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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—September 3, 2011

  • Vault: Consulting Firm Rankings 2012: Vault Consulting 50. Excerpts: There is no question that prestige is important when choosing an employer. At the same time, we have found that prestige alone is not always the determining factor. It is clear that the selection criteria highly credentialed candidates use to choose a new employer have changed significantly. Did you know that for 43% of consulting firm candidates firm culture was the most important factor in selecting an employer? Other top factors include practice strength and work-life balance, in addition to prestige and compensation.

    In order to properly reflect the rising importance of these selection criteria to in-demand candidates evaluating consulting career options, the Vault Consulting 50 is based on the following weighted formula:

    • 25 percent firm culture
    • 25 percent work/life balance
    • 20 percent compensation
    • 20 percent prestige
    • 5 percent overall business outlook
    • 5 percent transparency

    Editor's Note: IBM Global Service's ranking in Vault's survey decreased to #49 from last year's #27.

  • Consulting Magazine: The 2011 Best Firms to Work For. Excerpts: As a result of the underlying causes of employee disengagement, consulting firms should anticipate high voluntary turnover for the foreseeable future, especially among junior-level staff. Within four years, the majority of pre-partners say they intend to defect (73 percent of entry level/analysts, 66 percent of consultant/recent MBAs, 55 percent of senior/experienced consultants and 46 percent of director/managers.)

    What’s more, those numbers likely represent a best-case scenario. Based on our experience tracking consulting retention for the past eleven years, Consulting has learned that once someone places a clock on their tenure at a firm by saying “I don’t think I’ll still be working here in x year(s),” they’ll often end up leaving much faster than they initially anticipate. They’re much more susceptible to the cold call from the executive recruiter, the employment inquiry by a client or the friend who has long considered opening up her own firm. ...

    Compensation is up across the board: Almost 80 percent of consultants reported that their base salary increased in 2011, including almost 30 percent that reported double-digit raises. ...

    The biggest takeaway from the survey may be that employee satisfaction, especially among highly employable consultants, is not something that can be turned off and then on again. Once trust has been broken, it takes more than a raise and a reinvestment in staff training to rekindle consultants’ desire to stay at their current firm. Firm leaders that think their staff will remain loyal because they’re treating them better now may be in for a surprise. ...

    Hiring experienced talent is an increasingly difficult proposition. First, talent is scarce for the reasons sited above. Second, relatively few consultants (27 percent) say they have interest in re-entering the profession, indicating consultants are projecting all consulting firms with the negative traits experienced at their current firm. Those at the senior-most staff levels are the least likely to anticipate that their next career move will be to another consulting firm. ...

    The Best Firms to Work For 2011:

    1. Bain & Company
    2. The Boston Consulting Group
    3. North Highland
    4. Point B
    5. Deloitte Consulting
    6. Slalom Consulting
    7. McKinsey & Company
    8. PwC
    9. Booz Allen Hamilton
    10. Huron Consulting Group
    11. Ernst & Young
    12. Accenture
    13. Crowe Horwath
    14. Monitor
    15. A.T. Kearney

    The best IT Consulting firms:

    1. SunGuard
    2. SAP Business Transformation Services
    3. Infosys Consulting
    4. Wipro
    5. Capgemini

    The Top Ten Firms in Client Engagement:

    1. Bain & Company
    2. The Boston Consulting Group
    3. North Highland
    4. Point B
    5. A.T. Kearney
    6. Oliver Wyman
    7. Alix Partners
    8. Deloitte Consulting
    9. Kurt Salmon
    10. PRTM

    The Top Ten Firms in Firm Culture:

    1. Bain & Company
    2. North Highland
    3. The Boston Consulting Group
    4. Point B
    5. Deloitte Consulting
    6. Monitor
    7. Slalom Consulting
    8. Capgemini
    9. PwC
    10. McKinsey & Company

    The Top Ten Firms in Career Development:

    1. Bain & Company
    2. The Boston Consulting Group
    3. North Highland
    4. McKinsey & Company
    5. PwC
    6. Ernst & Young
    7. Deloitte Consulting
    8. Booze Allen Hamilton
    9. Accenture
    10. Slalom Consulting

    The Top Ten Firms in Compensation Satisfaction:

