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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—February 16, 2013

  • Forbes: IBM 401(k) Participants Need Their Own "Shadow" Fiduciary to Guard Retirement Benefits. By Edward "Ted" Siedle. Excerpts: I recently wrote about IBM, often considered a trendsetter for employee benefits, notifying its workers that starting this year it is changing the timing of the IBM match and automatic contribution to the company 401(k) from semi-monthly to an annual lump-sum contribution at the end of the year.

    Abandoning the semi-monthly match will save the company big bucks and, while Big Blue didn’t feel the need to be honest with workers about its motives in gutting the 401(k), company savings no doubt was the reason. The fact that many workers will never receive the annual 401(k) match and will be exposed to greater investment risks by the action apparently is causing no loss of sleep among company executives. What are IBM 401(k) participants to do?

    Unfortunately under the applicable federal pension law (ERISA), participants generally have no express legal right to participate in the administrative and investment decisions related to the plan itself. (Of course, collective bargaining agreements may provide participants some role in such matters.) The structure of the plan, the investment menu offered, and any matching contributions are all pretty much left to the employer. Certainly IBM as the sponsor to the 401(k) could choose to include an employee or participant representative, or two, on the committees that oversee the plan. However, that’s not likely to happen. ...

    My advice to IBM’s 401(k) participants is that they establish their own “shadow” 401(k) fiduciary, or retirement benefits guardian, whose role will be to vocally represent their interests solely. I call it a “shadow” fiduciary, or guardian, because, while this organization will be every bit as legitimate as the fiduciaries to the 401(k) selected by IBM, it will not legally have the power to make decisions on behalf of the plan. However, it can, if equally knowledgeable about retirement plan practices, tenacious and ever-present, possibly keep the company on the defensive, i.e., both keeping workers educated and thwarting further efforts to weaken the 401(k).

    The goal is to prevent an employer-retirement plan sponsor with infinite resources, assisted by expert advisors, and limited incentive to tell the truth, from using arcane devices to pursue its own objectives whilst workers are kept in the dark.

    What IBM 401(k) participants need is nothing short of expert counter-intelligence. ...

    For far too long, workers have relied upon spoon-fed retirement industry advice which aided and abetted employer fleecing of plans. It’s not too late to fight back, but I wouldn’t wait much longer.

  • KOMU-TV (Columbia, Missouri): Target 8: IBM Refuses to Release Jobs Numbers Following Deadline. By Danielle McCarthy. Excerpts: The original target date IBM set to fully staff its Columbia facility with up to 800 people came and went at the end of 2012. However, the company is refusing to answer any questions regarding its current employment numbers.

    In May 2010, IBM originally announced it would hire up to 800 people by the end of December 2012 at its new Columbia center. KOMU 8 News later learned that when the company signed a contract with the state, it actually agreed to hire 600 people by the end of 2015--a much later date it did not publicize widely.

    As part of the contract, the state offered IBM $28 million in tax credits and job training funds. In an email, John Fougere with the Department of Economic Development said IBM has been receiving those incentives in increments based on the number of employees it has hired so far.

    To get these incentives, IBM must file annual reports with the state documenting the number of people it has hired in the year. KOMU 8 News requested those documents from the DED and learned that as of June 30, 2012, IBM reported 469 employees with an average wage of $27.30 per hour. When it responded to our request, the DED said the June 2012 figure was the latest from IBM, meaning there is no year-end number that would state whether the company reached its original public goal of as many as 800 employees. ...

    In addition to the state's $28 million incentive package to be paid in full by 2015 if IBM meets its goals, the city of Columbia agreed to pay $3 million over a ten-year time span to purchase a building for IBM on LeMone Industrial Boulevard. The city agreed to lease the building to IBM for a dollar per year for ten years. Despite taking millions in public money, McDavid said the company has no obligation to share its employment information.

  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree Information Exchange: "Re: CVS Caremark" by "a1chew". Full excerpt: I recently visited my local Costco pharmacy; they advertise in their newsletter that one should check them out for generic drugs. So I did. Plavix (generic) was under $30 with no insurance. I think CVS charged me $30 copay for the same 90 day supply plus a few hundred against my yearly IBM limit. The second drug (Singulair) is on the CVS non-favorite list, and they charge $70 plus over $300 against the IBM yearly limit. Costco cash price was just under $60.

    The second part of this research is to wait a few months and ask what Costco would charge with CVS insurance. They could not check for me this time as the CVS computers said its too early to reorder... thus no price info.

    Anyone else have any data with using CVS Caremark card at Costco? I am specifically interested in what shows up against the yearly cap. I am in a situation that I blow thru this limit by October.

  • Yahoo! IBM Retiree Information Exchange: "Re: CVS Caremark" by "ibmcatfish". Excerpt: Forget Costco. Forget any IBM-subsidized prescription plan. Forget CVS. Forget Medicare prices. Forget yearly limits. Few meds are really made in USA. Most ingredients come from China, India.

    Price your meds at PlanetDrugsDirect.com. Call the friendly USA Call Center if needed. You will be amazed at your savings.

    All you need is a scan of your current prescription, typically in the form of a .pdf file to send to them. Been there, done it.

  • Pharmacy Checker Blog: New York Times Op-Ed Calls For Legalization of Personal Drug Importation From Credentialed International Online Pharmacies. Excerpts: The main Op-Ed article in today’s New York Times, “The Wrong Way to Stop Fake Drugs,” calls for the legalization of personal drug importation from credentialed international online pharmacies, such as those approved in the PharmacyChecker.com Verification Program. Authored by Roger Bate, a resident scholar at American Enterprise Institute, the central message of the piece is that the technical ban on personal drug importation does not help the fight against counterfeit drugs but does discourage Americans from getting needed medication. We couldn’t agree more. ...

    We looked at the top five brand name drugs by sales today to highlight the incredible price discrepancies between US pharmacy and international online pharmacy prices.

  • ElderCareABC Blog: Now Legal To Buy Canada Prescription Drugs Cautiously. Excerpt: Wow great new from the US Senate. They passed a bill making it legal to purchase prescription drugs from Canada over the Internet here in the USA. Great news for Part D participants and not such good news for Big Pharma. But if you are going purchase on-line from Canada – BE CAREFUL...
  • SignOn.org: Supreme Court: Review Appellate Dismissals of National Corporate Pension Reduction Cases. By Bonny Berger Kelter. Full excerpt: To be delivered to: Supreme Court, The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama.

