Books

The Tragedy of the Common Need

You’ve probably heard of the tragedy of the commons — first discussed as early as 1883, but more recently popularized during the ecology craze of the late 60s by Garrett Hardin. A shared resource like community grazing land, fish in the sea, or unpolluted air tends to be overused and destroyed by individuals who can gain from using it because it is not in any one user’s interest to limit their use to avoid damaging the resource. Common grazing areas would be trampled and muddy, fish schools would disappear from the sea, and air would grow more and more polluted when no one paid or accounted for use of the resource. Now in real situations like common grazing areas, it was often the case that formal or informal rules were established and enforced by the community to limit overuse; this sometimes works well and sometimes fails completely when there are no realistic means of enforcement.

One solution is property rights — if the common is turned over to an owner or owners, they have an incentive and are permitted to charge for use and exclude those who will not pay. In the case of grazing rights, the shepherd might be asked to pay a few coins to let his or her sheep forage on the land for a few hours. By taking note of the state of the land and refusing to allow grazing or increasing the charges when the land is threatened by heavy use, the owner can establish a sustainable usage pattern and maximize revenue from the property to be used for maintenance (and to pay the toll collector.)

This is one kind of externality — any one person’s use of the limited resource impinges on others, so allowing free use damages the total output of the system and hurts others who might have benefitted from using them. Absent such externalities, free-market voluntary exchange as thus simplified tends toward generation of Pareto-optimal solutions — everyone’s utility is maximized and any divergence from the solution makes at least one person worse off without making anyone else as much better off. Of course such perfect markets and conditions of knowledge don’t occur in real life, but many simple markets come close.

The tragedy of the commons is what happens when there is a non-excludable but exhaustable good: one can’t exclude some users (or charge them, since exclusion is the enforcement condition for charging for use or consumption.) There are other kinds of externality, though: public goods, which are not only non-excludable but aren’t depleted by overuse. Examples would include most goods which can be duplicated at no cost, like news or (today) free Internet writings. All benefit from their production, but since once created these goods are shared easily and can’t be charged for, economists would argue less of such goods are created than would be optimal. This is one argument for public education: though every person benefits directly when they pay for their own education, society as a whole benefits if education is widespread and available also to those who can’t afford to pay for it themselves. This is the argument of communitarians — they believe it is in everyone’s best interest to tax some to fund goods for all, to be shared with everyone. There are other methods for paying for public goods, like advertising sales and charity, but these alternate funding mechanisms may distort the quality of the good (as advertising has tended to create a lowest-common-denominator level of quality in those goods like network TV and clickbait sites that rely on ads.)

Now what about “common bads” — products or actions that harm individuals, like violence or theft. No one wants to be a victim and sensible people will avoid the bads, but community bads like street crime can’t be completely avoided by one person’s payments or actions. A police force addresses this common bad by suppressing crime at common expense, and so that too is another proper function of an efficient government.

So economists argue endlessly about aspects of these “corner cases” where complete information and free markets can’t create optimal exchange networks because of externalities. The argument for a government, or “public sector,” is that only a common authority can create conditions where these problems are addressed, enforcing contracts, law, and property rights to correct “market failures” and allow everyone to go about their business unharmed by the depradations of others that would infringe on their rights.

But of course there is no perfect government. The individuals who manage and staff public agencies are motivated by their own self-interest as well as any idealism about the General Good they may have, and over time the rationale for their actions may be enlarged beyond simply mediating necessary conflicts between individuals and their rights to free action and property. Once these areas are dominated by a “free” government service, the private competition shrinks or dies completely, and can never return to compete. This is the ratchet effect, where movement goes only one way — toward larger state control — making reform difficult.

This tendency to expand government into what would otherwise be private and mostly efficient decisions is most easily combatted by supporting a constitution that specifically states what areas government should act in, and has a mechanism to prevent encroachments outside those areas. Our judicial branch has failed to strike down overreach, especially after the New Deal quashing of the Supreme Court’s pushback against the administrative state. So Step 1 is to appoint new justices who are more skeptical of well-intended but improper laws and regulations.

There is a more general agency problem– those elected or hired to decide for the people have interests which do not entirely reflect the people’s, and will tend to act to benefit themselves first. This is the primary reason why government-provided services can’t compete with private services in efficiency — in private services we fire the unsatisfactory providers and hire new ones with every purchasing decision, whereas government services are usually monopolies and the connection between customer satisfaction and revenue is broken. Ask veterans how happy they are with VA provision of healthcare and you’ll get some unprintable answers because of the thoughtless bureaucracy they have to deal with to get care.

Over time public provision of shared goods creates a class of substandard, even dangerous corrupt goods that crowds out private and better equivalents. In a laissez-faire world, mass public education and healthcare seem like improvements, but they crowded out the private systems which had grown up before the time they were introduced, and few now remember the thriving voluntary welfare organizations and schools. Lacking much private competition, these public monopolies are now mediocre and doing great harm to, for example, inner city school children who never learn to read, write, and compute, but are graduated anyway. All forms of public news, education, and healthcare are used to mold the views of future voters toward an even larger state, and narrow interests like teacher’s unions capture their institutions and prevent improvements or competition. This is ultimately damaging to democratic decisionmaking, as voters learn so little about their government in public schools that they are easily demagogued into supporting a larger state. The usual argument for public schools was that they provided a common education required for high-quality citizen involvement–but as we have seen, they have been turned into indoctrination centers, with neutral history, civics, and science education squeezed out for political programming.

The public support for government emergency assistance, medical care, old age support, and security led to divorcing of the provision of these from the family or clan networks that once provided them, as police and a justice system took over from blood feuds and vendetta in keeping order between families. But the consequences are a change in incentives: instead of loyalty to family, loyalty to state and party came to be as or more important. And now we contend over politics because so much of life is now determined by government. If you ignore politics, your life, your property, and your children will come under control of others who don’t know you or yours at all.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. 

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.


More reading on other topics:

Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
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

41st Review of “Bad Boyfriends”

Bad Boyfriends Audiobook Cover

Bad Boyfriends Audiobook

Since Amazon began to randomly delete reviews last year, I post the new ones to preserve them. A new review of Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner:

5.0 out of 5 stars
Highly recommended by an attachment trauma therapist
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

This might be one of the best books on attachment for singles struggling with the process of dating. I’m recommending it to my single clients with trauma histories.

The author explains attachment clearly and terms that are relevant to dating. I appreciate his candid advice that certain attachment combinations are taxing, or simple, that you should run and save yourself the headache. As an attachment trauma therapist, I can tell you he’s spot on. Save yourself from a painful divorce, custody battles and years of bitter entanglement with a monster that you can detect while the stakes are low. The healthy singles that will still make you happy 14 years later and won’t stop loving you & your children can be found if you know what they look and sound like.

