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Highlights—November 17, 2012

  • Computerworld: Manufacturer sues IBM over SAP project 'disaster'. An IBM worker allegedly called the project the worst SAP implementation they'd ever seen. By Chris Kanaracus. Excerpts: IBM has been slapped with a multimillion-dollar lawsuit by chemical products manufacturer Avantor Performance Materials, which alleges that IBM lied about the suitability of an SAP-based software package it sells in order to win Avantor's business. ...

    "Seizing upon Avantor's decision -- and fully aware that, given the competitive pressures of Avantor's industry, and the specialized demands of its customers, Avantor could not tolerate any disruptions in customer service -- IBM represented that IBM's 'Express Life Sciences Solution' ... was uniquely suited to Avantor's business," the lawsuit states. "The Express Solution is a proprietary IBM pre-packaged software solution that runs on an SAP platform."

    But Avantor discovered a different truth after signing on with IBM, finding that Express Life was "woefully unsuited" to its business and the implementation brought its operations to "a near standstill," according to the suit.

    IBM also violated its contract by staffing the project with "incompetent and reckless consultants" who made "numerous design, configuration and programming errors," it states.

    In addition, IBM "intentionally or recklessly failed" to tell Avantor about risks to the project and hurried towards a go-live date, the suit alleges.

    "To conceal the System's defects and functional gaps, IBM ignored the results of its own pre-go-live tests, conducted inadequate and truncated testing and instead recommended that Avantor proceed with the go-live as scheduled -- even though Avantor had repeatedly emphasized to IBM that meeting a projected go-live date was far less important than having a fully functional System that would not disrupt Avantor's ability to service its customers," the suit states.

    The resulting go-live, which occurred in May, "was a disaster," with the system failing to process orders properly, losing some orders altogether, failing to generate need paperwork for U.S. Customs officials and directing "that dangerous chemicals be stored in inappropriate locations," the suit states.

    Avantor has suffered tens of millions of dollars in monetary damages, as well as taken a hit to its reputation among partners and customers, the suit states. ...

    "IBM, meanwhile, has already pocketed over $13 million in fees from Avantor for a systems implementation project it mismanaged and was unable to perform properly," the lawsuit states. "Incredibly, IBM is now seeking to profit from its misconduct by demanding millions of dollars in additional fees to redesign and rebuild the defective System it implemented."

    IBM said it disagreed with the claims and will defend itself against them vigorously. "We believe the allegations in the complaint are exaggerated and misguided and are surprised that Avantor chose to file suit," a spokesman said via email. "IBM met its contractual obligations and delivered a solution that Avantor continues to use in its operations." ...

    "Numerous" IBM workers have told Avantor personnel that IBM failed to manage the project correctly and use SAP "best practices," according to the complaint. IBM workers even called the project the worst SAP implementation they'd ever seen, it adds.

  • The Globe and Mail (Canada): Talented techies deserve ‘rock star’ treatment: IBM. By Barrie McKenna. Excerpts: Canada and the United States need to get back to treating – and compensating – their leading technology creators like “rock stars,” says IBM’s global head of innovation.

    “An economy is only as good as its supply of talent,” explained Bernard Meyerson, International Business Machine Corp.’s vice-president of innovation and relations with universities. “Physical infrastructure is nice to have, but without good people, you get awful results.” ...

    “We need to get back to treating technologists as rock stars,” he said. “The engineer who writes the code that speeds up computing by a factor of 10, that’s one of the heroes. … They should get the same level of rewards as rock stars.”

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • A clear case of the left hand being unaware of the right. I'm not sure what constitutes a "talented techie" but the tech industry is rife with stories of how poorly IBM treats its people; including "regular" techies. Quite surprising for a company of that pedigree.
    • This is a funny statement coming from the masters of outsourcing jobs to Argentina, India, and anywhere else they can get it done for a fraction of the cost.
    • For at least the last 10 years, IBM treated their employees with disdain and compensated their best performers (PBC 1) with insulting performance based salary increases and bonuses (GDP-growth driven profit) in the single digits (approx. 3% and 6% respectively).

      IBM is all show when it comes to talking to the press but in practice, they have been terminating their best talent (highest paid) to reduce their salary costs while retaining mediocre personnel (lowest paid) in the higher band levels (8, 9, 10).

      The saying about IBM is true, "IBM attracts the best talent but ends up with mediocrity."

      Tip for IBM. Stop treating your talent like a server or a box of software (aka widget) and start treating them like people.

      IBM purchased PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2002/03 to transform itself into a 'business consulting' services but in the end, IBM will always be considered nothing more than a glorified technology company.

  • Computerworld: IBM kills Lotus brand, readies beta of Notes/Domino Social Edition. A final version will start shipping during Q1 next year. By Mikael Ricknäs. Excerpts: IBM is planning to release on Dec. 14 a public beta of Notes and Domino 9.0 Social Edition that will no longer use the Lotus brand. IBM has decided to offer a public beta, the first in a long time for Notes and Domino, because of the importance of the release, Ed Brill, director of product line management and in charge of IBM's Collaboration Solutions, said in a blog post.

    This beta also signals the point where Notes and Domino will join IBM's other software products in sporting only the IBM name, which the company feels is a stronger brand than Lotus, according to Brill.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Retiree Health Benefits Eligibility" by "geodim622". Full excerpt: Today I called the IBM ESC (Employee Services Center) to sign up for my 2013 health benefits and ran into an issue. Some background...

    I was eligible for the FHA as I was 40 years old and had 1 year of service on June 30, 1999. I was RA'd in March of 2010, at which time I lost my FHA account. I was rehired in July of 2010 and had the pleasure of being RA'd again in April 2012. I am currently 53 years old. I reached 30 years of service in March 2012, so when I left in April I was considered a retiree. I received my retiree "badge" and a personal fact sheet stating the retiree health plans I was eligible for. Since I was eligible for subsidized medical for 12 months I enrolled in that plan and then enrolled on the retiree plans for dental and vision.

    Today I called in to basically keep the same plans and was told that I am not eligible for any retiree plans, even though I was told I was and have been enrolled in them since May 2012. Starting on 1/1/13 I will be enrolled in the TMP plans, then once the medical subsidy ends in April 2013, I will be in COBRA until my 18 months runs out and then I am not eligible for anything after that.

    The ESC has opened up a case with their research group to see how this happened, but I am expecting the response I already received from the insurance group, which is the scenario I just described. I was hoping someone may be able to shed some light as to how I can "retire" after 30 years of service and not be eligible for any retiree health benefits, even I was given a package stating that I was eligible for all retiree health plans ! Thank you.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Retiree Health Benefits Eligibility" by "tkoconnor1954". Full excerpt: I would suggest you take all the medical package documentation given you, from your first layoff in March 2010, your rehire & second layoff in April 2012 and your personal fact sheet documentation from your retirement that IBM gave you that stated when you actually retired after 30 years that you in fact would be covered by IBM Medical benefits to a lawyer and let the lawyer interpret it, and if the lawyer also agrees that you are being illegally screwed, than have him deal with IBM HR & Benefits on your behalf. It may cost you a few bucks but the if you/he are correct and win ... the money you will save on benefits over your life time will be well worth it.

    My concern is that your break in service somehow voided your eligibility and in some IBM document written in very small fine print ... IBM stated that your eligibility would be void ... and you in fact may be screwed.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Retiree Health Benefits Eligibility" by "madinpok". Full excerpt: First, let me say that I think you should fight IBM on this. You don't have anything to lose at this point.

    I think the clause that IBM will quote to deny you the FHA funds is from section 1.4.4 of USHR117 - About Your Benefits - Future Health Account. You can find a copy in the files section of this group in the IBM Retiree Benefit Info folder.

    Section 1.4.4 says:

    If you leave IBM before age 55 or with less than 15 years of service, you will forfeit your account and will not be eligible to receive any benefits from the Future Health Account.

    Since you were not 55 at the time of your layoff and did not yet have 30 years of service, IBM will claim that you forfeited your account balance. Then when you were re-hired, it didn't matter, since the account balance had already been lost.

    I wish you luck in your battle over this. Please let us know how it turns out.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Retiree Health Benefits Eligibility" by "ibm20yrsnot40". Full excerpt: One thing to remember is that effective with the 1999 plan "heist"/change retirement eligibility and eligibility for any retiree health benefits were completely separated. Just because you were considered a "retiree" and eligible for retiree income payments, whether that was from the PPA or prior plan has no bearing on your eligibility for FHA, either access only or access and FHA funds. The two eligibilities are determined on a completely separate basis. For many they are in fact the same but that is just due to circumstance.
  • The Coast (Halifax, Canada): NDP giving SAP to IBM: a deal with the devil. Darrell Dexter's government refuses to make deal details public. And you know who's in the details. By Tim Bousquet. Excerpts: The deal outsourcing provincial SAP operations to IBM is a brazen move by the Darrell Dexter government. By handing 73 union jobs to the notoriously anti-union IBM, Nova Scotia's NDP has turned its back on its core support in the labour movement. ...

