Education

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

[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–


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. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

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:

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

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


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. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

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:

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

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/


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. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

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:

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

Shibboleths of the New Class: Identity Politics and Language

Judith Butler - Wikipedia

Judith Butler – Wikipedia

Freddie de Boer has a short critique of the New York Magazine profile of Judith Butler that makes a good point:

I find the author’s basic contention – that Butler and the type of academic leftism she has spearheaded have transformed the American cultural and political world – indisputable. In its obsession with language as the sole arbiter of all things, its sorting of all people into broad camps of good and bad based on the use of abstruse vocabulary and assorted virtue signaling, and its near-total silence on the economic foundations of injustice, I find the theories and ideas discussed in the profile to be entirely indicative of 21st century American liberalism….

This is the reality of capitalism: everything that is perceived to be a social good will be monetized, and everything that can be monetized will be distributed unequally. And so today we have these radical queer arguments and terms bandied about by the very people who perpetuate a world of entrenched and powerful inequality, Pride flags whipping in the breeze in front of Goldman Sachs, people in $3,000 suits dismissing the gender binary as they meet for cocktails in a hideously expensive DC hotel. Meanwhile, the grubby masses, lacking access to the kind of private liberal arts colleges where one learns these Byzantine codes, now can add political and moral poverty to their economic and social poverty. This is the next great project of the American elite: building a political system that ensures the winners in winner-take-all enjoy not just the fruits of material gain, but the certainty that their elevated station is deserved thanks to their elevated moral standing. Manhattan vocabulary for Manhattan people leading Manhattan lives, and all of it expressed in just the right terms.

Let’s back up and look at the subject of the fawning profile he’s critiquing, Judith Butler:

Gender Trouble, published in 1990, made Butler a star: It introduced “performativity,” the idea that gender isn’t something we are but something we continually do, opening the door for “cultural configurations of sex and gender [to] proliferate,” as she put it in the book’s conclusion, “confounding the very binarism of sex, and exposing its fundamental unnaturalness.” If not for Butler’s work, “you wouldn’t have the version of genderqueer-ness that we now have,” says Jack Halberstam, a gender-studies professor at Columbia. “She made it clear that the body is not a stable foundation for gender expression.”

For much of her career, Butler was known mostly within academia, in part because of the difficulty of her prose. And yet the work Butler demands of readers is of a kind that, more than ever, they are willing to do now — if not necessarily while reading theoretical texts, then in moving through their daily lives. People outside the academy question their assumptions; they wrestle with unfamiliar ideas and examine their own discomfort. “Don’t laugh,” read a recent headline in the Washington Post. “I have a serious reason for raising my cats gender neutral.” (The reason: as a reminder to use the right pronouns for nonbinary friends.) Theoryspeak, meanwhile, has infiltrated civilian vocabularies. Trope and problematic and heteronormative; even, in a not-quite-Butlerian sense, performative — the sort of words that rankled queer theory’s culture-wars critics — are right at home on Tumblr and Twitter. In a broad-stroke, vastly simplified version, the understanding of gender that Gender Trouble suggests is not only recognizable; it is pop.

Progressive implies progress — the moving forward toward a goal. But what is the goal of today’s intersectionalist, academic-influenced identity politics? Not a state where all individuals are treated equally under the law, and not a society where merit and competition determine who gets the resources to invest in the future wellbeing of everyone. No, it is more about the getting of resources — in the form of secure academic and government jobs — by showing oneself to be the virtuous defender of downtrodden people of color and alternative gender identity. Demonstrating “advanced” abilities to use the language of identitarian politics gives you access to advancement in academia and government, where reality testing in the form of having to produce satisfying products for customers isn’t a big factor in organizational survival.

Here’s a paragraph of her academic writing from her 1997 paper in the journal Diacritics:

The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

Yes, that was very bad, wasn’t it? [Channeling Leonard Pinth-Garnell, played by Dan Aykroyd in early Saturday Night Live sketches about pretentious, bad art.]

Freddie is irritated because this upper-class SJW virtue-signalling has almost blotted out old-fashioned redistributive political movements. Class warfare, trade unions for industrial workers, soaking the rich — all lost their currency, and now the most-connected, most-privileged people of all colors and genders use their perfected command of identitarian language as just another way to bar the entry of the real downtrodden of all colors and genders. As he points out, one of the characteristics of free market capitalism is its ready co-optation of nearly every social movement — buy your hippie beads here, kids! — by not resisting but enveloping and adopting. The movement is defused and the power structure remains untouched, at the expense of the unwashed masses who vote and pay taxes. The Progressive Barack Obama typifies this strategy of distraction — while apparently offering a Progressive agenda, his administration was staffed by Wall Street finance types who were unlikely to disrupt the finance industry’s over-large share of the national income, and the revolving door between health insurance companies and his ACA implementors in HHS led to headlines like this in the New York Times: “Head of Obama’s Health Care Rollout to Lobby for Insurers”:

WASHINGTON — Marilyn B. Tavenner, the former Obama administration official in charge of the rollout of HealthCare.gov, was chosen on Wednesday to be the top lobbyist for the nation’s health insurance industry.

Ms. Tavenner, who stepped down from her federal job in February, will become president and chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the trade group whose members include Aetna, Anthem, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and many Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.

The “stray voltage” issues put up by the Administration are designed to distract from their many failures in foreign policy and their crony-capitalist corruption in sending tax dollars and settlement money to political supporters. The issues of bathroom laws, gun control, and the (nonexistent) epidemic of campus rape are designed to be largely symbolic gestures generating conflict with the perceived enemies of Democratic client classes and have nothing to do with the really critical work of keeping money flowing into campaign coffers and providing high-paid sinecures for fellow travellers.


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. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

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:

Update: California High-Speed Rail Nearly Dead
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
Orlando and Elite Bigotry: Come Out as an American
Progressive Displacement and Social Media: Gun Control Edition

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

Orlando and Elite Bigotry: Come Out as an American

Marines Marry - photo from Freedom to Marry

Marines Marry – photo from Freedom to Marry

Instapundit (Ed Driscoll posting) has a post up quoting a New York Times piece on Garrison Keillor’s retirement from Prairie Home Companion:

Curiously, Mr. Keillor has always found it difficult spending so much time with the strong, good-looking, above average people of Lake Wobegon, which he based on his relatives, past and present.

