job seeking

Death by HR: eARCs for Review

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations is scheduled for official release October 17th, and it can’t be reviewed until then.

I’d be happy to send an eARC (Electronic Advanced Reader Copy) to anyone who is willing to read it then write a quick review on Amazon or Goodreads on the 17th or after. Send an email to JebKinnison@gmail.com with your preferred reading format (epub, PDF, mobi) and I’ll get one to you.

I’m still not satisfied with the subtitle. The book is really about all the bureaucracy HR imposes on companies, not just affirmative action / diversity programs that do more harm than good. But AA is one good example of a government-pushed initiative being enforced by HR in a way that hurts everyone: the company, the diversity hires, and the economy as a whole.

Here’s the description:

Over a third of adults under 35 now live with their parents. Young men are working much less and playing video games much more as they fail to find good jobs, and the rates of marriage and family formation are way down. More people of all ages have given up trying to find a job. Meanwhile, companies report a shortage of skilled workers, and many good jobs remain unfilled for months or years.

Human Resources (HR) departments are widely disliked, and job searchers are generally advised to directly contact the hiring manager directly if they really want to be considered for a job. There are good reasons why HR acts like an arm of the government bureaucrats pressuring companies to hire more protected minorities and women–because that’s what they are, in many companies.

From the bestselling author of Avoidant comes a fresh look at HR and the hiring of mediocre employees favored by affirmative action programs. It’s a new Age of Incompetence, with brain-dead, unaccountable employees holding sinecures at the heart of our government agencies and regulated institutions like banks and hospitals, protected by affirmative action and union policies. The rot is spreading as pressure from state and federal regulation of companies has increased, promoting an internal compliance bureaucracy that has devalued the best job candidates and employees and promoted affirmative action and diversity over team productivity.

The result has been ever-more-costly failures and a steep decline in performance. From the mortgage meltdown that brought down the world’s economy in 2008, to the disastrous launch of the healthcare.gov website for Obamacare, major segments of business and government in the US have grown more expensive and less competent over the past few decades. Billions of dollars of waste in government contracts for IT projects, weapons systems, and service failures at the VA are in the news every day. Public schools are widely seen as mediocre, and in the poorest urban districts they are failing to provide a decent education for the students who need good schools the most to make up for bad family backgrounds. Costs for regulated services like schools, colleges, medical insurance, drugs, courts, prisons, and infrastructure like roads and bridges rise far faster than inflation, while time to complete major projects stretches out to decades, and many fail completely and are cancelled after billions have been spent. And the rot is spreading as government pushes businesses to adopt similar employment policies, with HR enforcing government mandates that compromise competitiveness and give overseas companies the advantage.

Silicon Valley and the tech industries are the next targets. If you’re a manager at a tech company, we’ll suggest some ways to protect your people from HR and its emphasis on credentials and affirmative action (AA) over the best fit for a position. Corporate leaders need to be sure their HR departments are managed to prevent infiltration by staff more interested in correct politics than winning products. And we’ll show why appeasement of diversity activists is a dangerous strategy that may make your organization a target for further extortionate demands.

The next battlefield after high tech is discretion in hiring–which the activists believe must be limited to force employers to hire any candidate “qualified” for a job as soon as they apply. Only a few radicals are proposing this kind of blind hiring now, but continuing successes in getting firms to bow to their diversity demands will result in a list of new demands. We have already seen Seattle pass an ordinance requiring landlords to rent apartments to the first applicant who qualifies. And similar movements in hiring–supposedly to prevent discrimination by eliminating management choice of who to employ–are coming soon.

This book may make you angry, but it will show you how you can fight back by resisting HR and its policies.

“Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,” Cover Reveal

Death by HR Print Cover

Death by HR Print Cover

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations is available on Amazon Kindle. The cover for the print version is finished, as you can see. Someone asked me if I realized the gears won’t turn in that configuration — I told him that was the point.

I’ll post again when the book goes live Oct. 17th, and when the print version is available soon thereafter. But feel free to support the launch by pre-ordering the Kindle version. Early readers who want to read it right now and promise to post a fair review can email me at jebkinnison@gmail.com and I’ll send you an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) in the format of your choice, with the promise you’ll end your review with “I received an advanced copy of the book in return for my honest review.”

The text on the back cover:

Over a third of adults under 35 now live with their parents. Young men are working much less and playing video games much more as they fail to find good jobs, and the rates of marriage and family formation are way down. More people of all ages have given up trying to find a job. Meanwhile, companies report a shortage of skilled workers, and many good jobs remain unfilled for months or years.

Human Resources (HR) departments are widely disliked, and job searchers are generally advised to directly contact the hiring manager directly if they really want to be considered for a job. There are good reasons why HR acts like an arm of the government bureaucrats pressuring companies to hire more protected minorities and women—because that’s what they are, in many companies.

From the bestselling author of Avoidant comes a fresh look at HR and the hiring of mediocre employees favored by affirmative action programs. It’s a new Age of Incompetence, with brain-dead, unaccountable employees holding sinecures at the heart of our government agencies and regulated institutions like banks and hospitals, protected by affirmative action and union policies. The rot is spreading as pressure from state and federal regulation of companies has increased, promoting an internal compliance bureaucracy that has devalued the best job candidates and employees and promoted affirmative action and diversity over team productivity.

The result has been ever-more-costly failures and a steep decline in performance. From the mortgage meltdown that brought down the world’s economy in 2008, to the disastrous launch of the healthcare.gov website for Obamacare, major segments of business and government in the US have grown more expensive and less competent over the past few decades. Billions of dollars of waste in government contracts for IT projects, weapons systems, and deadly service failures at the VA are in the news every day. Public schools are widely seen as mediocre, and in the poorest urban districts they are failing to provide a decent education for the students who need good schools the most to make up for bad family backgrounds. Costs for regulated services like schools, colleges, medical insurance, drugs, courts, prisons, and infrastructure like roads and bridges rise far faster than inflation, while time to complete major projects stretches out to decades, and many fail completely and are cancelled after billions have been spent. And the rot is spreading as government pushes businesses to adopt similar employment policies, with HR enforcing government mandates that compromise competitiveness and give overseas companies the advantage.

Silicon Valley and the tech industries are the next targets. If you’re a manager at a tech company, we’ll suggest some ways to protect your people from HR and its emphasis on credentials and affirmative action (AA) over the best fit for a position. Corporate leaders need to be sure their HR departments are managed to prevent infiltration by staff more interested in correct politics than winning products. And we’ll show why appeasement of diversity activists is a dangerous strategy that may make your organization a target for further extortionate demands.

The next battlefield after high tech is discretion in hiring—which the activists believe must be limited to force employers to hire any candidate “qualified” for a job as soon as they apply. Only a few radicals are proposing this kind of blind hiring now, but continuing successes in getting firms to bow to their diversity demands will result in a list of new demands. We have already seen Seattle pass an ordinance requiring landlords to rent apartments to the first applicant who qualifies. And similar movements in hiring—supposedly to prevent discrimination by eliminating management choice of who to employ—are coming soon.

This book may make you angry, but it will show you how you can fight back by resisting HR and its policies.