    The secrecy surrounding the IBM deal is remarkable, even by Nova Scotia standards. What we’ve been told is this: the province has entered a 10-year deal outsourcing SAP operations to IBM, starting at $8.4 million a year, which is said to be the exact cost to the province of operating SAP with unionized government workers. That annual payment will increase using a “cost of living index” used by the IT industry, says the Finance Department. ...

    “IBM is a gigantic company,” says Lee Conrad, an organizer with Alliance@IBM, a Communications Workers of America enterprise that purports to represent IBM workers. IBM does not recognize any union, including the CWA.

    “IBM has decided it can’t make any money selling its core products,” continues Conrad, “so it has to make money by getting companies to outsource services. They’ve been writing contracts for decades, and know how to get everything they need.”

    “They’ll run circles around Nova Scotia’s lawyers,” says another provincial employee.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Blue view vision plan" by "lastdino1". Full excerpt: Yesterday I went for my every other year eye exam and presented them with my Blue Vision card. They told me that this plan was not as good as last years but I would assume that considering IBM changed their plan. The plan only pays for $150 toward glasses and had a higher up front cost for the exam. They mentioned they didn't have any problems with the plan and usually were paid in a reasonable amount of time. So the net was $405 for new frames , lenses and the exam. I looked up my bill from 2 years ago and it was $70 cheaper for the same deal. Life is Great
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Blue view vision plan" by "ibmexe". Full excerpt: Luxottica, an Italian company, owns Lenscrafters and much, much more...see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luxottica.

    It also owns EyeMed another managed vision care company. Whether or not it "runs" Blue Vision -Anthem is open to question. Judging from the latters "network list" which includes Lenscrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears, Target etc which are all either owned outright by Luxottica (i.e. Lenscrafters and Pearle Vision) of partnered with Luxottica, "run" might actually be factual.

    Sixty minutes recently had a good segment on Luxottica which left the inescapable conclusion that this company was the primary "price maker" of vision wear throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

    Leslie Stahl interviewed the CEO and asked him what his US competition was...the only one he thought worthy to mention was Costco...nevertheless leaving the impression that Costco's market share was really not worth the bother.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Blue view vision plan" by "portsm1th". Full excerpt: According to the documentation, they pay considerably less in 2013. My figures show that I would get back in benefits almost exactly what I would pay for the Blue Vision coverage.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Blue view vision plan" by "divaberyl". Full excerpt: Agreed. They covered exams, for example, up to $1000 but next year it is much, much lower -- something like $30. I can't remember exactly but it is very low.

    I also agree that shopping around is smart. I have to leave my doctor because her office refuses to take Blue View. Not cool because I have very strange eyes and having a history with a doctor is better for me. Like Costco and most places, they still take VSP.

    (I hate that IBM has so much control over my health care.)

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • EPS trumps all” Former Employee. Pros: Great to be a shareholder. Good on resume. Great training. Smart people. Cons: People are afraid to leave, because IBM makes them think they are giving up something special. So, the best people are leaving and the average ones are staying. IBM used to have a strong culture and it's no more. Everything is moving off shore and even they are less happy than they used to be. First line managers, directors, and even VPs have zero empowerment. Quotas have no basis in reality. Less than 60% of sales are making their numbers. GBS is a joke - they have no business in core consulting, and can no longer compete in commodity offshore model. It's really just the way it is - all is forsaken for shareholder returns. I know 1000s of people there and I can only think of 1 or 2 who are happy - literally. Advice to Senior Management: Keep the promises to the street and returns to shareholders. It's your fiduciary responsibility as an officer, and it's all you'll have at the end of the day.
    • Massive company and resources, that unfortunately nobody seems to be able to leverage.” Current Project Executive in Markham, ON (Canada). Pros: - Vast amount of technical and non-technical resources; - Access to a large amount of on-line training (forget classroom due to budget cutbacks); - Location Flexibility (work at home, cottage, etc); - Fast paced company (if you like that kind of thing) and definitely looks good on your resume; - A wide variety of technical and non-technical jobs to find your niche.

      Cons: - Finance runs the company to the point of non-sensibility. - No value of staff or motivation to retain talent. Contractors are downright abused. - Matrix management (everyone is your manager) especially the 'profile holding' structure is horrid in terms of your annual performance rating (i.e. person rating you has no real direct involvement in your day-to-day activities); - Pay is terrible. No overtime pay for anyone; yet overtime is expected. This is true for pretty much all levels of full-time employees. Contractors are hired and forced time-off (furlough) regularly to meet finance directives. - Benefits are mediocre. - Offshoring of local resources is rapidly increasing to overseas Delivery Centers; there will be little onshore talent left unless IBM's customers specifically demand so.

      Advice to Senior Management: - Treat your employees with respect. Attract talent, not drive it away. - Respect and leverage the local resources *smartly* to reduce cost; rather than shipping everything overseas.

    • Do not work there more then a few years, any longer will hurt your career.” Former IT Analyst in Edmonton, AB (Canada). Pros: Work at home option, though that could be seen as a negative as could be working all hours of day and weekends.

      Cons: The pay was below market value, and either no raise, or 1 percent, well below inflation and cost of living. Bonus program not meaningful as well, so no incentive to exceed, as no reward in the end.

      Morale is terrible, the people are good, just don't care as the life has been taken out of them. Company does not seem willing to try to increase it either, even the smallest things might help, but management would never get it approved if they wanted.

      Too difficult to focus on work, as company throws too many road blocks at employees, smallest change requires a lot of paperwork and process to get through.

      Too many new processes coming in, which are not properly implemented and poor tools. Process owners do not even understand the processes they are implementing.

      Would not recommend to a person who wants a long term career with IBM, a few years is more then enough. Get some experience working on some projects or enterprise software and systems, and then move on. Anymore and you will be doing your career a disservice as no way to advance or even make enough to support your family over the long run.

      Advice to Senior Management: Care about your employees. I went to a new place, that cares, and makes the world of difference. Work way harder then I have in the last 5 or 6 years at IBM and I love it. Small things make the difference. Also reexamine your pay, as it is woefully low for technical people, and when the economy turns around, IBM might no longer be able to attract local people, as they struggle right now. Can't do everything from India.

