Fog Creek Software
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...ism at FogCreek?

"Fog Creek Software is an equal opportunity employer and supports workforce Diversity."

Can someone please tell me what that sentence means.

I am a member of an ethnic minority (as they call us).

I still cringe though, when I see a notice like this. Makes me think the company is almost apologetic for the sins of some idiots in the past.

Also sounds like very patronising. "We are cool with you. Really!"

Racism, sexism, whateverism! Should one really have to declare that you are not ......ist? What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Tapiwa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

It's the required CYA spam that all companies in America have to print.  That way if they get sued, they can say, "Hey, we're not racist.  It says so right there on our website."

chris
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Does the law say you have to print it?

Tapiwa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

It's that or they have to sing a hiphop song that has "I'm lovin' it" in it.

Milton
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Tapiwa, the law says you cannot discriminate based on race or national origin (among other things). The problem is proving discimination (or worse, proving you don't discriminate). What a lot of businesses find is, despite a lack of racism (or even affirmative action to overcompensate), they end up with an all-white workforce.

So things that may seem trite to minorities are generally (not always) a sincere attempt by people to indicate that yes, "we're okay with that"

The truth irony is that that statement was signed off by a CEO who is one protected and one quasi-protected minority in and of himself.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, December 04, 2003

I always wondered how these laws came into existence. While I have no problem with minorities, I always felt that people should be able to create a working environment in their own company that they feel comfortable being a part of. Now, if the company is publicly held, I can see mandates being put in place to ensure that the interests of the general shareholders are represented, but I can see no moral basis for such laws affecting private companies.

This is likely to set of the flamewar to end all flamewars, but let me set forth a fictional proof of the above:

Suppose I am a partner of an accounting firm that deals with corporate tax law. My business is expanding and I need to hire an administrative assistant. Aside from that, in my personal life, I've had some run ins with women that make me less than comfortable around them. In fact, because of some sort of Freudian nightmare involving my mother, I am terrified of them, as in I cannot communicate with them at all. What then is wrong about advertising for a male only administrative assistant?

To move to another shade of gray, what if I am a member of a religious organization that feels that women have no place in the workplace. What if that organization goes so far as to say that it is a sin to work with or hire women? Should I condemn myself to a perceived eternity of hellfire to be politically correct?

I equate this kind of mandate with someone telling you how much cream you should put into your coffee. Literally, it is your coffee...you determine what to put into it. The same should apply to a company you own and a workforce you employ. Let the market decide how moral your decisions are.

Just some thoughts from the capitalist/Objectivist pig on the board.

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

"sincere attempt by people to indicate that yes, "we're okay with that"

Maybe I am missing something, but the fact that one needs to indicate that he is OK with that, suggests that there is a problem.

Kinda old fashioned, but there are two kinds of people. Good folk, and @$$holes. The fact that one might be black, female, jewish and lesbian is incidental. If you are good we talk. The latter, see you later.

Should I declare that I am not racist, sexist, anti-semetic and not homophobic any time I meet someone like this?No. It would really be patronising. Sounds like the stuff you say to a terrifying dog... "good boy doggy. I like you. Honest. {pat on the head}"

Why then do companies feel the need to do this? One of the most offensive things people ask me, is if I am OK being called black. wtf?!?!

Tapiwa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Philo-

Which protected and quasi protected minority group are you refering to?  Is it Jew and gay?  If so which is protected and which is quasi-protected?

Someone raised the issue of innocent until proven guilty.  That standard applied to criminal law.  Even in civil cases the burden of proff would lie with the person suing.

Job discrimination is different, as far as I know.  Until the first Bush (i.e George Herbert Walker) if a member of a protected (not all are) minority group wanted to bring a discrimination suit, it was done through some kind of governement agency and the burden of proof was on the person bringing the suit.  Bush changed it though, so that a mere discrepency between the proportion of minortity workers on the job and those in the surrounding community was evidence of discrimination and then the burden of proof shifted to the employer.  He then had to prove there was another explanation.

Is this fair?  I don't think so.  THe problem is that we have a very real ongoing problem, racial discrimination in the workforce.  This problem isn't necessarily the result of evil but rather the inability of most humans to use their intellects to overcome their base instincts.  This leads to a problem that most people, if they acknowledge ist existence, agree we should fix.  Unfortunately the solutions paint with a very broad brush, leading to defensiveness on the part of innocent employers.

Add to this the fact that you are not allowed to question assumptions, such as- "in the absence of employer discrimination, all groups would be represented in all jobs in exact proportion to their numbers in society" and you find yourself in a situation in which honest open debate is impossible and therefore solutions that are fair are unlikely.

Thus the partronizing crap the original poster complains of.

Name withheld out of cowardice
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Dustin, hear hear.

Tapiwa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

The short answer to this question is history. The US (not uniquely) has a long history of institutionalized isms. The equal opportunity laws are an attempt to correct imbalances that still exist. You can't legislate morality, but you can legislate some level of equity in public institutions such as corporations.

Jeff Kotula
Thursday, December 04, 2003

"public institutions such as corporations"

My company. My house. No difference. Not public. I should be allowed to determine whom I let in. To force me to do otherwise is to suggest that other folk have some prima facie right to my property.