    Petition Statement: Supreme Court: Review the appellate decision in the AT&T pension reduction case, which was used as a precedent to dismiss several other national corporate pension reduction cases.

    Petition Background: In 1997, AT&T changed its pension plan from a traditional, defined-benefit plan, to a cash-balance, defined-contribution plan. In 1998, a lawsuit was filed alleging that the conversion was done in an age-discriminatory manner, causing older employees to lose large portions of the amounts that had previously been accrued in their pensions. (Editor's note: IBM did the same in 1999.)

    At the time, this lawsuit was the largest age discrimination lawsuit in US history; 24,000 class members who opted-in, and $2 Billion in damages. I was identified as the employee who had the worst case of “wearaway”; I had 19 years of service at the time of the conversion, but the new plan took away 13 years, leaving only 6 years of my service in the new plan. (See link below to where this fact is mentioned in court documents). I never even had the chance to recover those lost years, because AT&T offshored my job and laid me off in 1999. This happened to tens of thousands of other employees.

    After this case was stalled in the courts by AT&T for 13 years, it was thrown out in 2011 in the Federal Appellate Court in Philadelphia by a 3-judge panel, presided over by Judge Trump Barry, who is Donald Trump’s sister. Judge Trump Barry showed her attitude against retirement and pensions by stating, “I keep thinking of my father’s words, “Work is its own reward.” You know, just keep working no matter how old you get”. (See link to transcript below to see her statement)

    The 24,000 class members, who suffered age discrimination at the hands of AT&T via pension reductions and subsequent mass layoffs, never had their day in court.

    Judge Trump Barry’s decision to throw out the case was then used by other corporations to throw out the pension cases of tens of thousands of employees of El Paso and of Solvay, and of many other national corporations currently. Because all these pensions have been greatly decreased by corporations having reneged their fiduciary responsibilities to their former employees, there is a cascading significant loss to Federal and State income tax revenue, as well as a significant loss of money going back into the economy through consumer spending.

    The lead attorney in this case was Stephen Bruce of Washington DC, a recognized expert in the pension field, who had previously testified in Congressional hearings on pension issues. Mr. Bruce had successfully argued a similar case for Cigna employees in front of the Supreme Court, and he won the case (see link to Supreme Court decision below). However, the Supreme Court denied hearing the AT&T case, even though the Appellate court had ruled differently on the AT&T case to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Cigna case.

    Please sign this petition to ask the Supreme Court to review Judge Trump Barry’s decision in the AT&T case, and to review the decisions of the cases that have been thrown out subsequently.

    WHY THIS PETITION IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO SIGN, even if you did not work for AT&T:

    1. The loss of the AT&T pensions and layoffs has caused significant damage to the US economy, including:
      1. increased state and federal expenses for unemployment insurance,
      2. increased state and federal expenses for older worker retraining,
      3. increased state and federal expenses for food stamps and welfare,
      4. decreased state and federal tax revenues,
      5. increased state and federal budget deficits, and
      6. decreased consumer spending.

      This is an issue important to ALL Americans!

    2. If you’re younger, you may think that a pension issue isn’t important to you. If that’s what you’re thinking, re-read point #1 above.
    3. If you’re a former employee of El Paso. Solvay, or many other national corporations, your pension lawsuit may be thrown out of the courts because of the AT&T decision. If we can get the Supreme Court to review the AT&T decision, your corporation’s lawsuit may be reconsidered as well.
    4. Re-read point #1 above!

    Relevant links:

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Review Appellate Dismissals of National Corporate Pension Reduction Cases" by "sby_willie". Full excerpt: Kathi, I'm sure you know about what has happened to Idearc (SuperMedia) and the Verizon retirees ($7,500,000,000 plan annuity assets sold to Prudential) pension plans.

    It's all scams that the US Courts continue to dismiss; it's all a big travesty. It's worse than a huge shame.

    I know people that have told me they put down and would not finish reading Ellen Schultz's "Retirement Heist" book since they "don't understand it" and "can't believe corporations and companies are so evil that they can do this top their valued employees and ex-employees that are now retirees".

    The truth HURTS. But it is the TRUTH.

    When is everyone going to wake up and protect their earned retirement from these corporate robber baron thieves?

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • If you love to sacrifice your life and give everything to a company for no reward, salary or bonus then IBM is for you!” Former Information Security Manager in Portsmouth, South East England, England (United Kingdom). Pros: Flexibility is good, opportunities for developing skills and experience are also good. Cons: Salary, bonuses—don't expect more than 0.5% increase in salary over a 10 year period even if you are a consistent high performer! You can give 200% of your life into IBM and they will reward you with nothing. Advice to Senior Management: Give recognition to those who deserve it or suffer from the consequences of losing top talent to other companies.
    • Consulting practice at GBS is a terrible place to be if you are an experienced hire” Former Senior Managing Consultant in New York, NY. Pros: Good connections/exposure at the C level in large corporations Opportunity for travel based on available assignments.

      Cons: There is tremendous pressure on sales team to meet quotas—so consulting engagements are always over sold and over promised.

      Once the contract is signed the sales team moves on to sell the next engagement. The sales teams incentives seem to be based on sales numbers and not on project delivery or profitability. The delivery team instead is measured on client satisfaction and profitability, making it very challenging in all oversold assignments.

      This over promising of assignments together with a team that is mostly average or mediocre performers puts a lot of pressure on experienced hires to deliver—thus most client engagements end up being 60 to 80 hours a week including weekend work to meet the client expectations.

      The available technical talent at GBS is made up of a limited number of star performers and a large majority of average or mediocre performers. Most GBS projects have an abundance of contract employees from other staff augmentation firms. There is no control on the quality or delivery of these contract consultants. GBS Partners are OK with this arrangement as long as there is a mark up that is being made from the contract employees.

      A very small percentage of star performers stay back to attempt at promotions; a large majority just move on after getting burnt out in a couple of years.

