Tag Archives: Norma Shirk

Nobody Wants to Work

We’re closed today because nobody wants to work, said the sign on the restaurant’s door.

This lament will be familiar to any restaurant or business owner in an industry that survives on a business model of low paying jobs.  Simply raising wages may not be sufficient to attract workers, even if it were financially feasible, which it usually isn’t.  Working conditions are also important.

So take another look at that statement from the perspective of the workers.  As someone whose been as a short-order cook, a gas station attendant (the only one not robbed in broad daylight by an armed nutjob) and a motel maid, that message is insulting. 

It says I showed up for every assigned shift, pulled double shifts when asked, dealt with horrible and rude customers, put up with unreasonable and demanding bosses, and all for a company that doesn’t value me as a person or an employee. 

Blue collar workers face job insecurity.  Millions lost their jobs during the pandemic and many of those jobs aren’t coming back.  Those still employed worry about losing their jobs even as they work extra hours due to a shortage of workers.   

Blue collar workers face housing insecurity.  Whether paying a mortgage or renting their homes, costs are going up.  Many blue collar workers never earn enough money to build a nest egg to protect them financially if they lose their jobs.  They are always a paycheck away from default and a possible eviction.    

Blue collar workers face food insecurity.  Inflation hits the poorest first and the hardest.  As more of a family’s earnings must go to pay for housing and utilities, there is less to pay for food.  Food pantries say they’ve been overwhelmed with the numbers needing food assistance.

Blue collar workers face a health crisis.  They often lack employer-sponsored health coverage, and even if it’s offered, they probably can’t afford the payroll deductions for their portion of the premium.  But they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, particularly in the states which refused for political reasons to expand Medicaid coverage to the working poor.  As a result, treatable health conditions become life threatening.

All these insecurities pile up to emotional and physical burnout. Blue collar workers are exhausted.  They have spent decades working jobs that paid little and offered stingy benefits, while facing condescension and amused contempt from people who either never worked these types of jobs or have forgotten what it was like.

Blue collar workers are reacting to burnout exactly like their white collar counterparts. The Baby Boomers are retiring and those who can are switching to jobs with better pay, working conditions and employee benefits. That leaves some employers in a bind.  That bind won’t be fixed by accusing the potential workforce of not wanting to work.

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies and risk mitigation programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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Hope at a Time of Despair

We’re a few days away from Christmas and it’s difficult to see signs of hope. 

We’re heading into another covid winter as infections and deaths again rise.  More than 800,000 Americans have already died from the covid virus.  Vaccines are widely available and medical evidence indicates that the unvaccinated are the ones dying now.  But too many people claim they have a Constitutional right to their “freedom” to refuse the vaccination. 

This argument distorts the Constitution.  Constitutional freedoms extend only to the point where one person’s rights infringe on the freedoms of others.  By claiming a right to reject the vaccine, anti-vaxxers increase the risk of infecting others, thus infringing on the Constitutional rights of others to live virus-free.  Anti-vaxxers also increase the likelihood that we will never reach herd immunity and that the virus will mutate into a form that is vaccine resistant.  

Unfortunately, the political and social disputes about covid and the vaccine are just the latest symptom of the twin diseases of political intolerance and violence.  Our country has a violent history. Therefore, it is disturbing to learn from recent surveys that around a quarter of Republican Party supporters believe it is acceptable to use violence to win political disagreements.   Meanwhile, the leftist fringe infecting the Democratic Party screams a message of tolerance through an intolerant program of “wokeness”.  Significantly, these pampered pooches haven’t agreed to give up one iota of their privileged, coastal-elite existence to bring their utopia to fruition.

Since no one is listening to each other and the few voices of reason have been drowned out by a sea of intolerance, there is a mad scramble to impose intolerance through the capture of the political process.  Too many states are passing “secure voting” laws that are designed solely to suppress the votes of people who are deemed politically and socially undesirable and inferior.  Virtually all the states are racing to create gerrymandered districts that will distort the outcome of elections over the next ten years.  Our Constitution stands in grave danger of becoming more useful as toilet paper.

