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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—September 11, 2010

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Separation agreement question" by "copyright1997". Full excerpt: VS, I also am very sorry to see how you are being treated by IBM, and want you to know (as others have already mentioned) that you deserve better and can do better on the outside. I know this because a similar situation happened to me: Outstanding Technical Achievement award, several patents, great appraisals (always the equivalent of a 1 or 2 on the old system), many other awards. When it first happened, I was encouraged by the few people (whom I told I was being offered the management separation package for "performance reasons") to fight it, for instance ask for a peer review (as they were shocked given they knew my real performance). In the end I decided I didn't want any more of the bull and saw it as an opportunity to get some separation money and go.

    What madinpok said is true: You will be able to collect unemployment compensation AND your pension AND the separation money. Been there, done that!

    There is life after IBM: After taking some time to de-Blue while collecting unemployment and my pension, I've taken a job with an IBM customer as a consultant, at a rate higher than what IBM was paying me. (This was a customer who knew my work and like the few others I told internally, was shocked when they found out why I was leaving IBM.) Good luck with your decision, and no matter what don't let this get to you.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Separation agreement question" by "cybertramp66". Excerpts: madinpok, VS did not specifically say whether or not he/she has a choice of leaving or not. If he has the choice to decline the package and stay working, then by taking the package, wouldn't that mean he left voluntarily and therefore would be denied UI?

    It also makes me wonder if this is the beginning of a new IBM tactic of stealth, 'harvest' layoffs. All they have to do is lower performance ratings on selected employees then scare employees into accepting this Minimum-mutual agreement. IBM would cut its severance liability in half (13 weeks pay instead of 26 weeks) and not have to pay into any UI benefits (if I'm right about the above). And anyone who refuses is guaranteed to be managed out anyway. Plus they don't get all that nasty PR about laying off people while company profits are rising.

    And of course, IBM execs don't have to announce anything officially. They just push down budget cuts and tell lower managers to figure out how to meet their lowered budgets. The time tested formula is to push the work offshore to low wage countries.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Separation agreement question" by "VS". Full excerpt: I suppose you could say that I have a "choice" to not leave, the problem is that if I stay, I only get to work another 3 months. At the end of those 3 months, if my performance has not improved (and you can bet they will make sure that it has not improved), I get nothing - no severance, no 1 year of medical, and most importantly, no bridge to retirement.

    The reason why the bridge to retirement is so important to me is money, of course. The difference is $400/month more if I bridge and take the annuity based on the estimating tools. That's a 1/3rd bump in my monthly retirement payment.

    I think this minimized package is IBM's way of saying "Hey let's make this easy on all of us... You go quietly, you get a few little tidbits. If you stay and make us document everything so you don't sue us, you are going to get nothing."

    I will call a lawyer tomorrow and make an appointment and see what he or she has to say about the agreement. And will report back.

    I appreciate all the information and support this forum has provided. This has been a rough time for me. But I have reached that stage where I am so sick and tired of IBM and the games they play, the hell they put their employees thru, the 1% raises despite record profits, the tiny BAP, the ever increasing workload and 12 hours days, that it just isn't worth fighting anymore.

    99.9% of the US employees IBM has are the best in the country, and the company doesn't appreciate them. I am amazed how many people have yet to wake up and tell them they are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore. But yet everyone keeps their nose to the grindstone and continues...

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Separation agreement question" by "VS". Full excerpt: I suppose you could say that I have a "choice" to not leave, the problem is that if I stay, I only get to work another 3 months. At the end of those 3 months, if my performance has not improved (and you can bet they will make sure that it has not improved), I get nothing - no severance, no 1 year of medical, and most importantly, no bridge to retirement.

    The reason why the bridge to retirement is so important to me is money, of course. The difference is $400/month more if I bridge and take the annuity based on the estimating tools. That's a 1/3rd bump in my monthly retirement payment.

    I think this minimized package is IBM's way of saying "Hey let's make this easy on all of us... You go quietly, you get a few little tidbits. If you stay and make us document everything so you don't sue us, you are going to get nothing."

    I will call a lawyer tomorrow and make an appointment and see what he or she has to say about the agreement. And will report back.

    I appreciate all the information and support this forum has provided. This has been a rough time for me. But I have reached that stage where I am so sick and tired of IBM and the games they play, the hell they put their employees thru, the 1% raises despite record profits, the tiny BAP, the ever increasing workload and 12 hours days, that it just isn't worth fighting anymore.

    99.9% of the US employees IBM has are the best in the country, and the company doesn't appreciate them. I am amazed how many people have yet to wake up and tell them they are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore. But yet everyone keeps their nose to the grindstone and continues...

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Separation agreement question" by "makeyourignorancework4u". Full excerpt: VS, There is one way I would recommend to fight back on this. That consists of an appeal to the OPEN DOOR, in which you specifically request a "Panel Review". DO NOT ACCEPT the alternative Open Door Investigator route. This is too biased in management's favor.

    The panel should consists of 5 IBM employees, 3 of whom are regular IBM employees and 2 will be IBM managers. You will be allowed to make your case, as will your manager. The essence of your appeal will be that your performance IS NOT trending towards another 3. (Unfortunately it is now too late to appeal your previous 3. You will have to stand up and admit that. Do this quickly by stating one or two mitigating circumstances and then launch into how that low rating motivated you to improve your performance substantially)

    One thing you must NOT do, is appear before the panel only by yourself. Find at least 2, but hopefully three witnesses willing to testify on your behalf. These must all have visibility into your past activity. You must choose these people carefully, making them aware of what's at stake. Be careful of whom you choose. Your current "team lead" may not be the right person....but perhaps the assistant or previous team lead is?

    What you and your witnesses should try to accomplish is the following:

    • Your performance this year has improved noticeably.
    • Although you may not yet be in the top 50% of your category, you ARE very definitely ABOVE the bottom 30% in performance compared to your peers.
    • Remember that what you and your witnesses are arguing is "That your performance this year is DEFINITLY NOT trending to another 3." No way! Instead it is definitely on its way to a 2 and given the rest of year might even rise to a 2+.

    Ask your witnesses bring up your 2 OTA awards and patents....although just in case do mention them again when your turn to speak comes up. Make sure that the panel is informed by your witnesses of your 25 year service and some highlights thereof. If you have helped some one perform his job better etc, now is the time to call in some IOU's. Ask them to testify. In addition, you can ask some to testify to your skill level, even if they are not current on your recent performance. In 25 years, I am sure you have developed excellent skills in what you do.

    Also you and your witnesses should definitely bring up the background of your current manager. How long has she been your manager? What is her technical background? Seems unlikely that it is the same as yours? If not this should be mentioned....in a kind way, of course....to imply that her judgement is suspect when compared to that of your witnesses.

    I seriously doubt that your manager will bring any witnesses before the panel. There aren't many workers that would want to appear on her behalf. If she lacks the appropriate technical background and tries to bring up others who she claims agreed with her...but didn't have them as witnesses...that's not going to help her much with either the 3 employees or the two managers.

    Bottom line is that you CAN WIN at least this much:

    • You are not the right candidate for a "projected 3" this year based on your recent performance.
    • Based on your panel review, you are asking the panel to reject the proposed 3 this year.

    If the panel agrees with you, the minimized separation papers will be withdrawn. If not, you gave it your best shot. Good luck!

  • New York Times: Once a Dynamo, the Tech Sector Is Slow to Hire. By Catherine Rampell. Excerpts: For years the technology sector has been considered the most dynamic, promising and globally envied industry in the United States. It escaped the recession relatively unscathed, and profits this year have been soaring. But as the nation struggles to put people back to work, even high-tech companies have been slow to hire, a sign of just how difficult it will be to address persistently high joblessness. While the labor report released last week showing August figures provided mildly positive news on private-sector hiring, the unemployment rate was 9.6 percent.

    The disappointing hiring trend raises questions about whether the tech industry can help power a recovery and sustain American job growth in the next decade and beyond. Its tentativeness has prompted economists to ask “If high tech isn’t hiring, who will?” “We are talking about people with very particular, advanced skills out there who are at this point just not needed anymore,” says Bart van Ark, chief economist at the Conference Board, a business and economic research organization. “Even in this sector, there is tremendous insecurity.” ...