    • One of the worst jobs I've had” Former Account Executive in San Francisco, CA. Pros: 1) IBM has name recognition. 2) IBM has a long history. Cons: Too many cons. 1) Dog eat dog environment. No team work or camaraderie. Everyone is out for themselves only. 2) Given accounts that have had little to any software sales in the past 5 years! Quota of $1750K and the history of the sales in these accounts for the past 5 years was under a million dollars! 3) Mgmt will never, ever support you. Dog eat dog. 4) The processes they have in place are so mind numbing, frustrating. Laptop problems arise on a weekly basis. Have to send it in to someplace across the country to have it fixed! Frustrating and not productive. 5) First line managers are basically baby sitters. Have zero power and are hired to be micro managers. They are on top of you every second. 6) No work/life balance. They expect you to work 12+ hours a day. They monitor you on SameTime. THE WORST ENVIRONMENT TO WORK IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Advice to Senior Management: GET OVER YOURSELF! Your are old school.
    • Not the company it used to be.” Current Tape Drive Test Engineer in San Jose, CA. Pros: Management is flexible with time off. Good work-life balance. Cons: No growth in the US, meaning no promotions and in a lot of cases no raises either. Pay is 1/3 less than rest of industry for similar position and years of experience. Management does not recognize or appreciate good work. Management bends over backwards for working mothers or anybody with young children. Advice to Senior Management: Stop being stingy with the 2+ ratings. You need to start promoting people and at least make an attempt to keep top talent.
    • The last 10 years have been very disappointing and the work not satisfying.” Current Engineer in New York, NY. Pros: IBM experience would help looking for a job with another company. Cons: IBM fails to make appropriate investments in assets at the risk of exposing customers to sub-standard facilities and/or risk for the services provided. Advice to Senior Management: Many in management have financial backgrounds only, without technical expertise in the area in which they work. Often required investments are not made. But when the problem gets to a much higher level, you are asked how does this happen. Then at the annual evaluation you are told you did not contribute enough, hence a reduced rating. By forcing lower evaluations, IBM does not feel you merit a raise. The work expectations for a single individual often exceed what one person can possibly do, often requiring people to work 60 hour work weeks.
    • Project Manager” Current Project Manager in Chicago, IL. Pros: Global, top tier consulting company with services, hardware, software and finances for all-inclusive offerings. Wide domains and opportunities. Cons: Size and glass ceiling at band 9. After exceeding the sales figures, it's all about "who you know racket" unwritten culture. This is reality in all consulting firms. Advice to Senior Management: Machine is too big to change. Once in a while, just weigh merit more than favoritism
    • A starting point for interns, but not a good place for a career” Current Advisory Software Engineer in Littleton, MA. Pros: Corporate programs for work flexibility, benefits, good learning place for interns Cons: Those corporate programs are not available to all, work load/targets are usually unrealistic, salary increases/bonus have not kept up with inflation for the last 10 years and show no signs of doing so going forward, no career progression in several areas after band 8 -- and the continual off shoring of jobs means you have no job security. Ratings are a quota system, not rating of performance. High level of employee burn-out under the current politics. Advice to Senior Management: LISTEN when we tell you what is feasible and what is not, treat employees as people instead of numbers on a spreadsheet, overhaul the rating and salary systems to actually rate people on their performance instead of a quota system and make sure salaries at least keep pace with inflation every year. Be honest and open about what is being done - in terms of work, methodologies, hiring, everything. Most of all, change the attitudes of management and executives to value employees instead of treating them as commodities
    • Give Your People a Break” Current IT Specialist in Glasgow, Scotland (United Kingdom). Pros: Looks good on your CV. Cons: Pay rises and almost non-existent - no inflation related increases, ever. PBC process (enormously bureaucratic performance review process) pits employees against each other - 10 to 15% or all employees will be designated as under performing every year no matter how hard everyone works. This is supposed to drive high performance but actually results in stressed employees and low morale across the company. Advice to Senior Management: Ditch PBC and get off your employees' backs. You have hired talented and motivated people - start trusting them to deliver and they will!
    • Great job, but no advancement opportunities or work-life balance” Former Employee in California City, CA. Pros: Colleagues are awesome, work content is challenging and interesting, ability to work at home, great interaction with clients, lots of potential to move around business units at the company. Cons: 20 hour work days and weekends are the norm for managers due to global team structure, expectations are total work overload, lack of work life balance, positions are not back-filled as promised, annual raises are pathetic or non-existent, requirements for advancement are ambiguous or poorly communicated, bottom line thinking prevails such that only sales related efforts are rewarded monetarily. Advice to Senior Management: Overall change to the career advancement mechanisms and "pool of money" compensation review processes and incentive structures; closer attention to team staffing models: global team concept versus healthy lifestyles for your employees
    • Outsource - Outsource - Outsource...” Former Employee. Pros: Great people, exciting working with people from so many other countries. Cons: Work-Life-Balance is a joke! Salary is not-not-not competitive and 50+ hours/week is an expected norm. Oh, and if you can work from home, expect your job to be outsourced. Advice to Senior Management: On-shore before it's too late
    • A great company that has gone bad...” Former Inside Sales Representative in Coppell, TX . Pros: Good name recognition. Good benefits and learning opportunities. Great people to work with. Cons: They are laying off people to help their stock price. I heard employee count will go from 100,000 to 30,000 over the next two years. Customers suffer because of lack of employee resources and services on their contract is bad. I got laid off by a manager. That manager was incompetent and laid off employees to cover that manager's weakness. That manager is still there. Managers can have affairs with their employees. It will be known by upper management, and those managers still work there. That is inexcusable. It seems if you are a manager, you are untouchable. I still have a lot of friends who work there and don't like it. They feel that they will eventually be laid off. Advice to Senior Management: Upper management needs to review how competent their managers are. By laying off more and more employees, the stock price will probably go up but customer service will suffer.
    • Pockets of great people, stifled by a cost-cutting culture that strives for mediocrity” Former Program Director in Austin, TX. Pros: - Great benefits; - Good mentoring options for most junior employees; - World travel. Cons: - Bulk of employees have a 'cog in the wheel' / 'not my problem' attitude; - Endless hours wasted in meetings -- including early and late; - Senior management only cares about cutting costs every quarter, no focus on innovation or 'playing to win'. Advice to Senior Management: If you don't start to focus on investing in areas that can produce great, marketing leading products you will continue to lose your good people and your great clients.
    • Outstanding Company - treating employees professionally” Former Account Manager in New York, NY. Pros: IBM institutes a philosophy for keeping its employees by offering them the opportunity to build career experience with the encouragement to move about the company. Overall this works well although one needs to also cast a wide net which can take quite a long time.

      Cons: My position pertained to selling the smarter commerce suite of applications which are well accepted in the market place. If you are a seasoned sales person and truly do not like to cold call then you will fail. IBM is NOT a marketing company and depends almost exclusively on each seller to build the field product buzz on their own. You have 12 month to do that and make your numbers before your accounts are thrown back into the hat and you start almost from 0.

      Advice to Senior Management: Spend the money on local marketing by providing your SBU executives with a budget that can give a shot in the arm to the sellers. This is 2013...IBM needs to wake up and understand that products just do not sell themselves any more...even if the have an IBM logo on them

    • Outstanding company with great career development opportunities” Former Senior Consultant in Denver, CO. Pros: IBM offers a wide-range of challenging work with many opportunities to shift laterally within the organization throughout your career. IBM is a great place to start a career because of the opportunity for recent graduates to work with Fortune 100 clients on high profile projects. The IBM culture is particularly collaborative as well. IBMers are generally very capable, smart individuals who work hard and are great colleagues. The best part of IBM are the IBMers who work there.

      Cons: Progression and promotions can be a bit slow. IBM is careful to avoid promoting people too quickly and uses a variety of controls to ensure that only those who are already performing at the next level get promoted. For young talent this may be a drawback because advancement seems to be encumbered by bureaucracy. However, IBM is working to streamline these processes to make career development more flexible.

      Advice to Senior Management: Continue streamlining HR processes (career development processes, specifically). Give first line managers more flexibility and power to keep top talent. IBM does a good job of keeping the workforce in the top 50-80th percentile, however the ability to keep the top 20% (at least in the consulting business) is limited. In my time with IBM the top 20% were more likely to leave. I attribute this to an inability or unwillingness to dynamically adjust pay, promotions, and career opportunities commensurate with performance. IBM relies too much on employee loyalty and its many other strong employer brand qualities, rather than offering market competitive pay.

    • A sinking ship” Current Advisory Software Engineer in Littleton, MA. Pros: The only reason I can think of working for IBM is the work/life balance. But the company is keeping layoff people and outsourcing jobs. So the workload is getting heavier every day. Cons: Low salary and worst benefits in the industry. Very political work environment. No career opportunities at all. Old technologies and not used in world outside. The only way to pop up company profit is to layoff and outsource. Advice to Senior Management – Treat your employees nice and don't think of them as slave and cost.
  • Alliance for Retired Americans: Friday Alert. This week's articles include:
    • Lame Duck Agenda Threatens Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
    • Alliance Speaker Adds Key Voice at Capitol Hill Press Conference
    • Want to Save Social Security and Medicare? Call Congress!
    • Connecticut Alliance’s Awards Luncheon Gets a Special Visitor
    • Did You Know…
  • Wall Street Journal: Apple Gives In to Employee Perks. CEO Tim Cook Pushes Employee-Friendly Benefits Long Shunned by Steve Jobs. By Jessica E. Lessin. Excerpts: When it comes to keeping employees happy, Apple Inc. appears to be taking some inspiration from Google Inc. Earlier this year, Apple told some employees about a new initiative called "Blue Sky" that allows a small group of staffers to spend a few weeks on a pet engineering project, according to three people told about the program.

    It is a more limited version of similar initiatives for hatching new ideas that have long existed in Silicon Valley. The most well-known of those is Google's "20% time," which allows employees to spend up to a fifth of their time on projects outside their normal responsibilities. ...

    When it comes to culture among technology companies, Apple is still an outlier. Its managers have long ignored standard Silicon Valley perks, such as free lunches, believing the opportunity to work at the company and on its popular products compelled people to stay.

  • AARP: Student Loans Crushing Hopes for Some Near Retirees. By Carole Fleck. Excerpts: Spiraling college tuition, and the student loan debt that typically accompanies it, are busting the retirement plans of millions of near-retirees. People 60-plus now hold the dubious distinction of being in the fastest-growing age group for college debt, according to The New York Times.

    In the first quarter of this year, some 2.2 student loan borrowers were age 60 and older, a three-fold increase from 2005. Together, they owed $43 billion in student loans. ...

    It isn’t clear how many retirees and near-retirees took out loans for their own education (perhaps returning to school for better job opportunities during the recession) or to pay for their children’s or grandchildren’s tuition. The government doesn’t track that information.

  • Wall Street Journal MarketWatch: What 30 years of 401(k) mistakes teach us. By Stace Hillbrant. Excerpts: I've been in the retirement plan industry since 1981, more than 30 years! I started my career with one of the industry's leading providers and record keepers for corporate defined benefit "pension" plans, like your grandfather had when he retired from working for the railroad for 50 years.

    In the early 80s, as we watched companies by the dozens start freezing and terminating these "pension" plans, it became clear to most of us that the newly minted "401(k) plans" were going to become the sole vehicle that the industry would count on to provide retirement security for millions of Americans. ...

    Most of us should be deferring/saving between 10% and 15% of earnings to be able to retire and live on 75%-80% of the income we were earning when we turned 65.

