Category Archives: politics

Futility of “Colorblindness” and Confirmation Bias: Can Poison Workplace Interaction of a Supervisor and Subordinate Employee; These Interactions Must Be Covered under Equal Employment Opportunity Law

In the United States, the manager of an organization is give great power to hire, supervise, instruct, discipline, and terminate employees, according to the laws relating to employment (indexed as master and servant) law.

Perhaps in a sufficient number of cases, manager’s assessment in a applicable discretionary power is correct, but in a situation of implied bias–that the supervisor is prone to disfavor the work of a subordinate just because of his or her skin color, such discretion becomes racially discriminatory and unfair. The subordinate cannot do anything to avoid the effects of a manager who applies a unconscious bias to such subordinate.

As a result, broad assertions (even with manager-supplied documented “proof”) of poor performance, must be viewed with a skeptical eye and with a view of ensuring that the manager’s assessment and documentation is itself fair and equitable to the subordinate and not just accepting the manager’s compilation of errors is the final word. This point is a definite weakness of the Grote forced distribution system (governed by manager’s unchecked “opinion”), covered separately in this blog.

Exploring the issue of unconscious bias, Dr. Arin N. Reeves, a researcher with Nextions, a consulting organization, investigated the effect of confirmation bias. Specifically, Dr. Reeves was investigating the reason from prior research finding that supervising lawyers perceived African American lawyers to be subpar in their writing skills in comparison to their Caucasian counterparts.

Dr. Reeves and her team performed a study, studying the issue from a perspective of unconscious or implicit bias. Five law partners were asked to write an legal research memo from a hypothetical third-year litigation associate that focused on trade secrets in Internet start-ups. The researchers then introduced 22 errors–spelling and grammar (7), substantive technical writing errors (6), errors of fact (5), and errors of analysis (4).

This error-amended memo was provided to 60 partners of law firms; one-half of them were told that the memo was written by an African American associate, and the other one-half of them were told that the author was Caucasian.

The result–from 53 law partners (24 having reviewed the African American associate’s memo and 29 having reviewed the Caucasian associates memo)–is as follows:

African American Associate Caucasian Associate
Overall quality of the memo (rated from 1 (poor) to 5 (extremely well written) 3.2/5.0 4.1/5.0
Qualitative comments
  • “needs lots of work”,
  • “can’t believe he went to NYU”,
  • average at best”
  • “generally good writer but needs to work on…”,
  • “has potential”,
  • “good analytical skills”
Specific errors
Spelling and grammar errors found 5.8/7.0 2.9/7.0
Technical writing errors 4.9/6.0 4.1/6.0
Errors in fact 3.9/5.0 3.2/5.0
Errors in analysis Rated better overall because he had fewer critical comments.
Formatting (not requested by research group, but 41 comments received) 29 comments / 41 11 comments / 41

The researchers noted that there was no significant correlation between a partners race/ethnicity and the differentiated patters of errors found between the two memos. In addition, there was no significant correlation between a partner’s gender and the differentiated patterns of errors found between the two memos, the researchers continued. The researchers stated that they did find that female partners generally found more errors and wrote longer narratives than the male partners.

Federal Reserve Board: H.2 Release for Week Ending June 20, 2015

The Federal Reserve Board (Board) publishes a weekly digest of its activities on its website. The digest is called the H.2 Release and is published every Thursday. The release for the week ending June 20, 2015 is below.

H.2 Release–Actions of the Board, Its Staff, and the Federal Reserve Banks; Applications and Reports Received

Category Action Taken
Bank holding companies Merchants & Farmers Bancshares, Inc., Leesville, Louisiana — to acquire Vernon Bancshares, Inc., Leesville, and thereby acquire The Vernon Bank.
-Approved, June 15, 2015
Sterling Bancorp, Montebello, New York — to acquire Hudson Valley Holding Corporation, Yonkers, and thereby acquire Hudson Valley Bank, National Association.
-Approved, June 15, 2015
Banking supervision & regulation Regulation XX (Concentration Limit) — requests by 10 financial companies (BMW AG, Thrivent Financial, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Illinois Agricultural Association, Donegal Mutual Insurance Company, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, TIAA-CREF, Modern Woodmen of America, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, and Alfa Mutual Insurance Company) to use alternative accounting standards to calculate their liabilities for purposes of Regulation XX, which generally prohibits a merger or acquisition that would involve or result in a financial company that controls more than 10 percent of the aggregate consolidated liabilities of all financial companies.
-Approved, June 17, 2015
Financial holding companies KB Financial Group, Inc., Seoul, Korea, and Kookmin Bank — elections to be treated as financial holding companies.
-Effective, June 18, 2015
Forms Forms — initial Board review to extend with revision the Banking Organization Systemic Risk Report (FR Y-15).
-Proposed, June 17, 2015Forms — final Board review to extend with revision the Annual Report of Holding Companies (FR Y-6), Annual Report of Foreign Banking Organizations (FR Y-7), and Report of Changes in Organizational Structure (FR Y-10), and to extend without revision the Supplement to the Report of Changes in Organizational Structure (FR Y-10E).
-Approved, June 17, 2015

