how best to sell a box of Cheerios to a black woman, you really have to be a black woman. That’s nonsense, and the real motive here is just the pressure to be politically correct. The resulting discrimination cannot be justified. It’s certainly not moral to treat people differently because of skin color; there’s no empirical or historical evidence that, say, the Phoenicians would have been better traders if only they had had greater ethnic diversity; and it’s not logical to suppose that women cannot imagine what might appeal to men or vice versa….

But I’m a civil-rights lawyer so let me also point out the legal problems. Certainly it will violate the law for ad agencies to accede to General Mills’s pressure. As always, it’s helpful to put the shoe on the other foot: Could an employer refuse to hire black sales clerks on the grounds that its customers hated to deal with black people? Of course not, and it wouldn’t matter how stubborn or wealthy the customer was, and of course no judge would care about exploring the reasons for the customer’s desire for discrimination. There’s no “bona fide occupational qualification” for racial preferences under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination.

Is General Mills itself violating the law? Putting aside Title VII for a moment, there certainly seems to be a problem under 42 U.S.C. 1981, which makes it illegal to engage in racial discrimination in entering into contracts. And I don’t know if one can be held liable for conspiring to violate Title VII or pressuring someone to do so, but that’s exactly what General Mills is doing.

But this is only the latest example of diversity requirements crossing the line of illegal discrimination. Let’s go back and look at how merit-based hiring programs were gradually subverted to create a race- and sex-conscious spoils system.

Systems designed to screen a group of applicants by objective measures of merit were a focus of civil service reforms. Standardized tests, certification and degree requirements, experience records, and proof of language proficiency and residence are often part of this process, and many private employers also try to make their consideration of new hires and promotions more objective using such evaluation systems.

In trying to remove inappropriate biases (racism, sexism, nepotism, and cronyism) in hiring by establishing objective screening criteria, organizations lost control of factors which they now find politically necessary to satisfy, like diversity goals. It is now common for objective merit criteria to be discounted or ignored as needed to achieve more minority or female representation. But since it is also technically illegal to use race or sex as a factor in hiring, organizations watched closely by the public and the courts find themselves surreptitiously subverting their previous commitment to merit — instead of openly declaring diversity to be a goal so important that merit becomes a secondary factor, underhanded deck-stacking methods are used to get the desired politically-acceptable hiring mix.

There is nothing improper about diversity goals in certain situations. For example, many big-city police forces were overwhelmingly white and sometimes mostly Irish around 1950, and the lack of representation of minorities in the force increased tensions with poor largely black neighborhoods. City policies to require new hires to be city residents and the removal of exam requirements which favored the more cognitively-adept applicants allowed enough minority hiring to redress this imbalance for good political reasons, though little thought was given to instead modifying the tests to measure policing skillsets and only policing skillsets. Organizations like police and fire departments struggled mightily to comply since they had been run as patronage havens for friends, family, and ethnic groups influential in the cities’ political machines.

The wave of affirmative action programs starting in the 1970s weakened civil service exam requirements. Courts found many exams discriminated against minorities, especially when it was clear the exams included cognitive skills not required for lower-level jobs. Some affirmative action programs race-normed the passing grades, which allowed more minorities to qualify with scores that would otherwise have failed. Many positions were entirely removed from examination requirements. Where the qualifying standard had been “top 3” or “best,” it became “good enough” or “adequate.”

The needs of a bureaucracy may not always favor hiring the most intelligent or skilled candidate. As in private industry, some managers would prefer to hire people who are bright enough and skilled enough, but not too much more than that, lest they be unhappy in the job or liable to be hired away by others — the brilliant scientist who wants to work as a police officer while writing papers on theoretical physics in her spare time is out of luck. In Connecticut, a Federal judge ruled the state was not discriminating unlawfully when it denied an applicant the opportunity to interview for the police force because his intelligence test score was too high.[1] Not rocking the boat is valued over ability in many hierarchies.

But these are just entry-level positions. What happens when promotion from within is favored, while entry-level employees are screened to ensure the very bright or overqualified are kept out in favor of desired race, sex, or residency? Entry-level positions in organizations are often open to all in theory, while in practice networks and connections of family, ethnicity, neighborhood, and religion can assist in placing people at the bottom rungs. If higher-level positions are filled from within this can result in entire organizations dominated by a single affiliate group, for example the Irish-dominated police forces of early 19th century US cities.

Large companies also had set up screening systems, often using aptitude testing for initial hires. This gave bright but inexperienced young people a chance to prove themselves on the job. But the court rulings against testing and any other screening which might disfavor minorities led to most of these screening systems being modified in favor of degree and certification requirements. Today many entry-level jobs require a college degree, which has delayed entry into the workforce for many and shut others out completely.

In an interesting paper, “Gerrymandering in Personnel Selection: A Review of Practice” by Michael A. McDaniel of Virginia Commonwealth University,[2] the term “gerrymandering” is used to mean any rigging of a system of merit selection designed to subvert it to allow the less-qualified to be hired. Such rigging of the system is accomplished by insiders, either with or without organizational approval, to favor candidates by race (for affirmative action purposes), sex, membership in a political machine, ethnicity, or simply to allow managers to hire the people they want instead of the people who come out on top in a systematic, objective evaluation process. While these insiders keep the appearance of merit selection, they achieve their own goals by subtly adjusting parameters they do control to favor their desired hires. This can be done by tweaking the system itself or by inserting personal judgment components that can be “adjusted” to overcome more objective factors like test scores.

I’ve adopted “rigging” instead of McDaniel’s “gerrymandering,” which has a specific meaning in electoral districting. He begins:

Although [rigging] can be used to benefit a specific individual (e.g., manipulating the system to get one’s cousin hired), [it] is often designed to benefit a group of applicants. For example, a group of applicants might be defined with reference to race (e.g., minorities), sex (e.g., females), political affiliation (e.g., Democrats), family associations (e.g., children or spouses of current employees) or type of applicant (e.g., applicants who currently work for the organization versus external applicants).

[Rigging] is typically in conflict with the goals of a merit-based personnel selection system which seeks to hire the most qualified applicant for a job… efforts focused on groups are typically an attempt to subvert merit-based personnel selection in favor of some other goal such as racial or gender diversity. The author knows of no example where [rigging] efforts focused on groups were consistent with the goal of a merit-based personnel selection practice…. usually in conflict with merit-based goals, it is consistent with other goals, such as increasing the demographic diversity of organizations or promoting the growth and stability of political organizations…. Because some [of these] practices in personnel selection are illegal and because most of these practices are seldom transparently applied or openly discussed, it is difficult for the author to estimate how frequently a given practice is used.

Increasing the representation of minorities and women in a workforce based on standardized testing screenings is difficult when those groups on average underperform white males on certain cognitive measures. Males tend to have more extreme results on aptitude and intelligence tests, with more males scoring either very high or very low than females. This implies (if such tests are valid indicators of ability, and they are) that males will tend to be overrepresented in positions requiring extremely high cognitive skills, like STEM professorships and Nobel prizes, quite aside from the cultural factors that encourage more males to concentrate on work and avoid familial care obligations. Physical job requirements, too, can favor some groups over others; upper body strength tests for firefighters and combat soldiers will pass far more males, while black males dominate basketball teams partly for genetically-determined reasons of height and coordination[3] as well as cultural factors.

Ignoring the cumulative evidence to the contrary, United States employment regulations and some case law are based on the false assumption that minority-white differences in personnel selection tests are uncommon. Specifically, when the use of a personnel selection test results in a lower percentage of minorities hired than whites, the disparity in hiring rates is termed “adverse impact” under the Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection Procedures (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Civil Service Commission, Department of Labor, & Department of Justice, 1978). When adverse impact is present (and it typically is), it becomes the responsibility of the employer to defend the job-relatedness of the personnel selection system. Defending job-relatedness in an adversarial setting is a time consuming and expensive process. Thus, employers seeking to avoid validation and litigation expenses have substantial motive to gerrymander their selection process to hire more minorities.

So the pressure to increase diversity could only be satisfied by quietly rolling back an organization’s previous commitment to hiring the best person for the job. Since discrimination against white or male applicants on the basis or race or sex is also technically illegal, if rarely litigated, organizations and HR departments use a variety of techniques to rig their systems to preserve the hollowed-out façade of previously merit-based hiring systems, obscuring the reality of racial spoils systems.[4]

These disguised methods for stacking the deck or putting a thumb on the scale of hiring are hypocritical at best, but now so ingrained in HR and civil service procedures that aside from continuing jokes about “diversity hires” (which can themselves be cause for an EEOC complaint as contributing to a hostile work environment) there is little awareness of just how much the focus has changed from merit and accountability to politically-based hiring and retention of mediocre and less productive employees, especially in highly-regulated businesses and government.

Reasons for rigging the hiring process:

• For the benefit of one group and the detriment of another. This includes: increasing numbers of minorities or women, for affirmative action/diversity goals; aiming to give preference to members of a political machine or party to continue patronage practices; and preferring members of a tribe, ethnic origin, or extended family group that controls the workplace.

• For the benefit of a single preferred candidate which hiring managers or team members prefer, or the reverse when a particular candidate is to be rejected.

Methods of rigging the hiring process:

• Tailoring personnel selection tools like tests and requirement lists more closely to the position. This can be a positive step toward merit selection when general aptitude tests are replaced by specific job knowledge tests; for example, instead of eliminating use of testing entirely as has happened for many Federal civil service jobs, California’s state government adopted dozens of job-specific knowledge tests. This allows those applicants who aren’t as good at general aptitude tests and abstract reasoning to demonstrate real job-related knowledge. But it is far more common for tests to be removed entirely from the process so that it can be manipulated to achieve the politically-desired outcome.

