Education

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

Click to access 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

Sons of Liberty vs. National Front

Sons of Liberty

Sons of Liberty

[First published on Sarah Hoyt’s blog 3-7-2016, with excellent comments]

I’ve tried to concentrate on the next book, but events conspire to suck me into the current mess re Trump. Like a lot of observers, so long as he was a sideshow I could see his almost-daily newsmaking as colorful and perhaps useful in allowing others to speak more freely some of the things that needed to be spoken. By doing so he was expanding the Overton Window and giving a voice to sentiments held by large segments of the population that had been suppressed by the MSM, like nativism and the desire to see immigration laws enforced.

But he’s primarily a demagogue who tells the formerly voiceless what they want to hear and promises to defend them against the dangers the privileged “respectable” politicians want to cover up while they continue business as usual — managing the decline of the over-regulated economy and spending the tax money of citizens to bring in new dependent populations who will presumably vote to keep them in place. Having mined this vein of formerly-voiceless anger at the sale of their country to outsiders, Trump has used it to gain the lead in the Republican race despite having no apparent grasp of most policy issues and some frighteningly authoritarian instincts. He has been called a Jacksonian man on a horse, which has some resonance with Osama bin Laden’s remark: “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.” Trump’s rise has opportunistic pols and job-seekers endorsing him as a strong horse who can take charge.

The US was founded by several different groups from diverse parts of Britain, and greatly expanded by immigration from Europe. There was no control over immigration — everyone was welcome to pay their own way here, try to survive and fit in, succeed or fail as their abilities and luck allowed. Many returned to their native lands, but most worked hard and helped to settle the land, build the railroads, and grow the cities. In the mid-1800s, just before the Civil War, large numbers of Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Italy flooded Eastern cities and were seen as a threat. The Know-Nothing Party gained power in some Northern cities on a platform of controlling immigration of Catholics, who were thought to be culturally unsuited to freedom and likely to take commands from their corrupt and foreign Pope. Riots between Catholics and Know-Nothings erupted; 22 died in a riot in Louisville, Kentucky before a contested election.

Lincoln needed the support of the remaining Know-Nothings in the election of 1856, when Republicans began to pick up Know Nothing support to oppose the Democrats who supported slavery. But in a private letter, he said:

I am not a Know-Nothing — that is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.’ When it comes to that I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

These nativist movements were defused by the tensions over slavery and the approaching Civil War, and the Know-Nothing Party faded after 1856. Irish took over the police forces of most Northern cities, and Democratic political machines used the Irish and Italian immigrants as a base to take over most big city governments. Over generations, these supposedly bloc-voting groups splintered, and the rough and ready disciplines of capitalist employment encouraged integration.

Immigration began to be restricted after a flood of Chinese workers to the West. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 which targeted a single ethnic group by specifically limiting further Chinese immigration. In 1907, a “Gentleman’s Agreement” with the Japanese government limited visas for immigration from Japan. Restrictions on the number of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe were imposed in 1924, and in 1932-33 immigration was nearly shut off. Local and state authorities, assisted by Hoover’s and then FDR’s Labor Department, coerced repatriation and deportation of between 500,000 and 2 million Mexican Americans, mostly citizens, in the Mexican Repatriation.

In 1965 the immigration law was rewritten, with tight quotas for Eastern and Western hemispheres. Separately, “family class” immigrants were favored outside of the quota system, so one immigrant could settle then sponsor others, who sponsored others, and so forth, allowing entire culturally foreign communities to immigrate over time to create enclaves — which slowed integration into American culture. While intended to be humane, family class preferences did not choose the immigrants that would be most likely to be valuable additions to the country and its economy.

In recent years, immigration has become a political third rail. One side views the US as “social worker to the world” — just as they see it as the duty of government to supply housing, food, and healthcare for poor people in the US, they see a moral duty to accept poor people from around the world, especially refugees from war-torn countries. The other side is partly motivated by the remaining nativist impulse — keep the special privileges of being a citizen for current citizens and deny outsiders work and social welfare spending to preserve these benefits for natives.