I highly recommend this easy read to any single that finds Dating confusing or difficult.

“Death by HR” – “a valuable, and fun, read.”

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR

[Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations, available now for Kindle and trade paperback.]

I missed a new review of Death by HR at Amazon a few months back. It blends some quotes from the book with the reviewer’s comments to make some additional points:

5.0 out of 5 stars
HR: Symptom or Disease?
By Alan F. Sewell on February 17, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

This book seeks to answer a question posed by job seekers in their 40’s and 50’s: “Why is it impossible for experienced people our age, whose jobs were eliminated by {downsizing, rightsizing, outsourcing, offshoring, re-engineering, work force reductions, involuntary early retirements} to get back to work?”

Companies keep saying that they can’t find candidates qualified with the skills they need, yet tens of millions of highly educated people with years of success under their belts — engineers, business managers, and computer science Ph.D’s — are sitting home twiddling their thumbs because HR Departments will not consider them for open positions that match their skills and experience.

Corporations are very complex organizations. It’s easy to pick out one cog in their wheels — such as “overpaid CEO’s with short attention spans” or “boneheaded bean counters” or “HR drones” to pin all the blame for our poor economy and diminishing job opportunities on. Like every other department, HR is bound to garner a fair share of criticism. How much of it is justified?

HR departments exist because they fulfill a necessary function. HR does after all serve the essential purpose of improving the likelihood that corporations will treat their employees ethically. These days that includes affirmative action diversity goals, conflict resolution, compliance with employment law, and other aspects of personnel management that must be addressed.

On the other hand, every corporate department must constantly strive for improvement that corrects justified complaints.

The biggest beef with HR Departments is that instead of lubricating the gears of employment by matching the most promising job candidates to job openings, HR people throw sand in the gears and block corporations from hiring the very people a corporation needs to inject new blood and vigor into its ossified bureaucracy. HR people are often seen as narrow-minded, ignorant of their companies’ businesses, biased (against “normal” people) in their hiring preferences, well-deserving their low pay and low status, and frankly stupid.

This book certainly aligns with the negative view of HR:
=====
HR functionaries are roughly analogous to the commissars or political officers of Communist regimes, a separate hierarchy of spies to report on and control internal units. The interests of managers and HR can diverge drastically, with HR coming to be viewed as the enemy within, to be avoided and routed around. One high-tech team manager wrote, “How can you tell HR is lying? Their lips are moving.”

HR has come to be viewed as a pink-collar ghetto, a feminized and lower-status department from which few would graduate into the highest levels of management.

This new wrinkle in HR practices seems like the most unsettling and counterproductive yet. It not only removes access to the hiring manager, but also live, human interaction. It sounds like “HR pornography,” where perverted personnel jockeys huddle around a monitor to gawk at videos of “virtual job candidates,” picking apart perceived blunders while they screen you out.

What I learned in my experience with these [soul-crushing people of low intelligence] is that passive-aggressive noncompliance thwarts them…

HR departments may be worse than useless as recruiters— they sometimes actively repel the best applicants.
======

No kudos for HR people here! HR is portrayed as a disease imposed on companies by the necessity to comply with government mandates for equal opportunity and diversity. However, HR is also portrayed as a symptom of a larger disease of corporate mismanagement:

======
Mediocre managements take current rewards for themselves but ignore the future, eventually failing. Foreign companies take over markets, one by one, as US companies dragged down by unions and mediocre key employees lose revenues and eventually abandon markets.

HR often reports to the CFO, and thereby becomes a cost-saving arm. Public companies can fall into the managed-earnings trap, where every hiccup in revenues and earnings is smoothed by carefully-timed layoffs. Many mature Silicon Valley companies now go through layoffs every few quarters, usually justified as responding to poor prospects in one business line or other, but really aimed at keeping investors soothed and the stock price up. Upper-level management bonuses and stock options depend on a high and stable stock price; HR becomes the earnings-management handmaiden of the CFO, allowing short-term gains for top employees and investors at the expense of long-term development of a productive, stable workforce.
======

[Ed. note: the above were quotes from the book, below is apparently the reviewer’s views]

So, what really is the story on HR? I know an HR person in our family. She fits the “HR profile” of being a young female minority. She’s nice, well-mannered, and well-spoken. She does fit this book’s stereotype of HR people who are salespersons for trafficking in job applicants as commodities. They will only consider other “salesy” people like themselves who smile, are witty conversationalists, sharp dressers, young, and speak in fashionable buzzwords.

When HR people like her control the hiring, the “preening empty suit” candidates are at a premium, while the other 90% of candidates who are older, average in appearance and dress, and analytical instead of salesy have zero chance of being hired. Since we’re in a “musical chairs” economy that produces more layoffs than hirings in most years, the people who lose their jobs in late career are the ones who have the chairs jerked out from under them and can’t get back in the work force. Of course these people voted massively for Trump in 2016.

Author Jeb Kinnison also explains, from first hand experience, these shortcomings of HR departments, and also of upper corporation management and the government’s over-bearing regulations and quota-mongering. These are all employment-killers for people with skills in demand and records of proven accomplishments who were laid off in late career.

Kinnison also mentions another factor, which is that the economy has been so bad since the late 1990s that companies don’t expect to grow, so they put off hiring as long as possible. This explains the crazy situations whereby people who are perfectly qualified for a job opening are rejected, while the job opening remains unfilled for years. Then corporation management tells the government, “We can’t find Americans who are qualified to work for us, so give us more (low paid) Indians on H1-B visa’s.”

My take away is that HR Departments are beneficial in many aspects, such as conflict resolution and adherence to legal requirements for avoiding discrimination suits in hiring, firing, and promotion. But HR is not the best department for making hiring decisions. The hiring managers should do the hiring directly as they used to. They are the ones who are experienced in the business and know better than HR how to evaluate new hires. Once people are hired in, then HR becomes useful when problems of personnel conflict or potential discrimination or sexual harassment occur.

I can relate from personal experience what Mr. Kinnison is talking about. I enjoyed his observations and anecdotal story-telling. I also enjoyed his bringing many other factors that have negative impacts on HR, such as short-sighted corporate management and excessive government demands for diversity quotas. These external factors make HR much more annoying and detrimental than it probably would be without them.

So, HR is not just a disease, but also a symptom of other corporation and government diseases.

This book puts all of that into perspective and is a valuable, and fun, read.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. 

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.


