Whiners of the World Unite?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Mentioned in passing at the start of an otherwise very amusing article (via the Houston Chronicle) about socially inept and abusive bosses is the following bombshell:

A bill in New Jersey would give an individual the right to seek as much as $25,000 in damages if an employer created "an abusive work environment." Similar measures are pending in New York state, Vermont and Washington state. In California, a Sacramento-based group called California Healthy Workplace Advocates is working to revive a sue-the-boss bill that died in committee in 2003.

The bills are short on specifics, such as what exactly would constitute an abusive work environment, and their prospects are far from certain. The wisdom of giving employees new grounds to sue is debatable, considering the threat of frivolous court-clogging suits and laws at the federal level and in many states that already protect people against, among other things, sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender, race, pregnancy, physical disability and religion. [bold added]
And you can add, "Nobody in his right mind will want to work in management," to the laundry list of unintended, but obvious consequences of passage.

Since when has "being surrounded by pleasant coworkers" (or "having a cool boss") been a right? There is so much wrong with this proposal I don't even know where to begin. Just like anyone else, I've had my share of lousy bosses, but think about this for a moment.

First of all, management isn't easy to begin with. Second, you have a near-infinite variety of potential personality conflicts just waiting to happen even if the boss (or the subordinate) isn't afflicted with difficulty in interpersonal relationships. Third, there would be a huge potential for abuse by the subordinate even if you could somehow define objective criteria for determining what constitutes an "abusive work environment".

This is plainly just another way to redistribute income through the legal system, as implied by the fact that there is no similar legislation in the works to allow bosses to sue particularly troublesome subordinates they can't fire easily. Indeed, the double standard becomes even more obvious when you think of quitting your job as firing your boss (or at least, "letting him go"), which is exactly what it is.

-- CAV

Updates

Today
: Corrected some typos.

6 comments:

Dismuke said...

I smell a trial lawyer. It will be some extra haircut money for John Edwards after he fails to defeat Evita....er, I mean, Hillary for the Democratic nomination.

Of course the person doing the suing wouldn't get $25,000 unless one added lawyers' fees on top of it. And this would be like personal injury where attorneys work on spec complete with ads on the sides of buses and on late night television. Furthermore, companies would have to defend themselves from such lawsuits which, if they go to trial, might end up costing almost as much in legal fees. So most such cases would probably end up being settled out of court on grounds it is simply cheaper to pay off the blackmail.

If this is passed merely on a state level - well, it will be immediate economic suicide for any such state state as NOBODY will want to have employees or operations in that state. The would be an immediate flight of industry and, above all, jobs to other states.

If this somehow gets passed on a Federal level - well, I guarantee you that the job market in this country will instantly tank. Anything that can be outsourced will be outsourced overseas - including many functions and tasks where it currently does not make economic sense to outsource. For those jobs that do manage to remain - well, getting such a job is going to become difficult as all heck. Employers are going to be very cautious and risk adverse as to who they hire. It will become like France and other European countries where employers do everything they can to avoid having to hire people because once they hire them, they are harder to get rid of than unwanted relatives.

When a job opening does exist, be prepared for the most anal retentive sort of background and credit checks imaginable even on entry level jobs. "Diversity" in the workplace? Forget about it. Too much potential for conflict of personalities. The old "good ol'e boy network" will be where employers will turn to first in order to fill any openings. People will be hired on not based on how productive employers think they might be but how well they think they will "fit in" and conform. If someone comes across as being from an ethnic group, gender, sexual orientation or religion which has large numbers of militant activists in the news going on about how much such people are "victims" - well, people will think extra hard before hiring such a person. One will see a return to the exact sort of prejudiced thinking that has been happily on the decline in American business for the past 40 years - negating about the ONLY positive, non-destructive consequence of modern liberalism. This time, however, such prejudice will not be explicit - it will be practiced under the table by people who will never admit to it and have no choice but to do it consciously or subconsciously as a matter of self-preservation.

