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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—October 2, 2010

  • Fast Company: IBM High: Big Blue to Sponsor School, Mold Future Employees. By Ariel Schwartz. Excerpts: Want your kids to have a plum job after graduation? Send them to a New York City high school currently being planned by the City University of New York and IBM. The school, which will play host to around 600 students, will span grades 9 to 14. Its students will leave with an associate's degree--and a guaranteed job with IBM. It's a "a ticket to the middle class, or even beyond," according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

    WNYC reports that IBM has offered $250,000 for New York City to create the computer science-focused school, which is set to open next fall. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is throwing in $3 million. It will be the first high school in the U.S. to go through grade 14. No word on how students will be selected to attend, but we do know that they won't be academically pre-screened. ...

    But IBM's school, unlike Microsoft and Facebook's, will effectively be a corporate training program. Students won't be forced to work at IBM after graduation, of course, but the company will have the opportunity to mold them in its image. Is being beholden to a giant corporation the price that inner city students now have to pay for a quality education?

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: 'IBM "high school"' by "sby_willie". Excerpts: This is scary. Talk about indoctrinating and setting city dwelling Americans up for indentured servantry (low paid, sweatshop-style work, etc.) that IBM has becomes for all those under middle management. A closing excerpt from the article:
    "But IBM's school, unlike Microsoft and Facebook's, will effectively be a corporate training program. Students won't be forced to work at IBM after graduation, of course, but the company will have the opportunity to mold them in its image. Is being beholden to a giant corporation the price that inner city students now have to pay for a quality education?"

    I bet this school will be the only way to get an entry level job in IBM in the USA in the not to distant future. Does IBM think it now takes SIX years of high school to educate a city dwelling American? Will grades 13 and 14 be junior college (associate level college) geared?

    Thinking twice IBM is doing this to reinforce what it thinks and spews to the public that the USA education system is not as good as, say, China's and India's schools. If the USA education system is so bad according to IBM then most, if not all, the IBM USA corporate executives, as products of the USA education system, must be deficient as well. So why does IBM still have American educated executives in the inner circle of the IBM board of directors? All IBM CEO's have been American born and bred.

    So now Sam can add another title for himself: high school superintendent and (maybe)associate college President. Randy now becomes dean of students. Which other corporate senior VP will be in charge of curriculum...?

  • Huffington Post: West Virginia IT Pros Mount First US Resistance to Outsourcing. By Donna Conroy. Excerpts: From the hills and hollows of West Virginia, IT professionals are resolving to do what American IT professionals have never done before - stop the outsourcing of their jobs, the insanity of cost over runs for botched services, and the destruction of their identity as American professionals. Unlike assembly-line workers who find the gates to the factory shuttered one day, IT professionals are first lured into cooperating with a shadowy internal "chop-shop." The chop shop's mission is to analyze, dissect, disassemble and consolidate computing power and support. ...

    Once the outsourcing begins, so do the firings, the cost overruns, and loss of expertise. So when Ron Bolin, the new West Virginia State Director of Information Services, a former IBM employee and lawyer specializing in IT outsourcing contracts, assembled 35 programmers to inquire, "What does everybody think about outsourcing?" they thought they were dead-men walking.

    "You couldn't draw this picture any better if you used Crayolas," said Jennifer Ayers, an applications developer programmer who walked out of the meeting determined to fight. While other programmers were willing to "play-nice," she and a handful of programmers at the state of West Virginia, all non-union workers who once considered unions irrelevant, formed a team that day that would draw a line in the sand against a national trend. Twenty years in the making, this trend is played out over and over: Permanent top dollar, white-collar jobs convert to dead-end perma-temp jobs which eventually sail abroad.

  • Washington Post: Anti-outsourcing bill fails in Senate. By Lori Montgomery. Excerpts: The latest jobs bill from Senate Democrats - a plan to punish firms that ship jobs overseas - failed to clear a key procedural hurdle Tuesday after some Democrats complained that the measure would hamper the ability of U.S. companies to compete in foreign markets. Four Democrats and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) voted with a united Republican caucus to block the bill, which was crafted to address the 9.6 percent unemployment rate in the run-up to November's midterm elections. On a vote of 53 to 45, the measure failed to garner the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) defended the bill as a "simple, common-sense" effort to "keep American jobs here in America" and to "stop forcing taxpayers in Nevada and across the nation to pay for giveaways that reward companies for sending American jobs overseas." ...

    The bill under consideration Tuesday would have ended tax deductions for expenses incurred when companies shutter U.S. operations and shift the work abroad; imposed a new tax on products once made in the United States but now manufactured by foreign workers; and offered employers a two-year payroll tax holiday on jobs repatriated from overseas.