    Exceptions to this statement include situations where your parents/grandparents or rich uncle passed away and left you millions of dollars (good for you!). However, most American's don't inherit anything and save just a fraction of the amount necessary to afford themselves sufficient income in retirement to live comfortably. This is especially true when considering the tens of thousands of dollars that medical insurance and out of pocket costs add to this equation (Putnam Investments leads the industry in the research they've done in this area). Putnam Investments estimates these costs in retirement years to be in excess of $150,000.

  • Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch: Health-care bill in retirement: $240,000. How to budget for what Medicare doesn’t cover. By Elizabeth O'Brien. Excerpts: People planning for retirement tend to budget for the fun stuff, like cruises with grandkids or golf trips in the Sunbelt, and ignore the less fun stuff—especially the costs of post-retirement health care.

    And when boomers find out how much they’re likely to need to cover those medical costs—typically, about a quarter of a million dollars, the experts say—they might wish they hadn’t asked. “All those plans for cruises go out the window if you don’t have adequate coverage,” said Alexis Abramson, a New York based gerontology expert. But understanding what kinds of costs and calculations lie behind that number can make it less intimidating, and help you prepare.

    Fidelity Investments, which oversees some 12 million 401(k) accounts, has been a bellwether in setting expectations on this topic. This spring, for example, it released a study saying that an average 65-year-old couple retiring in 2012 would need to have saved up $240,000 to pay for out-of-pocket health-care costs in retirement.

    And that’s $240,000 in today’s dollars, so a couple retiring in 10 years would need the inflated-adjusted equivalent in the year 2022. (In its 11 years of doing this study, Fidelity has found the rate of health-care inflation to average 6% per year; assuming that rate stayed constant, a 2022 retiree would need about $430,000 set aside.) ...

    In fact, of all the money spent on health care for people 65 and over, Medicare accounts for just 59%, according to an EBRI analysis of actual expenditures; out-of-pocket spending covered 13% and private insurance paid for 14% (the rest was covered by Medicaid and other sources). ...

    Fidelity’s study also assumes that the couple doesn’t have any employer retiree health benefits—these still exist, especially among the largest companies—and that the man lives to age 82 and the woman to age 85. Here’s a breakdown of where their $240,000 goes: 32% goes to premiums for Medicare Parts B & D, which cover doctor visits and drugs, respectively; 23% goes to prescription drugs expenses not covered by Medicare Part D; and 45% goes toward Medicare cost-sharing provisions, including copayments, deductibles, other services not covered by Medicare, and any optional Medigap policies purchased.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
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  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 11/08/12: Boulder Colorado, I was let go, layoff. All contractors in department told to take 8 furlough days over coming weeks. -anonymous-
    • Comment 11/09/12: IBM just announced that Canada's first and only Global Delivery Facility will open in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Wonder how soon before the present IBM employees spread across country are asked to move or lose jobs? -cdn ibmer-
    • Comment 11/10/12: Something to support the rumor of an RA around 11/30... my manager told his team to have their PBC input in no later than 11/16. Per history for PBCs, I expect ratings have already been decided, but our input is needed to finalize the PBC process. Then the PBC results can be used to support the RA. What is interesting about this other than the early timing (before this I was never asked for my PBC input before January), my manager made a point of telling his team we will be evaluated mainly on our attainment of our annual sales targets... with the last seven weeks of the year still to go, and those are typically the biggest of the year, revenue-wise. I expect many people being evaluated will be far short of their revenue targets at this point in the year--as I am--easier to justify a low rating. Will be interesting to see if my big November-December pipeline of business enters into the discussion. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/10/12: Nova Scotia outsourcing to IBM. IBM pays their SAP workers $30,000 a year in Dubuque, Iowa. I bet the that's much less than than Nova Scotia's govt was paying. The support will be horrible. IBM Dubuque basically hires people off the street with little to no experience in anything and expects the subject matter experts to get them up to speed. Customer suffers, but they signed the contract with IBM so now they are stuck for now. -lowballed-
    • Comment 11/10/12: Avantor also called IBM's consultants "incompetent and inexperienced". What did Avantor think? That you could find experienced SAP programmers for $30k a year? I get paid weakly, very weakly. -toldyaso-
    • Comment 11/13/12: I work for a big contract US based. My team was also asked, and then a "friendly reminder" to complete our PBC by the 16th. I do not recall ever being asked this early prior to y/e. Bring it on Big Blew. Let me go already...sick of this chit every time around the holidays. We are supposed to be enjoying this time with our family as year-end closes and we look back and enjoy all of the benefits of the hard work all year. I guess this is a thing of the past, huh? The dismal roadmap to 2015 will never be achieved. They need to bring in some new TOP management to fix this mess created by greed. Can't last too much longer. The bottom will fall out. Who will the first lines manage if they continue cutting US folks. I personally don't need a manager. He does nothing for me. I manage myself. Do they exist just to ask us to complete PBC's and all of the CYA garbage we are asked to "sign"...? -RottenInDenmark-
    • Comment 11/13/12: Lots of 'emergency' firings due to fraudulent expense reports. If you get an invitation to a one-one meeting with your Director...be afraid!! You'll have no recourse either, no 'here's my side' to the story. You're out the door that day. Join the Union and get a voice. -Ibmblows-
    • Comment 11/14/12: ibmblows: Sounds like another way IBM management does a "drive by" firing or pruning without an RA. IBM management basically tells everyone to lie on their ILC or TOTALS labor reporting. So now they are getting petty on expense accounts? Do you get severance or are fired with cause? -anonymous-
    • Comment 11/15/12: Checking in with former IBM colleagues and received confirmation re: Thanksgiving RAs. Hitting consultant-level (80%), mid-management (10%); upper management RRA (Resource reassignment Action) remaining 10%. Guestimated number for US locations - 10 - 15,000, depending on the RRA acceptance rate. Was RAd back in March and couldn't be happier - sold stock while it was high, fortunate to have more robust RA package. For those who plan to stay with Ginny's Blue Machine - unionize, or get your resumes updated. Best of luck to everyone. -NoLongerBlue- Alliance reply: If these job cuts do happen, we need everyone to send us information and RA packs to ibmunionalliance@gmail.com. IBM doesn't inform the media or our communities, the Alliance does.
    • Comment 11/15/12: NoLongerBlue, wouldn't be at all surprised if there are RA's at EOM. I figured they were holding off until after the election. I just anticipated that they would restart them in January, 2013 to avoid the obvious. Sadly, they'll do all they can to accomplish Roadkill 2015. -Former IBM-
    • Comment 11/15/12: No severance, a check mark in the 'not eligible to be rehired' box and immediate revoking of your system access. I've seen consistent 1 performers get fired this way. Somewhere in IBM there must be a very aggressive team researching this; 3 employees just recently were ousted. -ibmblows-
    • Comment 11/16/12: In IBM if you don't grow an extra set of b***s then grow another set of eyes behind you head. You gotta watch your back constantly in this Big Blew. IBM are out to take out as many resources they can for whatever reason, petty or not. Hopefully you are not made a turkey roadkill this holiday season. Please unionize soon. -gobbled-
    • Comment 11/17/12: Profit before patient care, IBM again layoff workers at Kaiser Health care for profit, thinking the India sources can pick up the slack when the customer has ask for America works to perform major health care changes not the India staff. Orders to not work overtime and furlough the staff. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 11/18/12: In an area on the East Coast, Sub-Ks are being asked to furlough one day a week. Managers are also being asked (forced) to PBC full-timers with a 3 to justify RA. Not all full-timers, but upper management wants to see a couple of PBC 3s. -GinniRomettyLooksLikeNurseRatched-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
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  • Ventura County Star: A five-year slide has pushed employers, long the dominant health insurance provider in California, into minority status. Less than half of employers offer coverage. By Tom Kisken. Excerpts: A five-year slide has pushed employers, long the dominant health insurance provider in California, into minority status. For the first time since at least 2001, and likely much longer, less than half of Californians younger than 65 received coverage through their own or a family member's employer in 2011.

    The news comes from a UCLA study released in late October, just before employers begin to unveil their 2013 coverage offerings to workers with the now routine trends of rising costs or reduced benefits.

    "The job-based system has reached its limit," said Shana Alex Lavarreda, director of health insurance studies at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. ...

    At a Ventura County job and career center where people searched online for job leads, conversations settled on the cost of health insurance. A woman with a job said she went on extended disability and ended up on Medi-Cal because she couldn't afford the premiums.

  • Washington Post: Michelle Andrews weighs the benefits of high-deductible health plans. Excerpts: Alison Mitisek was at a Denver pediatrician’s office with her 15-month-old son last August when she passed out. The doctor’s office staff called an ambulance, which rushed her to a nearby emergency department.

    Doctors were not able to determine why Mitisek, a 30-year-old schoolteacher, lost consciousness. Still, the bills for the ambulance and the diagnostic testing and other care came to $5,800. Mitisek’s group health plan had a $5,600 annual deductible, on which she and her husband, Mark, had already paid $800. Their share of the $5,800 bill before their insurance kicked in was $4,800.

