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Highlights—March 19, 2011

  • eWeek: IBM to U.S.: Headcount Is for Us to Know, You to Find Out. Full excerpt: If I was an IBM stockholder, I'd be mighty confused about Big Blue's reluctance to break out its workforce numbers for North America in its annual report. IBM has stopped informing shareholders of regional breakouts for its employees. The company only lists total number of employees, which is now at 399,409 worldwide--an increase of 954 employees from 2008.

    Recent news in 2010 showed IBM continuing to lay off North American employees. Last year, it was estimated that IBM eliminated over 10,000 jobs in the United States and Canada while the work for those jobs has been moved to other countries, according to former employee reports and reports from the Alliance@IBM, an organization trying to unionize U.S.-based IBM employees.

    IBM will not confirm the eliminations.

    You see "global integration" of IBM operations mentioned a fair amount in the report. If you are wondering what that means, put it in the context of what IBM calls "workforce reduction actions"--something it has done with regularity in 2009, but gets no more explanation than this in the following statement: "In response to changing business needs, the company periodically takes workforce reduction actions to improve productivity [and] cost competitiveness and to rebalance skills."

    IBM is a global company, indeed, but what harm is there in telling your valued stockholders the locations--even regionally-- of your headcount? What's the big deal? You used to provide that information. Why the pull back?

    It's easy to focus on earnings, but it's harder to focus on what you did to get those earnings in a year where you admitted revenues were down. Why can't you let shareholders know that you are chopping U.S jobs and replacing them overseas to benefit from foreign tax deferral and improve the bottom line?

    Here is how Samuel Palmisano, chairman, president and CEO of IBM, put it in his letter to shareholders (PDF) in the annual report:

    "We delivered strong results in 2009, once again achieving record pre-tax earnings, record earnings per share and record free cash flow -- despite reduced revenues. At the same time, we continued to deliver superior returns to you, our owners... The explanation for this performance -- and for our optimism about both the near-term and the longer-term future -- is threefold. It rests, first, on the ongoing transformation of our company; second, on our focused strategy to capture the large opportunity of a globally integrating world..."

    IBM is becoming a model company for killing good U.S. jobs while it supports the need for more H-1B visas within the United States and benefits from foreign tax laws. Kill off U.S. jobs, keep the dividend strong and keep your marketing "smart."

    Here is what IBM boasts to its shareholders:

    Since the dot-com crash in 2002, we have added $12 billion to IBM's pre-tax profit base, increased our pre-tax margin 2.5 times, quadrupled our earnings per share and more than doubled our free cash flow. Cumulatively, we have generated about $80 billion of free cash flow.

    Did you add up how many lives you have ruined?

    "By hiding its offshoring, IBM is doing a disservice to America--through omission the company is providing misleading labor market signals and information to policymakers," said Ron Hira, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, to Computerworld's Patrick Thibodeau.

    If this is what all this "smarter planet" marketing is about, then, yes, IBM, you have outsmarted many, and are helping to make the United States a poorer part of the planet.

  • Morningstar: On Cathie Black's retirement from IBM. Excerpt: Cathie Black, the former chairman of Hearst Magazines, isn't known for being sensitive. After New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg got some flak for appointing her as New York City's next school chancellor, she made even more enemies by (jokingly) telling concerned parents gathered at a meeting that the best way to solve overcrowding problems at NYC schools was birth control.

    But it looks like Black may have had the last laugh. In December, right after she signed on as chancellor, she retired from the board of directors at IBM (IBM) with one of the largest director compensation packages that we've ever seen: a whopping $3.3 million.

    According to the computer company's March 7 proxy, that includes $260K in earned fees, and $3.1 million of earned compensation and dividend reinvestments. That's more than ten times the $300,723 she received last year, according to IBM's 2010 proxy. Last year's compensation included $40,623 of dividend equivalent payoffs on her Promised Fee Shares on top of her $260,000 earned fees.

    As we've said many times before, that's not too bad for a part-time job.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues: Opinions strong on state pension issue. By Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: It's your money. Your pension consists of your deferred compensation, plus any promises made by IBM. I was a Financial Analyst for 25 years and your deferred compensation was booked into an SEC (Standard Expense Classification) called Burden. We called it L&B for short (labor and burden). Your total compensation was always more than what was claimed on your 1099, but you never saw it, because the law says they don't have to disclose your true cost of your benefits. Your deferred compensation was taken out of your total compensation by your IBM serial number. It wasn't tracked after that by your serial number though. As soon as it was taken out, it was pooled, with others, to be used by IBM according to the limits that ERISA would allow them to do.

    I've told you for 10 years that 'It's your money, you earned it.' and I mean it.

    When IBM froze the pension plan, your piece of deferred compensation ceased to be booked. They 'made' a ton of money because it was no longer their 'Burden'. Kathi

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Any news on IBM 2011 Salary Hikes?" by "makeyourignorancework4u". Full excerpt: Until I learned some hard facts of life from my son and daughter in laws, I always thought IBM engineers were paid pretty well also. I do remember new college grad engineers receiving about $60K/year about 10 years ago..so $70K/year more recently doesn't surprise me very much.

    However what I learned from my son who graduated bout 10 years ago as a CPA was that he started fresh out out of college at only $40K/year, BUT he averaged a 15% raise EACH and EVERY year since and after 10 years is making 4X the original $40K/year...and that's not counting the bonus he gets every year....AND he is by no means a "1" performer in his job. His wife is probably closer to that and gets about 2x what he gets.

    The problem with engineering pay according to my son is that although it is relatively high right after college, it doesn't do much thereafter. At best a "Senior Engineer" will be earning 2X what the college grad gets. So If the new guy got $70K....the Senior Engineer with typically 20+ years experience will only be getting $140K/year. That's 6 figures alright...but it comes down to a REAL average raise (after inflation) of only slightly more than 3%/year.... AND that holds only for the GOOD years...which don't se

    What has happened in the IBM as far as I can determine amounts to Salary Hike Shell Game. Only the "1" performers and "outstanding contributors" get a "decent raise" which may average as much as 3-4%. The very good ones probably get 2-3% every other year...and thus average about 1.5%. All the rest...about 50% of the total get to keep their job if they are lucky.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Have a Strong Stomach?" by "blue_in_pok". Full excerpt: ftp://public.dhe.ibm.com/annualreport/2010/2011_ibm_proxy.pdf. For as often as I hear the word 'team', it sure seems like Sam and the executives play for different team than the rest of us common folk.

    Cathy Black gets $3M for leaving to take the NYC school chancellor job. BTW, NYC signed a big contract with IBM for IT consolidation, I'm sure that was just a coincidence.

    IBM allows execs to use company air craft to travel to BoD meetings of OTHER COMPANIES if they happen to be on more than one board.

    Execs get compensated for travel to and from their physicals.

    How do I get my annual performance 'award' to be based on the same metrics as Sam ?

    Still wonder why your GDP was lower than last year ? Seems the perks never trickled down out of the board room.

    I also noticed that BlackRock is now right up there with State Street as one of the major share holders. Any one know who/what BlackRock is?

