The HR Dept. – How Socialism Kills Economic Progress

A common-sense principle of business is that managers must have the authority to hire and fire at will. After all, the very reason for a business to exist is to generate a profit for the owners and investors. So managers will compete for the best employees to maximize returns, just as they compete for customers by trying to provide the best product or service at the best price. The companies who hire and retain the best people will thrive, while the others will fade away.

HR (human resources) departments are poison to profit.

A product of the civil rights movement in 1965, the federal government created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to eliminate hiring discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color or national origin. Every company that does business with the federal government and has 50 or more employees must implement and document an “affirmative action program”.

The EEO/AAP was, and is, a typical big government solution to a problem that should be solved by free market supply and demand. It established rigid quotas based on race, which was then expanded to protect women and the disabled. Soon every minority group, including the evolving alphabet-soup of genders, was lawyering up.

Faced with a mountain of reporting requirements and legal complications, businesses responded by creating and staffing HR departments, a phenomenon that may have done more damage to the economy than any other factor since the depression.

While a manager or owner will make every effort to find the most talented, qualified, and industrious people to fill positions, and reward them well with promotions and compensation, HR departments exist only to meet “diversity” requirements. The result is companies are staffed with many unqualified, unmotivated, and sometimes underpaid minorities (often H1B visa holders) who know they can’t be fired. The “Peter Principle” (individuals are promoted beyond their level of competence) is rampant in many large organizations.

Managers who try to hire or promote talented non-minority employees are stymied by HR. Add the influence of union protection (i.e. government employees), and performance predictably suffers.

Despite 53 years of EEO/AAP and all kinds of other identity-driven programs, liberal politicians still pander for votes by screaming “RAAAAACIST!” at common-sense conservative opponents, who know that for-profit businesses will hire and promote the best people regardless of minority status, which encourages all workers to improve their performance (not their pigmentation or gender) and compete for the best jobs. And that propels the economy and raises standards of living for everybody.

You got me runnin’ goin’ out of my mind
You got me thinkin’ that I’m wastin’ my time
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

Don’t Bring Me Down – Electric Light Orchestra

Economic Good Things

Yesterday Congress passed yet another drunken-sailor budget, which would suspend the debt ceiling for another two years and result in an additional $322 billion in spending, ballooning the deficit to $22 trillion dollars.

Not long ago my conservative friends and I took to the streets protesting the unfathomable $16 trillion debt that the federal government had foisted upon our children and grandchildren. Then we got steamrolled by Obama, not exactly a top-drawer economist. Even holding both houses was not enough to stop the spending tsunami, and before you could blink, the Democrat socialist revolution had overtaken Congress.

In an effort to extinguish my “hair on fire” I set out looking for some little rays of economic sunshine among the dark clouds. Here’s what I found:

  • DEREGULATION is driving the economy at an unexpectedly brisk pace. All around I see businesses starting and expanding, construction projects popping up like popcorn, opportunities for workers of all types at premium wage rates, and consumer spending and optimism going through the roof.
  • FOREIGN TRADE POLICIES, TARIFFS AND ALLIANCES – President Trump clearly understands the “art of the deal”, and his push-back against China is bringing positive change. Protests in Hong Kong might drive regime change, or at least policy change. And Trump’s outsized influence on Brexit, Iran, Russia and North Korea all have economic implications. While international trade is not a “zero sum” game, other nations are finally feeling the heat of dealing with an “A-team” on the economic playing field.
  • ENERGY INDEPENDENCE – For a very long time, the USA economy was like many American families – one paycheck away from bankruptcy. At any time a Middle Eastern mullah could shut off the supply of oil, plunging our economy into chaos. That threat is now extinguished.
  • AGENCY REORGANIZATION – Russ Vought and Mick Mulvaney of the OMB are tightening the noose on agency leadership, getting more bang for the taxpayer buck, down-sizing and decentralizing, and updating personnel and procurement procedures. Every day they are changing the government culture to more closely operate like private business.

When Mulvaney was my congressman, we had several discussions about federal spending, with me venting my frustration that the debt was exploding and nobody cares. Mulvaney, always the pragmatist, said, “We can’t fix the deficit and debt by reducing spending. It’s way too late for that. We will have to outgrow it.”

