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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—July 16, 2011

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Looking for a New Job- Sound Advice Requested" by "In". Full excerpt: I am tired of hearing that I should be happy I am employed. I have been beaten/ignored/humiliated/pigeonholed and it is affecting my mental and physical health. My manager never speaks to me unless it is to assign more work. They spoke to me in March to give me my variable pay and end of June for my 2% raise. Both phone calls were held to a few minutes as they needed a bio break. We have not had a department meeting in 3 years. We have weekly group meetings to go over NUMBERS. (period). We have meetings MWF to project the WEEKLY meeting group metrics. TL has weekly 1/2 hour meetings (3 of us at a time) (TL does that for a whole day) to see our individual numbers are good.

    I have 3 choices: 1) Do nothing. 2) Find a new job. 3) Retire

    Question 1: Has any had any Success using the Internal Marketplace tool? Has anyone had any Actual job success of crossing Divisions? (STG-SWG-etc) Do you just target/scatter the postings with applications? (I have NOT ST'ed my manager that I want a new job)(My assumption is they would be cc'ed on any application) IF I tell them I am looking, my fear is I would be put on short list for next RA round.

    I have confided in a couple of different managers that I am looking and to keep me in mind but they have no openings. Any factual sage insight would be appreciated.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Looking for a New Job- Sound Advice Requested" by "teamb562". Full excerpt: I sense your frustration and can relate. But frustration is exactly what HR wants so don't give it to them. My only insight would be that the current treatment of US employees is being orchestrated and conducted purposely with the goal of reducing US IBM employees as quickly as possible. I doubt moving to a different IBM job would make any difference. I'm getting the very same treatment only I have not spoken to my manager in 6 months. I got no bonus pay or a raise. My best advice would be to hang tight and milk the pig as long as you can.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Looking for a New Job- Sound Advice Requested" by Garry Smithwick. Full excerpt: Don't expect the job to make you happy. Just collect your money, save as much as you can, make yourself happy, and wait for them to pay you to leave. Most of the things you complained about only make you unhappy if you let them. It's a job, not your life. Consider the fact that you have job, got variable pay, got a raise, have good medical coverage, and 401K matching a good thing (a Blessing). But the happy part has nothing to do with it. Happy is up to you when you wake up each morning. There are lots of RA'd IBMers and other folks who would trade places with you in a heartbeat.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "IBM workers strike in Argentina threatened 7/28" by "sby_willie". Full excerpt: First a labor action threat against IBM by Chile and now Argentina. What is IBM to do if IBM India decides to organize and strike? That could spell the end of the 100 year old company IMHO. Anyone wish to comment?
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Management Notice of Retirement?" by "ibm20yrsnot40". Full excerpt: Before you notify anyone in management of your intent to "Retire" I would strongly suggest that you read thru the "About Your Benefits - Separation" document (USHR119). Pay particular attention to the "Individual Separation Allowance Plan (ISAP)". It is there for your benefit.

    Walking in to your manager's office and announcing your intention to "retire" is simply leaving money on the table. The IBM company has and will exercise every legal means at it's disposal to ensure they don't leave a single penny in your pocket that they can take. It's your call, but if it were me I would do the same to them.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: IBM workers strike in Argentina threatened 7/28" by "bits_bytes_and_bugs". Full excerpt: The India IT job market is extremely volatile, has breathtaking turnover, rapid wage increases, and substantial signing bonuses. The India staff on my account average around 8 months before they leave, usually to a competitor that pays MUCH better than IBM India does.

    It doesn't appear that IBM India cares much about retention, they just hire more freshers off the street to replace those who left. Which means under the current IBM staffing model, a union would have little leverage.

    If IBM India did strike, I don't believe it would be the end of IBM simply because most IT workers there are essentially a low-skill commodity - IBM would have no problem replacing them. It would hurt for about 6 months while the replacements built some skills.

    The quick and constant turnover presents an unusual challenge to organizers. Rather than fight their employer by organizing, dissatisfied employees jump to a new one, get a 25% raise and a 10% signing bonus.

    Because of the employee churn and bouncing from employer to employer, it appears a strategy to organize the IT industry may be more effective than attempting to organize a single employer.

