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Highlights—October 15, 2011

Retirement Heist:

Throughout the IBM Pension heist, Ellen E. Schultz, a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter with the Wall Street Journal, exposed IBM's and other companies shenanigans that have cost retirees millions and millions of dollars, while enriching corporate executives.

Ms. Schultz has just published a book that every IBMer should read: Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit From the Nest Eggs of American Workers. Many IBMers are aware of the "cash balance heist" of 1999. However, IBM has been stealing money from the pension plan dating back to 1991, well before the Gerstner era.

"Retirement Heist uncovers one of the most significant threats to the American worker of our time. Ellen Schultz's reporting is expansive, smart, and will have you shouting for someone to be held accountable. Anybody who works and is worried about their future should read this book." -Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute and author of Can They Do That? Retaking Our Fundamental Rights in the Workplace. Read more...

  • AARP Bulletin: Ellen Schultz Reveals How Companies Profit From Employee Pensions. 'Retirement Heist' is eye-opening for American workers. By Julia M. Klein. Excerpts: We've all heard complaints about spiraling health care costs, aging boomers and stressed corporate bottom lines — the justifications for freezing pensions, reducing health care benefits and moving from defined-benefit to defined-contribution plans like 401(k)s. Guiding us through complex thickets of law, finance and corporate skulduggery, Schultz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Wall Street Journal, illuminates the facts behind the rhetoric.

    Retirement Heist reports that, far from crippling companies, many pension funds have helped enrich them. The greatest outlay, Schultz writes, has been for executive pensions and deferred-compensation packages that have spiraled in cost, at the expense of more modest retirement benefits for ordinary workers. More troubling still, she examines how companies have deceived workers about new accounting methods that cut pensions — and how companies skirted the law by secretly purchasing tax-advantaged life insurance policies on even low-level employees. ...

    Q. In the 1990s, many pension plans were overfunded. What happened to all those surpluses? A. Companies siphoned billions of dollars from their pension plans. They commonly paid severance benefits from the pension plan, which saved cash. This was a way for executives to shed a large portion of their older workforce. They also used pension assets to pay for retirees' health benefits, which helped lure people into retirement. ...

    Q. How have executive pensions and deferred-compensation plans contributed to the overall problem? A. As executive pay became tied to stock performance, executives who cut pensions and retiree health care were actually doing themselves a favor. As they were cutting regular pensions, they were boosting executive pensions. Often what appeared to be an increase in pension expense was because of the executives, not the regular folks. ...

    Q. Defined-contribution plans, such as 401(k)s, seem to be replacing defined-benefit plans. What are the pitfalls of this trend? A. The problem is that almost nobody can possibly save enough to retire on, even if they're diligent and save steadily throughout their career. There are so many risks: investment risk, high fees, participant risk. People very often can't afford to put in a large percentage of their pay.

  • Columbia (Missouri) Daily Tribune: IBM has hired at least 160 employees. By Jacob Barker. Excerpts: Nearly 18 months after IBM promised that by the end of 2012 it would employ 800 people in its Columbia service delivery center, the company has at least 160 people working there. Documents filed with the Missouri Department of Economic Development show that as of June 17, IBM had 163 employees in Columbia with a total payroll of $10.22 million. Salaries range from $29,000 to $175,000, though most are in the $40,000 to $80,000 range. The average salary is $62,712, according to the filing.

    As part of the package that sealed the deal for IBM’s Columbia venture, the state of Missouri offered the company more than $28 million in job training incentives and tax credits. Although the company refuses to disclose the number of employees it has in specific locations, the state incentives are tied to job-creation thresholds and the company must prove it is complying. ...