      Advice to Senior Management: Tie GBS sales bonuses with delivery and profitability measurements. Stop being bureaucratic in all your processes. Even the process of promotions is enough to turn off the most committed employee. Understand what work and life balance really means and make sure the partners know how to apply this across all employees in the field.

    • Not a great place to work” Current Treasury - Investments and Debt in Armonk, NY. Pros: Top management is smart. Company is well run and very profitable. Cons: Too many lifers that have titles only because of their seniority. Lots of below mediocre people at the middle and lower levels. Much lower than industry standard compensation. Moving up the ladder is hard. Very, very political. Advice to Senior Management: Your lower level is rotting and this doesn't bode well for the company's future. Make sure you pay better and put in an effort to retain people.
    • Good place to start your career or enjoy nepotism” Current Sales Representative in Chicago, IL. Pros: -Good resources and knowledge available if you are willing to search; -Management doesn't know what you do for a living, leaving you alone half of the time; -Process centric, can help you in your next job. Cons: -People don't care about you as a colleague and a profession, or anything for that matter; -Managers usually are clueless, nowadays it is rare to find someone worth being called a 'manager', majority are just plain do-nothing, conf-calls-all-day-long types; -Bureaucracy is king. Advice to Senior Management: -Er, start being managers, making decisions and adding some value, or helping those who do.
    • Columbia, MO - It's not worth it.” Current Confidential in Columbia, MO. Pros: It's all in the name. Cons: The environment was controlling and uncomfortable. White noise was piped into the facility, and you couldn't hear anyone a few cubicles away. Advice to Senior Management: Recognize your employees as actual people and not numbers. Don't conform the environment to upper management's personality. Let your employees be themselves, and comfortable in their own skin. The culture of the facility should be organic and not forced.
    • IBM is a terrible place to work” Current Program Manager in Phoenix, AZ . Pros: There are no pros to being a US-based IBM employee. Cons: No valid career plans, no raises, no emphasis on customers. Employees are left hanging in front of customers with no management support. The goal is to eliminate all US jobs, and to make it as uncomfortable as possible for US employees. Advice to Senior Management: Start concentrating and listening to customers instead of always concentrating on internal IBM affairs.
    • Good for survival, not happiness” Current Process Engineer in Hopewell Junction, NY. Pros: Flexibility with work hours and location. Cons: No satisfaction in work or in career development. No management recognition of productivity improvement. Management appears only interested in goals set by managers above them.
    • Former intern” Former Intern in Moscow (Russia). Pros: The only advantage is a decent office, and a big name. Even being an intern at IBM sounds good. Cons: Extremely disorganized, sales-driven company. Interested in innovation and making difference? IBM Russia has nothing to do with it.
    • Ruthless Sales Management” Former Sales Manager. Pros: Great benefits. Strong, growing company. Experience: good place to start career, but the burnout rate in sales at IBM is very high. Cons: If you believe that companies and employees thrive when upper management basically humiliates and drives for results, IBM is for you. If you are driven by positive motivation and trusting/caring management, go somewhere else. There is hardly any loyalty within IBM and the organization values politics more than loyalty. Advice to Senior Management: Treat human beings with respect.
    • Faking with a brand name. No quality. No future overcasting.” Former Senior Systems Engineer in Bangalore (India). Pros: Global policies and brand name trust. Client interaction and visibly. Ability to learn yourself on your own interest. Cons: The standards of employee management is very, very poor. No cab to male employees (don't know who took this decision). No flexibility in projects in GBS. Favouritism too much. Managers thinks they are boss and screw up many lives Not suited for people willing to learn more. One should come here only after 7-8 years of experience. Poor implementation by local management. No power to HR. If management is poor, you don't have any choice. Advice to Senior Management: Check out favouritism, harassment in teams which goes unnoticed. Some means should be kept to check misuse of powers by leads and managers.
    • Stodgy, bureaucratic, and full of infighting” Former Research Staff Member in Yorktown Heights, NY. Pros: They're not going to go out of business any time soon. There are some very very smart people there, and they might talk to you once in a while. They have nice buildings, but you won't get to work in one. Cons: They are frickketty *HUGE*. Your project will get lost in the shuffle. The divisions of the company are perpetually in conflict. Your project will get cancelled when executives change, which happens every year or so. They have more bureaucracy and internal processes than the federal government. IBMers often spend years in miserable corners of the company. Pretty much *everyone* there is miserable much of the time though. Advice to Senior Management: Most of you (management) should cease to be management.
    • All the cash goes to the shareholders” Current Employee. Pros: Big company, lots to sell. Cons: Can't get out of our own way.
    • IBM BAO - Not the IBM you knew before” Current Senior Consultant. Pros: -Good PTO, medical and leaves. 401k isn't good anymore as they match only after Dec 15th of every year. A+++ consultants. Loads of stuff to learn from your peers. Free training and self learning materials. Cons: -Difficult to get raise, bonus or promotion; -the resource deployment managers are rude and never consider you for local projects; -no actual communication with your company manager. Advice to Senior Management: -Better appraisal methods; -People need to get promoted to be motivated to work.
    • Absence of face to face meetings impede business effectiveness and demoralize employees” Former Marketing in Atlanta, GA. Pros: Many different types of jobs to choose from giving chance to explore opportunities all within the same company Cons: Employees receive no relocation when moved from one job to another within company; there is no such thing as a travel budget; and virtual management impedes development of relationships to get things done. IBM management has no sense of the employee other than their deliverables. Many of the programs and benefits within IBM are never used because managers have little "sense" or view of employee (which can only be gotten face to face) beyond narrow sliver of work they happen to be doing. Advice to Senior Management: Meet face to face with any potential employee, even when hired from within. Budget for two face-to-face meetings per year for all teams working together. Budget for two face-to-face meetings per year between manager and employee. Respect employees with the decency and grace they are due by never firing by phone or email. Aforementioned budgets should be sacrosanct.
    • Outsourcing made cheap” Current Customer Service Representative in Madrid (Spain) Pros: Good for lazy people who don`t want to lose their job.

      Cons: They keep you hanging in terms of salary increase, changing the contract to a slightly more legal one, keeps people terrorized at the idea of losing their job while piling up more and more responsibilities. I have had so far a very negative experience as I have worked in those kind of work centers where officially you`re not even a real IBM er but work with intermediary companies so they can clean up the mess if they don`t give you the benefits you`d expect with seniority.

