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Highlights—June 4, 2011

  • Linked In's Greater IBM Connection: Having left IBM about 2 years ago I seem to be reminded from employees who are still working that IBM is not the same IBM I had joined. Full excerpt: OK, this is not all bad. However, businesses do have to change to be successful and grow but some values need to remain. I think of all the pride I had in being an IBMer especially when there was a crisis and how IBM would jump in with all their resources to help the community. We did things like "paint the town" in Detroit where we updated, painted and fixed up homes for people in the inner city who couldn't afford to. We responded to communities who were experiencing disasters.

    So, I must ask, where are in in helping the people in Joplin? Where is IBM in the helping Detroit to rebuild? Why isn't IBM leading and helping in the communities in the South devastated by tornados and flooding of the Mississippi? Where are the trucks we used to fill with clothing, with canned foods, with shelters?

    Sure, its great to help those people in need in foreign countries, but charity begins at home. Lets bring back the lustre! Lets get Randy to stop running the Company and let Sam take the charge. I was very proud to be an IBMer! Come on you guys...get back in the game and win back the hearts of your employees.

    Selected comments to this post follow:

    • Peter, I agree with you. I also talk to some of those remaining in East Fishkill and the attitude is like a "sweat shop". After a 50% "downsizing" in '93, those left had to pick up the workload. Moral seemed to be at an all time low. The "family" feeling just vanished. I started in '7- and I was impressed by the attention to the employee by upper management and company execs. The site had an employee "picnic" day and all attended. Even if you didn't know some people, there was an air of a family reunion.

      With the expansion of the site during he late 70's and 80's, this "Family" feeling slowly decreased. After the '03 down sizing, I was involved with trying to get out side Tenants to occupy our 1.5 million sq. ft. of now empty space. It was all dollar oriented, to stem the flow of expenses for this space. It was odd to walk the halls of empty space that was once bustling with workers.

      in talking to current IBMers, there is always a cloud overhead since now every so often there is another "downsizing" in the wind. Granted it's only 300-500 instead of thousands but people are afraid of the consequences especially with the economy the way it is. I remember working nights and/or weekends because I wanted to get the project finished and I liked what I was doing but today when people work longer hours, it's mostly to save their jobs and avoid that potential list of "downsizing" candidates.

    • Maybe I am being cynical but I suspect that the execs have the view that there is little or no profit in doing any of these things - no profit means no continuing rise in share price and a halt to bonuses! Of course that may just be my view!!!
    • It appears that IBM believes they are truly a global company and have no alliance or willingness to play favorites to the domestic issues or problems of employees or citizens.
    • A lot of it depends upon the group you worked in. In GBS, where I was, the general feeling was IBM wanted to do just enough so companies would think twice about changing service providers.. thus they laid off workers even in short-handed areas (I got caught up in that). In other groups (considered by IBM to be directional) there was more concern about keeping high-quality people.
    • I remember an IBM where service to customers meant something. We used to have an "IBM Means Service" award. Now on the receiving end of IBM service, it's deplorable.

      My organization is less than thrilled with the service we receive. I had an IBMer call me due to poor service. She was very nice on the phone but I had to tell her I was embarrassed to say I was associated with a company that was less than stellar in their service. I was disappointed that the IBM I knew had deteriorated in such a way.

      She agreed with me that it was not the same company that it was years ago. How sad!! We are celebrating our IBM centennial anniversary. Wouldn't it be great if IBM went back to its original roots and returned to their leadership position in the marketplace!! Companies need to remember that customer service is key to their success.

    • Does anyone remember the basic beliefs? Respect for the individual, excellence as a way of life and the best possible customer service. Our new leaders need to review these beliefs it was what made IBM great, those beliefs have been noticeably absent the past decade.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Raises?" by "trexibmer". Full excerpt: Anyone hear yet what their IBM raise might be? Remember, even though IBM had record profits, and IBM's EPS targets are getting higher and higher, most of you will get little or no raises. And you IBM retirees can't add to the profits anymore, and are an expense and burden to IBM, so you can forget getting any COLA.

    Understand IBM has to do this to supposedly stay competitive in a tough global marketplace since the EPS is not as high as IBM wants it. It makes more bonus money and better stock option exercise money for the IBM executives the only employees in IBM that are not referred to as resources. And, you as a resource, or FTE work widget, should feel good about this: Sam THANKS YOU you for your hard work and understanding on this. This thank you should be enough compensation for not getting a raise.

    LIFE IS NOT GOOD for those IBMers that get no raise and are working their "you-know-what" off for IBM. LIFE IS NOT GOOD for most IBM retirees who are just trying to scrape by in their golden years on an IBM retirement plan.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Raises?" by "workforlife". Full excerpt: In 2009 they moved the raise out to July 1. Paid on July 15. I thought they were still out to July. But then again I got zip/nada both years so I was not paying attention. But hey, this year I am sure to get a raise. Yup, yup, yup, work hard, do good things for the company and the rewards will come. MORE KOOL-AID PLEASE.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Raises?" by "Paul S". Full excerpt: What I really miss is the dinner for 2 award. I think the ultimate plan is no raises unless you are a 2+.... for the ordinary working folk that is. I think the dinner for 2 ma xed out at $65.00 if I'm not mistaken. Then it vanished, to reappear in executive salaries. Times are hard, yeah right, yet many IBMers are still fooled. And the raises for 2's last year were in the 1.3% range.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Raises?" by "mr_quarkwrench". Full excerpt: That takes me back. The last one of those I got was when I was a CE and there really wasn't a limit. You filed an expense report with receipts and they paid for food, parking and a baby sitter. -- Don
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Raises?" by "trexibmer". Full excerpt: The raise cycle for the year used to be in May, then June, and now July? IBM is pushing off raises just to make more extra money off of their beleaguered employees by keeping the money allocated for raises in the bank another measly month. Now how miserly and greedy is that?

    Nothing stops IBM from making it August or September or later.

    If you don't simply question why this is happening then this trend and others will just continue. You need to send a message. Why not send an internal e-mail to HR and ask?

