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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.
Second, read it to understand how these same executives have and continue to transfer wealth, if you can call employee nest eggs that, from their workers to themselves to fund their ludicrously inflated pensions.
Third, read it to understand how executives are burdening their companies with huge unfunded deferred compensation packages that may prove costly to employees and investors in the future. And given recent trends, let's include all taxpayers.
Fourth, read it to understand the new meaning of financial management and how executives use financial maneuvers to deceive not just their employees and government monitors but also investment analysts and investors.
For an overview of the book, scroll up to the book description and also read Lloyd Eskildson's excellent review. And don't immediately assume Schultz is talking about obviously shady operators. She's talking about and citing the shenanigans of executives in corporations widely held by investors and leaders in their business sectors. Among those covered are AT&T, Bank of America, American Greetings, Cigna, Delta Airlines, IBM, the National Football League, and many more, perhaps your employer or stock investment among them.
Schultz writes clearly about even the most complex tactics and supplies plenty of examples to illustrate her points. After finishing, you will understand the games executives play with retirement and healthcare benefits, as well as their own compensation packages. ...
As RETIREMENT HEIST and other recent books illustrate, since perhaps the 1980s, top management has shifted the focus to themselves, managing for their own personal gain, often as Schultz and others show, to the detriment of their companies, employees, and the economy at large. It's a sad state of affairs that came to a disastrous head in 2008, and the situation isn't at all better today. You have to wonder how these corporate leaders face their own families after a day at the office.
In 2002, IBM acquired PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting for $3.9 billion, the computing giant's largest deal ever at the time. The move was part of IBM's shift away from hardware and into software and services. It eventually sold its PC division to China's Lenovo.
During the PricewaterhouseCoopers integration, Rometty was a general manager of the consulting unit at IBM. She is credited with helping to retain PricewaterhouseCoopers' principal consultants, who didn't always mesh with IBM's cost-cutting culture.
Selected reader comments concerning this article follow:
The most noteworthy thing about Ms Rometty is that, in her 30 years at Big Blue, she has never run one of the company’s big technology divisions. That does not just go for the hardware that once dominated IBM, and now accounts for only 17 per cent of its revenues and an even more minuscule 6 per cent of profits. It also includes software, which has become the main driver of IBM’s profit growth under long-time head Steve Mills, as well as technology-related activities such as outsourcing that make up two-thirds of IBM’s huge services division.
Instead, Ms Rometty made her mark with the other third of services: the consulting, “business process outsourcing” (running entire functions for customers, not just the technology associated with them) and other business-related activities. These are designed to be both a foot in the door for IBM to sell more of its tech gear, as well as a lever to transform bits and bytes into something with higher value added. ...
For Ms Rometty to succeed, meanwhile, she will have to carry through on the job that current CEO Sam Palmisano has been working at for a decade. Combining business services with technology through the acquisition of PwC’s consulting division – Mr Palmisano’s biggest single bet – was not a home run in the early years, and successfully integrating the operations remains one of Ms Rometty’s biggest main accomplishments.
But her promotion is impressive for another reason. Unlike so many CEO transitions these days, this one was pulled off noticeably smooth. Palmisano is departing the massive technology firm while it is performing at the top of its game, leaving Rometty with a strong foundation to build on rather than a mess to clean up. He and IBM’s board put in place a company veteran who has served Big Blue for 30 years and knows the ins and outs of the company’s culture, customers and challenges. And investors were never left wondering who would lead IBM next—Rometty has long been a frontrunner for the job, and Palmisano is stepping down at the company’s traditional retirement age, which is 60.
“Welcome the new boss, same as the old boss,” Alliance@IBM executive Lee Conrad told WRAL Tech Wire on Wednesday the day after Rometty was named to succeed Palmisano, who will remain chairman. ...
“We feel that Ginni Rometty, who is a champion of offshoring, will continue the policies of Palmisano and that IBM U.S. employee population will continue to decline as work is offshored and employees fired,” Conrad said. “There has not been an IBM CEO who has been supportive of IBM employees for many years,” added Conrad, who was a long-time IBM employee but is now retired and focused on building Alliance. ...
