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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—August 27, 2011

  • Washington Post with Bloomberg: Corporations pushing for job-creation tax breaks shield U.S.-vs.-abroad hiring data. By Jia Lynn Yang. Excerpts: Some of the country’s best-known multinational corporations closely guard a number they don’t want anyone to know: the breakdown between their jobs here and abroad. So secretive are these companies that they hand the figure over to government statisticians on the condition that officials will release only an aggregate number. The latest data show that multinationals cut 2.9 million jobs in the United States and added 2.4 million overseas between 2000 and 2009.

    Some of the same companies that do not report their jobs breakdown, including Apple and Pfizer, are pushing lawmakers to cut their tax bills in the name of job creation in the United States. But experts say that without details on which companies are contributing to job growth and which are not, policymakers risk flying blind as they try to jump-start the hiring of American workers.

    “It’s an important piece of information that the American people should have,” said Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “Should you listen to the kind of advice these companies have about how to grow the economy when their record and their model indicates they’ve cut jobs? . . . Or should we talk to people who actually do create jobs in the United States?”

    But many firms, including some whose executives have counseled Obama on the economy, do not put their number of U.S. workers in their annual reports. IBM chief executive Sam Palmisano has met a number of times with the president, most recently in July at a lunch with other executives to talk about jobs and the economy. IBM stopped giving its U.S. head count in 2009.

    Data from before 2009 showed IBM rapidly shifting workers to India. Dave Finegold, dean of the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, estimates that 2009, when the company stopped sharing its U.S. employment figure, also marked the first time the company had more employees in India than the United States. Finegold based his number on reports from the media, third-party groups and former employees who have tried to track the number.

    “IBM can do as it wishes, and the rest of us have to guess,” said Lee Conrad, national coordinator for Alliance@IBM, a group trying to unionize IBM workers. ...

    For chief executives of multinational companies who are used to answering only to their shareholders, the country’s jobs crisis has uncomfortably switched the political spotlight onto their decisions about who they employ and where. It has also thrown into relief the fact that when U.S. multinationals chase profits and hire workers anywhere in the world, they become less tied to any one country, including this one.

  • Forbes: $1 million may not be enough for retirement. A quick primer on how you should look at saving for your Golden Years. By Emily Lambert. Excerpts: So here’s a sign of the times: $1 million isn’t enough to retire on anymore. To be clear, here’s what we mean by $1 million: We’re including what you have in any savings and retirement accounts, including tax-deferred plans like 401(k) and IRAs. You’ll still have to pay taxes when you withdraw money from those. We’re also including the present value of any pension accounts and Social Security payouts. ...

    A famous financial planner’s rule of thumb is that you can spend 4 percent of your initial savings per year, adjusted for inflation, and it will last for 30 years. If you have $500,000 saved, 4 percent of that is $20,000 per year. Can you live on $20,000 per year, plus whatever you’re going to get from Social Security and a pension (the $20,000 and — for now — Social Security)? If you can’t, then you’d better start saving more or thinking about when and how you plan to retire. ...

    And if you have a pension, that could help a lot. Rachel Sanborn, a fee-only planner in New Hampshire, recently worked with two clients who had $500,000 in savings accounts between them. She found herself surprised to see that they could retire with just that, but they can because they have two pensions — one client was a teacher, the other a state employee. ...

    The bad news is that people are spending more in retirement on health care, utility bills, and particularly on mortgages. “The real reason why $1 million is not enough, sadly, is because a lot of people still have mortgages coming into retirement these days,” says Eileen Freiburger, a fee-only planner in Manhattan Beach, Calif. “I would never let a person retire if they haven’t learned to live within a certain dollar amount,” she says.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Management Survey" by "In Focus". Full excerpt: Usually in July, I used to take a survey on how my manager was "doing". I did not see one yet this year. Question: Did I miss an email? How about a Pulse Survey? Those were random and I have not taken one of those in years.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Management Survey" by "sby_willie". Full excerpt: Three things might have happened why you don't see these surveys:
    1. IBM management no longer cares about employee surveys. Employee morale, opinion, and comments do not do anything for profits, stock price, and EPS estimates. If it did then the Management survey, Pulse survey, etc. would still be done.
    2. The HR employees who did the surveys have reduced headcount or were RAed so they can't do the surveys.
    3. IBM is currently reworking the surveys to make them a better indicator to collect more meaningful data for today's global workforce and the surveys are not ready yet.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Management Survey" by "leftymcgee". Full excerpt: Yep, sby_willie #1 and 2 are correct. BTW, You'd be surprised how many HR partners resign.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Management Survey" by "teamb562". Full excerpt: This may be a stupid question but....What is an HR partner? Why are they resigning?
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Management Survey" by "workforlife". Full excerpt: An HR partner is simply a contracted HR company that runs some of our HR services. The key is that they work for the benefit of the company and are not here to help the employees.
  • National Journal: Rep. Coffman Seeks End to Congressional Retirement Benefits. By Emily Long. Excerpts: A Republican lawmaker wants members of Congress to give up their pension plans. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., this fall will introduce a bill that would end the defined benefit portion of the congressional retirement plan. Currently, lawmakers who have been in Congress at least five years receive annual benefits equal to 1.7 percent of their salary for every year served up to 20 years, and 1 percent for each additional year. Members contribute 1.3 percent of their paychecks to the pension plan and also are eligible for Social Security and a 401(k)-type account.

