job hunting

Tom Woods Commenter Dialog: “Death by HR”

[Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations]

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Recruiter –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://www.fastcompany.com/30…

      http://www.theatlantic.com/bus…

      http://fortune.com/2015/04/02/…

       

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Jeb Kinnison

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

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

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

           


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

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

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

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

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

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


More reading:

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

The Tom Woods Show, Episode 817: “Death by HR”

[Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations]

The Tom Woods podcast on Death by HR is here, and on Youtube here. We ran overtime a bit, but aside from editing out some lapses and timechecks, they ran almost all of our discussion.

I invented a new term, “reverse regulatory capture,” to describe how HR culture has generally come to accept the attitudes of the progressive regulators and labor lawyers toward much of their work. One of my editors told me when I used “Stockholm Syndrome” to describe the phenomenon that many readers would not understand what that term meant — here’s an explanation. Often used when talking about Patty Hearst, the heiress kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974 who adopted the revolutionary name Tania and participated in bank robberies with them. Responding to someone who holds power over you by first pretending to adopt their values to avoid punishments, and eventually coming to truly believe them. HR has complied with government enforcement so long that its thinkers and educational programs have adopted the progressive values of the regulators.

I took his introductory comments as a blurb for the book:

“Interesting, cutting, incisive book about what’s really going on in HR departments in companies across the country.” — Tom Woods, senior fellow of the Mises Institute and host of The Tom Woods Show


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

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

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

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

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

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


More reading:

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

Death by HR: Audio Introduction

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,]

The Tom Woods podcast will be doing a segment on Death by HR tomorrow, and when they send me the link I’ll put it up here so my readers can listen. I wasn’t familiar with his extensive writings or his career, but it’s impressive as seen in his Wikipedia entry. His current web site is here, and his podcast show is popular — old episodes are here. He’s closely associated with Peter Schiff and has him on frequently as a guest, and he recently started the Contra Krugman podcast — which uses the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s partisan writings on economics and current affairs as a foil to discuss more realistic economic ideas.

I enjoyed our discussion and was gratified that he supports the book. I did a practice segment a few days ago that turned out well enough that I’m posting it as a good short introduction to me as the author and the ideas in the book. Tom’s interview segment will be 15 minutes or so, and directed to a few areas of interest, so the focus is different — there’s not too much overlap.

So enjoy and pass on the audio of Jeb Kinnison introducing “Death by HR.”


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

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

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

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

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

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


More reading:

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

“Death by HR” Released as Audiobook

Death by HR Audiobook Cover

“Death by HR” Audiobook Cover

After much work with narrator Joe Farinacci (who did such a good job with Avoidant) the Amazon/Audible audiobook of Death by HR is finally for sale at these links:

Amazon
Audible

“Death by HR” – High Tech Threatened by Social Justice Activists

Fantasy Gains from Inclusion (Intel Corporation)

Fantasy Gains from Inclusion (Intel Corporation)

But pressure to hire more minorities and women in tech has existed at least since Jesse Jackson’s first run at it in 1999.[1] Why is resistance crumbling almost twenty years later?

First, today’s high tech is more software than hardware, with a new generation of executives more willing to appease the activists. Most people in the industry want to be sure women and minorities are fairly treated and feel welcomed, and the networked activists can quickly trash your public image if you cross them. So appeasing donations and lip service are the most common responses by today’s execs.

Another new factor is the hardcore third-wave feminists and “critical race theory”-trained products of academia that are making activism their life’s work. Many college students are adopting the victim culture and identities as protectors of the weak—women, plus transgender and all the other flavors of other. These newer, mostly upper-class-academic activists are besieging the older engineer-dominated companies as well as the new software giants. The culture wars, where activists infiltrate one cultural area after another then try to demonize and expel any conservatives that remain, have reached the gates of high tech.

“Gamergate” was a skirmish in the culture war; computer gaming companies with corrupt relationships to game-reviewing magazines and sites came under fire from gamers, and a full-scale battle between social justice activists and gamers who wanted their games built for fun and not political correctness began. There were well-publicized nasty trolling tactics on all sides (though the activists had more friends in the media to promote their story), and at one point the gamergaters persuaded many advertisers to cancel ads in the offending publications. Intel cancelled some of their ad support, then was subjected to activist attacks. To defuse the issue, Intel pledged $300 million to activist groups.[2] Shortly thereafter, Intel cancelled its sponsorship of the (merit-based) Science Talent Search and cut budgets in research and administration by… $300 million.[3]

Online swarming now results in censorship of speech disagreeing with these activists. One article was withdrawn by Forbes online after activist swarming because it denied that diversity in high tech was a problem. This was an instance of kafkatrapping, a mechanism for repressing all contrary thought by labelling anyone who speaks it as racist, sexist, or homophobic — your denial of base motives for disagreement with the activist point of view means you are what you deny, and your speech is hate speech to be suppressed.[4] Badthink must be stamped out so that Goodthink will prevail. The article in question was so extreme:

Repeat after me: there is no “diversity crisis” in Silicon Valley. None. In fact, there is no crisis at all in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is doing absolutely gangbusters. Apple has $200 billion in cash reserves and equivalents—and a market valuation of about $630 billion. Amazing. Facebook now garners a billion daily users. This is a nearly unfathomable number. Google is worth nearly $450 billion and has $70 billion in cash on hand.