    Folks YOU ALL NEED A CONTRACT and NOW or remaining in IBM means LIFE IS NOT GOOD.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Raises?" by "teamb562". Full excerpt: Communication to employees June 28-July 12. Effective date July 1. Reflected in pay statement July 15.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Raises?" by "lastdino1". Full excerpt: My sources say the plan is in and set. The raises range from 2-5% and are mainly for 1 and 2+ performers. Also the managers have a generated $ amount so they will be dividing up the dollars. I also heard that the managers were asked to hold back 3%. My Retired Life is Good.
  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Server Admin in Singapore (Singapore): (Past Employee - 2011) "GDF = Global Disaster Framework." Pros: Knowledge sharing - some good training/knowledge such as defect prevention process & 7 keys to success in project management (part of project management fundamental course.) Cons: Too much of processes! The implementation of GDF/Lean is more of a management reporting to the global, rather than understand what is happening on the ground. Just ask any ground staff in IBM who is involved in GDF/lean and you will know the staff's morale is at all time low. Even with the name of 'global', it's more of a few line summary of what to do. On how to implement it and with what tool - You figure out yourself. That's why it's a Global Disaster Framework. Advice to Senior Management: Reflect the staff's morale, because of GDF/lean to global, rather than the management report of how well it's done. They are human, not robot. P/S: Lean is for manufacturing process.
    • IBM Senior Managing Consultant in Miami, FL: (Current Employee) "IBM GBS is just like any other consulting company -Nothing much to differentiate from Boutique Body shoppers." Pros: Career is stable compare to other consulting companies. Cons: System is very bureaucratic. You will get frustrated and leave after a while and no one cares. Things are improving recently making managers accountable for helping and retaining high performers. This will hopefully differentiate IBM from body shoppers. Advice to Senior Management: IBM management, particularly, GBS management needs more focus on its human resources development and growth. Rather than treating consultants as bodies that can be replaced as and when one wishes, it should treat them as permanent assets that needs to be cared, improved and sustained.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Past Employee - 2010) "Good for a very big company." Pros: Global business - opportunity to work in many different places and countries Industry leading technologies and thought leadership work to draw upon. Well known and good reputation. Cons: So big many times one arm will reinvent the thought product someone in the organization has already carried out. Worse...you know it was done before, but cannot locate the work or person who performed it. Senior management very disconnected from client facing staff. Focused on managing to the numbers and meeting Wall Street's quarterly expectations. Those at client sites/in the field actually more at a disadvantage to office based staff who have more luxury time to negotiate the organizational maze to get ahead.
    • IBM Project Manager in Greensboro, NC: (Current Employee) "Been an upward trend that has been steady but slow." Pros: IBM offers an above average compensation package. The benefits package is above industry average also. Just working for IBM still holds some high esteem. Cons: You will generally put in some long hours at IBM and be forced to work at a "global" pace. At least for US employees, the jobs are there but either shrinking in compensation (e.g. US Global Delivery Centers in Iowa & Colorado) or being groomed for global counterparts to fulfill for the higher pay positions. Advice to Senior Management: Stick around for the roosters to come home to roost. You keep shifting jobs oversees, the management and executives will be there at some point also.
    • IBM Anonymous in Bedford, NH: (Current Employee) "Just like any other Consulting company." Pros: Good 401k match, good health benefits only for employee. Cons: No work life balance, work nights weekends, a lot of travel, no salary increments unless you get a 2+ or 1 rating or get promoted. Advice to Senior Management: Salary increments should be given every year to every employee without any variables attached to it. People on H1-B are paid considerably lower salary then people with Greencard/US Citizenship, that should not be the case. People who work more than 40 hours a week should get overtime or more benefits. The whole structure of having utilization as a part of paying bonus at the end of the year is bogus. If there are no projects, a person cannot get placed and he is helpless at that moment and has to suffer with less bonus at the end of the year without his own fault. Managers please treat employees like employees not like slaves.
    • IBM I/R Consultant: (Current Employee) "IDK." Pros: Very good in letting you have time off and control your own work schedule. Great 401K. Would recommend for this reason. Cons: The upper management doesn't seem to care about those down low or about those in the US at all. Seem to be offshoring almost everything even if it's to their detriment. Advice to Senior Management: Keep jobs in the US and keep your valuable and knowledgeable employees instead of getting rid of them in favor of cheaper low cost labor.
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) "Lot's of politics and poor pay." Pros: Great place to learn new technologies, lateral transfer fairly simple and exposure to fortune 500 customers. Good for young people straight out of college. Cons: Senior folks must traverse the mountain of politics to get anywhere. Pay is low and health compensation package is low. Advice to Senior Management: Turn over at IBM is high due to lack of compensation and overall care for employees. It would be nice to receive support from management during annual reviews.
    • IBM Sales Specialist in Hyderabad (India): (Current Employee) "Too many hidden issues not disclosed during the recruitment stage." Pros: Flexibility to work from home for 2 days in the week. Cons: Salary, they promise something and pay something else, across the globe, IBMers get reimbursement of exps, but Indian staff do not get any. Also there is no transportation provided to commute to office, staff should spend from their pocket and cannot claim. Advice to Senior Management: India is not a low cost centre, please treat staff like normal humans. Understand the basic requirements of employees and provide them with minimum amenities.
    • IBM Managing Consultant in Stuttgart (Germany): (Current Employee) "IBM High Professionalism vs. Career Development." Pros: Innovative, professional, excellent diversity of people and knowledge, Best software and research development, international capabilities and network, perfect in structuring and evaluating problems, good methodology. Cons: Extremely expense driven, too many nontransparent processes, too much administrative work for regular employees, enormous workload, high stress, little compensation for consultants, not consultant culture, restricted incentives. Advice to Senior Management: More supportive leadership style, give room for development, praise success and celebrate with the teams, don´t concentrate on pure profit, concentrate on leadership and employee development.
    • IBM Senior Managing Consultant in Saint Louis, MO: (Current Employee) "Great at the beginning, but trending to very bad over last 5 years, as a US citizen employee, I am not what they wanted." Pros: Flexibility to live almost anywhere I needed to. Great brand name. Solid pay and benefits if you can get and KEEP a US citizen, US based job.

      Cons: Career paths and mentoring that used to exist, have all disappeared in truth, but are still praised and lauded as real (this can be very confusing).

      Unless you are one of the extreme performers (aka selling madly for them), you will NOT be praised or rewarded and WILL treated as a cost to be minimized. In a company of excellent people, it is very disconcerting to be called 'OK' when you are in fact world class and perform at that level daily.

      Company is now going out of its way to hide where employment is taking place and where it is getting moved from and to (aka no longer publishing employment by country, only overall employment, and NOT commenting on layoff's unless required by outdated local law).