More Reading:

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

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

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

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

Fear is the Mindkiller
Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Selective Outrage
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
“Tomorrowland”: Tragic Misfire
The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition
Hugos, Sad Puppies 3, and Direct Knowledge
Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes
SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best
Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

More reading on the military:

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

Death by HR: The Hiring Game is Rigged! How a Racial Spoils System Replaced Merit

Game Is Rigged - Fallout 3, New Vegas, Bethesda Softworks

Game Is Rigged – Fallout 3, New Vegas, Bethesda Softworks

Today’s news has more evidence that the diversity mantra is driving corporate decisions past the point of illegal discrimination. NRO has “General Mills’s New Product: Quota-O’s,” by Roger Clegg:

The Star Tribune reports that General Mills “is pressuring ad agencies to hire more women and people of color by imposing a diversity benchmark,” so that “the creative departments in agencies bidding for its business [will] be staffed at least half by women and 20 percent by people of color.” General Mills executives said, according to the report, that “they want the people who create its advertising to be more reflective of the people who consume their products.” A General Mills spokeswoman was quoted: “We’ll get to stronger creative work that resonates with our consumers by partnering with creative teams who understand firsthand the diverse perspectives of the people we serve.”

Translation: To figure out how best to sell a box of Cheerios to a black woman, you really have to be a black woman. That’s nonsense, and the real motive here is just the pressure to be politically correct. The resulting discrimination cannot be justified. It’s certainly not moral to treat people differently because of skin color; there’s no empirical or historical evidence that, say, the Phoenicians would have been better traders if only they had had greater ethnic diversity; and it’s not logical to suppose that women cannot imagine what might appeal to men or vice versa….

But I’m a civil-rights lawyer so let me also point out the legal problems. Certainly it will violate the law for ad agencies to accede to General Mills’s pressure. As always, it’s helpful to put the shoe on the other foot: Could an employer refuse to hire black sales clerks on the grounds that its customers hated to deal with black people? Of course not, and it wouldn’t matter how stubborn or wealthy the customer was, and of course no judge would care about exploring the reasons for the customer’s desire for discrimination. There’s no “bona fide occupational qualification” for racial preferences under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination.

Is General Mills itself violating the law? Putting aside Title VII for a moment, there certainly seems to be a problem under 42 U.S.C. 1981, which makes it illegal to engage in racial discrimination in entering into contracts. And I don’t know if one can be held liable for conspiring to violate Title VII or pressuring someone to do so, but that’s exactly what General Mills is doing.

But this is only the latest example of diversity requirements crossing the line of illegal discrimination. Let’s go back and look at how merit-based hiring programs were gradually subverted to create a race- and sex-conscious spoils system.

Systems designed to screen a group of applicants by objective measures of merit were a focus of civil service reforms. Standardized tests, certification and degree requirements, experience records, and proof of language proficiency and residence are often part of this process, and many private employers also try to make their consideration of new hires and promotions more objective using such evaluation systems.

In trying to remove inappropriate biases (racism, sexism, nepotism, and cronyism) in hiring by establishing objective screening criteria, organizations lost control of factors which they now find politically necessary to satisfy, like diversity goals. It is now common for objective merit criteria to be discounted or ignored as needed to achieve more minority or female representation. But since it is also technically illegal to use race or sex as a factor in hiring, organizations watched closely by the public and the courts find themselves surreptitiously subverting their previous commitment to merit — instead of openly declaring diversity to be a goal so important that merit becomes a secondary factor, underhanded deck-stacking methods are used to get the desired politically-acceptable hiring mix.

There is nothing improper about diversity goals in certain situations. For example, many big-city police forces were overwhelmingly white and sometimes mostly Irish around 1950, and the lack of representation of minorities in the force increased tensions with poor largely black neighborhoods. City policies to require new hires to be city residents and the removal of exam requirements which favored the more cognitively-adept applicants allowed enough minority hiring to redress this imbalance for good political reasons, though little thought was given to instead modifying the tests to measure policing skillsets and only policing skillsets. Organizations like police and fire departments struggled mightily to comply since they had been run as patronage havens for friends, family, and ethnic groups influential in the cities’ political machines.

The wave of affirmative action programs starting in the 1970s weakened civil service exam requirements. Courts found many exams discriminated against minorities, especially when it was clear the exams included cognitive skills not required for lower-level jobs. Some affirmative action programs race-normed the passing grades, which allowed more minorities to qualify with scores that would otherwise have failed. Many positions were entirely removed from examination requirements. Where the qualifying standard had been “top 3” or “best,” it became “good enough” or “adequate.”

The needs of a bureaucracy may not always favor hiring the most intelligent or skilled candidate. As in private industry, some managers would prefer to hire people who are bright enough and skilled enough, but not too much more than that, lest they be unhappy in the job or liable to be hired away by others — the brilliant scientist who wants to work as a police officer while writing papers on theoretical physics in her spare time is out of luck. In Connecticut, a Federal judge ruled the state was not discriminating unlawfully when it denied an applicant the opportunity to interview for the police force because his intelligence test score was too high.[1] Not rocking the boat is valued over ability in many hierarchies.

But these are just entry-level positions. What happens when promotion from within is favored, while entry-level employees are screened to ensure the very bright or overqualified are kept out in favor of desired race, sex, or residency? Entry-level positions in organizations are often open to all in theory, while in practice networks and connections of family, ethnicity, neighborhood, and religion can assist in placing people at the bottom rungs. If higher-level positions are filled from within this can result in entire organizations dominated by a single affiliate group, for example the Irish-dominated police forces of early 20th century US cities.

Large companies also had set up screening systems, often using aptitude testing for initial hires. This gave bright but inexperienced young people a chance to prove themselves on the job. But the court rulings against testing and any other screening which might disfavor minorities led to most of these screening systems being modified in favor of degree and certification requirements. Today many entry-level jobs require a college degree, which has delayed entry into the workforce for many and shut others out completely.

In an interesting paper, “Gerrymandering in Personnel Selection: A Review of Practice” by Michael A. McDaniel of Virginia Commonwealth University,[2] the term “gerrymandering” is used to mean any rigging of a system of merit selection designed to subvert it to allow the less-qualified to be hired. Such rigging of the system is accomplished by insiders, either with or without organizational approval, to favor candidates by race (for affirmative action purposes), sex, membership in a political machine, ethnicity, or simply to allow managers to hire the people they want instead of the people who come out on top in a systematic, objective evaluation process. While these insiders keep the appearance of merit selection, they achieve their own goals by subtly adjusting parameters they do control to favor their desired hires. This can be done by tweaking the system itself or by inserting personal judgment components that can be “adjusted” to overcome more objective factors like test scores.

I’ve adopted “rigging” instead of McDaniel’s “gerrymandering,” which has a specific meaning in electoral districting. He begins:

Although [rigging] can be used to benefit a specific individual (e.g., manipulating the system to get one’s cousin hired), [it] is often designed to benefit a group of applicants. For example, a group of applicants might be defined with reference to race (e.g., minorities), sex (e.g., females), political affiliation (e.g., Democrats), family associations (e.g., children or spouses of current employees) or type of applicant (e.g., applicants who currently work for the organization versus external applicants).

[Rigging] is typically in conflict with the goals of a merit-based personnel selection system which seeks to hire the most qualified applicant for a job… efforts focused on groups are typically an attempt to subvert merit-based personnel selection in favor of some other goal such as racial or gender diversity. The author knows of no example where [rigging] efforts focused on groups were consistent with the goal of a merit-based personnel selection practice…. usually in conflict with merit-based goals, it is consistent with other goals, such as increasing the demographic diversity of organizations or promoting the growth and stability of political organizations…. Because some [of these] practices in personnel selection are illegal and because most of these practices are seldom transparently applied or openly discussed, it is difficult for the author to estimate how frequently a given practice is used.

