Friday, August 11, 2017

Sobre discriminação laboral

Se houver a perceção (verdadeira ou falsa, a curto prazo tanto faz) que 55% dos membros do grupo A e 45% dos membros do grupo B são bons numa determinada tarefa, as empresas vão procurar contratar (se não tiverem mais informação adicional sobre cada potencial trabalhador) 100% de elementos do grupo A para desempenhar essa tarefa.

Isto possivelmente aplica-se a outros cenários além do trabalho, mas é neste que me parece mais fácil chegar a essa conclusão.

[Post publicado no Vias de Facto; podem comentar lá]

O caso James Damore versus Google

Este caso deve provocar sentimentos contraditórios a muita gente.

James Damore has an 'above decent' chance of winning his legal case against Google (Business Insider):

James Damore, the man fired by Google after he published a manifesto that suggested women may have a disadvantage in tech because of their biology, may well prevail in the legal case he has filed against his former employer.

That's because he filed his complaint against Alphabet (Google's corporate parent) under a provision of the National Labor Relations Act that protects workers' rights activists. Under that provision, Damore's complaint will not be about whether he was discriminated against as a white person, a man, or a conservative, or whether the company had a right to let him go as an "at-will" worker.

Rather, the provision governs what workers are allowed to talk about in the workplace about pay, conditions, promotions, and other practices. The law was crafted to protect the right of union organisers to discuss pay rates with their colleagues, and more recently to protect anyone asking questions at work about who gets paid what, and why.

On that basis, he has a fighting chance, according to Valerie Sharpe, a labor lawyer based in the San Francisco area. (...)

Of course, the irony here is that if Damore wins, it could be regarded as a big victory for conservatives who work in tech, though the win would strengthen the kind of workers' rights that are traditionally the focus of the left.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

O socialismo de Chris Dillow

My Socialism, por Chris Dillow:

Looking at critics of Venezuela makes me feel like intelligent religious believers when confronted with some new atheists: they’re attacking nothing I believe in. The shortcomings of the Chavez-Maduro government in no way whatsoever undermine my conception of socialism.

What is my conception? You might think I’m going to set out my blueprint of a socialist Utopia. You’d be missing the point. Capitalism was not the conscious design of a single mind, but rather it evolved. The same should be true for socialism.

For me, socialism is a system which fulfils, as far as possible, three principles.

One is real freedom. Oliver Kamm praises a liberal order as one in which – in contradistinction to state socialism - “embraces value pluralism, in which citizens are free to pursue the goals that matter to them.” I share this ideal, but I fear that capitalism does not sufficiently achieve it. Under capitalism, millions of us are compelled to work in often oppressive and coercive conditions. Our goals are thwarted. Perhaps Marx’s biggest gripe with capitalism was not its injustice but its alienation; the fact it prevents us from pursuing our goals.

In this context, a basic income is crucial. It would enable people to pursue their own lives. It would empower Cory Doctorow’s walkaways.

A second desiderata is voice. As Phil says, “socialism involves a deeper, more thoroughgoing democratisation of social life.” At the political level, this requires institutions of deliberative (pdf) democracy – not simply imbecile “speak your branes” referenda. At the economic level, it requires worker democracy. (...)

The third value is equality. I don’t mean here any particular Gini coefficient. Instead, what matters are two things.

One is how inequalities arise. I’ve no problem with some people getting rich if people freely reward them for good service – Nozick’s Wilt Chamberlain argumenthas no force for me – although luck egalitarianism justifies them paying some extra tax. (...)

The other is their effects. Inequalities of income spill over into inequalities of respect and political power. To me, this is unacceptable. (...)

What role would the state play in this?

I suspect it wouldn’t be a large one. We Marxists are wary of the state simply because it is often used for reactionary and repressive ends. A big state can be (and is) captured by capitalists. Nationalization, for example, cannot be sufficient for socialism simply because it can be reversed. Marxism is in some respects verydifferent from social democracy.

Instead, a big role for the state is to facilitate the transition to socialism, by encouraging socialistic institutions. Some call this accelerationism, othersinterstitial (pdf) transformation. Again, a basic income is crucial here: it enables people to walk away from oppressive capitalism (if they choose) and into cooperative ventures or self-employment. Also, the state could help spread coops by encouraging public sector mutuals and using procurement policies to favour them and penalize hierarchical firms. (...)

The general principle here is to empower people to reject exploitative capitalism (if they want). This would so squeeze profits that capitalists would have to transform into more egalitarian forms or die. (The state is, of course, needed to smooth this process).

As for the place of markets in all this, it should be what it is now - a narrow technical matter: does this particular market work and if not can we make it do so? It’s perfectly possible – I think desireable – to have freeish markets without (pdf)capitalism.

Personally, my socialism would have a perhaps big role for entrepreneurship – just not the sort that rips people off.

It should be obvious to everyone that this vision of socialism is massively different from that of a centrally planned dictatorship.

Of course, this vision of socialism differs from many others’, though it should be compatible with many of them: I’d hope there’s a parallel between it and Robert Nozick’s framework for utopia.

What all this is definitely not, of course, is statism, nor the illiberalism of Maduro’s government. Maybe the tragedy of Venezuela brings Jeremy Corbyn’s judgment into question. But it tells us nothing about my sort of socialism.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

O autoritário e elitista Alexander Hamilton

The Hamilton Hustle, por Matt Stoller:

AS DONALD TRUMP SETTLES INTO THE WHITE HOUSE, elites in the political class are beginning to recognize that democracy is not necessarily a permanent state of political organization. “Donald Trump’s candidacy is the first time American politics has left me truly afraid,” wrote Vox cofounder Ezra Klein just before the election. Andrew Sullivan argued in New York magazine that American democracy is susceptible, “in stressful times, to the appeal of a shameless demagogue.” Paul Krugman wrote an entire column on why republics end, citing Trump’s violations of political norms. But if you want to understand the politics of authoritarianism in America, the place to start is not with Trump, but with the cool-kid Founding Father of the Obama era, Alexander Hamilton. (...)

To assert Hamilton disliked democracy is not controversial. The great historian Henry Adams described an evening at a New York dinner, when Hamilton replied to democratic sentiment by banging the table and saying, “Your people, sir—your people is a great beast!” Hamilton’s recommendation to the Constitutional Convention, for instance, was to have a president for life, and to explicitly make that president not subject to law. (...)

Indeed, most of Hamilton’s legacy is astonishingly counter-democratic. His central role in founding both the financial infrastructure of Wall Street and a nascent military establishment (which supplanted the colonial system of locally controlled democratic militias) was rooted in his self-appointed crusade to undermine the ability of ordinary Americans to govern themselves. We should be grateful not that Hamilton structured the essential institutions of America to fit his vision, but that he failed to do so. Had he succeeded, we would probably be living in a military dictatorship.