partisan politics

Partisan political spam from the CEO of an expense reporting company

October 22, 2020 Incoherent ramblings , ,

Check out the following unsolicited email that I received at work from the CEO of the expense reporting software that is used by our company:

I know you don’t want to hear this from me. And I guarantee I don’t want to say it. But we are facing an unprecedented attack on the foundations of democracy itself. If you are a US citizen, anything less than a vote for Biden is a vote against democracy.

That’s right, I’m saying a vote for Trump, a vote for a third-party candidate, or simply not voting at all — they’re all the same, and they all mean:

“I care more about my favorite issue than democracy. I believe Trump winning is more important than democracy. I am comfortable standing aside and allowing democracy to be methodically dismantled, in plain sight.”

If the polls are accurate, there’s a roughly 50% chance that you agree Trump needs to go. You know what to do: show up on November 3rd and vote for Biden. Or even better, don’t wait until then: vote today. Go to Vote.org if you need help figuring out how.

The rest of this email is intended to address the concerns of those who disagree, and I’ll try to take the most likely questions in turn:

Q: Why do you care so much about democracy?

Democracy is core to our business success, in a variety of ways. Internally, we are a famously “flat” organization — nobody reports to anyone else, and advancement is the result of meeting well defined criteria as judged by the vote of those who have already advanced. How we compensate each other is left up to a team vote as well. Even our external business model depends on individual employees “electing” to adopt XXXXXXX as individuals, and then “campaigning” internally to get it adopted companywide. At every layer, democracy is our core competitive advantage — both as a company, and as a nation. But that advantage is only as strong as the clarity of our rules and the fairness of their application. Any attempt to disrupt the rules or apply them unfairly is a direct threat to the strength of our company, and the strength of our nation.

Q: What gives you the right to tell me what to do?

The first amendment. To be clear, you don’t need to listen. But the first amendment exists to encourage people like you and me to find some way to talk about the issues that matter, set aside our differences, and find a common ground on which to collectively govern 331 million citizens. Yes democratic self-rule can be inconvenient. But a burden of democracy is that this is literally our job, so I’m asking all of us to take it seriously.

Q: But you’re a company, shouldn’t you remain neutral?

XXXXXXX depends on a functioning society and economy; not many expense reports get filed during a civil war. As CEO of this business, it’s my job to plot a course through any storm — and all evidence suggests that another 4 (or as Trump has hinted — 8, or more?) years of Trump leadership will damage our democracy to such an extent, I’m obligated on behalf of shareholders to take any action I can to avoid it. I am confident our democracy (and XXXXXXX) can survive a Biden presidency. I can’t say the same about Trump. It’s truly as simple as that.

Q: Don’t you think you’re… exaggerating a bit?

I truly wish I was. I wouldn’t be sending this email if this election were just about “normal issues” — taxes, legislative priorities, healthcare, etc. But it isn’t. This election is a referendum on what limits, if any, we place on our elected leaders to govern us in a fair and representative way. This election will decide if widespread voter suppression is an acceptable governing tactic.

Q: Doesn’t everyone suppress votes?

Not like Trump. This is the most heavily litigated election in history, with over 300 lawsuits rushing through the courts before election day. And in every case, Biden is pushing to enable voters while Trump is pushing to suppress them. The trend couldn’t be more clear: Biden wants democracy, Trump does not. A vote for Trump is to endorse voter suppression, it really is very basic. This isn’t about party politics: if Biden were advocating for half of the voter suppression that Trump is actively doing, then I’d be fighting against Biden, too. This is bigger than politics as usual: this is about the very foundation of our nation.

Q: Isn’t Trump just trying to prevent voter fraud?

Voter fraud is virtually nonexistent, as overwhelmingly shown by data showcased by the White House itself. That data comes from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank counting every single known case of voter fraud since 1948, which adds up to only 1,290 distinct votes over 78 years. In 2016 alone there were 138 million votes. There is just no credible argument that voter fraud is significant, even based on Trump’s own data.

