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Wellness Programs as Tools of the Boss

[ 81 ] April 8, 2014 |

Not at all surprising that employee wellness program shifts responsibility for unhealthy workplaces off of the employer and onto the employee:

“Many of the individual behaviors you are focusing on in your health and wellness programs [such as] stop smoking, eat better, exercise more, are in fact the consequences of the environments in which they [employees] are working,” Pfeffer says. “If you work people to death, of course they are going to smoke more, drink more and eat worse.”

Pfeffer outlined his concept of “social sustainability,” where companies invest more in making their human capital sustainable.

“Work organizations ought to be measuring the health of their workforce,” he said in his keynote speech. “Just as many places today measure carbon, renewables and environmental impacts, we ought to measure human sustainability just as much as we measure environmental sustainability.”

When determining well-being and longevity of workforces, Pfeffer said that most company wellness programs – which conventionally promote individual health and wellness, biometric screenings and smoking and drinking cessation programs – do fall short of really instituting change. Indicators such as work-family conflict, lack of job control, perceived fairness at work, as well as layoffs and economic insecurity, all play a huge role in workforce health, he added.

“The higher you are [in the organizational structure of your company] the more control you have; the lower you are, [the] more flows down hill,” Pfeffer said, while noting that low control over one’s work increases a person’s likelihood of having a cardiovascular event.

That this Stanford researcher told this to a conference of employers means I’m surprised he wasn’t howled down on the spot. If companies can charge workers higher premiums if they don’t live up to their standards of health, even more money stolen from workers!

Finally, Someone Gets It

[ 153 ] April 7, 2014 |

Credit where credit is due — Glenn Reynolds has repented and finally has a reasonable take on the Brendan Eich resignation:

Meanwhile some people are muttering darkly of “blacklists” because of anger at Brandon Eich’s bigotry. Hey — it’s not a blacklist when you piss off your customers and users. Calling it that just serves to underscore the combination of overentitlement and moral unseriousness that marks conservertarian corporate executives today. As Yvonne Zipp writes:

A boycott is not the same as a blacklist. No one is hauling Brendon Eich in front of committees and threatening him with prison. Nor is he being told he can never work again if they don’t “name names.”

Wealthy reactionaries are free to use their immense wealth to promote their political views, and those people who don’t want to support that company anymore are free to say they won’t use the products produced by their companies.

It’s called the free market.

Heh. Indeed! Oh, wait, sorry, I had a couple transcription errors in there. OK, here’s the post:

STRIKE TWO for the Dixie Chicks — posing for a PETA anti-fur ad? What were they thinking?

[...]

Meanwhile some people are muttering darkly of “blacklists” because of anger at antiwar celebrities. Hey — it’s not a blacklist when you piss off your fans. Calling it that just serves to underscore the combination of overentitlement and moral unseriousness that marks entertainers today. As Yvonne Zipp writes:

A boycott is not the same as a blacklist. No one is hauling celebrities in front of committees and threatening them with prison. Nor are they being told they can never work again if they don’t “name names.”

Entertainers are free to use their fame to promote their political views, and those people who don’t find them entertaining anymore are free to change the channel.

It’s called the free market.

Hacktacular! Admittedly, there are some differences between the cases; it may not be entirely fair to compare the pressure than can some from a massive corporate titan like OK Cupid to a minor mom-and-pop operation like Clear Channel.

Bonus witless hackery from another reader email that goes beyond a heh-indeed to get an “I love it”:

“Somehow, I think those ‘rifle-toting, Bambi-shooting types’ will be buying CDs by some other artists from now on.”

In that case, I’ve got the perfect headline for you: “Pro-Blix Dixie Chicks nix pix for stix!”

Yeah, that Hans Blix sure does look foolish now, questioning the Bush administration’s airtight intelligence with such crazy techniques as “inspecting the sites where the Bush administration said there would be weapons.” What a weird and awful time that was.

Another Family Values Republican

[ 60 ] April 7, 2014 |

If there’s one thing we know to be true about Republicans, it’s that they are never hypocritical on sexual issues. They always live up to their Christian faith and they value their own marriages just as much as they value pressing their views on marriage to the society at large.

Congressman Vance McAllister issued a statement Monday afternoon “asking for forgiveness” after The Ouachita Citizen first reported McAllister was captured in a video recording passionately kissing and embracing a member of his congressional staff.

“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness,” McAllister said in a statement. “I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve. Trust is something I know has to be earned whether your a husband, a father, or a congressman. I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed.”

