But there is one number I.B.M. stopped disclosing a few years ago: the company’s employment in the United States.
The last time I.B.M. broke out its American payroll numbers was in 2008, for the previous five years. From 2003 through 2007, the company’s worldwide employment grew by 21 percent to 386,558, while the head count in the United States declined 11 percent to 120,589.
Data submitted as part of Congressional testimony indicated the downward trend in American employment continued, at least through 2009. I.B.M. still reports its global payroll, which increased to 426,750 in 2010.
I.B.M., undoubtedly, stopped disclosing its American employment because the trend was an invitation to criticism. But the decision, while understandable, was a shame, I think. ...
I.B.M. has hugely increased its employment in India in the last several years. Some estimates place I.B.M.’s Indian work force at more than 100,000. That would probably place it on a par with I.B.M.’s employment in the United States. I.B.M. notes that India is a fast-growing market for the company, and that it is a rich source of skilled engineers. But lower labor costs in India, of course, have been a major motivation....
“We do a lot of retraining every year,” Mr. Palmisano continued, “and we still find ourselves in the situation where people can’t move up the skill ladder. That’s a lot of what’s going on. They can’t get up the skill ladder. So we have to replace them with current skills.” The I.B.M. approach, Mr. Palmisano said, “I think is appropriate and fair. You give them the opportunity to reboot and help them transition. But if they don’t do it, then they don’t do it. I wish I could say we don’t have the problem, but we do like everybody else.”
Selected reader comments follow:
"The IBM" of Tom Watson Sr. demanded the highest levels of self-study, self-supervision and self-improvement that a company in the 20th century ever demanded. It was a win-win for the employee that performed and the corporation that rewarded performance. The IBM of the Watsons' received "loyalty" in return. This was "The IBM's" culture that Kevin Maney in "The Maverick and His Machine" called its "economic engine." Performing employees were loyal during tough times. Those employees had skills built over 20 - 30 even 50 years.
The real question that you should be asking is could IBM today be doing even better? Is it really maximizing stockholder return for the long run? Where is the revenue growth? Look at the revenue growth charts at my web site from 1914 to the present. Will employees, irregardless of country, that have "deep skills" stay with IBM for the long run, or move to the next offer of a higher paycheck or higher risk-return model of a start-up environment?
I think you need more perspectives - an employee perspective.
Peter E. Greulich
Author, Speaker and Publisher
The World's Greatest Salesman, An IBM Caretaker's Perspective: Looking Back
Companies say that "offshoring" is inevitable and benefits the greater community, but I tend to doubt it. What it does is put a piece of our economy in someone else's country, and yet keeps our markets open to those people. This is what happened to our auto industry with Japan---a gift to a new ally---and what appears to be happening with multinationals who are offshoring service work. A few gain a lot. A few.
When IBM last made offshoring news, it was about a deal the company offered to let Americans compete for jobs in China or India---at the prevailing wages there. But IBM was telling the U.S. government that U.S. civil rights laws did not, or should not, apply to U.S. citizens working for them overseas. Were we to trust that China and India would look out for our people, when they clearly read that American companies don't have the loyalty to us that you know China or India would expect of their own companies?
As a marketing company they simply joined the bandwagon of use cheap labor in India. This is the gold rush mentality with no thought that the gold will not always be plentiful and American companies are probably now becoming aware that with all the competition there is very little chance of hiring the 3 percent that are productive in computer software development.
Couple this with Indians who are grateful for work but who are also aware that they are working for companies because they are cheap labor for companies that have shown no loyalty to citizens of their own country and so have no loyalty for them.
Even as a marketing company IBM has missed the boat in selling services to American companies in a country with a neighbor where at any moment a nuclear war could totally wipe out key elements of American businesses. The reality is that India is perhaps one of the worst nations in the world for safety for American businesses.
It was the Alliance@IBM CWA that started listing the job cuts that began years ago. It was also the Alliance that showed the steep decline in IBM US employee population. It is estimated that current IBM US population is 98,000.
Palmisano shouldn't blame employees for not moving up the skills ladder when all he has been doing is kicking the employment and salary ladder out from under them.