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "COLA Promises" by "danmayerinetport". Full excerpt: I was employed by IBM for nearly 35 years and was a manager from 1992 thru 2005 and participated in many HR prep sessions for resource actions, in Boca Raton and in Austin. Never as an employee or manager did anyone ever say to me or give me a presentation saying or implying that COLAs would be part of the pension plan. Even back to my early career, I don't remember any presentations or Annual Benefits statements saying anything about COLAs. I do remember being told in an mid-1970s HR presentation that retirement was a 3-legged stool: pension, social security, and employee savings. I heard variations of that statement repeatedly through my career.

    Like most, I didn't pay attention to retirement financial planning until relatively late. At around 25 years, by running the estimator program multiple times with different inputs, I became aware of the enormous amount of pension payout at stake by staying with IBM for the next few years. That prompted me to wade through the details of the pension plan document. Once I understood the formulas and tables, the mysteries of the estimator program's answers went away and I was able to plan effectively for retirement. And of course the pension plan document speaks to a constant payout and does not promise COLAs.

    Because it seems that a lot of people have memories of COLA promises from HR or upper management that don't correspond to my experiences, I'm wondering if this was something that was site-specific.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: COLA Promises" by Dr. James Beaker Jr. Full excerpt: Most of us tried to make the same plans for retirement, but many of us were not allowed to stay with IBM long enough to earn a bigger pension. The day I left IBM (quite involuntarily) at age 53, I was told by a co-worker that 7 other people from the same building were being let go and that all of us were of ages 49 to 53. It occurred to me later that this may not have been age discrimination as much as, that the "big pension benefit" was the reason we were being kicked out. The great IBM benefits we were earning were the reasons we were gone. Later I heard that young employees with less than 5 years service were also being let go so that they would not earn any pennies of pension at all.

    f only I could have just listened to you and chosen to stay with IBM until I was 55! But that's not how it worked. IBM had a choice too, which it exercises very often. I would have assumed that an ex-manager of IBM would know that we didn't always have that choice of staying at IBM as long as we wanted to. How could you have forgotten? As a manager, you probably saw it up close and personal. Did you tell yourself that these people being laid off were choosing to leave IBM by their own choice?

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: COLA Promises" by "danmayerinetport". Full excerpt: There was a time in the 1990s when IBM pay was severely lagging competitors and many people, including myself, were being offered higher paying jobs by the competition. That's the choice to which I was speaking. Many people took the offers of higher pay without realizing how much future pension payout they were giving up.

    The larger point was that reading many of the posts on this forum, I have the impression that many never bothered to look into the retirement plan at all until a few weeks before leaving IBM. Looking at the plan wouldn't have avoided a layoff, but it would have helped better plan retirement finances, regardless of whether eventual separation from IBM was voluntary or involuntary.

    Obviously we don't have time machines and can't go back and make different decisions. Going forward, I think it might be helpful to stop viewing IBM as a parent who betrayed their child. The bitterness in many of these posts goes well beyond the financial setback of a layoff and reduced pension and instead speaks to expectations found in a child/parent relationship. Employment is not a parent/child relationship. For those who may have viewed it that way, it's never too late to change.

    As the old saying goes, holding onto bitterness and similar feelings is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies from it. The bitterness you hold onto is poisoning you, not the other party.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: COLA Promises" by Dr. James Beaker Jr. Full excerpt: As the old saying goes, holding onto bitterness and similar feelings is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies from it. The bitterness you hold onto is poisoning you, not the other party.

    I wondered how managers were able to emotionally/mentally handle laying people off year after year. They absolved IBM for any of it's actions, and blamed or labelled the ex-employee as "bitter" or "disgruntled". If it helps you with your conscience, then maybe you don't have one. I avoided becoming a manager just for that reason, I had a conscience and could not face laying off so many good employees.

    What I saw were underpaid, dedicated, and loyal employees who were working many hours of unpaid overtime for an IBM that then in untold thousands of cases laid them off at the whim of an accountant somewhere. I realize that the first-line manager had little say in the matter, but let's stop blaming and labelling the laid-off employees, shall we? Those employees wanted to work for IBM, and were led to believe that we were part of the IBM team. Don't change the story now.

    Much of the reason for the layoffs was to save on benefits, perhaps mostly on the pension benefit. Let's just all accept it that the layoffs were a money-saving device and stop calling laid-off employees names. Grow a conscience.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: COLA Promises" by "thefielder". Full excerpt: Well, this manager, who was one for over twenty five years, and told to "get rid of" the bottom 10% of my employees responded by saying the bottom 10% were removed four (4) downsizings ago, and I refused. I also argued that the current salary plan administered which essentially pits one dept employee against another is wrong. Bottom line, I stepped down to a non-management position, which is the best job I ever had in IBM. I worked to enhance IBM without compromising my principles or beliefs. To be honest, it helped that I worked for "old school" executives who appreciated and understood my position. A lot of line managers do not want to do what they are being asked to do.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: COLA Promises" by "divaberyl". Full excerpt: I agree that many managers hate RAs. . The problem is that after several actions and no new hires, you are choosing between having electricity or running water.

    We who remained in management did everything possible to minimize the pain of our decisions on the affected employees and those who remained. I slept well at night because I did my best to treat my employees as I'd like to be treated. Having been on the RA list once, I knew how important it was to carefully administer the plan. (A glass of wine helped.) Beryl (happily retired for 41 days)

  • Financial Times: Prosecutors say trader passed tips from 'intimate' ties. Excerpts: Raj Rajaratnam, the hedge fund billionaire on trial for alleged insider trading, received tips and swapped information with a cadre of associates including one trader who peddled information she obtained from "intimate" relationships with two executives, prosecutors said on Monday. ...

