Moffat, of Ridgefield, Conn., is a former senior vice president and group executive at International Business Machines Corp.'s Systems and Technology Group. He was once considered a possible candidate for IBM chief executive officer. ,,,
Mr. Moffat was originally arrested in October, along with Mr. Rajaratnam; Danielle Chiesi, a former consultant to New Castle; and three others. At the time, Mr. Moffat was charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan have alleged Mr. Rajaratnam was at the center of an insider-trading ring that generated millions of dollars in improper trades. Prosecutors have claimed the scheme topped $49 million. ...
Prosecutors have alleged that Mr. Moffat, between August 2008 and January 2009, provided insider information to Ms. Chiesi about Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and other companies. Ms. Chiesi then allegedly shared the AMD tip with Mr. Rajaratnam, prosecutors said.
In a separate civil complaint, the Securities and Exchange Commission has alleged Mr. Moffat also tipped Ms. Chiesi about Sun Microsystems's second-quarter earnings before they were released in January 2009. IBM was conducting due diligence of Sun Microsystems in anticipation of a possible acquisition at the time, the SEC said. Oracle Corp. completed a $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems in January.
Mr. Moffat also allegedly provided inside information to Ms. Chiesi about IBM's fourth-quarter 2008 earnings before their release in January 2009, according to the SEC.
Meanwhile, in the US, the Department of Justice started a preliminary investigation into IBM’s dominance of the mainframe computer market last autumn, sending out requests for information. This appeared to be triggered, at least in part, by a complaint from the Computer and Communications Industry Association, an industry group that includes some large IT companies such as Google and Microsoft, as well as much smaller groups.
I have not been able to get any approximate costs from the ESC on what I can expect to pay with different options. Are we eligible to purchase our insurance at IBM group rates? Does anyone know how I can get an idea of the costs of different options? Should I call/write the ESC and hope I get a more knowledgeable person to answer the phone? Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this topic.
As a retiree with the FHA plan, your health insurance coverage will cost about twice what it costs as an employee. But as an employee, you pay only about 20% of the real cost and IBM pays the rest. So expect to pay about 10 times what you have withheld from your paycheck right now for a similar level of coverage.
If you would like to know the current rates for the various FHA plans, you can see them here: http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/ibmpension/files/IBM Retirement Benefits Info/. You will have to be a member of the ibmpension group to get to the files section. Scroll down through the list of files and open the file titled "IBM 2010 Retiree Medical Plan Costs." Note that these costs are for non-medicare retirees.
(Editor's note: For the convenience of our readers, "IBM 2010 Retiree Medical Plan Costs." may be downloaded from our site. It is in PDF format.)
With $40,000 in your FHA account, you can expect to be able to pay for your medical coverage for about 2 years for you and your spouse, or 3-4 years for just yourself.
Another strategy is to withdraw less money from the FHA account each year and pay the rest out of your own pocket. That makes the money last longer, but you should be aware that IBM could take it away at any time. So many people feel it is better to spend the FHA money as fast as you can and not risk losing it. The money you leave in the FHA account earns only trivial interest these days. You might be able to invest your own money in something better and come out ahead in the long run.
Many have commented on why layoffs and outsourcing contribute to Sam's ability to meet his number goals and I agree with the points made. But, I think another important point needs to be made. In a services business, employees are considered to be commodity. The belief is that if an employee is not willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the goals and meet the numbers, then the employee can be replaced with someone else who can and will. Some say that one skilled employee cannot just be replaced by another - that they are not interchangeable. In a general sense I think this is true, especially when it comes to positions that require a high degree of creativity and ingenuity. However, I spent some time in a services organization and learned that most of the job assignments simply don't require skills that can't be replaced. They just don't. This is what makes replacing expensive U.S. employees with cheaper foreign workers viable.
Why pay more when you can achieve the same goals by paying less? From a numbers perspective, just a business decision. Compete successfully or run the risk of loosing your job.
