He’ll pocket $7,000 a day when he works and $3,500 per day if he works four hours or less.
Selected reader comments follow:
Something is very wrong in this company.
If IBM is as deep in talent as they claim, why do you need to pay this guy crazy money to hang around?
If that’s the real Bob Moffat, you owe me compensation for canceled vacation during one of your pet projects and shouldn’t be entitled to your pension for disgracing IBM and setting an example to the power hungry that it’s OK to cheat and share our trusted partners’ secrets as long as you’re powerful and don’t get caught.
The December 2012 arrests were based on prosecutors’ claims that Deutsche Bank withheld e-mails from the last week of April 2010 in the accounts of employees suspected of participating in a tax scheme related to carbon emission certificates.
A month after the arrests, an IBM employee said in a letter to prosecutors that staff at the computer services company mixed up the dates of its monthly data-storage operations. The confusion may have meant the e-mails from the last week of the month were left out of documents turned over to investigators, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Bloomberg News. ...
At a July 3 meeting this year with Frankfurt prosecutors, IBM staff told investigators that another “glitch” caused the loss of additional data from a period in 2012. The data sought by prosecutors had been deleted because various archival requests -- including some by Deutsche Bank -- were mingled and one folder was deleted at IBM, according to a copy of a memo written by Frankfurt tax investigators.
In October, IBM reported its sixth consecutive quarter of declining revenue, and missed sales forecast by over $1 billion.
Wall Street isn't too optimistic that IBM will quickly get back on track. Only 28% of analysts have a "buy" rating on the stock, the lowest percentage in at least two decades according to FactSet. And hedge fund titan Stan Druckenmiller recently revealed that he is shorting IBM.
Fiona White is an account manager in IBM's business solutions area who, according to a statement of claim filed in the Federal Court, is suing the company for loss and damage. ...
Lawyers for Ms White said in her statement of claim that she was paid an annual salary of $295,000, and that she was entitled to earn commissions "depending on her exertions and work levels".
Having been set a target of $US900,000 ($A1 million) in sales, Ms White said she had achieved recognisable revenue of $US9.1 million.
This, Ms White calculated, meant she should have been paid a bonus of just over $1 million. But, her statement of claim said, IBM had "failed to pay all commissions due" under the company's incentive plan.
The predictions were published on Tuesday, and are centered around Big Blue's major product push of "cognitive computing" (henceforth abbreviated to $IBMmarketing). This draws upon multiple investments by the company in technologies ranging from its Jeopardy-playing Watson supercomputer, to neuromorphic chips and neural-network research.
For this year's "five in five", IBM predicts that, by 2019, online classrooms will use $IBMmarketing to provide tailored educational programs for individual students; that $IBMmarketing will allow storekeepers to "beat online" shops by carefully tracking the flow of goods through their business; that doctors will use DNA-specific treatments and DNA testing to provide patient care; a digital guardian that uses $IBMmarketing will follow you round the internet to perform semi-autonomous security checks; and finally cities will start to reach out to your smartphone and/or fondleslab through the magic of $IBMmarketing. ...
These fuzzy predictions are par for the course for IBM, which has been making them for years. ...
If we'd believed all of its predictions from 2008 then, by now, we'd have thin-film solar cells layered on the tops of our laptops; we would be offered full DNA profiling from our doctors; we would never interact with people in stores and would instead use "digital shopping assistants"; all of our information would be reliably stored so that "forgetting will become a distant memory"; and we would be using our voice to do many of our tasks online. ...
So it seems likely that IBM's pronouncements will come true in one way or another, but over a longer time period than Big Blue imagines, and via technologies or competitors it does not yet foresee. As ever, the possibilities posed are tantalizing, but it seems the greatest deployer of $IBMmarketing tech will be Google, rather than Big Blue.
Selected reader comments follow:
I am, of course, being unfair. It must be hard for IBM, a company that once had the whole computing industry in its claws, to be reduced to just another IT company. Barely does it remember, I bet, what it feels to set off in some direction and have the world follow.
Further, the story is that the upper management pulled a demotivational HP by giving pay raises to middle performers and below, leaving high performers with nothing. Maybe the 5 year miracle event would be: still a relevant company.