Increasing the representation of minorities and women in a workforce based on standardized testing screenings is difficult when those groups on average underperform white males on certain cognitive measures. Males tend to have more extreme results on aptitude and intelligence tests, with more males scoring either very high or very low than females. This implies (if such tests are valid indicators of ability, and they are) that males will tend to be overrepresented in positions requiring extremely high cognitive skills, like STEM professorships and Nobel prizes, quite aside from the cultural factors that encourage more males to concentrate on work and avoid familial care obligations. Physical job requirements, too, can favor some groups over others; upper body strength tests for firefighters and combat soldiers will pass far more males, while black males dominate basketball teams partly for genetically-determined reasons of height and coordination[3] as well as cultural factors.

Ignoring the cumulative evidence to the contrary, United States employment regulations and some case law are based on the false assumption that minority-white differences in personnel selection tests are uncommon. Specifically, when the use of a personnel selection test results in a lower percentage of minorities hired than whites, the disparity in hiring rates is termed “adverse impact” under the Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection Procedures (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Civil Service Commission, Department of Labor, & Department of Justice, 1978). When adverse impact is present (and it typically is), it becomes the responsibility of the employer to defend the job-relatedness of the personnel selection system. Defending job-relatedness in an adversarial setting is a time consuming and expensive process. Thus, employers seeking to avoid validation and litigation expenses have substantial motive to gerrymander their selection process to hire more minorities.

So the pressure to increase diversity could only be satisfied by quietly rolling back an organization’s previous commitment to hiring the best person for the job. Since discrimination against white or male applicants on the basis or race or sex is also technically illegal, if rarely litigated, organizations and HR departments use a variety of techniques to rig their systems to preserve the hollowed-out façade of previously merit-based hiring systems, obscuring the reality of racial spoils systems.[4]

These disguised methods for stacking the deck or putting a thumb on the scale of hiring are hypocritical at best, but now so ingrained in HR and civil service procedures that aside from continuing jokes about “diversity hires” (which can themselves be cause for an EEOC complaint as contributing to a hostile work environment) there is little awareness of just how much the focus has changed from merit and accountability to politically-based hiring and retention of mediocre and less productive employees, especially in highly-regulated businesses and government.

Reasons for rigging the hiring process:

• For the benefit of one group and the detriment of another. This includes: increasing numbers of minorities or women, for affirmative action/diversity goals; aiming to give preference to members of a political machine or party to continue patronage practices; and preferring members of a tribe, ethnic origin, or extended family group that controls the workplace.

• For the benefit of a single preferred candidate which hiring managers or team members prefer, or the reverse when a particular candidate is to be rejected.

Methods of rigging the hiring process:

• Tailoring personnel selection tools like tests and requirement lists more closely to the position. This can be a positive step toward merit selection when general aptitude tests are replaced by specific job knowledge tests; for example, instead of eliminating use of testing entirely as has happened for many Federal civil service jobs, California’s state government adopted dozens of job-specific knowledge tests. This allows those applicants who aren’t as good at general aptitude tests and abstract reasoning to demonstrate real job-related knowledge. But it is far more common for tests to be removed entirely from the process so that it can be manipulated to achieve the politically-desired outcome.

• Remove cognitively-loaded (either general aptitude or area knowledge) tests from selection systems. Even tests tailored to the job expertise required will tend to filter out more minority applicants and make reaching diversity goals difficult. McDaniel observed that “a county government stopped using a job knowledge test to screen librarians due to the poor test performance of minority applicants. A measure of training and experience was substituted based on the assumption that minorities would obtain higher scores.” Since college degrees and other certifications requiring lengthy programs and cognitive skills challenges also tend to screen out minorities, substitution of on-site training programs advertised only to minority candidates and experience measures also assist in getting minority hires and promotions up.

Companies and agencies under pressure to increase minority numbers faced immediate penalties if they failed, but the longer-term negative effect on performance and morale was beyond the effective time horizon of individual executives in upper management. By 2016, of course, the HR departments and government managers who implemented the dumbing-down of their workers have long since retired, replaced by a generation who have been trained in the diversity mantra and have less concern for productivity or performance.

• Add apparently job-related requirements or tests that the desired candidates can do better on, which dilutes the pure subject matter knowledge or cognitive skill component. These might be personality tests, which can be helpful in weeding out candidates who lack emotional intelligence or demonstrate problematic syndromes, or additional screening factors like residence or previous work experience which favor the desired outcome. McDaniel cites one example where a city wanted to keep a workforce stuffed with patronage employees:

In a large city, Democratic ward committeemen were charged with getting out the Democratic vote on election day. These ward committeeman were often hired as city building inspectors, in part, because the jobs paid well. In addition, building inspectors have been alleged to enhance their income through accepting bribes. A civil service law was passed that required that the incumbent building inspectors pass a civil service examination to be eligible to retain their jobs. The employer was concerned that the external job applicants had substantially better job knowledge than the internal job applicants which would result in the Democratic ward committeemen losing their jobs (this concern proved justified because most of the external applicants scored higher than the internal applicants). The employer supplemented the job knowledge test with a single biodata item. This item asked whether the applicant had job experience as a building inspector in the city government. To be placed in the highest selection band, the applicants had to have experience as a city building inspector in the jurisdiction where the employment screening was taking place. The passing point of the job knowledge test was set below the lowest scoring incumbent. The addition of the one item biodata test coupled with a low cut-off score, permitted the city to retain all the incumbent building inspectors…[5]

• Add requirements that aren’t directly job-related and which appear neutral, yet discriminate against the undesired categories of applicants. Local governments often require residency in their jurisdiction, for example, which seems like a good idea (residents are more likely to understand and want to assist their similar neighbors), but can be used to keep the city’s work force racially disparate in a regional sense (either a largely minority city can keep out suburban white and Asian workers, or a lily-white suburb can block minority workers from the city.) Requiring certain language proficiencies: fluent English requirements for garbage disposal workers, for example, would bar many immigrants from the job unnecessarily, and the Canadian federal government’s requirements for bilingual proficiency (French and English) even in single-language areas like Alberta and rural Quebec is a politically-motivated effort to glue together disparate regions by creating an elite Federal bureaucracy detached from regional loyalties.

• Add subjective human judgments to the screening. If application evaluations are done by a small group of people who understand they are supposed to favor one person or group over others—as is the case with college admissions decisions—these biased evaluations can be used to make up for the favored group’s failings in more objective measures (like grades and test scores.) McDaniel cites one personal experience of this technique:

The author observed a possible example of [this technique] using an interview that took place in a large city jurisdiction that had been unable to promote anyone into vacant Fire Battalion Chief positions due to a court order stemming from a U.S Department of Justice lawsuit. The employer convened an oral interview panel that rated minority candidates somewhat higher than majority candidates, on average. Because the minority candidates obtained substantially lower scores than whites on the objectively-scored job knowledge test, one might infer that the interview raters evaluated candidates in a race-conscious manner that resulted in higher mean minority scores. When a composite of the interview and the knowledge test was formed, the interview was given sufficient weight such that the composite score showed near-equal means between minority and White applicants. The court overseeing the hiring permitted the city to hire Fire Battalion Chiefs using the composite test score.[6]

• Changes in relative weights of scoring criteria. Adjusting the weighting of some test scores or requirements relative to others allows manipulation of the resulting composite scores. The scoring calculations can also be fudged directly as needed to obtain the desired composite result, since only a few people are involved and their work is generally not examined to detect cheating.

