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

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

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

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

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

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


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

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” – First One-Star Hatchet Job Review!

 

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR

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

Anyone who has written a book even mildly critical of the Progressive Conventional Wisdom has experienced getting negative reviews attacking the book to shore up the political beliefs of the reviewer. So here’s the first negative review at Amazon for Death by HR:

1.0 out of 5 stars
Nonsense
By Bryce on December 17, 2016

The argument that HR departments consist of women and minorities and for that reason force companies to hire women and minorities is unsupportable, as is the view that there’s something wrong with integrating a business. Forbes, McKinsey, and the Harvard Business School all agree that diversity is a key driver of internal innovation and business growth.

The argument that hiring women and minorities is problematic is based entirely on the premise that white males are better workers than women and minorities. Only insecure white males believe that.

The author’s ideas for avoiding the perceived “problems” of HR are laughable. The top business websites advise against relying on LinkedIn, where people blatantly falsify their qualifications. Following the advice in this book would probably lead to discrimination lawsuits if the business didn’t self-destruct before reaching that point.

I read an advance copy of this rant and I’m sorry I wasted my time.

I don’t know who this person is, but I did send out some advance copies to people writing on HR topics, and I knew there’d be some hostility from them since the book questions most of the bedrock beliefs of “HR people” about the value of diversity and the goals of most HR types.

Taking the statements made one by one:

“The argument that HR departments consist of women and minorities and for that reason force companies to hire women and minorities is unsupportable…” This argument was never made; apparently too subtle for the reviewer, the book suggests companies respond to labor regulation and threat of lawsuits by hiring HR staff as buffers and compliance officers, and that because they can make their EEOC numbers look better by doing so, tend to hire more women and minorities in HR where their role in production is seen as less critical. Over time that led to a prevailing HR culture that identifies as much with the progressive overseers as with company management, harming the business by replacing its goals with those of a social welfare organization.

“…[also unsupportable is] the view that there’s something wrong with integrating a business.” The book suggests there’s something wrong with the view that integration is necessarily important or a worthy goal to be prioritized ahead of productivity, efficiency, and creative accomplishment. Enlightened management will manage the business in whatever way is necessary to survive and grow. Sometimes this will mean creating a highly-diverse, integrated team, and sometimes it will require a monoculture of staffers who act and think largely alike for a specific purpose. The point is not to defend discriminatory practices, but to refrain from pressuring businesses to jump through hoops of political approval to escape government punishments.

The reviewer is steeped in the conventional wisdom, and goes on to appeal to authority to avoid dealing with the arguments and studies cited in the book: “Forbes, McKinsey, and the Harvard Business School all agree that diversity is a key driver of internal innovation and business growth.” The book cites a number of Harvard Business Review articles debunking the faith-based belief that diversity is necessarily a plus for businesses. One chapter traces the few unscientific studies that support this belief and how they were amplified and cited over and over again to confirm what the promoters wanted to believe. “Diversity” in the form of a variety of races, colors, and beliefs in an organization can help, hinder, or more typically be irrelevant to organizational performance. But since many HR staffers now believe that promoting diversity is their job, no amount of citations or logic will ever dent their belief.

The individual worker’s attitudes and aptitudes, knowledge and skills, and ability to communicate and work with others are vastly more important than any superficial classifications of race, sex, religion, or national origin. Martin Luther King had this right, and the progressive HR religion is simply wrong and damaging the quest for true equality of opportunity.

“The argument that hiring women and minorities is problematic is based entirely on the premise that white males are better workers than women and minorities. Only insecure white males believe that.” The reviewer demonstrates the anti-white-male prejudice so common in these types. The book makes no such sexist or racist argument — it does argue that hiring preferences that result in hiring women and minorities who are demonstrably less able or less productive in a job is damaging, both to the organization and to its workers, both those given preference and elevated beyond their ability to succeed and those not given preference and thus denied an opportunity to succeed by affirmative action practices.

I’m told it’s valuable to have reviews from obviously biased partisan types to confirm that one’s book has touched a nerve. So perhaps this review helps sell the book to those who have stopped buying the progressive party line on enforced discriminatory hiring policies and political use of HR as the state’s internal enforcement apparatus.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

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

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

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

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

 


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

“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

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