My guess is there would also be a boom in the temporary help industry. Companies will hire temps - preferably off site - to do as much work as possible. The temporary agencies will assume all of the risk of the lawsuits and pass it along in their hourly rate.

If it remains merely on the state level - well, there is not a snowball's chance in hell that such a law would be passed here in Texas under current conditions. My fear is that if places such as New Jersey and California impose it, the sort of people who agitate for that kind of crap in those states will end up moving to Texas because there are no longer any jobs at home - and then they will try to agitate for it here too.

If I could live anywhere else in the world, the New York City metro area would be right near the top of my list. And the reason I don't even consider moving there is this kind of mentality and the absolutely outrageous cost of living and the horrible standard of living for people of average wealth that has come about as a result of it.

Gus Van Horn said...

"Employers are going to be very cautious and risk adverse as to who they hire."

Very true. And for anyone who has looked for a job, you only thought they already were!

"If someone comes across as being from an ethnic group, gender, sexual orientation or religion which has large numbers of militant activists in the news going on about how much such people are 'victims' - well, people will think extra hard before hiring such a person. One will see a return to the exact sort of prejudiced thinking that has been happily on the decline in American business for the past 40 years - negating about the ONLY positive, non-destructive consequence of modern liberalism."

Also true, although the lefties will try to legislate that both ways -- like they want to make banks give easy loans, but not default.

I hadn't thought of that, but if it can happen, it will.

Very perceptive observations.

Dismuke said...

"Also true, although the lefties will try to legislate that both ways -- like they want to make banks give easy loans, but not default.

Yes. And now that people have defaulted - well, they are going to "fix" it so that nobody of average financial means will be able to get a mortgage. After all, recent events prove that the American public is nothing more than a bunch of bumpkins who drink the kind of coffee they serve at gas stations and truck stops and are utterly incapable of managing their own finances. Home ownership is a big responsibility. Better leave that to the "beautiful people" who know what they are doing. The rest of us Ma & Pa Kettle type hayseed hicks need benevolent altruists motivated by the spirit of noblesse oblige to look after us and make sure that we don't get ourselves into such messes again. The fact that only a very tiny percent of the population is in default on a mortgage payment - well, that is irrelevant. The elites know far better than us what is in our own good and in the good of "society," too, of course.

Here's my prediction if Evita and/or some other Democrat gets into the White House and retains control of Congress and manages to shove socialized medicine down our throats: their next step will be to try to bring about a new generation of public housing projects, this time aimed at middle class people. Just as they are doing everything they can to make it impossible for what remnants of a free market are still left in the medical industry to continue, they will do everything they can to kill off the housing industry. They will essentially criminalize lenders who take any sort of risk at all with regard to mortgages. And when the man on the street can no longer afford to get a mortgage and has to save up for years and years before he can purchase a home, they will use that as an excuse to impose rent control to "protect" Middle America from greedy landlords. And when people stop building new houses and apartments because of rent control and abandon old ones, they will come to the rescue with public housing for average people.

The Left has learned that government handouts to non-productive types is political suicide. But programs such as Social Security that are aimed at the middle class - well, those are untouchable and, indeed, the "third rail" of American politics. That's why they are eager for socialized medicine - it is an entitlement that the middle class will become dependent on. And so they will attempt to do the same with public housing.

There is something else attractive to the Left from a sense of life standpoint about public housing. The Left has nothing but contempt for the man on the street in this country. They look down upon him as being nothing more than an incompetent backward rube. And it bugs the heck out of them when ordinary people are able to enjoy the same sorts of nice things in life that they do. In the old days, only "beautiful people" flew on airplanes and went on vacations to exotic places. The proles all traveled by bus or train and went to Atlantic City for holiday. Today the planes and resorts are packed with plumbers and people who are so tacky as to drive pickup trucks and own guns. The notion of an average person in flyover country being able to own his own home is something that has never fit well into these people's worldview. What does fit into their worldview and their sense of life is for home ownership to be a thing reserved primarily for their fellow members of the "beautiful people" class - i.e., those who wouldn't be caught dead in a truck stop or rural gas station let alone drink the coffee in one - with the rest of us helpless hayseed rubes cramped in government housing fighting each other over who gets a spot in the new project being built on the other side of town.