Forms — final Board review to extend without revision the Recordkeeping Requirements Associated with Changes in Foreign Investments (Made Pursuant to Regulation K) (FR 2064), Recordkeeping and Disclosure Provisions Associated with Stress Testing Guidance (Stress Testing Guidance) (FR 4202), and Microeconomic Survey (FR 3051).
-Approved, June 18, 2015

Regulations and policies Regulation D (Reserve Requirements of Depository Institutions) — final amendments to make changes to the calculation of interest payments on excess balances maintained by depository institutions at Federal Reserve Banks.
-Approved, June 17, 2015

Regulation H (Membership of State Banking Institutions in the Federal Reserve System) — final interagency rule to implement provisions of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act affecting escrow payments and the mandatory purchase of flood insurance.
-Approved, June 11, 2015
(A/C)

Enforcement Commerce Bank and Trust Holding Company Employee Stock Ownership Plan, Topeka, Kansas, and Commerce Bank and Trust Holding Company — written agreement issued May 23, 2013, terminated June 10, 2015.
-Announced, June 16, 2015

Prime Pacific Financial Services, Inc., Lynnwood, Washington — written agreement issued December 30, 2009, terminated June 16, 2015.
-Announced, June 18, 2015

President Barack Obama: Delivers Eulogy Providing Comfort to Families and Nation Grieving the Loss of Nine Persons to Murder in Charleston, South Carolina

Know Their Names, By Sarah Green, sarahgreenillustration (http://sarahgreenillustration.tumblr.com/)

Know Their Names, by Sarah Green, sarahgreenillustration (http://sarahgreenillustration.tumblr.com/)

On June 17, 2015, nine Black people were killed during a Bible study meeting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Emanuel AME) by a visitor (Dylann Roof, now in jail awaiting criminal charges). One of the nine, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was a pastor of Emanuel AME and was a South Carolina state senator.

[The remaining eight are–Ms. Cynthia Hurd; Ms. Susie Jackson; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor; Mr. Tywanza Sanders; Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr.; Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Ms. Myra Thompson.]

President Barack Obama, on June 26, 2015, delivered a eulogy for Rev. Pinckney as well as the other victims. Eulogies are tricky speeches–the words must

  • provide comfort to the grieving surving family members of the deceased,
  • wish the deceased well in their new life in eternity, and
  • honor the life of the deceased, in the case of a religious person, like those who worshiped at Emanuel AME, both their religious and secular lives.

The President was able to craft a wonderful speech that was comforting, respectful, and was encouraging of positive change as the response to tragedy. The YouTube video of the speech is presented below.

In closing, I use quotes from the President’s eulogy because it provides advice for the way forward in addressing structural discrimination.

None of us can or should expect a transformation in race relations overnight.  Every time something like this happens, somebody says we have to have a conversation about race.  We talk a lot about race.  There’s no shortcut.  And we don’t need more talk.

It would be a refutation of the forgiveness expressed by those families if we merely slipped into old habits, whereby those who disagree with us are not merely wrong but bad; where we shout instead of listen; where we barricade ourselves behind preconceived notions or well-practiced cynicism.

[Author’s Note: Persons, like Dylann Roof in a murder case discussed in this post, accused of a crime in the United States are presumed innocent until proven guilty.]

CFPB: House Committee Investigates Allegations of Discrimination; Views Differ on Motivations for Hearings–Destroy CFPB or Address Discrimination

On June 25, 2015, the oversight and investigations subcommittee of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services held a fifth hearing about discrimination at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The hearing was titled “Examining Continuing Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.” But this was no mere subcommittee hearing as both the chairman and ranking member of the full Committee were also present.

Hearings of the House Financial Services Committee, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee
Date Title of Hearing Witnesses Hearing Report Number
4/2/2014 Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Ms. Angela Martin and Ms. Misty Raucci 113-72
5/21/2014 Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, part 2 Mr. Benjamin Konop and Ms. Liza Strong 113-81
6/18/2014 Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, part 3 Mr. Ali Naraghi and Mr. Kevin Williams 113-85
7/30/2014 Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation and the CFPB Management Culture The Honorable Richard Cordray 113-96
6/25/2015 Examining Continuing Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mr. Robert Cauldwell and Ms. Florine Williams

While the context of the hearing was about the allegations of discrimination, the issue became clouded with the question whether the CFPB should continue to exist. Because of this entanglement, the Democrats were concerned that complaints of discrimination (which the Democratic side holds as serious in their own right) was being used by the GOP majority as a method to undermine the agency, which the GOP would favor.