    In general, the higher a health plan’s deductible, the lower the premium. “Taking that gamble is appealing,” Mark Mitisek says of the choice to pay lower premiums and hope to avoid needing pricey medical care. “But when you lose the gamble and you’re stuck with that expense, it makes you think twice.”

    “People get caught all the time,” says Martin Rosen, co-founder of Health Advocate, a company that helps consumers resolve medical billing problems and provides support for health-care decisions. “If you come from a traditional health plan and you paid a flat $100 co-pay for a visit to the emergency room, the assumption is that you’re going to pay the same in a high-deductible plan.” ...

    “When people are considering a high-deductible plan, I always say, ‘Could you come up with the whole deductible all at one time?’” says Amelia Haviland, an associate professor of statistics and health policy at Carnegie Mellon University who has published studies on the effect of high-deductible health plans on health-care spending. “If it’s going to keep you from going to the emergency department when you really need to go, don’t choose that plan.” ...

    Proponents of high-deductible health plans say that requiring consumers to pay a larger share of their own health-care costs helps reduce spending on unnecessary care. But the Rand study and others have found that when people have to pay more out of pocket for their care, they also skimp on care they need, such as preventive cancer screenings.

  • Physicians for a National Health Program: Real Danger of “Obamacare”: Insurance Company Takeover of Health Care. By Nomi Prins. Excerpts: Election rhetoric shuns the big picture in favor of the bigger platitude. Now that The Show is over, we are left with the equivalent of a Sunday morning hangover following a binge of promises and lies. We leave the theatre of political spectacle on steroids for the real world of unstable economy, a globally and publicly subsidized financial sector, and increased costs of living on everything from food to education to health-care; outpacing declining median incomes. The average cost for health insurance for a family is $15,745 per year vs. a median income of $50,502, or about half post-tax take-home pay. ...

    The Tea-Party Conservative types get it embarrassingly wrong when they call it a “government takeover of health care.” Likewise, Progressive Obama-supporters are deluded in accepting it as the most sweeping healthcare reform since Medicare. (Side note: I wish the word ‘sweeping’ could be retired from politics until it actually means -sweeping.)

    Here’s why. The PPACA does nothing to restructure the health insurance industry, anymore than the Dodd-Frank Act restructures the banking industry. This means everything else it attempts to do, positive or negative, will be vastly overshadowed by an industry accelerating to morph itself into a acquisition machine in order to circumvent anything that even smells like a restriction, including laws that exist and ones to come.

    How? By doing the same thing energy and telecom companies did after they were deregulated in 1996, and that banks did after they were summarily deregulated (after moving that way for decades) in 1999. They are merging, consolidating, eliminating competitors, and controlling their domain. They are manufacturing power.

    Investment bankers are roaming the world to exploit this hot new opportunity. That’s one reason insurance companies don’t even call themselves that anymore. Now, they are ‘managed health care’ companies. Call yourself a managed health care company, and you can buy everything from other insurance companies to hospitals to clinics to doctors. The more consolidation, the more fees bankers rake in, and the more premiums and medical reimbursements and health care procedures, each company can control. ...

    You know who else is similarly too big to fail? The insurance industry. UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer covers 50% of the insurable population in over 30 states. Blue Cross-Blue Shield, covers 100 million people through a constellation of 38 sub-companies. They, and other insurance companies are growing in breadth. When companies consolidate, the result is less transparency, less competition, and more possibility for fraud and shady behavior. Every. Single. Time.

  • Huffington Post: Get Ready to Get Spun -- Again -- By Masters of Spin. By Wendell Potter. Excerpts: Health insurers invested a lot of what you paid them in premiums in an effort to get more of their friends elected to Congress. As the Center for Public Integrity reported last month, the political action committees of the 11 largest health insurers and their biggest trade group -- America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) -- gave $10.2 million to federal politicians between January 2007 and August 2012. Most of that money went to Republicans who pledged to repeal or gut the Affordable Care Act.

    The return on that investment was not so good. But that doesn't mean insurers have come to accept that Obamacare must be implemented as Congress intended. On the contrary, even more of your premium dollars are about to be spent on a propaganda campaign to get the law changed to protect profits.

    Even as insurers were helping to bankroll their friends' campaigns they were publicly expressing support for the reform law. AHIP president Karen Ignagni said in April 2010, a month after the president signed the Affordable Care Act, that her group was "strongly committed" to its "successful implementation."

    What she really meant is that insurers were committed to the parts of the law they like -- such as one that requires us to buy coverage from them -- but not so much to the ones that might negatively impact their bottom lines. Like those that will end the abusive practices that have enabled them to pad those bottom lines.

    When Ignagni and insurance company executives speak, it is important to parse their words to understand what they are really saying. That's just as true now as it was in 2010. ...

    One of the most important consumer protections in Obamacare prohibits insurers from charging older people more than three times as much as younger people. Insurance company lobbyists have persuaded many state lawmakers to allow them to charge older folks five times as much as younger folks, and some states have no restrictions at all. As a result, many Americans in their 40s, 50s and early 60s can't possibly afford coverage.

    Insurers have no problem with that. As we age, we have greater need for medical care, and insurers would rather not have to pay for it. They much prefer to sell skimpy policies with relatively low premiums to young people who are less likely to get sick.

  • Huffington Post: Papa John's Obamacare Costs Are Far Less Than Price Of Free Pizza Giveaway. By Jillian Berman. Excerpts: News flash to Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter: Obamacare isn’t the only thing costing your business money.

    The pizza chain head has made his views on the Affordable Care Act clear in recent months, claiming the new health care law will cost his business about $5 to $8 million per year. To compensate Schnatter's said he will likely raise pizza prices and cut back some workers’ hours so he doesn’t have to insure them.

    Caleb Melby of Forbes has graciously done the math on Obamacare’s cost to Papa John’s and according to his analysis, to cover the cost of Obamacare, the pizza chain would have to raise prices by 3.4 to 4.6 cents per pie -- way less than the 11 to 14 cents Schnatter claims he needs. ...

    We're guessing Obamacare won't impact life at Schnatter's lavish home, a 40,000 square-foot mansion in a tony suburb of Louisville, Kentucky, that features several swimming pools, a private golf course and a 22-car garage among other amenities, according to CelebrityNetworth.com.

  • New York Times: Rising Out-of-Pocket Health Costs. By Ann Carrns. Excerpts: I looked over some medical statements recently and realized that even though my family had spent roughly $3,000 out of pocket for health care this year, we would still fail to meet our annual deductible.

    We’re not alone. Workers who get health insurance through their employers have seen the average deductible nearly double over the last six years, a new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds.

  • Los Angeles Times, courtesy of Physicians for a National Health Program: Patient trapped in health insurance rate hike. A patient's move from one Southern California community to another nearby triggers a 25% rate hike by Anthem Blue Cross despite no change in her care. By David Lazarus. Excerpts: It's understandable that car insurance rates can change when you move. One neighborhood might have more accidents or burglaries than another.

    But health insurance?

    Joan Swope, 62, moved recently from Cathedral City, just down the road from Palm Springs, to nearby Palm Desert.

    She informed her insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, of the change of address. A few weeks later, Anthem responded with a notice stating that, because of the move, Swope's monthly premium on her individual policy will increase to $524 from $418.

    That's a more than 25% rate hike. For a move of less than 10 miles.

    "It's ridiculous," Swope told me. "I'm going to the same doctor. I'm going to the same facilities and the same drugstore. Nothing has changed."

    Nothing except her ZIP Code. And in the actuarial world of insurance, that's a sufficiently life-altering event to justify an extra $1,272 in annual payments — on top of a $5,000 deductible.

  • Employee Benefits News: Survey: Health care inflation hits 15-year low. Excerpts: Expansion of consumer-directed health plans and investment in health management programs produced the lowest average annual employer cost increase since 1997, according to the National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, conducted annually by Mercer.

    Growth in the average total health benefit cost per employee slowed from 6.1% last year to just 4.1% in 2012. Cost averaged $10,558 per employee in 2012. Large employers – those with 500 or more employees – experienced both a higher increase (5.4%) and higher average cost.

  • Washington Post: AARP uses its power to oppose Social Security, Medicare benefit cuts for retirees. By Michael A. Fletcher and Zachary A. Goldfarb. Excerpts: AARP, the lobbying powerhouse for older Americans, last year made a dramatic concession. Amid a national debate over whether to overhaul Social Security, the group said for the first time it was open to cuts in benefits.

    The backlash from AARP members and liberal groups that oppose changes in the program was enormous — and this time around, as Washington debates how to tame the ballooning federal debt, AARP is flatly opposed to any benefit reductions for the nation’s retirees. ...

    Republicans say scaling back Social Security and Medicare, the largest drivers of future government deficits, is necessary. President Obama has previously been open to benefit cuts.

    But for lawmakers who would have to vote for such changes, AARP’s 37 million members and $1.3 billion budget are a force to be reckoned with. In the past eight months, AARP has sponsored a series of candidate debates, run television ads, circulated questionnaires and held more than 4,000 meetings around the country to mobilize its legion of supporters to oppose any cuts.