  • AlterNet: No Fluke: Republicans Support Off-Shoring Jobs. By Leo Gerard. Excerpts: Like the clear results on a pH test strip, the vote in the U.S. Senate this week on the Creating American Jobs and Ending Off-Shoring Act showed Republicans’ true color: Red. Red for China. Or Mexico. Or Indonesia. Or anywhere multi-national corporations get tax breaks for exporting American jobs. In this test of loyalty, every Republican in the Senate voted for corporate greed over American workers.

    No fluke, this is a GOP pattern. The red party has consistently sided with giant corporations to the detriment of the American economy and American workers. In voting against health care reform, Republicans chose giant health insurance corporations over uninsured Americans. In opposing financial reform, Republicans embraced Wall Street over the taxpayers who bailed out the big banks and don’t want to do it again. Republicans vainly attempted to rationalize those votes as opposing government regulation. There’s no regulation issue in the Creating American Jobs and Ending Off-Shoring Act.

    That Act would have removed tax incentives the U.S. government gives corporations to close domestic factories, fire American workers and move production overseas. And, conversely, the Act would have instituted tax cuts for corporations that return foreign employment to U.S. soil. ...

    That can-do-it attitude is realistic. Already some manufacturers are on-shoring. General Electric is moving production of its energy-efficient water heaters from China to the United States. Caterpillar and NCR, a technology company, are doing the same. A survey in June found 21 percent of North American manufacturers brought production into or closer to the United States in the previous three months and another 38 percent planned to research such a move.

    Manufacturers gave USA Today numerous reasons for this repatriation. Chinese wages and shipping costs have risen. They cited poor quality foreign manufactured goods; theft of intellectual property; long product delivery times interfering with response to consumer demand, and benefits from providing engineers easy access to assembly lines. ...

    Democrats sought to nurture and expand the repatriation trend. But like numerous Make it in America bills passed by the U.S. House, the Creating American Jobs and Ending Off-Shoring Act died at the hands of Senate Republicans. Democrats had the majority with 53 votes for the measure, but Republicans, as they have all year, blocked passage by using a filibuster to require a super-majority of 60.

  • Las Vegas Examiner: Republicans vote to continue outsourcing jobs overseas. By David Phillips. Excerpts: For several years, we the Tax payer have been giving tax breaks to corporations for shipping American jobs to other countries. The Democrats had proposed a Bill that would end that tax break and give a tax credit to those who create jobs here in the USA, but the Republicans said, “no”. ...

    Today the Republicans stand with outsourcing jobs to other countries. The Republican Party has voted against every jobs Bill since President Obama took office, and Tea Party Folk blame the Democrats for the lack of jobs. Last week the Republicans took a stand on the Bush tax cuts saying that unless the tax cuts for the rich are extended, the tax cuts for the middle class and the poor will end. Republicans last year said that they planned on slowing the economic recovery for our country in order to campaign against a bad economy, well they have succeeded. The Republican “Party of No”, no jobs, no recovery, no health care, just say no.

  • Associated Press, courtesy of Forbes: IBM to buy Blade Network, terms not given. Excerpt: IBM Corp. said Monday it has agreed to buy privately held Blade Network Technologies, a maker of software and technologies that route data to and from servers. Financial terms were not disclosed. The deal is scheduled to close in the fourth quarter.
  • eWeek: AT&T to Face Fight from Connecticut over Planned Layoffs. By Don E. Sears. Excerpt: The Communications Workers of America Local 1298 announced that it received notice from AT&T about the forced layoffs on Sept. 15, and the cause was "a declining workload," said the union's Website. The bulk of the layoffs will happen to installation and repair technicians, but it will also affect many other support positions and service delivery technicians for business customers. "The Company anticipates that there will not be enough jobs available to offer to surplused employees and will therefore be following the lay-off path as defined in Article 7 of our collective bargaining agreement," wrote Local 1298 on its Website on Sept. 20.
  • Wall Street Journal: Chief Mentor: The India Way: Putting Employees First. By Peter Cappelli, Harbir Singh, Jitendra Singh and Mike Useem. Excerpts: In interviews for “The India Way,” managers from Indian companies were asked about what they thought the company’s principal goals were. In contrast to the American school of thought on business, maximizing shareholder value was not the first priority or the second. Managers saw other aspects of the business as more important; and one of those factors is the employees.

    Indian firms demonstrate a marked commitment to employee retention and development and that commitment forms part of “The India Way.” From studying how these firms operate, it is evident that Indian managers see that their companies are made up of their employees, so if the company is to develop and improve, employees need to develop, hence their focus on human resources and employee satisfaction.