    Mr Kumar testified that in 2008 Mr Rajaratnam told him that his value as a source was "a little bit diminished" because he had another source in Danielle Chiesi, a Bear Stearns hedge fund trader who had "intimate" relationships with Hector Ruiz, the then-chief executive of AMD, and Robert Moffat, then an IBM executive.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Anonymous: (Past Employee - 2010) "Good to have on the resume- just be aware that you are just a number." Pros: - Good health benefits; - Looks good on a resume; - Flexible work at home jobs; - If you like to travel, you can see parts of the world on their dime. Cons: - Be aware that you are just a number that can be replaced at any time; - Be sure to get a high starting salary because raises are very small to nil; - Annual bonus used to be up to 20% of salary, that has been reduced to about 6%; - Limited promotional opportunities; - Always feel like you could be laid off at any time; - Company continuously has lay offs about every 6 months; - Management doesn't care about you and be prepared to get laid off at any time; - Most employees would leave if they could find an equivalent job and the ones with pensions are just waiting around to get laid off and get the package. They don't care about the company. Advice to Senior Management: Bring back the days where the company actually cared about the employees. Since Palmisano took over the employee morale has plummeted.
    • IBM Client Manager in Glasgow, Scotland (United Kingdom): (Current Employee) "Demoralising." Pros: - competitive salary; - flexible working; - lots of opportunities. Cons: - stress and expectation levels; - workload ridiculously high; - zero work life balance; - lack of investment; - focus on cost reduction; - lack of reward for double digit growth; - processes and administration. Advice to Senior Management: Forget EPS and acquisitions, invest in staff and research, reduce workload, processes and unnecessary admin,
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) "Its a grinder run by bean counters." Pros: - Working from home means you have a lot of freedom; - You can travel and learn about different cultures and business environments; - Benefits are OK; - Time off is pretty good; - Innovation is honored. Cons: - All cash is used to buy new companies and legacy employees get squeezed to pay for it; - Execs are compensated primarily with stock so huge; -Focus on pleasing wall street; - Communication is very secretive; - There is no relation between your yearly rating and compensation; - Management talent is really poor. Internal training is non-existent; - Travel needs to be approved by 3rd line management; - Business cards need CFO approval; - Internal processes are byzantine; - Senior Executives rotate from one assignment to the next but are never held accountable for poor management or performance; - Employees get no recognition and job security is low. Advice to Senior Management: Slim down executive ranks. Give more power to managers. Focus on product development, not just acquisitions. Bring back job training and a focus on people management.
    • IBM Sales Representative in New York, NY: (Current Employee) "Overworked, sales comp plan has *gotchas*" Pros: For Sales folks - you can leverage the client team matrix (I have heard - so far it hasn't worked for me.) If you can reach them, there are some really SOLID tech folks (when customers complain about bugs.) Cons: Sales plan is dismal at best - if you work the same amount at another company, you probably would make twice as much...many gotchas in the sales comp plan - not the best way to retain hard working sales folks. Competitive products within IBM itself - and you probably would be selling only one of those products, No work/life balance - you are expected to work over the weekends. Takes 3-4 days for folks to respond to your emails if it is not urgent. Not a place to make money.
    • IBM Senior Software Eng in Pune (India): (Past Employee - 2010) "IBM-Worst Cmpany-No package, No Skill Set." Pros: Flexible timing and Work from home sometimes (only if u got laptop here and less than 50% people get that.) Cons: Bad things:
      • Variable pay : If ur variable pay is 1 lac, u will not be given more than 30 K and that too with best rating. Normally average people do not get more than 15K -20K (15%-20% part from the variable pay.) Unlike other companies...they pay 80% -100% from the variable salary and even 110%. So in the CTC, they show big package, but pay much less than that. So ur actual in hand salary will be : Total salary - variable salary - performance bonus. i.e., ..u will get only fixed salary as annual package in hand and not more than that. You can almost neglect the variable salary and performance bonus from ur package as they are paid almost nil at end of year.
      • Variable pay is paid only once a year in March. So who left the company after 9-10 months, his/her variable pay will be lost. Unlike other companies where variable pay is given quarterly. So u can almost neglect the variable pay from ur package which will not be paid to you.
      • Very-Very Low package : While joining , company gives very less hike (normally not more than 20% -25%). u r very lucky if u got more than that. But hike is very -very less here and that too not paid well.
      • Appraisal : Appraisal is almost nil here. Maximum 2%-3% after 1 year and that too with best rating otherwise for average rating, not more than 1%.
      • Work field :well in IBM, u will be recruited for some other technology and will be put in another technology. People with SAP skill set are working on excel sheets here. People with automation testing experts are forcefully dumped into maual testing. This practice is very -very common in IBM. So technical u r very much risky here. Do not join here..if u r techie guy. ur all skills vl be ruined here.
      • No Process : there is no process for anything at all in this company. u will be lost here for everything. U will run here and there miserably for any help and end in losing everything.
      • HR :-ha ha ... I was here for long time and i have not seen HR in this company. no body knows who is their HR and no comm from their side also.
      • Performance bonus : this is a part of ur package (3% of CTC) but will not be paid more than 0.5 % at all ..does not matter how well u have performed.
      • there are lot of other hell things in the company.....a jungle of politics..... here everything is in ur people manger hand.
      • If u resign before one year, they will make ur notice period from 1 month to 3 months and again u have to fight back for this. Officially notice period is 1 month for first 1 year in company but they will increase that to 3 months whenever they want (before completing 1 year) ..generally with in 7-8 months of period
      • The iteration rate of company is more than 40%. From here only u can imagine, how dissatisfied are people from this company.

      I highly recommend NOT TO JOIN this company, not even by mistake. U will ruin ur carrier here.

      Advice to Senior Management: 1. Pay variable salary to employees as mentioned in offer letter. 2.Provide project to people in their skill set rather than throwing them anywhere. 3.Pay proper package as per market standards