This is not a crisis. Silicon Valley is swimming in money and in success. Uber is valued at around $50 billion. Companies like Airbnb are remaking travel and lodging. Intel is moving forward into the global Internet of Things market. South Korea’s Samsung just opened a giant R&D facility in the heart of Silicon Valley. Google and Facebook are working to connect the entire world. Netflix is re-making how we consume entertainment.

Silicon Valley is home to the next phase of the global auto industry. Fintech and biotech are transforming banking and medicine. The success of Silicon Valley is not due to diversity—or to any bias. Rather, to brilliance, hard work, risk taking, big ideas and money.

Want to be part of this? Great! Follow the example of the millions who came before you. Their parents made school a priority. They took math and science classes, and did their homework every night. They practiced ACT tests over and over. They enrolled in good schools… They took computer programming, engineering, chemistry—hard subjects that demand hard work. They then left their home, their family, their community, and moved to Silicon Valley. They worked hard, staying late night after night. They didn’t blog, they didn’t let their skills go stale, they didn’t blame others when not everything worked out exactly as hoped….

From all over the world, from Brazil and Canada, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Norway, Egypt, fellow humans come to Silicon Valley to work, create, succeed. And they do. Silicon Valley is extremely diverse.

Of course, the iPhone wasn’t created because of diversity. Nor was Google. Nor Facebook, nor the computer chip, nor the touchscreen. They were created because a small band of super-smart people who worked very hard to create something better than existed before….

Silicon Valley doesn’t just create greatness, it’s probably the most open, welcoming, meritocratic-based region on the planet. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that disproportionately more Chinese, Indians, and LGBQT succeed in Silicon Valley than just about any place in America. Guess what? Everyone earned their job because of their big brains and ability to contribute.

Is that you? Then come here! It’s an amazingly inclusive place.

But be sure to bring your computer science degree, your engineering degree, your proven set of accomplishments. Be sure you are prepared to sacrifice “fun” for long hours and hard work. Offer proof of how well you did in school, in math, in physics. These matter dearly as they are fundamental to what makes Silicon Valley succeed.

Silicon Valley is not perfect. It’s certainly no utopia. But if you aren’t able to make it here, it’s almost certainly not because of any bias. Rather, on your refusal to put in the hard work in the hard classes, and to accept all the failures that happen before you achieve any amazing success….[5]

The coiner of the term kafkatrapping, Eric S. Raymond, was a pioneer in open-source development, where widely-dispersed programmers working together build a software project which is free to use, change, or incorporate into larger systems. One of the earliest and most famous of such projects was Linux, an open-source version of Unix originated by Linus Torvalds. Open-source projects have been infiltrated by online activists and “codes of conduct” that let them expel less politically-sensitive participants have been added. Linus himself was threatened by the activists.[6]

Another example of the activist entryists’ pressure tactics from Raymond’s blog (emphasis added):

The hacker culture, and STEM in general, are under ideological attack. Recently I blogged a safety warning that according to a source I consider reliable, a “women in tech” pressure group has made multiple efforts to set Linus Torvalds up for a sexual assault accusation. I interpreted this as an attempt to beat the hacker culture into political pliability, and advised anyone in a leadership position to beware of similar attempts.

Now comes Roberto Rosario of the Django Software Foundation. Django is a web development framework that is a flourishing and well-respected part of the ecology around the of the Python language. On October 29th 2015 he reported that someone posting as ‘djangoconcardiff’ opened an issue against pull request #176 on ‘awesome-django’, addressing it to Rosario. This was the first paragraph.

Hi, great project!! I have one observation and a suggestion. I noticed that you have rejected some pull requests to add some good django libraries and that the people submitting thsoe pull requests are POCs (People of Colour). As a suggestion I recommend adopting the Contributor Code of Conduct (http://contributor-covenant.org) to ensure everyone’s contributions are accepted regarless [sic] of their sex, sexual orientation, skin color, religion, height, place of origin, etc. etc. etc. As a white straight male and lead of this trending repository, your adoption of this Code of Conduct will send a loud and clear message that inclusion is a primary objective of the Django community and of the software development community in general. D.

The slippery, Newspeak-like quality of djangoconcardiff’s “suggestion” makes it hard to pin down from the text itself whether he/she is merely stumping for inclusiveness or insinuating that rejection of pull requests by “persons of color” is itself evidence of racism and thoughtcrime.