So where do we find hope in this time of despair? History teaches us that intolerance eventually burns itself out due to its own excesses.  The Inquisition eventually ran out of victims to torture and murder in the name of God.  The American Civil War ended when the “secesh” states ran out of people to fight and die on the battlefield.  The covid pandemic will end when the virus runs out of people to kill.

My hope is that our country will reject intolerance sooner rather than later. My despair is that we value our lives and the lives of others so cheaply that we are willing to watch so many people die before our intolerance finally burns out.  

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies and risk mitigation programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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A New American Tradition

Next week we will celebrate Thanksgiving, an annual food fest for family and friends.  The cuisine reflects our diverse culture. Most of us will eat New World foods like turkey, squash and cranberries.  But the choices will vary from kosher to halal; from tacos and burritos to pickled red beets and pumpkin pie; from sweet and sour pork to chutneys and curries.

Thanksgiving is the most “American” holiday we celebrate. According to the accepted historical version, the first Thanksgiving occurred in 1621 when the Pilgrims sat down to a feast with Squanto and the Wampanoag Indian tribe. The meal was a celebration for the Pilgrims of surviving a hard year and recognition that they couldn’t have done it without the help of the Wampanoag.

Of course, that version is completely bogus because we know from historical records that the Pilgrims pushed the Wampanoag and neighboring tribes off the land through what today we call ethnic cleansing.  The tribes of New England, like all other tribes within the territorial borders of the U.S., were systemically decimated by wars and diseases. Indians didn’t become U.S. citizens until federal law changed in 1924.

So why bother celebrating Thanksgiving? 

Every country is held together by its common traditions.  Common traditions give us a point of reference to help us find our place in the world. In a huge, diverse country like America, common traditions had to be created from scratch.  Traditions created from scratch reflected what those with power at the time wanted to showcase; not how it really was. 

George Washington issued the first presidential proclamation calling for a celebration of thanksgiving.  No one asked if his slaves were invited.  Abraham Lincoln called for a day of Thanksgiving in 1863, when the Civil War wasn’t going well for the Union.

Thanksgiving became a federal holiday in 1942, less than a year after the Pearl Harbor attack.  No one mentioned that Japanese Americans had been unconstitutionally stripped of their property and rights as citizens and then required to prove their loyalty by sending their sons to fight in the war.  (For a real American hero, google “Senator Daniel Inouye”.)

But over time, countries evolve as circumstances change. What was once socially or politically acceptable is no longer so.  Now, the diversity of America’s people calls for a more nuanced view of our history and traditions.  The unpleasant truths behind the origins of Thanksgiving, and so much more in American history, can be acknowledged without damaging our country.

It’s time to create a new common tradition that is a more honest reflection of who we are and what we aspire to become. Our food choices already acknowledge our diversity.  Now, celebrate Thanksgiving by acknowledging the good and bad historical experiences of our diverse population.  An America without our diversity would be uninspiring and the food boring.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies and risk mitigation programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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All I Wanted Was to Play the Sport I Loved

In 1972, women celebrated the enactment of Title IX which prohibits gender discrimination in any school or educational program receiving federal funds.  Suddenly, schools and universities were required to invest in sports programs for girls and young women.  Title IX opened the door for female athletes.

Because of Title IX, Pat Summitt led her teams to 1,098 wins, more wins than any other college basketball coach.  Many of her student-athletes turned pro after graduating and became stars in the brand-new WNBA.  

Because of Title IX, there were school programs that trained our gymnasts who went on to win dozens of Olympic medals. 

Because of Title IX, our colleges continue training soccer players who join our national women’s soccer team. The USWNT has won 4 World Cups, 4 Olympic gold medals, and 8 CONCACAF Gold Cups.  They are the world standard in women’s soccer.

Title IX isn’t perfect.  Women’s college sports still receive fewer resources than the men’s programs.  Women are still forced to wear obscenely sexist uniforms.  At the recent Olympics, a women’s volleyball team was fined for wearing shorts instead of the official uniform which looks like a g-string and pasties outfit for strippers.