“The slogan ‘respect for the individual’ was erased from IBM when [Lou] Gerstner took over,” he added. Gerstner ran IBM from 1993-2002. Palmisano succeeded him. “CEO Rometty will be no different.” ...
The Alliance estimates that the IBM work force in the U.S. dropped below 100,000 this year to 98,000. Big Blue no longer discloses how many employees it has in specific global areas – by country or location. Best estimates are that IBM has around 10,000 workers spread across North Carolina, including its RTP campus.
Based on figures published by IBM from 2005 to 2009, the U.S. work force shrank from 133,789 to 105,000. Alliance estimates that the total fell to 101,000 as of 2010.
IBM continues to financial growth although its most recent quarter produced revenues slightly below Wall Street estimates. That news drove IBM stock down from a 52-week high of $190.53 shortly before the earnings report. Shares traded under $180 on Wednesday.
No “resource actions,” which is IBM’s term for layoffs, have taken place recently. But Conrad won’t be surprised if more occur. “We expect continued resource actions as IBM downsizes in the U.S. for cheaper labor out of country,” Conrad said.
Of course, none of this financial engineering actually does squat for actual net earnings. But IBM's execs get paid based on how EPS grows, and this is how they ensure their own bonuses and a rising share price on Wall Street that is yet another bonus to them. Imagine if IBM invested $12.2bn in product development, sales, or marketing. Or acquisitions.
"IBM was my life. I loved my job. I loved my customers. I loved what I did, it was my identity," she told the ABC in an interview. But Ms Spiteri says that all changed in 2007 when a new manager was appointed. In a statement of claim lodged in the Federal Court, she alleges she was sexually harassed and bullied for nearly two years by the man, who was her supervisor.
"He groped me. He rubbed himself against my backside when he walked past me. He touched me, put his hands up my dress, asked me to expose my breasts to get more sales," she said. "He called me names to my customers and customers then advised me of that. He yelled at me consistently," Ms Spiteri told the ABC's AM program. Ms Spiteri alleges in her statement of claim that her supervisor harassed her at the office and at work functions in front of colleagues, customers and managers. In court documents, Susan Spiteri says she repeatedly complained to her colleagues and managers at IBM but they took no action.
Prosecutors estimate that the hedge fund made at least $20m from the information gathered by Chiesi after she began an affair with former IBM official Robert Moffat who then unwittingly passed on information to the hedge fund about a forthcoming takeover. While the story of a workaholic technocrat falling for a younger woman who said she loved the three Ss (sports, stocks and sex) is as old as the hills, it has engrossed Wall Street because many traders believe it is only the tip of the iceberg. ...
Many more feel sorry for Moffat, who was once spoken of as a future chief executive but ended up instead serving six months in jail. CNN reported recently that of all the buttoned-down executives at IBM, Moffat was the last one that employees could imagine being caught up in a scandal, let alone a crime. The former boy scout had a reputation for loyalty and had helped to turn around key units within the computer giant several times.
But I believe that the real culprits are the employers themselves.
With an abundance of workers to choose from, employers are demanding more of job candidates than ever before. They want prospective workers to be able to fill a role right away, without any training or ramp-up time.
In other words, to get a job, you have to have that job already. It's a Catch-22 situation for workers—and it's hurting companies and the economy.
To get America's job engine revving again, companies need to stop pinning so much of the blame on our nation's education system. They need to drop the idea of finding perfect candidates and look for people who could do the job with a bit of training and practice. ...
The perceptions about a lack of skilled workers are pervasive. The staffing company ManpowerGroup, for instance, reports that 52% of U.S. employers surveyed say they have difficulty filling positions because of talent shortages.
But the problem is an illusion.
Some of the complaints about skill shortages boil down to the fact that employers can't get candidates to accept jobs at the wages offered. That's an affordability problem, not a skill shortage. A real shortage means not being able to find appropriate candidates at market-clearing wages. We wouldn't say there is a shortage of diamonds when they are incredibly expensive; we can buy all we want at the prevailing prices. ...