    Job growth in fields like computer systems design and Internet publishing has been slow in the last year. Employment in areas like data processing and software publishing has actually fallen. Additionally, computer scientists, systems analysts and computer programmers all had unemployment rates of around 6 percent in the second quarter of this year. ...

    The chief hurdles to more robust technology hiring appear to be increasing automation and the addition of highly skilled labor overseas. The result is a mismatch of skill levels here at home: not enough workers with the cutting-edge skills coveted by tech firms, and too many people with abilities that can be duplicated offshore at lower cost. ...

    Corvallis was once a hotbed for tech start-ups. But Ms. Mann said that with layoffs from other tech companies in the area, including Hewlett-Packard, the city now has a glut of people like herself: unemployed engineers with multiple degrees. “I apply for everything I can find, but there are just not that many jobs out there,” she said. Nevertheless, many high-tech companies large and small say they are struggling to find highly skilled engineering talent in the United States. ...

    Meanwhile, an earlier generation of engineers is scouring for jobs, and having to compete with a more globalized pool of talent. There are no definitive statistics on how many jobs are being moved overseas. But economists who follow highly skilled employment say that some of the most prominent companies that laid off workers during the recession, like I.B.M., are expanding their work forces abroad.

    “Certainly a lot of these I.T. services firms plus the core software firms like Oracle are globalizing their work, or, as they put it, ‘rebalancing’ their work forces,” says Ronil Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. ...

    The experience of Ms. Mann and others like her suggests that the technology industry may not be the savior of the American job market and a magic bullet for a moribund economy — even though the Obama administration has called for a revival of math and science training and emphasized the need for American companies to take the lead in fields like clean energy.

    Instead, some economists and policy makers are looking to health care to lead an employment surge. They point to the field’s growing demand for new services, the need for physical proximity for many patient procedures, and a bureaucracy that entails layer upon layer of jobs.

  • Wall Street Journal: Seven Careers in a Lifetime? Think Twice, Researchers Say. Excerpt: Do Americans really go through careers like they do cars or refrigerators? As workers take in the latest round of monthly unemployment data over Labor Day weekend, Americans are focused on volatility in the job market. Much of what they hear points to growing job instability and increased autonomy of workers. Among the most-repeated claims is that the average U.S. worker will have many careers—seven is the most widely cited number—in his or her lifetime. ...

    These surveys have been used by researchers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and elsewhere to count the total number of jobs in a lifetime. Their findings suggest that job stability hasn't changed all that much in the U.S. since the late 1990s. For example, the typical American worker's tenure with his or her current employer was 3.8 years in 1996, 3.5 years in 2000 and 4.1 years in 2008, the latest available data.

  • Jim Hightower: Labor Day: Organize! Full excerpt: America's corporate chieftains must love poor people, for they're doing all they can to create millions more of them. They're knocking down wages, offshoring everything from manufacturing jobs to high-tech, reducing full-time work to part-time, downsizing our workplaces, busting unions, cutting health care coverage, and canceling pensions – while also lobbying in Washington to privatize Social Security, eliminate job safety protections, restrict unemployment benefits, kill job-creating programs, and increase corporate control of our elections.

    It's said that the poor and the rich will always be among us. But nowhere is it written that the middle-class will always be there. In fact, it is a very recent creation in our society (and an unavailable dream for most people in the world). America's great middle class literally arose with the rise of labor unions and populist political movements in 1800s, finally culminating in democratic economic reforms implemented from the 1930s into the 1960s.

    Social Security, wage & hour laws, collective bargaining rights, unemployment compensation, the GI Bill, the interstate highway program, civil rights laws, Medicare, Head Start – and more – provided the national framework necessary to sustain a middle class for the American Majority.

    This essential framework was not "given" to us by corporate executives and politicians – indeed, they sputtered, spewed, and fought every piece of it tooth and nail. Rather, it came from union-led grassroots movements, organizing for structural change to serve the common good of America's people.

    This Labor Day, we see corporate executives and their politicians relentlessly dismantling that framework, piece by piece – and we see the middle class disappearing and poverty rising. But as labor icon Joe Hill said, "Don't mourn, organize." It's time for working families to organize for the common good.

  • Chicago Sun-Times: 'I think I'm never going to be able to retire.' Many see grim future as they're forced to tap into savings. By Francine Knowles. Excerpts: Debby Rabeor's husband cut his 401(k) contributions in half, and she hasn't contributed to retirement savings in more than a year. The Chicago couple can't afford to do more -- Rabeor has been out of work for 13 months. Edgar Roman has borrowed twice from his 401(k) plan, and his wife's retirement savings have been drained. They had to take the steps to help pay the mortgage on their Franklin Park home after his wife lost her job. She landed another, but it's at a third of her previous pay.

    To start, half the U.S. working population does not have a 401(k) plan or traditional pension. Many employers have halted 401(k) matches. Workers are still reeling from recent stock market tailspins, and for many workers enrolled in public pension plans, underfunding is a major problem. ...

    A survey this year by Illinois AARP of members 50 and older found 21 percent of respondents prematurely withdrew funds from their retirement accounts and 27 percent stopped putting money into them. A national AARP survey found that, of those ages 45 to 64, 14 percent prematurely withdrew funds, and of those over 45, 28 percent stopped contributing to retirement savings in the last six months. The ramifications of these actions: "It's going to be a greater challenge than ever before" for many to afford to retire, Hwa said.

  • AOL News: Opinion: It's Labor Day, Is Grandma at Work? By Richard Trumka. Excerpts: This Labor Day, more of our grandparents may be working a cashier's line, waiting tables or preparing lessons for the first day of school. Remember those happy TV commercials of seniors having the time of their lives, retiring in comfort and dignity after a lifetime of work? They're a dying dream for most older Americans. And that's something we can't let happen.

    With the average retirement age at 65 and increasing, Americans are already working longer than their counterparts in other developed countries. Over a third of workers now plan to retire later than age 65, compared with just 12 percent in 1995.

    For decades, millions of workers were able to achieve retirement security through a combination of Social Security benefits, employer-provided pensions and personal savings -- a three-legged stool. Now two of the three legs have been hobbled. Companies have steadily chipped away at private pensions, and now public sector employees are being attacked for still having something to lean on when they retire.

    Over the past 30 years, corporate and public policies have stunted personal savings by driving down wages, and our recent Wall Street binge shrunk retirement accounts virtually overnight. Thirty-six percent of American workers have less than $10,000 in retirement savings. With the continuing jobs crisis, that will not change anytime soon. As a result, 76 million baby boomers face waning prospects for a secure retirement, and even young Americans express concerns about retirement security.

    In this bleak landscape, Social Security stands out as the one feature of our retirement system that works for all Americans. Seniors use Social Security to buy groceries, prescription drugs and -- let's hope -- to take their grandkids to a ballgame this Labor Day instead of having to work the concession stand at the stadium. Yet Wall Street and congressional Republicans are trying to kick out the stool's final leg by pushing for Social Security benefit cuts, floating every idea from reducing the inflation adjustment to raising the retirement age. ...

    Yet the myths continue. Social Security did not cause the current federal deficit and is not a main contributor to long-term deficits. The economic downturn caused by Wall Street, along with Bush-era policies like tax cuts for the very wealthy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been the key drivers of our nation's short-term financial woes. Meanwhile, health care costs drive the long-term deficit, which is why it's imperative that we continue to bring down the cost of health care. ...

    Retirement should be secure and achievable for all working people. And American values -- reward for work, compassion, fairness, foresight and fiscal responsibility -- will lead us there. This Labor Day, let's honor older Americans as grandfather and grandmother of the year, rather than employee of the month.

  • Huffington Post: Work Until You're Dead? That May Be the Only Option for Many Americans. By Jane White. Excerpts: Many Americans are likely to have to work until they are dead, not as a result of Social Security shortfalls but because of their inadequate 401(k) savings or the fact that they have no retirement plan at all. This disaster has not dawned on the mutual fund companies that manage retirement assets, much less been debated on Capitol Hill. Given that the first wave of Boomers is scheduled to turn 65 in 2011, attention must be paid.

    Here's the raw deal in a nutshell: Unless you've got Chief and Executive in your job title -- including "Ousted Disgraced CEO" -- you are probably pension-poor, even if you earn a six-figure salary. That's because only 11% of the private sector population is covered by a regular pension. Unlike during the postwar Fabulous Fifties and the Soaring Sixties when America was a "fortress economy" and almost half of the private sector was covered, currently even most employees of big companies can't count on one. Only 17 of the Fortune 100 companies offer a traditional pension to new hires.

