Morning Ed: Workforce {2017.08.31.Th}


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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255 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Wo4: This isn’t necessarily a new situation. During the 19th century, employers exercised a lot of control over the lives of their employees. Maybe even more so than current ones do because work places were smaller and policing easier because of that. A lot of employers tried to enforce a very Protestant morality on their work force. Earlier white collar workers were forbidden from doing things like going to the theater, saloons, and were required to go to church. When young women began to get employment in large numbers, they were subjected to even fiercer popular morality. Domestic servants were always heavily policed. Employers would change your name if they felt it was too grand for a mere servant.

    Many employers always liked to exercise control over their employees for a variety of reasons. One is that they thought this would make employees more pliant and productive on the job. Another was that they really believed in what they were enforcing. A third was just the joy of exercising power. It took the growth of labor unions and government regulation over the workplace and employers to end this. Now that these things are eroding, employers are exerting power over their employee’s private lives again.Report

  2. Avatar Damon says:

    [Wo3] Yep. And if you go to my local grocery store, most of the automated checkout aisles are sparsely used. Why? It’s slower than a decent checker, especially if you have a lot of items, and you have to do things exactly one way or the system stops and won’t let you proceed. Checking out like the amazon store might work. Time will tell.

    [Wo4] “culture’s deepest assumptions about how work confers wealth, meaning, and care throughout society. ” Really? I’ve never thought about my job, or my profession, or my career in terms of it conveying “meaning” to my life. I come to work, do my work, and I get paid, and I leave. Now, at times, I have been invested in work, in that I found it challenging, I enjoyed it, and i was part of a group that make some significant accomplishments. That’s rewarding, but I’ve ALWAYS turned work off when I walked out the door or shut off the computer. Sure, I’ll log in remotely if there is a crisis, but I have no work phone-I don’t “rank” one. I’ve had one in the past, this was 6 years ago, but I rarely read emails. It was mainly for calling into meetings remotely or during a scheduled day off.

    [Wo0] Dude, I totally need that for the hot muggy summers in the Mid AtlanticReport

    • Avatar J_A says:

      Wo3] Yep. And if you go to my local grocery store, most of the automated checkout aisles are sparsely used. Why? It’s slower than a decent checker, especially if you have a lot of items, and you have to do things exactly one way or the system stops and won’t let you proceed

      The experience at my local Kroger is opposite. People (under 60) flock to the automated checkout, which was recently expanded, because it’s easy, fast, reliable, and you get to better control what you how you pack.

      On the other side, the automated checkouts in the U.K. are a nightmare, exactly as @damon describes, with the machines continuously freezing up.

      So it’s a hardware/software thing, and for the love of me, I can’t fathom what is stopping M&S to upgrade (*)

      (*) Same with paying with credit card at the pump. It’s almost unheard of. You pump your own “petrol” and then walk inside and queue to pay with your credit card, while cars line up waiting for you to come back from paying and leave the pump.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        In my grocery’s case, you’re expected to scan an item and bag it. Sorry, I want to scan the items as they come out of my cart, and I want to bag them differently. God forbid you put a grocery item on top of the bag carousel. System freeze.

        Screw that.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        At my local grocer, people will walk past the idle clerk at the “Approximately 15 items” line and use the busy self-check. I can’t speak for other people who do it, but in my personal case it’s because the baggers are completely incompetent.

        Standard practice in the regular check-out line is for the checker to wave things through the scanner in random order, shoot them down the incline to the teenager doing the bagging, who puts one to three items into a plastic bag in the order they arrive then starts a new bag. Speed is everything, apparently.

        I have a single quite large canvas bag. On most occasions it will hold everything I’ve bought, heavy stuff on the bottom and the packed bag sitting stably. Since I don’t buy huge amounts per visit the bagging at the regular checkout is done by the time I can run my customer card and credit card through the machine. The last time I went through the regular line, I got done paying and turned to pick up my stuff: the canvas bag I had handed the bagger and three plastic bags. I announced “No, not acceptable,” took everything out, and packed it all into my single canvas bag.

        When I was young, grocery bagging (or boxing) was an art. My first serious exposure to it was at the small-town grocery my grandfather owned, where I occasionally served as bicycle delivery boy. Grandpa could put surprising amounts into a single box I could put on the back of the bike. The best I ever saw was a little old lady at the small grocery in the student ghetto in Austin near where I lived.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

          When I was young, grocery bagging (or boxing) was an art.

          I blame plastic bags. In the old days of paper bags, the bag was large enough that thoughtful bagging was necessary, or at least grossly apparent in its absence. Also, paper bags had a clearly defined bottom and sides, making them compartments with defined shapes. Then came plastic bags, because they are cheaper. Then came flimsier plastic bags, because they are cheaper yet. Then flimsier yet. At this point they legitimately can’t hold much stuff, and they have no shape to fill. Baggers have responded rationally to this by putting less and less stuff in them.

          I have this mental picture of a vice president in the home office with a Power Point presentation, showing how many bags the chain uses and the cost per bag. He has found a cheaper supplier, making it a simple calculation how much the corporation will save. Congratulations all around! Then the cheap crap bags hit the stores and they end up using a lot more of them to compensate. But that never makes its way onto a Power Point slide.Report

          • fillyjonk fillyjonk says:

            And don’t forget when they switch to even CHEAPER plastic bags that essentially disintegrate if you’re trying to carry multiple ones to save trips – or that disintegrate (“biodegradable!”) if you try to reuse them for storage or keep them for liners for your bathroom waste can.

            A lot of stores here are trying to nudge people to purchase reusable bags. I use them in SOME instances, but if I’m trying to get 2 weeks worth of shopping done in one go, I don’t have enough bags and am unwilling to purchase the slightly-better-than-flimsy-plastic-but-allegedly-reusable totes with an ugly store logo on them.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          It’s still an art. I walk home from Costco (about a half mile after bus), so I want my stuff bagged MY way (with enough in my backpack that I can hopefully get most of the weight there).Report

        • Avatar veronica d says:

          Yep. Bagging groceries was my first job.

          It wasn’t rocket science, but a little though went a long way.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Depending on the store, bagging stuff is often still up to you. Even at places where the cashier normally bags stuff, if I put a canvas bag or backpack on the counter, it’s pretty clearly the signal to just put the stuff next to the bag and leave it to me.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          Yeah, wise people don’t let others pack backpacks. I have costco bags, and those I can let someone else pack (one compartment, they’re used to the size).Report

        • Avatar switters says:

          Nothing more annoying, when there are long lines, than seeing someone standing in line doing nothing as the cashier scans their items. I want to scream “help bag you f*&#wit”. If you got kids, or your on the phone, or whatever, then fine. I just can’t wrap my head around choosing to stand still for 5 minutes instead of helping bag for 3.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        Only one of the supermarkets near me has automatic checkout and you aren’t allowed to use it for buying booze.

        Interestingly this place is the most middle of the road supermarket in terms of selection. There is a place about 20 minutes away with more produce and at better quality and prices.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        The ones at my local Safeway near Tech Central are a disaster. For a while, my wife and I were playing a game with them: How many normal but slightly unexpected things can we do that break the system, and what’s the likely cause? The root of a lot of the bugs is clearly really amateur mistakes.

        For example, early versions clearly ran the state machine on the same thread as the code that ran the talking output, so any time the machine was “talking” nothing else could be done. So if you scan your club card at the beginning of the transaction, it announces your savings on an item-by-item basis and hangs up the transaction every time you scan something. If you scan your card at the end instead, it reads all of your savings off in a big State of the Union speech, but you can pay while that’s happening. If you do, the system crashes after printing your receipt. But it’s the fastest way to get through.

        The biggest problem is the scale. Any item with a weight that’s not right in the database makes the system think you’re stealing and call a cashier. If you put a bag on the scale to load your items directly into the bag, the weight of the bag throws everything off, so you have to put your items in a pile and bag them after paying. This isn’t a personal bag–this is the bags they provide. There’s no button to fix this.

        There have been some minor fixes, but most of the glaring problems are still there. At least the database of weights has been purged of most errors. For a while, the system wasn’t sure what a gallon of milk weighed.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      most of the automated checkout aisles (…) you have to do things exactly one way or the system stops and won’t let you proceed.

      Oh my gosh, that!

      And some of the ways that will put the automated checkout into full wolves-are-among-us panic mode, are offered by the interface itself – you just have to know not to choosw that option.

      The “I brought my own bags” menu item? It’s there, but never ever choose it. “I don’t need to bag this item”? Might as well have gotten in the longest lineup for a cashier. (Also how come most grocery stores haven’t figured out a single queue for multiple cashiers the way banks and movie theatres and delis all have?)

      And then the thing has the anthropomorphic nerve to get impatient with me when I take a moment to count physical money to pay with – like its designer only grudgingly acknowledge the reality of cash.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        Whole Foods does the single line thing near me.Report

        • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

          I think the single line thing becomes less practical when everybody has a large shopping cart. It’s just a space/layout/density thing. I’m sure they know it’s the most efficient way to go.

          I’d *love* to see a year’s worth of data on minute-by-minute queue length from a grocery store. It’s such a weird process driven by so many factors, but there are all sorts of interesting patterns.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            The single queue is the only way it’s done in military commissaries, and military families don’t have small carts of food.

            Trust me, it works.Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog says:

          I can think of two grocery stores in my city that do this. They are both fancy schmancy organic grocery stores, but I don’t see how this really affects the basic mechanics of people pushing carts and carrying baskets moving through space.

          When we visited NYC a couple of years ago, IIRC both of the grocery stores we went to there had the single queue thing. They were both Whole Foods, so also on the expensive side.

          When I lived in Germany, the single queue thing was more associated with the cheaper grocery stores – cheaper places like Aldi and Lidl would have them, and pricier places like Edeka and Reformhaus wouldn’t.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        Also how come most grocery stores haven’t figured out a single queue for multiple cashiers the way banks and movie theatres and delis all have?

        One reason I always appreciate the Commissary.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott says:

      I’m not at all worried about retail jobs being automated within the store. We’ve had self checkout systems going on 20 years now–and while I think we’ll see a trickle of continued adoption by stores that don’t already have them, If they haven’t caught on now, frankly they’re not going to: the only places that self-checkout is more efficient for the customer than manned checkout is in situations where the cashiers are unusually bad or the customers are unusually adept as scanning and bagging.

      And we’re so far off from automating the non-cashiering tasks in a grocery store that it’s not even funny (the only area where I see that being a possibility is after-hours floor cleaning. Often those jobs are subcontracted out to 3rd parties with sketchy employment practices that drive costs down. I can see that being replaced with industrial Rhoombas if co-employer liability becomes a serious issue.)

      A robot that stock shelves is probably fifty years away, and robots that could replace a service deli is probably another fifty years past that. The variety of what that robot would have to do is incredibly wide and it would need to be able to do it all while dealing with the random human elements that customer bring into things.

      You can probably do a little better if you have complete vertical control. If the items you stock are designed for the robots to be able to deal with. But that means significant reductions to the variety that you’re providing to the customer, at which point you’re turning into a WalMart. And frankly, the danger for the employees of WalMart isn’t being replaced with robots–it’s being replaced with online retail.Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Wo6: not just competent management processes, but competent managers, especially when it comes to grooming and retaining talent.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Wo1 and Wo2: The answer here seems to be that employers will resist raising wages until they absolutely have to. We have tight labor markets in the U.S. and the purple squirrel thing still seems to be strong in the heart of HR.

    Wo4: As Lee said, it used to be much worse but it is still a problem. I think this is just a fundamental philosophical split. I’m not as far on the left as the author of the article but I’ve never brought the right-wing view that only government exploitation and power matters either.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      I’m not as far on the left as the author of the article but I’ve never brought the right-wing view that only government exploitation and power matters either.

      The fact that so many people view this as a right-left issue is exactly why it will continue to get worse before it has a chance of getting better. Each side wants two things: (1) more discretionary power to reward behavior they support with and punish behavior they oppose and (2) less discretionary power for the other side. The good side is that neither side will get both, but the bad news is they’re likely to get the first.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      You know when you have a tight labor market? Mid level drones get unsolicited calls from recruiters offering equity and 10%+ more in salary. This ain’t no tight labor market.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @damon Maybe it depends on your industry. Me an’ my library peeps are getting poaching efforts right and left lately. and job hires getting turned down left and right for not paying enough to justify taking the job.

        (Though I wouldn’t describe us as mid-level drones, there are certainly a lot of high-level administrators in colleges who think that way about library workers’ wages…. to their detriment. lucky for them ours at least have enough sense to shift their thinking when faced with an imminent poaching probability…)Report

        • Avatar Damon says:

          No doubt that there are shortages in some industries and not in others. Ain’t much shortage in mine.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

          Librarians are in demand? Really? That’s… unexpected. I think of librarian as one of those careers who only do if you can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s actually kind of great if librarians are in this position. What sort of librarian are we talking about? Academic library? Research library? Story time for the toddlers library?Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            Academic librarians and, *even more so*, skilled library workers in staff positions.
            Particularly ones with a strong management skill set and/or X years of experience.

