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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—February 19, 2011

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: The real issue of the day" by Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: Where did we get the 8 hour day, 40 hour week, vacations? - A union in Wisconsin

    Where did we get unemployment insurance? - A union in Wisconsin

    Where did we get workmans comp? - A union in Wisconsin

    If IBM had recognized The Alliance CWA union years ago, we wouldn't be here today!

    We wouldn't know all those friends and family that have been fired by the thousands and thousands and thousands.

    We would still have the same pension we signed up for when they recruited us out of school. A real pension. A defined benefit pension. Not this 401k crap.

    I wouldn't have had to engage in a 10 year lawsuit to fight for the pension we earned for all our hard working career.

    All you retirees on the FHA would have the same health insurance plan as the 'old timers'.

    You would be working a 40 hour week and be able to take your earned vacation time.


    Dino, don't even bother blaming the Wisconsin union for what others don't have. They stuck it out. They paid their dues. They entered into collective bargaining. They can't get fired or written up for doing so because the law protects them. And what do we get? Open door? Are you serious???? Pensions, pay, time worked/off, and medical are exempt from Open Door. What a joke.

    We have no one to protect us, to work for us, to fight for us, to care for us, unless we have a Union.

    I noticed that not only are the teachers protesting but Firefighters, Police, and other emergency teams are also demonstrating in Wisconsin. As Ben Franklin said, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately".

    Please consider writing/email all the Democrat Senators that fled the state of Wisconsin and show your support of their actions. Like I said before, I like to see a democracy in action. Beats the hell out of the Egyptian's methods.

    http://www.endicottalliance.org/ (Just go there and start reading.)

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: The real issue of the day" by "maxxcurrey". Full excerpt: OK, 'Life is Good', now I am convinced that you are a shill. The nonsense that there is an "...assault by the unions on the middle class and seniors." is just plain stupid. Even Warren Buffet says that there is class warfare in the U.S. and it is the ruling class waging war on the rest of us. Unions are what brought the U.S. and other countries a middle class, even to those who do not belong to one and suck off the work of unions. The facts also speak for themselves, where unions are strong the middle class thrives, where weak, as in today's U.S. and other banana republics the middle class is weak. The unions in the U.S. have been giving back too many benefits over the past 30 years to the detriment of us all.

    What is hurting the American economy is a war industry taking most of the money and the rich not paying their fair share of taxes. That some Americans are so stupid to blame it other working Americans is just a sad state on the sense of today's American, previous generations did not buy into such bull. As my late uncle said many people today are 'educated beyond their intelligence'.

    Taking money away from those who pay more of their income in taxes, e.g. union members than the percentage paid by the super rich is not the way. The rich when they are not pulling their fair share should be demonized. The richest amongst the U.S. have been living off the rest of us tax-wise for 30 years now. It is time to go back to the ideas of normal Republicans, e.g. Theodore Roosevelt, La Follette and not those of today's [re]publican nut-bags like Walker, Christy, Palin etc.

    If one is lucky enough to be born rich, or make money then one SHOULD pay the most in taxes in percentage and in real amounts as the above mentioned Warren Buffet noted. THAT is American tradition, not having an aristocracy of corporations as was feared by the founders of the U.S.

  • Forbes: The Final Battle In The War Against Unions Is Underway. By Rick Ungar. Excerpts: The bill introduced in the Wisconsin state legislature that would strip state employee unions of their collective bargaining rights, require members to vote to organize every year, allow members to avoid paying dues and put pay raises to a public vote, represents the opening salvo of the final battle in the war against unions in America.

    This is not a new war – the battle against private sector unions has been waged successfully for years as the density of unionization in America has been in steady decline since 1955 when the provisions of the union busting, Taft-Hartley Act (passed in 1947) took root. ...

    To get some sense of just how successful the effort to destroy the union movement in the private sector has been, check out this statistic - According to Harvard University expert Elaine Bernard, in 1973, one in every four private sector workers in this country was a union member. Today, just one in thirteen carries a union card.

    With this in mind, does anyone imagine that it is a coincidence that worker wages have been falling or remained stagnant since 2001? Is it also coincidental that in this time of union decline, the amount of wealth concentrated in the hands of the top 1% is the largest since 1929, the time in our history immediately preceding the era when the modern union movement was taking hold? ...

    What the Governor of Wisconsin is doing is using the problem of a pension program that might require modification as an excuse to destroy the public worker unions in his state. There is absolutely no reason why Governor Walker could not simply deal with pension and benefits issues without proposing the complete destruction of collective bargaining. ...