But, better yet, why not just develop some skills that cannot be easily replaced? This, by the way, is how most other high tech companies work. There are some exceptions, of course.
Finally, the primary responsibility of a CEO of a publicly traded company is to keep the shareholders happy. Shareholders, in fact, own the business. Most of IBM's CEOs prior to Gerstner did not focus on this goal, partly because the IBM culture, which may of us still remember fondly, was much different then. For at least a decade, maybe more, times were good and IBM was fat, dumb and happy. It was all about the employees, keeping them happy. Keeping stockholders happy was primarily an afterthought, but when times were good, it was even possible to achieve this secondary goal.
One could argue that some of these CEOs did not even try to serve their stockholders - John Akers was a good example and he took IBM to the brink of failure. Sam, clearly, has every intention of keeping the shareholders happy. Doing so is one of the key metrics on which he is being measured, and he likes achieving his goals... because he's a numbers guy. I don't his business decisions have much to do with greed or personal financial benefit. Sam, after all, already has more money than he will ever be able to spend.
"Compete successfully or run the risk of loosing your job. But, better yet, why not just develop some skills that cannot be easily replaced?"
Developing skills means LITTLE. I have seen highly rated person after person get RA'ed. These persons had current skills and were thought critical and indispensable. I doubt there is one reader of this board who would dispute this. If it were as simple as "developing skills" everyone would be doing it. The reality is, if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, if you are politically incorrect, if you have an odor, etc, etc, do you are toast. Employees know this and in large part, NO LONGER CARE.
Another problem is that even when skills can be readily replaced, and there are some good India/Brazil people out there, the short training period and adverse conditions tend to discourage any real collaboration or information sharing, since whatever info you give away may be used to take your job, rather than to help the overall team work more effectively. I can remember in the 1980s and early 1990s, we had a great culture of sharing tools and ideas via the forums, but now with steady layoffs and off-shoring, you see a lot less of that at least in public areas.
I see an awakening occurring - borne out of the frustration of working large amounts of overtime as a way of life to cover resource shortages and delivering the product or services only to face yet another round of layoffs and yet another round of increased job demands and more overtime. Meanwhile, the execs reap their huge bonuses and the employee gets to keep his job - if he's lucky.
The awakening is the sudden realization that this staffing model is insane, doesn't serve the employee, and the only way to fight back is to not put in the 40-50% overtime, but to cut back to 10, maybe 15% maximum overtime and let the executives deal with reduced content or service delivery failures or stuff not getting done.
I believe we need more US employees to put tight limits on their overtime, more US employees to allow work to not get done, employees that move the work-life balance pendulum back towards life, more US employees that let the natural consequences happen because IBM has chosen to egregiously understaff.
What are they going to do - fire all of us? And like that will help the understaffing situation? Ha! Why not a start a corporate movement named "Only 10", referring to working only a maximum of 10% overtime.
IBM is no longer interested in investing in the U.S. worker. They bring over the Off Shore replacement to be trained (airfare, hotel, meals, etc.). What about training for the US workers? It's done rarely, if ever anymore. There's no outrage anywhere - just the silent despair of the folks fired and a few wild ducks trying to make sense out of a senseless situation.
I think we would all agree that it was the work of Thomas Watson Sr and Jr that made IBM the company to work for in the 50's and 60's - both in how it treated it’s employee's and how the company engaged with customers. The anti-trust lawsuit in 1969 shaped IBM into a very silo’ed company with vertical pillars that shared little in common except the brand. It’s my understanding that IBM actually had a plan at one point to break up much like what Bell did - a plan that did not need to be implemented. One of IBM's darkest times came in the late 80's early 90's with John Akers as CEO, Microsoft's brilliant marketing campaign that "the mainframe is dead", and a notable economic downturn. Akers thought that it was the end for IBM and looked to implement the anti-trust break-up plan as a way of going forward. Back in those days, there were lay-offs and site closings, just like there are now. The Services group was almost sold off if I remember correctly.