    American businesses tend to perceive employees as costs to be minimized. Indian businesses, on the other hand, perceive their employees as assets that can increase or decrease in value. The implication of that perspective: To increase the value of those assets as much as possible, Indian managers place a large emphasis on human relations. They also spend a lot of money on training and development. In some cases the company’s HR executives will also be managing directors of the firm. This is something one would be hard-pressed to find in American businesses—employee needs and satisfaction being placed front and center in the minds of the managers. ...

    It may seem counterintuitive to see employee satisfaction as a priority in the management of a business. However, companies such as HCL and Infosys are successful because they do not just see their employees as workers and expenses. Instead, they provide solutions to problems the firm will face in the future. They are also the company’s representatives to customers and the rest of the community. Investing in them is just as important as investing in any asset essential to the company’s operation. Managers of all firms would do well to follow the examples of HCL and Infosys and place employee performance and satisfaction first, making senior management accountable to the employees and making sure they have all the tools they need to succeed.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: The India Way: Putting Employees First" by "William". Full excerpt: Here's what made IBM like the "Indian companies" http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/watsonjr/watsonjr_quoted.html Any of these things sound familiar? The following words were spoken by Tom Watson Jr. These principles were what made me proud to be an IBM employee. Sadly, their absence from daily operations made me proud to leave IBM behind.
    • There are many things I would like IBM to be known for, but no matter how big we become, I want this company to be known as the company which has the greatest respect for the individual. (1957)
    • One of the proudest claims is the fact that people say IBM is a good place to work. I like to think that as we continue to grow we are not only going to live up to that claim, but make IBM an even better place to work. (1957)
    • We believe in the importance of the individual in IBM and we'll never forget it. We think it's more important than the most fantastic electronic product that we could ever invent. (1957)
    • No subject occupies more executive time at IBM than the well-being of our employees and their families. (1958)
    • This is a company of human beings not machines, personalities not products, people not real estate. (1958)
    • We have always believed in IBM that our most important asset is our people and so we have followed a basic principle of trying to hire, train and keep the best possible people. This principle, along with the recognition of the dignity of every individual, is the backbone of IBM employee relations. (1961)
  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Executive IT Architect in Brooklyn, NY: (Current Employee) “So So Place.” Pros: Travel to many places. Challenge work most of the time. Newer technologies. Cons: No salary increase or very tiny. Even excellent performers, the promotion is tiny while IBM is making record money. Limited promotion possibilities need to be a ass-kisser. Advice to Senior Management: Pay more attention to all folks instead of selling folks only stress more on hard skills and soft skills instead of soft skills only.
    • IBM Account Manager in Las Vegas, NV: (Current Employee) “Not what it was some years ago.” Pros: Brand recognition Great products Very solid company. Life time employment. Cons: Big bureaucracy. Below the average salaries. Too many people, hard to grow among big number of internal competition. Politics. You are seen as a number, not really a person. Advice to Senior Management: Simplify processes. Make managers to be real people managers, not a cheap sales managers
    • IBM Developer in Bangalore (India): (Current Employee) “Very good work place where you can enjoy relaxation.” Pros: 1) Flexibility; 2) Brand name; 3) Work life balance; 4) Good career growth; 5) Depending on project you will get onsite chance; 6) work from home. Cons: 1) Bad HR policies; 2) There is no proper seats for employees; 3) Managers are exploiting IBM policies and they are making lots of money. ( e.g. - GSS bangalore managers); 4) Last four years no hike, when we will ask they will tell we will send you to US for one month; 5) In GSS team about 45% people are from Andhra, Guntur - one of the managers native. Some of the guys don't have degree. After 2 to 3 yrs continuous working they will become IBMers. Advice to Senior Management: Everywhere in IBM telling about diversity But in my team it is entirely different. There should be some severe action against this kind of managers. They will spoil IBM's name
    • IBM Software Group in Dublin, County Dublin (Ireland): (Current Employee) “Idiotic upper management is literally killing the company for a few extra cent earnings per share.” Pros: The people (what's left of them). The work. Work-life balance (working from home, even abroad, is normal). Immediate management is always understanding and helpful. Unfortunately nothing depends on them. Cons: Upper management and company direction is completely screwed. Employees are treated as nothing but an expense. Middle management is clueless and constantly engaged in power struggles. Investment, if at all present, is completely random. Lack of funding is driven to an extent that directly affects climate and productivity. Cost-cutting is leading to absurd situations like lack of stationery, patent freezes, having to buy your own hardware, and promotions without pay increases. There's no end in sight, having achieved a $10 EPS by nothing other than spending cuts, crazy Sam is now aiming for $20. There's nothing left to cut, but they'll cut it anyway. Internet and company cars are already gone, watch out for your healthcare and pension plans. Advice to Senior Management: Give up the absurd and utterly unnecessary EPS targets. They are totally unrealistic, and are driving everyone away from what was once a great place to work. Profits made of cost-cutting will never be sustainable. Stop externalising expenses to employees: every Euro an employee spends costs you three!
