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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—October 3, 2009

  • Bizcovering: IBMs’s CEO Sam Palmisano is the Biggest Outsourcer of US Jobs Out of The Country. Excerpts: Today’s (Sept 15, 2009) the www.Street.com has an article written by James Roger’s entitled, “IBM: Best in Class”- saying CEO Sam Palmisano- has been earning applause for successfully guiding the tech giant through the economic downturn. But the truth of the matter Palmisano for going on the last five years has been the biggest de-porter of good paying benefit jobs to the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, Indonesia and China) countries. He has crafted the hugest layoff plan over these five years that the nation has ever seen in a 100 + year old technology company, and done it in the most brutal ways possible. I’m sure all of this is a surprise to many readers. IBM has managed to keep a lot of it quiet by threatening to pull advertising money away from the nation’s largest newspapers and trade publications. All these publications are dependent on millions of dollars in IBM’s advertisement to help stay afloat during these difficult times for print publications. Computer Reseller News, Computer World, Network World VAR Business etc to name just a few let alone Business Week, US News and World Report. Technology research companies like IDC , Forrester and the Gartner Group are already losing subscription services and don’t want to lose more from their largest customer so IDC headed by Kirk Campbell continues to write flattering things about IBM, what the industry calls puff pieces and disguises it as the genuine research. ...

    I can never fully express the destruction in lives , the loss of homes, the clinical depression and the sad days that former US IBM employee families had to tell their kids that sorry we can’t send you back to your College cause 50 + year old mommies and daddies lost their jobs at the hands of Sam Palmisano. Or the 53 year old single women with 3 master’s degrees who was so bullied by Somers NY senior IBM executive VP Mark Ouellette and his all male team that he let her go when she was out on an IBM approved disability which the employee had paid into for 10 years.

  • Local Tech Wire: Who’s top ‘recession buster’? IBM’s Palmisano, The Street poll says. Excerpts: Wall Street investors love IBM’s stock (NYSE: IBM), especially in the current downturn, as readers of The Street made clear in a poll when asked he is the top “recession buster.” IBM Chief Executive Officer Sam Palmisano dominated the voting with more than 2,100 votes from some 4,000 readers, The Street says. However, The Street did acknowledge that Palmisano is not loved by everyone within Big Blue’s ranks or among opponents to off-shoring and outsourcing of U.S. jobs.

    “Despite his popularity with the investment community, Palmisano has proved a controversial figure during the recession and has come under fire in the media for his cost-cutting efforts, which have involved layoffs and shifting jobs to lower-cost parts of the world such as India,” James Rogers of The Street wrote. “The 26-year IBM veteran has nonetheless continued the company's shift from hardware into higher-margin businesses such as services and software.”

  • The Register (United Kingdom): Union predicts retirement surge over IBM pension changes. Management gains for workers' pain. By John Oates. Excerpts: Union Unite is predicting staff at IBM will walk out, opting for early retirement, rather than accept reduced pensions from the firm. IBM, along with dozens of other firms, is stopping its final salary pension scheme in order to cut costs. But Unite said today it expects between 700 and 1,000 people will opt for early retirement before the new terms come into force in April 2011. The union reckons that staff in their mid-50s could lose up to £200,000 from the changes proposed. Peter Skyte, Unite national officer for IT and comms, said: “The latest IBM proposals, whilst modifying some of the detail and mitigating some of the impact in the short term, do little to alter the substance of the company’s original proposal and still propose the closure of the defined benefit pension scheme and replacement with a vastly inferior money purchase scheme." ...

    The union noted that Sam Palmisano, IBM's chief executive, saw his pension pot jump $20m this year to $40m.

  • IPE Publishers International (United Kingdom): IBM modifies pension changes after UK member backlash. Excerpts: Unite, the trade union, has claimed IBM will delay changes to their UK final salary pension scheme following a "backlash from thousands of employees", though argued the revisions do not go far enough. The union claimed IBM is planning to close its several UK defined benefit (DB) schemes to future accrual for existing staff and to alter the terms of early retirement. The schemes were originally proposed to close from April 2010, but Unite said IBM has now delayed this by one year to come into effect from April 2011. ...

    However, as the 60-day consultation period on the changes draws to an end, Peter Skyte national officer for IT and communications industries at Unite, said: "The latest proposals, whilst modifying some of the detail and mitigating some of the impact in the short term, do little to alter the substance of the company’s original proposal and still propose the closure of the DB pension scheme and replacement with a vastly inferior money purchase scheme."

  • CNN/Money: IBM involved in failed IT plan for UK spies-report. Excerpts: IBM was the main supplier in a failed project by British intelligence to upgrade its communications system so various organizations and agents in different locations could share information, a report said Friday. The Register, an online technology publication, said IBM's failure to meet deadlines, as well as security concerns, led the Cabinet Office to scrap the project last year after years of development and write off 24.4 million pounds ($39 million). ...

    The UK Intelligence and Security Committee said in its last annual report, presented to Parliament in March, that phase 2 of the SCOPE program had been delayed numerous times and had finally been abandoned.

  • BusinessWeek: America's High-Tech Sweatshops. U.S. companies may be contributing unwittingly to the exploitation of workers imported from India and elsewhere by tech-services outfits. By Steve Hamm and Moira Herbst. Excerpts: "Body Shops". Tech service outfits such as Sterling have thrived in recent years because of shifts in the U.S. economy. As cost-cutting pressures have increased, companies turned over management of tech systems and other back-office operations to outsourcing firms, including many that bring workers from India and other countries into the U.S. on temporary visas such as the H-1B.

    One important way outsourcers hold down costs is by keeping a lean workforce at each client site—then turning to smaller companies, such as Sterling, when they need to increase staff for specific projects, such as installing new software or building a new Web site. These companies are known as "body shops" because of their role, and often rely heavily on foreign workers who come into the country on H-1Bs and other visas. "This is where a lot of the shenanigans take place," says Ron Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology who has written extensively on work visas. A study by the federal government last year estimated that 54% of visa rule violations were committed by companies with fewer than 25 employees.

    U.S. companies usually don't know—and don't press to find out—which body shops are tapped to support their tech operations. The result is that prominent American companies can easily end up doing business with tech service outfits that violate visa laws. Breslin wouldn't identify specific Sterling clients, but he says they include "significant companies." Dasondi named Computer Sciences (CSC) as one customer in a 2006 lawsuit: Dasondi wanted the technology giant to pay him for hiring away one of his employees. Computer Sciences would not comment on the case beyond saying it had been settled. ...