Throughout last fall’s congressional campaign, McAllister, a Republican from Swartz, touted his Christian faith and in one television commercial, he asked voters to pray for him. At least two other campaign television commercials featured McAllister walking hand in hand with his wife, Kelly, while their five children walked along. One television commercial captured the McAllister family in the kitchen of their home preparing breakfast before attending church.

McAllister and his wife have been married for 16 years.

McAllister told The Ouachita Citizen during last fall’s campaign that he would not shy from stressing his Christian faith. McAllister and his family are members at North Monroe Baptist Church. That faith prepared him for public service, he said during an interview.

McAllister’s campaign benefited from support from the Robertson family of “Duck Dynasty” fame. Phil Robertson publicly supported McAllister while Willie Robertson endorsed McAllister in a YouTube video. Also, Willie Robertson recorded “robo” calls on behalf of McAllister’s campaign.

In January, Willie Robertson attended President Obama’s State of the Union address in Washington as McAllister’s guest.

Of course, like David Vitter, he’ll be forgiven because he’s a white evangelical Republican. If he was a black politician doing the same thing, all we’d hear is slightly veiled snickering about uncontrollable black sexuality, Chicago-style politics, and talk about the immorality of Democrats.

Big Time!

[ 30 ] April 7, 2014 |

Finally, our “go big or go home” advertising strategy pays off.
LGM
Wait; who forgot the URL?

Capital Mobility and the Death of Steady Work

[ 103 ] April 7, 2014 |

Once again, capital mobility is the biggest threat to modern labor.* Companies already outsourced much work from the United States, contributing to the decline of unions, the split between labor and environmentalists, the end of steady work, the corporate domination over American politics, Gilded Age levels of income inequality, and the rapid decline of working-class voices in American debates.

Well, it’s no better for Indian workers since companies will dump those workers to in order to fight ever cheaper labor, making the conditions necessary for a permanent middle class nigh well impossible.

NEW DELHI: Struggling to diversify the delivery footprint to take advantage of low-cost centres, India’s BPO industry is currently losing 70 per cent of all incremental voice and call centre business to competitors like Philippines and countries in Eastern Europe, says a report.

“It is estimated that in the ongoing decade India might lose $ 30 billion in terms of foreign exchange earnings to Philippines, which has become the top destination for Indian investors,” Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said. Thus there is a need to reduce costs and make operations leaner across the BPO industry,” he added.

BPO companies could reduce the total operating costs by 20-30 per cent by moving to a low-cost city within India, with a cost differential of around 10-15 per cent for non-voice processes and upwards of 20 per cent for voice processes, the report pointed out.

Several Indian firms have set up substantial operations in Philippines which has a large pool of well-educated, English-speaking, talented and employable graduates. Almost 30 per cent graduates in Philippines are employable unlike 10 per cent in India where the training consumes considerable amount of time, according to the report.

David Atkins on the importance of this.

The labor arbitrage game continues worldwide as corporations shift from country to country looking for highly trained workers to sell their labor for next to nothing on the global marketplace. These corporations are like parasites, putting jobs in one country for a decade or two, only to destabilize them and move the jobs elsewhere the moment something cheaper and better trained comes along.

Combined with increased capital mobility, labor arbitrage is giving corporations the upper hand in the battle with governments worldwide. The fate of the world’s economy–and, given the realities of climate change perhaps even the human race itself–will depend largely on whether the governments of the world can cooperate to neutralize the parasitic, plutocratic threat of global corporations.

I agree entirely. Fighting capital mobility needs to be at the very highest level of the progressive agenda. It is not today.

*One can make an argument for automation here as well.

SEK made an experiment!

[ 110 ] April 7, 2014 |

SEK went to the grocery store this afternoon sporting a new hipster mustache to see how people reacted to it…

ONE GUY: Props, my brother, you’re brave. Mad love, man. Mad love.

But that’s to be expected, after all, SEK lives in Louisiana. However…

ANOTHER GUY: Dude, I think you missed a spot.

SEK: Did I?

ANOTHER GUY: An important one.

SEK: Shit, I always forget to shave there.

Lest you have any hope for humanity…

RANDOM TEENAGE GIRL: My friend over there thinks that’s hot.

SEK: Thinks what’s hot?

RANDOM TEENAGE GIRL: You know

Fine. Have a little hope…

OLD GUY: Son, do you know what that means?

SEK: It’s a hipster –

OLD GUY: You can’t bring that back, son.

SEK: What’s old is new, and –

OLD GUY: Some old is dead.

As SEK was leaving the supermarket, two large men covered in tattoos followed him out. SEK started goose-stepping to his car for fear his social experiment had gotten out of hand. Alas, it had not…

LARGE TATTOOED MAN: Can I just shake your hand, bro?

