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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—November 30, 2013

  • WRAL-TV Tech Report: Leaked IBM data shows work force in RTP down 30% since 2009. By Rick Smith. Excerpts: The number of people employed by IBM has shrunk in recent years by some 30 percent both in the Research Triangle area and across North Carolina, according to data gathered from internal directory information leaked to Alliance at IBM when compared to previously published IBM information about North Carolina jobs.

    IBM, one of the key tenants in RTP and a widely acknowledged essential factor to its success over the past five decades, no longer discloses employee numbers by location or country, citing competitive reasons. The company also rarely acknowledges layoffs, although so-called "resource action" notices provided to workers are often provided to the union.

    The union, which is seeking to represent IBM workers, says the data shows 7,470 regular employees and 265 executives at its Raleigh-Durham locations as of the end of 2012. The numbers do not include layoffs made in June, which the company said cost over $1 billion. WRAL News was told at the time that "hundreds" of jobs in North Carolina were affected in what was described as a "broad-based" restructuring. ...

    "IBM does not comment on the authenticity of any alleged documents provided by unnamed sources, and we do not disclose employee headcount of our IBM locations, for competitive reasons," said Doug Shelton, who is director of corporate communications, when asked about the Alliance numbers. ...

    In June, Shelton described the layoffs as necessary to deal with changes in technology. "Change is constant in the technology industry, and transformation is an essential feature of our business model. Consequently, some level of workforce remix is a constant requirement for our business,” Shelton said. ...

    Using the directory data, the Alliance says IBM headcount in the U.S. has declined to 88,150 from as high as 153,587 in 2000. IBM stopped disclosing its U.S. employee number after 2009 when the count was 105,000.

    "They are doing it to save costs," said Conrad, noting that a programmer in India "makes $17,000 a year whereas a programmer (in the United States) makes several times as much money."

    Overall, IBM employs 434,246 worldwide today, according to its website.

    "IBM is abandoning the United States," Conrad said, noting the continual drop in numbers. "Even with new centers like one in Louisiana, these jobs are for far less money."

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • Informative” Account Executive (Former Employee), Melbourne (Australia). I worked at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: Fantastic training, really provides a solid basis for a career. Better than anywhere else that I have since worked. Cons: Highly political, focus on how well you can "play the game" and not on results or skills. The way to succeed is to be good at politicking. Advice to Senior Management: Focus on results instead of politics, No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
    • Not the company it was—some areas very good, some not making enough profit so very bad” Programmer Manager (Former Employee), London, England (UK). Pros: Wide variety of work, reasonable benefits except pension, good on your CV but slipping. Cons: A remote and divisive and competitive appraisal process—you compete with peers for ranking so destroys trust and team working in many situations. Advice to Senior Management: Pay attention more to the customer and a little less on the quarterly results. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.
    • Toxic!” Anonymous Employee (Current Employee), Quezon City, National Capital Region (Philippines). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 5 years. Pros: Nothing to look forward to. Cons: All you can imagine in a company run by showbiz and political figures. Advice to Senior Management: Nothing, but see you in hell No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
    • IBM is a frustrating employer” Anonymous Employee (Current Employee), Pros: I won't say that there aren't pros to working at IBM (it's 100 times better than being unemployed). Working at IBM is really OK, but unremarkable. Cons: Antiquated call tracking software that they're too cheap to replace. Internal web sites are not easy to navigate. Company has a self-congratulatory attitude. Lots of irrelevant corporate junk mail. Advice to Senior Management: I don't think management is really interested in anyone's opinion. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.
    • Project manager in enterprise account” Project Manager (Current Employee), Minneapolis, MN. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: Smart coworkers Interesting projects. Excellent experience. Mentoring is encouraged. Cons: Employees not valued; too much emphasis on numbers. Terrible work-life balance. Little job security—everyone is worried about next layoff. Advice to Senior Management: Value your employees—they are the lifeblood of the company. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.
    • Great for work/life balance” Staff Software Engineer (Current Employee), San Jose, CA. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 5 years. Pros: I would say the majority of people there were some of the best, friendliest, and most helpful coworkers. Cons: Morale has been waning and the perks keep getting taken away. Anywhere to save a buck. Advice to Senior Management: Treat employees with respect and appreciation. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
    • Does not pay to be US employee” IT Specialist (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Good insurance, good pay, great work. Cons: US jobs all being sent over seas, poor morale by US employees in the trenches and with 1st level managers. Advice to Senior Management: You should remember your roots. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.
    • Too many layers of management leading to a very dysfunctional company.” Operations Manager (Current Employee), Indianapolis, IN. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years. Pros: IBM has done some great things over the years. Cons: People are nothing more than a number (cost) on a spreadsheet. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
    • Bureaucratic. Heavy in the middle.” Anonymous Employee (Current Employee). Pros: Talented engineers. Opportunity to work and travel globally. Diverse career choices; you won't be bored. Cons: Outdated processes that many just follow blindly just because "that is how we've done it for x number of years.". Too many management layers that moved around often, which caused lack of accountability and massive overhead for reeducating new people every year. Performance review kills innovation as the ranking quota is dictated. Advice to Senior Management: Up to the first VP level (from the bottom), the org is generally very lean. Between this and the highest GM, most could go away. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company
    • A great place to start a career or stay long term. Great community. Boring roles.” Consultant (Former Employee), London, England (UK). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 3 years. Pros: Brilliant people. Close community. Top notch training. Huge amount of internal resources and knowledge. Detailed processes. Helpful managers (mostly). A valuable brand and name for a CV. Chance to work for some of the top companies and brands around the world. Cons: Lower than average salaries. Huge amount of politics and favouritism. Not creative or innovative. Most roles are pretty simple but time consuming. Slow moving. Elitist. No real concern for social impact. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.
    • This is not a technology company” Senior Software Engineer (Current Employee), Austin, TX, I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: The 401k program has very low expenses.