      People leave after six months and the company likes it like this as they don't want to actually use people's skills, just their knowledge in foreign languages.

      Also all the propaganda of how great the company is and their high earning while being told there will be no improvement in conditions, pay. I know for a fact in different countries, different treatment, but it's time big companies stop taking advantage of the "crisis" and benefit from the thin line of outsourcing and granting people some benefits according to geography and the dignity, pay people expect.

      Advice to Senior Management: Less chain mails, less talk about figures and more about the people, make this company about people for a change and invest some money in their training.

    • System Management Integration Specialist” Former Systems Management Integration Specialist in Seattle, WA. Pros: IBM has a lot of employees that are loyal and have stayed with the company a long time. They offer very good benefits and are a long standing company. They are very professional and require high performance and professionalism. Cons: IBM has yearly layoffs and the bonus structure and pay is very low compared to other technology companies. Opportunity for advancements are rare and the company does not have a hire within mentality. Much of the work is outsourced. Advice to Senior Management: Remember that your employees are key to your success.
    • Software Engineer for over 5 years in Dublin Lab” Current Software Engineer in Dublin, Dublin (Ireland). Pros: - Interesting projects and technologies to work on/with; - International experience; - Name of the company on CV; - Some great people; - Work/life balance. There is no problem to work from home one or two days a week if you wish to.

      Cons: In one word: technical company driven by non-technical people. Practically, this means:

      • Don't expect management and execs to truly understand the technical complexity or the scope of what you are working on. Delivering outstanding work is not sufficient; you need to constantly have good 'actor' skills to have people above you understand the scope of what you are working on. Also, management often tends to misinterpret your actions, so you constantly have to 'educate' them. This is draining and demotivating over time, and should not be needed in a software development lab.
      • Offices are not quiet and designed for engineers; good luck with being productive!
      • Benefits are definitely lower than competition. Canteen with high street prices (and average food), overpriced coffee, vending machine with €1.5 coke, €1 snacks. This totally contrasts with general practices in software industry (free/subsided meal, snacks). Also, there is no gym and the health insurance coverage is just basic.
      • There are cost restrictions that do not make sense from a productivity point of view. I've seen people buying with their own money SSD or large screen to be more productive.
      • Overall technical level is fairly low. There are some great people, but this is the exception. Either they are lucky enough to have a great manager to identify and promote them quickly, or they leave (most cases). If you're good and care about the product you're working on, be prepared to spend more time fixing other people bugs or other team deployments (overtime, weekends) than working on own tasks!

      Advice to Senior Management: There is a shortage of talented software engineers on the market. If you want top products, which translates into outstanding customer experience, try to attract and retain top engineers. Lead by example and truly show you care about your employees, stating it over and over without concrete actions does not make it a fact; you cannot fool people. -Inject more technical people into senior management and exec roles.

    • Service Delivery Manager” Current Service Delivery Manager in Omaha, NE. Pros: It is a great way to learn how to manage in a huge company Cons: Shedding US employees. Internal paperwork more important than the client. Advice to Senior Management: Come down and walk in our shoes on the process that they think is important.
    • Good experience” Former Web Developer in East Lansing, MI. Pros: They have nice friendly people and you get the chance to work with a vast array of technologies. Also, they trust you to make the right decisions with projects. Cons: I was full time supplemental, which is a fixed contact for 3 years. It doesn't have much for career advancement potential. Great for just out of college people, but mid to senior people will find it very hard to be hired in as regular IBM. Advice to Senior Management: Establish a better career path for senior level developers.
    • IBM Work Experience” Current Employee. Pros: Flexible work hours. You can change jobs without changing employer. Cons: Head count drives most of the things. Leadership lacks clear vision. Lack of ownership among senior leaders. Advice to Senior Management: Don't measure the things by head count. Give importance to domain and consulting.
  • Alliance for Retired Americans: Friday Alert. This week's articles include:
    • State of the Union Speech Mentions Key Alliance Issues
    • Alliance Joins Friends in Telling Congress to “Have a Heart” on Valentine’s Day
    • Next Week is President’s Day Lobby Week
    • Alliance Endorses Deutch Plan to Make Social Security Solvent in the Long-Term
    • Medicare Prescription Drugs Costs are down due to the Affordable Care Act
    • David Cote Faces Protesters after Helping to Create the Simpson-Bowles Plan
    • Barbara Easterling Addresses UFCW, AFSCME
    • Chained CPI: A Disaster for Seniors, Veterans, and Middle Class Taxpayers
  • Workforce: Bringing the Jobs Back Home: How 'Re-shoring' Is Coming to America. For years companies have looked to outsource jobs to cut costs, but now more U.S. employers are looking to beef up operations domestically. It's a trend known as 're-shoring.' By Ed Frauenheim. Excerpts: It's a workforce planning theme for 2013: "Made in America."

    Employers and labor-market experts say the pendulum is swinging away from offshore labor strategies and toward a more home-grown approach. That is, U.S. employers are recognizing the limits of shipping work abroad and looking to beef up operations domestically. The reasons include skill sets largely specific to the U.S., increased costs of overseas operations and a desire by U.S. employers for a more stable workforce, even when using contingent labor. ...

    Ravin Jesuthasan, global practice leader for talent management at consulting firm Towers Watson & Co., says organizations in some cases rushed to send work overseas and didn't recognize the downsides. Offshoring human resources processes could lead to a lower-quality employee experience and potentially reduce productivity as U.S. workers and managers seeking HR support are not served well by foreign call centers, he says. Now there's growing interest in bringing some operations back to America's shores. ...

    More than just labor savings and social responsibility are behind the re-shoring trend. Companies are recognizing the value of physical proximity when it comes to their teams. InterContinental Hotels Group requires key people on its Web development team to work out of its regional headquarters in Atlanta, says Keith Credendino, vice president for global e-commerce technology. The hotel chain still sends some technology work, such as software testing, overseas to countries including India and Russia. But for strategic tasks such as rebuilding the InterContinental website, it is important for developers to be co-located with company business partners, Credendino says. ...