SEK: I don’t see why not.

LARGE TATTOOED MAN: If more of us were like you, bro, this country wouldn’t even be in this shit.

SEK: I imagine not.

LARGE TATTOOED MAN: Keep fucking the faith, bro.

SEK: I…will?

In case you haven’t figured it out…

Read more…

If We Start Enough Wars, Surely One Will Work Out

[ 87 ] April 7, 2014 |

Reihan Salam provides of somewhat less than compelling defense of why he is still a neo-con and why America needs his point of view. He fully admits that Iraq was a total disaster. But it’s justified because maybe, just maybe, involving the United States in regime change in countries where it has no vested interest might have worked some other times:

The neocon impulse proved badly misguided in Iraq, where it contributed to a moral calamity. But there are other cases, in South Asia in 1971 and in Bosnia in the early 1990s, to name two examples among many, where it might very well have prevented one.

Note he can’t name any cases where it actually did prevent one. But maybe these other times would have gone better. So let’s get the gang back together and do this all over again. I’m sure it’ll work great the next time. And if not then, one of the other times.

If You Haven’t Spotted the Sucker By December 2000, You Are The Sucker

[ 78 ] April 7, 2014 |

Ralph Nader has a new analysis of American politics forthcoming.  And it is, he assures is, persuasive:

Ralph Nader has fought for over fifty [sic] years on behalf of American citizens against the reckless influence of corporations and their government patrons on our society. Now he ramps up the fight and makes a persuasive case that Americans are not powerless. In Unstoppable, he explores the emerging political alignment of the Left and the Right against converging corporate-government tyranny.

Large segments from the progressive, conservative, and libertarian political camps find themselves aligned in opposition to the destruction of civil liberties, the economically draining corporate welfare state, the relentless perpetuation of America’s wars, sovereignty-shredding trade agreements, and the unpunished crimes of Wall Street against Main Street.

Sure – keep waiting!

Evidently, nominally progressive people who consider themselves too good for mere politics generally end up being excessively charitable to the worst elements in American politics.  Fortunately, very few such people end up in a position to act out this nutty belief in a way that leads to hundreds of thousands of dead people all over the world in exchange for nothing.  (And, in fairness, Nader has shown an ability work with virtually all actually existing American conservatives and libertarians to work towards a common goal, namely putting pro-insane-wars, pro-corporate-welfare state, anti-welfare state, anti-civil liberties, anti-Wall Street regulation Republicans into office.)

 

Updates and House Cleaning

[ 9 ] April 7, 2014 |

The good people at SunAnt (who I cannot recommend highly enough) are currently in the process of updating LGM to the latest versions of WordPress and of the various plugins that make the site functional.  This will hopefully eliminate the spam problems recently seen in the RSS feed and the mobile site. We’ve also been hit with an enormous increase in comment spam, most of which has been caught by our “pending” folder before reaching the comment section.  This matters if you’ve had trouble commenting over the past week or so, as you may have inadvertantly been dropped into the spam file.  Send me a note if you’re concerned.

Ex Patt Kickstarter

[ 1 ] April 7, 2014 |

Students at my school have founded a magazine (“Ex Patt”) and are looking for some help to jump-start the second issue.  Here’s the pitch:

Ex-Patt Magazine, a new foreign affairs journal published by the graduate students of the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, is seeking your aid to help our publication grow into the Bluegrass State’s foremost publication on foreign affairs. As a registered student organization of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky, we strive to provide meaningful foreign policy analysis of today’s most pressing issues in order to inform local opinion within the Lexington community and provide our fellow students an outlet for their work. Covering topics from international development to commerce to security and diplomacy, Ex-Patt Magazine is the place to get prudent analysis on all of today’s hot button issues. With your help we plan to more than double our print production from 400 copies to 1,000 copies!

Worthy effort. Pitch in a buck if you’ve got one handy.

Everything is Like the Gulag, Except Sending People To Remote Locations To Be Tortured

[ 369 ] April 7, 2014 |

Since the resignation of Brendan Eich has already been compared to McCarthyism, fascism, and Jacobinism, I suppose calling it the new Gulag was inevitable. This article was tabbed by Reynolds, which will be particularly amusing to those of you who remember the intense outrage at Instapundit over an Amnesty International report describing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay as “the gulag of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law.” Whether the term “gulag” is more plausibly applied to CEO who resigns in the wake of a very mild campaign of opposition to his discriminatory political actions or to a site where people are sent to be arbitrarily detained and sometimes tortured, I leave to the reader’s judgment.