    Under the slogan “You’ve earned a say,” the group has been building opposition to entitlement changes. A recent poll by the organization found that 70 percent of Americans 50 and older think Medicare and Social Security shouldn’t be part of the upcoming fiscal debate. ...

    AARP opposes raising the age for Medicare eligibility on the grounds that it would increase costs for younger seniors while driving up premium costs for older ones. The group opposes efforts to shrink Social Security cost-of-living increases, which it says would cost older seniors thousands of dollars in benefits. ...

    “You have people in their 40s and 50s who are cascading toward a terrible retirement,” said Eric Kingson, a Syracuse University professor who co-chairs Strengthen Social Security, a coalition that has joined AARP, organized labor and others in opposing any benefit cuts in the program. ...

    LeaMond, AARP’s top lobbyist now, said that Medicare savings can be found by slowing the growth in health-care costs and that Social Security can be strengthened without cutting benefits, though she did not say how. She said AARP members care deeply about the long-term solvency of the programs even if they don’t want to bear the brunt of the cost of fixing them.

    “If the critics spend anytime with our members, you cannot help but be struck by their powerful sense of legacy,” she said. “They want to leave Medicare and Social Security as strong for their kids and grandkids as for them.”

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: Let’s Not Make a Deal. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: Even though preliminary estimates suggest that Democrats received somewhat more votes than Republicans in Congressional elections, the G.O.P. retains solid control of the House thanks to extreme gerrymandering by courts and Republican-controlled state governments. And Representative John Boehner, the speaker of the House, wasted no time in declaring that his party remains as intransigent as ever, utterly opposed to any rise in tax rates even as it whines about the size of the deficit.

    So President Obama has to make a decision, almost immediately, about how to deal with continuing Republican obstruction. How far should he go in accommodating the G.O.P.’s demands? ...

    Because Republicans are trying, for the third time since he took office, to use economic blackmail to achieve a goal they lack the votes to achieve through the normal legislative process. In particular, they want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, even though the nation can’t afford to make those tax cuts permanent and the public believes that taxes on the rich should go up — and they’re threatening to block any deal on anything else unless they get their way. So they are, in effect, threatening to tank the economy unless their demands are met.

    Mr. Obama essentially surrendered in the face of similar tactics at the end of 2010, extending low taxes on the rich for two more years. He made significant concessions again in 2011, when Republicans threatened to create financial chaos by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. And the current potential crisis is the legacy of those past concessions.

    Well, this has to stop — unless we want hostage-taking, the threat of making the nation ungovernable, to become a standard part of our political process. ...

    Meanwhile, the president is in a far stronger position than in previous confrontations. I don’t place much stock in talk of “mandates,” but Mr. Obama did win re-election with a populist campaign, so he can plausibly claim that Republicans are defying the will of the American people. And he just won his big election and is, therefore, far better placed than before to weather any political blowback from economic troubles — especially when it would be so obvious that these troubles were being deliberately inflicted by the G.O.P. in a last-ditch attempt to defend the privileges of the 1 percent.

  • The Smirking Chimp: Congrats Mr. President, Now Please Protect Our Social Security. By Cliff Schecter. Excerpts: President Obama won on Tuesday with a coalition of the future. Not only did he have the support of younger voters, Asians, African Americans, women, Latinos, moderates, union members and city dwellers and suburbanites alike, he got the support of those who think we should be expanding, not contracting our social compact.

    So let's begin with this so-called "Grand" Bargain, and when I say "begin," take that as "keep the government's hands off of our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," if you get my drift. There is no crisis. Let's try it again together: there is no crisis. No fiscal cliff or whatever the buzzwords are in the Beltway today.

    The rather slight budgetary issues can be fixed in the blink of an eye, by addressing real problems such as our lack of revenue and propensity for wasting money on things to go BOOM that the military doesn't even want.

  • Washington Post: House Democrats got more votes than House Republicans. Yet Boehner says he’s got a mandate? By Ezra Klein. Excerpts: The political-science evidence is clear on this: There’s no such thing as an election mandate. There’s only what a president is able to get done with the Congress the American people gave him.

    But few politicians agree. And so the days and weeks after elections are heavy with arguments about who has a mandate, and for what. The latest debate is about whether President Obama, who ran a campaign explicitly promising to raise taxes on high earners and who beat a candidate explicitly promising to refuse any and all tax increases, has a mandate to raise taxes.

    Speaker John Boehner says he doesn’t. “Listen, our majority is going to get reelected,” he said the day before the election. “We’ll have as much of a mandate as he [President Obama] will … to not raise taxes.”

    Boehner’s logic is, on its face, sound. House Republicans have been as clear in their opposition to new taxes on the rich as Obama has been in his support for them. And House Republicans were reelected. They have as much right to claim a popular mandate as the president does.

    Or they would if they’d actually won more votes. But they didn’t. House Republicans did the equivalent of winning the electoral college while losing the popular vote. ...

    What saved Boehner’s majority wasn’t the will of the people but the power of redistricting. As my colleague Dylan Matthews showed, Republicans used their control over the redistricting process to great effect, packing Democrats into tighter and tighter districts and managing to restructure races so even a slight loss for Republicans in the popular vote still meant a healthy majority in the House.

    That’s a neat trick, but it’s not a popular mandate, or anything near to it — and Boehner knows it. That’s why his first move after the election was to announce, in a vague-but-important statement, that he was open to some kind of compromise on taxes.

  • Washington Post opinion: Obama shouldn’t back down. By E.J. Dionne Jr. Excerpts: It is said after every election that the victors should put politics aside and work for the good of the country. If President Obama believed this pious nonsense, he would put his second term in jeopardy. Asking politicians to ignore politics is like insisting that professional hockey players switch to basketball. In a system with national elections every two years — and in which the two parties are in relatively close balance — politics never disappears.

    Fortunately, the president knows foolishness when he sees it. He has been toughened by four years of unremitting Republican opposition and has behind him both a large electoral college victory and an advantage of about 3 million popular votes. The word “mandate” is overused — just ask George W. Bush. But Obama was absolutely clear during the campaign about his insistence that taxes on better-off Americans need to rise as part of any deal on the budget deficit and “fiscal cliff.” ...

    The voters clearly heard what Obama was saying during the campaign. According to the media exit poll, only 35 percent of voters said taxes should not be increased. Fully 47 percent of all voters supported raising taxes on Americans earning $250,000 or more, including 66 percent of Obama’s voters. An additional 13 percent, of all voters and Obama’s, said taxes should go up for everyone.

    If Republican leaders in Congress want to pretend that Obama’s reelection means absolutely nothing, the president seems willing to let all the Bush tax cuts expire. This is the only way to deal with recalcitrance, reflected in the fact that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t even let the president make his case on Friday before issuing a flat statement rejecting any tax increases. Obama can only hope that he can break more reasonable Senate Republicans away from their hard-line leadership. ...

    Boehner made clear that preserving low tax rates for the rich remains the GOP’s single highest priority. The speaker said he might support new revenue but only through some vague “tax reform.” But that’s what Mitt Romney offered during the campaign. Boehner is saying he will make a deal with the victorious candidate only on the basis of the program of the defeated candidate. Here’s hoping this is just a bargaining position.

  • Washington Post: Liberal groups mobilize for ‘fiscal cliff’ fight over Social Security, Medicare. By Zachary A. Goldfarb. Excerpts: Leaders of the nation’s labor unions and other liberal groups are planning Tuesday to press Obama at the White House to reject the kind of cuts in Medicare and Social Security that he has previously offered to make. On Thursday, left-leaning lawmakers and seniors groups plan to rally on Capitol Hill against any changes to entitlements. ...

    “We will make it very clear we will not be supportive of cuts to Medicare and Social Security,” said Sen. Bernard Sanders (Vt.), an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. “It would be a huge shock and disappointment if the president forgot the reality that he just won a major victory.” ...

    “We will give the president and his allies in Congress all the support and cover in the world in the fight for no more tax cuts for the rich. That includes, in particular, supporting the president’s position that it’s better to negotiate past December 31st than do a deal that’s bad for the country,” said a top labor official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment ahead of Tuesday’s meeting. “On the other hand, the answer for those who want to cut social insurance benefits in an economic crisis and increase economic insecurity is, ‘Hell, no.’ ”

  • AlterNet: Danger Ahead: The Oligarchs Don't Understand That Economic Collapse Happens When They Get All the Money. The corporate masters seem to have forgotten they depend on working people for their own survival. By Thom Hartmann, Sam Sacks. Excerpts: Let’s face it, if your opponent in Monopoly scoops up Boardwalk, Park Place, North Carolina Avenue, Pacific Avenue, both utilities, and the four railroads – that’s game over. The other players, all of whom have been relegated to mere consumers instead of property owners, will slowly go bankrupt having to pay higher and higher costs for rent and services, utilities, and transportation. Eventually, one player has all the money and the losers have to clean up the board game and put it away.