    Greater interest in workforce stability also is spurring more work to be done in America, says Wade Hughes, managing partner at consulting and staffing firm The Intersect Group. He says clients are requiring their staffing providers to complete assignments with workers who are "W-2" employees rather than contractors or employees at a subcontracting firm. Clients seem to be imposing the W-2 requirement to ensure that their technology projects and other assignments are staffed with a reliable set of workers, Hughes says. "They want continuity."

  • New York Times opinion: Relax! You’ll Be More Productive. By Tony Schwartz. Excerpts: Think for a moment about your typical workday. Do you wake up tired? Check your e-mail before you get out of bed? Skip breakfast or grab something on the run that’s not particularly nutritious? Rarely get away from your desk for lunch? Run from meeting to meeting with no time in between? Find it nearly impossible to keep up with the volume of e-mail you receive? Leave work later than you’d like, and still feel compelled to check e-mail in the evenings?

    More and more of us find ourselves unable to juggle overwhelming demands and maintain a seemingly unsustainable pace. Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less. A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health. ...

    In most workplaces, rewards still accrue to those who push the hardest and most continuously over time. But that doesn’t mean they’re the most productive.

    Spending more hours at work often leads to less time for sleep and insufficient sleep takes a substantial toll on performance. In a study of nearly 400 employees, published last year, researchers found that sleeping too little — defined as less than six hours each night — was one of the best predictors of on-the-job burn-out. A recent Harvard study estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity. ...

    More vacations are similarly beneficial. In 2006, the accounting firm Ernst & Young did an internal study of its employees and found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation employees took, their year-end performance ratings from supervisors (on a scale of one to five) improved by 8 percent. Frequent vacationers were also significantly less likely to leave the firm. ...

    Our own offices are a laboratory for the principles we teach. Renewal is central to how we work. We dedicated space to a “renewal” room in which employees can nap, meditate or relax. We have a spacious lounge where employees hang out together and snack on healthy foods we provide. We encourage workers to take renewal breaks throughout the day, and to leave the office for lunch, which we often do together. We allow people to work from home several days a week, in part so they can avoid debilitating rush-hour commutes. Our workdays end at 6 p.m. and we don’t expect anyone to answer e-mail in the evenings or on the weekends. Employees receive four weeks of vacation from their first year.

    Our basic idea is that the energy employees bring to their jobs is far more important in terms of the value of their work than is the number of hours they work. By managing energy more skillfully, it’s possible to get more done, in less time, more sustainably. In a decade, no one has ever chosen to leave the company. Our secret is simple — and generally applicable. When we’re renewing, we’re truly renewing, so when we’re working, we can really work.

  • US News & World Report: Why More Americans Are Working Past Age 65. Retirement at 65 is no longer a feasible option for many people. By Emily Brandon. Excerpts: Turning 65 is no guarantee that you will be ready or willing to retire. A rapidly growing number of Americans are continuing to work beyond their 65th birthday. The proportion of people age 65 and older in the workforce grew to 16.1 percent by 2010, up from 12.1 percent in 1990, according to a recent Census Bureau report. And the percentage of people between ages 65 and 69 who are working grew 9 percentage points to 30.8 percent in 2010. These numbers are expected to further increase as baby boomers continue to reach retirement age. A recent Conference Board survey found that 62 percent of people ages 45 to 60 plan to delay retirement, up from 42 percent in 2010. Here's a look at some of the reasons people are increasingly working during the traditional retirement years: ...

    Shift to 401(k)s. Only about half of the workforce is offered retirement benefits through their employer, according to a recent Employee Benefit Research Institute analysis of Census Bureau data. And even when benefits are offered, 401(k)s are now the dominant type of retirement benefits. Many workers choose not to participate in their company 401(k) plan or contribute only small amounts. "Workers fortunate enough to have pension coverage increasingly have to assume the responsibility of saving for their retirement in 401(k) plans, hopefully getting a match, and bearing the volatility of 401(k) plans," says Sara Rix, a senior strategic policy advisor for the AARP Public Policy Institute. People in their 50s and 60s who haven't saved enough or invested well may need to delay retirement to give their savings additional time to accumulate.

  • US News & World Report: What's Your Social Security Break-Even Age? By Philip Moeller. Excerpt: Deciding at what age to claim Social Security benefits may be the single most important retirement money decision of your life. Claim too early, and you lock in a lifetime of monthly payments that may be far lower than if you wait. Claim too late, and you may spend years living on an austere budget that saps you and your quality of life. Waiting to claim can also leave a lot of money on the table—your money—should you die in your 60s or even 70s.

    Doug Lemons, a retired Social Security Administration executive, produced a comparative analysis for the Journal of Financial Planning of three different ages at which many people consider taking Social Security. These are:

    • Age 62, the earliest age people can claim benefits
    • Age 66, known as "full retirement age" for people born between 1943 and 1954
    • Age 70, the claiming age at which people become entitled to their maximum monthly Social Security payments. Waiting longer does not increase payments.
  • US News & World Report: 5 Retirement Myths to Avoid. By David Ning. Excerpt: f you read enough retirement literature, it's easy to develop a general idea of what ultimately matters most in achieving a comfortable retirement. But it’s just as easy to develop misconceptions about planning for retirement. Make sure you aren't blindly following these common myths about retirement...
New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 02/11/13: IBM has been monitoring the union. Years ago I set up a printer for HP in a "war Room" in White Plains NY. They were checking union sites. I had someone watch over me and was told if I said anything I would be fired. -sam the man-

      Alliance Reply: It is common knowledge that IBM management and HR "monitor" Alliance@IBM's web site as well as ANY employee advocate or IBM employees discussion groups. Of course, it is ILLEGAL for them to spy on us. That's why you were told you would be fired if you said anything. If we could prove by documentation that IBM is breaking the law , we would take action publicly. BUT We already have taken action publicly, by being a consistent IBM employee advocate; through this web site and through many direct action demonstrations and press releases for nearly 14 years.

      Obviously, IBM fears us more than we fear them. IBM employees need to understand that the power we have as a collective group, is far greater than IBM's brute abuse and bullying of IBM employees. All that is needed, is for us to join together as a force to be reckoned with; and then we move forward and we assert our voice in the IBM workplace. Join Alliance@IBM and let's get busy fighting for our jobs...because if we don't, we may as well get busy losing our jobs. It's that simple.

