systemic corruption

Interstate Commerce: Trade Barriers Between States

Doctor sees patients via Internet

Doctor sees patients via Internet

Ilya Somin has a post at Volokh/WaPo about “foot voting” (people choosing to move to jurisdictions that have local governments that reflect their values or offer economic opportunities lacking in their current home areas.)

One phenomenon often discussed is migrants bringing their voting habits with them and voting into place local governments that duplicate the conditions in, say. California (they are said to “Californicate” the new area.) People who move because of economic opportunities may have no understanding that the existence of the better job opportunities and lower costs of living in the new place owes much to more enlightened, less business-suppressing tax and regulation in the new location. Since they never realized those business-unfriendly California laws were suppressing local opportunities that might have kept them there, they don’t modify the type of politicians they support and so begin the process of bringing Progressive political machines and micromanagement to their new homes.

Outside observers look a country like India and wonder why reform of internal trade barriers, which are relics of the pre-colonial states, are widely understood to be prosperity-enhancing, but progresses very slowly if at all. Products made in one Indian state can’t be sold to a customer in another without paying additional taxes or being blocked by local content regulations.

In the US, regulation of interstate commerce was intentionally made a Federal matter, making the US a free trade area. This aided in creating the world’s largest internal free market and allowed local industries to grow up specializing in one manufacturing segment to serve a national market — regions specialized in furniture, shoes, textiles, steel, and so on, aided by economies of scale and able to take advantage of local resources that gave them a national advantage. If each state had been able to put tariffs on incoming products or block shipments from other states by regulation, the nation’s growth would have been stunted.

But services and professions are still licensed by states and even smaller units. To braid hair or do massage in a town can require licenses from both state and local authorities, with professional guilds using such licensing to block competition. This prevents poor entrepreneurs from finding work providing services and increases costs of those services for poor consumers, all in the name of consumer protection.

At the higher end, doctors are cartelized and regulated by states as well as the Federal government, which runs the subsidies and residency schemes that keep production of new physicians expensive and restricted. Healthcare services that could easily be handled by less expensive technologists are often required to be provided only under a licensed doctor’s supervision, pumping up the incomes for even the worst doctors (who may use their credential to take jobs in prison or institutional settings where their record of incompetence is ignored because their license is valid.)

New technology that might allow low-cost Internet doctoring by out-of-state or even out-of-country physicians is blocked in most states. Concern for consumer health is always cited as the reason, even when poor consumers can’t afford to seek any face-to-face care for their health issues. It is apparently better to go untreated than to allow the poor to buy “good enough” services on the Internet. The inability of above-board, higher-quality companies to run such remote doctoring systems leaves the field open to bootleg quacks.

So even the US is not truly a free trade zone, since many services (cable TV, real estate, medicine, restaurants, schools) are heavily regulated by state and local governments, and outsiders trying to break in face high barriers to entry. Big companies can overcome the need to manage 50 or more different regulatory regimes, but smaller chains just starting out have to choose wisely and only expand in areas where the regulatory environment is more supportive.

Not surprisingly, the result is vigorous competition and lower prices in less regulated areas, and sluggish investment and higher prices in more-regulated areas.

It’s clear that Federalism (state and local control) applied to service regulations is costing the economy growth and raising prices in an era where barriers to travel and communication have come down. Medical, teaching, and real estate professionals should not have to undergo licensing in every jurisdiction where they might practice. Cities and towns should not be able to extract concessions from a monopoly cable TV-Internet provider which result in high prices and no local competition.

Perhaps we should thank those Progressives who battered the Supreme Court into submission and started making the case that every local economic decision could be regulated by the Feds, since even the tiniest decision locally has some effect on the national market, no matter how minuscule.

The Progressives opened the way, so now it would be constitutional to overrule all local and state licensing of professionals, insurance companies, and other services, which could now be much more competitive in a true free national market. So if they wanted to, Congress could rule all medical and communications services licensed in one jurisdiction to be sellable in others. nationwide insurance policies would provide travel flexibility and economies of scale, and these companies could provide services via Skype examination that would undercut local doctor and hospital cartels. Sick people in the Bronx projects could be “seen” and prescribed treatment and medication from doctors in low-cost South Dakota, say. “Oh, no!” cry the Progressives, “They could be quacks!” And the products sold in New York from manufacturers in South Dakota, Michigan, or even China could be fakes or defective. Yet we tolerate the free trade of goods because it is in the long run best for everyone, and the wholesalers and retailers of goods have an interest in keeping bad products out of their systems. And now that low-skilled manufacturing jobs are mostly outside the US, isn’t it interesting that professions and industries that benefit from barriers to trade in services — lawyers, doctors, communications giants, drug companies, public schools — resist any effort to open themselves up to competition.

