Now even the visa lottery is unsafe?

According to the NYT,

a small number of giant global outsourcing companies had flooded the [U.S. H1B visa lottery] system with applications, significantly increasing their chances of success. […O]ne of the outsourcing companies applied for at least 14,000.

What has happened to the ‘sanitizing’ effect of the lottery?

Does it matter that well-resourced companies ‘game’ this lottery?

[‘Outsourcing‘: A practice used by different companies to reduce costs by transferring portions of work to outside suppliers rather than completing it internally. (investopia) In the UK this practice is known as ‘sub-contracting’.]

Socialism in the USA — and they love it!

I’m sure most of you know about the lottery used to allocate newly qualifying players to the NFL football teams. But it unusual to see this described as ‘Socialism’ in the New Statesman, a major UK political magazine.

You can read the full article here (no paywall): The socialist principles at the heart of American Football.

Why women fail to take an equal share of top posts in academia

Here’s a nice piece in today’s Irish Times, showing clearly the need for lottery selection in jobs.

It asks the question: Why women (despite being over 50% of the faculty staff) fail to take an equal share of top posts in academia?

You can read the article in full (and for free!) at

In the comments section we the usual reaction to any suggestion of ‘affirmative action’

“Here we go, more feminist claptrap. All academic posts must be based on merit.”

To which a wise commentator replies: “You think merit has much to do with academic appointments? There’s usually an assessor’s box called suitability which you can fill with subliminal prejudices: plays golf, politics, sounds like me etc”.

While waiting for grand schemes of sortitionist democracy to be implemented, wouldn’t it be nice to have a bit of genuine equality based on lottery selection over the qualified candidates?

Spain eurozone crisis: Where jobs are a lottery

In a Spanish town where one in three people are without a job, getting one can depend quite literally on the luck of the draw.

Alameda is surrounded by neat rows of olive trees that stretch for miles towards the distant sierra. Two hours east of Seville, the town is a maze of narrow streets lined by orange trees and whitewashed houses.

Continue reading

Randomness vs. Stupidity

Randomness vs. Stupidity is the eye-catching front cover of the latest issue of Improbable Research.

These guys have form, having picked our Sicilian friends, Pluchino et al. for their ‘IgNobel Prize’ in 2010. It was they who suggested, using maths, that we’d be no worse off using randomness to pick politicians and employees. (Earlier entries on this topic have already appeared here in equality-by-lot.)

As well as this issue devoted to this topic, the Editor, Marc Abrahams, has a 2-page spread in the London Observer, (which you can read at

In the article, Abrahams refers to an old-ish paper by Phelan (2000) which seems to support the idea of random promotion: “random promotion systems (supposedly a baseline condition) outperformed up-or-out and relative merit-based systems …”.

I am greatly encouraged that my hobby-horse of lotteries for hiring, firing and promoting employees is supported by these studies, and that they are getting a widespread airing in mainstream media.

Now, is there anyone else who might be interested in studying ‘Lotteries for Jobs’?