  • Bloomberg: Palmisano of IBM, UPS’s Davis at Obama Executive Lunch on Jobs. By Roger Runningen. Excerpts: President Barack Obama is having lunch at the White House today with four chief executives representing the food, computer, shipping and railroad industries to discuss the economy and job creation. The guests include Scott Davis, chairman and chief executive officer of United Parcel Service Inc.; Sam Palmisano, chairman and CEO of International Business Machines Corp. Matt Rose, chairman and CEO of BNSF Railway Co., and Clarence Otis Jr., chairman and CEO of Darden Restaurants Inc., according to a White House e-mail.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Palmisano lunching with Obama today" by "Paul S". Full excerpt: Let me guess, more tax-cuts will be needed to grow jobs ...where? Can we possibly have a more disingenuous representative than Sam? How about tax-cuts for all jobs created at or above 30% of median pay at a corporation - oh wait that information is not available. And no tax-cuts otherwise. Give the employer a 2 year tax-cut equal to that employees pay, contingent on the employee staying for at least 2 years. The employee will then stimulate the economy and add some $ to the tax coffers. Wait, I'm dreaming, I'm not in Europe am I? Where there are many countries with lower unemployment rates than the USA although you only hear about Greece, Spain and Portugal.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Palmisano lunching with Obama today" by "maxxcurrey". Full excerpt: The outsourcing idiots will be telling Obama how to create jobs? Where? In Brazil, Russia, India, China, The Philippines, Chile or wherever they can get cheap techno coolies. They are probably also lobbying for a return to child labor. Obama being half black they cannot lobby for slave labor, which is likely their real wish.

    Instead of lunching with these corporatist traitors he should be setting tariffs to make jobs overseas cost as much as jobs in the U.S. This will raise living standards everywhere. This is what the U.S. historically did until first the [re]publicans started selling out the U.S. middle class workers in the 1970s and then were joined by the Democrats in the 1990s.

    "Right to work" my a$$. It is really of course "Right to Work [for less]".

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Future Health Account" by "netmouser". Full excerpt: Many companies today have dropped retiree health plans altogether.

    I am "access only" FHA, meaning I can buy it and pay the full premium. It is very expensive so your wife is not really missing much. I have a self-only plan that is not the most expensive, the EPO, and pay $9024/year. The FHA is still a group rate plan and a bit less than a decent plan on the open market (be sure you get a plan with an annual cap on costs you pay, and has no limit on prescription - to avoid bankruptcy).

    Your wife can get the money to help pay the premiums if she waits, if she can, to leave IBM at age 55 (as she has also reached 15 years of service, needed to obtain the money).