      Cons: Senior executives are clueless idiots. They are so far removed from the technology and are totally preoccupied with hitting a specific EPS, that the bottom is falling out of this company.

      The hardware business is on the verge of total failure. The software business is based on buying smaller software companies, pushing the new product to existing IBM customers, then off-shoring development & support for the product. This is "pump and dump", but for software. IBM has done so poorly in Cloud services, that they had to abandon their current offering and spend a rumored $2 billion to buy another cloud provider. That provider (rightfully so) refuses to integrate solutions like IBM Power because they know what an unmanageable and uncompetitive disaster it is.

      The working environment is incredibly toxic. The threat of layoffs is constant. The vast majority of tech people in this company are embarrassed to work here. The ones with skills are leaving in large numbers, even if it means losing stock grants, 401k matches, and retirement benefits.

      Advice to Senior Management: Start hiring proven leaders from outside the company. The last time this company was turned around, they hired a CEO from outside IBM. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.

  • Glassdoor IBM Canada reviews
  • IEEE Spectrum: Is It Fair to Steer Students into STEM Disciplines Facing a Glut of Workers? By Robert N. Charette. Excerpts: he argument over whether or not there is a shortage of qualified STEM workers was replayed once more in a story this past week in a Chronicle of Higher Education article titled, “The STEM Crisis: Reality or Myth.” Unfortunately, you need to be a subscriber to gain full access to the article, but I thought a few quotes from the usual suspects claiming there is a STEM crisis in the United States would be enlightening.

    For example, there's Robert D. Atkinson, president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), which receives a lot of its funding from high-tech companies. ITIF vehemently insists that the STEM crisis is real and that anyone who says differently is hopelessly misguided and uninformed. Atkinson argued that, among other things, college students need to be channeled towards “more useful” majors.

    “We should be making some value judgments on what kind of people we'll need for the nation to move forward...The distribution of degrees right now is entirely up to students. Shouldn't we be steering them into degree types that are of more value to society, such as computer science or engineering? The American tradition is one of hard-core pragmatism. We're at risk of losing that, and we're in trouble now in regards to competitiveness.”

