Labor Day and the Problem with Government by Fiat

The  dysfunction of American government is on parade this Labor Day, as Republican President Donald Trump reverses labor advances instituted by his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.

Trump, ostensibly to eliminate job-killing regulations, has overturned a bevy of Obama-era policies that represented a step forward for women and minority workers. Many of these rules were promulgated by Obama in the form of an executive order, which lacks the imprimatur of Congress and the assurance of permanence. Obama said he was forced to act unilaterally because Republicans wouldn’t cooperate with him.

Government by fiat causes cynicism, wastes government resources and leads to the suffering of vulnerable people

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EEOC & AARP: The Willfully Blind leading the Willfully Blind?

You can’t make this stuff up.

The EEOC has announced that age discrimination will be a “special focus” of its major annual “training event” for employers  later this month to mark the 50th anniversary of enactment of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

The invited guest speaker is Jo Ann Jenkins, the CEO of the AARP, an organization that has done virtually nothing in 50 years to address the fundamental legal inequality of older workers in the United States and for years has accorded mere lip service  to the epidemic of age discrimination in employment that began during the Great Recession.

Of course, the EEOC under Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration also did virtually nothing about the problem of age discrimination in employment. The EEOC last year filed exactly two lawsuits with age discrimination claims, despite receiving more than 20,000 complaints of age discrimination. The EEOC today arguably does more to protect employers from the consequences of illegal age discrimination than it does to protect older workers from illegal age discrimination. It remains to be seen whether GOP President Donald Trump and EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A.  Lipnic will choose do any better.

The EEOC press release states the CEO of the AARP and the EEOC Acting Chair  will engage in a “candid conversation about age discrimination.”   Maybe they could start by explaining why both organizations have completely ignored the problem for decades.

I respectfully suggest  Jenkins and Lipnic obtain a copy of my groundbreaking book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, which candidly describes the epic failure of the federal government protect older workers from irrational and devastating age discrimination in employment. Up to now, both the EEOC and the AARP have  completely ignored the book, which received an excellent review from The ABA Commission on Law and Aging. [Read more…]

White House Conf. has no time for ravages of recession, discrimination

The once-every-decade White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) sent out an email blast Saturday revealing the agenda for its signature event today.

Apparently there was no time in the jam-packed schedule to address the financial havoc wrought upon older Americans by the worst recession  in 100 years or the epidemic of age discrimination in hiring that relegates older workers to chronic unemployment, low-paid work, and a financially improvident “early retirement.” The conference will focus on care-giving, “planning for financial security at every age,” nutrition, “the power of inter-generational connections and healthy aging,” universal design, and technology and the future of aging.

Can it be the youthful organizers of the WHCOA are unaware that the Great Recession cost millions of Americans who are now approaching or entering their retirement years their jobs, homes and investments?

A recent AARP survey found that half of older workers who experienced unemployment in the last five years are still not working: 38 percent reported they were unemployed and 12 percent had dropped out of the labor force. To make matters worse, private sector employers in the past two decades eliminated traditional defined benefit pensions.  Recent generations financed their retirement with a combination of savings, a traditional defined benefit pension, and Social Security.  Two legs of that stool are gone for millions of American workers and Social Security is under attack from the right.

The Economic Security Institute reported in 2013 that nearly half (48 percent) of America’s 41 million seniors are “economically vulnerable,” including 63.3 percent of blacks and 70.1 percent of Hispanics. To be economically vulnerable is to have an income that is less than two times the supplemental poverty threshold (a poverty line more comprehensive than the traditional federal poverty line).

Incredibly, the WHCOA issued briefs on “retirement security” and “elder justice” that do not even mention the recession and age discrimination in employment.

The dismissive treatment of age discrimination in employment by the WHCOA is emblematic of the second-class treatment of older Americans generally by the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress.  The WHCOA held in prior years was funded by the Congress under the Older Americans Act Amendments of 1992. According to the WHCOA, Congress did not reauthorize the Older Americans Act nor provide funding for this year’s conference but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services decided to go ahead with the conference anyway. [Read more…]

The Secret Service’s Locker Room Mentality

This is a story about two kinds of “employees.”

One is a Colombian woman, 24, who considers herself to be a high-class prostitute – an “escort” – who can command more than a street prostitute because she can dress up and go out to dinner without embarrassing her clients.

The other is a highly-paid  member of the U.S. Secret Service who was in Columbia as part of an advance team prepping for a visit by President Barack Obama to attend the Summit of the Americas. He allegedly agreed to pay the woman $800 one evening but only anted-up $28 the next morning, inciting a fracas of international proportions.

According to the New York Times, the “escort” was eventually paid about $225 – though she told them that she has to pay her pimp $250. If this is true, she lost money on the deal.

Three members of the Secret Service fared even worse. They lost their jobs, which reportedly paid salaries in excess of  $75,000 a year.  One was fired; one retired; and one resigned.  Eight employees remain under investigation and may follow their former co-workers out the door.

The real importance of this scandal involves the negative impact it will surely have on the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama, and the light that it sheds on the seemingly troubled culture of the Secret Service.

Jeffrey Robinson, co-author of “Standing Next to History: An Agent’s Life Inside the Secret Service,” told NPR this week that the agency prefers to hire ex-football players because “they understand how to play their positions in situations where teamwork is essential.”

Of course, football players are not particularly noted for their diplomatic skills or their sensitivity to women.

It all goes to show that sometimes working as a team is not such a good thing – like when testosterone-infused peer pressure kicks in and the team gets drunk, carouses with prostitutes, and then treats them with disdain and disrespect.

That may be what got them in the end – this “escort” thought she was better than that. She was insulted by the pittance proffered in payment.   She also claims to have been offended when the agent allegedly became aggressive and angry with her when she sought more money.

It’s time for the Secret Service to rethink the team concept. It’s 2012, not 1950. That “boys will be boys” locker room mentality is no longer acceptable.

And, while prostitutes may be the most exploited and reviled workers on the face of the earth, it is still wise to still treat them with  dignity and respect. They are being hired to perform a service for money, not unlike the members of the U.S. Secret Service.