    A January 2010 letter from former Missouri Partnership vice president Kim Young to DED says: “The company will be creating 800 jobs in three years. However, only 600 of those jobs will be IBM employees. The other 200 will be sub-contractors.” The correspondence says the company planned to bring on 200 people each year from 2010 to 2012.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • IBM Associate Partner - GBS in New York, NY: (Past Employee - 2011) “Overworked, under supported and underpaid. GBS partners create a political minefield and arbitrary constraints.” Pros: have access to huge amount of resources. Cons: navigating the myriad of resources
    • IBM Senior Managing Consultant: (Past Employee - 2009) “Best High Performance Culture.” Pros: Smart and friendly people, delivering great results. No idea is a bad idea. Motto was: 'great, take it and run with it!'. Culture of innovation. Fantastic if one is self-motivated, self-directed. Cons: Lack of work/life balance. Senior management consistently worked weekends, which pressured the supporting team environment to follow suit. Tough to stay on project delivery schedule when the rest of your team in EMEA is on holiday for 6 weeks. Advice to Senior Management: Compensate for global and cultural work differences and scheduling. Be reasonable and respectful of other cultural norms which impact productivity from a scheduling perspective.
    • IBM Team Leader in Bangalore (India): (Past Employee - 2011) “Not Good.” Pros: - People in non-voice jobs have a little peace in their lives. - the food court offers average-rated food. - You get your final settlement on time after quitting. Cons: - U r lucky if u live close-by to the office coz there are perpetual cab-driver strikes. - Everyday is fire-fighting as soon as you reach work. Chaos is IBM's signature style. - The HR is very deceptive about your salary break-up. - Peers will do anything to deprive you of help and put you down. - There's not much time you can afford to spend with your team coz of loads of redundant paper-work. - Their technology, systems, applications & procedures are all complex (like working around your head just to touch your nose). - No decision-making powers or feeling of ownership. - Unrealistic expectations and deadlines. No exceptions will be made unless you boot-lick. Advice to Senior Management: Treat us like humans. It'll help you reduce attrition. Running the business is not a 1-way transaction. Employees will work overtime only when you pay them for it as promised.
    • IBM Software Engineer in Bangalore (India): (Past Employee - 2010) “Not all that Great place as people Outside would normally think!!!” Pros: 1) Good work life balance. 2) Flexible timings. 3) Get to work with new technology. Cons: 1) Too much of bureaucracy. 2) Bad pay package. 3) Middle and senior level management not all that cooperative. 4) Growth is stagnated with the technology that you begin to work with...not much of lateral movements happens although you get all the false hopes from the managements about the same. Advice to Senior Management: Understand that people come to work not because of the name of the company but because of the work culture and environment...so try to cut down on the beauraucracy...ofcoz if Possible!!!!!
    • IBM Sales: (Current Employee) “The Worst!” Pros: 1) The name, IBM is known & mostly respected. 2) Virtual office. 3) Training is provided. Cons: 1) Too much micro management. The FSL's, first line sales mgr. are terrible! All they care about is themselves and CYA to their mgmt., keeping their job. 2) Mgmt is not there to help you. They only care about keeping their job. 3) Managers are not very bright. They hire managers they can control, keep in line and not question any order that comes down from above. 4) All IT support is from India and it's horrible! 5) Laptop issues every week or month. Poor quality laptops are provided. 6) Too process oriented. Every manager does the exact same thing each week with his team. No creativity is allowed. Follow the process is the manta!!!!!!!! 7) Extremely stressful environment. Advice to Senior Management: Hire managers who are able and have the backing to help you succeed. Allow for individuals and creativity in the sales process. Get real. The quotas and expectations do not align with the accounts and reality of what we're expected to achieve.
    • IBM Senior Manager in Ottawa, ON (Canada): (Current Employee) “Used to be great.” Pros: - Generally secure job. - Surrounded by great people. Cons: - No career growth. - Little work recognition. - Very poor morale. Advice to Senior Management: There are definitely some leadership issues with management. It might be time for IBM's senior management team to start replacing some of the people running the internal software organization
    • IBM Anonymous: (Current Employee) “great place for technical professionals.” Pros: lots of opportunities and challenges. Cons: the way profits are (not) shared with employees are demoralizing. Advice to Senior Management: show me how i can benefit from the sky-rocketing stock price!
    • IBM Anonymous in Bangalore (India): (Past Employee - 2010) “Senior Management was incompetent, had no vision, no clue about leadership and no transparency in decision making.” Pros: Opportunity to work closely with line of business, option to work from home, a known brand in the marketplace. Cons: Lack of competent senior leadership, lack of transparency in decision making and information sharing, highly bureaucratic procedures with no accountability for operations and support functions, non-functioning HR, no focus on retaining key people in the organization with a well defined career path. Advice to Senior Management: Hire competent people at leadership levels in operations and HR, invest in systems and processes so that the organization is meritocratic, ensure opportunities to work in other divisions of IBM are available, ensure policies and benefits that are prevalent in IBM are applicable to Global Business Processes
    • IBM Senior Managing Consultant: (Current Employee) “Awesome people, horrible bureaucracy.” Pros: Excellent brand recognition. Cool to be a part of such a diverse company. Global opportunities. Lots of knowledge sharing. Get to work with lots of great companies. Cons: Too much travel. Too much paperwork. Too much micromanagement (Jumping over dollars to pick up nickels). Take all you have to give and ask more. Advice to Senior Management: Re-focus on "Attracting and keeping top talent". Loosing too many good people and not enough high talent coming in to replace.
    • IBM Software Engineer in Bangalore (India): (Past Employee - 2011) “Nope, don't join here unless you are above band 8.” Pros: Good pay, flexible work hours. Lots of scope to do alternate work and pursue interest but it comes at a really high cost of sacrificing all your time.

      Cons: Management keen on just results and not quality of work. Support stretch assignments in your area of interest but that is only so that company gets free work out of you during your spare time. Does not help you move to your role of interest. Hectic schedule, needing nearly 65 hrs of work every week, throughout the year.

      Advice to Senior Management: Transparent dealing and communication with employees. Work allocation should be based on skills and not random opinions and openings. First 3 months when a college graduate joins the company are very important, so you should try not to waste the first 3 months of your employees by not assigning teams and making people lose interest in working for your organisation. I know nearly 15 people (of 37) who quit IBM in less than 6 months due to this fact alone.

    • IBM Business Systems Analyst in Atlanta, GA: (Current Employee) “Leading jobs outsourcing company.” Pros: A wealth of opportunity to learn new technologies. Able to telecommute, good benefits. Cons: Not a company to join if you are looking for a long term career in the US. Advice to Senior Management: American employees are more hard working, loyal, intelligent than most of the countries that you are outsourcing our jobs to.
    • IBM IT Project Manager in Wroclaw (Poland): (Current Employee) “No Respect for Employees.” Pros: - work from home option. - no micromanaging. - peers are OK. - good localization. - first line manager is OK. Cons: - problems with office infrastructure. - uncomfortable and insufficient hardware (no separate screen, too small mouse), - no respect and cooperation with employees. - unclear promotion policy and process. - very low corporate social responsibility. - senior managers practice stone-age management style. Advice to Senior Management: Respect your people. Be realistic about the job market in Wroclaw - there are other employees, not only IBM. Deliver on your commitments.
    • IBM Anonymous in Littleton, MA: (Current Employee) “Good and interesting, nice place to work.” Pros: Good work life balance. Big name. Stable blue chip company. Cons: Poor compensation. Poor promotion opportunities. Stratified work culture. Advice to Senior Management: Improve job satisfaction Improve employee morale
  • Alliance for Retired Americans: Tell the Deficit Super Committee: Don't cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits! Excerpts: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are in danger. Ironically, the threat is coming from the people we elected to help keep our country on track. A new Super Committee in Washington is looking for $1.5 trillion in budget cuts by Thanksgiving. Twelve members of Congress from the House and Senate have the ability to force both chambers of Congress to a vote on a deficit reduction bill that can neither be amended nor filibustered.

    Many members of this new bipartisan Super Committee have targeted Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in the past and have it in their sights once again. It appears they think it's better to let seniors fall into poverty, or deny needed health care to the poor and elderly, than to raise taxes on people who can comfortably afford to pay more. ...

    It's time to put the pressure on the Super Committee. Tell the members of the Super Committee not to cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits!

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Looking for some figures" by "BRICemSaysSam". Full excerpt: Does anyone have, or know where, or how to find a list of average or median salaries for USA IBMers who are NOT at the executive level? I'd like to get this for at least the period of Gerstner/Palmisano. If you know of the same information for any other Fortune 500's, I'd really love to have that as well.