And the other thing is moving up the skill ladder these days just means keeping your job. It doesn't mean more money. Automation and exporting jobs has kept tech wages flat for over a decade.
With a global economy, the natural result will be for the highest and the lowest to move to the middle. That means America will have a lower standard of living and I don't see anyway to avoid that without serious regulation of the market.
With growth markets slated as a strategic focus for IBM, Rometty decided to put a senior vice president in charge of it. Indeed, IBM's success in growth markets is one of the linchpins of the company's five-year strategy to add $20 billion in new revenue by 2015. The size and importance of IBM's Growth Markets Unit, which is expected to approach 30 percent of IBM's total revenue by 2015, now merits being led by a senior vice president, IBM said. That person is James Bramante, who will be based in Shanghai. ...
And bringing change in IBM's services business, Bridget Van Kralingen has been named senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services (GBS), IBM's consulting unit. Van Kralingen is a native of South Africa and has led turnarounds in GBS in Northeast Europe, IBM said. Van Kralingen will replace Frank Kern, who is retiring from IBM at the end of January after a 35-year career at IBM. Kern has also led IBM's operations in Asia Pacific prior to running Global Business Services. ...
Van Kralingen joined IBM from Deloitte Consulting, where she was managing partner for Financial Services in the United States. She also is a member of the board of directors of the Royal Bank of Canada, and she serves on the advisory board of Catalyst, a nonprofit organization that expands opportunities for women in business.
Cons: Has IBM lost most if not all its historic values it had for its employees. If you not Indian, and reside in India your future with IBM is risky. IBM has a drive to migrate as much as possible of its work, should it be development, support or any other service, to India all for just an extra buck. Accepted cost is a major driver in any company but if it starts impacting the responsiveness and quality of service to your local clients it becomes a short sighted view.
Don’t be a contractor to IBM, or to a company that sub contracts to IBM and depends on IBM for the cash flow in its payroll.
IBM sells itself as a process orientated business. It was decided to move the South African pay-roll department to IBM Turkey. What happened to the South African staff that ran the pay-roll department efficiently for many years? The response was something in the line “We are sorry but we had no choice in moving pay-roll services to Turkey and we have currently no internal vacancies, you have 30 days to find a job internally, we are initiating process”. Well done IBM. The first month’s pay-roll was run from Turkey, employees were paid on time, unfortunately process failed for contractors and sub contractors they only got paid in December. Well done IBM and thank you for the apology that we never received.
December as a contractor: IBM forced the contractors to close their time claims on the 15th of December resulting in a short month and a smaller payment. Contractors were not too concerned since it was announced that pay-roll will run on the 15th of December. Well done IBM and thank you for considering the festive season and allowing us to do some shopping. NOT for contractors. Contractors and Contract houses where still waiting for payment on the 30th of December. Well done IBM thank you for the splendid festive season you gave us not only did you save on the pay roll by doing the cut off early.
IBM’s basic consideration for those that make IBM’s bags of money is lacking. Either way, it is not acceptable. IBM wins a lot of good publicity from its generous support to the community. Maybe it has a Jekyll and Hyde personality and beneath all the goodwill, IBM is an under-handed, ruthless blue giant.
Advice to Senior Management: As the saying goes “look at how a man treats his mother and you will know how he will treat his wife” in this case its maybe “look at how a company treats its workers and you know how it will treat its customers.
I was fortunate to see how the other half live in the Software Group as I had to provide some support to them, and I was shocked how much better the people were treated, the events put on for them, and the general culture that seemed at odds with Global Services. It seemed a completely different two tiered system which brought a bad taste to the mouth.
I left AT&T after nearly two years as in the UK at least there was absolutely no-where to go due to their limited footprint in the country and I was left 'body-shopped' in the same job with no career.
Would I go back to IBM? Yes if I was able to work in other areas of the business. But absolutely not if it was Global Services. I couldn't bare to work in that repressive atmosphere again.