      Advice to Senior Management: Be honest and open about the labor sourcing direction you are taking, EVEN to the labor you are using. The fiction of 'mutual commitment' is distressing and hard to swallow. It in fact has a greater impact of quality of product than almost anything else. Your people can't be BOTH world class intellects AND stupid enough to not see their treatment for what it is.

    • IBM Associate Partner: (Current Employee) "Lots of work; lots of opportunity." Pros: Flexible work locations. Cutting edge technology. Extremely competitive. Large company. Cons: Bureaucratic. Heavy workload. PBC 1 'Top Performers' are not differentiated. Advice to Senior Management: Provide clear career paths
    • IBM Senior IT Architect in Frankfurt am Main (Germany): (Past Employee - 2011) "Shiny facade, nearing the brink of collapse behind it." Pros: - Generally open-minded and supportive colleagues; - Breadth of tasks and topics to work on (if you can get in the right job); - Still recognized well in the market.

      Cons:

      • Management quality and ethics have seriously eroded in the last nine years
      • Company has lost its values
      • Employees are given neither means nor education to do an excellent job
      • Boasting in external communication, while paying only lip-service to quality and excellence internally
      • Culture of fear and pressure; you have never done enough and it is implied that failure is your personal fault
      • Lack of accountability for badly designed and negotiated contracts; instead pressure is put on delivery teams to "make it work", see also point above
      • Performance does not pay, as compensation model does not allow rewards for good and top performers anymore
      • Long-time top performers are severely underpaid compared to the market

      Advice to Senior Management: Lou Gerstner's IBM wasn't the old IBM anymore, but it was a great company to work for. Under the lead of Sam Palmisano, IBM has degraded in nearly all aspects towards a soulless money-making machine - only not for the employees and also not really for the shareholders (dividends are still much lower than they were and could be), but for the executives. This has bred a new type of manager unworthy of the great IBM heritage, evident in characters like Bob Moffat.

      After Palmisano took the helm in 2002, at first the changes were slow, although the ill-fated acquisition of PWC Consulting was the first sign of things to come. In the recent years, it seems the senior leadership has lost all shame and drives the company in a direction that will inevitably lead it into another major crisis.

      Employee morale is at an all-time low. This is not a subjective impression, it is a fact proven by IBM's own employee surveys. Only that the leadership is not reacting to these surveys at all, proving that they really don't care about the employees' opinion anymore.

      Compensation for long-time top performers is a joke, while less qualified professionals hired from the outside are paid well at first. Only they cannot expect raises, a fact they are soon to learn.

      While Mr. Palmisano earned 30% more in 2010 - BTW the best year IBM ever had - bonuses for "normal" employees were reduced by up to 30%. And they had been a joke before already.

      What makes this and other management decisions so aggravating is the way the company boasts internally and externally about their compensation structure in which "performance pays well". It's as if they *want* employees to become cynical.

      IBM has shed all modesty in their marketing and external communication, but has not much to back up the boasting statements. This is in stark contrast to the past, where IBM had world-class service and technology, yet at the same time written and unwritten policies never to talk down a competitor, even internally. Efforts like the Watson supercomputer are the few exceptions which leave at least small room for hope that IBM could again be at the forefront of technology.

      In the Services business, however, years of employee neglect and diminishing education budgets have eroded the quality and competence level so much that good performers are leaving in droves now that the economy has recovered. While at the same time pressure on "partners" (the title being another lip-service example) and sellers has been raised to levels that leads to contracts and solutions with pre-programmed failure - which will only lead to more pressure from the current management. The global delivery strategy does not work as advertised, despite extreme pressure to have GD resources in each and every contract.

      I predict that IBM will either trick a dim-witted buyer into taking the Services business off their hands or that it will soon start a quickly accelerating downward slide. The strangest thing is that all this could easily be foreseen even by the number-fixated Palmisano gang, yet they don't seem to have any intention to act. However, the Services business must deliver up to 40 % of the 2015 roadmap to EPS growth, so Palmisano can not actually afford to let it crash. Unless he plans to leave well in advance and leave it to his successor to take the bullet.

      It is astonishing that this situation which can easily be learned about from nearly any IBMer you know in your private life, has not yet attracted investigative reporters. Even the Moffat scandal did not reflect on IBM, when at least one reporter should have asked the question "if Moffat was only a single black sheep, how could he rise up through the ranks all the way to the crown prince position?". Somehow, Palmisano and IBM manage to keep a lot of bad developments under the carpet. But how much more can they cut in the flesh of the company until it starts to bleed so profusely that the wounds can not be covered up anymore? I fear that once the whole construction starts to crash, it can't be stopped from collapsing anymore.

    • IBM Software Engineer in Tampa, FL: (Past Employee - 2009) "Not the Same as it Used to Be." Pros: Great benefits and salary, and process. Cons: Strategic direction means less benefit for more work. Getting worse. Advice to Senior Management: Stop letting your best talent leave. Stop chasing the bottom of the barrel dollar.
    • IBM Business Development Manager: (Current Employee) "At the beginning it was good, very good in fact, but now there is a constant feeling of being beaten down." Pros: Ability to work from home (see below) a good range of employee benefits plenty of career opportunities, mostly in London. Cons: Bureaucratic nightmare. Reviewed to death - from top to bottom. No empowerment from VP level down. Poor pay rates compared to rest of market don't expect a pay increase, regardless of good performance. Don't think that the sales plans are there to incent you; they are there to pay the minimum possible. Don't expect to travel for 12 hours on a plane in comfort and do expect to work as soon as you land. Don't expect to be able to work in an IBM office in most cities; more offices are closing. Advice to Senior Management: The cost cutting has gone on long enough, at the expense of the Brand and good and loyal employees. Time to stop and start investing and leading the old IBM way again.
    • IBM Senior Project Manager: (Past Employee - 2009) "Expectations are extreme." Pros: There is plenty of opportunity to move around. Cons: Expectations of the number of hours to work is extreme.
  • Monster: Three Signs of a Miserable Job. By Tom Musbach, Yahoo! HotJobs. Excerpts: The author notes that a "miserable" job differs from a "bad" job, as one person's dream job may not appeal to another worker. A miserable job, however, has some universal traits. "A miserable job makes a person cynical and frustrated and demoralized when they go home at night," Lencioni says. "It drains them of their energy, their enthusiasm and self-esteem. ...