In “The Keillor Reader” (2014), he complained bitterly about “their industriousness, their infernal humility, their schoolmarmish sincerity, their earnest interest in you, their clichés falling like clockwork — it can be tiring to be around.”

Speaking on his porch, Mr. Keillor said of Lake Wobegonians, i.e., his relatives, “I am frustrated by them in real life.” They were too controlled by good manners, he said, and “have a very hard time breaking through.”

So why devote so much of his professional life ruminating about them? “It’s the people I think I know,” he replied.

Will he miss them, and the weekly jolt of the show?

“No,” he replied. “No.”

Ed continues: “As with many on the left, in the wake of 9/11, Keillor emerged as a vicious partisan, describing President Bush’s supporters thusly in 2004:”

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk.

Then this quote from Christopher Caldwell:

At some point, Democrats became the party of small-town people who think they’re too big for their small towns…For these people, liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.

Ed has outlined the problem: the opinion leaders in the Blue Tribe gleefully engage in the extreme stereotyping, bigotry, and prejudice they rightfully decry when applied to everyone but their cultural cousins in the heartland. It is all about feeling superior to their countrymen not so privileged as to live in elite coastal communities where wealth, education, and stable academic or government jobs give them a platform to look down on, and prescribe correct thought to, the great unwashed they have separated themselves from.

The current attempt to paint evangelical Christians and gun control opponents as responsible for a supposed climate of hate leading to the Orlando massacre is a good example. After winning enormous improvements in both law and opinion on gay rights, Democrats and activists want to continue to crusade against old enemies rather than facing the reality — that there is almost no one in their demonized classes who would want them killed, while there are a millions of fundamentalist Islamists, egged on by Salafist training financed for decades by Saudi Arabia, who *do* want them killed. By displacing the blame, the Blue Tribe leaders can avoid considering the enormity of the evil of gays and women being stoned, shot, thrown from buildings, and otherwise sacrificed in a broad swath of the Middle East and Africa where these fundamentalists are in power, and how that evil is coming home to us now.

Burt Gummer from "Tremors" - Tremors Wikia

Burt Gummer from “Tremors” – Tremors Wikia

Yesterday’s post about the infighting between American cultures over the response to Orlando murders gets at some of this — American Red Tribe members, many of whom have some traditionalist beliefs about sex roles and gay marriage, bear no murderous urges toward anyone, and would help defend their fellow citizens should it ever come to that using their stores of guns and ammo and military training. Like the townspeople’s reaction to prepper Burt Gummer in Tremors, “sophisticates” roll their eyes when the ex-military guy seems to be paranoid and overprepared for unlikely threats, but everyone is grateful when the threat appears and he’s the only one who has a useful response. A civilization which has so protected its people that they lose the ability to even imagine the need to defend themselves is ripe for external attack. And the threat from Islamist ideology is real — it’s not a country, it’s not a state (no matter what ISIS’s pretensions are), it’s a thought-virus.

It is not helpful that so many filter the news for the most outrageous behaviors to confirm their fear of the other tribe — steady consumption of clickbait outrage stories would have you believe most Christian leaders want gays killed and approve of the Orlando murders, while the truth is only a minute number of attention-seeking sect leaders (like the Westboro “Baptist” Church) are anything but properly horrified. By choosing to read these outrage porn sites, people nurture old grievances and retain a profoundly wrong idea of the feelings of their Red Tribe countrymen, so much so that it is becoming a danger to our polity.

I grew up in the era when everyone who appeared weak or different could expect to be bullied. We’ve made a lot of progress as a people to remedy that kind of abuse, but the defensive reflexes remain. The generation now in their 50s and 60s are the primary opinion leaders, and edit most of the media we read. They still believe in the ill-will of their flyover countrymen that many of them worked hard to get away from, and identities and egos are built on their feelings of moral superiority. They are easily persuaded that external threats are unimportant compared to the need to continue to suppress their old enemies in the culture wars — and that is a great danger, since by not acting to counteract Islamist ideology and its promoters, and by portraying legitimate criticism of the current government’s management of security and screening of millions of immigrants as racist, sexist, and xenophobic, they block any reform that might reduce the number of Jihadi converts in sensitive positions.

So here’s my suggestion for my Blue Tribe friends — get to know your Red Tribe cousins. Go shooting with them, barbecue some ribs with them, visit the country in the middle you’ve never seen and absorb the culture there without your blinders on. Instead of vacationing in New York or San Francisco or the villa in Tuscany or the south of France, try Salina, Kansas, or New Braunfels, Texas. Get to know some young men who sport cultural signifiers you fear — like pickup trucks, gun racks, and military backgrounds. You’ll find them to be as friendly and civilized as the average coastal resident, just different. And you may come to respect them as much as I do — even though I worked as hard as I could to get away from them when I was young. Your past experience has prejudiced you against a people who in the current reality are your closest and warmest cousins. Bigotry and discrimination have no place in the new America — the President is quite right about that. But his blindness and bigotry toward half the population of his own country is obvious.

Don’t be a bigot. Talk to those people you think you loathe and fear. Come out as an American.


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. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

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.

 


Scott Stantis - Chicago Tribune

Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions

Civil Service rules insulated government employees from political demands, but also made firing the incompetent more difficult. The final barrier to accountability was the addition of another layer of employee empowerment, the public employee union. Private-sector unions are not the enormous political force they once were, but public-sector unions have continued to grow until they now control one of the two US political parties and have driven many state and local governments to near-bankruptcy, with underfunded pension and medical coverage for retirees taking a larger and larger share of local government revenues.

How did we get here? The advent of industrialization and large workplaces encouraged formation of worker associations. Facing a powerful employer, workers that joined in a union could send a message about compensation or working conditions with less fear of individual reprisal. In the United States, the union movement coalesced in the late 1880s, about the same time Wilson and the Progressives were formulating their program to mold the citizenry through government directives and regulation.