Like Dustin wrote, let people do as they please, and let the market judge their morality

Tapiwa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

If you want to know how those laws came into existence, look at our history.  There was a time when many folks had an irrational hatred for black people, and they couldn't get a job.  It's one thing if one person has this kind of neurosis.  No one will defend it, but at least you're not doing much harm.  It's another thing if ten million people share it.  And what they decided to do back in the 60s was do something about this organized oppression via the democratic process, staging sit-ins and protest marches and voting for candidates who supported equal civil rights until it was made illegal to discriminate on the basis of the color of their skin.

Now, if your organization engages in interstate commerce, it can be regulated by the federal government, and the law says that if your organization is over a certain size, you can be prosecuted by the federal government for unfair hiring practices.  That makes the "well, what if I don't work well with them" argument fly out the window, 'cause at that point the organization is not all about you; you'd have to have hired 15 other people who share that neurosis.

"It's okay to punch people in the nose - after all, it is my fist" is morally equivalent to "It's okay to discriminate against people if I feel like it - after all, it is my company".  You cause harm to another person, and there are only a few acceptable reasons to discriminate (based on job performance) just as there are a few acceptable reasons to punch someone in the nose (such as self-defense).

Also, "religion" isn't a free license to engage in illegal practices.  To take an extreme example, if my religion taught me to sacrifice virgin girls to Zorkon the Space God, I'd still be culpable of murder.

Alyosha`
Thursday, December 04, 2003

OK, had some time to think of this stuff while I was in having coffee.

This is a great discussion that a lot of people are afraid of having. It stems from our perceptions of the role of government in the legislation and definition of both public and private morality.

As a side note, I feel that if society in general wished to change a social or emotional aspect of a general populace, the only legitimate and moral answer is to make available more education as to the foundation of their new moral argument. Simply putting a law into existence changes nothing. And I believe that the rights of the individual supercede to a great degree the moral rights of society. Those accepting of the core mandates of American philosophy must agree that this is a fundamental conception of democracy. In so believing, it is not hard to conclude that any wide scale moral mandate must not only be decided by the majority of the general populace, but also only applicable to the public sphere. Also, in the application of such a morality to the private sphere, choices should be presented first and the burden of proof placed on those wishing to implement change and not those whose change is called for.

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Alyosha',

Your argument is a great example of context dropping. First, you equate social bigotry with physical violence. This is an argument to which you give no solid foundation. My not hiring you is in no provable way morally equivalent to doing physical violence upon you. In fact, if I was a bigot, hiring you might be more equivalent.

Also, by speaking of the governments ability to mandate interstate commerce, you fail to address its right to do so. By shifting the context from a privately held to a interstate organization, you remove one layer of argumentative foundation. By determining number of employees you remove another. And yet another is lost when you speak of the impossibilty of hiring many bigoted people, something the early 1900's should have taught you is very easy to do.

In summary, I reject outright your definition of acceptable reasons to discriminate. My proposed definition is as follows, with the underlying principle that moral conflicts can only be ethically approached from a minimalist perspective:

It is acceptable to discriminate against another only when to not practice discriminatory action would bring harm to oneself (either physical or emotional). Moreover, discriminatory action can only be taken within a personal sphere in which you have control and ownership and only in such a manner as effectively removes the target from that sphere.

In addition, my definition of personal sphere is your body, that place in which you are apart from the public, and that you contribute to the public and which would be negated by your absence.

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Name withheld -
Jewish is protected - the Equal Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on religion.
Homosexual is quasi-protected - there is no federal legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual preference, but there is a growing body of state law that does.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, December 04, 2003

You seem to say that "you can't legislate morality".  Well, morality is legislated all the time.  "Thou shalt not kill" is an example of legislated morality.

You seem to be putting your emotional harm above my economic harm.  You feel awkward, but I can't feed my family.  Who has the worst of it? 

If you have the right to equate emotional harm with physical harm, then I have the right to equate economic harm with the same.

The federal government has the right to regulate interstate commerce as per Article I Section 8 of the US constitution.  And I mention that in order to add context, not remove it.  If we're going to talk about the law, then I'm going to point out that the anti-discrimination laws only applies to interstate corporations above a certain size.  Otherwise, you're talking about some imaginary law that prohibits discrimination everywhere, and I'm not interested in that conversation.

Alyosha`
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Alyosha` "It's okay to punch people in the nose - after all, it is my fist" is morally equivalent to "It's okay to discriminate against people if I feel like it - after all, it is my company".

Wrong. Here's why.

You have no job.
I refuse to give you one because I don't like tall people.
You still have no job.
What have you lost? Nothing!

To suggest otherwise would be suggest that I owe you a job.

Which is wrong.

Tapiwa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

And if you punch me in the nose, what have I lost?

Loss is not the only form of harm.

Alyosha`
Thursday, December 04, 2003

I still don't see how me not giving you a job because I don't like you harms you.

Tapiwa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Correct. I have no moral obligation to take care of you. Each individual takes care of himself.

Alyosha, I'll accede that the interstate context is acceptable, so long as it is seen as context for the discussion and not as a cart blanche granting of rights to the federal government to moral legislation.

I believe the government only exists to protect us from foreign aggessors and to mediate otherwise unrecognizable differences in the public sphere. Killing you involves the public sphere. Denying you access to my private life does not.