    U.S. executives often have little visibility into the treatment of contract employees because several layers of companies are involved. One recruiter for a major U.S. outsourcing firm says there's no way his clients know how body shop workers are treated because, until recently, even he didn't know. He discovered that some of the firms he was hiring for short-term projects weren't using their own people but instead bringing in subcontractors, which often underpaid workers. He just put in place new policies so he knows when a firm he hires is using a subcontractor, but he still can't find out how much workers are paid or in which state they're supposed to be working. "We don't like it," he says. "The agreements seem almost criminal." ...

    While American companies may overlook the treatment of contract workers in their midst, the workers are vulnerable because of government policies. When a foreign worker comes into the country on an H-1B visa, the visa is held by the employer, not the worker. If an employee complains, the company can terminate its visa sponsorship, forcing the worker to leave the U.S. Workers can't shift jobs unless they find another sponsor, which can be difficult. And while workers can gain their freedom with permanent citizenship, the wait even for high-skilled visa holders can be 5 to 10 years. "Many of these people don't know their rights," says Michael F. Brown, an attorney in Appleton, Wis., who handles immigration cases. "They're essentially captives." ...

    Body shops have sprung up around major metropolitan areas to be close to their clients. One cluster is in northern New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Hundreds of small tech services firms operate in such towns as Belleville, West Windsor, and Edison, where Sterling is headquartered.

    At times, the region feels like a front in the battle between foreign and domestic workers. U.S. tech workers in the area have lost thousands of jobs in recent years with the decline of AT&T (T) and Lucent Technologies, and many blame outsourcing firms for taking the remaining well-paid jobs in finance and other sectors. Tech services companies say they're simply responding to clients' needs and are being blamed unfairly for any loss of jobs. In this heated debate, cases of visa abuse, like those alleged against Sterling, have fueled passions on both sides.

    John Miano, a 45-year-old software programmer and labor rights attorney, waits for a reporter in a booth in the Summit Diner, a classic mid-20th century eatery in tony Summit, N.J. Miano is the founder of the Programmers' Guild, an association of U.S. software programmers. Over cheeseburgers, he argues that the work visa program is hurting demand for American workers. "The job situation for American tech workers in this area is horrible," he says. "The consulting market has been wiped out. Now it's mostly Indian-owned companies, and they're looking for people with H-1B visas." ...

    Even workers who land jobs in the U.S. can end up on the bench, without a paycheck for weeks or months. Rajiv Dabhadkar, an Indian who was assigned to such companies as AT&T and Merrill Lynch on guest worker visas, recalls that when a staffing company replaced him with a new visa holder from India, he was so short of cash he couldn't pay the electric bill for his Belleville apartment. He and his wife and their 5-year-old daughter had to wear coats indoors for a few days in the winter. Ultimately, he says, his wife returned to India and filed for divorce. "I am a survivor and a witness," says Dabhadkar, who now lives outside Mumbai and runs the National Organization for Software & Technology Professionals, which publicizes abuses of guest workers.

  • BusinessWeek: Inside the Sweatshops. Here are some of the ways unscrupulous tech services companies violate work-visa regulations and hurt workers.
  • BusinessWeek: How the System Works. American corporations may be unknowingly doing business with tech services companies that underpay and otherwise mistreat workers. One example of alleged wrongdoing...
  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree Information Exchange message board: "Re: Did you say goodbye to IBM" by Bart Bartholomew. Full excerpt: No. I spent 39-years at IBM and feared, through the last 5-years, making that decision to leave. Part of that fear was walking away from what I'd become so accustomed to for so long. I traveled almost every week and also wondered how I'd handle not making the trek to the airport all the time. Last 12-years, when not on the road, I worked out of my home so I think that made the transition a little easier. Once I did pull the trigger, I never regretted my decision. I sold all my IBM stocks for a few reasons one of which was to cut the ties. I still perk up when I hear IBM on TV ads. But except for a few colleagues that I miss interaction with, I don't miss IBM at all.

    I cannot help but wonder whether my feelings and nostalgia regarding IBM would be a whole lot different had the company remained what it was in years past with 'Respect for the Individual', etc. All the evolutionary changes that IBM underwent were partially necessary to remain competitive, but left a bitter taste in many mouths, mine among them. I'd proclaim myself quite detached, too.

    ps I do not miss business traveling. In fact, the first time I went to the airport after retiring was a few months later. I realized then that driving to the airport, parking, lugging baggage around, messing with check-in, standing in line for boarding, wrestling with finding a overhead spot for on-board carry ons, delays taking off and/or landing, etc., etc., were all a pain in the a__. My wife and I check out luggage now which is an event in itself. We've waited at carousels for far too long, too many times.

  • New York Times: U.S. Job Seekers Exceed Openings by Record Ratio. By Peter S. Goodman. Excerpt: Despite signs that the economy has resumed growing, unemployed Americans now confront a job market that is bleaker than ever in the current recession, and employment prospects are still getting worse.Job seekers now outnumber openings six to one, the worst ratio since the government began tracking open positions in 2000. According to the Labor Department’s latest numbers, from July, only 2.4 million full-time permanent jobs were open, with 14.5 million people officially unemployed.
  • New York Times: If Not Passion for the Job, at Least Warm Feelings. By Alina Tugend. Excerpts: If there is one word I’m rapidly growing tired of, it’s passion. Not the sex and love type, but the workplace kind. Lately, it seems, I keep hearing career counselors advising the unemployed to identify and develop their passion. Then they need to turn that passion into paid work and presto! They’re now in a career they love. I know I’m being somewhat flippant, but I do wonder if passion is being oversold. Are we falling into a trap of believing that our work, and indeed, our lives, should always be fascinating and all-consuming? Are we somehow lacking if we’re bored at times or buried under routine tasks or failing to challenge ourselves at every turn? ...

    Peter Warr, an emeritus professor at the Institute of Work Psychology at the University of Sheffield in England, builds on this concept. He talks about the “needed nine,” or the main external sources of happiness and unhappiness, not just in work but in life. These include, he says, having some sense of empowerment, using and expanding your skills, enjoying some variety, having a clear sense of your situation and what is required, and doing something you believe in, as a worker, a parent or a member of your community. Professor Warr, who co-wrote the book “The Joy of Work? Jobs, Happiness and You” (Routledge, 2009), added three factors for the workplace: supportive supervision, job security and the possibility of promotion, and fair treatment.

  • Time Magazine "Inbox": Where's the Work? By Bonny S. Berger. Full excerpt: The unemployment enigma is not solely the result of the recession but also the cumulative effect of a decade of negative labor practices like cutting pensions, avoiding hiring workers by extending the hours of salaried employees, and outsourcing [Sept. 21]. I was laid off from a temporary tax job in April, and I have been unemployed since. On paper, my unemployment appears to be a consequence of the recession. In fact, it is a result of the 2002 offshoring of my prior job: a well-paying, 24-year IT career with AT&T and IBM.