Too bad, Watson has a lot of potential but lets face it, the grand entrance was years ago and the lack of investment is showing as the competition poaches the brains and the fruit dies on the vine with only smoke and mirrors to show since.
According to Reuters, the Louisiana Sheriffs' Pension and Relief Fund is suing the technology giant's CEO Virginia Rometty and CFO Mark Loughridge for failing to reveal the risk of tying the company to the NSA.
In November, the Center for Strategic Studies in Washington noted that IBM, along with Cisco and Microsoft, appeared to be stonewalled by China in response to media reports that US companies were aiding the NSA.
IBM reported a 22 percent revenue loss from China in October, and a 4 percent drop in its Q3 profits. In September, Microsoft also noted that China is its weakest market.
Well, I'm no longer certain the anti-discrimination rules are protecting us. ABC (not our friends) has been working diligently against us. Looks like it is working.
From: http://www.pionline.com/article/20131213/ONLINE/131219916/irs-issues-testing-relief-for-closed-db-plans#: IRS issues testing relief for closed DB plans, By Hazel Bradford.
Corporations that sponsor defined benefit plans closed to new employees got some good news Friday from the Internal Revenue Service, which granted relief from non-discrimination testing rules through 2015. (Editor's note: IBM is an example of a corporation whose defined benefit plan is closed to new employees.)
Defined benefit plan advocates wanted the IRS to allow plans to be considered in compliance if they were at the time of closing. The IRS agreed to the change, but only for 2014 and 2015, and only if benefits were not enhanced for some people but not others. The IRS left the door open for tighter rules in later years by asking for comments on possible new ones.
Washington lobbyists had hoped to get permanent relief from the rules, which were written to apply to ongoing plans. Closed plans came closer to violating the IRS non-discrimination rules as participants' income grew, and some sponsors were freezing their plans as a precaution, to avoid running afoul of the rules.
“We applaud the Treasury and IRS for getting this out quickly and addressing in a very effective way our concerns,” said Kent Mason, an attorney at law firm Davis & Harman, who is outside counsel for the American Benefits Council. “We have a number of questions about the approaches they've raised” for the future rules.
Cons: Company is so large, much of ones time is spent overcoming internal obstacles. Decisions made at top sometimes are made without considering full implications of implementation in mid-management and lower—a challenge often faced by large companies. Company's top priority seems to be to meet an earnings promise it made to Wall Street—this can impact its investment horizon for certain market spaces, etc.
Advice to Senior Management: 1) Get more information from sources outside IBM execs before major decisions are made (include subset of lower-level employees, as well as getting more advice from external practitioners). 2) Beware of having company strategy driven by EPS promises to Wall Street; instead focus on targeting markets to own, invest appropriately, and revise Wall Street expectations if necessary, despite short term pain.
Advice to Senior Management: Pay us what we are worth not the "low cost wage" that you refer to in the onboarding during the transition that is refereed to as part of MDC. Consistent attitude regarding attendance not single out certain individuals. Give us the yearly bonus that real IBMers are given and treat us like them. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.
Cons: Company is too out of balance, becoming unhinged, all focus on Roadmap 2015 has meant everything else is suffering, including its people (sorry, resources). The introduction of the hilariously grotesque GDF system, which plugs into the PBC stack ranking system (both of which are so removed from ensuring and modulating high productivity from a community of above average intelligent people) means everyone is increasingly pitted against each other, which in turn means there is reduced collaboration, increased tension, less team work and an every man (resource) for himself attitude.
These systems would have been thrown out at the highest level if fear wasn't running the company right at the top. There's a belief that they have to meet certain financial targets, either that or the board members are so greedy and self-serving that they are now devoid of any human empathy so are unable to see that such systems create an environment where everyone from the top of the company down to the lowest levels will develop the same attitudes i.e. one's that are in direct conflict with the natural order of things, and so will sooner or later....no, definitely sooner, stop functioning.
In the last team I was in I heard of one person that had to be talked out of suicide and others that had had to get treatment for stress e.g. anti-anxiety tablets etc, not to mention those off work with various illnesses and the most talented jumping at the opportunity to take redundancy.
The company is screaming out for a radical shake-up. Without one, and while fear and greed are the predominant drivers within the company, then it will end up falling on it's face. The banks all fell flat on their face through this attitude (although nothing much has changed with them since so expect them to fall harder very soon, but thats another story) and I have no doubt the same thing will happen to IBM.