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Sorry,

Unrecognizable = unreconciliable

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

If it were only you, Tapiwa, I wouldn't be harmed very much ... I could just get a job elsewhere.  But what if there were ten million people like you?  My ability to get a decent-paying job would be dramatically affected.  Because so many people historically have discriminated against race and religion, and it HAS caused economic oppression, they are protected classes.  But no one is going to pass an Anti-Tall-People-Discrimination Act, because there's no need for it.

No one says that you owe me a job.  Maybe you don't have the money to hire me or I don't have the skills you need.  But if you have the money and I've got the ability, then what you DO owe me is equal consideration.

Alyosha`
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Untrue, Alyosha. We OWE you nothing. Man is not born in debt to anyone, nor is he placed in debt by his success. Do think otherwise is to burden the successful with the weight of the unsuccessful. This is a burden no man can bear, nor should he.

Although, I do agree that what we are discussing only exists in an ideal world where there is no present and large scale need that must be immediately satisfied (such as we saw in the mid 1900s). However, such laws should be put temporarily into place to resolve specific situations, with long term changes enacted through education as opposed to keeping those laws around. Equal Opportunity promotes Equal Discrimination over a period of time, with the majority being discriminated against until the populations reach equivalency.

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

My point is that I will offer you real consideration. I will then consider the fact that I don't like tall people, and not give you the job.

Sounds fair? Yes. Now replace Tall with whatever Minority group.

Still sound fair? Yes

I would rather not get a job because I am black than get one purely because I am.  The former is a prejudice... your loss. The latter is an insult. You are almost suggesting that the bar be lowered because I have a certain pigmentation!

And that's my problem with these diversity in the workplace drive. It's insulting. It's some legislator stamping his morality on me.

Get race and discrimination out of the law *completely*. Let me associate with whomever I please, even if my reasons might offend someone.

Tapiwa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

To the original poster: I don't get it.

If I had my own company, I'd be damn *proud* to put up that

disclaimer on my website, and sincerely proud that I have Jews,

black, gay and handicapped people working for me.

It's like saying "we're a 21st century company, we use Javabeans,

we know DCOM, and we're not apes who don't see the man past his

skin."

Imagine the company restroom saying "WHITE" on one door and

"COLORED" on another. Such things existed.

So: even if there was no law asking to put that notice up, I still

would, because it's one more sign of excellence.

Alex
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Alex
"Jews, black, gay and handicapped people working for me."

That is the offensive bit. You almost suggest that its something unexpected to find these folk working. Its the Oh my God, its a woman flying this plane attitude.

I have problems with that.

If you wanted to brag, brag about choices people have made.... Google style - We have xyz PhDs.

Tapiwa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Imagine a company restroom saying Male and another one saying Female.

These things exist.

Tapiwa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Then again, imagine one for each: Male Preference, Female Preference, Confused, Pleading the 5th, General Admittance...

;)


There is a line between comfort and propriety.

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

I *so* should be doing work right now.  But I'm a sucker for a religious or political debate.

Tapiwa: you've mistaken equal opportunity with affirmative action.  (I'm for affirmative action, but based on economic background, not race; and in the university, not the workplace.  But that's a different debate).

Equal opportunity is not, "I'm black, so give me a job".  It's "don't refuse me a job just 'cause I'm black".

Dustin: you've distorted the meaning of "owe" that I used.  You don't owe me in the pay-back-a-debt sense.  You owe me in you-have-a-moral/legal-obligation sense - the same sense that you owe a person your respect for his private property.  Everyone is born with THAT obligation, wouldn't you say?

The good news is that we've come a long ways from the 60s, thanks in large part to these sorts of laws.  I, too, would like to see equal opportunity laws go away someday, in the same way an injured man would like to cast away a crutch: not that there's anything wrong with a crutch, but I hope we won't need one forever.

Alyosha`
Thursday, December 04, 2003

"And I believe that the rights of the individual supercede to a great degree the moral rights of society. Those accepting of the core mandates of American philosophy must agree that this is a fundamental conception of democracy."

Actually democracy is the opposite.  Democracy says that the rights/wants/needs/whatever of the individual should be subordinate to the rights/wants/needs/whatever of the majority.  No?

chas
Thursday, December 04, 2003


  Male and Female are differents, at least biologically, so separate restrooms make sense. 

  Blacks and whites differ only by skin color, so separation don't make any sense.



 

Ricardo Antunes da Costa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

I like your crutch analogy. Its a good one. Lots of laws these days are stop-gap solutions to social problems that solve themselves over a period of time. Unfortunately, the idea of sunsetting laws seems to scare American politicians something fierce.

As far as the owe issue, I believe that to respect another's personal property is not an obligation, but a participatory agreement between two people communicating within a communal context. So, in a way, we are not born owing someone respect, but we give it in exchange for respect to our own privacy. That this is part of American law and democracy means that as long as we are willing participants in American culture, we are opt-ing in to that set of agreements.

