Her crime? Ghilarducci, had suggested that savings plans such as 401(k)s were failing as retirement vehicles, especially now, and they should be replaced by a safer, government "Guaranteed Retirement Account," similar to a traditional defined benefit pension, to supplement Social Security and private savings.
But attacking 401(k)s was considered heresy. Limbaugh, The Wall Street Journal and other critics, charged that Ghilarducci and the Democrats wanted to take away everyone's 401 (k). Not that 401(k)s are in such great shape theses days, but Ghilarducci, who taught economics at Notre Dame for 25 years, wanted no such thing.
You can have your 401(k), she says, but don't mistake it for a retirement plan, for chances are it isn't near enough to retire on. These days most people don't even want to look at their account balances.
Ghilarducci, the director at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School in New York, was instead seeking to revive the defined benefit pension system whose slow death threatens the retirement security of millions of Americans. That frightening prospect, of course, has been made more acute by the decimation of most savings plans. Thus, of the three traditional legs of the retirement stool, only Social Security remains secure.
I asked them when they are going to supply accountants for us since we are treated like independent consultants, and if they weren't how do we expense that since for a road warrior it would take at least an accountant to keep track of all the debits and credits that run through the corporate card over a year to keep everything straight.
Again IBM is an angel (cough) and we are the assholes.
The first and biggest test of Mr. Obama’s commitment to labor, and to Ms. Solis, will be his decision on whether or not to push the Employee Free Choice Act in 2009. Corporate America is determined to derail the bill, which would make it easier than it has been for workers to form unions by requiring that employers recognize a union if a majority of employees at a workplace sign cards indicating they wish to organize. ...
The measure is vital legislation and should not be postponed. Even modest increases in the share of the unionized labor force push wages upward, because nonunion workplaces must keep up with unionized ones that collectively bargain for increases. By giving employees a bigger say in compensation issues, unions also help to establish corporate norms, the absence of which has contributed to unjustifiable disparities between executive pay and rank-and-file pay. ...
Another question clouding the labor agenda is whether Mr. Obama will give equal weight to worker concerns — from reforming health care to raising the minimum wage — while the financial crisis is still playing out. Most members of his economic team are veterans of the Clinton administration who tilt toward Wall Street. In the Clinton era, financial issues routinely trumped labor concerns. If Mr. Obama’s campaign promises are to be kept, that mindset cannot prevail again. Mr. Obama’s creation of a task force on middle-class issues, to be led by Vice President-elect Joseph Biden and including Ms. Solis and other high-ranking officials, is an encouraging sign that labor issues will not be given short shrift.
One of the people seated around Ms. Hijane’s dining room table, Bruce D. Chatman, worked for I.B.M. for 29 years. Corporations, he said, have too much influence in the legislative process and the health care system. He wants to counterbalance their power with the energy and passion of citizens lobbying for themselves.
Mr. Chatman, a Chicago native who lives in Fort Washington, Md., said he had been inspired by Mr. Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope” and started working for his campaign as a volunteer in April 2007. “I don’t believe health care should depend on people making money,” Mr. Chatman said. “The profit motive has to be tempered, especially on the administrative side of the health care business.”
The problems don't exist with Medicare, or with public health firms like United Healthcare. They seem to relate to an inability of state programs to keep up with industry standards, the company says. In one example, insurers and Medicare switched to identifying every doc by a single number rather than having a different one for each plan. But twenty-four states missed this deadline, Athena says.
Instead, the heart of the problem is the U.S. fee-for-service system, in which doctors get paid to do things to people. The more technical and invasive the procedure, the more money they make. Doctors have responded in the expected Pavlovian manner, collectively shifting away from basic primary care toward expensive specializations that run up costs without necessarily improving medical outcomes.
As any chief information officer can tell you, adding computers to this sort of inefficient process only makes the inefficiency happen more quickly.
Much of what doctors or policymakers know about technology comes from vendors, who are busy guilt-tripping the medical sector about being slow to get with it. But more quietly, health care economists have been studying the actual impact of these systems. Their findings should disturb those who look to information technology for an easy fix. ...
The notion that computers can save $80 billion stemmed from a 2005 Rand Corp. study. But the study had an important and usually overlooked caveat--that other changes to the system would also have to be made in order for the savings to occur. But the big inefficiencies in the U.S. system won't disappear simply by adding computers. For example, most health care experts say Americans overuse expensive medical imaging devices when X-rays are often just as useful. But imagine the lobbying effort by radiologists and devicemakers if their ox was about to be gored.
