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The 5150 - the machine that would eventually be called, simply, the IBM PC, was developed by what was at that time a little known part of the company, the Entry Systems Division, based in Boca Raton, Florida.
Even pension programs that have not offered lump sums in the past may amend their plans to take advantage of the new rules, says Philip Waldeck, senior vice-president of Pension Risk Management Solutions at Prudential Insurance. “Former employees are a hassle to track,” says Waldeck. Plus, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which protects workers’ benefits when employers declare bankruptcy, is expected to raise the insurance premiums that employers must pay for each plan participant. Paying out a lump sum removes a worker from the plan roster and reduces an employer’s future insurance costs. Plans must be at least 80% funded to offer lump sum payouts.
Standing at the podium, with green light on (ready to turn yellow-time to stop talking), I took a deep breath and yelled at them 'Why can't you protect us?', knowing all along that they had all been bought by politics, big business, and promises of their government pension retirement.
Now, only 20% of companies offer pensions. The rest offer us the new and improved pension plan called the 401k.
They got our money. What little they didn't get is blown away in deleveraging due to economic globalization where all jobs go overseas. Well, not all of them. I have a neighbor that lost his job but did manage to find 3 more to pick up the slack. (do you want fries with that?)
Oh, and I never got an answer to my question. Kathi Cooper
The Republican caucus voted solidly against allowing a vote on the measure, which corporations say would make them less able to compete globally.
If the bill became law, corporations would no longer be able to deduct expenses involved in moving operations overseas. The measure also includes a new tax on items whose manufacture has been moved to other countries from the United States and a two-year suspension of payroll taxes when jobs are returned to the United States.
My preference would be to share the positive and raise one above the rest, rather than trying to bury one beneath the others. I hope you understand what I am saying with this statement.
Selected reader replies follow:
I lived through the highs and lows (1969-2003) of IBM and saw both worlds. As we were enjoying the peak (late 1970s and early 1980s), everyone saw a scary future as technology was getting very cheap and becoming a commodity. I attended a hundred meetings where we agonized over the strategy to deal with this.
At this time IBM made the worst decision in the history of commerce. I do not know who is at fault, but probably most of the senior executives share the blame. IBM paid a tiny firm (Microsoft) to develop the operating system for the new personal computer and paid a small chip firm (Intel) to develop the micro-processor. IBM decided that by putting a piece of plastic around the components and writing the letters "IBM" on the box, we had the biggest value add and would thrive. We did not take proprietary ownership of either the operating system or the microprocessor. We did take 20% of Intel, but sold it shortly thereafter for a tiny fraction of what it eventually became worth. The decision to let Microsoft and Intel own the rights to the developed products was a trillion dollar blunder. Who cared whose name was on the box, as long as the components were a commodity -- as we shortly found out.
Having to deal with that blunder along with no other competent strategy to deal with the "commoditization" of the technology, was the lousy set of cards future CEO's had to deal with. Akers clearly failed and Lou benefitted by a spectacular economy (the dot-com boom of the 1990s). IBM did stabilize but never grew with the industry during Lou's tenure. He wrecked the culture and slashed expenses (along with people) and had great public relations. However, I would not give him great marks. Growing 3% during a period of 8-10% annual growth in the industry is not a hall of fame performance.
Sam has steered the ship well, but has continued to wreck the culture and turned IBM into just "another" company. He is totally focused on quarterly profits and stock prices so Wall Street likes him. Also, not a hall of fame performance. So, once again I vote for "junior" since he "bet the company" on a new technology, had a strategy that was risky but worked and turned a good company into a great company.
He took a Ship over to Europe so that he could be on the first Trans Atlantic flight and get his face and Company name in the Newsreels. He also saw that the clock on the Airport tower said Bulova. He had himself driven to the local branch office and fired the sales manger. He said he could not have someone that stupid working for him, you don;t bid on the Clock, you give them the clock so that the rich and famous who could afford to fly would see IBM when they disembarked.
