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Field direct sales and sales support roles have always been a good ( if not the best ) place to move up in levels without having to be a manager.
The main complaint nowdays in S&D has been the reductions in additional compensation in the sales ranks especially technical sales over the last 5 years, total earning potential has dropped from eliminating incentives and bonuses and awards. Expenses have been screwed down tight too.
There is not a career path in consulting for technical people...only for politically-oriented folks in the multiple layers of management.
A former colleague of mine made the switch the other way when layoffs were looming in her S&D group so she went to Services and was debanded to a band 7 from a 9. Then a year later she was laid off over there anyway. Services really treats people worse than sales that's for sure - sales people get laid off and let go for various reasons, but they don't jerk you around with games so much in between.
I think IBM will be a dinosaur in the next few years. Logic says IBM can't cost cut forever and expect to turn a profit with anemic revenues. IBM is riding on sheer inertia now. IBM has little innovative development and products (think Apple for innovation. Microsoft is still more innovative than IBM will ever be). Investment in IT in IBM? Then why do they RA IT Specialists like mad? IBM is all marketing and services. Any company can do services if it is a sweat and body shop.
You are right. IBM is surviving on the few ultra-dedicated and experienced employees that keep the business running, but their numbers are now insufficient for the company to survive long term. Their numbers are being further reduced every quarter.
I believe the company is now beyond recovery.
When the economy recovers, IBM will experience brain-drain of unprecedented proportions while services demand will grow beyond IBM's ability to meet it. IBM's response will be predictable - overwork the employees it can keep and hire inexperienced global resources who won't be able to do the job. And of course, blame the employees for the failure to execute.
It may be better than open market, esp. if you have existing conditions. For an early retiree (age 52 - 55) even if single I don't see how it could last to Medicare eligibility. For a husband+wife the numbers I see would say the FHA "dollars" would run out in something like 4 years depending on the plan you took.
So an employee with spouse that came to IBM fresh outta college and was expecting 30 years and out @ age 52 and free coverage for self and spouse is seriously screwed... but we all kinda knew that :-/ TK
Being a CIO nowadays I truly would like to introduce IBM servers, Tivoli products, Thinkpads and moving to Notes as the communication platform as I find these superior to Microsoft.
The blue blood will always remain and I am one of the advocators of IBM's services and products! All Big Blue former employee will always be a friend and I would consider of rejoining the firm later if there is an opportunity that fits.
During my first 5 years, IBM was a wonderful company to work for. They actually cared about you as an employee and as a person. The acquisition changed everything.
Once PWC took over, everything changed. There was a spike in failed projects and projects failing. IBM inherited PWC's book of business, and for the most part it was filled with failed or failing project. Again another brilliant business move on IBM's part. I wonder who did the research on PWC's book of business prior to the purchase?
When PWC took over they eliminated consultant, pm and other once required certifications and were selling stuff that could not be delivered on. Legacy IBMers took a back seat to lesser qualified PWCers and again the results were clear.
When it was time for layoffs legacy IBMers were the first to go. Year after year more and more great legacy IBMers were resourced out much fewer PWC were let go.
While I can not speak to the other divisions within IBM, however IBM's Global Business Services became nothing more that a four letter word. I worked diligently and sacrificed Important family time to work for IBM and to what end? IBM/PWC built the services business on my back and the backs of 1000's of others only to dismiss us because PWC leadership said so.
Towards the last few years of the decade though, a tight squeeze was being put on expenses of all kinds, making travel and meetings and skill development more difficult. Then I began to feel like being a member of IBM stood for "I'm By Myself." The resource actions also taught me that working for a big company like IBM offered a false sense of security. I am now with a much smaller company, in a senior leadership position. I feel a bit more in control of my destiny. I am also in a position to apply a lot of what I learned at Big Blue. Overall, proud to be an IBMer. The association still brings respect. Thank you IBM! Good wishes to all those still in there!
These tables provide estimates of the lifetime value of Social Security and Medicare benefits and taxes for typical workers in different generations at various earning levels. The "lifetime value of taxes" is based upon the value of accumulated taxes, as if those taxes were put into an account that earned a 2 percent real rate of return (that is, 2 percent plus inflation). The "lifetime value of benefits" represents the amount needed in an account (also earning a 2 percent real interest rate) to pay for those benefits.