    • IBM Advisory Software Engineer in Nice (France): (Current Employee) “IBM is a big body shop, not really an ISV. Not a good place for a Software Engineer...” Pros - Some of the projects can be very interesting, as a developer. - Innovation is very much encouraged. - Management is quite flexible about tools and processes used for development. Cons - Competition among people in the same team, no team spirit possible - Technical expertise is completely ignored. You'd better be a good talker and in front of the customers rather than a good developer actually producing something. - Career is something that's very much talked about, but not much is done. And nothing is done wrt to technical expertise. Advice to Senior Management: It's not enough to buy other companies: to build good products, you need good developers. Identify and retain them, before they leave.
    • IBM Senior Software Engineer in Toronto, ON (Canada): (Current Employee) “Good People - Oppressive Management/Bureaucracy.” Pros: Smart technical people with great work ethic. Good facilities and compensation. Generally good work/life balance (save crunch times). Some flexibility in working from home. Great opportunities for learning and exposure to wide range of technologies. Cons: Acquisitions make life hell for developers. Very limited opportunity to create and innovate (vs acquire and integrate). Entrenched products and management make change very difficult to achieve. Low respect for technical people (seen as replaceable resources). Very poor project planning with unrealistic schedules and staffing. Outsourcing trends suggest a short career shelf-life for most employees. Advice to Senior Management: Talk to and listen to your technical people (not just first line management). Encourage innovation from within. Recognize that the pace of acquisition is damaging to employee morale. Provide 20% discretionary time for development innovation/sanity. Focus less on short term gains and more on long term technical innovation.
    • IBM IT Specialist in Montreal, QC (Canada): (Current Employee) “No OT money, OT requested and expected.” Pros: Work from home, That's pretty much the only "pro" I can think of now. Cons: No OT money, OT requested and expected. No technical staff to evaluate work. Advice to Senior Management: Bring back money for OT. Simple !
    • IBM Managing Consultant in Tampa, FL: (Current Employee) “Managing Consultant.” Pros: Knowledge of peers. Corporate recognition of non-ibmers. Good work environment. Flex time. Work from home. Flexible benefits. Fair pay. Non-sexist work environment. Cons: Long hours. Travel every week. Aggressive (and mean) Project Managers. Advice to Senior Management: N/A
    • IBM Marketing Manager in Dallas, TX: (Past Employee - 2008) “Given the chance, you can really excel.” Pros: Ability to take on a lot of responsibility, advance across departments and roles. Become a leader in your area of specialty or specific role. Become a key participant in driving your team or department to success. Provides you with many learning opportunities. Cons: Long hours, can be high-stress to always exceed expectations. Downsizing and outsourcing have put a lot of pressure on remaining employees. At times the Management teams are so stressed, they struggle on providing leadership. Advice to Senior Management: Approach and incorporate your team early on...everyone wants to succeed, push back when necessary to refocus goals, don't take on too many assignments.
    • IBM Staff Software Engineer in Pune (India): (Current Employee) “No meritocracy. High sycophancy.” Pros: Flexible work timings. Lots of information available about various technologies and software that IBM either owns or drives. Cons: Thoroughly abused system of appraising performance. Absolutely ad-hoc way of promoting people. One of the most arrogant and insensitive middle and senior management staff. Lots of pro-employee policies are in place. However these are not being exercised in letter and spirit due to a strong and political management and a weak HR. Advice to Senior Management: None.
    • IBM Software Engineer in Kolkata (India): (Past Employee - 2009) “IBM India Pvt Ltd, Kolkata.” Pros 1. Opportunity to work on various technologies and domains. 2. Access to a lot of products and tools (IBM owns them ...;-)) 3. Access to a lot of intellectual property (learning materials). 3. Good company to start your career. 4. Onsite opportunities if you are lucky and patient. 5. Good rewards and recognition policy. 6. Work environment is fine. 7. Mature company with well established processes. Cons: 1. Pay package not competitive. 2. Benefits are negligible and decreasing day by day as the headcount is increasing. 3. Annual raise in salary is minimum. 4. Bonus is even hardly noticeable. 5. Career growth may get stagnated if get stuck in long term projects. 6. Work culture may become laidback with time. 6. Cafeteria food sucks! Advice to Senior Management: 1. Value quality and not quantity. 2. Try to retain good resources. 3. Improve the competence of senior management as it used to be 7 years back.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site
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  • Do you work at a GDF? If you do, please contact me, Lee Conrad of Alliance@IBM, at ibmunionalliance@gmail.com
  • To Alliance@IBM supporters: The Alliance is the only organization that advocates and supports IBM employees and ex-employees. In fact, there are few like it in the Information Technology field. It is always difficult to keep an organization like this alive, but as a supporter you know how important it is that we exist. We are calling on you today to help keep us alive another year by joining as a member or associate member. See our online forms below. As our membership has dropped, it is imperative that we gain new members or this organization and web site will cease to exist. Help us keep our organizing and advocacy work alive!