At that point, Lou Gerstner became CEO. I can still remember the water fountain jokes about how could the "tobacco" guy know anything about high tech company - boy were we wrong! Lou knew the value of the brand and how badly we all had lost sight of that. I think that what Lou did in re-inventing IBM makes him one of the best CEO's of the 20th century. Lou had integrity and I think that is easily visible in the way IBM ran under his leadership. When Lou left and Sam replaced him, I for one was disappointed.
Sam, for me, embodies the "talking head". All the right words come out but there's nothing underneath it. You don’t see anything that inspires confidence. Look at the employee recognition programs under Sam’s tutelage. Many of the things that made IBM a great company to work for and now gone. Gone are all formal and informal award programs. Gone is the focus on education and training. The last recognition program, the “Thanks” program, will be terminated shortly if it hasn’t been already. (Editor's note: It's gone.)
Sam is clearly in it for the short haul and for his own personal gain. A case in point. Last spring he met with Obama as part of a CEO summit to discuss job creation. The video was posted on the IBM web site in which Sam stated that even as the economy was slowing down, IBM would continue to invest and drive to take a leadership position that would make it even stronger once the recovery started. It was less than a week later that the SWG RA of Feb 09 was rolled out - the one that hit me. So much for honestly and integrity.
So Sam's re-invention of IBM involves massive divestment of its US employee base and moving jobs off shore, guised in a rationale of "investing in emerging markets". IBM has now honed the art of the Layoff to a fine art. It breaks the size of the group down to make it small enough to avoid the State and Federal regulations requiring public disclosure and in doing so keeps off the 'bad press" radar.
To reiterate what I posted earlier, my concern is the long term viability of the IBM company. With Lou, it was very clear that his long term goal was the success of IBM as an American Fortune 100 company. With Sam, it’s just not clear to me. My hope is, once Sam leaves, IBM finds another CEO that values the hearatige that is IBM.
Sure, you try to find another position, but then you just have to move on. The thing that the MBAs running companies by spreadsheet forget is that treating people like numbers make them less loyal and more apt to be mobile. Why should they care about your bottom line when they know that, even if you make it, their jobs are always at risk? Situational loyalty is the best such companies can hope for.
This fight belongs in the US sociopolitical arena. And it’s basically a question of whether or not our country can sustain a middle class any longer. If it can’t, then I am at a loss at what to do with all those folks who cannot “re-tool” to be part of the knowledge economy.
And for those you Aces who think YOU are immune to involuntary vocational dislocation, e.g. getting caught up in an RA, just look at the band kinds of IBM employees let go over the past 18 months. No it’s not just the non-exempts who need to worry, IBM (and others) have shown that it is every bit as feasible to ship Band 9, 10 and higher type jobs to Mumbai or Shanghai or wherever else the rates/salaries are cheaper.
What are we left with? My take is that it’s the old Lower/Middle/Upper level wage-earner pyramid in which significant portions of the top and the mid-level workforce are being exported to our ever-more viable competitors. Welcome to the "new normal"…
Let's see... In 1996 I joined IBM in the wake of an outsourcing decision by my previous employer (Insurance Company). I wasn't in scope to go, but I elected to jump because IBM represented my core business. I felt good because I had some say in my future - no fighting required.
Since then I've survived 2 redundancy programmes, one of which saw my partner thrown out after she was kindly allowed to spend the last 8 weeks of her employment training someone else to do her job in South Africa (and they still can't do it properly some 6 years later!). Fighting not really an option - it was a "done deal" redundancy for cost cutting reasons, plain and simple.
The "C" plan pensions change (Editor's note: in Great Britain) in 2006 came with an opportunity to influence my future, so I felt involved (if not exactly valued by IBM). No point fighting - I chose the, at worst neutral, solution.