At the time, Mick’s message was not what I wanted to hear. And I still would like to see a more mixed approach: cut spending while the economy is healthy and growing. But the appetite for restraint is just not there. Not with the Democrats and many weak-kneed Republicans in Congress who win re-election by giving away free candy. Not with the president, who had to adopt the same stance to guarantee re-election and time to complete his mission. And frankly, not with the under-informed spoiled-brat public, most of whom pay no federal taxes and whose ranks are swelling every day with immigrants from nations who have never participated in a consumer-driven supply-and-demand economy.

Can our debt keep expanding without consequences? Probably not. But all you can do is all you can do.

I used to employ a business strategy that seemed to work pretty darn well. Every business is segmented into products, or markets, or divisions. Too many executives and managers put all of their energy and focus into the underperforming segments of their businesses, ignoring the segments that are smoking hot and growing. I always promoted the strategy of putting maximum effort and resources into what’s doing well instead of beating your head against the wall trying to fix the losers.

So yes, we had a bad budget deal. Boogers. But if we look closer, there are a lot of “good things” going on.

Seems this worlds got you down
Your feelin’ bad vibrations frown
Well, open your eyes girl, look at me 
I’m gonna show you how it ought to be
We’re gonna’ have a good thing
Such a good thing baby

Good Thing – Paul Revere and the Raiders

In memory of Paul Revere, one of the truly good guys in the history of rock and roll.

I Agree With AOC – Stop Bribing Corporations With Our Tax Money

A few weeks ago Amazon decided against putting a new corporate headquarters facility in Queens, New York. Media mega-star freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), an outspoken critic of the $2.5 billion tax break being offered, was blamed for the loss of new jobs Amazon promised. Her motivation for opposing the tax incentive was pretty fuzzy.

“If we were willing to give away $3 billion for this deal, we could invest those $3 billion in our district ourselves, if we wanted to. We could hire out more teachers. We can fix our subways. We can put a lot of people to work for that money, if we wanted to,” Ocasio-Cortez said. – FoxNews 2/20/19

AOC, who claims to have a degree in economics, could not grasp the difference between spending existing tax funds and foregoing future tax income.

But I agree with her ultimate aim. I think it’s crazy for cities all over the country to prostitute themselves to the ‘next big thing’ with tax abatement bribes.

It’s not that I believe corporations should pay more taxes, or that reducing taxes is a bad thing. But giving big local tax exemptions to companies who relocate or build new operations just doesn’t make economic sense. Here’s why.

• Local taxes always go up, they never go down. Most of the tax abatements offered to these corporations are reductions in property tax and reduced or free infrastructure cost assessments – streets, utilities, fire stations, etc. All of the costs that were there before the newcomer arrived are still there, plus more. And those costs will be borne by the same local taxpayers who have been footing the bill all along while the new corporation skates.

• Favoring one company over others always screws up the free market. Proponents of tax abatements always justify tax incentives by saying, “If we don’t do it, somebody else will”. So what? Does it harm your city if another city gets a new employer? And are these really new jobs? Isn’t the new company just cherry-picking the good employees already in the local market, leaving their previous employers to find and train new ones? And employees who move to the area for the new jobs will no longer be paying taxes back home, leaving a dent in that economy.

• These deals are often “too good to be true”. It’s not unusual when the new company doesn’t hold up its end of the deal. Promises of thousands of new jobs fall woefully short (FoxConn). Long-term agreements get cut short(Chiquita). And the federal government is no better at corporate welfare than local governments (Solyndra).

My South Carolina county is abuzz this week with word that the Carolina Panthers are considering moving their corporate office and practice facility across the state line to the ‘burbs. Hmm, you don’t suppose they want something in return? And how should Charlotte residents feel after pumping millions of tax dollars into the Panthers’ stadium?