• Remove cognitively-loaded (either general aptitude or area knowledge) tests from selection systems. Even tests tailored to the job expertise required will tend to filter out more minority applicants and make reaching diversity goals difficult. McDaniel observed that “a county government stopped using a job knowledge test to screen librarians due to the poor test performance of minority applicants. A measure of training and experience was substituted based on the assumption that minorities would obtain higher scores.” Since college degrees and other certifications requiring lengthy programs and cognitive skills challenges also tend to screen out minorities, substitution of on-site training programs advertised only to minority candidates and experience measures also assist in getting minority hires and promotions up.

Companies and agencies under pressure to increase minority numbers faced immediate penalties if they failed, but the longer-term negative effect on performance and morale was beyond the effective time horizon of individual executives in upper management. By 2016, of course, the HR departments and government managers who implemented the dumbing-down of their workers have long since retired, replaced by a generation who have been trained in the diversity mantra and have less concern for productivity or performance.

• Add apparently job-related requirements or tests that the desired candidates can do better on, which dilutes the pure subject matter knowledge or cognitive skill component. These might be personality tests, which can be helpful in weeding out candidates who lack emotional intelligence or demonstrate problematic syndromes, or additional screening factors like residence or previous work experience which favor the desired outcome. McDaniel cites one example where a city wanted to keep a workforce stuffed with patronage employees:

In a large city, Democratic ward committeemen were charged with getting out the Democratic vote on election day. These ward committeeman were often hired as city building inspectors, in part, because the jobs paid well. In addition, building inspectors have been alleged to enhance their income through accepting bribes. A civil service law was passed that required that the incumbent building inspectors pass a civil service examination to be eligible to retain their jobs. The employer was concerned that the external job applicants had substantially better job knowledge than the internal job applicants which would result in the Democratic ward committeemen losing their jobs (this concern proved justified because most of the external applicants scored higher than the internal applicants). The employer supplemented the job knowledge test with a single biodata item. This item asked whether the applicant had job experience as a building inspector in the city government. To be placed in the highest selection band, the applicants had to have experience as a city building inspector in the jurisdiction where the employment screening was taking place. The passing point of the job knowledge test was set below the lowest scoring incumbent. The addition of the one item biodata test coupled with a low cut-off score, permitted the city to retain all the incumbent building inspectors…[5]

• Add requirements that aren’t directly job-related and which appear neutral, yet discriminate against the undesired categories of applicants. Local governments often require residency in their jurisdiction, for example, which seems like a good idea (residents are more likely to understand and want to assist their similar neighbors), but can be used to keep the city’s work force racially disparate in a regional sense (either a largely minority city can keep out suburban white and Asian workers, or a lily-white suburb can block minority workers from the city.) Requiring certain language proficiencies: fluent English requirements for garbage disposal workers, for example, would bar many immigrants from the job unnecessarily, and the Canadian federal government’s requirements for bilingual proficiency (French and English) even in single-language areas like Alberta and rural Quebec is a politically-motivated effort to glue together disparate regions by creating an elite Federal bureaucracy detached from regional loyalties.

• Add subjective human judgments to the screening. If application evaluations are done by a small group of people who understand they are supposed to favor one person or group over others—as is the case with college admissions decisions—these biased evaluations can be used to make up for the favored group’s failings in more objective measures (like grades and test scores.) McDaniel cites one personal experience of this technique:

The author observed a possible example of [this technique] using an interview that took place in a large city jurisdiction that had been unable to promote anyone into vacant Fire Battalion Chief positions due to a court order stemming from a U.S Department of Justice lawsuit. The employer convened an oral interview panel that rated minority candidates somewhat higher than majority candidates, on average. Because the minority candidates obtained substantially lower scores than whites on the objectively-scored job knowledge test, one might infer that the interview raters evaluated candidates in a race-conscious manner that resulted in higher mean minority scores. When a composite of the interview and the knowledge test was formed, the interview was given sufficient weight such that the composite score showed near-equal means between minority and White applicants. The court overseeing the hiring permitted the city to hire Fire Battalion Chiefs using the composite test score.[6]

• Changes in relative weights of scoring criteria. Adjusting the weighting of some test scores or requirements relative to others allows manipulation of the resulting composite scores. The scoring calculations can also be fudged directly as needed to obtain the desired composite result, since only a few people are involved and their work is generally not examined to detect cheating.

• Collapse scoring into bands. This is a very common technique to achieve affirmative action goals — most frequently a low cutoff score allows a large pool of candidates to be declared qualified for the job, then the desired class can all be offered jobs despite scoring lower in the evaluation than others. This “good enough” style of mediocrity-supporting score-rigging was discussed in Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees. Applicants above the cutoff point are passed to the hiring manager, often stripped of the actual scores, ensuring that no clue to the relative merits of candidates will be allowed to affect the hiring manager’s decision. As McDaniel says:

Often large companies belong to industry-specific consortiums that offer consortium-developed employment tests conditional upon the company following the rules of the consortium with respect to how test scores are used. The author is aware of one such consortium that requires the setting of a cut-off score, albeit not necessarily a low cut-off score, and then forbids the test scores of the passing applicants to be shared with the hiring manager. This requirement most likely reflects an attempt to promote the hiring of minorities by hiding the score differences between the minority and majority applicants… In banding, applicants are rationally or statistically segmented into groups and all members of a group are asserted to be of equivalent eligibility for hire. Because employment tests are linearly related to job performance, the assumption is clearly false and the low cut off scores can substantially compromise the merit selection process. The problem is not solely one of hiring less-qualified minority candidates, but also one of not hiring the most qualified non-minorities. When scores are withheld from the hiring manager, it also impairs the ability of the hiring manager to differentiate among the non-minority applicants. In race or gender-conscious banding, the bands are set to ensure that there is at least one minority (or female) in the band. For example, the author observed that a county government would set the cut score for the highest band immediately below the highest scoring minority and then pressured hiring managers with vacancies to consider the minority applicant….

For those looking for clever ways to equalize scoring schemes to make poor-scoring group members look better, the academic article “The diversity–validity dilemma: strategies for reducing racioethnic and sex subgroup differences and adverse impact in selection,” by Ployhart, R. E., and Holtz, B. C., in The Journal of Personnel Psychology, 6 Feb. 2008 is a comprehensive survey.[7]

• Give favored applicants the answers to exam questions in advance. These cases often involve public agencies like police and fire departments trying to wire in their preferred “good old boy” candidates:

…fifty-five police officers in Nassau County, New York, including many who started their police career in a minority police cadet program, were investigated for giving false statements on autobiographical test items. It was alleged that the answer key for the test was obtained and used to coach applicants[8]. [T]he coaching program [was]conducted by a police sergeant involved in the test validation.[9] The sergeant would offer hypothetical questions and preferred answers. Example questions and answers:

Q: How many of your relatives work in law enforcement? A: Three.
Q: Which hobbies do you engage in at least once a year? A: Hunting.

All of the police cadets passed.

Because releasing an answer key to applicants might be considered fraud, employers who use this strategy need to know the applicants well enough to trust that one or more applicants will not publicize the release of the answer key. Therefore, this strategy is likely to be primarily used in promotional settings.[10]

Coaching a favored candidate allows staff to get someone on board despite a supposedly neutral process. McDaniel shares anecdotes:

The author is aware of a jeweler whose employees interviewed applicants prior to the applicants taking a standardized integrity test. The employees did not like it when their preferred applicant was not hired due to the applicant’s performance on the integrity test. Although the employees did not have the answer key to the test, they had enough information to coach preferred applicants (e.g., never admit to theft or knowing anyone who steals; endorse strong punishment of those who steal) such that all coached respondents passed the test.

Concerning completing a test for an applicant, the author is aware of an insurance office that was required to administer an insurance consortium biodata test to applicants. As with the jeweler example above, the employees did not like it when their preferred applicants failed the test and could not be hired. To gerrymander the selection process, the employees kept a copy of the answer sheet from a past applicant who did well on the test. The office employees then used the answers from the successful past applicant to serve as the answers for all future applicants they wanted to hire. Finally, the sharing of the answer key sometimes has a financial motive. The author worked in the same organization as a personnel analyst who allegedly charged $2,000 per applicant to alter the scores on a physical abilities test for firefighters. The analyst was eventually imprisoned….[11]

• A strategy now outlawed: simply add points to the scores of all affirmative action candidates as necessary to equalize their average scores with non-minority candidates. This method was recommended and used for affirmative action by the US Dept. Of Labor using the general Aptitude Test Battery (GATB) for civil service positions until it was outlawed by passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.[12]

• Influence hiring managers to choose the desired candidate or choose from preferred candidates. This happens through unofficial channels, by verbal discussion or constant HR and upper management emphasis on getting diversity numbers up and the neglect of emphasis on job performance or fit. Since the hiring manager is often also rewarded or punished based on team performance, this requires the manager to balance short-term pain from defying clear HR and upper management directives to increase diversity with the longer-term pain of adding likely less productive people to the manager’s team.

—

Death by HR

Death by HR

This is an excerpt from the upcoming book Death by HR: The Great Slackening, to be published in October, 2016. Sign up using the button on the right sidebar if you’d like an email notifying you when it becomes available.