But, if you think you’re reading that ‘djangoconcardiff’ considers acceptance of pull requests putatively from “persons of color” to be politically mandatory, a look at the Contributor Covenant he/she advocates will do nothing to dissuade you. Paragraph 2 denounces the “pervasive cult of meritocracy”. [Update: The explicit language has since been removed. The intention rather obviously remains]

It is clear that djangoconcardiff and the author of the Covenant (self-described transgender feminist Coraline Ada Ehmke) want to replace the “cult of meritocracy” with something else. And equally clear that what they want to replace it with is racial and sexual identity politics.

Rosario tagged his Twitter report “Social Justice in action!” He knows who these people are: SJWs, “Social Justice Warriors”. And, unless you have been living under a rock, so do you. These are the people – the political and doctrinal tendency, united if in no other way by an elaborate shared jargon and a seething hatred of [the]“white straight male”, who recently hounded Nobel laureate Tim Hunt out of his job with a fraudulent accusation of sexist remarks.

I’m not going to analyze SJW ideology here except to point out, again, why the hacker culture must consider anyone who holds it an enemy. This is because we must be a cult of meritocracy. We must constantly demand merit – performance, intelligence, dedication, and technical excellence – of ourselves and each other.

Now that the Internet—the hacker culture’s creation!—is everywhere, and civilization is increasingly software-dependent, we have a duty, the duty I wrote about in Holding Up The Sky. The invisible gears have to turn. The shared software infrastructure of civilization has to work, or economies will seize up and people will die. And for large sections of that infrastructure, it’s on us—us!—to keep it working. Because nobody else is going to step up.

We dare not give less than our best. If we fall away from meritocracy—if we allow the SJWs to remake us as they wish, into a hell-pit of competitive grievance-mongering and political favoritism for the designated victim group of the week—we will betray not only what is best in our own traditions but the entire civilization that we serve.

This isn’t about women in tech, or minorities in tech, or gays in tech. The hacker culture’s norm about inclusion is clear: anybody who can pull the freight is welcome, and twitching about things like skin color or shape of genitalia or what thing you like to stick into what thing is beyond wrong into silly. This is about whether we will allow “diversity” issues to be used as wedges to fracture our community, degrade the quality of our work, and draw us away from our duty.

When hackers fail our own standards of meritocracy, as we sometimes do, it’s up to us to fix it from within our own tradition: judge by the work alone, you are what you do, shut up and show us the code. A movement whose favored tools include the rage mob, the dox, and faked incidents of bigotry is not morally competent to judge us or instruct us.

I have been participating in and running open-source projects for a quarter-century. In all that time I never had to know or care whether my fellow contributors were white, black, male, female, straight, gay, or from the planet Mars, only whether their code was good. The SJWs want to make me care; they want to make all of us obsess about this, to the point of having quotas and struggle sessions and what amounts to political officers threatening us if we are insufficiently “diverse”.

Think I’m exaggerating? Read the whole djangoconcardiff thread. What’s there is totalitarianism in miniature: ideology is everything, merit counts for nothing against the suppression of thoughtcrime, and politics is conducted by naked intimidation against any who refuse to conform. Near the end of the conversation djangoconcardiff threatens to denounce Rosario to the board of the Django Software Foundation in the confused, illiterate, vicious idiom of an orc or a stormtrooper.

It has been suggested that djangoconcardiff might be a troll emulating an SJW, and we should thus take him less seriously. The problem with this idea is that no SJW disclaimed him–more generally, that “Social Justice” has reached a sort of Poe’s Law singularity at which the behavior of trolls and true believers becomes indistinguishable even to each other, and has the same emergent effects.

In the future, the hacker whose community standing the SJWs threaten could be you. The SJWs talk ‘diversity’ but like all totalitarians they measure success only by total ideological surrender – repeating their duckspeak, denouncing others for insufficient political correctness, loving Big Brother. Not being a straight white male won’t save you either – Roberto Rosario is an Afro-Hispanic Puerto Rican.

We must cast these would-be totalitarians out–refuse to admit them on any level except by evaluating on pure technical merit whatever code patches they submit. We must refuse to let them judge us, and learn to recognize their thought-stopping jargon and kafkatraps as a clue that there is no point in arguing with them and the only sane course is to disengage. We can’t fix what’s broken about the SJWs; we can, and must, refuse to let them break us.[7]

Raymond’s post is the distilled essence of commitment to engineering excellence and equal opportunity. His opponents are the people trying to tear down standards and replace them with identity politics, tribalists who don’t understand how to make the pie but want to get pieces for their friends.

Victim culture identity politics is a US-centric movement promoting narrower and narrower minorities as victims. The earlier Jesse Jackson-style affirmative action movement was supposed to get blacks and women into higher-paying, powerful positions in tech — but most tech companies are worldwide in scope and hiring, and it makes little sense for them to represent local population distributions. Silicon Valley is much more top-heavy with Asians than with white males:

[Most articles on tech diversity say] the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley are overwhelmingly white and male. While blacks and Latinos comprise 28 percent of the US workforce, they make up just 6 percent of Twitter’s total US workforce and six percent of Facebook employees.