Our national Olympic committee doesn’t appear to have noticed the shorts scandal, which isn’t surprising considering how they’ve handled the whole Dr. Nasser pedophile mess. Our Olympic committee spent years ignoring or discrediting the teen-aged gymnasts who reported Dr. Nasser’s sexual abuse of them. 

Now a similar scandal has erupted in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).  A handful of players allege sexual improprieties against a widely respected coach. The players also allege that team owners and the sport’s governing authorities either ignored their allegations or leaned on them to keep their mouths shut for the good of the league and their careers. 

Why were these girls and young women ignored and discredited for years? Institutionalized sexism, reinforced with conservative religious teachings, assumes that females are always to blame because they “must have been asking for it” or they lured a hapless male into becoming a sex offender. Never mind that the male offender is often an authority figure who is violating his fiduciary and legal responsibilities, as well as common decency. 

Title IX was intended to bring an end to unequal treatment of girls and women in sports.  Almost 50 years later, that hasn’t happened but at least they are finally being heard.  Let’s hope this means the future is brighter because girls and young women deserve better when all they ever wanted was to compete in the sport they loved.  

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies and risk mitigation programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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A Magical Elixir of Life

Gilgamesh Cunieform

Gilgamesh and his best friend Enkidu had many adventures together. Then Enkidu died. Gilgamesh was inconsolable with grief and loneliness. But he was also afraid of his own death. He spent the remainder of his life searching for a magical elixir that could allow him to live forever.  

Gilgamesh was a mythical king of Uruk, a Sumerian city-state in what is now Iraq.  His story is told in the Epic of Gilgamesh, written between 2150 – 1400 BCE.  It was the first major piece of literature in the western world and has survived only in fragmented form. One version includes a story about a man who saved his family and animals aboard a boat during a great flood (probably a floating reed platform like those used for millennia by the Marsh Arabs until Saddam Hussein gassed them to death in the 1980’s).  Today we know the Old Testament adaptation of the story as Noah and the Great Flood. 

Gilgamesh’s story may have been written over 4000 years ago, but he was not so different from us today.  We are still looking for the magical elixir of life.  Gilgamesh hoped the gods would tell him the secret to immortality but they never did.

Today, our “gods” are the allegedly scientific studies on the benefits of exercise and healthy food.  I say alleged because the studies usually provide conflicting advice and are often sponsored by industries that have a stake in the outcome.  

For example, years ago a study told us not to eat eggs because they have cholesterol which is bad for us. Then a study told us that eggs are loaded with protein; so they are good for us. The poultry industry celebrated.  Another study told us sugar is bad for us because it can cause diabetes. Then a study claimed that lab rats died from consuming massive quantities of saccharine and other sugar substitutes.  Suddenly sugar was good for us again. Sugar beet farmers and sugarcane refineries rejoiced.

Along with dietary changes, we’re told to exercise regularly.  Anyone with the requisite income can buy a Pelaton exercise machine and a subscription to have a 20-something fitness instructor haranguing them via a video link.  After we pass the age of 40, do we really think we’ll look ripped like a 20-year-old? Do we really want to?  I’d rather sit in a comfortable chair with a suitable beverage and a bag of pretzels while I watch 20-somethings playing soccer or football. 

Here’s what all the pundits of longevity never admit.  If we live forever, we’ll outline all our friends. We won’t have anyone to talk to who shares our life’s experiences. We’ll end up as lonely as Gilgamesh was after Enkidu died.  Instead of agonizing over living forever, why not accept that the magical elixir to long life is a sense of humor and enjoying time spent with friends, family, and our favorite foods?

Norma Shirk is an author, speaker, business owner and an attorney. In 2011, she founded Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, LLC (www.complianceriskadvisor.com), a human resources consulting firm for small employers. 

She writes a weekly blog that alternates between human resources issues (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) and history (History by Norma, www.normashirk.com).  She is also a founder and monthly contributor to the Her Savvy blog, www.hersavvy.com.   In 2018, she published, Psycho Bosses and Obnoxious Co-Workers, an amusing look at workplace behavior.