    Atkinson goes on to imply that IT workers in the U.S. will just have to get accustomed to lower wages given that, “Companies can go overseas for workers.” Of course, the ITIF is a strong supporter of expanding the H-1B visa program for its high-tech paymasters, which has helped erode STEM wages, especially for engineers. Additionally, Atkinson maintains that, “there will be work in IT for people with the right set of skills…[and] that lower wages probably won't keep them from accepting jobs.”

    I would bet, however, it might discourage many potential engineering and computer students from pursuing those careers, as it has in the past. ...

    In fact, Carnevale continues:

    “Having experience in technical matters helps them [STEM students] land good non-STEM jobs. They might work in places like marketing or medical-device sales, where their technical backgrounds helped them get in.”

    Yep, get an EE or CS degree, and you too can strive to get a job shilling medical devices. Sounds to me like a winning slogan for convincing high-school students to pursue engineering or similar STEM majors. Maybe Carnevale can make up posters and send them to all the high schools to put up in their science and math classrooms. ...

    Hira provided a quick overview of the current H-1B visa program, and highlighted the fact that no one knows (or tracks) exactly how many H-1B visa holders there are in the U.S. He estimated that the total is around 650,000, with most working in the high tech arena. Hira also reported that the program does not require U.S. companies to actively recruit U.S. workers before seeking out H-1B visa workers, and that company compliance with the H-1B visa requirements is only maintained through whistle blowers such as Jay Palmer, who exposed Indian outsourcing company Infosys’s rampant abuse of the program. Palmer was supposed to attend the briefing to describe his Infosys experience, but unfortunately, his flight was canceled.

  • Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert. This week's headlines:
    • GivingTuesday Movement Rivals Black Friday and Cyber Monday
News and Comments Concerning ExtendHealth (New Medical Plan for Medicare-Eligible IBM Retirees)
Minimize
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Retirement Issues & Extend Health message board: "RE: HRA Election Form" by "retiredyeah". Full excerpt: Does the HRA Survivor Form still have to be completed if one is staying with an Advantage Plan (Aetna PPO) for the next year?
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Retirement Issues & Extend Health message board: "RE: HRA Election Form" by Dave Haynes. Full excerpt: I wondered the same thing, so I called Budco, the collector of the forms. They said, "YES, all forms MUST be submitted this year by the date indicated in the IBM letter even though you may not get any HRA money for a year or two."
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Retirement Issues & Extend Health message board: "RE: More pension liability offloading by corporate plans expected" by "hankharty". Full excerpt: "I suspect the primary reason for the HRA Election Form was really to make IBM pension-payment streams more attractive to potential buyers."

    The reduced benefit for a surviving spouse is for only one reason, that is, to save IBM money. There is no other reason. There is no benefit to the retiree.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Retirement Issues & Extend Health message board: "RE: More pension liability offloading by corporate plans expected" by "hdttraveler". Excerpt: The notarized letter required for HRAs, even for single folks, was a head-scratcher for me. But the HRA may have only been a secondary reason.

    My point was that since I am single with no dependents and have been for 35 years, why did I have to send in a notarized form? My supposition is that there must be an ulterior motive - pension payment de-risking.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Retirement Issues & Extend Health message board: "RE: More pension liability offloading by corporate plans expected" by "hankharty". Excerpt: "Actually, there is the benefit of helping support your spouse after your death..." Apparently you don't understand the change. Instead of the surviving spouse receiving the full benefit ($3500/$3000), they will now receive less than half of the previous annual benefit or nothing at all, depending upon the selection made by the retiree. If the retiree has passed, the surviving spouse receives the default less than half of the previous annual benefit.

