The IBM probe is the latest sign of a new, tougher attitude toward antitrust enforcement under the Obama administration. Under the Bush administration, the Justice Department focused on concerted action by multiple companies, particularly in price-fixing of commodities such as memory chips. But the agency settled a landmark case against Microsoft and rarely filed charges in cases involving the actions of dominant individual firms. ...
IBM was a target of a lengthy Justice Department lawsuit, filed in 1969, alleging IBM maintained an illegal monopoly in computers, but the Reagan administration dropped the case in 1982. IBM had dominated the computer market since the 1950s with a 70% market share. Its U.S. competitors were derisively known as "the seven dwarfs."
Having just achieved another level, I maneuvered into a lower-profile, less demanding position. I took care of some nagging medical issues on the company dime and clock, "worked" out of the home office, managed a great deal of bench time, and kinda coasted for a little over five years.
When the email to call the boss before cob arrived, I was about to board another bird. He sent me away and said to call him after landing, which I did. He was young, green, and sounded upset. With inner glee, I tried to calm him with, "D__, is there anything I can do or say to make this
I'm gone and don't miss the job. I've bleu and ex-bleu friends, and I even joined the local QCC, but I'll never again contribute a dime or volunteer in the name of bleu. I managed to avoid airports for over five full years after retirement.
From a mental health and stress and physically overworked standpoint, I had to go when I did. The company got along well without me. They did not show much class in denying me the incentive package.
I hold no ill-will towards IBM. My daughter is a manager within the company and is doing well, and every memory I have, save for the one slight at the end, are indeed good ones. The company gave me a great career right out of my military service, the job was always challenging and actually fun most of the time, and I feel I made a significant contribution to the company and also to various customer groups, including the US Government. Nothing wrong with that!
On the next round of cuts, my manager offered me a different job, saying that she had to reduce head count in my area. I finally had to tell her that she should give the job to someone who hadn't reached retirement as yet. I also enlightened her(she was truly that innocent) that I would get paid whether or not I showed up for work or not. It took her a long while to figure that one out and, when she did, I was given the package I had always wanted.
After taking the severance and clearing out whatever bills and the small mortgage I had, I went on unemployment for a bit and then had my pension kick in. To date, I've never bothered with any of the folks I worked with, the exception being the people from FE back in New York of whom I have fond memories. After I moved out of that division, I never made a true friend of an IBMer ever.
But the days of 30% annual revenue growth from such work are over, a casualty of the global economic downturn and increasing competition in the tech services industry world-wide. Now, Indian companies such as Infosys Technologies Ltd. and Wipro Ltd. are racing to broaden the services they offer and compete for higher-level work that usually goes to larger rivals including International Business Machines Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Accenture Ltd.
They are aggressively pursuing on-site work like managing companies' entire information-technology departments, networks and help desks. They are looking to run external data centers for customers -- a foothold that would help them expand into the hot new area of "cloud computing," where all of a company's critical software is hosted remotely. And they are trying to tie all of their services into end-to-end outsourcing packages for clients. ...
To compete for bigger-ticket jobs, like the ones IBM has struck with companies ranging from Australia's Qantas Airways to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., analysts say Indian firms must hire more talent with deep expertise in specific areas like telecom, pharmaceuticals and credit derivatives, and must be willing to tweak their business models. Big infrastructure outsourcing deals come with costs and risks Indian companies haven't traditionally been comfortable with. Vendors must be willing to purchase equipment for clients, take over their IT staffs, and take responsibility for round-the-clock reliability of remote data centers.
If you have even peeked at your account statements in the past year, it's painfully obvious that something is wrong with the way we save. The tax-deferred 401(k) plan, and others like it, such as the 403(b) and the IRA, have become our nation's go-to retirement piggy bank. Invented nearly 30 years ago as an executive perk — one more way to dodge Uncle Sam — the 401(k) was never meant to replace the employer-guaranteed pension fund, supplemented by Social Security, as the cornerstone of our nation's retirement system. But propelled by a combination of companies looking to cut costs and consumers who wanted control of their retirement destiny, that's exactly what happened. ...