    • Comment 02/12/13: Is there any way that the new monitoring tool that runs on IBM laptops can probe the home network that it is connected to and any other computers on that home network? That seems very invasive but I was just curious. -scardey_cat-
    • Comment 02/13/13: If you do not think IBM is not scanning your work, you are crazy. They have even said it publicly. If you login from home or anywhere else, they can scan and track your MAC Addresses and IP Addresses. They are already doing it. They have stated it publicly, but they have not stated how intrusive this really is. http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2013/01/29/ibm-security-tool-can-flag-disgruntled-employees/?mod=e2tw -Concerned-
    • Comment 02/14/13: Has everyone noticed how every rumor going around always has the employees getting screwed one way or the other. Never a rumor that pensions will be restored. Never that people will be re-hired at the same salary they were RA'd at or better. Folks. Its obvious that you ALL recognize that you are being screwed daily yet you do nothing collectively to help your situation. Do you all line up for your morning paddling from the boss and say thank you sir may I gave another?? Are there no people of action left in IBM? No people willing to take charge of their own lives? It is depressing to watch. -Exodus2007-
    • Comment 02/15/13: Amazing how paranoid people are of the company they work for. Of the 13 years I worked for this company, I never had this paranoia. If you did something for yourself and organize, and Join the Alliance you would have something to be proud of when they do lay you off. -don't-sit-on-your-thumbs-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
Minimize
  • Employee Benefit News: Walmart rolling back in-store clinics. By Bloomberg News Service. Excerpts: In 2007, Lee Scott, then Walmart Stores Inc.’s CEO, trumpeted plans to open as many as 2,000 in-house medical clinics by mid-2012. He called the strategy “a great opportunity for our business.”

    Today Walmart has fewer than 130 clinics and is closing locations faster than it’s opening them. Meanwhile, CVS Caremark Corp., which already has about 630 MinuteClinics, is opening about three a week, and aims to have 1,500 within four years. It’s promoting the clinics heavily on TV and the web. While industry figures are hard to come by, CVS says its clinic business has grown at a compound annual rate of 39% in the last six years.

    Walmart, which farmed out the operation of the clinics to third-party operators, hasn’t adequately promoted its clinics to shoppers or made it easy for them to pick up their prescriptions. Thomas Charland, who runs Merchant Medicine, a research and consulting firm specializing in walk-in health care, has heard “lots of complaints” from operators that they get little support from Wal-Mart, and he characterized the company’s efforts as “trial and failure.”

  • The Smirking Chimp: Obama’s Shakedown of Medicare. By Shamus Cooke. Excerpts: In a political era of corporate dominance it was inevitable that doublespeak would become the official language of Washington, DC. Now "cuts" to social programs are referred to as "savings,” while the destruction of these programs is "reform.” This is the essence of President Obama's doublespeakish “Race to the Top” public education "reform,” as well as his yet-to-be-announced deficit plan based on Medicare "savings.”

    The Medicare cuts are part of a larger "reform" of health care in the United States, which ultimately serves to shift the cost of health care off the backs of corporations, placing the burden firmly on the shoulders of working people.

    The main reason that health care reform became a national priority for Obama is because it was a priority for big business: corporations have long complained that their employee health care costs were too high. And they've always hated paying payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. Obama has responded gallantly to these grievances, as he did to the banks when they demanded to be bailed out with taxpayer money.

    Obama has remained mostly quiet about his Medicare plans, but has stated repeatedly " all options are on the table" (his favorite Bushism). The secretiveness is based on the unpopularity of the options, all of which have already been openly discussed in the media in the last two years of bi-partisan "Grand Bargain" haggling.

  • The Smirking Chimp: Churning Isn’t Just for Butter Anymore. By Donna Smith. Excerpts: It isn’t often anymore that I learn a new word in the health care system discussion, but this week I did. Churning. I was at a meeting here in Colorado where I have taken on a new role in advocating and administering for a publicly financed, universal, single-payer system with Health Care for All Colorado. And the definition of churning I learned is a sad commentary on a system that still allows access to care based on inequality of coverage that leaves so many people suffering and tens of thousands dying in America every year.

    Churning is the policy wonk term for those who qualify and are covered by a public program like Medicaid and who then have access to a private insurance plan through a new job that offers it or through a family member’s coverage but who then lose that coverage and end up back on the public insurance for which they qualify. They churn. And they suffer.

    Churning doesn’t happen in an orderly or smooth way. There is a person with health care needs churning. There may be weeks or even months during which that person has no coverage and therefore only the access that money can buy them, and we all know how far that will go. Sometimes there are children involved who churn with their parents. Kids with illness for which they need care can suffer during delays of approvals for both public and private plans. How do we explain churning to a child up in the middle of night with asthma symptoms or other problems? “Sorry, sweetheart, mommy is churning this week, and we do not have the money to buy that inhaler. Maybe the insurance will come through next week.”

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.

  • AARP: Bottom line: Cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security would be lower with the chained CPI than with the "plain" CPI. By Kim Keister. The acronym is easy: CPI stands for consumer price index, a formula that looks at how the prices of stuff we need (food, for example) change over time. It's used to make cost-of-living adjustments in programs such as Social Security, veterans benefits and food stamps.

    The chained CPI is a twist on that: It measures living costs differently because it assumes that when prices for one thing go up, people sometimes settle for cheaper substitutes (if beef prices go up, for example, they'll buy more chicken and less beef).

    Bottom line: Cost-of-living adjustments would be lower with the chained CPI than with the plain old CPI. So depending on which formula is used, the amount of your Social Security payments could change over time. ...

    With the chained CPI, you would be getting $1,267.50 — or $3.75 less a month and $45 less a year. Again, that might not seem like a big reduction, but if the COLA is the same next year, the difference increases to $7.61 a month and $91.32 for the year.

    You start to get the picture. The gap accelerates and begins looking like real money. If you're 62 and take early retirement this year, by age 92 — when health care costs can skyrocket and more than 1 in 6 older Americans lives in poverty — you'll be losing a full month of income every year.

    If you want to learn more, the AARP Public Policy Institute has done a deeper dive on the chained CPI.

