Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Seat Belts: Arizona on this point I agree with you...

It's come around again.  There was a tragic accident this past weekend on a stretch of Arizona highways and 5 of the 9 passengers in a Chevrolet Tahoe lost their lives.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety reports that it's likely the 5 occupants who were ejected from the vehicle after it rolled over from a blown tire would likely have survived had they been wearing seat belts.

There's no arguing that seat belts are the most effective personal automotive safety feature second only to the recent addition of vehicle airbags.

But it's still a choice to use them.

Back in the late 80's many automotive manufacturers tried to mandate their use by introducing automatic systems.  Ultimately, however, their poor performance and unreliability made them the butt of jokes until the widespread use of SRS Airbag systems.

Which brings us to today's automotive safety technology which includes everything from airbags, to automatic braking, lane change warnings and backup cameras.  In that mix is still the good ol' seat belt and it's still an active choice to use it.

In my view that's a good thing.  

Remember when I mentioned those goofy automatic systems from the 80's?  There's a reason they're gone.  They were unreliable and cumbersome which left most of them unused, bypassed or disabled.  If the single most effective automotive safety device becomes some comical Rube Goldberg machination then it's failed its primary function.

So no, I have no beef with seat belts.  In fact they may well have saved my life when I was involved in my own major accident.  By strange coincidence, the night that accident happened was the first time I had used them even though I'd been driving for a few years.  


I use them by choice and strongly believe that's the way it should be.

You see, I have a problem with AAA's "nanny state" position on seat belts that seeks to change Arizona state law.  Right now seat belt use is not a "primary" offense like speeding or DUI.  Instead it's considered a "secondary" offense only leveled in addition to some other driving infraction.

I'm a firm believer in individual rights and as such believe that anyone who chooses to raise their chances of a fatality by not using seat belts should have the right to make that decision.

Yes, it's a stupid choice but with all its faults, Arizona and its laws in particular tend to bias against infringing on personal choice unless there's some inherent political benefit.  

Luckily, seat belts aren't the hot potato issue of say Planned Parenthood so it's unlikely that the Arizona state legislature will change seat belt laws anytime soon.

Still, it seems that the AAA continues to push the issue with new campaigns to change seat belt laws every year bolstered by some high profile tragedy that feeds their cause.

My problem with changing seat belt laws in this state is that Arizona tends to go overboard when putting the "nanny state" into action.

That's because nothing changes in Arizona unless there's the potential for a new revenue stream.  It's why we had such fiascos as freeway speed cameras which did nothing for safety but filled the state's coffers.  The minute they stopped earning their keep, they were gone.

So much for the safety argument...

Speeding is one thing but do we really need patrol officers spending their day watching for seat belt "offenders?"  How could anyone take such a personal mandate as anything but another potential revenue stream?

Too many liberties have become casualties in the cause of supposed safety.  It may sound ridiculous but we should have the right to be stupid if we want to be, especially if we're not putting anyone else in danger.

Safety is a personal responsibility.  The use of a seat belt has no effect on anyone but the individual making the decision to use it.  I challenge the AAA to prove otherwise.

Of course I already know what the AAA would say and I flatly reject the "monkey see monkey do" arguments about parenting and role models.  

On this point I call it a fallacy.  In fact in my own case, my parents never did and still won't wear seat belts but I choose to.  

There really isn't any valid, competent argument for such measures save for the increased revenue stream from the "tax" of compliance.  

Unfortunately for the AAA, that doesn't make as good a  sound bite as distracted driving or DUI.

Stay strong on this Arizona, we've had enough of being "protected" from ourselves.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Taking the Human out of Human Resources

There's a lot of fear in the job market these days and most of it stems from a disturbing tendency of employers to treat candidates like some kind of trade-in at Honest Bob's car lot.  I'll give you some analogies (of course) to make my point a little more clear...

  • I sell Trucks, they're trying to trade a motorcycle! - Does this person even fit the job?
  • How many miles, Condition? - Are they too old or are they going to drive up my health insurance costs?
  • What kind of options does it have? - Do they have all the skills and experience I need or do I have to train them?
  • Show me the CarFax! - Anything in their past I can use to lowball the offer or exclude them entirely?
  • Market value? - I want to get this guy/gal for as close to free as possible.