The Society of Professional Asset-Managers and Record Keepers says nearly 73 million Americans, or just under 50% of our working population, now have a 401(k). And collectively we pour more than $200 billion into these accounts each year. But retire rich? Don't bet on it. The average 401(k) has a balance of $45,519. That's not retirement. That's two years of college. Even worse, 46% of all 401(k) accounts have less than $10,000. Today, just 21% of all U.S. workers are covered by traditional pensions, and the number shrinks every year. "The time may have come to consider returning 401(k) plans to their original position as a third tier of retirement planning, behind pensions and Social Security," says Alicia Munnell, who heads the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. "They should not be the thing we rely on for retirement security." And the government seems to agree. This summer, the Government Accountability Office concluded, "If no action is taken, a considerable number of Americans face the prospect of a reduced standard of living in retirement." That's what is known as an understatement.
Indian offshore firms appear most concerned about the bill because it would limit the number of visa holders they could employ to 50% of their U.S. workforce. Durbin and Grassley are both members of the Senate subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security and positioned to influence any comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
For people just starting their careers, the damage may be deep and long-lasting, potentially creating a kind of "lost generation." Studies suggest that an extended period of youthful joblessness can significantly depress lifetime income as people get stuck in jobs that are beneath their capabilities, or come to be seen by employers as damaged goods.
When the changes are implemented it's a done deal unless something breaks. (And it hasn't yet). Of course, all the peons at the bottom just keep working harder and harder to get things done, so we're actually shooting ourselves in the foot by doing this. We think we'll be rewarded with better raises, more job security, maybe a promotion. This is not the case. It actually proves to the execs that they made a wise business decision. It also encourages them to make similar decisions.
I think things will be changing in the future, although I'm not sure when that point will be reached. Right now, there are still lots of ibmers who have a sense of pride in their work, and go the extra mile. Eventually if we don't unionize, those workers will be forced out. They will be replaced by workers who only do 'a, b and c' and couldn't care less if 'd and e' get done. That's when the sh*t will hit the fan. It's happening in the BRIC countries already. That's why they're finding those workers are only good at cookie cutter type work. They don't think outside the box, nor are they interested in it. -miss understanding-
Services offered by the Office of the Attending Physician include physicals and routine examinations, on-site X-rays and lab work, physical therapy and referrals to medical specialists from military hospitals and private medical practices. According to congressional budget records, the office is staffed by at least four Navy doctors as well as at least a dozen medical and X-ray technicians, nurses and a pharmacist. Sources said when specialists are needed, they are brought to the Capitol, often at no charge to members of Congress.
"If you had, for example, prostate cancer, you would go to one of the centers of excellence for the country, which would be Johns Hopkins. If you had coronary artery disease, we would engage specialists at the Cleveland Clinic. You would go to the best care in the country. And, for the most part, nobody asked what your insurance was," Balbona said.
That wrenching trade-off is another reminder of the moral bankruptcy of our existing insurance system. It’s one more reason to pass robust reform this year.
If insurers are prohibited from openly rejecting people with preexisting conditions, they could try to cherry-pick through more subtle means. For example, offering free health club memberships tends to attract people who can use the equipment, says Paul Precht, director of policy at the Medicare Rights Center.
Being uncooperative on insurance claims can chase away the chronically ill. For people who have few medical bills, it is less of a factor, said Karen Pollitz, research professor at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. And to avoid patients with costly, complicated medical conditions, health plans could include in their networks relatively few doctors who specialize in treating those conditions, said Mark V. Pauly, professor of health-care management at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.
Back from another trip to Europe, this time Germany, where the same dismay as in France prevails over the U.S. health care debate. Europeans don’t get why Americans don’t agree that universal health coverage is a fundamental contract to which the citizens of any developed society have a right. ...