Then came "Pensions 2009" and punitive Early Retirement Terms. Why change the terms if early retirement wasn't to be offered any more anyway? Answer: This is a redundancy programme by stealth for those over 50. All this at a time when IBM enjoyed a record cash bank balance and record quarter after record quarter. Despite this, the stock price hasn't changed, except in line with the market, so the execs are doing nothing to impress Wall Street. I could have spent several grand joining the legal actions against IBM regarding constructive dismissal, etc, but without a reasonable chance of decent compensation, I'd be financing the lawyers' bonuses instead of those of the IBM board. My pockets are not deep enough to fight for a principle.
The value proposition working for IBM had changed to the point of absurdity. It wasn't fun any more to be part of the machine. So I looked for the opportunity within the change and took positive action to look after No 1. Nobody else will - certainly nobody in IBM!
I miss the IBM family, but not IBM. I'm in control of my future again and have a pension as income and operating capital to execute the plans. So far, so good.
Years ago an IBM mentor told me "You need to know which battles to pick and when to roll with the flow." He was absolutely right.
Incidentally, there is no such thing as "one" IBM. Working in GTS in the UK I do not recognise the IBM of which Sam & co speak in their quarterly announcements. I bet our colleagues' perspective in China, India and Eastern Europe, etc is quite different to mine.
Second, We have set up a private forum for members only. Once we verify your membership and email from your post, we can send you the link to the private forum. You can then register for the forum, using your verified email. I will personally make sure registration is swift, and then you can begin posting comments in several of the sections of the private forum.
Just to be clear: If you use the Job Cuts Reports board to post Job cuts related information, and you are a member, we will still protect your identity and will post your comments with a pseudonym of your choice or as Anonymous. Again, The private forum is for dues members only. It is protected by the same Federal laws that protect us from anti-union trouble makers and union busters. Be sure to include your email that you used to sign up as an Alliance member. Contact us if you have more questions. -Rick White Treasurer, Organizer, IT Administrator and Health & Safety Representative. CWA Local 1701, Alliance@IBM.
You're better off using your time looking outside IBM. Let IBM cut it's own throat by getting rid of it's experienced front line staff.
I also heard a story about an IBM Toronto sales person RA'ed in March. Her manager wanted her to sign a letter saying she was retiring and wanted her to tell all her customers the same. She refused to sign and told her customers that she was being let go. Good for her. This is another typical IBM attempt to cover the truth.
I was a front line service tech with 22 years experience at IBM. After I was RA'ed, IBM sub-contracted most of the equipment I worked on, to a cheaper service company. IBM is acting as a middle man on these service contracts. My message to the IBM customers is "if IBM does not want to provide IBM staff to service your IBM equipment, and want to act as a middle man, then I say cut out the middle man and deal directly with the cheaper sub-contract company. The result would be the same and you would actually get what you pay for." -RA'ed in Canada Mar 2009-
This is a company that I joined 24 years ago that I don't even recognize since at one time they seemed to be a company with a sense of fairness/honestly and integrity. But now when you mention that to the executives they just indicate that what got US in trouble...now they have become this evil empire that will do whatever it takes to make quarterly numbers. Wouldn't it be nice to see a follow on to Michael Moore's Roger and Me called Sam I AM. IBMer are probably more conservative that GM employees which is why we may seem to go away quietly but the facts speak for themselves and should be aired more publicly -screwed-
How as employees do we stop offshoring?? Beg the board of directors to pweese stop? Or by having it defined in a labor contract. The government will not stop offshoring for us. Corporate America will not stop it. Corporate Canada or the Canadian Government will not stop it either. Writing your Representatives will do no good. Calling the Newspapers does no good. Getting it on TV does no good.
Please enlighten us how you expect a group trying to organize workers into a union who do not represent anyone yet to show results?? Getting membership in high enough numbers to vote in a union is the only result that can be produced by any of us members at this point. THEN, when we are legally represented by a union we can vote on what we want OUR negotiators to get in writing during collective bargaining with IBM Management. Be it stopping offshoring, Forcing Onshoring when possible. Defining layoffs by seniority and right to recall before hiring new employees and so on. You want to stop this abuse by IBM? Join the union effort.