Maria Freese of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare said she thinks Social Security is "more at risk than it was in 2005,” when President George W. Bush proposed far-reaching changes to the program, including personal accounts. The plan was vigorously opposed by Democrats and liberal groups and never came up for a vote in Congress. Now, with Social Security coming to the forefront once again, liberal groups are preparing a campaign to oppose any “backroom” deals on retirement benefits.
After showing multiple clips of Republicans repeating the same lie over and over again, Matthews could barely contain his laughter. “Are we watching a Woody Allen movie here?” he asked his guests. “Do they get all their talking points from Frank Luntz? Some guy down on the beach in Santa Monica is knocking out the terminology. The lingo in these people. Don’t they know they sound like parrots?”
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown replied by saying that Republicans get away with the lies because they are never challenged during interviews or asked to define the word ‘takeover.’ Matthews ignored the comment, but did say the healthcare bill is an insurance company takeover. He later wondered if the Heritage Foundation wrote the talking points.
They actually came from Wendell Potter and his health insurance colleagues. Potter is former head of corporate communications for CIGNA, one of the largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States. Potter, who spent 20 years working for CIGNA and Humana, was the main media contact for top-level executives. If a journalist wanted an interview, they had to go through Potter; if he thought the interview would be “friendly,” he would approve it. He always sat in on the interview and says journalists rarely challenged executives or asked difficult questions.
In 2008, his conscience got the best of him after visiting the Remote Area Medical's healthcare fair in Wise County, Virginia and saw people standing and sitting in long lines, waiting for free care. "They were treating people in animal stalls and barns. It looked like it might have been a war torn country. I could not believe this was the United States of America."
Shortly after leaving his six-figure job, he decided to expose and speak out against the very practices he once defended.
In his new book, Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care And Deceiving Americans, he writes, “If you are among those who believe that the U.S. has the best healthcare system in the world--despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary-- it’s because my fellow spinmeisters and I succeeded brilliantly at what we were paid very well to do with your premium dollars.”
“And if you were persuaded that the health care bill President Barack Obama signed into law in March 2010 was a ‘government takeover of the health care system,’ my former colleagues and I earned every penny of our handsome salaries.” The talking points are designed to be simple, catchy, and memorable. Think government takeover of healthcare, death panels, and socialism.
“And you have to say them over and over and over again. And if you hear them often enough, you think it’s true,” says Potter. “That’s why people, even today, think that the legislation created death panels. Obviously it never had anything approaching that kind of provision. People think this legislation is a government takeover of the healthcare system. In reality, it props up our private healthcare system. It guarantees that these private insurance companies are going to be profitable for years and years to come. It will require us to buy their products and it doesn’t include a public option, which we needed to have.”
Drug companies say the plans help some patients afford medicines that they otherwise could not.
But health insurers and some consumer groups say that in many cases, the coupons are just marketing gimmicks that are leading to an overall increase in health care costs. That is because they circumvent the system of higher co-pays on costlier drugs that insurers use to encourage consumers to use less expensive products. ...
The acne drug that produced higher costs in 2008 for the Albany insurance company was Solodyn, a once-a-day formulation of an antibiotic called minocycline. A month’s supply of Solodyn sells for more than $700 on drugstore.com, compared with about $40 a month for capsules of generic minocycline, which are generally taken twice a day.
Executives at Medicis, the company that sells Solodyn, have told investors that the co-payment card is used by an “overwhelming majority” of patients, and is largely responsible for doubling use of the drug, to 26,000 prescriptions a week.
The gaps in our health care system affect people of all ages, races and ethnicities, and income levels; however, those with the lowest income face the greatest risk of being uninsured. Despite strong ties to the workforce—more than three-quarters of the uninsured come from working families—four in ten of the uninsured are individuals and families who are poor (incomes less than the federal poverty level or $22,050 for a family of four in 2009). ...
There's good news on the horizon, but unfortunately it's still three years away. The Affordable Care Act will help ameliorate many of these problems in 2014, by expanding Medicaid coverage to 138% of poverty, and by requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions. But it won't cover all of the uninsured. By 2019, when it will have been fully implemented, it will extend coverage to 32 million--significant and important, but still leaving too many uninsured.
And what's the first thing the House GOP intends to do? Hold a vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act, because 50 million uninsured Americans isn't a crisis as far as they're concerned. The fact that ACORN ever existed, even though it is now defunct, now that's a crisis.
Despite the so-called health care reform legislation passed last year, the number of uninsured Americans has increased to more than 50 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The main factor leading to this major loss of coverage is loss of employer-funded health care. While almost 17 percent of the population at large is now uninsured, it gets worse further down the income scale; Census figures reveal that fully a quarter of people with incomes under $25,000 have no health coverage at all.