Footnotes:

[1] “METRO NEWS BRIEFS: CONNECTICUT; Judge Rules That Police Can Bar High I.Q. Scores,” New York Times, Sept. 9, 1999
http://www.nytimes.com/1999/09/09/nyregion/metro-news-briefs-connecticut-judge-rules-that-police-can-bar-high-iq-scores.html
[2] “Gerrymandering in personnel selection: A review of practice,” by Michael A. McDaniel, Human Resource Management Review 19(3):263-270 · September 2009. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222705476_Gerrymandering_in_personnel_selection_A_review_of_practice
[3] Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We Are Afraid to Talk About It, by Jon Entine. PublicAffairs – Hachette Book Group, 2008. “In virtually every sport in which they are given opportunity to compete, people of African descent dominate. East Africans own every distance running record. Professional sports in the Americas are dominated by men and women of West African descent. Why have blacks come to dominate sports? Are they somehow physically better? And why are we so uncomfortable when we discuss this? Drawing on the latest scientific research, journalist Jon Entine makes an irrefutable case for black athletic superiority.” http://amzn.to/2cCDxVS
[4] “Racial spoils systems must involve incessant mischief because they require a rhetorical fog of euphemisms and blurry categories (e.g., ‘race-conscious’ measures that somehow do not constitute racial discrimination) to obscure stark facts, such as: If Ricci and half a dozen others who earned high scores were not white, the city would have proceeded with the promotions.” From the op-ed piece “The Wreck of the Racial Spoils System” by George Will, Washington Post, Sunday, April 26, 2009. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/24/AR2009042402305.html
[5] McDaniel. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222705476_Gerrymandering_in_personnel_selection_A_review_of_practice
[6] McDaniel. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222705476_Gerrymandering_in_personnel_selection_A_review_of_practice
[7] “The diversity–validity dilemma: strategies for reducing racioethnic and sex subgroup differences and adverse impact inselection.” By Ployhart, R. E., and Holtz, B. C. J. Personnel Psychology, 61, Feb 2008. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2008.00109.x/abstract
[8] “55 Suffolk County Officers Accused of Lying About Qualifications on Exams,” by Duayne Draffen, New York Times, February 27, 1998. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/02/27/nyregion/55-suffolk-county-officers-accused-of-lying-about-qualifications-on-exams.html
[9] “The Coachability and Fakability of Personality-Based Selection Tests Used for Police Selection,” by Miller, C.E. and Barret, G.V., in J. Public Personnel Management, Fall 2008, Vol 37 No. 3 pp 339-351. http://prx.sagepub.com/content/112/2/486.full.pdf+html
[10] McDaniel. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222705476_Gerrymandering_in_personnel_selection_A_review_of_practice
[11] McDaniel. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222705476_Gerrymandering_in_personnel_selection_A_review_of_practice
[12] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1991–

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Death by HR: Biased HR Degree Programs Create Biased HR Bureaucracies
Death by HR: Pink Collar Ghettos, Publishing and HR
Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women…
Death by HR: The Great Enrichment to the Great Slackening
Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming Idiocracy
The Justice is Too Damn High! – Gawker, the High Cost of Litigation, and the Weapon Shops of Isher
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

Affirmative Action: Chinese, Indian-Origin Citizens in Malaysia Oppressed
Affirmative Action: Caste Reservation in India
Diversity Hires: Pressure on High Tech
Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
“Income Inequality” Propaganda is Just Disguised Materialism

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Fear is the Mindkiller
Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Selective Outrage
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
“Tomorrowland”: Tragic Misfire
The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition
Hugos, Sad Puppies 3, and Direct Knowledge
Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes
Men of Honor vs Victim Culture
SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best
“Why Aren’t There More Women Futurists?”
Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

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US Military: From No Standing Armies to Permanent Global Power
US Military: The Desegration Experience
The VA Scandals: Death by Bureaucracy

Death by HR: Affirmative Action: Injustice, Mismatch, Reform, and Rebellion

Death by HR

Death by HR

Affirmative Action and Mismatch

As in all efforts to redress grievances long after their occurrence, the costs are borne by many who had no hand in and did not benefit from the wrongs done, and the reparative benefits are not well-targeted to the actual victims of injustice. “Social justice” is justice between groups or tribes — like group punishment, remedial actions can be inherently unjust to individuals involved, and become more so as time goes on and the original victims and victimizers have long since died.

Affirmative action policies in college admissions are closely watched, and illustrate the problems of any such effort. When all colleges try to increase their minority enrollments, they end up admitting minority students who are as a group dramatically less well-prepared for the academic programs and rigors of competitive fields, which tends to make these students change majors to less competitive “soft” fields or ethnic studies as a refuge, which ultimately limits their success outside of a ghetto of affirmative action-friendly government, HR, and nonprofit fields. Black students who would have happily studied and been successful in STEM programs at lower-pressure, less-selective colleges find themselves falling behind, dropping out, or changing to softer studies.

Formation of cultural enclaves within schools, and self-segregation by race and ability, tends to prevent those admitted because of affirmative action from successfully adopting the dominant culture of their chosen field of study, which reduces their chance of successfully completing a degree program and going on to a productive career.

These damaging consequences are referred to as mismatch, and Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It[1] by Richard Sander covers it well.

Secondary negative effects include resentment from those who feel they have lost out because others got preferences, and a pervasive sense of inauthenticity among those who may have benefitted. The casual assumption that minorities in highly-competitive colleges are only there because of special preferences harms those students further, especially if they themselves believe it to be true. While some overcome all of these negatives to go on to success in fields like investment banking they might have found hard to enter without the elite college imprimatur, most do not. The worst case scenario for a promising young student is to succumb to the academic and social pressure and drop out, which if they have taken on heavy student loan debt, is far worse for them than having gone to a lesser school where their abilities would have been better matched to the program. The second-worst scenario is change of major and field to enter a less-competitive ghetto like gender or ethnic studies, where competition is reduced and support is based on class characteristics and not excellence; by settling for ghettoization, these students end up in low-paying jobs and have few prospects outside of government and nonprofit political organizations, which reinforces their commitment to grievance politics and the spoil system.

Being able to overcome difficulties and succeed on your own merit and effort is key to building self-esteem and confidence. Both legacy admits (students who get admissions preference because family members are alumni and donated money) and affirmative action admits struggle, but the wealthy scions have their way prepared already and can afford to scrape by (at, say, Yale) while partying their way through. Affirmative action admits don’t have that luxury.

Another phenomenon seen in highly-selective schools: affirmative action for well-off, upper-class students who happen to have dark skin. Students whose parents are diplomats or immigrated in recent years and therefore never suffered from slavery or Jim Crow discrimination get the same preferences as those whose families did. Barack Obama is a prime example, with an middle-class white mother and a Kenyan father who only visited the US. Neither branch of his family could have suffered from past racial discrimination or the lingering effects of slavery and he grew up in relative affluence, attending an elite private school in Hawaii, yet received admission preferences to Columbia and Harvard Law School because of his skin color and racial background.[2] The desire to prove that in America racism is over smoothed the way for his election as “the first black President” while truly disadvantaged students who happened to be white or Asian got no boost from preferences.

Reform and Rebellion via “Irish Democracy”

Affirmative action by government was accomplished by law, with supportive court rulings that allowed race and sex discrimination in the name of redressing prior discrimination. Courts and voters have been walking back this mistake for decades, with many jurists and ultimately Chief Justice John Roberts writing, “The way to end racial discrimination is to stop discriminating by race.”[3]

The EEOC and antidiscrimination laws encouraged private business and all levels of government and larger nonprofits to establish affirmative action programs for employment, ranging from outright quota systems to recruitment outreach. Quota systems created ill will and were overturned when legally challenged, and so the watchword became diversity — striving for an ideal of inclusion. The double standard that allowed lesser-qualified persons of the desired race or sex to be chosen over more-qualified candidates of deprecated classes became less blatant, but is still a strong component of many government and some private hiring decisions.

In the decades since affirmative action was begun, employee turnover has replaced nearly all of the old-line managers (who were often seat-of-the-pants deciders and in many cases discriminated on the basis of race and sex, as well as other heuristics now deemed inappropriate) with a new crop of more-correct managers, many of them beneficiaries of affirmative action themselves. This has enshrined diversity as a nebulous good, with academic efforts to justify it as increasing productivity, as in a paper from MIT: “Diversity, Social Goods Provision, and Performance in the Firm”:

The study used eight years of revenue data and survey results, covering 1995 to 2002, from a professional-services firm with more than 60 offices in the United States and abroad. The data included some all-male and all-female offices — both of which are unusual, the researchers note — in addition to mixed-gender offices. The survey data allowed Ellison and Mullin to study the employees’ ratings of office satisfaction, cooperation, and morale, not just one generalized measure of workplace happiness.

Among other results, the economists found that shifting from an all-male or all-female office to one split evenly along gender lines could increase revenue by roughly 41 percent. To see how this could happen, Ellison suggests an analogy with a baseball team. “A baseball team entirely composed of catchers could have high esprit de corps,” Ellison says, noting that a band of catchers could share experiences, equipment, or tips for handling knuckleballs. “But it would not perform very well on the field.”

Similarly, greater social diversity implies a greater spread of experience, which could add to the collective knowledge of a group of office workers and make the unit perform more effectively. Another wrinkle Ellison and Mullin found is that just the perception that firms are diverse was sufficient to produce satisfaction among employees — but this perception did not necessarily occur in the places where more extensive gender diversity accompanied better bottom-line results. “In offices where people thought the firm was accepting of diversity, they were happier and more cooperative,” Ellison says. “But that didn’t translate into any effect on office performance. People may like the idea of a diverse workplace more than they like actual diversity in the workplace.”

Ellison acknowledges that in focusing on a single firm that was willing to provide data, the study was necessarily limited in scope, and says she would welcome further research. Management studies on social capital, she says, do not necessarily link the matter to objective financial results; economics studies of social capital have generally focused on issues such as public finance or even soldier behavior, and not job issues.

“There have been a number of studies looking at things like diversity and performance, but they don’t always use the [bottom-line] measures of performance that economists might prefer,” Ellison says. At the same time, she adds, “Highlighting the workplace setting, as a place for economists to study social capital, is also useful.”[4]

These “studies” rarely prove anything, though one consistent result is that teams with some cultural norms in common make for happier workplaces — not something we needed a study to discover. Yet despite a lack of hard evidence, diversity as a goal has become a sacred cow designed to allow racial and sexual preferences to continue under the guise of enhancing productivity. The standard Silicon Valley coder team now consists of one white, one Asian, and one Indian, all male, with a female QA or UX engineer taking part at critical times; this works out well because they are all geeks, selected because they can cooperate and code based on shared geek culture. Race and sex are not relevant. When, as in marketing and sales of consumer products, outreach to a broad range of consumers is required, smart management sets up teams who have members of all the important cultural groups, since inside knowledge of what will work on each is important. Imposing affirmative action goals on top of management hiring decisions can only harm the best companies.