The World has turned, there is no threats from Unions at the plants, For every person who leaves. there will be 5 wanting to take their place. There is no reason for them to be nice to you anymore. I would find it hard to separate TJW Sr and Jr. They both seem to have the same vision.
On a serious note, Kevin Maney says in "The Maverick and his Machine" that our culture was the true IBM economic engine. I am not sure how much he believes this as he fails to really define that culture, quantify it and capture it. I truly believe, though, it "was" the economic engine, especially in down times when people had to work harder and make sacrifices. (remember that we did make sacrifices - it hasn't always been a bed of roses like folks seem to think today - IBM came close to missing payroll before Gerstner would be my point). Sometimes those sacrifices were across all of IBM, sometimes they were within individual divisions, working on products we believed in and saw succeed because of the late nights, closing deals at 23:50 on December 31st and racing to the office to time stamp it in before midnight (audits were a serious thing) to make the previous years quota and a hundred percent club.
How important were traditions such as the silver spoon, Family Days, wild duck stories, hundred percent clubs, golden circles, etc. in contributing to that economic engine? Which CEO actively encouraged that culture? Did it make a difference to you? Is a corporate culture necessary today? Many younger folks at IBM would say culture today is meaningless and the culture had to "die with the times" along with employee loyalty to stay competitive. True? False?
I definitely have my opinion but interested in the discussion on the same topic - Who was the Greatest IBM CEO and did their recognition of or lack thereof rank them higher or lower on your list?
Also feel free to jump in with your criteria if so inclined. And on a much simpler note - how do you get the "Manager" to highlight this thread as a "Manager's Choice" for discussion. I am really getting tired of the "Lessons Learned" topic - you? Of course, I guess we have a long way to go to compete with 301 comments - but we'll get there. Forty isn't bad for a short period of time and a diverse audience, too. :)
Advice to Senior Management: Change starts at the top--I'm waiting for the fresh change in leadership that will bring back elan and new positive energy to IBM. IBM has lost its glamour and it's only a matter of time before markets and clients will realise that.
Cons: Finance runs the show, which translates into a very penny pinching company. Difficult to purchase even the smallest of items. Recognition budgets can be small and getting approval to travel can be an onerous task. Merit pay increases go to < 50% of the population, and if you do get it, it's likely to be very small. Career advancement can be difficult once you get to the senior levels. Dysfunctional internal job movement process. Job moves generally work better through networking. Employee recognition beyond a manager thank-you is almost nonexistent.
Advice to Senior Management: Stop the penny pinching. It's disappointing and aggravating to see such tight expense controls that lead to too many processes, approvals, and bureaucracy. Employee recognition appears to be continuously scaled back year after year.
This is definitely not to discourage charitable giving, and yes, the automatic deduction is convenient. Please just consider doing so in your name alone, or via any mechanism outside big bad bleu; refuse to allow THEM to claim any credit. I contribute ca$h and time to my church and other causes, but never again a nickel nor a minute to nary a cause via the big bad bleu channel. Likewise, when I volunteer, it's totally independent of any bleu club, retiree club, quarter century club, or big bad bleu itself. Sam will never again receive any credit for my contributions or volunteer efforts.
Please put your entire rccc mailing where you think it belongs, or tell Sam et al to put it where you think it belongs. Bleu is no longer the company that falsely held my loyalty for thirty plus years. It's not even the same company that laid me off in 2005.
Then came the Reagan years and laws that promoted the 401(k), a new financial instrument aimed at helping individuals save for retirement. The 1980s just happened to coincide with a time when the baby boomer generation was starting to think about its golden years. It was a combination of events that infused trillions of dollars in individual and company contributions into the stock market and forever changed how Americans viewed Wall Street. ...
That anxiety is particularly acute among people who are nearing retirement. Many of those people can expect to live 20 years or more, and the market swings have encouraged them to stick it out longer in riskier investments to build up reserves and recoup earlier losses in the market, Boston College's Munnell says. "We have a retirement system where people's individual investments determine what they will have for income to support themselves in the last years of life," she says. "But we live in a crazy world. And the two taken together make for sleepless nights."