    Once again, you can thank the greedy bastards at IBM for this so-called surviving-spouse 'benefit'.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Retirement Issues & Extend Health message board: "RE: More pension liability offloading by corporate plans expected" by "madinpok". Excerpt: > My supposition is that there must be an ulterior motive - pension payment de-risking. Not sure how you think this information would help IBM with pension de-risking. Anyone who has to send in the HRA form is already retired and therefore has already made their decision on the pension Joint and Survivor option, which can not be changed after the fact. So IBM already knows what its pension liabilities are for all current retirees. The HRA form provides them with no useful information as far as de-risking goes, IMHO.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Retirement Issues & Extend Health message board: "RE: More pension liability offloading by corporate plans expected" by "hankharty". "That may be, but it doesn't appear to have anything to do with the requirement of returning a notarized form." By signing the notarized form, you are accepting the reduced surviving spouse benefit (either $0 or less than half of the $3500/$3000). The greedy bastards have given you no alternative if you wish to receive HRA money in the future. Those that don't understand that this is a benefit reduction are ignorant to what is happening.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Retirement Issues & Extend Health message board: "RE: More pension liability offloading by corporate plans expected" by Dave Haynes. Full excerpt: The most plausible reason is "it saves IBM money." Some single retirees for whatever reason (does not read the letter carefully, has no spouse and thus thinks it does not apply to him or her, ...) will not send in the form. Their HRA is thus reduced to $2600 or $2374, saving IBM money.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Retirement Issues & Extend Health message board: "RE: More pension liability offloading by corporate plans expected" by "madinpok". Full excerpt: OK, what is your more plausible reason why IBM required a notarized form from single retirees? It creates one more opportunity for the retiree to make a mistake by either not submitting the form or failing to have it notarized, resulting in a lower benefit for life and savings for IBM.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Retirement Issues & Extend Health message board: "RE: More pension liability offloading by corporate plans expected" by "redrock_5432". Full excerpt: One more aspect of the HRA option/selection: if one selects no survivor option then I think that a non-Medicare survivor (upon death of retiree) is no longer considered a 'participant' in IBM health plans, that is, they cannot purchase health plans via IBM and also receive no HRA. I do not know if the prices on survivor health plans are attractive or not for a non-Medicare survivor. I suppose the surviving spouse option would then be to purchase plan on open market.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Retirement Issues & Extend Health message board: "RE: More pension liability offloading by corporate plans expected" by "hdttraveler". Full excerpt: "The most plausible reason is it saves IBM money. Some single retirees ... will not send in the form. Their HRA is thus reduced to $2600 or $2374, saving IBM money."

    I'm not trying to be antagonistic or belittle your opinion, but I am truly amazed.

    Many folks repeatedly post on this forum with an underlying message that seems to be: IBM fundamentally broke their word to us multiple times - don't trust them. I agree. All of the past legal disclaimers may protect IBM legally, but not morally.

    But you appear to be saying that IBM is using a new strategy. Let's call it a rebate campaign - if folks don't follow the terms, they'll lose a potential benefit and reduce IBM's cost.

    I'm very disappointed that IBM violated my trust, but am not as cynical as you appear to be.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Retirement Issues & Extend Health message board: "RE: More pension liability offloading by corporate plans expected" by "rmeggy@be". Full excerpt: I believe the level of cynicism is proportionate to the number of times that an IBM employee/retiree was burned by the changes in IBM's corporate environment that saw changes in the treatment of their employees/retirees.

    I recall that in 1991 we were told that if we retired before Jan 1, 1992 that the costs for our Medical benefits would never be capped. So, I retired. A couple of years later we received a letter that basically said, we changed our minds and your costs are also capped and because we changed we will cap your costs at $500.00 over people that retired after 1/01/1992. $8500.00 vs $8000.00 if I recall. I still see the $500.00 delta that is carried over to our HRA funding. ($3500.00 vs $3000.00) Then years after that, nobody was capped.

    Always remember the fine print on all benefits documentation, for example: 2014 IBM Benefits Enrollment Guide for IBM Retirees not Eligible for Medicare. This is for my non-Medicare eligible spouse.

    The company reserves the right,in its sole discretion, to amend,change, suspend or terminate any benefit or plan, program,practice or policy of the company at any time.

    Nothing here about a moral obligation. Bottom line here is that we can expend our energies bitching about our current events or try to ensure that clean, concise, accurate information is made available for all effected IBM personnel. We have to play the cards we are dealt in the best way we know how.