Since unions threatened the interests of powerful industrialists and employers, conflict was inevitable. Violence broke out between management and labor forces, with contract security agents (“company men”) from Pinkerton infiltrating and fighting union members during extralegal labor actions. Unions were illegal in some places, and union tactics like picket lines enforced by union violence were met by violence from company goons.

In one incident, the Homestead Steel Strike of 1892, steelworkers union members fought Andrew Carnegie’s Homestead Steel company managed by Henry Clay Frick. Frick intended to break the strike and had hired an army of three hundred Pinkertons to help get strikebreakers into the Pittsburgh-area riverside plant, bypassing the strikers’ picket lines by boat. With both sides armed with guns and thousands of workers and local citizens joining the battle, fighting went on for days, killing nine strikers and seven Pinkertons. Martial law was declared and public opinion turned against the union, resulting in deunionization of most US steel plants.[1]

Union activity was seen as a threat to the social order and unions themselves were feared as introducing “socialist” ideas. Conspiracy to join together to raise pay had been illegal under English law, and US law had followed suit. Many typical union tactics — picket lines and harassment of workers and suppliers trying to get into plants, secondary boycotts, and sabotage of equipment — were illegal. Yet unions could perform a valuable function in communicating worker views to management, and many thoughtful employers were able to work with unions as an outlet for worker grievances.

The Depression and FDR’s New Deal administration brought much more government recognition and support for union activities. The new administration believed overproduction and low prices were the key reason for economic weakness, and so favored controls on agricultural and industrial production to reduce quantities and raise prices — so the administration also supported union activity restricting the entry of low-priced labor and increasing wages for union members. Much New Deal legislation protected and encouraged labor unions, and the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (the “Wagner Act”) guaranteed the right of workers to form unions and bargain collectively in the private sector. Nonunion industries were organized, strikes increased, and wages rose in those sectors. For those left out of unions, notably black men, prospects of employment were diminished, and the economic recovery as a whole is thought to have been delayed by the New Deal’s legalized cartels and restraints on competition.

Clarified rules and legalization of a constrained right to strike under the law defused most of the violence and disorder associated with union activity. Private-sector unions became another accepted part of the American scene, and the big labor union coalitions like the AFL-CIO joined in disavowing Communism to rid themselves of “un-American” associations.

The simplistic narrative of the noble union is usually set in a one-company town, say a coal mine, where workers have little choice of employer, while management is free to take advantage of their monopoly on local employment to gouge and mistreat workers. In a modern urbanized area, these conditions rarely occur, and workers have a choice of employers vying to hire them, which provides a competitive environment that tends to improve compensation and working conditions as productivity increases.

In reality, unions grew powerful where a choke point existed — where a large and expensive plant, fixed rails, or docks prevented re-routing the business activity elsewhere during a strike. Unions did best where workers were low-skilled and interchangeable, and where the workplace could not be moved and had a lot invested in it, or where a government monopoly existed, as in transit and garbage in many cities. Unions could raise worker compensation and write work rules tailored to union preferences in such situations, making the union job preferable to any competitive nonunionized work, with the union as a barrier to entry of new workers — those already in the union got more money and protection from competition who might be willing to take the job for less.

Unions in private industry with free trade and low barriers to entry tend to harm their hosts and eliminate themselves over time as their hosts are crippled by high costs and loss of flexibility. As a result, entire union-dominated US industries were either offshored or automated, and private-sector union employment as a percentage of total private employment has fallen from a peak of around 35% in the mid-1950s to 7% today.[2] Unions are no longer a significant drag on the private sector, and remaining private-sector unions are much more aware of their need to cooperate with company management to produce high-quality, competitive products in a globalized world.

But the dynamics of public sector unions are quite different, and their enormous growth from the mid-1960s until today means the majority of union members now work for government — 35% of government employees are now unionized,[3] and public employee unions are important members of the political coalitions that keep governments in power at all levels. While private-sector unions decline in influence, public-sector unions have never been more powerful. Federal Election Commission statistics show public employee union campaign and PAC contributions grew from $17 million in 1998 to $54 million in 2014, with the vast majority going to Democrats.[4] Public employee unions now dominate election spending for local issues like school board races, city councils, and state-level ballot initiatives affecting their interests. There’s no good source for data on total state and local campaign contributions, but the Federal election numbers show how unions distribute their contributions:

Table 1: Public Sector Unions: Top Contributors to Federal Candidates, Parties, and Outside Groups, 2014 Election Cycle. Source: Open Secrets.org Center for Responsive Politics

 

 

 

To Candidates and Parties

To Outside Spending Groups

Rank

Contributor

Total Contribs

Total

Dem%

Repub%

Total

1

National Education Assn

$24,961,199

$2,183,752

91.1%

8.8%

$22,787,447

2

American Fedn of St/Cnty/Munic Employees

$10,002,495

$2,288,816

99.2%

0.3%

$7,717,155

3

American Federation of Teachers

$4,797,032

$2,484,870

98.8%

0.8%

$2,312,162

4

American Federation of Govt Employees

$4,072,005

$1,019,250

94.3%

5.6%

$3,052,755

5

International Assn of Fire Fighters

$2,184,303

$1,948,946

84.4%

15.6%

$235,357

6

National Assn of Letter Carriers

$2,113,796

$1,688,360

94.9%

4.9%

$425,436

7

American Postal Workers Union

$1,007,341

$988,950

98.8%

1.2%

$18,391

8

National Rural Letter Carriers Assn

$735,500

$735,500

76.8%

23.0%

$0

9

National Treasury Employees Union

$681,550

$631,550

96.1%

3.9%

$50,000

10

National Active & Retired Federal Employees Assn

$441,000

$441,000

75.7%

24.3%

$0

When a private-sector union overplays its hand with a private industry, that industry declines and the goods or services it provides are either imported or are replaced by alternatives. Unfortunately government services are usually monopolies, so there’s no competitor or foreign supplier waiting to provide what they cannot. Public employee union power continues to grow as governments become more dysfunctional as a result.