Ban the Box, Credit Scores, Current Salaries: The Road to Hiring Blind
High Tech Under Diversity Pressure
HireVue, Video Interviews, and AI Job Searches
Diversity Programs Don’t Work

The Net Neutrality Scam

You have probably seen some net neutrality scare tactics recently. The issues are complex and proposals to “guarantee” net neutrality usually promise to protect Internet users from a variety of evil ISP behaviors by authorizing the FCC to treat the Internet as a common carrier / utility, with powers to regulate and tariff (that is, price control) services. As is usually the case when powerful business and political interests are involved, the spin obscures more than clarifies.

First, let’s look at a reasonably neutral outline of the issues, from Open Secrets:

Net neutrality is the principle that all data on the Internet should be treated equally, not discriminated against based on platform, content, user or any other characteristic; ISPs may not create pay-to-play “fast lanes” that only some content providers could afford. Sounds simple enough, but the application of this axiom is technically and legally complex given the immense, intertwined — and sometimes competing — interests of ISPs, governments, and consumers in Internet industries and infrastructures

Debate over net neutrality in the U.S. has picked up in recent years, but it’s been an issue of worldwide contention since the early 2000’s. The US government has attempted to implement various strategies for regulation over this timeframe with little success. Net neutrality supporters believe that the government hasn’t gone far enough to protect individual freedom and security on the Internet; opponents fear that government intervention will hamper innovation and investment while increasing the costs of getting online.

Much of the recent debate has centered on the concept of paid prioritization. ISPs, such as Comcast, want content providers to pay them to deliver data faster. The ISPs claim that allowing these fast lanes is the only way they’ll be able to manage data efficiently and generate revenue to expand and improve Internet infrastructure. Opponents of paid prioritization, including content providers like Netflix and Amazon, assert that this kind of data discrimination will stifle the growth of fledgling companies that cannot pay to compete with developed corporations in the fast lanes. Advocates on both sides of the issue believe that additional costs will be absorbed by customers if their adversaries prevail. Paid prioritization is only a part of the Net Neutrality issue, but it has become the most prominent aspect of the public discussion.

By voting in February to regulate broadband communications like a utility under Title II of the Communications Act, the FCC effectively prohibited paid prioritization. The Title II statute prohibits “common carriers,” which ISPs are now considered, from creating “any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services.” Similar common carrier laws have been used to regulate monopolistic markets like the telephone and railroad industries. Additionally, Title II imbues the FCC with the authority to investigate any consumer complaints in the Internet market and requires privacy and fair use assurances from ISPs. Net neutrality supporters rejoiced at this decision, but opponents are not settling for defeat: Congressional attempts to reign in the FCC’s authority over broadband have commenced as the first wave of telecom litigation arrives

Furthermore, some proponents of net neutrality like Google worry that the broad Title II classification may promote unintended consequences that raise costs. This is because Title II, an expansive set of regulations, permits the FCC to impose tariffs and other forms of rate regulation that are looked upon unfavorably by the private sector. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has vowed to selectively enforce Title II authority in an attempt to minimize costs and negative externalities, but such assurances have not assuaged the concerns of those embroiled in the debate.

Proponents of net neutrality regulation emphasize fear that ISPs will abuse their customers by using their power over what is delivered to discriminate against content — in its simplest form, the fear that the sites *you* want to see and paid to access will be slowed in favor of others. ISPs are widely resented in much of the US where local municipalities — authorized by Federal law to allow only one cable TV company to operate in their territory — restrict entry of wired Internet competitors, leaving the average US citizen dependent on 1.5 broadband Internet providers, usually the incumbent cable TV operator along with a few less competitive alternatives like DSL from remaining telephone carriers. You are stuck with one company, and as a result the company is unresponsive, the standard model for a regulated monopoly utility, and gets a better return on money spent lobbying its regulators and buying political influence than it does from spending to satisfy customers.

No one is suffering from differential slowdowns at the moment — though many suffer from lower speeds and higher monthly bills due to lack of consumer choice. Because most have no alternative, cable companies can milk their customers and make high profits while failing to invest in new equipment and network capacity. Until recently these companies were generating so much cash on cable TV that they were able to reinvest in content providers by buying up TV networks, cable channels, publishing houses, and newspapers. So today we have Time Warner, soon to be swallowed by Verizon (which originated as a rollup of old Bell System companies), Comcast (which now owns NBC-Universal and its cable channels (including MSNBC, CNBC, USA Network, NBCSN, E!, and The Weather Channel), Charter-Spectrum-Brighthouse, Cox, and so on.

The giant and most hated of these is Comcast, with its reputation for unresponsive, DMV-like service, constantly rising prices, and occasional abuses of power to favor their own content over competitors’. Comcast is maneuvering to get net neutrality regulation tailored to its interests — this would prevent other ISPs from charging for access to its content, while allowing it to provide better service and access for its own services within its dominant network.

On the other side are major content providers who want a net neutrality that bars ISPs for charging them extra to guarantee quality of service (QoS) for their customers. Netflix, for example, is paid by customers by the month, and those customers suck huge amounts of streaming data through the system to their homes; if that data bogs down the network, ISPs either have to spend money on new capacity and charge non-Netflix users for it, or control use by capping data use or speed. While metering data and charging both originators and receivers for it at a very low rate might be the closest to economic fairness, asking big data sellers like Netflix, Amazon, and Google to pay something for their use is at least approximately fair. Of course these companies don’t want to pay unless all of their competitors (especially the in-house content generators of the ISPs) are required to.

So the big campaign to scare you into supporting the latest generation of net neutrality regulation is really a fight between big media and ISP companies to keep their own margins high and competitors weak. Notice the real underlying problem for consumers — limited choice of ISPs and local monopolies — isn’t addressed at all. Nearly every legislator at federal, state, and local levels gets some campaign funding from the media and ISP giants (as well as flattering news coverage that is a major advantage for incumbents), and by finding problems only where the big donors want them to look, they keep voters from understanding where the real problem is. This is much like the current battle to “repeal and replace” the ACA, which carefully neglects to address the biggest underlying problem, the cost and limited availability of medical services and treatments due to overregulation and cartelization of supply.

In the long run, beyond 5 years, technology will eliminate the local cable monopolies — wireless 5G and beyond will provide broadband data service in most locations at a reasonable cost. Google fiber rollouts have stopped and most companies with fiber optic ambitions have decided to scrap new installations as the high costs would have to be written off in a short time, which is why Verizon FIOS, a winning product where it was allowed to compete with coax-based cable TV, was never fully installed where authorized and has been sold off to other companies.