Back in the 80s I was CFO for a locally-owned chain of lumber yards and home centers. My company employed hundreds of good, hard-working taxpaying employees, paid tons of local taxes, and contributed to countless local charities. Then one day the first of the big-box home centers announced it was opening in our city, thanks to a boatload of local tax incentives and up-front benefits. We lost a number of good employees, whom we had trained and nurtured, for a buck or two an hour pay increase. Turns out the new store hired three times as many employees as they intended to keep so they could pick the best of them and dump the rest. They low-balled prices for a few months to entice new customers and then jacked them back up later when nobody was looking. Oh, and yes, the new company was out of business a year and a half into their five-year commitment to the city.

So Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is actually right. We should not subsidize corporations with public money. When our government picks winners and losers, the taxpayers always seem to be the losers.

Soy un perdedor
I’m a loser baby so why don’t you kill me?
(Get crazy with the Cheeze Whiz)

Loser – Beck (cover by the Cleverlys)

Can We Be From the Same Planet?

Our neighbor, Nancy, stopped my wife for a minute of chit chat and asked what she thinks of the Bret Kavanaugh story.  My better half, never at a loss for words, and always armed with facts, proceeded to educate Nancy on the importance of the presumption of innocence to civilized society.  “Kavanaugh’s accuser has no proof or even information about her ‘assault’ that implicates him,” my wife explained.  “She can’t remember where it happened, when it happened, who was there, how she got there, how she got home – and the few things she does remember have been denied by her own named witnesses.”

Things were getting pretty hot when I happened on the scene.  “You don’t believe he raped all those girls?”  Nancy demanded.   It angered and saddened me that Dr. Ford’s original charge, that 15-year-old Kavanaugh once tried to feel her up over her clothes, has metastasized into a history of violent gang rapes.

“This woman is destroying a man with a brilliant career, along with his wife and daughters, for nothing more than politics,” I said.  “It’s just wrong.”

Nancy did not have – or need – any facts to support her position.  “They should make his daughters testify in front of Congress!” she wailed.  “Are you insane?” my exasperated wife said.  “You want them to ask the girls if their daddy has got drunk and raped them lately?”  Nancy’s comeback: “Well, I just don’t like Kavanaugh.  He’s a liar.  I believe the women.”

With the knowledge that there is no way to reason with a liberal, I grabbed my wife and hurried off to our grandson’s baseball game.

___________________

James popped in to say hi at the local YMCA.  He used to play pickup basketball with us regularly, but we had not seen him for several months.

“I’ve been too busy for hoops,” he told us, which we all agreed is a good thing.  “Make hay while the sun shines,” was my fatherly advice.

James is a young entrepreneur who started an automotive business customizing all-terrain vehicles.  To supplement his income he bought a cargo trailer and makes regional hauls.  “I’m hiring a couple more guys,” he said.  “And I am offering them three times as much money as they are making now.  There is no end to the trucking work available.”

“Business is booming all over,” I noted, and James said, kind of sheepishly, “I know, so why is everybody ragging on Trump?”  A risky statement, because we all know that any defense of Trump in the presence of leftists is an invitation to an ugly scene, and James didn’t know that my basketball buddy and I are also conservatives.  “I can’t see where Trump has done anything wrong.  He is keeping all of his promises and it’s working.  That’s what we needed, a businessman.”

I agreed.  “It’s great to live in America,” I said.  “I hope we can keep it that way.”

James gave us a little personal history.  “I’m from the ghetto,” he said.  “I’m not afraid of poverty, but I don’t like it much either.  And it sure is clear to me that things are lot better now than they have been in a long time.”

“I’ve never been political,” James continued.  “I just never talk about it because everybody gets kind of crazy, and I’m busy working anyway.  But man, this stuff going on with the judge is just ridiculous.”

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

So, round and around and around we go
Where the world’s headed, said nobody knows
Oh, great Googamooga
Can’t you hear me talking to you?

Just a ball of confusion
Oh yeah, that’s what the world is today
Woo, hey, hey

Ball of Confusion – the Temptations

 

Forget Politics – Think Economics

Politics is too much.  It’s just too big.  So many issues, policies, personalities, feelings, fears, doubts, lies, propaganda.