When President Obama made his back-room deals with the for-profit insurers and drug companies to get his watered-down bill passed, he traded away universal coverage - right away - for a smooth ride through Congress and future corporate campaign donations. So we are worse off than ever, because widespread benefits won't take effect until 2014. People with pre-existing conditions can't afford to buy into those much-touted high risk pools. Sick people still can't afford to go to the doctor and are getting sicker and dying at higher rates than even before "reform." And all to please some corrupt politicians and their corporate puppet masters - all to worship at the altar of fiscal responsibility by making suffering people wait another three years before getting government subsidies to further enrich the insurance companies - which, by the way, remain immune from anti-trust laws.
But perhaps that's the whole idea - make people wait long enough,and maybe a lot of them will conveniently die. There's a name for what the United States calls its joke of a safety net, and it's Social Darwinism. We should probably just give up the pretense and rename Washington, D.C. : "Wall Street-upon-Potomac."
The rough estimate by the Congressional Budget Office also predicts that most Americans would pay more for private health insurance if the law were repealed. The 10-page forecast was delivered Thursday to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), installed a day earlier to shepherd the new GOP majority. He immediately dismissed it.
The CBO's assessment, arriving as Republicans have mobilized to make the law's repeal the first major House vote of the new Congress, touches on a sensitive area for the GOP. Republicans are vowing to take tough measures to reduce the deficit, although they already have exempted the health-care measure from rules requiring that any spending increases be accompanied by offsetting reductions so that the net effect on the deficit is null.
But Mr. Boehner’s remarks held wider implications, effectively putting him on a war footing with the independent analysts whose calculations generally guide discussions about the projected cost or savings of any legislation. ...
But the analysis released by the budget office on Thursday was based on the health care repeal bill that House Republicans introduced on Wednesday. And it highlighted the difficult position that Republicans are in as they try to address what they insist are the top two priorities of voters who elected them in November: cutting the deficit and undoing the health care law. According to the budget office, those goals are contradictory.
"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.
With unemployment and underemployment devastating millions of families in our country, perhaps you've assumed that U.S. corporations simply aren't hiring these days. Nonsense. They added 1.4 million jobs last year alone -- overseas.
For example, more than half of Caterpillar's new hires in 2010 were in foreign countries. Many more of this giant's jobs are headed offshore in the near future, for Caterpillar, which was once an iconic American brand, has recently invested in three new plants in China. It'll not only manufacture tractors and bulldozers there, but it'll also begin to ship its design work and technology development jobs to China.
Such homemade brands as Coca-Cola, Dell and IBM are also among the multitude of corporations abandoning our shores and our middle class. Of course, they keep their posh headquarters here so they and their top executives can continue enjoying all that America has to offer.
Calvin Coolidge once famously asserted that "what's good for business is good for America." That's myopic enough, but today's narcissistic CEOs are even more self-centered, declaring that "what's good for business is good for business, America be damned." ...
No one at the top wants to admit it, but big business has quietly been imposing a structural transformation on our economy, shifting from a workforce of permanent employees to one in which most jobs are temporary, scarce, low-paid, without benefits and with no upward mobility. Of the 1.2 million jobs created by the private sector last year, for example, 26 percent were temporary positions, and in November, temp jobs soared to 80 percent of that month's total.
What's happening here is not merely a matter of a few million folks being momentarily down on their luck, but of an intentional dismantling of America's middle-class structure.
The Powers That Be can talk all they want about a boom, but working families -- America's majority -- know better. A boom for whom? they ask. They can plainly see that self-serving elites are jury-rigging the job market, lowering the standard of living and closing opportunities for millions.
With corporate profits robust and a one-year payroll tax cut set to start this month, there are reasons to hope for continued growth in 2011. Yet, growth is not expected to be strong enough to make a real dent in unemployment, which at 9.8 percent remains close to the recession’s peak of 10.2 percent in October 2009.
Rising corporate profits should spur hiring, but recent history is not encouraging. Part of the problem is that companies are more apt to spend their cash on stock buy-backs and acquisitions that increase share prices but not hiring. Many companies that are hiring are doing it in fast-growing markets like China and India.