In “Death by HR” I discussed one remedy — a “Freedom of Contract” Amendment to the Constitution to clarify the Common Law right of adults to contract with each other and service providers in any way they choose. If I choose to buy a product from a Chinese company, I deal with the risk and consequences. I should be allowed to buy services from anywhere I want — to have my skin lesions imaged to a doctor in Florida, to have the treatment done by medications from a pharmacy in Oregon, to have a local contractor handle any hands-on services, and so on. The key problem with many necessary services today is regulation and a resulting lack of low-cost options. This is especially true in medicine, which Obamacare only made worse by restricting practical treatment options to small geographic regions. The solution is radical deregulation.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

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

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

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

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


More reading:

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

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

[Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations]

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

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

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

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


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

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

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

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

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

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


More reading:

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

Death by HR: Audio Introduction

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

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

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

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

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


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

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

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

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

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

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


More reading:

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

“Death by HR” Released as Audiobook

Death by HR Audiobook Cover

“Death by HR” Audiobook Cover

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

Amazon
Audible

Death by HR Introduction: HR Pushes Damaging Regulations Into the Enterprise

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

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

Introduction

This book is about the 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, empowering an internal compliance bureaucracy — Human Resources (HR) — 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 organizational 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, boondoggle 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.

This book will trace the factors that have hobbled growth and damaged organizational competence. Government regulation has led to HR departments that actively sabotage the hiring of the best candidates for jobs, with by-the-book mediocrities placed in positions of responsibility.

Silicon Valley and the tech industries are the next targets. If you’re a manager at a tech company, I’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 I’ll show why appeasement of diversity activists is a dangerous strategy that may make your organization a target for further extortionate demands….

Affirmative action policies have placed mediocrities at major decision points in most large companies, government agencies, and highly-regulated institutions like schools and hospitals. A small percentage of deadwood can be routed around, but over time feedback effects from the generalized lack of accountability and lowered standards for performance cripple the institution. This is the cause of the failure and extreme cost overruns of almost all large government projects and a tolerance for incompetence so long as policy manuals are followed to the letter. This effect is largest in government and public education, but also visible in larger companies where HR departments are coming to be staffed by progressives who believe in removing non-progressive thoughts and people from the workplace. In high tech, women and minorities dominate HR in part because companies wanted to balance their male-and-Asian-heavy engineering staff to make their numbers look better, but now are just realizing they’ve created an internal enemy to product quality and excellence in staffing engineering teams. (A corporate manager comments: “How do you know HR is lying? Their lips are moving…”)

This book will focus on the situation in the US, which was until recently more resistant to the bureaucratic disease and thus had a healthier economy and a more dynamic labor market than Europe. The onset of top-down sclerosis by Federal regulation and micromanagement has reduced US growth to the same stagnant levels seen in Europe, for much the same reason: educated by public schools to believe they need permission to do anything, young people stop trying to do anything, and wait for someone to help them. The increasing numbers of untouchable diversity hires in positions of responsibility has inhibited accountability, and the inability to fire employees after even the most egregious malfeasance has spread from civil service and union shops into major corporations —s ince some cannot be held accountable for incompetence, no one is; and the continuing presence of employees who coworkers know are shirkers, incompetents, or even criminals reduces the morale of those who are good at their jobs and work hard. The dysfunction varies by industry and company, with the worst-hit in heavily-regulated sectors like banking, education, and healthcare, where government either controls every element of the business or pays for most of the product. Sectors which until recently were relatively free of deadwood, like high tech, are now under attack by the diversity activists, who want more hiring of less qualified people to make high tech workforces more representative — which would mean discriminating against better candidates who are white, Asian, Indian, male, etc.

This book will also look at a few other countries that have tried various forms of affirmative action policies to demonstrate that while these places are culturally very different, the divisive and socially damaging long-term effects of AA preferences are visible in every country where it has been in place for longer than one generation.