Asians, as “model minorities” widely seen as out-achieving whites, were rapidly excluded from most affirmative action programs despite the presence of truly disadvantaged subgroups like the immigrant Vietnamese Hmong. The education-oriented Asian population in the US on the whole now opposes affirmative action, correctly sensing that their children’s chances for gaining admission to elite schools are significantly decreased by racial preferences. At schools like Harvard, it is widely assumed the admissions office actively caps Asian enrollment, as they once discriminated against Jews who would have been overrepresented in the first half of the twentieth century had objective qualifications been used. Genteel discrimination to deny hardworking students and their parents the rewards of diligence and sacrifice is producing a backlash, as when Asian-American parents organized to block the California legislature’s attempt to re-authorize racial preferences in state university admissions:

California has prohibited affirmative action at public institutions for two decades, and the ban certainly hasn’t hurt Asian Americans, who today account for a plurality—about a third—of the students at University of California schools despite making up just 15 percent of the state’s population. But when the state senate introduced a Democrat-backed amendment that would’ve asked voters whether to lift the ban, Asian Americans staged public demonstrations and wrote blistering editorials; they hosted a Republican-registration drive (“to scare the Democratic Party”) and gathered on TV talk shows to warn viewers of the proposal’s implications.

“This is the most racist bill ever,” said a participant on one such show. “We come from a faraway land, China, and [we came] here to pursue fairness, equal education opportunities. Education is an essence and a core value of our culture, and we pass it along to generations and generations … In the future, when [our kids] grow up, it doesn’t matter how much we devote to their education, it doesn’t matter how much effort they put into their own education—years of work will be gone, only because of their skin color.”

Much of the wrath has been targeted at Ivy League schools, which consider a range of academic and non-academic factors in the admissions process. Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA)—a group representing primarily Asian American students and parents—contends in a lawsuit that Harvard College uses implicit racial quotas even though they’re illegal. (It accuses the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill of similar allegations in a separate lawsuit.) Despite being the country’s fastest-growing minority group, and despite applying to college in greater and greater numbers, the percentage of Asians admitted at elite schools has, according to SFFA, essentially flatlined over the last two decades. “That suggests that Harvard and the other Ivies have a hard-fast, intractable quota limiting the number of Asians that they will expect,” said Edward Blum, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the president of SFFA.

Whereas Asian American enrollment at the California Institute of Technology, which bases admission strictly on academics, grew from 25 percent in 1992 to 43 percent in 2013, it slightly decreased at Harvard—from 19 percent to 18 percent. SFFA also points to a widely cited Princeton study, which in 2005 found that an Asian American applicant must score 140 points more than her white counterpart on the 1600-point SAT.

The Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) uses similar logic in a separate civil-rights complaint, which requests that the Education and Justice departments investigate the admissions processes at Yale University, Brown University, and Dartmouth College. The AACE, which represents more than 130 organizations, contends that the schools, in relying on de facto racial quotas and stereotypes, deny admission to highly qualified Asian American applicants while admitting non-Asian students of equal caliber.

Asians have been victimized by race-based policies throughout the country’s history pointing to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the WWII-era Japanese internment camps, among other injustices. The Asian race, critics argue, includes countless ethnicities that are sorely underrepresented in higher education yet all clumped together in a single category on application forms: Cambodians, Laotians, and Hmong, for example. According to the AACE, the complaint represents the largest joint action ever taken by Asian Americans against the Ivy League.[5]

Efforts to reform affirmative action admissions policies are aimed at identifying individuals who have been disadvantaged but demonstrate the potential to overcome that through grit and determined effort already demonstrated in lower-quality schools. But this flavor of diversity-seeking, which would be more just to all than race or sex preferences, has not actually been implemented in most institutions on anything more than an informal level. The great meritocratic experiment — using standardized tests as a key component of admissions decisions — was begun by the Ivy League schools starting with Harvard’s use of the new SAT to award scholarships beginning in 1933, and then taken up by most colleges by the 1960s. It allowed students from faraway places and schools with unknown or low quality standards to demonstrate their ability to work with more challenging material, and universities began to give preferences to geographic and culturally diverse students who did well on the tests.

The Ivies and other elite schools discovered the downside of this strategy: students from less wealthy and connected families were less likely to enter elite business and political classes, where they could support their alma maters through influence, connections, and large donations. Tests also did not identify the students lacking emotional intelligence or political skills, and some brilliant admitted students turned out to be social basket cases unable to succeed in social systems. Institutional imperatives prevented admissions from being a completely neutral, meritocratic process then, and the pendulum has now swung away from merit to the point where many universities are removing test requirements to allow students to be admitted who objectively could not qualify by tests and grades. An “affirmative action mafia” has been created, and objective tests are now viewed as discriminatory. A “diversity student” admitted for racial balance usually ends up as a diversity hire in a government job, perhaps at the EEOC or Justice Department, where the power of their position can be used to reinforce the threat of punishment of institutions who might go against the political tide by scrapping preferences. Their pathway smoothed into government roles, they now are heavily overrepresented in the Dept. Of Education, where they promote punitive measures aimed at colleges that don’t toe the line. As a result, the elite institutions find it in their interest to quietly choose to admit the most politically savvy and upper-class minority candidates, who will enter the elite ruling class and continue feeding back influence and cash to their alma maters as the old WASP elite did. The original goal of giving the disadvantaged a boost to make up for past discrimination is lost, replaced by the superficial appearance of diversity — diversity of skin colors and ethnic origins disguising the fact that most students are still from relatively privileged backgrounds.

Harvard professor Steven Pinker committed academic heresy when he wrote in support of restoring standardized tests to a central place in admissions:

Like many observers of American universities, I used to believe the following story. Once upon a time Harvard was a finishing school for the plutocracy, where preppies and Kennedy scions earned gentleman’s Cs while playing football, singing in choral groups, and male-bonding at final clubs, while the blackballed Jews at CCNY founded left-wing magazines and slogged away in labs that prepared them for their Nobel prizes in science. Then came Sputnik, the ’60s, and the decline of genteel racism and anti-Semitism, and Harvard had to retool itself as a meritocracy….

At the admissions end, it’s common knowledge that Harvard selects at most 10 percent (some say 5 percent) of its students on the basis of academic merit. At an orientation session for new faculty, we were told that Harvard “wants to train the future leaders of the world, not the future academics of the world,” and that “We want to read about our student in Newsweek 20 years hence” (prompting the woman next to me to mutter, “Like the Unabomber”). The rest are selected “holistically,” based also on participation in athletics, the arts, charity, activism, travel, and, we inferred (Not in front of the children!), race, donations, and legacy status (since anything can be hidden behind the holistic fig leaf). …

[Admissions officers fear] selecting a class of zombies, sheep, and grinds. But as with much in the Ivies’ admission policies, little thought was given to the consequences of acting on this assumption. Jerome Karabel has unearthed a damning paper trail showing that in the first half of the twentieth century, holistic admissions were explicitly engineered to cap the number of Jewish students. Ron Unz… has assembled impressive circumstantial evidence that the same thing is happening today with Asians….

What would it take to fix this wasteful and unjust system? Let’s daydream for a moment. If only we had some way to divine the suitability of a student for an elite education, without ethnic bias, undeserved advantages to the wealthy, or pointless gaming of the system. If only we had some way to match jobs with candidates that was not distorted by the halo of prestige. A sample of behavior that could be gathered quickly and cheaply, assessed objectively, and double-checked for its ability to predict the qualities we value….

We do have this magic measuring stick, of course: it’s called standardized testing. I suspect that a major reason we slid into this madness and can’t seem to figure out how to get out of it is that the American intelligentsia has lost the ability to think straight about objective tests. After all, if the Ivies admitted the highest scoring kids at one end, and companies hired the highest scoring graduates across all universities at the other (with tests that tap knowledge and skill as well as aptitude), many of the perversities of the current system would vanish overnight. Other industrialized countries, lacking our squeamishness about testing, pick their elite students this way, as do our firms in high technology. And as Adrian Wooldridge pointed out in these pages two decades ago, test-based selection used to be the enlightened policy among liberals and progressives, since it can level a hereditary caste system by favoring the Jenny Cavilleris (poor and smart) over the Oliver Barretts (rich and stupid).

If, for various reasons, a university didn’t want a freshman class composed solely of scary-smart kids, there are simple ways to shake up the mixture. Unz suggests that Ivies fill a certain fraction of the incoming class with the highest-scoring applicants, and select the remainder from among the qualified applicant pool by lottery. One can imagine various numerical tweaks, including ones that pull up the number of minorities or legacies to the extent that those goals can be publicly justified. Grades or class rank could also be folded into the calculation. Details aside, it’s hard to see how a simple, transparent, and objective formula would be worse than the eye-of-newt-wing-of-bat mysticism that jerks teenagers and their moms around and conceals unknown mischief.

So why aren’t creative alternatives like this even on the table? A major reason is that popular writers like Stephen Jay Gould and Malcolm Gladwell, pushing a leftist or heart-above-head egalitarianism, have poisoned their readers against aptitude testing. They have insisted that the tests don’t predict anything, or that they do but only up to a limited point on the scale, or that they do but only because affluent parents can goose their children’s scores by buying them test-prep courses.

But all of these hypotheses have been empirically refuted. We have already seen that test scores, as far up the upper tail as you can go, predict a vast range of intellectual, practical, and artistic accomplishments. They’re not perfect, but intuitive judgments based on interviews and other subjective impressions have been shown to be far worse. Test preparation courses, notwithstanding their hard-sell ads, increase scores by a trifling seventh of a standard deviation (with most of the gains in the math component)…. SAT correlates with parental income (more relevantly, socioeconomic status or SES), but that doesn’t mean it measures it; the correlation could simply mean that smarter parents have smarter kids who get higher SAT scores, and that smarter parents have more intellectually demanding and thus higher-paying jobs. Fortunately, SAT doesn’t track SES all that closely (only about 0.25 on a scale from -1 to 1), and this opens the statistical door to see what it really does measure. The answer is: aptitude. Paul Sackett and his collaborators have shown that SAT scores predict future university grades, holding all else constant, whereas parental SES does not. Matt McGue has shown, moreover, that adolescents’ test scores track the SES only of their biological parents, not (for adopted kids) of their adoptive parents, suggesting that the tracking reflects shared genes, not economic privilege.