Advice to Senior Management: Resign. Elect a board comprising truly intelligent people, not career fools. No, I would not recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
Cons in Global Business Services:
Advice to Senior Management—Consulting by Degrees:
Advice to Senior Management—Global Business Services:
No, I would not recommend this company to a friend.
Cons: Dealing with what I call the corporate "hoo haw," the processes for getting some goals accomplished are sometimes monumental. I found that by building my network, I could many times work around these roadblocks and achieve the end goal. Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend. I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company.
The causes lie in a messy mix of public policy, improved health and changes in lifestyles and economic conditions. For the United States, Burtless cites an increase in Social Security’s eligibility age for full benefits from 65 to 66; a shift among employers from “defined benefit” pensions (which provide payments until a recipient’s death) to “defined contribution” pensions (which provide support only until pension savings are exhausted); and higher education levels among baby boomers. ...
Similar factors are probably at work abroad: cuts in public programs — or fear of cuts; more economic uncertainty; longer lives and jobs that are less physically demanding. Still, a few advanced countries retain low retirement ages: prominently, France, Italy and Belgium. In 2012, only about 20 percent of their populations aged 60 to 64 had jobs.
Dear IBM Retiree or Benefit Recipient,
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My wife and I spent an hour or two each putting our doctors and meds on the ExtendHealth web site.
I went to the website, put in my zip code(?) and some other stuff, and was presented a screen with 3 columns. One Medigap insurance had 7 alternatives, the drug plan had 17 alternatives, and the 3rd column had 9 alternatives.
I typed this data into a spreadsheet (getting bounced from EH several times for 'inactivity' - all I was doing was scrolling). A bell started ringing in my head, because I thought I was doing just what any cautious buyer would do, and it obviously didn't fit into EH's plans.
We called EH on Monday, and spent an hour or so with a young man who seemed nice, but whose accent was so bad that we couldn't differentiate between his saying Plan B and plan F.
He told us that in addition to the 7 choices we had on the web site, we also had some other choices from AARP, which were not on the web site. When I asked him when they would be posted so we could compare them, he said they wouldn't be posted. That bell rang again.
We signed off with the notion that I would go to AARP and research these plans. I'm in the process of doing that.
We've gotten three calls from EH since then, two from a young woman who seemed very knowledgeable and was just calling to followup and give us any more info we needed. Unfortunately, on the second call (which we'd scheduled) we were 5 minutes into a discussion, when she had some sort of coughing/choking fit, so I told her to sign off, take care of herself, and call us back.
During our brief discussion, I showed her that on this 'detailed' three column display of plans available to me, all of the specifically-drug plans had two columns, one for the co-pay for a one month generic prescription, and another for the copay for the three month generic prescription (in all cases, it was 3 times the one month co-pay). I said that I couldn't find any indication of co-pays for name brand drugs. She said that they were divided into Tiers (I remember that from somewhere else), but we weren't able to complete that investigation before her choking started. Bells going off, again.
We got another EH call an hour or so later; the caller said he was following up on our contact, but he had no idea who the lady with the coughing was, so he wasn't following that up. He just knew we'd talked to someone on Monday. I tried to ask him about the name brand drugs, but he said he wasn't an adviser, he was just "following up".
Given the notion that no one from IBM has anything approaching an explanation as to why they can force this cataclysmic change on 110,000 people, claiming it's too expensive for IBM to support, and at the same time hiring a company who works on a commission to "advise" us in order to get any cash benefit from this change, this bell is just ringing more and more.
I have the definite feeling that whatever motivation or justification exists for IBM's decision, they have chosen to transfer our capital resources in this matter to a company, headed by an individual who has been reducing IBMers retirement benefits (as a consultant) since 1993.
I cannot overcome the feeling that we're all dealing with a "Buy here, pay here" used car lot sales force, incentivized by a commission structure to sell us policies that maximize their profitability rather than our future healthcare.
What other explanations can there be for withholding vital drug costs from our decision-making data? Why are some plans available, but not a part of their website?
There are some on this chat board who are obviously connected with some of the powers in Valhalla (that's next to Armonk, and used to be the site of some headquarters). I would not be surprised to learn that there are some active-duty IBMers monitoring this board, as well.