    • Anonymity: Employees feel anonymous when their manager has little interest in them as people with unique lives, aspirations and interests.
    • Irrelevance: This condition occurs when workers cannot see how their job makes a difference. "Every employee needs to know that the work they do impacts someone's life -- a customer, a coworker, even a supervisor -- in one way or another."
    • Immeasurement: This term describes the inability of employees to assess for themselves their contributions or success. As a result they often rely on the opinions of others -- usually the manager -- to measure their success.
New on the Alliance@IBM Site
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  • General Visitor Comments: Due to a lack of membership growth the comment sections will be closed until we see sufficient growth in full membership, associate membership or donations. Many of you that visit our site have not yet joined, but seem to value its existence. The only comment section that will remain open will be Job Cuts Reports. If you have information that you want the Alliance to know about please send to ibmunionalliance@gmail.com. Information of importance will be put on the front page of this web site. To join go here: Join The Alliance! or here: Join The Alliance!
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 5/27/11: IBM Career Day in E. Fishkill in June. Ya think those RAed can participate? -fishfooled-
    • Comment 5/27/11: Take off your blinders! This latest round of employee firings began two and a half years ago in January 2009. If you have not banded together with others here, why the &++& not? If you are acting surprised by the treatment of people at the hands of IBM's corporate policies, you, sir, are a moron. This is nothing new. Expecting IBM to fall over and die is ridiculous, as they have been making record profits since 2008. Will they stop? HA! If you want to do something, DO SOMETHING! Join up, band together, show some guts! Yeah, they may lose a bit of money when they move your job overseas, but they will make a whole lot more. Your timorous nature is your downfall. -Spork-
    • Comment 5/27/11: We can't blame the Indians, Chinese, Brazilians, etc., on the fact that our American Corporations have no loyalty to Americans. It will eventually be their downfall. I don't know why they think they can keep the head of the snake in the US while the body is laying across the world. They think there are no gifted executives and CEOs outside of America? They will not hang on. They can make money, but they have no creativity. In the end, the smart geek will win - that is where the innovation is. The American Corporation is capitalism on steroids these days. It will be up to the American Government to figure out how to temper the greed and protect the American people while still allowing growth. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 5/27/11: If Watson Jr and Sr could see what a mess Sammy Boy has made of the company they would be shocked. At one time I was proud to wear my IBM badge and call myself an IBMer. I'm old enough to have received the engraved silver spoon when my kids were born. I remember the family days and the Christmas shows bringing the wife and kids. Now, Sammy Boy gave me the boot so that he can hire an Indian for half the cost. Sammy Boy doesn't give a rats ass about me or the rest of the employees anymore. It's all about the bottom line. The easy no brainer thing for Sammy Boy to do is to fire employees to cut cost. Sorry folks, but this IBM company is a real mess. Best of luck to all getting the boot. -gone from big blue-
    • Comment 5/28/11: In my area and in asking about other sites, the people hired are in the US, but not native. There must be some loophole benefit to hiring those people. I don't get it, they are less skilled than the people they are RAing. Plus they just allowed the foreign college students to be hired for so many months ... and the hiring company does not have to pay SS for them. Yet our students are graduating and there are no jobs. -loopholes-
    • Comment 5/28/11: Way to go IBM. You Celebrate 100 years and do a "drive by" and RA a 100 or so.. and close to Memorial Day. I guess IBM doesn't care if they spoil the weekend plans of those hit by the RA. -MemorialRAs-
    • Comment 5/28/11: Lost my job in GDS -Anonymous-
    • Comment 5/29/11: Isn't this the year that SAMMY PALMISANO's job is SUPPORSED TO GO AWAY; EXECs are supposed to be GONE at 60 ! Only problem is that GINNY is probably gonna be worse and is the next in line! -NO_KY-
    • Comment 5/29/11: -MemorialRAs- Why would IBM care about spoiling a Holiday weekend for people they just RA'd?? They don't care if the people RA'd starve, their wives/ husbands or children starve. If they become homeless as a result of the RA. So why would spoiling a weekend matter to them when for all intents and purposes they destroy LIVES with the RA's. Why should IBM care?

      Sadly the people they target do not care enough to try and protect themselves with a contract. The Executives have one because they want the protection it offers. Why do the workers not want one? The executives can only assume the at will employees are quite happy with things as they are as they are not trying to make things better for themselves.

      The Board of Directors , HR and all else who run IBM believe you like being RA'd. After all you just quietly clean out your desks and leave. No one goes on strike. No one forces collective bargaining on them so it must be just fine to keep doing them. When a boxer gets punched in the face repeatedly and makes no effort to block the incoming punches you can only assume either they do not hurt or the boxer is already brain damaged. -Exodus2007-