    No rational individual would dispute the preeminence of corporate interests in America. While most of us are not happy about this, we don't really know what we can do about it as we simply do not have the money or clout to buy the power corporate money can buy.

    That's where the unions come in. Without the collective bargaining powers that unions bring as the only real offset to corporate greed and without the organizing strength unions bring to political action, there will be no counter-balance to corporate power. I promise that you will not like the result if our unions should disappear – even if you are not a union member.

    For these reasons, I would argue that anyone who does not find themselves among the 5% of the wealthiest in America, should stand up and declare, "Today, we are all Cheeseheads." Failing to support Wisconsin unions would be a mistake for which we will pay dearly for generations to come.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: The Final Battle in the War Against Unions is Underway" by Lee Conrad. Full excerpt: The fight in Wisconsin is a bright spot in what has been the declining power of unions in the private sector. For those that don't know the stats: union density in the private sector dropped to under 7% last year. Many unions are in trouble financially due to loss of membership dues. That even includes the Alliance.

    I know people get tired of hearing us ask people to join as members, but that is the only way we can finance the Alliance office and its 1 full time staff person and 1 part timer. We have to pay for all the things a union office needs. Everything from equipment to stamps.

    So join the Alliance. Be a union member in IBM. Join the national fight for collective bargaining rights. Help keep the union movement alive. The writer is right. It is the union movement holding the line. Lee

  • The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin): Grass Roots: Labor activists strategize for 'class war' ignited by Walker budget bill. By Pat Schneider. Excerpts: What's happening now in Wisconsin, with thousands of workers flooding the Capitol to protest Gov. Scott Walker's move to snuff the collective bargaining power of public employees, is much more than backlash against a union-busting maneuver, labor activists and their supporters said Tuesday evening at a forum at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Madison.

    It is, they insist, the first counter-strike in a class war being waged against workers.

    The urgency for reform of an economic system that enriches the few from the labor of the many was a recurring theme as some 100 workers and friends gathered to pledge mutual support and strategize on how to build on the momentum loosed at the historic Capitol rally earlier in the day that drew more than 10,000 demonstrators. ...

    Although touted as a budget fix, the removal of collective bargaining rights from most public workers on everything but salary, as Walker proposes, would have no impact on the deficit, Kathy Wilkes, a retired writer and editor, said in an interview. "He's demonizing workers as the cause of the economic collapse — that we know came from Wall Street and the shipping of jobs overseas — instead of talking about the corporate elite and their gargantuan salaries. This is a class war." State Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, told the crowd Tuesday that conservatives are "trying to shove this down our throats, and this is where we draw a line in the sand." ...

    The success of a grass-roots uprising in Egypt in toppling strongman Hosni Mubarak was a source of inspiration for many of those who brainstormed Tuesday in Madison about resistance to attacks on U.S. workers in several states. It helped fire a passionate expression of solidarity by Bryan Pfeifer, an organizer of part-time faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit. "We are calling on people from throughout the Midwest to descend on Madison and make a stand. We did not create the economic crisis and we are not going to pay for it," he declared to cheers and applause. "Fight like an Egyptian!"

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Deficits" by Paul Sutera. Full excerpt: The only reason there is a deficit is because revenues stopped growing. We always taxed the wealthy a bit higher and they paved the way for a secure middle-class.

    My parents continue to spend BECAUSE of the safety net. Their spending drives revenues and profits. When we decided giving the wealthy a big tax-break would grow jobs back in 2002, did anyone care to measure how many jobs grew from this?

    The public sector is now being demonized so we can pay for the lower tax-rates on the wealthy. Progressive tax-rates actually help the wealthy in the long run.... the middle-class keeps the economy going, which keeps the wealthy in the black too. Now we've had mass layoffs in the middle-class and a hope that a new consumer class will grow in Asia to take their place and continue to drive revenues.

    Fine, but these folks will not spend what would be 20% of their yearly salary on an i-Pad. Ooops there goes your fat profit margin. If you study economics you see there are such things as multiplier effects, and the enrichment of the middle-class is an example of the multiplier effect that caused them to GIVE THE MONEY RIGHT BACK in the form of expenditures on goods and services. The system is getting quite broken now.