The program was created through a provision in the health care reform law that was approved in March 2010. It was aimed at ensuring that workers who are at least 55 and retire before age 65 have health insurance. The program is aimed at helping private and public employers maintain health care coverage for early retirees until key provisions of the new law take effect in January 2014. ...
Consumer advocates counter that workers age 55 to 65 are particularly vulnerable under the current health insurance system. They cite a Kaiser Family Foundation study that shows the percentage of employers providing health insurance for retirees has dropped to 28 percent in 2010 from 66 percent in 1988. "The reinsurance program for early retiree health benefits is a sensible program designed to deal with a real problem," said Paul Van de Water, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive group. ...
Many workers who retire before reaching Medicare eligibility age find it difficult to buy individual insurance for various reasons, including affordability and pre-existing health conditions. Key provisions of the health care law — a ban against denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions and the establishment of state insurance exchanges — would eliminate those factors, but the law doesn't take effect until 2014.
I grew up in a family where my father and both grandfathers worked over 40 years and had company pensions that saw them and their spouses comfortable to the end of their lives.
I started planning when I started with IBM in 1967. Of course, some things don't go according to plan. Several IBM moves that were financial disasters. A divorce. And just when things were really looking up in my retired life -- cancer. The last two years alone my company paid lifetime medical has cost me over $10K/year out of pocket. This year looks to be much worse since one of the drugs I need is not covered by medicare.
For some that is gardening; for some it is monitoring bulletin boards like this and providing great advice; for others it is starting their own business.
Personally, I would love to keep on seeing a 55 retirement age from a "first job." I believe that "retirees" offer a great service to society. They can be the voice in the market place freed from fear of retribution by a business if they speak the truth as they see it. When I see all the talk of raising the "retirement age" I fear for our society that it will stifle the flow of free information and people that speak out against business polices that aren't just hurting the individual employee but the long-term health of the business itself.
We need more men and women that are freed from the "daily bread" fears and speaking out. I guess you could say, "have the moral courage to do so anyway." But to that I would say, "Maybe you haven't been a single parent raising three kids."
Warren Buffett spoke out recently on taxation of the rich. He is freed by his personal wealth - may we have ever more retirees that find that voice to speak out also on finding a balance between being a business that only focuses on the stockholders and a business that finds a balance between sharing profits between shareholders, customers and employees. This is where both Watsons excelled. IBM needs to return to that balance or it will fail to see its bicentennial. We need more "retirees" to speak out for those still in the workforce - may they do so.
Retirement for me is not to stop working but to finally find that financial freedom to work on that which is important to a person. Cheers Pete.
Executives are spinning their mandatory directive such that that employees and customers will benefit from increased peer collaboration and quote, "face to face" time. No one has apparently bothered to observe the fact that most employees typically remain "headphoned" in their cubes and communicate with peers electronically.
At first, business segment managers casually mentioned the mandatory five days in the office directive to their employees hoping for the best or that it would blow over. Then a few weeks later, cube attendance was recorded and reported by means of an informal walk-around (seems a quick analysis of the badge access data would be easier and more accurate). Apparently, the executive committee was not happy with the continued low attendance results.
So, last week the strongest wording on this directive arrived in all managers in-boxes. It stated in clear language that immediately, all employees will physically report to their assigned work locations five days a week, no exceptions. Their spin continues to be a need for increased collaboration. However, some lower lines of management see things differently and are deciding otherwise for both themselves and their employees.
This is one of the first issue we recall where lower line management are being openly defiant toward their executives and caviler with their employees. Many managers have voiced a blatant and public rejection of this mandatory executive directive. Some reportedly used hand gestures. Irregardless of the mandatory work-in-the-office directive, many managers have told employees to continue their work- from-home schedule. Employees were further instructed not to document or post their work location/status where it could be traceable. However, nothing was mentioned about how employees should defeat the badge reader data that many suspect is being scrutinized. Some SWG business segments have cowered to the executives and have enacted the exact mandatory policy as dictated, but they appear to be the minority.