Civil service employment almost never declines, and monopoly services like public schools, police, and transit are ideal for giving unions more negotiating power via strikes and slowdowns since no alternative service is available in the short term. Wages and benefits can go up consistently without harming the host government, at least up to the point where tax burdens are so high citizens start moving away to less taxed locales.

Public employee unions were not legal in most jurisdictions until the 1960s. Politicians recognized that many public services were too critical to the orderly functioning of cities to allow unions to strike. The Boston Police Strike of 1919 and the resulting outbreaks of looting and violence had turned the public against the idea:

In the Boston Police Strike, Boston police officers went on strike on September 9, 1919. They sought recognition for their trade union and improvements in wages and working conditions. Police Commissioner Edwin Upton Curtis denied that police officers had any right to form a union, much less one affiliated with a larger organization like the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Attempts at reconciliation between the Commissioner and the police officers, particularly on the part of Boston’s Mayor Andrew James Peters, failed.

During the strike, Boston experienced several nights of lawlessness, although property damage was not extensive. Several thousand members of the State Guard, supported by volunteers, restored order. Press reaction both locally and nationally described the strike as Bolshevik-inspired and directed at the destruction of civil society. The strikers were called “deserters” and “agents of Lenin.”

Samuel Gompers of the AFL recognized that the strike was damaging the cause of labor in the public mind and advised the strikers to return to work. Commissioner Curtis refused to re-hire the striking policemen. He was supported by Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge, whose rebuke of Gompers earned him a national reputation. The strike proved a setback for labor unions, and the AFL discontinued its attempts to organize police officers for another two decades. Coolidge won the Republican nomination for vice-president of the U.S. in the 1920 presidential election.[5]

During the New Deal era, FDR famously rejected public employee collective bargaining and strikes while his administration paved the way for further unionization of private industry:

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters. Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.[6]

Both the public and politicians remained opposed to public employee unions for decades after. In 1943, a New York Supreme Court judge held:

To tolerate or recognize any combination of civil service employees of the government as a labor organization or union is not only incompatible with the spirit of democracy, but inconsistent with every principle upon which our government is founded. Nothing is more dangerous to public welfare than to admit that hired servants of the State can dictate to the government the hours, the wages and conditions under which they will carry on essential services vital to the welfare, safety, and security of the citizen. To admit as true that government employees have power to halt or check the functions of government unless their demands are satisfied, is to transfer to them all legislative, executive and judicial power. Nothing would be more ridiculous[7].

The conflicts of interest inherent in giving public employee unions the legal power to organize, collect dues, and wield typical union strategies of withholding labor and attacking the employer (the government, and ultimately the citizenry) are obvious:

The very nature of many public services — such as policing the streets and putting out fires — gives government a monopoly or near monopoly; striking public employees could therefore hold the public hostage. As long-time New York Times labor reporter A. H. Raskin wrote in 1968: “The community cannot tolerate the notion that it is defenseless at the hands of organized workers to whom it has entrusted responsibility for essential services.”

A core problem with public sector unionism is that it creates a uniquely powerful interest group. In theory, bureaucrats are supposed to work for and be accountable to the elected representatives of the people. But suppose those bureaucrats organize into large, well-funded, powerful unions that can tip election results. With very few and very unique exceptions, no workplace in which the employees elect the supervisors functions well for long. [8]

Constitutionally, states were free to allow public employee unions, and the dam of opposition began to burst in the 1950s. In 1958, New York City Mayor Robert Wagner, Jr. issued an executive order authorizing unions and allowing exclusive representation, a concept borrowed from Federal law where employees could vote to authorize a single union to bargain collectively for the employees, even those who chose not to join — and those objectors still had to pay union dues, enshrining the system of enforced contributions that has served to grow public employee unions into political donation powerhouses. Unions had already become powerful enough in New York City politics to win this enforced monopoly, which further entrenched their power.[9] This also was roughly the peak of New York City’s postwar prosperity, and shortly thereafter it began to decline into the crime-infested, decaying New York City of the late 1970s as crime rose and government services faltered, driving prosperous residents to the suburbs.

In 1962, President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10988,[10] permitting collective bargaining for federal employees. This order authorized Federal employees to form unions but continued to disallow strikes; the order was intended to forestall imminent passage of a bill in Congress which would have gone further and allowed exclusive representation, so-called union shops. Military and intelligence agencies were wisely exempted.

Later orders and legislation legalized other typical features of private-sector unions like closed shops, paycheck withholding of dues for all non-management employees, and union work done on time paid for by taxpayers, called “official time”:

Unionized federal employees spent 2.48 million hours working for their labor unions while getting paid by taxpayers during 2013, and more than 360 workers who are on the federal payroll spent 100 percent of their time working for their union.

Under federal rules, employees who are members of a labor union are entitled to so-called “official time,” where they are dismissed from their duties as a government employee to engage in labor union organizing activities. A new report from the Government Accountability Office shows the use of official time has increased over the past several years as the size of the federal workforce has grown.

And it’s costing taxpayers plenty. According to the Office of Personnel Management, which tracks federal employees’ time, federal employees were paid more than $157 million during 2012 while doing work for labor unions.

The GAO says the price tag may be even higher, since some federal agencies are not adequately tracking their employees’ official time.

“Since agencies are most often managing the use of official time using an approach that has no specified number of hours, they could be at greater risk for abuse,” auditors warned in the report, released last week.[11]

Efforts to contract out services currently provided by public employees are effectively blocked by union power, with lawsuits and work actions typical when outsourcing is attempted. When AFSCME workers struck University of California campuses recently, one of their objectives was a contract preventing outsourcing of functions like janitorial and food services. The AFSCME spokesman commented, “We need to deal also with these staffing issues, because what good is a raise if you are permanently injured on the job or if you are out of a job because the UC decided to outsource it to some low-wage, inexperienced contractor?”[12]

Minimum wage laws (first implemented as Federal law in 1938) went well with union efforts to outlaw low-priced competitive labor, especially from newly-arrived Southern black men in Northern cities. (In this, unions played the Bootleggers in a Bootleggers and Baptists coalition to pass minimum wage laws.) By outlawing low-end, low-wage work, minimum wage laws help unionized businesses stay competitive. In the current Democratic push for much higher “living wage” minimum wages of $15/hour, both private and public-sector unions have actively campaigned for the increases since even though most of their members make much more than minimum wage, their wages will tend to be bumped up to some margin above the minimum wage, either by contract or future negotiation, and nonunion firms become less competitive when they are forced to use only higher-priced labor.