Sheer raw numbers is the only thing that counts at this point. The only result we can achieve is enough members to successfully organize IBM. After that its up to us what we want our union to work on. Hope this has cleared up your misunderstanding . Hope you decide to join us and make a difference. -Exodus2007-
Editor's note: Many more job cut comments are available in the highlights from these weeks:
Jan’s stomach was removed, and she underwent extensive chemotherapy. Then in October, her doctors discovered that the cancer had spread to her intestines. She has been hospitalized ever since.
The insurance company is InterGlobal, based in London, and the policy ostensibly covered up to $1.7 million in costs. But, according to Zack, the company said the policy allowed it to cut Jan off because she suffered from a “chronic condition.” It stopped paying her bills in January, Zack says.
I reached Sophie Walker, the group head of claims for InterGlobal. She said she couldn’t talk about an individual case. But she explained in an e-mail message that with a “chronic condition” the policies can have a much lower limit, $85,000, on lifetime claims. That’s the limit that Jan ran into in January, Zack says. Then Ms. Walker gave me the company’s definition of “chronic” (you couldn’t make this up):
“Chronic means a medical condition which has at least one of the following characteristics: has no known cure; is likely to recur; requires palliative treatment; needs prolonged monitoring/ treatment; is permanent; requires specialist training/rehabilitation; is caused by changes to the body that cannot be reversed.”
That sounds like a spoof from “The Daily Show.” To translate: We’ll pay for care unless you get sick with just about anything that might be expensive. Then we’ll cut you off at the knees. ...
Those opposing reform argue that emergency rooms are always available as a backstop for those without insurance. That rings hollow for a woman with, say, stomach cancer. More broadly, E.R.’s simply cannot solve the larger health needs of the roughly 75 million Americans who are either uninsured or underinsured.
The conundrum is this: It’s in the interest of insurance companies to exclude people who are sick, while it’s in our national interest to see them covered. Plus, it’s the right thing to do.
On the morning of Sept. 2, 2009, another Pfizer unit, Pharmacia & Upjohn, agreed to plead guilty to the same crime. This time, Pfizer executives had been instructing more than 100 salespeople to promote Bextra -- a drug approved only for the relief of arthritis and menstrual discomfort -- for treatment of acute pain of all kinds.
For this new felony, Pfizer paid the largest criminal fine in U.S. history: $1.19 billion. On the same day, it paid $1 billion to settle civil cases involving the off-label promotion of Bextra and three other drugs with the United States and 49 states.
"At the very same time Pfizer was in our office negotiating and resolving the allegations of criminal conduct in 2004, Pfizer was itself in its other operations violating those very same laws," Loucks, 54, says. "They've repeatedly marketed drugs for things they knew they couldn't demonstrate efficacy for. That's clearly criminal." The penalties Pfizer paid for promoting Bextra off-label were the latest chapter in the drug's benighted history. The FDA found Bextra to be so dangerous that Pfizer took it off the market for all uses in 2005. ...
If the law is clear, why do drug companies keep breaking it? The answer lies in economics. Pharmaceutical companies spend about $1 billion to develop and test a new drug. To recoup their investment, the companies want doctors to prescribe their drugs as widely as possible. Since May 2004, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Bristol-Myers Squibb and four other drug companies have paid a total of $7 billion in fines and penalties. Six of the companies admitted in court that they marketed medicines for unapproved uses. In September 2007, New York-based Bristol-Myers paid $515 million -- without admitting or denying wrongdoing -- to federal and state governments in a civil lawsuit brought by the Justice Department. The six other companies pleaded guilty in criminal cases. ...
As large as the penalties are for drug companies caught breaking the off-label law, the fines are tiny compared with the firms' annual revenue. The $2.3 billion in fines and penalties Pfizer paid for marketing Bextra and three other drugs cited in the Sept. 2 plea agreement for off-label uses amount to just 14 percent of its $16.8 billion in revenue from selling those medicines from 2001 to 2008. The total of $2.75 billion Pfizer has paid in off-label penalties since 2004 is a little more than 1 percent of the company's revenue of $245 billion from 2004 to 2008. Lilly already had a criminal conviction for misbranding a drug when it broke the law again in promoting schizophrenia drug Zyprexa for off-label uses beginning in 1999. The medication provided Lilly with $36 billion in revenue from 2000 to 2008. That's more than 25 times as much as the total penalties Lilly paid in January.