    Under the legislation, lawmakers still would receive any retirement benefits already accrued and could continue to contribute to Social Security and the 401(k)-style Thrift Savings Plan. Members of Congress typically become eligible for retirement annuities at an earlier age and with fewer years of service than most government employees, but they also pay more of their salary for retirement benefits.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: 'Rep. Coffman Seeks End to Congressional Retirement Benefits'" by Don Shuper. Full excerpt: I humbly suggest everyone get behind him and suggest that ALL congress be transferred to the great cash balance plan using the same calculations and methodology used to reward the long serving IBM employees. After all, the judicial branch already approved that technique/calculation, and later legislation gave every " company" involved a free pass for future conversions of that kind.

    Something about " representing the people, and working FOR the people" So Surely they would have no objection to drinking their own ur****(bathwater) ??? "Cash Balance for Congress" has a certain ring to it !

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: "Rep. Coffman Seeks End to Congressional Retirement Benefits"" by "fhawontcutit". Full excerpt: Cash balance plans are defined benefit plans. If Congress transferred to a cash balance plan, it would still have a defined benefit plan. The defined benefit plan would not end.

    Rep. Coffman's bill would end the defined benefit portion of the congressional retirement plan. I don't see how Rep. Coffman's bill would allow a switch to a cash balance plan, since a cash balance plan is a defined benefit plan.

    I think we need to watch this one. Personally, I think it's an initial attempt to go after federal employees' pensions. Even if the bill is only for Congressional pensions, the next step will be to go after federal employees' pensions.

    A classic case of the "Shock Doctrine" -- take a crisis and use it to do something you've always wanted to do but couldn't get away with it otherwise. They can use the federal debt "crisis" to get rid of federal employees' defined benefit pensions.

    Watch and see -- it's the same thing they are doing with Social Security and Medicare. They couldn't get by with cutting/privatizing Social Security and Medicare in the past. Now they will use the debt "crisis" to go after Social Security and Medicare.

    IMO, it's all part of a planned attempt to totally eliminate defined benefit pensions -- switch everyone to a 401(k) -- so Wall Street can make more $$$$.

    You pick off one group at time -- a classic divide and conquer. That way the people who are already screwed (or never had a DB pension to begin with) have no sympathy for the next set of screwees. I got screwed so I don't really care if you get screwed, too. Or, I never had a defined benefit pension, so I don't care when others lose theirs.

    I recently made a post about military DB pensions under consideration to be cut. It's another step. IMO, Rep. Coffman's bill is just another step in the "plan". Federal employees' DB pensions will be next on the chopping block.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: "Rep. Coffman Seeks End to Congressional Retirement Benefits"" by "thirtyyearibmer". Full excerpt: Let's not forget Senator Bernie Sanders study back in the early days of the IBM conversion. He took a look at the effect of doing to Congress what was done to IBMers. Does anyone really think that Congress would implement a plan with such an effect?

    I just have to use, as an example, a former congressman now a convicted felon, from my own home state:

    "If Tom DeLay (R-TX), had a cash balance pension plan instead of a traditional defined benefit pension plan his pension benefits would be reduced by $357,057 or 58.7% under a cash balance conversion -- from $608,143 under the current traditional defined benefit pension plan to $251,086 under the cash balance plan."

    The last question - will these congressman have a choice?

    Gerstner could have avoided 90% of the controversy by just offering a choice. If he had, I would not have a pension check coming in right now because I was all ready to "cash out" until this board and the people on it educated me. I think because of the controversy, a lot more people made more informed decisions.