The rent-seeking nature of union demands for higher minimum wages was exposed when the same unions also sought carveouts that would allow businesses to pay below minimum wages to union workers under a negotiated contract.[13] This demonstrated that the wages of union members were not as important to union bosses as hobbling their nonunion competition; by offering employers a special deal, unions could organize even more workplaces and thereby obtain more members and more dues, allowing them to donate even more to the local politicians who had passed the minimum wage increase.

Attempts to streamline Federal agencies by contracting out some noncritical services have also been blocked by union actions:

Last May, nearly 250 workers [at the U.S. Department of Labor] received word that their jobs had been eliminated and would be outsourced through the Administrative Support Services Competition, a departmental bidding process, without an absolute guarantee that another job could be found for them within the department. Their union, American Federation of Government Employees Local 12, protested the decision, holding a rally by the Capitol Reflecting Pool in June and pointing out that most of these “non-inherently governmental” jobs (as the department’s human resources staff called them) were held by minorities and women.[14]

Of course the jobs that would have been sent out under contract might well have been filled by minorities and women also, but at much lower cost to taxpayers. Those minorities outside the union walls are just out of luck, since without the protection and sponsorship of the union and its contributions to political campaigns, they will remain jobless. The plantation system lives on, with dues collected by largely white Democratic power brokers.

Education researcher Terry Moe has written about the capture of elected local school boards by teacher’s unions, and the resulting inability of school boards to act in the best interests of students and their parents:

Since A Nation at Risk warned in 1983 of a “rising tide of mediocrity” in America’s schools, the nation has invested heavily in reform efforts to bring about significant improvement—generating countless changes to the laws, programs, structures, and curricula of public education, and spending untold billions of extra dollars.

All this activity might seem to be the sign of a wellfunctioning democracy. But pull away the curtain and the picture is not nearly so pretty: the reforms of the last few decades, despite all the fanfare, have been incremental and weak in practice. The nation is constantly busy with education reforms not because it is responsibly addressing social problems, but because it never actually solves them and they never go away— leading to continuing demands for more reforms. This is what keeps the “education reform era” alive and kicking: not democracy, not responsibility, but failure….

The teachers unions have been masters of the politics of blocking for the past quarter century. Major reform is threatening to their vested interests in the existing system, and they have used their formidable power — leveraged by checks and balances — to repel and weaken the efforts of reformers to bring real change. This is not the whole story of the modern reform era, needless to say. But it is at the heart of it….

The public school system emerged in roughly its present form about 100 years ago, and for most of its history was a union-free zone. Many teachers belonged to the NEA, which, even in the early 1900s, was the vanguard of the education establishment. But the NEA was a professional association controlled by administrators, and it was opposed to unions.

All this changed during the 1960s and 1970s, when most of the states (outside the South) adopted public-sector labor laws. These new legal frameworks fueled dramatic increases in public-sector union membership and collective bargaining. They also triggered a transformation of the NEA, which, in competing with the AFT to represent the nation’s teachers, turned itself into a union—and soon grew to be the biggest union of any type in the country. The portion of teachers covered by collective bargaining soared from near zero in 1960 to 65% in 1978, and the system then settled into a new steady state. Bargaining coverage has remained virtually unchanged among teachers ever since. Membership levels have consistently been much higher, at about 79% and stable.

By the early 1980s, the teachers unions reigned supreme as the most powerful force in American education: with millions of members, armies of political activists, enormous wealth for campaign contributions and lobbying, and more. The rise of union power transformed the world of American public education, creating what amounted to a new education system, one that has been in equilibrium now for roughly thirty years—and protected from change by the very union power that created it….

Collective bargaining is also profoundly important for another reason: it has enabled the unions to impose ineffective forms of organization on the schools, thus exacerbating the very problems the reform movement has been trying to correct. Among other things, local contract provisions tend to include: salary rules that pay teachers based on seniority and formal credits with no attention to performance; seniority rules for transfers and layoffs that allow senior teachers to lay claim to available jobs; onerous rules for evaluation and dismissal that virtually assure that all teachers will get satisfactory evaluations and no one will be dismissed for poor performance; and more.

These and countless other contract rules are designed to promote the job-related interests of teachers, but from the standpoint of effective organization they are simply perverse. Yet this is how America’s schools are actually organized. There is a disconnect between what the public schools are supposed to do and how they are organized to do it—and this disconnect is a built-in feature of the modern American school system, a reflection of its underlying structure of power. Why have the districts “agreed” to ineffective organization? Partly it’s because no district wants a fight, because most work rules don’t cost them anything; and because as monopolies they have had little incentive historically to insist on effective organization anyway. But there is also a crucial political reason: school board members are elected, and the teachers unions are typically the most powerful forces in those local elections. As a result, many board members are union allies, others are reliably sympathetic to collective bargaining, and the rest have reason to fear that, if they cross the unions, their jobs are at stake.[15]

The Wall Street Journal review of Government Against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences by Daniel DiSalvo (who is quoted above as well) had this to say:

Pension and benefit obligations weigh down our cities. Trash disposal in Chicago costs $231 per ton, versus $74 in non-union Dallas. …Mr. DiSalvo [argues] that “unionization and collective bargaining in state and local government impose significant costs on society while providing few broadly shared benefits.” Still, the value in “Government Against Itself” lies not in the conclusion but in the lucid fashion in which his primer lays out facts and busts myths.