Computers have a role to play in medicine, and there are doctors using them to provide better and more profitable care. But the notion they're a panacea is a symptom of the fixation with high-tech gadgets that's part of the problem in the first place.
The middle class is continuing its steep decline with unemployment soaring, and millions of people in danger of losing their homes, savings and health insurance. The dream of a college education is fading away for many working families as college costs go up while incomes go down. This year, as a result of the economic downturn, the bailout of Wall Street, ongoing tax breaks for the very rich and the war in Iraq, our nation will have a record-breaking deficit and a huge $10.4 trillion dollar national debt.
As a result of Wall Street greed, recklessness and dishonesty, our entire financial system is in danger of collapsing. The taxpayers of this country have seen trillions of their dollars placed at risk in the largest bailout in world history. ...
The very good news is that we are finally seeing the end of the most incompetent and reactionary administration in the modern history of this country. It is my hope and expectation that, in very short order, President Obama will begin moving this country in a very different direction from where Bush has led us, and I look forward to working with him in that effort. The time is long overdue for the U.S. government to begin representing the needs of our middle-class and working families, and not just the greedy, the wealthy and the powerful.
Here are some of the initiatives that I will be fighting for as soon as the new Congress reconvenes in January...
The president would give the wealthy and the powerful virtually everything they wanted. He would throw sand into the regulatory apparatus and help foster the most extreme income disparities since the years leading up to the Great Depression. Once again he was lighting a fire. This time the flames would engulf the economy and, as with Iraq, bring catastrophe.
If the U.S. were a product line, it would be seen now as deeply damaged goods, subject to recall.
"But dependency on government has never been bad for the rich. The pretense of the laissez-faire people is that only the poor are dependent on government, while the rich take care of themselves. This argument manages to ignore all of modern history, which shows a consistent record of laissez-faire for the poor, but enormous government intervention for the rich." From Economic Justice: The American Class System, from the book Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.
That amount, spread among the 600 highest paid bank executives, would cover the bailout money given to 53 of the banks that have shared the $188 billion that Washington has doled out in rescue packages so far.
Some banks trimmed their executive compensation in the face of faltering performance that foreshadowed the current economic crisis, but they still granted multimillion-dollar packages. Benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management, the AP review of federal securities documents found.
Such bonuses amount to a bribe for executives "to get them to do the jobs for which they are well paid in the first place," said Rep. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the House Financial Services committee. "Most of us sign on to do jobs, and we do them best we can," said Frank. "We're told that some of the most highly paid people in executive positions are different. They need extra money to be motivated!" ...
Even where banks cut back on pay, some executives were left with seven- or eight-figure compensation that most people can only dream about. Richard D. Fairbank, the chairman of Capital One Financial Corp., took a $1 million hit in compensation after his company had a disappointing year, but still got $17 million in stock options. The McLean, Va.-based company received $3.56 billion in bailout money on Nov. 14.
John A. Thain, chief executive of Merrill Lynch, topped all corporate bank bosses with $83 million in earnings last year. Thain, a former chief operating officer for Goldman Sachs, came to Merrill Lynch in December 2007, avoiding the blame for a year in which Merrill lost $7.8 billion. Since he began work late in the year, he earned $57,692 in salary, a $15 million signing bonus and an additional $68 million in stock options.
The SEC's coziness with Wall Street was a point raised by a former SEC investigator, Gary Aguirre, who was fired in 2005 after investigating possible insider trading by Pequot Capital. Aguirre has contended for three years that political considerations blocked him from pursuing the investigation, particularly after it involved interviewing the well-connected Wall Street chief John Mack, now of Morgan Stanley
A joint report by the Senate judiciary and finance committees in August 2007 sided with Aguirre and sharply rebuked the SEC's failure to pursue the case. More recently the SEC's inspector general recommended disciplining senior SEC officials, but an administrative law judge ruled against him.
Aguirre, who lives in San Diego, says President-elect Obama should recreate the SEC with a completely different culture and realign it with its mission of enforcement. The failure to vigorously investigate Madoff before now "is a new low," Aguirre said Wednesday. "But it is absolutely consistent with everything that has happened this year."
The prosperity of a few years ago, such as it was — profits were terrific, wages not so much — depended on a huge bubble in housing, which replaced an earlier huge bubble in stocks. And since the housing bubble isn’t coming back, the spending that sustained the economy in the pre-crisis years isn’t coming back either.