    • IBM SSR: (Past Employee - 2010) "IBM going downhill - Thanks Sam! You'll be remembered!" Pros: If you like politics in trying to advance and to raise your base salary, but next to impossible to do so, this is the right company for you. Cons: Lower management scared and not knowledgeable of where IBM is going. SSR's treated like dirt. If you are an SSR and not treated like dirt, you have a unique and awesome manager, but managers do not have the power they once did to give to good employees. Seems everybody is the bad SSR every PBC. New hires with little or no experience will likely make more than you after 10+ years of working for IBM. IBM has excuses year after year on not being able to give you a raise or decent bonus due to whatever excuse they would like to provide you that year, even though your performance, company performance, etc, is great. You are much better off going to another company that does similar MA repairs that will treat you better and 10-15k more a year on your base! Advice to Senior Management: Keep up the bad work and IBM will be a ghost from the past. We need to unionize to prevent Sam from the greed and horrible job he is doing
    • IBM Manager in Dublin, County Dublin (Ireland): (Current Employee) "It used to be good, but now... Pros: Career opportunities. Opportunities to learn. Structure to learn thousands of job's to choose from. Cutting edge world changing projects. The people. Good direction from Management. Flexibility and good work/life balance. Structured appraisals process. Slackers identified and marginalised or booted. Some really good people managers. Good structure with local management. Cons: It's all about shareholder profits. Sam makes no sense. Politics hampers innovation Too many people there to steal your thunder and cut your throat while doing it Trust diminishing within. Senior leadership live in ivory towers - disconnected completely from the coal face. Entirely scorecard/numbers driven, the bean counters are in control. Bean counters are not human. Austerity measures poorly implemented - stifles creativity and demoralises. Too much reliance on process. Poor compensation compared to others in the industry. Poor rewards, pittance for being a 1 performer 5 years in a row. Takes ages to get any changes made. Some really bad people managers, cause attrition of really good people. Coveting of information that could make change (politics driven.) Poor communications at times (left hand right hand stuff.) Bad change management. Did I already say Exec's live in ivory towers?. Advice to Senior Management: Executives get out of your ivory towers. Put the bean counters back in their boxes. Keep coaching for performance. Identify and fire the slackers, don't wait for them to infect the solid contributors. Pay for performance, over an beyond your competitors. Recognize the hard workers if you want to keep them. Watch your competitors, because they are watching and pinching your best people. Ditch the 20th century way of appraisals, we've moved on now. If you have a good idea, implement it, your often late to the post because of processes. Halve the processes, they are not needed. Invest in a proper management development program and be consistent. Make the first day for a new hire so amazing that they will sell their soul to you. Kill the acronyms already.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) "I have worked hard with little advancement." Pros: At IBM you have the ability to work with numerous Fortune 100 Clients as well as the ability to learn new technologies. Cons: At a company you tend to feel like a number and not a person and many times executive decisions tend to be about the bottom line and not what's best for the personnel.
    • IBM Consultant in Washington, DC: (Past Employee - 2009) "Don't practice what they preach." Pros: Good benefits, pay is OK, but not great. You could have the opportunity for travel (which appealed to me). As a result of working for IBM, you get discounts on a ton of stuff, like AT&T / Verizon phone bills, Audi cars, Hertz #1 Club Gold, 1800Flowers, etc. Cons: Executive and senior management pays only lip service to innovation, despite the fact that it is a core "value." As a consultant in the federal sector, you will likely have very little professional contact with your Service Area Manager ("SAM" - direct line manager). Consequently, s/he will not have a clue what you do each day on your project(s). When time comes to distribute bonus money (if there is any), managers are bias towards those of their employees they happen to work with on a project or work closely with daily. Cut-throat culture favors an "it" crowd, similar to high school. Award fees and biz dev bonuses end up only going to those who are in-the-know, and are invited to work on proposals. If you're not in this crowd, forget it. There is no process for keeping employees abreast of new business or biz dev efforts. Staffing is extremely difficult. They have Resource Deployment Managers, who are in charge of matching resources up with projects, but they're overburdened with administrative duties and they're working from the same database of positions that everyone else is. Also, it's not mandatory that an open slot be posted in the database, and most are not, as they are filled through word of mouth. So again, if you're not in-the-know and very well-connected, you will have trouble getting staffed, regardless of your skill set. Advice to Senior Management: Increase transparency and take better care of your employees. Implement new, more transparent, more progressive approaches to staffing engagements, and stop treating your employees as just a utilization figure.
    • IBM Director in New York, NY: (Current Employee) "Going down the drain." Pros: - Looks good on resume; - International exposure; - Learn a lot from the business model; - Flexible working hours. Cons: - CEO pay package increased 30% in 2010 while the company laid off American workers and cut bonuses and benefits; - IBM employment in the USA has dropped from 160,000 in 2000 to about 95,000 in 2011, while job growth abroad has risen to over 300,000; - Management is completely secretive and treat employees like the enemy; - Everyone looks after themselves and doesn't care about the company; - Extremely competitive environment internally and promotions require approval from circles of executives two levels up to make sure new club members won't rock their boats; - No merit recognition. No merit bonuses. No meritocracy at all. Advice to Senior Management: The last 100 years of IBM history had major benefits for employees and society. The next 100 years will only benefit wealthy shareholders.
    • IBM I/T Specialist in Southbury, CT: (Current Employee) "I've gone from knowing nothing about the I/T Industry to knowing almost everything there is." Pros: Excellent Brand. IBM is the industry leader in technology, business, and strategic management. IBM is smart, they consistently evaluate the market 5 years in advance to be prepared to react to changes and thus to do and therefore, they are more prepared than their competitors. Cons: There is no longer any job security working in the U.S. offices. IBM strategically uses globalization to transfer technical positions to low labor cost countries. Although this is strategically and financially beneficial to IBM, it hurts U.S. employees in two ways: 1) More and more US employees get laid off ever year. 2) Growth opportunities and opportunities to move around in the company are drastically shrinking year after year. Advice to Senior Management Management: Leads with a top-down approach and thus tries to implement change the same way. Employees are resistent to change because of the methods used for implementation. Management needs to involve lower level workers in ideas and changes in order to get better buy-in and get better ideas from the people that know what's going on. Management has good strategic ideas on paper, but unless you talk to the people who do the work, you won't know if those ideas are actually real, beneficial, or a disaster waiting to happen.
    • IBM Anonymous in Chennai (India): (Current Employee) "Just a gift wrapper - the brand name." Pros: 1. Work from home option. 2. Transport facility. 3. Good amount of learning opportunities. 4. Good infrastructure. Cons: 1. Poor compensation. 2. Appraisal system is very bad. 3. Complex procedures for smaller tasks. 4. GDF concept and its audit. 5. Worst cost cutting policies. 6. No free/subsidised food or snacks. 7. Poor resource deployment. Advice to Senior Management: IBM should really treat its employees equal. Not just in the policy. The managerial dictatorship should be checked. Good compensation should be given to employees who have stuck to the company for sometime.
    • IBM Senior Unix Administrator: (Past Employee - 2011) "Never again, even if it pays more." Pros: If you have good technical abilities you will get exposure to large and varied environments. If you have good skills and that includes negotiation skills then you can get decent pay too. There are some nice people there and good managers. Cons: Work is farmed offshore to lower skilled workers, as a result I spent large amounts of time cleaning up major issues created by others. Excessive red-tape and bureaucracy No work/life balance, check-in/check-out mentality, permanents get no overtime and "time off in lieu" is rarely used and never equal to the overtime taken. too many politics and bullying is not stopped in the workplace Advice to Senior Management: Cut costs by reducing red-tape overhead and using highly skilled and experienced employees. Encourage innovation on non-IBM platforms within services as it drives down running costs. Encourage a flexible work environment, that means flexible work hours and flexible work location, both have been done in the past at IBM and it improved employee morale, scrapping it was a mistake.
    • IBM Project Manager in Minneapolis, MN: (Current Employee) "Experienced Project Manager." Pros: IBM has an excellent compensation and benefits package. They are a technologically innovative company with opportunities to learn on the job. Cons: There are no opportunities for career advancement. There are no opportunities for local positions. All positions are work at home only. Advice to Senior Management: It used to be that you were guaranteed a position as long as you performed. There is less loyalty now that your job can be outsourced at any time.
    • IBM Software Engineer: (Past Employee - 2010) "Okay." Pros: Great vacation package, health, 401k. Cons: Promotions and bonuses are based on performance review. The company encourage team work but the ranking system forces everyone to look out for themselves. Diversity is not well supported in some areas. Jobs are being outsourced and too many layoff in the last couples of years.
    • IBM IT Architect: (Current Employee) "Working experience can be very good once you know how to navigate within IBM and workaround poor management." Pros: Big opportunity to work on wide spectrum of technologies and large projects. Working for a market leader. Opportunity to work with very talented people. Career opportunities (see cons as well). Generally good ambiance and team spirit with your peers. Cons: First line management inefficient due to lack of flexibility and initiative. No retention policy EVEN for outstanding elements. Lack of management support for career opportunities. IBM moved from being a very technical enterprise to a pure commercial enterprise. Advice to Senior Management: Management has shifted and is now more oriented towards "business management" only. There is no place for "people management" anymore.
    • IBM Managing Consultant in Melbourne (Australia): (Current Employee) "Good." Pros: Wide range of job roles. Some nice and very smart people at the company. Good to have on your resume! Cons: Thick management, too many people sitting around. Not enough doers. Have a plan to keep long time employees rather than using the place as a body shop. Advice to Senior Management: Listen to employees. Don't just hide behind your computer screens. Get out there and really know your employees.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues: "Re: Corporate mandates" by Paul Sutera. Excerpts: Well it is strange how a regulation-heavy country like Germany, easily more bureaucratic and with more worker protections still managed to expand exports in the last 10 years while the USA lost 36% of its manufacturing base during the business-friendly Bush/Cheney years. I'm not buying that we must deregulate more or face further economic contraction and fewer business startups. That said, the German government and the Chinese government work with industry to ensure that factories stay on-shore and also help clear importation hurdles for their goods.