    Had that not happened, I most likely would have retired in 2008, after 30 years. Instead, I have held temporary jobs and have been underemployed in "permanent" jobs that use my varied skills in accounting, paralegal services and IT. During my stints of underemployment, I have probably taken a job away from someone already in that line of work, as when I worked at a customer-service job. This makes it harder for people like Roshonda Crenshaw, who was quoted in your article. Corporations are using the recession as an excuse to accelerate negative labor practices. IBM, for example, has by one estimate laid off nearly 10,000 people so far this year, while recording huge profits and continuing to hire offshore.

  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree Information Exchange: Re: United Way and other campaigns. By "gfretwell2000 ". Full excerpt: I am not apologizing for the way IBM treated it's employees but ask yourself how it worked out for those guys who took the better money at MAI, STC or any number of other competitors that no longer exist.
  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree Information Exchange: Re: United Way and other campaigns. By "Old_School_Blue". Full excerpt: The Storage Technology people were given hefty stock options. Their stock was bought up in 2005 for $37.00 per share by Sun. Some of the employees moved to Louisville, CO to work in development. That was when it was a new community. Home prices increased dramatically, and stayed high with a 2,000 sq/ft home going for about a half a million now. It was voted the #1 place to live in 2009 by Money Magazine. Compare that with Poughkeepsie, Fishkill, San Jose, Burlington, or many other IBM sites.

    In the mid 1970's, I was offered the east coast disk storage specialist job by STC. I turned it down as I had turned down jobs offering 30-50% increases with other companies. I might have ended up changing jobs again, but I'm sure that I would have made a lot more money over the years.

    While working for IBM, I visited the STK site in Louisville in about 2004 to help set up their test for disk subsystem development. IBM didn't have a competitive product, and decided to rebadge and market that STK product after they got it properly tested and working. It is a really beautiful city.

    The reason I stayed with IBM was that IBM promised full employment as long as I did my job well, and lifetime medical to go along with a good pension. They promised that clearly, and often. I can't complain too much, but the free medical got expensive, and the 40% pension turned into about about 28%. For those younger than me, the retiree medical disappeared along with the pension. Full employment went from a policy, to a practice, to a tradition, to a goal, to history, to a joke.

  • Business First of Buffalo: Ex-Xerox workers file suit for benefits. By James Fink. Excerpts: Angered over the prospect of losing lifetime health-care benefits, former employees have filed a civil lawsuit against Xerox Corp. seeking to have their benefits package restored. The suit by the Association of Retired Xerox Employees Inc. was filed Sept. 29 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York and is expected to be heard in Rochester.

    Xerox had previously announced that up to 25 percent of its retirees will be stripped of supplemental health-care coverage beginning next year. Xerox had promised lifetime health benefits for all of its retirees, the association alleges. Association officials said many of the affected retirees had “relied, worked and made retirement decisions based on Xerox’s annual guarantees.” ...

    In its filing, the association alleges that its members used to receive annual documentation from Xerox assuring them of guaranteed medical and dental benefits for retirees. In what is viewed as cost-cutting measure, Xerox announced plans to cap company contributions for certain health-care benefits. ...

    The cuts are expected to save Xerox $11 million annually. The Norwalk, Conn.-based company, which has more than 54,000 employees worldwide, has annual revenues of more than $15 billion. The association said by dropping the “Post 65” benefits program, Xerox will save less than one percent of the $4 billion stock-repurchase program it began last year.

  • Common Dreams: If the Russians Did This to Us, We’d Kill ‘Em. By David Michael Green. Excerpts: What if the Russians invaded? It's not so far-fetched an idea, you know. We spent half a century and trillions of dollars to make sure that it would never happen, so it's really not such a strange notion. So what if the Russians invaded? What if they came and stole all of our money? What if the Russians invaded and enslaved our children as cheap worker bee drones locked in dismal dead-end jobs? ...

    Our jobs, our industries and our community resources have been bundled up and exported to where the work can be done far cheaper, and the workers are compliant. Increasingly we are scrambling just to survive. Admittedly, our government remains absolutely dedicated to making sure that some of us do extremely well. It's just that that ‘some' doesn't include anyone you know.

    What is absolutely astonishing about the moment that we live in is that we have been essentially invaded, we have been absolutely looted, and yet we don't seem to be the slightest bit angry about that.

    If the Russians had done it, we would be absolutely furious. But in fact, it was our own overclass that did it, and not only are we not furious at them, we don't even notice the crime. Or, if we do notice, we're furious at some ridiculously inappropriate target, like a ‘liberal' president who isn't even remotely liberal.

    America has always been a country with its full and fair share of flaws, but for quite some time during the middle part of the twentieth century, we got one thing reasonably right. There was a bargain then, between elites and the government and the public. According to the terms of the deal, the aristocracy would still be fantastically rich, but there would be limitations on their wealth, because some of that wealth, some substantial amount, needed to be shared with the working people and the middle class, and it was the role of government to make sure that that happened. Many among the well-to-do even shared that consensus.

    Since Ronald Reagan rode into town, however, that deal is off the table, replaced by what is essentially a new New Deal -- or, more accurately, simply the Bad Old Deal. Under the terms of this new/old arrangement, the unregulated wealthy grab absolutely everything they can get their hands on, the middle class scrambles for whatever bare existence it can maintain, and the rest of America, the working class and the poor, fall deeper and deeper into third world-style poverty. Under the terms of this new system, the role of the government is no longer to provide for the welfare of the people, nor to ensure that there are limitations on what the plutocracy can liberate from them. Under the terms of this new arrangement, the function of the government is simply to serve as a tool, assisting that plutocracy in depriving America's own people of everything that can be taken from them.

    That means that in the last thirty years we've entirely restructured the economy so that the super-wealthy have become obscenely-super-wealthy, and the middle class are lucky to have stood still, and haven't really even managed that. If one examines the destination of the considerable GDP growth that America has sustained over the last three decades, it's gone entirely to the richest of Americans. The middle class has actually lost ground. That's an astonishing fact, but think about it: Despite robust economic growth, workers today actually make less than they did back in the 1970s. ...

    In this respect, Obama offers precious little "change", even from the crimes of George W. Bush. Look at his healthcare initiative, for example. I don't know about you, but I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that anything that the big pharmacological and big health insurance industries are in favor of is pretty much guaranteed to be a disaster for the rest of us -- you know, we the people of the United States. This bill no more represents an initiative for the purpose of bringing healthcare to Americans than George Bush's prescription drug bill was an initiative to improve the life of seniors. In both cases, whatever vicarious and accidental improvements that exist are simply diversionary window-dressing on what is really another example of legalized corporate colonialism.

