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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—November 28, 2009

  • Business Report & Independent Online: The beauty queen, the hedge fund and the insider trading ring. By Anthony Effinger, Katherine Burton and Ian King. Excerpts: Danielle Chiesi spent a lot of time in hotel ballrooms and bars during the past decade. As an analyst at New Castle Funds, she was a regular at conferences on technology stocks, where she could get face time with executives and press them on how many microprocessors and how much software they were shipping that quarter. Chiesi wore short skirts and low-cut tops, according to people who saw her over the years. A blond, blue-eyed former teenage beauty queen, Chiesi used her sexuality to build sources at male-dominated technology companies, said Deborah Stapleton, president of Stapleton Communications.

    "It amazes me that grown, wealthy, successful, hardworking men fell for that," Stapleton said. Chiesi was proud of her network, too. "She bragged about her contacts in public," Stapleton said. US authorities say Chiesi, 44, crossed the line in her pursuit of secrets. They charged her and 19 others with securities fraud in the largest insider-trading case prosecuted since the 1980s, when stock market arbitrageur Ivan Boesky paid a $100 million fine and spent three years in prison. ...

    Of all the alleged conspirators, though, she had the highest-placed sources. She was in regular contact with Hector Ruiz, the former chairman and chief executive of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), according to a person familiar with the investigation. Government prosecutors say she was friends with Robert Moffat, a senior vice-president of IBM, who was a candidate to succeed chief executive Sam Palmisano. ...

    While Chiesi may have had fewer sources, they were well placed, and she worked them hard. She made plans to meet with IBM's Moffat at her mother's house on a Sunday, government wiretaps show. She talked into the evening with Ruiz from AMD, and she sought to re-establish the trust of the family friend at Akamai so she could pump him for information.

    Chiesi's comments on wiretaps read like dialogue from a Quentin Tarantino movie. "Unless you were on the phone with (the AMD executive) and had Moffat at your house last night, who the f*** would be buying it, honestly?" she asked Mark Kurland, her boss at New Castle, about AMD on September 9, 2008. ...

    Chiesi grew up in Binghamton, in New York state's Southern Tier along the Pennsylvania border. She was named Miss Southern Tier Teenager in 1981 and appeared in the local paper wearing a tiara. She enrolled at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she rushed the Pi Beta Phi sorority. "Danielle was really social, gregarious and popular," says Stacey Maggio, a sorority sister. "She was a knockout with a big heart." ...

    IBM 'coup'. Moffat, Chiesi's alleged source at IBM, was almost as valuable as Ruiz in terms of his clout. The 53-year-old senior vice-president ran the systems and technology group, which had sales of $19bn in 2008. "He's a huge coup for me, having him at IBM," Chiesi said on a taped call with Rajaratnam in September 2008. ...

    Turning fortunes. On January 8, 2009, Chiesi got two calls from Moffat's phone number, according to authorities. The next day, New Castle started buying IBM shares. On January 20, IBM reported earnings that beat analysts' forecasts. A day later, New Castle started dumping about half of its shares, making $500,000, the government says. Moffat, a 31-year IBM veteran, allegedly helped with the Sun trade, too. He was on a team doing due diligence on the server-computer maker, which was up for sale, according to the Justice Department.

    Talking with an unnamed associate in January, Chiesi said: "My IBM guy said that he thinks they're gonna beat the quarter." New Castle bought more than 1 million Sun shares on January 26 and 27, when Sun reported its earnings, which did exceed forecasts. The fund sold its Sun shares and reaped $900 000.

  • Poughkeepsie Journal: Big Blue gets smaller: U.S. work force cut by 10,000 in 2009. By Craig Wolf. Excerpts: IBM’s United States work force has been in decline for years, but it has recently shrunk faster. News that IBM’s American jobs were down to 105,000 came in a presentation to a congressional subcommittee by Maria Ferris, IBM’s director of diversity, compliance and employee experience. That means a decrease of 10,000 IBMers since the end of 2008, when it was 115,000. Ferris’ remarks were reported Nov. 16 as part of a pitch to relax some Fair Labor Standards Act provisions, which she said would increase workplace and time flexibility.

    IBM has been cutting costs and raising profits. One way is “work force rebalancing,” which involves shifting work around, often overseas, and U.S. downsizing.