If a just society is defined by the relationship between the well off and the very poor, we have big trouble. US Census data for 2010 show the widest rich-poor income gap on record. In 1968, the top 20 percent of Americans had about 7 times the income of those living below the poverty line. By 2008, that disparity had grown to about 13. By 2010, it had grown even further, to more than 14. The poverty level in 2010 was put at $21,954 for a family of four. In 2010, the percentage of Americans living below half of the poverty line (or about $11,000) had grown from 5.7 percent in 2008 to 6.3 percent. That the rich get richer while the poor get poorer can seem a timeless cliché, yet something is steadily corroding America. The mythic land of equality has the largest income disparity of any Western nation. How can that be?
These figures show that the shocking economic collapse of the last two years has been no collapse whatsoever for the most affluent, even while it remains traumatic for most, and catastrophic for many. Yet instead of generating a sense of moral urgency, this condition has produced a spirit of entitlement among the privileged, complacency among the struggling middle, and resignation among the impoverished. How else account for the most decisive judicial act of 2010 — the Supreme Court ruling in January that elite-protecting political spending by corporations must be unrestrained — and the most decisive legislative act — the December extension by Congress of massive tax cuts for that wealthiest sub-minority? And who can deny that the court decision led directly to the congressional act?
What’s worse, instead of prompting a reconsideration of the untrustworthy twin pillars on which America’s financial culture stands, the 2010 responses artificially reinforced them. The war economy is the first of these, with current annual military expenditures now exceeding $1 trillion — the most ever. Ironically, nothing undermines American security like the cuts in public spending (infrastructure, schools, libraries, etc.) made necessary by exploding budgets for outmoded weapons. Not guns over mere butter now, but over bread — and books and bridges. This monetary calculus leaves aside the most corrupting dynamic of the war economy, how the nation is driven into unnecessary wars simply by the unleashed momentum of hyper-war-readiness. Over-investment in arms leads to their use, period.
In a parallel universe lives Peter Orszag, President Barack Obama’s former budget director and key adviser, who even faster than his mentor, Robert Rubin, has passed through that revolving platinum door linking the White House with Wall Street. The goal is to use your government position to advance the interests of your future employer, and Orszag and Rubin’s actions in the government and then at Citigroup provide stunning examples of the synergy between big government and high finance.
As Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary, Rubin presided over the dismantling of Glass-Steagall, the New Deal legislation that would have prohibited the creation of the too-big-to-fail Citigroup. He was rewarded with a $15-million-a-year job at Citigroup, where he became a leader in the bank’s aggressive move into high-risk ventures. An SEC report in September claimed that Rubin as Citigroup chairman was aware that the bank failed to disclose $40 billion it held in subprime mortgages before the collapse. ...
The most damning comment on this corrupt syndrome was offered by former Citigroup co-chief executive John Reed, who had worked with Rubin to get Glass-Steagall reversed and now is a sharp critic of the result. “We continue to listen to the same people whose errors in judgment were central to the problem,” Reed told Bloomberg News. “I’m astounded because we basically dropped the world’s biggest economy because of an error in bank management.” Reed estimated that the financial deregulation proposals contained in the Dodd-Frank bill and other reforms of the Obama administration represent only 25 percent of the change needed.
The failure to provide serious regulation of the financial industry to avoid future downturns is documented in devastating detail in that Dec. 28 Bloomberg report, written by Christine Harper: “The U.S. government, promising to make the system safer, buckled under many of the financial industry’s protests. Lawmakers spurned changes that would wall off deposit-taking banks from riskier trading. They declined to limit the size of lenders or ban any form of derivatives.”
Historically, the relatively high and rising standard of living of American workers--both blue and white-collar--which once gave the US one of the highest standards of living in the world, has come courtesy of rising productivity, which has allowed US companies to produce more goods with less labor, and to then pass some of the enhanced profits on to workers in the form of higher wages, without having to raise prices. That has been important because, when higher wages are financed by higher prices, it tends to be a kind of zero-sum game: higher wages cancelled out by inflation.
But beginning in 2000, the old system already creaky, broke down. (It must be noted that this system was never the result of the capitalists' largesse, but rather was because of a tighter labor market and, critically, a powerful labor movement.)
The corporate onslaught against trade unions and against the minimum wage, which began with the Nixon administration in 1968, combined with so-called “free-trade” deals that allowed US companies to shift production overseas and then to freely import the products of their overseas production facilities back for sale to Americans at home, by weakening the power of workers to demand higher wages, has led to a situation where companies can just pocket all the profits from productivity gains, leaving wages stagnant, or even driving them down. ...