Affirmative action — which substitutes the lower standard of “good enough” for “best” in hiring new employees, setting the bar low enough so that affirmative action hires can meet it instead of seeking out the most qualified candidate — is not the only labor regulation crippling organizational productivity. State and federal regulation and micromanagement of economic activity continues to increase, complicating and delaying every public and many private projects. Whole sectors of the economy are weighed down by regulation; new medical devices and drugs cost $billions to get through corrupt and scientifically-antiquated FDA studies and approvals processes, which results in high prices for new medical technology. Routine services like dental cleanings and hair braiding are illegal in many states unless done under supervision of a cartel of state-certified practitioners; four states even outlaw residential decorating services unless licensed. Hazards of toppling armoires aside, the state is easily captured by motivated business groups to outlaw new competition for their business, and under the pretense of protecting consumers, allowing professional cartels to charge much more for services.

Labor laws are similarly gamed by politically-influential unions and power-seeking bureaucrats. Minimum wage laws outlaw lower wages for unproven or new workers, and restrictions on firing as in Europe make it less likely companies will take a chance on hiring a full-time worker rather than a temp or contractor. The long-term result of Euro-style labor protection is Euro-style high unemployment, especially in young, inexperienced workers, who are thereby kept from ever gaining the experience that would make them valuable enough to hire despite the additional rules and costs imposed by the laws. People accept that education costs money and that students may be paid less for internships or even pay outright for classes, but forget that most occupational skills are acquired in the workplace, in the first years of employment. By outlawing lower wages and at-will employment, labor laws are keeping young people from important learning experiences and ruining their chance to start on a career ladder.

Until the Roosevelt administration and the New Deal, the Supreme Court had held back many attempts to regulate private business, ruling them unconstitutional overreaches. But after Roosevelt threatened to pack the court with new justices who would approve his regulatory agenda, the Supreme Court bowed to his wishes. In a series of cases, the newly Progressive-leaning Court expanded the Commerce Clause to allow federal regulation of almost all economic activity. In Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942), the court ruled that a farmer could be fined for growing wheat on his own land for his own animals’ consumption because he would otherwise have had to purchase wheat in the market, which a 1938 agricultural control law regulated. After this, the court rarely found any Federal regulation of contracts or commerce to be unconstitutional, despite the clear intent of the framers that such Federal power over commerce was intended to prevent states from creating trade barriers and discriminating against the products of other US states.

As a result, laws and regulations on commerce of all kinds — and labor specifically — have expanded, and the staffing levels of Human Resources departments and administrations at colleges and hospitals have ballooned to meet bureaucratic requirements. Federal fingers are now in every pie, wasting resources and deadening initiative, since a lawsuit or negative attention from the NLRB, EEOC, Dept. of Education, HHS, EPA, and other enforcement agencies can destroy or damage a company or institution. HR and administrative staff approve of the progressive control agenda—which gives them power and status—and when free to drift leftward serve as an internal fifth column dedicated to enforcing progressive standards on their own organization and its workforce.

Companies serving an international market find themselves battling foreign companies who don’t have as many burdens, especially in Asia. The US advantage of a productive workforce and innovative technology is gradually worn down by the time and money spent fighting bureaucrats. 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.

Governments have expanded the areas they control while the Civil Service, union, and affirmative action rules imposed on their workforces have reduced their effectiveness in their most critical functions. From deaths caused by bureaucratic malfeasance at the VA to killer cops rarely punished and kept on the payroll by the efforts of police unions, this lack of accountability makes it difficult to remove incompetent or criminal public employees and makes it impossible for even motivated elected officials to reform public services. The rising debt and costs for every public project mean failing services, rampant injustice, and decaying infrastructure are not being addressed. As a result, US competitiveness is declining vs. countries with better-managed public services. And public anger and cynicism as the years pass and each new group of elected officials fails to fix any of the problems they promised to fix is leading to a dangerous disregard for the law and a desire for a dictator who will sweep aside the checks and balances of a Republic.

Because there are so many examples of malfeasance and incompetence in government’s control of commerce and labor regulations, I was forced to leave most of that material for the next book, which will focus on government. Entire books have been written about the costly failures of the Drug War, public schools, affirmative action, and police militarization. This book will focus on the creeping spread of this atmosphere of consequence-free failure. The hubris of central planners and their capture by special interests, acting in concert with well-meaning but naive do-gooders who think they can vote their way to a better world, has brought us the diseases of socialism by taking away authority and accountability that let businesses succeed or fail. The pleasant-sounding ideal of equality of outcome — which killed hundreds of millions of people as the activating principle of Marxism-Communism — is actually the enemy of individual freedom, accountability, and achievement. The decline of excellence as a primary goal leading to profit and growth has not come because people like failure and mediocrity, but because they were sold a fairy tale about how government could make everything fairer and make everyone happy through the workings of laws and regulations. The result has been a lot more unhappiness and civil strife as the unintended consequences have swamped whatever good was intended. And the level of hypocrisy has risen as politicians promote the message that everyone is a victim and that someone else — “the 1%,” corporations, Republicans, foreigners, Muslims, blacks, the Koch Brothers, the Jews, whoever works as a scapegoat—is responsible for keeping them down.