    I know people in the public sector who barely scrape by yet the hard-liners always trot out the example of the city commissioner making $150K. The vast majority of public sector workers do not earn so much and have been relying on a pension that they were promised. Now once again someone has to be told, sorry, that money need to go for tax-breaks for millionaires but hey, here's a 401K, see how much you can save 6 years from your planned retirement.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Teachers - Let's Support Them" by "house2021". Full excerpt: Growing up in Pennsylvania I remember seeing my 5th grade teacher every Friday night bagging groceries at the local A&P for his second job. My dad was a painting contractor and always had teachers working for him in the summer to make enough money to support their families. That changed when the law changed in Pennsylvania to allow teachers to organize and negotiate a better way of life.

    I just can't understand people who want to outlaw collective bargaining for any employees, private or public. Lastdino1, I've seen folks with your attitude before. It's "I've got mine, screw you". I feel sorry for you.

    As for facts - we know that the state of Wisconsin had a budget surplus going into 2011. The new reichwing governor then cut taxes for the rich and now there is a budget deficit and an excuse for breaking the unions. Let's not fall for that. Let's support the teachers and all public employees.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Anonymous in Bangalore (India): (Current Employee) "worst company to work with in India in vlsi domain" Pros: strong us team leads that can help you out very cooperative work culture among team mates. Cons: employees with 5+ yrs of exp get to be paid less than a fresher and management tries to match salaries with freshers if you are a consistent performer and feels proud of doing that. employes are treated as machines -if you are worn out i will buy new one by paying more teams across the board are not treated even par no value for interviewer's comments on a new recruiters candidature-people are in hiring rush if you know how to use computer you can join the company Advice to Senior Management: stop cheating around people and wake up before it is too late -ibm already had enough bad reviews in India
    • IBM Senior Software Developer in Pune (India): (Current Employee) "IBM ISL not good for talented pool..good for taking a break" Pros: 1. Work from Home available 2. Flexible working Hours 3. Good place to work for women 4. Opportunities for those who can find well time and smartly manage their work. Cons: 1. Not good people, its 20-80 stuff, 20% talent and 80% crap people. Technical leaders are purely diluted 2. Lot of unplanned stuff under planning title. 3. Everything other than water and air is charged inside the company. Advice to Senior Management: Respect the talent under the organization, rather than the senior citizens coming through internal referral bonuses
    • IBM Senior IT Project Manager in Raleigh, NC: (Current Employee) "Invisible in a virtual world" Pros: Benefits, lots of really intelligent people. Cons: Focus on process orientation, reliance on fire-fighting Advice to Senior Management: Treat workers like people not resources on a spreadsheet, allow coworkers their personal dignity, loud does not make right
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) "IBM in Name Only" Pros: Lots of travel Long hours. Little recognition. Cons: Had 5 different managers in the span of 14 months. Reviews are done by people that are managing over 75 resources, they don't know your name let alone your performance. Advice to Senior Management: Looks towards ways of bringing the name back to IBM. Once it was the premier IT shop in the world. Now, if you take volume of HW sales away, is just another body shop/services firm.
    • IBM Anonymous in Armonk, NY: (Current Employee) "the good guys have left and the ones left behind are those that could not find a job anywhere else." Pros: the people are polite, and there is good work life balance. Cons: the good guys have left and the ones left behind are those that could not find a job anywhere else. Advice to Senior Management: Work on how to motivate employees.
    • IBM Desktop Support Representative: (Current Employee) "Worst experience in my career." Pros: Most of the customers are nice. Cons: Because they have contracted us out, the pay is paltry and there are no benefits. Advice to Senior Management: Stop contracting, offer paid time off and pay me what I am worth. I have a bachelors degree and only accepted this job while looking for another job...which is basically what everyone else is doing. Had you hired me directly, given me some idea that there was somewhere to go with this job, you might have earned a hardworking employee for life instead of someone who is just showing up to punch the clock and fill their resume until something better comes along.
    • IBM Senior Engineer in Austin, TX: (Past Employee - 2009) "The good, the bad" Pros: Excellent technology, extremely smart, talented people. Constant learning, never ending engineering challenges, and problems to solve. Part of something bigger than yourself if you so choose. Cons: Some management are not knowledgable, too political. Ranking, appraisal system is counter productive, not sustainable. Management afraid to treat people well, for fear that people will ask for what management cannot provide. Advice to Senior Management: Say what you really think, don't be restricted by your perceptions of what is acceptable or possible in the current system. It's there to be changed.
    • IBM Anonymous in Bangalore (India): (Past Employee - 2009) "Interesting but mostly forgetful" Pros: You get to understand and work with a truly global team. All IBMers across the field are accessible via intranet. One is somehow always proud to be an IBMer. Cons: As with most large companies, lot of politics dominate the workplace. Promotions are given based less on merit and more on how well you know the manager. The change of moving to a more interesting role within IBM is possible but extremely hard because of this red tape. Advice to Senior Management: I feel IBM suffers from too many layers of management. Try and work out to create autonomous teams that work on the problem by themselves without having to attend meetings all day long. A typical programmer spends most of his/her day in meeting rather than doing any actual work.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) "A company in a midst of a transition." Pros: IBM has traditionally attracted top talent. You will be surrounded by very bright, very dedicated people. The areas of technology that IBM participates in are very broad so there is a lot of opportunity to learn. There is a lot of flexibility in the work environment. Salaries are competitive.

