Profitable LARPing?

Bradley Gayton was hired by Coca-Cola as General Counsel, their top in-house lawyer. He was let go this week after about four months on the job. In late January, Coke sent a letter to all of the outside lawyers doing work for the corporation demanding that they engage in illegal racial discrimination in assigning lawyers to work for Coke.

Outside counsel commit to providing KO [Coca-Cola’s stock ticker symbol] with self-identified diversity data (including American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black, Women, Hispanic/Latinx, LGBTQ+, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander and Persons with Disabilities) for KO’s quarterly analysis of the diversity of teams working on KO matters

. . .

For each new KO matter following the revision to the guidelines (“New Matters”), you commit that at least 30% of each of billed associate and partner time will be from diverse attorneys, and of such amounts at least half will be from Black attorneys. Work performed by diverse attorneys is expected to be accretive to their development and advancement at the firm.

Of course, these demands are blatantly illegal.

Gayton is no longer General Counsel at Coke, and will spend the next year as a “Strategic Consultant” for the company. On the way out the door, he reportedly is getting a $4 million one-time bonus and $666,666 a month for a year for being a do-nothing consultant.

Nice “work” if you can get it.

On Xiden’s “Infrastructure” Program

After reviewing the basics of Joe Xiden’s “infrastructure” proposals, it seems to me that the principal deficiency relates to the management of the various schemes. Almost none of the effort is under the government department with related expertise. Clearly, any program based on organic fertilizer should be run by the Department of Agriculture.

Quote of the Day

It is not good to settle into a set of opinions. It is a mistake to put forth effort and obtain some understanding and then stop at that. At first putting forth great effort to be sure that you have grasped the basics, then practicing so that they may come to fruition is something that will never stop for your whole lifetime. Do not rely on following the degree of understanding that you have discovered, but simply think, “This is not enough.”

—Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Unjust Justice

Rev. William Barber has a post over at In These Times about The Fight for a $15 Minimum Wage Is a Fight for Racial Justice. He quotes a loose translation of the beginning of the 10th chapter of Isaiah in support of his argument—

Woe unto those who legislate evil and rob the poor of their rights, who make women and children their prey.

I agree with Rev. Barber that those of us who are better off have an obligation to treat the poor justly and to compassionately care for widows and the fatherless. However, I believe the minimum wage increase he supports will hurt rather than help the poor. Indeed, passing such a law will be legislating an evil.

The general effect of increasing the minimum wage is to price workers with marginal skills out of the labor market. Businesses don’t have bottomless funds from which they pay wages. They can only extract so much revenue from their customers, and that money must be divided among paying for inventory, rent, wages, and other expenses. A minimum wage bill doesn’t make expenses like rent disappear, so a business only has so much it can divide among its workers for payroll. When the law artificially increases each worker’s pay, simple arithmetic shows that fewer workers can be paid before the money is gone. Business that survive will keep their best employees and fire marginal workers. Business that grow will hire fewer workers.

Not every worker who loses his job because of a minimum wage increase will remain unemployed. Some will find work off-the-books in the informal economy, but increasing the minimum wage invariably increase unemployment among our poorest citizens.

We Americans generally believe that everyone has a right to work to support himself and family. Is it just to pass a law artificially pricing poor workers out of the labor market? I don’t think so.

Our Betters and Vogons

We Deplorables just won’t get in line and follow the dictates from Our Betters. In 2016, we rebelled and vote in Brexit and elected Donald Trump. Now, we’ve messed with the stock market via L’Affaire GameStop.

Our Betters’ reactions to our various rebellious activities remind me of some characters from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—the Vogons.

They are one of the most unpleasant races in the Galaxy. Not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous. They wouldn’t even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders – signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters. The best way to get a drink out of a Vogon is to stick your finger down his throat, and the best way to irritate him is to feed his grandmother to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. On no account should you allow a Vogon to read poetry at you.