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Anyone know about repayment for ALAP" by "Chuck". Full excerpt: Hi Guys, Need your help.. I was a part of the US ALAP (Degree work study program).I had to sign the repayment agreement which says I need to stay with IBM for 2 years after graduation else I will have to return the money. For last 5 years there has been no promotion and very low/no salary hikes. Since I graduated there is no change so I am now desperate to move out.. My question is that will IBM come after me for the repayment? I know legally they can as I signed the repayment contract...Has anyone been in similar situation or know of someone who has been through this? Thanks Preeti.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Anyone know about repayment for ALAP" by "workforlife". Full excerpt: As part of an IBM employee purchase I had the joy of having IBM screw up some paper work. They sent me to collections before they even looked in house. The error was in IBM Boulder but my credit went to crap as the collection company still wanted their fees. Different case but you can assume IBM will want their money back. If you are in the US plan on dealing with a collections firm.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Management Notice of Retirement?" by ""lastdino1". Full excerpt: You hit the nail on the head. The days of announcing your retirement and following up with leaving on your own are over. There was a time when this was the accepted method of retirement. Leave with pride and honor in achieving a goal. If you do that today without a "deal" from your manager you will not get any of the financial benefits of being RA'd. So either make the deal or start to slack off until you get RA'd. Good luck. LD
  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “Job diversity and opportunity to grow with a global market..” Pros: Diversity and believing that the corporate goal is toward social good. Opportunity to work with an international team meaning more perspective into the worlds needs. Fair and equal treatment of employee. Flex time and remote location Cons: No chance to "hit it big" like working in a tech startup. Less people to spread work around ... meaning your work is still waiting for you after vacation Global teams mean long hours with free hours in the middle ... sometimes that works if you can manage your time. No company paid phone / internet for remote employee's IT needs. Advice to Senior Management: Consider the need of the remote employee's IT needs via paid IT connection. Offer company VC like funded "pseudo tech startup" programs for employee so that they don't need to join startup to "hit it big"
    • IBM Technical Architect: (Current Employee) “A safe haven if you're skilled, but not a place to get very rich.” Pros: IBM is vast, it contains multitudes of very talented people. Almost any technical problem you might have can be solved if you can find the right people. IBM is prestigious, and no one ever go fired for buying IBM. It's a great place to start a career and learn. Cons: IBM has a lot of bureaucracy, that can be hard to deal with. IBM recently has been cutting back on small things, like the THANKS program, and paying for internet service. And once you get to "pay for performance" you either have to leave, or jump an Olympian hurdle to make the next band, to get a raise. IBM doesn't do "cost of living" raises. Advice to Senior Management: Stop cutting the small stuff. Bring the THANKS program back, for example. But keep investing in initiatives and making savvy company buys, that's working great.
    • IBM Test Automation Specialist in Hyderabad (India): (Current Employee) “Wonderful” Pros: It is always a very good experience. IBM may not be a great paymaster, but the flexibility in terms of timings, leaves, and others is awesome. Have lots of information to learn inside. If you work smart, growing up the ladder is not tough. Cons: Too much cost cutting these days. Salary increments are not great except for top raters. Even the top raters will be disappoint when they compare with outside world. Initial days will be too confusing and so many tools makes a new employee feel that it is very complex to manage in IBM. Advice to Senior Management: Try to keep the existing employees by giving them good salaries, instead of taking new employees for much higher salaries. It helps you retain lots of knowledge and experience.
    • IBM Consultant in Herndon, VA: (Past Employee - 2010) “Not a bad place to work, but lots of bureaucracy and hard to advance for purely technical people.” Pros: Prestigious company, decent pay, free health insurance for employee, varied work available, very flexible with regards to work location (if your client doesn't need you at site, you can work from home or any IBM office) Cons: Your career has a ceiling unless you bring sales to the company - big con for technical people, 45 hour work week required if you want any salary increase, large amounts of time to find your way through the bureaucracy - especially when it comes to evaluations and tracking skills. Advice to Senior Management: Give technical people a better career path, try to minimize the bureaucracy associated with evaluations, stop giving everyone the same set of goals and allow a more customized goal setting process.
    • IBM Senior Managing Consultant: (Past Employee - 2010) “Elephants Don't Dance.” Pros: Telecommuting is a beautiful thing. Cons: Management tends to say one thing and do another. Advice to Senior Management: Try thinking of people as people and not numbers.
    • IBM Programmer: (Current Employee) “Overburdened by policy and process, there is so much documentation any one reading this can do my job now.” Pros: I have the ability to work at home when needed, good healthcare benefits and reasonably priced for singe people. Good 401K match. Cons: Really bad raises barely got 1% this year, based on what I've seen I should be make 10% more then i am, ZERO opportunity to transfer and advance my career. Advice to Senior Management: Let me transfer especially if they are not happy in the current roles. Also start hiring young people for key roles so they can back fill for when all the people with 30+ years start to retire
    • IBM SAP Consultant: (Current Employee) “Average company without any employee focus.” Pros: - Good place to get international exposure; - Some of the consultants were technically good; - provides good learning opportunity; - the people with consulting background are amazing; - provides exceptional advice on how to excel without performing and by piggy riding (honest opinion.) Cons: - No employee focus; - Will try to suck the maximum out of you in case you are a good performer and love your job; - hopeless pay; - no hike in 4 yrs; - No recognition of the work in terms of promotion; - Managers are very good at promising without delivering; - Work environment is full of distrust with boot lickers trying to get own up everything good. - No team spirit; - High stress life in case you wish to perform . Advice to Senior Management: Managers need to identify what is real performance over masked performance. They need to look beyond their own good. Talent needs nourishment in terms of pay, promotion, training, better roles etc, which is not the current practice.
    • IBM Lead Software Developer in Dublin, County Dublin (Ireland): (Current Employee) “Great place to wait for retirement.” Pros: - flexible schedule; - great work to life balance; - lots of technologies available; - lots of courses available for free; - brand name. Cons: - lower that average pay; - bonuses next to zero; - poor planning; - moving between departments next to impossible.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Past Employee - 2011) “Enriching.” Pros: A flexible and supportive environment. There is lots of mobility within the company and plenty of opportunities for career growth within and between business units, organizations and teams. Among its peers, IBM is ahead of the curve. Cons: Tedious, unnecessary processes and (ironically) the company does not leverage technology where it can to improve on efficiency. This results in unnecessary longer working hours. Advice to Senior Management: Invest in technology for backend processes - because these potentially results in slower turnaround for clients. It's not that IBMers aren't focused on our clients, it's that we're spending unnecessary time in manual workarounds or tools that take forever to run.
  • LinkedIn's Greater IBM Connection selected posts:
    • The IBM we all worked for a loved was a very successful experiment that ultimately failed. During the Centennial celebration, the first challenge Gertsner had to face is that the Company did not have enough money to make payroll. Not lower revenues, but could not make payroll! For the World's most profitable Corporation in the 1960's and 70's to fall to a point it had to beg loans to stay afloat, shows an amazing amount of mismanagement. The problems were not with the basic beliefs, it was poor management.
    • When I went to "New Managers School" in 1980, one of the first things we were given to read was "A Business and Its Beliefs" by Thomas Watson, Jr. We were even tested on some of the content material as it was considered the "Bible" of IBM culture. I knew we had crossed a threshold of culture when, just before I retired in 2007, I found a copy of that same book in the local site library (oops, I mean "Information Center") surplus bin stamped "Obsolete".
    • Thanks Pete Greulich for reminding us the principles stated by Thomas Watson Sr.! They were the main reason I joined IBM 25 years ago. And yes, I have always remembered the first principle! I have been reading bits and pieces of the above discussion and it certainly resonates with me. My feeling is that Thomas Watson Sr's principle number 5 (Obligations to stockholders) has become principle number 1 over the last decade. This is very much in line with what happened in other companies (Did anyone read the book "The perfect prey" about the rise and fall and rescue of a major Dutch Bank?) Another characteristic of the last decade is that overall the focus is on "me, myself and my bonus" to cite a colleague IBM QCC member. And it is to be hoped that the tides will change again. Some say that that is inevitable... (Rather sooner than later). I hope IBM will be one of the frontrunners then. I think you asked a couple of very valid questions, Pete. But did you also ask them to IBM top mgmt.? I would be most interested to hear their answer...
    • A major change in IBM that I lived through is the advent of services, which is now getting close to 50% of IBM’s revenue. I think this change has a profound effect on the three Basic Beliefs. An employee in services is a “resource”, measured and assessed based on “utilization” and often interchangeable (now often done via “global deployment”). Commitment to excellence and customer service is now governed by a “Statement of Work”, and if one goes above and beyond, it is all “billable”. If the customer is not satisfied with the scope of the services rendered and wants more, a “change order” needs to put into the contract. If you want to look for a parallel, take a look at some of the Big 4 human resource practices based on “grinders, minders, and finders”.
    • I have also spent most of my time in services, currently GBS. I totally agree with you that the focus on utilization has accounted for many changes in the atmosphere at work. But I think it is not the utilization KPI in itself (it is a valid KPI for a services organization after all) but the way it is being handled that causes the problems.