      Cons: IBM executive ranks are focused on management and are very thin on leadership. Very few of the executives have any profile in the industry. It is getting harder and harder to find people to look up to. When it comes to employee relationship, IBM has lost its moral compass. The company has completely transitioned from what have been the hallmarks of IBM culture such as "respect for individual" in to the least common denominator approach. As a result, the level of trust between employees and executive management has diminished greatly. The employee pride and loyalty that IBM used to enjoy is completely gone.

      On the product side, the cache that IBM technologies used to poses is no more. The old adage "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" does not work in the world where Google and Apple drive customer perceptions. The company seems to be unable to deal with disruptive trends in the industry. Rhetoric and bravado are standard tools used instead of acknowledging the need for change and course correction.

      Advice to Senior Management: Look back at what made IBM a success in the past. Reinstate the values and be serious about it. Institute the level of transparency required to regain employee trust and loyalty. IBM is in the people-intensive business, don't dilute your key resource.

    • IBM Consultant: (Current Employee) "Sprawling, Inhuman... like the Roman Legion" Pros: Work-life balance with schedule/telework flexibility (conceived as a cost-saving measure, but also benefits employee); modestly above-average benefits package, including compensation (which you, the employee, must negotiate); unparalleled breadth and diversity of project work (which you, the employee, must hunt down) and intellectual talent (which you, the employee, must also hunt down); generally still-positive reputation in outside industry. I find that I have (a fair degree of) autonomy to expand and diversify my own work program, or to find new contacts/managers with whom to discuss opportunities, though it is incumbent upon me (the employee) to do the legwork. IBM is massive -- huge -- and that sometimes works in your favor.

      Cons: Near-complete loss of the human touch; absentee-landlord supervisors who are geographically distant, too thinly spread, unmotivated to develop subordinates or even maintain contact. A tendency for rank-and-file employees to 'get lost in the backdrop' if not constantly beating the bushes, often resulting in inability to find billable work. Soulless mechanized policies governing everything imaginable. Review and ranking processes which seem little more than check-the-box lip service; strong-and-still-growing neglect of 'team,' 'talent,' and 'workload,' instead choosing to focus on 'deals,' 'margins,' and 'utilization.' Strong behind-the-scenes office politics, with cliques and old boys' clubs -- lack of unified corporate strategy leads to disparate divisions undercutting one another. Frequent churn and reorganization at partner and exec ranks.

      Advice to Senior Management: One notes with some irony that the IBM orientation video depicts a throng of suit-clad workers singing along to The Kinks' "I'm Not Like Everybody Else." Though occasional victories (e.g., Watson on Jeopardy) inspire surges in corporate pride, a common perception continues to circulate regarding IBM employees as nameless faceless assets, disposable line-items, "just another microscopic cog in the machine," etc. Workforce reductions and outsourcing have exacerbated this mindset, but are not at its origin. Loyalty and solidarity are two-sided constructs; some attention must be returned to the human element, as noted above, or further slippage (with accompanying brand damage) will bring Big Blue still closer to that bygone Mediterranean empire.