This differs from owing you consideration, in that one is an opt-in agreement to share common social mores on a wide scale, whereas in the other I CAN refuse to consider you for any reason. It is not a social agreement, nor is it a fundamental component of democracy. In fact, quite the opposite. In private matters, democracy dictates that I have the right to arbitrate my own moral law, so long as it only affects my private sphere. I have no moral obligation to better you or assist you in the same manner as I have no moral obligation to provide kindness to the poor. Withholding kindness is not in itself an unkind act. Either direction is a choice that is morally permissable within our chosen culture.

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

far as I know, skin color is biological, ain't it?

chas
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Chas, no. This is a misconception. Democracy is about creating the 'most ideal' situation. This is such that the morality of the majority can only be enacted in situations where it MUST, such as in social situations which require an external arbiter. The constitution and bill of rights strongly support individual morality on a private level and have many protections in place for preventing government from subjugating localized morality (be it your local community or your person, property, and business).

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

The constitution describes a Constitutional Republic, though, not a democracy.  From what I know, democracy is basically a situation where everyone gets a vote, and then majority rules.  What you're describing sounds like a sort of "Democracy-as-Necessary" kind of thing.  Which does seem like a nice compromise to me.

chas
Thursday, December 04, 2003

I think that's the way our government is set up. The other is impossible, since the government would have to then mandate every possible moral conflict via majority vote. That would be nasty.

Speaking of this, this is the diseased thinking that leads to the downfall of democratic states. Such thinking IS observable in American government. We've got federal legislation on circuses. What does that tell you?

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

"...since the government would have to then mandate every possible moral conflict via majority vote...."

Unfortunately, this seems to be the trend these days.  Even in places where this is no conflict, only competing alternatives.

chas
Thursday, December 04, 2003

-this +there

chas
Thursday, December 04, 2003

"Unfortunately, the idea of sunsetting laws seems to scare American politicians something fierce".

Unless it comes to cutting taxes, in which case they need to sunset provisions in order to make the true cost seem lower than it is.  An example: the inheritance tax will be eliminated completely in 2010, but it comes back in 2011, thanks to the Throw Momma From The Train Act passed two years ago (okay, that wasn't its real name, but it might as well have been).  A lot of tax cuts are due to come back in 2011, but of course the administration is hoping to make them permanent at a later date.  The camel's nose is already in the tent.  ANYWAYS ...

Regarding the "owing" issue, I want to point out again that I never said you "owe" me a job, you don't "owe" any support in bettering myself.  The only thing you "owe" me is EQUAL CONSIDERATION.  You don't "owe" me kindness, but you do "owe" me the lack of irrational malice, according to the implicit social contract which governs this society.  That's all I'm saying.

To chas: the US is a constitutional republic in which representation is determined democratically.  It combines elements of all three political philosophies.  No regime has ever been a pure democracy, as George Orwell pointed out:

"In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning."

Alyosha`
Thursday, December 04, 2003

The sad fact is that racism and sexism are still very much real issues in corporate America.  Including an EOE declaration is useful in showing pontential applicants that a company has at least given some thought to the issues (since, in my experience, the most racist/sexist people tend to be living in a state of denial ("Ala: Oh, I'm not racist, I'm just a proponent of WHITE POWER.")).  Well either that or they've been sued for discrimination in the past (doesn't apply to Fog Creek, AFAIK)

It is the sort of thing that wouldn't be needed in an ideal world, but we don't live in one.

Mr. Fancypants
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Dustin wrote: "We've got federal legislation on circuses. What does that tell you?"

I don't know - maybe that there's a reason for it? (If you want to make a convincing argument, you'll have to explain what the circus legislation is, why it was enacted, and what its effects have been; then I'll decide if it's a good idea)

(Alyosha: right on.)

Exception guy
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Dustin, the argument that it's your company and so you shouldn't be compelled to not discriminate fails in that nothing exists in a vacuum.

Your company depends for its existence and profits on the regulation provided by our society, the schooling provided to children, the roads and, msot importantly, the police force that stops other freedom lovers from stealing your daily takings.

Accordingly, society will have some say in how you hire people.

analyst
Thursday, December 04, 2003

analyst:

-except it shouldn't be the gov'ts job to provide schools and build roads  (both of which it does a poor job). 

apw
Thursday, December 04, 2003


  analyst:  right on!

  You wrote just what I was thinking, but did a much better job than I'd ever do.


 



Ricardo Antunes da Costa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

I'm just waiting for Dustin to get hit with his first discrimination suit.  His "it's my party and I can do what I want to" bit won't fly very well with twelve jurors.

Robert Jacobson
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Alyosha,

Thanks for the highlights on how American government works.  My original point, though, which seems to have been lost, is that democracy (whichever definition of it you choose) is antithetical and often destructive to the individual rights Dustin mentioned earlier.

chas
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Getting back to the original comment, I don't see how putting a statement to the effect that a company doesn't discriminate has any positive value other than possibly to avoid being sued.

Just because it says so, doesn't mean it's true

(By the way, there is no "protection" in being Jewish. It's not like anyone is going to get sued if you get laid off or anything.)

pdq
Thursday, December 04, 2003

"Except it shouldn't be the gov'ts job to provide schools and build roads  (both of which it does a poor job)."

What's your basis of comparison?  Can you show me a working example of a country or state which has privatized its road-building or education and has done better because of it? 