  • General Visitor Comments: Due to a lack of membership growth the comment sections will be closed until we see sufficient growth in full membership, associate membership or donations. Many of you that visit our site have not yet joined, but seem to value its existence. The only comment section that will remain open will be Job Cuts Reports. If you have information that you want the Alliance to know about please send to ibmunionalliance@gmail.com. Information of importance will be put on the front page of this web site. To join go here: Join The Alliance! or here: Join The Alliance!
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 9/24/10: IBM is all about Southeast Asia now. It doesn't matter how critical you are to the business. As long as you live in the United States, you are a sworn enemy and will have to train replacements who probably eat dogs. If this keeps up, we in the US will be the ones who will have to eat dogs just to survive. -anon in RTP-NC-
    • Comment 9/24/10: November RA's. Everyone on here acts like they are surprised to see November RA's happening. I am not surprised at all. I have been reading this board for at least 5 years and have seen that there are RA's every November. It frustrates me beyond belief that people don't remember this pattern and either join The Alliance or find another job. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 9/25/10: Please don't rail on those reporting truth here. We can't post FLM names and some here seem to expect that level of information. I am part of the most recent RA and reported it here the day I was informed. I was also told it was not for performance or redundancy. If you don't have new business......then who needs employee's however good they are? it was also said it ain't over not by a long shot so next Q expect either a miracle or more RA. Also take the time to read the quarterly reports for if you do, you will know who is next - that's how I was certain ours wasn't over by what was included in the 2nd Q report. -freeatlast-
    • Comment 9/25/10: If I was the IRS. I would asked to see all the names of the people handling their account. I know for a fact that some of the employees and most of the backups have not completed a background check or completed training. Especially for the system administrator to the security support teams... -Waiting for my RA in CO-
    • Comment 9/25/10: > During previous R/As they were not told until a few days before the R/A although they had an inkling perhaps. The second lines did know and were not allowed to tell the first lines.< This is absolutely true. In one of the R/As in 2009 period, FLMs were initially involved in the selection for about 24-48 hours. After that, it was all moved up a level to the 2nd lines and the FLMs had ZERO involvement/input and were not told who was selected until the day before. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 9/26/10: FYI - Lots of IBM Canada employees are leaving IBM for more stable / better positions at our vendors / partners / competition, these folks are from all over IBM (GTS / STG / IGS) etc. I personally know of 9 people who left in the last 6 months and heard of another 12 via co-workers, these folks are all top performers, the tides are changing in Canada. SSRs are already started to look outside IBM since IBM cut pretty much all overtime for SSRs, no more incentive for this group to stick around seeing that the only way to supplement their minimum wage was overtime... If this continues IBM Canada will start loosing major customers, these customers are being affected when Highly Skilled face to face IBMers quit and Low skilled contractors are being hired to backfilled these position. IBM will reap what it sows.... -ZION-
    • Comment 9/26/10: To Concerned: No, I have not found another job yet. Rumors are that we will be told we are being RAed in 4Q 2010 which begins on 10/1/2010. I am in Shared Services and my position is a Business Analyst working on one of the Commercial Accounts... -LadyDi-
    • Comment 9/27/10: Oh, I think everyone will enjoy this rabid rumor floating around. Apparently, plans exist to "transition" every hourly employee to an external contracting company. Then tell the contracting company which of the hourly employees MIGHT be eligible to be assigned at an IBM facility. Target date: 1/1/2012 so perhaps this puts the proper focus on the recently eliminated "premium pay." Anyone else hearing this? -guess who?-
    • Comment 9/27/10: I have to agree with Zion about IBM Canada...managed by such short sighted people...they can't even see their noses. Everyone I know is on the lookout for other employment..the OT cut was the last straw for most... -another drone-
    • Comment 9/28/10: It doesn't surprise me that IBM has found a new way to renew the workforce with younger, cheaper labor from NYC. Some of my mid-Eastern friends have told me that everyone but, Indians are laid off in some areas so they become a target. There's nothing like making people fight each other to break a union. I think a union needs some political clout to insure some ability to have teeth. Right now the work force is not represented. Many people feel their success depends on reacting to IBM's tactics. Instead we should demand a public entity to protect the US work force. We have a little support in government, we need a lot more. If IBM wants to corrupt the public school system, we need to articulate why that is bad for students, the schools and society. I think its the fact the work is so un-inventive, future-less and dumbed-down is a major cause for concern. Making sure the education these kids receive enables them to intern at multiple companies, and different jobs would prevent IBM from employing the public schools to feed its temporary workforce machine. If the current workforce had a voice, I'm sure the public would see the flaws and question the greater good. -DungeonReaper-
News and Opinion Concerning the "War on the Middle Class"
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.