Another useful tool you can use to help clients plan their benefits is a table illustrating the historic maximum benefits from 1987 through 2012 for workers who begin benefits at age 62, 65 and 70. (62 is the earliest age most people can begin benefits; Delayed Retirement Credits are awarded for deferring benefits through age 70.) The table is available here: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/COLA/examplemax.html
Ideally, companies should be investing, which would have the benign effect in current account deficit countries such as the UK and US of helping to rebalance the economy away from domestic consumption and public spending, and to jog them out of the habit of under investing relative to Germany, France and Japan. Yet this seems unlikely to happen. The effect of the recent credit bubble has been to bring forward many corporate spending decisions. This bunching of investment has been further exacerbated by the Obama administration’s investment tax breaks, now coming to an end. So it is a racing certainty that investment will fall sharply in the first half of the year in the US. ...
Historically, profit margins have tended to revert to the mean, so excess cash may anyway dwindle. I suspect, too, that the English-speaking countries may be moving to a new, low-investment paradigm and not merely because, as in the case of the UK, they have a service sector bias. The practice of rewarding executives increasingly with equity is imposing a far greater focus on short-term measures of performance. Academic evidence in the US has, for example, shown that a high proportion of chief financial officers admits to a willingness to sacrifice economic value to meet short-term earnings targets. The current record profit margins and exceptionally high unemployment reflect that ruthless focus.
The capital market culture of these countries also has a strong emphasis on merger and acquisition activity which, from a managerial perspective, substitutes the thrill of the chase for the hard slog of managing operating businesses and investing in fixed capital. Business becomes transactional at the expense of relationships and performance is seen in narrowly financial terms. Far too many of the deals fail in economic terms, partly because stock options and rewards for failure give managers a huge incentive to bet the ranch.
That brings us to the most likely outlet for all that corporate cash. Much of it will go into share buy-backs, which are relatively painless for managers since, unlike dividends, they entail no continuing commitment to pay. Part of this activity will be arbitrage because corporate bond yields for many companies are now below the yields on equity.
Selected reader comments follow:
Once again, John has hit the nail on the head. It is ultimately about short-term remuneration. Executives are being paid on annual results—handsomely enough that a few good years will more than adequately tide them over for the drought which is likely to follow. Shareholders, who ultimately have at least as much of a stake in the broader economy as in share prices, keep being enticed by temporary rises in the one at the expense of the other. As long as their designated agents (fund managers) keep being seduced by the siren call of short-term profits, the beneficiaries (wage-earners who will eventually become retirees) will continue to suffer, without understanding why. It's a vicious circle which no one is willing to break.
Here is Palmisano blaming the employee instead of his stewardship.
Palmisano, define A LOT OF RETRAINING? Was there an IBM action plan to improve retraining under his leadership? Examples? Training programs?, specific IBM skills education? etc. Let us have it Sam! Does the cat have your tongue?
Ask ANYONE who was RAed whether retraining was ever a possibility?
Palmisano is clearly naive and should just admit he is just plain lucky to have found a way to move up his so-called skill ladder without possessing IBM technical IT and engineering skills. He just has political and manipulative skills. A lot of IBM management has only these skills today. And that is pathetic and sad. IBM management at all levels used to be stellar.
A true story and a case in point: I had to help my IBM Director load his new printer print driver since he had no clue how to do it despite printed instructions for plugnplay so he could print out an RA notice.
And guess who soon got the RA notice once it was printed?
I hope my former IBM 3rd line grew a skill and found out how to upgrade his print driver. But somehow I doubt it. Unless he found another employee like myself to help him with the skill.
Sam is really not much different than this IBM Director when you come to think of it. -RAedFromBlue-
Limit the overall growth of Medicare spending? It's in both approaches. Squeeze more money from upper-income retirees and some in the middle-class? Ditto. Raise the eligibility age? That too, if the deal is right. ...
During failed budget negotiations with Republicans last summer, Obama indicated a willingness to make more major changes to Medicare, including gradually raising the age of eligibility to 67, increasing premiums for many beneficiaries, revamping co-payments and deductibles in ways that would raise costs for retirees, and cutting payments to drugmakers and other providers.
"I was surprised by how much the president was willing to offer in terms of Medicare changes without a more thorough vetting and discussion," said Moon. Obama says he will veto any plan to cut Medicare benefits without raising taxes on the wealthy.
