Wednesday, July 22, 2020

What could go wrong?

From Wikipedia: “Executive Order 10988 is a United States presidential executive order issued by President John F. Kennedy on January 17, 1962 that recognized the right of federal employees to collective bargaining. This executive order was a breakthrough for public sector workers, who were not protected under the 1935 Wagner Act.”

JFK thought this was smart politics. What could go wrong? Lots. Some of America’s big problems these days can be traced to under-performing big-city public schools and those big-city cops who fall short. What do these two have in common? They are not easily removed because their unions and the unions' political cronies protect them.

From the New Yorker: “The Rubber Room: The battle overNew York’s worst teachers”. These people are so awful that they cannot be left to tech. But they cannot be fired either. So they are warehoused in the “Temporary Reassignment Center” instead. NYC has more than one of these. Eric Hanushek has famously shown the harm done by bad teachers. But removing them is almost impossible in the big city unionized districts.

Walter Olson makes the same point re unionized big city police forces. The damage done by the few bad cops is well understood. But there is no rubber room. They are kept on the job, usually until they retire. The consequences are also well known and easily seen on various media platforms.

Presidential power and executive orders and cronyism have always been areas of concern. Executive Order 10988 and its effects are clear. I would not be surprised if the consequences of the two orders contribute to the same boiling point.


AFSCME political efforts.


Great conversation.



Friday, July 03, 2020

Happy July 4

Tribalism is natural and often hideous. But over many years, it had been tamed – to some extent.

Every group has historical grievances. These are incited and nurtured by demagogues (mostly politicians) as a matter of course. They are even assisted by some who actually want to be seen as victims, very odd way to seek (and find) status.  Strange but apparently true.

Retrogressing, we get more tribalism. The consequences range from awful to catastrophic.

There is a new ingredient. Jonathan Haidt and Martin Gurri (and others) note that social media (especially “like” buttons and the re-tweet option) magnify the tendency to vilify and tribalize. We get more polarization, in politics, in media, in the arts.

Print media outlets have lost advertising revenue and pander for subscribers any way they can, including pushing tribalist themes. (NYT “1619 Project” and many more.)

Many elites have been cowed and/or displaced – with positive and negative consequences. Think about groupthink in schools and universities. Grievance studies. These elites lose credibility.
Can we right the ship? Various thinkers, including Haidt and Gurri and others, are pointing the way. 

Godspeed. Happy July 4.