Promote from within: Employees have useful knowledge that no outsider could have and should make great candidates for filling jobs higher up. In recent years, however, an incredible two-thirds of all vacancies, even in large companies, have been filled by hiring from the outside, according to data from Taleo Corp., a talent-management company. That figure has dropped somewhat lately because of market conditions. But a generation ago, the number was close to 10%, as internal promotions and transfers were used to fill virtually all positions.
These days, many companies simply don't believe their own workers have the necessary skills to take on new roles. But, once again, many workers could step into those jobs with a bit of training.
During its last conference in August, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said many high-tech companies want to hire Americans, but they can’t find qualified workers, so the Obama administration is rolling out a plan to create 10,000 more engineers a year.
That same sentiment was echoed by guests we had on our show last week. Venture capitalist Mo Koyfman of Spark Capital says the firms he works with can’t fill their jobs, and he thinks the U.S. should loosen visa restrictions to take in more foreign workers.
Listeners weighed in and many couldn’t disagree more...
Alliance Reply: We have been telling IBMers for sometime, (12 years) that IBM is making a concerted effort to fire US IBM employees, and reduce the numbers of IBM employees in its IBM US locations. This should not be a shock. If you are an active employee, you need to organize your co-workers and fight this continuous abuse and firing of IBM US employees, in POK and every other IBM US location. The fact that IBM stopped reporting its US headcount should not have ever been a 'wonder' or a 'shock' to anyone. That's what corporations do when they don't want their employees to know what they are up to, specifically. IBM does things that are strictly in IBM's interest, and NOT in the interests of their employees. The employees interests can be best represented with a union contract. Then there is no "shock and awe" and nothing to "wonder" about. Click the 'Join the Alliance' links in the right column.
The 2011 edition of "Competition in Health Insurance: A Comprehensive Study of U.S. Markets," analyzes commercial health insurance market shares and federal concentration measures for 368 metropolitan markets and 48 states. The study finds a significant absence of health insurer competition exists in 83% of metropolitan markets studied by the AMA. Indeed, in about half of metropolitan markets, at least one health insurer had a commercial market share of 50% or more, and in 24 of the 48 states in study, the two largest health insurers had a combined commercial market share of 70% or more. In order, the 10 states with the least competitive commercial health insurance markets are: Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Michigan, Hawaii, District of Columbia, Nebraska, North Carolina, Indiana and Maine.
“New data presented by the AMA demonstrates the degree of anti-competitive market clout that some health insurers have gained through mergers and acquisitions,” says AMA President Peter W. Carmel, M.D. “Our new report is intended to help regulators, lawmakers, researchers and policymakers identify markets where mergers among health insurers may cause competitive harm to patients, physicians and employers.”
"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.
The party is the firm’s big annual bash. Employees wear Halloween costumes to the office, where they party until around noon, and then return to work, still in costume. I can’t tell you how people dressed for this year’s party, but I can tell you about last year’s.
That’s because a former employee of Steven J. Baum recently sent me snapshots of last year’s party. In an e-mail, she said that she wanted me to see them because they showed an appalling lack of compassion toward the homeowners — invariably poor and down on their luck — that the Baum firm had brought foreclosure proceedings against.
When we spoke later, she added that the snapshots are an accurate representation of the firm’s mind-set. “There is this really cavalier attitude,” she said. “It doesn’t matter that people are going to lose their homes.” Nor does the firm try to help people get mortgage modifications; the pressure, always, is to foreclose. I told her I wanted to post the photos on The Times’s Web site so that readers could see them. She agreed, but asked to remain anonymous because she said she fears retaliation.
Let me describe a few of the photos. In one, two Baum employees are dressed like homeless people. One is holding a bottle of liquor. The other has a sign around her neck that reads: “3rd party squatter. I lost my home and I was never served.” My source said that “I was never served” is meant to mock “the typical excuse” of the homeowner trying to evade a foreclosure proceeding.
A second picture shows a coffin with a picture of a woman whose eyes have been cut out. A sign on the coffin reads: “Rest in Peace. Crazy Susie.” The reference is to Susan Chana Lask, a lawyer who had filed a class-action suit against Steven J. Baum — and had posted a YouTube video denouncing the firm’s foreclosure practices. “She was a thorn in their side,” said my source. ...