    “We’ve been saying that the offshoring of U.S. jobs would bring the IBM employee population down significantly, and I think we’re seeing that now,” said Lee Conrad, national organizer for Alliance@IBM, a workers’ group. ...

    At the end of 2008, IBM had 398,455 employees globally, with the U.S. portion forming 28.9 percent of that.

  • New York Times: At a Software Powerhouse, the Good Life Is Under Siege. By Steve Lohr. Excerpts: A tour of its carefully tended, 300-acre corporate campus here leaves little doubt why surveys, year after year, rate the SAS Institute, the world’s largest private software company, among the best places to work. There is the subsidized day care and preschool. There are the four company doctors and the dozen nurses who provide free primary care. The recreational amenities include basketball and racquetball courts, a swimming pool, exercise rooms and 40 miles of running and biking trails. There is a meditation garden, as well as on-site haircuts, manicures, and jewelry repair. Employees are encouraged to work 35-hour weeks.

    Academics have studied the company’s benefit-enhanced corporate culture as a model for nurturing creativity and loyalty among engineers and other workers. Six years ago, in a report on “60 Minutes,” Morley Safer called working at SAS “the good life.”

    But that good life is under threat today as never before. SAS’s specialty, a lucrative niche called business intelligence software, is becoming mainstream. Free, open-source alternatives to some of the company’s products are increasingly popular. On the other end of the spectrum, the heavyweights of the software industry — Oracle, SAP, Microsoft and, especially, I.B.M. — are plunging in and investing billions of dollars.

    “It will be a dogfight,” says Bill Hostmann, an analyst at Gartner. “SAS has never faced a competitor like I.B.M. And I do think I.B.M. sees SAS as a big, fatted cow.” ...

    The competitive thrust that really grabbed SAS’s attention came in late July, when I.B.M. announced that it planned to pay $1.2 billion for SPSS, a maker of predictive modeling software. I.B.M. has placed SPSS and Cognos into a new business analytics and optimization group. That business will be supported by 200 scientists, and the company has said it will retrain or hire 4,000 consultants and analysts to work in the group. “This is the big growth strategy for I.B.M., the company’s next big play for this decade,” says Ambuj Goyal, a computer scientist who is general manager of I.B.M’s business analytics software unit. “SAS comes from the legacy world of statisticians and programmers. The real opportunity is in deploying this technology broadly in corporations.”

  • Associated Press, courtesy of Google: Canadian woman loses benefits over Facebook photo. Excerpts: A Canadian woman on long-term sick leave for depression says she lost her benefits because her insurance agent found photos of her on Facebook in which she appeared to be having fun. Nathalie Blanchard has been on leave from her job at IBM in Bromont, Quebec, for the last year.

    The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Saturday she was diagnosed with major depression and was receiving monthly sick-leave benefits from insurance giant Manulife. But the payments dried up this fall and when Blanchard called Manulife, she says she was told she was available to work because of Facebook.

    She said her insurance agent described several pictures Blanchard posted on Facebook, including ones showing her having a good time at a Chippendales bar show, at her birthday party and on a sun holiday. Blanchard said Manulife told her it's evidence she is no longer depressed. She's fighting to get her benefits reinstated and says her lawyer is exploring what the next step should be.

    Blanchard told the CBC that on her doctor's advice, she tried to have fun, including nights out at her local bar with friends and short getaways to sun destinations, as a way to forget her problems.

  • CNET News: IBM staffer posts pics on Facebook, loses benefits. By Chris Matyszczyk. Excerpts: Insurance companies want us to be healthy. Really, they do. They have our interests at heart, and they defend those interests with an unusual zeal. This is why I am wondering which details might be missing from the tale of Natalie Blanchard. According to the Associated Press, Blanchard, a 29-year-old IBM employee from Bromont, Quebec, was suffering from depression and took time away from work, relying on sick-leave benefits from her insurer, Manulife Financial. The monthly payments were suddenly halted. When she called Manulife to ask why, she says she was told that it had espied photos on her Facebook page that showed her cheerful. Ergo, the argument allegedly went, she was able to work. Which led to the second ergo: no more payments. ...

    Depression is a nasty business. Cures are not exactly logical. And Blanchard says she went on three trips, each of a four-day duration, after consulting with her psychiatrist. ...