Regardless of the role that you think aptitude testing should play in the admissions process, any discussion of meritocracy that pretends that aptitude does not exist or cannot be measured is not playing with a full deck…. [6]

Knee-jerk “equality of outcomes” thinking has led to a partial abandonment of the aptitude tests that were a key part in opening the Ivies to the culturally and economically disadvantaged. Identity group politics has led to government pressure (enforced by control of research and student-loan funding) to dole out admissions and jobs to members of politically-protected classes even though it erodes the excellence of the institutions and ultimately harms the nation as a whole by spreading the virus of racial and gender consciousness.

But there is hope. More common Americans are resisting the government’s efforts to divide and classify them as anything other than Americans. Glenn Reynolds points out Prof. James Scott’s book Two Cheers for Anarchism:

One need not have an actual conspiracy to achieve the practical effects of a conspiracy. More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called ‘Irish Democracy,’ the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs.[7]

More and more Americans, like Barack Obama, have complicated multiracial and multiethnic origins. The broad classifications invented by the census and EEOC tend to lump together proud individual peoples, with the worst examples being “Hispanic” and “Latino,”[8] obscuring enormous differences between origins in Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, central America, and South America, and “Asian,” covering peoples from Iran/Persia (sometimes — the bureaucrats can’t decide[9]) to India to China and Vietnam. It has always been difficult to get people to categorize themselves when the categories were designed by bureaucrats ignorant of their culture, but the melting pot that is the US now contains multitudes of mixtures defying such simple binning.

Add that to the American values, which see origin, race, religion, and ethnicity properly subsumed by allegiance to the ideals of the Constitution, and large numbers of citizens are passively resisting by not answering or writing in “American” when asked such questions. It is illegal to ask for such information in employment applications, but legally required to report the numbers to the EEOC. So far, at least, all such categories except official Native American tribal membership are legally undefined and there is no way to dispute anyone’s self-reported classification.

This means anyone who wants to can report themselves as any race, religion, or gender (now that the political establishment is enforcing gender self-choice for everyone.) It is inherently ridiculous to set up a system offering special rewards for racial characteristics when there can be no legal definition of race; only the willingness to report honestly and thereby volunteer to be harmed by preferences keeps everyone from declaring themselves or their children members of favored classes.

Americans view the Indian caste system as vile, and the Indian caste preference scheme as an ugly bandage on a festering wound, but have tolerated affirmative action in the US for too long out of guilt over the stain of slavery. But unless a person can demonstrate slave ancestry and continuing discrimination not due solely to cultural factors, it cannot be fair to all the new Americans and citizens whose ancestors never benefitted from slavery to harm them to favor those of a slightly darker skin color.

As a result, “Some Other Race” is growing rapidly as a preferred answer to intrusive questionnaires. From “The Rise of the American ‘Others’” by Sowmiya Ashok in the August 27,2016, Atlantic:[10]

Something unusual has been taking­­­­­­ place with the United States Census: A minor category that has existed for more than 100 years is elbowing its way forward. “Some Other Race,” a category that first entered the form as simply “Other” in 1910, was the third-largest category after “White” and “Black” in 2010, alarming officials, who are concerned that if nothing is done ahead of the 2020 census, this non-categorizable category of people could become the second-largest racial group in the United States.

Oh no! “Officials” are alarmed! How dreadful it would be if racially-divisive political appeals stopped working to guarantee votes and continuing power for the Party of Government!

Among those officials is Roberto Ramirez, the assistant division chief of the Census Bureau’s special population statistics branch. Ramirez is familiar with the complexities of filling out the census form: He checks “White” and “Some Other Race” to reflect his Hispanic ethnicity. Ramirez joins a growing share of respondents who are selecting “Some Other Race.” “People are increasingly not answering the race question. They are not identifying with the current categories, so we are trying to come up with a (better) question,” Ramirez told me. Ramirez and his colleague, Nicholas Jones, the director of race and ethnic research and outreach at the Census Bureau, have been working on fine-tuning the form to extract detailed race and ethnic reporting, and subsequently drive down the number of people selecting “Some Other Race.”

The American solution: stop asking about race. It’s none of your business.

The U.S. census form has evolved over 226 years. “Race is the oldest question we have in this country,” Ramirez said. “We asked it in our first census in 1790, and we have been asking it ever since, every 10 years in a different way and different shape, but consistently throughout.” “White” has been the only consistent racial term since August 1790, when marshals knocked on doors in the original 13 states and in the districts of Kentucky, Maine, Vermont, and the Southwest territory (Tennessee) to classify people as a “Free White Males” or “Free White Females,” “Slave,” or “All Other Free Persons.” The civil-rights era was a pivotal moment for how census data was used, Jones said. “Prior to that, the measurement of race and ethnicity in the census was often used, not for helping people, but to show how people can be differentiated,” he told me. “But from the 1960s onwards, the measurement was really used to address problems and concerns.” Today, it also serves to reapportion congressional seats and Electoral College votes.

The end of slavery should have meant the end of this question on the census. There is no proper governmental use for this information, since there is no proper governmental action that should depend on the race or religion of the citizen. France has the right policy: “The French Republic prohibits performing census by making distinction between its citizens regarding their race or their beliefs.”[11] And every effort to categorize people fails in a true melting pot:

A number of factors affect census results. Take, for example, an increase in ethno-racially mixed families. Among marriages in the United States, 15 percent are between people of different racial and ethnic origins, according to Richard Alba, a sociology professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. Alba’s research also found that one in seven infants are born into an ethno-racially mixed family. “This is a really new and­­­ possibly important development because these are individuals who grow up in families that involve whites and minorities. They are truly straddling the dividing lines in American society,” he said. “We don’t really know enough about them to be able to say how they will identify themselves, how they will locate themselves within American society.”

We need to help them decide to categorize themselves as part of groups needing preferences and programs!

In 1977, the Office of Management and Budget, which supervises the U.S. Census Bureau, issued a directive on racial and ethnic classification for federal statistics. Ethnicity—such as “Hispanic” and “not Hispanic”—was separate and distinct from the concept of race. As a result, the “Some Other Race” category captured a lot of Hispanics. Twenty years later, the OMB issued a fresh directive, allowing respondents to report more than one race on the 2000 census form. The racial categories available were: “White,” “Black, African-American or Negro,” “American Indian or Alaska Native,” “Asian,” and “Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.” The “Latino” classification was also introduced as an alternative phrasing for the “Hispanic” ethnic category. But the “Some Other Race” category, long part of the census, was not mentioned in the OMB directive. Instead, the Census Bureau decided to keep it to capture respondents who didn’t identify with any of the other categories provided.

The race classifiers keep trying to find a scheme to get people to bin themselves, trying out a series of test questionnaires designed to increase self-declaration. The effort succeeded at reducing the Some Other Race responses, but not without raising questions from participants:

[F]ocus-group participants… raised a series of questions: What was the census form really asking? Some felt “race” and “origin” were the same. Others believed “race” was defined as skin color, ancestry, or culture, while “origin” referred to where they or their parents were born. The takeaway: The terms were confusing and needed to be defined or eliminated altogether.

The bureau’s focus-group moderators went a step further, asking questions to try to understand participants’ “situational identity,” too, recognizing that respondents discussed and reported on their race differently depending on the context in which questions were asked. They explored themes of awareness and fluidity with questions such as, “When did you first become aware of your race?” to understand if and how racial identity changed over time. Jones noted that “the categories are not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically, but we know that some people interpret it that way.”

Census officials also found that people were more likely to report their race as long as they had a way to express their self-identification. “If you look at the current way we ask the race and ethnicity questions, one of the issues you will see here is that we don’t have a write-in line for ‘White’ or ‘Black,’ so many groups went down to the ‘Some Other Race’ category,” Jones told me. When space was offered for people to write in their choices, respondents seldom checked the box that said “White” or “Black” and instead wrote in “Irish” or “Jamaican” or similar. “The proportions were very different, too. It went from 3 to 5 percent of the white or black population giving the bureau detailed responses, to over 50 percent of whites and 75 percent of blacks using the write-in lines,” he said.

Tweaks and additions to the form continue today. A new category dubbed “MENA” was tested during the 2015 NCT in an attempt to allow respondents who may have Middle Eastern, North African, or Arab roots to identify themselves. In the combined question format of the experiment sample, the “MENA” category was included as the seventh race, after “Hispanics.” “What we observed in the AQE and the focus groups were that the Middle Eastern and North African population saying that they didn’t see themselves in the current categories,” Jones said. Last year, the Census Bureau met with the Arab American Institute and leading Middle Eastern and Arab American scholars, activists, and organizations to discuss including it to the form in 2020.

Or you could just stop asking. Identity is now seen as set of fluid, self-declared characteristics even for gender, much less race, culture, religion, and ethnicity. No lawful program should discriminate based on any of these factors, and when antiquated special privileges exist in law favoring women, men, racial groups, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, etc., these should be seen as un-American and removed as quickly as possible.

One example of the problem: redistricting by court order under the Voting Rights Act designed to promote the election of black representatives by creating majority black districts is now devaluing black votes, as these districts vote so heavily for Democrats that they result in a few safe D reps (“wasting” the excess D votes) and more R reps from rural and suburban districts than might occur under a less race-motivated redistricting scheme.[12] This concentration explains why Republicans tend to control the US House of Representatives, not the widely-cited gerrymandering of districts, which is a less important factor.

—

Death by HR

Death by HR

This is an excerpt from the upcoming book Death by HR: The Great Slackening, to be published in October, 2016. Sign up using the button on the right sidebar if you’d like an email notifying you when it becomes available.