The giants are competing for advantage in a future marketplace by promoting regulation that benefits them or reduces competition. But in their focus on their interests, they are opening the door for broader FCC regulation of the Internet, which in the long run could be applied to wireless and as well and result in constant political warfare and control of what you see and hear. The excuse for FCC regulation in the New Deal era was to prevent a kind of Tragedy of the Commons in radio and television — since there was limited spectrum for signals and laissez-faire broadcasting would ruin it for everyone, Congress declared the spectrum a public resource, then promptly turned it into a property right by handing it out for free to TV and radio stations connected to the powerful (see, for example, how Lady Bird Johnson made LBJ a multimillionaire by using his political pull to get TV licenses.) FCC control came with regulations of content and suppression of minority political viewpoints, something many party politicians would like to see return. Already the incumbent social media giants like Facebook and Twitter are suppressing “dangerous” views, and countries like China are suppressing Internet speech to continue their control of public discourse. Even a small step in that direction like the current net neutrality proposals is dangerous.

Free people don’t need protection; they need freedom to change providers. Start by opening up competition in ISP services so any abuse can be dealt with by going with someone else. Don’t give unelected government regulators control of your feed.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations, in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. 

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat…. It is time to turn the tide against this madness and Death by HR is an important research tool…  All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.


More reading:

A Clinton Christmas Carol
“High Tech Under Diversity Pressure
Ban the Box, Credit Scores, Current Salaries: The Road to Hiring Blind
HireVue, Video Interviews, and AI Job Searches
“Death by HR” – Diversity Programs Don’t Work

New Reviews of “Avoidant”

Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner

Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner

Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner keeps chugging along, with translations into Chinese, Romanian, and Spanish due soon. Some new reviews on Amazon:


5.0 out of 5 stars
one of two MUST READS for this subject
June 3, 2017
AMAZING followup read to “Attached,” if you’re looking into this situation from an anxious/avoidant relationship, this book + “Attached” are not redundant and together are quite complementary, with this book being very down-to-earth and light on research quotes, rather assuming their validity and moving on to application.

I am the “anxious” partner. I have read a LOT of books on this subject. Now, if I could just get my avoidant partner to read EITHER of these…

5.0 out of 5 stars
Five Stars
on April 2, 2017
nails it, well done.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Great to read with your partner
on January 18, 2017
Incredibly helpful. Great to read with your partner, to help guide those difficult conversations.

 5.0 out of 5 stars
on January 13, 2017
Excellent, helpful information!!!!

 5.0 out of 5 stars
along with Wired For Love and Marriage Rebranded
on January 9, 2017
If you’re reading this then I know you can relate. This book, along with Wired For Love and Marriage Rebranded, saved me and my marriage. Read all three and ask your spouse to do the same. You’re welcome. 😉

Interstate Commerce: Trade Barriers Between States

Doctor sees patients via Internet

Doctor sees patients via Internet

Ilya Somin has a post at Volokh/WaPo about “foot voting” (people choosing to move to jurisdictions that have local governments that reflect their values or offer economic opportunities lacking in their current home areas.)

One phenomenon often discussed is migrants bringing their voting habits with them and voting into place local governments that duplicate the conditions in, say. California (they are said to “Californicate” the new area.) People who move because of economic opportunities may have no understanding that the existence of the better job opportunities and lower costs of living in the new place owes much to more enlightened, less business-suppressing tax and regulation in the new location. Since they never realized those business-unfriendly California laws were suppressing local opportunities that might have kept them there, they don’t modify the type of politicians they support and so begin the process of bringing Progressive political machines and micromanagement to their new homes.

Outside observers look a country like India and wonder why reform of internal trade barriers, which are relics of the pre-colonial states, are widely understood to be prosperity-enhancing, but progresses very slowly if at all. Products made in one Indian state can’t be sold to a customer in another without paying additional taxes or being blocked by local content regulations.

In the US, regulation of interstate commerce was intentionally made a Federal matter, making the US a free trade area. This aided in creating the world’s largest internal free market and allowed local industries to grow up specializing in one manufacturing segment to serve a national market — regions specialized in furniture, shoes, textiles, steel, and so on, aided by economies of scale and able to take advantage of local resources that gave them a national advantage. If each state had been able to put tariffs on incoming products or block shipments from other states by regulation, the nation’s growth would have been stunted.

But services and professions are still licensed by states and even smaller units. To braid hair or do massage in a town can require licenses from both state and local authorities, with professional guilds using such licensing to block competition. This prevents poor entrepreneurs from finding work providing services and increases costs of those services for poor consumers, all in the name of consumer protection.

At the higher end, doctors are cartelized and regulated by states as well as the Federal government, which runs the subsidies and residency schemes that keep production of new physicians expensive and restricted. Healthcare services that could easily be handled by less expensive technologists are often required to be provided only under a licensed doctor’s supervision, pumping up the incomes for even the worst doctors (who may use their credential to take jobs in prison or institutional settings where their record of incompetence is ignored because their license is valid.)

New technology that might allow low-cost Internet doctoring by out-of-state or even out-of-country physicians is blocked in most states. Concern for consumer health is always cited as the reason, even when poor consumers can’t afford to seek any face-to-face care for their health issues. It is apparently better to go untreated than to allow the poor to buy “good enough” services on the Internet. The inability of above-board, higher-quality companies to run such remote doctoring systems leaves the field open to bootleg quacks.

So even the US is not truly a free trade zone, since many services (cable TV, real estate, medicine, restaurants, schools) are heavily regulated by state and local governments, and outsiders trying to break in face high barriers to entry. Big companies can overcome the need to manage 50 or more different regulatory regimes, but smaller chains just starting out have to choose wisely and only expand in areas where the regulatory environment is more supportive.

Not surprisingly, the result is vigorous competition and lower prices in less regulated areas, and sluggish investment and higher prices in more-regulated areas.

It’s clear that Federalism (state and local control) applied to service regulations is costing the economy growth and raising prices in an era where barriers to travel and communication have come down. Medical, teaching, and real estate professionals should not have to undergo licensing in every jurisdiction where they might practice. Cities and towns should not be able to extract concessions from a monopoly cable TV-Internet provider which result in high prices and no local competition.

Perhaps we should thank those Progressives who battered the Supreme Court into submission and started making the case that every local economic decision could be regulated by the Feds, since even the tiniest decision locally has some effect on the national market, no matter how minuscule.