Whatever may be right, something is rotten in American medicine. It should be fixed. But fixing it requires the acknowledgment that, when it comes to health, we’re all in this together. Pooling the risk between everybody is the most efficient way to forge a healthier society. Europeans have no problem with this moral commitment. But Americans hear “pooled risk” and think, “Hey, somebody’s freeloading on my hard work.” ...
I can see the conservative argument that welfare undermines the work ethic and dampens moral fiber. Provide sufficient unemployment benefits and people will opt to chill rather than labor. But it’s preposterous to extend this argument to health care. Guaranteeing health coverage doesn’t incentivize anybody to get meningitis.
Yet that’s what Republicans’ cry of “socialized medicine” — American politics at its most debased — is all about. It implies that government-provided health care somehow saps Americans’ freedom-loving initiative. Some Democrats — prodded by drug and insurance companies with the cash to win favors — buy that argument, too. ...
But it’s nonprofit insurers who provide the coverage in Switzerland because health insurance is viewed as social insurance — as it is throughout Europe — rather than a means to make money. One fundamental reason a public option — yes, “option,” not single-payer monopoly — is needed in the United States is to jump-start the idea that basic health care is a moral obligation rather than a financial opportunity.
In the last week, however, senior administration officials have been holding private meetings almost daily at the Capitol with senior Democratic staff to discuss ways to include a version of the public plan in the healthcare bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to bring to the Senate floor this month, according to senior Democratic congressional aides. ...
And at a closed-door meeting of Senate Democrats on Tuesday, Assistant Majority Leader Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) marshaled polling data from districts represented by conservative Democrats that showed a majority would back the requirement that Americans get health insurance so long as there was a public option. "To argue that this is some fringe position is to ignore the obvious," Durbin said. The nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation's September healthcare survey showed 57% of Americans support the creation of a "public health insurance option similar to Medicare," down just two percentage points from the August and July surveys. Those polls have also been followed closely at the White House.
Back in the 1990s, I was the founding chairman of Texas’ state-run purchasing alliance — an exchange, essentially — which ultimately failed. There are lessons to be learned from that experience, as well as the similar failures of other states to create useful exchanges.
The Texas Insurance Purchasing Alliance, created by the Texas Legislature in 1993, was meant to help small businesses, which often cannot afford coverage for their employees. (More than half of all uninsured Americans work for small businesses.) Small businesses are charged higher rates — on average 18 percent higher than those paid by large companies. And their administrative costs, built into those premiums, are typically as high as 25 percent of the premium, compared to only 10 percent for big companies. ...
Most important, though, our exchange failed not because it wasn’t needed, and not because the concept wasn’t sound, but because it never attained a large enough market share to exert significant clout in the Texas insurance market. Private insurance companies, which could offer small-business policies both inside and outside the exchange, cherry-picked relentlessly, signing up all the small businesses with generally healthy employees and offloading the bad risks — companies with older or sicker employees — onto the exchange. For the insurance companies, this made business sense. But as a result, our exchange was overwhelmed with people who had high health care costs, and too few healthy people to share the risk. The premiums we offered rose significantly. Insurance on the exchange was no longer a bargain, and employers began backing away. Insurance companies, too, began leaving the alliance.
Texas wasn’t the only state to see its insurance exchange fail. Florida and North Carolina were also unsuccessful. And California, which had the first exchange (established in 1992) and the largest market, shut its doors in 2006. All these state exchanges failed for the same reason: cherry-picking by insurers outside the exchange.
Although the United States now spends $2.4 trillion a year on medical care -- vastly more per capita than comparable countries -- the nation ranks near the bottom on premature deaths caused by illnesses such as diabetes, epilepsy, stroke, influenza, ulcers and pneumonia, according to research by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund published in the journal Health Affairs.
During last week's marathon health-care debate in the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) bemoaned the findings. "All of these countries have much lower costs than we do," he said, pointing to a giant blue chart showing the United States in last place. "And they have higher quality outcomes than ours." ...