[1] Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It by Richard Sander, Basic Books, 2012. http://amzn.to/2bUt0UP
[2] There’s little evidence that Obama would not have been admitted on his own merit to these Ivy League schools without affirmative action preferences, but there’s no doubt he received prerefence and was virtually guaranteed to be accepted when others with similar records might not have been. Discussion here: “Barack Obama: Affirmative Action’s Best Poster Child?” by Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, April 28, 2011.http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/04/barack-obama-affirmative-actions-best-poster-child/237990/
[3] https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/05-908.ZO.html
[4] “Study: Workplace diversity can help the bottom line. MIT economist scrutinizes firm data suggesting diverse offices function more effectively,” by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office, October 7, 2014. http://news.mit.edu/2014/workplace-diversity-can-help-bottom-line-1007
[5] “Asian Americans and the Future of Affirmative Action: The way members of the ‘model minority’ are treated in elite-college admissions could affect race-based standards moving forward,” by Alia Wong, The Atlantic, June 28, 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/06/asian-americans-and-the-future-of-affirmative-action/489023/
[6] “The Trouble With Harvard: The Ivy League is broken and only standardized tests can fix it,” by Steven Pinker. The New Republic, September 4, 2014. https://newrepublic.com/article/119321/harvard-ivy-league-should-judge-students-standardized-tests
[7] Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play, by James C. Scott. Princeton University Press, 2012. http://amzn.to/2cnRPtj
[8] “The term ‘Hispanic’ was adopted by the United States government in the early 1970s during the administration of Richard Nixon after the Hispanic members of an interdepartmental Ad Hoc Committee to develop racial and ethnic definitions recommended that a universal term encompassing all Hispanic subgroups—including Central and South Americans—be adopted. As the 1970 census did not include a question on Hispanic origin on all census forms—instead relying on a sample of the population via an extended form (‘Is this person’s origin or descent: Mexican; Puerto Rican; Cuban; Central or South American; Other Spanish; or None of these’), the members of the committee wanted a common designation to better track the social and economic progress of the group vis-à-vis the general population. The designation has since been used in local and federal employment, mass media, academia, and business market research. It has been used in the U.S. Census since 1980. Because of the popularity of ‘Latino’ in the western portion of the United States, the government adopted this term as well in 1997, and used it in the 2000 census.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispanic%E2%80%93Latino_naming_dispute
[9] “Arab- and Persian-American campaign: ‘Check it right’ on census,” by John Blake, CNN, May 14, 2010. http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/04/01/census.check.it.right.campaign/
[10] “The Rise of the American ‘Others’: An increasing number of respondents are checking ‘Some Other Race’ on U.S. Census forms, forcing officials to rethink current racial categories,” by Sowmiya Ashok, The Atlantic, August 27, 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/the-rise-of-the-others/497690/
[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_France.
[12] “The 1994 Election: Did Racial Redistricting Undermine Democrats?” By Steven A. Holmes, The New York Times, November 13, 1994. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/11/13/us/the-1994-election-voters-did-racial-redistricting-undermine-democrats.html

More Reading:

Death by HR: Biased HR Degree Programs Create Biased HR Bureaucracies
Death by HR: Pink Collar Ghettos, Publishing and HR
Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women…
Death by HR: The Great Enrichment to the Great Slackening
Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming Idiocracy
The Justice is Too Damn High! – Gawker, the High Cost of Litigation, and the Weapon Shops of Isher
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

Affirmative Action: Chinese, Indian-Origin Citizens in Malaysia Oppressed
Affirmative Action: Caste Reservation in India
Diversity Hires: Pressure on High Tech
Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
“Income Inequality” Propaganda is Just Disguised Materialism

The greatest hits from SubstrateWars.com (Science Fiction topics):

Fear is the Mindkiller
Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Selective Outrage
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
“Tomorrowland”: Tragic Misfire
The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition
Hugos, Sad Puppies 3, and Direct Knowledge
Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes
Men of Honor vs Victim Culture
SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best
“Why Aren’t There More Women Futurists?”
Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

More reading on the military:

US Military: From No Standing Armies to Permanent Global Power
US Military: The Desegration Experience
The VA Scandals: Death by Bureaucracy

Women Making More, Find Few Men to Marry

Decline in Millennial Marriage Rates - Pew Research

That’s drastically oversimplifying the results of the study “Gender Identity and Relative Income Within Households,” by Marianne Bertrand, Emir Kamenica, and Jessica Pan, summarized beautifully with graphs in “Say You Don’t Need No Diamond Ring” in Spotted Toad.

In short, marriage rates have declined much more among low earners, and married women on average make much less than their husbands, presumably because of a social taboo on the converse and a tendency (discussed in my post on the wage gap) to see the wife’s role as a compromise between homemaking-childraising and outside earnings which tends to prevent women who accept that compromise from commanding maximum earnings in professions requiring more than full time commitment and continuity.

This is a cultural and biology-based artifact, and can’t be legislated away. Another takeaway: women who do want the high-powered, full-time, maximum-earnings career will almost always find it hard to attract a husband since the pool of men at their earning level or above will be small, and marriages with lower-earning men tend not to endure.

To quote from the study:

We examine causes and consequences of relative income within households. We show that the distribution of the share of income earned by the wife exhibits a sharp drop to the right of 1, where the wife’s income exceeds the husband’s income. We argue that this pattern is best explained by gender identity norms, which induce an aversion to a situation where the wife earns more than her husband. We present evidence that this aversion also impacts marriage formation, the wife’s labor force participation, the wife’s income conditional on working, marriage satisfaction, likelihood of divorce, and the division of home production. Within marriage markets, when a randomly chosen woman becomes more likely to earn more than a randomly chosen man, marriage rates decline. In couples where the wife’s potential income is likely to exceed the husband’s, the wife is less likely to be in the labor force and earns less than her potential if she does work. In couples where the wife earns more than the husband, the wife spends more time on household chores; moreover, those couples are less satisfied with their marriage and are more likely to divorce. These patterns hold both cross-sectionally and within couples over time.

Among the millennials, average incomes for women have risen to top men’s as women have increasingly dominated higher education, which suggests marriage rates and family stability will continue to decline unless the millennials are much better at overcoming male egos and gender norms than previous generations. It’s not looking good.

Death by HR: Biased HR Degree Programs Create Biased HR Bureaucracies

Death by HR

Death by HR

So modern HR departments are risk-averse, feminized, and tend to know little about the technical requirements of jobs they are recruiting for while screening out candidates liberal arts majors don’t like. Perhaps the degree programs feeding industry new “HR professionals” are at fault? Let’s investigate…

Here’s a typical outline of what an HR degree program should include :

General Education and Business Courses

In the first and second years of the program… HR majors will usually need to take at least three credits of coursework in mathematics, statistics, English, writing, communications, history, political science, psychology, and social science… Since human resources professionals are given the responsibility of motivating employees, adhering to federal regulations, and developing successful workplaces, having sound business knowledge is a must. HR majors will likely have to complete introductory courses in business administration, finance, management, accounting, marketing, and business law.

Major Human Resources Coursework

… According to the SHRM curriculum guidebook, required content areas will include labor relations, employment law, ethics, globalization, job analysis, workplace diversity, organizational behavior, performance management, staffing, recruitment, strategic HR, compensation and benefits, training development, talent management, and workforce planning. In some cases, undergraduate programs will also deal with secondary content areas like career planning, human resource information systems, mergers and acquisitions, corporate social responsibility, outscoring, and workplace health….[1]

One clue is that HR degree programs necessarily train students in compliance with labor laws and government mandates on diversity and equal opportunity since a primary function of HR departments is to direct managers to avoid triggering punishments and lawsuits for violating those directives. But this means many HR program faculty come out of labor law and have picked up the tendency[2] of labor lawyers and economists to favor union and anti-free-market ideals.

Democratic and union-supported political machines further this bias by funding anti-business academic centers like the Labor Center at UC Berkeley[3]:

One of the ongoing stains on the integrity of the University of California system is its publicly funded labor institutes. They are union-controlled “think tanks” that are about engaging in left-wing political activism rather than balanced thinking. They churn out one-sided studies that provide fodder for union political objectives. Their most recent efforts gave cover to California’s decision to boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022….

Universities are rightly home to varying ideologies and research. But it’s wrong to publicly fund a think tank that engages in bald-faced advocacy for one particular group. … it’s really disturbing to suggest these think tanks provide “various ideas” about anything. They provide ideas with the union stamp of approval.

“Far from what should be expected from academia, the institute doesn’t even hint at a non-partisan agenda and regularly not only trains union organizers (presumably for political purposes) but also authors biased studies,” wrote the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s legislative director… Note the people behind this effort: labor leaders, community activists, a labor-allied former legislator, state labor lobbyists. Check out the advisory board at the UC Berkeley Labor Center. Virtually every member has a union affiliation. As Harper rightly notes, they are “partisan operations.”

State funding has been controversial, but the institute still receives direct public funding. It’s also dismaying seeing UC’s reputation sullied by such priorities. But the real problem is the nature of the research— and the effect it has on political debates across California.

“A new study found that a quarter of the region’s workforce would see a 20 percent pay bump if Santa Clara County upped the minimum hourly wage to $15 by 2019,” according to a report last week in a San Jose business publication. The county paid $100,000 to—you guessed it—a labor institute to provide such a rosy prediction. The study gave like-minded elected officials political cover.

I first came across the institutes in 2010 when the Berkeley institute produced a study suggesting that public-sector workers receive lower overall compensation than private-sector workers, despite their exceedingly generous pensions. I consulted experts and was astounded by its shortcomings. Take a look at the titles of institute studies. They drip with union bias.

California unions have myriad financial privileges. The state automatically deducts dues payments from public members. Workers must join the union to keep their jobs. Unions are the most powerful lobbies in Sacramento. If they want to produce research that backs their point of view, good for them. But why should taxpayers fund it? [4]

Labor law and economics departments and researchers are primarily funded by governments and labor unions that are biased toward increasing labor regulations, which in turn builds a larger empire for compliance staff — both in government and HR, where HR staffers act as their enforcement arm. This means academic HR training is also heavily biased toward regulation, and it’s rare for a new HR hire trained by such a program to wholeheartedly embrace the values of management for profit in a free market. It’s no surprise that people in charge of training others for a field believe their field is important and tend to want it to enlarge its scope of authority — which increases the status and power of those already high in its ranks.