      Apart from claim there seems to be no good measurement tool of employee performance. Utilization pressure is so high (at least in my region) that PEM tasks as well as participation in research activities or in internal or external conferences, even as a paid contributor, have to be done largely in "give-back=free" time, which is reduced to less than 15% with a 85% or higher utilization goal. This eventually is no good development. To keep the workforce motivated, sufficient attention must be paid to what drives the individual professionals, to their personal development and coaching. Time spent on such matters must be visible and valued.

      Next to the utilization pressure also the atmosphere of threat and punishment (in stead of motivation) that seems to have taken root in GBS, are killing for individual empowerment and creativity. Just like the "good soldier Schweik" people may start to "report, that everything is fine", go their own way and loose their willingness to spend the extra hour for the company. I see it happening around me. And although a quiet and obedient workforce may seem a blessing for management, it will not lead to the high performance culture that IBM so desperately wishes to achieve and could achieve in the past.

      My favourite book these days is "The art of possibility" by Ben & Roz Zander. This book has helped me to avoid submersion in what I sometimes call the IBM Gulag Archipelago. I can strongly recommend it to anyone of you! The simple practices that they describe could help IBM come back on track and leverage the good old values.

  • Wall Street Journal: The 25 Documents You Need Before You Die. By Saabira Chaudhiri. Excerpt: Here is a rundown of the most important documents you'll need to have signed, sealed and delivered. You should start collecting these as soon as possible and update them every few years to reflect changes in assets and preferences. Some—such as copies of tax returns or recent child-support payments—need to be updated more often than others.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • IBM Chile Union and IBM sign collective bargaining agreement! On Tuesday July 12th, the IBM Chile Union SNTI, and IBM negotiated and signed a union contract. The vast majority of IBM Chile union members approved the offer and a strike has been averted. Congratulations to our brothers and sisters in the IBM Chile union for this historic event! A copy of the agreement will be emailed to Alliance@IBM CWA Local 1701 members and associate members.
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 7/10/11: -nonexempt- Oh I know how that goes as I too was bit the same way. These days I arrive at work on time and leave exactly on time. I have a file that I document every little thing that I do. Trip for coffee in the cafeteria (leave / return) times; phone calls (time start, end contents) you get the idea. I don't offer suggestions; ideas; observations or anything else. I've observed blatant security issues where management should be involved and I say nothing. It's a management problem and I'm no longer a professional nor a cop.