Do you think that the majority of the members on the opposite side of the aisle are more concerned about discrimination than this side of the aisle?” she [Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)] asked. “Just take a look.”

Waters’s comment drew audible murmurs from Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) and Mia Love (R-Utah), who is the first black Republican woman elected in Congress.

“Oh my gosh,” Love said. “Wow.”

“Yeah, you can, ‘Wow’ all you want,” said Waters. “Discrimination issues — at least on this side of the aisle — are taken seriously. … [But] this is a political fight inside the committee.”

Additionally, only the minority members of the Committee have asked the Offices of Inspectors General for the federal financial regulatory agencies to examine their respective agencies diversity and inclusion practices. Yet, as of the date of this post, there have been no hearings held on those reports.

Federal Financial Agency Report Number Internet Link Comment
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Audit report 2015-MO-C-002 http://oig.federalreserve.gov/reports/cfpb-diversity-inclusion-mar2015.pdf American Banker article about racial disparities of CFPB staff evaluations.
Department of the Treasury, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency OIG-15-017 http://www.treasury.gov/about/organizational-structure/ig/Audit%20Reports%20and%20Testimonies/OIG-15-017.pdf
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Eval-15-001 http://www.fdicoig.gov/reports15/15-001EV.pdf
Federal Housing Finance Agency EVL-2015-003 http://fhfaoig.gov/Content/Files/EVL-2015-003.pdf
Federal Reserve Board Audit report 2015-MO-B-006 http://oig.federalreserve.gov/reports/board-diversity-inclusion-mar2015.pdf What is left out of the report is significant: Artis v. Bernanke (now Yellen). Also 12 U.S.C. 244 needs Congressional attention to ensure that Title 5 of the U.S. Code applies to the Board; the Board’s record-keeping on, and reporting of, its internal management is lax.
National Credit Union Administration OIG-14-09 http://www.ncua.gov/about/Leadership/CO/OIG/Documents/OIG201409EqualOpportunityDiversity.pdf Click for blog post on this report
Securities and Exchange Commission 528 http://www.sec.gov/oig/reportspubs/528.pdf Report is thorough, thoughtful, and well done.

As for the testimony, Ms. Florine Williams, senior equal employment specialist, in the CFPB’s Office of Civil Rights, had to file a discrimination complaint herself about her mistreatment by her supervisor.

Also testifying was Mr. Robert Cauldwell, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, chapter 335, and examiner at the CFPB. Mr. Cauldwell submitted testimony about the bad management culture at the CFPB. However, there were questions from the dais about whether he had complaints of discrimination filed against him. In addition, there were questions about why he did not speak for the NTEU.

Futility of “Colorblindness” and Chuck Todd: Decisions in Crafting the Meet the Press Program in Aftermath of Charleston, S.C., Murders Continued Long-Running Theme of U.S. White Hegemony–White Innocence and Humanity and Black Guilt and Non-Humanity

[Note: Persons, like Dylann Roof in a murder case discussed below, accused of a crime in the United States are presumed innocent until proven guilty.]

On June 21, 2015, Chuck Todd (White) of NBC’s news program, Meet the Press, discussed the aftermath of the murder of nine black people attending a bible study class at church. The alleged killer, Dylann Roof, also attended the bible study class with the victims before shooting and killing them. [Black victims of a White accused criminal] Following that coverage, Todd and apparently Meet the Press staffers, decided to show a clip of Black convicted criminals who had regretted using guns with their crimes. [Black criminals (feeling regret)] Such juxtaposition Todd justified in a June 21, 2015, explanation:

We decided against delaying the segment because we wanted to show multiple sides of what gun violence does in this country. We thought the issue of gun violence in our culture and society was an important conversation to continue–too important to put off for another week. The consequences of gun violence should not be hidden.

The murders which occurred in Charleston, South Carolina, are not at all related to the clip which Todd and his staff decided to show, something that Eugene Robinson stated after the clip concluded. There is a tie between the stories that I will allow–that there were victims of gun violence (Charleston, South Carolina) and the regret of those who used guns to commit crimes that led to the deaths of others (in the clip).