High tech, one sector where the US led the world and generated immense new wealth, has now been targeted as the next area to be regulated. Activists and demagogues are attracted by money, and with more than half of the US private economy now controlled by government regulators, it was inevitable the parasites would look toward the remaining healthy sectors for their next fix. Calls for diversity quotas in tech company workforces, video game characters, and open-source software projects are early warning signs. HR departments in most tech companies serve as the political commissars of regulation, and HR departments in tech are staffed by lower-paid employees who have little understanding of the technology but a lot of interest in screening out even the best prospective employees who don’t fit the narrow diversity mold. Managers who want the best teams and the fastest, coolest products are resisting these HR apparatchiks, and I’ll show what you can do about it if you work in tech.

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. Seattle has already passed an ordinance requiring landlords to rent apartments to the first applicant who qualifies — next what counts as qualified will come under their control, and government-sponsored Section 8 and protected class tenants will be deemed qualified no matter what their credit reports and criminal records show. And similar movements in hiring — supposedly to prevent discrimination by eliminating management choice of who to employ — are coming soon.

There are many people working hard in HR to promote the interests of their organization, but their efforts are often blunted by the prevailing HR culture that substitutes buzzwords and feel-good social goals for promotion of productivity and excellence:

…Most HR organizations have ghettoized themselves literally to the brink of obsolescence. They are competent at the administrivia of pay, benefits, and retirement, but companies increasingly are farming those functions out to contractors who can handle such routine tasks at lower expense. What’s left is the more important strategic role of raising the reputational and intellectual capital of the company — but HR is, it turns out, uniquely unsuited for that. Here’s why:

HR people aren’t the sharpest tacks in the box. We’ll be blunt: If you are an ambitious young thing newly graduated from a top college or B-school with your eye on a rewarding career in business, your first instinct is not to join the human-resources dance. (At the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, which arguably boasts the nation’s top faculty for organizational issues, just 1.2% of 2004 grads did so.) Says a management professor at one leading school: “The best and the brightest don’t go into HR.”

Who does? Intelligent people, sometimes—but not businesspeople. “HR doesn’t tend to hire a lot of independent thinkers or people who stand up as moral compasses,” says Garold L. Markle, a longtime human-resources executive at Exxon and Shell Offshore who now runs his own consultancy. Some are exiles from the corporate mainstream: They’ve fared poorly in meatier roles—but not poorly enough to be fired. For them, and for their employers, HR represents a relatively low-risk parking spot.

Others enter the field by choice and with the best of intentions, but for the wrong reasons. They like working with people, and they want to be helpful—noble motives that thoroughly tick off some HR thinkers. “When people have come to me and said, ‘I want to work with people,’ I say, ‘Good, go be a social worker,'” says Arnold Kanarick, who has headed human resources at the Limited and, until recently, at Bear Stearns. “HR isn’t about being a do-gooder. It’s about how do you get the best and brightest people and raise the value of the firm.”[1]


[1] “Why We Hate HR: In a knowledge economy, companies with the best talent win. And finding, nurturing, and developing that talent should be one of the most important tasks in a corporation. So why does human resources do such a bad job—and how can we fix it?” Fast Company, August 1, 2005. http://www.fastcompany.com/53319/why-we-hate-hr


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: Thiel, Trump, Palantir: Regulation as Partisan Weapon

Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel – Image by Dan Taylor.

Peter Thiel became a billionaire by co-founding Paypal (with the even-more-famous Elon Musk), then using the $55 million he received for its sale to eBay to invest in other startups, notably Facebook. He’s also becoming famous as a maverick, a gay iconoclast who spoke in support of Donald Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention and has been suggested as a possible Trump Supreme Court pick. However unlikely that is, it would be at least interesting.

He gained more fame in his takedown of Gawker Media by funding Hulk Hogan’s privacy lawsuit against them, which I wrote about in The Justice is Too Damn High! — Gawker, the High Cost of Litigation, and the Weapon Shops of Isher.