In the private sector it's no surprise.  In theory, removing intangibles and non-sequitur from the process should create a more level playing field.  It's also more efficient which plays well with the bean counters.

But it can go too far...

It's one thing to use objective criteria  to thin the herd but that's where its usefulness really ends.  We all understand that no employer wants to interview 100 burger flippers for a structural engineering job.  However, a potential candidate shouldn't be excluded by a process that's left to HR departments that have no idea of how to vet a potential hire.

We're coming back to the real point here. 

Today's work environment is frequently populated by underpaid and mostly disinterested workers.  There's no denying it in spite of the all the stock photos of happy faces populating the company HR page. 

We live in an age of stagnant wages, dwindling benefits and a slow erosion of worker rights.  Let's not forget the almost total lack of job security.  Even CEO's can't guarantee their tenure but then they've got a lot softer landing than the rest of us.

So don't expect a lot of that "personal touch."  You're just another resource to be evaluated, a commodity.

Which is a problem.

When you reduce talent to their lowest common denominator you end up missing a lot of important information to help you make a decision.

For example: A top notch engineer could be cut from consideration because of a bad credit record, a visible tattoo or if they happen to smoke.  HR pundits ( yes they exist) will offer up excuses like:

  • A bad credit history reflects on a lack of responsibility. 
  • Tattoo's cause issues with workplace culture
  • Smokers drive up insurance costs and take too many breaks. 

None of them have anything to do with the quality of the candidate but more often than not they're used as screening factors.  The justifications are hollow but there's no point in challenging them.

It's the result of a process cut to the bone and borne out of a systematic devaluing of the Human in Human resources.  
The only advice given to the job seeker? 

Bend over...

Yeah, no big long flowery mental masturbation there.  That's the bottom line. 

Because you as the candidate have no value outside of the factors of a commodity you must focus on the irrelevant.

Look sharp, clean up your social profile, quit smoking, pay all your bills on time even if you're broke and without exception, never have been sick.

That's an awful lot of time spent on things that have nothing to do with your ability to actually DO the job.

Here's a posting for a VERY entry level job.  It's a good representation of what I've been talking about.

Flier Delivery (NOT door-to-door) Team Needed (East Valley, AZ)


What: Team (of 2) needed to drive to elementary & middle schools to deliver fliers for after school programs. (One driver & one delivery person per team)

What we are looking for in a delivery person: *GREAT personality a MUST! *Be able to effectively communicate with school secretaries *Must be able to present a clean cut look with business casual attire.

*No visible tattoos or body piercings
*Non-Smoker *Clean Background Check

What we are looking for in a driver: *RELIABLE transportation (with room for boxes) a MUST! *Proof of Insurance *Know the East Valley well! (especially school districts) *Clean Background Check *Clean Driving Record.

*Able to lift about 60 lbs.

Deliveries start right away! Hours will be Monday-Friday, approx 8am-4pm (when schools are open) We give preference to drivers with GPS or navigation systems.

This is NOT a sales position, but sales experience & driver). Driver & Delivery Person need to have a positive personality &
"personality" a ++. We offer $11/hour (per person) + mileage (for the professional attitude. 

Our Teams represent ***************of America to the schools, clubs, churches & districts that support our programs.

Some familiarity with *************** is WELCOMED

Ok , this is about as low on the totem pole as you can get but the takeaway is this: The same selection criteria is becoming commonplace regardless of industry or position.

Entry level jobs usually suck, that's a given but at some point along your career path you would expect to be given more consideration than some kid handing out colorful pieces of paper.

Sadly, you'd be wrong.

The reality of today's interview process is cold and impersonal.  You'll frequently hear catch phrases like, "Culture fit" and "Self Motivated" which translates to "anything we can legally discriminate against" and "doesn't ask a lot of questions."

It's only going to get worse before it gets better.  For now set the bar low and you might just survive it.
Just be sure that you can accept how employers see your value.  These days the demands of work will monopolize more of your time than family or friends and the higher up the food chain you go the worse it gets.

Remember, the price of potatoes is based on their current market value which can fluctuate with demand.

So, are you worth more than a potato?  You might be surprised.