    In my case I don't think I will succeed in getting my present carrier to give EH Agent of Record for my MA policy that I like. I just found out that I can not just replace that MA policy with a Medigap policy purchased on the open market while getting my HRA by purchasing the Humana Walmart Drug plan through EH. BCBS told me I would have to go to Medicare and get a Special Election Privilege to allow BCBS to replace my 2013 MA plan with a BCBS Medigap plan. Further investigation, s in order. Has anyone else run into this issue?

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Retirement Issues & Extend Health message board: "RE: More pension liability offloading by corporate plans expected" by "madinpok". Full excerpt: > I do not know if the prices on survivor health plans are attractive or not for a non-Medicare survivor. I suppose the surviving spouse option would then be to purchase plan on open market.

    For non-Medicare retirees and spouses, the IBM plans do not appear to be any great bargain vs buying a policy on an Obamacare exchange. In NY the exchange prices look like they are about 1/3 less than the FHA prices for similar coverage.

    For Medicare policies, the EH prices are the same as the open market prices for the exact same policies.

    Bottom line - I don't see any disadvantage for a surviving spouse who loses access to the IBM retiree insurance program.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension, Retirement Issues & Extend Health message board: "Finished Mom's Enrollment" by "sethompson2". Full excerpt: I do apologize if this is a repeat email, my computer was freezing up the other day and I've been out of town and not checking to see if it went through.

    So I finally finished the process of switching my almost 80 year-old mom over to her new plan. I have to say, I am no brain surgeon, but am pretty computer savvy and am a college graduate—but this whole process stressed me out!

    I know NOTHING about the Medicare yet personally, and navigating between plans, and wanting to get her the best coverage possible with her limited income was complicated to say the least. I'm still not convinced I made the right choices (she deferred to me as her POA to decide). I can only pray and wait to see. At least she does have the $1300 HRA to reimburse some of her upfront costs. I'm curious if that will continue after this year, or is a one time "perk"?

    To add to the process even after all the time researching and filling out all the online stuff we still had to finalize it all on a conference call. The process (including being disconnected once) took almost two hours on the phone.

    The GOOD news is that I found YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT FOR AN APPOINTMENT to finalize your plan if you have filled out everything already online. At least here in MD we did not. Which made us both very happy as their next online available date wasn't until December 9. I would suggest anyone still waiting if you have completed EVERYTHING (there are a lot of questions at the end to answer) online and you have an hour or two in the next few days, get it done ASAP to avoid any delays and have to go through a reimbursement process. Can't hurt to try at least! :) I am hoping we got ours in enough time.

    Seriously, how are some of the elderly whom are not computer savvy or alone supposed to navigate this? My heart goes out to those going it alone and pray not too many lose coverage (or make a poor choice) by not getting it done in time.

    Thanks for this site. I found it very helpful along the process. My Dad (who passed in '92) worked for IBM for over 40 years in the DC area. Anyone remember the Rusty Bucket? That was one of the buildings I remember him talking about. Take care all, Sharon

New on the Alliance@IBM Site

Job Cut Reports

  • Comment 11/29/13: Consider: The 3 stool legs of the roadmap are 'share repurchase', 'operating leverage', and 'growth'. Inside growth, CLOUD is one of the 4 big plays. This is documented at least back as far as the 2010 annual report. Does it not strike anyone as totally unbelievable that Gartner just ranked IBM LAST in the IAAS cloud space and we had to buy Softlayer this year just to be semi-competitive in the cloud? What has IBM been focusing on for the past x years? Repurchases and operating leverage of course. Meanwhile, the hard work of transforming and changing for the future has languished. Ginni must be beside herself right now and Mills must be on the hot seat re missing the Cloud. Druckenmiller is spot on. -HI-

IBM Retiree Issues

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
Minimize
  • Washington Post: The U.S. ranks 26th for life expectancy, right behind Slovenia. By Sarah Kliff. Excerpts: Back in the 1970s, Americans typically lived longer than residents of other countries.

    Not anymore: A new report out this morning from the OECD shows that the United States' average lifespan has fallen one year behind the international average, lower than Canada and Germany, more akin to the Czech Republic and Poland. ...