Needless to say, employees (and managers) are less then pleased. It's been interesting and entertaining watching managers interrupt and implement the rules differently. Not sure if this is a reflection of IBM executives losing their power and control or lower management saying enough, we're not going to take it anymore. In any case, it's your leadership in action. Sound familiar? This appropriately appeared Sunday 08/14/11: http://dilbert.com/2011-08-14/
The layoffs came amid rising tensions over a number of issues, including the expanding role of an offshore IT contractor at Molina. The workers raised the concerns with Desai during the meeting.
"I felt they were expecting us to be asking questions about Cobra and unemployment and all that," said Bonita Shok, one of the laid-off IT employees. "Instead, we were being quite confrontational about why they are laying us off and keeping all these H-1B workers."
"I have never experienced a group of employees who were so angry," said a human resources manager who was in the meeting to answer questions from employees about benefits. The HR manager asked not to be identified.
"They felt their work was being offshored -- they were angry at the H-1B employees that were being hired," said the longtime HR industry veteran who had been hired to execute the IT layoffs at Molina, a managed healthcare provider that serves Medicaid and Medicare recipients. "I [had] never felt the backlash that I felt from Molina employees." The employees, who lost their jobs in January 2010, never got answers to their questions about the company's IT outsourcing strategy. ...
While what happened at Molina is still in dispute, job displacement because of offshore outsourcing is a fact of life in today's IT workplace. While there are no government numbers that detail its extent, the broad outlines of the story told by the Molina workers should be familiar to other IT workers. Outsourcing engagements often start when offshore IT services companies bring in workers, typically on H-1B or L-1 visas, to learn a company's IT processes. Then the work is moved overseas. Molina employees contend that's what happened to them. ...
Some meetings became so dominated by Indian workers that the discussions would sometimes shift to an Indian language, which added to a growing sense of isolation among the other Molina IT employees, the workers said. "I've been to several meetings where it started off in English and then one of the Indian directors would start talking in Hindi, and then all the other Indians will start talking in the same language," said a plaintiff who asked to remain anonymous. "And then you would have to say 'hello, hello, we don't understand.'" The HR manager who had been hired to manage the IT layoffs recalled an initial visit to the IT department. "When I walked in the IT department, all I saw were Indians. It was very difficult to find anybody in the immediate environment that was of non-Indian descent." ...
Companies can hire H-1B workers without first trying to hire U.S. workers, unless they are considered "H-1B dependent" -- a status that applies to companies where more than 15% of the people in the workforce hold H-1B visas. Cognizant is in that category, but it doesn't have to prove that it tried to hire U.S. citizens before hiring H-1B visa holders for jobs that pay more than $60,000 and/or require master's degrees. ...
A week after the layoffs at Molina, one of the fired employees said she was told by someone still working there that about 30 H-1B hiring notifications had been posted on a lunchroom bulletin board at the company. The posting indicated that U.S. workers couldn't be found for these positions. It is unclear what company was trying to fill the positions. But this wasn't the first time such notices had appeared, and it reminded this employee of what she had said earlier to someone in HR who was involved in recruitment. "How dare you hire H-1Bs when there are so many unemployed Americans out there that fit the job description better?" the IT worker said.
Being a road warrior may be good for your career, but can be bad for your health. Too many restaurant meals, lack of sleep, inadequate exercise and the stress of the hectic schedule can harm the body beyond just putting on pounds, a review of multiple studies on road warriors has found. A study by the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in April found that people who traveled most frequently for work were more prone to obesity than their counterparts who traveled more moderately.
Based on the medical records of more than 13,000 workers, the odds of being obese were 92% higher for people traveling more than 21 days a month and 18% higher for people traveling between 14 and 20 days a month than their counterparts who travel between one and six days. ...