    1. Bain & Company
    2. The Boston Consulting Group
    3. McKinsey & Company
    4. Deloitte Consulting
    5. North Highland
    6. Booz & Company
    7. Slalom Consulting
    8. Point 8
    9. Booz Allen Hamilton
    10. Alvarez & Marshall

    The Top Ten Firms in Work/Life Balance:

    1. Point B
    2. North Highland
    3. Slalom Consulting
    4. Bain & Company
    5. Crowe Horwath
    6. Booz & Company
    7. Deloitte Consulting
    8. The Boston Consulting Group
    9. PwC
    10. Grant Thornton

    The Top Ten Firms in Firm Leadership Satisfaction:

    1. Bain & Company
    2. The Boston Consulting Group
    3. Point B
    4. North Highland
    5. Slalom Consulting
    6. Monitor
    7. Oliver Wyman
    8. AlixPartners
    9. A.T. Kearney
    10. PwC

    The Best Firms to Work For rankings are based on an online survey conducted in the summer of 2011. More than 13,000 consultants participated, representing approximately 350 firms. The consultants operate in every service line, across at least 32 different project/practice areas, and serve clients across all major industries. About three-quarters of the respondents came from the United States. Consultants at every staff level participated.

    Editor's Note: IBM Global Services did not appear in any of Consulting Magazine's "Best Firms to Work For" categories.

  • Associated Press, courtesy of Forbes: IBM buys security analysis software company i2. Excerpt: IBM Corp. on Wednesday said it had agreed to buy i2 Group, a British company that sells software for intelligence analysis and fraud prevention. Terms were not disclosed. The seller is investment fund Silver Lake Sumeru, which bought i2 from ChoicePoint Inc. in 2008 for $185 million. I2 has 350 employees. It's based in Cambridge and has offices in McLean, Va.; Tucson, Ariz.; Ottawa, Ontario; and Canberra, Australia.
  • Associated Press, courtesy of Forbes: IBM spent $960K on lobbying in second quarter. Excerpt: IBM Corp. spent $960,000 on lobbying in the second quarter, up from the $730,000 the technology company spent in the same period last year but down from the $1.18 million it spent in this year's first quarter. According to a disclosure filing the company made July 20 with the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate public records office, the Armonk, N.Y.-based company lobbied Congress and various government agencies on issues including "cloud computing," tax and trade matters and information technology supply issues.
  • The Progress Report: Congressman Sanders on US Corporate Welfare Giveaways. The Export-Import Bank: Corporate Welfare At Its Worst. By Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Excerpts: This country has a $6 trillion national debt, a growing deficit and is borrowing money from the Social Security Trust Fund in order to fund government services. We can no longer afford to provide over $125 billion every year in corporate welfare - tax breaks, subsidies and other wasteful spending - that goes to some of the largest, most profitable corporations in America.

    One of the most egregious forms of corporate welfare can be found at a little known federal agency called the Export-Import Bank, an institution that has a budget of about $1 billion a year and the capability of putting at risk some $15.5 billion in loan guarantees annually. At a time when the government is under-funding veterans' needs, education, health care, housing and many other vital services, over 80% of the subsidies distributed by the Export-Import Bank goes to Fortune 500 corporations. Among the companies that receive taxpayer support from the Ex-Im are Enron, Boeing, Halliburton, Mobil Oil, IBM, General Electric, AT&T, Motorola, Lucent Technologies, FedEx, General Motors, Raytheon, and United Technologies.

    You name the large multinational corporation, many of which make substantial campaign contributions to both political parties, and they're on the Ex-Im welfare line. Needless to say, many of these same companies receiving taxpayer support pay exorbitant salaries and benefits to their CEOs. IBM, for example, gave their former CEO Lou Gerstner over $260 million in stock options while they were lining up for their Ex-Im handouts.

    The great irony of Ex-Im policy is not just that taxpayer support goes to wealthy and profitable corporations that don't need it, but that in the name of "job creation" a substantial amount of federal funding goes to precisely those corporations that are eliminating hundreds of thousands of American jobs. In other words, American workers are providing funding to companies that are shutting down the plants in which they work, and are moving them to China, Mexico, Vietnam and wherever else they can find cheap labor. What a deal! ...