The Progressives opened the way, so now it would be constitutional to overrule all local and state licensing of professionals, insurance companies, and other services, which could now be much more competitive in a true free national market. So if they wanted to, Congress could rule all medical and communications services licensed in one jurisdiction to be sellable in others. nationwide insurance policies would provide travel flexibility and economies of scale, and these companies could provide services via Skype examination that would undercut local doctor and hospital cartels. Sick people in the Bronx projects could be “seen” and prescribed treatment and medication from doctors in low-cost South Dakota, say. “Oh, no!” cry the Progressives, “They could be quacks!” And the products sold in New York from manufacturers in South Dakota, Michigan, or even China could be fakes or defective. Yet we tolerate the free trade of goods because it is in the long run best for everyone, and the wholesalers and retailers of goods have an interest in keeping bad products out of their systems. And now that low-skilled manufacturing jobs are mostly outside the US, isn’t it interesting that professions and industries that benefit from barriers to trade in services — lawyers, doctors, communications giants, drug companies, public schools — resist any effort to open themselves up to competition.

In “Death by HR” I discussed one remedy — a “Freedom of Contract” Amendment to the Constitution to clarify the Common Law right of adults to contract with each other and service providers in any way they choose. If I choose to buy a product from a Chinese company, I deal with the risk and consequences. I should be allowed to buy services from anywhere I want — to have my skin lesions imaged to a doctor in Florida, to have the treatment done by medications from a pharmacy in Oregon, to have a local contractor handle any hands-on services, and so on. The key problem with many necessary services today is regulation and a resulting lack of low-cost options. This is especially true in medicine, which Obamacare only made worse by restricting practical treatment options to small geographic regions. The solution is radical deregulation.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations, in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. 

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat…. It is time to turn the tide against this madness and Death by HR is an important research tool…  All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.


More reading:

A Clinton Christmas Carol
“High Tech Under Diversity Pressure
Ban the Box, Credit Scores, Current Salaries: The Road to Hiring Blind
HireVue, Video Interviews, and AI Job Searches
“Death by HR” – Diversity Programs Don’t Work

Tom Woods Commenter Dialog: “Death by HR”

[Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations]

The Tom Woods podcast on Death by HR is here, and on Youtube here.

On Tom Woods’ site, a commenter with a long career in HR had a number of criticisms of the interview, though he had not actually bothered to read the book — the HR version of “skim until offended,” jumping to conclusions about the content of the book and spending more time criticizing and reacting than looking deeper. But he had a lot of interesting things to say about his career, apparently working in mostly smaller and poorly-managed companies where managers frequently used their position to act arbitrarily based on ethnic, racial, or sexual prejudices, or put their own satisfaction ahead of company goals.

 

  • Perhaps if Tom Woods wants someone to evaluate the HR function from a libertarian or Austrian Economic perspective, he should actually talk to someone who has worked in the field? Next week, an exposé on the internal waste at NASA, the guest will be a jack hammer operator from Arkansas, who obviously has the inside scoop…

    I’ve worked in HR and recruiting for over a decade now. Like any other department you’ll find in a company, it can be staffed with idiots or geniuses, but mostly it’s people who are somewhere in between. There are more than a few issues this guest brought up which are complete BS.

    One, performance evaluations and legal risk. First, the legal risk for employers viz a viz their employees is next to zero in the US. With the exception of California, if you ask an actual labor lawyer if you can or should sue for X, Y, or Z, they will almost unanimously tell you that you can’t, or you can try but you won’t likely win. If you’re a member of a protected class, say a minority, and you have your boss on tape screaming racial epithets at you for hours on end before firing you, you might have a case. In this instance if they do have those performance evaluations they can use those to prove you were fired for legitimate reasons. And, unless you have a slam dunk case, no lawyer is going to take your suit on spec, so you’d better have a few grand to float as a retainer, and even if you win, the judgement won’t be as impressive as many assume.

    So for all practical purposes most people wanting to take advantage of the few laws that actually do offer some form of legal protectionism to labor in the US are &^% out of luck. Generally speaking, the answer lawyers will give you is yes, you can be fired for that, or like that, or abused or even physically assaulted at work (I’ve seen it happen multiple times), and you generally won’t have luck suing, unless you’re in California which has laws which diverge significantly from the rest of the US.

    In the above case the performance evaluation does serve the purpose the guest was mentioning, however in over a decade of experience I’ve seen them save more jobs than justify terminations. My favorite example was an employee who was moved through the process of disciplinary action to the point of being fired, the company at that time kept HR out of the process as much as possible, until the end where we came in to make sure everything was kosher. The employee was a woman with a very hard to find skillset at that point, because we were a manufacturer and there was little to no manufacturing left in our area. What was all the fuss about? It turns out the manager didn’t like the way she was opening, positioning, and sizing her email windows on her computer while she was doing her job. He had a process, ya’ see, and it involved micromanaging the movements of her frigging mouse. Her actual performance</i.>alsotolerate working for and with this moron.

    That is one example of a multitude I could lay out, which addresses another claim of this guest: managers know what they’re doing, and how to evaluate and reward their employees. After ten plus years of experience, to say I beg to differ is to put it mildly. In fact, that’s one of the most riduclously detatched from reality statements I’ve heard in my entire life. Most managers are just regular employees who were promoted. No one ever checked to see if they wanted to be managers, and often when they did want to be, it was because they didn’t see any other career progression, and so assumed they had to be managers. No one ever checked to see if they had any aptitude for the position, either. They were just the best at their job in someone’s estimation, and God only knows if that person had any particular skill in managing people, and that person clapped them on the shoulder one day and said, “Congrats, kid, you’re in charge now, so good luck!” Rarely if ever is any training even offered to these people, check corporate training budgets. They’ve gone through the floor over recent years. In my entire career I’ve met three or four managers who actually had a clue what they were doing, and I’ve worked with hundreds at this point, maybe over a thousand; directly for a few and with many more as an HR and recruiting person.

    In my years of experience the biggest problem I’ve had to deal with in HR and recruiting is not government compliance, which is an annoyance and yes, sometimes a big one, but rarely more than that. Nor has it been enforcing ‘diversity’ hiring, most small to medium sized companies couldn’t care less. No, the biggest issue has been managers running off the reservation and doing stupid things, or refusing to do their jobs. My favorite example in this regard was a manager who demanded to only hire Mexicans because they were better performers. They weren’t, actually. This guy’s top performers were all of Indian desent, with the top half of his performers not showing any particular trend in ethnicity. However, Mexicans it turned out were less apt to question him, and treated him like a god on earth. So, should HR not have stepped in and told this idiot he had to hire for actual performance reasons? Should we have let him sink the company with potentially worse overall performance and also potential legal risks just to stroke his ego? Again, one story like this of a multitude, one of the other prominent ones involves an IT department manager who would only hire Romanians. To his credit his department at least functioned well, but it drove the costs of hiring up because we had to cycle through tons of qualified people before we found someone for him to interview who had the right ancestry.