    This 213-page, graph-laden OECD report tells the story of why. It shows the United States as a country that is spending tons and tons on health care--but getting way less than other countries out of that investment. It exposes a country that's really great at buying fancy medical technologies, but not so fantastic at using those medical technologies to extend life. It is, in short, the story of why our health care system is so screwed up. ...

    "While life expectancy in the United States used to be one year above the OECD average in 1970, it is now more than one year below the average," the authors write. "Many possible explanations have been suggested for these lower gains in life expectancy, including the highly fragmented nature of the U.S. health system, with relatively few resources devoted to public health and primary care, and a large share of the population uninsured."

    We're spending a lot on health care but, when it comes to life expectancy, not getting much back in return.

  • New York Times opinion: The South’s New Lost Cause. By Timothy Egan. Excerpts: The comparisons of President Obama to Lincoln fade with every day of the shrinking modern presidency. As for the broken-promise scale: Lincoln said an entire section of the country could continue to enslave more than one in three of its people. Obama wrongly assured about five million people that they could keep their bare-bones health plans if they liked them (later amended when it turned not to be true).

    As inapt as those comparisons are, what is distressingly similar today is how the South is once again committed to taking a backward path. By refusing to expand health care for the working poor through Medicaid, which is paid for by the federal government under Obamacare, most of the old Confederacy is committed to keeping millions of its own fellow citizens in poverty and poor health. They are dooming themselves, further, as the Left-Behind States.

    And they are doing it out of spite. Elsewhere, the expansion of Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, has been one of the few success stories of Obamacare. It may be too complicated for the one-dimensional Beltway press. Either that, or it doesn’t fit the narrative of failure.

    But in the states that have embraced a program that reaches out to low-wage workers, almost 500,000 people have signed up for health care in less than two months time. This is good for business, good for state taxpayers (because the federal government is subsidizing the expansion) and can do much to lessen the collateral damages of poverty, from crime to poor diets. In Kentucky, which has bravely tried to buck the retrograde tide, Medicaid expansion is projected to create 17,000 jobs. In Washington, the state predicts 10,000 new jobs and savings of $300 million in the first 18 months of expansion.

    Beyond Medicaid, the states that have diligently tried to make the private health care exchanges work are putting their regions on a path that will make them far more livable, easing the burden of crippling, uninsured medical bills -- the leading cause of personal bankruptcy. ...

    What we could see, 10 years from now, is a Mason-Dixon line of health care. One side (with exceptions for conservative Midwest and mountain states) would be the insured North, a place where health care coverage was affordable and available to most people. On the other side would be the uninsured South, where health care for the poor would amount to treating charity cases in hospital emergency rooms.

    Texas, where one in four people have no health care and Gov. Rick Perry proudly resists extending the Medicaid helping hand to the working poor, would be the leading backwater in this Dixie of Despair. In the 11 states of the old Confederacy, only Arkansas and Tennessee are now open to Medicaid expansion.

    The South, already the poorest region in the country, with all the attendant problems, would acquire another distinction -- a place where, if you were sick and earned just enough money that you didn’t qualify for traditional Medicare, you might face the current system’s version of a death panel.

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.

  • The Smirking Chimp: Meet America's Biggest Welfare Queens. By Thom Hartmann. Excerpts: Let's talk about America's real welfare queens.

    Republicans on Capitol Hill love to argue that welfare programs are costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year, and that welfare recipients are able to live lavish lifestyles thanks to the government.

    But in reality, all of the welfare that the U.S. government provides to real, live human beings is just a drop in the ocean, compared to the billions and billions that the government hands out to corporations and big-business.

    Each year, the average American family forks over $6,000 to corporations in the form of taxpayer subsidies. ...

    There are many indirect but just as costly forms of corporate welfare too. Take Wal-Mart for example.

    America's largest retailer makes nearly $35,000 in profit every minute, and as of 2012, the corporation's annual sales were around $405 billion.

    But those huge profits don't trickle down to Wal-Mart employees, who on average make just $9 per hour.