    So if we really want Congress to understand - they get no choice. Cheers, Pete.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Anonymous: (Past Employee - 2011) “Worked with several smart individuals but always felt IBM was too busy trying to cut costs by reducing headcount” Pros: Work from home and intelligent and competent colleagues. Cons: Never felt safe from layoffs
    • IBM Anonymous in Southbury, CT: (Current Employee) “Challenging, tiring.” Pros: There are plenty of projects and challenges to grow skills if you desire. These challenges will help build real experience on work far larger and more complex than at IT shops in smaller firms. Cons: - Expect a 60+ hour week, consistently, to stay at the head of the pack. - Cost is king. This is a financial shop that happens to write software. Understand that, and anticipate how cost will impact 1 year and 5 year plans, to get ahead.
    • IBM Anonymous in New York, NY: (Current Employee) “Micro managed by Shareholders, Extremely Virtual, too big to fail.” Pros: Good brand to keep you afloat in bad economy. Not sure IBMer means anything with 400K employees. Cons: It's a jungle inside. Everything is virtual. Like a website. Partners are gods--very unapproachable. 100% of GBS is travel based. Travel/expense policy sucks. IBMers have lost their class. Sole aim make wealthy shareholder happy. With 95% utilization requirement, only thing you can take is 3 days and federal/state holidays. Extremely limited salary increase. Promotion means nothing with limited salary increase. Advice to Senior Management: Shareholders will not stop at another 100$ in stock value. IBMers are falling apart with all the pressure from utilization, expense, limited salary growth, suck it all up attitude. IBM needs to invest time and resources in it real stakeholders that's the employees.
    • IBM Financial Analyst in Bratislava (Slovakia): (Past Employee - 2011) “A waste of time.” Pros: Young & dynamic team. Old renowned company to put on your resume. Cons: Low chances of promotion. Work-life balance is not respected - there is no personal life. Biased decisions on evaluating employees. Almost no employee benefits. HR false marketing (promises that to not become true after employment). Advice to Senior Management: Think more about your employees as they are not only numbers on your list of bar codes.
    • IBM Project Executive in Bangalore (India): (Current Employee) “Bad, pretty bad.” Pros: 1. You learn the art & science of project and program management. 2. You learn to navigate a very large organization, the art of politics. 3. Customers tend to value you and you can (in some cases) bring real value to the customer. 4. IBM's education systems are amongst the best anywhere.

      Cons: 1. Managers and processes are designed for themselves, not for the people. 2. GBS is not a place for much innovation. ISL may be better. 3. There are minimal processes in place. It is pretty chaotic.

      Advice to Senior Management: 1. IBM is actually pretty chaotic. Leadership has to understand the core philosophy behind having processes. Process systems are actually pretty spotty. 2. Like delivery has responsibilities, KRAs, the support systems should have similar expectations. These are missing. 3. Please stop thinking IBM is the beginning and the end of the IT world and the rest of the world is a small pond. It's the other way, there are best practices out there that will make IBM at least 15 times more effective. Stop being arrogant, please be humble and open to the outside. No, INFY & Wipro are not "those other pure play" people. They are beating the pants off you in a lot of places.

    • IBM Anonymous in Bangalore (India): (Current Employee) “Worst of the worst.” Pros: 1. Brand name on your CV. 2. Work from home option - to a selected few. Cons: 1. Zero compensation growth. 2. Zero promotions - the people who suck-up to the managers are the ones who grow in this company. 3. Discrimination in multiple ways towards employees. 4. High performance ignored. 5. Very bad internal politics. 6. Bad food in all Indian offices. 7. Very slow network - speed of <5 kbps. 8. Bad transportation facilities. 9. Resistance to reimbursement - employees pay from their own pocket for most things. 10. No free tea/coffee, stationary. 11. No annual days/company outings or functions. 12. Slow and bureaucratic IT/technical support and administrative services. Advice to Senior Management: A major overhaul in company policies needed - to lower the high attrition rate in India
    • IBM Technical Support Specialist in Dubuque, IA: (Current Employee) “Get some experience then move on.” Pros: Good benefits package (4 weeks of vacation to start, basic health care and dental for employee paid, 5% full match on 401K after 1 year) Reasonably laid back work environment IBM looks good on my resume. Cons: Communication to me from my manager is really lacking. I came to the company with 4 years of IT experience and was made to take an entry level job with a salary in the low 30s. Several other people with less experience that have come in after me are making more than I am to start. The management on our team is so disconnected there are 3-4 people that literally do almost nothing all day, every day while several of us run like crazy to get things done. IBM is not in a "promotion or raise mode" at the moment so I'm doing work that is in a higher band but not being paid for it. This has gone on in this position for many months. Advice to Senior Management: If there is no opportunity for serious raises and promotions for an employee with good performance reviews after almost two years why would I stick around?
    • IBM Senior I/T Specialist in Ottawa, ON (Canada): (Current Employee) “Good place to start but look for other opportunities after about 5 years.” Pros: Good starting salary. Lots of opportunities to work in different practices and technologies.