Any job comes with its share of stress, but the constant strain of feeling rushed, overwhelmed and under pressure can affect the whole body. Headaches, mood swings and muscle tightness are common symptoms of overload. Excessive stress can also interrupt how the body functions, causing gastrointestinal problems, an irregular heartbeat and sleep issues. Indeed, a survey conducted for Westin Hotels & Resorts of 505 business travelers found that 55% of frequent business travelers experienced sleep deprivation, and 22% experienced sleep disruption or insomnia. Road warriors who frequently cross time zones, schedule early-morning flights and entertain late in the evening are all likely to find themselves tossing and turning.
"I want to give them less," he said, "and make them think it's more."
The Human Resources executives in the room turned pale. As brilliant as this CEO was, he didn't know what they had learned from experience: When you give people less, they always know it. ...
"You pay into Social Security," said the President. "They call it an entitlement, but it's not an entitlement, you're paying for it. It's getting taken out of your paycheck." A minute later he said this: "Social Security is not the cause of our debt and our deficit--so don't let folks fool ya, by saying that in order to get a handle on our debt, we've gotta--we've gotta slash Social Security." So far, so good. But he also repeated a misconception that's been promoted by the anti-tax crowd, when he said "it is true that as the population gets older, there's going to be more and more pressure on the Social Security system." And pretty soon he was promoting his idea of a solution:
"The way to do it is similar to the way Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill fixed Social Security back in 1983. They said, Okay, we'll make some modest adjustments that are phased in over a very long period of time. Most folks don't notice 'em."
All Americans should be concerned about their financial future under this kind of plan, and Barack Obama's supporters should be more concerned than anyone. A President who can suggest "folks won't notice"the kinds of cuts he and others have proposed runs the risk of appearing both insensitive and hopelessly out of touch with the concerns and fears of average Americans. Cost of living adjustments (COLA) are already too low to keep pace with living costs for seniors and people with disabilities, and the White House has expressed support for a new formula that would reduce these increases and cut benefits more with each passing year. This change would result in $121 billion less in benefit payments like Social Security, disability insurance, and other programs with COLAs during the first ten years alone.
They're also flying in style. Travelers who expensed in-flight services spent an average $49, with alcohol, meals, Wi-Fi service and seat-back entertainment the most likely purchases. (Improved seating, upgrades, baggage fees and airport clubs are counted separately.) ...
New York generates the most travel and entertainment expense reports—and is also the most expensive. The average hotel-room rate in New York was $198, well ahead of No. 2 Washington, D.C., at $173. The average tab when travelers dine alone in New York was $68. That's still cheaper than Copenhagen, which at $82 per meal is the most expensive city in the world for business dining—higher than Paris, Tokyo, New York and Sydney. ...
Travelers don't skimp much on meals, at least according to their expense accounts. They spent, on average, $39 for a meal when eating alone. Of course, at upscale hotels, room service for breakfast, lunch or dinner can easily run $40. Meals in San Francisco, Miami, New Orleans all averaged more than $45 apiece on expense accounts, Concur said. ...
Concur's airline-fee data, still not fully developed, shows that in the second quarter, the average entry for baggage fees was about $29 and the average upgrade was about $66, Mr. Hilton says. When employees put in for reimbursement for airport clubs, the average fee was $145, reflecting a mix of $400 annual memberships and $50 day passes.
Editor's note: The Wall Street Journal must not have surveyed IBM business travelers who have meal limits typically $32 to $42 per day (not per meal!), who never stay in "upscale" hotels, are never reimbursed for things like seat upgrades or airport clubs, and in fact, generally pay for their own broadband and cell phone service.
The issue is now headed for the Supreme Court (another appellate court has upheld the law's constitutionality) where the prognosis isn't good. The Court's Republican-appointed majority has not exactly distinguished itself by its progressive views. Chalk up another one for the GOP, outwitting and outflanking the president and the Democrats.