But this means hiring a new HR staffer graduated from an HR degree program is more than likely hiring someone more committed to “social justice” than to your organization’s success, with an inherent conflict of interest — they will identify with the regulators more than the organization that pays their salary, and cooperate with likeminded careerists both in government and in your own organization to neglect goals of competitive efficiency. HR staffers will often support each other’s politicized progressive views and bias their decisions toward hiring mediocre employees they favor for cultural and diversity reasons while making life difficult for ornery but productive workers who don’t do as well sucking up to them. Management neglect — “it’s not important, it’s just HR” — lets HR progressives have a free hand, and they can slowly sink your company, then move on to the next with their credentials intact to repeat the process.

Not only do HR staff tend to have internalized progressive and labor values, they also have little subject area knowledge when screening potential hires, recommending people who don’t have deep understanding and screening out those who do using superficial degree and certification requirements.

This problem is quietly recognized in many companies, where candidates are theoretically brought to a hiring manager’s attention by HR after advertising and outreach, but where in practice hiring managers wisely ignore HR’s candidate lists to bring in people they have found themselves through industry contacts and their own more knowledgeable searches. If it were not for that, HR’s hiring screens would have crippled many corporations long ago, and this internal battle continues as HR responds to political pressure to reach diversity goals by trying to limit hiring managers’ ability to select the best hires. Resistance to these mandates continues as companies issue press releases on their success at improving diversity while pragmatic managers route around HR. A FEE article by Harrison Burge sums it up:

While HR employees may be equipped to attract talent, this is only one-half of their economic problem. The other half, the one in which HR is ill-equipped, is the process to secure (hire) these resources – specialized labor across a multitude of job functions – despite not understanding specific skills and relative importance of these skills to respective hiring managers.

In this respect, HR and their algorithms serve as central planning commissars, devoid of the feedback and knowledge needed to approve or disapprove candidate hiring for the company’s departments. As technical innovation and the development of required skillsets to fill these openings inevitably continues, the service provided by the traditional, centralized HR hiring department to their coworkers in specialized, technical departments may suffer.

The contrast between HR departments, whose foremost objective is compliance with government regulations and whose structure reflects the bureaucracy that they enshrine, and companies’ other lean, innovative departments could not be more stark. Government interventions in HR have the unintended consequences of burdening companies’ other departments, which operate not according to government dictates, but solely based upon profit and loss.[5]

These pressures increase the dead weight of bureaucracy inside the company while distracting management from the focus necessary for survival and competitive success. We would think it intolerable if saddled with a Chinese Communist Party political officer who made sure the party songs were sung and banners displayed in the office — but we see the wall of labor law disclosures and politically-driven slogans and decrees foisted on us by the Party of Government as normal. The cynical management view — that it’s just a cost of doing business, to be ignored and avoided — has allowed a gradual increase in these directives until they are seriously compromising productivity.


[1] “What are the Core Courses in a Bachelor’s in Human Resources Program?” Humanresorucesmba.net, 2016. http://www.humanresourcesmba.net/faq/what-are-the-core-courses-in-a-bachelors-in-human-resources-program/
[2] “Economists Aren’t As Nonpartisan As We Think,” FiveThirtyEight, Dec. 8, 2014. “…macroeconomists and financial economists are more right-leaning on average while labor economists tend to be left-leaning.”
http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/economists-arent-as-nonpartisan-as-we-think/
[3] UC Berkeley Labor Center. http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/
[4] “Funding Ideology, Not Research, at University of California ‘Labor Institutes’,” by Steven Greenhut, Reason.com, May 6, 2016. http://reason.com/archives/2016/05/06/funding-ideology-not-research-at-univers
[5] “What Your HR Department Could Learn from Hayek,” by Harrison Burge. Foundation for Economic Education, August 22, 2016. https://fee.org/articles/what-your-hr-department-could-learn-from-hayek/

More reading on other topics:

Death by HR: Pink Collar Ghettos, Publishing and HR
Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women…
Death by HR: The Great Enrichment to the Great Slackening
Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming Idiocracy
The Justice is Too Damn High! – Gawker, the High Cost of Litigation, and the Weapon Shops of Isher
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

Affirmative Action: Chinese, Indian-Origin Citizens in Malaysia Oppressed
Affirmative Action: Caste Reservation in India
Diversity Hires: Pressure on High Tech<a
Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
“Income Inequality” Propaganda is Just Disguised Materialism

The greatest hits from SubstrateWars.com (Science Fiction topics):

Fear is the Mindkiller
Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Selective Outrage
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
“Tomorrowland”: Tragic Misfire
The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition
Hugos, Sad Puppies 3, and Direct Knowledge
Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes
Men of Honor vs Victim Culture
SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best
“Why Aren’t There More Women Futurists?”
Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

More reading on the military:

US Military: From No Standing Armies to Permanent Global Power
US Military: The Desegration Experience
The VA Scandals: Death by Bureaucracy

Death by HR: Pink Collar Ghettos, Publishing and HR

Women Dominate HR - Worldcrunch.com

Women Dominate HR – Worldcrunch.com

This is a followup to Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women… motivated by Virgina Postrel’s query asking when publishing became a female-dominated field.

In Sisters of Perpetual Grievance: Gender Pay Gap we described how the “women make only 77 cents on the dollar” aggregate statistic is due to women’s choices of field, type of work, and desire to take time off for raising children. One of the counter-arguments is that female-dominated fields are paid less because of some sort of systemic discrimination. The Patriarchy has decided to pay less in those fields because they are dominated by women…!

Aside from the impracticality of such a conspiracy — implying the free market in labor somehow fails, forcing workers in those fields to accept lower pay instead of moving on to more lucrative opportunities — there’s some truth hiding in the claim. Fields dominated by women do tend to pay less. And there are a few examples where fields once male-oriented or at least balanced became female-dominated, and the average pay level dropped. Cause and effect? Or did the declining pay and improving security of these jobs lead them to become relatively more attractive to women looking for flexibility and more social workplaces?

Some examples of the phenomenon: 1) Public elementary school teaching, 2) Non-tenured higher education teaching, 3) Medical administrators, 4) HR administrators and staff (as we have seen).

The female dominance of elementary school teaching in the US was complete by 1900. Women were paid much less than men for the same teaching jobs — a result of real discrimination, and the sense that women would leave to marry and raise a family so their commitment was temporary. As a result, employing mostly young women as teachers became a cost-saving mechanism, and males left the field as salaries dropped and better opportunities with higher status and possibilities for advancement became available:

The drive for universal education increased the demand for teachers and the associated costs of instruction, giving an advantage to schools that hired female teachers. Female teachers were paid about half as much as their male counterparts in standardized schools (Grumet, p. 39). In fact, some scholars attest that “feminization occurred because school districts were unwilling or unable to pay the rising costs of retaining male teachers as school terms became longer and teaching became less attractive to men.” The wage gap between the genders was smaller in rural schools, possibly because there were fewer qualified candidates to fill teaching positions. Rural and southern areas tended to have more informal teaching with less discrepancy between the salaries of male and female teachers, and had mostly male teachers or an equal balance of men and women (Strober and Lanford). In the 1800s, male teachers tended to remain in their positions longer than female teachers, which may explain some of the wage gap. Women often used teaching as a way to earn an income between their own adolescence and motherhood. Teaching began as a job that was expected to cover living expenses for a young, single person or to supplement other sources of income. As teaching became a women’s career, the salary remained low even though a good number of female teachers never married and continued to teach.[1]

The era of young woman teaching for a few years before marrying and leaving the job market ended when mothers generally began to work outside the home. For some period during that transition, female teachers were expected to leave teaching when they married even when they wanted to continue, which led some to hide their marital status. Primary-school teachers were never of high status, but their status dropped further when men almost entirely abandoned public school teaching (many male teachers continued to teach at private schools, where their autonomy and status was greater.)

By 1850, the feminization of teaching had taken hold, especially in urban areas. Feminization was not a preference of schools at first. “School committees often searched in vain for men teachers before finally hiring women…. One major concern was discipline,” but separating classes by age in larger urban schools made discipline easier. The cost savings of female teachers may have been a result of feminization, rather than its cause. It was difficult for schools to find enough male teachers to fill all positions. “Teaching paid poorly compared with other jobs that men could get in urban areas, and the demands of teaching in big-city school systems–with eight months or more of school each year–precluded men teaching as a part-time job. Simultaneously, the nineteenth-century ideology of ‘domestic feminism’ limited the range of occupations to which young middle-class women could aspire.” There was a dearth of willing men and a plethora of educated, young white women qualified to teach for low salaries….

Teaching became formalized, and the percentage of women increased from 1850 to 1900. Schooling in the more urban North was more formalized, with more female teachers and sharp pay differences between men and women. When schooling became formalized, female teachers were seen as very desirable because they were seen as cheap, as better teachers of young children, and as more willing to conform to the bureaucratization of schooling. Male principals were employed to deal with disciplinary problems that their female teachers were unable to handle….

The feminized state of teaching has been both a boon and a burden to the women who teach. Female teachers historically postponed or hid marriages to maintain their careers. It was not until the mid-1900s that married women were allowed to continue teaching, but when they did, it was a career that integrated relatively well with childrearing. The teaching schedule has excellent “mommy hours,” with afternoons and evenings free, plus summer and winter vacations that correspond with children’s vacations. Since there is less of a hierarchy among teachers, it is easier to take time off and then re-enter the workforce than it is with other careers. Unfortunately, the salary and prestige of teaching are very low, and the mother-friendly benefits of teaching may contribute to maintaining it as a low-prestige career. The teaching hours and part-year schedule are well suited to women with children, making the profession fit easily into traditional women’s lives, but this has contributed to the feminization of the profession, leading to lower salaries and prestige. Teaching also has a relatively low retention rate compared to other occupations, especially for women. “Those who defected were mainly wealthier, smarter, and more often married than those who continued to teach[2].