In 1997-1998, the United States ranked 15th in preventable deaths out of 19 industrialized countries. In 2002-2003, the nation fell to 19th, even as costs continued to rise. Up to 100,000 lives could be saved if the country's health-care system performed as well those in nations such as France, Japan and Australia, according to the Commonwealth Fund study, which was based on World Health Organization statistics.
WellPoint's CEO, Angela Brady, made nearly $10 million in 2008.
WellPoint illegally pressured California employees this summer to fight health care reform, according to Consumer Watchdog. "Regrettably, the congressional legislation, as currently passed by four of the five key committees in Congress, does not meet our definition of responsible and sustainable reform," said the company's Anthem Blue Cross unit in a company e-mail. The proposals would hurt the company by "causing tens of millions of Americans to lose their private coverage and end up in a government-run plan."
A House investigation found that WellPoint also rewarded employees for finding ways to drop policyholders who developed expensive conditions -- a practice known as rescission.
So what are the Republican ideas?
But it is worth remembering -- Glenn Beck is not blocking the passage of a good health care bill. The old and new carny acts of the right aren't undermining the energy legislation or frustrating financial reform. To focus on who and what is standing in the way -- follow the money.
On health care, the lockstep opposition of Republicans in Congress is deplorable, but Republicans don't have the votes to block progress. The president is forced to negotiate with Democrats who have 60 votes in the Senate and a large majority in the House and could pass a good bill tomorrow if they unified.
The angry tea bag activists shouting slogans in town meetings in August provided drama, but the true opposition is writing checks, not waiving signs. They are wearing pin stripes, not jeans and t-shirts. They represent wealthy insurance company CEOs, not angry workers or small business owners. ...
Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and the Republicans in Congress oppose these reforms. They want, as Limbaugh proclaimed, the president to fail. But they aren't the major roadblocks to the change we need. What stands in the way is the organized power of the entrenched lobbies that have a direct stake in limiting change, and are willing to spend hundreds of millions to obstruct it. Their legions are less angry citizens, than sophisticated lobbyists, increasingly Democrats, many of them retired legislators. They deliver campaign contributions, not votes. They threaten negative campaign ads, not authentic citizen uprisings. ...
Check out opensecrets.org, where the Center for Responsive Politics tracks contributions. Take a look at their study with the Sunlight Foundation on the lobbyists undermining health care reform. Get angry, not cynical. Let your legislators hear from you -- and join with your neighbors to demand that they represent you and not the interests that are writing campaign checks. The president has called on the Congress to deal with fundamental national challenges that can not be ignored (although his predecessors were happy to do so). We'll not have a better chance to get vital reforms done. But to succeed, legislators in both parties will have to learn that voters aren't going to put up with the cozy beltway business as usual.
Some members also worry that a public option (an effective way to bring competition to the insurance market) would compete unfairly with private companies and amount to a step toward socialism. If they object so passionately to “socialized health,” why don’t they block their 911 service to socialized police and fire services, disconnect themselves from socialized sewers and avoid socialized interstate highways?
I wouldn’t wish the trauma of losing health insurance on anyone, but our politicians’ failure to assure health care for all citizens is such a longstanding and grievous breach of their responsibility that they deserve it. In January 1917, Progressive Magazine wrote: “At present the United States has the unenviable distinction of being the only great industrial nation without universal health insurance." More than 90 years later, we still have that distinction. ...
Health care has often been debated as a technical or economic issue. That has been a mistake, I believe. At root, universal health care is not an economic or technical question but a moral one. We accept that life is unfair, that some people will live in cramped apartments and others in sprawling mansions. But our existing insurance system is not simply inequitable but also lethal: a very recent, peer-reviewed article in the American Journal of Public Health finds that nearly 45,000 uninsured people die annually as a consequence of not having insurance. That’s one needless death every 12 minutes.