Now Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has passed those decisions to the states, at least for a two-year transition period in 2014 and 2015. The benchmark the states will be required to use could be one of the three largest plans covering small businesses, state employees or federal employees in the state or the largest health maintenance organization serving commercial customers. ...
Federal health officials will need to monitor developments during the transition period to make sure consumers and employers can easily compare the benefit packages offered by private insurers. In the long run, it would seem best to move toward a system in which all Americans enjoy the same benefits with only limited state-by-state adjustments.
Or, is it something else, a factor that has yet to be mentioned during any of the Republican debates, and something that will be conspicuously absent from any discussion of the results of Tuesday night's Iowa caucus: the medical loss ratio.
As a December article in Forbes explains, thanks to Obama's health insurance reform legislation, insurance companies must spend roughly 80% of a patient's premiums on the patient instead of pocketing the profits. http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2011/12/02/the-bomb-buried-in-obamacare-explodes-today-halleluja/
So, are candidates for the Republican presidential nomination really worried about the government mandating health coverage, or is their real concern that a provision in the fine print of the Affordable Care Act will cut into for-profit health insurance by Health and Human Services oversight into how the premiums are spent.
Any Republican presidential wannabe, like Newt Gingrich, who has tried to establish his own for-profit health insurance wouldn't like so-called Obamacare because it means, as the Forbes article asserts, "that the insurance companies spend what they should taking care of their customers" instead of looking for ways to siphon off premiums to cover their overhead, and/or to put a new BMW in a sales executive's garage.
"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.
Mr. Romney’s company, Bain Capital, sent in a team of 10 turnaround experts from Boston to ferret out waste, motivate executives and study untapped markets.
By the time the Harvard M.B.A.’s from Bain were finished, sales at the medical company, Dade International, had more than doubled. The business acquired two of its rivals. And Mr. Romney’s firm collected $242 million, a return eight times its investment.
But an examination of the Dade deal, which Mr. Romney approved and presided over, shows the unintended human costs and messy financial consequences behind the brand of capitalism that he practiced for 15 years.
At Bain Capital’s direction, Dade quadrupled the money it owed creditors and vendors. It took steps that propelled the business toward bankruptcy. And in waves of layoffs, it cut loose 1,700 workers in the United States, including Brian and Christine Shoemaker, who lost their jobs at a plant in Westwood, Mass. Staggered, Mr. Shoemaker wondered, “How can the bean counters just come in here and say, Hey, it’s over?”
Mr. Romney’s career at Bain Capital, which he owned and ran as chief executive, is a cornerstone of his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination — a credential, he argues, that showcases the management skills and business acumen that America needs to revive a stalled economy. Creating jobs, Mr. Romney says, is exactly what he knows how to do. ...
Bain and a small group of investors bought Dade in 1994 with mostly borrowed money, limiting their risk. They extracted cash from the company at almost every turn — paying themselves nearly $100 million in fees, first for buying the company and then for helping to run it. Later, just after Mr. Romney stepped down from his role, Bain took $242 million out of the business in a transaction that, according to bankruptcy documents and several former Dade officials, weakened the company. ...
Cost-cutting became a mantra inside the company. After his employer, DuPont, was bought by Dade, William T. Mowrey, a field engineer, said his generous pension plan was replaced by a 401(k); his salary was cut by $1 an hour, costing him $2,000 a year in income. When he filed for overtime, he said, his new bosses refused to pay it. “They were just trying to milk as much out of us as they could,” he said. ...
For some, the emotional effects of the layoffs outweighed the financial repercussions. Soon after Dade bought the DuPont unit, it closed a plant in Puerto Rico; all but a few of its nearly 300 workers were laid off. ...
Cindy Hewitt, a human resources manager, had been instructed to persuade about a dozen of Mr. Rosado’s co-workers to move to Miami, where Dade had another plant.
Not long after the workers arrived, the company said it would close that factory, too. Ms. Hewitt tried to help several workers return to Puerto Rico, but she said Dade insisted that they first repay thousands of dollars of moving costs. “They were treated horribly,” she said. “There was absolutely no concern for the employees. It was truly and completely profit-focused.”