      I leave my laptop at work, because IBM doesn't pay for my Internet / phone I refuse to use it for work. I have an IBM supplied cell phone and when I go home I take it but turn the ringer down such that it can't be beard. Why take the the cell phone home? Consider this, should I be killed while in possession of the IBM supplied phone, the insurance is doubled (technically by being required to carry the phone at all times, I'm on business and I've checked w/my legal counsel and they would scream very loudly in public and there appears to be some precedent supporting this position.) When they leave VM on my home phone, it's deleted, (they know I'm not home when I'm not at work). And when I'm asked to work overtime, I've already got plans and must decline which causes our superstars (management pets that are also hourly to take up the slack.) What's really funny is these superstars don't claim what they work nor do they work what they record in claim / etotals. Hmmm... can someone say "Tax Evasion?"

      Eventually, this will get the superstars as well as most of a management chain in boiling water if not tarred and feathered! So, document, document, document everything and keep copies (need I say off-site)! Y'a, see what a 15% pay cut, elimination of premium pay, reducing professionals to the rank of common labor and no raises has produced? Ain't it grand? -Alfred E. Neuman - Mad Magazine-

    • Comment 7/11/11: @-Alfred E. Neuman - Mad Magazine-, totally agree. I do not work beyond 40 hours myself. I was in a similar situation, but I was lucky to move in time to miss the pay cut, so I am still exempt, but I only put in a forty hour week because there are no incentives to work more. I let management worry about the uncompleted work. -Straight-Forty-Guy-
    • Comment 7/11/11: I am also one that only does my obligatory 40 hours/week and nothing more if I can help it. I'd prefer to make a bigger contribution but not here, not given the way IBM treats it's employees today. You reap what you sow. My main focus these days is propping up GDF employees that are in over their heads in complex customer situations. Not sure how long this gig will last since it's not an "official" SME position. Honestly, I'm just waiting for my final screwing in one of the future RA's. What a nice thought to have while heading in to work every day. -Gray_Hair-
    • Comment 7/11/11: I believe in my project. Managers (upper level.... HIGH LEVEL) want the information that my project provides. But apparently it's not SO IMPORTANT that they pay me what I deserve so that they get this info on time. We had two sev 1's today and the info won't be delivered on time. Since I'm not allowed to work OT to DO MY JOB, then I guess they'll just have to wait. Sad thing is, if we miss a deliverable, it's MY FAULT that I didn't train a GR to do my job because I wasn't allowed to do my job due to the OT restriction. -nonexempt-
    • Comment 7/12/11: Manager One-on-One's going on this week. We were told no pay raise unless you received a 1 or 2+ on your PBC. -IBM_lifer-
    • Comment 7/12/11: Did anyone receive email about "GMU Technical Virtual Job Fair?". They are looking for volunteers to go to Growth Markets. They sent to only selected candidates. Something is cooking here. -resource-
    • Comment 7/12/11: @IBM_lifer, we were told that some job families in some divisions got no base adjustment, only top contributor awards. In my job family (hardware engineer) in STG, that is not the case (slightly over 2% base adjustment on a "2" PBC). -STG'er-
    • Comment 7/12/11: When is IBM US going to "join the strike?" A better question is when is IBM US going to join its own union? I see people once again saying they work 40 hours and no more etc etc. Yet when unions do this they are chided with lazy union bums etc etc. I do not see the difference other then the union folks stand together and don't back stab one another's efforts by doing someone else's work to suck up to the boss. If your going to play the game you should learn to play it right. As a team. Many voices saying the same thing. Join the Union. -Exodus2007-
    • Comment 7/13/11: PBC question. Previously got 3's in consecutive years. Was placed on probation and got a 2. Do have to get a 2 every year from now on? Is a 3 automatic dismissal? Any help? -STG-
    • Comment 7/13/11: @-resource-, nothing is new or cooking, it is that same strategy that IBM started in 2001. You can bet your bottom dollar there will be at least a 10% RA this quarter. It sounds like the target numbers were low for the 2nd quarter due to extra belt tightening and it is being focused on in the all hands calls. Damn, when I get my RA, maybe I can get a job doing predictions. -Same-old-stuff-new-Qtr-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • Washington Post: Some doctors insist on brand-name drugs even when cheaper generics are available. By Ranit Mishori. Excerpt: Three words to watch out for next time you get a new prescription: “Dispense as Written.” Scrawled across the prescription form in your doctor’s hand — or, more likely, ticked off on a check box — the words may seem innocuous enough. But they’re costing you. In fact, a recent article in the American Journal of Medicine says they’re costing all of us $7.7 billion a year. Because what this note from your doctor to your pharmacist means is: “I won’t let you fill this prescription with a generic.” ...