When nearly 3,000 people were killed on 9/11, we began wars and were willing to devote more than $1 trillion in additional expenses. Yet about the same number of Americans die from our failed insurance system every three weeks. The obstacle isn’t so much money as priorities. America made it a priority to provide tax breaks, largely to the wealthy, in the Bush years, at a 10-year cost including interest of $2.4 trillion. Allocating less than half that much to assure equal access to health care isn’t deemed an equal priority.
From the early 1980s, when Reagan began the systematic deregulation of corporate America and declared war on the middle class, and lasting through and including the 2008 economic meltdown, the American economy has always been a ticking time bomb held together mostly by trickery and gambling. We were always meant to pick up the filthy mess when the meltdown occurred. And we did. Not just through the bailouts, but also through the loss of our jobs and the loss of our personal financial security, both of which helped to keep the culprits in business -- bonuses and golden parachutes included.
Likewise, the health care system is in the process of melting down, and for too many Americans it already has. And as for the rest of us who think our health insurance policies are excellent and secure are, in reality, in serious denial. Even now, we're paying more and more of our own money towards keeping this broken system afloat, and when the health care crisis kicks into high gear soon, who do you think will be obligated to pay for the greed and corruption responsible for the crisis?
Meanwhile, your premiums are being systematically jacked up until, one day, they'll extend beyond your financial means. It's only a matter of time before an injury or illness isn't covered due to, perhaps, a mistake on your application or the whim of a corporate bureaucrat. It's only a matter of time before your policy is suddenly rescinded in lieu of your insurance provider's profit margins which, by the way, have increased by upwards of 350 percent in the last decade. Your premiums, meanwhile, have more than doubled over that same ten years while middle class wages have remained flat. Reaganomics illustrated. Health care costs are destined to finish off what remains of the American middle class. Around 60 percent of all bankruptcies are due to health care debt with 78 percent of those bankruptcies filed by people with health insurance. Again, the insurance you have sucks and it's only the beginning of the bailout. We're nowhere near the high water mark. ...
Likewise, the list of very obvious grievances against the health insurance cartels apparently isn't lengthy and awful enough to spark much more than tepid popular support for reform even though 3,750 Americans die every month from a lack of health care. That's more casualties than 9/11 every 30 days. Maybe if we nicknamed the health insurance companies "evildoers" who need to be "smoked out" we'd make a little more progress. We'd certainly get a reform bill a lot more quickly, based upon the PATRIOT Act express lane turnaround time.
But Republicans don't want to do a damn thing if it means a victory for the president, while too many congressional Democrats would be happy to pass a shoddy bill put forth by a mostly unknown senator from Montana who is proudly attempting to legally require us to buy insurance from the criminal cartels responsible for this mess and without any public insurance option as an escape hatch. Naturally, this is the result of the fact that the health care industry is contributing millions to key senators including Mr. Baucus from Montana. Oh, and the Supreme Court is poised to allow corporations unlimited financial access to political campaigns -- a move that will surely exacerbate the health care crisis, among other things. This is about as serious as it gets. The health insurance you have now sucks. And it's only going to get suckier as time wears on unless serious change happens now.
Hospital security guards stopped the courier -- and 13 others who came soon after -- before they reached patients' rooms. But then came the faxes and, after that, the letters mailed to patients' doctors and homes. Told that her health plan would not pay for her to stay in the hospital, a 35-year-old social worker named Lisa with a severe lung infection was so unnerved that, tethered to an IV pole dripping antibiotics into her arm, she began to pack her gym bag before a staff member coaxed her back into bed.
The hardball tactics being used to pry patients from their sickbeds illustrate the colliding financial interests that pervade U.S. health care. It is a tug of war over where patients are treated, who decides how much care they receive and -- fundamentally -- which parts of the health-care industry gain or lose when people become ill.
"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.