    • IBM Software Sales Specialist in Detroit, MI: (Current Employee) "Work twice as much, chasing after a quota that is 2-3 times that of reps at similar companies, and make half as much." Pros: Teamwork is strong, so you can usually craft a solution to beat the competition. Cons: You'll make decent money, but it's difficult to "blow it out" because they will at random raise your quota to ensure you do not reach "excellerators" (multipliers) in commission pay formula. Advice to Senior Management: Pay your sales representatives, who are on the "front-line" every day making the sales, what they are worth and on-par with the rest of the industry. Then, IBM Software Group will be unstoppable.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) "Great company to work for." Pros: One of the best work environments in the industry-truly world class. Cons: Pay can be very disappointing given the fact that it's a big name among fortune 500 companies. Advice to Senior Management Management: Should look at employee retention. IBM is a great brand which offers unparalleled technical solutions to lot of customers. But the most important aspect is "IBMer" which is what IBM is all about. So, looking at the remuneration of employees from time to time and ensuring that truly good performers are paid what they deserve, can go a long way in retaining people.
  • Washington Post: Obama and unions: Many in labor movement frustrated with president. By Peter Wallsten. Excerpts: President Obama did everything this week that a loyal member of the labor movement could hope for: He quickly leapt to the defense of Wisconsin public-employee unions in their battle for bargaining rights, while his political operation worked to instigate additional demonstrations against Republican governors in other states. But as Obama's actions were celebrated in one part of the country, he was being picketed - again - in another. On Friday, he was greeted at a factory tour in Oregon by about three dozen high-tech workers who accused the president of pushing trade policies that would ship their jobs overseas. ...

    "He's basically trying to be everything to everybody," said Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, a nursing union that claims 160,000 members and is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO. "Until you look at the policies, and then it's clear he's there for the corporate sector." ...

    Now, many union leaders are bristling at White House efforts to reset its relationship with corporate America. Unions were opposed to the extension of tax cuts for the wealthy in the December deal Obama struck with Republicans. Some have criticized his call for a review of regulations, including the temporary withdrawal last month of one proposed rule governing how companies report certain worker joint and muscle sprains. And most unions oppose the South Korea deal.

  • The Guardian (United Kingdom): Chained to their desks: prisoners will staff call centre within Indian jail. Murder convict among trainees for scheme backed by India's authorities which could lead to inmates answering calls from UK. By Jason Burke. Excerpt: For a man serving a life sentence for murder, Pradeep Deburma has a slightly unlikely dream: to work in a call centre like hundreds of thousands of other young ambitious Indians. Even more improbably, he has every chance of realising it while still behind bars. Deburma, 24, is detained in a high-security prison near Hyderabad which is launching an innovative scheme to turn convicts into "outsourcing providers" for local firms and eventually, it is hoped, international clients.
  • Los Angeles Times: 787 Dreamliner teaches Boeing costly lesson on outsourcing. By Michael Hiltzik. Excerpt: The airliner is billions of dollars over budget and about three years late. Much of the blame belongs to the company's farming out work to suppliers around the nation and in foreign countries.

    The biggest mistake people make when talking about the outsourcing of U.S. jobs by U.S. companies is to treat it as a moral issue. Sure, it's immoral to abandon your loyal American workers in search of cheap labor overseas. But the real problem with outsourcing, if you don't think it through, is that it can wreck your business and cost you a bundle. Case in point: Boeing Co. and its 787 Dreamliner.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • 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 2/11/11: "The Game" is simply make your manager look good and feel safe so he keeps his job. He does not care if you falsify things as long as he can deny he told you to. He does not care if you work 20 hours a day and sleep in your car. As long as his measurements are made so he can get his maximum bonus and job security, he is happy. Its all about him or her and how their boss feels about them. To them it really is just the management game. To you its your life and food on the family table. Isn't it high time you took it seriously and stopped playing games. Management will know you're serious when enough of you join the union to force a vote. Then it's a whole new ball game. One that you and yours will enjoy playing in. Live better, Work union. Buy union. Support America. -Exodus2007-
    • Comment 2/12/11: UAW really takes care of their employees. GM Workers will receive 150 million dollars in bonuses, and some employees will receive 50% bonus of their salary. We at IBM have been feed a bunch of BS Respect for the individual and full employment. This company sucks. Join the union We at IBM have no rights We need collective bargaining. -ANA-
    • Comment 2/13/11: I was told to look for another job outside of Tivoli. I guess the virtual career fair was not successful. I can't believe people do not want to travel 60 to 100% of the time. -_OutTheDoorSoon_ -
    • Comment 2/15/11: To -confused employee- I admire your integrity. You are too good for IBM. If you want to talk back to your manager, then I recommend the words of -He Who Carries the Pickle-: "Are you asking me to falsify company records?" That would probably shut your manager up and make you feel better. But it won't save you from an RA. Your manager knows by now that you hate him and hate IBM, so he'll put you on the list no matter what you do or say and regardless of any data. Without a contract, he has that power. Good luck in your job search. I hope you find a company as honest as yourself. -Gorya-
    • Comment 2/15/11: I am a supplemental employee at IBM Canada who got RA'd few days ago. Well, I am still young and can easily find a job elsewhere but I feel sorry for folks who have families and bills to pay. Rumor has it that a lot worse is to come by April. No stability what so ever with this company! -EagerBeaver-
    • Comment 2/15/11: At IBM East Fishkill NY within the last two days we heard on our two-way radios that employees had altercations in the parking lot. Tempers are running short just after fifty employees in manufacturing B330 C4 plating were told that they would no longer have a job just after IBM announced that it had a stellar record making annual revenue profit! -AT WILL-
    • Comment 2/16/11: US Service Division has been subdivided into 2 divisions..Enterprise (ESD) and Retail (RSD). Depending on your workload in either will decide where you work. I fear a service division sell off in the future -Anon Again-
    • Comment 2/17/11: Products under SWG are experiencing cuts. Canada, US regions are mainly affected. Rumor mill has workings to about 60 people per product under SWG. Apparently, this is supposed to be in line with the 2015 plan of EPS of 20$ per share. Managers are trying to reorg the resources to other divisions such as GTS and technical sales. News is SVL will be severely hit. Watch your back folks. -eresdamalu-
    • Comment 2/19/11: to -former- How long were you in DB2 ? DB2 is one of the products affected. The managers are pretty open after a month of secrecy and have "literally" asked people to look out for new opportunities. The precise words used: "We need to have a look at the operating expense in way we develop. How much we are spending to how much we are making". For young people: 20's and 30's is the period when you learn. Get into a startup, and learn as much as you can. Do not waste your time working for IBM. -eresdamalu-
    • Comment 2/19/11: Just watch the IBM stock price, the higher it goes the more RA's inevitably follow. The IBM executives are doing all they can to get fatter and richer and will stop at nothing to boost the EPS even if it means IBM will soon become a dinosaur once they all cash in. -anonymous-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • Reuters: Repealing healthcare law would cost $210 bln: CBO. Excerpt: Repealing the U.S. healthcare law enacted last year would add $210 billion to the nation's deficit over the next decade, congressional auditors said on Friday. The Congressional Budget Office said enactment of a House of Representatives measure last month to scrap the healthcare overhaul would eliminate a number of provisions aimed at reducing federal healthcare costs as well as strip out new revenue-creating taxes and fees.
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.