What we’re witnessing is a massive national “speed-up” which is enriching the owners of capital, while the workers are getting stiffed. It is the payoff to the ruling class for decades of hammering of trade unions, and also of trade unions cutting deals with the Democratic Party, which in turn has refused to defend workers’ interests. Look at the sell-out of Labor during the first two years of the Obama administration. The union movement’s one big issue--restoring some measure of fairness to the Labor Relations Act, so that it would be at least possible to organize unions and to win contracts and improved wages and working conditions--was dropped without even a fight by the Obama administration and the leadership of the House and Senate. The government, fully in the hands of Democrats, has also continued to sign trade agreements, most recently with Korea, that further shift jobs overseas, thus further weakening the position of workers here at home.
Meanwhile, the national corporate media, itself viciously anti-union, continue to skew news coverage to portray unions as corrupt and greedy, so that the 90 percent of American workers who are not in a union don’t even realize that any pay gains or benefits they get are because employers are trying to avoid unionization of their workforce.
Unless Americans wake up soon to how this process is impoverishing us all, we will see this shifting income and wealth to the top strata of the population continue until most of us are little more than modern-day serfs.
A start would be for people to at least recognize that this stagnation and decline in incomes we’re witnessing is not some natural phenomenon. It is, no less than the fat salaries, perks and bonuses paid by corporate managers to themselves, simply another manifestation of corporate greed gone wild.
It is not about Republicans versus Democrats. Right now, the Republicans do a better job taking money than the Democrats. But The Money Party is an equal opportunity employer. They have no permanent friends or enemies, just permanent interests. Democrats are as welcome as Republicans to this party. It’s all good when you’re on the take and the take is legal.
This is not a conspiracy theory. There are no secret societies or sinister operators. This party is up front and in your face. Just follow the money. One percent of Americans hold 33% of the nation’s wealth. The top 10% hold 72% of the total wealth. The bottom 40% of Americans control only 0.3% (three tenths of one percent). And that was before “pay day loans.” ...
When the White House and Congress ignore the health care crisis year after year, why be surprised? They’re not in office to serve you. The drug companies and hospitals had their bid in first.
A Decade Job Stagnation In 2000, 135 million citizens were employed. In 2010 there were 139 million Americans employed. Given the 9.7% increase in population since 2000, we would expect to see at least 148 million citizens with jobs. Nobody much wants to talk about this or the true unemployment figures produced by the US Census called "U6". That measure accounts for, "Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force." Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The "U6" unemployment figure is 17%, well above the official 9.8% we hear all the time. The official number accounts for 15 million citizens. But when we use U6, we add 9 million citizens forced by economic conditions to work less than they want in part time jobs and 2.5 million marginally attached to the work force - those who gave up looking and get no benefits. That gives us a real world total of 26.5 million citizens out of work or working part time against their will. ...
The Response - Crackpot Economics. You'd think that the government would have the most able hands on deck for this economic storm. But we've got the same old crew, dominated by Wall Street insiders and big bankers without credibility. These are the folks creating MPD (multiple personality disorder) economics. They argue that we have to focus on the deficit and get that down (even that policy was disastrous in the Great Depression). Then they argue that we need to give away $900 billion in tax revenues so the top 1% will have enough wealth to trickle down on the rest of us.
They can't have it both ways. Lowering the deficit while lowering income at the same time is simply absurd logic. They think nobody is paying attention. It's important to know that the people behind these policies know exactly what they're doing. They just think we're stupid, a fatal error. The key players now include Obama, the Bush Clan, Bill Clinton, and the usual suspects from Wall Street and the big banks. ...
Other Major Failings. We got health care reform but Congress forgot to do anything for the people. The elimination of "preexisting conditions" as a means to open up more coverage for adults was postponed until 2014. The self-employed are totally screwed with their rates doubling and tripling in some cases. And there was no action to curb the outrageous cost of pharmaceuticals thanks to a major cave in by the president. Medicare, for example, is barred by law from negotiating discounts from big pharma. That about sums it up. The only reform was a massive bailout for the health insurance companies.
Any responsible citizen acknowledges this painful history in the hope of redirecting US foreign policy in the future. The purpose of reclaiming it is not to open old wounds, but to encourage legislative and direct action committed to peacemaking. It is a call to critique the policies and competence of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the national security apparatus responsible for these disasters.
Ironically, the deficit-reduction commission appointed by President Obama intimates that social security, rather than a trillion-dollar war on Iraq and uncapped military spending in Afghanistan, is to blame for the deficit. And Congress has succeeded in extending Bush's tax cuts for the super-rich, which will increase the deficit.