It's not enough to point out that private schools tend to be better than public schools -- private schools get to choose who attends, and tend to enroll children from families wealthy enough to pay the price, and whose parents take their children's education seriously.

Public education is a compelling state interest.  If you think public education is expensive, public ignorance is even more so.  It makes sense that education is subsidized by all citizens, not just those who have children. 

Alyosha`
Thursday, December 04, 2003

OK, where to start:

Robert:

I'm not arguing against adhering to the laws in place, I'm arguing about the morality of those laws. When those laws are gone, I will have a grand old time hiring an army of African American Gay Nudists, and my army and I will then storm the proponents of the conservatist right wingers and demand that I be elevated to my rightful status as President. I mean, come on, its owed to me after all.

:)

Analyst:

I think you are confusing my rights as a citizen with my rights as a business owner. I am entitled to protection from violence as a part of my social agreement with my country. But I am not and never have been in debt to my country for those rights. It is an agreement that I have made with you, my fellow citizens, and the body that governs my social interactions. In fact, since these are rights granted to me by my participation in American government, it is the government that is in debt to me, owing me these protections.

As a business owner, I am engaged in a wholly private affair. The only social agreement I am bound to is the one I establish with my clients. My moral choices are made by my own compass and my clients enforce our social agreements by either purchasing or not purchasing my products and services. There need be no government regulation of that bond. And the government certainly is not assisting me in my endeavor. Far from it, judging from the taxes my company pays in return for the RIGHT to trade across communal boundaries.

Exception Guy:

Don't remember the exact law, but still. It seemed a little far fetched that anything involving a lion and an elephant should be mandated at that level. YMMV.

Alyosha:

If I owe you equal consideration, you then owe me the right to discriminate based on arbitrary factors. I will grant you your consideration, but I will not admit a debt that I do not have, which is that of trading my own beliefs in a private endeavor for those of the conflicting majority.

On Education, Roads, and the Commons:

Belief that the government's ongoing support of public projects (regardless of its right to provide such support) creates a debt from its citizens is just about as wrongheaded as I can imagine. The government provides that support in a majority directed effort to assist the taxpayers, in effect resolving a monetary debt to those citizens. That the majority directs it is a social direction, and creates no implicit debt to that body.

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Dustin: your last comments were hard to understand.  Would you mind rephrasing them in plain English?  I try to parse them, but it seems to be you are asserting certain rights and avoiding the responsibilites that come with those rights with language about "well, I'm not really in debt".

Alyosha`
Thursday, December 04, 2003

"let people do as they please, and let the market judge their morality "

HELLO!?!?  Have we forgotten about SLAVERY!?!?!?

macareni
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Alyosha, the fact that society does anything for me does not mean I have any additional debt to it beyond those I've already mentioned [taxes and social agreements]. I was speaking to the guy who mentioned that as a business owner I 'owed' it to the government not to discriminate. That, in my mind, was not in the initial social contract and would constitute additional debt that I have not agreed to.

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Macareni,

Slavery is a violation of individual rights. Discrimination and bigotry are not inherently so.

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

"-except it shouldn't be the gov'ts job to provide schools and build roads  (both of which it does a poor job).  "

That's insane.  You can make a case for schools, but roads?  If not the government, who?  Feel free to point out any instance anywhere in the world where a comprehensive road network was built by the public sector.

Mr. Fancypants
Thursday, December 04, 2003

I think he meant federal government. Local or community goverment could conceivably build non-interstate or intercity roads. It would cost a lot to manage, though.

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Philo-

What is the "Equal Rights Act"?  I googled it and it didn't turn up in the first two pages.  There was an "Equal Rights Ammendment"- a proposed ammendment to the Constitution which guaranteed equal something or other for women.  It never passed.

Jews are protected to some extent by the points on freedom of religion in the Constitution and the equal protection clause.

I suppose if a Jew could show he was fired for being a Jew he could win a case but I think a Jew would have a very difficult time winning a case on the numerical objects permitted blacks and hispanics and so forth.  I think a homosexual would have about the same luck.

Name withheld out of cowardice
Thursday, December 04, 2003

"Slavery is a violation of individual rights. Discrimination and bigotry are not inherently so."

You're way in the gray area now.  What is a "individual right"?  Where do they come from, and how do you find out what they are?

According to the DoI, they're God-given; according to humanism, they're innate, according to utilitarianism / social contract philosophy, they're what people hash out between themselves.  The latter describes my philosophy best.

And the way I see it, we hashed out the slavery issue about 150 years ago; the discrimination and bigotry issue about 40 years ago.  Refusing to hire someone on account of their skin only is a violation of their civil rights.  Get with the times.  =-)

Among your responsibilites as part of the social contract of being a citizen is to uphold the constitution and the laws derived according to its process; that's why we let you live here.  Now you can consider it an unjust law and refuse to uphold it - but you are still subject to any lawful penalty for violating what is accepted as someone else's individual right.  (This is the doctrine of civil disobedience).

Alyosha`
Thursday, December 04, 2003

"I think he meant federal government. Local or community goverment could conceivably build non-interstate or intercity roads. "

Not only could they conceivably do that, but they DO do that.

Mr. Fancypants
Thursday, December 04, 2003


Philo- wait, I found it.  I will read it and get back to you.