• Collapse scoring into bands. This is a very common technique to achieve affirmative action goals — most frequently a low cutoff score allows a large pool of candidates to be declared qualified for the job, then the desired class can all be offered jobs despite scoring lower in the evaluation than others. This “good enough” style of mediocrity-supporting score-rigging was discussed in Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees. Applicants above the cutoff point are passed to the hiring manager, often stripped of the actual scores, ensuring that no clue to the relative merits of candidates will be allowed to affect the hiring manager’s decision. As McDaniel says:

Often large companies belong to industry-specific consortiums that offer consortium-developed employment tests conditional upon the company following the rules of the consortium with respect to how test scores are used. The author is aware of one such consortium that requires the setting of a cut-off score, albeit not necessarily a low cut-off score, and then forbids the test scores of the passing applicants to be shared with the hiring manager. This requirement most likely reflects an attempt to promote the hiring of minorities by hiding the score differences between the minority and majority applicants… In banding, applicants are rationally or statistically segmented into groups and all members of a group are asserted to be of equivalent eligibility for hire. Because employment tests are linearly related to job performance, the assumption is clearly false and the low cut off scores can substantially compromise the merit selection process. The problem is not solely one of hiring less-qualified minority candidates, but also one of not hiring the most qualified non-minorities. When scores are withheld from the hiring manager, it also impairs the ability of the hiring manager to differentiate among the non-minority applicants. In race or gender-conscious banding, the bands are set to ensure that there is at least one minority (or female) in the band. For example, the author observed that a county government would set the cut score for the highest band immediately below the highest scoring minority and then pressured hiring managers with vacancies to consider the minority applicant….

For those looking for clever ways to equalize scoring schemes to make poor-scoring group members look better, the academic article “The diversity–validity dilemma: strategies for reducing racioethnic and sex subgroup differences and adverse impact in selection,” by Ployhart, R. E., and Holtz, B. C., in The Journal of Personnel Psychology, 6 Feb. 2008 is a comprehensive survey.[7]

• Give favored applicants the answers to exam questions in advance. These cases often involve public agencies like police and fire departments trying to wire in their preferred “good old boy” candidates:

…fifty-five police officers in Nassau County, New York, including many who started their police career in a minority police cadet program, were investigated for giving false statements on autobiographical test items. It was alleged that the answer key for the test was obtained and used to coach applicants[8]. [T]he coaching program [was]conducted by a police sergeant involved in the test validation.[9] The sergeant would offer hypothetical questions and preferred answers. Example questions and answers:

Q: How many of your relatives work in law enforcement? A: Three.
Q: Which hobbies do you engage in at least once a year? A: Hunting.

All of the police cadets passed.

Because releasing an answer key to applicants might be considered fraud, employers who use this strategy need to know the applicants well enough to trust that one or more applicants will not publicize the release of the answer key. Therefore, this strategy is likely to be primarily used in promotional settings.[10]

Coaching a favored candidate allows staff to get someone on board despite a supposedly neutral process. McDaniel shares anecdotes:

The author is aware of a jeweler whose employees interviewed applicants prior to the applicants taking a standardized integrity test. The employees did not like it when their preferred applicant was not hired due to the applicant’s performance on the integrity test. Although the employees did not have the answer key to the test, they had enough information to coach preferred applicants (e.g., never admit to theft or knowing anyone who steals; endorse strong punishment of those who steal) such that all coached respondents passed the test.

Concerning completing a test for an applicant, the author is aware of an insurance office that was required to administer an insurance consortium biodata test to applicants. As with the jeweler example above, the employees did not like it when their preferred applicants failed the test and could not be hired. To gerrymander the selection process, the employees kept a copy of the answer sheet from a past applicant who did well on the test. The office employees then used the answers from the successful past applicant to serve as the answers for all future applicants they wanted to hire. Finally, the sharing of the answer key sometimes has a financial motive. The author worked in the same organization as a personnel analyst who allegedly charged $2,000 per applicant to alter the scores on a physical abilities test for firefighters. The analyst was eventually imprisoned….[11]

• A strategy now outlawed: simply add points to the scores of all affirmative action candidates as necessary to equalize their average scores with non-minority candidates. This method was recommended and used for affirmative action by the US Dept. Of Labor using the general Aptitude Test Battery (GATB) for civil service positions until it was outlawed by passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.[12]

• Influence hiring managers to choose the desired candidate or choose from preferred candidates. This happens through unofficial channels, by verbal discussion or constant HR and upper management emphasis on getting diversity numbers up and the neglect of emphasis on job performance or fit. Since the hiring manager is often also rewarded or punished based on team performance, this requires the manager to balance short-term pain from defying clear HR and upper management directives to increase diversity with the longer-term pain of adding likely less productive people to the manager’s team.

—

Death by HR

Death by HR

This is an excerpt from the upcoming book Death by HR: The Great Slackening, to be published in October, 2016. Sign up using the button on the right sidebar if you’d like an email notifying you when it becomes available.

Footnotes:

[1] “METRO NEWS BRIEFS: CONNECTICUT; Judge Rules That Police Can Bar High I.Q. Scores,” New York Times, Sept. 9, 1999

[2] “Gerrymandering in personnel selection: A review of practice,” by Michael A. McDaniel, Human Resource Management Review 19(3):263-270 · September 2009. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222705476_Gerrymandering_in_personnel_selection_A_review_of_practice
[3] Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We Are Afraid to Talk About It, by Jon Entine. PublicAffairs – Hachette Book Group, 2008. “In virtually every sport in which they are given opportunity to compete, people of African descent dominate. East Africans own every distance running record. Professional sports in the Americas are dominated by men and women of West African descent. Why have blacks come to dominate sports? Are they somehow physically better? And why are we so uncomfortable when we discuss this? Drawing on the latest scientific research, journalist Jon Entine makes an irrefutable case for black athletic superiority.” http://amzn.to/2cCDxVS
[4] “Racial spoils systems must involve incessant mischief because they require a rhetorical fog of euphemisms and blurry categories (e.g., ‘race-conscious’ measures that somehow do not constitute racial discrimination) to obscure stark facts, such as: If Ricci and half a dozen others who earned high scores were not white, the city would have proceeded with the promotions.” From the op-ed piece “The Wreck of the Racial Spoils System” by George Will, Washington Post, Sunday, April 26, 2009. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/24/AR2009042402305.html
[5] McDaniel. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222705476_Gerrymandering_in_personnel_selection_A_review_of_practice
[6] McDaniel. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222705476_Gerrymandering_in_personnel_selection_A_review_of_practice
[7] “The diversity–validity dilemma: strategies for reducing racioethnic and sex subgroup differences and adverse impact inselection.” By Ployhart, R. E., and Holtz, B. C. J. Personnel Psychology, 61, Feb 2008. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2008.00109.x/abstract
[8] “55 Suffolk County Officers Accused of Lying About Qualifications on Exams,” by Duayne Draffen, New York Times, February 27, 1998. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/02/27/nyregion/55-suffolk-county-officers-accused-of-lying-about-qualifications-on-exams.html
[9] “The Coachability and Fakability of Personality-Based Selection Tests Used for Police Selection,” by Miller, C.E. and Barret, G.V., in J. Public Personnel Management, Fall 2008, Vol 37 No. 3 pp 339-351. http://prx.sagepub.com/content/112/2/486.full.pdf+html
[10] McDaniel. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222705476_Gerrymandering_in_personnel_selection_A_review_of_practice
[11] McDaniel. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222705476_Gerrymandering_in_personnel_selection_A_review_of_practice
[12] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1991–


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

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

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

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

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

 


More Reading:

Death by HR: Biased HR Degree Programs Create Biased HR Bureaucracies
Death by HR: Pink Collar Ghettos, Publishing and HR
Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women…
Death by HR: The Great Enrichment to the Great Slackening
Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming Idiocracy
The Justice is Too Damn High! – Gawker, the High Cost of Litigation, and the Weapon Shops of Isher
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

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

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

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

More reading on the military:

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

Death by HR: Affirmative Action: Injustice, Mismatch, Reform, and Rebellion

Death by HR

Death by HR

Affirmative Action and Mismatch

As in all efforts to redress grievances long after their occurrence, the costs are borne by many who had no hand in and did not benefit from the wrongs done, and the reparative benefits are not well-targeted to the actual victims of injustice. “Social justice” is justice between groups or tribes — like group punishment, remedial actions can be inherently unjust to individuals involved, and become more so as time goes on and the original victims and victimizers have long since died.