      Cons:

      • Poor pay increases (even top performers barely keep up with inflation)
      • Poor bonus structures ( <5% for even top performers)
      • Ever decreasing benefits (pension plan used to be a DBPP, now it is a matching DCPP)
      • Pressure from management to work longer hours
      • Poor work life balance
      • Little recognition for those who do their job well but just do their job (not top performers)
      • Employees who put family life first can expect to receive no pay increases or bonuses (single parents can pretty much forget any raises because they just don't have the extra time to put in to the company)
      • Training budgets get cut every year
      • Very stressful work environment
      • After about 5 years you will find that your pay is near the bottom of the industry pay scale for your position. And that is where it will stay if you stay with IBM.
      • Key note: Execs pay increases do not reflect employee pay increases. In fact, as a percentage of base salary, execs total compensation increases grossly out pace employee total compensation increases; including the top performers.
      • The company puts no value in technical skills. In fact the company has a policy that treats technical people as commodities, not employees. This commoditization of technical skills is what is driving the off shoring of so many technical positions.
      • The only skills that are valued in North America are the "high value" skills. (Project Management, IT Architect, Business Analyst). The Programmers, DBA, Technical admins, and testers of the world are seen as disposable.

      Advice to Senior Management: Your company is only as strong as your employees. Start treating your employees with respect and actually giving them pay increases and bonuses that actually recognize the effort that these people put in. Change the performance review process to rate people on what they achieve, not how their achievements stack up against everyone else. IBM claims to be a top leader company. Start paying like a top leader company. At least pay at the 50% percentile. The company is starting to see brain and talent drain. When the flood gates open this will only serve to hurt the company.

    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “Used to be a great place to work.” Pros: Opportunities to work with people from all around the world. Flexible. Travel. People. Bleeding edge. Good experience for future work. Cons: You can be the best employee but if you are in the US you could be outsourced tomorrow. Advice to Senior Management: Respect the employees you have in the US and realize you aren't saving any money by outsourcing the work.
    • IBM Managing Consultant in Armonk, NY: (Current Employee) “Iconic American Giant with diverse career opportunities if you can make your voice heard.” Pros: Not much gives more satisfaction than knowing that you are working for a iconic American Corporation that has so many innovations under it's belly it's hard to list them all. The diversity and size of the company makes for great career opportunities if you can make yourself heard. Whether its different products, markets or professions, IBM can offer almost everything. Maybe not the best place for any particular job but if your going for diversity and general management, it's a great place to be. Cons: There's plenty of competition and as large companies go, plenty of processes and bureaucracy as well. If you can get a strong executive team to drive your career, you can go places. If you don't get support you'll be left in the dust. Compensation is average and the company is leveraging it's reputation and the market conditions to pay below market. Advice to Senior Management: Employee appreciation has certainly suffered with the extreme focus on earnings growth. While there are still great benefits (monetary and otherwise) to work for IBM, many perceive the company to be on a rather unappreciative trajectory towards its employees.
    • IBM Managing Consultant in Chicago, IL: (Current Employee) “Very good at professional experience, dissatisfied at growth level” Pros: - One of the best technology consulting firm; - See respect for you in other eyes; - Good professional experience; - A lots of resources to leverage. Cons: - Personal growth is quite sticky; - Personal favoritism for promotion; - Frustration at salary review and bonus review; - Quite tight handed with compensation; - Opportunities are quite biased. Advice to Senior Management: - Judge candidates for their given tasks, not what should do. - Help individuals to grow, which reflect in IBM growth.
    • IBM Software Sales Specialist in Detroit, MI: (Current Employee) “Declining income, impossible quotas.” Pros: Respected brand, good benefits, decent job security, great people. Cons: Sales quotas are impossible to achieve. There's no clear career path. You have to do your own internal networking to move up. Being a solid performer isn't enough to get ahead. Advice to Senior Management: Salespeople need reasonable goals to be motivated, and need to know that they have the opportunity to increase their income.
    • IBM Associate Partner in Herndon, VA: (Current Employee) “It has been very frustrating working at IBM Global Business Services because it is devoid of true leadership.” Pros: Great clients and interesting work. Cons: No leadership; partisanship/favoritism is rife; limited opportunities for training; people managers are not true managers - mere administrators; employees are treated like criminals relative to the travel and expense process; horrible travel policies; WAY TOO MUCH bureaucracy and administrative overhead. Advice to Senior Management: Value your employees and listen when they tell you something
    • IBM Research Staff Member in San Jose, CA: (Current Employee) “This is a fun and challenging place to work, with excellent colleagues.” Pros: We have a corporate culture with high standards for honesty and integrity. We have a wide range of interesting projects on which people can work. We have excellent colleagues that cooperate freely. Cons: Corporate bureaucracy and the centralization ("Globalization") of business processes make it more difficult and time consuming to get those many little things done that distract us form the real work. Usability of business process tools is poor.
    • IBM IT Specialist: (Past Employee - 2011) “If you have no family and want to travel then it works for you.” Pros: Compensation was appropriate for the position. Follow IBM procedures and processes and expenses are paid as reported in a timely fashion. If one so chooses you can climb the corporate ladder.