Name withheld out of cowardice
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Alyosha,

You and I see to have similar views on a lot of general political issues. I too agree in the social contract view of society.

What I meant by my comment is that bigotry and discrimination are not immoral in the general social sense. It is not illegal to be a member of the KKK, nor is it illegal to inveigh upon women for being members of the work force. Holding discriminatory opinions is not considered immoral, only discriminatory action. I think few would argue against this point.

The next point is a grayer area. While I personally believe that discriminating based on arbitrary factors (those that don't effect performance) is immoral, I also believe that the individual's right to choose his own morality supercedes my discomfort with his choices, insofar as they don't affect society in general. And I am arguing that a private business is an extension of one's private life and that social morality (in the sense that it is ethically defined by the federal government) has little place in that arena. I think if you own a restaurant, you should be able to serve whom you please.

My belief that the individual right to decide his own morality in his own life supercedes governmental rights to define morality is, in fact, part of my contract with my government. In upholding my support for differences of opinion, I am confirming my participation in the granting of basic rights to all citizens of the US.

I think the only sticking point we have here is that we disagree as to whether or not a business is a private affair. I argue that it is, and as such I should have the right to arbitrarily discriminate. This opinion stands regardless of the current legal situation. It is also true that, due to my agreement with my government, I also agree to pay for any insubordination I choose to be a part of. This is, of course, a moot point, since I have no problems with bigotry of this nature. Mine are 'ivory tower' arguments spoken with a love of political philosophy.

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Tapiwa-
  The reason white guys ask you if it's ok to call you black is cuz we are very confused about how to talk to a black person about being black. I have lived throo a number of decades in which white people have been beat up for not checking on the current terminology in the area of race.
  Now I understand that there is no need to call you anything at all unless it is pertinent to the topic. There is however, discomfort for people like me who lived in an area where black people did not exist. When I meet a black person I have to edit my conversation for fear of offending. If we are to become friends 'editing' is not going to be possible. If we are to become friends the topic of racism has got to come up. The topic of my discomfort has to come up.
  That said I am very irritated by silly old white guys stating, out of the blue,  that they are fair. Even to you black people. If they weren't racists they wouldn't have felt compelled to say anything.
  I am a racist.  I notice race and I have preferences in the movies I watch and the girls I date. I think we are all inherently racists.
  NameWithheld made the point that our intellect must be called in to deal with our base instincts. This is the single most important concept in our future as a civilization.
  We have to recognize our base instincts and make intellectual decisions about how to tether or unleash them. We also have to recognize our innate cerebral mechanisms in dealing with base or reptilian instincts. We are a social species. Our minds have evolved to deal with the ‘base’ in a way that promotes bonding in a society. This too, at a higher level, has to be recognized and dealt with by intellect.
  Anyone who does not recognize his own innate racism is in danger of becoming a bigot. Just like any male who does not recognize his innate sexual aggression is in danger of becoming a rapist.
  Now do we need laws to help us out with all of that? Should we make it illegal to refer to black people as Afro-American’s? Should we have laws against rape?
  As long as stupid people lacking self-awareness and cognitive ability run large corporations I think the laws may be needed. But which laws? The last paragraph identifies two laws on either end of a very wide spectrum. The first lets you glimpse how making law can go awry. The second shows that laws are very much needed. Together they illustrate the complexity of the legislative task.
  In 1990 I was given the task as a consultant to hire a good programmer. I was ordered to hire a minority or a woman by the owner of the company. I had 200 resumes and I only one of them was a minority. He sucked. I found a woman with a PHD who was absolutely brilliant and perfect for the task. But this was a company of handpicked people who were all white, young and pretty. The lady I found was older and very not pretty. We hired the minority who sucked and fired him 3 weeks later.
  How could the laws have worked in that situation?

Nearly Missed
Thursday, December 04, 2003

NWOC,

As an aside, where I live in the US hispanics are the majority or soon will be. Does this make them not a protected minority?

In terms of roads, for the most part I have to agree that there aren't a lot of examples of complete private road systems. However, there are private toll bridges, turnpikes, residential streets, etc. I live on a private road that I (and my neighbors) recently had to pay to resurface.

Getting back to the original point again, does anyone think a statement on the web site has any value?

pdq
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Let's do a thought experiment.

You attend an inteview at which the interviewer is black.  Just before it starts he looks you in the eye and says "Don't worry you're definately in with a chance - some of my best  friends are white."

Question - would you feel good that he told you that?

Personally I can see why an Equal Opp statement is felt necessary and I can also see why it might be embaressing to the "beneficiary". 

BTW I don't mind if you call me white but I'd prefer you called me "Bill" .

a cynic writes
Thursday, December 04, 2003

I think the law or legal realities require the statement on the website.
I also think it is ridiculous, demeaning and useless.
The laws may have helped a few minorities get a few jobs but in the long run they have produced nothing of value.
  Let the market work this out. I'm not aware of any law requiring that we out-source to India yet the Indian's are kicking my financial ass rather well.

Nearly Missed
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Hell, I don't care if you call me Asshole, so long as you address me with respect.

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Dustin, that could come back to haunt you.

a cynic writes
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Yes.  That's SIR Fucking Asshole to you ...  *grin*

Alyosha`
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Bah. Welcome to my life :-)

My implication is that the manner in which we address people is of more importance than which words we use.