  • AlterNet: Left Versus Right Is Meaningless -- It's Us Versus the Corporations, It is now an Individual vs. Corporate debate – and the Humans are losing. By Barry Ritholtz. Excerpts: Every generation or so, a major secular shift takes place that shakes up the existing paradigm. It happens in industry, finance, literature, sports, manufacturing, technology, entertainment, travel, communication, etc. I would like to discuss the paradigm shift that is occurring in politics.

    For a long time, American politics has been defined by a Left/Right dynamic. It was Liberals versus Conservatives on a variety of issues. Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice, Tax Cuts vs. More Spending, Pro-War vs Peaceniks, Environmental Protections vs. Economic Growth, Pro-Union vs. Union-Free, Gay Marriage vs. Family Values, School Choice vs. Public Schools, Regulation vs. Free Markets.

    The new dynamic, however, has moved past the old Left Right paradigm. We now live in an era defined by increasing Corporate influence and authority over the individual. These two “interest groups” – I can barely suppress snorting derisively over that phrase – have been on a headlong collision course for decades, which came to a head with the financial collapse and bailouts. Where there is massive concentrations of wealth and influence, there will be abuse of power. The Individual has been supplanted in the political process nearly entirely by corporate money, legislative influence, campaign contributions, even free speech rights. This may not be a brilliant insight, but it is surely an overlooked one. It is now an Individual vs. Corporate debate – and the Humans are losing. ...

    For those of you who are stuck in the old Left/Right debate, you are missing the bigger picture. Consider this about the Bailouts: It was a right-winger who bailed out all of the big banks, Fannie Mae, and AIG in the first place; then his left winger successor continued to pour more money into the fire pit. What difference did the Left/Right dynamic make? Almost none whatsoever.

  • The Progressive: Republicans Cry “Class Warfare” When They’re Winning the War. By Matthew Rothschild. Excerpts: Whenever Republicans are at risk of not getting their way for their millionaire constituents, they cry “class warfare.” So it was that House Minority Whip Eric Cantor just whipped out the old accusation again in the Wall Street Journal, blaming the Democrats and “the progressive left” for “provocative class warfare rhetoric.” What Cantor doesn’t like is the rhetoric. But he’s content with the class warfare, because his class keeps winning, battle after battle, war after war.

    Look how much ground the richest of the rich have gained from the Bush tax cuts, which the Republicans are so intent on keeping for this cohort. The top 0.1 percent of Americans gained more than $2,326,607 a piece, whereas people making between thirty and forty thousand gained only $7,040, according to a great chart in Sunday’s New York Times Week in Review. ...

    “After remaining relatively constant for much of the post-war era, the share of total income accrued by the wealthiest 10 percent of households jumped from 34.6 percent in 1980 to 48.2 percent in 2008.1 Much of the spike was driven by the share of total income accrued by the richest 1 percent of households. Between 1980 and 2008, their share rose from 10.0 percent to 21.0 percent, making the United States as one of the most unequal countries in the world.”

    Over the last decade, most Americans have been losing ground, with real wages stagnating and household incomes falling. “Real median income for working-age households is now $4,925 below its peak in the year 2000,” according to the Economic Policy Institute

  • New York Times op-ed: The New American Normal. By Roger Cohen. Excerpts: On a weeklong visit, I found a mood of deep unease in an America that seems to have descended into tribalism — not ethnic, but political, economic and social. Uncertainty is pervasive. The government’s rescue of Wall Street combined with the acute difficulties of a middle class struggling to get by on stagnant or falling incomes has sharpened resentments. This is not a momentary phenomenon. Nobody seems to think unemployment is going to fall significantly from 9.6 percent — a level more often associated with France — in the near future. Get used to the new normal.

    I spoke to a retired Wall Street executive who got out a few years back and set up a small business where he had to make payroll (sobering), but was freed from the debilitating short-termism of financial institutions that, over his career, had become dominated by traders “who look at economic opportunity rather than economic conditions.”

    He said the final straw came in 2002. Top executives at the bank where he worked gathered to discuss their bonuses. The issue before them was whether to maintain those bonuses in a time of economic contraction, which would require firing 5 percent of the workforce, or take a 25 percent bonus cut, which would allow those jobs to be kept. “The guy running the meeting asked for a show of hands on who would accept a reduced bonus,” he said. “There were 30 of us in the room. Three raised their hands. I was one of them.”