There are similarities, and there are differences. For example, the poetry (and a staggering majority of other art) being published by Our Betters today isn’t very good, and Our Betters would mostly rather virtue signal than actually get their hands dirty. And as for bureaucracy, it’s Our Betters who make up the Deep State and almost all of Big Tech. The Vogons scream, “Resistance is useless,” at their prisoners. Our Betters shutdown our social media accounts.

The principal difference I see is that the Vogons aren’t actually evil. I’m not sure that can be said for a significant group among Our Betters.

BTW, resistance isn’t useless. The four years of the Trump Administration provide some real benefits such as lower unemployment, real growth in wages, and a cohort to judges who believe in following the law. The GameStop stock deals turned the tables on some Wall Street insiders, doing to them what they believed they had the right to do to retail investors. I’ve got no idea what the next act of rebellion will be, but it will come.

Stay tuned.

A Failure of Our Betters to Do Good

Note: This is a guest post by Dianna Deeley who has recently joined Stacy McCain and me as a full-time member of The Other Podcast crew. Dianna operates a consulting business that provides advice to not-for profits organization.

A friend of mine linked this story on Facebook—it’s the story of what another friend describes as the “Make It Very, Very, Wrong Foundation.”

Brad Pitt’s Make it Right was established in 2008 to rebuild the 9th Ward of New Orleans, a neighborhood devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The mission statement from Make it Right’s 2015 990-PF (the last 990 available) reads: Development of affordable green homes in economically challenged areas. Just as an aside, $130,000 seems a little steep for an affordable home.

Ground was broken on the first homes in 2008, and by 2015 Make It Right had spent over $26 million on the development. Building stopped by early 2016, as complaints about the design and construction of some of the houses began to surface.

Award-winning architects were turned loose, and a “green” builder was hired. At a minimum, $26 million has been spent, and at least two of the houses have been demolished, with complaints being lodged over the design and construction of the rest. Lawsuits are flying. Neighbors are furious, and residents would like some repairs done.

This is an utterly predictable fiasco. The intentions were great; the money was no object; the development was going to be a great and glorious topic of discussion at Hollywood cocktail parties; and all would be well. It’s drearily predictable—all sizzle, no steak.

If the endeavor had started with a little humility, and worked with agencies that build affordable homes (offhand, there’s Habitat for Humanity and Mercy Housing South), some respect for Murphy, and some serious due diligence, this might have been money well-spent. Unleashing celebrity architects to create a bunch of blue-sky designs was a terrible thing—the buildings may be architecturally stunning, but don’t serve the needs of people who are living in them. Finally, it would have been wise to hire the construction firms who build upper middle class housing in the area.

Instead, the COO hired to run the show is an authority on renewable energy and has an MBA in finance (which is reassuring when very large amounts of money are being slung about!) but no previous construction experience. In other words, they hired someone who would have been a terrific consultant for energy efficiency but is the wrong choice to be in charge of the foundation.

There was a construction manager. I cannot discover what he was managing during construction, because on completion, the roofs leaked, the foundations … weren’t foundational, the gas meters were installed improperly, and the buildings started rotting pretty much immediately. This is not good management.

Also, when a new, green, product is offered (See: TimberSIL), it might be wise, rather than leaping on it with great enthusiasm, perhaps to test it initially on one building, like, say, a community center, in which no one lives. When you know how well it works, consider using more of it. But no one ever seems to have mentioned this concept to the foundation.

There are about 385 non-government funders who give in the New Orleans area, at least 50 of which build housing as part of their mission. No, the Make It Right’s board wouldn’t have gotten as many plaudits on their wonderful, daring new buildings, but the houses would not be falling down about the owners’ ears, and there would not be any lawsuits. Or, given the way we operate these days, at least a lot fewer lawsuits! If they’d actually built houses right, the foundation’s board could still be looking for new and wonderful projects that need the kind of money and clout that a foundation like Make It Right should have.

UDATE—Some typos corrected.