    In the American Journal of Medicine article, researcher doctors noted that out of a sample of 5.6 million prescriptions written for more than 2 million patients, nearly 5 percent “were designated as dispense as written by physicians and patients.” This, perhaps, is not a very large portion, but the money that might have been saved is substantial. Noted the authors: “By substituting the generic alternative for each . . . brand that was filled . . . the patient population in this sample could have reduced their charges by more than $1.7 million and the health plans could have experienced more than a $10.6 million reduction in costs in the 1-month study period.” ...

    Brand names are the names doctors most easily remember. Drug samples left in physicians’ offices — seemingly a free gift for doctors to dispense and patients to receive — make them more memorable. Often, sales representatives will treat a physician and his staff to lunch, and leave behind an array of pens, coffee mugs and USB memory sticks branded with the name of their drugs.

    Advertising also has an effect, both on doctors and on patients, who ask for specific drugs they’ve heard mentioned on TV. Cumulatively, these tactics often succeed at what they are designed to do: sell the brand, instill trust in the name and make it the habitual choice.

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.

  • Buzzflash: Alleged Obama Cutbacks on Social Security Would Sink Many Seniors Into Poverty. By Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Excerpts: Social Security cuts under consideration by the White House in deficit-reduction talks would drive 245,000 people into poverty and lower widows' benefits $1,200 a year by 2050, according to Social Security Administration calculations provided to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Changing the way inflation is measured to determine Social Security benefits is one option on the table in high-stakes budget negotiations that resume Sunday at the White House. The so-called Chained Consumer Price Index on average results in a lower inflation levels than the more common formula used to adjust benefits. ...

    In 2030, according to the report prepared for Sanders, there would be 173,400 more people living in poverty in the United States. The revised formula also would dramatically lower benefits for retirees. Widows would receive almost $70 a month less in benefits, a reduction of $840 a year. People who are 70-79 would receive $49 a month less, a drop of $588 a year. Benefits for those who are 80-89 would drop by $80/month or $960 a year. Benefits for women would fall by 3.5 percent overall while men's benefits would drop by 2.9 percent. ...

    As the deficit negotiations were set to resume on Sunday, Sanders emphasized that Social Security has not contributed a dime to the deficit or the national debt. Funded by the payroll tax on workers and employers, Socials Security has a $2.6 trillion surplus and will be able to provide full benefits for every eligible American for the next 25 years.

  • Equal Voice Newspaper: Congressman Ryan: The Rich Man's Robin Hood. By Kathy Mulady. Excerpts: Ryan's “Roadmap for America's Future” cuts government aid that he says creates a culture of dependency. The plan snips the threads of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that Americans contribute to during their working years and count on for retirement or disability. His plan also slashes Pell grants, which help students from low-income families go to college, and unemployed workers return to school to sharpen their skills or train for new careers. ...

    “He keeps referencing a life of dependence, but the economic reality is that there are multiple job seekers for every existing job. The people who are relying on the safety net now are recently unemployed or under-employed,” she said. Crawford said she's frustrated that Ryan and other Republicans want to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy that were supposed to be temporary. ...

    Nationwide polls repeatedly show Americans demanding shared sacrifice, tapping the rich instead of further punishing the poor. A recent Boston Globe poll showed 73 percent of likely voters support raising taxes on the wealthy. Ryan's plan calls for across-the-board tax cuts, including for businesses, corporations and the nation's wealthiest. ...

    Eric Mann, director of the Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles, which advocates for working-class families and communities, said Ryan's budget paints a future that resembles something from Charles Dickens more than from Franklin Roosevelt. “I would call this plan the road to cruelty,” said Mann.

