Good Friday Morning, and a special shoutout to the Minnesota Vikings for always giving the world entertaining football, no matter who they play. To have a 29 to nothing lead at halftime, and then be fighting to avoid overtime on the last play of the game is such a Minnesota Vikings thing that I barely have words. I could never be a Vikings fan, but I do enjoy watching them as a non-fan.
Train wrecks need an audience, right? Speaking of, this newsletter has arrived in your inbox by pure miracle. I spent the better part of Thursday believing I wasn’t going to write because my day job has been that crazy. But here I am, and you’re reading this, which suggests you’re just as crazy as me. I think. Anyway, I hope you enjoy and as always, links follow.
Where you can find me this week
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Ed Shames, Bob Dole, and remembering the Greatest Generation – The Conservative Institute.
Abortion politics complicate everything. That’s a good thing. – The Conservative Institute.
DEI, corporate-speak, CLE, and filling out forms.
I almost thought I wouldn’t be writing this week. It’s “end-of-the-year madness” time in the legal world, where all deadlines get foolishly set, all performance reviews are due, and instead of getting more time to do something, you get less. But I needed a break, and writing is one of the things that I enjoy, whether there’s a lot of people reading or just you, the person here. Thanks for that.
Usually, I’d likely set up to write about Evergrande, China, and the continuing fallout there. I have a column regarding that at the Conservative Institute coming out late Friday. In short, Evergrande and Kaisa Group, the two most prominent real estate developers in China, have officially defaulted. China has sent an anticorruption agency into its national bank, and Xi is bent on clearing out political opponents.
I always wondered what it was like trying to the machinations of the politburo in the USSR. Reading news about the Chinese Communist Party answers that question. Keep an eye on global markets because, with these defaults and more to come, we’re headed into uncharted waters.
But since I lack time to do a good dive into that story, I can only warn you to monitor it. I thought I’d talk about something happening closer to home. And I thought I’d do that by telling a story and fleshing out some thoughts.
Storytime with a lawyer.
As a practicing attorney, one of the things you have to do every year is to keep up your license by attending CLE courses — Continuing Legal Education. Every state has different requirements, but for Tennessee, it’s listening to twelve hours of lectures a year, three of which have to be on ethics.
As you might imagine, barely anyone does this ahead of time. 80% or more of the attorneys I know are rapidly trying to cram in hours for CLE while all the other holiday stuff occurs. Wise lawyers use the CLE to brush up on topics they may practice. In contrast, most lawyers find the cheapest courses to knock out the legal requirement (being a lawyer isn’t easy or inexpensive).
Earlier this year, I happened to get the chance to attend a free conference of CLE’s. It was a dual-purpose event; the first was to showcase this company’s services and products. While doing the sales pitch, you were also fulfilling CLE requirements. As an attorney in the second group mentioned above, I saw the word “free” and “CLE conference” together in the same sentence and jumped.
It was, as most CLE courses are when you sign up because of the cost rather than the topic, thoroughly boring. One of the primetime segments, which everyone attended, dealt with diversity and ethics. You might have heard about things like Critical Race Theory, or anti-Racism, or Diversity and Inclusion Training (DEI). As a lawyer, I often get to see these things before most people because 1) HR departments get their rules from lawyers, and 2) things like CRT emerged from law schools decades ago, and everyone gets to learn about it.
I didn’t think much of this course; most are worthless. You get to listen to sanitized corporate HR-speak about how great a company is at fulfilling various “diversity” metrics. Some legal seminars are a bit more interesting because you can explore the theoretical foundations of something, which is at least a philosophical discussion. Anything by a corporation is utter nonsense.
I happened to know the person running this course, and the speaker — who works in a company providing services — was glowing about how there were new things they were forcing on clients. To become a client for this speaker, you had to fill out a “diversity survey” and list how many employees or contractors fit various DEI categories (race, sexuality, etc.). And while there was a promise they did nothing with this information, the implication and words were clear: the goal was to avoid doing business with clients deemed to fail basic DEI metrics.
Mind you; this is not a customer doing this; it’s the business forcing it on the customer.
I recently was chatting with a friend about some of their contracting work, and that person had experienced something similar. To submit an RFP or get paid for a project, they had to submit a survey listing out things like race, sexuality preferences, and more. Now, these surveys always allow people to say they refuse to answer — but if you do that, you aren’t counted among the diversity metrics and get dinged for it.
In the CLE I was listening to, the speaker was cheering this idea because — and the speaker repeatedly emphasized — it wasn’t about politics; it was about ensuring diversity got a shot.
None of this makes sense.
But I want you to think about this from a different perspective. Let’s take the progressive worldview and look at it as a customer. These kinds of policies force people to “out” themselves by forcing people to declare. If you don’t want to declare your sexuality, but suddenly you’re being asked to keep your employment, that’s a special kind of torture. These DEI advocates don’t care. I’ve yet to meet one that does.
But conversely, and this gets me back to the CLE I was attending, by reducing someone to what they filled out on a bean-counting metrics report for DEI purposes, you’ve erased that person’s entire identity and work product. By seeing people as only what they can manage to score on surveys or metrics reports, you’ve reduced them to nothing.
The pandemic is fascinating on this level. By removing everyone from the office, reducing interaction to a minimal amount, you’ve got nothing left but the work product. If everyone gets measured on merit, then you’ve radically freed the work environment from things like personality, office chit-chat, and more. DEI efforts seek to erase that by reinforcing categories and classifications.