    I'm trying to put up the good fight on Facebook, in support of the Occupy Wall Street folks, and I'm responding to some conservatives who just don't want to see the truth in front of their eyes. Thanks.

  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Looking for some figures" by "alwaysontheroad4bigblue". Full excerpt: Try http://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/IBM-Salaries-E354.htm
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Looking for some figures" by "workforlife". Full excerpt: doubt you will find any 'official' numbers. Try Glassdoor. You will find conservatives, liberals and middle of the roaders here. I do not think a 150 grand a year engineer really cares about the Occupy Wall Street people. Now a 35 grand a year operator may follow the protest but they sure do not stand up for themselves within the walls of big blue.
  • Yahoo! IBM Employee Issues message board: "Re: Looking for some figures" by "Paul S". Full excerpt: I think even a well-paid engineer might well care about Occupy Wall St. Especially if that engineer gets threatened with 3 appraisals and sees excellent people R/A'd just because they were the "quiet" types while project managers with little formal training seem to skate by. I know that first-line managers and non-VP level people have been screwed too but there is something sick in the IBM culture that values what I used to call "foil-flippers" over those who had years of college and training to become technical.

    But it all comes down from Armonk. The barbarians are no longer at the gate, they're completely in charge. They are crowing about the site VP of Poughkeepsie taking a job in STG development in China. The IBM Mainframe, decades of US-heritage, it's software developed in the 3rd world for pennies on the dollar. And worse, the greying of the site is a clear signal that Armonk has no intention of replacing us with a new generation. Just a few young faces here and there. And the lie that China will be "augmenting" the US mainframe development effort, not replacing it.

    Yes a few engineers pride themselves on being so good that they think they can never lose their job. But surely they might have children nearing adulthood who face a grim career prospects for their future. There are many young I/T architects and software engineers who are scouring the country for jobs. Maybe they'll be "lucky" and get one of those $44K a year jobs in Dubuque. At that rate they won't pay off student loans till middle-age. Sigh. If all non-executive IBMers don't GET IT by now, they are a lost cause.

  • LinkedIn's Greater IBM Connection: IBM Canada DB Pension Funding Relief Statement Sept 12, 2011 Did you get your letter? Selected comments follow:
    • Are there other Canadian Retirees or IBMers eligible for a Defined Benefit plan who are concerned about a recent mailing you should have received titled IBM Canada Pension Funding Relief Statement dated Sept 12, 2011. If you are Canadian and either collecting or entitled to collect a defined benefit pension, you should have received a letter about the pension funding shortfall.

      If you didn't' receive a letter, or if you want to see other IBM Canada DB retirees reaction to the letter, go to the Rewind site at http://www.bigblueretirees.com/ for more information. It is the IBM Canada retiree site.

      If you want to object to the company's plan to extend the repayment of the shortfall, you need to mail in the form you received, anonymously...i.e. don't put your name on it and don't put a return address on the envelope, or it won't count. But you MUST send in the form if you want to object to the IBM plan.

      The objection must be received by Towers Watson by October 28, 2011. Towers Watson must receive these forms from at least 1/3 of the Plan members; otherwise IBM Canada will implement a 10 year deficit funding plan.

      If you moved since you retired, IBM may not have your new address, the letter they sent won't reach you and IBM will assume that you have agreed to their plan to prolong making the pension plan whole for 10 years! So it is up to you to be proactive.

      Note this note only applies to IBM Canada pensioners and those current employees who are vested and only to Defined Benefit plans.

    • Adele Berenstein: The IBM Canada Retirees group called Rewind is trying to assess who has and who has not received their letter dated Sept 12, 2011 regarding IBM Canada DB Pension Funding Relief. Here's what they are asking IBM Canada Retirees on the DB plan (or still working for IBM Canada but eligible to do.

      Please send a email prior to Tuesday, October 18th to email address at letter@bigblueretirees.com. In your reply, please include the following:

      • As a DB IBM'er I did or did not receive the above letter
      • If not received then please advise us
      • I didn't receive and contacted Morneau Shepell (416) 445-8899 X3328 (or IBM) and asked for a ballot?
      • I made the request on DATE
      • I haven't receive my ballot or I received my ballot on DATE.

      Note: You are not being asked for your position (agree or object to the IBM Canada proposal) The only issue they are trying to address is whether or not you received your letter. So if you are in the IBM Canada DB pension plan or still working but eligible, please help out by sending in your email. Note this is for IBMers from IBM Canada only!

  • Americans for Secure Retirement: Findings From National Voter Survey:Americans Anxious About Retirement Security (PDF).
  • Houston Chronicle: Online calculator maximizes your Social Security benefits. By Scott Burns. Excerpts: Would you be interested if I said there was a way to increase the value of your Social Security benefits by 15 or 20 percent? Then listen up. You've always known the decision about when, and how, to take Social Security benefits isn't easy. But Larry Kotlikoff can tell you just how complicated it is. If his name looks familiar, it should be. The Boston University economics professor is often mentioned in my columns because I like his research, and we've written three books together.

    "It seems simple, but it's really a lot of choices," he said. "Think about it this way: Each person in a couple gets to choose when to take spousal and retirement benefits. That's two benefits times two people. But they can, in theory, choose to take each of the four benefits in any of nine years. So you have 4 to the 9th power, or 262,444 potential choices. Social Security's incredibly obscure provisions restrict these choices dramatically, but there are still a huge number to consider and, therefore, a huge number of ways you can choose the wrong dates at which to take benefits, i.e., leave money on the table." The question, of course, is how much money. The answer: a lot.

  • US News & World Report: Why Women Should Think Differently About Retirement. Longer life spans, lower income, and greater healthcare costs are all factors women must plan for. By Rachel Koning Beals. Excerpts: The study examined the thinking and practices of mature women, ages 50 to 70, in the context of the "extra" challenges they may experience in retirement. According to the report, women expect to live until age 85, some until age 90, and are more concerned than men about affording healthcare, long-term care, and outliving their assets. Yet slightly more than half of the women surveyed know the likely amount of their retirement income/assets, and only 44 percent have calculated the amount of their essential expenses. ...