    In fact, according to Time Magazine, the top five recipients of Ex-Im subsidies over the past decade have reduced their workforce by 38% - more than a third of a million jobs down the drain. These same five companies have received more than 60 percent of all Export-Import Bank subsidies. Boeing, the leading Ex-Im recipient, has reduced its workforce by more than 100,000 employees over the past ten years.

  • McClatchy-Tribune News Service, courtesy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: For older workers, 'scary' economy delays retirement. Excerpts: Many older workers are responding to the economic downturn by postponing retirement, but even so, it will be a struggle to make up for market losses in their retirement plans. Some were counting on their houses as a post-work financial cushion, but now their homes are worth less. They can't depend on dividends and interest on savings -- that income has nearly vanished. They also face layoffs and difficulties getting rehired. ...

    "We live in an environment where you slip a little bit, and you may not be able to be middle class anymore. I think the middle class is a dying breed of people. It doesn't take very much -- a divorce or a medical emergency in a family -- to drive you to bankruptcy, to drive you to being homeless. I don't have to elaborate. It's totally visible," she said. ...

    Adding insult to injury, the pensions older Americans could once depend on have been replaced by defined contribution plans -- 401(k)s that bob up and down like flotsam on the tidal waves of the stock market.

  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree Information Exchange message board: "Re: Form 521 for Social Security?" by "netmouser". Full excerpt: A good, easy to use "break even" calculator for SS is here: http://www.johncolegrove.com/life-center/social-security/ss-break-even-calculator.

    I used the SS website's calculator to know the monthly amount for each age to plug into the above calculator: 62, 66 and 70 when starting SS: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator/.

    The tool has a table created that also shows the accumulation of your SS each year with a column for each age (62, 66. 70), so it is easy to see at what age you will begin to get more. For me, the break even is in my mid-80's no matter when I begin to collect - so it is obvious it is all based on your life expectancy and you get the same amount of money no matter when you begin to collect at that break even point. When you start SS is simply a trade off of "now" or "later". So bottom line is, if you expect to live a long life and want "more later", wait to collect. You gain 8% each year you wait after full retirement age. Some would say what will I spend the extra money on when I am 90, I want the money now.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Management Survey" by Paul Sutera. Full excerpt: Maybe a Facebook campaign to dump Sam and his cronies would be embarrassing enough. Then again, he'd probably just buy Facebook to stop us. Nearly 1/2 way through his 10th year as CEO, and an adviser to Lou Gerstner before that, Sam has had a relentless and destructive romp through IBM. His power base is so solid, I imagine executives who disagree with him hold their tongues or watch their careers die. I hope this guy just takes his money and goes home to Greenwich. Now managers ask people who are ready to retire if they would stick around and be the "3" next year, since no manager can afford to lose any more people. Sam could care less and there are only our voices, and our willingness to organize (read: unionize) against his thuggish policies.
  • Forbes: 5 Retirement Strategies that No Longer Work. By Liz Davidson. Excerpt: Pre-retirees, however, need to have contingency plans in case the economy doesn’t turn around and “normal” doesn’t return. Retirement preparedness is changing in that some tried and true strategies retirees have commonly used in the past may not work anymore. Retirees used to count on getting a decent interest rate on certificates of deposit or the simple act of selling a home for retirement income. Unfortunately, you can’t count on them now. We certainly can’t prepare for every possible scenario but here are five scenarios to consider making contingency plans for in retirement...
  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Sales Specialist in Seattle, WA: (Current Employee) “Great people but staff reductions, cost reductions and growing bureaucracy make this a negative place to work.” Pros: Great people. Excellent reputation. Commitment to contract fulfillment. Cons: Aging solution set. Staff reductions. Limited financial incentives. Complicated compensation plan. Growing bureaucracy reducing time in front of customer and more time on forms and paperwork. Focus stock price has lead to cost reductions in benefits and investment in solution set. Advice to Senior Management: Make solution set market competitive. Unify sales force, multiple sales representatives calling into one client has caused confusion and stress on the client. Staff appropriately so that sales can focus on clients and not forms. Tie incentives to success vs. awarding those on large base plans,
    • IBM Manager in Somers, NY: (Past Employee - 2011) “It was a challenging culture/environment to acclimate to.” Pros: Opportunity to work with some of the best and brightest. The opportunity to gain knowledge/experience and learn to question every step is outstanding. Cons: EVERYTHING is a priority. It's all about the cost ($$$$). The never ending EPS roadmap is killing morale with all the cuts, cuts, cuts. Some members of senior management are absolutely off their rockers and thrive on power. Do more with less is the mantra. There is NO work/life balance, rather, IBM supports work/life integration. So while you can work from any remote location with an available internet connection, there is an expectation to integrate your life into your work.
    • IBM Technical Sales: (Current Employee) “Depends on what you want - Software Group perspective.”