But his claims about the Obama record border on dishonesty, and his claims about his own record are well across that border.
Start with the Obama record. It’s true that 1.9 million fewer Americans have jobs now than when Mr. Obama took office. But the president inherited an economy in free fall, and can’t be held responsible for job losses during his first few months, before any of his own policies had time to take effect. So how much of that Obama job loss took place in, say, the first half of 2009?
The answer is: more than all of it. The economy lost 3.1 million jobs between January 2009 and June 2009 and has since gained 1.2 million jobs. That’s not enough, but it’s nothing like Mr. Romney’s portrait of job destruction. ...
At this point, some readers may ask whether it isn’t equally wrong to say that Mr. Romney destroyed jobs. Yes, it is. The real complaint about Mr. Romney and his colleagues isn’t that they destroyed jobs, but that they destroyed good jobs.
When the dust settled after the companies that Bain restructured were downsized — or, as happened all too often, went bankrupt — total U.S. employment was probably about the same as it would have been in any case. But the jobs that were lost paid more and had better benefits than the jobs that replaced them. Mr. Romney and those like him didn’t destroy jobs, but they did enrich themselves while helping to destroy the American middle class. And that reality is, of course, what all the blather and misdirection about job-creating businessmen and job-destroying Democrats is meant to obscure.
These stories barely even reveal the tip of the iceberg of financial malfeasance. We have been hearing for years now about the scams, frauds, rackets, schemes, tricks and various other ways that people on Wall Street made gazillions while crashing the economy. The one thing we haven’t heard anything about is anyone at the top being held criminally accountable … for anything!
Business owners complain that BofA's credit squeeze is abrupt and could strain their small companies and even put them out of business. The credit cutoff is coming at a time when the California economy can't seem to catch a break, and bucks what the financial industry says is a new trend of easing standards on business loans.
One such customer, Babak Zahabizadeh, was told in a letter that the $96,000 debt carried by his Burbank messenger service must be repaid Jan. 25. A loan officer offered multiple alternatives over the phone that Zahabizadeh called unaffordable, including paying off the debt at 12% interest over two years. That's about $4,500 a month, nearly 10 times his current interest-only payment. ...
Scott Hauge, president of the advocacy group Small Business California, called the credit cuts "a tragedy" for longtime BofA clients left vulnerable by years of struggle in a sour economy. "If small businesses are going to lead the way out of the economic doldrums we now face in this country, they must have access to capital, not only to hire more people but to protect the jobs they are currently providing," Hauge said.
The establishment of the Fed in 1913 as a lender of last resort that would temporarily replace the cash withdrawn by fleeing depositors was an important advance toward banking stability. But although the Fed could ameliorate the consequences of panics, it couldn’t prevent them. The system wasn’t stabilized until the 1930s, when the government separated commercial banking from investment banking, tightened bank regulation and created deposit insurance. This system of rules virtually eliminated bank runs and bank failures for decades, but much of it was junked in a deregulatory process that culminated in 1999 with the repeal of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation now covers balances up to a $250,000 limit, but this does nothing to reassure large depositors, whose withdrawals could cause the system to collapse.
In fact, an overwhelming proportion of the “quick cash” in the global financial system is uninsured and prone to manic-depressive behavior, swinging unpredictably from thoughtless yield-chasing to extreme risk aversion. Much of this flighty cash finds its way into banks through lightly regulated vehicles like certificates of deposits or repurchase agreements. Money market funds, like banks, are a repository for cash, but are uninsured and largely unexamined. ...
These radical, 1930s-style measures may seem a pipe dream. But we now have the worst of all worlds: panics, followed by emergency interventions by central banks, and vague but implicit guarantees to lure back deposits. Since the 2008 financial crisis, governments and central bankers have been seriously overstretched. The next time a panic starts, markets may just not believe that the Treasury and Fed have the resources to stop it.