Of course this is just a lie. Very few people would say a workforce that is 50 to 60 percent white, true of both Google and Microsoft, is “overwhelmingly white.” In fact, it’s less non-Hispanic white than the US labor force as a whole. I’ve linked to statistics in this very piece. They take about 10 seconds of browsing search queries to understand this.

But you don’t need to know statistics. Eat at a Google cafeteria. Or walk around the streets of Cupertino. There is no way that one can characterize Silicon Valley as overwhelmingly white with a straight face. Silicon Valley is quite diverse. The diversity just happens to represent the half of the human race with origins in the swath of territory between India and then east and north up to Korea.

The diversity problem isn’t about lack of diversity. It is about the right kind of diversity for a particular socio-political narrative. That’s fine, but I really wish there wasn’t this tendency to lie about the major obstacle here: people of Asian origin are 5% of the American work force, but north of 30% in much of the Valley. If you want more underrepresented minorities hiring fewer of these people would certainly help. In particular the inflow of numerous international talent coming from India and China could be staunched by changes to immigration law.

But these are international companies. Though they genuflect to diversity in the American sense (blacks and Latinos), ultimately they’ll engage in nominal symbolic tokenism while they continue on with business, with an increasingly ethnically Asian workforce and and increasingly Asian economic focus. Meanwhile, the press will continue to present a false caricature of a white workforce because that’s a lot more of a palatable bogeyman than Asian Americans and international tech migrants, and the liberal reading public seems to prefer the false narrative to engaging with reality.[8]

Money and power are being created by disciplined, organized hard work in one of the few US-based growth industries left, the connected computers that make up the Internet and allow cellphone apps to do the world’s business. Political parasites are trying very hard to gain entry and position themselves to feed from the resources others generated. While it may seem harmless to throw activists a bone—and Silicon Valley really does want more excellent minorities and women!—feeding the activists only lets them gather more allies to return to demand more. And when they gain power, all of us lose.


[1] “Jesse’s New Target: Silicon Valley,” by Roger O Crockett, Bloomberg, July 11, 1999. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/1999-07-11/jesses-new-target-silicon-valley
[2] “Intel pledges $300 million to improve diversity in tech,” by Andrew Cunningham, January 6, 2015. http://arstechnica.com/business/2015/01/intel-pledges-300-million-to-improve-diversity-in-tech/
[3] “Intel plans job cuts across the company, internal memo says,” by Mike Rogoway, The Oregonian, June 4, 2015. http://www.oregonlive.com/silicon-forest/index.ssf/2015/06/intel_facing_disappointing_sal.html
[4] “Kafkatrapping,” by Eric Raymond, Armed and Dangerous, July 18, 2010. ““Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression…} confirms that you are guilty of {sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression…}.” http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=2122
[5] “There Is No Diversity Crisis in Tech,” by Brian Hall, censored at Forbes online but republished by Techraptor.net, October 7, 2015. https://techraptor.net/content/there-is-no-diversity-crisis-in-tech-by-brian-hall
[6] “From kafkatrap to honeytrap,” by Eric Raymond, Armed and Dangerous, November 3, 2015. http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6907
[7] “Why Hackers Must Eject the SJWs,” by Eric S. Raymond, Armed and Dangerous, November 13, 2015. http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6918
[8] “Silicon Valley Has an Asian-people Problem,” by Razib Khan, The Unz Review, February 6, 2016. http://www.unz.com/gnxp/silicon-valley-has-an-asian-people-problem/


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

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

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

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

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

 


More reading on other topics:

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

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

“Death by HR” – IndieReader Review: “Skillfully written… to plant seeds of doubt among HR devotees”

Indie Reader Approved

Indie Reader Approved

The first reviewing service review is in. Indiereader says:

IR Rating 5.0 out of 5.0IR Rating

 IR Verdict: Skillfully written and meticulously edited at an advanced reading level, this politically incorrect study does a great job using facts and figures to reinforce the author’s thesis, or at least to plant seeds of doubt among HR devotees.

Approaching his subject from historical, political, social, and economic perspectives, author Jeb Kinnison makes a strong case against Human Resources and its enforcement of Affirmative Action (AA), an outgrowth of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Convinced the only way to protect America’s future and preserve competitiveness in the marketplace and in the global community is to hire on merit alone, Kennison uses charts, graphs, citations, and historical events to prove his points….

Focusing mostly on labor regulations and how government intrusion damages productivity, he examines specific hiring and employment practices of companies such as Google. According to the author, companies working under AA regulations assume the cog model, which drawing from a deep pool of job candidates can meet the minimum competence requirements and then further select to meet diversity goals. “These will typically not be the best candidates for the particular position and team environment, but team managers are not given a choice.”