      Cons: Having a home life the travelling got old fast especially when you were not compensated for any of the travel time unless you work. IBM uses total hours worked 'ulitization' percent as part of performance evaluation. If you fall below utilization target, you pay the price at performance review time. You surpass your utilization target and nothing too the good comes of it.

      Constant battle between those watching expenses at client site and yourself to be able to work the 'average' number of hours needed per week to meet your utilization target. Once you complete an assignment at client, IBM provides you with tools to find a new assignment but you must find your own assignment. IBM assigns a 'resource development manager' (RDM) who is suppose to help you find a new assignment. Have consistently heard that RDM's are worthless and provide little actual support (that was the case for me). I found a new assignment and was at client site 1 day when I was informed by IBM that I was identified as a 'resource action' as part of their annual purge process and to be laid off in 30 days. No reason given as to how or why I was chosen.

      IBM does not address the 'human cost' factor in its business model

      Advice to Senior Management: Strengthen the IBM Marketplace process by making the RDM more accountable in terms of supplying help for those looking for new assignments. Make those people that one sends marketplace inquiries to responsible by requiring that they at least acknowledge that they received your inquiry. I sent out 5 - 6 inquiries about open positions and hear not a word from any one of them.

    • IBM Software Engineer in Canton, OH: (Current Employee) “IBM Job Review.” Pros: Good people, healthy environment, cool technologies. Cons: Low salary, low employee satisfaction. Advice to Senior Management: Do better at managing people and recognizing talent. Invest better in real innovation.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Past Employee - 2010) “Educational yet stressful.” Pros: Great intellectual capital, team mates and flexible work structure. There's also a great opportunity for personal growth. Good benefit package as well. Cons: Too often IBM management is forced to lay off resources for financial purposes. The layoff process, which is guided by legal, is so impersonal. Advice to Senior Management: Go back to the "blue suit" days where employees mattered. Treat employees with respect and let them know they are significant and are contributors to the success of the organization.
    • IBM Employee in Somers, NY: (Current Employee) “I, like many others continue to remain optimistic and forge onward.” Pros: Even in the economy of today, IBM has continued to provide pretty favorable benefit plan options. Comprehensive medical, dental and vision plans are all still offered which in today's economy is very much needed and welcomed. Cons: IBM continues to layoff employees practically monthly under the guise of the phrase "Resource Action" and the directive or reason most often given is " re-engineer and move your work to an offshore location". If work were to remain in the US would not that help with the issue of unemployment in the United States? Advice to Senior Management: This Is Not the direction that IBM was established upon 100 years ago. The direction and choices made on challenges of today are not the expectation of IBM as a leading company but instead more often than not remind one of a follower.
    • IBM Managing Consultant in Raleigh, NC: (Current Employee) “Work alongside some of the smartest people on the planet, for one of the largest companies on the planet.” Pros: IBM recruits and hires some of the smartest people you'll ever work with. It provides services for large, well-known clients. If you like business travel, it's a great place to work. Cons: Salaries are lower than competitors, which drives a high turnover rate -- a certain percentage of the people you're working with today won't be here a year from now. Additionally, outsourcing efforts have resulted in regular layoffs -- most of IBM's tenured employees work in constant fear of being laid off without notice.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site
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  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 8/21/11: I'm an IBM contractor, IBM India has fired lot of people on last Friday irrespective of performance. I feel like randomly picked the resources. Could it happen again, Why IBM doing this, One of my friends got call from parent company on Friday and informed "Today us your last working day" Its so much frustration for us -MustHaq PM-
    • Comment 8/21/11: Sam, How can you spout this (below) when you're own Research Divisions have (0) ZERO budgets for equipment or software. In Watson there is a "board" that meets twice a week to review and approve any expense item over $200. Any travel expense no matter how small requires third level approval.