    In the case of Obama's healthcare legislation, what's happening is that enormous quantities of new customers are being forced to buy expensive health coverage from insurance industry predators who will be vastly enriched by means of this new legislation, which is precisely why they would favor something that ordinarily we would expect them to oppose, and that we certainly would expect them to oppose if Obama was any kind of progressive whatsoever, even if only in his personal fantasies.

    The bank bailouts were absolutely no different. What an amazing episode, what an amazing looting of the American public, what an amazing chapter in the destruction of an empire -- and all brought to us by a supposedly liberal president. In fact, Obama was simply extending the tradition of the Bush administration, and the Reagan ideology prior to that, which calls for pillaging the federal treasury in order to divert the maximal amount of money to economic elites, and then leaving the bill for the American taxpayer.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 09/26/09: re: sudden 15 min meetings - guys, each dept manager has to 1) inform the RA people they are RA'd and then 2) tell the others they are OK but that some in the dept were RA'd. In any case, it's a shame it goes on. Imagine what 17,000 irate, hurt, betrayed, etc. people could do to your companies reputation - the old adage goes 'one angry customer will tell 10 people while one happy customer may tell 3.' Karma baby, karma. IBM will get what they deserve, the greedy millionaire leadership. On a different note.... I sent 10 emails from the new automated site to 10 @us.ibm.com email addresses. I fear that IBM has already stopped these emails from Alliance as spam. Ya think? -Silly Willy-
    • Comment 09/28/09: Just found out IBM will be cutting contrator hours 10/04/09 - 12/31/09. It will not affect all accounts but it is happening nationally -Merry Christmas-
    • Comment 09/28/09: Today AT&T informs dozens of former IBM Network Services employees (Project Bluesky) that they are now "surplus workers" as their job is being moved overseas and have 60days to find a job within AT&T or get laid off. Sound familiar??? Will any IT jobs be left in the US after IBM/AT&T/EDS/CSC/Perot get through with us? Organize now b4 its too late! -BeingITsucks-
    • Comment 09/28/09: Round 2 of "Screw the contractor" are starting. Just received an email from my contract company that stating Oct 4th I'm to further reduce my hours by 10% again! Back in May 09 we had to reduce hours by 20% until June 15th. Back at the start of 2009 we had our rates cut by 10% and just recently was "called across the carpet" for claiming more than 5 hours OT. I was told by manager that working OT was "unfair to others in the department". I was specifically told that NO detrimental impact was to occur on my accounts due to the reduction in hours. And that ANY reduction of hours WAS NOT TO BE DISCUSSED WITH ANY IBM CLIENTS!! Got screwed back in 2007 by LEAN and was stupid enough to take another contract with IBM. Those@ the 50K foot level have their “Bonus Blinders” on again.. -WithoutaKiss-
    • Comment 09/28/09: We received this memo on 9/23/2009. CDT is the support group for our test environment. "To our valued CDT customers; In order to comply with IBM's Global Delivery strategy, we are undergoing a transition from our CDT support staff in Toronto, Canada, to our Global partners in India and Brazil. While we have been integrating a Global Delivery strategy for several years now, this will mark an aggressive shift, as we plan to complete the transition of Server Management, Middleware and DB2 by the end of November 2009. I'd like to reassure you that every effort is being made to ensure this transition is seamless. We have extensive knowledge transfer schedules with our Global partners, in an effort to mitigate any impact to you, our trusted and valued customers. In the coming weeks and months you will see the Global Teams beginning to take a more prominent role in your day to day support. While our staff may be changing, our commitment to customer service and delivery excellence remains unchanged. These decisions are made at the Service Delivery Competency level, not by the Account teams. As the IBM Global Account is to be the model for a holistic approach that seeks new and different methods to make our business more effective and efficient and to build stronger linkages through our world-wide interactions, we are confident this transformation will benefit IBM and our customers." -Tish-
    • Comment 09/28/09: Canada: all our contractors have been told they are not allowed to claim O.T for Q4 2009. They are to dump the work on perm staff. Additionally, contractors will likely be asked to take 1-4 days off per month. Making their standard week only 32 hours. I'm sure on the next renewals they will be asked to take ANOTHER 10% cut..might as well work for free. -DM-
    • Comment 09/28/09: CDI has also notified that a 10% reduction in work hours is required from 4 October through 31 December. It also says that management will arrange it to avoid customer impact, but management doesn't do anything to make it happen that way. 10% on top of a 13% direct cut in rates. Other, less-profitable companies are already restoring cut wages. IBM? It is to laugh. As another said, karma, baby, karma. -CDI Drone-
  • General Visitor's Comment page
    • Comment 09/26/09: Ahh the power of a union contract. The Baltimore Maryland City Council has announced that all city workers must take 5 furlough days to try to make up for budget shortfalls. A spokesman for the FOP ( Fraternal Order of Police ) in Baltimore corrected them when he pointed out that the Police contract had a no furlough clause. A frustrated Mayor then said the Police Department would have to find other methods to contribute their share of savings. If other methods are available why would the city take the money from their employees pockets?? Same as IBM. Its the easy way out. And if 5 days is not enough make them take 5 more. I'll bet all the other unions in the city's employ will want that clause in their next contract. It sure makes me wish I had a contract too. -Exodus2007-
    • Comment 09/27/09: >>It sure makes me wish I had a contract too. -Exodus2007- Me too. I know someone who is being threatened with losing his lifetime retiree medical in his job (not IBM). But, oh wait. He has a contract and although that clause is being taken out of the contract for future employees (as IBM the rapist should have done in 1999), he is being offered the opportunity to retire and lock in lifetime retiree medical (as IBM should have done to the Second and No Choicers they raped in 1999). God bless the unions. And the poor remaining 28% U.S. IBM employees who had best get one in IBM forthwith or be screwed. Their choice. -anonymouse-
    • Comment 09/28/09: I see others have recommended current and former IBMers post their experiences in Glassdoor.com (http://glassdoor.com). Some have said why bother, who'd care anyway. Well I disagree, people do care, and I use Glassdoor almost daily to check out companies I'm thinking of working for -- and you can be sure it has an impact on me if I see a large batch of bad reviews. Even then. . . IBM deserves a few bad reviews in light of the way it is treating its employees and customers today.

      If those who know the truth don't speak up then the "IBM is still one of the best companies to work for" and "IBM, a great place to work" type of reviews (yep, that's a couple of the titles of recent reviews, ugh) will be the primary ones out there. If you don't have a login id and password for the site I strongly encourage you to take a moment to join (its free) by simply posting your own review of IBM. Then, to do one better and take a moment to:

      1. Access the recent reviews I've linked to below which are good, accurate, tell-it-like-it-is reviews.
      2. Scroll to the bottom of each review and click on "Yes" by the "Was this Review helpful?" question

      If enough people do that it will place these reviews at the top of the list when visitors look at the IBM ratings, since Glassdoor.com sorts the most recent reviews that are also the most highly rated, first in the list. Here's a link to a few accurate and recent reviews I would suggest you mark with a "Yes" vote (I already did) so they sort to the top. The whole exercise should take you no more than five to ten minutes. I especially like the last review by the wife of an IBMer.