    The 401(k) plan that has replaced pensions was meant to be the icing on a pension cake when it was created 30 years ago, not a substitute for a pension. While 401(k) plans have been criticized as risky, the more important failing is the typical stingy employer "matching contribution" equaling 3% of pay, the second lowest in the world. (There are some exceptions, universities typically contribute the equivalent of between 7 to 10% of pay.)

    The rarely discussed rule of thumb for nest egg adequacy is that you need the equivalent of 10 times your "final pay," or your salary near retirement, in your 401(k) AND rollover accounts. Unfortunately, most people will be lucky if they have a little more than "one time their final pay." According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the median amount workers in that age group have saved is a mere $77,000 and the median salary for that age group is $61,000. What's even worse is that 50% of the private sector population isn't covered by any plan at all -- pension OR 401(k). ...

    At least the UK's leadership is planning a fix to that country's private pension system -- because they don't equate employer mandates with Godless Communism -- even though a greater percentage of their population is covered by a plan and their 401(k)-style plans feature employer contributions that are twice as generous as that in the U.S.

    Starting in 2012 virtually every UK employer that doesn't currently offer a pension must enroll employees in a 401(k) style plan that features a minimum employer contribution of 3% of pay and 3% from the employee (smaller employers are phased in). Oh -- and the government's plan is for the account assets to be pooled, professionally managed and feature fees that are no more than .3% of account assets -- about a third of what 401(k) participants pay on funds in their accounts.

    It's a disgrace that the most advanced country in the civilized world not only has the worst retirement system in the civilized world but leadership that can't be bothered to fix it. But don't just get mad, tell your elected officials to take action. I've proposed legislation that would require most employers to contribute the equivalent of 9% of pay -- the same rate that Australian employers are required to shell out. Here is the link to the page on my company's website that describes it. It contains a description of the bill, along with the names if the members of Congress who have oversights over pensions that your Congressperson needs to be in touch with.

    Editor's note: Selected reader comments concerning this article follow:

    • IBM has slashed almost 14,000 US jobs in the US the past 2 years while shifting work to other countries. Meanwhile IBM gets tax breaks and subsidies for so called "job creation" in the US. IBM refuses to divulge how many jobs have been cut or what the US headcount number is. The Alliance@IBM CWA estimates that about 100,000 workers are employed in IBM US. Down from about 140,000 a few years ago. IBM is abandoning the US while the CEO gets richer.
    • As long as board rooms are occupied by "good old boy" cronies, this situation is not likely to change any time soon. There is no other way to characterize what is taking place other than pure, unadulterated, greed. For Hurd to collect over $28M after what amounts to being fired for ethics violations, is a travesty. And the ones who ultimately pay the price are the employees and stock holders of the company. How much more would dividends be if executives did not collect their ridiculous salaries? And don't limit this examination to the CEOs of companies. There are VPs and other executives collecting salaries completely out of line with their actual contribution to the health of the company. But they all look out for one another.
    • For those of you who decry government intervention, your "self policing" is what has been responsible. There is no limit to the extent that corporations will go for profit. And properly so since their responsibility is to maximize profit. The government you whine about has been the great enabler. Where business-unfriendly regulations succeeded in spite of your efforts, budgets were cut, or regulators were selected whose goal was to eliminate their effect. Through the tax code, business is heavily favored by promoting the removal of profit from the view of US tax collectors. Tax havens aren't a mystery to the government, but the willingness to have a corporation pay at the same rate as a factory worker makes a joke of "fairness".

      Like dictators in third world countries, corporations have successfully molded the domestic agenda of the US, avoiding responsibility for health care, infrastructure maintenance, and other issues that might interfere with profit, but of of necessity to US citizens. Meanwhile they use the military and diplomatic resources of the US government to further their interests in other countries, making them synonymous with "national security". This form of socialism for corporations has existed for over a hundred years and has been brought about through their control of Congress and the Courts.

      No individual or group of individuals can match the pure power of corporations to dominate the political and economic arenas. The only thing corporations don't control is the vote. But as long as they control the media, the educational system, and the Courts, overcoming their influence will be a long, slow process against steep odds.

    • As an ex-HP employee who was laid-off in 2009 when they bought out my previous company, EDS, the number of lay-offs exceeds 60,000 world-wide (85% approx. here in the U.S.) Unfortunately, we the people allowed corporate greed to get out of hand like this. It's time to step and do what our parents and grandparents did in the 40's, 50's 60's and early 70's....it's time to revolt! I agree 100% with Hibbard16 - start supporting your local retailers, change your checking/savings/IRAs/etc to credit unions and/or local banks. Buy as much food as you can from your local farmers.

  • Institute for Policy Studies: Executive Excess 2010: CEO Pay and the Great Recession. By Sarah Anderson, Chuck Collins, Sam Pizzigati, Kevin Shih. Excerpts: America’s CEOs had a terribly rough 2009. Or so the national and regional executive pay surveys released so far this year would suggest. “CEOs See Pay Fall Again,” blared one headline early this past spring. “CEO pay rankings dominated by large salary cuts,” read another in June. “Silicon Valley bosses,” summed up still another, “get pay cut.” Month after month, the headlines have pounded home a remarkably consistent message: Corporate executives, here in the Great Recession, are suffering, too.

    Corporate executives, in reality, are not suffering at all. Their pay, to be sure, dipped on average in 2009 from 2008 levels, just as their pay in 2008, the first Great Recession year, dipped somewhat from 2007. But executive pay overall remains far above inflation adjusted levels of years past. In fact, after adjusting for inflation, CEO pay in 2009 more than doubled the CEO pay average for the decade of the 1990s, more than quadrupled the CEO pay average for the 1980s, and ran approximately eight times the CEO average for all the decades of the mid-20th century.

    American workers, by contrast, are taking home less in real weekly wages than they took home in the 1970s. Back in those years, precious few top executives made over 30 times what their workers made. In 2009, we calculate in the 17th annual Executive Excess, CEOs of major U.S. corporations averaged 263 times the average compensation of American workers. CEOs are clearly not hurting.

    But they are, as we detail in these pages, causing others to needlessly hurt — by cutting jobs to feather their own already comfortable executive nests. In 2009, the CEOs who slashed their payrolls the deepest took home 42 percent more compensation than the year’s chief executive pay average for S&P 500 companies. Most careful analysts of the high-finance meltdown that ushered in the Great Recession have concluded that excessive executive compensation played a prime causal role. Outrageously high rewards gave executives an incentive to behave outrageously, to take the sorts of reckless risks that would eventually endanger our entire economy. ...

    While Indian companies are concerned about the ban, many have a different strategy in place to target the US public services, including increasing onshore presence. “We are concerned with the recent news from the US about banning offshore outsourcing by the Ohio State government departments. Infosys’ initiative in the public services sector is focused on creating a domestic delivery centre in the US, hence this should not be affected,” said Kris Gopalakrishnan, CEO and MD, Infosys. For this, the company is increasing hiring. In 2010-11, Infosys plans to hire 1,000 people in the US. ...

    Meanwhile, IBM has been steadily cutting jobs in the US and offshoring works to its centres in India, China and Argentina. According to Alliance@IBM/CWA, the official website for IBM Employees Union, the company laid off at least 1,052 workers, or about 1 per cent of IBM’s 105,000-person US work force, in March 2010. In terms of hiring in 2009, IBM hired 13,376 employees in Asia Pacific, 7,112 in Latin America, and 3,514 and 820 in the US and Canada, respectively. Similarly, in case of CIBER, 10 per cent of its overall headcount is in India.

  • Business Standard: Indian IT may remain immune to Ohio ban. Excerpts: But MNCs like IBM, Accenture, CSC and HP likely to get affected more. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the country’s largest information technology (IT) services company, will remain immune to the US state of Ohio’s ban on outsourcing of government IT and back-office projects to offshore locations such as India. Rather multi-national companies like IBM, Accenture, CSC and HP will be affected more by this. ...

    While it’s difficult to quantify how much of the US government contracts are offshored, analysts say almost 35 per cent of the overall work (including other sectors) gets offshored. “Revenue generation by employees at offshore sites (these include not just India) should be in the range of 15-20 per cent of the total US revenues of these firms,” said Avinash Vashistha, president and chairman of Tholons, an advisory and research firm.