            It’s possible public librarians also but I don’t know about that sector as well.

            Not school librarians in my city, because we’re in some weird frenzy of pretending that students all just need tablets and the internet and standardized tests every five minutes and actual research skills / critical analysis skills are antiquated, but in some areas where they haven’t done that (eg upstate NY), that’s been an employee’s market for some time now.

            As for academic libraries, all those retirements people kept talking are finally happening. The field’s not expanding, there’s just a huge labor shortage right now and people-who-are-librarian’s financials are not in as dire of straits because of other changes to the economy from about 2012-2016.

            If employers would catch on and start being willing to tweak their experience requirements or raise their salaries (which to be fair my employer sometimes does but only with much prodding and some unnecessarily failed searches which waste everyone’s time and company money), they’d still be just fine – there’s a huge backlog of people with MLS’s who want jobs – but employers think their ranks are still full of Baby Boomers hanging on until their retirement accounts recover a bit from the recession.

            Accounts recovered, baby boomers retired en masse, and suddenly positions are opening up right and left and candidates can have much higher standards as to what jobs they want to be in. There’s a huge amount of turnover, hiring, etc.

            5 years ago I was telling my students “be a librarian if you must but there’s really not many jobs yet, baby boomers keep hanging on to theirs”, now I’m telling them if that’s what they need out of life, hurry up and get their necessary pieces of paper. (TBF that’s also because my students are brilliant, they go to a superselective college and have tons of other life experience – workstudy folks – and so I know they can compete and do well. My old students / degree cohort / etc that *had* to be librarians all got jobs too, but they’re moving into better jobs now and leaving their old ones open…)Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              My wife got tired of waiting for the retirements and went into the private sector. Going back to public or academic libraries would be tough, because of the pay and career position hits she’d have to take.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                Yep, it would. And of course those skilled library staff positions (that are increasingly more common) make so much less money, too. I could easily make 3X what I make now out of the gate in the private sector, and 2X if I pursued the jobs I have the terminal degree for even in academia, even in my first year in the job. (I’ve had an offer here or there, without even looking; as I said, poaching is common plus people did assume I’d want to make more money once I got the degree.)

                I made my choices and I’m really happy for them, but it really screwed up the market (and got employers smug with themselves) that so many had to hang on until their retirement accounts recovered and then all left pretty much right at once.Report

              • Speaking only for my own situation, I don’t think I could earn as much in the private sector as I do in my current (academic library) job. Certainly not if one considers the insanely high number of vacation days.

                Again, though, that might just be my own situation. I don’t have a library or information science degree. It’s also possible I undervalue the remuneration I can command.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi says:

            Check out U Pitt’s library science program. Librarians are now “People who can Find What You Need”, and in high demand as we put more and more data into publically available spaces.Report

  5. Avatar j r says:

    Wo7: That Mike Rowe response is hot fire. He nails just about everything wrong with how folks talk about politics on the internet.

    Wo4: I personally do not like the move towards work claiming dominion over ever more parts of our lives, but its moving that way, in large part, because we are collectively demanding it. Whenever a situation comes up with an employee being reprimanded or fired for politically incorrect or inappropriate behavior outside of work, I make this point about choosing which direction we go with this. And most of the responses I get are of the “free speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences variety.” So, OK. We can either stick up for norms that say your job doesn’t own your every utterance and action or we can cheer when folks we don’t like get slapped for behavior we don’t approve of. I don’t see much of a middle ground.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      So, OK. We can either stick up for norms that say your job doesn’t own your every utterance and action or we can cheer when folks we don’t like get slapped for behavior we don’t approve of. I don’t see much of a middle ground.

      This about sums it up.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        OOC to @oscar-gordon and @will-truman : In your thinking, is there a difference between what a person does privately in their life and what they choose to do very overtly publicly?

        If I were in charge of a company that sold services to professional women, for example, I don’t believe I would have a right to fire a male employee if it were reported to me that he said a sexist thing at a nonprofessional dinner party, or at a bar with his friends on a Saturday night.

        If a male employee were, on the other hand, on the local news because he has giving “We Should Reverse Suffrage” speech at an MRA rally, on the other hand, I would feel pretty obligated to fire him. Same thing if he was passing out similar pamphlets at a place where our potential customers were a lot of the foot traffic.

        That I have to either embrace both or neither without being able to differentiate between the two seems crazy to me.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          I don’t think anyone has to embrace both. I’m fine with firing actual Nazis when they put their views out there. I’m not okay with firing people with the wrong bumper sticker on their car (well, unless it’s somehow really pertinent). So everything else is something in between.

          But there are costs. To go back to the original item, one of those costs is that by using employers as tools of retribution, we are making them a far more central part of our life. That’s… risky.

          As with most things, it’s a balancing act. (The other side being there are actual costs to having these people around and the potential for abuse is ripe.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          Frankly I don’t care why you chose to fire an employee, as long as it’s a legal dismissal. I don’t care if you saw him saying stupid crap on the local news, or just happened to stumble across a public rant on his FB page. As long as it is YOUR decision.

          What I don’t want is the mob deciding Bob has committed an unforgivable sin, and basically forcing you to fire Bob in a very public way in order to satisfy their ire. Because frankly, the mob are idiots and very often make snap judgments while lacking important context, and they don’t seem to be satisfied with quietly informing an employer that Bob said something stupid, and perhaps you might want to look into that.

          This is equivalent to the police doing a very public perp walk with a suspect past a pre-arranged media circus. Everyone remembers the public display, no one remembers the dismissal or acquittal. But the end result is the same, a reputation damaged, and for what? So some some people can feel good about themselves that they fought evil from their keyboard? Lovely, social justice drone operators, bravely destroying suspected Nazis from the safety of Starbucks. Feck it, I have more respect for the antifa, at least they ran the risk of getting curb stomped, and I find most of them just slightly less reprehensible than the Nazis.

          I mean, I get everyone’s, “but these are NAZIS!”. Frankly, I don’t care, because the mob are fecking idiots and are running on pure id. And I’m really starting to tire of getting painted with the Nazi brush just because I’m trying to keep a hold of some kind of consistent standard. The virtue signalling does not impress me.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      I do seem to recall a couple rounds of this, recently. Something, something Nazis. Something, something sexist memo.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

        Re the Nazi employee, the recent round of discussion strikes me as very weird, as if there is something new about some positions being so far beyond acceptability to as to be an employment issue. Really? This was a big part of the point of the old question “Are you now or have you ever been…” I would be surprised to hear about someone being fired for being a Communist today, but mostly because I would be surprised to hear about someone being a Communist today. They are pretty thin on the ground. Nowadays “Communist” is applied to positions Dwight Eisenhower found unremarkable. (In fairness, it was used that way in Dwight’s day too, but you also could find actual Communists.) But being a member of the American Communist Party would hardly be a career enhancing move at Goldman Sachs.

        Which brings us to Nazis. This too has traditionally been beyond the pale, and for better reasons. The effect of the hand-wringing over Nazis losing their jobs is to suggest that Nazism ought not be treated this way. It is stated in terms of no position ought to be treated this way, but I don’t believe it. To take the politics in a different direction, consider NAMBLA.

        For the business case, imagine this scene: “Jermaine, Isaac, I’d like you to meet Bob. He just joined us. Jermaine, Bob thinks you are a subhuman ape. Isaac, Bob is sorry your grandparents escaped the ovens. Make Bob welcome, guys. I’m sure you’ll make a great team!”Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          Many Bobs seem aware enough to know that they have to hide certain beliefs in public but your general point is correct. Having a racist fascist work in a diverse workplace is going to cause issues.Report

          • Avatar notme says:

            Having a racist fascist work in a diverse workplace is going to cause issues.

            Only if folks bring their politics to work. I have a younger female coworker who is happy to start ranting about Trump at the drop of a hat. I just nod my head when she does so. She probably thinks I voted for Hillary. Generally speaking I do my best to not discuss politics or anything that might be contentions at work.Report

            • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

              This. If nobody can tell what ‘bad’ beliefs you hold by how you behave at work, your beliefs don’t much matter at work.

              If you do something that makes it hard for people to work with you, either by making yourself famous online or by bringing it to work, then you have a problem.

              I’m pseudonymous not because I troll everybody or am ashamed of my beliefs / behavior. I don’t work in an industry where political opinions matter, so I don’t want my OT posts or tweets to be the first thing a potential coworker or employer finds about me online.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          It isn’t that the company fired the guy for obviously being a Nazi, it’s that there was a near public demand that he & others be fired for being Nazis. I find the idea that the public has decided it gets to have a voice regarding the employment status of non-public (i.e. not C-Suite or PR people) employees. And than that same public complains about employers being too invasive and controlling.

          It’s one thing if the owner of the pizza joint gets an email with a short video of Bob holding a 3rd Reich banner and chanting Blood & Soil, with a note of “Thought you should know”, and he decides Bob is no longer a good fit for the workplace. It’s something else when the email is a public post, and there are calls to demand that Bob is fired, and made a pariah, and if anyone ever hires Bob that company will be at the wrong end of an aggressive negative PR campaign. Sure, the business is going to fire Bob, and then they are going to dig into all the other employees, because the whole Bob thing cost them money, and they would really rather not go through that again, so let’s make sure nobody else has some nasty little secrets they are hiding that could bite the company in the ass.

          This is the point @j-r is making. Companies are generally quite risk adverse and will do what they can to make sure that the only risk they are exposed to is the risk they choose to take. This is, again, a logical follow from a given behavior.

          I’ve said this before about the whole Damore thing. Unless Damore was some kind of fantastic engineer, chances are he was done at Google because of that memo, but I bet you that Google would have very much preferred to handle his dismissal quietly, for a reason that had nothing to do with the memo, because A) firing him like that exposes them to a lawsuit, B) the leaking of the memo and the subsequent firing just destroyed any trust in the internal forum that it was a place people could express ideas, even unpopular ones.

          Nobody likes having their hand forced.

          ETA: And all this is ignoring the fact that the public/mob has a really bad track record of robust target identification. For every one they get right, how many are getting trashed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time?Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

            But there has always been and always will be similar reactions to employing one of Those People. While much of the discussion is couched as if this is new, this is sheer fantasy. So what we are really talking about is who counts as Those People. And you know what? I am entirely comfortable with Nazis as Those People. And I am entirely unimpressed by efforts to normalize Nazis.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              Except Those People is a very fluid thing. Today it’s Nazis, in the past it was Jews, or homosexuals, or transgender people.

              How about we be really effing careful Othering people.

              (God, I had to defend Nazis again, that’s twice in as many days…)Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

                It’s been Nazis since late 1941. Suddenly people are trying to change that. Why is that?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I’m not saying the pizza place should have retained him, I’m saying it’s not up to the public to make that decision for a company.

                Or maybe it is, but then the public doesn’t get to bitch about how much control and intrusiveness a company has over their employees.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @richard-hershberger It has’t *only* been Nazis since late 1941, is the problem. Like, I’m happy with firing and trying to rehabilitate but not allow into polite society every damn Nazi. And a bunch of other people for that matter. But I’m really aware that Nazis aren’t the only ones who’d treat me the same way, and that Nazis aren’t the only ones who *have* treated people I care about the same way.

                So while I disagree with Oscar’s worries, he’s not just suddenly making up some fantasy about what happens.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I’m not concerned about Nazis, as such. No one forced that on them, lie down with dogs, get fleas* and all that. I’m just not OK with othering in general, and I’m really not OK with the mob forcing others to practice othering, since the collective intelligence of the mob doesn’t even rise to to the level of an idiot Chihuahua.

                *And as a dog lover, we need a better way to say this. I lie down with my dogs all the time and all I ever get is covered in fur and slobber and love, never fleas.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          “imagine this scene: “Jermaine, Isaac, I’d like you to meet Bob. He just joined us. Jermaine, Bob thinks you are a subhuman ape. Isaac, Bob is sorry your grandparents escaped the ovens. Make Bob welcome, guys. I’m sure you’ll make a great team!””

          hey that sounds fun, let me try.

          “Susan, meet Jermaine and Isaac. Jermaine listens to rap so he thinks you exist for his physical pleasure. Isaac, based on his religion, thinks you shouldn’t be allowed out of the house for one week of every month. Good luck, we’re all looking forward to your contributions!”Report

          • Avatar pillsy says:

            Ah, now we’re equating being a Nazi with being Jewish.