Though mainly about U.S. hiring practices, the book explores foreign lands as well, citing studies in India, Malaysia, and Nigeria. Wherever the location, however, the author comes to the same conclusion. “A bright future doesn’t come with thousands of pages of laws and regulations dating back to the last century and designed to hold a tottering status quo in place.” Instead, he writes that the success of a county and its people comes from individual striving, strong growth companies, new technologies, and people free to choose their destinies.

Skillfully written and meticulously edited at an advanced reading level, this politically incorrect study does a great job using facts and figures to reinforce the author’s thesis, or at least to plant seeds of doubt among HR devotees. Up-to-the-minute analysis in the final chapters looks at controversial subjects including universal health care, the science of stereotypes, [and] the culture of victimhood, among many other hot topics. For readers who want to seriously delve into the problems with Human Resources, this is the book for you.

DEATH BY HR: HOW AFFIRMATIVE ACTION CRIPPLES ORGANIZATIONS is a well-researched, thought-provoking, articulately expressed book sure to inspire controversy and evoke strong emotions in readers, whether they agree with the author about the described workplace injustices, or whether they disagree with his right-leaning, conservative conclusions.

~Carol Michaels for IndieReader

“Right-leaning”? Not really, though we’ve reached the late-stage decay where any dissent from the Establishment progressive consensus is labelled “right wing.” I should do a post about how lack of background historical knowledge has led us to this point.

I was wary of a review site that costs a bit less than Kirkus and checked to be sure they weren’t just churning out positive reviews. As you can see from a look through their reviews, they’re not afraid to low-rate books that deserve it.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

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

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

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

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


More reading:

Death by HR: Progressive Dirigisme Takes Over the US
Death by HR: Affirmative Action and Hiring
Death by HR Introduction: HR Pushes Damaging Regulations Into the Enterprise
Election 2016: Clinton vs Trump vs ?
A Clinton Christmas Carol
John Podesta Nagged to Complete Diversity Training
“Death by HR” – High Tech Under Diversity Pressure
Death by HR – Ban the Box, Credit Scores, Current Salaries: The Road to Hiring Blind

Death by HR: Progressive Dirigisme Takes Over the US

Unhappy college grad working at Starbucks

Unhappy college grad working at Starbucks

Labor lawyers and labor economists have historically been supported by labor unions and their cooperating Democratic legislators, who fund labor-leaning academic institutions. As a result, HR degree programs and faculty begin with a bias toward the labor laws and union-style thinking of academics in the field.

Social scientists generally lean left. Industrial Relations (IR), the field of labor-management studies, also leans sharply left.[1] Social science professors are overwhelmingly Democrats.[2] And the faculty in most HR degree programs are similarly biased, which means the typical new graduate from these programs has been indoctrinated to accept the necessity and essential fairness of the labor laws and regulations they will be expected to help enforce in their postings in private industry or government agencies. While we have seen that these new graduates tend to be tempered by exposure to real workplace life and management influence, they retain their political affiliations and continue to lean toward progressive causes and regulations.

Verdant Labs’ survey of political affiliation by occupation based on FEC campaign contribution reports doesn’t separate out HR staffers, but does cover HR execs and similar functions:

HR Executives 66% D, 34% R
Compliance Officers 72% D, 28% R
Administrative Manager 70% D, 30% R[3]

It’s easy to see why people whose careers involve administering government rules would tend to support the party that maintains that even more regulations are useful and necessary, because no one would want to work at something useless or even counterproductive. People who want to work long hours and enjoy the freedom to run risky but successful enterprises aren’t likely to be found in HR degree programs. This political tendency is valuable in cooperating with government overseers, but can cause HR staff to overlook the need for the organization they work for to improve productivity and compete with overseas firms not so hampered.

What is the leftist tendency? It is the view that people’s economic decisions are to be supervised and regulated by the state for the common good. Communists and Socialists took the simplistic extreme form, taking direct ownership of the means of production—factories, farms, and businesses — to be managed by the workers collectively or the larger state. Every country that tried this failed eventually because it turns out self-interested management by owners is vastly more productive, and no collective can decide as well as an owner with direct access to local and market information.

The leftist fallback position — after millions of deaths and multiple failures of true Communist and Socialist states — has been to leave property and the means of production in private hands, but thoroughly regulate and control what the owners may do with it. This leaves at least some incentive for owners to produce and invest in production facilities, but puts many important investment and employment decisions in the hands of a political body — a legislature, or agencies given power to oversee employers. And while some socially-harmful decisions (like pollution of the common air and water, discrimination against black people in employment and accommodation, and tolerance of dangerous working conditions in mines and factories) are thereby prevented, many other decisions are made poorly by collective bodies with little or no knowledge of local conditions. The freedom of both worker and employer to balance their interests and negotiate the most favorable contract is often limited by rigid labor regulations, as when workers who would like to work more hours to make extra money are not allowed to do so.