The facts: Public-sector unions are not underdogs. Since 2009, membership in unions such as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the National Education Association has totaled more than the membership in traditional private-sector unions. The United Mine Workers, the union that resulted from the Harlan County conflict, counts under 50,000 active members, while the NEA boasts 2.5 million.

As Mr. DiSalvo shows, public-sector unions are also rich. Taken together, they spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually lobbying governments on behalf of their members. Our courts have ensured that funding for political activity will flow in the future by upholding rules that require payments from workers. Opponents of public-sector unions must content themselves with minor victories such as the recent Supreme Court opinion in Harris v. Quinn, which grants home-care workers, a narrow group, the right not to pay union dues….

The very timing of local elections, as Mr. DiSalvo demonstrates, has worked to the unions’ advantage. Towns hold elections in off years as well as presidential-election years. Turnout in off-year municipal elections runs about 36% lower. Unions, which can get out the vote, thus enjoy a disproportionate say in off years and schedule their referendums accordingly. But presidential years can yield results as well. When public-sector unions “pull out all the stops,” Mr. DiSalvo writes, “they almost always win.” By voting for Prop 98—powerfully pushed by the teachers’ union—Californians in 1988 guaranteed that four in 10 dollars of California’s general fund would henceforth be spent on K-12 education. This pattern of victory replicates itself across the states.

The trend is a shame and a drag on the economy. For the costs of public-sector unions are great. “The byproduct of political management of the economy is waste,” the author notes. Second, pension and benefit obligations weigh down our cities. Trash disposal in Chicago costs $231 per ton, versus $74 in non-union Dallas. Increasingly, such a burden is fatal. When Detroit declared bankruptcy in 2013, a full half of the city’s$18.2 billion long-term debt was owed for employee pensions and health benefits. Even before the next downturn, other cities and some states will find themselves faltering because of similarly massive obligations.[16]

While public employees are still forbidden to strike in 39 states[17] and many cities, strikes and illegal job actions still occur, and even where strikes are illegal, threats to monopoly public services are powerful inducements for governments to kick the can down the road and give in to labor demands:

When the government entity bargaining with government employees cannot afford the cost of the union demands, the government increases the fringe benefits, i.e. pensions, and pushes the costs off to the future. The heavily unionized government worker states, including California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York, have the largest unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities. In Wisconsin, public employers from 2000 to 2009 contributed $12.6 billion to public employee pensions while the employees contributed only $55.4 million.

State Budget Solutions examined the Bureau of Labor Statistics Databases and found dramatic evidence of the increases in fringe benefits by state and local governments. The revelation that public employees receive pension and retirement benefits that were worth 337% more than private sector employees is shocking, and illustrates the lengths to which governments will go in bargaining.

Overall, state and local government employees receive total benefits worth 171% more than what public sector employees earn. On an hourly basis, state and local government employees earn an average of $40.28 per hour in total compensation, whereas private sector employees average only $27.75 per hour.

In Milwaukee the average teacher will earn this year $59,500 in salary and $41,591 in benefit for $101,091 in total compensation. The average Milwaukee teacher has a $23,820 health insurance plan with no premium. Contrast that with a private sector employee in Wisconsin, who has a $14,656 insurance plan with a 20% premium. Despite this, last July the teachers union sued when the Milwaukee Public Schools stopped giving free Viagra because it cost the district nearly $800,000 per year and district was facing a deficit. The union just dropped this lawsuit on March 7, 2011.

Just as public sector unions are not concerned with the bottom line, performance is also not valued as it would be in the private sector. For example, Milwaukee School teacher Megan Sampson was laid off less than one week after being named Outstanding First Year Teacher by the Wisconsin Council of Teachers. She was laid off because the collective bargaining agreement requires layoffs to be made based on seniority rather than merit.

Government unions don’t bargain with the taxpayers who pay the bills. When teachers go on strike, they pay no penalty when their absence forces schools to close. Adding insult to injury to taxpayers, their actions force parents to either take time off work or quickly find someone else to care for their children. Also, unlike private sector unions, a government union has a natural monopoly over government services. This monopoly gives government union leaders extraordinary power over elected officials.

Most government unions would not exist without forced union dues. One of the first things government union leaders bargain for is a “union security” clause, which forces all government employees in the unit to pay for union services as a condition of employment. If a government employee works in a state with a “union security” clause, the individual must pay tribute to the union or they will be fired.

The money the government unions collect in dues helps to elect politicians who support the unions’ objectives. Government unions play a major role in electing their management team! In essence, government unions have a seat on both sides of the bargaining table. The U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that there is no “right” to collective bargaining. Collective bargaining for government employees makes them “super citizens” and the rest of the taxpayers are relegated to second-class status.

Today, the number of unionized government workers surpasses the number of unionized private sector workers. As a result, national unions have become advocates for higher taxes and government expansion, despite the fact that many of their private sector members oppose these efforts.

In the last election at the national level, government unions spent more than $200 million to defeat Republican candidates. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees — the main union of state government employees — spent over $90 million during the campaign, and it was the top donor to the Democrats’ efforts to win gubernatorial and state legislative races.

As a result, the Democratic Party is now heavily reliant on unions and forced political contributions from their members. Unions help elect Democrats who repay the unions with more pay and benefits, many of which are unfunded. In effect, government unions elect their “management,” who in turn can forcibly extract more money from taxpayers to increase wages and benefits. Government officials can promise pensions and retiree health care benefits that future taxpayers will have to fund. This, in turn, sucks jobs from the private sector by forcing businesses to pay higher taxes….[18]

Local and State government employee compensation

Local and State government employee compensation

Public vs Private-Sector compensation costs

Public vs Private-Sector compensation costs

The high direct costs of unionization hurt, but the inability of governments to implement changes to improve service quality hurts more. Incompetent or even criminal employees are protected (as we have seen in the VA and IRS scandals) and attempts to put services online are either absurdly expensive, complete failures, or both (as millions who waited for the Healthcare.gov web site to sign up for ACA health insurance can testify.)