Companies regard the risk of multimillion-dollar penalties as just another cost of doing business, says Lon Schneider, a professor at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles. In 2006, he led a study for the National Institute of Mental Health of off-label use of drugs, including Zyprexa. "There's an unwritten business plan," he says. "They're drivers that knowingly speed. If stopped, they pay the fine, and then they do it again."
Nearly every major aspect of the health bill pushes in the other direction. This fact helps explain why Mr. Obama was willing to spend so much political capital on the issue, even though it did not appear to be his top priority as a presidential candidate. Beyond the health reform’s effect on the medical system, it is the centerpiece of his deliberate effort to end what historians have called the age of Reagan. ...
The bill is the most sweeping piece of federal legislation since Medicare was passed in 1965. It aims to smooth out one of the roughest edges in American society — the inability of many people to afford medical care after they lose a job or get sick. And it would do so in large measure by taxing the rich. A big chunk of the money to pay for the bill comes from lifting payroll taxes on households making more than $250,000. On average, the annual tax bill for households making more than $1 million a year will rise by $46,000 in 2013, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research group. Another major piece of financing would cut Medicare subsidies for private insurers, ultimately affecting their executives and shareholders.
The benefits, meanwhile, flow mostly to households making less than four times the poverty level — $88,200 for a family of four people. Those without insurance in this group will become eligible to receive subsidies or to join Medicaid. (Many of the poor are already covered by Medicaid.) Insurance costs are also likely to drop for higher-income workers at small companies. ...
Since 1980, median real household income has risen less than 15 percent. The only period of strong middle-class income growth during this time came in the mid- and late 1990s, which by coincidence was also the one time when taxes on the affluent were rising. For most of the last three decades, tax rates for the wealthy have been falling, while their pretax pay has been rising rapidly. Real incomes at the 99.99th percentile have jumped more than 300 percent since 1980. At the 99th percentile — about $300,000 today — real pay has roughly doubled.
The laissez-faire revolution that Mr. Reagan started did not cause these trends. But its policies — tax cuts, light regulation, a patchwork safety net — have contributed to them. Health reform hardly solves all of the American economy’s problems. Economic growth over the last decade was slower than in any decade since World War II. The tax cuts of the last 30 years, the two current wars, the Great Recession, the stimulus program and the looming retirement of the baby boomers have created huge deficits. Educational gains have slowed, and the planet is getting hotter. ...
Before he became Mr. Obama’s top economic adviser, Lawrence Summers told me a story about helping his daughter study for her Advanced Placement exam in American history. While doing so, Mr. Summers realized that the federal government had not passed major social legislation in decades. There was the frenzy of the New Deal, followed by the G.I. Bill, the Interstate Highway System, civil rights and Medicare — and then nothing worth its own section in the history books. Now there is.
Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, who supports not just a public plan but also a government-run Medicare-for-all system, said he had secured a commitment from the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, for a future vote on a public plan, when it could well be harder to pass. But Mr. Sanders also said Democrats were smart to quit while they were ahead. “Is it possible that if I or somebody else introduced the public option today, that it conceivably would go back to the House and be passed?” he asked. “Is it possible? Yes. Is it possible that it would fail? Yes. Is it possible then you would not have the reconciliation bill? Absolutely. Is that a risk work taking at this moment? I think not.”
But public knowledge of the plan’s contents may not improve as quickly as Democrats hope. While some of the more outlandish rumors may dissipate, it is likely that misperceptions will linger for years, hindering substantive debate over the merits of the country’s new health care system. The reasons are rooted in human psychology.