            Fuck it, I’m out.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

            Thank you for this. By equating Nazism with listening to rap, you have confirmed my suspicions about the current spate of oh, so principled concern.Report

            • Avatar Maribou says:

              @richard-hershberger @pillsy That’s not what he’s doing at all. He’s equating the likelihood of corporations / the law / small businesses whomever attacking those things, with them attacking being a Nazi. That most employers are not actually as discerning as we want them to be and they will pull dumb crap. IMO (no longer saying what I think DD means), they will pull that dumb crap precisely because we *do* still live in a kyriarchy and so employers *are* more likely, on average, to be hateful bigots, perhaps in very subtle but still fucked-up ways, than not.

              Living in Colorado Springs, I gotta say I feel like this is a valid and *real* concern that DD has.

              I work at the most progressively-employee-positive reputation’d employer in town, a relatively large employer, not a small business though of course not a Google-multi-corp either. I was really aware until about 2 years ago that it wouldn’t necessarily be safe for me to call myself genderfluid there, or anywhere where the news might get around at my workplace – that there were people who would shift their view of me enough to get me fired for some other stupid reason if I did so… or at least to treat me really poorly. (I did it anyway, so that I could more authentically support some of my students, since things had gradually been getting better – never could’ve 10 years ago – and received such an outpouring of support from my department that I realized no one else would be able to fuck up my life for it at that point. But I’ve definitely gotten shade for it, in subtle ways I have no interest in calling people at work on, outside of the library. even in a diversity workshop for freak’s sake.)

              I was really aware every time some person of color got let go for what appeared to me to be whistleblowing about racism or otherwise not being docile enough (I’m sure the administration viewed it differently), and the last time, the administration literally lied about it to the entire company, saying he’d taken early retirement when he refused their buy-out, and then backtracked and denied any wrongdoing instead of realizing what they’d done and admitting to fault even if it cost them business risk.

              Many colleagues at my employer over the years have told me about class frustrations and about disability-discrimination-related frustrations that I think were really true, and real, and might’ve complied with the law but weren’t at all compliant with the spirit and mission of my employer.

              At my job those things are by *far* the exception; 99 percent of the time everyone is so carefully treated that you get the impression you’d have to commit a freaking crime and be caught on tape to get fired right away.

              In fact, my employer is Sooooooooooo freaking liberal and respectful and blah blah blah that I feel safe enough voicing these criticisms online in a fairly transparent-but-not-directly-screwing-up-their-social-media-hits way – if they fire me for it, fair play to them it’s an at-will state – but they *still already do the things DensityDuck is afraid of*. And I too fear that giving them even more rein could happen – in my opinion *for the very best and most understandable of reasons* – and it would make things worse. There are plenty of employers in town *cough* Focus on the Family *cough* who are already worse.

              I say that as someone who thinks that Google should have fired memo dude and that firing Charlottesville nazis (not people the public just claims are nazis) is fine, or that arguing that pillorying people online is worth the costs is fine.

              But what you two are saying DD said is NOT what he said. And we all need to extend some more credit and grace to each other around here.Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

                Nazism is (a) loathsome in its own right, and (b) seeks to have a direct highly negative impact on other people. I’ll put it another way. Assholes are not and should not be a protected group. Nazis are by definition assholes. They are not merely assholes in the “poorly developed social graces” sense. They are assholes in the “think a large segment of the population should be sent to the ovens” sense. I am unimpressed by any attempt to make “thinks a large segment of the population should be sent to the ovens” into a mildly distasteful but without the bounds of acceptability position. You know how to make a position acceptable. By accepting those who hold it.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “He’s equating the likelihood of corporations / the law / small businesses whomever attacking those things, with them attacking being a Nazi.”

                No, I’m…saying that if it’s okay to attack someone for being an X, then there’s always going to be an X that we can attack someone for. Especially if we go right to the Worst Possible Interpretation, Captain-Planet-Villain depiction of everyone.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Yes, deciding someone who gets photographed waving marching with Nazis and the KKK is a Nazi just like deciding someone who listens to rap music is a misogynist. It’s completely unfair and uncharitable.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                You’d rather I choose different examples? I can find them all day long.

                Or is your argument always going to be “Nazis are just so, so bad that no Death Laser we build to shoot Nazis will ever, ever be turned around and used on other people! I don’t care how many Death Laser victims you dig up, they don’t matter because NAZIS!!Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                No, I’d rather you stop pretending being a Nazi is an innocuous quirk like listening to rap music.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “Nazis are just so, so bad!” Got it.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                “Nazis are actually bad,” is evidently still controversial around here.

                I guess some things never change.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I actually remember a time when we were all on the same page about this.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @tod-kelly Me too. And I feel like most of us, even @DensityDuck although apparently he disagrees with my charitable reading of his points, and I don’t really see where he’s coming from otherwise, still are…Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                I think we are all on the same page here regarding our collective dislike of Nazis, et. al. What I & @densityduck are getting at is that there is an awful lot of what amounts to special pleading regarding the treatment of Nazis because they are Nazis, and it’s a treatment people would ordinarily condemn for other cases, or condemn other societies for doing with regard to groups we find sympathetic.

                It’s one of those areas where, as I said to Kazzy in the General Lee post, principles get squishy.Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                Principals are always squishy. We’ve been discriminating against Nazis since we knew of their existence. And right too. It sounds like your contention is that discriminating against nazis is likely to open the flood gates to discrimination against other groups of people. Has anyone, ever, successfully defended their discrimination by relying on the fact that we discriminate against Nazis too. Are you saying you wouldn’t discriminate against a nazi? If you would, is your contention that it would be mistake?

                Im not talking about passing laws not letting them march. Or criminalizing their beliefs. But i am also not in the least bit worried about people or organizations discriminating against nazis. That just seems asinine. If and when the world is rid of discrimination, I may worry about the nazis. Until then, we’ve got bigger fish to fry.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “Principals are always squishy.”

                Squishy principles are meaningless. Claiming that something is based on principles is an Argument From Authority statement; it’s a claim that your moral judgements derive their validity from some objective, closely-held, always-applied standard. If you say “I have principles but they’re squishy” then your ethics are situational, your morals conditional. If this were the Prisoner’s Dilemma you’re saying that you’ll betray if the situation looks right…and that you won’t know whether a situation looks right until you’re in it.

                “It sounds like your contention is that discriminating against nazis is likely to open the flood gates to discrimination against other groups of people.”

                My contention is that the arguments you’re using for what it’s okay to discriminate When It’s Nazis are arguments that apply all over the place. What happens if we decide we don’t like Jews? What happens if we decide we care more about the feelings of white women than the feelings of black men?Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                So I’ll ask again, are are fine with police officers pulling over drivers for no reason other than their skin color? Your fine with stop and frisk targeting black residents in poor parts of town? Your fine with organizations refusing to consider job applications when they include names that sound like they may not be white males? Discrimination is ok, right?Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                “what happens if we decide we don’t like Jews? What happens if we decide we care more about the feelings of white women than the feelings of black men?”

                The same thing i’ve been doing since I’ve been aware that there are lots of people who hate jews. Aligning myself with the Jews and in opposition to those who hate. And to the extent i continue to believe it correct that on average, people do care more about the feelings of white women than they do about those of black men, I will stand opposed to that.

                You apparently, would have nothing to do if we decided to not like jews, right? Because discrimination is OK. Its not wrong. I mean, that is your position, right?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Oh, ye of little faith and far less imagination than you ought.
                The jews themselves align themselves with those that hate them, to the extent that others are willing to give them money and aid to continue to live in Israel.
                They hate us, they want us to die in some grand End Times war, and yet we take their money anyhow.

                (OK, I can make up a very charitable interpretation of what Kimmi meant to say right here but what she actually said was somewhere between a direct insult way beyond the pale, and a possible threat. Don’t do that, Kimmi. AT ALL EVER. I’m pretty sure what you meant and that it was heartfelt and not evil and it’s still NOT OK EVER. I’m suspending you until next week. Be more careful when you come back. – Maribou)Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I think we are all on the same page here regarding our collective dislike of Nazis, et. al.

                I wish I thought that too, but these days, with at least half the Republican Party (including the President and at least one frequent commenter here) playing cute little, “Well, some Nazis are good people and the left is bad too!” games, I, frankly, don’t, and I don’t trust people to actually be committed on this. Especially when they start acting like being a Nazi is just a harmless little idiosyncrasy like painting your toenails, which is something that Nazi apologists in fact do all the time.

                It would be nice if we could go back to the halcyon days of a couple years ago where you could just rest assured that everybody thought Nazis are bad, but alas trust is a hard thing to replace.

                Also, it’s pretty irksome to be told that your desire to see people who advocate ethnically cleansing (or murdering outright) you, your family, and the majority of your friends shunned is just “virtue signalling”.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                “Principals are always squishy.”

                Squishy principles are meaningless.

                Principles are like rights in this: Saying you support them, absent context, is nearly less meaningless.

                What matters is, what happens when they come into conflict?
                How do you figure out a conflict between different people’s rights? How do you figure out a conflict between two different principles you hold?

                When rights enter conflict, you have to figure out how much to squish each of the conflicting rights to fit the right-holders through the limited space of their interaction with minimal injury. That’s what rights jurisprudence is for.

                When principles enter conflict, you have to figure out how much to squish each of the conflicting principles to fit your actions through the limited space of the decisions before you with minimal injury. That’s what ethical frameworks are for.Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                Thanks for saying it better than i would have. I was beginning to think I was talking with the only human who had never experienced a conflict of principals. Cause if you have to choose one at the expense of the other, than obviously you have no principals.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I’m a little confused, because I’m pretty sure that I didn’t say anything about squishy principles…?Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                Yeah, this was misthreaded. I meant it in response to @densityduck ‘s comment a little bit above yours. Sorry for the confusion.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                While I don’t dispute anything you have commented here I would like to make a couple of notes.

                First there is no distinction on what is doing the squishing. If that mechanism has to do with faction building to the point of making things squish to certain ends then that is left to popular authoritarianism.

                That switters would lend authority to faction X is part of the escalation. That so many others here say that rule of law dictates that we don’t build factions to squish things in particular ways is not being well understood, and undermined, is a bit telling of who wants to own social objectivity to squish things in certain ways.

                At least that’s my take on it, your pretty sharp, so I’m interested in your angle of it.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                I think it’s inevitable that there will be faction building to squish things go certain ends. That happens whenever there are humans involved, more or less.

                Rule of law is supposed to mean that the factions are subject to a consistent framework of laws and their enforcement mechanisms – such that the outcomes of factional struggles end up getting decided on the basis of principles rather than which faction has the most people or money.

                Figuring out which principles supersede which other ones, that’s what the legislative and judiciary branches are there for.

                So for example, Canada’s charter of rights is, I think, representative of a consistent set of principles (which one may agree with or not, but I think they’re consistent) when it holds that
                1) Discrimination in certain situations on the basis of a number of grounds (especially more or less immutable ones such as religion, race, national origin, sexuality, etc.) is not permitted, while
                2) discrimination on the basis of other grounds (such as profession, membership in a political organization, criminal record) is permitted, and
                3) discrimination on grounds that would otherwise by prohibited under (1) gets an exception for what sometimes gets called “reverse discrimination” – when the discrimination is specifically to reverse or correct a situation of institutional disadvantage.

                So if, say, there are significant disadvantages for business owners who are recent immigrants, it’s within bounds to offer some supports only for new immigrants wishing to start a business, and not make them available to everyone, but not to offer supports only for old-stock citizens who have at least three generations’ worth of connections here.

                And, to look at the examples further up thread, it would mean a daycare can say “I’m sorry, we don’t hire people who are members of organizations calling for the extermination of some of our clients’ children, or who have criminal records for violent crimes” – but they can’t say “I’m sorry, we don’t hire people who decline to eat pork for religious reasons.”Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                Good comment.
                I don’t think rule of law can continue to operate after a dominate faction is producing laws. The framework of law bends to the winning faction, and what we typically see is rule of law fade as ‘rule by law’ is created by the dominate faction.

                I don’t know how discrimination parameters will be anything that the dominate faction won’t get to tinker with. What are your thoughts?Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                I think it’s more of a continuum thing – the reality of any state is somewhere between the Platonic ideal of rule of law, and that of naked power politics.

                No matter where you go, there’s some degree of dominant faction making the laws.

                Canada is mostly run by rich straight white middle aged men. We don’t have the degree of separation between executive and legislative branches that the US does – parliament kind of fills both roles (the purely executive civil service reports up to ministers in the legislature).

                In their better moments, mostly in their legislative mindset, they frame the laws that set the stage for their own defeat. Like the Charter.

                In their worse moments, mostly in their ‘pragmatic’ executive mindset, they fight lawsuits under the same laws, where it’s fairly clear the government is on the wrong side of the Charter – leaving it to the judiciary to force the government to do right, even if it means they don’t get to build their pipeline, or have to pay many millions more in veterans’ benefits, or allow same sex couples to marry, or whatever.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                It does appear to be on a continuum, but always moving away from rule of law to rule by law of power politics.

                I hold the position where official discretion is incompatible with the rule of law as the movement to rule by law is done with the official legislation body of the dominant faction(s).