Remember the health-care debate? Congressional Republicans refused to consider a single-payer system that would automatically pool risks. They wouldn't even consider giving people the option of buying into it. The president and the Democrats caved, as they have on almost everything. They came up with a compromise that kept health care in the hands of private insurance companies. ...
Had the president and the Democrats stuck to their guns during the health-care debate and insisted on Medicare for all, or at least a public option, they wouldn't now be facing the possible unraveling of the new health care law. After all, Social Security and Medicare -- the nation's two most popular safety nets -- require every working American to "buy" them. The purchase happens automatically in the form of a deduction from everyone's paychecks. ...
The Republican strategy should now be clear: Privatize anything that might otherwise be a public program financed by tax dollars. Then argue in the courts that any mandatory purchase of it is unconstitutional because it exceeds the government's authority. And rally the public against the requirement. Remember this next time you hear Republican candidates touting Paul Ryan's plan for turning Medicare into vouchers for seniors to buy private health insurance.
"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.
While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.
These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.
Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.
If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot. ...
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.
I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation. ...
The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)
Doing what he does best, Stewart completely destroyed that line of reasoning, pointing out, among other things, that income inequality in the U.S. is worse than in many developing nations. Also: "Raising the income tax rate on the top 2% of earners would generate $700 billion. But taking half of everything the bottom 50% have in this country would do the same." YUP.
But there's so much more in this segment. It's really a fantastic spotlight on the class war that really is being waged -- not against the rich, but against the poor. I urge you to watch the whole thing (in two parts) here:
For more than a year and a half — ever since President Obama chose to make deficits, not jobs, the central focus of the 2010 State of the Union address — we’ve had a public conversation that has been dominated by budget concerns, while almost ignoring unemployment. The supposedly urgent need to reduce deficits has so dominated the discourse that on Monday, in the midst of a market panic, Mr. Obama devoted most of his remarks to the deficit rather than to the clear and present danger of renewed recession.
What made this so bizarre was the fact that markets were signaling, as clearly as anyone could ask, that unemployment rather than deficits is our biggest problem. Bear in mind that deficit hawks have been warning for years that interest rates on U.S. government debt would soar any day now; the threat from the bond market was supposed to be the reason that we must slash the deficit now now now. But that threat keeps not materializing. And, this week, on the heels of a downgrade that was supposed to scare bond investors, those interest rates actually plunged to record lows.
What the market was saying — almost shouting — was, “We’re not worried about the deficit! We’re worried about the weak economy!” For a weak economy means both low interest rates and a lack of business opportunities, which, in turn, means that government bonds become an attractive investment even at very low yields. If the downgrade of U.S. debt had any effect at all, it was to reinforce fears of austerity policies that will make the economy even weaker.
But even before that, macro economists and private sector forecasters were warning that the direction in which the new House Republican majority had pushed the White House and Congress this year — for immediate spending cuts, no further stimulus measures and no tax increases, ever — was wrong for addressing the nation’s two main ills, a weak economy now and projections of unsustainably high federal debt in coming years.
Instead, these critics say, Washington should be focusing on stimulating the economy in the near term to induce people to spend money and create jobs, while settling on a long-term plan for spending cuts and tax increases to take effect only after the economy recovers. ...
Economists disagree about the proper balance between spending cuts and tax increases in reducing a government’s debts. Some studies by both liberal and conservative economists suggest that emphasizing spending cuts is better for long-term growth. But there are few if any precedents for paying down such a large debt solely through spending cuts.
Among those calling for a mix of cuts and revenue are onetime standard-bearers of Republican economic philosophy like Martin Feldstein, an adviser to President Ronald Reagan, and Henry M. Paulson Jr., Treasury secretary to President George W. Bush, underscoring the deepening divide between party establishment figures and the Tea Party-inspired Republicans in Congress and running for the White House.