The latest news is the Dept. of Labor’s suit against one of the companies Thiel founded, secretive Spook-connected unicorn Palantir, which uses big data analytics algorithms developed at PayPal to combat fraud. Palantir’s software is used by intelligence agencies, government, and industry to detect patterns of hacker and terrorist activity in big datasets. Since much of its revenue comes from government contracts, threats to end Palantir’s government contracts threaten its existence.

The Dept. of Labor (DoL) opened an investigation in 2010 to scan applications for a narrow set of jobs at Palantir to determine whether any bias in hiring was evident. In their filing, the DoL claims Palantir’s applicant pool was predominantly Asian, but those hired were mostly white:

For the QA Engineer Intern position, from a pool of more than 130 qualified applicants — approximately 73 percent of whom were Asian — Palantir hired 17 non-Asian applicants and only four Asian applicants … The likelihood that this result occurred according to chance is approximately one in a billion.

The unstated assumption is that statistical tests of “adverse impact” are good enough to prove illegal discrimination — that the applications of all protected classes were equally strong in the aggregate, and therefore the only acceptable outcome would be hiring in proportion to the applications received from each class of applicant.

This is self-contradictory, of course, since if the DoL wanted to they could claim statistics prove Palantir somehow discriminated against all applicants except Asians in attracting an applicant pool so disproportionately Asian compared to the local job market! And as Palantir states in its response, the DoL made no effort to determine how many of the applicants were even close to qualifying for the positions.

In Death by HR I wrote about the EEOC and its occasional use as a political tool to demonstrate an administration’s commitment to a protected class. Some scapegoat company is picked at random and a suit is brought despite a very weak case, so the government attorneys are often slapped down by annoyed judges.

This case starts to look like something worse — the intentional use of prosecutorial discretion to punish political enemies. Peter Thiel is the only Silicon Valley figure to publicly support Donald Trump, a fact which was known when the decision to file suit was made. We’ve seen an apparently corrupted decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for willful violations of secrecy statutes and other actions of the DoJ which demonstrate that Administration-connected figures can violate the law with impunity.

The Administrative State is largely unaccountable, shielded by Civil Service rules and employee unions in the Democratic coalition. With a president of their party, the bureaucrats are impossible to rein in using the budgetary authority of Congress, since any attempt to control them will be vetoed or result in the government shutdown faceoff. If the Administrative State grows bolder in favoring the party that feeds it through selective enforcement, there will be no turning back from the repressive superstate I wrote about in Substrate Wars.

The technology community should be alert to the dangers it faces in flirting with DC politicians. Google’s image is already being damaged by its favoritism toward Democrats, and Twitter has lost its freedom of speech cred by giving censorship authority to self-appointed social justice activists. Meddling in elections is a dangerous game, since even if you win, your partisan actions are remembered, and the regulatory state can come down on you when it’s run by a new administration.

The TechCrunch story is a typical writeup.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations, to be published Oct. 17th but available now for pre-order in Kindle and trade paperback.]

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

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

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


More reading on other topics:

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
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions

Starting Over: The Multi-Career Notes

Kayaking on Howe Sound

Kayaking on Howe Sound

Most of my posts are about researching issues, even the “relationship science” posts — I’m trying to be objective and not insert too much of my own experiences and feelings. This one will be subjective — what it’s like to be me, and to have been me in all those different careers.

When I arrived at Libertycon in Chattanooga as a freshly-minted author (three books? Is that enough to qualify?) at the age of 59+, I felt a little dissociated — no one knew me, and the few people I “knew” from online were busy with old friends they knew well. Children moving to a new school know how this feels — people may be friendly but their attention is on known others that are already part of their social systems. If you don’t have a lot of self-confidence, you will feel that sense of being judged and rejected or ignored by people.

I’m a confident old person so this feeling doesn’t bug me too much, and it soon passed. I made a few friends and connected enough to feel part of things fairly quickly. This ability to context-switch socially is especially valuable when you change careers frequently. People who tend toward narcissism will react with the “Don’t you know who I am?” response, which doesn’t endear them to anyone. Others will react by withdrawing, sufficiently dispirited to stop even trying to interact.

I have friends who knew when they were 15 exactly what they wanted to do, then did it — every step was planned, and they spent their lives climbing steadily in their chosen profession. The concentration on one field brought them job and material security quickly, and a lifetime of their achievements advanced their chosen field noticeably — they would have been missed. I’m thinking in particular of my MIT next door neighbor, who started out wanting to become — and became — a world-renowned expert in electronic and computer design. After a brief stint in industry, he ended up on the Stanford faculty and headed up the EE&CS department, was instrumental in the first MIPS processor designs, and founded a company that made him wealthy. When I would visit, he would sigh and tell me he envied my ability to try new things and take up living new lives — the things he could not do. He saw glamor in change, where others would envy his accomplishments — while not being willing to work so hard and so long in one field.