    What sort of a life is it when you spend your days trawling social-networking sites to sniff around your customers' personal existence? How is it that Manulife observed Blanchard's photos? Did she leave her Facebook page entirely open, or could it be that she had her insurance agent as one of her Facebook friends? Was she, indeed, already under suspicion before the Facebook trawling began?

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues: "Re: WSJ: Age Bias at Work Is Harder to Prove" By "ranheimchas". Full excerpt: Before I retired from IBM, I saw what was happening to several older workers. They were given a workload that would be difficult for a young person to handle. This constant pressure on their daily lives forced them to make the decision to retire, before they had a heart attack or stroke. I retired on my own when I began to suspect this may happen to me.

    I did not want the company I worked so hard for to destroy my health, so I simply retired without any "window" or other financial incentive to do so. It was a difficult decision, but a smart move for me to take.

    I'm sure IBM is not the only company doing this. What hurt me most was the fact IBM had changed so much in the way the people were treated. In my early years at IBM, it was like being part of a family. We all worked together, and had the highest respect for each other. Then things changed, and profits became the main focus. I at least have good memories from the first 90% of the time I worked with IBM. It was really great while it lasted.

  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree Information Exchange: "Re: IBM QCC Wagner Ladder" by Kathi Cooper. (Editor's note: The IBM Retiree message board has had a long on-going discussion by older IBM retirees who received Rolex watches when they entered the "Quarter Century Club" after 25 years of service with the company. In more recent times, the QCC gifts have become a "bit" less generous. In this post, Kathi Cooper comments on hers.) Full excerpt: For my QCC, the gift catalogue had morphed over the years to better reflect how IBM truly felt about their employees, so in 2003 I picked out the fiberglass Wagner Ladder. It never needs winding and since I'm short, I use it almost daily. I'm going to have it engraved someday and pass it onto my son upon my passing. I know he will value it as much as I do.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: How many retireee's actually qualify for the FHA (Future Health Account)?" by "nyjints5". Full excerpt: I spoke to the person who was RA'ed last April and had 30 years of service but did not qualify for the FHA. They said the reason they did not get the FHA is because they were not at least 40 years old on June 1, 1999. I had only about two minutes to speak with them. I didn't ask any other questions.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: How many retireee's actually qualify for the FHA (Future Health Account)?" by "ignatz713". Full excerpt: That would do it. Those who were not 40 years old on June 1, 1999 were even MORE screwed than those who were not 50 years old on June 1, 1999. Then again, it's all relative. Those who were 49-&-44/100% but NOT 50 years old were hired by IBM with false promises of lifetime retiree medical and because medical is NOT protected by ERISA, they were screwed out of lifetime retiree medical and the good as gold prescription plan and instead raped by the FHA.

    Those who were only 39-&-44/100% did NOT have the amount of years vested in a dirty filthy lying selfish company and so the rape of their medical did not anger them as much.

    Then again, as fhawontcutit and I shouted constantly in 1999, they SHOULD have been angry but were not, just the as the 49+ year olds SHOULD have been angry but were not. BOTH groups SHOULD have at that time put in place a written contract to protect against future rapes, but here it is, 2009, the year of 10,425 rapes, and there is still no contract in place. Ain't life funny?

  • The Register (United Kingdom): Big Blue to build DARPA cat-brain machine. By Lewis Page. Excerpt: The idea is to achieve the same kind of computing feats that animal brains can, with machines of similar size, weight and power requirements. A cat, for instance, can jump up onto a fence using only binocular vision; a computer able to take stereoscopic vid and accomplish the same feat with four robotic legs would be so heavy as to crush the fence. Likewise, a human can drive a car in traffic - and so can a computer, perhaps. But that computer currently weighs more than 200 tons and requires power levels typical of a warship, not a car.
  • The Register: IBM's cat-brain sim a 'scam,' says Swiss boffin. By Austin Modine. Excerpts: Responding to its nation's sovereign call to develop electronics with the intelligence of a cat, IBM last week announced a major step in feline gray matter simulation. But professional rivalries clearly run deep inside puss brain replication circles, with a leading neuroscientist blasting the project as a "scam" and a "mass deception of the public." Dharmendra Modha, manager of IBM's Cognitive Computing unit, told the Supercomputing Conference last Wednesday that he and his team created a simulation of a cat-sized cerebral cortex that included 1 billion neurons and 10 trillion individual learning synapses. The project won itself the ACM Gordon Bell Prize in recognition of outstanding achievement in high-performance computing at the show.