    The job losses went through, this executive left, and the bank today is still trying to claw out from its uncontrolled excess. ...

    The share of national income held by the top 1 percent of American families has doubled in recent decades to 20 percent. That’s a huge shift. I spoke to Doug Severance, a Vietnam vet who’s a hotel employee in Aspen, Colorado. “When I moved here in 1984 we were all family,” he said. “Now either you arrive in a Lear Jet or you’re a servant.”

  • Jim Hightower: A Speaker Lobbyists Would Love. Full excerpt: John Boehner is known for his ties and his tan. You've probably never heard of this Ohio Republican, who's been the minority leader for four years, but he has big plans to be the next Speaker of the U.S. House. Who is he? For clues, look no further than those ties and that tan.

    The tan is odd, both because it has an eerie orange hue to it, and because it never goes away. Even in the dead of winter, this GOP leader from sun-starved Ohio has such a perpetual glow that he's been nicknamed "Suntan Johnnie." How does he get the glow? By routinely flying on corporate jets to play golf with corporate lobbyists on various corporate tabs at such sun-drenched resorts as the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida.

    Which brings us to his ties – by which I don't mean the flashy silk neckwear he favors. Rather, I mean Boehner's flagrant ties to a clique of powerful influence peddlers. These ties go way back – in 1996, he was caught passing checks from tobacco lobbyists to fellow Republicans on the House floor!

    His inner circle of special interests is so cozy that it's even been given its own nickname: BoehnerLand. Outsiders need not apply, for BoehnerLand is an exclusive place inhabited by about 20 lobbyists for such outfits as Citigroup, R.J. Reynolds, Coors, Goldman Sachs, Google, and UPS. They put millions of campaign dollars into his pockets, fly him around, wine & dine him at the finest restaurants, and sustain his political ambitions.

    In turn, Boehner is their boy. One member of Suntan Johnnie's corrupt club candidly told the New York Times that he regularly gets Boehner's help for his clients, ranging from fighting limits on debit card fees to protecting tax breaks for hedge fund operators. They want Boehner to become Speaker for one reason: he's fluent in corporate-speak.

  • Delmont PDA: Top 5 Social Security Myths Debunked. Excerpts: Myth #1: Social Security is going broke. ... Myth #2: We have to raise the retirement age because people are living longer. ... Myth #3: Benefit cuts are the only way to fix Social Security. ... Myth #4: The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided and is full of IOUs. ... Myth #5: Social Security adds to the deficit. Read more...
  • AlterNet: Corporate Mortgage Scams Threaten to Crash an Already Shaky Housing Market. A foreclosure pandemic riddled by corruption may stall America's recovery. By Scott Thill. Excerpt: The Great Recession may have ended in June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, but U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner isn't buying it. Neither are recently revealed foreclosure and eviction scams at GMAC Mortgage, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and other too-big-to-fail financial firms swimming in both American taxpayer cash and the Federal Reserve Bank's divine intervention. ...

    Last week, predictable news emerged that Jeffrey Stephan, a GMAC Mortgage team leader for affidavit execution, signed off on nearly 10,000 foreclosures each month without even bothering to read them, although he is legally tasked with doing so. That's a rate of one a minute, if he works an eight-hour day, according to the Washington Post. Afraid it would look like it was blithely executing foreclosures on a callous conveyor belt -- which is precisely the case -- GMAC quickly put the brakes on any further evictions in 23 states until it could find a way to massage the problem.

  • AlterNet: 20 Signs that the Economic Collapse Is Already Upon Us. This year, millions of Americans are discovering that the music has stopped playing and they are left without a seat at the table. By Michael Snyder. Excerpts: For most Americans, the economic collapse is something that is happening to someone else. Most of us have become so isolated from each other and so self-involved that unless something is directly affecting us or a close family member than we really don't feel it. But even though most of us enjoy a much closer relationship with our television sets than we do with our neighbors at this point, it is quickly becoming undeniable that a fundamental shift is taking place in society. Perhaps you noticed it when two or three foreclosure signs went up on your street. Or perhaps it got your attention when that nice fellow down the street lost his job, and he and his family seemingly just disappeared from the neighborhood one day. The Census Bureau made front page headlines all over the nation this week when they announced that one out of every seven Americans was living in poverty in 2009. Every single day more Americans are getting sucked out of the middle class and into soul-crushing poverty. ...