Meanwhile, I had left my first steady jobs in systems programming and dropped out of a Ph.D. program to escape Boston for British Columbia, where I did land development and outdoor activities. I dabbled in object-oriented language design, simulation and game programming, and early web development — starting work on a matchmaking website before any of the others, for example. Failing to stick with any one thing, of course, meant none of them succeeded. Undisciplined and more interested in learning I could do something than actually succeeding at any one thing, I dabbled my way through life. The one thing I was forced to stick with was the subdivision scheme I had tied up much of my savings in — I had to make myself stick with it for five years until it was settled and I could cash out. That was how I learned that the enemies of progress would tie you down with regulations and politics unless you had paid them off and supported their power — other developers had the officeholders in their pockets and could magically get action where I got the big stall. This kind of corruption has existed in urban real estate development since the advent of zoning and building regulations, which addressed some abuses of the formerly free market but ended up throttling production of new housing in the most desirable locales.

Never let the bastards win. What those who have never left their academic or career track never learn is that they may have been free to achieve in their narrow lane, but others not so lucky work in fields that have been hamstrung by regulation so that they couldn’t succeed without paying off politicians — the zoning board, the health inspectors, the city council, the FDA, the FCC, the FAA…. the PC industry thrived unregulated because it appeared to be small and unthreatening. As it has grown to be the central element of communication, politicians have taken note of its ability to reach voters and have started to threaten its freedom — so now the big companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook are spending big on lobbying and cooperating with government efforts to regulate speech and prop up the oligopoly of cable networks and content distributors.

I had been an undisciplined student for my first 30 years, a mostly failed businessman and dabbler the next ten, then landed in Silicon Valley to manage a friend’s money — the Stanford professor I mentioned before. I routed around the Establishment by studying on my own for the Series 7 exam that would allow me to charge for investment advice and started my own company to manage other people’s money. The SEC’s 1930s laws made speaking openly as an investment advisor dangerous — all communications are supposed to be vetted and hedged with warnings, and in practice it is better not to communicate at all since the law is vague enough to be abused to punish advisors for saying anything the authorities find threatening. In fact, publication of investment newsletters had to be freed of SEC regulation by a court case — but those who were licensed to manage other people’s money were still at risk of being punished for freely communicating opinions. As for many New Deal-era regulatory schemes, Constitutional rights were trampled on to give regulatory agencies more power, in service of “the greater good” (for politicians.) Which is why farmers were not allowed to grow their own feedstock, broadcasters could be punished for showing a flash of nipple, and the Federal Election Commission could try to prevent the advertising of a film that criticized a public figure who happened to be a candidate for office.

So I restrained my public comments and tended to my private affairs. When I retired and gave up my registration as an investment advisor, I was free to speak and I started blogging more. Starting over again at square one, armed with knowledge and more self-confidence and enough money to retire on safely — but still minus allies and much social support, since my friends are mostly employees of tech companies who have never once run their own business or dealt with bureaucracies without a government or corporate umbrella protecting them. It rarely occurs to them to question the conventional wisdom or wonder how those highly-regulated industries (real estate, medicine, mass communications, finance) create so much concentrated wealth for the few who have favored positions in them, or how tribute from those industries is fed back to the politicians who maintain barriers to outsiders who might otherwise compete. And so progress slows, and our politics gets dumber and dumber. More mindless promises of “100,000 new cops” (Clinton) or “No child left behind” (Bush) or “Millions of new green jobs” (Obama, Hillary Clinton) — whatever simplistic and unachievable fairy tale you want, I can give you!

I can tell you that starting over — and over and over — makes you resilient. I’m pretty tired now at 60 and don’t have the kind of energy to throw myself against a wall that I used to, but then again I’ve got guile (to use P. J. O’Rourke’s title phrase, “Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut.”) — which means choosing your battles wisely and not taking up every challenge. So I’ve retired to writing, where I’m doing okay at self-publishing — my relationship books have helped people around the world, sell steadily, and provide an income sufficient for trailer-park-level living if I actually needed it, while the fiction is well-reviewed if disappointingly low in volume.

So is it time to change again? Maybe.


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

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

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

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

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

 


More reading on other topics:

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

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

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

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

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

More reading on the military:

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