      Pros:

      • Brand name looks good on resume for now
      • Flexible work style means I can go to the doctor, etc.
      • High level contacts on sales team makes executing a quality sales campaign less important.
      • Can't argue with the results.
      • You can make a career here if that's what you want.
      • A good place to start a sales career.

      Cons:

      • Internal message is 180 degrees from external message. * Internal message - "2% raise to top performers, deteriorating facilities, everyone afraid of layoffs, clearly a strategy of replacing the highly compensated with the lower end." * External message - "Record earnings, revenue, EPS, margin..."
      • Flexible work style means I work like an animal early, late and weekends.
      • Opaque and convoluted Technical Sales pay plan. So non-realistic and non-competitive it's comical.
      • Pay plan benchmark companies are not the companies I compete against in the marketplace or the ones calling to recruit me.
      • High level contacts on sales team makes executing a quality sales campaign less important.
      • You can make a career here if that's what you want. Many people in the software industry don't want that.
      • Benefits are average. The history of great benefits is gone.

      Advice to Senior Management:

      • Align internal and external messaging.
      • Don't tell me one thing and do another.
      • Don't forget, I'm as smart as you.

    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “Positive experience for young employees to get practical hands on training.” Pros: Non taxable benefits, prestige, excellent work experience and training program (classes, education reimbursement,etc), work life balance (especially for expecting moms). Cons: It is an endlessly large corporation with a significant amount of red tape and associated politics. Constant layoffs hurt morale. Advice to Senior Management: Excellent overall bottom line value to shareholders. However, consistent lay off effect morale to a paralysing extent to front line workers.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “Flexible but not enough intermediate position levels for easy advancement.” Pros: Large and global company Access to many resources, such as online courses, people. Training is a priority. Flexible work hours. Cons: Few intermediate levels which makes it hard for senior employees doing a good job to see their advancement within the company. Advice to Senior Management: Should set up more intermediate position levels between managerial and senior levels for those who do not have a desire to enter a leadership role but who are strong contributors to the company nonetheless.
    • IBM Software Developer: (Past Employee - 2009) “One of the worst jobs.” Pros: You get lots of free time to do your own work. I cannot think of any other good reason to tell. Cons: There is lot of bureaucracy within the company. The decisions are slow and inefficient. The salary is very low compared to other companies.
    • IBM Senior Manager in Bangalore (India): (Current Employee) “If you don't want to work then its the company.” Pros: Work life balance: have your own business and get extra salary income without doing any work. You can stay at home as long as you want. Excellent for married woman, physically challenged people. If you are among despo L1 seekers you might get. Cons: If salary is your only source of income then get out immediately. If you are looking for a career out of employment don't join. Dumb management, shady HR (these are two departments who have zero marketability, hence they can do anything to retain job). Educational background is last consideration for getting in. Advice to Senior Management: None, management doesn't exist.
    • IBM Anonymous in Toronto, ON (Canada): (Current Employee) “Historically the greatest place to work - currently very intense.” Pros: Flexible work options. High quality people (intellectual capital). Cons: loss of geography independence. Quarterly bonus structure is incenting the wrong behaviour. Advice to Senior Management: Get back to the basics.
    • IBM Web Manager in Sydney (Australia): (Current Employee) “Flexible workplace” Pros: Flexible, ability to work from home. Great internal career development and learning. Good people. No micromanaging. Cons: Salary way below industry average. Some managers are more concerned with there own careers rather than giving you the time you need on yours. Constant re-organisation/outsourcing. Advice to Senior Management: Provide more opportunity of career development
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  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 8/28/11: Wow, Sammy cashes in some IBM stock for $83,573,000 in August and the Alliance rakes in $75. What is wrong with this picture? This is so wrong it is laughable. I guess the IBM employees are happy with their situation and don't need an organization like the Alliance to protect their rights. See ya on the unemployment line while Sammy enjoys his mega wealth from the sweat off your back. -Sad Man-
    • Comment 8/29/11: Tivoli Sales going through a ranking exercise of "revenue contribution". FLMs have no control over language within warning letter. If you're in the bottom third, the axes are being sharpened. Part of Project 2015 -SalesWeenie-
    • Comment 9/01/11: RA is happening First week of Sept. in Canada -Think2x-
    • Comment 9/01/11: STG cuts confirmed coming in partner/ISV teams. Contractor pay rate and a week per two months mandatory off proposed. Get your bags packed. -
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
Minimize
  • New York Times editorial: Penetrating the Gibberish. Excerpts: Anyone who has ever tried to read a health insurance policy knows how hard it is to find out what the plan actually covers and how much it will cost. The Obama administration proposed welcome new rules this month that would make it a lot easier for consumers to compare one policy with another — on cost and coverage — before signing up.