Union labor views were an offshoot of the socialist ideal, where the management of a business — the employer — is viewed as the enemy of the workers, constantly trying to cheat and enslave them. Enlightened managers, of course, have a much broader interest in the health and welfare of employees, and know that respect for their needs and independence makes for a happier, more productive, and loyal workforce ideal for long-term competitive advantage. But the cartoonish 1930s views of oppressive, wealthy capitalists still live on in many minds.

The labor laws dating from the progressive New Deal era embody the dirigisme (French for top-down direction of the economy) of that era, and are still with us, though many reforms have taken place. The US is now a patchwork of different labor regimes in different industries, as some unionized manufacturing has become less so, while public employee unions have grown in strength and power. Meanwhile, “right to work” laws in some states limited private sector union power and encouraged more foreign investment like the auto plants now dotting the South.

To see the negative results of heavy regulation of labor, one only has to look at parts of Europe that went all-out to protect and micromanage employment by heavily regulating hiring and firing. As an example, look at France — a highly-developed mature economy with heavy regulation of labor and so much legal job protection that employers are reluctant to hire any long-term employees for fear they can never be let go. Youth unemployment hovers around 25%, and the economy has been stagnant for decades. The BBC reports:

France has a lot going for it. It has “an enviable standard of living”, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Inequality is not excessive and the country has come through the [financial] crisis without suffering too heavily,” it says….

But all is not well. Unemployment is high and the government’s finances are weak. “France’s fundamental economic problem,” the OECD says, “is a lack of growth.” The latest figures for economic activity (gross domestic product or GDP) for the first quarter of the year show growth of 0.5%. That’s better than was expected though it’s probably best described as reasonable rather than strong. The longer term picture is more downbeat.

So what is the French economic problem? The most obvious social and economic evidence that something is amiss is unemployment. About three million people are unemployed—10.2% of the workforce. That compares with a figure of 4.3% across the border in Germany. The rate in France is almost the same as the average for the eurozone. That really is nothing to be proud of when you consider that the average reflects some jobless nightmare stories such as Spain and Greece. The French figure is also the second highest among the G7 leading developed economies. Youth unemployment is a particular problem, as it is in a number of other European countries. Almost one in four of those under 25 who want a job don’t have one.

The government’s finances are also in indifferent shape. France is also in the throes of an EU procedure that tries to impose discipline on governments’ finances. The annual budget deficit and the accumulated government debt are both higher than they are supposed to be under the rules…. Behind the problems lies persistently weak economic growth. Gross domestic product per person—a rough and ready indicator of average living standards—grew more slowly between 1995 and 2007 than in any other OECD country (mainly the rich nations) except Italy [which also overregulates labor.]

By the end of last year, economic activity was only 2.8% up from its peak level at the onset of the financial crisis. Why then is France struggling? Many younger people get work on a short-term basis only…. The view of many, including the OECD and the European Commission, is that the labour market is at the heart of the problem, though it’s not the only factor. That reflects a persistent complaint from business: that it’s too expensive to hire workers and to fire them or lay them off if they need to. France is a prime example of what is known as a “dual labour market”: insiders have higher pay, job security and often promotion prospects, [while] others, especially younger people, get only short-term work or none.

The OECD says in its assessment of the French economy: “To reduce the duality of the labour market, the procedures for laying off employees, particularly those on permanent contracts, need to be simplified and shortened…. France ranks among the countries with the strictest legislation of dismissal for open-ended and temporary contracts.” The cost of labour to employers in France also includes social security contributions that are higher than in most other countries. There is a catalogue of other issues, including welfare, that is alleged to discourage people taking low-paid work, and extensive regulation of business. The result, it is argued, is a persistent unemployment problem….

President Hollande has accepted the case for labour reform, and his Labour Minister, Myriam El Khomri, has introduced legislation intended to address some of the things that business voices say make it too expensive to take on new workers. The reforms would: lower existing high barriers to laying off staff; allow some employees to work more—far more—than the current working week, which is capped at 35 hours; give firms greater powers to cut working hours and reduce pay. That has met protest and the provisions have been amended in response. One supporter of reform said it was turning into a “veritable catastrophe”.[4]

Compared to France, the US has a free and dynamic labor economy,[5] but the signs of the Eurodisease are starting to show — an inflexible labor market with few professional openings for young people. The common joke about children returning to live in their parent’s basements is becoming a way of life for many. Increasingly, new college graduates are forced to take low-paying, unskilled jobs in service industries when they find work at all:

Recent college graduates are ending up in more low-wage and part-time positions as it’s become harder to find education-level appropriate jobs, according to a January study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Jeanina Jenkins, a 20-year-old high-school graduate from St. Louis, is stuck in a $7.82-an-hour part-time job at McDonald’s Corp. that she calls a “last resort” because nobody would offer her anything better.