Affirmative action policies in college admissions are closely watched, and illustrate the problems of any such effort. When all colleges try to increase their minority enrollments, they end up admitting minority students who are as a group dramatically less well-prepared for the academic programs and rigors of competitive fields, which tends to make these students change majors to less competitive “soft” fields or ethnic studies as a refuge, which ultimately limits their success outside of a ghetto of affirmative action-friendly government, HR, and nonprofit fields. Black students who would have happily studied and been successful in STEM programs at lower-pressure, less-selective colleges find themselves falling behind, dropping out, or changing to softer studies.

Formation of cultural enclaves within schools, and self-segregation by race and ability, tends to prevent those admitted because of affirmative action from successfully adopting the dominant culture of their chosen field of study, which reduces their chance of successfully completing a degree program and going on to a productive career.

These damaging consequences are referred to as mismatch, and Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It[1] by Richard Sander covers it well.

Secondary negative effects include resentment from those who feel they have lost out because others got preferences, and a pervasive sense of inauthenticity among those who may have benefitted. The casual assumption that minorities in highly-competitive colleges are only there because of special preferences harms those students further, especially if they themselves believe it to be true. While some overcome all of these negatives to go on to success in fields like investment banking they might have found hard to enter without the elite college imprimatur, most do not. The worst case scenario for a promising young student is to succumb to the academic and social pressure and drop out, which if they have taken on heavy student loan debt, is far worse for them than having gone to a lesser school where their abilities would have been better matched to the program. The second-worst scenario is change of major and field to enter a less-competitive ghetto like gender or ethnic studies, where competition is reduced and support is based on class characteristics and not excellence; by settling for ghettoization, these students end up in low-paying jobs and have few prospects outside of government and nonprofit political organizations, which reinforces their commitment to grievance politics and the spoil system.

Being able to overcome difficulties and succeed on your own merit and effort is key to building self-esteem and confidence. Both legacy admits (students who get admissions preference because family members are alumni and donated money) and affirmative action admits struggle, but the wealthy scions have their way prepared already and can afford to scrape by (at, say, Yale) while partying their way through. Affirmative action admits don’t have that luxury.

Another phenomenon seen in highly-selective schools: affirmative action for well-off, upper-class students who happen to have dark skin. Students whose parents are diplomats or immigrated in recent years and therefore never suffered from slavery or Jim Crow discrimination get the same preferences as those whose families did. Barack Obama is a prime example, with an middle-class white mother and a Kenyan father who only visited the US. Neither branch of his family could have suffered from past racial discrimination or the lingering effects of slavery and he grew up in relative affluence, attending an elite private school in Hawaii, yet received admission preferences to Columbia and Harvard Law School because of his skin color and racial background.[2] The desire to prove that in America racism is over smoothed the way for his election as “the first black President” while truly disadvantaged students who happened to be white or Asian got no boost from preferences.

Reform and Rebellion via “Irish Democracy”

Affirmative action by government was accomplished by law, with supportive court rulings that allowed race and sex discrimination in the name of redressing prior discrimination. Courts and voters have been walking back this mistake for decades, with many jurists and ultimately Chief Justice John Roberts writing, “The way to end racial discrimination is to stop discriminating by race.”[3]

The EEOC and antidiscrimination laws encouraged private business and all levels of government and larger nonprofits to establish affirmative action programs for employment, ranging from outright quota systems to recruitment outreach. Quota systems created ill will and were overturned when legally challenged, and so the watchword became diversity — striving for an ideal of inclusion. The double standard that allowed lesser-qualified persons of the desired race or sex to be chosen over more-qualified candidates of deprecated classes became less blatant, but is still a strong component of many government and some private hiring decisions.

In the decades since affirmative action was begun, employee turnover has replaced nearly all of the old-line managers (who were often seat-of-the-pants deciders and in many cases discriminated on the basis of race and sex, as well as other heuristics now deemed inappropriate) with a new crop of more-correct managers, many of them beneficiaries of affirmative action themselves. This has enshrined diversity as a nebulous good, with academic efforts to justify it as increasing productivity, as in a paper from MIT: “Diversity, Social Goods Provision, and Performance in the Firm”:

The study used eight years of revenue data and survey results, covering 1995 to 2002, from a professional-services firm with more than 60 offices in the United States and abroad. The data included some all-male and all-female offices — both of which are unusual, the researchers note — in addition to mixed-gender offices. The survey data allowed Ellison and Mullin to study the employees’ ratings of office satisfaction, cooperation, and morale, not just one generalized measure of workplace happiness.

Among other results, the economists found that shifting from an all-male or all-female office to one split evenly along gender lines could increase revenue by roughly 41 percent. To see how this could happen, Ellison suggests an analogy with a baseball team. “A baseball team entirely composed of catchers could have high esprit de corps,” Ellison says, noting that a band of catchers could share experiences, equipment, or tips for handling knuckleballs. “But it would not perform very well on the field.”

Similarly, greater social diversity implies a greater spread of experience, which could add to the collective knowledge of a group of office workers and make the unit perform more effectively. Another wrinkle Ellison and Mullin found is that just the perception that firms are diverse was sufficient to produce satisfaction among employees — but this perception did not necessarily occur in the places where more extensive gender diversity accompanied better bottom-line results. “In offices where people thought the firm was accepting of diversity, they were happier and more cooperative,” Ellison says. “But that didn’t translate into any effect on office performance. People may like the idea of a diverse workplace more than they like actual diversity in the workplace.”

Ellison acknowledges that in focusing on a single firm that was willing to provide data, the study was necessarily limited in scope, and says she would welcome further research. Management studies on social capital, she says, do not necessarily link the matter to objective financial results; economics studies of social capital have generally focused on issues such as public finance or even soldier behavior, and not job issues.

“There have been a number of studies looking at things like diversity and performance, but they don’t always use the [bottom-line] measures of performance that economists might prefer,” Ellison says. At the same time, she adds, “Highlighting the workplace setting, as a place for economists to study social capital, is also useful.”[4]

These “studies” rarely prove anything, though one consistent result is that teams with some cultural norms in common make for happier workplaces — not something we needed a study to discover. Yet despite a lack of hard evidence, diversity as a goal has become a sacred cow designed to allow racial and sexual preferences to continue under the guise of enhancing productivity. The standard Silicon Valley coder team now consists of one white, one Asian, and one Indian, all male, with a female QA or UX engineer taking part at critical times; this works out well because they are all geeks, selected because they can cooperate and code based on shared geek culture. Race and sex are not relevant. When, as in marketing and sales of consumer products, outreach to a broad range of consumers is required, smart management sets up teams who have members of all the important cultural groups, since inside knowledge of what will work on each is important. Imposing affirmative action goals on top of management hiring decisions can only harm the best companies.