    But neuroscientist Henry Markram, the lead of the "Blue Brain" modeling project at Switzerland's EPFL, has his claws out over IBM's claims. "I am absolutely shocked at this announcement. Not because it is any kind of technical feat, but because of the mass deception to the public," Markam wrote in an open letter sent to IBM's technology chief, Bernard Meyerson, and members of the media. ...

    He adds that "there is no qualified neuroscientist on the planet that would agree that this is even close to a cat's brain" and that the announcement is "simply a PR stunt here to ride on Blue Brain." "That the Bell prize would be awarded for such nonsense is beyond belief," Markam wrote. "I never realized that such trivial and unethical behavior would actually be rewarded. I would have expected an ethics committee to string this guy up by the toes."

  • Newsflavor opinion: Sam Palmisano Scratching Obama’s Back for Political Capital. Excerpts: Sammy P was a big supporter of Barack and sources tell us a big monetary supporter as well. The old one dirty hand washes the other. Barack needed the push into the White House and Sammy P needed the stimulus money and political capital and the two illusionist artists (polite name) cover it up with the tantalizing idea of creating jobs- but what they don’t tell you is the jobs are outside the country.

    Go back to January 2009 and revisit the TV broadcast of Sammy P and Barrack on UTube standing there side by side lying to the American public about how stimulus money given to IBM will create jobs. Yea, jobs in Pakistan, Brazil, Russia, and China (oh but they neglected to tell the American Public that). Sure broadband network and smart grids sound great but Sammy laid off conservatively 10,000 people in the US and Canada this year and a large number in Europe. ...

    IBM with their code of ethics- and Bob Moffat guilty of insider trading still keeps his pension when his ill got gains where on IBM time. Shame on you Sammy P. -like Bill Clinton you did it cause you could. And even more sad it will keep going on because the American people do not put a halt to it.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
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  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 11/22/09 There are two separation provisions in IBM that pay severance: The enhanced separation provision or option which is the 2 weeks pay per year at separation and the reduced separation provision or option which is the 1 weeks pay per year at separation. If you are a PBC 3 and management does a involuntary separation (i.e. termination) outside of a RA then you can get only one weeks pay per year severance. Nothing says you are entitled to two weeks pay per year of service that most RAed get. Who knows what IBM's future separation provisions might be. Since separation pay is not negotiable in IBM because you have NO CONTRACT and are an AT WILL EMPLOYEE you can and will be screwed at separation. -anonymous-
    • Comment 11/26/09 It has been reported that there will be about 1,000 job cuts in 1st quarter of 2010. The managers accidentally slipped this information. This guy is one of the leads when it comes to determining who gets cut. The way they determine is, by looking at who put in the least overtime hours and that person becomes a candidate for resource action. The tool used is CLAIM and some employees are not allowed to report OT over a certain amount. Another lead in job cuts who is just brought in as a temp manager just to cut people and then moved on to different project is XXXX YYYYYY (XY@us.ibm.com). He is an expert in laying off people. These people, along with Bob Moffat are regarded very highly in the IBM organization. Of course, Bob got caught but XXXX worked very closely with Bob. -Anonymous-

      Alliance Reply: I'm sorry, but I can't print the "lead" names, emails, or phone #'s here. We've been spoofed before by people trying to use Alliance as a public tool of revenge for personal reasons. Please contact us if you wish to discuss further, and include your email.