Once the envy of the world community, the US now lags behind many nations in education and health care while it squanders its huge resources on military misadventures - including both overt and covert intervention - with some 1,000 military bases around the world. ...
For decades, Americans have convinced ourselves - or have been convinced - that more or less continual war is the essential task of the US, and that that enterprise is justified by our knowing what is best for the world community. During the 1940s, we built military weapons to defeat Germany and Japan; now, we initiate wars in order to experiment with, and provide profit from, more sophisticated military weapons.
When will the American public, victimized by a war economy, come to the conclusion that a permanent war policy benefits only arms manufacturers, Pentagon contractors and their Congressional allies? Nor does it lessen our fear, increase our security or promote peace among nations.
I've watched the progressive leadership closely in the last five years as they have repeatedly underestimated this oppositional force and overlooked its fundamental threat to America's future. They have invested nearly all of their time and money in candidates and policies, naively thinking that rational discourse would save the day despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Very little has been done to build the twenty-first-century communication infrastructure we need to counter the vast network of think tanks, media outlets and cultural myths that preserve the status quo.
To give you a sense of exactly what we're up against, consider how the Tea Party movement came into being:
Now more than ever, we need effective governance in the various sectors, including both public and private, to save our country from collapse. Yet what we have is a deep collusion between wealthy corporatists and a significant cabal in government. Their collusion is profoundly anti-democratic and even anti-market (as demonstrated by the devastating impacts of their policies on financial markets in 2008). So what we're getting is a group of financiers who set up communication systems to manipulate public perception and drive boom-crash cycles in the economy to siphon all forms of wealth into their coffers.
The ominous signs come in the wording of the new majority's version of its pay-as-you-go rules, which normally require that new programs or tax initiatives be covered with cuts to other programs or new revenue. In the GOP concept, pay-as-you-go applies only to spending programs. When it comes to tax cuts, it's all go, no pay. Taxes can be cut, and the national debt increased, without any offsetting savings. ...
Having made clear that no tax cuts need be paid for, the rules then take the extra step of specifying which deficit-busting tax cuts the new majority has in mind. They assume the continuation of all the Bush tax cuts; extension of the new version of the estate tax; and the creation of a big tax break to let "small businesses," which can be expansively defined, take a deduction equal to 20 percent of their gross income.
Tax cuts for the wealthiest are fully protected. But tax help for those at the other end of the income spectrum? Forget it. The expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, programs that help keep low-income working parents and children out of poverty, are not assumed to continue and would have to be paid for - with, of course, spending cuts. This is about as upside-down a set of priorities as can be imagined.
On C-SPAN's Washington Journal, Pedro Echevarria reduced the question of debt to whether or not we should raise taxes on the middle classes or raise the age for Social Security recipients. Wrong question: Why aren't the U.S. corporations paying their fair share of taxes to help reduce the national debt?
Social Security didn't get us into this mess. When you learn how U.S. corporations "cheat the public out of tens of billions of dollars a year by using offshore tax havens," as Arianna Huffington explained in her highly recommended book, Third World Nation, you realize how the media is in on the corporate scam because they never discuss "corporate tax evasion" as part of the national debate on debt.
How many corporations are getting away with tax evasion? In December 2008, Huffington learned through the Government Accountability Office that:
83 of the 100 largest publicly traded companies in the country-including AT&T, Chevron, IBM, American Express, GE, Boeing, Dow, and AIG-had subsidiaries in tax havens, or, as the corporate class comically calls them, "financial privacy jurisdictions."
18,000 companies are registered at a single address in the Cayman Islands, a country with no corporate or capital gains taxes.
Every time a politician mentions sacrificing and Social Security-Medicare in the same breath, we need to scream back "corporate tax theft scams." They'll know what you're screaming about because they're the ones who paid off crooks that made what is illegal, legal. It's time for that to change! It's time for corporate CEOs to be arrested for tax evasion via offshore accounts. We must apply pressure on our congressional members; call the White House, protest, write letters to editors, repeat how companies such as Cheney's KBR/Halliburton "got billions from U.S. taxpayers, then turned around and used a Cayman Islands address to reduce its expenses."
The fundamental mission of the G.O.P. is to shovel ever more money to those who are already rich. That’s why you got all that disgracefully phony rhetoric from Republicans about attacking budget deficits and embracing austerity while at the same time they were fighting like mad people to pile up the better part of a trillion dollars in new debt by extending the Bush tax cuts.