    This year, AARP launched its campaign "Decide. Create. Share." It is designed specifically for women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s to take charge of their long-term needs and desires. The program, including resources and real-life testimonies on AARP's website, covers several areas: One example is of a mother who opted to adopt in her 40s; she's worried about the financial strain of her care on a son that will likely have his immediate family's expenses to contend with as she reaches her golden years.

  • Employee Benefits News: Best practices from 4 of Fortune’s Best Places to Work. HR leaders from four of Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work share their tips and strategies on how to foster a productive and happy workforce. Representatives from KPMG, Intel, W. Baird & Co, and Microsoft discussed their company’s best practices for work life balance, leveraging social media and corporate transparency.
  • When Fridays Were Fridays: Rajaratnam’s Sentence Brings Closure to the Galleon Scandal. By Colette. Excerpts: Raj Rajaratnam, who was convicted last May on charges of securities fraud and conspiracy, was sentenced on Thursday to 11 years in prison and a fine of $10 million dollars. Rajaratnam led what has been described as the largest insider trading ring ever, building a network of high-ranking experts in key technology and consulting firms. It is estimated that he gained about $64 million from his actions.

    With a motive that appears to have been pure greed, Rajaratnam used personal relationships to broaden his web. Many of his co-conspirators have been convicted and are serving or have served jail sentences. Danielle Chiesi, the femme fatale who excelled at luring secrets from her companions was sentenced to 30 months. Bob Moffat, formerly of IBM, was sentenced to six months in prison.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
Minimize
  • The Alliance@IBM is considering an organizing campaign at IBM's delivery centers. We are beginning to get support from workers in the GDF's at Dubuque IA, Lansing MI, Fishkill NY, Boulder CO and Columbia MO. Although it is in the initial stages, we are hopeful that we can develop a network of concerned GDF workers and Alliance chapters at those locations. The ultimate goal of course is union recognition and a contract.

    But we need your help. As many of you know, the Alliance struggles to stay afloat. Our dues paying membership at 200 members is not sufficient to have an aggressive organizing campaign. That needs to change. A victory at IBM's delivery centers can have positive effects for all IBMers.

    So while you have heard this pitch before, we are once again asking you to help support the Alliance by becoming a full member at only $10 a month, or an associate member at $5 a month. There has been concern that IBM would know who you are if you join. The Alliance membership is confidential. IBM will not know if you are a member unless you tell them. The link to join is here: https://afl.salsalabs.com/o/4004/donate_page/alliance-join, Or you can go to our web site at: www.allianceibm.org There is also a paypal donate link on this web page.

    To those that are members and associate members your financial support is greatly appreciated. If you work at a GDF and want to be part of the network, contact us at ibmunionalliance@gmail.com The following is an email being sent to IBM GDF employees:

    Join the IBM GDF Worker Network at: http://www.endicottalliance.org/allianceibmglobaldelivery.htm.
    Did you know that Dubuque IBM GDF employees are paid an average of $20,000 LESS per year than GDF workers in Fishkill? Are you concerned about working conditions at your delivery center?
    Working hard and did not get a pay raise July 1st as IBM makes billions in profit? Wages in the new GDF's are much lower than other locations. GDF workers in Boulder got a 15% pay cut. Your concerns are not addressed by management. If you were "selected" to move to a GDF your choice was move or quit. IBM did not pay moving expenses. Transfers are being blocked by management. Band levels are lower. Verbal promises made by IBM become promises broken Don't you think it is time to join with your co-workers at all the GDF's to improve working conditions and wages? Isn't it time you were treated as a professional?
    Well that time is now! Make your voice heard!
    Based on information and concerns from GDF workers, the Alliance@IBM CWA Local 1701 is starting a campaign to organize GDF workers, including contractors. To do this the involvement of IBM GDF workers in the Alliance needs to increase and information gathered.
    If you work at one of IBM's GDF's in the US please contact the Alliance at: ibmunionalliance@gmail.com. Information we need from you: Name and contact info. GDF location. Job title. Employee or contractor Information will be held in confidence.
    Help build a better future for GDF workers!
    Statement of Principles: Alliance@IBM/CWA Local 1701 is an IBM employee organization that is dedicated to preserving and improving our rights and benefits at IBM. We also strive towards restoring management's respect for the individual and the value we bring to the company as employees. Our mission is to make our voice heard with IBM management, shareholders, government and the media. While our ultimate goal is collective bargaining rights with IBM, we will build our union now and challenge IBM on the many issues facing employees from off-shoring and job security to working conditions and company policy. -Alliance-
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 10/09/11: During Q3 contractors were required to take 5-day unpaid furlough and most were unable to collect any OT payments. This is now being repeated in Q4. Also, If anyone has news of RAs in IGS-ITD please post... -Anon-
    • Comment 10/08/11: IBM Outsourcing Services will be closing end of year. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 10/11/11: @Anonymous - IBM Outsourcing Services will be closing end of year --- Don't kid yourself, the plan is in place already and it is called the road map to 2015 as the RA's will intensify. -Plan-In-Place-and-Action-
    • Comment 10/11/11: -Plan-In-Place-and-Action- You sure hit that out of the park. IBM has had a plan in place since 1999. They are executing year after year to perfection as you can see by measuring executive bonus payouts. Some IBM employees tried to counter the plan with a plan of their own called the Alliance@IBM. Sadly so far not enough of the cannon fodder getting chewed up by IBM's plans have realized they are in a no win scenario unless they join the Alliance. Rest assured that nothing else will even slow down the IBM juggernaut. Winning to me is getting what you need and most of what you want from your employment and creating a workplace you would be happy to see your children and grandchildren working in. -Exodus2007-
    • Comment 10/12/11: S&D layoffs coming confirmed by my manager. -soon to be ex-ibmer-
    • Comment 10/13/11: There is no downside to joining the alliance. I'm glad we have some members who are highly visible, and good organizers, but I can state without a doubt that if you want to remain anonymous, you can certainly do that. I was worried about being targeted by management, but joined anyway because they have been offshoring my group so I had nothing to lose. Two years later I'm still anonymous. It's completely confidential, and now I have proof. Join up, folks. Now's the time. (And remember...never access the alliance website from your work laptop.) -Anon-
    • Comment 10/13/11: I've seen the protesters on Wall Street on the news and I know how they feel. I wish I could be there with them. They are sick and tired of fat cat greedy CEO's like Sammy ripping us off. GREED GREED GREED. It's all about GREED. All Sammy is interested in is his personal wealth and pleasing the stockholders. Expect more job cuts as Sammy continues to lay off valuable employees to make the financial quarter look good for Wall Street. -Wall Street Protester-
    • Comment 10/13/11: -Wall Street Protester- But are you here with us? You don't have to wish ,just join! Be a dues paying monthly member and actually fight back. Fight the battle on your own home front, IBM, before you try to take on all of corporate America. A victory in organising IBM will have more impact on corporate America then a hundred " Occupy" protests. Force Wall Street to the table by organising and voting union yes and you will counter that corporate greed. Camping in the park thinking your going to make a difference to a CEO who isn't even there is a waste of your time and manpower. Get involved with the union efforts and really make a difference. Just my 2 cents worth. -Exodus2007-
    • Comment 10/13/11: I too agree with the protestors on Wall Street. Sammy is all about GREED. Being RA'd by IBM, Sammy will have another 4th qtr. RA action so he can make his numbers by the end of the year. This will cause SAMMY to receive another large bonus and stock options at the end of the year. SAMMY does not give a rats a** about IBM US employees. Join the union -ANA-
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.