Setting aside my inexperience in this healthcare shopping area, and the emotional insecurity I suspect this message is indicating which may be clouding my mind, can someone in authority please correct the deficiencies which created the 2 questions just above, or explain to all of us why we don't really need to have this data?
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The study, which appears online Dec. 12 in the "First Look" section of the American Journal of Public Health, illuminates stark differences in countries' efficiency of spending on health care, and the U. S.'s inferior ranking reflects a high price paid and a low return on investment.
For example, every additional hundred dollars spent on health care by the United States translated into a gain of less than half a month of life expectancy. In Germany, every additional hundred dollars spent translated into more than four months of increased life expectancy
The researchers also discovered significant gender disparities within countries.
"Out of the 27 high-income nations we studied, the United States ranks 25th when it comes to reducing women's deaths," said Dr. Jody Heymann, senior author of the study and dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. "The country's efficiency of investments in reducing men's deaths is only slightly better, ranking 18th." ...
Comment: By Don McCanne, M.D. To no surprise to those who have been paying attention to the U.S. health care system, we rank very low amongst OECD nations - 22nd out of 27 studied - on the efficiency of health care spending when measured by improvements in life expectancy. Spending on women was even less efficient than spending on men. As we have long known, we spend more while getting less.
There are likely many factors that contribute to these differences, but there is no doubt that we have a very dysfunctional, fragmented, wasteful, inequitable health care financing system that certainly is an exemplar of inefficiency. Why should we not expect poor outcomes for our high level of spending?
Once we have in place a single payer national health program it will be much easier to identify the deficiencies specifically related to health care delivery, and then we can correct them. Ladies first, please.
There is no doubt that a small percentage of children, perhaps 5 percent, have the disorder and that medication can alleviate the symptoms, such as inability to concentrate, that can impede success in school or in life. Some studies have shown that medications helped elementary schoolchildren who had been carefully evaluated for A.D.H.D. improve their concentration and their scores on reading and math tests.
Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 15 percent of high-school-age children had been diagnosed with the disorder and that the number of children taking medication for it had soared to 3.5 million, up from 600,000 in 1990. Many of these children, it appears, had been diagnosed by unskilled doctors based on dubious symptoms.
A two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies promoting the pills to doctors, educators and parents was described by Alan Schwarz in The Times on Sunday. The tactics were brazen, often misleading and sometimes deceitful. Shire, an Irish company that makes Adderall and other A.D.H.D. medications, recently subsidized 50,000 copies of a comic book in which superheroes tell children that “Medicines may make it easier to pay attention and control your behavior!” Advertising on television and in popular magazines has sought to persuade mothers that Adderall cannot only unleash a child’s innate intelligence but make the child more amenable to chores like taking out the garbage. ...
So many medical professionals benefit from overprescribing that it is difficult to find a neutral source of information. Prominent doctors get paid by drug companies to deliver upbeat messages to their colleagues at forums where they typically exaggerate the effectiveness of the drugs and downplay their side effects. Organizations that advocate on behalf of patients often do so with money supplied by drug companies, including the makers of A.D.H.D. stimulants. Medical researchers paid by drug companies have published studies on the benefits of the drugs, and medical journals in a position to question their findings profit greatly from advertising of A.D.H.D. drugs.
Compare that to the following, which you are not hearing about but which is also happening:
The public has seemed equally pessimistic. Fifty-four percent of Americans, according to a recent poll, believe the ACA will have a negative impact on the healthcare system, compared to only 24 percent who anticipate a positive impact. Nearly three-quarters expect the quality of healthcare to decline or stay the same, while only 11 percent expect it to improve. More than half expect costs to rise while only 9 percent expect them to fall.
Such pessimism, however, is hardly a credible predictor of the success or failure of the ACA. Politicians, pundits, and the public are largely removed from the inner workings of the healthcare system, so it is difficult for them to form an accurate, 360-degree view of reform. Moreover, most Americans (70 percent) readily admit they know little about the ACA or its potential impact.