These people seek to work any situation to their advantage. Some don't qualify for a loan because of bad credit? Some people's bosses are nasty and mean? They cheerfully come to the rescue because it proves people are idiotic boobs and need to be taken care of. Now it is no longer possible for an ordinary person with decent credit to afford a mortgage and there is massive unemployment? Well, that only confirms their sense of life worldview that ordinary people are helpless and need to be taken care of - and they will spring into action once more with the feeling that their existence has somehow been justified. In their view, unless you are one of the "beautiful people" you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Gus Van Horn said...

Your comments on coffee remind me: That stuff that has been burning for six hours over night is indistinguishable to me from that over-roasted crap at Starbucks. I'll make my own, thank you very much.

Dismuke said...

"Your comments on coffee remind me: That stuff that has been burning for six hours over night is indistinguishable to me from that over-roasted crap at Starbucks. I'll make my own, thank you very much.

You shouldn't say that. People might think you are from Mississippi or something! If you don't like their coffee, you can always order their Green Tea Latte or their Chai.

Of course, they now have Starbucks even in "drive through" parts of town - i.e., areas that "beautiful people" must travel through to get from point A to point B but would never get out the car in. They even have a Starbucks down in Waco - and the only time a self-respecting person of the "beautiful people" rank would step out of the car there is if he or she is a journalist being forced to cover our evil President's trips to Crawford where he meets with his greedy oil buddies or one of virtuous Cindy Sheehan's idealistic endeavors.

The thing is that Starbucks is the proper heart and soul of America - a place to heal our national divisions. It is a place where some ordinary bumpkin can go in and pretend for a few minutes that he, too, is part of the "beautiful people" class. He can pay $4 for a cup of coffee and feel good about it because it is Fair Trade coffee. Fairness is so important, don't you think? And when he orders his drink, it is "hand crafted" and the person behind the counter will ever so politely correct him if he is so boorish as to use the terms "small" "medium" or "large." Having been thusly educated, he can walk out knowing that he paid $4 for coffee that will do something nice for people in a third world country and feel good about himself. He, too, is now a cut above those red state Republican rubes who think nothing about buying coffee at a truck stop or gas station.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I actually rather admire the way Starbucks has become so extremely successful selling coffee of all things. They have taken an ordinary, commonplace commodity and have found a very innovative way to market it to a mass market and get a high mark up for it as well. And, while the price is a bit high, it is a lot less expensive to meet people for conversation at Starbucks then it is at most restaurants. Plus it is one of the few places where people are actually welcome to linger for a long period of time after they have consumed their purchase. Try doing that in most restaurants, especially during busy periods. With rare exceptions, they also have a very service oriented staff - much higher quality than one usually sees at chain establishments these days. Finally, they were successful in getting this die hard tea drinker to become a fan of espresso drinks. I find certain of their latte drinks to be downright addictive. But, alas, because I am so boorish as to be scandalized at how many times per month I was dropping $4 on such drinks, I went out and bought a machine that enables me to make the exact same thing at home for about a tenth of the price. And I only allow myself to make it no more than once per week as, for some reason, coffee has negative side effects on me that tea does not. But I do patronize Starbucks when I am traveling out of town - always making a point, of course, to identify myself as a boorish, flyover country rube by using the terms "small" "medium" and "large.")

Gus Van Horn said...

Starbucks is able to sell their coffee because, as far as I can tell, they have succeeded in convincing most people that a Sundae dumped into a stein-sized mug over a jot of espresso is "coffee".

And while I hate what Joe Queenan ingeniously termed "Starbucks Esperanto" as much as anyone, it bothers me slightly less knowing that, at least, the idiotic drink sizes have some basis in the history of the chain as explained here.

Starbucks is very much a product of our times: It combines entrepreurial spirit (which I also admire) with the more annoying aspects of popular culture (which are largely dictated by the left, and which I generally detest).