  • Wall Street Journal: Buffett Builds His Tax-the-Rich Case. By Laura Sanders and Siobhan Hughes. Excerpts: Warren Buffett is one tax-efficient billionaire. According to a letter Mr. Buffett sent to a Republican congressman on Tuesday, the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman and chief executive disclosed that he made almost $63 million last year, yet paid less than $7 million in federal income tax.

    Mr. Buffett long has urged lawmakers to raise income-tax rates on the wealthiest, arguing that his secretary paid a higher effective rate than he did last year. President Obama embraced the concept, and went along with Senate Democrats' proposal for a 5.6% surtax on those making $1 million a year or more.

    Mr. Buffett's adjusted gross income was $62,855,038 in 2010, according to the letter, while his taxable income was $39,814,784. He said he paid $15,300 in payroll tax, and $6,923,494 in federal income tax. That made for an effective tax rate of 17.4%.

    According to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan group, the average tax rate for taxpayers in the middle quintile—those earning between $34,000 and $60,000 a year—is 12%, including payroll and income taxes. Those earning from $103,000 to $163,000--the top 80% to 90% of earners—pay 18.2%. Those earning from $163,000 to $211,000 pay 19.8%, and those earning from $211,000 to $533,000 pay 20.4%. ...

    "Most of Mr. Buffett's income appears to be either long-term capital gain or qualifying dividend income," said Robert Gordon, president of Twenty-First Securities in New York, a tax strategy brokerage firm. The top rate on both forms of income is only 15%. ...

    Republicans have been fighting a Democratic proposal to pay for President Obama's $447 billion jobs bill by imposing higher taxes on the wealthy. After Mr. Obama unveiled his plan to tax millionaires more, it became known as the "Buffett Rule," in a nod to Mr. Buffett's claims in an op-ed article that he paid taxes at a lower rate than people who worked for him.

  • New York Times: In Private, Wall St. Bankers Dismiss Protesters as Unsophisticated. By Nelson D. Schwartz and Eric Dash. Excerpts: Publicly, bankers say they understand the anger at Wall Street — but believe they are misunderstood by the protesters camped on their doorstep. But when they speak privately, it is often a different story. “Most people view it as a ragtag group looking for sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,” said one top hedge fund manager.

    “It’s not a middle-class uprising,” adds another veteran bank executive. “It’s fringe groups. It’s people who have the time to do this.”

    As the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations have grown and spread to other cities, an open question is: Do the bankers get it? Their different worldview speaks volumes about the wide chasms that have opened over who is to blame for the continuing economic malaise and what is best for the country. ...

    “Wall Street continues to underestimate the degree of anger among citizens and voters,” said Douglas J. Elliott, a former investment banker who is now a fellow at the Brookings Institution. For the most part, bankers say that they see the protests as a reaction to the high unemployment and slow growth that has plagued the American economy since the recession and the financial crisis of 2008. Despite all the placards and chants plainly indicating otherwise, some bankers suggest that deep down, the protesters are not really all that mad at them.

  • New York Times editorial: Britain’s Self-Inflicted Misery. Excerpts: For a year now, Britain’s economy has been stuck in a vicious cycle of low growth, high unemployment and fiscal austerity. But unlike Greece, which has been forced into induced recession by misguided European Union creditors, Britain has inflicted this harmful quack cure on itself. Austerity was a deliberate ideological choice by Prime Minister David Cameron’s ruling coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, elected 17 months ago. It has failed and can be expected to keep failing. But neither party is yet prepared to acknowledge that reality and change course. ...

    New figures released this week reported Britain’s highest jobless numbers in more than 15 years. Independent analysts expect unemployment — now 8.1 percent — to keep rising in the months ahead. The government has kept its promise to slash public-sector jobs — more than 100,000 have been lost in recent months. But its deficit-reduction policies have failed to revive the business confidence that was supposed to spur private-sector hiring.

    Drastic public spending cuts were the wrong deficit-reduction strategy for the weakened British economy a year ago. And they are the wrong strategy for the faltering American economy today. Britain’s unhappy experience is further evidence that radical reductions in federal spending will do little but stifle economic recovery.

    A few years of robust growth would go far toward making swollen federal deficits more manageable. But slashing government spending in an already stalled economy weakens anemic demand, leading to lost output and lost tax revenues. As revenues fall, deficit reduction requires longer, deeper spending cuts. Cut too far, too fast, and the result is not a balanced budget but a lost decade of no growth. That could now happen in Britain. And if the Republicans have their way, it could also happen here.