    • Comment 09/29/09: IBM engages in a sweatshop culture! IBM employees are overworked and underpaid!! IBM is taking advantage of the 'economic situation' to lay off people and overwork others! Overwork is an understatement. The people who remain in the ship, which is not sinking from the first place, it's just another avenue for IBM to make more revenue. The people left are expected to do the SAME amount of work in the SAME amount of time as it was laid out to be done with twice as many people originally. IBM is saving money and making great fat profits in this 'economic crisis' while its employees are being burned out, exploited and taken advantage of. There have been several heart attacks at IBM since this started. IBM was once known as a reputable company. Now it is a SWEATSHOP!!

      Do not come to work here, you will not be respected!! Advice to Senior Management Pay more attention to your employees they are your assets. Do not discriminate against older employees because they cost more and will soon go into retirement with great benefits. Shame on you IBM for cutting costs by getting rid of your most loyal employees who have been with you for many many years! Now they cost too much so you're letting them go without due respect and benefits! read more: http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/postReviewComment.htm -ibm wife-

    • Comment 09/29/09: Came to IBM via their buyout of Cognos two years ago. Rated a 2+ this year but no pay increase for the first time in fifteen years. Also told last week that the Bracknell office will close and we will relocate to Bedfont near Feltham and there will be no redundancies. My thanks to the Cognos Execs for selling this company out for their own personal gain. -Anon- (moved from PBC comments)
    • Comment 09/29/09: -ibm wife-!!! So happy to see you here. Excellent post, wonderful post, truthful post. If everyone clicks on your post, it will remain at the top of the IBM reviews on glassdoor.com and one and all will know IBM sucks. Come on, press and media who read here, do an article on glassdoor and publish the truth. IBM got your tongue, media and press? Come on, people, you may be fearful of IBM, but you can at least click on -ibm wife-'s post and keep out the comments and posts by blue duck duck kitty and lastdino and all the other corporate apologists and management plants. -anonymouse-
    • Comment 09/30/09: Just about EVERYTHING but CHQ and the "select" face-to-face management and PE's are moving out of the USA. Count on it by YE2013. Maybe 20K jobs tops stays based out of the USA. Cringely is not that far off. Think again? No, THINK TWICE! -oijabored-
    • Comment 09/30/09: To all the complainers: Does any thread on this site say IBM is a great place to work and I love it? This site shows exactly how IBM treats it's American workers, like dog doo. Don't like it? Organize with each other and Unionize, otherwise go find another job because you will end up ra'd like the rest of us. All the kids that laughed at me when I told them join Alliance have either left on their own after seeing the light or have been ra'd by now. Wake up and smell the Union. It's the ONLY way with this company. Stop complaining and do something about it. -Gone_in_07-
    • Comment 09/30/09: >>Comment 09/28/09: Tish, thanks for the heads up on the offshoring. What is wrong with this arrogant greedy IBM CEO called Samuel Palmisano? Why does he want to offshore all of our jobs? I went to college and got my degree to call myself a professional and be proud to work for IBM. I am trying to raise my family and put food on the table. Now Samuel wants me to train my offshore replacement and eliminate my job? Piss on Samuel. Samuel can go to Hell. Please, for all you fence sitters, join the Alliance and Support a Union to protect our jobs. -Alliance Supporter-

      Alliance Supporter-, your job is already eliminated and you WILL be forced to train your offshore replacement. At the expense of your dignity and irregardless of your many years. Sam doesn't give a flying fig about you OR your degree OR your years of service OR your family. Sam cares only about Sam. So. Your manager will FORCE you to train your offshore replacement, under threat of severance/no severance, and if your manager can't deliver the threat, your Team Leader will deliver it for them. Bet on it, it WILL happen. Sammy Boy doesn't give a tinker's damn for you, he doesn't even know you exist. His AA is reading this board, but won't deliver your message to His Highness. After you train your offshore replacement and get FIRED, Sammy Boy will (if applicable) send you a 'congratulations on your retirement' letter, even though His Highness knows full well that you were FIRED, and did NOT voluntarily retire. Will Sammy and his henchmen and henchwomen stop until all the rest of the 28% U.S. employees are humiliated and demeaned and insulted and FIRED? No. SHOULD the remaining 28% U.S. employees form a union very quickly if they know what's good for them? Of course they should. NB: AT WILL EMPLOYEE, unionize or be screwed. -anonymouse-