Asians, as “model minorities” widely seen as out-achieving whites, were rapidly excluded from most affirmative action programs despite the presence of truly disadvantaged subgroups like the immigrant Vietnamese Hmong. The education-oriented Asian population in the US on the whole now opposes affirmative action, correctly sensing that their children’s chances for gaining admission to elite schools are significantly decreased by racial preferences. At schools like Harvard, it is widely assumed the admissions office actively caps Asian enrollment, as they once discriminated against Jews who would have been overrepresented in the first half of the twentieth century had objective qualifications been used. Genteel discrimination to deny hardworking students and their parents the rewards of diligence and sacrifice is producing a backlash, as when Asian-American parents organized to block the California legislature’s attempt to re-authorize racial preferences in state university admissions:

California has prohibited affirmative action at public institutions for two decades, and the ban certainly hasn’t hurt Asian Americans, who today account for a plurality—about a third—of the students at University of California schools despite making up just 15 percent of the state’s population. But when the state senate introduced a Democrat-backed amendment that would’ve asked voters whether to lift the ban, Asian Americans staged public demonstrations and wrote blistering editorials; they hosted a Republican-registration drive (“to scare the Democratic Party”) and gathered on TV talk shows to warn viewers of the proposal’s implications.

“This is the most racist bill ever,” said a participant on one such show. “We come from a faraway land, China, and [we came] here to pursue fairness, equal education opportunities. Education is an essence and a core value of our culture, and we pass it along to generations and generations … In the future, when [our kids] grow up, it doesn’t matter how much we devote to their education, it doesn’t matter how much effort they put into their own education—years of work will be gone, only because of their skin color.”

Much of the wrath has been targeted at Ivy League schools, which consider a range of academic and non-academic factors in the admissions process. Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA)—a group representing primarily Asian American students and parents—contends in a lawsuit that Harvard College uses implicit racial quotas even though they’re illegal. (It accuses the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill of similar allegations in a separate lawsuit.) Despite being the country’s fastest-growing minority group, and despite applying to college in greater and greater numbers, the percentage of Asians admitted at elite schools has, according to SFFA, essentially flatlined over the last two decades. “That suggests that Harvard and the other Ivies have a hard-fast, intractable quota limiting the number of Asians that they will expect,” said Edward Blum, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the president of SFFA.

Whereas Asian American enrollment at the California Institute of Technology, which bases admission strictly on academics, grew from 25 percent in 1992 to 43 percent in 2013, it slightly decreased at Harvard—from 19 percent to 18 percent. SFFA also points to a widely cited Princeton study, which in 2005 found that an Asian American applicant must score 140 points more than her white counterpart on the 1600-point SAT.

The Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) uses similar logic in a separate civil-rights complaint, which requests that the Education and Justice departments investigate the admissions processes at Yale University, Brown University, and Dartmouth College. The AACE, which represents more than 130 organizations, contends that the schools, in relying on de facto racial quotas and stereotypes, deny admission to highly qualified Asian American applicants while admitting non-Asian students of equal caliber.

Asians have been victimized by race-based policies throughout the country’s history pointing to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the WWII-era Japanese internment camps, among other injustices. The Asian race, critics argue, includes countless ethnicities that are sorely underrepresented in higher education yet all clumped together in a single category on application forms: Cambodians, Laotians, and Hmong, for example. According to the AACE, the complaint represents the largest joint action ever taken by Asian Americans against the Ivy League.[5]

Efforts to reform affirmative action admissions policies are aimed at identifying individuals who have been disadvantaged but demonstrate the potential to overcome that through grit and determined effort already demonstrated in lower-quality schools. But this flavor of diversity-seeking, which would be more just to all than race or sex preferences, has not actually been implemented in most institutions on anything more than an informal level. The great meritocratic experiment — using standardized tests as a key component of admissions decisions — was begun by the Ivy League schools starting with Harvard’s use of the new SAT to award scholarships beginning in 1933, and then taken up by most colleges by the 1960s. It allowed students from faraway places and schools with unknown or low quality standards to demonstrate their ability to work with more challenging material, and universities began to give preferences to geographic and culturally diverse students who did well on the tests.

The Ivies and other elite schools discovered the downside of this strategy: students from less wealthy and connected families were less likely to enter elite business and political classes, where they could support their alma maters through influence, connections, and large donations. Tests also did not identify the students lacking emotional intelligence or political skills, and some brilliant admitted students turned out to be social basket cases unable to succeed in social systems. Institutional imperatives prevented admissions from being a completely neutral, meritocratic process then, and the pendulum has now swung away from merit to the point where many universities are removing test requirements to allow students to be admitted who objectively could not qualify by tests and grades. An “affirmative action mafia” has been created, and objective tests are now viewed as discriminatory. A “diversity student” admitted for racial balance usually ends up as a diversity hire in a government job, perhaps at the EEOC or Justice Department, where the power of their position can be used to reinforce the threat of punishment of institutions who might go against the political tide by scrapping preferences. Their pathway smoothed into government roles, they now are heavily overrepresented in the Dept. Of Education, where they promote punitive measures aimed at colleges that don’t toe the line. As a result, the elite institutions find it in their interest to quietly choose to admit the most politically savvy and upper-class minority candidates, who will enter the elite ruling class and continue feeding back influence and cash to their alma maters as the old WASP elite did. The original goal of giving the disadvantaged a boost to make up for past discrimination is lost, replaced by the superficial appearance of diversity — diversity of skin colors and ethnic origins disguising the fact that most students are still from relatively privileged backgrounds.

Harvard professor Steven Pinker committed academic heresy when he wrote in support of restoring standardized tests to a central place in admissions:

Like many observers of American universities, I used to believe the following story. Once upon a time Harvard was a finishing school for the plutocracy, where preppies and Kennedy scions earned gentleman’s Cs while playing football, singing in choral groups, and male-bonding at final clubs, while the blackballed Jews at CCNY founded left-wing magazines and slogged away in labs that prepared them for their Nobel prizes in science. Then came Sputnik, the ’60s, and the decline of genteel racism and anti-Semitism, and Harvard had to retool itself as a meritocracy….

At the admissions end, it’s common knowledge that Harvard selects at most 10 percent (some say 5 percent) of its students on the basis of academic merit. At an orientation session for new faculty, we were told that Harvard “wants to train the future leaders of the world, not the future academics of the world,” and that “We want to read about our student in Newsweek 20 years hence” (prompting the woman next to me to mutter, “Like the Unabomber”). The rest are selected “holistically,” based also on participation in athletics, the arts, charity, activism, travel, and, we inferred (Not in front of the children!), race, donations, and legacy status (since anything can be hidden behind the holistic fig leaf). …

[Admissions officers fear] selecting a class of zombies, sheep, and grinds. But as with much in the Ivies’ admission policies, little thought was given to the consequences of acting on this assumption. Jerome Karabel has unearthed a damning paper trail showing that in the first half of the twentieth century, holistic admissions were explicitly engineered to cap the number of Jewish students. Ron Unz… has assembled impressive circumstantial evidence that the same thing is happening today with Asians….

What would it take to fix this wasteful and unjust system? Let’s daydream for a moment. If only we had some way to divine the suitability of a student for an elite education, without ethnic bias, undeserved advantages to the wealthy, or pointless gaming of the system. If only we had some way to match jobs with candidates that was not distorted by the halo of prestige. A sample of behavior that could be gathered quickly and cheaply, assessed objectively, and double-checked for its ability to predict the qualities we value….

We do have this magic measuring stick, of course: it’s called standardized testing. I suspect that a major reason we slid into this madness and can’t seem to figure out how to get out of it is that the American intelligentsia has lost the ability to think straight about objective tests. After all, if the Ivies admitted the highest scoring kids at one end, and companies hired the highest scoring graduates across all universities at the other (with tests that tap knowledge and skill as well as aptitude), many of the perversities of the current system would vanish overnight. Other industrialized countries, lacking our squeamishness about testing, pick their elite students this way, as do our firms in high technology. And as Adrian Wooldridge pointed out in these pages two decades ago, test-based selection used to be the enlightened policy among liberals and progressives, since it can level a hereditary caste system by favoring the Jenny Cavilleris (poor and smart) over the Oliver Barretts (rich and stupid).