Ms. Shirk frequently speaks to a variety of audiences on topics ranging from human resources issues to historical events and persons.

She may be contacted at norma.shirk@complianceriskadvisor.com.

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History Wars

If your history teachers were like mine, they made it sound as if history is unchangeable.  If it’s in the history books, it is the correct and only version of what happened, right? Not so fast.

History is never that simplistic.  History is a written account of what happened. Until the 19th century, only the rich and powerful were literate.  They ensured history covered only what interested them, which was themselves.  As a result, history was primarily an account of kings, dynasties and their wars.  We learned almost nothing about the ordinary people whose work made possible the great lives told in historical accounts.

This traditional approach to history broke down in the 19th century when European and American governments decided that literate workers would make better factory workers.  Mass literacy brought fresh perspectives.  Ordinary people wanted to know about the lives of ordinary people from the past.

By the 1920’s, stories of ordinary people were in vogue, how they lived, worked and died. It’s still a popular subject given the number of Americans researching their family genealogy and getting DNA tests to learn “where we came from”.  But the closer we look, the more we realize how much was airbrushed out of American history books because the facts didn’t fit the preferred narrative of a good and righteous nation.   

Black people were brought here solely for the purpose of being slave labor. They were prohibited from learning to read and write because illiteracy was the easiest method to control them.  (Today, the Taliban has retaken Afghanistan and they will again ban literacy for females.)

Chinese men helped build the cross-continental railway, one of the greatest engineering feats in U.S. history.  Those Chinese laborers could not bring their families because the U.S. government didn’t want them settling permanently in the U.S.  They endured pogroms by anti-immigrant whites who saw the hard-working Chinese as job and wage threats.  (San Francisco’s Chinatown now offers tours of their escape tunnels.)

American Indian tribes were hunted to the point of extinction and forced onto reservations. Once on the rez, they were routinely starved and denied healthcare. Their children were kidnapped and placed in government-sanctioned schools in pursuit of forced assimilation. (Canada recently apologized for their forced assimilation programs.  The U.S. refuses to do so.)

These examples give a flavor of the countless facts of American history that were airbrushed from our history books.  History is often ugly and unpleasant, particularly in hindsight after social and political attitudes change.  Future generations will certainly take issue with things we do now as they uncover our unfortunate facts. 

Acknowledging these unfortunate facts does not diminish our country’s achievements and is not a rejection of our country’s history.  It means that we are mature enough as a nation to accept everything done by our predecessors.

As uncomfortable and unpleasant as it is to acknowledge past moral and legal wrongs, it would be so much worse to pretend they never happened.  We can never move forward until we acknowledge the good and the bad of our past.  Call it a 12-step program for the history wars and teach the kids the ugly stuff along with the glorious stuff in history class.  Ignorance is justice denied.

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies and risk mitigation programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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A Ride Through France

I’ve spent the past three weeks watching the Tour de France.  I know nothing about cycling except that the sport has been riddled with doping scandals.  This year was no different.  During the final week of the tour police raided the hotel rooms and vehicles of one of the teams searching for drugs. They didn’t find any, but it cast a shadow over the race.

I first tuned in to watch the race because I wanted to see the background shots of the French countryside with its castles, chateaus, villages, churches and Roman ruins.  The race began in Brittany, moved east, and then south to Nimes and Carcassonne.  Nimes was built by the ancient Romans and their arena is still used today for concerts.  Carcassonne also dates to the Roman era although the medieval walled city and fortress are why tourists visit today.

From there the race moved into the Pyrenees Mountains. These mountains are as magnificent as the Rocky Mountains. Not surprisingly, the winners of these group stages grew up in mountainous areas.  One such winner was a young American, Sepp Kuss, from Durango, Colorado. Expect to hear much more of him, by the way.

Expect to hear much more about Tadej Pogacar, the young Slovenian who won the Tour de France with a whopping 5-minute lead over his nearest competitor.  He also snagged three of the four color jerseys: yellow (Tour winner), polk-dot (King of the Mountain), and white (best young rider).  He couldn’t have done any of it without the support of his team.