    I don't think the USA has been at all proactive in trying to hold jobs and manufacturing in country. In fact I think the government was bribed with campaign donations to look the other way while the middle-class jobs were bought and sold, and factories were dismantled in-place and placed on boats to be reassembled in China with millions of US jobs lost.

    Basically the case you are trying to make certainly may be MORE true in a depressed economy. Especially since your biggest consumers are not doing so well. But deregulation is WHY your biggest consumers aren't doing so well because tanked the finance sector leading to the largest recession since the Great Depression. I'm not at all convinced that more deregulation is going to build a factory or a business here in the USA. Local governments meanwhile seem to be slowly getting it.

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News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
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  • Wall Street Journal: Drug Prices Rise Despite Calls for Cuts. By Jonathan D. Rockoff. Excerpts: Even as government and private health plans push to restrain spending on medicines, the prices of brand name prescriptions are climbing rapidly, reaching the steepest rate of the decade last year. In 2010, the average price increase was 6.9%, according to investment bank Barclays Capital, which analyzed the list prices of the 130 top-selling drugs by sales. That topped 2008's average increase of 6.8%, the previous high since Barclays began tracking the jumps in 2000. ...

    The continuing increases reflect industry push-back against efforts by government and commercial health plans to restrain spending on medicines, coupled with the looming decline in revenue from blockbuster drugs that will soon lose patent protection, according to industry experts.

    By hiking prices, drug makers are "looking to maintain and keep their profit up," says Eileen Wood, vice president of pharmacy and health-quality programs at CDPHP, a health plan in New York State. Ms. Wood and other payers say patients and their employers ultimately bear the higher cost. "The price increases get rolled back into premiums" and also increase out-of-pocket costs like co-pays, said Helen Sherman, chief pharmacy officer at the pharmacy-benefits manager for Regence BlueCross BlueShield, a major insurer in the Northwest.

News and Opinion Concerning the "War on the Middle Class"
Minimize "It is a restatement of laissez-faire-let things take their natural course without government interference. If people manage to become prosperous, good. If they starve, or have no place to live, or no money to pay medical bills, they have only themselves to blame; it is not the responsibility of society. We mustn't make people dependent on government- it is bad for them, the argument goes. Better hunger than dependency, better sickness than dependency."

"But dependency on government has never been bad for the rich. The pretense of the laissez-faire people is that only the poor are dependent on government, while the rich take care of themselves. This argument manages to ignore all of modern history, which shows a consistent record of laissez-faire for the poor, but enormous government intervention for the rich." From Economic Justice: The American Class System, from the book Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.

  • St. Petersburg Times: "Just 400 Americans -- 400 -- have more wealth than half of all Americans combined." Excerpts: Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore so admired the daily demonstrations against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that he traveled from New York to Madison for one on March 5, 2011. The liberal firebrand opened his speech by heaping praise on those fighting the Republican governor's efforts to take collective bargaining powers from state and local government employees.

    But he put more firepower into bashing the nation's rich.

    "Right now, this afternoon, just 400 Americans -- 400 -- have more wealth than half of all Americans combined," Moore avowed to tens of thousands of protesters. "Let me say that again. And please, someone in the mainstream media, just repeat this fact once; we're not greedy, we'll be happy to hear it just once.

    "Four hundred obscenely wealthy individuals, 400 little Mubaraks -- most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion-dollar taxpayer bailout of 2008 -- now have more cash, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined." ...

    Moore has made other staggering claims about the gap between the nation's rich and poor. In Capitalism: A Love Story, his 2009 documentary, Moore said "the richest 1 percent have more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined."

  • New York Times op-ed: Another Inside Job. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: Count me among those who were glad to see the documentary "Inside Job" win an Oscar. The film reminded us that the financial crisis of 2008, whose aftereffects are still blighting the lives of millions of Americans, didn't just happen — it was made possible by bad behavior on the part of bankers, regulators and, yes, economists.

    What the film didn't point out, however, is that the crisis has spawned a whole new set of abuses, many of them illegal as well as immoral. And leading political figures are, at long last, showing some outrage. Unfortunately, this outrage is directed, not at banking abuses, but at those trying to hold banks accountable for these abuses.

    The immediate flashpoint is a proposed settlement between state attorneys general and the mortgage servicing industry. That settlement is a "shakedown," says Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama. The money banks would be required to allot to mortgage modification would be "extorted," declares The Wall Street Journal. And the bankers themselves warn that any action against them would place economic recovery at risk.

    All of which goes to confirm that the rich are different from you and me: when they break the law, it's the prosecutors who find themselves on trial. ...

    In the days and weeks ahead, we'll see pro-banker politicians denounce the proposed settlement, asserting that it's all about defending the rule of law. But what they're actually defending is the exact opposite — a system in which only the little people have to obey the law, while the rich, and bankers especially, can cheat and defraud without consequences.

  • New York Times editorial: The Cheaters and Their Banks. Excerpts: The Obama administration is rightly keeping the pressure on tax cheats and the bank executives who help them by stashing their money in secret accounts overseas. Now we would like to see the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department take the battle to the banks themselves. That's the only way of getting them to drop this lucrative and illegal business.

    The Justice Department has charged five bankers with helping wealthy Americans conceal their assets from American authorities. A former employee of Switzerland's UBS who now works for rival Credit Suisse was arrested in January and accused of helping 100 to 150 Americans hide as much as $500 million from tax authorities.

    A few weeks later, three former employees and one current banker at Credit Suisse were indicted for helping 17 Americans conceal assets in accounts at the bank and then helping them move the stash to other banks in Switzerland, Hong Kong and Israel once it was clear American authorities were on the trail of tax evaders at big Swiss banks.

    This is a promising route both to recover unpaid taxes and to deter other Americans from trying to evade the I.R.S. this way. So far, however, the banks have faced no charges. The country-hopping by the Credit Suisse account holders in search of a safer hiding place suggests that cross-border tax evasion won't be shut down until the institutions determine that secret offshore accounts are too risky a business.

  • The Smirking Chimp: Class Warfare III: Losing Your Right to Fight Back. By Larry Beinhart. Excerpts: Big business hates lawsuits. They hate being made accountable. They hate having to pay. So what can they do about it? They hire PR companies to spread stories -- frequently less than complete, often completely false -- about frivolous lawsuits. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars promoting those tales. At the same time, almost every settlement contains a non-disclosure agreement. The offenders are free to trumpet their tales far and wide. The victims must stay silent.

    The poster child for the victims of frivolous lawsuits is the noble physician. No less a person than ex-president George Bush has told us that it's the trial lawyers who are driving good OB/GYNs out of their practices and depriving communities of decent medical care. It's malpractice insurance (due to the frivolous lawsuits) that is making health care unaffordable. Almost everyone believes this story.

    Then there are the facts...

  • The Smirking Chimp: Unions? What Unions? Labor Leaders to Blame for Workers' Weakness. By Ted Rall. Excerpts: I will never understand why the people who are jealous of unionized workers who earn $50,000 a year give a pass to the incompetent bank executives who get $5,000,000. Resentment is a terrible thing to waste.

    Given how terribly companies have treated workers in recent years--mass layoffs, outsourcing, stagnant wages, piling on the work, while they pay their executives seven-figure salaries--you'd think Americans would be more receptive to unions. But organized labor's bad rep isn't surprising. A half-century of smears by big business and their media allies and sleazy laws passed by corrupt anti-worker politicians (c.f. the Taft-Hartley Act) have established today's image of organized labor as corrupt, selfish and marginal. ...