    But let’s assume the Monopoly game doesn’t end there. Let’s assume the broke players keep rolling the dice and keep going around the board. They essentially keep living their lives desperate and broke, using their credit cards and home lines of credit to stay in the game. Maybe they end up in jail. If they’re lucky, they land on Baltic Avenue and can afford to stay a night in the slums.

    Meanwhile, the oligarch who owns everything can no longer collect any income. The other players can’t afford to pay rent, they can’t pay utilities, and they can’t ride on the railroads. Eventually, without consumers spending money, the Monopoly oligarch goes broke, too. His properties and businesses disappear and suddenly everyone is broke!

    That’s what Monopoly’s version of economic collapse looks like. And it’s very similar to what global economic collapse in the real world looks like, too.

    Now put the Monopoly game board away and consider this: Researchers in Zurich, Switzerland have found that there are roughly 43,000 transnational corporations that dominate the global economy. Of those, there are about 1,300 companies that control 80% of all the global revenues for all the transnational corporations on the planet. Now let’s take it a step further. Of those 1,300 core companies, only 147 companies, which all happen to own each other in some way, control 40% - or nearly half – of all the wealth in the entire transnational corporate network. That means 1% of transnationals own 40% of all the world’s business wealth.

    In other words, the global 1% has its own 1%. ...

    Right now, you can count the number of banks that own half of all the wealth in the U.S. economy on just one hand. There are just five of them and they are the usual suspects: Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citigroup. Their total assets equal 8.5 trillion, which is 56% of our entire economy.

  • New York Times op-ed: Life Expectancy of the Living Dead. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: Regular readers know that a lot of this blog’s time is spent on intellectual zombies — beliefs and concepts that have been killed by evidence but that keep shambling forward nonetheless, trying to eat our brains. And now that talk has turned once again to Grand Bargains and all that, I see that we’re once again seeing the Social Security/life expectancy zombie: we live longer, so shouldn’t retirement wait?

    What you need to know:

    1. The relevant life expectancy is life expectancy at or near retirement age. Falling infant mortality doesn’t make a case for delaying Social Security — and that’s important, because gains have been much less striking at age 65 than at birth.
    2. Gains in life expectancy have been very strongly correlated with income and class; those with lower incomes and lower status — the very people who depend most on Social Security — have seen very small gains in life expectancy: ...
    3. The retirement age has already been increased: the Greenspan Commission of the early 80s set it in motion, so that it’s now 66 and scheduled to rise to 67, essentially consuming all of the life expectancy gains of the bottom 50 percent.
    4. The alleged wise men of DC don’t know any of this. When Ryan Grim tried to ask Alan Simpson about it, Simpson replied by denying the facts, attacking the interviewer, and insulting the AARP.
  • New York Times editorial: A New Chance for the Senate. Excerpts: In May, Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, was furious at yet another obstructionist filibuster by Senate Republicans. He admitted then that he was wrong in 2011 not to change the Senate’s rules when he had a chance.

    “These two young, fine senators said it was time to change the rules of the Senate, and we didn’t,” he said, referring to Tom Udall of New Mexico and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, who came up with a plan to reduce filibuster abuse that he rejected. “They were right. The rest of us were wrong, or most of us, anyway. What a shame.”

    It was a shame, a missed opportunity that helped give Republicans a big cudgel over the last two years. But now Mr. Reid has a chance to rectify that mistake. In January, at the beginning of the next session of the United States Senate, Democrats can vastly improve the efficiency of Congress and reduce filibuster abuse with a simple-majority vote. This time they need to seize the moment.

    The filibuster’s importance is as a last-ditch ploy to prevent a minority party from being steamrolled on the most pressing national issues. It was never intended to routinely require a 60-vote supermajority on virtually every issue the Senate takes up. Yet that’s how Republicans have used it in the last six years, to a far greater extent than Democrats ever did when they were in the minority.

  • Washington Post: The Confederacy of Takers. By Dana Milbank. Excerpts: President Obama’s opponents have unwittingly come up with a brilliant plan to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” They want to secede from the union.

    If Obama were serious about being a good steward of the nation’s finances, he’d let them. ...

    And so a large number of patriotic Americans, mostly from states won by Mitt Romney last week, have petitioned the White House to let them secede. They should be careful about what they wish for. It would be excellent financial news for those of us left behind if Obama were to grant a number of the rebel states their wish “to withdraw from the United States and create [their] own NEW government” (the petitions emphasize “new” by capitalizing it).

    Red states receive, on average, far more from the federal government in expenditures than they pay in taxes. The balance is the opposite in blue states. The secession petitions, therefore, give the opportunity to create what would be, in a fiscal sense, a far more perfect union.

    Among those states with large numbers of petitioners asking out: Louisiana (more than 28,000 signatures at midday Tuesday), which gets about $1.45 in federal largess for every $1 it pays in taxes; Alabama (more than 20,000 signatures), which takes $1.71 for every $1 it puts in; South Carolina (26,000), which takes $1.38 for its dollar; and Missouri (22,000), which takes $1.29 for its dollar.

    Since the effort gained attention this week, copycats in all but a few states have joined the petition drive. To be fair, White House officials could refuse the secession petitions of states Obama won, such as New York (which gets only 79 cents on its tax dollar), Michigan (85 cents) and Colorado (79 cents). ...

    Of course, secession isn’t as easy or as painless as an electronic petition, and Obama couldn’t offer a redress of these petitioners’ grievances even if he wanted to. Nor should he want to: The Union of the Makers would be fiscally healthy but spiritually poor without the Confederacy of the Takers.

    Yet would-be rebels from the red states should keep in mind during the coming budget battle that those who are most ardent about cutting government spending tend to come from parts of the country that most rely on it.

  • The Smirking Chimp: Why the Grand Bargain Is One-Sided and Totally Unfair. By Cenk Uygur. Excerpts: First of all, let's establish that no one in Washington actually cares about balancing the budget. If they did, they would love this so-called Fiscal Cliff. It raises taxes and cuts spending, so it would massively reduce the deficit. Isn't that what all of Washington has been pretending to care about all of this time?

    Second, understand that this so-called compromise they are talking about in order to avoid this supposed calamity is a trick. In fact, it'll be the greatest robbery in American history. Think about it -- they say they are worried about all those tax increases and spending cuts. But that's not true. The Grand Bargain would dramatically increase spending cuts, not alleviate them. So, in fact, the only thing they care about is paying less taxes, as always.

    Right now, according to the sequester $1.2 trillion in spending cuts are set to take place if nothing happens. Half of that would come from defense. Of course, this is the real problem because there's no way the defense contractors are going to allow that. Whenever people in Washington complain about spending cuts they mean spending cuts that would affect defense contractors. They want to massively increase spending cuts everywhere else in the budget.

  • New York Times opinion: The Moocher Majority. By Paul Kruger. Excerpts: Lots of people having fun with Mitt Romney’s post-election diagnosis, which is that President Obama played dirty: he won peoples’ votes by — horrors — actually making their lives better:

    “With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

    The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.

    “You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

    Gosh. People who will have health insurance under Obama but would have lost it under Romney voted for Obama. What’s wrong with those people?

    But as many commentators have pointed out, Romney was just encapsulating the prevalent worldview on the right. Some of us see an increasingly, radically unequal America, with rising inequality actually reinforced by public policy, with tax rates on the rich lower than they have been in many decades and the overall redistributive effect of government down substantially since the 1970s. But the right sees an entitlement epidemic, in which the big problem is that too many people are getting free stuff.

  • New York Times opinion: Romney Blames Loss on Obama ‘Gifts’. By Andrew Rosenthal. Excerpts: Now we know that Mitt Romney did not “misspeak” when he whined to a big-money crowd that 47 percent of Americans mooch off government and “believe they are victims.” He meant precisely what he said.

    In a post-mortem call with his biggest donors on Wednesday, Mr. Romney said his team ran a “superb” campaign with “no drama” (well, yes, it was a pretty dull campaign) and that he lost because President Obama showered voters with “gifts.” By voters he meant black, Hispanic, female and young voters. And by “gifts,” he meant government money that is not spent on tax breaks and other incentives for big companies and rich people.

    He said Mr. Obama motivated young voters by keeping student-loan interest rates low and by extending dependent health insurance coverage to age 26. According to the Times account of the call, Mr. Romney said Mr. Obama’s health care plan also mobilized African-American and Hispanic voters. “You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family in perpetuity, I mean this is huge,” Mr. Romney said.

    He is right. It is huge. A hugely overdue and hugely necessary reform of a system that has left Americans at the bottom of the economic ladder with emergency rooms as their source of medical care. How crafty of Mr. Obama to pretend that he was governing when what he was really doing was handing out “gifts” in exchange for votes. ...

    Mr. Romney is so irrelevant now that’s it tempting to let his comments gather dust on the remainder table of history. But I thought a few points were worth making. First, none of these examples qualify as actual gifts. Some, like keeping interest rates low on student debt, are smart investments to help young people succeed and become – yes, taxpayers. Others, like health care reform, require Americans to spend money (on insurance, or pay a penalty).