This is a party that has mastered the art of taking from the poor and the middle class and giving to the rich. We should at least be clear about this and stop being repeatedly hoodwinked — like Charlie Brown trying to kick Lucy’s football — by G.O.P. claims of fiscal responsibility.
There’s a reason the G.O.P. reveres Ronald Reagan and it’s not because of his fiscal probity. As Garry Wills wrote in “Reagan’s America”:
“Reagan nearly tripled the deficit in his eight years, and never made a realistic proposal for cutting it. As the biographer Lou Cannon noted, it was unfair for critics to say that Reagan was trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, since ‘he never seriously attempted to balance the budget at all.’ ”
We’ll see and hear a lot of populist foolishness from the Republicans as 2011 and 2012 unfold, but their underlying motivation is always the same. They are about making the rich richer. Thus it was not at all surprising to read on Politico that the new head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton of Michigan, had hired a former big-time lobbyist for the hospital and pharmaceuticals industries to oversee health care issues.
Obama’s economic policies have either been continuations of his predecessor’s, as in the case of taxes and bank bailouts, or bills so watered down to appease corporations, notably banks and insurance companies, that they are ineffective. In the process, he continues to alienate his supporters—individual voters, not the companies that funded his candidacy—leaving their economy in shambles. Here’s the recap.
"This is business as usual on Capitol Hill, even though many of these Republicans were elected on a platform of not doing business as usual," Craig Holman, legislative representative of political watchdog Public Citizen, said Tuesday. "They're already having huge fundraising events, and they haven't even become lawmakers yet." ...
The ensuing kerfuffle drew half a dozen camera crews and a number of reporters to the swank W Hotel Tuesday night. Denham took the very unusual step of holding a pre-fundraising news conference, immediately before start of the reception. "We feel as a freshman class that we're going to be self-reliant, and we're going to have the money we need to run our races," Denham said, adding that, "We're conservatives, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun." Inside the hotel, early arrivers appeared to be having fun, as waiters circulated with trays of white wine. Outside the hotel, the contributors had to run a little gantlet of camera crews.
Only four percent of those polled favored cutting Medicare, the government-run program that provides health care for the elderly and disabled, and only three percent favored cutting Social Security.
President Obama meanwhile, appointed a so-called National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (quickly dubbed the "Catfood Commission" by critics) to come up with proposals to cut the budget deficit. He named as co-chairs former Republican Senator from Wyoming Alan Simpson, a troglodyte sworn enemy of Social Security who publicly declared it to be "a milk cow with 310 million tits," and Erskine Bowles, a retired investment banker and former chief of staff to President Clinton who says he wants to cut spending, not raise taxes, which, when it comes to Social Security, means lower benefits for retirees.
The writing on the wall appears to be that the White House, and Democrats and Republicans in Congress, are looking to raise the retirement age, currently 66, to 68 or 69, to reduce or at least limit the inflation adjustment in Social Security benefits, and perhaps also to increase the payroll tax on current workers. What they want to do is balance the budget by screwing with our retirement. What they do not want to do is raise taxes on the rich and on investment income, two steps which, if taken, could fully fund Social Security indefinitely into the future. ...
Finally, for decades, a majority of Americans have favored some kind of national healthcare system, whether a fully socialized plan such as that in the UK, or a so-called single-payer type plan where the government is the insurer of all citizens, as in Canada. In May 2009, as the battle over health care reform was heating up, a CNN poll found Americans favored a government health plan by 69-29%. What polls showed Americans didn't want was a system of private insurers with a government mandate that everyone had to buy insurance or pay a penalty. Guess what kind of "health reform" Congress and the President gave them? Hint: It wasn't socialized medicine.
This, of course, has nothing to do with Mr. Boehner’s tearful populism and everything to do with the tens of millions in corporate dollars that helped propel the Republicans to power in the House. Businesses have complained about the Obama administration’s expanded, and necessary, oversight of finance, health care and food production, among other areas. Now they have helped elect a House leadership that is eager to do their bidding.
Mr. Issa did not have to wait long for answers to his query. To cite just a few: Financial companies have protested the new controls on debit-card fees, which were enacted to save small businesses billions of dollars and to lower prices. Manufacturers said they did not like the proposed E.P.A. limits on greenhouse gas emissions, intended to begin addressing global warming. There were even complaints about the cost to business of proposed federal limits on how long truck drivers can be behind the wheel, which would save lives on the highway.
But now the right is going after public employees.