    Austerity is a political ideology masquerading as an economic policy. It rests on a myth, impervious to facts, that portrays all government spending as wasteful and harmful, and unnecessary to the recovery. The real world is a lot more complicated. America has no need to repeat Mr. Cameron’s failed experiment.

  • New Deal 2.0: Who are the 1% and What Do They Do for a Living? By Mike Konczal. Excerpts: Inequality has fractals. Let’s go into the top 0.1% — what do they look like? Here’s the chart of the occupations of the top 0.1%, including capital gains: ... It boils down to managers, executives, and people who work in finance. From the paper: “[o]ur findings suggest that the incomes of executives, managers, supervisors, and financial professionals can account for 60 percent of the increase in the share of national income going to the top percentile of the income distribution between 1979 and 2005.”

    For fun, there are more than twice as many people listed as “Not working or deceased” than are in “arts, media, sports.” For every elite sports player who earned a place at the top of the income pyramid due to technology changes and superstar, tournament-style labor markets that broadcast him across the globe, there are two trust fund babies. ...

    This is related to a process of financialization, something JW Mason has done a fantastic job outlining here. The “dominant ethos among managers today is that a business exists only to enrich its shareholders, including, of course, senior managers themselves,” and this is done by paying out more in dividends that is earned in profits. Think of it as our-real-economy-as-ATM-machine, cashing out wealth during the good times and then leaving workers and the rest of the real economy to deal with the aftermath. ...

    There’s good reason to focus on the top 1% instead of the top 10 or 50%. There is evidence that financial pay at this elite level is correlated with deregulation and the other legal changes that brought on the crisis. High-ranking senior corporate executives’ pay has dwarfed workers’ salaries, but is only a reward for engaging in shady financial engineering practices. These problems require a legal solution and thus they require a democratic challenge and a rethinking of how we want to structure our economy. Here’s to the 99% and Occupy Wall Street helping get us there.

  • AlterNet: Maddow: U.S. Democracy Is Being Bought By a Tiny Minority (Including the Kochs). Excerpt: Last night Rachel Maddow discussed the out-of-control campaign spending by a tiny majority of wealthy Americans -- including, notably, the Koch brothers, who intend to give more than $200 million to conservative groups before the 2012 election. "Who has that kind of huge huge huge money to spend on politics these days?" Maddow asks. "And why have we given those people control of our democracy?" Very good question!

    Watch her discuss this sobering issue, with a little help from Stephen Colbert, right here:

  • AlterNet: $39,000 For a Backpack? Luxury Items Flying Off the Shelves. If you wanted to sum up what people mean when they toss around phrases like “class war” and “the 99 percent” you might put it all down to this: $39,000 backpacks. Sold out. By Mary Elizabeth Williams. Excerpts: It’s been four years since the entrepreneurial Olsen sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley, launched their luxury fashion line, the Row, and three months since they debuted their stylish and exorbitantly priced black crocodile bag. But it was the news this week that at the Paris launch of the handbag line, Ashley Olsen bragged that the backpack “was the first thing that sold off the shelf” that really took the let-them-eat-cake. Olsen added that luxury brands do well in hard times, noting that “During our last economic crisis in the U.S., the only thing that went up was Hermès,” before, in the words of Women’s Wear Daily, “returning to sip Champagne with guests including Michelle Harper and Christian Louboutin.” As a commenter on CNN observed of this news, “This is what’s wrong with America. The income inequality in this country is outrageous, we are well on our way to becoming a 3rd world country.” Or, as another more aptly expressed it, “That’s cray cray.” ...

    The rich will always be with us. There will always be big diamond rings and oversize mansions and $10 million weddings and impossibly priced accessories. Times are not equally tough on everybody, and Ashley and Mary-Kate are not the ones responsible for this economic pickle we’re now in.

    But it takes a special kind of out-of-touchness to boast, while sipping champagne, of selling out of an item that costs about as much as a year’s tuition at an Ivy League university. To blithely say, as Amanda Brooks has, that “If you were ever going to spend $39,000 on a bag, that’s the bag you should buy,” when the average American annual income is, coincidentally, $39,054.62. If you’re going to spend $39,000, you could also employ a person for a whole year! Wealth does not equal social obligation. And you can spend thousands on your purses and still be a decent, generous person. But these are not times for ostentatious displays of having, when far too many have not. And if you think the bag is so classic, you could always get it in the leather version. It’s only $3,900.

  • BuzzFlash: Elizabeth Warren: "The People on Wall Street Broke This Country". Excerpts: If there is a populist change afoot making the pragmatic case to rebalance economic income in America, Elizabeth Warren is its political voice. In a nascent campaign for the Massachusetts Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy and now occupied by Republican Scott Brown, Warren has broken through the DC Democratic tacit oath to "see no evil" where it exists in the financial and corporate world. In a debate this week among Democratic hopefuls vying in the primary for the right to take on Brown, Warren put it bluntly:
    The people on Wall Street broke this country, and they did it one lousy mortgage at a time. This happened more than three years ago, and there still has been no basic accountability, and there has been no real effort to fix it.
  • New York Times editorial: Protesters Against Wall Street. Excerpts: As the Occupy Wall Street protests spread from Lower Manhattan to Washington and other cities, the chattering classes keep complaining that the marchers lack a clear message and specific policy prescriptions. The message — and the solutions — should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention since the economy went into a recession that continues to sock the middle class while the rich have recovered and prospered. The problem is that no one in Washington has been listening.

    At this point, protest is the message: income inequality is grinding down that middle class, increasing the ranks of the poor, and threatening to create a permanent underclass of able, willing but jobless people. On one level, the protesters, most of them young, are giving voice to a generation of lost opportunity.

    The jobless rate for college graduates under age 25 has averaged 9.6 percent over the past year; for young high school graduates, the average is 21.6 percent. Those figures do not reflect graduates who are working but in low-paying jobs that do not even require diplomas. Such poor prospects in the early years of a career portend a lifetime of diminished prospects and lower earnings — the very definition of downward mobility.

    The protests, though, are more than a youth uprising. The protesters’ own problems are only one illustration of the ways in which the economy is not working for most Americans. They are exactly right when they say that the financial sector, with regulators and elected officials in collusion, inflated and profited from a credit bubble that burst, costing millions of Americans their jobs, incomes, savings and home equity. As the bad times have endured, Americans have also lost their belief in redress and recovery.