Everything is hyped and overstated.  The political and cultural divide grows wider and deeper by the day.  In the jumble and tumble of daily politics and market-driven “news” it’s so hard to stay focused on what is real and important.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes for me all of the posturing and gamesmanship gets to be too much – too damned much to digest and bring to any kind of focus or certainty or closure.  Too much grey area and not enough black and white facts. It’s no wonder so many people tune out and continue their lives in blissful disengagement.  I’m not able to do that (you probably aren’t either) and I find myself sometimes needing the “click” of a padlock – the binary knowledge that I know something is right, and imperative, period.

About every ten years or so I come full circle back to what I know in my guts to be true about life, and how we as Americans (and for that matter as human beings on planet Earth)  are wired to make the right choice and do the right thing.   And the path revealed is not political. It always comes back to economics.

To hell with politics.  Every human being on the planet – basket weaver in India, farmer in North Dakota, factory worker in China, soldier in North Korea – has this in common:  we get up every morning and set out to improve the standard of living for ourselves and our families.  Period.

Isn’t this true?  Can you disagree?  We all want a little bit better life for ourselves and the ones we love.  It is a universal truth – a metaphysical fact.  Forget religion.  Forget political party.  Forget culture, education, race, gender, age, nationality.  We all want the same thing.  Better food.  A nicer house.  Less hard labor.  More quality time with our loved ones.

We, the people of the United States of America, have been a beacon of inspiration and righteous success since our nation’s noisy and unconventional birth.  We have improved the standard of living for not only ourselves but also for people all over the world on a quantum scale ever since we became a “thing” in 1776.   We have set the standard.  We are the land of opportunity, the place to be, the bad go-getters and the mean motor-scooters.  We have what it takes.  We know what it’s all about.

Don’t we?  Lately we aren’t so sure.  I mean we did, but do we still?

We Americans have generally credited our political system for our success – our Constitution, our three branches of government with built-in checks and balances, our Bill of Rights, etc.  Great.  It’s all good.  But there’s more to it.

I submit that our American success story is the result of our economic system – free enterprise and free markets, equal opportunity, and minimal government intervention.

Because the truth is:  every human being is ruled by self-interest.

It’s not a bad thing.  We work hard to provide for our families.  We help those in need because we know we may, ourselves, some day need help.  We look for ways to meet the wants and needs of others in the market because that will reward us, as well as them.

Some will say that free markets favor the greedy and unscrupulous.  But America, born a Christian nation, avoided that problem.  We trusted each other.  We were raised to be moral, honest citizens.  We believed in fairness.  Our word was our bond.

As long as America is a Christian nation, and makes decisions based on economic merit, and values honesty, we will be fine.  But we must each shoulder our responsibility.  For every political issue or question we should consider: will this course of action help improve the standard of living for all Americans?  And will it be fair to all Americans?

Anything outside that simple framework just really doesn’t matter.  Try looking at any political issue or question in these terms.  Improved standard of living + fairness/honesty (Christian morality).  The correct path becomes pretty obvious.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

I’ve got to get it somewhere
I mean, you never know, maybe
You’re dreaming

Too Much – Dave Matthews Band

 

The always awesome Dave Mathews Band:  it’s just Too Much!  Especially drummer Carter Beauford.

Time to Dump Government Unions

President Trump’s State of the Union speech included a lengthy “to-do” list: infrastructure improvements, workforce development, secure borders and immigration reform, strengthened military, and much more.

One of President Trump’s “to-do” items grabbed my attention, although I have not seen it mentioned anywhere in the press.  Half-way through his epic speech, he said:

All Americans deserve accountability and respect — and that’s what we are giving them. So tonight I call on Congress to empower every cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers — and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American People.

I have long pressed for accountability from government employees.  We all know that as the cost of government continues to spiral out of sight, resulting in a $21 trillion debt (and climbing), performance continues to decline.  The federal government hires more and more employees, at ever high wages and benefits that far eclipse comparable jobs in the private sector, with no improvement in results.  Any work done by the federal government will take much longer and cost much more than the same work done outside the Beltway.

The problem is clear, it is huge, and it is easy to solve:  we must eliminate the destructive influence of federal government employee unions.