Dustin Alexander
Thursday, December 04, 2003

I'm coming a bit late to this discussion, but...

"Male and Female are differents, at least biologically, so separate restrooms make sense.  "

There is actually no biological difference between men and women that forces a *requirement* for separate washrooms.  Last I checked anyway.  Furthermore, all of the toilets in my house look exactly the same, yet both genders seem to manage just fine.

You could just as easily argue that the discomfort a man might have using a urinal in front of a woman is comparable to the discomfort bigots might have using a urinal in front of someone they disliked.  So I think that was a bad example :)

Phibian
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Why didn't the old south have separate roads for black people? How about separate 'air'? Seems that that would be as important as drinking fountains and restrooms.

WitFit
Thursday, December 04, 2003

The thing is that some things can't be fixed by making laws. They can only be screwed up.  Having racial quotas is not going to fix the problem.
  We make a law that 30% of the work force has to be black. So I hire all black janitors and no black executives. Now we need a law about the equal distribution of salary. So I pay my janitors 100K a year and piss all over the seat. So we need laws about equal distribution of titles and job definitions.
We need to legislate what questions can be asked during an interview. The census bureau tells us that a lot of minorities don't have the training that we require. So we have to prohibit employers from hiring according to ability to perform the job. How about sex, beauty and age? How about illegal aliens?
  We must make laws to solve everyones problems. Lots of them.
  We also need laws to solve Dustin's problem of not being able to do ANYTHING about his company without consulting an attorney.

Nearly Missed
Thursday, December 04, 2003

OK, this is about the EO statement on this website. Getting back to that in particular, I don't think such statements really tell you much. Maybe it means the person is complying with some law, maybe it means they are extremely pro-rainbow, maybe it means nothing.

But here's a question for you ... should Joel give equal consideration to an employee, who following the teachings of his imam (agreed that only radical imams teach this, but there are some) believes as part of his religion that jews are dogs and gays should be stoned to death?

Personally, if I knew that someone was a bigot because of his religion, I would be reluctant to hire him. And that would be me discriminating against his religion.

Rabble rouser
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Rabble Rouser: when would that come up in the subject of an interview?

And yes, if you truly believe that your boss is a dog, I think that would affect your performance at work (a legitimate reason to discriminate).  His beliefs may also lead to harassment in the workplace.

Alyosha`
Thursday, December 04, 2003


  Phibian,

  It might have been a bad example.  The problem is that my boss was close, and I couldn't waste much time posting on this forum :-).

RIcardo Antunes da Costa
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Enough already!

Get along.

Alex
Thursday, December 04, 2003

I think you should all go and f*&^% yourselves.

hate'em all
Thursday, December 04, 2003

There's some nice middle ground provided by the fact that EEOC rules, with the exception of equal pay for men and women performing the same job, only apply when the company has more than 15 or 20 employees.

To me, that seems like a nice compromise that lets a very small business discriminate against whomever they like while requiring that medium and large businesses treat people fairly.

Kevin
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Dustin

Your rights as a business owner are no different from your rights as a citizen.

The reason you can demand that customers pay your bills long after you've provided the services or provided equipment are that we have courts that will enforce contracts and police that will enforce judgements of the court.

Similarly, the reason you can live in a nice house that others might like to live in, or drive a nice car, is that our society has police who stop people taking them from you.

It is a perfectly valid question as to whether this is a good thing or not, but it's an inescapable part of living. We're all together and we make rules to work together. Part of those rules let you run a business. Another part dictate that you will be fair to all members of society in a way the majority thinks is fair.

analyst
Friday, December 05, 2003

If I have something to sell, I should be able to choose who I sell it to.  If I want to buy something, then it should be up to me whom I buy it from.

The goods in question are irrelevant.  It could be a 2nd-hand car, or it could be my labour.  I'm not forced to go work for someone I don't want to, and neither should I be forced to hire someone I don't want to.

Call it the freedom to be irrational.  It's your life, and your possessions after all.

David B. Wildgoose
Friday, December 05, 2003

Dustin,

if you haven't already done so I recommend you read "Atlas Shrugged". I personally found it to be one of the most disturbing books I ever read, but based on your posts I think you may enjoy it.

Jisa
Friday, December 05, 2003

"If I have something to sell, I should be able to choose who I sell it to."

Not if you're in a public retail shop.


Friday, December 05, 2003

Nightclubs in London generally discriminate against men.

They are as public a place as it gets.

Tapiwa
Friday, December 05, 2003

I really implore you all to take time to read this short article by Frédéric Bastiat.

http://bastiat.org/en/government.html

Kinda talks about the US constitution, govt, freedom, slavery.... Plus, this was all written in 1849. Truly genius.

Tapiwa
Friday, December 05, 2003

What's the difference between discriminating against men in London versus discriminating against Blacks in the old south USA?


Friday, December 05, 2003

Boortz's take

http://boortz.com/more/commencement.html

apw
Friday, December 05, 2003

From Mssr Bastiat.
"Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place."
                -- The Law

Tapiwa
Friday, December 05, 2003

apw... thanks for the article.

Fav bits...
"You have been taught that the real value of any group of people - be it a social group, an employee group, a management group, whatever - is based on diversity ...