Public servants are convenient scapegoats. Republicans would rather deflect attention from corporate executive pay that continues to rise as corporate profits soar, even as corporations refuse to hire more workers. They don't want stories about Wall Street bonuses, now higher than before taxpayers bailed out the Street. And they'd like to avoid a spotlight on the billions raked in by hedge-fund and private-equity managers whose income is treated as capital gains and subject to only a 15 percent tax, due to a loophole in the tax laws designed specifically for them.
It's far more convenient to go after people who are doing the public's work -- sanitation workers, police officers, fire fighters, teachers, social workers, federal employees -- to call them "faceless bureaucrats" and portray them as hooligans who are making off with your money and crippling federal and state budgets. The story fits better with the Republican's Big Lie that our problems are due to a government that's too big.
Above all, Republicans don't want to have to justify continued tax cuts for the rich. As quietly as possible, they want to make them permanent. ...
Most public employees don't have generous pensions. After a career with annual pay averaging less than $45,000, the typical newly-retired public employee receives a pension of $19,000 a year. Few would call that overly generous. And most of that $19,000 isn't even on taxpayers' shoulders. While they're working, most public employees contribute a portion of their salaries into their pension plans. Taxpayers are directly responsible for only about 14 percent of public retirement benefits. Remember also that many public workers aren't covered by Social Security, so the government isn't contributing 6.25 of their pay into the Social Security fund as private employers would. ...
Don't get me wrong. When times are tough, public employees should have to make the same sacrifices as everyone else. And they are right now. Pay has been frozen for federal workers, and for many state workers across the country as well.
But isn't it curious that when it comes to sacrifice, Republicans don't include the richest people in America? To the contrary, they insist the rich should sacrifice even less, enjoying even larger tax cuts that expand public-sector deficits. That means fewer public services, and even more pressure on the wages and benefits of public employees.
It's only average workers -- both in the public and the private sectors -- who are being called upon to sacrifice.
This is what the current Republican attack on public-sector workers is really all about. Their version of class warfare is to pit private-sector workers against public servants. They'd rather set average working people against one another -- comparing one group's modest incomes and benefits with another group's modest incomes and benefits -- than have Americans see that the top 1 percent is now raking in a bigger share of national income than at any time since 1928, and paying at a lower tax rate. And Republicans would rather you didn't know they want to cut taxes on the rich even more.
You might think that now would be the worst time to try to cut Social Security, with 10 percent measured unemployment, with many people's private savings having been wiped out, first in the stock market collapse and then with the collapse in house prices. You might think this is a great time to remember why we have Social Security: because it's secure. Housing bubbles and stock market bubbles may inflate and burst, industries that paid living wages may be shipped to Mexico and China, but since the program was established during the Great Depression, Social Security has never failed to pay scheduled benefits.
But this reality is being turned upside down. The presence of unnecessary suffering is being used not as an argument to alleviate suffering, but as an argument for creating more unnecessary suffering. "We all have to make sacrifices in these difficult times," although of course the people at the top of the income and wealth distribution - in particular, the high-rolling gamblers on Wall Street who brought down the economy - are not being asked to make any sacrifices.
Porter continues: "According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the average earnings of the richest 10 percent of Americans are 16 times those for the 10 percent at the bottom of the pile. That compares with a multiple of 8 in Britain and 5 in Sweden. Not coincidentally, Americans are less economically mobile than people in other developed countries. There is a 42 percent chance that the son of an American man in the bottom fifth of the income distribution will be stuck in the same economic slot. The equivalent odds for a British man are 30 percent, and 25 percent for a Swede."
For students of history and economics, this is shocking stuff. Europeans came to America in search of opportunity, for a better chance at a brighter future. How can it be that it's easier to get ahead in Britain--famously ossified, rigidly class-defined Britain? ...
The "middle-class squeeze," Frank explains, pressures voters to vote against higher taxes that would support improvements in public infrastructure. We all pay: "Rich and poor alike endure crumbling roads, weak bridges, an unreliable rail system, and cargo containers that enter our ports without scrutiny. And many Americans live in the shadow of poorly maintained dams that could collapse at any moment."...
Rising income inequality means trouble. Not just for our waistlines, but for the system that has created the problem: corporate capitalism. "If only a very lucky few can aspire to a big reward," Porter warns, "most workers are likely to conclude that it is not worth the effort to try." That would lead to less legitimate innovation, fewer new businesses. The best and the brightest will conclude, as they have in post-Soviet Russia, that crime is the only economic activity that pays.
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