Studies have shown that people tend to seek out information that is consistent with their views; think of liberal fans of MSNBC and conservative devotees of Fox News. Liberals and conservatives also tend to process the information that they receive with a bias toward their pre-existing opinions, accepting claims that are consistent with their point of view and rejecting those that are not. As a result, information that contradicts their prior attitudes or beliefs is often disregarded, especially if those beliefs are strongly held.
"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.
Tuesday's Tea Party crowd, however, thought that federal taxes were almost three times as high as they actually are. The average response was 42% of GDP and the median 40%. The highest figure recorded in all of American history was half those figures: 20.9% at the peak of World War II in 1944. ...
According to calculations by the Joint Committee on Taxation, a congressional committee, tax filers with adjusted gross incomes between $40,000 and $50,000 have an average federal income tax burden of just 1.7%. Those with adjusted gross incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 have an average burden of 4.2%. ...
Tea Partyers also seem to have a very distorted view of the direction of federal taxes. They were asked whether they are higher, lower or the same as when Barack Obama was inaugurated last year. More than two-thirds thought that taxes are higher today, and only 4% thought they were lower; the rest said they are the same.
As noted earlier, federal taxes are very considerably lower by every measure since Obama became president. And given the economic circumstances, it's hard to imagine that a tax increase would have been enacted last year. In fact, 40% of Obama's stimulus package involved tax cuts. These include the Making Work Pay Credit, which reduces federal taxes for all taxpayers with incomes below $75,000 by between $400 and $800.
According to the JCT, last year's $787 billion stimulus bill, enacted with no Republican support, reduced federal taxes by almost $100 billion in 2009 and another $222 billion this year. The Tax Policy Center, a private research group, estimates that close to 90% of all taxpayers got a tax cut last year and almost 100% of those in the $50,000 income range. For those making between $40,000 and $50,000, the average tax cut was $472; for those making between $50,000 and $75,000, the tax cut averaged $522. No taxpayer anywhere in the country had his or her taxes increased as a consequence of Obama's policies.
It's hard to explain this divergence between perception and reality. Perhaps these people haven't calculated their tax returns for 2009 yet and simply don't know what they owe. Or perhaps they just assume that because a Democrat is president that taxes must have gone up, because that's what Republicans say that Democrats always do. In fact, there hasn't been a federal tax increase of any significance in this country since 1993.
She is an Oklahoma native, a janitor’s daughter, a bankruptcy expert at Harvard Law School and a former Sunday School teacher who cites John Wesley — the co-founder of Methodism and a public health crusader — as an inspiration. She brims with cheer, yet she is such a fearsome interrogator that Bruce Mann, her husband, describes her as a grandmother who can make grown men cry. Back at Harvard, Ms. Warren’s teaching style is “Socratic with a machine gun,” as one former student put it. In Washington, she grills bankers and Treasury officials just as relentlessly. ...
In a blitz of television appearances, she offers a story of how 30 years of deregulation has rewarded the financial industry but led to abusive practices and collapses that have hurt ordinary Americans — the same taxpayers who are paying for bank bailouts. ...
Ms. Warren does say that if she and the administration lose on the agency’s passage, she’d like them to lose big — to force lawmakers, as she puts it, to leave “lots of blood and teeth” on the floor. If that happens, Ms. Warren will still have her own platform, starting with her nearly constant stream of television appearances. Hosts and cameramen love her: she has the friendly face of a teacher, the pedigree of a top law professor, the moral force of a preacher and the plain-spoken twang of an Oklahoman. “This is America’s middle class,” she recently said on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” “We’ve hacked at it and pulled at it and chipped at it for 30 years now, and now there’s no more to do. We fix this problem going forward, or the game really is over.” “When you say it like that and you look at me like that, I know your husband is backstage, I still want to make out with you,” Mr. Stewart responded.
But wait, say apologists for the five Supreme voters who hung this plutocratic albatross around the neck of our democracy – it's not just corporations who were freed by the Court to spend billions to elect or defeat candidates. They smugly point out that labor unions, too, can now take their members' dues money and dump as much of it as they want into their campaigns. So, see, the ruling justices took care to be "fair and balanced."