However, with Todd and Meet the Press deciding to juxtapose the stories, they introduced another point–the devaluation of Black lives and the maintenance of the humanity of White people, including criminals. Within this point is a further implied statement that people should not care about the Black victims because there are Black criminals who have killed (but regret it).**

Moreover, in the Meet the Press juxtaposition, there was no discussion of Dylann Roof and his criminal behavior or motivations or that White people also commit the crime of murder. With these discussions of White people ignored in the Meet the Press program, the tired paradigm of White innocence and humanity and Black guilt and non-humanity was continued, even in the midst of tragedy and the presence of Black humanity, Christian witness, kindness, and forgiveness in welcoming a White person they did not know into their Bible study. (The quotes below are from an article at ABC News.)
“I forgive you,” the daughter of victim Ethel Lance, 70, said through tears to Roof, who appeared at the bond hearing via video-conferencing from jail. “You took something very precious from me and I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul.”
Felicia Sanders, the mother of the slain Tywanza Sanders, 26, said, “We welcomed you Wednesday night in our bible study with open arms.” “Every fiber in my body hurts,” Sanders said. “And I’ll never be the same.”
Alana Simmons, granddaughter of victim Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, said, “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof everyone’s plea for your soul is proof that they lived and loved and their legacies will live and love. So hate won’t win and I just want to thank the court for making sure that hate doesn’t win.”
Bethane Middleton Brown, the sister of Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor said, “For me, I am a work in progress. And I acknowledge I am very angry. But one thing that she’s always joined in our family with is that she taught me that we are the families that love built. We have no room for hate so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul and I also thank god that I will be around when your judgment day comes with him. May God bless you.”
“I forgive you,” said Anthony Thompson, the husband of slain Myra Thompson, 59. “But we would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent, confess, give your life to the one who matters most: Christ. So that he can change it, can change your ways no matter what happened to you and you’ll be OK. Do that and you’ll be better off than what you are right now.”

Regardless of the Christian witness of the victims’ families at the hearing, Magistrate Judge James Gosnell (White) still played to the White humanity and Black inhumanity White hegemonic paradigm in stating to the (Black) victims’ families that they should also remember that Roof’s family (White) are also victims. One can argue that such a statement was not germane at a bond hearing, but, if the statement had to be made, Gosnell had to direct it to Dylann Roof (White).

Todd and the Meet the Press staff are rightly criticized for their editorial decisions, which were influenced by White hegemony. No mere explanations are sufficient; the frame of Whiteness was intricately involved in the decision-making process. Todd and his staff must come to terms with this reality and correct the wrongs they have committed in the name of “colorblindness.” [**The disclaimer that Todd offered in the introduction of the clip is insufficient and worse, silent, on the involvement of Whites.

The circumstances you are about to see are very different from the racist violence in Charleston. In this case, the inmates are African American that you’re going to hear from. But their lessons remain important. We simply ask you to look at this be a colorblind issue, as about just simply gun violence.”]

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This is not a typo: Only 3% of Americans are legally allowed to invest in start-ups

Alex W.:

With the government creating many new inventions and selling the discoveries through technology transfer programs, the wealth created goes only to the few (but funded by the many).

Originally posted on Quartz:

Of the richest venture capitalists, all are worth more than $1 billion, and all are men. The majority of these have invested in Groupon, LinkedIn, Skype, YouTube, Paypal, Facebook and others. Chances are, you are legally barred from joining their exclusive investors’ club.

More than 97% of Americans cannot invest in the latest startups, nor profit from their meteoric rises. For example, Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo and Rockethub do not allow “supporters” to own part of the organizations featured on the site, even though their donations are financial investments in those advertising funds or projects. That’s why most crowd funding platforms reward their supporters with goodies (a first run of a manufactured product, say, or thank you cards.).

Under US law, only “accredited investors” are legally allowed to invest and own a stake in a start-up.

So who are accredited investors?

An investor is accredited if he or she has a net worth of at least $1 million. That…

View original 520 more words

Diversity and Inclusion: Congressional Democrats Deeply Disappointed with Federal Financial Regulatory Agencies Joint Statement; Statement Said to be Ambiguous, Opaque, and Weak

Two Democratic members of the Committee on Financial Services in the House of Representatives (Committee) issued a press release expressing concerns with a joint statement authored by the federal financial regulatory agencies.

According to the press release, Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Committee and chief architect of section 342 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), P.L. 111-203, and Representative Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), who oversees the implementation of section 342 of Dodd-Frank, stated that they were deeply disappointed with the structure and scope of the joint statement.

The reasons for the disappointment, as presented in the press release and based on a 2014 letter from the Congressional Black Caucus to participating federal agencies, are as follows:

  • The failure of the joint standards to bring transparency to the financial services industry, which, the authors stated, has a long history of failing to promote diversity in its workforce.
  • The final statement is said to be ambiguous and “does not establish uniform criteria to assess workforce and supplier diversity practices.
  • The final statement does not require all regulated entities to collect and report data on workforce and supplier diversity practices. (The press release explains that section 342 of Dodd-Frank provided authority for required data collection.)