                Factional activist judges, juries, and lawyers quicken the degradation of a already flawed system.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Honestly, i don’t think that anyone here was actually debating whether “Nazis are actually bad.” Though that seems to be what some here are assuming that their ideological opponents actually believe in, however unsupported that claim is. It seems to be a convenient club to use against folks.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Says the guy who (redacted – cause you know what, the people who flagged this were right. That is not what notme claimed. Even in the ungenerous reading of his motives I happen to hold right now. Which makes it needlessly inflammatory. also, burt shut down that thread mostly to tell you to stop doing this exact thing. also, as a general note, *he’s on notice already* and I need people to stop attacking and let me freaking moderate. if you don’t believe me that we’re not harboring nazi sympathizers and will be a lot stricter about enforcing the comment policy than we were, surely you could at least give me a couple weeks and see? xxoo, maribou)Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                Notme may be completely rough around the edges and not a smooth contour, but that was a comment on what some writers take was on a Spicer’s comment. Maybe there is a claim implied somewhere if so please point it out.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Spicer’s comment was that Assad was worse than Hitler because Hitler didn’t kill his own people. Spicer himself had the sense to retract that comment and apologize fully, which he deserves a measure of credit for.

                Then notme rolled up with that gross Daily Caller article which claimed that Spicer was right, and that German Jews were not German citizens because the Nazis said they weren’t. Taking the Nazi’s anti-semitic decrees as authoritative is an act of profound moral idiocy in and of itself, but notme was doing so in order to minimize Hitler’s crimes, just like Spicer had, but unlike Spicer, did not relent.

                Even by a purely legalistic standard, the Nazi decree about Jewish citizenship was illegal, a position affirmed by the FDR in 1948.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                I don’t dispute that. The subject is awful, Spicer can go get fished. but the way your comment was phrased:
                “Says the guy who claimed”

                sounds like there was a claim made by notme. Maybe your reference was about some one else?Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @pillsy Agreed that Daily Caller article was absurd and notme’s linking to it in charity towards Spicer’s comment was absurd and obnoxious…. but given that it was written by someone who is Jewish and arguing against sharing sovereignty with Palestine because (according to him) Israel is the only safe place for Jewish people, I wonder if the original isn’t trying to say something different than that Nazis were the good guys.

                Unless I’m missing something about the author of the article?Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                Also @pillsy , you said some things in that thread that weren’t actually justified by the interaction – I understand that comments don’t usually come from just one interaction – AND @burt-likko shut that thread down because of the direction it turned.

                He wasn’t wrong to shut it down so please don’t relegislate it here.

                I’m here, I’m moderating, if you all can quit arguing about who is or isn’t a Nazi-apologist, I promise if they are actually apologizing for Nazis (or even Sean Spicer saying Assad was worse than Hitler) I will shut it down.

                This is not that, it’s frustration that’s built up for ages, and I get it but I also *will* shut you down if I have to.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                I didnt link to it in charity for Spicer’s comments. I linked to it bc I thought it was an interesting take and or interpretation of the history behind the subject. I certainly didn’t expect for folks to twist it into you love Nazis. It would be nice if people would stop assuming why I posted something or imputing motives that don’t exist.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                I’m not going to reargue that thread in the course of saying we shouldn’t reargue that thread, @notme. I’m not holding it against you going forward, but it reads how it it reads. Let us stop discussing it.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                I would like to add pillsy is typically a straight shooter and this was one of those rare times I wasn’t sure about what I was reading.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Sadly, it appears “Nazis” are now Team Read so a more nuanced view of the Third Reich and White Power have to be embraced.

                I’m not kidding. Everyone could hate Nazi’s 20 years ago, left right and center except Nazi’s themselves.

                Now, well — white supremacism is mixing with xenophobia and right-wing populism and now the argument is different.

                We can’t say “Nazi’s are bad” because Team Red is playing some footsie with Nazis and Nazi-adjacent viewpoints. We have to explain how Team Blue is exactly as bad (because we can’t criticize the home team), or suddenly develop a burning love of free speech and a blindness to how “heavily armed protesters outside a synagogue shouting about the evils of Jews” might have crossed that free speech line into intimidation.

                And if you bring this up to anyone, they’ll explain how you’re exactly as bad. That clearly, the problem is you’re just as biased and wrong because it has to be equal

                If it’s not equal, people might have to change sides. Or pick one. Can’t have that.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                And we all need to extend some more credit and grace to each other around here.

                People keep saying this, and then someone will roll up and post a defense of birtherism, or “human biodiversity”, or a shedload of of disgusting stereotypes about immigrants, or actual anti-semitic laws passed by the Nazis, and it will be treated as totally acceptable discourse.

                So no, this place does not inspire a feeling of charity in me.Report

              • Avatar gregiank says:

                Yeah that really is a major problem. There are somethings that are beyond the pale for lots of us. There are somethings i wont’ grant grace to. Yet i want a place where people will listen and discuss things. At some point the answer is a forum can only be so wide and open and still work. People set limits and self-segregate which is an answer and probably the only answer.Report

              • Avatar Dave Regio says:


                Yeah that really is a major problem. There are somethings that are beyond the pale for lots of us.

                This feels a lot like 2009 when the seven of us that started here had this very conversation.

                I see some things don’t change.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @dave-regio If you have any advice please feel free to share it with me (or email the inquiry email and tell all the eds…)Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @pillsy I’m not going to allow any of those things to be treated as totally acceptable discourse any more. To everyone who felt like that’s what we were doing (it definitely wasn’t what we were trying to do, but it ended up being exactly what *I* felt we were doing too), I apologize. We shouldn’t have kept doing the same thing. We’re all just people doing this in our spare time, you know? Being the sole moderator is going to be a giant pain in my ass, even if it works.

                Please check out the announcement about comments:

                There are things adjacent to those things, however, that are still going to be acceptable, if problematic and intensely challenged and monitored for getting out into the weeds, discourse. And probably you will be pissed that I’m not doing enough and I’ll be pissed (and possibly even moderate comments according to the belief that) that you’re not being charitable enough.

                I hope we can still find enough common ground that you feel like the place has gotten less fucked up.Report

            • Avatar notme says:

              Maybe you are being too narrow minded. DD is presently an alternative example of someone with dogmatic ideals that would disrupt the work place if they were publically known. It’s too bad you can only see your example as the only valid one.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            The argument that if we discriminate against Nazis for the sake of coworker harmony we might also discriminate against other groups seems to me like a legitimate one. And one that does not state (or even imply) that they are comparably bad.Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:

              That may be, but it’s also not the argument being presented.Report

            • Avatar dragonfrog says:

              If it is a legitimate argument, then it is a legitimate instance of the very-often-abused slippery slope argument class. Generally you don’t get to make those arguments for free – you have to provide some compelling evidence regarding the angle and the coefficients of static and kinetic friction of this particular slope.

              So far what I’ve read here is more like “Assuming a spherical cow of uniform density on a frictionless inclined plane, this month’s firing people for attending Nazi marches where counterprotesters are beaten with pipes and murdered with cars is next month’s firing people for attending Insane Clown Posse concerts where consenting adults are drenched in orange Faygo.”Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                I don’t think what he says will happen will happen quite that way. I think he’s taking a low-friction uneven surface to an extreme conclusion. The more effective response, to me, is to point out where the differences are.

                But it’s pretty clear to me that we’re not just talking about Nazis here. So we’re talking about things downslope from Nazis. It’s not clear how far downslope.

                And there is no limiting principle when it comes to “Other people don’t want to work with him” apart from social norms.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                He’s saying that if you are willing to discriminate against Nazis, you’ll be just as willing to discriminate against Jews or people who listen to rap music.

                That’s not a legitimate argument. It’s just stupid. And, you know, pretty obnoxious.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “He’s saying that if you are willing to discriminate against Nazis, you’ll be just as willing to discriminate against Jews or people who listen to rap music.”

                I’m saying that if you’re going to tell me that discrimination is bad except, then you’re okay with discrimination.

                And that means your criticisms of my discrimination over this-or-that thing turn into “my disagreement is based on personal preference” instead of “You Are Morally Wrong”.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Yes, all forms of discrimination are bad, and not wanting to hire an axe murderer to babysit you kids is no different from not wanting to hire someone because they’re Latino.

                Thanks for sharing this profound insight.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                Bro, you’re the one telling me that discrimination is a Moral Transgression except. I’m the one saying that if you’re making a moral case then you need consistency.

                You’re also not actually disagreeing with me. You’re just complaining about the examples I chose. You haven’t actually said that my argument is wrong.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                No, consistency isn’t needed. You just need to always discriminate against the right people, then you can claim the moral high ground.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @notme You’re being needlessly sarcastic (again *eyebrow-raise*) but when you’re talking about morality you’re not actually wrong, just lacking nuance. When you’re talking about law, it’s a whole different kettle of fish of course.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                You’re just complaining about the examples I chose.

                Yes. Because they suck. They suck so bad they wreck your argument, because, “How can you possibly distinguish morally between listening to rap music and being a Nazi?” is just a dumb question.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                ““How can you possibly distinguish morally between listening to rap music and being a Nazi?” is just a dumb question.”

                I’m not the one asking it.

                You know, I could provide you with different examples of Rotten Antiprogressive Ideals, but you’ll just go back to this emotional “oh GOD how can you SAY THAT you MONSTER that’s NOT AT ALL LIKE BEING A NAZI” thing that you seem to love so much.

                And if I present something abstract, you’ll get all huffy about how I’m not presenting specifics, I’m not providing examples, I won’t say what I’m really talking about.

                And–again–during all this wailing by you, you haven’t actually addressed my argument.Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                Why don’t you play your own game. Is discrimination wrong or is it ok? Since you seem to like extremes, you should have no problem choosing one. Will you?

                If discrimination is wrong, then you should have no problem with the NAMBLA axe murderer watching your kids.

                If you think its OK, well I guess thats good to know about you.

                The rest of us, in the real world, realize there is a broad expanse in the middle, where, as humans, we have to determine what kinds of discrimination we are comfortable with, and what kinds we are not. There is ample ground to argue edge cases. That doesn’t appear to be what your doing though. And to the extent that accepting, even encouraging discrimination against nazis may result in some future potential cost, like people on the internet using that principle to argue that “if you can discriminate against nazis, why can’t I discriminate against black people”, its a cost i am willing to bear.

                I mean it really sounds like your entire argument is: All discrimination must be ok, or no discrimination is OK. And there are no other options. If not, what are we missing?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “Is discrimination wrong or is it ok?”

                I think it’s OK.

                So do you.

                “The rest of us, in the real world, realize there is a broad expanse in the middle, where, as humans, we have to determine what kinds of discrimination we are comfortable with…”

                Welp. Sounds like you’re okay with discrimination, then. All monsters together.

                “There is ample ground to argue edge cases.”

                Sure there is, but you’ve already agreed with me that discrimination is okay, so, after this point it’s just a matter of what flavor.

                “I mean it really sounds like your entire argument is: All discrimination must be ok, or no discrimination is OK.”

                Nope. My argument is that if you insist your opposition to some particular act of discrimination is a matter of Morality, then you are arguing that “no discrimination is OK”. You are telling me that discrimination is Not Moral.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @densityduck If that’s really all you’re arguing, it’s very abstract indeed and really, as far as I can tell, you telling them their definitions of the word moral are wrong and they should be using another definition. (I’m not saying you shouldn’t tell them that, or that you might not have very valid reasons for thinking it’s important to convey that, regardless of whether I agree with you to which the only true answer is it depends on the circumstances but I can see why that might be a really annoying answer). Couldn’t you have found a more straightforward way of saying that instead of trying to count coup and etc like it seems like you were doing?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                What I’m doing is criticizing people’s highly situational ethics, their shockingly conditional morality. They’re giving up on hundreds of years of the struggle to put ration over emotion because punching Nazis feels good, man.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Hundreds of years of struggle to, what, not make moral judgments about people? Or just never act on them? Reach an enlightened understanding that advocating genocide is a personal quality barely worth noting, like one’s musical preferences? Decide that firing someone in a completely legal manner is equivalent to punching them in the face?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                I’m actually okay with firing people based on their personal philosophy.

                You’re the one who has to come in with all sorts of explanations and conditions and reductio ad absurdums about why it’s okay to fire someone for their personal philosophy this time.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Why do I need to do that?

                A few personal philosophies are bad enough to justify firing if people are public about them, most are not, and even for the ones that aren’t it generally is legal to fire people for them [1], and I see little reason for that to change. Employers have the right to make bad employment decisions within fairly broad parameters.[2]

                There’s nothing about discrimination that demands we treat all forms of it alike, any more than there’s anything that demands we treat all forms of cutting people with knives alike. This is true both legally and morally.