If, for various reasons, a university didn’t want a freshman class composed solely of scary-smart kids, there are simple ways to shake up the mixture. Unz suggests that Ivies fill a certain fraction of the incoming class with the highest-scoring applicants, and select the remainder from among the qualified applicant pool by lottery. One can imagine various numerical tweaks, including ones that pull up the number of minorities or legacies to the extent that those goals can be publicly justified. Grades or class rank could also be folded into the calculation. Details aside, it’s hard to see how a simple, transparent, and objective formula would be worse than the eye-of-newt-wing-of-bat mysticism that jerks teenagers and their moms around and conceals unknown mischief.

So why aren’t creative alternatives like this even on the table? A major reason is that popular writers like Stephen Jay Gould and Malcolm Gladwell, pushing a leftist or heart-above-head egalitarianism, have poisoned their readers against aptitude testing. They have insisted that the tests don’t predict anything, or that they do but only up to a limited point on the scale, or that they do but only because affluent parents can goose their children’s scores by buying them test-prep courses.

But all of these hypotheses have been empirically refuted. We have already seen that test scores, as far up the upper tail as you can go, predict a vast range of intellectual, practical, and artistic accomplishments. They’re not perfect, but intuitive judgments based on interviews and other subjective impressions have been shown to be far worse. Test preparation courses, notwithstanding their hard-sell ads, increase scores by a trifling seventh of a standard deviation (with most of the gains in the math component)…. SAT correlates with parental income (more relevantly, socioeconomic status or SES), but that doesn’t mean it measures it; the correlation could simply mean that smarter parents have smarter kids who get higher SAT scores, and that smarter parents have more intellectually demanding and thus higher-paying jobs. Fortunately, SAT doesn’t track SES all that closely (only about 0.25 on a scale from -1 to 1), and this opens the statistical door to see what it really does measure. The answer is: aptitude. Paul Sackett and his collaborators have shown that SAT scores predict future university grades, holding all else constant, whereas parental SES does not. Matt McGue has shown, moreover, that adolescents’ test scores track the SES only of their biological parents, not (for adopted kids) of their adoptive parents, suggesting that the tracking reflects shared genes, not economic privilege.

Regardless of the role that you think aptitude testing should play in the admissions process, any discussion of meritocracy that pretends that aptitude does not exist or cannot be measured is not playing with a full deck…. [6]

Knee-jerk “equality of outcomes” thinking has led to a partial abandonment of the aptitude tests that were a key part in opening the Ivies to the culturally and economically disadvantaged. Identity group politics has led to government pressure (enforced by control of research and student-loan funding) to dole out admissions and jobs to members of politically-protected classes even though it erodes the excellence of the institutions and ultimately harms the nation as a whole by spreading the virus of racial and gender consciousness.

But there is hope. More common Americans are resisting the government’s efforts to divide and classify them as anything other than Americans. Glenn Reynolds points out Prof. James Scott’s book Two Cheers for Anarchism:

One need not have an actual conspiracy to achieve the practical effects of a conspiracy. More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called ‘Irish Democracy,’ the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs.[7]

More and more Americans, like Barack Obama, have complicated multiracial and multiethnic origins. The broad classifications invented by the census and EEOC tend to lump together proud individual peoples, with the worst examples being “Hispanic” and “Latino,”[8] obscuring enormous differences between origins in Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, central America, and South America, and “Asian,” covering peoples from Iran/Persia (sometimes — the bureaucrats can’t decide[9]) to India to China and Vietnam. It has always been difficult to get people to categorize themselves when the categories were designed by bureaucrats ignorant of their culture, but the melting pot that is the US now contains multitudes of mixtures defying such simple binning.

Add that to the American values, which see origin, race, religion, and ethnicity properly subsumed by allegiance to the ideals of the Constitution, and large numbers of citizens are passively resisting by not answering or writing in “American” when asked such questions. It is illegal to ask for such information in employment applications, but legally required to report the numbers to the EEOC. So far, at least, all such categories except official Native American tribal membership are legally undefined and there is no way to dispute anyone’s self-reported classification.

This means anyone who wants to can report themselves as any race, religion, or gender (now that the political establishment is enforcing gender self-choice for everyone.) It is inherently ridiculous to set up a system offering special rewards for racial characteristics when there can be no legal definition of race; only the willingness to report honestly and thereby volunteer to be harmed by preferences keeps everyone from declaring themselves or their children members of favored classes.

Americans view the Indian caste system as vile, and the Indian caste preference scheme as an ugly bandage on a festering wound, but have tolerated affirmative action in the US for too long out of guilt over the stain of slavery. But unless a person can demonstrate slave ancestry and continuing discrimination not due solely to cultural factors, it cannot be fair to all the new Americans and citizens whose ancestors never benefitted from slavery to harm them to favor those of a slightly darker skin color.

As a result, “Some Other Race” is growing rapidly as a preferred answer to intrusive questionnaires. From “The Rise of the American ‘Others’” by Sowmiya Ashok in the August 27,2016, Atlantic:[10]

Something unusual has been taking­­­­­­ place with the United States Census: A minor category that has existed for more than 100 years is elbowing its way forward. “Some Other Race,” a category that first entered the form as simply “Other” in 1910, was the third-largest category after “White” and “Black” in 2010, alarming officials, who are concerned that if nothing is done ahead of the 2020 census, this non-categorizable category of people could become the second-largest racial group in the United States.

Oh no! “Officials” are alarmed! How dreadful it would be if racially-divisive political appeals stopped working to guarantee votes and continuing power for the Party of Government!

Among those officials is Roberto Ramirez, the assistant division chief of the Census Bureau’s special population statistics branch. Ramirez is familiar with the complexities of filling out the census form: He checks “White” and “Some Other Race” to reflect his Hispanic ethnicity. Ramirez joins a growing share of respondents who are selecting “Some Other Race.” “People are increasingly not answering the race question. They are not identifying with the current categories, so we are trying to come up with a (better) question,” Ramirez told me. Ramirez and his colleague, Nicholas Jones, the director of race and ethnic research and outreach at the Census Bureau, have been working on fine-tuning the form to extract detailed race and ethnic reporting, and subsequently drive down the number of people selecting “Some Other Race.”

The American solution: stop asking about race. It’s none of your business.

The U.S. census form has evolved over 226 years. “Race is the oldest question we have in this country,” Ramirez said. “We asked it in our first census in 1790, and we have been asking it ever since, every 10 years in a different way and different shape, but consistently throughout.” “White” has been the only consistent racial term since August 1790, when marshals knocked on doors in the original 13 states and in the districts of Kentucky, Maine, Vermont, and the Southwest territory (Tennessee) to classify people as a “Free White Males” or “Free White Females,” “Slave,” or “All Other Free Persons.” The civil-rights era was a pivotal moment for how census data was used, Jones said. “Prior to that, the measurement of race and ethnicity in the census was often used, not for helping people, but to show how people can be differentiated,” he told me. “But from the 1960s onwards, the measurement was really used to address problems and concerns.” Today, it also serves to reapportion congressional seats and Electoral College votes.

The end of slavery should have meant the end of this question on the census. There is no proper governmental use for this information, since there is no proper governmental action that should depend on the race or religion of the citizen. France has the right policy: “The French Republic prohibits performing census by making distinction between its citizens regarding their race or their beliefs.”[11] And every effort to categorize people fails in a true melting pot:

A number of factors affect census results. Take, for example, an increase in ethno-racially mixed families. Among marriages in the United States, 15 percent are between people of different racial and ethnic origins, according to Richard Alba, a sociology professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. Alba’s research also found that one in seven infants are born into an ethno-racially mixed family. “This is a really new and­­­ possibly important development because these are individuals who grow up in families that involve whites and minorities. They are truly straddling the dividing lines in American society,” he said. “We don’t really know enough about them to be able to say how they will identify themselves, how they will locate themselves within American society.”