A more meaningful source for an appraisal of healthcare reform, and for predictions about how it will fair, would be individuals who are especially informed—people who have spent their entire careers on the front lines of the healthcare system deciding how budgets are managed and how care is delivered—people like the leaders of America’s hospitals and health systems. Healthcare reform is catalyzing major changes for these executives and their institutions. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know if they share the public’s apprehension and pessimism? ...
The differences in attitudes were stark. Unlike politicians, pundits, and the public, the leaders of America’s leading hospitals and health systems are optimistic about reform (Figure 1). Fully 65 percent indicated that by 2020, they believe the healthcare system as a whole will be somewhat or significantly better than it is today. And when they were asked about their own institutions, the optimism was even more dramatic. Fully 93 percent predicted that the quality of care provided by their own health system would improve. This is probably related to efforts to diminish hospital acquired conditions, medication errors, and unnecessary re-admissions, as encouraged by financial penalties in the ACA.
But the largest of these co-payment assistance charities, the Chronic Disease Fund, is now in turmoil after questions have arisen about its relationship with a pharmaceutical company that is itself under investigation for its marketing practices.
The practice is casting light on what has long been an open secret: The bulk of the contributions to these charities come from the pharmaceutical companies. The foundations not only help hundreds of thousands of patients a year, they also raise drug company sales and profits.
After all, if a patient cannot afford out-of-pocket costs of $5,000 for a $100,000-a-year drug, the drug company gets nothing. But if the manufacturer or the charity pays the $5,000, the patient gets the drug and the company receives $95,000 from the patient’s insurance company or Medicare. ...
The charities are supposed to solicit donations from the public, not just drug companies. Still, 81 percent of the contributions to the Chronic Disease Fund in 2011 came from two pharmaceutical companies, according to its financial report for the year. The companies were not identified.
"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.
Asked how it felt to be called a Marxist, Time Magazine's Person of the Year answered:
"The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended."
Pope Francis went on to reiterate his criticism of trickle down economics, saying it never benefits the poor, instead resulting in the rich simply keeping more for themselves:
"The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the “trickle-down theories” which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world. The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. This was the only reference to a specific theory. I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view but according to the Church’s social doctrine. This does not mean being a Marxist."
What both sides seem to agree on is that from the late 1940s until the early 1970s things were different. Those coming home from the war entered college in record numbers, which fueled a generation of economic growth. As each year passed, a majority of Americans were economically better off. Incipient political movements that confronted racial oppression and gender discrimination flourished. ...
In the postwar period the rich found themselves in a quandary. Their wages and their membership were static. They needed to resuscitate themselves. This required allies who shared a basic concern. The rich thought, not incorrectly, that high tax rates were handicapping their capacity to advance. And they found common ground with suburbanites who didn’t see social spending as something that enhanced their lives and neighborhoods, but as something that transferred their tax dollars to a different kind of American — urban, of a notably darker hue — who had only recently gained political legitimacy. Through a tax revolt these groups went to work dismantling social programs.
They were terribly successful and they helped turn America on its head. Since the late 1970s, it has been average Americans who have experienced comparative wage stagnation and who are more likely than their parents to stay in the same economic position. For the rich, the story is the exact opposite.
Let’s say you’re fortunate enough to be in the top 1 percent of American families; at a minimum you make almost $400,000 a year. Things aren’t just good; they seem to keep getting better. While the median American worker received about a 5 percent wage increase since 1979, your raise was above 150 percent. From your perch, even when you look at people right below you in the top 5 percent, you find that the rate of your wage growth is much greater than theirs. ...
The second lesson is harder. We are not in this together. We need to get back to what made America great, when the many and not the few were winning. To do so we must stop conflating moral arguments with economic ones. Instead of operating under the fiction that we will all benefit from a proposed change in economic direction, let’s be honest. If a few of us are better off, then many are not. If many are better off, then the few will be constrained. Which world would you rather live in? To me the answer is obvious.
...Other economists, relying on household surveys taken by the U.S. Department of Labor, also found growing inequality. But the Frenchmen used IRS data that goes back much further than Labor’s numbers. By 2007, the two were able to show that the income share of the top 1 percent had reached a level not seen since 1928, the Jazz Age of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby. ...
By the late 1980s, the Michigan study had detailed information on two generations of Americans showing that social mobility was much less prevalent than previously estimated. The poor were staying poor, and the rich were staying rich.