Q: Isn’t Biden just using more widespread voting to get elected?

Absolutely. This is the heart of the issue. Biden believes that enabling more people to vote will help him win. Biden wins by promoting democracy; Trump wins by suppressing it. A vote for Biden is a vote for democracy.

Q: So what if Trump gets elected by voter suppression, all’s fair right?

Well that’s what we’re going to decide, on November 3rd. Do you want your elected official to win based on the merits of their ideas? Or based on the ruthlessness of their voter suppression? And if you’re ok with “just a little suppression” — where do you draw the line?

Q: Why send me this when the polls say Biden is going to win?

The polls said Trump was going to lose last time, and he didn’t. But even if the polls can be trusted, that might still not be enough. Trump has stated repeatedly he will only honor an election that he personally feels is fair. So much depending on his personal judgement is worrying, because he has rejected the overwhelming expert consensus that voter fraud has been negligible historically, and has also said he believes it would be impossible to lose a fair election. Accordingly, the only way to ensure a peaceful transition of power is to ensure this election is an overwhelming, undeniable landslide in favor of Biden. Any excuse to question the election is an opportunity for Trump to refuse to leave the White House, plunging this country into a Constitutional crisis bordering on civil war. No matter how slight that risk might be, the consequences of it happening would be so catastrophic to society and the economy, we need to do all we can to prevent it.

So one final plea. As a fellow citizen, I fully support and respect your Constitutional right to disagree — and as an avid supporter of democracy, I value that disagreement. Constructive, well-informed debate (hopefully using the most accurate, least biased news source available) is what makes this nation so exceptional.

But the Constitution is only as strong as the respect we give it. I’m asking you to cherish it close to your heart, and demand that those you elect do the same.

-XXXXX
Founder and CEO of XXXXXXX

PS: Agree or disagree? Reply to this email to share your thoughts with Concierge, or hit me up on Twitter @XXXXXXX to discuss!

PPS: Want to do even more? Support the National Popular Vote to make every vote count equally toward the presidential election, even if you aren’t in one of the 12 states deciding this election.

PPPS: Are you annoyed that you received this as a non-US citizen? If you’re lucky enough to live in a democracy, then I’d encourage you to protect it and be willing to do uncomfortable things — like emailing millions of customers — to defend it.

I found this severely annoying, and fired off the following quick reply:

Shame on you for spamming corporate customers of your company with a politically partisan opinion piece!  I’m just a worker bee in this company, but if I was a purchasing authority, I’d be severely unimpressed.
I’m not a US citizen, but still find this incredibly offensive, not because I agree or disagree, but because of the shear unprofessionalism of your action.  This has no place being pushed out to random people in their workplaces.
Do you really think you will do any good pushing your unsolicited opinion on people when you have no idea what their beliefs are, or the reasons for their decisions, should they be opting to not vote your choice?  I’d expect that what you are doing will just increase polarization, and not have the objective that you are hoping for.  I’d be amused if the actual result of your unsolicited email is to push Trump supporters that were on their butts out of their chairs to the voting booths because they felt that they had to protect their clown from pushy democrats that are sending out panic laden emails like this.
As it happens, I consider both the lead clowns of the US blue and red parties both horrible options.  You aren’t doing your “save democracy” argument much good when you are pushing either option.  If anything, this just serves to illustrate how much of a fraud democracy is.  Perhaps the democratic party should stop repeatedly sabotaging their candidates that have actual popular support?
Are you a US citizen?  It is too bad that Monty Brewster is not running:  “Don’t vote for any of us. We’re assholes! We’ll only make things worse. That’s a promise!”

LinkedIn replies to headhunters

September 25, 2017 Incoherent ramblings , , , , , , , , , , ,

I blundered upon my messaging history on LinkedIn the other day, and noticed that it has, for the most part, transitioned from chats with IBMers that I was saying goodbye to (and the ever growing ex-IBMer population that I now know) to rather canned responses to headhunters.