    Or how about a company owner who refused to offer flexible schedules? Great one that, because a manager that was also a close personal friend of his offered it to his employees anyway. That department’s performance went way up, their absenteeism went way down, their retention was up, every single positive indicator was up. The owner finally admitted to the head of HR, who had been pushing for this policy, that he made a mistake. Plans were made to roll it out company wide, at the last minute the owner walked into a meeting and started screaming at people at the top of his lungs about how he wasn’t going to ‘give anything away’ to his employees just because he could. The plans were scrapped. There’s the overly managed and controlled market people deal with every day, a business own deliberately doing something to lower his company’s potential productivity because there are so many people desperate for jobs, why not? You can just throw away the burned out ones and replace them for the most part, it’s only in demand skills that require any ‘special’ attention, and by ‘special’ I mean not treating them like emulsified balls of ferrett crap.

    HR can seem like a fiefdom sometimes. We do have to exclude people and keep secretive to a degree. Unless of course, you want your personal information sprayed all over the office for everyone to see. We have to deal with everything from deaths in people’s families to people with diseases or conditions who want to work, and do so quite well, but might need an accomodation here or there, and might not want the entire office to know their business. All manner of personal business which people want kept confidential, for all kinds of reasons, which might affect the business and how we do things but which, generally speaking, not everyone has a right to know if we can keep it confidential. So we do. It’s a fiefdom because too many managers are apt to screw it up if they get involved.

    In all my years of experience, when managers wanted to do stupid things, it was HR who stood in their way. When managers and business owners were assured that working for them was a privilege and people should consider themselves lucky to be there, it was HR who stepped in and told them they still had to pay attention to compensation levels and work-life balance, and that those things mattered if they didn’t want to burn through their entire available candidate pool in less than a year, no matter how much of a ‘privilege’ it was to work there.

    Over the decades in the US every possible job-killing protectionist racket has been tried, and the currency has been continuously debased. Those policies concurrently destroy competing job opportunities and devalue wages, keeping labor’s share of the expanding pie always lagging those of firm’s owners and financiers. Go ask Sean Corrigan, he pointed out as much in one of his Mises talks a long time ago. While that’s happening, HR does deal with a bit of government BS and compliance. But our main role is, in my experience and ironically enough, to try and stop companies from destroying themselves from within with idiotic and destructive policies towards their labor simply because they think they can treat people like crap because labor has been at a near permanent disadvatage thanks to over a century of idiotic policies and currency manipulation. This is increasingly hard to do in an economy where many companies would prefer some form of indentured servitude on a managed market where their competition is strictly limited, rather than to compete for free labor on an actual free market, because they’ve never known anything else. They wouldn’t know a free market if it bit them on the ass and called them daddy. And HR, whether you like them or not, is usually the department standing between the employees and the employer, constantly reminding the latter that to treat the former with at least a modicum of respect is just good business sense. Not everyone is lucky like me, to work for a company where the employer actually seems to care about its employees. Most work for people who would happily throw their employees’ children into a woodchipper if it meant a .000000000000001% increase in quarterly profits.

    Maybe next time Tom Woods wants to talk about HR, he can talk to someone who actually works in… HR. I’d recommend Liz Ryan or Peter Capelli. Both are recognized in the field, I have no idea of their political or economic leanings though I get the feeling they’re both lefties. But they’ve at least worked and published in the field, which is a massive leg up on this guest. Lazlo Bock over at Google is another person worth talking with, or Dr. John Sullivan, who writes regularly for Ere Media. It’s not like there’s a shortage of people in the industry, God only knows why Woods decided to talk to some random guy who had a bad experience getting a mortgage once and decided to write a book. Having worked with many people who saw HR as some sort of obstacle, I can say unequivocally that sometimes they were right, but way more often than not HR was just the obstacle to them enacting their own stupidity at the expense of the company and people’s livelihoods. That’s an obstacle I’m happy to count myself among.

    • Recruiter –

      I hope you get time to actually read my book. In a short interview there’s not enough time for nuance or depth. I consulted many sources and quite a number of HR managers, but more importantly mid-level managers who only see HR staff when there’s trouble. And most of my sources are in engineering and technology, so the high quality of both employees and managers make HR less helpful and more culturally unlike the general staff. I did make a point of acknowledging the many hardworking HR people who put out the fires and work hard to promote the business.

      But since my book is a polemic – intended to be a corrective for the hundreds of other books cheerleading for current HR fads and elevating the importance of HR for an audience of HR specialists who of course want to promote their own specialty above others – it focuses on the negative and the worst excesses of HR staff less competent that you say you were.

      Every bureaucrat thinks they work hard to hold back the tides of chaos. You probably worked very hard, and of course you were called in when some manager had screwed up, so your dim view of managers generally is understandable. Your view that low and mid-level managers are accidents waiting to happen and only enlightened guidance from the likes of you kept them from disaster is just a tad skewed. What business is foolishly promoting people with no emotional intelligence, manners, or good business sense into management? What industry did you work in that had such incompetent and insensitive managers?

      One, performance evaluations and legal risk. First, the legal risk for employers viz a viz their employees is next to zero in the US. With the exception of California, if you ask an actual labor lawyer if you can or should sue for X, Y, or Z, they will almost unanimously tell you that you can’t…

      Most of my sources – and most of the technology industry, which was one of the focuses of the book – are in California, specifically Silicon Valley, and if you had actually read it you would have seen cases and excerpts from attorneys involved in litigation, defending against state regulators and class action attorneys suing under California’s antiquated labor laws specifying things like break times, proper seating, and temperature for workplaces long since evolved away from factories.

      It’s true that most lawsuits of alleged discriminatory firing don’t go far, but the threat is only manageable because companies have taken defensive action by staying aware of the possibility and starting a documentation trail of poor performance a year or more before the intended firing. Costly settlements still happen (quietly, of course) to avoid legal and reputational costs.

      In my entire career I’ve met three or four managers who actually had a clue what they were doing, and I’ve worked with hundreds at this point, maybe over a thousand; directly for a few and with many more as an HR and recruiting person.

      In the companies I’m familiar with, new managers get guidance from their own managers and those who don’t show some decent understanding of their role do not progress further. Since you are steeped in HR, you think “training” is the answer – like any quasi-government bureaucrat, you think a program and a certain number of hours in a classroom is needed to impart the common sense and emotional skills to manage diverse people to get a job done. And you resent that no one has given HR budget to set up training programs and pull skilled people away for days of nonproductive paid time to be enlightened by HR staff and their favorite contractors.