  • LinkedIn, The Greater IBM Connection: Performance Reviews - a Beef with the Baloney. What's your take on performance reviews. Are they dishonest? Selected reader comments follow:
    • The change from old 4 to 3, old 3 to 2, and old 2 to 2+ was idiotic. They did not change the forced ranking. They wanted around 20% of the workforce as 2+, just like they wanted 20% as 2 under the old numbering. In my previous comment, I mentioned any system had to be honest. Shallow changes like those from 2 to 2+ are dishonest attempts at manipulation and the employees know it. I agree it was funny (but funny strange, not funny ha ha!)
    • John and Stephen, I am also a former IBMer and your notes hit the nail on the head. Your stories made me laugh and also I now remember the disappointments. Before IBM I had always worked for medium sized companies. I was part of an acquisition and the transaction to IBM was long and confusing. During my 10 years at IBM I worked for 11 managers. One manager who was very good, I had the chance to work for in three different roles across the years. I never did get the hang of the scoring system. As a 3, I was awarded by management numerous paper awards and significant cash rewards. As a 2, or 2+ there was no funding for a raise. In the end I am glad for the experience but am very glad to be out and running my own company.
    • @Colette, of course they can make it more complicated. It's IBM. Now, don't get me wrong, if I was invited to come back to IBM doing the job I was doing, I would jump at the opportunity. I loved what I was doing and I really miss the people.

      I know the PBC system is very broken, there are no doubts about it. On top of what the others have said, there is a bell curve stating that someone MUST get a 3 regardless of their work and their work ethic. If you were really lucky, you had some new employees or someone who was promoted in your group. Those people almost automatically got a 3.

      Then, in my division, all the managers got together and put people's name up on a "board". At that point, the person was discussed with their manager supporting or not supporting. Then that person was discussed by everyone regardless of whether they knew you or your work. If you didn't know any of the managers involved except yours, you can imagine that there wouldn't be much feedback supporting you or your work because nobody knew you except your manager and maybe the second line. Believe me, there were times when I wished I were a fly on the wall. :)

    • I agree with pretty much everything here. The PBC system is broken and it is one of the big reasons that I had been trying to get out of IBM for over a year before I was finally RA'd. With Rational, I always had high quality managers who really looked out for their employees and supported them. My last few years with IBM were the worst I've ever experienced. My managers had been stable for years, but IBM started to juggle them around every 3-6 months.

      These 'interim/temp' managers seemed to have no clue what they were doing or what their employees did. They could not back up their ratings with real factual data and often used hearsay from the hallways without making sure that it was true.

      Then if you wanted to protest your rating, it was organized like a trial where you are guilty until proven innocent. You have to face off against a bunch of managers who you may not even know and convince them that you are right rather than one of their fellow managers.

      It seems like there is almost no input from your team members or engineers from other teams. Back in the old days with Rational, our assessments would have input from at least 2 team members that we had worked with closely over the last year. I'm so glad to be out of that environment! Especially the mass paranoia that it caused.

    • In a very large IT industry corporation, OK it was IBM, where I was employed for over 4 decades the performance review system has evolved, IMHO, into one that is really only useful to document those employees who may potentially be separated. To all others (85-90%) there are no benefits except to know that you aren't at the bottom.
  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “Consulting profession deserves more value in a sale-driven company.” Pros: Big name, seems wide global resources various industry project opportunities can meet various companies, mostly SOEs and SMEs can learn a lot both as a consulting services but also as a traditional corporate: Cons: Consulting is less valued in a sale-driven culture. People are driven by the short-term numbers, not the long-term development of people and strategic relationship with clients. Advice to Senior Management: More strategic and forward thinking, not too sales numbers driven support the development of people, invest more on the people
    • IBM Senior Technical Staff Member in New York, NY: (Current Employee) “Do not work remotely.” Pros: IBM remains a decent place to work in if you are in one of the main labs (Westford/Littleton MA, or Raleigh, NC). It also has great healthcare and insurance coverage, and social policies (2 weeks for paternity leave for example).

      Cons: Given its current miserable financial state, IBM makes its numbers barely with 2 strategies:

      • Aggressive cost cutting from the inability to travel ANYWHERE, even for customer visits, and being given warnings even when you use conference calls and web meetings "too much". Having worked remotely for the past 3 years, I have seen my career slowly slip away as I was unable to visit labs, or even my teams under my direct reports, at all whatsoever.
      • Creating internal results goals that are absolutely unreachable which results in no one meeting them, paltry 3-5% bonuses for top middle-tier employees, and a feeling that promotions or good ratings are politically motivated (since obviously, no one met any wining results).

      I was at the top of my rank in 2007 and saw my career slowly fall apart over 3 years, with very little management support, and getting tangled into one political nightmare after another. I felt like just a number, being told to move home to save costs, and then not travel, letting go a top team of engineers who were so unlucky to be working out of NY instead of Raleigh NC or Westford/Littleton MA etc.

      After 3 years fighting the tide and thinking at first that it was just another challenge for me to take on, and then that there was something wrong with me, I finally quit, and now, I am wondering why I stayed in this poisonous environment for so long.

      Working from Home at IBM is a terrible situation. Ask around, and I am sure you'll get similar feedback. Make sure you sit where your manager, and your manager's manager (2 levels) sit. And if your manager doesn't sit where his/her manager sit, then your group is in trouble. It's not about getting top talent, and working together. It's about creating little fiefdoms of proximity.

      Advice to Senior Management: Within the current financial environment, I am not sure I have any worthwhile advice except, please do your employees a favor and do not tell them they can have a proper career at IBM if they work remotely.