This clash is long overdue. For several decades, American elites of both parties have been preaching the same gospel of free trade. Supposedly, if we just leave markets alone, different countries will produce and export what they naturally do best, and import products at which their partners excel. In the tidy and oversimplified textbook world, there is no room for questions about pollution, labor standards, product safety, financial engineering, or industrial policy.
But the real world doesn't work like the Econ. 101 fable. In much of the rest of the world, governments help their industries develop.
However, in the hierarchy of America's diplomatic priorities, countries like China that subsidize industries (and violate human rights) get a free pass. Other nations like Japan, that basically closed their borders to most imports for several decades while they became industrial powerhouses, got a seal of approval, too. Supposedly, what we lose in jobs and industries, we make up in cheap imports.
It actually started well, on Kau Sai Chau, an island off Hong Kong, where I stood on a rocky hilltop overlooking the South China Sea and talked to my wife back in Maryland, static-free, using a friend’s Chinese cellphone. A few hours later, I took off from Hong Kong’s ultramodern airport after riding out there from downtown on a sleek high-speed train — with wireless connectivity that was so good I was able to surf the Web the whole way on my laptop.
Landing at Kennedy Airport from Hong Kong was, as I’ve argued before, like going from the Jetsons to the Flintstones. The ugly, low-ceilinged arrival hall was cramped, and using a luggage cart cost $3. (Couldn’t we at least supply foreign visitors with a free luggage cart, like other major airports in the world?) As I looked around at this dingy room, it reminded of somewhere I had been before. Then I remembered: It was the luggage hall in the old Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport. It closed in 1998.
The next day I went to Penn Station, where the escalators down to the tracks are so narrow that they seem to have been designed before suitcases were invented. The disgusting track-side platforms apparently have not been cleaned since World War II. I took the Acela, America’s sorry excuse for a bullet train, from New York to Washington. Along the way, I tried to use my cellphone to conduct an interview and my conversation was interrupted by three dropped calls within one 15-minute span.
All I could think to myself was: If we’re so smart, why are other people living so much better than us? What has become of our infrastructure, which is so crucial to productivity? Back home, I was greeted by the news that General Motors was being bailed out — that’s the G.M. that Fortune magazine just noted “lost more than $72 billion in the past four years, and yet you can count on one hand the number of executives who have been reassigned or lost their job.” ...
To top it off, we’ve fallen into a trend of diverting and rewarding the best of our collective I.Q. to people doing financial engineering rather than real engineering. These rocket scientists and engineers were designing complex financial instruments to make money out of money — rather than designing cars, phones, computers, teaching tools, Internet programs and medical equipment that could improve the lives and productivity of millions.
New officers 2009 to 2012:
New chapter reps:
After the pay cut last winter, I decided enough was enough. IBM had taken away so much over the years little by little, that the pay reduction was the final straw for me. I had always been a top contributor and the payback was getting my pay cut. I put my resume online. Within a month I had a new job making 25% more thank I was at IBM, I have great benefits. I love my job and I enjoy going to work everyday.
This company has respect for the individual (remember that campaign??). Respect for the individual is non-existent at IBM. My nephew in college said that they use IBM as a case study of how NOT to run a company. We have all read the posts where folks that leave IBM find jobs where they are much happier. It is absolutely true. IBM is run by fear. Sammy Palmisano and Nicky Donofrio and company are only interested in lining their own pockets. I know the economy is tight now, but the best time to look for a job is while you still have a job. I would encourage you to post your resume out on monster.com while you are still employed. -CP-
The main reason I was "chosen" to be moved was I was over 45 years old. I now work for a smaller company as a field engineer mainly with servers and federal government contracts so the customer isn't going anywhere. I am paid 50% more than IBM's pittance and my contributions are appreciated. Funny, in my government server rooms, I see and work with plenty of Dell, HP, and Sun equipment and there is very little Big Blue, less than 5%.
I got some very good training and experience in my 15 years with IBM and I was able to utilize this to get a better position. My advice: get out while you can. The market's tough right now but jobs are out there. Don't leave any stone unturned. My thoughts and prayers are with those about to be laid off and their families. In today's world your 're just a number on a spreadsheet and one day they plug in a cheaper number. Sign me: -Happy to be away from the Blue Monster-
Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. A sample post follows:
This site is designed to allow IBM Employees to communicate and share methods of protecting their rights through the establishment of an IBM Employees Labor Union. Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act states it is a violation for Employers to spy on union gatherings, or pretend to spy. For the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act, notice is given that this site and all of its content, messages, communications, or other content is considered to be a union gathering.