Where've we heard that phrase before?
Balanced? Even if every union were to liquidate all of their assets and set aside every dime they have for elections, their total war chest would be $6 billion. Just one Wall Street firm, Goldman Sachs, doled out three times more than that in bonus payments to its bankers this year alone. Indeed, the combined union assets of $6 billion adds up to a mere one-tenth of one percent of the assets held by only the four largest banks in our country.
Yet, the Court's corporate supremists have now equated the freedom to spend money on elections with our people's freedom of speech. This means that those with the most money get the most speech. What's fair about that?
As an indicator of how imbalanced our brave new world of money-based elections will be, check this out: the 100 largest American corporations have annual incomes totaling $13 trillion. Henceforth, they can tap this ocean of political clout to elect policymakers who will do their bidding – not ours.
To help undo the Court's coup against us, connect with www.freespeechforpeople.org.
Uh... no. Let's look to Lehman Brothers for an object lesson in trusting Wall Street elites. When it collapsed into bankruptcy in 2008, the official word was that it was a victim of bad mortgages. Nothing amiss, just... unfortunate. Now, however, a newly-released bankruptcy report reveals that top executives at the investment house were desperately "Enroning" its books. Using an accounting flim-flam, they spent nearly a year before Lehman's denouement manipulating its books to hide the rapidly deteriorating state of its financial condition.
This "creative accounting" was done to deceive shareholders and Lehman's own board of directors. The CEO himself certified the misleading figures, and the report cites him for being "at least grossly negligent." The bank's accounting firm, Ernst & Young, also knew of the manipulation – but raised no protest.
So this is why well-tailored, high-class professionals must be regulated: in a pinch, they cheat.
But regulation must be truly independent, for guess who else knew about Lehman's financial shell game even as it was happening? The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, headed at the time by our present treasury secretary, Tim Geithner. He had dispatched officials to assess the bank's health, but they raised no alarm about the accounting gimmickry.
Wall Street and the Fed have long been two peas in a cozy pod, with the so-called regulators treating the bankers as trusted colleagues. These giant banks deserve no public trust, but neither does the Fed.
The dragons lurking in the fine print of some credit agreements are enough to give you heart failure. Payday loans, for example, typically carry annual interest rates in the vicinity of 400 percent. Or look at the lineup of fees, penalties and interest rates on your credit cards and overdraft privileges. Don’t even start on mortgage abuses. That would take too long, and it’s too depressing. We’re talking here about exploitation run wild. The Mob, which used to have a stranglehold on loan-sharking, can only look on with envy.
So I guess it’s understandable that the financial industry and other big-money interests are all but hysterical in their opposition to the Consumer Financial Protection Agency that has been proposed by the Obama administration as part of its overall reform of financial regulations. You’d hardly expect the people rifling the pockets of middle-class Americans and the poor to be happy about an agency with oversight and enforcement authority homing in on their nefarious and wildly profitable activities. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending millions trying to prevent the agency from ever seeing the light of day. ...
Ordinary Americans need someone on their side in the wild world of consumer credit. The big companies have their accountants and economists and lawyers and lobbyists and trade associations, and their good buddies on Capitol Hill — all of them figuring out new and better ways to separate consumers from their money. But as Elizabeth Warren has asked again and again: Who is looking out for the consumer? The answer is no one. Consumers have to navigate the treacherous credit terrain on their own, often with the equity in their homes or their life’s savings at stake. ...
An interesting concept at work here is the notion that consumer protections that work too well would end up hurting the “safety and soundness” of the nation’s financial sector. (That’s the reason the Senate bill provides for bank regulators to have a veto over the proposed agency’s rules under some limited circumstances.) “Safety and soundness” is a euphemism for profitability. What’s really being said is that when the profitability of the big banks and other financial agencies and institutions are in conflict with the fair treatment of consumers, it’s the fair treatment of consumers that has to give way. Now would be a good time to start putting that notion to rest.
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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