    • Comment 5/29/11: I left IBM in February for another job in the health care industry. I can tell you I am much happier even if I make less $$. I can also tell you I had 26 years service and didn't believe for a minute that IBM would let me get to 30 for the pension bump. I am glad I am not sweating out the latest RA's and I wish those people I left behind didn't have to work weekends to "compete" with others. What a silly company this has become. I threw out all my plaques and awards when I left. -NowInHealthCare-
    • Comment 5/29/11: Wouldn't it be nice to see Sam on "Undercover Boss" on TV? Maybe he could see how the real IBM works and lives... Let's see if he can handle a help desk ticket, reboot a server,. (re)install Windows OS, create a silicon wafer in the fab, etc. Oh, I forgot the man is too proud for this work. Maybe if he tried to do the work would his manager RA him when they find he can't and doesn't cut it? -anonymous-
    • Comment 5/30/11: Was RA"d in March of last year, there is life after ibm, sooner or later...they will loose all their accounts and will be RA's too. -Pat-
    • Comment 5/30/11: The IBM CEO job isn't going away and Palmisano doesn't have to go with it at 60..Gerstner said it is not a law that an IBM CEO steps down at 60 in IBM. And Gerstner is worshiped like a god in this IBM (I can't see why) so it will be. The IBM CEO's before Gerstner, some good some not so good, had something called a conscious. They also had something called integrity. They also had in various degrees something called morality. Sam and Lou have NONE of these three qualities. Most of the Sr. VP's in IBM now: ditto. It's more than an even bet Sam stays on past 60. He will do whatever he has to do to get the IBM stock to at least $200@share and EPS of god only knows ever higher. He has got more unfinished business to do: further scuttling of IBM.. -anonymous-
    • Comment 5/30/11: Those of you that are cut and if you do not need that severance pay... put a high % into TDSP to avoid taxes. Of course this will depend of the individual home finances. I made a mistake on this when I left and started a new job within 2 weeks. You have to do this before they cut that last check to avoid the taxes.-Loopholes-
    • Comment 5/30/11: to those of you recently RA'ed. If you know or suspect your job was offshored, please keep in mind the Trade Act Assistance funds that may be available to you. You may be entitled to substantial retraining or job search assistance from the Fed govt. Here's the link: http://www.doleta.gov/tradeact/. You can get additional assistance from the local unemployment office. Always, always ask about this and submit forms seeing if you qualify. It takes very little time up front and you may benefit a great deal. If you have ?'s post here, bc others who monitor boards are familiar with this program. -RA'ed 2010-
    • Comment 5/31/11: There are many TAA certified petitions against IBM that has not expired yet. The last one (TAA Decision 75087) was certified in 01/28/11 for people in ITD performing Storage management work before the program expired on 2/12/11 for IT service workers. If you are in the group, you may be eligible. The TAA program offers a variety of benefits and services to eligible workers, including job training, income support, job search and relocation allowances, a tax credit to help pay the costs of health insurance, and a wage subsidy to workers 50 years of age and older. Hope this info help some RA'ed folks. Good Luck. -cannedbyblue-
    • Comment 6/01/11: -LeavingSoon- I beg to differ with you. If we "Take down" big corporations who will employ us?? We need to organize big corporations. Forming labor unions is the only counterbalance to big corp and big government crushing all of us. We want corporations that are successful in America so they can employ American workers. That's why American workers need to form labor unions within whatever company they work for. Or whatever bank, Or whatever hospital etc etc. -Exodus2007-
    • Comment 6/01/11: The article on IBM India on the main page says there are 120,000 IBM India employees. It is obvious the RA's are only happening here and IBM is now larger in India than the USA. Can't say we didn't see that coming. We need a contract for IBM US employees to protect our jobs. -anon-
    • Comment 6/01/11: NowInHealthCare>> What kind of work do you do? Is it still IT? I am looking for ideas. I would like to leave IBM more than ever before in my 21 years here. I don't think there's a future in IGS in the USA. Constant offshoring and now Liquid Portal accompanied with now quarterly RAs make that quite clear. You are so right - it is an incredibly dismal, depressing, and stressful place to work, and management wants it this way. I believe they are trying to bump up attrition rates. It's been several years of uncertainty and anxiety in IGS, RA after RA, endless offshoring, and now Liquid Portal. It is not going to improve. It is only worsening. I'm sick and tired of watching colleagues lose their jobs while waiting for my turn. I'm looking for an exit strategy. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 6/01/11: "The article on IBM India on the main page says there are 120,000 IBM India employees. It is obvious the RA's are only happening here and IBM is now larger in India than the USA. Can't say we didn't see that coming. We need a contract for IBM US employees to protect our jobs." I am certain that it is all about getting cheap labor to cut costs. As part of my "RA package" I was required to train my Indian replacement. Don't blame the Indians. Blame Sammy the Slime Ball. -Not an Indian and got the boot-
    • Comment 6/01/11: Yes, I still do IT work. I now do Cobol programming in support of an HR ERP application. I just started applying for any IT job I was remotely qualified for, even a job installing Windows and Linux workstations. The fact of the matter is, I was the right candidate at the right time. Most of the rejection letters I got were along the lines of "while your background is impressive, we are looking for someone that more closely matches this position".

      The reason I got my current job was because this group didn't want to screw around endlessly interviewing dozens of candidates, and wanted to fill the position quickly. The only exit strategy is to start applying elsewhere. This group asked me why I was leaving IBM and listened very closely to my answer, which can be summed up as "I still have a job inside IBM, but I need to work another 15 years. Will IBM be there for me? I don't know. I just know that I don't like the management decisions I see inside the company". So, having a job while your applying for a job is a big, big plus.

    • Comment 6/01/11: @anon....RAs don't need to happen in India...the turnover rate over there is like 200% per year. To Indians, the more times you job hop, the better it looks. It seems whenever you get someone trained offshore they leave... -Jumpship-
    • Comment 6/02/11: The Indians are starting to not be enamored by IBM. They are starting to realize IBM is also working them to death. To make fat Sammy and his AMERICAN posse rich as hell. Hate to say it but IBM is much like the British Empire was to them now. I bet they are wondering why no native Indian is on the IBM Board of Directors by now. Surely the head of Tata should be at least considered on the IBM BODs by now. Hasn't made it to the stockholder proxy yet. IBM says they are INTERNATIONAL Business Machines but they aren't proving it by their corporate actions. -Beastie-
    • Comment 6/02/11: If you are over 40 yrs old and/or close to retirement,and were RA'd, you may want to contact McTeague, Higbee, Case, Cohen, Whitney & Toker, P.A. 1-(800)482-0958 -Anonymous-
    • Comment 6/03/11: Would like to understand the scope of the RA's. It's been mentioned 45+ crowd but what about job type (Arch, P/M, I/T Spec) Div/Dept. and PBC rating. Also, did any have stock options or other incentives given long ago to stay with IBM? Thx -Joel-
    • Comment 6/03/11: Sammy is only interested in himself and his family. RAs will continue, and jobs will be sent to India China,and Brazil. IBM needs a union. Respect for the individual is no longer IBM. It is all about greed Join the union. -Ana-
    • Comment 6/03/11: I got the boot 2 weeks ago. last day in 2 days. I got hired in Nov '10 and here you go they are firing me now. What a shame. This is best thing that happened to me. IBM stock is going to stink...watch my words. Long term credibility with customers is GONE. -Sitting Duck in Rochester STG-
    • Comment 6/03/11: I was in a meeting a year and a half ago where an IBM exec intimated to a customer that IBM paid $1000 a month for Indian techs. -Trouble O7-
    • Comment 6/03/11: For Sitting Ducks: Anyone still working in the company should be doing the following:
      • Join the Alliance. It's your only hope if you want to stay in IBM.
      • Think You first, then IBM. That means your health comes first, your family, then your skills and then last your PBC rating and IBM job. You must become tactical in thinking and totally mercenary. Keep asking yourself every day and specially every time a manger asks you to do something: "What's in it for me? Why should I do this? Should I take my sweet time? What contacts and opportunities outside IBM does this task expose me to? What's the value of this if I was RA'ed tomorrow?".
      • Take any skills training and education you can find at any time. It's hard to find anything, but external certifications are of value. Don't forget to network, and network some more with folks outside of IBM. Don't let IBM isolate you and then make you an exposed target. Network with Alliance folks and you'll know when and where the problems are.
      • Take home for safe keep anything not bolted down that could help you in finding a new job, legally. For example, books, courses, code examples, customer/colleague contacts, etc. e. Start interviewing or fostering new contract outside work WHILE IN IBM. You can always say no if the offer isn't good or if it comes before you want or are told to leave.
      • If anyone in IBM asks you to do things that are unethical or illegal, document and do the right thing.