    The byword of American labor is "solidarity." Considering that employers have the media and government on their side, sticking together is the only way to win. Yet all too often unions under siege during the 1980s and 1990s did the opposite. They created two classes of workers--old and grandfathered-in, versus the young and screwed. In return for protecting wages and benefits for their existing (older) membership, unions such as the International Longshoremen's Association agreed to a drastically lower tier of wages for new hires. By looking out for their narrow short-term interests, the ILA confirmed the perception that they were less interested in workers rights than self-preservation. Ironically it mortgaged its future in the process. ...

    A still bigger mistake has been labor's inexplicable refusal to go after the ersatz "while collar" workplaces. "There's something new in the air," UC Berkeley professor Harley Shaiken, who studies labor issues, told Reuters. "There is a sense that white-collar workers have become the blue-collar workers of the 21st century in terms of job security, wages and benefits. That's certainly how they're treated. And if you're treated like a blue-collar worker, you may respond like a blue-collar worker and seek to protect benefits and maintain some job security."

    The AFL-CIO and other unions talk about organizing the white-collar ghetto. But they aren't doing much. Few workers in the tech sector or advertising or finance or the media have ever met a union organizer. If labor had its act together, no cubicle farm in America would go a year without an attempt to unionize it. Without the passage of a "card check" law to reduce employer retaliation, union organizing attempts might fail--but the workers who voted yes would always appreciate that they were trying to help them live better lives. Labor is on the ropes. With the economy getting worse, however, there has never been a greater need for union leaders to get smarter and more militant--or a better opportunity to reverse their long slide.

  • The Smirking Chimp: Wisconsin is Not Your Father's "Culture Wars" - It's a Right Wing "Cultural Revolution". By Bill Berkowitz. Excerpts: With the stripping away of fifty years of collective bargaining rights for public employee unions in Wisconsin, the culture wars of the past three decades are morphing into something much larger: a right-wing cultural revolution. And while battles over reproductive rights, same-sex marriage and an assortment of other highly-charged social issues will continue to be fought over, the political landscape is dramatically changing.

    The "culture wars," as reported by the mainstream media since the Reagan administration, has been portrayed as mostly being about such hot-button issues as abortion, homosexuality, and prayer in the public schools. And while it is true that those issues, and a slate of similarly divisive ones, have propelled the modern "culture wars" forward, the battle over union rights in Wisconsin and Ohio (with other states likely to follow) is not just another battle in the "culture wars." Rather it is a redefinition of this country's social contract and a complete realignment of the political landscape.

    What's going on is a fusion of Koch-ist anti-union free-market fundamentalism, Tea Party bluster, and the Religious Right's traditional values agenda; think the Heritage Foundation's nearly four-decade-old mission coming home to roost. Everything the Heritage Foundation has been seeking, thinking about, researching, promoting, marketing, writing about and fundraising for - from destroying unions to putting the kibosh on public education -- is now on the table. ...

    In Wisconsin, the free-market piece is now the major focus. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's goal, to radically redefine collective bargaining rights of public sector unions, appears -- after weeks of mass protests and public opinion polls supporting the workers -- to be coming to pass. As the New Republic's John Judis recently pointed out, the conservative plan is "to snuff out their [public unions] very existence." It is not a stretch to see that the destruction of the unions can directly lead to rendering the Democratic Party impotent.

  • The Guardian (United Kingdom): Who reaps the rewards of productivity? A 10% increase in productivity since 2008 is enough to cancel concerns about the deficit. But who gains is the crucial question. By Dean Baker. Excerpts: Washington politicians, like politicians everywhere in the west, have been running around with shrill cries about how we are adding trillions of dollars to the national debt and that this burden will impoverish our children and grandchildren. It is almost impossible to pick up a newspaper or listen to a news show without hearing such whining. By contrast, next to no one knows that productivity has increased by almost 10% since the start of the recession. This is too bad, because this increase in productivity will matter far more to the wellbeing of our children and grandchildren than the trillions of dollars of debt that are getting our politicians so excited.

    Productivity matters for the prosperity of children because it measures the amount that an average worker produces in an hour of work. If productivity rises by 10% over three years, that means that we can produce 10% more output with the same amount of work than we could three years ago. The size of the economy was roughly $14tn three years. A 10% rise in productivity means that we can produce approximately $1.4tn more this year with the same amount of work. This would come to an additional $18,000 a year for an average family of four. ...

    Unfortunately, most workers are not seeing the benefit of these gains in productivity. There are two reasons why workers are not benefiting. First, the country has seen an enormous upward redistribution of income over the last three decades. As a result of this redistribution, most workers have seen very little benefit from their productivity growth. The big winners have been highly-paid professionals like doctors and lawyers, corporate CEOs and their sidekicks, and, of course, the Wall Street gang. ...

    Virtually all economists agree that, in the long run, productivity is the main determinant of economic prosperity. This means that if we can sustain high rates of productivity growth, as we are now doing, then the economy will be able to provide our children and grandchildren with a prosperous future – one where they will be far richer, on average, than we are today.

    Of course, if we continue to allow the Wall Street boys, the CEOs and their high-living friends to get the bulk of the gains from growth then our children and grandchildren will have much to worry about. But the problem then, as now, will not be the debt that we have left them.

    The problem will be that we let the rich take over the country. If we leave the Wall Street crew in charge, then we will have done much to bankrupt our children.

  • The Smirking Chimp: Forbes 400 or the SiCKO 12? By Donna Smith. Excerpts: It's a club I will never be in. Michael Moore told us about them this week. The Forbes 400. The richest 400 people in America. They own more stuff and have more cash and assets than half of the rest of us (roughly 150,000,000+ people) combined.

    But I had to dig deeper. It wasn't offensive enough to me that just 400 people own so much that was as the result of the hard work and suffering of so many of the rest of us. I was willing to bet it was a deeper profile of power in 2011 America than that repugnant statistic alone indicated.

    I was right. In the Forbes 400, most of the people are white guys. In fact, 365 are guys. Very few non-white people, and only 35 women are in the club. And Oprah is the only black woman. 365 plus 34 and Oprah. ...

    I guess I will have to content myself with the notion that I'm in a more exclusive club than they are. I am a cancer survivor who weathered financial collapse that followed being an American with inadequate access to healthcare and then had my story told in Michael Moore's 2007 film, SiCKO. About a dozen of us were featured in that film, and we're not in the Forbes cohort.

    Just yesterday, the report came out that bankruptcies due to medical crisis had not been significantly reduced by the Massachusetts healthcare bill known as RomneyCare, or Chapter 58, the mandated purchase of private insurance, passed in 2006. More than half of all personal bankruptcies still flow from medical crisis and of those going broke, 89 percent had health insurance.

    I think that my club, though small, is pretty diverse and full of good-hearted people (men, women and kids of all races, colors, sizes and shapes) who would trade the chance for all the influence and power on earth and a slot on the Forbes 400 list - and our moments of fame in SiCKO -- for a transformed healthcare system that provided a single standard of high quality care for all without financial barriers. I like my club better.