    I guess Mr. Romney would not consider oil subsidies a gift. Or a tax system that allows him to pay a 14 percent tax rate. Or his proposal to build warships and warplanes and other fancy hardware that the military doesn’t want or need.

  • The Smirking Chimp: The "Fiscal Cliff" Is a Hoax ... and a Mel Brooks Routine. By Richard Eskow. Excerpts: Viewers of MSNBC know that progressives like Chris Hayes and Lawrence O'Donnell are dutifully trying to remove the word "cliff" from the nomenclature, since the effects of this law would be gradual -- more like a "slope," as they said the other night. They're right about the "slope" part.

    But it's a tactical mistake to even engage in this kind of discussion, because there's really no "slope" either. There's just a law.

    John Boehner's law.

    Sure, the President agreed to that law as part of a deal to settle deficit talks last year. At the time the Republicans were about to shut down the entire government. The GOP forced this law into existence.

    That means the "fiscal cliff" is theirs. They own it

    Anyone who opposes disastrous, European-style austerity measures needs to stop talking about this in urgent terms. And nobody should characterize it as anything but what it really is: A deed performed by Republicans in Congress, which the same Congress can easily reverse.

    That's not just more accurate. It also places the responsibility for this pseudo-crisis exactly where it belongs.

    A Gun to the Head. The motives for the hoax are easy to understand. As a Campaign for America's Future/Democracy Corps poll reaffirmed after the election, the public overwhelmingly opposes any of the fiscal measures being negotiated as the result of this fictitious "crisis." A majority of voters, cutting across party lines, opposes virtually all of the ideas being discussed - including cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits, and reductions in anti-poverty programs.

    Voters strongly support some steps that aren't being debated because of this phony "crisis," like increased investment in jobs and economic growth. These negotiations are likely have the opposite effect instead, leading to more cuts in these programs. In fact, of the many "debt deal" provisions being debated today, only tax increases for the wealthiest Americans have the majority's approval. ...

    Here's more proof that both the "fiscal cliff" and the "emergency" deficit talks surrounding it are a fraud: They include two issues that don't belong in a deficit discussion at all. One's Social Security, which is forbidden by law from contributing to the national deficit.

    The other is the scam known as tax "reform" and "tax code simplification" - which, in plain English, means a lowering of top tax rates for millionaires and billionaires - supposedly in return for reduced "tax expenditures" and increased "tax revenues" to be named at a later date.

    Why would deficit talks include two ideas that won't reduce the national debt, especially when "tax simplification" will undoubtedly increase that debt substantially? That's an easy one: Because this phony "crisis" has nothing to do with deficits.

    It's all part of a long-range plan to scam the public into transferring even more of its wealth to the wealthiest among us: first by giving them lower tax rates, and then by cutting a program the public has already paid into. That way there'll be less pressure to increases taxes on the wealthy later on. (They may also want to raid Social Security's trust fund to pay for the deficits caused by their tax breaks.)

    These "deficit" moves would transfer even more of our national treasure to the extremely rich - including those on Wall Street who created our economic crisis in the first place. That, and not a "fiscal cliff," is what's "looming."

  • Huffington Post: Tax What They Burn Before Tax What We Earn... By Ralph Nader. Excerpts: President Obama, as of now at least, supports letting the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy expire. But even if President Obama stands firm on this position in negotiations with Congressional Republicans, there's more work to be done to achieve more fundamental tax reform. As the president and Congress debate raising the income tax rate from 35 percent back up to where it was under President Clinton -- 39.5 percent -- keep in mind that under President Eisenhower, the largest earners paid roughly 90 percent after deductions. It was 70 percent at the start of Ronald Reagan's first term (which he then lowered drastically to 28 percent). In 2012, the line in the sand has been drawn on a relatively meager 4.9 percent difference.

    To many Americans, the very word "tax" strikes a sense of resentment -- few like to give up a percentage of their hard-earned wages. But let's recall the words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, "taxes are what we pay for civilization." The basic purpose of taxation is to raise revenue needed for the public services we presumably all benefit from, and a purpose of government is to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share. Rarely is the fairness yardstick applied to the biggest culprits of tax avoidance and/or tax evasion -- the corporations. And, given grossly inadequate government tax enforcement budgets on global corporations, "tax evasion" is the proper term to add to the words "tax avoidance" (as the corporate attorneys would prefer, likely adding that it's "perfectly legal".)

    Did you know that many large U.S. chartered corporations -- Bank of America, Verizon, GE, to name a few -- did not pay a single dollar in taxes to the United States government in 2010? These are companies that report massive, billion dollar annual profits, but don't contribute a dime of federal income tax to the country that provides them with resources, public services and infrastructure to conduct business. Some of these giant corporations even receive a hefty tax benefit from the federal government. In the years 2008-2010, for example, GE made over $7 billion in U.S. profit, paid zero federal tax, and reaped nearly $5 billion extra from the United States treasury. All they say is "perfectly legal" because of the bloated tax code, with its numerous loopholes, which have allowed crafty tax accountants and attorneys to devise an entire playbook of tactics to avoid paying their way.

    Tax avoidance at GE is seen as a systematic profit center with the smartest loophole experts getting bonuses. Consider this: One building in the Cayman Islands -- the Ugland House -- is the legal address of thousands of U.S companies' corporate subsidies. All to avoid taxes. All "perfectly legal".

  • New York Times opinion: Life, Death and Deficits. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: America’s political landscape is infested with many zombie ideas — beliefs about policy that have been repeatedly refuted with evidence and analysis but refuse to die. The most prominent zombie is the insistence that low taxes on rich people are the key to prosperity. But there are others.

    And right now the most dangerous zombie is probably the claim that rising life expectancy justifies a rise in both the Social Security retirement age and the age of eligibility for Medicare. Even some Democrats — including, according to reports, the president — have seemed susceptible to this argument. But it’s a cruel, foolish idea — cruel in the case of Social Security, foolish in the case of Medicare — and we shouldn’t let it eat our brains.

    First of all, you need to understand that while life expectancy at birth has gone up a lot, that’s not relevant to this issue; what matters is life expectancy for those at or near retirement age. When, to take one example, Alan Simpson — the co-chairman of President Obama’s deficit commission — declared that Social Security was “never intended as a retirement program” because life expectancy when it was founded was only 63, he was displaying his ignorance. Even in 1940, Americans who made it to age 65 generally had many years left.

    Now, life expectancy at age 65 has risen, too. But the rise has been very uneven since the 1970s, with only the relatively affluent and well-educated seeing large gains. Bear in mind, too, that the full retirement age has already gone up to 66 and is scheduled to rise to 67 under current law.

    This means that any further rise in the retirement age would be a harsh blow to Americans in the bottom half of the income distribution, who aren’t living much longer, and who, in many cases, have jobs requiring physical effort that’s difficult even for healthy seniors. And these are precisely the people who depend most on Social Security.

    So any rise in the Social Security retirement age would, as I said, be cruel, hurting the most vulnerable Americans. And this cruelty would be gratuitous: While the United States does have a long-run budget problem, Social Security is not a major factor in that problem.

    Medicare, on the other hand, is a big budget problem. But raising the eligibility age, which means forcing seniors to seek private insurance, is no way to deal with that problem.

    It’s true that thanks to Obamacare, seniors should actually be able to get insurance even without Medicare. (Although, what happens if a number of states block the expansion of Medicaid that’s a crucial piece of the program?) But let’s be clear: Government insurance via Medicare is better and more cost-effective than private insurance. ...

    What would happen if we raised the Medicare eligibility age? The federal government would save only a small amount of money, because younger seniors are relatively healthy and hence low-cost. Meanwhile, however, those seniors would face sharply higher out-of-pocket costs. How could this trade-off be considered good policy?

    The bottom line is that raising the age of eligibility for either Social Security benefits or Medicare would be destructive, making Americans’ lives worse without contributing in any significant way to deficit reduction. Democrats, in particular, who even consider either alternative need to ask themselves what on earth they think they’re doing.

    But what, ask the deficit scolds, do people like me propose doing about rising spending? The answer is to do what every other advanced country does, and make a serious effort to rein in health care costs. Give Medicare the ability to bargain over drug prices. Let the Independent Payment Advisory Board, created as part of Obamacare to help Medicare control costs, do its job instead of crying “death panels.” (And isn’t it odd that the same people who demagogue attempts to help Medicare save money are eager to throw millions of people out of the program altogether?) We know that we have a health care system with skewed incentives and bloated costs, so why don’t we try to fix it?

  • YouTube: Republican Deficit Hawk Hypocrites (video, approx. 5 minutes). By Senator Bernie Sanders. Description: Senator Sanders lays out a brief history of Republic hypocrisy concerning the deficit. Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan - leader of the deficit hawks - voted for two wars, the Medicare Part D program, and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans during the Bush administration. Now he, and the other deficit hawks, want to reduce the deficit on the backs of children, the elderly and the poor while protecting the interests of millionaires and billionaires.
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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