One of the sure-fire tricks to reduce bias in the hiring process, which has been known for decades, is to remove names and gender from job applications. The more you’re forced to focus on merit, the better employee you’ll find. That’s why universities and colleges have looked for ways to rely on things other than the SAT/ACT. Merit tests put everyone on the same playing field, though we know the rich can benefit from dumping money on test-prep courses. DEI seeks to erase that by placing its metrics above merit.
Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, one of the most racist Presidents in history, actively sought to re-segregate the federal government. Aside from firing and demoting blacks, one of his tricks was to force job applicants to place their picture on applications to avoid hiring blacks in federal jobs. That mattered a lot after the Civil War because these jobs were often the best available jobs available to blacks.
The point I’m making is this: when forced to rely on merit, everyone has a shot at rising. It’s not a perfect system; nothing is. But that single principle is worth working towards and removing barriers that prevent it from happening. These DEI experts want the exact opposite: they want to build workplaces that hit DEI metrics, disregarding work product. You’re only the sum of what numbers you hit and nothing else.
Polling shows this mindset tilts one direction.
There’s a reason this is happening — Democrats and progressives want it to happen. This past week, a poll came out, asking a series of questions. Would you date, shop at, be friends with, or work for a person with political beliefs the opposite of yours? Here are the results:
- 71% of Democrats wouldn’t go on a date with someone with opposing views, versus 31% of Republicans.
- 41% of Democrats wouldn’t shop at or support a business with opposing views, versus 7% of Republicans.
- 37% of Democrats wouldn’t be friends with someone of opposing views, versus 5% of Republicans.
- 30% of Democrats said they wouldn’t work for someone with opposing views, versus 7% of Republicans.
I’m willing to let the dating one slide — lining up your life with a person of the same values is essential. And as anyone who has ever been on a dating app can tell, there may be a lot of fish in the sea, but a shocking majority of those fish suffer from terminal stupidity.
But these poll numbers drive home another point: the real thing happening in these DEI adventures is not a flowering of diversity but enforcement of homogeneity. No one can have differing beliefs, and the way these DEI officers think they can enforce that is through bean-counting, metrics, and surveys. They want a life within a siloed echo chamber where nothing ever gets challenged.
I’ve written a few times about how from 2003 — 2009, the Democrat Party talked itself into the notion that anyone who wasn’t white had the same beliefs as them. They believed they’d build this demographically diverse coalition, and that would spell the end of the Republican Party. That theory has shattered on the rocks of reality, as a new generation of liberals has to learn that politics isn’t static and coalitions change.
Aside from election results which show Republicans gaining ground with minorities, a recent Wall Street Journal poll now found that nationally, the Hispanic vote is evenly divided between the two parties.
In other words, demographics are not destiny. White, highly educated Democrats will grow more and more shocked to realize that the people in these metrics they’re pulling do not hold the same beliefs as them.
I see this as a great thing. Diversity of thought is supremely better than the diversity of anything the DEI bean-counters use. Variety of thinking is what helps you avoid blind spots, echo chambers, and more. But that’s not allowed anymore. Everyone has to believe, say, and think the same things.
A movie brings that point home. One of my closest and dearest friends loves the movie World War Z, starring Brad Pitt. And she loves it (aside from Brad Pitt) because the one country that survives the zombie apocalypse is Israel. In the movie, Israel is the only country with zombie defenses built because they made sure that every significant decision they made, they always had someone ready to poke holes in the majority opinion and offer a plan up in the event the very worst or crazy occurring (like a zombie apocalypse). They then ensured the minority opinion had resources to do what needed to be done.
Diversity of thought gets you those checks. Homogeneity of thinking does not. And this push towards corporate DEI-ification of everything damages the country as a whole. Because in essence, these corporate trainers are purposely setting out to divide the nation along the parameters they seek to enforce. If you’re on the wrong side of that, you’re evil and banished forever (it’s like original sin, but repentance is impossible).
I don’t know what the way out is from all of this. But I do know I’m tired of sitting through CLE’s where corporate morons espouse a version of togetherness that separates everyone by the color of their skin or the person they sleep with. And I’m tired of hearing from friends saying the same thing.
Maybe that’s the way out, in the end. We all get tired of it, fire the consultants, and return to routine work. Incredibly, this seems like a fantasy now. But I still have hope… The revolution always eats its own.
Links of the week
Why I Became an American: When Turkey’s leader came after me and my family, the United States welcomed me with open arms. – Enes Kanter Freedom, The Atlantic
Could China’s Massive Public Debt Torpedo the Global Economy? – War on the Rocks
Left of Beep: The United States Needs an Algorithmic Warfare Group – War on the Rocks
Elon Musk, Other Leaders Sell Stock at Historic Levels as Market Soars, Tax Changes Loom: Insiders like the Waltons, Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s co-founders have sold $63.5 billion through November, up 50% from 2020 – WSJ
China’s Latest Challenge Is Engineering a Soft Landing for a Sputtering Economy: Policy makers want to stimulate growth, but they are constrained by policies designed to rein in debt and speculative behavior – WSJ
Many more Dems switching parties than Republicans during last three months – Jon Ralston, Nevada Democrat
Democratic worries grow over politics of SALT cap – Naomi Jagoda, The Hill
Publishers against the People of the Book – Melissa Langsam Braunstein, Washington Examiner
How the rise of electric cars endangers the ‘last frontier’ of the Philippines: A mine that supplies nickel for the batteries that power electric vehicles is on the verge of a major expansion into a pristine rainforest. – NBC News
🤮 The decline and fall of barf bags – Jennifer A. Kingson, Axios
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Thanks for reading!