Stephen O’Malley, 26, a West Virginia University graduate, wants to put his history degree to use teaching high school. What he’s found instead is a bartender’s job in his home town of Manasquan, New Jersey.

Jenkins and O’Malley are at opposite ends of a dynamic that is pushing those with college degrees down into competition with high-school graduates for low-wage jobs that don’t require college. As this competition has intensified during and after the recession, it’s meant relatively higher unemployment, declining labor market participation and lower wages for those with less education….

“The underemployment of college graduates affects lesser educated parts of the labor force,” said economist Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a not-for-profit research organization in Washington.“Those with high-school diplomas that normally would have no problem getting jobs as bartenders or taxi drivers are sometimes kept from getting the jobs by people with college diplomas,” said Vedder…

The share of Americans ages 22 to 27 with at least a bachelor’s degree in jobs that don’t require that level of education was 44 percent in 2012, up from 34 percent in 2001, the study found. The recent rise in underemployment for college graduates represents a return to the levels of the early 1990s, according to the New York Fed study. The rate rose to 46 percent during the 1990-1991 recession, then declined during the economic expansion that followed as employers hired new graduates to keep pace with technological advances….

“College graduates might not be in a job that requires a college degree, but they’re more likely to have a job,” she said. Less-educated young adults are then more likely to drop out of the labor market. The labor participation rate for those ages 25 to 34 with just a high-school diploma fell four percentage points to 77.7 percent in 2013 from 2007. For those with a college degree and above, the rate dropped less than 1 percentage point, to 87.7 percent.

“At the complete bottom, we see people picking up the worst types of jobs or completely dropping out,” Beaudry said. The share of young adults 20 to 24 years old neither in school nor working climbed to 19.4 percent in 2010 from 17.2 percent in 2006. For those ages 25 to 29, it rose to 21.3 percent from 20 percent in that period, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of Boston report in December.

Those with the least education have trouble securing even the lowest-paid jobs. Isabelle Samain looked for work in Washington from April until September of last year. As prospective employers continually passed over her applications, the 40-year-old mother of two from Cameroon realized she was missing out because she lacked a U.S. high-school diploma. “I don’t even remember how many places I applied,” Samain said of the “frustrating and discouraging” search. Samain passed the General Educational Development test in December and recently started working at Au Bon Pain in Washington for $8.50 an hour for 36 hours a week.

A year-long survey ending in July 2012 of 500,000 Americans ages 19 to 29 showed that 63 percent of those fully employed had a bachelor’s degree, and their most common jobs were merchandise displayers, clothing-store and cellular phone sales representatives, according to Seattle-based PayScale Inc., which provides compensation information….

The share of recent college graduates in “good non-college jobs,” those with higher wage-growth potential, such as dental hygienists, has declined since 2000, according to the New York Fed study. Meanwhile, the portion has grown for those in low-wage jobs paying an average wage of below $25,000, including food servers and bartenders.[6]

The Party of Government perpetually campaigns on “doing something” about the problems of the little people. Meanwhile, the agencies of the administrative state, like all bureaucracies, keep busy and justify their growth by proposing additional and extended regulations. When regulations address a real problem—some externality requiring private parties to be restrained from damaging a common good or harming each other through force or fraud—there is an optimal point where the additional costs of more regulation are greater than the likely benefit. In labor regulation, the pols and regulators rarely consider the collateral damage they are doing by narrowing the freedom of contract—labor laws are always behind the curve of technology and custom, impeding creative solutions that both employer and employee would benefit from.

This “it’s always good to do more” mindset results in laws that are simply propaganda exercises, like the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which extended the statute of limitations for equal pay suits to make it a bit easier to file suit against ongoing patterns of pay discrimination against women.[7] Unequal pay for women was actually outlawed in 1963 by the Equal Pay Act, but Democratic politicians in pursuit of women’s votes continue to promote the “pay gap” myth and then offer to “do something” about this imaginary unfairness. Each time they pass a new law or regulation, one might expect improvement in the unfair situation they claim to be addressing, yet the problem remains for the next election, when they will promise to fix it again.

The latest example of harming many by ratcheting up the regulations is the Obama administration’s enlargement of the number of employees covered by the Dept. of Labor’s overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), increasing the salary limit for exemption from $23,660 to $47,476 per year, which vastly increases the number of workers covered. At first glance, this sounds good for those employees — time-and-a-half for overtime, baby! But that ignores the likely response of managements to the new rules:

If an employer could pay Jim, a frontline manager at a retail store, for a 50-hour workweek—40 hours at his regular hourly rate and 10 hours at time-and-a-half—or, instead, pay Jim and Jane 25 hours each at straight rates, what would the employer do?

Unless the business is a philanthropy, or unless Jim exhibits pure brilliance in directing rank-and-file employees to stock shelves, the employer is going to choose lower labor costs over higher ones.

