Archive for June 8th, 2010

Union, er, No

Much is being made of Big Labor’s stinging defeat in Arkansas, where Blanche Lincoln defeated the union’s hand-picked candidate, Bill Halter, to win re-nomination.  Arkansas isn’t exactly a big Big Labor state, but still, this was about $10 million spent in an effort to send a message to Democrats about supporting card check and forced arbitration, and it failed.

What isn’t remembered is that this is the third major defeat for Big Labor Politics this year.  The SEIU was a leader in efforts to defeat Scott Brown in Massachusetts, and we saw how that turned out.  What slipped between the editorial cracks during the Turkish Flotilla (or as it’s known in the eastern Mediterranean, Fleet Week), was that the SEIU failed in its attempt to launch a third party candidate in North Carolina in several Congressional districts.

If I’m a union member with a defined benefit plan, I’m filing Beck paperwork yesterday, and putting that money into my retirement.

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Yes, I recognize the irony of the title, having serifs and all.  Turns out it turned 50 three years ago, and someone made a movie about it.

The worst part of sitting through this film is that I find myself staring at the world’s typefaces, even while I’m driving.  “Wow, yes, TOYOTA really is in…”  screeeeeech!  (Full disclosure: so is, “Jeep.”)  The prices at King Sooper: yes.  The aisle information: no.  The Space Shuttle: yes.  The London Underground: no.

You have to wade through a certain amount of pretentious twaddle, designers saying things like, “Helvetica is sort of the socialism of fonts, because it’s out there, and people can do whatever they want with it,” which would seem to make it the polar opposite of socialism.  It would also seem to be the complete opposite of what Helvetica turned into, so the conclusion is correct even if the reasoning is woolly-headed.

In return, you get a real sense of why Helvetica took over the world:

There was eventually a rebellion, a mad thrashing about that led to little more than chaos.  In the end, the designers surrendered.  And why not?

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Starting Work is Work

It’s not only work to find work, it’s practically a full-time job to fill out the paperwork once you get ready to start.  I realize that I’m supposed to be grateful that I found something in the first place, and indeed I am, grateful enough to put up with 30 minutes of mind-numbing paperwork, all of which was there to satisfy attorneys and government agencies.

I can’t even remember half the forms, but I do remember filling out my name a dozen times, my address at least half a dozen times, my phone number and social security number half a dozen times as well, but on different forms.  Every company re-creates the receipt for the building key and the locker room key in its own warm, friendly, welcoming style.

Now, the government has decided to try to keep track of “new” jobs created, or people who are being hired back, or some such self-congratulatory statistic on what a great job they’re doing pulling us out of this mess, which means three additional forms asking my age and how long I’d been looking.  Naturally, we’ll never know the name of the concrete-tendured overpaid genius who decided to give half the population flashbacks to their days of taking standardized tests, but two of them were bubble-sheets, and one of them required bubbles for my name, address, city, state, zip, phone number, and social security number.  You sort of feel like filling in the letters properly, and then randomly filling in bubbles, just to let them know, but that’s just risking the Wrath of the Bureaucracy of Unreconciled Data, and God only knows what they might decide to do in revenge.

Admittedly, except for these couple of competency tests, the real problem here lies not so much with the government as with the companies themselves.  It ought to be easy enough to put these forms online, and the one form that is online, the I-9, is a government form.  I suspect the reason they don’t is that, well, the don’t have to.  I’ll only fill this form out once, and they’re not paying me when I do, so you can see where the incentives are on their end.  On my end, it goes back to that whole gratitude thing.

And yet, for a contractor, who might have to fill out three or more of these bibles during a year, it’s beyond ridiculous.  And a large company, who might bring in a dozen new employees every week, a couple of dozen right after graduation, is paying these new employees to sign off on the benefits package, note that they received the policy handbook, note that they received the safety instructions, apply for direct deposit, and fill out bubble sheets.  So you’d think they wouldn’t mind getting those new guys through training 30 minutes earlier.

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