  • Los Angeles Times Opinion: Saving Social Security. By Senator Bernie Sanders. Excerpts: Social Security is the most successful social program in American history. It shouldn't be privatized; its benefits shouldn't be cut; and the retirement age shouldn't be raised. Before Social Security was established 75 years ago, more than half of our elderly population lived in poverty. Because of Social Security, the poverty figure for seniors today is less than 10%. Social Security also provides dignified support for millions of widows, widowers, orphans and people with disabilities.

    Since it was established, Social Security has paid every nickel it owed to every eligible American, in good times and bad. As corporations over the last 30 years destroyed the retirement dreams of millions of older workers by eliminating defined-benefit pension plans, Social Security was there paying full benefits. When Wall Street greed and recklessness caused working people to lose billions in retirement savings, Social Security was there paying full benefits.

    Despite its success, Social Security faces an unprecedented attack from Wall Street, the Republican Party and a few Democrats. If the American people are not prepared to fight back, the dismantling of Social Security could begin in the very near future. ...

    Just about every day, one conservative or another tells us that Social Security is in crisis, that it is going bankrupt and that the Social Security Trust Fund contains nothing more than a pile of worthless IOUs. As a result of this barrage of misinformation, many young Americans have been convinced that when they reach retirement age, Social Security will not be there for them.

    So what are the facts? ...

    Further, despite the manufactured hysteria about a crisis, Social Security has not contributed one penny to the very serious deficit situation the United States faces. Social Security is fully funded by the payroll tax that workers and their employers pay; it's not paid for by the Treasury. Our deficit has been, in recent years, largely caused by the cost of two wars, tax breaks for the rich, a Medicare prescription drug program written by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and the Wall Street bailout — not Social Security.

    Why has there been such a concerted effort to privatize Social Security, raise the retirement age or cut benefits? First, Wall Street stands to make billions in profits if workers are forced to go to private financial establishments for their retirement accounts. Second, as the Republican Party has moved far to the right and become more anti-government, there are more and more Republicans who simply do not believe government has a responsibility to provide retirement benefits to the elderly, or to help those with disabilities.