    Those extremely low wages, combined with very poor benefits, force many Wal-Mart employees to reach out to the government for assistance with healthcare, food and housing costs.

    A report released earlier this year by congressional Democrats found that Wal-Mart's low wages and poor benefits cost American taxpayers between $900,000 and $1.75 million per store. ...

    If we're serious about ending welfare, let's begin with corporate welfare, and use those billions of dollars for things that really matter, like education, healthcare, transportation, and helping out the most vulnerable Americans.

  • The Smirking Chimp: Multi-Millionaire CEOs Hatch Plans to Cut Social Security While Compiling Massive Nest Eggs of Their Own. By Bill Berkowitz. Excerpts: The opening line of a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government might be considered controversial if it wasn't so gob-smackingly true: In the current budget debate, the loudest calls for Social Security cuts are coming from two lobby groups led by CEOs who will never have to worry about their own retirement security.

    The report, titled Platinum-Plated Pensions: The Retirement Fortunes of CEOs Who Want to Cut Your Social Security, points out that two organizations, Fix the Debt, a PR and lobby machine launched in 2012 and led by more than 135 CEOs of major corporations, and the Business Roundtable, a 40-year-old association made up of about 200 CEOs of Americas largest corporations, are involved in a protracted campaign aimed at cutting, and ultimately, gutting Social Security. ...

    According to Platinum-Plated Pensions, The average Business Roundtable CEO has $14.5 million in his gilded nest egg, more than 1,200 times as much as the $12,000 median retirement savings of U.S. workers who are within 10 years of retirement.

    Ten CEO members of the Business Roundtable (four of whom are also members of Fix the Debt) have corporate retirement plans valued at more than $50 million. Of these, three have retirement assets of more than $100 million. ...

    Although public opinion is soundly against any cuts to Social Security, Fix the Debt and Business Roundtables millionaires, sitting in the catbird seat, will no doubt soldier on in their efforts to gut one of Americas most successful programs.

  • Washington Post: Pope Francis denounces ‘trickle-down’ economic theories in critique of inequality. By Zachary A. Goldfarb and Michelle Boorstein. Excerpts: Pope Francis on Tuesday sharply criticized growing economic inequality and unfettered markets in a wide-ranging and decidedly populist teaching that revealed how he plans to reshape the Catholic Church. ...

    On Tuesday, he showed a willingness to use tough language in attacking what he views as the excesses of capitalism. Using a phrase with special resonance in the United States, he strongly criticized an economic theory — often affiliated with conservatives — that discourages taxation and regulation.

    “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” Francis wrote in the papal statement. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacra­lized workings of the prevailing economic system.” “Meanwhile,” he added, “the excluded are still waiting.”

  • BuzzFlash: Revolving Door Sham: JPMorgan CFO Admits $7 Billion of DOJ Settlement is Tax-Deductible. By Mark Karlin. Excerpts: To hear the number $13 billion dollars as a fine in the much-leaked-but-finally-announced Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement with JPMorgan Chase is meant to imply that the DOJ is getting tough on Wall Street. After all, $13 billion dollars is a jaw-dropping pile of money.

    In reality, it is, according to The New York Times only "half the bank’s annual profit." As BuzzFlash at Truthout has pointed out in the past, that still means roughly $6.5 billion dollars in profit for the behemoth financial institution, no apparent cut in the oligarchical compensation of the likes of JPMorgan's chief executive, Jamie Dimon, and no major changes in the salaries or composition of Dimon's executive team.

    Furthermore, the NYT reports that "Marianne Lake, JPMorgan’s chief financial officer, emphasized that $7 billion of the settlement was tax-deductible." In addition, as BuzzFlash reported in an earlier commentary, JPMorgan may -- if you can believe this -- may receive several billions of dollars in FDIC coverage that would offset as much as a third of the $13 billion fine.

    But then we get down to the basic fact that the DOJ still cannot answer. How can a bank-too-bit-to-fail commit $13 billion worth of fraud and yet no one committed a crime? Yes, the agreement allows for a Sacramento US prosecutor to pursue some relatively minor criminal charges in California, but that looks like about it.

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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