  • New York Times op-ed: No, We Can’t? Or Won’t? By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: If you were shocked by Friday’s job report, if you thought we were doing well and were taken aback by the bad news, you haven’t been paying attention. The fact is, the United States economy has been stuck in a rut for a year and a half. Yet a destructive passivity has overtaken our discourse. Turn on your TV and you’ll see some self-satisfied pundit declaring that nothing much can be done about the economy’s short-run problems (reminder: this “short run” is now in its fourth year), that we should focus on the long run instead. ...

    Excuse No. 3: It’s the workers’ fault. Unemployment soared during the financial crisis and its aftermath. So it seems bizarre to argue that the real problem lies with the workers — that the millions of Americans who were working four years ago but aren’t working now somehow lack the skills the economy needs.

    Yet that’s what you hear from many pundits these days: high unemployment is “structural,” they say, and requires long-term solutions (which means, in practice, doing nothing). Well, if there really was a mismatch between the workers we have and the workers we need, workers who do have the right skills, and are therefore able to find jobs, should be getting big wage increases. They aren’t. In fact, average wages actually fell last month.

  • The Smirking Chimp: Want to Solve All your Problems, Rupert Murdoch? Become A Banker. By R.J. Eskow. Excerpts: Rupert Murdoch's got problems. His employees are being arrested, he's losing his latest acquisition, and he's just been called to testify before Parliament. But there's an easy way for Mr. Murdoch to protect himself from these inquiries and save his company at the same time: Turn the News Corporation into a Wall Street bank. There won't be any prosecutions, and the government will even sweeten the deal with billions of dollars in easy money. And if Murdoch follows the trail blazed by bankers like Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase, soon they'll be begging him to acquire more companies.

    Murdoch and Dimon. One runs an organization that, as we now know, broke the law so many times it could be called a criminal syndicate. And the other is Rupert Murdoch. Yet Murdoch's fighting for his corporation's future while Dimon's name is being floated as a possible Treasury Secretary. Murdoch's losing his chance to expand market share, while our government helped Dimon's bank become more too-big-to-fail than ever by grabbing up Morgan Stanley.

  • The Guardian (United Kingdom): Mukesh Ambani, India's richest man, builds world's first billion-dollar home Mumbai property, named Antilia after a mythical island, is worth £630m and comes complete with three helipads. By Jason Burke. Excerpts: Mukesh Ambani is having a few friends round to celebrate moving into his new Mumbai pad. But as the home has 27 storeys, soars to 173 metres and is worth an estimated £630m, it will be a housewarming like no other. The building – named Antilia, after a mythical island – will be home to Ambani, the richest man in India and the fourth richest in the world, plus his wife and their three children. It contains a health club with a gym and dance studio, at least one swimming pool, a ballroom, guestrooms, a variety of lounges and a 50-seater cinema. ...

    If they want to avoid Mumbai's gridlock, there are three helicopter pads on the roof. If they do drive, they will not have any trouble parking: there is space for 160 vehicles on the lower floors. Once in, nine lifts will take the guests from the lobby to upper levels, where the festivities will take place. On the top floors, with a sweeping view of the city and out over the Arabian Sea, are quarters for the 53-year-old tycoon and his family. Overall, there is reported to be 37,000 sq metres of space, more than the Palace of Versailles. To keep things running smoothly, there is a staff of 600. ...

    India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has previously called on business leaders to "eschew conspicuous consumption" and "be role models of moderation". Shiny Varghese, deputy editor of the Indian magazine Design Today, said the Ambanis' house was the ultimate expression of a much broader trend. "It's so obscenely lavish that I'm not sure too many people will go all that way, but we are heading into the sort of culture where money is not a question when setting up a home," he said. "The lavishness is huge.

  • The Smirking Chimp: Millionaires gather to steal from the old, the sick and the poor. By Weldon Berger. Excerpts: That the rich relentlessly thieve from the poor is hardly fresh news, but a more attentive institutional press might see fit to mention, at least once in a while, how well off the negotiators wrangling over how deeply to cut social welfare programs are. Nobody in Congress will ever have to rely on Social Security to stay solvent, or on Medicare or Medicaid to stay alive.

    The press might also see fit to mention that even the most impoverished inhabitants of Congress, even if they never work another day in their lives, have no other income and never get a dime from Social Security, will almost certainly take home more in retirement pay--they get generous pensions and taxpayer-assisted 401-K plans--than the median income in this country.