In the late 1990s, Miles Corak at the University of Ottawa applied that approach to Canada. He also began the complicated econometric work necessary to compare social mobility among countries. Corak made it possible to see whether the American Dream measured up to the Danish Dream. (It doesn’t.) In 2004, again inspired by a theoretical paper by Solon, Corak produced the first version of a graph that compared developed economies according to income inequality and social mobility. The graph shows that countries with the highest income inequality, such as the U.K. and the U.S., are also the most likely to pass economic status from one generation to another.
How often can we hear that government should be more responsive to the problems Americans face now? But the vogue for simply assuming that government cannot — or should not — do much of anything about those problems leads to paralysis. This, in turn, further increases disaffection from government.
For all these reasons, it was exciting last week to see Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut introduce the FAMILY Act, the acronym standing for their Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act. The bill would provide partial income for up to 12 weeks of leave for new parents and for other family demands, such as care for a sick family member, including a domestic partner.
How far behind the rest of the world is our country on this quintessential family values matter? The Post’s Amy Joyce cited a Harvard University study in 2004 noting that of 168 countries it examined, 163 had some form of paid maternity leave. We weren’t one of the 163. Joyce observed that “the U.S. is on par with places like Papua New Guinea and Swaziland when it comes to paid family leave.” ...
Our current discussion of what constitutes “freedom” is shaped far too much by a deeply flawed right-wing notion that every action by government is a threat to personal liberty and that the one and only priority of those who care about keeping people free is for government to do less than it does.
This perspective ignores the many ways over the course of our history in which government has expanded the autonomy of our citizens. Consider how much less freedom so many of us would have without civil rights or voting rights laws, without government student loans, without labor laws, without public schools and without Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. (And we don’t take seriously enough the implications of a most basic fact of our national story: that it took big government in Washington to outlaw slavery.) ...
At a time when the political news is dominated by a debate between do-little conservatism and do-nothing conservatism — which is to say, between a right-tilting Republican establishment and the radical tea party — Gillibrand’s package includes building blocks for a broader counter-vision inspired by the idea of an Empowering Government.
Yes, we need to protect what the philosophers call “negative liberty.” There are, indeed, many things that government should never be able to do to us. But we need to think more about “positive liberty,” the ability to realize certain goals in our lives. Democratic government can create the framework in which we have more power to reach those ends.
Between 1979 and 2007 the incomes of the top 1% of American earners rose by 275%, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Those of the bottom 20% rose by 18%. Had the federal minimum wage kept up with productivity gains since 1968 it would have reached $21.72 last year, estimates the Centre for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), a leftish think-tank. Campaigners gripe that the government should not have to top up the pay of workers like Mr Goytia (who agrees); this “hidden subsidy” amounts to $7 billion in the fast-food industry alone, according to one study.
Although it's still possible to win the lottery (your chance of winning $636 million in the recent Mega Millions sweepstakes was one in 259 million), the biggest lottery of all is what family we're born into. Our life chances are now determined to an unprecedented degree by the wealth of our parents.
That's not always been the case. The faith that anyone could move from rags to riches -- with enough guts and gumption, hard work and nose to the grindstone -- was once at the core of the American Dream.
And equal opportunity was the heart of the American creed. Although imperfectly achieved, that ideal eventually propelled us to overcome legalized segregation by race, and to guarantee civil rights. It fueled efforts to improve all our schools and widen access to higher education. It pushed the nation to help the unemployed, raise the minimum wage, and provide pathways to good jobs. Much of this was financed by taxes on the most fortunate.
But for more than three decades we've been going backwards. It's far more difficult today for a child from a poor family to become a middle-class or wealthy adult. Or even for a middle-class child to become wealthy.
The major reason is widening inequality. The longer the ladder, the harder the climb. America is now more unequal that it's been for eighty or more years, with the most unequal distribution of income and wealth of all developed nations. Equal opportunity has become a pipe dream. ...
Last month Pope Francis wondered aloud whether "trickle-down theories, which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness," Rush Limbaugh accused the pope of being a Marxist for merely raising the issue.
But the question of how to bring about greater justice and inclusiveness is as American as apple pie. It has animated our efforts for more than a century -- during the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, and beyond -- to make capitalism work for the betterment of all rather merely than the enrichment of a few.
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