Leaving aside the world-class levels of hypocrisy, Williamson’s argument is expectedly awful, constructing a fantasy of liberal CommieNazism out of a variety of random anecdotes, many of  fail to even bear relevance to the Eich case, which itself bears no resemblance to McCartyhism (let alone fascism or Stalinism.) In addition to the Eich case’s violation of ad hoc norms nobody really believes in, you have a legitimately dumb “provocative” argument about imprisoning climate change troofers, which would be relevant if Gawker bloggers spoke for anyone else. You have someone not permitted to attend a private meeting, assertions that anyone who interprets the First Amendment the way the Supreme Court did until last week with respect to aggregate political donations is opposed to the concept of free speech and therefore a fascist, and assertions that anyone who thinks that neutral rules should be applied uniformly rather than be subject to exemptions based on trivial burdens on religious practice is a fascist. (It’s not clear what disagreement with the Republican platform circa 2012 isn’t fascism.) But this is my favorite:

Charles Murray, one of the most important social scientists of his generation, was denounced as a “known white supremacist” by Texas Democrats for holding heterodox views about education policy…

First of all, note the classic Sarah Palin definition of free speech — free speech, apparently, means that it’s illegitimate to even criticize the political views of conservatives. (Oddly, calling liberals Stalinists and fascists for the crime of disagreeing with recent Republican innovations in campaign finance law and the freedom of secular, for-profit corporations to deny statutory rights to their employees based on trivial burdens on religious practices of extremely dubious sincerity is entirely consistent with free speech. You might say that Williamson’s thought process is muddled and self-refuting even by NRO standards.) And in addition, I’m going to guess that Murray was called a “white supremacist” not because of his “heterodox views about education policy” but because he wrote a whole book about how African-Americans are genetically inferior. I can’t wait to find out whether accurately describing Murray’s political views makes me more like Hitler, Robespierre, or Pol Pot.

UPDATE: I would have to agree that Williamson has pretty much achieved peak hack.

Again, On What Free Speech Means And What It Doesn’t

[ 238 ] April 7, 2014 |

We seem to have to go through this every year or two, and based on some of the commentary surrounding Brendan Eich apparently we have to again.  (Incidentally, what I said about Althouse back then applies to Glenn Reynolds as well — he thought that Shirley Sherrod being fired based on an unquestionably inaccurate presentation of her views was awesome, ending the question of whether he’s arguing in bad faith here.  And he’s still calling her a “racist” and “asshole” years later.)  Anyway, to reiterate what should be obvious:

  • Free speech rights go beyond what is protected by the First Amendment.  The free speech rights of employees should ideally be accorded more respect than the law requires.
  • It is equally clear that these rights cannot be absolute, starting with speech that is relevant to someone’s ability to do their job.
  • Power, supervisory authority, and the extent to which one’s views represent an organization to the public all matter.  It would obviously be unreasonable to fire someone charged with cleaning the restrooms solely because they gave financial support to Prop 8.  It would be perfectly reasonable to fire someone for such support if they want a job writing for The Advocate.  Between the obvious cases there’s a grey area, but not every case of someone being fired for expressing particular views is exhuming McCarthy.
  • Eich is obviously much more comparable here to the Advocate writer than to the custodian.  A CEO views inherently represent the organization he’s working for, and he has supervisory authority that makes him having bigoted views legitimately worrisome.
  • To state the obvious, if Eich had donated to an initiative campaign dedicated to the re-criminalization of interracial marriage, or to an anti-Semitic group, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, because virtually nobody would be defending him.  Nobody really thinks that CEOs have some kind of unlimited right to free political speech, and the arguments being made in defense of Eich generally tend to minimize the importance of gay and lesbian rights.
  • There is a reasonable response to the previous point, which is that in 2008 opposition to same-sex marriage was regrettably a majority position; not everyone who held a bigoted position then can have it held it against them permanently.  Fair enough, but also irrelevant to Eich, who has never repudiated his donation to the odious Prop 8 campaign (which, as djw says, goes way beyond just nominal opposition to same-sex marriage.) Eich still holds these views in 2014; had he simply said he was wrong you’d almost certainly still have no idea who he is.
  • And, finally, once again Eich wasn’t fired.  He resigned.  If he doesn’t feel that he can stay on and continue to defend his bigoted views without reflecting badly on Mozilla, who am I to disagree?  And the questions being asked of him were perfectly fair, not some kind of McCarthyite smear campaign.

…First link fixed! Thanks to Roy in comments. He has the usual excellent discussion of the wingnut meltdown over this at the Voice.

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