These pictures are hardly the first piece of evidence that the Baum firm treats homeowners shabbily — or that it uses dubious legal practices to do so. It is under investigation by the New York attorney general, Eric Schneiderman. It recently agreed to pay $2 million to resolve an investigation by the Department of Justice into whether the firm had “filed misleading pleadings, affidavits, and mortgage assignments in the state and federal courts in New York.” (In the press release announcing the settlement, Baum acknowledged only that “it occasionally made inadvertent errors.”)
And although incomes at all levels have risen some, they've skyrocketed for the very wealthiest of earners.
At the other end of the scale, Americans in the bottom fifth of earners saw their incomes increase by less than 20 percent across the nearly three decades. Incomes for those in the middle 60 percent climbed by less than 40 percent over the same span.
Things start to look especially good for the top fifth of earners, who saw their cash flow jump by 65 percent.
But it's among the top 1 percent where the growth was breathtaking. That contingent saw their incomes spike by 275 percent. ...
Wages for the lower and middle classes have hardly moved for the last three decades -- a phenomenon that roughly coincides with the decline in union participation, as Think Progress noted. Paul Krugman, the Nobel-winning economist and left-leaning New York Times columnist, describes this phenomenon as the "Great Divergence."
Today, the 400 richest people in the country control more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of households, and the U.S. ranks roughly alongside countries like Uganda, Cameroon, Ecuador and Rwanda in terms of the gap between its richest and poorest citizens. ...
For Bivens, they're the result of 30 years of conservative-leaning policies that have undermined unions, left the minimum wage lower (adjusted for inflation) than it was in the '60s, and favored financiers and corporations over laborers. A big culprit is the deregulation of the finance industry, said Bivens, noting that the CBO identified finance as a sector that saw some of the largest jumps in income. "That sector has just taken a larger and larger share of the economy, while producing a, shall we say, dubious return," Bivens said.
Some people have noticed that “student loan debt” comes up a lot among the Wall Street Occupiers and the members of the 99 percent movement. Often, older people, who either attended school when tuition was reasonable, or who didn’t attend college at all in an era when a high school diploma was enough of a qualification for a stable, middle-class career, tend to think this is all the entitled whining of spoiled kids. They don’t understand that these kids accepted a home mortgage worth of debt before they ever even had a regular income, based on phony promises, and that the debt is inescapable, regardless of life circumstances or ability to pay.
Kiplinger has a calculator feature that lets you enter your adjusted gross income (that’s Line 37 from your Form 1040 tax return, or Line 4 on the 1040EZ), and shows you where you fall. To find out where you rank, try the tool.
The common retort to this by the defenders of the economic status quo is that these disparities are a natural result of capitalism, and that those who complain about them are fundamentally against markets. Indeed, when the protests on Wall Street began, much of the media instantly referred to demonstrators as “anti-capitalist.”
But the truth is that the American economy wasn’t always structured in a way that so generously rewarded the one percent while giving the 99 percent less and less. Following the Second World War, widespread unionization, higher and fairer tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, and New Deal policies helped craft an economy with widespread prosperity. In fact, if you look at income growth in period between 1947 and 1949, it was approximately equal across the board. Meanwhile, income gains between 1980 and 2007 went overwhelmingly to the richest Americans. The following chart, assembled by Connect The Dots USA using data from the Congressional Budget Office and United for a Fair Economy, demonstrates this...
This is, to put it mildly, a controversial claim. Economists will tell you that private business investment causes growth because it pays for the new plant or equipment that creates jobs, improves labor productivity and increases workers’ incomes. As a result, you’ll hear politicians insisting that more incentives for private investors — lower taxes on corporate profits — will lead to faster and better-balanced growth.
The general public seems to agree. According to a New York Times/CBS News poll in May, a majority of Americans believe that increased corporate taxes “would discourage American companies from creating jobs.”
But history shows that this is wrong. ...
