Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Is "Employed Applicants Only" unfair?

Reason.com reports that Kelly Wiedemer has been unemployed all too long. But she is still active.

Kelly is suing Monster.com, the massive job listing site. Kelly is incensed that Monster.com accepts ads stating "unemployed need not apply" or "current employment required", or any variation.

When looking at the vasty number of people that President Obama's socialist policies have made unemployed, and kept them that way, it might appear that getting those "discouraged" people (not employed, but been that way the government doesn't have to count them in the unemployment numbers) should get hired right away, that will solve one of the nation's problems.

I don't see this blatant affirmative action as helping anyone, except maybe Kelly W.

Affirmative action has always hurt, hindered, encumbered, disenfranchised, and held back those that are targeted.

Think of it this way. A company hires people to do a certain amount of production, that is, processing materials to construct something with more value than cost. Getting competent people skilled in the production that the company operates is one way. And employers screen applicants for employment. They want to know that the person has a history of responsible behavior, has whatever knowledge and skills are claimed on the application, and has a certain amount of character and discipline at work -- shows up when expected, every time, keeps personal problems in perspective and out of the work place (within reason), gets the task done without constant close supervision, and works well with others.

Many times an employer takes a chance on a prospect that looks trainable. The character and discipline seem solid and dependable, and experience in related tasks seems to indicate the applicant would make the transition fairly easily. The risk is that it will take days to months -- or longer -- to determine if this applicant actually fits the need, once trained and worked into the company production stream. This is a cost of doing business. The more failed attempts a company makes, the more reputation for "difficult" practices grows among applicants and the industries that live off job applicants -- head hunters, state job services, resume services, etc.

My concern about hiring someone that has been unemployed long term is exactly the same as hiring a homeless person. They have had to adapt to a foreign environment. Just like going to college changes a person, it makes them unsuitable for certain jobs. Trust me, there are many jobs in Ponca City, OK, that will *not* hire anyone that has been to college. Supervisors used to high school graduates don't want the challenges, questions, attitudes, and perspectives of those that have been to college.

Long term unemployment means that work references are out of date. The previous supervisor may be unavailable, the business may not exist any longer, and getting a reliable feel for the long-term unemployed applicant becomes a serious problem.

Next is that unemployment insurance requires one to live according to unemployment insurance rules. The supervision, expectations, team environment -- all are unlike any company production stream. And the long-term unemployed applicant has been training and meeting the expectations of the unemployment insurance lifestyle instead of working related work.

Long-term unemployed often develop changed perspectives and tasks at home; reverting to a typical "leave the home life at home" work ethic may well be difficult, for both the worker and family members. This has the potential to cost an employer a lot, depending on how many interruptions for home issues occur each day.

An employer owes it to the company owners or stock holders to screen applicants fairly, to employ the best applicants for each position, to do a responsible job of screening out costly mistakes.

I feel employers are being responsible when they advertise "employed applicants only". This is not a new policy, because the previous work history is always scrutinized for gaps in related employment. Gaps in employment often indicate potential problems for the employer.

Employers cannot afford to overlook people afflicted with despair and depression, long term. They cannot afford the health benefits to cover applicants with pre-existing problems.

Long-term unemployment is an injury to a person, not a genetic or social barrier. What is needed is not to handicap, permanently, those hired under affirmative action. What is needed is a rehabilitation mechanism. A doctor's affidavit that applicant X has been treated and examined, and is fit to go back to work.

And ultimately, the profit a company makes, the employee costs they minimize, results in the ability to hire and train employees. Increase costs without increased productivity (i.e., profit), and the company cannot afford to employ as many people -- less hiring, more employees laid off.

Reducing the number of employees, and reducing productivity has been the common effect of affirmative action. Such efforts at social engineering are ineffective or destructive to employer and employed.

How about that, Kelly Wiedener? How about working with employers to devise a re-employment certificate that employers can rely on (not just imposed by the state, or even well-meaning affirmative action activists) that covers the unemployed period, the reasons for the unemployment, what workplace discipline and skills are exhibited, long term, and a responsible supervisor that can be contacted, and trusted to give a responsible evaluation of the applicant?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The SF 100. Thanks, Tam.

Tam at View From The Porch continued a bloggish meme.
"(The list, for the two of you that didn't know, is the "100 Best SF/Fantasy Books" based on a poll of NPR listeners. The meme that's going about its to bold the ones you've read.) "

I think I read a couple of the others, but I don't recall the author or title that firmly.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert

5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson

15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King (Only the first two.)
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller

36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White

48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold

60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks

68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

Some I chose to skip, some I would have listed much, much, much lower on a list of maybe 4,000 or so. And no one listed Wen Spencer's "A Brothers Price" or Mike Shepherd's "Kris Longknife" books. Or McCaffrey's "A Ship Who Sang". Or Frezza's "McLendon's Syndrome". Or Weber's Honor Harrington books. Etc. And even if it was NPR listeners, where is Esther Friesner's "Carmen Miranda's Ghost is Haunting Space Station Three" (An anthology based on Leslie Fish's filk song by the same title.) Where are Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe books? Where is Elizabeth Moon's "Once a Hero" or her Vatta's War series?

Dammit, where is Stasheff's Starship Troupers series?

Anyway, this was my list.