  • truthOut: Bill Moyers: "Facts Still Matter ..." History Makers is an organization of broadcasters and producers from around the world concerned with the challenges and opportunities faced by factual broadcasting. Bill Moyers was the keynote speaker at the 2011 convention on January 27, 2011, in New York City. Excerpts: As Joe Keohane reported last year in The Boston Globe, political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency "deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information." He was reporting on research at the University of Michigan, which found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in new stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts were not curing misinformation. "Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger." You can read the entire article online.

    I won't spoil it for you by a lengthy summary here. Suffice it to say that, while "most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence," the research found that actually "we often base our opinions on our beliefs ... and rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions."

    These studies help to explain why America seems more and more unable to deal with reality. So many people inhabit a closed belief system on whose door they have hung the "Do Not Disturb" sign, that they pick and choose only those facts that will serve as building blocks for walling them off from uncomfortable truths. Any journalist whose reporting threatens that belief system gets sliced and diced by its apologists and polemicists (say, the fabulists at Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the yahoos of talk radio.) Remember when Limbaugh, for one, took journalists on for their reporting about torture at Abu Ghraib? He attempted to dismiss the cruelty inflicted on their captives by American soldiers as a little necessary "sport" for soldiers under stress, saying on air: "This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation ... you [ever] heard of need to blow some steam off?" As so often happens, the Limbaugh line became a drumbeat in the nether reaches of the right-wing echo chamber. So, it was not surprising that in a nationwide survey conducted by The Chicago Tribune on First Amendment issues, half of the respondents said there should be some kind of press restraint on reporting about the prison abuse. According to Charles Madigan, the editor of the Tribune's Perspective section, 50 or 60 percent of the respondents said they "would embrace government controls of some kind on free speech, particularly when it has sexual content or is heard as unpatriotic."

    No wonder many people still believe Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii, as his birth certificate shows; or that he is a Muslim, when in fact he is a Christian; or that he is a socialist when day by day he shows an eager solicitude for corporate capitalism. Partisans in particular - and the audiences for Murdoch's Fox News and talk radio - are particularly susceptible to such scurrilous disinformation. In a Harris survey last spring, 67 percent of Republicans said Obama is a socialist; 57 percent believed him to be a Muslim; 45 percent refused to believe he was born in America; and 24 percent said he "may be the antichrist."

  • Mother Jones, courtesy of AlterNet: Tea Party Patriots Investigated: 'They Use You and Abuse You.' Pricey political consultants and fame-seeking leaders: A grassroots group cozies up to the DC establishment and alienates the activists who put it on the map. Excerpts: Two years ago, Tea Party Patriots got its start as a scrappy, ground-up conservative organization. Its rowdy activists demanded more transparency and less business-as-usual in the nation's capital, and they worked hard to elect candidates who they believed wouldn't succumb to the ways of Washington. But it didn't take long for the grassroots tea party organization to embrace the DC establishment—and some of its more questionable practices.

    As TPP's leaders entrench themselves in Washington, local activists the group represents have accused them of exploiting the grassroots for their own fame and fortune while failing to deliver any meaningful political results. "Tea Party Patriots? I can't attribute one victory to them at all," says Laura Boatright, a former TPP regional coordinator in Southern California who has become an outspoken critic. "Where's the success with what they've done with all this money? My view is that it's just a career plan" for its national leaders—namely Jenny Beth Martin, who in 2010 was named by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and Mark Meckler, now a regular commentator on Fox News. (Meckler and Martin did not respond to a request to comment for this story.)

  • truthOut: Nine Pictures of the Extreme Income/Wealth Gap. By Dave Johnson. Excerpts: Many people don't understand our country's problem of concentration of income and wealth because they don't see it. People just don't understand how much wealth there is at the top now. The wealth at the top is so extreme that it is beyond most people's ability to comprehend. If people understood just how concentrated wealth has become in our country and the effect is has on our politics, our democracy and our people, they would demand our politicians do something about it.

    How Much Is A Billion? Some Wall Street types (and others) make over a billion dollars a year – each year. How much is a billion dollars? How can you visualize an amount of money so high? Here is one way to think about it: The median income in the US is around $50,000, meaning half of us make less and half of us make more. If you make $50,000 a year, and don't spend a single penny of it, it will take you 20,000 years to save a billion dollars

    What do people do with all that money? Good question. After you own a stable of politicians who will cut your taxes, there are still a few more things you can buy. Let's see what $1 billion will buy...

  • Huffington Post: Obama Budget Proposal: Cuts To Target Working Poor, Middle Class & Students. Excerpts: Less than two months after signing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans into law, President Barack Obama proposed a spending plan to Congress that cuts funding to programs that assist the working poor, help the needy heat their homes, and expand access to graduate-level education, undermining the kind of community-based organizations that helped Obama launch his political career in Chicago. Obama's new budget puts forward a plan to achieve $1.1 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade, according to an administration official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity in advance of the formal release of the budget.