      My favorite example in this regard was a manager who demanded to only hire Mexicans because they were better performers. They weren’t, actually. This guy’s top performers were all of Indian descent, with the top half of his performers not showing any particular trend in ethnicity. However, Mexicans it turned out were less apt to question him, and treated him like a god on earth. So, should HR not have stepped in and told this idiot he had to hire for actual performance reasons?

      This manager should have been fired – and in any well-managed company with smart employees, he wouldn’t have lasted five minutes. The companies I know of would have had peer managers and upper managers detecting his incompetence and he would never have been put in a management role (or even employed.)

      …. Again, one story like this of a multitude, one of the other prominent ones involves an IT department manager who would only hire Romanians. To his credit his department at least functioned well, but it drove the costs of hiring up because we had to cycle through tons of qualified people before we found someone for him to interview who had the right ancestry.

      So you cooperated in his violation of the equal employment laws? Interesting.

      And HR, whether you like them or not, is usually the department standing between the employees and the employer, constantly reminding the latter that to treat the former with at least a modicum of respect is just good business sense. Not everyone is lucky like me, to work for a company where the employer actually seems to care about its employees. Most work for people who would happily throw their employees’ children into a woodchipper if it meant a .000000000000001% increase in quarterly profits.

      So you’re a free-market guy, but think company owners, CEOs, and managers are all incompetent, don’t realize a high-quality, happy workforce is a competitive advantage that can make the company succeed and grow, and only you and HR departments everywhere keep them from destroying their companies by turning them into grim, despotic labor camps?

      Well, first, companies that keep their HR departments from falling into that kind of condescending attitude by cultivating managers who are competent enough to rarely need your help – so HR is kept small and focused on helping managers – are better places to work and more productive.

      Maybe next time Tom Woods wants to talk about HR, he can talk to someone who actually works in… HR. Id recommend Liz Ryan or Peter Capelli. Both are recognized in the field, I have no idea of their political or economic leanings though I get the feeling they’re both lefties. But they’ve at least worked and published in the field, which is a massive leg up on this guest. Lazlo Bock over at Google is another person worth talking with, or Dr. John Sullivan, who writes regularly for Ere Media.

      You do realize that no one who is a careerist in the field would ever dare tell people that the Emperor of HR is naked. I think I quoted all of the people you mention somewhere in the book, and Bock in particular has done good work getting Google away from their academic, credentialist early employment prejudices to get really productive people. But none of them are going to look at HR with a critical eye and admit that most HR departments in many companies are doing as much harm as good, especially under the new atmosphere of political correctness (which I gather didn’t affect your work, but is an increasing problem in Silicon Valley.)

      I’ll leave you with some mainstream critiques made recently. I’d hope you would actually read my book and come away a little more respectful of what I’m trying to do.

      https://www.fastcompany.com/30…

      http://www.theatlantic.com/bus…

      http://fortune.com/2015/04/02/…

       

      • “And most of my sources are in engineering and technology, so the high quality of both employees and managers make HR less helpful and more culturally unlike the general staff. ”

        Do you have any actual evidence in your book as to the ‘high quality’ of these people? Do you have side by side comparisons showing them achieving better productivity and retention rates, or did you just take their word for it? Far be it from me to suggest you need to do more than talk to a few people in a couple narrow sectors who are mostly located in the most highly regulated state in the entire union that is notorious for its complex labor laws before you generalize to the entire profession.

        “In the companies I’m familiar with, new managers get guidance from their own managers and those who don’t show some decent understanding of their role do not progress further. Since you are steeped in HR, you think “training” is the answer – like any quasi-government bureaucrat, you think a program and a certain number of hours in a classroom is needed to impart the common sense and emotional skills to manage diverse people to get a job done. ”

        Your derisive attitude toward training is indicative of why your book is likely not worth reading. Again, far be it from me to suggest that simply assuming someone’s expertise in an area and not bothering to at least bolster them with some education on the matter might be a bad move. Once more, do you cite any actual evidence for the quality of the ‘guidance’ these people get, or do they instinctively know how to manage? Do they know how to break a job down into deliverables, time frames, and quality metrics, or might they need some… GASP! … training on how to do so? Do they think people can work endlessly and tend to overwork people until they burnout, or do they realize people have a breaking point and need rest? Based on what I’ve heard from silicon valley, I can guess which it is. Do any of them bother to do salary surveys before they move to hire people to ensure they’re not under or over offering? The latter being far less frequent, but it does happen. Do any of them know how to actually develop and write an actual job description so the people they’re looking to hire have a clue what they’re in for, or do they all do the typical thing of writing a description of the person they think can do the job they think they want to hire for, and then ambush them with reality after they’re hired? Do any of them have any training in any type of interviewing technique, be it behavioral or performance based, and what’s their success rate relative to what can be expected with industry best practices? Comparisons like that would be actual evidence.

        “This manager should have been fired – and in any well-managed company with smart employees, he wouldn’t have lasted five minutes. The companies I know of would have had peer managers and upper managers detecting his incompetence and he would never have been put in a management role (or even employed.)”

        Which goes to show your naivety and lack of experience in the field. Why would this manager be fired by the very people who promoted him when doing so would be a negative reflection on their own judgement? Yes, in some idealized firm that only exists as a proposed hypothetical in the mind of an academic who has never actually worked for a living, this manager would have been fired, or at least disciplined. However, in the real world hiring, promotions, and terminations are not just informed by performance, but by politics both good and bad, competence and incompetence, nepotism, and fear. IO psychologists have studied these dynamics for a long time, nepotism is a big one, especially in family owned companies, and I can assure you that the son of the boss has, quite often, damaged his father’s company with no consequences simply because of his relationship. And it’s HR more often than not that has to put a leash on that crap and who even occasionally does something horrible like suggest they hire out of the box people, and not fire people for spurious reasons irrelevant to performance.

        “So you cooperated in his violation of the equal employment laws? Interesting.”

        I guess passively yes, I just kept putting qualified people in front of him, letting his managers know about the problem, and they didn’t do anything about it because his department’s performance was okay. Eventually someone with the right background came in front of him and he hired that person, the business was in NYC and there were enough ethnic enclaves still there that eventually a Romanian came our way. What did happen, after I left that company, was that one Asian kid was transferred from the development side of IT to networking to help cover some turnover, and in short order he quit and in his exit interview apparently lambasted the manager and department. He was harassed to hell and back for various reasons including his race and demeanor, which was reserved.

        Now, here’s the problem and why ‘diversity’ might be a laudable goal to educate these guys on, because what happens when they can’t find any more Romanians? Do they just deal with massive turnover because these guys don’t know how to treat people who aren’t of their ilk? Work perpetual overtime? Import someone directly from Romania? The company can’t fire the whole damn department and lose all that training and institutional knowledge. Gee, might some… GASP!… training on how not to be a dick potentially be in order to mitigate the situation, or even solve it?