The Tour de France is simultaneously a group sport and a test of individual stamina.   Riders participate as part of a team and support their lead cyclist.  Pogacar’s teammates helped him stay at the front of the peloton in every stage of the race, away from the wrecks near the back of the pack.  Pogacar’s stamina helped him win two of the four most difficult mountain climbs.

It was fascinating to watch the camaraderie of the riders. Riders in the back of the pack supported each other without regard to team affiliation, sharing food and water and encouraging each other to keep going.  When a spectator caused a massive crash in Stage 3, the riders protested the poor security and narrow roads by staging a slow ride and an hour-long stoppage during the next stage.

The race ended in Paris on Sunday.  It was a fascinating journey through the French countryside.  But what kept me tuning in every day was watching the camaraderie of the riders. We all want to be respected by our peers for our diligence, honesty and hard work.  The Tour de France epitomizes that.  

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies and risk mitigation programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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No License Needed

On June 2, 2021, Governor Lee signed a bill into law that allows people to buy guns without a license or safety training (“permitless carry”). The law goes into effect on July 1, 2021. That means in Tennessee and 11 other states (so far) with similar laws…

I need a driver’s license to drive a car.

But I don’t need a license to own the gun that kills you.

I need a license to be a mental health counselor to counsel you to not kill yourself.

But I don’t need a license or a psych evaluation to own the gun that kills you.

I need a license to cut your hair.

But I don’t need a license to own the gun that parts your hair with a bullet and kills you.

I need a license to own a bakery to bake your birthday cake.

But I don’t need a license to own the gun that kills you before you celebrate your next birthday.

I need a license to build a house.

But I don’t need a license to own the gun that kills you, destroying your home and family.

I need a license to be a medical doctor who saves lives.

But I don’t need a license to own the gun that can rip your body to shreds and kill you.

I need a license to be a schoolteacher.

But I don’t need a license to own the gun that kills school children.

I need a license to own a funeral home that will prepare you for burial.

But I don’t need a license to own the gun that kills you and puts you in a coffin.

How many people die each year in the U.S. from gun violence?  There is no accurate body count because the NRA and its cynical enablers in Congress and in state legislatures passed laws prohibiting government agencies from gathering that information. Congress once threatened to defund the CDC if it didn’t stop tracking statistics on gun violence.  (The CDC had noticed that gun violence spreads much the same as infectious diseases.)  

There is also no agreed definition of “mass shooting” for the same reason. We’ve had either 225 or 232 mass shootings during the 150 days from January 1 – May 31, 2021.  That’s a mass shooting every 0.6 day in 2021. 

Can any of the politicians supporting these “constitutional carry” laws honestly say with a straight face to the police who must assume for their own safety that every encounter is a deadly-force situation, or to the battered women who know their batterers now have even easier access to guns with which to violate orders of protection, or to the parents afraid that their child will die in the next school shooting that looser gun laws make our society safer?  Honestly and sincerely?

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses to create human resources policies and risk mitigation programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Support the Gig Economy

We’re in a time warp on employment law.  The economy has shifted toward a gig economy model, but the Biden administration seems to be stuck in the 1930’s factory model. 

Start with the gig economy.  The shift began in the 1980’s when business schools preached the benefits of “shareholder” value to the exclusion of all other considerations.  The bean counters scrutinized each company’s expenses in slash and burn operations. First to go was in-house training of workers.

Second to go was entire swathes of workers.  The downsized workers were often hired back as independent contractors to do their old jobs.  The “savings” on not paying employee benefits to them created “shareholder” value.  Senior management promptly rewarded themselves with bigger pay packets and stock options while shoveling a few dollars more to their shareholders as dividends.

(Business leaders now moan about their inability to find workers with the appropriate skills but are still unwilling to invest in their workers.  In an article a few years ago in The Wall Street Journal business leaders admitted they would not invest in training their workers because they didn’t want to lose their investment when the employees left. The irony of demanding loyalty from workers while offering nothing in return is apparently lost of these overpaid masters of the universe.)