    • Comment 10/01/09: I see more folks wishing Sam has a bad retirement ( Not likely as 2 days of his pension = more then a year of yours )and yet again folks thinking his conscience will bother him ( in his mind he has done a perfect job ) . At this point in the year with 16 thousand skulls hanging from Sam's belt why do people waste energy wishing ill on a soulless creature like an IBM executive. Do him hard and deep like he does you. Let him be the CEO that lost IBM to a union. Let that be his legacy in Business . Smear his rotten image with a union contract. The longer you wait the less he cares. The more jobs shipped overseas the less power you have in a threat of a strike. The only way you have any control is if no one can do the work if you stage a strike. If overseas personnel can pretend to step up you have no power at all. Time is on Sam's side. Not yours. Understand at this point it is not a case of if your job goes away but when. Act NOW. -Exodus2007-
    • Comment 10/02/09: What a transparent memo. The exec who wrote it will probably get fired. "To our valued CDT customers; In order to comply with IBM's Global Delivery strategy, we are ...: To COMPLY. Not to "integrate with" or to "benefit from " or something else positive. This is just an issue of compliance. Translation: We don't like this any more than you will but we are forced to do it. "These decisions are made at the Service Delivery Competency level, not by the Account teams." Translation: Don't blame us we have no choice. "As the IBM Global Account is to be the model for a holistic approach that seeks new and different methods ......" Translation: We can't figure out how this is going to work or how it isn't going to impact your service but holistic has a nice ring to it. -BFL-
    • Comment 10/02/09: I just finished a mandatory diversity training. Now IBM execs are trying to force down our throats that diversity means relocating to another country and blending in, taking in outside cultures, while the project I am in is importing developers from outside countries. While I agree with diversity in the workplace, I don't think what IBM is mandating we watch is diversity. -Frustrated-
    • Comment 10/03/09: Although "normal" IBM employees were forced out of the old retirement plan, execs were treated differently. Per IBM's 2007 annual report:
      Effective July 1, 1999, IBM amended the Retention Plan to provide a new benefit formula, but allowed participants who met certain age, service, and pay level conditions as of June 30, 1999 to continue to earn benefits under the prior formula if the prior formula provides a greater benefit. Messrs. Palmisano and Mills continue to earn benefits under the prior formula. Messrs. Loughridge, Daniels, and Elix earn benefits under the 1999 plan formula.
      # Effective May 1, 2004, the Retention Plan was closed to new participants. Accrual of future benefits under the Retention Plan stopped on December 31, 2007. Accordingly, a participant’s Retention Plan benefit does not consider pay earned or service credited after December 31, 2007."
  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments IBM CEO Sam Palmisano: "I am pleased to announce that we will not only be paying bonuses to IBMers worldwide, based on individual performance, but that they'll be funded from a pool of money nearly the same size as last year's. That's significant in this economy -- and especially so, given the size of the 2007 pool. Further, our salary increase plan will continue, covering about 60 percent of our workforce. As always, increases will go to our highest performers and contributors. We should all feel good about the company's ability to invest in people in these very concrete ways."
  • PBC Comments
  • International Comments
    • Comment 09/27/09: Country = UK; Union Affiliate = None; Job Title = IT Specialist; IBM Division = GTS; Message = Management Induced Separation is rife here in the UK, to get people out before quarter end. MIS packages are only: 1 week for every year employed, to a maximum of 12 weeks!! Yes, you read that right, 12 weeks - only 3 months. For some, if they wanted to leave, they would have to give 3 months notice. Now IBM wants us to leave, they pay us 3 months. Reasons for MIS range from "poor performance" on a specific task or activity, or in relation to current banding. There are a lot of highly skilled people on their way out come 5th October. Will be interesting to see how many people drop off the ST list come 6th October. People who have taken the MIS have been told to keep it quiet. IBM UK is not the place to work, nobody is recommending it. Cuts, cuts, cuts, pensions down the drain, MIS's on everyone's doorstep, offshoring is continuing at an alarming pace. I'm dragging it out as long as I can, get some skills which I can use elsewhere, and leave this crap hole which is IBM UK!!! -Anonymous-UK-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • Los Angeles Times: Mandate minus price controls may increase healthcare costs. By Noam N. Levey and James Oliphant. Excerpts: In the drive to bring health coverage to almost every American, lawmakers have largely rejected restrictions on how much insurers can charge, sparking fears that consumers will continue to face the skyrocketing premium increases of recent years. The legislators' reluctance to control premium costs comes despite the fact that they intend to require virtually all Americans to get health insurance, an unprecedented mandate -- long sought by insurance companies -- that would mark the first time the federal government has compelled consumers to buy a single industry's product, effectively creating a captive market.

    "We are about to force at least 30 million people into an insurance market where the sharks are circling," said California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, a Democrat who served as the state's insurance commissioner for eight years. "Without effective protections, they will be eaten alive." Soaring premiums coupled with millions of new customers forced to buy policies would likely mean higher costs for taxpayers to cover government subsidies for lower-income families and individuals. They could also mean bigger bills for people who get benefits through work, as well as for their employers.

  • New York Times editorial: Medicare Scare-Mongering. Excerpts: It has been frustrating to watch Republican leaders posture as the vigilant protectors of Medicare against health care reforms designed to make the system better and more equitable. This is the same party that in the past tried to pare back Medicare and has repeatedly denounced the kind of single-payer system that is at the heart of Medicare and its popularity. For all of the cynicism and hypocrisy, it seems to be working. The Republicans have scared many older Americans into believing that their medical treatment will suffer under pending reform bills.

    But far from harming elderly Americans, the various reform bills now pending should actually make Medicare better for most beneficiaries — by enhancing their drug coverage, reducing the premiums they pay for drugs and medical care, eliminating co-payments for preventive services and helping keep Medicare solvent, among other benefits. ...

    We have long championed Medicare. And we believe elderly Americans, and all Americans, should closely examine the proposed health care reforms. But the Republicans have done far too good a job at obscuring and twisting the facts and spreading unwarranted fear. It is time to call them to account. President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have to make the case forcefully that health care reform will overwhelmingly benefit Americans — including the millions of older Americans who participate in Medicare.

  • Washington Post: In Delivering Care, More Isn't Always Better, Experts Say. By Ceci Connolly. Excerpts: A dirty word in health-care reform is "rationing," a term that conjures up the image of faceless government bureaucrats denying lifesaving therapies in the name of cutting costs. But what if the real issue is not the specter of future rationing, but the haphazard, even illogical, way in which care is delivered today? Medical professionals say the fundamental problem in the nation's health-care system is the widespread misuse and overuse of tests, treatments and drugs that drive up prices, have little value to patients, and can pose serious risks. The question, they say, is not whether there will be rationing, but rather what will be rationed, and when and how. "More is not necessarily better," said Bernard Rosof, chairman of the board of directors of New York's Huntington Hospital and a board member of the independent National Quality Forum. "In many cases, less is better." ...

    Others, however, see problems of misalignment in the American system, fueled by industry advertising, physician fears about malpractice lawsuits and a culture that craves the latest, greatest everything. The situation here, they argue, is that there is not enough care for some, and too much for others. Often, people with generous insurance plans can run up large bills and face life-threatening complications from unnecessary care: back surgeries that result in wound infections, when physical therapy might have been a more effective treatment; imaging scans that expose patients to radiation; medication-caused side effects that must be treated.

  • Associated Press, courtesy of the New York Times: Age and Higher Premiums Go Together: Is It Fair? Excerpts: Old people get sick more than young people, and in most states that adds up to them paying a lot more for their health insurance premiums. President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats want to restrict that practice as part of a top-to-bottom reshaping of the nation's health care system, a change that will help them politically with aging Americans skeptical about the government's plans. Urging them to do it is AARP, the powerful senior citizens' lobby, which says making older people pay more amounts to age discrimination.

    On the opposite side is the health insurance industry, which says it's an unavoidable business decision because premiums are based on expected expenses and older people have higher health care costs. Caught in the middle are people like Colleen Malone-Engel, 53, of Culver City, Calif., who says her insurance premiums jumped when she turned 50 even though she's in good health. ''I don't think it's fair,'' said Malone-Engel, whose name was provided to The Associated Press by AARP. ''I understand why the insurance companies do that -- because they know that older people need more health care -- but I was pretty stunned to have that hit me at 50. Because 50 is still young.''

  • Chicago Tribune: Health care benefits: Workers to pay 10% more in 2010, Hewitt Associates study predicts. By Bruce Japsen. Excerpts: The cost of medical benefits is projected to jump again next year with premiums and out-of-pocket expenses rising 10 percent, and that likely will mean more pain for workers, who have seen their share of the tab triple since 2001. In 2010, the combined average premium and out-of-pocket costs for health care coverage for a worker are projected to climb to $4,023 a year, a 10 percent increase from this year, according to an annual study by Hewitt Associates released ahead of open-enrollment season for medical benefits. ...