    • IBM IT Architect: (Current Employee) “Mixed Messages from management.” Pros: Very large projects, challenging assignments, depth of resources and skills at the company still very impressive. Looks good on the CV, opens doors. If you complain and show high level of work you can get them to pay for your post graduate education, not easy but possible. Cons: Pay increases are a joke even with great profits and increasing earnings per share the employees don't get their part of the pie. Bureaucracy keeps things from being done quickly with high ranked executives involved even in the most simple approvals. We are not getting the brightest as we once did, they are being attracted to the likes of Google, etc.. Advice to Senior Management: What is your long term strategy, besides promising every year an even larger EPS number for the shareholders? We still have many bright people on board but the PBC process and salary need to be seriously fixed or they will jump ship.
    • IBM Project Manager: (Current Employee) “Be careful Sam.” Pros: Flexible work environment and the ability to work from home on occasion. Great access to best practices and intellectual capital. Cons: Many senior staff with a high level of knowledge and history are being let go in favor of hiring inexperienced offshore workers. This is creating a huge knowledge gap and also means those few experienced workers remaining are required to take on much more of the workload and must also fix issues created by less experienced workers. Advice to Senior Management: Realize that these cuts to (presumably) improve the bottom line and stock price are not in the best interest of the company in the long term. Clients are already expressing concern with the drop in service quality and once those contracts are terminated, this great company will falter.
    • IBM Sales in Atlanta, GA: (Past Employee - 2009) “Big Blue not what it used to be.” Pros: Great group of people! I loved my team! Cons: Politics! Everything was always hush hush until it hit the fan. Advice to Senior Management: Diversity is needed throughout management inside and out!
    • IBM Sales Manager in London, England (United Kingdom): (Current Employee) Pros: Massively successful company. Broad reach in marketplace. Quality strategy. Others come and go, IBM is always there. Looks after well being of employees. Cons: Struggling with paying people going rate. Feeling that execs get all the rewards, not shared out despite success. Corporate nonsense. Weaker managers beaten by the corporate system. Advice to Senior Management: Share some of the spoils of success.
    • IBM Anonymous in Fairfax, VA: (Current Employee) “Two years of "one" ranking with no meaningful raises = bye.” Pros: Internationally recognized brand. Looks great on a resume. Due to the massive size of the company, an incredible amount of resources available to practitioners. Cons: Better negotiate a salary that you're happy with forever, because IBM does not give meaningful raises, even for top performers. Advice to Senior Management: IBM has cultivated a culture of mediocrity by providing no tangible benefits for exceptional performance. Continuing to put the interest of shareholders ahead of your employees, you'll keep hemorrhaging your top people.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “ibm india fresher.” Pros: Bad company to work. No ac bus. Freshers treated as slaves, Dismal salary. They give you technology to work on on their own. Cons: Brand value and nothing else. I got a technology to work on by them it was a random pick no explanations given any technology they think they can give you to work on and you will not say anything. Advice to Senior Management: Treat employees with respect. If you think you get cheap engineers here respect them the ere are other rands coming up against you.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “IBM...ok.” Pros: No cap on sick leaves plus good option to work from home. Cons: Employees always will worry about their changeability for everything and anything as it plays a crucial role in annual performance review process. Advice to Senior Management: Nothing much
    • IBM Manager in Atlanta, GA: (Current Employee) “Just a resource.” Pros: Good salary. Great benefits. Access to a lot of different skill sets. Flexible hours as well as work from home opportunities. Cons: Senior management rotation was high. Long term strategic roadmap was nonexistent. Development of the employees was a priority yet funding not available. Extremely frugal with budget and resource cuts whenever a goal is not met. Advice to Senior Management: Treat people like people rather than a pool of resources that you can toss around like a rag doll. Develop a realistic strategy before holding people accountable for your unrealistic goals
    • IBM Software Engineer: (Past Employee - 2010) “Good place to work but arrogant People.” Pros: Opportunity to grow as a professional. Cons: People backstab for better position. Advice to Senior Management: Control your managers.
    • IBM Anonymous in Durham, NC: (Current Employee) “Geographically balanced, where US jobs grow wings.” Pros: IBM is such a giant that working hard is really up to you, so even if merit-based raises are misaligned with reality, you can easily latch on to a decent salary without much effort. Cons: IBM has a very long chain mgmt chain, and an excess of red tape. Outsourcing of US jobs is happening constantly and the catastrophic results are treated with crowdsourcing, to no effect. Yet the senior mgmt in charge of this flawed strategy continue to move up the chain while the few left behind continue to mop up the mess being made. Advice to Senior Management: What makes IBM the big blue, is top quality at a top price. The cost cutting madness and job movement abroad is giving investors returns, which is great. However, your customers are left with low quality at a top price. Yes there is the promise that we will send our experts over to fix things up, but the reputation of IBM is being cut up into pieces. The savings made today will need to be reversed in a couple of years when the support machine drains the coffins, unfortunately by then the years of expertise you let go will be working across the street.
    • IBM Senior Systems Engineer in Bangalore (India): (Current Employee) “Its Just another MNC.” Pros: Teaming is really Good. We have a separate induction session on joining to IBM. Knowledge sharing is really appreciated. And lot of opportunities to enrich our technical and management knowledge. Cons: Disappointment on Compensation for which we really work. The PBC [appraisal and related] meetings are just eyewash and waste of time as they are not taken consideration in compensation hike. Lot of interim management confuses and useless for employees. Advice to Senior Management: Better don't waste time in PBC review meeting if there is no hike for the employee on that particular Quarter. Value employee feelings and resolve as early as possible.
    • IBM Anonymous in Toronto, ON (Canada): (Past Employee - 2010) “IBM declining.” Pros: Can work at home when you please depending on your job title. Cons: Is a sales based company. If you are in "support" you are seen as an expense. Advice to Senior Management: All management is too old, no hope for current managers.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site
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  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 9/04/10: I was a part of the layoffs in April and might have a chance to be rehired again. I believe they would bring me back as a Full-Time Supplemental employee. Can somebody please tell me the different of a supplemental vs regular full-time and how my vacation time will be assessed now (new hire date?) or if I would still have time worked for IBM honored? I would also like to know what my chances of hire on salary could be increased to what I used to make. Thanks!!!! -Anonymous- Alliance reply: Don't expect IBM to honor anything that you did as a former employee, or any salary you used to make, previously.
    • Comment 9/05/10: Now that it is 1.5 years on from my RA notice, IBM seems like a bad memory..... a bad memory that lasted over a decade. I suggest that those who remain look deeply at what has happened in the recent past and choose to walk out, stand with others in the Alliance, or be meek and ineffectual in driving their own future. Look at what has happened around you, read the posts here and in the archive, and decide what is the best way to celebrate this Labor Day. -1 2 X U-
    • Comment 9/05/10: Colorado has denied my unemployment benefits for six months - the length of my separation pay. I reported the amount (did not lie) but placed it under the Other Separation Payments (not under Severance Pay). I stated the following "Lump sum payment for signing agreement to release IBM and related parties from any claims or legal action. Lump sum did not contain any benefits. As of mm/dd/yy (my last day with IBM) no longer on IBM payroll". But it seemed not to matter. Have others in Colorado faced the same issue? If so, were you able to resolve and start your benefits right away? Did IBM tell Colorado something else to avoid paying their share of unemployment? Or did I fail to correctly state my case? Obviously I would appreciate comments to help me out, but also to help my fellow IBM Colorado friends who will face a similar situation. Thanks. -Denied in Colorado-
    • Comment 9/06/10: @Denied in Colorado. Yes, any type of separation pay (mine was a separation incentive to give up bumping rights as I worked for the state) will delay unemployment, as will cashing out any sort of pension savings account whatsoever. That's just how Colorado is. If a person doesn't report it and the state finds out, they call it fraud and want 150% of the unemployment payments to be repaid. Colorado unemployment law is strict, and if you cash out even a portion of any retirement account, expect them to cut off your unemployment payments. Ditto if you get any kind of separation payment however it is classified. I know the law is different in other states, but that's how it is in Colorado. http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/olls/sl2009a/sl_408.htm http://www.9news.com/rss/article.aspx?storyid=141537 -Barb-
    • Comment 9/06/10: To -ANONYMOUS-: There have been hundreds of REGULAR FULL TIME employees FIRED and rehired as SUPPLEMENTAL employees in Burlington, VT. A supplemental employee has an employment range of 1 day to 24 months. Should business needs allow you to complete 24 months you are terminated at your 2 year date. After 6 months of unemployment you can reapply and start the cycle again.

      Should IBM hire you as a supplemental employee today they can fire you a week from now with NO strings attached(severance, benefits, etc) You are basically a day to day employee and expect to be treated as a commodity. I personally know a 20 years of service IBM'er who was RA'd and rehired as supplemental. He lost about 1/2 his salary. He was then converted to a regular full time employee at his current supplemental salary. He was even required to attend new hire orientation. Seniority/vacation were ALL reset to new hire status.

      Burlington has just converted about 50-70 supplemental to permanent employees. I suspect during the next slowdown they will keep the new employees and fire employees with many years who make a higher wage. By doing this they can continuously reduce their cost of labor. I would like to add that there are surprisingly NO supplemental managers. Should you decide to accept a supplemental position be aware of this. By the way the ALLIANCE is your ONLY voice. I would join if you haven't already. Good Luck -Tom Watson III-

    • Comment 9/06/10: I hope all remember that you would not have a "Labor Day" if it were not for the men and women that literally died so you could have a 40 hr work week, overtime, vacations, medical coverage, sick time, and every other "benefit" you enjoy today. So when you are with your family, remember those who did it for you even though they would never even know you. -Ich Bin Muede-
    • Comment 9/06/10: To Denied: It appears you told Colorado you willfully agreed to leave IBM. You made it appear you agree with IBM's action regarding your employment. -anonymous- Alliance Reply: This is what IBM plans, will happen. They don't respect the employees intelligence at all. And since the employees are "At Will Employees"; IBM does as it pleases and the State gov't supports them all the way. YOU NEED A CONTRACT, PEOPLE! Organize! Fight back as group. It's your only option!
    • Comment 9/06/10: -Denied in Colorado- You made it sound to the State of CO DOL, like IBM gave you an employment contract settlement. You should have just said IBM terminated your employment. The RA package is just a severance, no more, no less. Good luck in getting your unemployment. Hopefully IBM will not challenge it, if the State of CO allows you to change your unemployment claim. -anon-
    • Comment 9/06/10: Thanks everyone for the responses. CO DOL agreed that IBM terminated my employment, but they will not start my benefits until after my separation pay has expired (they computed the weeks based on my previous salary). I will appeal and see what happens, but as Barb stated, may not have a leg to stand on in Colorado. I'm not bitter, just annoyed. Curious if other CO RA'd folks had the same thing happen to them. -Denied in Colorado-
    • Comment 9/07/10: I am simply amazed at how little people understand their life and or their jobs. To Anonymous, a supplemental employee has no benefits. There is No vacation, no 401K, no sick pay, not a thing. In fact, when IBM is pinching pennies during a quarter freeze, IBM, can, and will and has done it in the past where they will tell you to take 2 weeks off without pay within a 1 week notice. -Amazed-
    • Comment 9/07/10: I was laid off from IBM on March 31st and given a severance package. I also collected unemployment. In 4 months time I have been given the most wonderful position at a great firm with a large signing bonus, a great relocation package and great pay and benefits. I make 3 yes, 3 times as much as I made with IBM and cannot tell you guys how I feel. I will not miss IBM not my crappy ex manager who no one likes. BTW, always a great performer with evaluations as a 2+ or 2. No regrets and when IBM contacted me to go back as an employee again (Yes an an employee) I'd rather not repeat what I told the HR rep. I also told her that she could put what I told her in my HR file for good. -darth vader-
    • Comment 9/08/10: I would like confirmation, but I heard that 1st level management was just informed that IBM/ITS is gaining back the Lenovo business that was lost to Qualxserv (not shocking)... Effective immediately, they are working on desktops, next phase mobile, I believe, then servers. This *should* create 300 jobs in the US. Go IBM for laying off talent and hiring new folks that will likely do worse than Qualxserv did! -Duffy-
    • Comment 9/08/10: "I would like confirmation, but I heard that 1st level management was just informed that IBM/ITS is gaining back the Lenovo business that was lost to Qualxserv (not shocking)... Effective immediately, they are working on desktops, next phase mobile, I believe, then servers. This *should* create 300 jobs in the US. Go IBM for laying off talent and hiring new folks that will likely do worse than Qualxserv did! -Duffy-"