                If you think that on one should be fired for reasons of morality unrelated to their job, go you, but it’s not inconsistent to disagree, or to disagree with your way of compartmentalizing things. My opinion is that someone who’s willing to be photographed in a Nazi march is that they’ve demonstrated such profound defects of character and/or intellect that it’s perfectly reasonable to assume they’d make a terrible, and indeed even physically dangerous, employee or colleague.

                [1] For private employers. Also, my understanding is there are some limits on this in CA.

                [2] Stuff could happen to change my mind, just like the long history of racial and religious discrimination makes me believe that employers shouldn’t be able to do that anymore, where my knee jerk if I didn’t know the history would be to say, “Dumb, but legal.” “Stuff” isn’t going to be a bunch of Nazis getting fired, though.Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                Im not advocating punching. Im advocating discriminating against them, in my personal and/or professional life, and advocating to those I can influence to do the same. To ostracize them, not to physcially expel them. But go ahead and put words in our mouths if it supports your argument.Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                So you are fine with police officers pulling over drivers for no reason other than their skin color. Your fine with stop and frisk targeting black residents in poor parts of town? Your fine with government agencies refusing to consider job applications when they include names that sound like they may not be white males?Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @switters I expect that I’m probably going to get it wrong again, but I’m guessing that he means he finds *private* discrimination morally acceptable (whether or not he personally approves of the type of discrimation) and your examples are all public.

                @densityduck If I’m right and the abstract question of what moral is, is what you’re getting at here, could you do us a favor and talk about that rather than taunting the indignant? I ask this as someone whose spouse really loves taunting me when I’m indignant and whose spouse also has a very different definition of moral than I normally hear people use…Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                That may be the case. I don’t buy the distinction though, not from him anyway, at least not yet. Duck was pretty clear when he said, so far without caveat – he actually seems to abhor caveats – that its either all ok or its all bad. It would be a bit ironic for him to finally start distinguishing between different kinds of discrimination though.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If we’re just saying that we shouldn’t discriminate on luck-of-the-draw appearances but it’s perfectly fine to discriminate on creeds, can private companies engage in religious tests?

                We’ve agreed that the first amendment applies only to the government.

                Does the “religious test” part of Article Six only apply to government?Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                Private companies do engage in religious tests. Am i comfortable with that? Not really. But humans discriminate. Always have. Always will. No getting around that. And i’m comfortable with my nazis are bad and should all burn in hell principle trumping my discrimination should generally be avoided principal.

                Do you discriminate against Nazis? Are you comfortable with religious tests?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Title VII muddles things, of course.

                I think that if we can argue that Naziism is not a religion then Title VII doesn’t apply… and that way I can say that I oppose religious tests but based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and not based on the Constitution.

                So let’s do that.Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                Im trying Jaybird, but im not following you.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                While religious tests might not be Unconstitutional, per se, they are illegal under Title VII.

                That’s the answer.

                The Civil Rights Act of 1964.

                Hrm. I wonder if corporations firing people for what they do outside of work can be considered a violation of their Civil Rights, as defined by this law…Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                still not sure where your going Jaybird. I am trying to make one point. That it is OK, and quite normal, to condemn certain kinds of discrimination and not to condemn others. There may be some close calls. NAzis aren’t one of them. As opposed to Duck, who appears to believe that either all discrimination is bad or its all ok.

                am i wrong? is duck?Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                If we’re just saying that we shouldn’t discriminate on luck-of-the-draw appearances but it’s perfectly fine to discriminate on creeds, can private companies engage in religious tests?

                They probably could, if such religious tests hadn’t proven to cause so many problems in the past, causing them to be rightly ruled illegal in many circumstances.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “you are fine with police officers pulling over drivers for no reason other than their skin color.”

                No. But “they’re doing it because it’s Discrimination and That’s Morally Wrong” is not why I have a problem with it.Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                I noticed you conveniently failed to address the other two examples.

                And again, I don’t understand why you are so worried that, once discriminating against nazis becomes normalized, then people will start discriminating against the jews. Because discrimination is OK. That is your position, right?

                So the guy who is OK with discrimination doesn’t think we should discriminate because it could lead to other discrimination. Thats just priceless.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                My argument is that if you insist your opposition to some particular act of discrimination is a matter of Morality, then you are arguing that “no discrimination is OK”. You are telling me that discrimination is Not Moral.

                This is ridiculous. It’s like saying that if you disapprove of stabbing people to death to take their wallets, and you think it’s a matter of morality, that means you must also object to appendectomies, because “no sticking people with knives is OK.”

                Of course, you’ll probably ignore this and say I’ve never explained where I disagree with your argument, just like you ignored it last time.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “It’s like saying that if you disapprove of stabbing people to death to take their wallets, and you think it’s a matter of morality, that means you must also object to appendectomies, because “no sticking people with knives is OK.””

                That’s a stupid thing to say, and you know it. Do better.Report

              • Avatar FortyTwo says:

                Please don’t say Bro. I respect your earlier argument, and I think it’s a good point, but that word triggers me (mostly joking). You have a lot of good points, but it demeans you and the rest of us to dismiss an argument in this manner.Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

              Well we know that the Civil Rights Act and state equivalents forbid discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex/gender, ethnicity, age. State laws can be even more liberals and gender has been interpreted in ways that include gender non-conformity by the U.S. Supreme Court and other Federal Courts (it is a backdoor to protecting the LBGT).

              The rap music thing is interesting. Theoretically it can be at-will but I can imagine a fact pattern in which it is used against minorities more than white people and could be prohibited. Or a good plaintiff’s lawyer could make an argument.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “The rap music thing is interesting. ”

                Go back to the original comment, describing Bob, who’s hardly ever said two words about his philosophy at work but was described as thinking of his coworkers as “subhuman apes” and being “sorry they escaped the ovens”.

                The intent is not to compare rap music to the tenets of National Socialism. The intent is to mock the rhetorical style of carrying things to a ludicrous degree in order to justify why something we’ve always heard is inherently wrong is Okay Just This Once.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @densityduck Wait, are you literally saying that Bob adhering to the tenets of National Socialism means he doesn’t also believe those things and shouldn’t be treated as such without further proof that that is literally what he believes?

                Because I get – I think – your overall jist but if you really believe it *that strongly* as to argue yourself into a corner where you’re willing to divorce Nazism itself from its deliberate and chosen history…. we don’t have room for that here. And I’ll have to ask you to stop this argument and not pick it up elsewhere. Like, as a flat requirement.

                If – as I believe you are – you are just arguing about not doing things we know we absolutely should not do (eg execution without due process or someone used to believe this when they were 20 so they must believe it now, or equating the Google dude with the actual Nazis, or whatever), please clarify that. And don’t strongly imply the first thing.

                Because I don’t believe that the original comment was overblown in connecting those two things (the adherence to Nazism and the effect that will have on his coworkers’ fears of him), and given that NONE of us are in disagreement (we say) about Nazis being bad, arguing that it was overblown is just stirring up problems. No matter how well-intentioned.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @densityduck You need to answer this question, please. Not because I am believing you believe it, but because I don’t see how you didn’t just say it and that does, actually, fall into “arguments we don’t need to have” – whether self-proclaimed Nazis can reasonably be assumed to want Nazi things to happen to people.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “You need to answer this question, please.”


                Be seeing you, I guess.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @densityduck I hope I will be seeing you. But I can’t moderate threads if you say stuff that is really hard to understand and don’t explain it. I had no intentions of suspending you, I just needed to know whether to stop the discussion or not.

                As a reminder, stopping discussions is something we used to do *pretty damn often* before we got too busy to pay attention to the discussion.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Good choice. I wouldn’t risk it either.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @densityduck Our posts got really tangled up with timestamps. I didn’t see your long response (even after reloading) until some time after your posted it. Like well after I asked you to answer it. Your long response was a more than sufficient answer and I apologize. I actually have little practice moderating *this* community and I mistook artifacts of how the systems work for a choice you weren’t making (to ignore me and continue arguing with switters). That was a big mistake on my part. I apologize and I won’t do that to you again, and I’ll do my best not to do it to anybody.

                I hope you see this comment and return to posting, I really like your way of seeing the world, as far as I can understand it.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                People believe lots of weird, dangerous things. People believe the Earth is flat, they believe that vaccines cause autism, they believe that Barack Obama was a Kenyan, they believe the workers should own the means of production, they believe that Jesus Christ is our lord and savior. If we’re going to start firing people for weird, dangerous beliefs then we’ve got a pretty long list to work through before we get to something so uncommon as Naziism.

                “NONE of us are in disagreement (we say) about Nazis being bad…”

                I’ve never said that they weren’t. Or that Bob shouldn’t have been fired.

                My issue is, if we’re going with “Bob’s activities and interests outside of work inherently create a hostile work environment and that gives us objective justification for firing him”, then there are any number of activities and interests outside of work that might inherently create a hostile work environment and give an employer objective for firing someone.

                And I’m okay with that, too. I’m okay with firing people for just about any reason, actually, so long as we all know what the reason was and there isn’t some BS “you’re not allowed to talk about the firing afterwards” condition. I think that if an employer fires someone for being black (or for being pregnant) then everyone should know about it, including potential customers.

                But what I want is for the people saying that it’s okay to fire Bob to accept that they’re arguing it’s also okay to fire Jermaine or Sue or Moishe. For them to recognize that they aren’t making an objective statement, that it’s a statement of preference, and that it’s as arbitrary and subjective as someone saying that she doesn’t want to sign off same-sex marriage licenses because it’s against her religion.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                [YEURGH, I @damon’d instead of @densityduck’d. Sorry sorry sorry! I swear I don’t mix you two up mentally *at all*, it’s fracking autocorrect or something.] OK, that’s the area I thought you were in and that’s reasonable. Thank you for clarifying.

                But at this point you’re saying “you’re also arguing this” and they’re saying “no I’m not” and you have two different conceptions of what Morality is. And of whether subjectivity can be something other than arbitrary. So – as a facilitation and not, now, a directive, I would suggest you’d get a lot farther and have a more civil conversation if you focus on explaining why you differentiate between objective morality and subjective preference, as a strict binary (I know there’s plenty of philosophical room to do this.)

                Otherwise you’re going to keep arguing past each other, they’re going to keep thinking you yourself are equating Bob and Jermaine just because you think employers should be able to fire both of them as long as it’s clear (because the way you are saying that! makes it hard to see that is what you are saying if you don’t already agree!), and you’re going to keep thinking they are oblivious to obvious logic rather than using words differently than you are.

                Which is, like, not very useful for any of you?

                Again, the above is NOT me laying down the law, it’s me looking at the conversation and saying you’re not going to get where you want to go this way.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @densityduck I should also say that this particular comment (the one starting “People believe lots of weird dangerous things”) is a really good comment. Since I kept harassing you about your others.

                Thank you.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Be careful how you answer.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                It’s not that complicated to answer, it’s a yes or no question. The rest was just explaining why it needed to be answered not making an argument.

                “Wait, are you literally saying that Bob adhering to the tenets of National Socialism means he doesn’t also believe those things and shouldn’t be treated as such without further proof that that is literally what he believes?”

                Yes or no, please. Or, sure, stopping the argument entirely is also fine. If you stop arguing, I will stop asking.Report

        • Avatar j r says:

          For the business case, imagine this scene…

          That scene is decidedly not what I had in mind when I made my original comment. If I’m an employer and Bob shows up looking for a job and his resume mentions that he likes to get together with his klavern and prep for the coming race way, Bob ain’t getting hired. But if Bob presents himself free of Neo-Nazi tells and shows that he is wiling and able to do the job and can work well with who he has to work with, I’m not going to make it my business to comb through his social media accounts and political donations and any old blog comments I can trace to him looking for red flags. I would probably check his criminal record and credit history, though.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Hey, the first amendment doesn’t refer to any particular set of Enlightenment principles, it only refers to limits on the government.

      And if corporations get more powerful than the government, then they can do whatever they want and the protections the Constitution gives the citizens from the government has no application to them whatsoever.

      If you don’t like it, move to Somalia.Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        I mean, except for the last, everything you said is literally true.

        Given the realities of at-will employment, the norm that people shouldn’t be fired from their job for political speech really comes out sounding a lot like, “It’s OK for your employer to fire you for any old reason except being a Nazi.”Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          I’m hoping, someday, for corporation campuses where people who work for the corporation will be able to live, shop, and perhaps even send their children to be educated.

          Hey, if you want to live on the campus, just get a job.Report

          • Avatar pillsy says:

            I think that is probably a forlorn hope. Homeowners near the corporate campuses will never jeopardize their precious property values by allowing the companies to build on-site housing.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Of all of the “that would never happen!”s I’ve heard, that is up there around “Trump getting the Republican nomination”.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I trust NIMBYs fighting tooth and nail against anything that could so much as hint to their homes losing a nickel of value much more than ever trusted the institutional health of the GOP.