  • truthOut: The Last Hurdle for Corporate Capitalism: Deunionizing America. By Basel Saleh. Excerpts: The campaign to control private-sector union membership has been mostly successful as corporate US capitalism shifted its attention to the last hurdle to a union-free country: public-sector unions. Critical examination of the connection between money and politics is helpful to understand the explosive and sudden attacks on public-sector unions, especially teachers' unions. Public-sector workers and their unions put to shame private-sector compensation and benefits. They represent the last hurdle for the free rein of corporate capitalism over US politics. Workers in the public sector (both federal and state workers) are five times more likely to be unionized than private-sector workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about one-third of public-sector workers are represented by unions (36.2 percent). The collective bargaining agreements in the public sector are not a threat per se to the private sector, but they are a threat to the power of corporate lobbying money. What is at stake is the total control by the corporate sector over the US legislative process, especially in the general election of 2012 and afterward. Labor groups are a major funding source in federal and state elections that offset the power of corporate lobbying money. Labor campaign contributions raise the cost of doing business for corporate lobby groups since they need to overbid labor groups' donations. Therefore, if collective bargaining rights, and with that over a 100 years of socioeconomic progress by the labor movement is undone, then the US capitol will be firmly in the pockets of corporate America. The money-politics nexus explains why politicians are in a rush to rein in public-sector unions. ...

    When corporate-run media perpetuate, on purpose or out of ignorance, misinformation about public-sector pay and benefits, they are, in fact, committing an injustice to the workers who teach our children and workers who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe in our homes while earning subsistence wages. Traditional journalism venues have long stopped criticizing most corporations, as they have become focused on selling airtime for corporations and using highly paid talking heads who practice entertainment journalism and not critical journalism that is needed for a well-functioning democracy. Instead of calling for lowering public-sector pay, the media and politicians should be inquiring why private-sector pay is low. Instead of raising the bar, they purposefully aim at a lower standard of living for workers by calling for the Wal-Mart standard to be the golden rule for benefits and pay. ...

    No matter how the media blames unions for the private-sector troubles, the fact is that private-sector unions are almost extinct and union enrollment is at a historic low and most likely will continue to decline in the coming years. Compared to other Western countries, with the exception of France[12], the US labor force has the lowest trade union density in any industrialized peer country. Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show that other Western nations have managed to build prosperous and competitive economies with much bigger trade union densities in their work force. Finland and Denmark each have a trade union density of over 70 percent (compare that with the 11.9 percent in the US). While Norway's and Germany's trade union density is 53 percent and 20 percent, respectively.[13] Other Western industrialized countries face the same challenges as the US, but they have managed to harness the power of labor to boost their income, reduce poverty and have a broader shared prosperity than the US, which has the highest poverty rate, the highest child poverty rate and the highest income inequality compared to peer industrialized countries.

  • New York Times Op-Chart: The Pentagon's Biggest Boondoggles. By John Arquilla and Fogelson-Lubliner. Excerpts: As our government teeters on the brink of a shutdown, and Congress and the president haggle over spending cuts, the Pentagon budget should be scoured for places where significant reductions may be made. Not the handful of trims alluded to by Defense Secretary Robert Gates — $78 billion over the next five years, with these savings simply used to shore up spending on other acquisitions — but major cuts to systems that don't work very well or that are not really going to be needed for decades to come.

    Unworkable or unnecessary systems tend to have something in common: their costs are often uncontrollable. A 2009 Government Accountability Office study of 96 major defense acquisition programs found that almost two-thirds of them suffered major cost overruns — 40 percent above contract prices, over all — with average delays of nearly two years. Those overruns totaled close to $300 billion, about the amount of President Bill Clinton's last full defense budget request a decade ago.

    Listed below is just a sampling of what systems could be ended without endangering America; indeed, abandoning some of them might actually enhance national security. These cuts would generate only small savings initially — perhaps just several billion this fiscal year, as contracts would have to be wound down. But savings would swiftly rise to more than $50 billion annually thereafter. And there's plenty more where these came from.

  • truthOut: The Corporate-GOP Attack on America's Middle Class. By Jim Hightower. Excerpts: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's autocratic attempt to abrogate the democratic right of public employees to bargain with their governmental bosses is not wearing well with the public. Recent polls show that a mere one-third of Wisconsinites favor his blatantly political power play, and that if he had told voters in the last year's election that he intended to do this, he would've lost.

    After only one month in office, Walker's approval rating has plummeted. He's become a national poster boy for right-wing anti-union extremism--so out of step that even democracy fighters in Egypt are jeering him. ...

    In Congress, loopy GOP leaders are out to abolish the legal mechanism through which workers can form a union and have their bargaining rights protected. Meanwhile, war-whooping Republican governors in Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana, and elsewhere are slashing the health care and pension benefits owed to public employees, while blaming these middle-class workers for their states' fiscal messes.

    But it was the economic crash caused by Wall Street greed and massive tax giveaways to wealthy elites that depleted state budgets, not firefighters' pensions or teachers' health insurance.

    And check out Nevada, where the Chamber of Commerce is even pushing to eliminate the minimum wage. This corporate-funded Republican assault isn't about fiscal responsibility. The corporate powers intend nothing less than to dismantle the entire framework of America's economic democracy and return us to the dark days of Robber Baron plutocracy. To the barricades, people!

  • Think Progress: Michigan's GOP Gov. Slashes Corporate Tax Rate by 86 Percent, Hikes Taxes for Working Poor. By Pat Garafolo. Excerpts: As we've been documenting, several conservative governors have proposed placing the brunt of deficit reduction onto the backs of their state's public employees, students, and middle-class taxpayers, while simultaneously trying to enact corporate tax cuts and giveaways. Govs. Rick Scott (R-FL), Tom Corbett (R-PA), and Jan Brewer (R-AZ) have all gone down this road.

    Following suit, Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) has proposed ending his state's Earned Income Tax Credit, cutting a $600 per child tax credit, and reducing credits for seniors, while also cutting funding for school districts by eight to ten percent. At the same time, as the Michigan League for Human Services found, the state's business taxes would be reduced by nearly $2 billion, or 86 percent, under Snyder's plan:

    Business taxes would be cut by 86 percent from an estimated $2.1 billion in FY 2011 to $292.7 million in FY 2013, the first full year of the proposed tax changes…Taxes on individuals from the state income tax would rise by $1.7 billion or nearly 31 percent, from an estimated $5.75 billion in FY 2011 to $7.5 billion in FY 2013, the first full year of the tax changes. ...

    Michigan already has a regressive tax system, which Snyder's proposal will only make worse. Currently, someone in the poorest 20 percent of Michigan taxpayers pays a tax rate of 8.9 percent, while someone in the richest one percent pays 5.3 percent.

  • truthOut: America's True Crisis. By Jim Hightower. Full excerpt: The greatest problem our nation faces can be summed up in one word: leadership. OK, make that three words: lack of leadership. America's corporate, political, media, academic and other leaders aren't. They're not leaders -- because they refuse to stand tall, be bold, offer vision, inspire and ... well, lead. We've got too many 5-watt bulbs sitting in 100-watt sockets. They're squishing the historic can-do spirit of the American people, reducing it to a dispiriting ethic of surrender that says we-shouldn't-even-try.