The bureaucratization of a profession — with limited autonomy but greater security and reduced and more flexible hours, plus the ease of taking time off and moving between positions allowed by certification requirements and uncompetitive salaries — encourages female dominance. Highly-competitive, high-paying, performance-oriented occupations remained more difficult both to enter and succeed in, so the path of least resistance for a woman wanting a family-friendly career remained entry to one of the regulated fields where cooperative skills and consensus were more important than measurable productivity, and the pay reflected that.

Publishing is another field where women have come to dominate an industry — as in teaching, by the 1960s “There was a dearth of willing men and a plethora of educated, young white women qualified to [do editorial work] for low salaries.” Publishing had always employed large numbers of women in clerical and lower-level positions though men dominated editorial, managerial, and sales jobs. This began to change rapidly in the 1960s, and by the 1990s publishing was dominated by women, until today every part of the industry is female-dominated, from agents to editors to even authors. It’s often noted that the reading of books also became a primarily female-associated activity during that period, with women buying and reading far more books than men to the point where female-favored genres like romance outsell all other fiction.

Job Queues, Gender Queues: Explaining Women’s Inroads Into Male Occupations by Barbara F. Reskin and Patricia A. Roos has a detailed history of the rapid evolution of publishing from a male-dominated to a female-dominated industry, tracing it to factors including the increasing size and commercialization of the consolidating publishing companies and the historically low pay in the industry which discouraged men from entry while allowing upper-class educated white women to take it over from below:

Caplette observed that “the gradual increase of women editors in the last decade [the 1970s] has, within the last few years, become an upsurge—nearly half of trade and mass-market paperback editors are now women.” Confirming her impressions are those of more than forty industry informants who agreed that the 1970s brought dramatic progress for women in editing and other publishing jobs.

Although women advanced in many occupations in the 1970s, their gains in editing outstripped those in most other occupations…. I found that changes in the publishing industry and the editorial role set the stage for women’s gains by altering both the supply of male would-be editors and the demand for women….

For most of this century, publishing’s glamour and its image as a “gentlemen’s profession’ were sufficient to attract more than enough qualified recruits. Then, although industrial expansion heightened the demand for editorial workers, the concomitants of that growth reduced the industry’s attractive­ness to its traditional workforce: talented young men from high socioeconomic backgrounds.

Dwindling attraction for men. Publishing’s primary draw for such men had been entree into the world of culture without the taint of commerce. But commerce is exactly what outside ownership meant. At the same time, as we have seen, editorial work lost many of the features that had compen­sated nonwealthy workers for low wages. To make matters worse, commerce was supplanting culture without conferring the usual economic incentives of commercial careers. Although editorial wages had always been low, there were other compensations. One editor said, “I consider the right to publish books which don’t make money a part of my salary.” Just as some editors lost that right, wages may have actually declined. In 1982, entry-level pay for editorial assistants was as low as an $9,000 a year, and several people I interviewed noted that it is increasingly difficult, perhaps impossible, to survive—much less support a family—in Manhattan on editorial wages. An industry expert said, only partly in jest: “Only college graduates with rich parents willing to subsidize them can afford to work in editorial jobs any more.” In the face of society’s growing emphasis on a fashionable life-style and the increasing tendency to use income as “the measure of a man,” pub­lishing’s low wages further deterred men from pursuing editorial jobs. Better-paying media jobs (technical writing for high-tech companies, corporate public relations, film) and graduate school lured away talented men interested in communications.

With declining opportunities for mobility and challenges to the traditional promotion practices that had given men a fast track to the top, little remained to draw men to editorial work. A woman editor…in 1978 remarked, “The average man thinks that he has a God-given right to start in as an editor.” To the extent that this was true, entry-level iobs as editorial assistants (often a euphemism for secretary when these were women’s jobs) attracted few men, and the industry increasingly relied on women as editorial assistants.

Increasing supply of women. The gentility that had rendered publish­ing jobs appropriate for upper-status men did so too for “respectable” women whom traditional values encouraged to pursue cultural and aesthetic pursuits. As a long-time assistant at Harper & Brothers said, “Young women getting out of college were so anxious to get a job in something they could be proud of that they would go into publishing and work for practically nothing.” Gender-role socialization further enhanced women’s qualifications for publishing by schooling them in verbal and com­munications skills that equipped them with the facility and inclination to work with words and predisposed them toward the interpersonal work that editing often involved. One female holder of a master’s degree said of her secretarial job in the mid-1950s, “I thought it was an honor to read books and write… flap copy.” Working in an intellectual and cul­tural industry situated in one of the metropolitan publishing “capitals” offered an added incentive to women graduating from prestigious eastern colleges, particularly before the 1970s, when few alternatives presented themselves to career-minded women.

The massive influx of women into the labor force during the 1970s expanded the pool of women available for editorial jobs, and the women’s liberation movement encouraged women to consider occupations customarily reserved for men. Publishing attracted women also because it reputedly pre­sented fewer obstacles than many other industries. Moreover, male occupations in predominantly female industries—particularly growing industries­—tend to be more hospitable and hence more attractive to women. Thus, although women knew they faced discrimination in publishing, they probably realized that other commercial fields were worse. Publishing’s low wages were less likely to deter women than men because their socialization had not encouraged them to maximize income. Because women lacked access to many better-paying jobs, they did not have to forgo more lucrative opportunities for jobs as assistants or editors, and their limited alternatives presumably also explained their willingness to accept the changes that were making editorial work less desirable to men. As a result, the supply of female applicants remained unabated or grew, while that of males declined. Moreover, several interviewees contended that because publishing could no longer attract the most qualified men, female applicants often had better credentials than the males who did apply. If publishers chose the best applicant {as the new emphasis on profits dictated), it would probably be a woman….

In other words, women became attractive to publishers because of their literary and interpersonal skills, their presumed ability to read for a largely female readership, and their expertise in growing segments of the industry—and because they would work cheap. These factors, combined with their avail­ability as a surplus labor pool that could be readily drawn into the workforce, made women an acceptable solution to publishing’s economic fluctuations[3].

As publishing grew to be dominated by upper-class white women, it also came to be dominated by progressive feminists — of both sexes. Not all women in publishing are third-wave feminists, but many are, and like the Ivy League males they replaced, they view their power to get politically-progressive but uncommercial books published as a partial compensation for their low-paid and otherwise low-autonomy jobs. The industry relies on a cheap labor pool of new graduates hoping for an entry into more stable, higher-paying tenured editorial jobs, much as academia now relies on low-paid, abused adjunct teachers. The last of the older generation of editors and managers is leaving now, which leaves the legacy publishing industry with few editorial workers who understand more typical American families and blue-collar or male values. Those small and contrarian publishers who put out books of more interest to mainstream readers and men, like the Hollywood producers that made a bundle on the movie American Sniper — which respectfully told the morally-complex story of a Texas-based sniper in Iraq and the aftermath of his service — have discovered that big publishing’s neglect of this large audience makes it much more profitable to serve it.

Jason Pinter, bestselling thriller writer, discovered this downside when, working as an editor, he could get no support for a male-attracting book:

In an essay…, Pinter describes how (during his days in publishing) he attempted to acquire a book by professional wrestler Chris Jericho. His efforts almost failed for lack of men in the acquisitions meeting, he says–if one colleague’s 15-year-old nephew hadn’t been a wrestling fan, the book wouldn’t have made it through. It was “the fault of a system in which in a room of 15-20 people, not one of them knew what I was talking about…”

The same type of less-competitive, bureaucracy-tolerant, socially-oriented person has gone into HR as a field, studying sociology, psychology, and diversity, while employing personal relationships to make their way up in a field where results are very hard to quantify. The lower salaries in HR keep more effective thought-leaders from entering, yet companies continue to increase HR staff without realizing that they are bringing in people who don’t highly value excellence or competitive success. And the result will be emphasis on diversity and harmony over long-term growth and profit. Companies that carefully screen their HR staff and keep the focus on necessary business activity will have a competitive advantage and avoid the long-term decline a politicized HR department will cause.


[1] “The Feminization of Teaching in America,” By Elizabeth Boyle, MIT Progam in Women’s and Gender Studies – Kampf Prize, 2004.
https://stuff.mit.edu/afs/athena.mit.edu/org/w/wgs/prize/eb04.html
[2] “The Feminization of Teaching in America,” By Elizabeth Boyle, MIT Progam in Women’s and Gender Studies – Kampf Prize, 2004.
https://stuff.mit.edu/afs/athena.mit.edu/org/w/wgs/prize/eb04.html
[3] Job Queues, Gender Queues: Explaining Women’s Inroads Into Male Occupations by Barbara F. Reskin and Patricia A. Roos, Temple University Press, March 3, 2009. http://amzn.to/2b4vuCq

 

More reading on other topics:

Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women…
Death by HR: The Great Enrichment to the Great Slackening
Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming Idiocracy
The Justice is Too Damn High! – Gawker, the High Cost of Litigation, and the Weapon Shops of Isher
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

Affirmative Action: Chinese, Indian-Origin Citizens in Malaysia Oppressed
Affirmative Action: Caste Reservation in India
Diversity Hires: Pressure on High Tech<a
Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
“Income Inequality” Propaganda is Just Disguised Materialism

The greatest hits from SubstrateWars.com (Science Fiction topics):

Fear is the Mindkiller
Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Selective Outrage
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
“Tomorrowland”: Tragic Misfire
The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition
Hugos, Sad Puppies 3, and Direct Knowledge
Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes
Men of Honor vs Victim Culture
SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best
“Why Aren’t There More Women Futurists?”
Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

More reading on the military:

US Military: From No Standing Armies to Permanent Global Power
US Military: The Desegration Experience
The VA Scandals: Death by Bureaucracy