    Those reductions -- averaging just over $100 billion each year -- are achieved mainly by squeezing social programs. A deal struck to extend the Bush tax cuts for just two years, meanwhile, increased the deficit by $858 billion dollars. More than $500 billion of that bargain constituted tax cuts, with billions more funding business tax breaks and a reduction in the estate tax. Roughly $56 billion went to reauthorize emergency unemployment benefits.

    The president's budget was expected to mostly target "non-defense discretionary spending," which makes up less than one-quarter of the overall budget, making balancing the budget with such cuts mathematically impossible.

  • AlterNet: Who is Influencing Obama's Budget Proposal? Follow the Funders. How money in politics is compromising America's future. By Rob Johnson. Excerpts: President Obama is a smart man. When Gallup surveys suggest that unemployment is around 10 percent — and that unemployment plus underemployment is 19 percent of the workforce — then it's clear that the best way to raise revenues and close the deficit is to put people back to work. President Obama surely knows this. But his actions don't seem to follow this obvious logic. Why is that?

    Part of the reason lies in a group of people who pour money into our political system but don't necessarily want the same things that ordinary Americans want. In fact, some of these people benefit from municipal crises, breaking teachers unions, and increasing the fear of the workforce. They fall disproportionately into the group that Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig identified as "the funders" in his recent TedX Talk in San Antonio, Texas. The increasing power of this group produces political contortions by buying results in Congress that do nothing for regular folks. Their influence also steers President Obama to focus on his reelection rather than trying to change the climate of opinion and become America's Great Persuader. The public has now heard the conservative mantra that government is the problem and not the solution for 40 years. Couple that with the experience of valid rage following the bank bailouts, and it's not surprising that the public overwhelmingly feels that the government has become an instrument of the wealthy and powerful. Strong leadership is needed to challenge this narrative. But the President seems content to conform to the prevailing suspicion of government. He fails to convince the public that the government can have an active response to the jobs crisis — a response that benefits them, not monied interests.

    And that suits many funders in the top 3 percent of the wealth distribution just fine.

  • New York Times editorial: Beyond Reason on the Budget. Excerpt: After two years of raging at President Obama's spending plans, House Republican leaders have finally revealed their real vision of small government: tens of billions in ideologically driven cuts to job training, environmental protection, disease control, crime protection and dozens of other critical functions that only the government can perform. In all, they want more than $32 billion in cuts below current spending packed into the next seven months. They would be terribly damaging to a frail recovery and, while spending reductions must be part of long-term deficit control, these are the wrong cuts, to the wrong programs, at the wrong time.
  • Wall Street Journal: The $22,000 Martini. By Amy Ma. Excerpt: Valentine's Day always brings in a fair share of romantic gestures, but the folks at the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo have more in mind than just flowers and chocolates. For those intent on splurging on their special someone, the hotel has a 1.8 million yen (about US$22,000) cocktail on the menu. The Ritz's Diamond Martini, created in 2007 when the hotel first opened, has just a few ingredients: Grey Goose vodka and a hint of lime, stirred or shaken over ice, plus a special garnish — a one-carat diamond.
  • Politico: GOP tries to slash Wall Street law. By Meredith Shiner. Excerpts: The federal agencies charged with enforcing last year's Wall Street reform law are starving for money, short staffed and worried about being able to implement the far-reaching crackdown on the financial industry. And that's exactly what top Republicans in charge of banking and Wall Street oversight want.

    As top key administration officials appeared before the Senate banking committee on Thursday to plead for more money to enforce the so-called Dodd-Frank act, Republicans admitted that they were aiming to dismantle and defund the law.

    "We should slow a lot of that down," said Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the panel. "A lot of us voted against and oppose Dodd-Frank. Obviously, we'd repeal it. So I certainly don't think we should rush to implement it."

    When asked whether taking down funding levels is a "legitimate" way to slow the process of implementation, Shelby responded: "Always." ...

    But there's a risk for Shelby and other Republicans who want to break up the Wall Street law — financial reform didn't rattle voters the same way the health debate did. The GOP will have a tougher case to make against Dodd-Frank while still appearing sensitive to the causes of the 2008 financial meltdown and its residual effects. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) warned Thursday that failure to fund the reform law will be "a step backwards, and it is a dangerous step for the American economy."

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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