At every level, government grows less competent and more expensive as a result of the rigidities imposed by Civil Service and union rules. As public-sector unions came to dominate the Democratic party, Republicans have made gains in state and local elections partly due to the public’s perception of corruption and special interests:

This leaves us with a superficially ironic situation. The Republican Party emerges as the organised champion of everyone who stands to lose in the fight over the fisc when public-sector unions win. The GOP’s base electoral incentive to hobble their rival’s main source of campaign cash and voter mobilisation leads it to function as a countervailing force against overpowered public-sector unions to the benefit of rich people, yes, but also to the benefit of less powerful and more needy constituencies within the Democratic coalition. A bit of public-employee union busting at the state and municipal level wouldn’t leave government workers vulnerable. There’s every reason to believe they’d continue to function as a powerful, pampered political faction. Pushback against public-sector unions would simply make the always-unfair fight over the fiscal commons slightly less unfair, and make fiscally prudent policy slightly less unlikely.[19]

Looming unfunded liabilities and fiscal issues are creating crisis conditions in several local US governments, notably in the bankruptcy of Detroit and problems in Illinois and its major city, Chicago. Puerto Rico has run out of time, and other states and cities have only a few years before they reach the same dead end. Efforts to reform pensions have largely been blocked by union lawsuits, and the downward spiral of higher taxes, fleeing taxpayers, and bankrupt governments is coming to more and more of the US.

Reform of the system is difficult — it is always easier to patch problems temporarily than to address the underlying structure of incentives that have caused them. But it will now be necessary to either reform public employee labor rules or let whole regions, and even the Federal government, slip into default and shut down some services entirely. The recent water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, is a harbinger of the type of regression to incompetence that is coming unless something is done.

The goal should be a single system that both protects employees from direct political retribution and allows managers to hire, fire, and rearrange workers as needed. Public-sector workers should lose their jobs at about the same rate as private-sector workers, and sinecures must be eliminated. And public-sector unions should not have their dues withheld from paychecks, or be allowed to contribute to election campaigns or lobbying efforts. Plato saw the corruption inherent in government employees dealing in property and business, and having tenured public servants is an invitation for them to act against the public interest to choose their own managers — which is how school boards became vehicles for protecting bad teachers and shutting out the interests of students and parents. “A tenure system increases [a] bureaucrat’s incentive to implement bad policies to replace a politician who does not share their preferences. Thus, tenure tends to make bureaucrat’s performance worse, and this tends to lower [total] welfare.”[20]

No one directly selling to a government body should be making campaign contributions to the politicians that run it, and retiring from public service to a high-salaried lobbying job should also be seen as the shameful double-dealing it is. Glenn Reynolds’ proposal of a Revolving Door Tax is one idea for shutting down this scam. The money that needs to be taken out of politics comes from public employees and corporate contractors to government, not contributions from private individuals and unregulated corporate sources.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestead_Strike
[2] “Union Membership in U.S. Fell to a 70-Year Low Last Year,” by Steven Greenhouse, New York Times, Jan 21, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/22/business/22union.html
[3] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm
[4] https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/contrib.php?cycle=2016&ind=P04
[5] “Boston Police Strike,” Wikipedia accessed 4-21-2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Police_Strike
[6] “112 – Letter on the Resolution of Federation of Federal Employees Against Strikes in Federal Service,” Franklin D. Roosevelt, August 16, 1937. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15445
[7] “The Trouble with Public Sector Unions.” Daniel DiSalvo, National Affairs No. 5, Fall 2010.
http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-trouble-with-public-sector-unions
[8] “The Trouble with Public Sector Unions.” Daniel DiSalvo, National Affairs No. 5, Fall 2010.
http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-trouble-with-public-sector-unions
[9] “Management’s View of the New York City Experience,” Anthony C. Russo, Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science, Vol. 30, No. 2, Unionization of Municipal Employees (Dec., 1970), pp. 81-93
http://www.jstor.org/stable/1173366?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
[10] “Executive Order 10988 – Employee-Management Cooperation in the Federal Service,” January 17, 1962.
http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=58926
[11] “Labor union work by federal employees on ‘official time’ costs taxpayers millions,” by Eric Boehm, Watchdog.org, November 24, 2014

Labor union work by federal employees on ‘official time’ costs taxpayers millions

[12] “UC Workers Union Plans to Strike Again,” AFSCME Local 3299 web site, February 19, 2014

UC Workers Union Plans to Strike Again

[13] “L.A. labor leaders seek minimum wage exemption for firms with union workers,” LA Times, May 27, 2015
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-los-angeles-minimum-wage-unions-20150526-story.html
[14] “Pushing Back Against Privatization,” The American Prospect, August 1, 2007
http://prospect.org/article/pushing-back-against-privatization
[15] “Teachers Unions, Vested Interests, and America’s Schools,” Terry M. Moe
http://www.hillsdale.edu/file/outreach/free-market-forum/archives/2013/Terry-Moe.pdf
[16] “Public Unions vs. the Public,” Amity Shlaes. Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 2015. http://www.wsj.com/articles/book-review-goverment-against-itself-by-daniel-disalvo-1421366405
[17] “Why Public-Sector Strikes Are So Rare,” Governing, by Heather Corrington, Oct. 10, 2012
http://www.governing.com/topics/public-workforce/col-why-public-sector-strikes-are-rare.html
[18] “Differences between private sector unions and government unions,” State Budget Solutions, March 23, 2011
http://www.statebudgetsolutions.org/publications/detail/differences-between-private-sector-unions-and-government-unions
[19] “Budgets and bargaining power: Government workers don’t need unions,” The Economist,
Feb 7, 2011
http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2011/02/budgets_and_bargaining_power
[20] “Civil Service Reform,” Gergely Ujhelyi, Dept. of Economics, U Houston. Nov. 26, 2012
ftp://ftp.repec.org/opt/ReDIF/RePEc/hou/wpaper/201303216.pdf


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. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

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

Trump World: Looking Backward

Cover: A Canticle for Leibowitz

Cover: A Canticle for Leibowitz

The children ask how we got here, and I try to explain, though so much has changed that my stories only lead to more questions — “What’s a news network?”, “How did people live without augments?”