It can hardly hurt as much. Warren Buffett lost $10 billion but still has $40 billion. Kirk Kerkorian has $3 billion left, after losing $8.2 billion. Citigroup founder Sanford Weill dropped off the billionaires list, but still has many millions.
Every year as I get worked up over Forbes’s latest billionaire review, I try to convince myself that accumulation of wealth at the top can serve a social function. I tell myself that inequality of income is a standard feature of capitalism, pushing the best and brightest into the most profitable jobs. It encourages people to study hard and work hard, or at least to become a banker. Big financial rewards push people to excel, and thus the economy to grow.
But $1.27 trillion? That’s a decade of health care reform in one of the more expensive versions. This isn’t garden-variety inequality — this is a winner-take-all deal that can destroy incentives for everyone except those in the upper crust. Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard, sensibly points out that one could generate incentives to excel for less: “I don’t think the added incentive of earning $100 million over $50 million is very different than the incentive of making $10 million over $5 million,” he told me once.
The economy may be in a technical recovery but this is not a real recovery and the "green shoots" or "positive signs" that Wall Street cheerleaders love to shout about are phantoms of their ever-optimistic imaginations. The stimulus is working but it is far from adequate. Before the stimulus, we were losing more than 500,000 jobs a month. Now that 40 percent of the stimulus has been spent, we are losing more than 250,000 jobs a month.
Nearly one in four American families has suffered a job loss over the past year, according to a survey released by the Economic Policy Institute. Nearly 1 in 10 Americans is officially unemployed, and the real-world jobless rate is worse. We’re running on a treadmill that is carrying us backward. Something approaching 10 million new jobs would have to be created just to get back to where we were when the recession began in December 2007. There is nothing currently in the works to jump-start job creation on that scale. ...
While the data mavens were talking about green shoots in September, employers in the real world were letting another 263,000 of their workers go, bringing the jobless rate to 9.8 percent, the highest in more than a quarter of a century. It would have been higher still but 571,000 people dropped out of the labor market. They’re jobless but not counted as unemployed. The number of people officially unemployed — 15.1 million — is, as The Wall Street Journal noted, greater than the population of 46 of the 50 states. ...
The word now, in the wake of last week’s demoralizing jobless numbers, is that the administration is looking more closely at its job creation options. Whether anything dramatic emerges remains to be seen. The master in this area, of course, was Franklin Roosevelt. His first Inaugural Address was famous for the phrase: “The only thing we have to fear. ...” But he also said in that speech: “Our greatest primary task is to put people to work.” And he said the country should treat that task “as we would treat the emergency of a war.” Now that’s the sense of urgency we need.
Everything is bright and sunny again, unless you have to work for a living. The news here is less good. The economy lost more than 260,000 jobs in September, with the unemployment rate reaching 9.8 percent. The 10.3 percent unemployment rate for adult men is the highest rate since the Great Depression. And real wages are headed downward. ...
While tens of millions of workers are facing unemployment or underemployment, and millions are facing the prospect of losing their homes, the instinct among the Washington punditry is to just sit back and wait. After all, now that the banks are all right they don't see any urgency for government action.
There are certainly many people who believe that the only role of government is to support bankers and other wealthy people who could not get by on their own. But for those who think that the government has the responsibility to prevent large segments of the population from being mired in unemployment, homelessness and poverty, there is much that can be done.
Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. Sample posts follow:
We all have to play nice-nice with our GR (global resource) peers. and when your GR team lead sends notes to IBM US mgmt that they need MORE WORK from their US counterparts, IBM mgmt. rolls over and gives them more work. Reminds me of an old CCR song: Fortunate Son.
And when you ask them, how much should we give? Ooh, they only answer more! more! more. What a sad, pathetic, f'ng company.
What's more pathetic is how India is not held accountable since they are Sam's chosen ones and how anyone who reports problems with India are considered anti-team, racist and uncooperative.
The sacred cows over in India aren't cattle, they're the "office boys" pretending to be IT professionals working for IBM. What a sad, pathetic f'ng company indeed.
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