... you are about to learn that diversity is absolutely no replacement for excellence, ability, and individual hard work.

From this day on every single time you hear the word "diversity" you can rest assured that there is someone close by who is determined to rob you of every vestige of individuality you possess. "

Tapiwa
Friday, December 05, 2003

The irony of hearing the Ayn Rand Cult ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H libertarians talk about individuality always cracks me up.


Friday, December 05, 2003

what cult??

Tapiwa
Friday, December 05, 2003

You're a big enough boy to do some critical reading.
just google cult of ayn rand.

as for libertarian economics, you can google that too. 


Friday, December 05, 2003

is this it?
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0812693906/102-7058036-6205730?v=glance

For some strange reason some folk on this board seem to associate any talk of individual freedom with some mysterious Randian cult. You might want to read up on proper rhetoric, especially the undistributed middle.
http://www.intrepidsoftware.com/fallacy/undist.php

We don't all like Ayn Rand. I personally find her quite verbose. If you follow some of the links on posted, you would realise that the proponents of liberty existed before Rand. Basitiat for example is one. The Thomas Jeffersons of this world wrote about liberty, and indeed founded a nation based on these principles. Ms Rand did write that the smallest minority group was the individual! You want to protect minority rights, protect individual rights.

On libertarian economics... By definition, this is a moot. The libertarian argument is for FREE trade. No govt policies. Any discussion of economics after that is moot. The individuals will decide. Why? When the act of buying and selling is legislated, the first things to be bought and sold are the legislators.

I will not follow any cult blindly. If I agree with an author on something, I am man enough to admit it. The fact that she/he might be despised by the rest of the population is neither here nor there. I will also disagree with said author on something else, and again I will admit it (Rand's gold standard for example).

The exchange of ideas is like a buffet. Pick and choose. You don't have to take all or none.

Tapiwa
Friday, December 05, 2003

"The exchange of ideas is like a buffet. Pick and choose. You don't have to take all or none."

Only if you're a libertarian, namely someone who instinctively believes in individual choices for individual circumstances.

"Group-thinkers" expect to impose their prejudices and beliefs en masse, and seem incapable of understanding that individuals can have individual opinions.

David B. Wildgoose
Friday, December 05, 2003

I knew someone would argue that corporations are not public entities. Legally and socially they are. A corporation is granted a license to operate in US society. In return for this right it agrees to abide by the laws of said society.

A corporation is a public-trust entity. However else you might want to view it in the marketplace or "I started it and  I shouldn't have to live with any rules", this is the legal and social fact.

Jeff Kotula
Friday, December 05, 2003

Tapiwa, what works critical of libertarianism/austrian econ  have you read? 


Friday, December 05, 2003

amazon link above.

Das Kapita - karl marx

several anti-libertarian websites

Quite a few economics textbooks (one of my majors), and public choice was an option.

All of Platos works - check out the Republic for his theories on politics. Very anti libertarian, but I still agree with him on a lot of issues. (one of my fav authors)

Most drivel from politicians is anti Libertarian because by definition if we won they would be out of a job.

I could go on.

"It is thus necessary that the individual should come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation; that the position of the individual ego is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole ... that above all the unity of a nation's spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an individual. .... This state of mind, which subordinates the interests of the ego to the conservation of the community, is really the first premise for every truly human culture .... we understand only the individual's capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow man."
  --  Adolph Hitler, 1933

Tapiwa
Friday, December 05, 2003

Certainly the argument has been advanced since the original source works you site, no? 


Friday, December 05, 2003

Jeff, that's like saying a business is a public entity because it is a public entity. 

chas
Friday, December 05, 2003

Funny I've read Plato and as far as his politics is concerned I've found him a complete git.

The trouble is that he came from a section of Athenean society which was extremely rich and looked on the rest of the population as scum.  In fact an uncle of his was one of the "thirty tyrants" a charming group who during their short lived regime denied even the right of a trial to all but the richest citizens.

If I have to pick a Greek political philosopher I find Aristotle more congenial.  Perhaps it came from being a metic (a foreign resident) in Athens and therefore  removed from day to day politics which allowed him to think clearly.

a cynic writes
Friday, December 05, 2003

Yep Alexander the Great thought Aristotle was a good guy too, but he was a bugger for the bottle.

These americo-centric debates on the rights and wrongs of laws against discrimination (and their conflation with the right of free speech and free assembly) are always distantly interesting to me.

The UK has had anti-discrimination laws on gender and ethnicity for a very long time (sexual preference is now being added).  In all that time there have been a handful only of ethnic cases brought, there were more gender cases in the past.  This does not make it a bad law.  Indeed, as in the case of seatbelt laws, they have gone a long way to achieve a relatively less prejudiced society than there was.

That's not to say its perfect, there is still a great deal of discrimination but by and large it has disappeared from recruitment both overtly and covertly.

I can't imagine why employing someone because they are the best for the job is at all a bad thing.

Simon Lucy
Friday, December 05, 2003

As I've clearly stated earlier you should all go and F^&%K yourselves big time.

hate'em all
Saturday, December 06, 2003

This is really relavant:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36694-2003Dec4.html

Isaac
Saturday, December 06, 2003

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