    The initial outrage has been compounded by bailouts and by elected officials’ hunger for campaign cash from Wall Street, a toxic combination that has reaffirmed the economic and political power of banks and bankers, while ordinary Americans suffer.

    Income gains at the top would not be as worrisome as they are if the middle class and the poor were also gaining. But working-age households saw their real income decline in the first decade of this century. The recession and its aftermath have only accelerated the decline. Research shows that such extreme inequality correlates to a host of ills, including lower levels of educational attainment, poorer health and less public investment. It also skews political power, because policy almost invariably reflects the views of upper-income Americans versus those of lower-income Americans.
  • truthOut: When Being Rich Makes Us Poor, People Should Occupy Wall Street. By Dean Baker. Excerpts: The Very Serious People in Washington are busy trying to find creative ways to cut Social Security and Medicare and take other benefits from middle-class and moderate-income families. The refrain here is that we just can't afford this level of generosity any more.

    There are two parts of this story that should drive the rest of us crazy. And it is difficult to determine which one is the more infuriating.

    The first is that we know that many people in this country are fabulously rich. And as Elizabeth Warren beautifully reminded us, none of them did it on their own. But Professor Warren is actually far too generous in her account.

    While some number of the wealthy may have succeeded by working hard and being smart or creative, many of the very wealthy got their money directly or indirectly through the big hand of the government tilting the playing field in their direction. Their hard work involved rigging the rules to ensure that they ended up on top.

    Nowhere is this better seen than on Wall Street, which is chock full of multimillionaires and billionaires who got to the top by taking advantage of items like "too big to fail insurance" for their banks, gambling with government insured deposits, ripping off state and local governments on pension management fees and, of course, the trillion dollars in bailouts bucks given at interest rates that were way below market levels. These people know the role of government very well, even if they pretend this is all about a free market. ...

    In short, we have an economic system that, even when it is working, has been rigged to redistribute income to rich. And we have a political system that at a time of immense economic distress is more focused on undercutting the means of support for working families than fixing the economy. It is hard to understand why everyone is not occupying Wall Street.

  • Politico: The Arena. By Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Excerpts: Now that Occupy Wall Street has everyone’s attention, the question becomes how we change the system to work for all Americans, not just the top 1 percent? Here are six proposals I am working on:
    1. If a financial institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist...
    2. Put a cap on credit card interest rates to end usury...
    3. The Federal Reserve needs to provide small businesses in America with the same low-interest loans it gave to foreign banks...
    4. Stop Wall Street oil speculators from artificially increasing gasoline and heating oil prices...
    5. Demand that Wall Street invest in the job-creating productive economy, instead of gambling on worthless derivatives...
    6. Establish a Wall Street speculation fee on credit default swaps, derivatives, stock options and futures...
  • New York Times op-ed: Panic of the Plutocrats. By Paul Krugman. Excerpts: It remains to be seen whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will change America’s direction. Yet the protests have already elicited a remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of the wealthiest hundredth of a percent.

    And this reaction tells you something important — namely, that the extremists threatening American values are what F.D.R. called “economic royalists,” not the people camping in Zuccotti Park. ...

    The way to understand all of this is to realize that it’s part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is.

    Last year, you may recall, a number of financial-industry barons went wild over very mild criticism from President Obama. They denounced Mr. Obama as being almost a socialist for endorsing the so-called Volcker rule, which would simply prohibit banks backed by federal guarantees from engaging in risky speculation. And as for their reaction to proposals to close a loophole that lets some of them pay remarkably low taxes — well, Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Group, compared it to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

    And then there’s the campaign of character assassination against Elizabeth Warren, the financial reformer now running for the Senate in Massachusetts. Not long ago a YouTube video of Ms. Warren making an eloquent, down-to-earth case for taxes on the rich went viral. Nothing about what she said was radical — it was no more than a modern riff on Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous dictum that “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.”

    But listening to the reliable defenders of the wealthy, you’d think that Ms. Warren was the second coming of Leon Trotsky. George Will declared that she has a “collectivist agenda,” that she believes that “individualism is a chimera.” And Rush Limbaugh called her “a parasite who hates her host. Willing to destroy the host while she sucks the life out of it.”

    What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.

    Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees — basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families.]

    This special treatment can’t bear close scrutiny — and therefore, as they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and driven from the stage. In fact, the more reasonable and moderate a critic sounds, the more urgently he or she must be demonized, hence the frantic sliming of Elizabeth Warren.

    So who’s really being un-American here? Not the protesters, who are simply trying to get their voices heard. No, the real extremists here are America’s oligarchs, who want to suppress any criticism of the sources of their wealth.

  • The Huffington Post: Wall Street Protests. By Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Excerpts: If this country is to break out of the horrendous recession and create the millions of jobs we desperately need, if we are going to create a modicum of financial stability for the future, there is no question but that the American people are going to have to take a very hard look at Wall Street and demand fundamental reforms. I hope these protests are the beginning of that process.

    Let us never forget that as a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, this country was plunged into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, homes and life savings as the middle class underwent an unprecedented collapse. Sadly, despite all the suffering caused by Wall Street, there is no reason to believe that the major financial institutions have changed their ways, or that future financial disasters and bailouts will not happen again.

    More than three years ago, Congress rewarded Wall Street with the biggest taxpayer bailout in the history of the world. Simultaneously but unknown to the American people at the time, the Federal Reserve provided an even larger bailout. The details of what the Fed did were kept secret until a provision in the Dodd-Frank Act that I sponsored required the Government Accountability Office to audit the Fed's lending programs during the financial crisis.

    As a result of this audit, the American people have learned that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in low-interest loans to every major financial institution in this country, huge foreign banks, multi-national corporations, and some of the wealthiest people in the world. ...

    Now that the middle class is collapsing and a record-breaking 46 million Americans are living in poverty, the Federal Reserve has failed to act with the same sense of urgency to make sure that small businesses receive the affordable loans needed to put millions of Americans back to work and prevent millions of Americans from losing their homes.