As a part-time economist, I support free trade generally, and would like to see a reformed immigration policy that takes advantage of the attractiveness of the US to recruit the best of the immigrant candidates. The current system blocks the immigrants most ready to contribute and tolerates illegals from Mexico and points south. The US loses many highly-beneficial immigrants to Canada and Australia and other countries that are less difficult about legal immigration for the high-skilled, and allows in large numbers who are unskilled and likely to be dependent on social welfare services for at least two generations. The H-1B visas enable employers to take advantage of highly skilled immigrants and use their low salaries to keep down the salaries of US citizen engineers and scientists. The system is rotten from top to bottom and badly needs a thorough reform.

It’s also important that those new immigrants accept the guiding principles of the Constitution and quickly integrate into the polity of free individuals and voluntary associations that allows the US to contain multiple religions and cultures to the benefit of all. There is nothing wrong with screening immigrant candidates for beliefs inconsistent with the principles of Americanism — specifically that no government will enact into law specific religious precepts. Thus devout Muslims who are Islamists (believe government must be Islamic and implement Sharia law) should be barred. It is not a violation of any citizen’s rights to ask all candidates for citizenship to pledge to uphold the Constitution and refrain from working to impose their beliefs on others. This point of view would have been seen as mainstream as little as one generation ago, but now is considered politically incorrect by our coastal ruling class.

Donald Trump’s rise is due to the backlash from the bipartisan failure to do anything about the failure of immigration policy. His promise to build a wall and deport the millions of Mexican illegals is viewed as outrageous by the same Democrats who idolize FDR — that heroic New Deal president who started Euro-style social insurance schemes, continued deportation of as many as 2 million Mexicans (some of them legal citizens), refused most Jewish refugees, and interned over 110,000 Japanese-origin US citizens during World War II. Trump’s suggested immigration and trade policies closely resemble FDR’s!

We the People - by Sarah Hoyt

We the People – by Sarah Hoyt

Trump has opened up discussion and encouraged speech from reasonable nativists, but also from formerly muzzled white supremacists and bigots of all kinds. His appeal is similar to the National Front in France: he has attracted nativists and middle and lower class people who have felt shut out by “respectable” social democratic parties. To analyze the commenters of a blog which shall go unlinked, responding to Sarah Hoyt:

[Sarah Hoyt] “Whether we were born elsewhere or here, Americans — those of us who are proud of the name — are rebels, revolutionaries, something new under the sun: a people who believe people should be equal in their right to life, the right to liberty, the right to pursue their happiness undisturbed by either inimical neighbors or oppressive “betters.””

Equality and Egalite are French Enlightenment abstractions designed to finish off the last of the Church, and to rationalize the totalitarian impulses and actions of The Mob . . . people like Sarah Hoyt.

Equality is a satanic concept and provides, in practice, the exact opposite of equity and fairness. Without ‘equality’ people like Sarah Hoyt don’t become successful, much less famous. They become instead what they merit, which isn’t much. They damn well know it, too, which is why they’re so full of vitriol — afraid of losing their vast, unearned privileges. Which they are going to lose, anyway.

Equality, like Women’s ‘liberation’, permits Sarah and her fellow traitors to crush their betters — yes, they DO have betters, and boy do they HATE HATE that — and take over nations under cover of helping the downtrodden and oppressed’. That’d Themselves and their friends, in case you’ve been asleep the past half-century.

Think you have Equality? Sistahood Sarah threatens to punch a mere male, and will not be punished if she does. Try punching Little Miss Virtue Signal and see what happens.

Liars and cowards selling their popular, self-serving lies, while patting themselves on the back for being Brave Rebels who are standing up to The Evil (non-existent) Patriarchy.

This is an interesting mix of “truthiness” and bigotry. Sarah is American by belief and choice, accused of being a “traitor” by people who think their ancestry and presence on the landmass of the US since birth make them guardians of the US nation-state. Aside from the incoherence (how can she be a traitor if she is not a member of the tribe?), the commenter attempts to other her by lumping her in with the virtue-signalling SJWs.

This commenter is sadly unAmerican in his resort to racist and sexist issue framing, completely misapplied to Sarah Hoyt. It’s unfortunate that the loud outpourings of these people, few in number but egging each other on in the fever swamps of sites like this blog-which-shall-go-unlinked, can so easily be used by progressive scribblers elsewhere to tar all dissenters from the Progressive program of thought control as racists, misogynists, and neo-Nazis (or worse!)