  • General Visitor's Comment page
    • Comment 11/23/09 To No Free Lunch - Yes, the IBM PPO health plan has no premium (for single anyway). I had that and when RA'd last spring I had zero premium until the TMP ran out 6 months later. Also, the retiree health plan under FHA for high deductible is premium free. -anonymous-
    • Comment 11/23/09 -No-Free-Lunch-, I believe the health care plans vary by site/region, but in Rochester, there is still one plan that is "free" (though if you opt out completely, you get $30 extra a month). Even that plan appeared to cover visits a PCP. However, as others have said, this doesn't include lab tests, procedures, etc. Further, it's only "free" if you're not paying to cover your spouse and/or dependents, those of course, are still an arm and a leg (more so than last year). -new2rchland-
    • Comment 11/23/09 Petition 70403 (IBM - GBS) El Segundo Workers has been certified/approved. Toyota and Nissan accounts. Toyota went to Infosys and Cognizant and Nissan went to Satyam. -Alliance Office-
    • Comment 11/23/09 TAA petition approved for GBS ABB account workers who reported to Endicott, NY. work moved to Czech Republic -Alliance Office-
    • Comment 11/23/09 TAA petition approved for workers in Integrated Technology Services, cost and Expense team reporting to Armonk. Work moved to India. -Alliance Office-
    • Comment 11/23/09 Could you expand on the significance re: the TAA petition approvals which were just posted? -anon29- Alliance reply: Go here: http://www.doleta.gov/tradeact/benefits.cfm#2
    • Comment 11/24/09 Can the Alliance provide any guidance on how some groups got TAA petition approval? Can you be specific about what criteria was actually used to win this (as others have been turned down). Is there someone to contact so we can learn from them and be as specific as they were? -anonymous-

      Alliance reply: There were changes in May 2009 that expanded TAA. Yes, some IBMers were denied prior to this change because they did not meet the criteria. Read here: http://www.doleta.gov/tradeact/ All IBMers who lost their job to offshoring should contact their State TAA representative. Be aware that you might have to also contact the State TAA rep that the IBM site you report to is located. State Reps here: http://www.doleta.gov/tradeact/contacts.cfm

    • Comment 11/25/09 So IBM has RA'd about 30,000 Americans in 4 years. And this has not been picked up by the general media. This is not just a matter of rebalancing to put employees near the customers around the world. As too many of us know, IBM is also importing foreigners under visas to take our jobs here in the USA. All in the name of cheap labor. -anonymous-
    • Comment 11/26/09 A real Happy Thanksgiving for us all would be one where us resources are not treated as turkeys and RA'ed "at will" so the executives don't feast on us. I sincerely hope the 10,000+ USA IBMers who were RA'ed this year and those still looking for work can enjoy this Thanksgiving. I know it is hard and could be hard for them. I also hope the remaining employed USA IBMers enjoy their Thanksgiving as well and they avoid the coming RA's. I would be thankful if the remaining IBMers stood up in solidarity and collectively help themselves by becoming a unified voice to stop RA's and employee abuses by IBM. -thankful2 & thankful4-
  • 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."
    • Comment 11/24/09: Band Level = 8; Job Title = IT Specialist; Div Name = STG; UK Location = UK; Message = Management are currently handing out 3Q's technical "bonus" plan payments. STG UK was, so we were told, the #1 STG business unit worldwide. The "reward" for this achievement is a bonus payment which does not even get me back to reference salary. Do I feel motivated heading in to the last month of IBM's 4Q? What do you think? -STGUK-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 11/23/09: If you do not agree with your PBC rating and you refuse to sign the electronic doc, does anyone know what happens next? -pbctimeagain-
    • Comment 11/25/09: -pbctimeagain- If you are at least a PBC "2" by not signing you probably will not get any GDP (growth driven pay) since you need a completed yearly PBC to get any. Be assured you will be hounded to sign your PBC electronically by your manager and 2nd line manager. Not signing it is like insubordination now. By signing it management will try to convinced you by saying "does not mean you totally agree with it". Managers usually have a line in their PBC that says something like"complete all (100%) of PBC's by XXX date" and any PBC not signed by an employee is not considered completed. My $.02 is to sign the darn PBC thing with a comment and be done with this totally subjective and stupid a$$inine process for another year. -pbcedagain-

      Alliance Reply: The same old merry-go-round. Solutions that don't change much. How about organizing and gathering your co-workers to join and then continue to grow the numbers of employees that want to put an end to the PBC "stupid a$$inine process" and replace it with an employment contract that has its own method of rating your work efforts and accomplishments; and agreed to by the union members?