    Start with our leaders' willful abdication of the American dream. They've given up on the notion of producing a shared prosperity that creates a broad middle class. For more than a decade now, Wall Street and Washington have let millions of jobs disappear and pushed wages down. They now yawn at the entrenched jobs crisis that is eating the middle class, and rather than responding to the plight of millions of hard-hit families, they're trying to bust unions and kill minimum-wage laws.

    They call it "the new normal," in which the workaday majority of folks should simply ratchet down their hopes and expectations. A national commitment to quality education, health care for all and a decent retirement has been reduced to a "YO-YO" program: You're on Your Own.

    What about creating a vibrant new green economy based on renewable energy? Let China build it, they shrug. How about constructing a bold, nationwide, job-creating network of high-speed trains? Spain built a great one and even France has one, but we're told it's too much for America. Our deteriorating and dangerous infrastructure? Better that we cut taxes for the super-rich and pray for God to take care of infrastructure.

    These people are pathetic. And shameful. You can't call yourself a leader if you're too weak and too afraid to lead.

    One of the worst examples of their inability to lead is the new Securities and Exchange Commission's crackdown on the egregious pay packages that the elites of Wall Street keep grabbing.

    By a three-to-two vote, SEC commissioners socked the money-grubbing bankers with a new "say on pay" rule. Rather than let top executives lavish money on themselves unchecked, the new rule lets shareholders of those financial giants vote on extravagant salaries, bonuses and perks. That'll rein in the excess, right?

    Probably not. You see, the SEC has long been a gentle regulator, never wanting to hear a Wall Streeter say "ouch." Thus, the say-on-pay rule has no bite. Shareholders can indeed have their say, but it's a non-binding vote! Bank big-shots can simply ignore it. Yet even this velvet harness was too rough for the two soft-on-greed Republican commissioners, Kathleen Casey and Troy Paredes. Both voted no, with Casey explaining that the new rules "are unduly restrictive and impose unnecessary burdens" on bankers.

    Don't despair, though, for justice still might be served. The SEC has since approved another compensation crackdown, this time specifically targeting outrageous multimillion-dollar bonuses. For the first time, big banks will henceforth be compelled to restrain themselves. How? By filing detailed annual reports about the bonuses they pay. Ouch, that'll sting, won't it?

    Again, though, even this tiny pinch was too harsh for the compassionate Republican members. Both sided with the poor bankers, wailing that requiring reports is a big-government intrusion into the private sector, overreaching the SEC's authority.

    Real leaders aren't in Washington -- they're fighting for us on Main Street. Luckily, a public interest group named Bankster USA is rallying grass-roots support to curb banker greed. To find our nation's real leaders and have your own say and push for real reform, contact www.banksterusa.org.

  • truthOut: What "Free Trade" Has Cost The World. By Dave Johnson. Excerpts: If you take a job away from someone who is paid a reasonable wage because they enjoy the protections and prosperity of democratic government, move it across a border, and give it to someone living under a thugocracy, forced to work for pennies with no protections whatsoever, it should be just plain obvious that the worker on our side of the border and the worker on the other side of the border are not going to be better off. And when you do this on a massive scale it just stands to reason that most people on both sides of the border are going to be worse off.

    But propaganda being what it is we were somehow convinced to try a worldwide experiment in taking good jobs from democracies and turning them into bad jobs in thugocracies. Now, of course, the experiment has run its course and we can see the results.

    Setting worker against worker enabled a few people to get really, really really wealthy and powerful and use that wealth to become even more wealthy and powerful. Our country is in decline, burdened by massive trade deficits because the ones with vested interests in cheap labor won't let us won't take on the mercantilists, burdened by budget deficits because those vested interests have bought low taxes and government subsidies, our infrastructure crumbles because multinational business leaders refuse to invest here, with no more need of us as workers, and the resulting hollowed-out middle class can't consume anymore. Other countries also suffer from similar stresses.

  • Senator Bernie Sanders: Vermonters Would Be Hammered By Republican House Budget. Excerpts: en. Bernie Sanders voted against the House budget because it made devastating cuts to Head Start, Pell grants, community health centers, LIHEAP, the Social Security Administration and many other programs that are vitally important to millions of middle-class families.
    "The Republicans want to move toward a balanced budget by slashing programs for working families at exactly the same time as they want more tax breaks for the rich. I find it ironic that, at a time when poverty is increasing because of the recession, the Republicans want to cut programs for low income children, the sick and the elderly," Bernie said. "At the same time, while the rich are getting richer, they want more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. Clearly, any serious deficit reduction proposal must include shared sacrifice. The wealthiest people in this country must be asked to pay a little more in taxes to help this country move toward a balanced budget. It cannot just be the poor and working families who are asked to sacrifice." ...

    On Wednesday, Bernie also voted against a Democratic budget proposal because it failed to address the $14 trillion national debt and the $1.6 trillion deficit in a fair and responsible way.

    "I voted against the Democratic proposal because, if the Democrats are serious about deficit reduction they have to raise revenue along with spending cuts. As part of an Emergency Deficit Reduction Fund, I will be introducing legislation that calls for a 5.4 percent surtax on millionaires as well as eliminating tax breaks for big oil companies," he said.

    "At a time when the gap between the very, very wealthy and everyone else is growing wider, will we try to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, the elderly, the sick, and the children? That is the question that we have to address right now," Bernie said. "In the midst of a major a recession, it is morally wrong—and economically bad policy—to balance the budget on the backs of people who are already hurting."

  • Wall Street Journal: Executive Bonuses Bounce Back. By Joann S. Lubin. Excerpt: For many U.S. chief executives, bonuses bounced back last year at a speedy clip. CEO bonuses at 50 major corporations jumped a median of 30.5%, the biggest gain in at least three years, according to a study of the first batch of corporate CEO pay disclosures by consulting firm Hay Group for The Wall Street Journal.
  • Huffington Post: Ex-Goldman Banker Behind WSJ 'Smear Campaign' Against Elizabeth Warren. By Zach Carter. Excerpts: A Wall Street Journal editorial writer who has been closely involved with the paper's recent attacks on Elizabeth Warren is a former Goldman Sachs banker. The same editorial writer, Mary Kissel, is readying another piece critical of Warren and the new consumer agency, according to a source familiar with the coming article.

    Like most major newspapers, the Journal does not disclose the authors of its editorials. Kissel recently appeared on the John Batchelor radio show as a representative of the Journal's editorial board to discuss Warren, and repeated the main arguments used in the editorials.

    The editorials paint both Warren and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as an immensely powerful, unaccountable organization. The nascent agency is assuming the consumer protection duties currently exercised by regulators at the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

    The author, Mary Kissel, worked for Goldman between 1999 and 2002 as a fixed income research and capital markets specialist. Kissel is listed on the Journal's website as a member of the editorial staff and her bio includes her time at Goldman Sachs and notes that she worked for the company in both New York and London. ...

    There has definitely been an uptick in attacks on her and on the agency over the past few weeks, it's hard to imagine it hasn't been well-coordinated by somebody," said a source close to Warren. "The smear campaign by The Wall Street Journal's editorial board this week includes the most unfactual and outrageous hit pieces on her yet. If it's true that the author of the editorials and Goldman Sachs coordinated on them, they should both be exposed and called to account."

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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