    The Democrats blame Bush for all the poverty and advocate expanding programs for the poor. Not that there is anything wrong with a safety net. But the "safety net" was never meant to hold 50 million people on Medicaid and 40 million people on food stamps. The number of Americans on food stamps has more than doubled since 2007. So do we just double it again as things get even worse? The truth is that welfare programs are only short-term solutions. Unfortunately, the Democrats do not understand this. What Americans really need are good jobs.

  • AlterNet: Modest Tax on Billionaires Could Erase Budget Shortfalls of Every Single US State. The ten richest Americans on the new Forbes list carry, all by themselves, more than the inflation-adjusted net worth of the entire initial Forbes 400 list back in 1982. By Sam Pizzigati. Excerpts: David Rockefeller, Sr., the only surviving grandchild of America’s first billionaire, has achieved still another distinction. At age 95, he currently rates as the oldest billionaire on the new Forbes magazine annual list of America’s 400 richest. David Rockefeller, on this year’s list, has plenty of billionaire company. Every single one of the 400 deep pockets on that list holds an individual fortune worth at least $1 billion. In 1982, the first year the annual Forbes 400 list appeared, only 13 Americans could claim billionaire status. ...

    How much of an impact on our troubled nation could these staggeringly massive accumulations of wealth have if modestly shared -- or taxed? One quick answer: A 15 percent “wealth tax” on all personal assets over $1 billion would this year raise $145.5 billion, more than enough to cover the entire $140 billion budget shortfall America’s 50 states are facing in the current fiscal year.

    The 400 billionaires on the new Forbes list, after paying that tax, would still average $2.4 billion in personal net worth, over 37,000 times the $65,400 net worth that NYU economist Edward Wolff earlier this year calculated for the typical American family.

  • AlterNet: The Super-Rich Get Richer, and Everyone Else Is Going Down the Drain. Only twice before in American history has so much been held by so few, yet they're going to keep their fat tax cuts. By Robert Reich. Excerpts: The super-rich got even wealthier this year, and yet most of them are paying even fewer taxes to support the education, job training, and job creation of the rest of us. According to Forbes magazine’s annual survey, just released, the combined net worth of the 400 richest Americans climbed 8% this year, to $1.37 trillion. Wealth rose for 217 members of the list, while 85 saw a decline.

    For example, Charles and David Koch, the energy magnates who are pouring vast sums of money into Republican coffers and sponsoring tea partiers all over America, each gained $5.5 billion of wealth over the past year. Each is now worth $21.5 billion. ...

    From another survey we learn that the 25 top hedge-fund managers got an average of $1 billion each, but paid an average of 17 percent in taxes (because so much of their income is considered capital gains, taxed at 15 percent thanks to the Bush tax cuts). ...

    Only twice before in American history has so much been held by so few, and the gap between them and the great majority been a chasm — the late 1920s, and the era of the robber barons in the 1880s. And yet the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which conferred almost all their benefits on the rich, continue.

  • New York Times: TARP Bailout to Cost Less Than Once Anticipated. By Jackie Calmes. Excerpts: Even as voters rage and candidates put up ads against government bailouts, the reviled mother of them all — the $700 billion lifeline to banks, insurance and auto companies — will expire after Sunday at a fraction of that cost, and could conceivably earn taxpayers a profit. A final accounting of the government’s full range of interventions in the economy, including the bailouts of the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is years off and will most likely remain controversial and potentially costly. But the once-unthinkable possibility that the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program could end up costing far less, or even nothing, became more likely on Thursday with the news that the government had negotiated a plan with the American International Group to begin repaying taxpayers. The rescue of the troubled insurer included $70 billion from the bailout program that was enacted two years ago, at the height of the global financial crisis late in the Bush administration, initially to prop up big banks. ...

    Senator Robert F. Bennett of Utah was “Bailout Bob” to Republicans who refused to re-nominate him for a fourth term. “For those who were screaming at me — and screaming was the operative word — ‘You’ve just saddled our children and grandchildren with $700 billion,’ I said, ‘No, I haven’t,” Mr. Bennett said in an interview. “My career is over,” he added. “But I do hope that we can get the word out that TARP, number one, did save the world from a financial meltdown and, number two, did so in a manner that, I believe, won’t cost the taxpayer anything. And even if it did not all get paid back, it was still the thing to do.”

  • Washington Post: Report gives stimulus package high marks. By Lori Montgomery. Excerpt: The massive economic stimulus package President Obama pushed through Congress last year is coming in on time and under budget - and with strikingly few claims of fraud or abuse - according to a White House report to be released Friday. Coming barely a month before November's midterm elections, which will determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress, the report challenges public perceptions of the stimulus aid as slow-moving and wasteful - an image that has fueled voter anger with the dominant party. Even some former skeptics who predicted that the money would lead to rampant abuse now acknowledge that the program could serve as a model for improving efficiency in government.
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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