                Also, most companies have been moving towards having less FTEs and more temps and contractors. I don’t see the economic logic driving those decisions changing any time soon, either.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Perhaps those temps and contractors will be the best hedge against corporations becoming a new de facto government.

                I mean, so long as the real one doesn’t lose any/all semblance of a moral authority.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                also owning the housing only makes temps & contractors more feasible. Migrant coders.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Come in, work in the code mines for 2-3 years, make your money, move to South Dakota and spend the rest of your days yearning for a place that makes decent butter chicken like that one place that made it before they were shut down for cultural appropriation.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Oh dear… those are the good ole days. There’s no retiring from the code mines… just another code mine in South Dakota.Report

          • Avatar bookdragon says:

            When I read this I thought you must have meant it as snark, but after reading the following comments, I’m not so sure.

            Surely you know this used to be the case? You’ve heard of company towns?Report

            • Avatar Maribou says:

              @bookdragon His mom’s from Harlan County. He’s being full of snark and irony levels. I figure it’s his way of coping with the dentist visit this afternoon…

              (Maribou, Jaybirdsplaining since 1998. HE IS SO WORTH IT, YOU SHOULD ALL BE JEALOUS.)Report

              • Avatar bookdragon says:

                Thank you. I thought so.

                This is what I get for only getting a chance to drop in here and spend any time on the comments every few months.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              The problem with company towns is that they treated their workers like shit.

              They should have treated their workers like kings… and let them look out at the teeming hordes of people who are still hoping to hear back about their job application as well as the people who were recently fired for criticizing management.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          At will employment doesn’t justify the firing of someone por political reasons. It merely enables it. So there is no inconsistency there. There are – from each side – often differing (arguably inconsistent) approaches towards ugly comments directed at Texans or Israel vs comments directed elsewhere.Report

          • Avatar pillsy says:

            It doesn’t justify it, but in practice people are fired over petty bullshit all the time, and I don’t see a norm against that taking hold any time soon. In the absence of a broader norm (or legal protections), I think sticking up for a norm protecting people from being fired for off-the-job political speech [1] will end up having a perverse effect.

            [1] And now people want to discourage private companies from firing people for on-the-job political speech, too!Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              So anti-anti-firing, then? Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Like most anti-antis, I alternate between being anti-anti-firing and pro-firing whenever it’s most rhetorically convenient.

                More seriously, I’m kind of ambivalent about firing people for obnoxious off-the-job speech, and that ambivalence leads me to not really want rules (even informal ones) governing it.

                My mind would probably change if there were waves of people getting fired for having, say, Trump (yes, even Trump) bumper-stickers on their cars or something.Report

            • Avatar j r says:

              It doesn’t justify it, but in practice people are fired over petty bullshit all the time…

              Really? All the time? I honestly cannot think of a single instance of anyone I know, or even heard of, being fired for random reasons. Heck, I can’t even think of that many people who’ve been fired for cause. The overwhelming majority of people I know of who involuntarily left a job were let go because the company/business unit was being shut down or undergoing some kind of reorganization. Most of the time someone is a poor performer, companies just find a way to work around that person until they quit or change teams.

              The obvious caveat is that almost all of my work experience and almost of all of my familiarity is with so-called professional workplaces. But if you think about the number of Americans who work for large corporations (which generally have documented, fairly bureaucratic policies that govern how people can be fired), for the public sector, in unions shops, or for themselves, what percentage of the labor force is actually subject to this sort of threat of being randomly fired because your boss doesn’t like your haircut?

              And it isn’t in anyway good business to go around randomly firing people, which is why most companies, even though they have the legal right to fire people, make management jump though hoops (warnings, counseling, documenting poor performance) to fire anyone. Plus, if a supervisor fires someone, they now have a whole in their team, which makes it harder to get their job done and they’ve got to explain to their boss why they couldn’t effectively manage their report.

              This whole point about at-will employment is a big non-sequitur. I am generally supportive of at-will employment and even more supportive of norms that say that your job doesn’t own the rest of your life. There is no contradiction between those two beliefs. Quite the opposite, they are complimentary in the belief that a job is fundamentally a transaction.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I’ve known several people who’ve been fired for such reasons. It seems to be much more common with small employers (FSVO “small”, i.e., dozens of employees), with lower status/lower paid jobs, and with fewer levels of management. My understanding is that a large fraction (most?) people work for smaller companies like that.

                It’s usually bad business, but then again, lots of small businesses fail.

                I work for a big company now, and firing is, as you would expect, rare. Then again, so is Tweeting about how Hitler was great or about how Republicans should be shot in the street or whatever.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                When I worked for the restaurant, people got fired for BS reasons all the time… at the same time, others got fourth or fifth chances after doing stuff like getting in fights or being drunk/high.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                I watched a restaurant fire a supervisor for comping too many meals to people while simultaneously protecting one who routinely showed up to work drunk and would — even off-duty — comp her friends drinks and food.

                (In fact, she had twice the comp rate the fired one had, whose comp rate was perhaps 10% over average).

                The difference was who was buddy-buddy with the next manager up the chain, and who wasn’t.

                If your company is small enough that there is no HR department, or HR is “the guy who signs the pay stubs”, the odds of petty firings jump through the roof. Personal issues, like 90% of the time. Bob can’t stand Tina, or Tiffany wants her friend Janice to get a promotion, and Tom stands in the way, etc.

                *shrug* In the end, some opinions are so unpopular that most people don’t want to work with you. Firing someone because 95% of his coworkers can’t stand the guy and don’t want to work with him is, bluntly, just business.

                Call it the free market in ideas, making a point. Perhaps the Nazis should lobby for subsidies.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                @morat20 @jaybird

                I’ve seen random firings/lay-offs occur at larger places at well.

                One firm I worked at had a reputation for keeping people for decades or letting them go after seven months. The constant turn over was done on purpose and to instill a fear of god mentality among the employees.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Call it the free market in ideas, making a point. Perhaps the Nazis should lobby for subsidies

                Since the gov’t gives subsidies and business set asides to other groups already, that sounds like a fine idea.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                I’ve known several people who’ve been fired for such reasons. It seems to be much more common with small employers (FSVO “small”, i.e., dozens of employees), with lower status/lower paid jobs…

                This makes sense. And yes, something like half the workforce is employed by small businesses. No doubt that low-skilled workers at small firms are more vulnerable to capricious firing than higher-skilled workers and workers at larger firms. But they all exist under the same at-will labor regime, so maybe the at-will thing isn’t the important thing after all.

                Right now I am an expat working for a European company. I have a contract. All that contract says is that they have to give me a month’s notice before firing me. I just looked on the EU page about employment contracts. It says that they have to include a notice period, but doesn’t say what that notice period has to be. I think each country has different rules. If I’ve got it right France’s notice period caps out at two months for people with more than two years working.

                All of this is just a way of saying that, while it likely makes a difference on the margins, the things which make an employee more or less secure in a job don’t appear to have a whole lot to do with whether they are at-will or on a contract. In general, the norms that develop around employer-employer relationships have as much, if not more, impact on what that relationship looks like than does the letter of the law.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @jr FWIW your contract doesn’t say much but France itself is nothing but a swarm of employment law that does regulate your employment very heavily – employees of French firms are not typically at will at all.

                Not sure, b/c it’s not my area, whether your firm may’ve hired you *specifically* so they are under your state’s laws and not France’s (regulation does make things harder), but it’s not like France in general exists in a blank-slate situation, and if that same firm hired someone with the same contract *in France* there would for sure be a million rules, both EU and French rules, about when they could hire or fire them. (This is one of the French far-right’s talking points, but it is also true, whether one approves or disapproves of it.)Report

              • Avatar j r says:


                I don’t work for a French company. I live in Hong Kong and my contract is with the Hong Kong entity of a multinational firm headquartered in London. I was just using France as an example of a country with stronger rues about hiring and firing.

                So, yes in France you can generally only be fired “for cause,” whereas the U.S. being an at-will regime means that you can be fired for any reason. But in practical terms, when you sum up the number of Americans working for large firms that have specific bureaucratic processes around firing, working for the public sector, working under union contracts, or with enough individual bargaining power to be secure in their jobs, for all intents and purposes the majority of American workers can’t be fired without cause either.

                Yes, there is definitely still a significant pool of vulnerable workers who lack any of those protections. But it’s not entirely clear that most of those folks would be better under a system more like France’s. Consider that the unemployment rate in France is right now twice what it is in the United States, which implies that many of the workers who are in vulnerable positions in the U.S. are simply not employed in France, because the increased regulation around hiring and firing makes it less appealing to hire marginal workers.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                I worked at a firm with 300 plus people and they still managed to lay me off and get me out the door in fifteen minutes.

                American norms are very employee friendly in this regard. And there is no doubt that the bosses knew it was happening all week and kept mum. They had normal discussions with me hours before the lay off on cases.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                Oh, sure, I agree that’s a whole big conversation. I just misunderstood and thought you were saying that since your (I thought French) contract didn’t have the stuff, you weren’t regulated by it.. My mistake. I should have read more carefully.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                I don’t think that is one of the far Right’s talking points.

                That’s Macron’s grand Centrist talking point… Le Pen favors labor regulations.

                Remember, comrades… when the micro-aggression-dust settles its pitchforks for the Neo-Liberal-Cons.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                Thanks for the clarification. I admit I tuned out the French far right about 10-15 years ago, and I’m not surprised they’ve shifted their tune.Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

                My last company was acquired by a big French company and our office was shut down a few months later. The VP who came out to do it was professional and direct with no BS. The room was full of tech people who were unsurprised / used to seeing it in our industry, so everybody basically just shrugged and went to HR to see what the severance packages looked like.

                I was in the room with the VP after it happened and he was kind of shocked. “If I did that in France, I would have been torn apart.”Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


            I think @pillsy ‘s point was that it seems the largest and most vocal supporters of at-will are often the ones who scream fowl when it goes against someone on the right-wing side of the equation. Usually someone like the guy who wrote the Google manifesto.

            Minorities have been denied jobs and/or promotions because of their race, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, etc. Now you have a bunch of usually white guys who find that they are slightly less powerful and can also be the victims of at-will employment when their reprehensible politics because of civil rights gains.

            At-will means that the employment relationship can end for any reason. That reason can be good, bad, or non-existent. Anyone can end it at anytime. Now you see right-leaning guys discover that this includes them and they are outraged and upset!

            How do you propose circling the square? I don’t see how anyone can justify and support at-will employment and then be really upset when they find someone got terminated for a reason they deem bad or non-existent. That seems like a tacit agreement that employment termination should only be for cause.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              My point is that there is no inconsistency between supporting EAW and criticizing politically-based firings. It only potentially becomes an inconsistency if you support EAW and want to carve out a exception for certain kinds of political activism. (A lot if people are inconsistent about that.)

              (For my part, I would not yet carve out am exception but I am becoming more open to the idea. I do support exceptions for race and sexual orientation and such.) Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                I largely agree that people should not be fired for lawful out-of work activity even if that activity is on the potentially “sketchy” side based on conventional morality and the person is in a “wholesome” occupation like kindergarten teacher.

                There are some problems with some political activity though and the contradiction of running a discrimination-free workforce and then discovering that one of your employees attended a white supremacist rally. It might not be a problem but it could easily become one. Or you just have a diverse community like Berkeley.

                Google manifesto guy seem justifiable as a firing to me still and a problem waiting to happen. It doesn’t help that he suffers from the overblown hyperbole problem that seems to infect so many right-leaning people.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                I basically see two competing values. Free association vs social harmony. From a legal standpoint I lean heavier on free association. From a social judgment standpoint it’s a closer call.

                Which of course means I am probably going to be inconsistent. I just try not to be so in a self-interested sort of way.

                I’m okay with google guy getting fired, though not okay with a lot of the justifications that people used that could apply to firings I am not on board with. (It is actually the fact that there are so many nuances that lead me presently to wanting to keep the law out of it if we can.)

              • Avatar notme says:

                (For my part, I would not yet carve out am exception but I am becoming more open to the idea. I do support exceptions for race and sexual orientation and such.)

                Why should any exceptions be allowed? My political opinions are as immutable as my sex or my race is. Therefore they should get the same deference to be consistent.Report

              • Avatar FortyTwo says:

                Your political opinions are not immutable like your race. I’ve changed from very conservative in my younger days to moderate liberal now based on my experience and greater knowledge of the world. If presented with better evidence one should change their mind. Race cannot be changed and gender can only be changed through an arduous process. Political opinions are fleeting and can be changed with difficult introspection. If I found out one of my co-workers was a nazi it would be hard to work with them because of the hate for different groups. Working with someone who is gay, transgender, or other raced should not be a problem, because they do not advocate hurting other people because of some chatacteristic. I would also have a problem working with a black nationalist who wants to kill whitey. Hate is hate. I prefer to hate individuals, although I try not to, rather than a group of people based on random characteristics like gender or race.Report

            • Avatar Marchmaine says:

              How do you propose circling the square?