    Health policies are notorious for their confusing legalese. When confronted with a big medical bill, enrollees are often shocked to find that there are limits or exclusions they never heard of, leaving them owing a lot more than they can afford to pay.

    The new rules, which carry out provisions of the health care reform law, would require insurers and employers, starting next year, to provide a brief summary in plain English listing such items as premiums, deductibles, services not covered, and the costs of using a provider in the network as compared with one outside the network. ...

    Insurers are complaining that compiling and disseminating the benefits information will drive up their costs. That is a ridiculous objection. The administration estimates that the proposal would cost some $50 million a year to carry out. That seems a small burden on a multibillion-dollar industry. The investment would provide a huge benefit to confused consumers and help spur competition to bring down health insurance costs.

  • The Smirking Chimp: Raising the Medicare Age: 8 Reasons It's the Worst Presidential "Bargain" Since 1854. By RJ Eskow. Excerpts: When Yale Professor Jacob Hacker called this proposal "the single worst idea for Medicare reform" he was being far too kind. For one thing, it's not reform - it's reduction. It's not Prof. Hacker's fault that this has become the accepted terminology, but we should stop conflating reform with reduction in our public debate.

    Secondly, Prof. Hacker's certainly right that it's a terrible idea for Medicare. But he's selling it short. It's also a terrible idea for health care costs, job creation ... in fact, for the entire economy. You could say it's hit the trifecta of bad policy notions. We admire Jacob Hacker, but we'll have to amend his comments: It qualifies as the "single worst idea" in lots of policy areas. ...

    • It would save money at the Federal level -- but it would cost more everywhere else. ...
    • It's brutal on seniors. In fact, it's like a 20% cut in Social Security benefits. ...
    • It would lead to benefit cuts and create more job discrimination against older workers. ...
    • Its impact is made even worse by the President's demand that a "health excise tax" on higher-cost plans be included in last year's health bill. ...
    • The number of uninsured Americans will go up. ...
    • Health system costs will increase, too. ...
    • It doesn't address the real cost problem - chronic health conditions. ...
    • It's a step in the wrong direction. ...

    Some of us warned that it would be politically disastrous if the government required people to purchase health insurance without offering a low-cost public option. The wise political heads inside and close to the Administration told us that, on the contrary, this bill would be a political winner in 2010. No doubt Sen. Scott Brown chuckles over that from time to time.

    This bill doubles down on the political madness that began when the widely-embraced public option was dropped, despite the fact that 70% of all Americans (and 51% of all Republicans) wanted it. It puts the President on record as gutting the most popular program in the country. And it's likely to dramatically harden public sentiment against last year's health bill, as this "reform" gets lumped together with that legislation in the public mind.

    Politics aside, this idea is a recipe for economic disaster. And if it's coupled with reductions to Social Security it will become an economic tsunami - that is, if it isn't one already. Even FEMA won't be able to rescue the Administration from an idea like this. The White House must be discouraged from making this recommendation -- now, or anytime.

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.

  • New York Times op-ed: Did We Drop the Ball on Unemployment? By Nicholas D. Kristof. Excerpts: When I’m in New York or Washington, people talk passionately about debt and political battles. But in the living rooms or on the front porches here in Yamhill, Ore., where I grew up, a different specter wakes friends up in the middle of the night. It’s unemployment. ...