    "If we do nothing, we will probably see another doubling effect in seven to 10 years," said John Vlajkovic, principal in Hewitt's health management practice, referring to the specter of Congress not passing health care reform legislation this year.

    Next year, workers are expected to contribute about $174 a month, 10 percent more than they do now. And they'll be paying roughly an additional $162 in out-of-pocket costs each month, a 10 percent increase.

  • New York Times: Senators Reject Pair of Public Option Proposals. By Robert Pear and Jackie Calmes. Excerpts: After an intense debate that captured the essence of the national struggle over health care, a pivotal Senate committee on Tuesday rejected two Democratic proposals to create a government insurance plan to compete with private insurers. The votes, in the Senate Finance Committee, underscored divisions among Democrats and were a setback for President Obama, who has endorsed the public plan as a way to “keep insurance companies honest.” ...

    Mr. Schumer said the public option would hold down costs because it would not have to generate profits, answer to shareholders or incur marketing expenses. His proposal would have required the public plan to negotiate rates with doctors and hospitals, rather than setting prices based on Medicare reimbursement rates. Under Mr. Rockefeller’s plan, the payment of doctors and hospitals would have been based on Medicare rates for the first two years.

    Mr. Rockefeller said the Congressional Budget Office had estimated that a government insurance plan could slice $50 billion from the cost of Mr. Baucus’s bill, originally put at $774 billion over 10 years. The budget office predicted that eight million people would initially enroll in the public plan — about one-third of those who would seek coverage through new markets, or insurance exchanges. ...

    Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, said he feared that a government plan would prove so popular it could never be uprooted. “Does anybody believe Congress would let this public plan go away once it has a constituency?” Mr. Ensign asked. “No way. Once it’s started, you will never get rid of it. Congress will subsidize it more and more, allow it to grow and grow.”

  • Consumer Watchdog.org: Consumer Watchdog Tells Blue Dog Democrats Not To Be Insurance Company Lapdogs. Excerpts: Consumer Watchdog today called on Congressional Democrats to support a robust public option and rate regulation as a part of any health insurance reform. Speaking at a news conference with independent filmmaker Michael Moore, hosted by Public Citizen, Consumer Watchdog’s John M. Simpson said that any plan that would require people to buy health insurance without guarantees to make it affordable would be unconscionable.

    “These Blue Dog Democrats seem to know only one trick,” said Simpson. “That’s to roll over — to roll over for the insurance industry. They aren’t Blue Dogs, they’re insurance company lapdogs.” Simpson predicted that if the Democrats don’t stand up to the insurance industry and Congress passes health insurance “reform” without affordability guarantees, Democrats will lose their majority in both houses of Congress.

    Mandating that everyone must buy insurance from private companies simply guarantees huge profits for the industry, he said. It is not reform. Representatives of Public Citizen, the California Nurses Association, the United Steelworkers Union and the National Organization of Women also spoke at the news conference. ...

    The health care industry and its lobbyists have hosted at least 130 fundraisers this year for members of Congress who sit on the five key committees responsible for crafting a health care overhaul, according to a Consumer Watchdog analysis. Health industry PACs and individuals donated $30.7 million to members of those committees over the same period of time. ...

    “Who can tell which hard decisions on health reform are being made over $1,000 high-balls shared by lobbyists and politicians while the public’s locked out of the room?” said Carmen Balber, Washington Director for Consumer Watchdog. “The public can’t be confident in health reform if Congress insists on accepting industry money while legislating.”

  • Consumer Watchdog.org: A lobbyist love blanket smothered the public option. Excerpt: The five Democrats who joined 10 Republicans to kill the public health insurance in a Senate committee today are surrounded and coddled by a web of industry lobbyists. The barrier appears soundproof, from looking at the graphic below. The fact that 65% of Americans, and 73% of doctors, want a publicly run alternative to the abuses of private insurance apparently doesn't seep through.
  • The Guardian (United Kingdom): Revealed: millions spent by lobby firms fighting Obama health reforms. Six lobbyists for every member of Congress as healthcare industry heaps cash on politicians to water down legislation. By Chris McGreal. Excerpts: America's healthcare industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to block the introduction of public medical insurance and stall other reforms promised by Barack Obama. The campaign against the president has been waged in part through substantial donations to key politicians. Supporters of radical reform of healthcare say legislation emerging from the US Senate reflects the financial power of vested interests ‑ principally insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms and hospitals ‑ that have worked to stop far-reaching changes threatening their profits.

    The industry and interest groups have spent $380m (£238m) in recent months influencing healthcare legislation through lobbying, advertising and in direct political contributions to members of Congress. The largest contribution, totalling close to $1.5m, has gone to the chairman of the senate committee drafting the new law.

    A former member of Bill Clinton's cabinet says fears that the industry could throw its money behind the populist rightwing backlash against public insurance have scared the Obama White House into pulling back from the most significant reforms in return for healthcare companies not trying to scupper the entire legislation.

    Drug and insurance companies say they are merely seeking to educate politicians and the public. But with industry lobbyists swarming over Capitol Hill ‑ there are six registered healthcare lobbyists for every member of Congress ‑ a partner in the most powerful lobbying firm in Washington acknowledged that healthcare firms' money "has had a lot of influence" and that it is "morally suspect". ...

    Insurance companies have done even better as the new legislation will prove a business bonanza. It is not only likely to kill off the threat of public health insurance, which threatened to siphon off customers by offering lower premiums and better coverage, but will force millions more people to take out private medical policies or face prosecution. "It's a total victory for the health insurance industry," said Dr Steffie Woolhander, a GP, professor of medicine at Harvard University and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Programme (PNHP).

    "What the bill has done is use the coercive power of the state to force people to hand their money over to a private entity which is the private insurance industry. That is not what people were promised."

    PNHP blames a political process it says is corrupted by millions of dollars poured into the election campaigns of members of Congress and influencing the discourse about health reform by funding advertising campaigns, supposedly independent studies and patients rights organisations that press the industry's interests. ...

    Baucus took $1.5m from the health sector for his political fund in the past year. Other members of the committee have received hundreds of thousands of dollars. They include Senator Pat Roberts, who last week tried to stall the bill by arguing that lobbyists needed three days to read it. Baucus holds dinners for health industry executives at which they pay thousands of dollars each to be at the table, and an annual fly-fishing and golfing weekend in his home state of Montana that lobbyists pay handsomely to attend. They have included John Jonas, who represents healthcare firms for Patton Boggs, widely regarded as the top lobbying firm in Washington. Jonas, who formerly worked on the congressional staff, acknowledges that political contributions are intended to buy influence and says it works. ...