    • Comment 11/25/09: Band Level = 7; Years Service = 31; Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 2; This Yr Bonus = 0; Message = Always sign the PBC and if you have negative feelings, comment those feelings. Comment very carefully! If the mgr did not give you interim PBC feedback and at end of year lowers your PBC, Then you can comment "Manager did not inform me of PBC rating at interim. This PBC rating is a disappointing situation for me." Make sure you comment to put the problem back on the manager. Do not react and sign the PBC in anger or to hurt anyone. If you check yourself and write that down, and then check it with another person that has been around for some time, you will be better off in the long term. You have to write the truth, but carefully (crafty) worded. -Young Lady-
    • Comment 11/26/09: Think about it. If your PBC was lowered, you can even write "I feel this PBC rating is discrimination due to my age and time in my job." Always use the word FEEL, because that is a stronger argument than to say I think, or to use the word YOU anywhere in the statement. "I feel mistreated in my PBC rating and feel I have not been rated fairly, due to ..." You have to be very careful in the statement and consider the wording and how the mgr wrote the results. If the write up was generally positive, and the rating was a 2 and you felt you were a 2+ then write "I am disappointed, but feel excited about this new year and will focus my efforts on the opportunity to increase my PBC rating next year." -Young Lady-
    • Comment 11/28/09: Young Lady- Any additional advice or verbs to use? Are you recommending NOT to escalate the assessment? Based on the turmoil in my org this past year, I don't believe that my 1st line will be even be writing my/our results. A new peer manager of his/her runs the show. This new peer manager gives our dept tasks, work direction and negative feedback all of the time. The person is a control freak. They also have the 2nd line managers ear. -pbctimeagain-
  • International Comments
    • Comment 11/24/09: Country = CZ (Czech Republic); Union Affiliate = NO; Job Title = IT specialist; IBM Division = GTS; Message = Even I am from Europe I do not consider myself as work thief. My job is connected with CEEMEA countries. On the other hand I fully agree with US colleagues and their frustration. IBM rather pay for expensive IT services in Dubai, rather build new IDC centers than implement service which are offered to IBM customers in own company. After 15 years (4 years AT&T - '99 deal) I am ready to leave without package, because of: I am pressed to do work for 3 persons. I am pressed to handle everything via mail daily even IBM offers workflow tools to customers. I am persuaded by boss and colleagues that work 11 hours daily is something normal.

      As international team member I have to keep evidence about everything. I am blamed that I do not well my job, received PBC=3 even I can't see family due unpaid overtimes. Vacation has no sense as nobody act as my stand-in and I have to deal with backlog every time when I am back at office.

      I feel as a slave not live in 21st of century with mobbing legalized. I am ready to spend 3 months in madhouse to recover myself and became human again. Job should be humanized! Eleven hours with laptop in mails, spreadsheets, calls and endless reports should not be accepted If I would US citizen I would became your member immediately. Wish you that your effort will bring satisfaction for US IBMers and life balance for your families. -Anonymous-

      Alliance reply: Thank you for your support. If you would like to send us information about any IBM corporate activities in your country, it would be of great help to us and we would appreciate it very much. I don't know very much about the labor laws in your country. Please send us information: Contact Us. It will be confidential between us and IBM will NOT know about it.

    • Comment 11/26/09: Country = UK; Union Affiliate = No; Job Title = IT Specialist; IBM Division = ITS; Message = Interesting stuff from BIG Z Well I must say, life is great outside IBM, more money shorter hours and managers that want you, managers that manage rather than just do what they are told what to do from above. Also pay increases every year. Superb should have left IBM years ago. -x ukibmer-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
Minimize
  • MS-NBC: Clinic with two doors, a symbol of two-tier care. One side is for patients with insurance, the other for those who pay up front. By Bill Dedman. Excerpts: In America, you get what you pay for. Those who pay more get better service. That's the way it is in restaurants, and in health care, too. But imagine a restaurant with one kitchen, one chef, but two doors and two price lists. That's the model of health care that some doctors are practicing.

    In New York City, msnbc.com heard of doctors locating their practices on corners, so they can have one door where they take insurance and another door offering services for patients who pay cash up front for each procedure. We visited one of these clinics with two doors, to see how it works. The result is a glimpse into a two-tiered system of health care, a system that could be coming to a street corner near you.

  • US News & World Report: Health Insurance: Your Health Plan After Reform. The future points to health insurance plans that provide solid coverage for just about every American. By Sarah Baldauf.
  • Wall Street Journal: Lieberman Digs In on Public Option. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, speaking in that trademark sonorous baritone, utters a simple statement that translates into real trouble for Democratic leaders: "I'm going to be stubborn on this." Stubborn, he means, in opposing any health-care overhaul that includes a "public option," or government-run health-insurance plan, as the current bill does. His opposition is strong enough that Mr. Lieberman says he won't vote to let a bill come to a final vote if a public option is included.