      As usual, people don't have all the facts before they post on this forum. Yes IBM got the Lenovo contract, No, IBM is not hiring back 300 techs. IBM won back the Lenovo contract because they lowered their profit margin on the service contract. IBM management needs to bring in some cash since they are running out of things to cut. ( except their own bloated salaries). The anticipated workload will be increased by 300 techs nationwide. Some area will be overloaded and some area will still remain light. As with every other division in IBM, we will be expected to pick up the slack. And Duffy, I don't appreciated the implications that the SSR's lost the contract to Qualxserv and the new techs, if any, that would work with me would be a bunch of bumbling idiots. -SSR in PA-

    • Comment 9/08/10: I was a victim of sexual abuse at ibm back in the early 2000s. I reported it to my first line manager, but he covered it up at the orders of higher level managers. They actually made me rewrite a report of what happened so that it took out everything incriminating. I should have made the report public, but I was afraid I would get fired. Even after I agreed to change the report, I felt as though I was black-listed from projects. The 'joke' at the time was that I was on Busby's black list, and there was evidence to support this. I lived in fear of this for all these years. I thought it would eventually come back to bite me, and it did. IBM eventually always wins. After all it is the monopoly against the individual; the Sam Palmisanos and the Robert Moffats of the world against the rest of us. And, yes, I did sell my soul to the devil. They bought my silence with a severance package. But, I am having second thoughts. The world needs to know what kind of company IBM has become. -Naive ex ibmer-
    • Comment 9/09/10: The reason IBM has fewer USA RA's announced this year than last is they realize they are below adequate staff in the USA now. IBM will have to drive profits coming from USA operations despite of this and this is what they will do: To maximize profits IBM will not hire or RA that much now but will lower pay across-the-board for non-management employees. Think pay cuts folks. IBM knows that the employees will not fight this. So they will soon do it. Stay tuned. -chopchop-
    • Comment 9/09/10: Anyone can surf the internal job postings. They are not restricted. We were always told we could search the internal job posts but were not permitted to apply for the jobs. One of the many idiocies within the current IBM model. -AnyoneCan-
    • Comment 9/09/10: Heard from a reliable source close to site manager Steve Wildermuth that BTV will continue stealth layoffs through the rest of this year trimming headcount to cut costs. BTV is doing these layoffs quietly flying under the radar so as to not be detected by the media. Watch your back folks. -BTVer-
    • Comment 9/10/10: Problem with releasing the company I went to, is... there are pissed off managers I left behind at big blow, that didn't want me to leave... and would know who I am, if I posted what company I went to. I guess they don't like losing the slave labor THEY WANT to keep around. Best bet... get on sites like Monster.com or Linkedin.com, post your skill sets... and let the TONS of head hunters that browse sites, those find you. TBH, it's not like I targeted the specific company I moved onto. They simply had the need for my skills and were absolutely happy to pay for them. That was a couple years ago. No regrets. Expanded, industry standard skill set + an IBM pedigree = win. Of course, it would have been nice to stick with IBM but, their treatment of employees (partly due to employees' ignorance that they deserve, and there is, better...) is bordering on outright abuse... I'm being nice in my description. I surely hope a union does form to counter what goes on at that company. In the mean time, if you're on the fence about leaving, that's the BEST time to passively look and let people who will appreciate you, find you. -Anon-
    • Comment 9/10/10: I was laid off in March 2010 and filed for unemployment benefits. Because I was able to retire from IBM and receive a small pension, my pension amount is being deducted from my UI benefits. Someone wrote an article on the site entitled....Unemployment Insurance (UI) and the IBM RA program. This article stated that the IBM Prior Pension Plan is an exception to the normal way UI payments are calculated if you receive a pension. Per this article, the IBM pension plan was frozen on 12/31/2007. IBM made no further contributions to this plan after this date. So if your UI BASE PERIOD falls after 12/31/2007, UI may not deduct the pension payment from UI payments. Can anyone comment on NC unemployment laws? I talked to an UI manager in Raleigh and they are not aware of this ruling. -Anonymous-
News and Opinion Concerning the U.S. Financial Crisis
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.

  • truthout: How Ruthless Banks Gutted the Black Middle Class and Got Away With It. By Devona Walker. Excerpts: The American middle class has been hammered over the last several decades. The black middle class has suffered to an even greater degree. But the single most crippling blow has been the real estate and foreclosure crisis. It has stripped black families of more wealth than any single event in U.S. history. Due entirely to subprime loans, black borrowers are expected to lose between $71 billion and $92 billion.

    To fully understand why the foreclosure crisis has so disproportionately affected working- and middle-class blacks, it is important to provide a little background. Many of these American families watched on the sidelines as everyone and their dog seemed to jump into the real estate game. The communities they lived in were changing, gentrifying, and many blacks unable to purchase homes were forced out as new homeowners moved in. They were fed daily on the benefits of home ownership. Their communities, churches and social networks were inundated by smooth-talking but shady fly-by-night brokers. With a home, they believed, came stability, wealth and good schools for their children. Home ownership, which accounts for upwards of 80 percent of the average American family’s wealth, was the basis of permanent membership into the American middle class. They were primed to fall for the American Dream con job. ...

    One former Wells Fargo loan officer testifying in a lawsuit filed by the city of Baltimore against the bank says fellow employers routinely referred to subprime loans as “ghetto loans” and black people as “mud people.” He says he was reprimanded for not pushing higher priced loans to black borrowers who qualified for prime or cheaper loans. Another loan officer, Beth Jacobson, says the black community was seen “as fertile ground for subprime mortgages, as working-class blacks were hungry to be a part of the nation’s home-owning mania.” “We just went right after them,” Jacobson said, according to the New York Times, adding that the black church was frequently targeted as the bank believed church leaders could convince their congregations to take out loans. There are numerous reports throughout the nation of black church leaders being paid incentives for drumming up business.

  • truthout: The Great Jobs Depression Worsens, and the Choice Ahead Grows Starker. By Robert Reich. Excerpts: The Labor Department reports this morning that companies created only 67,000 new jobs in August. That’s down from the 107,000 they created in July. And because the government laid off temporary Census workers, the economy as a whole lost 54,000 jobs. To put this into perspective, we need 125,000 net new jobs a month just to keep up with the growth of the population and the potential workforce. Think of it this way. The number of Americans willing and able to work but who cannot find a job hasn’t stopped growing since the start of 2008. All told, about 22 million Americans are now jobless. Add in those who are working part-time who’d rather be working full time, and we’re up to 25 million. ...

    The last time we saw anything on this scale was in the 1930s. The last time we did anything about this on the scale necessary to reverse the trend was in the 1930s and 1940s.