              The principle behind “at will” is economic, not cultural… or it was. Being able to trim labor for economic benefit without cause, other than said corporate benefit is the principle. I think you can make good arguments that that ought not to be the guiding principle… and you can make good arguments that going too far in the area of labor protections has deleterious effects as well. In this current cycle I personally lean towards greater labor solidarity – especially when capital has no cultural or legal restraints against labor arbitrage.

              That said, specifically making “at will” cultural rather than economic is the growth of a by-product of at will employment, not the point. As such, one squares the circle by reminding people not to expand a bad practice further.

              But we can, if you wish. And that’s why we’ll get Trump in 2020. (I’m skipping a few steps… but Jaybird can fill you in if you wish).Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                I am not sure how economic it ever was. I agree that there economic reasons to have at-will and there are economic justifications for it.

                But I practice employment law and in my experience, there are just a lot of petty managers and business owners out there who see the office/business as their little feudal empire*. There are more owners and managers who are smart enough to avoid the bad and no reasons for termination but there is a good plurality that is not.

                *This doesn’t mean that everyone who calls me has a case. I’ve told plenty of people that they just had a horrible boss/manager and this is not legally actionable.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Yes? Has facebook/twitter/LinkedIn made this better or worse?

                What before was a petty personality clash is now a justified crusade against wrong-think… or perhaps the instigation of a new petty personality clash.

                As I say, I’m a pro-Solidarity guy… on lots of levels… so I’m not on board with pure libertarian labor races to the bottom.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I doubt it’s made it better or worse, it’s just made it so everybody and their dog hears all about it happening from time to time.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Hmmn, I’m rather sure it has. And often publicly so.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I tend to think if a single instance of this sort of thing can cause a national news blow-up—even a small scale one—it’s probably not something that is likely to discernibly affect people’s lives.

                Of course, it’s also hard not to notice that, even of the small number of blow-ups we have heard about, the bulk seem to involve people putting idiotic things up on Twitter or Facebook. So maybe social media has made things worse, in part by broadcasting what once upon a time would have been shooting the shit with your friends in a bar and maybe offending half a dozen people go “viral” and piss off half the world.

                I’m never quite sure when @jaybird is being facetious, but he once suggested a PSA campaign to remind people that anybody can see what they say on Twitter. I think that’s a legitimately good idea.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                TO CLARIFY: I suggested that high schools put up posters with representations of students with the words “these students lost their acceptance to Harvard because of their social media!”

                Good high schools, I mean. The crappy high schools probably don’t need them.

                Maybe we can make them for corporations as well. “Think before you say something on social media! You represent your company! Make sure you don’t say something that will make us say ‘zhe doesn’t represent us’!”

                Good corporations, I mean. Crappy corporations probably don’t need them.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                My employer makes that pretty clear, in fact, and I’ve definitely tailored my statements based on that idea.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Well, no, I still kinda disagree.

                I’m watching the use of professional social media change, even as it is just emerging; I’m increasingly surprised at the number of LinkedIn articles trolling for agreement. Sure, right now I can ignore them, but I’m genuinely surprised at my network’s response to them. I don’t like the direction this is trending.

                I’ve also watched mgmt opinions of people flip based on social media… rarely for the better. They don’t fare well in the long-term.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                Labor history reveals that at will employment always had a cultural factor behind it even if its principle was economic. Most employers aren’t perfect market machines who only act out of the purest economic reasons. They have and still like to exert cultural power over their employees even if the employees are doing well on the job.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Yes, but you asked about squaring the circle. If the goal is to circle the circle, then carry on.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                I didn’t ask about squaring the circle, Saul did.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Sorry. Somewhere in the thread one of you’s guy’s did. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                Next time I’ll confuse you with Jaybird and you can see how you like it.

                I get that we have a lot of overlapping views but we are different people with different personalities.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                This seems a bit of an overreaction given that you guys are… twins.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                Dude, twins are the MOST sick of being mixed up with each other. Know you no twins?

                Or are you just giving him a hard time because you are fond of him or something?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I should have been clearer.

                I read Saul’s comment less as, “Hey, it’s offensive to mix us up,” and more, “How the hell could you mix us up?”Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                I said sorry *and* put a smiley face on it…

                Next time I’ll confuse you with Jaybird and you can see how you like it

                Now I’m intrigued.

                I mean, as far as politics go, I’m pretty sure we’d be shot by two totally different firing squads… or maybe all the firing squads, so perhaps you are right.

                We should totally do a cheesy describe the poster above you thread. Well, now that we have a moderatrix.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                But firing Nazi’s is economic. First, they’re bad PR — and bad PR means lost business, yes?

                You don’t want to be the company hiring Nazi’s and white supremacists.

                But hey, maybe they’re not front office and no client interacts with them — but coworkers do. Now if they’re professional, and keep their opinions to themselves, there’s no workplace friction. But if, I dunno, they participate in a public Nazi rally and it gets out…

                Suddenly all your employees don’t want to work with the guy. And that’s bad for business. So you either fire most of your workforce, and hope your new hires don’t find out — or you fire the Nazi. (or I suppose you go full Stormfront and hire only Nazi’s, but…seems unlikely).

                Firing a Nazi is economic — you fire them for the same reason you fire any troublemaker. People can’t or won’t work with them, and they’re costing you money.

                That’s the blunt, bottom line. The almighty dollar says keeping known Nazi’s on staff is, generally, an economic loser.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “Firing Nazis is economic! They’re bad for business when people know you have them on staff!”

                “Right, sort of like homosexuals and Muslims.”

                “HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT! YOU MONSTER!Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Sure, then we’re all agreed that everything political is economic is political. Let us set the sum to zero and commence. I never said there wasn’t internal logic to the argument.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                (ten years later)

                Huh. The people who didn’t eat the marshmallow ended up with the most stuff.


              • Avatar Maribou says:


                *deep breath*

                Seriously honey, that experiment was about proving that kids *could learn to be more patient and delay gratification*. Which they in fact, at least in that study, could. Poor marshmallow guy has spent like his entire life correcting the misconception that some people are marshmallow waiters and some are not.

                Love you!!!!Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                So what he was going for was that we’re all marshmallow-waiters in potential, and everyone missed that part in their rush to either A) proudly declare that they were marshmallow-waiters or B) explain how being a marshmallow-taker was understandable and in fact preferable given the information at hand…Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                Yup. That’s what he was going for.Report

              • Avatar FortyTwo says:

                If you’re raised in a way in which the future is not related to your present actions the rational choice is to eat the marshmallow now. It’s only rational to wait if you trust the promise of an additional marshmallow later. Trust in the system is important, if you believe in the system.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @fortytwo Yup, you are absolutely right about that.

                Not to be a total fangirl, Marshmallow guy also has given multiple interviews pointing out that part, explaining how part of what he’s interested in is kids with a lot of adverse childhood experiences, how adaptive they are, etc etc etc etc.

                I think it really says a lot about virality how thoroughly his message has been distorted over the years. In 2014 he actually wrote a whole *book* to try and set the record straight and all it did was up the number of people making inaccurate allusions to his work.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                I took it to mean that the Marshmallows in the company store are so over-priced that they who did not eat them could afford the upgraded company flat. But in the end, all the marshmallows are belong to us.

                But I wouldn’t presume to Jaysplain to you, of all people.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                We can all interpret Jaybird in our own way and as long as we don’t interpret him in overly simplistic ways he’ll be fine.

                Well to be fair I get to interpret him in overly simplistic ways sometimes. Otherwise we’d just sit around talking all day and/or writing comments to each other, and we’d never get chores done.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

              I think @pillsy ‘s point was that it seems the largest and most vocal supporters of at-will are often the ones who scream fowl when it goes against someone on the right-wing side of the equation. Usually someone like the guy who wrote the Google manifesto.

              Isn’t it weird how people who agree with you are always calmly pointing out facts, while people who disagree with you are always screaming?

              Anyway, how many people are saying that Google should not be legally permitted to fire Damore, or that the government should step in and intervene? I haven’t seen a lot of that. Is it possible that you’re jumping to the conclusion that people who personally disapprove of Damore’s firing are advocating that, just because you yourself are so quick to call for the government to intervene when people do things of which you disapprove?Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I saw quite a few people (on the Twitters, not here) saying that Damore should sue Google into the ground for firing him.

                The theories about why such a suit would succeed were not, to my mind, remotely persuasive, but I don’t think it’s a particularly exotic opinion.

                EDIT: Whether those people are otherwise strong advocates of EAW is an open question. However, given the quality of their arguments about Damore’s firing, I doubt they have any sort of coherent opinions about employment law.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “I saw quite a few people (on the Twitters, not here) saying that Damore should sue Google into the ground for firing him.”

                Okay kids, let’s meditate on the differences between “lawsuit” and “law”…Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:

              I think @pillsy ‘s point was that it seems the largest and most vocal supporters of at-will are often the ones who scream fowl when it goes against someone on the right-wing side of the equation. Usually someone like the guy who wrote the Google manifesto.

              For what it’s worth, that is not my point. And really, I’m not fussed when someone gets fired for being a left-wing jackhole on their own time, either.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe says:

              it seems the largest and most vocal supporters of at-will are often the ones who scream fowl when it goes against someone on the right-wing side of the equation.

              I thought that nazi guy got fired from a libertarian hot dog place, not a libertarian rotisserie chicken place.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Sadly, as they obeyed FDA regulations on hot dog creation, they were not a True Libertarian Hot Dog Place, and thus does not represent libertarianism.

                Thus their firing was, probably, done by socialists.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                To be fair, all firing is done by socialists.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      I read the article differently. Maybe this is because of different politics.

      I see the issue as one being about domination and control between those who live to work and those who work to live. I’m not against doing long hours when necessary and sometimes they are very necessary because you are short-staffed or a project/case is very big, the deadline is tight, and it is also a very hard project. Or anyone of those three or some other reason.

      But I’ve experienced and heard of plenty of employers/bosses/people in general who believe in working long hours for the sake of long hours. This is whether there is an immediate need or not. They just merely define themselves by their work/careers and have a kind of incomprehension at anyone who doesn’t do so. Or in some industries, the billing structure is all about working long instead of smart (hence my hatred of law that revolves around the billable hour. I like the contingency fee or flat fee formulas).

      Again, I think I am more moderate here. Last summer, I got a project on a complex case that was heading to trial in early September and it was a complex case. The project required doing a lot of work in a very short amount of time. I did it without complaint because it was necessary. I’ve done this numerous times.

      But there are still a lot of employers who seem to think working 60-80 hours a week for the sake of working 60-80 hours a week is a natural good. This is madness to me. There is a lot of scientific evidence that shows human productivity caps at 40-50 hours a week.

      There are times when you need to work more but to demand more just because is silly.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

        Very much this. For the occasional crunch time, you roll up your sleeves and do what needs to be done. Things happen. But if crunch time is a regular thing, this is merely poor planning, often deliberately so.

        My experience with billables is that the way it plays out in practice is just short of explicitly being about figuring out how much the client will pay, and stretching out the work to fit: purposeful inefficiency. I have vowed never again to work a job where I bill my hours. Fortunately, in personal injury this means working Plaintiff’s side, which is more often (though not always) the side of the angels than is working Defense.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        I read the article differently. Maybe this is because of different politics.

        If that is true, it shouldn’t be. Personally, I try to make it so that my politics flows from my understanding of things and not vice versa.

        But there are still a lot of employers who seem to think working 60-80 hours a week for the sake of working 60-80 hours a week is a natural good.

        Define a lot? There are jobs like big law/bulge bracket bank/top-tier consulting/big name tech where folks work crazy hours, but those people are making several times the median household income. There is probably another group of people working crazy hours for low pay in prestige fields like entertainment or fashion, because they’re trying to win a lottery ticket or just because they love the world and want to be a part of it.

        Those folks aside, how many people are working 60-80 hours a week for no extra pay? The minimum salary for exempt employees (ie no overtime) was upped to $47k/yr. How many people are making $50k/year in an random office job (let’s say Accounts Receivable Supervisor at Midstate Office Supply) have to regularly work 60+ hours a week?

        Going back to your specific problem, I don’t know that there is an answer for it other than to exercise your preferences. In the prestige jobs, the folks willing to work longer and harder are always going to have the upper hand and are always going to set the pace. You don’t want to hang, don’t work there. It’s not like those are the only jobs. I have a job that I love. I work 50-70 hours a week. I don’t work 70+ hours a week. I make very good money. I don’t make great money. That’s the trade-off.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


          As someone who does wage and hour cases, I see plenty of corporations do things where they call someone a “third assistant manager” or a “second assistant manager” but the person is not actually anything close to a manager and they are getting a low salary but still expected to work many hours. These class actions happen a lot and with really big employers like Safeway.Report

          • Avatar j r says:


            I get it. There are a significant number of people in precarious employments situations in the United States. Nowhere have I said otherwise. There are lots of people who were in relatively low paying, exempt salary jobs who end up having to work more than a 40 hour week for no extra pay. That sucks and it sucks that companies try to take advantage like that. I’m not well versed in this area, but the Obama DOL upped the minimum from $23k to $47k; hopefully that helps.