  • The Smirking Chimp: How's This for a Speech on the Real State of the Union? By Thom Hartmann. Excerpts: The State of the Union is strong.

    Its politicians, however, are stupid and bought off by everybody from Oil Billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Saudi sheiks, to transnational corporations and defense contractors.

    Which is problem one. Our Supreme Court has said that money is the same thing as speech. It's not. It's money.

    Our Supreme Court has also said that corporations are persons. They are not. They are voluntary associations. The Bill of Rights was not written to protect the East India Company - it was written to protect individual people. ...

    Does it mean that government should be hysterical about how much it's spending, when our government is spending about half as much of its GDP as most other developed nations, and our own spending compared to ourselves is at levels lower than in most of the past half-century? No, that's stupid, too.

    Those are manufactured hysterias to get our government to do things that will further destroy the middle class and enrich the banksters and billionaires. They have nothing to do with the purpose of government.

    If the job of government is to protect the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - what the Constitution repeatedly refers to as the "General Welfare" - then the real issue government should be laser-focused on is obvious. It's jobs.

  • AlterNet: Why U.S. Internet Access is Slow, Costly and Unfair. Americans are getting bilked for second class internet access. By Bill Moyers. Excerpts: That’s why two books are rattling the cages of powerful people who would rather you not read them. Here’s the first one. Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age by Susan Crawford. Read it and you’ll understand why we Americans are paying much more for internet access than people in many other countries and getting much less in return. That, despite the fact that our very own academics and engineers, working with our very own Defense Department, invented the internet in the first place.

    Back then, the U.S. was in the catbird seat – poised to lead the world down this astonishing new superhighway of information and innovation. Now many other countries offer their citizens faster and cheaper access than we do. The faster high-speed access comes through fiber optic lines that transmit data in bursts of laser light, but many of us are still hooked up to broadband connections that squeeze digital information through copper wire. We’re stuck with this old-fashioned technology because, as Susan Crawford explains, our government has allowed a few giant conglomerates to rig the rules, raise prices, and stifle competition. Just like standard oil in the first Gilded Age a century ago. ...

    What's happened is that these enormous telecommunications companies, Comcast and Time Warner on the wired side, Verizon and AT&T on the wireless side, have divided up markets, put themselves in the position where they're subject to no competition and no oversight from any regulatory authority. And they're charging us a lot for internet access and giving us second class access. ...

    It's fair to say that the U.S. at the best is in the middle of the pack when it comes to both the speed and cost of high speed internet access connections. So in Hong Kong right now you can get a 500 megabit symmetric connection that's unimaginably fast from our standpoint for about 25 bucks a month. In Seoul, for $30 you get three choices of different providers of fiber in your apartment. And they come in and install in a day because competition's so fierce. In New York City there's only one choice, and it's 200 bucks a month for a similar service. And you can't get that kind of fiber connection outside of New York City in many parts of the country. Verizon's only serving about 10 percent of Americans. So let's talk about the wireless side for a moment, you know, the separate marketplace that people use for mobility. In Europe you can get unlimited texting and voice calls and data for about $30 a month, similar service from Verizon costs $90 a month. That's a huge difference. ...

    Beginning in the early 2000’s we believed that the magic of the market would provide internet access to all Americans. That the cable guys would compete with the phone guys who would compete with wireless and that somehow all of this ferment would make sure that we kept up with the rest of the world. Those assumptions turned out not to be true. It's much cheaper to upgrade a cable connection than it is to dig up a copper phone line and replace it with fiber. So the cable guys who had these franchises in many, most American cities, they are in place with a status quo network that 94 percent of new subscriptions are going to. Everybody's signing up with their local cable incumbent. There is not competition for 80 percent of Americans. They don't have a choice for a truly high speed connection. It's just the local cable guy. Competition has just vanished.

  • New York Times: Looking Beyond Income, to a Tax on Wealth. By Anna Bernasek. Excerpts: Income tax rates have recently been raised slightly for some affluent people, and there is pressure for additional increases. But some economists say raising marginal income tax rates on high earners may miss the mark.

    One reason is that the truly wealthy employ all kinds of legal means to minimize their tax liability, including shifting income around the world, deferring gains on their assets and many other sophisticated strategies. Another, though, is that taxes on ordinary income simply don’t apply to inheritance or investment, principal sources of wealth.

    Under legislation that Congress approved on New Year’s Day the top marginal income tax rate for 2013 has risen to 39.6 percent from 35 percent for individuals on ordinary income over $400,000 and for couples on income over $450,000, while tax deductions and credits start phasing out on income as low as $250,000. But what is being taxed is often just a small portion of the income and wealth of the very richest Americans; unearned income, including unrealized gains and gains on investments, is either not taxed or taxed at a fraction of the top rate on wages.

    Taxing wealth in addition to income is one way to make sure that the rich contribute more to government coffers. That would essentially be a tax on household assets like property, stocks, bonds, unincorporated businesses, trusts, art and yachts. The idea is to aim at the wealthiest part of the population, perhaps the top 1 percent, a group that has seen the most significant and consistent accumulation of wealth over the last few decades. ...

    Mr. Altman proposes replacing the income tax with a wealth tax. He estimates that a flat wealth tax of 1.5 percent would be more than enough to replace the revenue from current income, estate and gift taxes. But he proposes establishing tax brackets according to wealth levels. For instance, no tax might be imposed for a household’s first $500,000 in wealth, 1 percent for the next $500,000 and 2 percent for wealth above $1 million.

    Proponents of a wealth tax also say it would encourage innovation and risk-taking because it wouldn’t tax wealth in its early phases, but only after it has been amassed.

  • Washington Post: Mandate pushes Postal Service into the red. By Josh Hicks. Excerpts: The financially strapped U.S. Postal Service lost $1.3 billion during the first quarter of fiscal 2013, but saw a continued uptick of its shipping and package revenue, with a 4.7 percent bump, according to the agency’s financial statement.

    USPS, which rankled some lawmakers last week with its announced plans to end Saturday mail delivery in August, could have turned a $100 million profit if not for a Congressional mandate that officials have said cripples agency finances.