    As a result, Wall Street is back to making record-breaking profits, handing out record-breaking compensation packages, and taking the same risks that caused the financial crisis in the first place. Meanwhile, 25 million Americans are unemployed or under-employed; middle class families are making $3,600 less than they did 10 years ago; the foreclosure rate is still breaking new records; and the American people are still paying over $3.40 for a gallon of gas.

    The financial crisis and the jobs crisis have demonstrated to the American people that we now have a government that is of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent and for the 1 percent, as Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz eloquently articulated. The rest of the 99 percent are, more or less, on their own. We now have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major, advanced country on Earth. The top 1 percent earn more income than the bottom 50 percent, and the richest 400 Americans own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans.

  • New Deal 2.0: How the Top One Percent Ripped Off the Bottom 99 Percent. By Jon Rynn. Excerpts: Underlying this greater and greater inequality is a shift of wealth from manufacturing to the top 1 percent and the financial sector. Over the past 40 years, the sectors of the economy that grew in output share grew very little in employment share — making more money but paying it to a small group of people. The sectors of the economy that grew in employment share did not grow in output share, meaning that a growing number of workers had to share in a smaller pot of profits. From 1969 to 2007, the richest 1 percent has grabbed 15 percent more of the income of the United States, to a total of about 24 percent. Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector has lost a similar 15 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). This has led to a downward shift in income for the bottom 99 percent. ...

    Counter to conservative ideology, the economic role of the government has actually gone down — at least when measured, as I have been doing here, by value-added data, which eliminates the effect of transfer payments. From 1968 to 2009, the share of employment for the federal government decreased from 9.7 percent to 3.8 percent, and its GDP share went from 6.9 percent to 4.3 percent, while for the state and local governments the employment share rose from 11.7 percent to 14.4 percent and GDP share went from 7.6 percent to 9.3 percent. So much for “big government.” FIRE’s share of GDP is at 21.5 percent, while government at all levels is at 13.6 percent. Sounds like “big finance” to me!

  • Wall Street Journal: Bleak News for Americans' Income. Pay Fell 7% in Last Decade and Economists Say It Won't Catch Up Before 2021; Even College Graduates See Salaries Slide. By Phil Izzo. Excerpts: Americans' incomes have dropped since 2000 and they aren't expected to make up the lost ground before 2021, according to economists in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey.

    From 2000 to 2010, median income in the U.S. declined 7% after adjusting for inflation, according to Census data. That marks the worst 10-year performance in records going back to 1967. On average, the economists expect inflation-adjusted incomes to rise over the next decade, but the 5% projected gain isn't enough to reach prerecession levels.

    "Standards of living in the U.S. will continue to decline as we deleverage and emerging markets take over as the growth engine of the global economy," says Julia Coronado of BNP Paribas.

    Though the majority of the 50 economists surveyed-not all of whom answer every question-say the current generation of college graduates will have a higher standard of living than their parents, a third of respondents think it will be lower. College graduates have generally fared better in the U.S., and they currently have a 4.2% unemployment rate compared to 9.1% for the entire work force. But a college degree hasn't been enough to ensure wage gains from 2000 through 2010. According to Census Bureau data, only advanced degree holders managed to record increases in earnings over that period.

  • Miami Herald: Young protesters inspire seniors. By Tony Fransetta. Excerpts: By the time we reach our golden years, daily issues can seem overwhelming. However, with age comes wisdom, and many seniors in Florida know that we cannot afford to slow down or disengage. We must remain involved in world events and the struggles our children and grandchildren undertake for a better future.

    The demonstrations on Wall Street over the past three weeks by our country’s young people are educating the public on the excessive greed of Wall Street, the outcomes of bailouts with our tax dollars, and the endless problems Wall Street continues to cause for working America. The actions of the anti-Wall Street protesters are inspiring actions across the country and attracting broad-based backing from labor unions and community organizations.

    We told our children and grandchildren to go to school and get a good education. For what? America is failing these generations. Where are the jobs? Overseas. Where is the capital? In offshore accounts.

    It is clear that our enemies are not only on Wall Street, but are also the members of Congress funded by that top 2 percent. These politicians claim that the super-rich and largest corporations are “job creators” and shouldn’t be asked to pay their fair share. We don’t buy it. The only jobs created by them are in China, Mexico, India, Cambodia, and elsewhere.

    Our children and grandchildren cannot find dignified work, let alone hope to retire with dignity under the current system. We must remain determined not just to create good jobs, but to protect the programs like Medicare and Social Security that have allowed Americans to retire with dignity.

    However, too many of our elected officials are more concerned with their own elections than about speaking out on behalf of the people they represent in this critical and heartbreaking time. At least some real courage these days is coming from young people piecing together who’s responsible for the mess we’re in and speaking out against Wall Street greed and those who do Wall Street’s bidding. We need to join the effort to help our children and give courage to our elected representatives to stand up for America’s future. Visiting and calling our elected representatives is absolutely necessary. But more than that, it is time to join our young people in the streets. It’s time to demand a fairer economy and good jobs that will allow future generations to work and retire with dignity.

  • The Smirking Chimp: Decline and Renewal. By Peter G. Cohen. Excerpts: For the last thirty years regulations have been eliminated and policies have been changed from helping the public to helping those paying for campaigns and lobbyists. As a result, the wealth created by greater efficiencies has been directed to those at the top, while real income for workers has remained stagnant. This situation is maintained by the continuing export of jobs to nations where labor is cheaper and lacking legal protection. Free trade has been paid for with the suffering of our unemployed workers and their families.

    By destroying the American middle class the largest corporations have also destroyed the Great American Market. With demand for goods in decline, business becomes cautious and economic stagnation results.

    We have tried unregulated markets and they have led the the criminal abuses of the mortgage and financial industries. We have tried free trade and it has led to the export of jobs and failed in all of its promised benefits, except the enrichment of international corporations. We have tried cutting back on labor and environmental regulations with the result that the air and water are dirtier, jobs are more dangerous and right-wing lobbyists are now seeking to destroy regulation altogether. Properly regulated markets increase competition, function more efficiently and reduce abuse.

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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