Like contact requests from anybody I don’t remember having worked with, I ignore those from headhunters.  I’ll reply to the headhunter connect requests with a terse “Sorry, I don’t accept requests from people I haven’t worked with personally”.

Going through my replies to the last 10 headhunters who explicitly messaged me, it appears I’m pretty consistent, and most of my replies were fairly close to the following:

Hi XXX,

Thanks for reaching out. I enjoy my current work, which is challenging and interesting, the potential of the company I am working for, and my compensation. I’m not currently interested in a job change.

Peeter

The company that you are recruiting for would have to offer really damn interesting work to get me to defect from LzLabs at the moment.

There were two headhunters that got non-canned responses:

1) A banking and financial sector headhunter got a more direct response:

Hi XXX, thank you for reaching out, but I’m not interested.

This may surprise people, but it’s a moral choice.

I picked up a microeconomics text from the bookshelf of our local Unionville recycling depot (the best priced second hand book store in Markham). That text book was packed with enough Hamilton and Lagrangian equations to make any physicist (or want-to-be physicist like me) at home.  Application of those techniques would surely be interesting, and I was being targeted by a recruiter for a company where that probably would have been possible.  However, it would take a lot more than that chance to make me work directly for a financial parasite.

Yes, I know that I spent 20 years working in the guts of DB2 LUW, which is a product that is used in many financial institutions.  Yes, I know that I am now working for a company with a mainframe solution that is going to be used by many financial institutions.  Both of these cases have a level of indirection that influences my attitude.

If I wasn’t employed, or I had my mortgage paid off, perhaps I’ll feel less hostile to the financial sector.  However, in the near term, I’m certainly not going to work directly for one of the leeches.

2) google.

Hi XXX,

I’m very happy with my current job, which is challenging, interesting, pays very well, and is with a company that has potential I find very appealing.

Google was previously a company that I found intriguing as a possible employer, but has recently demonstrated aspects of authoritarian political correctness that make it much less appealing. There is also evidence of political bias, anti free-speech tendencies, and censorship related to the google products that I find very unsettling given the power and scope of its technology. It is not at all clear that I would be comfortable working at google in its current state.

Peeter

This response was one that surprised me when I wrote it, but I think it is honest.

I would have previously considered working for google if the conditions were right.  When I was at IBM, I never accepted any interview requests from google.  The rationale for that choice was knowledge that relocation was required for any interesting technical work at google (their Toronto lab was marketing only), and I made it clear that relocation was not an option in any correspondence.  I’ve been rebuked by colleagues for that hard line position on relocation, since interviewing at google is said to be really fun.

In recent times, I have been continually reading and hearing of political bias at google.  I’d expect a company that wields so much power to take a non-partisan political position, but they seem to have actively attempted to bias the recent opportunistic-psychopath vs narcissistic-idiot competition in the US, and also appear to be actively attempting to introduce questionable social engineering (biased search rank manipulation, selective demonetization, …) into their products.   In spite of this, even in recent times, had google had google offered up interesting work at interesting compensation levels, without a relocation requirement, perhaps I would have bitten hard enough to interview.

The recent James Damore fiasco is a game changer.  Damore’s primary crime appears to be have been the use of the psychological term neuroticism (a “big five” personality trait that seems to roughly be a measure of negative emotion) without explicit inline definition in his memo. If you are going to fire somebody and make them a scapegoat just to appease the diversity police, then you become uninteresting as an employer.  I just finished working for IBM, which seems to have made it their business to treat people as entries in a HR ledger, irrespective of competence.  It will take some hard sales work to pique interest in google when their HR department is evidently trying to be orders of magnitude more insane than IBMs.  Unless there’s some evidence of HR reform at google, I suspect google technical recruiting is going to get really difficult until their treatment of Damore has been forgotten.

IBM and government are both strong evidence that insanity scales with organization size.  With google clearly growing in size, I am not holding my breath for the chance that it will reverse any of its tendencies down the path toward organizational dementia.

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