This is precisely the question raised by, and the likely effect caused by, new overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Given the basic economics of the workplace, the new rule—which raises the salary threshold under which an employee is entitled to overtime—is just as likely to create less work for individual employees as it is to increase the amount of overtime American employees collectively earn.[8]

The required estimate of costs of the new regulation was lowballed, pulled out of thin air by the DoL under orders from the union-friendly administration to further cripple nonunion businesses by increasing their costs. Independent calculations of the cost were more realistic:

How reliable are projections from the Department of Labor about the cost of the President’s ambitious new extension of overtime entitlements to salaried workers ….? The “administration refuses to allow others to check its math. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the state agency that I lead, in August requested the specific data and methodology the Labor Department used to calculate its estimates. Our request was denied.” So the department went ahead with its own analysis. “The rule will supposedly cost $2 billion the first year. Our math shows $1.7 billion for Florida alone.”[9]

Even House Democrats found the new rules damaging:

It’s not clear whether the Obama administration’s forthcoming edict on overtime will apply to legislative staffers, but House Democratic leadership decided it would be prudent for their members to at least gesture toward the spirit of the controversial rule by preparing for compliance. Now “the rule is creating administrative headaches” and more:

“We don’t have a set-hour kind of situation here; some kids work 12, 14, 16 hours a day, weekends, and I feel terrible that I cannot afford to give raises to the staff,” Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) told Bloomberg BNA Feb. 11.

With $320,000 slashed from members’ representational allowances (MRAs) over the past four years, “I don’t see how we could pay overtime” for the “17 or 18 people that each of us is allowed to have—that’s problematic for me,” added Hastings, a senior member of the House Rules Committee.

Some members fear that an overtime mandate will result in having to send staffers home at 5 p.m., leaving phones unanswered and impairing constituent service. “Most members are of the sentiment that it’s impractical to be paying overtime,” said former Virginia Democratic Rep. Jim Moran, now a lobbyist, who suggests that members choose to close one of their district offices or reduce constituent correspondence to adjust to a smaller staff number.

If only there were some way for the U.S. Congress to influence federal labor law![10]


[1] “The data suggests that the ratio of Democratic-to-Republican voter registration among participants in IR is roughly 10 to one. I find a similar ratio when looking at those who have made contributions to Democratic and Republican candidates for office. I also show that Democratic lopsidedness at the three mainstream IR journals becomes more extreme at the higher stations (officers and editors, as opposed to ordinary members and authors). Also, I analyze the content of the 539 articles for union support and regulation support; the mainstream IR journals are overwhelmingly pro-union and pro-regulation.” From article “The Left Orientation of Industrial Relations,” by Mitchell Langbert, Econ Journal Watch, Vol 13, No. 1, Jan. 2016. https://econjwatch.org/articles/the-left-orientation-of-industrial-relations
[2] “Daniel Klein, one of the authors [of the study] and a professor of economics at George Mason University, said that it demonstrated ‘solidly’ that most social science professors are ‘leftist and statist, and that they have a narrow tent.’” From “Social Scientists Lean to the Left, Study Says,” by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 21, 2005. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/12/21/politics. Also see: “Economists’ policy views and voting,” Daniel B. Klein and Charlotta Stern, Public Choice 126:331-342, 6 Dec 2004. http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/klein/PdfPapers/KS_PublCh06.pdf
[3] “Democratic vs. Republican occupations,” Verdant Labs chart, 2016. Data source: FEC campaign contribution data. http://verdantlabs.com/politics_of_professions/
[4] “What is the French economic problem?” by Andrew Walker, BBC World Service, 29 April 2016. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-36152571
[5] French leftists sniff at the US and its Anglospheric cousins because the US economic model (the “Anglo-Saxon model”) is more liberal—less protectionist and dirigiste. The cultural backdrop is the French intellectual distaste for crude money-making and égoïste neglect of collective opinion. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Saxon_model
[6] “Low-Wage Jobs Displace Less Educated,” by Katherine Peralta, Bloomberg, March 12, 2014. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-03-06/college-grads-taking-low-wage-jobs-displace-less-educated
[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilly_Ledbetter_Fair_Pay_Act_of_2009
[8] “Deep Impact: New Overtime Rules Will Change Work, Not Overtime Pay,” by Mark A. Konkel and Barbara Hoey, Inside Counsel, August 31, 2016. http://www.insidecounsel.com/2016/08/31/deep-impact-new-overtime-rules-will-change-work-no
[9] “Lowballing the cost of junior-manager overtime,” by Walter Olson, Overlawyered, November 19, 2015. http://www.overlawyered.com/2015/11/lowballing-the-cost-of-junior-manager-overtime/
[10] “Overtime Brings House Democrats Woe,” by Walter Olson, Cato at Liberty, April 13, 2016. http://www.cato.org/blog/overtime-brings-house-democrats-woe


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

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

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

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

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

 


More reading on other topics:

Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

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

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

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

More reading on the military:

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

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