    It is not that America is out of ideas. We know what to do. We need massive public spending on jobs (infrastructure, schools, parks, a new WPA) along with measures to widen the circle of prosperity so more Americans can share in the gains of growth (exempting the first $20K of income from payroll taxes and applying the payroll tax to incomes over $250K, for example).

    The problem is lack of political will to do it. The naysayers, deficit hawks, government-haters and Social Darwinists who don’t have a clue what to do would rather do nothing. We are paralyzed. If there was ever a time for bold government action it is precisely now. Obama should be storming the country, demanding the largest responses to the jobs emergency in history. He and the Dems should be giving Republicans hell for their indifference to all this. Instead, Obama is all over the map — a mosque controversy, an Israeli-Palestinian peace talk (that may take years to complete if ever), a symbolic withdrawal from Iraq, and lots of little tax-cutting ideas. ...

    But the pain and suffering of tens of millions continue. Government revenues continue to drop, and the safety nets and public services they rely on are subject to even more cuts. Ever wonder why the nation is turning isolationist and xenophobic? Why we’re lashing out at undocumented immigrants, even though fewer are here now than a few years ago; why the rise of anti-Islam feeling now, although 9/11 was nine years ago? Why the virulence and hate-mongering on right-wing radio, and the surliness in the blogosphere?

  • Washington Post editorial: Making Social Security less generous isn't the answer. By Ezra Klein. Excerpts: There are a lot of things Congress doesn't know right now. What to do about jobs, for instance. Who'll be running the House come January. How to balance the budget. But there is one thing that both parties increasingly seem to agree on: You should work longer.

    Raising the Social Security retirement age has become as close to a consensus position as exists in American politics. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) supports it. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) has said that "we could and should consider a higher retirement age." And for a while, I agreed with them, too. It seemed obvious: People live longer today, and so they should work later into life. But as I've looked at the issue, I've decided that I was wrong. So let me be the skunk at the party. We should leave the retirement age alone. In fact, we should leave Social Security alone -- unless we're making it more, rather than less, generous.

    Social Security provides disability insurance and survivor's benefits, but when people talk about it, they tend to be referring to its role as a program that provides income support to retirees. The average monthly benefit of $1,170 replaces about 39 percent of the person's pre-retirement earnings. Over the next two decades, the "replacement rate" is slated to drop to 31 percent. That is less than in most developed countries -- the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranks it 25 out of 30 member nations.

    The system, in other words, is not that generous, and it's becoming less so every year. The age at which you can begin collecting full Social Security benefits is moving from 65 to 67, as part of a deal struck in the 1980s to ensure the system's solvency. And all this at a time when employers are getting rid of defined-benefit pensions, which means that most workers will have no guaranteed retirement income except for Social Security. ...

    The size of that fix is significant, but not astonishing. Over the next 75 years, the shortfall will be equal to about 0.7 percent of gross domestic product. How much is 0.7 percent of GDP? To put that in perspective, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculates that it's about as much as George W. Bush's tax cuts for the rich will cost over the same period. Saying we can afford those cuts -- which is the consensus Republican position -- but not Social Security's outlay is nonsensical. Coming up with 0.7 percent of GDP isn't a crisis. It's a question of priorities. ...

    Lurking beneath this conversation is an unquestioned assumption: We live longer, so we should work longer. That's pretty intuitive to members of Congress, who seem to like their jobs and don't seem to like the idea of retiring. It's also pretty intuitive to blogger/columnists, who spend their time in air-conditioned rooms opining about pension programs. But most people don't work in Congress or in the media. They work on their feet. They strain their backs. They're bored silly at the end of the day. By the time they're in their 60s, they want to retire. ...

    Polling suggests that it is. An August survey from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research tested reactions to a variety of Social Security fixes. One of the options was raising the retirement age to 70. Two-thirds of respondents opposed it. Another option was eliminating the cap on payroll taxes so that well-off workers pay the tax on their full income, just as middle-income workers do now. A solid 61 percent supported it. That's almost the reverse of the conversation in Washington, where affluent people who like their jobs propose cutting benefits for the poor (which is, after all, what raising the retirement age would do) rather than lowering benefits or increasing the payroll tax on, well, themselves. Which is not to say that we should be raising taxes or cutting benefits on the better-off, either.

    The universally unpleasant options for reform are a testament to Social Security's efficiency. It's a simple transfer program, with administrative costs that amount to less than 0.9 percent of total spending. There's not much fat to cut. That can't be said for much else in American public policy. Our health-care system costs twice as much as the German system and doesn't deliver better results. Our defense sector is wasteful and bloated. Our tax code could raise more money and do less to harm growth if we cleaned it out. Our home prices are driven upward by the mortgage interest tax deduction. Our health insurance premiums are goosed by the exclusion of employer-sponsored insurance from taxable income.

  • truthout: We're Being Conned on Social Security - How We Could Easily Raise Benefits or Allow People to Retire Earlier. By Joshua Holland. Excerpts: They just want to steal our money. Allow me to take a moment to fix that whole “Social Security crisis” that has everyone in Washington gnashing their teeth. When you see how easily it’s done, you may begin to realize that whenever our elites start chattering about “tax-gaps," they’re almost certainly trying to rip you off -- making a slick grab for something to which you are, ultimately, “entitled.”

    But why stop there? Why play defense? After we fix the program, why don’t we increase Social Security benefits? Why not lower the age of retirement? With unemployment hovering around 10 percent, and some economists, like James Galbraith, arguing that at least some of those lost jobs are never to return, why not open up some jobs for the young ‘uns and put a dent in the number of Americans who are out of work? Maybe with more demand for workers, employers would see their way to raising wages a bit, bucking the long-term trend of stagnation that the majority of Americans have endured over the past 30 years. Think about it: if you enter the labor market at age 20, isn’t busting your ass for four decades long enough to merit a dignified retirement? We are a wealthy country -- we can afford it. ...

    As I write in my forthcoming book, The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy, budgeting comes down to a simple question of priorities. Do we want to live in an America where the elderly are forced to eat cat food? If not, we can pay a bit more in taxes, or bring defense spending in line with other advanced countries or eliminate the cap on payroll taxes so higher earners kick in the same share of their paychecks as everyone else.

    According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the 75-year “Social Security gap” represents the same dollar figure as those Bush tax cuts that were targeted at the top 2 percent of American earners projected over the same period of time. For much of Washington’s cognoscenti, one is an imminent crisis, and the other is something we simply must keep in place in order to retain our economic edge. That should tell you all you need to know about the nature of our Social Security “crisis.”

  • New York Times op-ed: 1938 in 2010. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: Here’s the situation: The U.S. economy has been crippled by a financial crisis. The president’s policies have limited the damage, but they were too cautious, and unemployment remains disastrously high. More action is clearly needed. Yet the public has soured on government activism, and seems poised to deal Democrats a severe defeat in the midterm elections.

    The president in question is Franklin Delano Roosevelt; the year is 1938. Within a few years, of course, the Great Depression was over. But it’s both instructive and discouraging to look at the state of America circa 1938 — instructive because the nature of the recovery that followed refutes the arguments dominating today’s public debate, discouraging because it’s hard to see anything like the miracle of the 1940s happening again.

    Now, we weren’t supposed to find ourselves replaying the late 1930s. President Obama’s economists promised not to repeat the mistakes of 1937, when F.D.R. pulled back fiscal stimulus too soon. But by making his program too small and too short-lived, Mr. Obama did just that: the stimulus raised growth while it lasted, but it made only a small dent in unemployment — and now it’s fading out. And just as some of us feared, the inadequacy of the administration’s initial economic plan has landed it — and the nation — in a political trap. More stimulus is desperately needed, but in the public’s eyes the failure of the initial program to deliver a convincing recovery has discredited government action to create jobs. ...

    The economic moral is clear: when the economy is deeply depressed, the usual rules don’t apply. Austerity is self-defeating: when everyone tries to pay down debt at the same time, the result is depression and deflation, and debt problems grow even worse. And conversely, it is possible — indeed, necessary — for the nation as a whole to spend its way out of debt: a temporary surge of deficit spending, on a sufficient scale, can cure problems brought on by past excesses.