    When Americans are polled about the issue they care most about, the answer by a two-to-one margin is jobs. The Boston Globe found that during President Obama’s Twitter “town hall” last month, the issue that the public most wanted to ask about was, by far, jobs. Yet during the previous two weeks of White House news briefings, reporters were far more likely to ask about political warfare with Republicans. ...

    Unless more people are working, paying taxes and making mortgage payments, it’s difficult to see how we revive the economy or address our long-term debt challenge. While debt is a legitimate long-term problem, the urgent priority should be getting people back to work. America now has more than four unemployed people for each opening. And the longer people are out of work, the less likely it is that they will ever work again. ...

    President Obama is saying the right things lately about creating jobs. But he is saying them far too meekly, and his jobs agenda seems anemic — while the Republican Congress is saying the wrong things altogether. ...

    We could extend the payroll tax cut, which expires at the end of December. Astonishingly, Republicans in Congress seem to be lined up instinctively against this basic economic stimulus. Could the Tea Party actually favor tax reductions for billionaires but not for working Americans? Could we have found a tax increase the Republican Party favors?

  • New York Times editorial: The New Resentment of the Poor. Excerpts: In a decade of frenzied tax-cutting for the rich, the Republican Party just happened to lower tax rates for the poor, as well. Now several of the party’s most prominent presidential candidates and lawmakers want to correct that oversight and raise taxes on the poor and the working class, while protecting the rich, of course.

    These Republican leaders, who think nothing of widening tax loopholes for corporations and multimillion-dollar estates, are offended by the idea that people making less than $40,000 might benefit from the progressive tax code. They are infuriated by the earned income tax credit (the pride of Ronald Reagan), which has become the biggest and most effective antipoverty program by giving working families thousands of dollars a year in tax refunds. They scoff at continuing President Obama’s payroll tax cut, which is tilted toward low- and middle-income workers and expires in December.

    Until fairly recently, Republicans, at least, have been fairly consistent in their position that tax cuts should benefit everyone. Though the Bush tax cuts were primarily for the rich, they did lower rates for almost all taxpayers, providing a veneer of egalitarianism. Then the recession pushed down incomes severely, many below the minimum income tax level, and the stimulus act lowered that level further with new tax cuts. The number of families not paying income tax has risen from about 30 percent before the recession to about half, and, suddenly, Republicans have a new tool to stoke class resentment.

    Representative Michele Bachmann noted recently that 47 percent of Americans do not pay federal income tax; all of them, she said, should pay something because they benefit from parks, roads and national security. (Interesting that she acknowledged government has a purpose.) Gov. Rick Perry, in the announcement of his candidacy, said he was dismayed at the “injustice” that nearly half of Americans do not pay income tax. Jon Huntsman Jr., up to now the most reasonable in the Republican presidential field, said not enough Americans pay tax. ...

    This is factually wrong, economically wrong and morally wrong. First, the facts: a vast majority of Americans have skin in the tax game. Even if they earn too little to qualify for the income tax, they pay payroll taxes (which Republicans want to raise), gasoline excise taxes and state and local taxes. Only 14 percent of households pay neither income nor payroll taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center at the Brookings Institution. The poorest fifth paid an average of 16.3 percent of income in taxes in 2010. ...

    The moral argument would have been obvious before this polarized year. Nearly 90 percent of the families that paid no income tax make less than $40,000, most much less. The real problem is that so many Americans are struggling on such a small income, not whether they pay taxes. The two tax credits lifted 7.2 million people out of poverty in 2009, including four million children. At a time when high-income households are paying their lowest share of federal taxes in decades, when corporations frequently avoid paying any tax, it is clear who should bear a larger burden and who should not.

  • The Washington Post with Bloomberg: Some companies pay their CEOs more than Uncle Sam, study says. By Peter Whoriskey. Excerpts: Of last year’s 100 highest-paid corporate executives in the United States, 25 earned more in pay than their company recorded as a tax expense in 2010. Those 25 firms reported average global profits of $1.9 billion. Among the 25 were Verizon, Bank of New York Mellon, General Electric, Boeing and eBay.