      Use IBM, don't let IBM use you.

      I recently was interviewing candidates for a job I had open and found that each and every IBMer I talked to (these were Band 8-10 programmer types) had paid projects on the side and was actively looking for the opportunity they wanted. Those are the IBMers I want. The ones ready to meet the marketplace if an RA is forced on them and those willing to support the Alliance. -Active Measures Guy-

    • Comment 6/04/11: I was RA'd in 2009 after 16 years of service to Lotus. After a couple job changes after that I found heaven at one of the top software companies who compete with IBM. I've never been happier. I take daily pride when an account of mine stops buying IBM software and buys my solution. I see it all the time because IBM has rid itself of all the top Lotus people. The IBMers left in those roles are way too inexperienced and are clueless. It's lovely watching IBM lose market share in the collaboration market and all because they lost the best people in RA's. -ExLotusGuy-
    • Comment 6/04/11: Hey Alliance, in reference to: "If you are over 40 yrs old and/or close to retirement,and were RA'd, you may want to contact McTeague, Higbee, Case, Cohen, Whitney & Toker, P.A. 1-(800)482-0958", do you have this on your IBM Legal/Law info Link? -Alliance-Member-Number-####- Alliance reply: Yes. Link: http://www.endicottalliance.org/ibmlawsuitsandlegal.htm. You can access it from the menu on the front page.
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
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  • New York Times editorial: Who Needs Health Care Reform? Excerpts: A report issued last week by the Commonwealth Fund, a staunch backer of the reform law, found that young adults ages 19 through 29 are among the groups most likely to be uninsured, with some 15 million of them lacking coverage in 2009, according to census data. Young people are often healthier, but they are not invulnerable. The fund's survey found that high costs led 45 percent of young adults to delay or forgo needed care last year and left 39 percent with problems paying medical bills.

    Health care reforms have already allowed more than 600,000 people up to the age of 26 to remain on their parents' policies, a number that is expected to grow to an estimated 1.7 million by 2013. Starting in 2014, when Medicaid coverage for the poor expands and subsidies are available for middle-income Americans, an estimated 12 million young adults will have government-subsidized coverage.

  • Forbes: Medicare Vouchers Won't Reduce Health Spending. By Howard Gleckman. Excerpts: The House Republican plan to replace Medicare with vouchers could lower national health spending in only one of two ways: Either seniors would respond to higher out-of-pocket costs by using less—or more efficient–health care, or private insurance companies would ration their care for them. In effect, insurance company bureaucrats would replace those government bureaucrats so disparaged by House Republicans.

    If neither happens, the GOP plan will fail to reduce overall health spending. The proposal to give those turning 65 in 2022 a subsidy to buy their own insurance would merely shift those costs from government to the elderly. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that either of these strategies would reduce total medical expenses, at least based on what we know about past experiments. ...

    By repealing the health law, the House GOP would also eliminate the two key mechanisms seniors would need to buy insurance on the open market—a requirement that insurance companies not discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions (80 percent of those 65 and older have at least one) and exchanges though which buyers can shop for individual coverage. But even if they could somehow fix those problems, the GOP still needs to show how its plan is going to lower overall medical costs which is, after all, the whole point.

  • New York Times opinion: Yes, Medicare Is Sustainable In Its Current Form. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: I keep seeing people say that Medicare in its current form is not sustainable, as if that were an established fact. It's anything but.

    What is Medicare? It's single-payer coverage for the elderly. Other countries have single-payer systems that are much cheaper than ours — and also much cheaper than private insurance in America. So there's nothing about the form that makes Medicare unsustainable, unless you think that health care itself is unsustainable.

    What is true is that the U.S. Medicare is expensive compared with, say, Canadian Medicare (yes, that's what they call their system) or the French health care system (which is complicated, but largely single-payer in its essentials); that's because Medicare American-style is very open-ended, reluctant to say no to paying for medically dubious procedures, and also fails to make use of its pricing power over drugs and other items.

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.

  • Mother Jones, courtesy of AlterNet: Why the Democratic Party Has Abandoned the Middle Class in Favor of the Rich. If politicians care almost exclusively about the concerns of the rich, it makes sense that over the past decades they've enacted policies that have ended up benefiting the rich. By Kevin Drum. Excerpts: In 2008, a liberal Democrat was elected president. Landslide votes gave Democrats huge congressional majorities. Eight years of war and scandal and George W. Bush had stigmatized the Republican Party almost beyond redemption. A global financial crisis had discredited the disciples of free-market fundamentalism, and Americans were ready for serious change.

    Or so it seemed. But two years later, Wall Street is back to earning record profits, and conservatives are triumphant. To understand why this happened, it's not enough to examine polls and tea parties and the makeup of Barack Obama's economic team. You have to understand how we fell so short, and what we rightfully should have expected from Obama's election. And you have to understand two crucial things about American politics.

    The first is this: Income inequality has grown dramatically since the mid-'70s—far more in the US than in most advanced countries—and the gap is only partly related to college grads outperforming high-school grads. Rather, the bulk of our growing inequality has been a product of skyrocketing incomes among the richest 1 percent and—even more dramatically—among the top 0.1 percent. It has, in other words, been CEOs and Wall Street traders at the very tippy-top who are hoovering up vast sums of money from everyone, even those who by ordinary standards are pretty well off.

    Second, American politicians don't care much about voters with moderate incomes. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early '90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that's not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don't respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that's not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don't respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all. ...

    How did we get here? In the past, after all, liberal politicians did make it their business to advocate for the working and middle classes, and they worked that advocacy through the Democratic Party. But they largely stopped doing this in the '70s, leaving the interests of corporations and the wealthy nearly unopposed. The story of how this happened is the key to understanding why the Obama era lasted less than two years. ...