“I think the U.S. has every chance of having a good year next year, but the politicians are doing their damnedest to prevent it from happening — the Republicans are — and the Democrats to my eternal bafflement have not stood their ground,” Ian C. Shepherdson, chief United States economist for High Frequency Economics, a research firm, said in an interview. ...
S.& P. based its downgrade and its negative outlook for America’s credit rating partly on the assumption that Bush-era tax cuts for high incomes would be extended past their 2012 expiration, “because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues.” S.& P. said it could change its outlook to stable if the tax cuts ended. Yet Republicans insist that taxes will not be on the table for the bipartisan Congressional committee created by the deficit deal. The panel must propose additional savings by Nov. 23 to fulfill the deal’s promise of up to $2.4 trillion in savings over 10 years.
Here is what is peculiar. Many conservative Christians, mostly Protestant but also a number of Catholics, have come to believe and proudly proclaim that the creator of the universe favors free wheeling, deregulated, union busting, minimal taxes especially for wealthy investors, plutocrat-boosting capitalism as the ideal earthly scheme for his human creations. And many of these Christian capitalists are ardent followers of Ayn Rand, who was one of - and many of whose followers are -- the most hard-line anti-Christian atheist/s you can get. Meanwhile many Christians who support the capitalist policies associated with social Darwinistic strenuously denounce Darwin’s evolutionary science because it supposedly leads to, well, social Darwinism!
Meanwhile atheists, secularists and evolutionist are denounced as inventing the egalitarian evils of anti-socially Darwinistic socialism and communism. It’s such a weird stew of incongruities that it sets one’s head spinning. Social researchers like myself ask, how did these internal conflict come about? And why are not liberals and progressives doing the logical thing and taking full advantage of the inconsistencies of right wing libertarianism by loudly exposing the contradictions? ...
In educational terms mainstream press coverage of the issue would be a public service giving the public the information it needs to decide whether or not current conservatism is fatally disingenuous. In a Washington Post column liberal Catholic E. J. Dionne Jr. got things rolling by pointing out that the Rand whose books so many Christian conservatives treat as scripture was a flaming atheist.
The overwhelming majority of the US population is unaware of the vast wealth at hand. An entire generation of unprecedented wealth creation has been concealed from 99 percent of the population for over 35 years. Having never personally experienced this wealth, the average American cannot comprehend what is possible if even a fraction of the money was used for the betterment of society.
Given modern technology and wealth, American citizens should not be living in poverty. The statistics demonstrate that we now live in a neo-feudal society. In comparison to the wealthiest one-tenth of one percent of the population, who are sitting on top of tens of trillions of dollars in wealth, we are essentially propagandized peasants.
The fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans are struggling to get by, while tens of trillions of dollars are consolidated within a small fraction of the population, is a crime against humanity.
Soaring profits and tax cuts translate into jobs, right? Yes!
Just not in America.
Those half-million jobs were created by multinationals cutting 2.4 million jobs in the U.S. while adding 2.9 million offshore. The invisible hand is working overtime these days, grabbing American corporate profits and putting them to work in other economies. Cash—whether from improved operations or tax cuts—continues to flow abroad, adding jobs and pushing up foreign income. Countries like China, Singapore, and India aggressively partner with their companies—and ours—to support further production and jobs for their people. ...
Between 2003 and 2008, U.S. companies more than doubled their employment rolls in China. In the past decade, some 42,000 factories closed in this country. One third of all manufacturing jobs in the U.S. have disappeared. As profit margins get tighter in finance, law, or any number of other sectors, rational economic actors will move money abroad.
Here is the tragedy: by insisting on a small-government, tax-cut-only solution to produce jobs, we are living by an outdated map of the economic world. Indeed, we may be accelerating the job losses as our competitors take advantage of our passivity. Other countries are aggressively planning, developing economic clusters, partnering and creating jobs in new sectors, only too pleased that the U.S. is stuck in the starting blocks. China, for instance, clearly has every intention of leading the world in job creation in the clean-energy sector, pleased that we are a sleeping giant. ...