    2009 financial disclosure numbers show Joe Biden as one of the few people involved in the negotiations who wasn't worth something comfortably in the seven figure range during that year. (He may actually have been in the red.) The average net worth of the people who will be voting on the fate of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid was about $3.4 million in the House and an astonishing $13.6 million in the Senate. And that was in 2009, when the stock market was struggling for most of the year and investment portfolios had taken massive hits. But Congress still had 237 millionaires, almost 45% of the 535 federal legislators. ...

    The wealth of these people should be part of their names. The photo showing showing Boehner and Obama playing golf should have been captioned, "Millionaire president Barack Obama discusses Medicare cuts with millionaire Congressman John Boehner over a chuckle at the country club." Eric Cantor should always be introduced to a story as a multi-millionaire: "Multi-millionaire Congressman Eric Cantor complained today that cuts proposed by multi-millionaire president Barack Obama do too little to unravel the safety net for the poor and elderly." "Republican senator Mitch McConnell, whose net worth at the height of the recession was at least $7 million, said today that the federal government can no longer subsidize health care for people earning as much as $17,000."

  • Huffington Post: Elections Have Consequences. By Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Excerpts: We are at a pivotal moment in American history, and many Americans watching the deficit talks in Washington are confused, perplexed, angry and frustrated. This country, which has paid its debts from Day 1, must pay its debts. Anyone who says it is not a big deal for this country to default clearly does not understand what he or she is talking about. This is a nation whose faith and credit has been the gold standard of countries throughout the world. Some people simply say we're not going to pay our debt, that there's nothing to really worry about. Those are people who are wishing our economy harm for political reasons, and those are people whose attitudes will have terrible consequences for virtually every working family in this country in terms of higher interest rates, in terms of significant job loss, in terms of making a very unstable global economy even more unstable.

    Our right-wing friends in the House of Representatives have given us an option. What they have said is end Medicare as we know it and force elderly people, many of whom don't have the money, to pay substantially more for their health care. So when you're 70 under their plan and you get sick and you don't have a whole lot of income, we don't know what happens to you. They forget to tell us that if their plan was passed you're going to have to pay a heck of a lot more for the prescription drugs you're getting today. They we're going to throw millions of kids off health insurance. If your mom or dad is in a nursing home and that nursing home bill is paid significantly by Medicaid and Medicaid isn't paying anymore, they forgot to tell us what happens to your mom or dad in that nursing home. What happens?

    And what happens today if you are unemployed and you're not able to get unemployment extension? What happens if you are a middle-class family desperately trying to send their kids to college and you make savage cuts to Pell grants and you can't go to college? What does it mean for the nation if we are not bringing forth young people that have the education that they need? They forgot to tell us that. And if you are one of the growing number of senior citizens in this country who are going hungry, they want to cut nutrition programs. And on and on it goes. Every program that has any significance to working families, the sick, the elderly, the children, the poor, they are going to cut in the midst of a recession when real unemployment is already at 15 percent and the middle class is disappearing and poverty is increasing. That's their idea.

    Shouldn't the wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations contribute to deficit reduction rather than just the elderly and the sick and working families? They say no. They're going to defend the richest people in this country -- millionaires and billionaires -- and make sure they don't pay a nickel more in taxes. We're going to make sure there is no tax reform so we can continue to lose $100 billion every single year because wealthy people and corporations stash their money in tax havens in the Cayman Islands or Bermuda, and that's just fine. We'll protect those tax breaks while we savage programs for working families.

  • The Smirking Chimp: Cut the crap and create jobs. By Brent Budowsky. Excerpts: I have recently written a series of columns about jobs with titles such as An angry dissent, and today's disastrous numbers are a political game changer. All incumbents of both parties are threatened if jobs are not created in large numbers by Election Day 2012.

    This is one of the great outrages in political history. Neither party is now proposing a major jobs program. While the Republican Party at the national and state level is doing everything it can to destroy jobs, the Democratic Party is failing to fight for jobs with the intensity that Democrats have historically done. Meanwhile, the Democratic president does photo-ops, Twitter events and mini-jobs programs of the magnitude of school uniform trivia.

    It is an outrage, a crime, a sin against decency and a defamation against everything I personally believe that nobody, I repeat nobody, in the high councils of politics gives a damn about those who have been jobless for 99 weeks. This violates my faith as a Christian, where we are supposed to help those in need. It violates my values as a Democrat, where we are supposed to fight for jobs. It violates the most common-sense economics, which proves that help for 99ers provides more stimulus than tax cuts for the wealthy, but since the 99ers would have to spend the money from assistance, to live.

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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