    Probe for a catch or caveat in that opposition, and none is visible. Can he support a public option if states could opt out of the plan, as the current bill provides? "The answer is no," he says in an interview from his Senate office. "I feel very strongly about this." How about a trigger, a mechanism for including a public option along with a provision saying it won't be used unless private insurance plans aren't spreading coverage far and fast enough? No again. So any version of a public option will compel Mr. Lieberman to vote against bringing a bill to a final vote? "Correct," he says. ...

    Critics, of course, think Mr. Lieberman is merely protecting insurers from his home state of Connecticut. He, of course, insists otherwise, arguing that regulation and litigation are the traditional and more appropriate ways to keep the private market honest. The real risk he sees, he insists, is government debt.

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.

  • Wall Street Journal: Wall Street Bonuses: Where’s the Outrage Been? By By Stephen Grocer. Excerpt: Now consider, say, Morgan Stanley. Since May 4, 1999–the day Goldman went public–Morgan Stanley has generated a total return for shareholders of -4.01%, according to FactSet. Morgan Stanley is expected to report a per-share loss of 50 cents this year. But as the WSJ reported last month according to regulatory filings, Morgan Stanley paid out or set aside about 64 cents of every $1 in net revenue for compensation and benefits this year, up from its historic rate of about 50%. The New York firm says the rate would have been below 50% if not for a couple of factors. For one, its revenue has been hurt by a rise in the prices of its bonds, which makes it more expensive for the firm to buy them back. The company added that its compensation to revenue levels have been pushed higher by the brokerage joint venture it introduced this year with Citigroup.
  • Washington Post: Bankers making turkeys out of taxpayers. By Dana Milbank. Excerpts: The nation's bankers have much to be thankful for as they sit down to their turkey dinners on Thursday. At this time last year, the American financial system was near collapse, rescued only by hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. Now the system has stabilized, and the industry is on the verge of a coup that many would have thought impossible a year ago: an escape from any major reform of financial regulations.

    On Tuesday, the American Financial Services Association even held a conference call with reporters to update them on its efforts -- successful so far -- to torpedo plans for a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which would protect people from the sort of lending abuses that led to last year's implosion. The ASFA, a trade group of credit card issuers, auto-finance companies, mortgage lenders and others leading the fight against the CFPA, took the unusual approach on Tuesday of publicly celebrating the reform's fading prospects. ...

    The trade group's analysis was astute. But the presentation took a considerable amount of nerve. The AFSA's membership, according to its Web site, includes some of the best-known names of the financial crisis: CIT, CitiFinancial, Countrywide, EquiFirst, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo Financial and GMAC. The trade group points out that its members did not directly receive bailouts from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (those went to banks, including some of the AFSA members' parent companies), but it's a safe bet that many of those firms would have failed if the government hadn't intervened to prop up the financial markets.

    Now these same companies, suffering from some combination of amnesia and ingratitude, are determined to fight off regulatory efforts to prevent a repeat of the same cycle of bubble, collapse and bailout. Big firms such as J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Bank of America -- direct or indirect beneficiaries of federal bailouts -- are all battling efforts to rein in derivatives. And credit card issuers, facing new regulations scheduled to take effect in February, have responded by increasing their rates and fees.

  • Washington Post: Lobbyists pushed off advisory panels. White House initiative to limit influence could affect thousands. By Dan Eggen. Excerpts: Hundreds, if not thousands, of lobbyists are likely to be ejected from federal advisory panels as part of a little-noticed initiative by the Obama administration to curb K Street's influence in Washington, according to White House officials and lobbying experts. The new policy -- issued with little fanfare this fall by the White House ethics counsel -- may turn out to be the most far-reaching lobbying rule change so far from President Obama, who also has sought to restrict the ability of lobbyists to get jobs in his administration and to negotiate over stimulus contracts. ...

    "Some folks have developed a comfortable Beltway perch sitting on these boards while at the same time working as lobbyists to influence the government," said White House ethics counsel Norm Eisen, who disclosed the policy in a September blog posting on the White House Web site. "That is just the kind of special interest access that the president objects to."

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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