Which brings up a valid point these people have made: if Americanism is a bundle of individualist beliefs and attitudes, what about those with deep roots in the US, born and raised for generations there, who don’t accept those beliefs? If tolerance of difference is a watchword, then should those who don’t tolerate differences be suppressed or removed?

Our answer starts with looking at how we got to this point, where government has expanded and encroached on the private sphere of business and social organizations to the point where private action is viewed with suspicion, and a significant percentage of the population believes democracy means subjecting every action of business to the political process and regulation.

Americans were formerly known for their commitment to private charity and self-help organizations; the America of Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835 teemed with churches and private social organizations and lacked the inherited privilege and concentrations of unearned wealth and power seen in Europe. But he worried that “… a despotism under a democracy could see ‘a multitude of men’, uniformly alike, equal, ‘constantly circling for petty pleasures’, unaware of fellow citizens, and subject to the will of a powerful state which exerted an ‘immense protective power’. Tocqueville compared a potentially despotic democratic government to a protective parent who wants to keep its citizens as ‘perpetual children’, and which doesn’t break men’s wills but rather guides [them], and presides over people in the same way as a shepherd looking after a ‘flock of timid animals’. He also wrote that ‘The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.'”

He was prescient. We have arrived at that state. Half the US population believes they are victims of the “malefactors of great wealth” demonized by FDR; FDR’s experiment in Democratic Socialism was derailed by his own nominally Democratic-controlled Congress by 1938, but enough remained of his expanded regulation of business and greatly-increased size of the Federal government to send the US down the road to permanent bureaucracy and a Deep State that constantly seeks to expand its power and resources. Eisenhower warned of the “Military-Industrial Complex,” but it’s no longer just defense contractors in league with Congress to pork-barrel spend, it’s a much larger group of special interests influencing legislation and regulation to give themselves protection from competition as well as direct access to public money. As governments have increased their control of all sectors of the economy, growth has slowed, prices have risen, and young people have found themselves in debt to an education complex which graduates them with few useful skills, then forces them to buy health insurance at higher-than-market prices to subsidize wealthier old people.

Americans are largely still believers in the principles of Americanism — live and let live, equality under the law, free enterprise, and a civil society that ideally doesn’t discriminate by color or sex. But several generations of public schools, originally introduced on a Prussian model and intended to mold a population to more uniformly accept direction as cogs in a military-industrial machine, have weakened their resistance to collectivist thought. The Wikipedia entry on the Prussian education system says:

Early 19th-century American educators were also fascinated by German educational trends. In 1818, John Griscom gave a favorable report of Prussian education. English translations were made of French philosopher Victor Cousin’s work, Report on the State of Public Education in Prussia. Calvin E. Stowe, Henry Barnard, Horace Mann, George Bancroft and Joseph Cogswell all had a vigorous interest in German education. The Prussian approach was used for example in the Michigan Constitution of 1835, which fully embraced the Prussian system by introducing a range of primary schools, secondary schools, and the University of Michigan itself, all administered by the state and supported with tax-based funding. However, e.g. the concepts in the Prussian reforms of primordial education, Bildung and its close interaction of education, society and nation-building are in conflict with some aspects of American state-sceptical libertarian thinking.

In 1843, Horace Mann traveled to Germany to investigate how the educational process worked. Upon his return to the United States, he lobbied heavily to have the “Prussian model” adopted. In 1852, Mann was instrumental in the decision to adopt the Prussian education system in Massachusetts. Governor Edward Everett of Massachusetts instituted a mandatory education policy based on the system.[33] Mann persuaded his fellow modernizers, especially those in the Whig Party, to legislate tax-supported elementary public education in their states. New York state soon set up the same method in 12 different schools on a trial basis. Most northern states adopted one version or another of the system he established in Massachusetts, especially the program for “normal schools” to train professional teachers.