We had a Republic, once, and it was wildly successful. That attracted more people from all over the world seeking freedom and work. It was freedom that let new industries grow unchecked by jealous rivals, but over time citizens sought shelter from the rigors of a free market and elected more regulation-prone politicians who tried to soften all the hard edges. Finally we reached a time so advanced that children were supposed to grow up without any challenges, to be deemed special and successful without any accomplishments, and the resulting adults became childlike in wanting to silence any voices that disagreed with them.

The world as a whole had benefitted from the opening of closed Communist countries and free trade, with the costs of transport and communication declining rapidly. The boom in emerging economies lifted billions of people out of grinding poverty, the greatest improvement in world living standards the world had ever seen, and increasing wealth and freedom defused the Malthusian fears of overpopulation and resource depletion of the previous decades. But the competition destroyed the protected world of US unskilled workers, who had gotten used to living well after WWII destroyed most of the manufacturing plants of Europe and Asia.

“The Sound of Silence” was a famous Simon and Garfunkel song, written in the 1960s to protest the conformity of an earlier era — the 1950s — when broad consensus and the limited number of mass media options stifled outlier opinions. Capitalism broke that mold, when “outrageous” ideas and lifestyles could be marketed and make money. Selling rebellion was big business.

The Internet seemed to end the constraints on opinion, but a new sound of silence appeared when its two-way nature allowed crowds to join together to silence expression of ideas they found threatening. People lost their jobs because of one errant tweet, and politicians found it useful to stoke the flames of envy and resentment to gain votes. A new victim cult appeared, seeing racism and sexism in every element of US life, and command of the cult’s lexicon enabled entry to academic and government positions.

The left-behind grew angry, and simmered in disability payments and painkilling drugs while they saw their children discriminated against by the gateway institutions built by their forebears. They had supported the growth of the Federal government through costly wars and the building of a social safety net, only to be left out and denigrated by their ruling class. Federal agencies were taken over by progressives and affirmative-action hires, and wasted time and resources shuffling reports and holding grand meetings to write about working toward solving problems that barely existed while neglecting their core functions. The levels of incompetence tolerated grew and grew, until civil service employees could hold their jobs after being absent for years or being discovered spending most of their time viewing Internet porn. Major new government programs and projects failed and billions of dollars were wasted without consequence, those responsible for the failures being promoted to further damage the private economy by ruling from Washington.

The new media were staffed by college graduates who had been subjected to progressive indoctrination, and rarely questioned what government sources told them. And how could they, since time had been sped up and in the Internet age, stopping to investigate original sources that might disagree would only bury their story in tomorrow’s old news?

Trump appeared after two decades of Washington-centered rule by two factions of the same technocratic party. He gained the support of the dispossessed by voicing their resentments, long suppressed by the bien pensant. His supporters were so tired of being told their feelings were incorrect and didn’t matter that they failed to notice that Trump had no fixed beliefs of his own, other than winning.

And win he did, up against Hillary Clinton, who everyone knew was a habitual liar and corrupt influence-peddler. After she was nearly indicted for her negligent handling of secret information, Trump the bully won the election handily despite the rioting in major cities and the crashing stock market.

Thoughtful observers saw this as a test of the Founders’ three-branch design. In theory, the checks and balances and separation of powers between the three branches of government would limit the damage he might do. In practice, previous administrations had accreted so much power in the office of President that Trump was able to run roughshod over good government concerns.

Trump terrorized the agencies and the civil service bureaucracy. His bully-boys formed a shadow organization which intimidated any civil servant who dared stand against him — his friends in the Mafia proved useful in extralegal persuasion. If regulations got in Trump’s way, they were rewritten. Favored people and corporations found their way smoothed, while others who failed to support him were blocked and gutted. In that, he was only a few degrees worse than his predecessor, but the collapsing private economy provided no alternative routes for survival. Almost everyone knuckled under to wait for better days.

The doctors grumbled when they were drafted to serve in the new Trump Medical Corps, but after their licenses were pulled when they refused, they fell into line. Trump took over hospital chains by eminent domain and staffed them with uniformed Corps personnel; he had personally overseen the design of the new uniforms, gold braid trim and all. Federal medical costs were cut by 50% as salaries fell and procedures deemed too costly were outlawed. The upper crustaceans, of course, joined new luxury practices and went to private hospitals, as they always had. Medical school enrollments dropped and quality of the applicants fell, as it became clear doctoring would no longer be a high-status occupation. Research on new drugs evaporated when the primary source of drug profits, the US, joined the rest of the world in controlling their prices.

Apple’s new iPhone assembly factory opened in south Texas, and their mostly-immigrant assemblers tried to duplicate the quality of the phones built by contractor facilities in China that had taken decades to develop. The US-assembled phones cost $200 more and failed more often, but Apple made the transition successfully since all of their competitors were similarly hobbled. And by opening their own manufacturing plant, they instantly reached the better employee diversity numbers they had been pretending to strive for for years.

The Chinese and Russians were relieved when Trump was elected — someone they could deal with without any unpredictable concerns with human rights to interfere. Deals were struck and trade managed. For awhile this seemed to work, though the people of Hong Kong and Ukraine felt abandoned as they lost their remaining independence. The EU collapsed in disorder as internal divisions and new migrations overwhelmed their governments.

And so it was that the opportunity society became the are-you-with-Trump society. Bribery came back with a vengeance. Inequality decreased, but only because more people were poor. The world economy had stalled, and grew worse as Trump’s new tariffs and trade barriers decreased world trade. The Chinese people grew restless when their standard of living began to drop, and the Chinese leadership started warring on neighbors to distract their people.

And that’s what I tell the kids. We came here to be safe, to guard our traditions, and to last through these times. The radiation is better now, and our growing huts get more sunlight than in those lean years right after. We have a good stock of electronics, drugs, and solar panels, and our store of knowledge and technology is intact. It’s safe enough to go outside for days at a time, and soon we will be able to travel to meet with others who survive.

We’ve had all the time in the world to teach our children where we went wrong. I’m hopeful that this time they’ll get it right.


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. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

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