        I knew those guys, I don’t think they were deliberately being schmucks, they just all came from a very gruff, very blunt, very low emotional intelligence background. Christ, have you ever yourself worked with a ton of eastern European immigrants? Gone to a Russian restaurant and dealt with the waiters? If someone had addressed that as an issue before the managers built their own internal ethnic kingdom within the company it wouldn’t have been a problem. But no one cared until I and the HR manager at the time pointed out the problem repeatedly. To my knowledge it’s still on going though, because the department ain’t broken in terms of performance, not yet. But they are setting themselves up for a potentially massive point of failure that could be avoided if they’d force these guys to think outside their own nationality. But, wouldn’t want to let a liberal idea like diversity hurt their performance. Don’t want to hobble the managers with pesky HR requirements like not setting up a department with an obvious and glaring vulnerability, the legal risks and ramifications of which pale in comparison to the largely unseen costs, current and potential, that they’re imposing on themselves.

        “So you’re a free-market guy, but think company owners, CEOs, and managers are all incompetent, don’t realize a high-quality, happy workforce is a competitive advantage that can make the company succeed and grow, and only you and HR departments everywhere keep them from destroying their companies by turning them into grim, despotic labor camps?”

        I grade competence based on evidence, company owners and CEOs may or may not be incompetent, since we don’t operate in a free market it’s hard to nail down how much of their success is due to skill vs political acumen. However, I do not see anything in particular that assures they have any expertise in human capital management. If there was and they did, they wouldn’t fail so often on that front. Check out the reviews on Glassdoor.com of many companies, or Indeed.com. Look at their actual turnover data if you can get hold of it.

        The vast majority of businesses in this country are not silicon valley firms, large or small, worrying endlessly about diversity hires. They are small to medium sized businesses owned and run by people who have no particular qualifications in human capital management. They had a good idea for a business or a product or service and got it off the ground, that’s it. That is not evidence they have any particular skill in hiring, retaining, or managing people.

        “You do realize that no one who is a careerist in the field would ever dare tell people that the Emperor of HR is naked.”

        I have, which is why I do it anonymously. You’re not entirely wrong in your concerns, but the idea that the majority of HR people nationwide are obsessing over diversity hires and government compliance is nonsense. The vast majority of HR departments at the vast majority of companies consist of the payroll guy or girl, who handles the payroll, occasional employee complaints, and a labor lawyer who they talk to when things get serious. And where HR departments do exist in larger companies, the vast majority of people I have met and worked with are doing their best day after day to stop people from shooting themselves in the foot with their own stupidity. And the source of most of the worst behaviors is managers, and not blatant screw ups like the example I initially gave, but just people who have been promoted to their level of incompetence and are barely holding on without a clue what they’re doing, and their employers not offering any resources to help them figure it out, more often than not.

        When compliance with regulations does come up, it’s dealt with as a risk vs cost issue like anything else. One manufacturer I worked for knew of and deliberately ignored many labor regulations. They had people who should have been hourly classified as exempt so they could avoid overtime, they routinely ‘adjusted’ the punches of hourly people to avoid overtime as well. Could these people complain to the DOL? Sure. The DOL doesn’t usually do jack shit to help anyone. In my entire career I’ve seen one company successfully sued for back wages out of God know how many that were in blatant violation of the laws. One. It’s also worth noting that as free market people, however we feel about those laws, those employers did agree to abide by them when they hired their employees, so their employees are not entirely wrong or out of line to get pissed when it happens, or to try and seek redress via the only route that is practically available to them. Telling them to just get another job is an assinine response in a market where jobs are increasingly scarce, and not everyone can be a podcaster.

        Maybe I’ll read the book, but if all you really did was talk to a bunch of people in silicon valley it’s a waste of my time. I can’t believe I have to explain to a bunch of Austrian econ inclined folks that there’s a difference between what people say and what they demonstrate via their actions. Simply assuming managers are right in what they want to do is insane. Hell, in my second to last job I was recruiting for tech firms in NYC and almost every single ‘manager’ I worked with had no idea that the salaries they were offering were 50% or more below market for the positions they were looking to fill, because they hadn’t bothered to check. But hey, I’m sure they had ‘guidance’ from their managers, so they shouldn’t need actual data to rely on or anything. It’s perfectly reasonable to try and hire a C# developer with ten years of experience in NYC for 50K. Gotta trust the instincts of those managers, they know so much more than those pesky HR people who bother to look at actual data and might want them to occasionally hire someone who isn’t a carbon copy of themselves.

        Jeb Kinnison

        • Fools and knaves lurk everywhere, I suppose, but your experiences don’t match what most of my sources say about companies today. Otherwise why would Deloitte be suggesting an end to annual performance reviews, to be replaced by more-constant manager feedback and a reliance on direct managers, with some coaching from “concierge” consultants, to determine raise and promotions? Their studies point to management-by-HR as a source of one-size-fits-all schemes that managers have to game anyway. It’s true that less well-managed companies end up with bad low- and mid-level managers, with your style of HR serving as a bandaid to prevent disaster. But I can’t help noticing how close your position is to the usual defender of progressive government, who believes that average citizen is too stupid and unenlightened to decide any important matter for themselves. An enlightened class of trained bureaucrats can regulate them into being better citizens…

          Your comments are valuable as one view from a long career, but most big employers today have big HR depts. doing things like requiring regular diversity and sexual harassment training by timed web browser, forcing productive and already-completely-aware people to jump through the same hoops over and over again, a degrading and timewasting experience for the 95% who don’t need it and provably useless on the 5% who do.

          I do hope you read the book, where I suspect you will agree with a lot of it. Just like staffers of a government bureaucracy, you see all the good work you appear to do but can’t see how things might be done differently, so you feel attacked and are outraged. No one is saying your work was pointless or that all HR is useless or unneeded. This book is supposed to counter the vast quantities of pro-HR, pro-Progressive propaganda put out by the HR industry. The revolution is coming…

           


The book is currently available in: trade paperback from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other bookselling web sites; Kindle ebook format from Amazon exclusively; and as an audiobook from Audible and Amazon.

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations, in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. 

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat…. It is time to turn the tide against this madness and Death by HR is an important research tool…  All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.


More reading:

A Clinton Christmas Carol
“High Tech Under Diversity Pressure
Ban the Box, Credit Scores, Current Salaries: The Road to Hiring Blind
HireVue, Video Interviews, and AI Job Searches
“Death by HR” – Diversity Programs Don’t Work

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