We do need to lower the corporate tax rate and aggressively close loopholes and credits that aren’t working. But tax cuts can’t be the only tool in America’s economic toolbox. This is a time for carefully crafted incentives that will spur public-private partnerships and create jobs again in America. Laissez faire is not a winning strategy in a global economy where the competitors play a much more muscular game. We need economic and manufacturing policy that puts America on our side, not on the sidelines, in the global race for jobs.
That, it now appears, is exactly how the Securities and Exchange Commission has been treating the Wall Street criminals who cratered the global economy a few years back. For the past two decades, according to a whistle-blower at the SEC who recently came forward to Congress, the agency has been systematically destroying records of its preliminary investigations once they are closed. By whitewashing the files of some of the nation's worst financial criminals, the SEC has kept an entire generation of federal investigators in the dark about past inquiries into insider trading, fraud and market manipulation against companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and AIG. With a few strokes of the keyboard, the evidence gathered during thousands of investigations – "18,000 ... including Madoff," as one high-ranking SEC official put it during a panicked meeting about the destruction – has apparently disappeared forever into the wormhole of history. ...
Much has been made in recent months of the government's glaring failure to police Wall Street; to date, federal and state prosecutors have yet to put a single senior Wall Street executive behind bars for any of the many well-documented crimes related to the financial crisis. Indeed, Flynn's accusations dovetail with a recent series of damaging critiques of the SEC made by reporters, watchdog groups and members of Congress, all of which seem to indicate that top federal regulators spend more time lunching, schmoozing and job-interviewing with Wall Street crooks than they do catching them. As one former SEC staffer describes it, the agency is now filled with so many Wall Street hotshots from oft-investigated banks that it has been "infected with the Goldman mindset from within." ...
It goes without saying that no ordinary law-enforcement agency would willingly destroy its own evidence. In fact, when it comes to garden-variety crooks, more and more police agencies are catching criminals with the aid of large and well-maintained databases. "Street-level law enforcement is increasingly data-driven," says Bill Laufer, a criminology professor at the University of Pennsylvania. "For a host of reasons, though, we are starved for good data on both white-collar and corporate crime. So the idea that we would take the little data we do have and shred it, without a legal requirement to do so, calls for a very creative explanation."
We'll never know what the impact of those destroyed cases might have been; we'll never know if those cases were closed for good reasons or bad. We'll never know exactly who got away with what, because federal regulators have weighted down a huge sack of Wall Street's dirty laundry and dumped it in a lake, never to be seen again.
The dramatic increase in economic inequality and poverty, along with the unprecedented rise in wealth within the top one-tenth of one percent of the population has not happened by mistake. It is the designed result of deliberate governmental and economic policy. It is the result of the richest people in the world, and the “too big to fail” banks, using the campaign finance and lobbying system to buy off politicians who implement policies designed to exploit 99.9 percent of the population for their financial gain. To call what is happening a “financial terrorist attack” on the United States is not using hyperbole; it is the technical term for what is currently occurring. ...
The rich have never been richer, while their paid-off politicians make budget cuts for the poor and middle class, and cause the cost of basic necessities to skyrocket. The unfortunate reality of this crisis is that an economic war has been launched against us.
The students, from Turkey, China, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Romania, Mongolia, Moldova, Poland and Ghana, were hired under the J-1 visa program, which allows foreign university students to work in the United States for two months and then travel. The idea, as Julia Preston reported in The Times, is to let them practice English, make some money and learn what America is like. Chances are that if you have ever encountered young people from abroad working summer jobs at hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions, you’ve met some J-1 students.
What was unusual — and seems clearly against the program’s promise of adventure and cultural enrichment — is that these students found themselves working in an industrial park, packing candy and moving boxes, many on the overnight shift. Though they had each paid from $3,000 to $6,000 to participate in the J-1 program, rent and other fees were deducted from their paychecks. When they tried to organize, they said they were warned to stop complaining or they would be kicked out of the program.
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