            But that’s not what this conversation is about. I started it talking about companies that take action against employees based on out-of-work behavior that others find inappropriate. Are people getting fired from Safeway because they gave money to the wrong political organization or for an unpopular Tweet? Maybe they are. I don’t now. I’m guessing that people get fired from Safeway a lot more for not showing up for their shifts on time, or because their supervisor is a petty d*ck who likes to use what little authority he has over others to feel more important, or because they’re not showing up for their shifts on time because their supervisor is a petty d*ck who schedules their shifts at really inconvenient times.

            Likewise, I took your comment about working 60-80 hour weeks to be in reference to a certain kind of corporate culture. Again, maybe I’m wrong and there are Second Assistant Managers making $35k/yr working 80 hour weeks Safeway, but I’m guessing it’s not the norm.

            tl;dr: the Safeway problems you mention are a problem, but they’re not this problem.Report

  6. Avatar pillsy says:

    I get what people like about the Rowe article (which is not all bad), but the claim, at this late date, that the Republican Party is “very separate” from White Nationalism doesn’t even pass the giggle test.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      This. It is a variant of the thoughtful intellectual Conservative, writing thoughtful intellectual essays that bear no resemblance to the Republican Party or how “Conservative” is actually used.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @richard-hershberger And many of those folks are sincere, and conservative in a non-insane sense of the term, and have distanced themselves from the Republican Party and / or taken meaningful personal risks to decry what’s going on and strive to change it from within.

        Aren’t we better off making common cause with them about what conservative should mean (even if we still don’t agree with their politics and work hard to beat them politically) than throwing them into the cesspool with the actual malefactors? I’d much rather contest with them than with the hot mess that is the current power base and leadership of the Republican party.

        (I’m not defending Mike Rowe or the folks who claim to be intellectuals with their voices while being actively anti-intellectual with their actions (which I’m also not saying Rowe’s doing, ftr, Rowe lovers)). Ugh, just if there’s someone in that interaction that comes off as dangerous and detrimental to me, it’s the dude with the comment. Not least because it distracts from what’s really problematic about what Rowe’s trying to do.)Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

          Sure. I respect the ones who have left the Republican Party. I respect even more the ones that have taken a personal financial hit by removing themselves from the “think tank” hog trough. But this is a different matter from the claim that the Republican Party is “very separate” from White Nationalism.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            Oh yeah, I agree that it is a very different matter, that’s why I thought it was weird that you said one was a variant of the other.Report

            • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

              Fair point. I should have expanded. Here goes: Many of those thoughtful Conservatives still associate with and support the Republican Party. I don’t much care whether someone advancing loathsomeness does so with full-throated enthusiasm or wrings his hands. I acknowledge the hand-wringer is more likely to be non-loathsome in the future, but potential future non-loathsomeness is a poor substitute for actual present non-loathsomeness.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                It shows, if nothing else, where they draw the line.

                If my friend Bob claims he’s not racist, but hangs out with Tim the White Power guy all the freaking time, his denunciations of white power seem a bit hard to believe. At the very least, Bob doesn’t seem to care about Tim’s White Power credo and all the racism.

                Maybe it’s Tim’s free weed, or maybe it’s just that Bob might not be racist but also doesn’t care if minorities get screwed or not — not his problem, right?

                Either way, my opinion of Bob is going to drop sharply because he’s constantly hanging out with a white supremacist.Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

                Chris Rock had it basically right when he said, “If 10 guys thinks it’s ok to hang with 1 Nazi then they just became 11 Nazis.”Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                Either way, my opinion of Bob is going to drop sharply because he’s constantly hanging out with a white supremacist.

                This is an interesting comment, mostly because it completely ignores how political affiliations actually work. Yes, political affiliations are sometimes strategic, but more often they are tribal. People with all sorts of disparate beliefs coalesce around a general sentiment about which way is the right way. And that’s not to say that the current dominant right-of-center political coalition isn’t dominated by white populist, xenophobic, generally intolerant set of core beliefs. But that is a heck of a long way from saying that Republicans are basically Nazis and white nationalists now.

                A week or so ago, the Women’s March account Tweeted out a happy birthday message to Assata Shakur. I’m sure that some folks on the right looked at that as confirmation that the whole left is just a bunch of violent radicals who want to kill cops and bring down Western civilization. Is any of that true? Well, I guess it depends on how you define truth. Perhaps the defining factor of partisan politics is the ability to view your own side with maximum sympathy, making excuses for any extremists that might show up at your rallies, while doing your best to reduce the other side to a crude caricature.

                That Chris Rock joke is definitely funny and, as such, has a bit of truth in it. But that vein of thinking leads to a situation where we take a small inconsequential group like literal Neo-Nazis and inflate their ranks with metaphorical Nazis. Is that a good thing?

                The left has a long history of deploying terms like fascist against folks on the right who were plainly not that, just like the right has a history of calling anyone vaguely left of center a socialist. The trend is accelerating. Each side sketches an outline of the worst possible version of the other and then the other steps up to fill in that outline. That process hasn’t given us very good outcomes. Maybe we should try a different process.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                But that is a heck of a long way from saying that Republicans are basically Nazis and white nationalists now.

                Gee, I thought that’s what the left has been saying about Republicans the entirety of this past election cycle and continues to do so. Or at a minimum, that we are all racists.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Yeah, look — if you hang out with racists, if you can’t denounce Nazi’s without adding “But both sides are equally as bad” — you are, at best, courting white supremacists and Nazis.

                And I’ll damn well judge your party on that.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Given that both sides were violent, why would you expect a politician, or anyone for that matter to only criticize one side?Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @notme I would expect it because one side literally claims they want America to become Nazis and/or shows up with automatic weapons, or is perfectly OK marching next to those people en masse and in the same kit, and the other side doesn’t. The relationship of the demonstrators to antifa and the relationship of antifa to its various pieces including the ones that I personally would condemn (and have in other contexts) is MUCH more nuanced and complicated.

                There’s a clear difference between the two sides and a presidential person would say something like “No one should be punching anyone in the face unless it’s in self-defense or to protect others, but also Nazis are seriously seriously fucked up and I disavow all these nuts running around claiming I’m on their side.”

                AND LEFT IT THERE.

                “Both sides were equally at fault in Charlottesville,” is one of those arguments we have a lot less patience for now and you’re already on thin ice. You need to stop pushing.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Okay, if you are going to use your position as moderator to side with one side in this argument I will drop it.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @notme There’s lots you don’t need to drop. That part you do.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                There’s also the fact that the Democratic party in specific, and the left in general, really dislike antifa. Especially the black-block crap-stirrers. I mean they’re anti-fascist but….

                They do everything they can to exclude them, because all they do is screw crap up. And they often damage property or throw things, which can get people hurt (and also stir up the cops) and the Democrats, long ago, switched to non-violent protest as their preferred method. They’re not even fond of property crimes more serious than trespass.

                The various groups big on property damage (eco-nuts, PETA, etc) are as booted from Democrats and the left as you can get.

                They’re exiled to the fringe, not courted to by the President.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                But that is a heck of a long way from saying that Republicans are basically Nazis and white nationalists now.

                This was a more persuasive line of argument before the head of the Republican Party said that neo-Nazis and white nationalists were fine people.

                And as for those neo-Nazis and white nationalists being inconsequential, that same person is also President of the United States.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Actually Trump said something different. He said, “You have people who are very fine people on both sides.” Please try to be accurate when you quote someone. Not to mention that Trump is president not the head of the Republican party, that is Ronna R. McDanielReport

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                “Both sides”, when one of the sides was Nazis and white nationalists,

                (redacted for slinging insults. @pillsy if you’ve been paying attention to my comments at all you’ll know that I basically agree with you that notme’s not being reasonable at all, and in fact is skating on thin ice re: suspension, but that doesn’t mean you get to ignore the comment policy… give me some help here. – Maribou)

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        I’m willing to let “conservative” go, as it’s about a philosophy of government (or really a collection of them), but the Republican Party is an actual organization with leaders, and those leaders either love them some White Nationalism (or desperately enable it).Report

  7. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:


    In MBA programs, students are taught that companies can’t expect to compete on the basis of internal managerial competencies because they’re just too easy to copy. Operational effectiveness—doing the same thing as other companies but doing it exceptionally well—is not a path to sustainable advantage in the competitive universe. To stay ahead, the thinking goes, a company must stake out a distinctive strategic position—doing something different than its rivals. This is what the C-suite should focus on, leaving middle and lower-level managers to handle the nuts and bolts of managing the organization and executing plans.

    I have a hard time deciding whether this is an unfair caricature of business school stupidity. Even stipulating to the premise that managerial competence is trait you expect your competitors to have, the clear implication is not that senior management should therefore worry about other stuff, but that senior management’s primary job is to make damned sure that the firm isn’t losing ground here. Once you are sure your managers are at least as competent as your competitors’, then you can think about your “distinctive strategic position” confident that your organization has the ability to actually implement whatever you come up with.

    A cynical mind would suspect that this isn’t sexy enough to satisfy the business school set.Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      Having been business-school adjacent and known people who taught at and went to business schools and were *highly* frustrated by business school stupidity, it doesn’t strike me as a caricature. I’ve read (respected) papers like this just by being an information person. (To be fair, I read one of them because my management prof was trying to get us out of that mindset and get us to critique it … but my class was 80 percent folks from the tech/entrepreneur side of the school and they all thought he was foolish for not buying into the mentality… because that’s what several of their other profs were teaching.)Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      In the military, the Commanding Officer (CO) is in charge of strategic planning, and his right hand, his Executive Officer (XO) is in charge of making sure the organization is functioning properly. The job of the XO is tedious, it’s annoying, it’s a huge PITA, and it is not the sexy, powerful position of the CO, but it is important & necessary, and the military is not not in the habit of promoting XOs to COs if they can’t do the XO job with a high degree of competence. Many of the why’s for this is obvious to anyone with half a brain, but one non-obvious reason is the habit of the military to make sure the buck stops with the CO.

      For example, the USS Fitzgerald. All indications so far is that crew training and readiness was a large contributing factor. Crew training and readiness is the day to day responsibility of the XO. If he fails to do his job, equipment is damaged and people are injured and killed. One of the COs duties is to make sure the XO is doing his job (which is one reason a CO must be an XO first, so they know what the job should be), so if the XO fails and the ship suffers a very avoidable casualty, then the CO also fails, and both go down.

      Business doesn’t have this (typically). The COs get to make all the sexy strategic decisions, and the people who should be XOs are trusting that management policies are sufficient to the task, so they can focus on being junior COs who make sexy, powerful, smaller strategic decisions as well, and on down the line it goes. And if something happens that is clearly a personnel management issue (like a culture of sexual harassment, for instance), the COs all claim ignorance, and the XOs all claim ignorance, and the lower level managers all take it on the chin, even though they tried to send up warnings, but were just told to deal with it (but not given the authority to do so, or worse, were party to it).

      Management policies are all well & good, but management is about people and leadership, and policies do nothing toward making good, or even just competent leaders.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @oscar-gordon agree so much with this. One of the reasons I love my job is we work like the military more than we work like a business, at least at the within-the-library level. Had a direct supervisor once who wanted us to work as you describe the typical business, and was toxic as heck when we wouldn’t change cultures, and oy vey. even beyond the really bad stuff she did, she would’ve been a disaster for that problem alone (except maybe teachable if not so toxic).

        Insofar as the problems I described elsewhere do sometimes happen, a lot of time there’s too many only ever been junior CO’s and not enough former XO’s in the mix.Report

        • Avatar FortyTwo says:

          There’s a US Army poster that says “If you want to lead you have to learn to follow.” I believe there us a great deal of truth in this.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @fortytwo I’m not sure, I’m a terrible follower by the usual meaning of the word (but then again, not by the way the military folks I actually know use the word!!!!). But either way, you definitely have to learn to *implement* and how to get practical work done.Report

  8. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    Wo9: The article doesn’t argue that automation won’t displace trucker jobs. I simply sidesteps that and argues that it will making trucking a better job by having the trucker do less stuff. This only makes sense if we assume that there will still be someone in the cab, while the automation will be good enough that he guy in the cab doesn’t actually have to do anything for much of the time. This seems unlikely, except perhaps as a brief transitional stage. I expect that once automation gets good enough that the truck can drive itself on the freeway and into a staging area, the driver will be removed. My guess is that drivers will still be needed for a long time for the surface street driving. In other words, the long haul driver job will disappear and all truck driving will be local. Yes, this will make for a more pleasant job, but there will be only a fraction as many drivers needed.Report