By the 2000’s, the internet had lowered the cost of starting a business.  The switch to a gig economy accelerated during last year’s covid.  Many workers pushed into unemployment during the past year have decided to bet on themselves by starting their own businesses.

Unfortunately, the Biden administration seems to be stuck in the past. Don’t get me wrong. Biden’s boffos are a distinct relief after Trump’s minions tried to resurrect the 1980’s by dismembering every law that might protect workers.

But the Biden administration’s approach will undermine the gig economy, the most dynamic part of our economy now that most big businesses are monopolies dominating their industries.  Recent Department of Labor guidance makes it more difficult to classify workers as independent contractors.  The rationale is that too many companies deliberately misclassify workers as independent contractors in order to save on payroll taxes and employee benefits.  That is true.

However, that’s no reason to rip the heart out of the gig economy.   Instead of rolling back the economic clock, it’s time to change how employee benefits are offered.  Employee benefits like health care, fair wages and overtime pay were forced on employers in the 1930’s in a clever maneuver to bust the unions; and indirectly to fight communism since most Americans believed that all union organizers were commies.

That was then. Now we need to free up workers to use their skills and interests to the best of their abilities. Instead of looking backward, the Biden administration should imagine how the future of work could look.

It’s time to create individual health accounts, just as there are individual retirement accounts.  Allow gig workers to top up their IRA’s with amounts equivalent to an employer’s 401(k) match.  Give gig workers a tax credit to cover a set number of vacation and sick days each year.

Some people prefer traditional employment. Some people are suited to be gig workers.  The benefit of encouraging a hybrid economic model, part traditional and part gig, will unleash the creative abilities of our country. 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. We also integrate HR compliance into the company-wide compliance program through internal controls and advising on how to mitigate risks with insurance. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com). For my musings on history, visit History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts here on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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Time for a Change

Recently the English Premier League announced they are considering a ban on all social media platforms effective May 1st.   The ban is being considered to protect footballers (soccer players) from racial and homophobic abuse.  Most footballers are teenagers or 20-something’s.  

Racial and homophobic abuse has always been a feature of sports from a segment of “fans”.  It’s on a par with the jerks who post revenge porn against their exes when they realize those women won’t put up with the selfish, spoiled brat behavior that mommy indulged all those years ago.  

When racial or homophobic abuse happens on the field, the footballing authorities can investigate, identify and ban the moronic player spewing hate.  When “fans” scream filth, the home team can investigate, identify and ban the jerks for life from attending games.

Social media abusers can hide behind avatars and fake identities. In some cases, abusers are based outside the country of their victims.  In other situations, the abusers deliberately, with malice aforethought, route their internet connections through countries that can’t or won’t prosecute the abusers.  

It’s time to stop social media abusers from using their cyberspace anonymity to avoid the consequences of their hateful, malicious actions.   The first step is to require all social media companies to authenticate the identity of each account holder just as banks are required to “know your customer” by authenticating the identity of new bank account holders.  Social media companies should also continue shutting down the fake accounts they find littering their platforms.

The second step is to enact laws that require social media companies to provide the identity of the abuser to the victim.  This process should be quick and easy and low cost. There are limited (at best) privacy concerns for the abuser because no one has a First Amendment right to spew hate and the threat of violence.  Foot-dragging on ID’ing the abuser is tantamount to enabling and condoning the abuse.

The victim can then decide whether to file a criminal complaint or to sue for civil rights violations or defamation.  That brings us to the third step. The civil and criminal penalties for engaging in hate speech and revenge porn on social media should be much more severe.  At a minimum, abusers should be banned from social media platforms until they can demonstrate they deserve the privilege of having an account.

Abusers who spew hate on social media are usually feeling insecure and afraid of social and cultural changes that they view as a loss of power and control.  Their fears make them lash out to try to regain control.  They’re counting on us being so scared of drawing their abuse or violating their free speech rights, or of secretly sympathizing with their racist, sexist, xenophobic comments, or so uncaring that we do nothing.  It’s time for that to change. 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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