Americans were especially impressed with the Prussian system when they set up normal schools to train teachers, because they admired the German emphasis on social cohesion. By the 20th century, however, the progressive education movement emphasized individuality and creativity more and opted for a less European-inspired curriculum and lower social cohesion and uniformity. The Progressives faced a major setback with the Sputnik crisis, which led again to more focus on quality education and selectiveness of the school system. The derogatory use of the term may contrast 19th-century pedagogy (see the poisonous pedagogy debate in Germany) with the introduction of new technology into classrooms during the Information Age. While Joel Rose appreciates Horace Mann’s commitment to a public education but is aiming at renewing how to deliver it, authors like Conservative Party of New York State activist John Taylor Gatto and further home-schooling activist Sheldon Richman claim that illiteracy rates in the USA were lower before compulsory schooling was introduced.

Those “normal schools” to train educators are a primary source of the substandard teachers of today, taken from the bottom third of college applicants and trained to promote “correct” social thinking. Big city schools, especially, are run for the benefit of union teachers and not the students. Parents get little or no choice in their children’s education, children get limited instruction, and disciplinary problems detract from study.

But even in the better districts, a uniform Progressive ideology has gradually been impressed on the students. The elementary teaching generation after World War II was still fairly high-quality, and many bright young women went into it as a caring career which would allow children and family interruptions. The advent of both expanded professional opportunities for women and social pressure to go after higher-paid professional careers removed many of the most-competent people from elementary school teaching, and the newer generations of teachers have been trained to promote social ideals over knowledge, with less time for Western classics, civics and history, science, and economics, and more time for environmentalism and “corrective” diversity training. As a result, graduating students, while more sophisticated in some areas, lack the basic knowledge of government and history needed for American citizenship. They have been trained in Progressive ideals, including the notion that passing a new law can address every social problem.

Another import from Bismarck’s Germany: State Socialism. Bismarck set up the basic social welfare state as we know it, with state health insurance, pension, and disability programs, in the 1880s. Social Security was FDR’s similar effort to defuse the tide of full socialism in the Depression; by borrowing from the future, it could provide state support for the elderly at seemingly little current cost in payroll taxes.

These efforts to protect and provide for citizens via state programs have enfeebled private efforts to save and enter mutual support agreements. Half the population now believes they are owed a good job and a living through government action. Politicians speak about “creating jobs” as if that is their proper role, interest groups unashamedly lobby for more subsidies for their particular interest from the money tree of tax receipts and government borrowing, and the common political response to high-priced and low-quality housing in the coastal cities is public housing subsidies, rent controls, and “inclusionary zoning” (the requirement to build “affordable” housing as part of every market-rate project.) All of which drive down supply and increase costs further.

Many people see what’s happened and have tried to sound the alarm. But dissent from the program has been suppressed for decades. And now we have Trump and others feeding off the anger of those who have suffered under a system which rewards the connected and wealthy at the expense of the hard-working, blue-collar citizens not enjoying privileged coastal lifestyles. Our politics has suffered from the sound of silence — the supposed racist and sexist origins of all anti-Progressive efforts, the Conventional Wisdom of the mass media which filters out anything nonmainstream, the gradual corruption of the academy by government funding and directives.

The antidote to this encroaching tribal collectivism is electing representatives willing to return focus to the core function of government — defense, justice, and enforcement of contracts. Returning power to decisionmakers closer to the decision — state and local governments and private citizens — reduces the rewards of corruption and empowers the people to take responsibility for their own and their children’s welfare. Education should be funded by parents and local associations, not mega-school districts and Federal bureaucrats. Parental desires for their children’s upbringing should be respected.

What should not be respected are the non-American “isms” — belief systems incompatible with the Constitutionally limited government that made the US the desirable place to live for productive people. Racism, sexism, classism, Communism, Socialism, etc., should never be tolerated in the action of law. Dividing up citizens by skin color and tribe and doling out affirmative action rewards to the favored may have been justified for one generation, but now create more division than they alleviate. Islamists and other religionists who believe that government should enforce their religious laws even without the consensus of other citizens should never gain a foothold in our politics.

There will always be people living in America who disagree with one or more aspects of Americanism. If they follow our laws and support themselves, the US can accommodate some number of them short of a majority. But we should seek to screen them out when they apply for immigration, and refuse to support them with welfare payments and subsidies. If they find it more comfortable to live in a country that supports their beliefs, they should move there. And we are under no obligation to associate with them, employ them, or be kind to them.

As Sam Adams said on August 1st, 1776: “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”


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