    Income volatility, for example, has risen dramatically over the past 30 years. The odds of experiencing a 50 percent drop in family income have more than doubled since 1970, and this volatility has increased for both high school and college grads. At the same time, traditional pensions have almost completely disappeared, replaced by chronically underfunded 401(k) plans in which workers bear all the risk of stock market gains and losses. Home foreclosures are up, Americans are drowning in debt, jobs are less secure, and personal bankruptcies have soared. These developments have been disastrous for workers at all income levels.

    This didn't all happen thanks to a sinister 30-year plan hatched in a smoke-filled room, and it can't be reined in merely by exposing it to the light. It's a story about power. It's about the loss of a countervailing power robust enough to stand up to the influence of business interests and the rich on equal terms. With that gone, the response to every new crisis and every new change in the economic landscape has inevitably pointed in the same direction. And after three decades, the cumulative effect of all those individual responses is an economy focused almost exclusively on the demands of business and finance. In theory, that's supposed to produce rapid economic growth that serves us all, and 30 years of free-market evangelism have convinced nearly everyone—even middle-class voters who keep getting the short end of the economic stick—that the policy preferences of the business community are good for everyone. But in practice, the benefits have gone almost entirely to the very wealthy.

  • New York Times op-ed: The Good Banker. By Joe Nocera. Excerpts: It contained a copy of the 2010 annual report to shareholders by a bank executive I'd never met: Robert G. Wilmers. For nearly 30 years, Wilmers has run the M&T Bank, based in Buffalo. When he took it over, M&T had $2 billion in assets; today, its assets exceed $68 billion, and it's one of the most highly regarded regional bank holding companies. It has also been one of the best performing stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index; indeed, M&T was one of only two banks in the S.& P. 500 that didn't cut its dividend during the financial crisis.

    Wilmers's report, however, was less about the company's numbers than about the dismal state of his beloved profession. Wilmers, it turns out, is that rarest of birds: a banker willing to tell harsh truths about banking. That, for instance, much of the money the big banks earn comes from trading profits "rather than the prudent extension of credit that furthers commerce." That derivatives had helped bring about the crisis and needed to be regulated. That bank executives were wildly overpaid. That the biggest banks — the Too Big to Fail Banks — were operating, as he put it, an "unsafe business model." ...

    In the run-up to the financial crisis, the giant national banks — which he viewed as a distinct species from the typical American bank — had done things that deserved condemnation. And, he added, "They are still doing things that I don't think are very good."

    Such as? "It has become a virtual casino," he replied. "To me, banks exist for people to keep their liquid income, and also to finance trade and commerce." Yet the six largest holding companies, which made a combined $75 billion last year, had $56 billion in trading revenues. "If you assume, as I do, that trading revenues go straight to the bottom line, that means that trading, not lending, is how they make most of their money," he said.

    This was a problem for several reasons. First, it meant that banks were taking excessive risks that were never really envisioned when the government began insuring deposits — and became, in effect, the backstop for the banking industry. Second, bank C.E.O.'s were being compensated in no small part on their trading profits — which gave them every incentive to keep taking those excessive risks. Indeed, in 2007, the chief executives of the Too Big to Fail Banks made, on average, $26 million, according to Wilmers — more than double the compensation of the top nonbank Fortune 500 executives. (Wilmers made around $2 million last year.)

    Finally — and this is what particularly galled him — trading derivatives and other securities really had nothing to do with the underlying purpose of banking. He told me that he thought the Glass-Steagall Act — the Depression-era law that separated commercial and investment banks — should never have been abolished and that derivatives need to be brought under government control. "It doesn't need to be studied for two years," he said. "I would put derivative trading in a subsidiary and tax it at a higher rate. If they fail, they fail."

  • AlterNet: How Fraudulent Is the GOP Budget Plan? It Wouldn't Even Make a Dent In the Deficit! A plan being sold to the public as a "serious" attempt to reduce the federal deficit would cut the budget gap by just one-seventh of one percent over the next decade. By Joshua Holland. Excerpts: According to an analysis by the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the plan would slash all public spending other than Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid by almost three-quarters by 2050. And because the "budget does not envision defense cuts in real terms," what this means is that "most of the rest of the federal government outside of health care, Social Security, and defense would cease to exist."

    Rep Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, says his plan would reduce the deficit by $160 billion per year over the next decade, but it actually trims just $15 billion per year over that period – which is next to nothing in the context of budgets that run well over $3 trillion. To put that figure in perspective, it represents less than half of the spending cuts proposed by Barack Obama for next year; the average savings would have reduced this year's deficit by just one measly percent. ...

    Make no mistake, however – while the plan's deficit reduction is largely fantasy, the pain it would impose on working America is very real. Almost two-thirds of the $4.5 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years come from programs that help those with lower incomes. Another big chunk of "savings" doesn't save any money at all – according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the GOP's Medicare privatization scheme would increase the cost of the program by upwards of 40 percent, but it would sharply cut the tab the government picks up, instead shifting the burden onto older people themselves. ...

    You may be wondering how it's possible that a budget which cuts so much public spending barely touches the deficit. The answer is simple. The GOP's plan would not only make the "Bush tax cuts" permanent – CBO says if they don't expire on schedule those cuts will represent the biggest contributor to the deficit going forward – it goes further still, reducing the top marginal tax rate (paid only by multi-millionaires) to its lowest level since the mid 1930s, before the New Deal was established. It would slash the top rate paid by corporations by almost 30 percent, and it would also repeal a small surcharge high earners pay into the Medicare system. As CPBB notes, the tax proposals "place a top priority on cutting taxes for high-income people, while doing nothing to reduce budget deficits, themselves." It's basically a wash, simply redistributing more of the nation's wealth to those at the top of the economic heap.

    Slashing taxes on top earners and corporations can make sense in certain circumstances, but it's nothing short of lunacy in our current situation. That's because, contrary to the popular and long-standing Republican talking-point, we have a revenue problem, not a spending problem. The federal government collected taxes equaling 18.5 percent of our economic activity, on average, ever since World War II. Under Ronald Reagan, it averaged 18.2 percent. But over the past three years, the government took in just under 15 percent, the lowest level since 1950, before Medicare was enacted.