The facts, of course, say otherwise. Economic mobility, i.e., the actual percentage of people who improve their economic status is less in the State than in many other nations in Western Europe and Canada. The numbers don't lie:
[M]any researchers have reached a conclusion that turns conventional wisdom on its head: Americans enjoy less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and much of Western Europe. The mobility gap has been widely discussed in academic circles, but a sour season of mass unemployment and street protests has moved the discussion toward center stage. [...]
At least five large studies in recent years have found the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A project led by Markus Jantti, an economist at a Swedish university, found that 42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults. That shows a level of persistent disadvantage much higher than in Denmark (25 percent) and Britain (30 percent) — a country famous for its class constraints.
Meanwhile, just 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth. That compares with 12 percent of the British and 14 percent of the Danes....
Conservatives and Republicans typically argue that the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest, the lower classes and the upper ones (i.e., our ever increasing wealth and income inequality) doesn't matter because Americans have greater chances for upward mobility. Unfortunately for most people in America, they are dead wrong. Economic mobility for the majority of American citizens, or stated in more colloquial terms the chance to "improve our lot in life," is far less than for our peers in Western Europe and Canada. The American Dream for most people is just a myth that even Republicans can no longer ignore:
John Bridgeland, a former aide to President George W. Bush who helped start Opportunity Nation, an effort to seek policy solutions, said he was “shocked” by the international comparisons. “Republicans will not feel compelled to talk about income inequality,” Mr. Bridgeland said. “But they will feel a need to talk about a lack of mobility — a lack of access to the American Dream.”
This didn't used to be the case. During the heady post WWII years American incomes saw tremendous increases, and the glaring wealth and income inequality that existed at the time of the Great Depression narrowed significantly. The middle class grew as our government provided more chances for lower income individuals to afford college, as Unions helped wages rise and bargained for other benefits (i.e., [pensions and health care) and as social programs such as Social Security and Medicare kept the elderly, once they retired, from slipping back into poverty. Financial institutions were regulated to decrease the risk of bank failures and financial crises, and the FDIC protected the savings of ordinary Americans. ...
And this is but one example of what conservative tax policies created. As we have shifted the burden of higher education to students and their parents through lowering taxes, we have seen that fewer and fewer students can afford the type of high quality education needed in today;s world. Oh the upper 1% can afford this expense easily, but for the rest of us its a terrible burden if we can afford it at all. And this is only one factor that has contributed to massive income inequality and lack of economic ability in America. The shredding of our social safety net is another, So is lack of universal health care and the shift of health care costs to workers, much less the complete lack of any health care for millions of Americans, end lousy health care at that. Others have documented our nation;s failures in that regard so I won;t bother repeating their work, but nonetheless it is damning indictment of what is left of our democracy. Yet Republicans are still insisting on more tax cuts for the wealthy and more pain and austerity for the middle and lower classes. In short, they would further erode if not eliminate the very government social programs that created the American middle class in the post war era and damn us and our children to economic serfdom in order to benefit the richest among us. Every time they tell you these policies will restore America's prosperity they are lying, at least with respect to the prosperity of anyone who isn't a large corporation, a wealthy individual or a overcompensated senior executive. Every time they tell you that socialism is evil and the reason our country is in this mess (by which they mean social security, medicare, unemployment benefits, worker's compensation, disability benefits, consumer protection, worker safety laws and the federal agencies that are empowered to regulate financial institutions, food and drug safety, environmental safety, labor rights, etc.) they are lying.
In Western Europe and Canada there are still politicians that must answer to their constituents. In our country, the politicians have to answer to their corporate benefactors and their lobbyists. In a nutshell, that tells you all you need to know as to why the American Dream of upward mobility is dead.
ABP said on Wednesday that the decision to pull its investment from Walmart was not hasty. The fund declined to say how much money is involved, but according to ABP records, it had invested some 95 million euros, worth $121 million today, in U.S. Walmart stores as of June 30, 2011. The fund first sent a letter to Walmart executives in 2008, a year after ABP formalized its responsible-investing policy. Four years later, after many meetings with employees and all levels of management, ABP concluded the retail giant was still falling short.