    The health industry permeates the process in other ways. At Baucus's side, drafting much of the wording of the reform, was Liz Fowler, a senate committee counsel whose last position was vice-president of the country's largest health insurer, Wellpoint, which stands to be a principal beneficiary of the new law. ...

    Robert Reich, the labour secretary in the Clinton administration, says the Obama White House, mindful of how the health industry killed off Clinton's attempts at reform, has grown so fearful of industry money that it has quietly reached agreement to pull back from price caps and public health insurance. "The White House made a Faustian bargain with big pharma and big insurance, essentially scuttling both of these profit-squeezing mechanisms in return for these industries' agreement not to oppose healthcare legislation with platoons of lobbyists and millions of dollars of TV ads." ...

    The pharmaceutical companies are apparently pleased enough that they are now putting $120m into advertising supporting the emerging legislation.

  • Denver Post: Senator states his case for health care reform. By Mike Littwin. Excerpts: Finally, after all the fighting and shouting, it's possible that Americans may actually get the health care reform they deserve. Under one of the latest in a long series of proposed compromise plans — a plan that's apparently getting a serious look — Coloradans could get the health care reform they deserve. And Nebraskans could get the health care reform they deserve. And Californians could get the health care reform they deserve. And North Dakotans — why not North Dakotans? — could get the health care reform they deserve. They just wouldn't — and deservedly so — get the same health care reform.

    Under this proposal, which offers something for everyone, it could finally come to this: Red America would get red health care reform and Blue America would get — you guessed it — blue health care reform. Yes, we're coming toward the end of the black-and-blue portion of the health care debate. And now, thanks to Tom Carper, a little-known senator from Delaware, we may be moving to the red-and-blue phase.

    As you may have heard, the Senate Finance Committee beat back the health care public option this week for being, well, too public — like public libraries or public schools. In any case, there seemed to be too much government interference for these senators and not enough insurance-company interference.

    And so, the so-called "centrist" Democrats and all Republicans on the committee voted against two public-option amendments, leaving us with more fights to come. Democrats, who have a super-majority in the Senate, can't even get a committee majority on two key votes. No wonder President Barack Obama decided to leave the country for a day. ...

    Here's the beauty of Carper's compromise: Individual states would be allowed — but not required — to offer a version of the public option. Carper, a centrist himself who voted against one public-option plan and for another, would allow the states to set up co-ops or open their own state insurance plans or to set up a state-run public option that could become regional public option. Or they could do absolutely nothing. It's not as good as a national public option. Regional plans would be necessarily smaller than a national plan, meaning they wouldn't get the same economies of scale. But the Carper plan offers something else, which I'm sure is unintended. We can call it the let's-call-their-bluff plan. ...

    If Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and her fellow Arkansans don't want the public option, don't want cheaper drug prices, don't want a check on the insurance companies, don't want state, federal, local or any other kind of government involvement, that's up to them. They don't have to have it. If Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and his fellow Nebraskans don't want it, well, you get the idea. But if Colorado wants it, we can have it and join with, say, New Mexico and Nevada and California and Oregon and Washington and Montana. ...

    "If certain states want to deny their citizens what other states have, they can do it," she said. "If their legislators vote that way and the governor signs it, end of discussion. Definitely, let's call their bluff." ...

    According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, it costs $13,374 to insure the average family — and the price keeps going up. That's not a bluff. The system has to change. ...

    A mandate without a public option is just a big gift to the insurance companies. And Carper's compromise? It depends on the details whether it would help or hurt. Can it get 60 votes? Would we get to see a real filibuster? There's much yet to come.

  • U.S. Representative Diana DeGette (D-Colorado): DeGette Introduces Bill to Repeal Antitrust Exemption for Health, Medical Malpractice Insurance Companies. Excerpts: As health insurance premiums continue to skyrocket, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Vice Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, today joined her colleagues in the House of Representatives to introduce legislation eliminating a federal antitrust exemption for health insurance and medical malpractice insurance companies. The Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act would repeal the McCarran-Ferguson Act exemption from certain antitrust violations, including price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocations.

    “As health insurance premiums continue to go through the roof, now is the time to ensure that health insurance companies are not engaging in anti-competitive behavior that make it more difficult for Americans to get health coverage,” said U.S. Rep. DeGette. “Families across our nation – including those in Colorado – are feeling the pinch in their budgets from having to keep up with rising insurance rates. This bill takes an important step towards making sure our health insurance industry is competitive and is providing consumers with affordable health insurance. Simply put, the bottom lines of the big insurance companies should not be put above the American public’s ability to gain access to health care.”

    The key provisions of the Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act will repeal the federal antitrust exemption for health insurance and medical malpractice insurance companies for flagrant antitrust violations, including price-fixing, bid rigging, and market allocations, and subject health insurers and medical malpractice insurers to the same good-competition laws that apply to virtually every other company doing business in the United States. In Colorado, health insurance premiums have skyrocketed for working families, increasing 75 percent from 2000 to 2007. Furthermore, one insurance company alone controls 76 percent of the market in Pueblo, Colorado.

  • U.S. Representative Diana DeGette (D-Colorado): Broad Support for Public Health Insurance Option in House as Vote Looms. Excerpts: In 1980, the U.S. spent more than $250 billion, or 9 percent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), on health care. In the decades since, that figure has grown to more than $2.2 trillion (16.2% of GDP). By 2018, it is expected to nearly double again to $4.3 trillion (20.3% of GDP). Also during this time, the American people have seen premiums more than double since 2000 while wages have stagnated. DeGette, Capps and Murphy argue that including a public option in a health care reform bill will provide more choice in the marketplace and save money in our health care system.

    “To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the public health insurance option are greatly exaggerated,” said Congresswoman Capps. “The strong support for the public health insurance option is alive and well as demonstrated by our letter signed by Members representing the wide ideological spectrum of our diverse Caucus. Our letter makes clear that the best way to ensure competition and bring down health care costs is by making available a robust public health insurance option.”

News and Opinion Concerning the U.S. Financial Crisis
Minimize "It is a restatement of laissez-faire-let things take their natural course without government interference. If people manage to become prosperous, good. If they starve, or have no place to live, or no money to pay medical bills, they have only themselves to blame; it is not the responsibility of society. We mustn't make people dependent on government- it is bad for them, the argument goes. Better hunger than dependency, better sickness than dependency."

"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.

  • M
If you hire good people and treat them well, they will try to do a good job. They will stimulate one another by their vigor and example. They will set a fast pace for themselves. Then if they are well led and occasionally inspired, if they understand what the company is trying to do and know they will share in its sucess, they will contribute in a major way. The customer will get the superior service he is looking for. The result is profit to customers, employees, and to stcckholders. —Thomas J. Watson, Jr., from A Business and Its Beliefs: The Ideas That Helped Build IBM.

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