  • AlterNet: With No Middle Class Left, Ad Age Says Top 10% Dominates Purchasing Power. Excerpts: The report,as the below article from "Too Much" magazine notes, is simply "following the money:"
    The Mad Men 1960s America — where average families dominated the consumer market — has totally disappeared, this Ad Age New Wave of Affluence study details. And Madison Avenue has moved on — to where the money sits. And that money does not sit in average American pockets. The global economic recession, Ad Age relates, has thrown "a spotlight on the yawning divide between the richest Americans and everyone else."
    Taking inflation into account, Ad Age goes on to explain, the "incomes of most American workers have remained more or less static since the 1970s," while "the income of the rich (and the very rich) has grown exponentially."
    The top 10 percent of American households, the trade journal adds, now account for nearly half of all consumer spending, and a disproportionate share of that spending comes from the top 10's upper reaches. ...

    The story goes on to note that most Americans aren't aware of this growing inequality and still believe in an ideal that remains "egalitarian," a society in which everyone has a shot at attaining a level of luxury and spending power to respond to those ads. But in reality, statistically speaking, we remain very much locked into our stark class divide.

  • New York Times op-ed: False Choices. By Charles M. Blow. Excerpts: Friday's jobs report was abysmal. The U.S. added 54,000 jobs in May, far fewer than expected, and the unemployment rate ticked up to 9.1 percent. ...

    It is against this backdrop that Republicans have decided to play chicken with the nation's credit — insisting on spending cuts while steadfastly resisting tax increases.

    This is part of the modern doctrine of a compassion-free conservatism that's using the fog of the fiscal crisis to push a program of perverse wealth inequality as sound economic policy: The only way to jump-start the economy is to slash taxes on the wealthy and on companies; the only way to compensate for the deficits that those tax cuts exacerbate is to slash benefits to the poor and vulnerable. It would be comical if it weren't so callous.

    Not only is this faulty logic, it's a false choice. We'll need sensible tax increases and sensible spending cuts to address the deficit, and both can be offset to some degree by stronger economic growth. It's not an either-or proposition.

    And the wealthy can absorb a bit of a shock because they appear to be doing just fine. Quarterly earnings at luxury retailers like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Movado and, yes, Tiffany all beat expectations, signaling that the rich can still splurge on the carats they wear. Meanwhile, working-class people continue to fret over the carrots they eat.

  • New York Times op-ed: Our Fantasy Nation? By Nicholas D. Kristof. Excerpts: With Tea Party conservatives and many Republicans balking at raising the debt ceiling, let me offer them an example of a nation that lives up to their ideals.

    It has among the lowest tax burdens of any major country: fewer than 2 percent of the people pay any taxes. Government is limited, so that burdensome regulations never kill jobs.

    This society embraces traditional religious values and a conservative sensibility. Nobody minds school prayer, same-sex marriage isn't imaginable, and criminals are never coddled.

    The budget priority is a strong military, the nation's most respected institution. When generals decide on a policy for, say, Afghanistan, politicians defer to them. Citizens are deeply patriotic, and nobody burns flags.

    So what is this Republican Eden, this Utopia? Why, it's Pakistan.

    Now obviously Sarah Palin and John Boehner don't intend to turn Washington into Islamabad-on-the-Potomac. And they are right that long-term budget issues do need to be addressed. But when many Republicans insist on "starving the beast" of government, cutting taxes, regulations and social services — slashing everything but the military — well, those are steps toward Pakistan. ...

    I spend a fair amount of time reporting in developing countries, from Congo to Colombia. They're typically characterized by minimal taxes, high levels of inequality, free-wheeling businesses and high military expenditures. Any of that ring a bell?

    In Latin American, African or Asian countries, I sometimes see shiny tanks and fighter aircraft — but schools that have trouble paying teachers. Sound familiar? And the upshot is societies that are quasi-feudal, stratified by social class, held back by a limited sense of common purpose.

    Maybe that's why the growing inequality in America pains me so. The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans already have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent, based on Federal Reserve data. Yet two-thirds of the proposed Republican budget cuts would harm low- and moderate-income families, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. ...

    In fairness to Pakistan and Congo, wealthy people in such countries manage to live surprisingly comfortably. Instead of financing education with taxes, these feudal elites send their children to elite private schools. Instead of financing a reliable police force, they hire bodyguards. Instead of supporting a modern health care system for their nation, they fly to hospitals in London. ...

    I've always made fun of these countries, but now I see echoes of that pattern of privatization of public services in America. Police budgets are being cut, but the wealthy take refuge in gated communities with private security guards. Their children are spared the impact of budget cuts at public schools and state universities because they attend private institutions.

    Mass transit is underfinanced; after all, Mercedes-Benzes and private jets are much more practical, no? And maybe the most striking push for reversal of historical trends is the Republican plan to dismantle Medicare as a universal health care program for the elderly. ...

    So in this season's political debates, let's remember that we're arguing not only over debt ceilings and budgets, but about larger questions of our vision for our country. Do we really aspire to take a step in the direction of a low-tax laissez-faire Eden ...like Pakistan?

  • truthOut: Why Washington Isn't Doing Squat About Jobs and Wages. By Robert Reich. Excerpts: Republicans don't want to do anything about jobs and wages. They're so intent on unseating Obama they'd like the economy to remain in the dumps through Election Day. They also see the lousy economy as an opportunity to sell Americans their big lie that government spending is the culprit — and jobs will return if spending is cut and government shrinks.

    Democrats, meanwhile, don't want to admit the recovery has stalled. They worry such talk will further undermine consumer confidence or spook the bond market. They don't want to head into the election year sounding downbeat. And they don't think they have the votes for anything that will have much effect before Election Day anyway.

    But there's a third reason for Washington's inaction. It's not being talked about — which is itself evidence of the problem.

    The unemployed are politically invisible. They don't make major campaign donations. They don't lobby Congress. There's no National Association of Unemployed People.

    Their ranks are filled with women who had been public employees, single mothers, minorities, young people trying to enter the labor force, and middle-aged men who have been out of work for longer than six months. You couldn't find a collection of people with less political clout. ...

    Older workers who have lost their jobs are at the greatest risk of continued unemployment. Employers assume they aren't as qualified or reliable as those who are younger and have been working more recently. According to research by the Urban Institute, once you're laid off, your chance of finding another job within a year is 36% if you're under the age of 34. But your odds drop the older you get. If you're jobless and in your 50s, your chance of landing another job within the year is only 24%. Over 62, you've got only an 18% chance.

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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