      "In his Centennial Conversation at the Computer History Museum, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano emphasized the importance of investing in R&D, even in a down economy. 'Shareholder expectations for higher returns don't diminish when the economy stutters,' said Sam. 'And yet, Tom Watson Sr. actually increased research investment during the Great Depression.' Palmisano added, 'I will tell you that my own instinctive reflex isn't to continue investing $6 billion a year during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. In that regard, I'm like all CEOs.'" From http://www.ibm.com/ibm100/us/en/lectures/what_changes_and_what_endures.html
    • Comment 8/22/11: Sam has got a great team of speech writers telling him just what to say. I don't think much of his own words comes out anymore. What changes and what endures? Shortsighted, greedy, egoist, talking head CEOs! So Sam is not willing to invest more in R&D? If so, I'm not surprised at all. He just cares about himself to make more money mainly through IBM stock. At no risk at all. He is far from a technologist (ever see him do a demo like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates?) but just a tightfisted bean counter. So why should he care much for R&D in the first place? He is so detached from the overall moral and pulse of the average IBM employee who is making IBM what it is. We need the Alliance since they are the pulse of the IBM employee. Without the Alliance Sam runs roughshod over what is now left of IBM. -anonymous-
    • Comment 8/22/11: "Bull City Burger and Brewery ..." I like how earlier in the article Sam brags about the 4000 IBM employees in Silicon Valley. I remember a time when it was three times that amount. My prediction is without a union his next speech will be bragging about zero employees in Silicon Valley. -anonymous too-
    • Comment 8/22/11: I work for SWG, today IBM W3 network took a HUGE network outage, multiple w3 apps down, all D01 and D01 Notes servers down, Help desk is like " can we take control of your computer," but honestly, the 9 dot network took a huge hit today, across divisions work was stopped because IBM network ewnet to s#!T -Anonymous-
    • Comment 8/23/11: Sammy has O in his budget for RD for equipment and software because he needs a bigger salary and more stock options. He is all about greed. IBM needs a union -ANA-
    • Comment 8/25/11: IBM is walking all over employees and contractors. Why doesn't Sam take a furlough (e.g. a layoff, albeit very temporary) for a week without pay? Why doesn't he forgo his bonus pay, since employees have to do without OT pay? Talk about his leadership by example. His example is a poor one at best. -Anoid-
    • Comment 8/25/11: Massive changes coming with "Project 2015" and this will result in further decimation of IBM US. The aim is to get it down to 60-65,000 workers and most of that which remains will be customer facing people only - or very close to customer facing. IBM is already restricting the amount of time non-US people can come to the US, and at the same time increasing the development work that is being done offshore with some of the flagship products that are cash cows for IBM. -Silver Fox-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
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  • The Commonwealth Fund: Policies to Protect the Unemployed from Becoming Uninsured. By Michelle M. Doty and Sara R. Collins. Excerpts: For many Americans, losing a job means losing their health insurance coverage as well as their paycheck. An estimated 9 million working-age adults lost their jobs with health benefits and became uninsured between 2008 and 2010. Losing health insurance had significant consequences for these workers: nearly three-quarters said that they skipped needed health care or did not fill prescriptions because of cost. The same proportion also struggled to pay medical bills or said they were paying off medical debt over time, compared with 49 percent who lost jobs but not their health insurance.

    Six of 10 working Americans rely on health insurance obtained through their employer. But right now, there are few health insurance options for people who lose their job and employer-sponsored coverage. Under COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), people working for companies with 20 or more workers who have health insurance sponsored by that company can keep their health insurance for up to 18 months if they lose their job. However, the often prohibitively high cost of COBRA—as much as six times what people pay toward premiums each month when they are employed—means that relatively few elect to purchase it.

    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 substantially offset the cost of COBRA for some unemployed workers who lost their jobs between September 1, 2008, and May 31, 2010, by covering 65 percent of their COBRA premiums. Despite the several studies that found COBRA enrollment among eligible individuals increased after the subsidies went into effect—helping millions of people who lost their jobs stay insured—these subsidies have not been offered to newly laid-off workers since last year.

    Once the major coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act are implemented in 2014, the newly unemployed will have greatly expanded health insurance options. Eligibility for Medicaid will be expanded and premium tax credits to purchase insurance through newly established exchanges will be available. Insurance market reforms will prevent health plans from charging higher premiums or denying coverage because of preexisting health conditions.