    “These individual CEOs are being rewarded for presiding over companies that dodge taxes,” said Chuck Collins, one of the study’s co-authors and a senior scholar at the Institute of Policy Studies. Eighteen of the 25 firms last year operated subsidiaries in countries that the U.S. Government Accountability Office and other groups have identified as tax havens, one of the report’s authors said. ...

    Among its other findings, the institute found that the gap between chief executive compensation and average U.S. worker pay rose from a ratio of 263-to-1 in 2009 to 325-to-1 last year.

  • AlterNet: Corporate Elites Still Doing a Job on American Workers. Excerpts: On this Labor Day weekend, our country is engulfed in deep economic anxiety, and no doubt you share my heartfelt concern for those Americans who're suffering the worst of these uncertain times. I refer, of course, to millionaire corporate chieftains and big bankers.

    What? You thought maybe I was referring to our 25 million fellow citizens who can't get the jobs they need, or the millions more who're soon to be out of work due to both corporate and governmental cutbacks in the American workforce? No, no, bucko -- according to the corporate establishment (top executives, media barons and political elites), the number one economic problem is not the ongoing elimination of middle class jobs and the subsequent destruction of consumer spending. Rather it's some terrible "uncertainty" that has swept through the executive suites, immobilizing once-proud risk takers, who now wail that Washington's priority must be to relieve their anxiety. "To create jobs," implored a senior vice president of strategy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "we need pro-growth policies and the certainty necessary to invest and hire."

    Certainty? Aren't these the same corporate honchos who've proclaimed (and imposed) a "new normal" of intentional economic uncertainty on America's workaday majority? Yes, they are. Forget job security and middle-class expectations, they bark at us. Instead, the future for working families will be one of low wages, long periods of unemployment, no health coverage or pensions, a tattered safety net and practically no worker rights -- get used to it.

    What are the "pro-growth policies" these economic elites are demanding from Washington? Deregulation of corporate power, de-unionization, reduction of taxes on corporations, the rich, cutting "entitlement" benefits (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid), and the privatization of everything from education to transportation -- to name a few. Guess who grows under these policies and who shrinks?

    Bizarrely, the biggest banks are moaning the most insistently about their financial situation. "They've been battered by a weak economy," reported a sympathetic New York Times article on Aug. 29, failing to mention the crucial fact that it was the narcissism and reckless greed of bankers themselves that weakened the economy. Far from suffering for their disastrous overreach, they've kept their gilded positions and have been given trillions of dollars in federal funds to bail out their businesses -- with no requirement that they start investing in job-creating enterprises. ...

    The only certainty these so-called leaders are creating is more riches for the few at the expense of the many -- further heightening the injustice that is an affront to our nation's fundamental egalitarian values and a threat to our social unity. As John F. Kennedy put it years ago, "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."

  • McClatchy Newspapers: Regulations, taxes aren't killing small business, owners say. Excerpts: Politicians and business groups often blame excessive regulation and fear of higher taxes for tepid hiring in the economy. However, little evidence of that emerged when McClatchy canvassed a random sample of small business owners across the nation.

    "Government regulations are not 'choking' our business, the hospitality business," Bernard Wolfson, the president of Hospitality Operations in Miami, told The Miami Herald. "In order to do business in today's environment, government regulations are necessary and we must deal with them. The health and safety of our guests depend on regulations. It is the government regulations that help keep things in order."

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is among the most vocal critics of the Obama administration, blaming excessive regulation and the administration's overhaul of health care laws for creating an environment of uncertainty that's hampering job creation. When it's asked what specific regulations harm small businesses _which account for about 65 percent of U.S. jobs — the Chamber of Commerce points to health care, banking and national labor. Yet all these issues weigh much more heavily on big corporations than on small business.

    McClatchy reached out to owners of small businesses, many of them mom-and-pop operations, to find out whether they indeed were being choked by regulation, whether uncertainty over taxes affected their hiring plans and whether the health care overhaul was helping or hurting their business.

    Their response was surprising.

    None of the business owners complained about regulation in their particular industries, and most seemed to welcome it. Some pointed to the lack of regulation in mortgage lending as a principal cause of the financial crisis that brought about the Great Recession of 2007-09 and its grim aftermath.

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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