No business or private organization could survive in an environment where managers can not fire or discipline their employees.  And what employer could afford hiring three people for every job just to get the base amount of work done due to minimum five-week vacations, 21+ days of paid sick leave whether used or not, 12 or more holidays, personal leave, six hour (or less) work days, long lunches, protesting time, travel to exotic locales for meetings, “she’s away from her desk” time, etc.  Government employees are virtually guaranteed over-market salaries, regular raises, bonuses, Cadillac benefits and lifetime employment regardless of performance.   And in many cases the service level to the taxpayers who pay the salaries is disgraceful – witness the abuse of Western landowners at the hands of federal agencies and veterans who die waiting for care at VA hospitals.

Worse yet, the cozy union/Democrat alliance is quid-pro-quo corruption at its worst.  Unions collect gargantuan sums of money to be fed directly to the Democrat party, and federal workers vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, who repay the favor to their benefactors.  It’s so easy to be generous with somebody else’s money.

Of course there are federal government employees who earn their keep, especially in the armed forces and security agencies.  But there are also buildings all across the nation overstuffed with un- or under-productive federal employees and officials who won’t or can’t address the outrageous waste.  Meanwhile, competent and cost-effective individuals and companies who could do the work of the people efficiently can’t break through the bureaucracy.

Now is the time to eliminate the federal government employee unions once and for all.  I call on Congress and the President to relieve this festering sore on the behind of the taxpayers.  Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) gets it.  He told me,  “This could be part of federal right-to-work legislation.”

We are tired of being told that federal spending can’t be cut because it’s just too huge to even bother trying.   We demand that our legislators do their jobs, which are setting and administering budgets, appropriating funds, and overseeing agency and department heads.  OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta must step up.  The taxpayers will hold you all accountable as you must hold your federal bureaucrats accountable for efficacious results.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

I’m proud to a union man
I make those meetings when I can, yeah
I pay my dues ahead of time
When the benefits come I’m last in line, yeah.

Union Man – Neil Young

 

Trump’s Prerogative – Cut the Red Tape

Trump cuts red tape

ObamaCare has not been repealed or replaced.  As of this writing Tax Reform is stalled.  Planned Parenthood abortions are still being funded with tax dollars and there are no bricks in The Wall.

Crooked Hillary escaped without a scratch.  We don’t have a budget and Congress will soon pass yet another bloated continuing resolution to avoid shutting down the government when it busts the debt ceiling.  Again.

Appointments for judicial, state, and agency officials languish on desks as buildings full of holdover Obama appointees and Clinton devotees spend their workdays plotting new coups against the president.

With Republicans holding both houses of Congress and the White House for almost a year now, it appears that conservative voters have little to show for their 2016 trifecta victory at the polls.  But there is a bright spot.  A very bright spot.

While Congress sits on its thumbs, President Trump has used his executive prerogative to cut red tape and waste in the federal bureaucracy.  He threw down the gauntlet last March when his perfectly-chosen budget director Mick Mulvaney announced, “The president’s beholden to nobody but the people who elected him, and yes, I understand that every lawmaker over there has pet projects. That’s the nature of the beast.”   USA Today listed the 62 agencies and programs on Trump’s chopping block at that time, and breathlessly warned that it was the tip of the iceberg.

Last week Trump and Mulvaney thoroughly enjoyed graphically comparing the mountainous volume of regulations in place today versus the small stack of the 1960’s.   The Trump administration has already cut over 1500 regulations and vows to make the “stack” even smaller than it was when the Beatles topped the charts.

“By ending excessive regulations, we are defending democracy, and draining the swamp,” the president declared. “Unchecked regulation undermines our freedoms and zaps our national spirit. It destroys our economy – so many companies are destroyed by regulation. And it destroys jobs.”

Trump is just getting started.  It’s hard work, but long overdue.  His predecessor, Barack Obama, clobbered the US economy with an additional $122 billion dollars of red tape per year, stretching his authority or even flouting the Constitution in the process.

Trump can’t force Congress to do the right thing, or keep its promises.  But as president, it is his prerogative to cut red tape and waste in the agencies under his control.  It’s good news for conservatives.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideEverybody’s talkin’ all this stuff about me
Why don’t they just let me live?
I don’t need permission, make my own decisions
That’s my prerogative!

My Prerogative – Bobby Brown