Back in 2007, as ABP began to comb through its investments with an eye toward corporate responsibility, the fund was struck by the staggering number of lawsuits and National Labor Relations Board complaints against Walmart, explained Anna Pot, a senior sustainability specialist involved in the decision.
For four years, the fund met repeatedly with Walmart executives, trying to use its shareholder's influence to persuade the company to improve corporate practices, especially with regard to labor and the environment. There were some signs of improvement along the road: Last year's ABP Responsible Investment Report noted that "the company has taken steps in the right direction," pointing to the $100 million Walmart paid to settle court actions in November and December of 2009 alone. It also noted that, based on discussions with management, ABP felt that Walmart had changed its attitude toward unions. But by January 2012, ABP decided that the company's time was up.
Of course, it's a grotesque, Kafkaesque lie to say that Wal-Mart, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil, and the rest are people with political rights equal to – much less superior to – human beings. As a friend of mine puts it: "A corporation is not a person until Texas executes one!"
The good news is that real citizens of our country are united against Citizens United. In a January Hart Research poll, 87 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Independents, and even 68 percent of Republicans favor passing a Constitutional amendment to overrule the Court's bizarre decision and make clear that only people are people.
Sadly (though not surprisingly) our national elected officials – including Republicans, Democrats and tea partiers – are too hooked on corporate money to stand up for us... for America's democracy. So, do we just have to surrender to the corporados? Of course not – we're Americans!
Rebel! A new "We the People Campaign" is rallying grassroots folks to sign a "Declaration of Independence From Corporate Power." To sign the declaration and join the action, go to WeThePeopleCampaign.org.
Yet, America's corporate and political leaders have intentionally been shoveling wealth into an ever-bigger pile for those at the top. They've gotten away with this by lying to the great majority, which has seen its share of America's prosperity steadily disappear. Yes, they've told us, the rich are getting richer, but that's just the natural workings of the new global economy, in which financial elites are rewarded for their exceptional talents, innovation, and bold risk-taking.
Horse dooties. The massive redistribution of America's wealth from the many to the few is happening because the rich and their political puppets have rigged the system. Years of subsidized offshoring and downsizing, gutting labor rights, monkeywrenching the tax code, legalizing financial finagling, dismantling social programs, increasing the political dominance of corporate cash – these and other self-serving acts of the moneyed powers have created the conveyor belt that's moving our wealth from the grassroots to the penthouses.
Not since the Gilded Age, which preceded and precipitated the Great Depression, have so few amassed so much of our nation's riches. Having learned nothing from 1929's devastating crash, nor from their own bank failures in 2008 that crushed our economy, the wealthiest of the wealthy fully intend to keep taking more for themselves at our expense.
Now, however, the people are onto their lies. In an October poll, two-thirds of Americans support increased taxes on millionaires, an end to corporate tax subsidies, and policies to more evenly distribute the wealth we all help create. This is rising egalitarianism shows the true American character, and it's changing our politics – for the better.
One of the itchiest ever is the Kafkaesque fiction, put forth by America's right-wing power establishment, that corporations are "persons' with the Constitutional right to control our elections with their bottomless troves of corporate cash. This is an absurd perversion of nature itself. A person, after all, has a navel. Where's the corporate navel – or its heart, brain, or soul?
Also, if a corporation is a person, shouldn't it be subject to front-line military duty, to jail for its criminal violations, and even to the death penalty? As a reader pointed out to me in a recent email, many states do not allow persons under 18 years of age to marry (or, in corporate terminology, to merge). Plus, such young persons are subject to curfews and cannot legally be served alcohol. If you see a young corporation violating any of these teen laws – call the cops on them!
When a corporate and governmental cabal makes such a power play that the very idea of it becomes a national joke, both the idea and the cabal are in trouble. That's the case with the comical claim of "personhood" for corporations. All across the country, beneath the radar of American's clueless elites, a savvy and scrappy grassroots coalition is mobilizing to overturn the anti-democratic effort by the Supreme Court, corporate front groups, and political sell-outs to enthrone corporate money over the people. On January 20th and 21st there will be two national days of action to rally public support for a Constitutional amendment to reject the farce of corporate personhood.
To join the rebellion, connect with www.United4ThePeople.org.
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