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.

  • truthOut: Billionaire Koch Responds to Buffet, Refuses Call for Shared Sacrifice. By Lee Fang. Excerpts: America’s current tax system forces people making $50,000 a year to pay a higher rate than hedge fund managers making $2.4 million an hour. Warren Buffett penned an op-ed last week declaring that America’s super-rich have been “coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress.” Lamenting the numerous tax loopholes and special breaks afforded to billionaire investors, Buffett noted that in his entire career, even when capital gains rates were as high as 39.9 percent, he never saw anyone “shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain.” ...

    America has been good to Charles Koch, providing an environment where his family has made billions. But Koch doesn’t want to give back, especially through more taxation. His charitable foundation, which gives largely to right-wing organizations that support his politics and Koch Industries’ business interests, still only donates about $12 million a year — 0.05 percent of Koch’s net worth. If higher rates were imposed on the super-rich, would Koch retreat to the family’s fabulous mansions, like this one in the Hamptons, aboard its fleet of private jets in a John Galt-inspired temper tantrum? Or would they act like any respectable businessman, and continue to make a profit without complaining?

  • AlterNet: How to Party Like a Billionaire Financier With a 15% Tax Rate. By Lynn Parramore. While their fellow Americans face blown-up 401Ks and fruitless job searches, financiers are embracing our current feed-the-rich/screw-the-rest mentality with renewed zest. Excerpts: The NYT reports that last Saturday night, in the fabled NYC frolicking ground of Southampton, billionaire financier Leon D. Black threw himself a jaw-droppingly expensive 60th birthday bash. Two hundred well-heeled guests reclined on cushions, Satyric on-style nibbling seared fois gras as Sir Elton John — earning a cool million bucks — sang ‘Crocodile Rock.’ Joining this Reptilian Cotillion were Martha Stewart and fashion designer Vera Wang, who partied alongside some of Wall Street’s most notorious denizens, including junk-bond pioneer Michael Milken, Blackstone’s buyout king Stephen A. Schwarzman (who became a symbol of greed when he threw his own $3 million b-day bash back in bubblicious 2007), and Lloyd “God’s Work” Blankfein of Goldman Sachs.

    Mayor Bloomberg was among the revelers, as was NY Senator Charles Schumer, who must have been feeling grateful for his host’s generous political contributions as he soaked in the expansive view of moonlit Schinnecock Bay.

    A fellow like Leon Black needs all the influential friends he can get because, like other private equity tycoons, he enjoys a ridiculously low 15% tax rate on “carried interest” (the share of profits that hedge fund managers get as part of their stratospheric compensation). Chances are the persons who, say, cook for Mr. Black or landscape his yard pay something more like 35% in taxes for the money they earn doing actual work.

    In fact, if we got rid of this George W. Bush giveaway, we’d have $21 billion over the next decade. That’s enough money to pay a million jobless Americans $20,000 for a year’s work doing productive things like rebuilding schools or repairing bridges. That would be a lot more helpful to our country than proliferating casinos, which is Black’s line of work. His Apollo Global Management manages $72 billion in assets, including the largest gambling operation on Earth, Caesars Entertainment. He’s also into plastics.

  • New York Times: For Some in G.O.P., a Tax Cut Not Worth Embracing. By Jennifer Steinhauer. Excerpts: It is hard to find a tax cut that Congressional Republicans dislike. Unless it is a tax cut pushed by President Obama.

    In a turning of the tax policy tables, Democrats are increasingly hammering on Republicans who oppose the president’s proposal to extend for a year a payroll tax cut passed last year with bipartisan support.

    That tax cut — which reduces workers’ contributions to Social Security this year to 4.2 percent of wages, from 6.2 percent — expires in December. The White House would like to extend it for another year. But Republicans in Congress are balking, arguing that such a cut adds needlessly to the nation’s budget deficit, and should be replaced with an overhaul of tax policy instead. ...

    Lower- and middle-income workers are the greatest beneficiaries of the tax cut. The cut resulted in $67.2 billion of lost revenue for Social Security in 2011 and a total cost of $111.7 billion spread over 10 years. The rate will return to previous levels on Jan. 1 if Congress does not extend the cut.

    Democrats note that Republicans had no problem extending the so-called Bush tax cuts of 2001, even though those cuts were also originally designated as temporary. “This seems to be one of those situations where, since Obama says yes, we say no,” Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland who is a member of the special committee, said of Republicans. “It doesn’t make sense in any other context.”