    The report, released Friday, shows the Postal Service paid $1.4 billion toward health benefits for future retirees. A 2006 law requires the early payment of 75 years worth of retiree benefits within 10 years. ...

    The $1.4 billion in pre-funding charges this quarter accounts for all — and then some — of the overall red ink of $1.3 billion,” National Association of Letter Carriers President Frederic Rolando said in a statement Friday. “Since pre-funding went into effect, it accounts for more than 80 percent of the agency’s red ink.”

  • The Smirking Chimp: You Should Be Outraged By What Is Being Done To Our Postal Service. By Dave Johnson. Excerpts: You are probably hearing that the Post Office is “in crisis” and is cutting back Saturday delivery, laying people off, closing offices, etc. Like so many other “crises” imposed on us lately, there is a lot to the story that you are not hearing from the “mainstream” media. (Please click that link.) The story of the intentional destruction of the US Postal Service is one more piece of the story of crisis-after-crisis, all manufactured to advance the strategic dismantling of our government and handing over the pieces to billionaires.

    Here are a few things you need to know about the Postal Service “crisis”:

    • The Postal Service is the second largest employer in the United States after Walmart. But unlike Walmart, which gets away with paying so little that employees qualify for government assistance, the Postal Services is unionized, pays reasonable wages and benefits and receives no government subsidies. (Good for them!)
    • Republicans have been pushing schemes to privatize the Postal Service since at least 1996. In 2006 Republicans in the Congress pushed through a requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund 75 years of retiree costs. The Postal Service has to pay now for employees who are not even born yet. No other government agency — and certainly no company — has to do this. ...
    • But along with require the Postal Service to break even, Congress has restricted the Service’s ability to raise rates, enter new lines of business or take other steps to help it raise revenue. In fact, while detractors complain that the Postal Service is antiquated, inefficient and burdened by bureaucracy the rules blocking the Postal Service from entering new lines of business do so because the Postal Service would have advantages over private companies. ...

    The Postal Service is a public service for We, the People, not a business. The Service is hamstrung by people who pretend it is supposed to compete and then won’t let it. They won’t help with taxpayer dollars and say it has to compete in the marketplace (again: the Department of Defense is not required to break even.) Then they give it rules that no private company could survive. Then when it gets into trouble, say that government doesn’t work, start laying people off, selling off the public assets, and saying it has to be “privatized” (so all the gains will go to a few already-wealthy people instead of to the public).

  • New York Times editorial: Quietly Killing a Consumer Watchdog. Excerpts: If you’d like to know why Republicans are trying to shut down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, take a look at three things the agency has already accomplished in its first 18 months:

    The consumer bureau has taken seriously its mandate to protect the public from the kinds of abuses that helped lead to the 2009 recession, and it has not been intimidated by the financial industry’s army of lobbyists. That’s what worries Republicans. They can’t prevent the bureau from regulating their financial supporters. Having failed to block the creation of the bureau in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, they are now trying to take away its power by filibuster, and they may well succeed.

    The bureau cannot operate without a director. Under the Dodd-Frank law, most of its regulatory powers — particularly its authority over nonbanks like finance companies, debt collectors, payday lenders and credit agencies — can be exercised only by a director. Knowing that, Republicans used a filibuster to prevent President Obama’s nominee for director, Richard Cordray, from reaching a vote in 2011. Mr. Obama then gave Mr. Cordray a recess appointment, but a federal appeals court recently ruled in another case that the Senate was not in recess at that time because Republicans had arranged for sham sessions.

  • Washington Post opinion: Time to break up the big banks. By George Will. Excerpts: With his chronically gravelly voice and relentlessly liberal agenda, Sherrod Brown seems to have stepped out of “Les Miserables,” hoarse from singing revolutionary anthems at the barricades. Today, Ohio’s senior senator has a project worthy of Victor Hugo — and of conservatives’ support. He wants to break up the biggest banks.

    He would advocate this even if he thought such banks would never have a crisis sufficient to threaten the financial system. He believes they are unhealthy for the financial system even when they are healthy. This is because there is a silent subsidy — an unfair competitive advantage relative to community banks — inherent in being deemed by the government, implicitly but clearly, too big to fail.

    The Senate has unanimously passed a bill offered by Brown and Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, directing the Government Accountability Office to study whether banks with more than $500 billion in assets acquire an “economic benefit” because of their dangerous scale. Is their debt priced favorably because, being TBTF, they are considered especially creditworthy? Brown believes the 20 largest banks pay less when borrowing — 50 to 80 basis points less — than community banks must pay. ...

    Brown is fond of the maxim that “banking should be boring.” He suspects that within the organizational sprawl of the biggest banks, there is too much excitement. Clever people with the high spirits and adrenaline addictions of fighter pilots continue to develop exotic financial instruments and transactions unknown even in other parts of the sprawl. He is undecided about whether the proper metric for identifying a bank as “too big” should be if its assets are a certain percentage of GDP — he suggests 2 percent to 4 percent — or simply the size of its assets (Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, has suggested $100 billion).

    By breaking up the biggest banks, conservatives will not be putting asunder what the free market has joined together. Government nurtured these behemoths by weaving an improvident safety net and by practicing crony capitalism. Dismantling them would be a blow against government that has become too big not to fail. Aux barricades!

  • New York Times: Why Buy a Condo You Seldom Use? Because You Can. By Elizabeth A. Harris. Excerpts: In the ornate lobby of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, high heels clack across the marble floor, glasses clink at a bar in the corner, neatly dressed porters scurry back and forth, and the buzz of quiet conversation ripples through the room. But just around the corner, at the entrance reserved for residents of the Plaza’s condominium apartments, the gilded lobby stands all but silent. Here, very few people come and go, because most of the apartment owners live someplace else.

    “I would say 10 percent of the building are really full-time residents like myself, out of about 150 apartments,” Joanna Cutler, a real estate broker who has lived in the building since 2007, said last week as she sauntered through long, empty hallways. ...

    Pieds-à-terre exist throughout the New York City condo market, a separate little world of vacation homes and investment properties. But the higher the price, the higher the concentration is likely to be of owners who spend only a few months, a few weeks or even just a few days each year in their apartments. This very costly form of desolation means that some of the city’s most expensive residential buildings stand mostly dark, lonesome and empty on the inside.

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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