  • New York Times: Congressional Charities Pulling In Corporate Cash. By Eric Lipton. Excerpts: Representative Joe Baca has achieved near celebrity status in his suburban Los Angeles district, as much for his record of giveaways — Thanksgiving turkeys, college scholarships, spare boots for firefighters — as for anything he has done in Congress. That generosity is made possible by the Joe Baca Foundation, a charity his family set up three years ago to aid local organizations. It provides another benefit, too: helping the Democratic congressman run something akin to a permanent political campaign. Joe Baca T-shirts and caps are given out at the charity’s events, where banners display his name. Local newspapers mention the charity’s donations, and cable stations show appearances by Mr. Baca and his family at functions his foundation supports. ...

    But unlike most private foundations, Mr. Baca’s gets little of its money from its founders’ pockets. Instead, local companies and major corporations that have often turned to Mr. Baca’s Washington office for help, and usually succeed in getting it, are the chief donors.

    A review by The New York Times of federal tax records and House and Senate disclosure reports found at least two dozen charities that lawmakers or their families helped create or run that routinely accept donations from businesses seeking to influence them. The sponsors — AT&T, Chevron, General Dynamics, Morgan Stanley, Eli Lilly and dozens of others — contribute millions of dollars annually in gifts ranging from token amounts to a check for $5 million.

    Since 2009, businesses have sent lobbyists and executives to the plush Boulders resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., for a fund-raiser for the scholarship fund of Representative Steve Buyer, Republican of Indiana; sponsored a skeet shooting competition in Florida to help the favorite food bank of Representative Allen Boyd, Democrat of Florida; and subsidized a spa and speedway outing in Las Vegas to aid the charity of Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada.

  • BuzzFlash: Social Security and Medicare Don't Make Hard Times, Military Spending and Tax Cuts for the Rich Do. By Shirley Smith. Excerpts: How can Social Security be in trouble? Even if there have been no raises for the last year or two, if it were really in trouble, wouldn't people or multimillionaires like John McCain, who has been photographed proudly waiving his social security check, want to give their checks back? Why would a multimillionaire, knowing there are so many poor people around this country, people who can barely afford utilities or food want to keep his check? Instead, we see John McCain smiling smugly, showing us that he gets social security. That picture says it all about the Republican Party of today. A sick, incurable greed for more money and power regardless of who it hurts.

    How can it be hard times in this country when US government voted for health care, of course, it wasn't either of the two choices that the people wanted. It wasn't anything we could brag to Canada or Great Britain, or France about . . . but, that's probably because we aren't really having hard times in this country . . . you think? Of course, there are still hundreds of thousands of our poor, too poor to buy insurance, still without health insurance.

    Surely, we couldn't be having hard times when US military still takes 50% of our US government budget. If we were really having hard times, wouldn't it be prudent for those who work for the people (all three branches of government) to close most of those 800 to 900 military bases around the world? ...

    Hard times are caused by excess military spending, privatization, NAFTA, CAFTA, illegal and treasonous invasions/occupations, tax cuts for the wealthy . . . and all of the other changes made in this country since Nixon. America's hard times are a combination of all of that, and even with the Bush GOP's war against the American people, such as the Patriot Act and more, it still goes on. We have not had that many changes. And, when we have had change happening, the GOP whine and shout until the Democrats in Congress give up and the GOP gives a hoop and holler and they win again. Democrats and Obama's administration have to speak out, practice at being an oppositional power. Commit to the people of this nation, instead of to the corporations and the unfriendly fire coming from the GOP.

  • New York Times op-ed: Paying the Price. By Bob Herbert. Excerpts: People feel that the country is going to hell, that the system itself has broken down, and President Obama and the Democrats have been unable to assuage that awful feeling. The White House and Democratic Congressional leaders can point to a long string of legislative accomplishments — passage of a health insurance overhaul, financial reform, a stimulus package that may have been misshapen and too small but nevertheless helped stave off a worse economic disaster, and so on.

    But voters do not feel that the administration and Congress have delivered the fundamental change they were seeking when they swept President Obama and huge Democratic majorities into office nearly two years ago. Forget about the crazies in the Tea Party for the moment. Forget about the ugly Republican obstructionism that is based on the idea that the failure not just of President Obama but of American society itself is the G.O.P.’s quickest ticket back to power.

    Forget about that for a moment. The Democrats are in deep, deep trouble because they have not effectively addressed the overwhelming concern of working men and women: an economy that is too weak to provide the jobs they need to support themselves and their families. And that failure is rooted in the Democrats’ continued fascination with the self-serving conservative belief that the way to help ordinary people is to shower money on the rich and wait for the blessings to trickle down to the great unwashed below.

    It was a bogus concept when George H.W. Bush denounced it as “voodoo economics” in 1980, and it remains bogus today, no matter how hard the Democrats try to dress it up in a donkey costume. ...

    With the nation losing hundreds of thousands of jobs a month in early-2009, the president and his allies in Congress could have rallied the citizenry to participate in the difficult work of nation-building here at home. He could have called on everyone to share in the sacrifices that needed to be made, and he could have demanded much more from the financial and corporate elites who were being bailed out with the people’s money.

    The example had already been set by Franklin Roosevelt, who declared in his first Inaugural Address that “our greatest primary task is to put people to work.” And that task, he said, should be treated “as we would treat the emergency of a war.” For Mr. Obama and the Democrats, that would have meant that health insurance reform, however noble, would have had to wait, and the war in Afghanistan would have had to de-escalate.

    That didn’t happen. The Democrats are facing an election debacle because they did not respond adequately to their constituents’ most dire needs. The thing that is really weird is that a strengthened G.O.P. will undoubtedly make matters so much worse.

  • Wall Street Journal: Obama: Extend Middle-Class Tax Cuts First. By Laura Meckler and Jared A. Favole. Excerpts: President Barack Obama called Friday for tax cuts for the richest Americans to expire, and said Republicans and Democrats should work together to extend the tax cuts for middle class families since both parties agree on that. ...

    Republicans want the cuts extended for all taxpayers, saying raising taxes on any group creates problems in shaky economic times. Most Democrats want tax cuts extended only for the middle class. On Friday, Mr. Obama said using extending tax cuts for the wealthy was a "bad idea" because it costs too much and economists think extending the tax breaks for the wealthy represent "probably the worst way to stimulate the economy." ...

    The cost to the Treasury of extending the top two income tax rates, which the Bush tax cuts lowered from 39.6% to 35% and 36% to 33%, would be about $700 billion over 10 years. "We can have a further conversation about how [Republicans] want to spend an additional $700 billion to give an average of $100,000 to millionaires," he said, emphasizing his position that "there are a lot better ways of spending it."

  • truthout: The Rich Are Not Going to Give Us Jobs. By Froma Harrop. Excerpts: Let's cut the baloney about jobs and rich people's taxes. If corporate profits automatically turned into jobs for the little folk, the unemployment rate would be plummeting. It happens that company earnings now exceed their lofty peaks of the housing boom. And big-business balance sheets are sloshing in cash. Corporate America's decision to stick with its current workforce is not for a lack of dough.

    Companies don't create jobs because they have extra money jingling in their pockets. They take on new workers when they want to expand, and right now the demand's not there to warrant that growth. Corporations are in the business of maximizing profits for the benefit of their managers and shareholders. They're not in the business of creating jobs, nor should we expect them to be.

    And so how should we respond to Republican claims that restoring Clinton-era income tax rates for the wealthiest 2 percent would destroy jobs? We shouldn't. They are irrelevant. An employment policy based on further enriching the richest Americans -- who may or may not spend their wealth on job-creating ventures -- is like trying to feed chickens in the barnyard by dropping feed from an airplane. It's far more logical to focus tax cuts on activities that are likely to expand American business. ...

    But to politically sell this fixation on keeping rich people's taxes low, Republicans must convince wage-earners that their jobs depend on enlarging a few personal fortunes. Thus, Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio characterizes the Obama plan to let George W. Bush's tax cuts for the top brackets expire as "job-killing tax hikes." Republicans made similar hysterical warnings when Bill Clinton proposed raising taxes for the richest 1 percent early in his administration. ...

    "This is really the Dr. Kevorkian plan for our economy," Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., said in May 1993. "It will kill jobs, kill business and, yes, kill even the higher tax revenues that these suicidal tax increasers hope to gain." It didn't quite turn out that way. America gained a net 21 million jobs during Clinton's two terms (against only 3 million during Bush's). Business investment was higher in the Clinton years. The economy grew more, as did tax revenues, and Clinton ended his presidency with a budget surplus. Even the rich got richer under Clinton, but most people didn't seem to mind because everyone else was doing better, too.

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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