  • truthOut: Republicans to Oppose Tax Cut for Working People. By Alex Seitz-Wald. Excerpts: Tax cuts have become the panacea of conservative economic thinking, but curiously, the AP reports Republicans are now lining up to raise taxes on nearly half of all Americans. In his radio address this weekend, President Obama called for an extension to the payroll tax holiday he signed into law last year, which benefits every working American, lowering the 6.2 percent tax that funds Social Security to 4.2 percent. The tax cut will expire in January, and many of the same Republican lawmakers who fought tooth and nail to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are now coming out against an extension of the payroll tax holiday.

    Why? Social Security payroll taxes mainly benefit middle- and working-class Americans, as the tax only applies to the first $106,800 of a worker’s wages. Thus, no matter how much money someone makes, they will see a maximum benefit of $2,136 from the holiday — a pittance compared to the savings for the wealthy from the Bush income tax cuts. Republicans claim these cuts for lower-income earners will do less to stimulate the economy than cuts for the wealthy or employers:

    “It’s always a net positive to let taxpayers keep more of what they earn,” says Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX),but not all tax relief is created equal for the purposes of helping to get the economy moving again.”

    Hensarling, the House’ fourth-ranking Republican, is right — some tax cuts do more than others to “get the economy moving again.” He just has it backwards about which cuts do that. Tax cuts for wealthy, such as those in the Bush tax cuts, are the single “least effective way to spur the economy and reduce unemployment,” according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, because wealthy Americans were more likely to save their money than spend it.

    Conversely, payroll tax cuts are one of the most efficient ways to stimulate economic growth, because low- and middle-income earners are more likely to spend their extra cash right away. But this analysis and similar ones from Moody’s and other experts has not dissuaded Republicans from their myopic focus on tax cuts for the the wealthy only.

  • Buzzflash: Why the Rich Should Pay Higher Taxes. By Paul Buchheit. Excerpts: Most wealthy Americans will recoil at the suggestion that they should pay higher taxes, likely responding with the tired mantra that the top earners already pay most of the income tax. But, two points can be made in response to this: (1) Federal income tax is only a small part of the burden on the middle class. Based on data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the total of all state and local taxes, social security taxes, and excise taxes (gasoline, alcohol, tobacco) consumes 21% of the annual incomes of the poorest half of America. For the richest 1% of Americans, the same taxes consume 7% of their incomes. (2) The richest people pay most of the federal income taxes because they've made almost all of their new income over the past 30 years. Based on Tax Foundation figures, the richest 1% has tripled its share of America's income since 1980, after taxes.

    But, there are better reasons why the rich should pay higher taxes.

    The very rich benefit most from national security, government-funded research, infrastructure, and property laws. Defending the country benefits the rich more, because they have more to defend. Taxpayer-funded research at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (the Internet), the National Institute of Health (pharmaceuticals), and the National Science Foundation (the Digital Library Initiative) has laid a half-century foundation for their idea-building. The interstates and airports and FAA and TSA benefit people who have the money to travel.

    Here's another good reason for the rich to pay more taxes: With the drop in tax revenue, funding for the preservation of American culture is disappearing. Do we want our national treasures deprived of maintenance because of budget cuts, as is currently happening in Italy? Do we want our national parks sold to billionaires? Do we want programs for music and the arts eliminated from schools, so that only children of the wealthy can participate in them? ...

    Finally, back to the tax statistics. Why should financial earnings (i.e., capital gains) be taxed less than wage earnings from actual work? The richest 10% of Americans owns over 80% of stocks, the gains from which are taxed (long-term) at a 15% rate, while most wage earners pay more than that on their income. ...

    Will the rich stop investing or move to another country if their taxes are increased? Not likely. They have it too good here. As Warren Buffett recently stated, "I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone - not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 - shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain." Mr. Buffett is admitting what everyone else is beginning to realize. The rich take much more than they pay for.

  • The Register (United Kingdom): French letter shock: Tax us more, demand rich people. By Tim Worstall. Excerpts: So rich French people have written a letter demanding that they be taxed more. The missive began:
    We, chairmen of companies and business leaders, business men and women, finance professionals or wealthy citizens, call for an exceptional levy that would target France's richest taxpayers...
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.

This site is designed to allow IBM Employees to communicate and share methods of protecting their rights through the establishment of an IBM Employees Labor Union. Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act states it is a violation for Employers to spy on union gatherings, or pretend to spy. For the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act, notice is given that this site and all of its content, messages, communications, or other content is considered to be a union gathering.