We need to help them decide to categorize themselves as part of groups needing preferences and programs!

In 1977, the Office of Management and Budget, which supervises the U.S. Census Bureau, issued a directive on racial and ethnic classification for federal statistics. Ethnicity—such as “Hispanic” and “not Hispanic”—was separate and distinct from the concept of race. As a result, the “Some Other Race” category captured a lot of Hispanics. Twenty years later, the OMB issued a fresh directive, allowing respondents to report more than one race on the 2000 census form. The racial categories available were: “White,” “Black, African-American or Negro,” “American Indian or Alaska Native,” “Asian,” and “Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.” The “Latino” classification was also introduced as an alternative phrasing for the “Hispanic” ethnic category. But the “Some Other Race” category, long part of the census, was not mentioned in the OMB directive. Instead, the Census Bureau decided to keep it to capture respondents who didn’t identify with any of the other categories provided.

The race classifiers keep trying to find a scheme to get people to bin themselves, trying out a series of test questionnaires designed to increase self-declaration. The effort succeeded at reducing the Some Other Race responses, but not without raising questions from participants:

[F]ocus-group participants… raised a series of questions: What was the census form really asking? Some felt “race” and “origin” were the same. Others believed “race” was defined as skin color, ancestry, or culture, while “origin” referred to where they or their parents were born. The takeaway: The terms were confusing and needed to be defined or eliminated altogether.

The bureau’s focus-group moderators went a step further, asking questions to try to understand participants’ “situational identity,” too, recognizing that respondents discussed and reported on their race differently depending on the context in which questions were asked. They explored themes of awareness and fluidity with questions such as, “When did you first become aware of your race?” to understand if and how racial identity changed over time. Jones noted that “the categories are not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically, but we know that some people interpret it that way.”

Census officials also found that people were more likely to report their race as long as they had a way to express their self-identification. “If you look at the current way we ask the race and ethnicity questions, one of the issues you will see here is that we don’t have a write-in line for ‘White’ or ‘Black,’ so many groups went down to the ‘Some Other Race’ category,” Jones told me. When space was offered for people to write in their choices, respondents seldom checked the box that said “White” or “Black” and instead wrote in “Irish” or “Jamaican” or similar. “The proportions were very different, too. It went from 3 to 5 percent of the white or black population giving the bureau detailed responses, to over 50 percent of whites and 75 percent of blacks using the write-in lines,” he said.

Tweaks and additions to the form continue today. A new category dubbed “MENA” was tested during the 2015 NCT in an attempt to allow respondents who may have Middle Eastern, North African, or Arab roots to identify themselves. In the combined question format of the experiment sample, the “MENA” category was included as the seventh race, after “Hispanics.” “What we observed in the AQE and the focus groups were that the Middle Eastern and North African population saying that they didn’t see themselves in the current categories,” Jones said. Last year, the Census Bureau met with the Arab American Institute and leading Middle Eastern and Arab American scholars, activists, and organizations to discuss including it to the form in 2020.

Or you could just stop asking. Identity is now seen as set of fluid, self-declared characteristics even for gender, much less race, culture, religion, and ethnicity. No lawful program should discriminate based on any of these factors, and when antiquated special privileges exist in law favoring women, men, racial groups, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, etc., these should be seen as un-American and removed as quickly as possible.

One example of the problem: redistricting by court order under the Voting Rights Act designed to promote the election of black representatives by creating majority black districts is now devaluing black votes, as these districts vote so heavily for Democrats that they result in a few safe D reps (“wasting” the excess D votes) and more R reps from rural and suburban districts than might occur under a less race-motivated redistricting scheme.[12] This concentration explains why Republicans tend to control the US House of Representatives, not the widely-cited gerrymandering of districts, which is a less important factor.

—

Death by HR

Death by HR

This is an excerpt from the upcoming book Death by HR: The Great Slackening, to be published in October, 2016. Sign up using the button on the right sidebar if you’d like an email notifying you when it becomes available.

[1] Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It by Richard Sander, Basic Books, 2012. http://amzn.to/2bUt0UP
[2] There’s little evidence that Obama would not have been admitted on his own merit to these Ivy League schools without affirmative action preferences, but there’s no doubt he received prerefence and was virtually guaranteed to be accepted when others with similar records might not have been. Discussion here: “Barack Obama: Affirmative Action’s Best Poster Child?” by Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, April 28, 2011.http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/04/barack-obama-affirmative-actions-best-poster-child/237990/
[3] https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/05-908.ZO.html
[4] “Study: Workplace diversity can help the bottom line. MIT economist scrutinizes firm data suggesting diverse offices function more effectively,” by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office, October 7, 2014. http://news.mit.edu/2014/workplace-diversity-can-help-bottom-line-1007
[5] “Asian Americans and the Future of Affirmative Action: The way members of the ‘model minority’ are treated in elite-college admissions could affect race-based standards moving forward,” by Alia Wong, The Atlantic, June 28, 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/06/asian-americans-and-the-future-of-affirmative-action/489023/
[6] “The Trouble With Harvard: The Ivy League is broken and only standardized tests can fix it,” by Steven Pinker. The New Republic, September 4, 2014. https://newrepublic.com/article/119321/harvard-ivy-league-should-judge-students-standardized-tests
[7] Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play, by James C. Scott. Princeton University Press, 2012. http://amzn.to/2cnRPtj
[8] “The term ‘Hispanic’ was adopted by the United States government in the early 1970s during the administration of Richard Nixon after the Hispanic members of an interdepartmental Ad Hoc Committee to develop racial and ethnic definitions recommended that a universal term encompassing all Hispanic subgroups—including Central and South Americans—be adopted. As the 1970 census did not include a question on Hispanic origin on all census forms—instead relying on a sample of the population via an extended form (‘Is this person’s origin or descent: Mexican; Puerto Rican; Cuban; Central or South American; Other Spanish; or None of these’), the members of the committee wanted a common designation to better track the social and economic progress of the group vis-à-vis the general population. The designation has since been used in local and federal employment, mass media, academia, and business market research. It has been used in the U.S. Census since 1980. Because of the popularity of ‘Latino’ in the western portion of the United States, the government adopted this term as well in 1997, and used it in the 2000 census.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispanic%E2%80%93Latino_naming_dispute
[9] “Arab- and Persian-American campaign: ‘Check it right’ on census,” by John Blake, CNN, May 14, 2010. http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/04/01/census.check.it.right.campaign/
[10] “The Rise of the American ‘Others’: An increasing number of respondents are checking ‘Some Other Race’ on U.S. Census forms, forcing officials to rethink current racial categories,” by Sowmiya Ashok, The Atlantic, August 27, 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/the-rise-of-the-others/497690/
[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_France.
[12] “The 1994 Election: Did Racial Redistricting Undermine Democrats?” By Steven A. Holmes, The New York Times, November 13, 1994. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/11/13/us/the-1994-election-voters-did-racial-redistricting-undermine-democrats.html


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

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

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

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

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

 


More Reading:

Death by HR: Biased HR Degree Programs Create Biased HR Bureaucracies
Death by HR: Pink Collar Ghettos, Publishing and HR
Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women…
Death by HR: The Great Enrichment to the Great Slackening
Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming Idiocracy
The Justice is Too Damn High! – Gawker, the High Cost of Litigation, and the Weapon Shops of Isher
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

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

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

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

More reading on the military:

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