Consumer spending is not only the key to economic recovery in the short term; it’s also necessary for balanced growth in the long term. If our goal is to repair our damaged economy, we should bank on consumer culture — and that entails a redistribution of income away from profits toward wages, enabled by tax policy and enforced by government spending. (The increased trade deficit that might result should not deter us, since a large portion of manufactured imports come from American-owned multinational corporations that operate overseas.)
We don’t need the traders and the C.E.O.’s and the analysts — the 1 percent — to collect and manage our savings. Instead, we consumers need to save less and spend more in the name of a better future. We don’t need to silence the ant, but we’d better start listening to the grasshopper.
Bottom line: The average individual now has $1,315 less in disposable income than he or she did three years ago at the onset of the Great Recession – even though the recession ended, technically speaking, in mid-2009. That means less money to spend at the spa or the movies, less for vacations, new carpeting for the house, or dinner at a restaurant. ...
Income loss is hitting the middle class hard, especially in communities where manufacturing facilities have closed. When those jobs are gone, many workers have ended up in service-sector jobs that pay less. "Maybe it's the evolution of the economy, but it appears large segments of the workforce have moved permanently into lower-paying positions," says Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pa. "The economy can't grow at 4 percent per year when the middle class becomes the lower middle class." ...
Even people with college degrees are feeling the squeeze. On a fall day, Hunter College graduate and Brooklyn resident Paul Battis came to lower Manhattan to check out the Occupy Wall Street protest. He tells one of the protesters that America's problem is the various free-trade pacts it has approved. Mr. Battis's angst over trade is rooted in the fact that two years ago he lost his data-entry job with a Wall Street firm that decided to outsource such jobs to India.
Reader comments concerning this article. Selected comments follow:
Mr Romney stated last night that the foreclosure process needed to be allowed to run its course so that investors could buy up the houses and rent them to the "little people." This shows how out of touch he is to the severity of the problem. I don't understand how this will help all the current and former home buyers who bought homes based on the recommendations of people like Mr. Romney, as an investment, and have now lost all of their wealth; which went into down payments and monthly payments on a devalued asset that might never regain the value it lost. ...
We have entered another era of "robber barons," a small group of super wealthy families who control the majority of the nation's wealth. I understand the allure to the middle class of allowing these super rich to escape paying taxes, but don't think the comprehension level is there for these same folks to understand how damaging this type of economy is to a nation. The American dream that "someday I'll be rich like that," is the reasoning behind this irrational desire to not tax the super rich, but the odds of the average American ever becoming super rich are astronomical.
Wealth is accumulated by converting every opportunity into profit and keeping as much of the profit as possible. So if the opportunity arises to increase profit by importing cheaper goods from China, the opportunity is seized. If the opportunity arises to increase profits by hiring cheap (if illegal) labor instead of those higher paid employees currently doing the work, the opportunity is seized. If the opportunity arises to increase profits by dumping hazardous waste into a nearby river instead of dealing with it safely, the opportunity is seized. If the opportunity arises to increase profits by lying to anyone who will listen, the opportunity is seized. If the opportunity arises to increase profits by squeezing out potential competitors, the opportunity is seized. If the opportunity arises to increase profits by contributing to potentially useful legislators, the opportunity is seized.
One of the legitimate functions of government is to assure that the opportunities are not seized too freely or recklessly. We can not perform that function adequately because there are many of us who don't want it performed, each believing that if he works hard enough and long enough, he might be the one doing the seizing.
This is our brand of capitalism, and this is the society we get as a result.
Directors are tasked with overseeing management, executive pay and corporate strategy. Typically, their ranks have been filled by CEOs and retired executives. Aside from a handful of board and committee meetings, directorships typically consume little time. A recent National Association of Corporate Directors study found directors averaging just 4.3 hours a week on board work.
Critics says directors are largely overpaid and ineffective. "Far too much of their time has been for check-the-box and cover-your-behind activities rather than real monitoring of executives and providing strategic advice on behalf of shareholders," says John Gillespie, a former investment banker and co-author of Money for Nothing: How the Failure of Corporate Boards is Ruining American Business and Costing Us Trillions.
When I lived in Asia and covered the financial crisis there in the late 1990s, American government officials spoke scathingly about “crony capitalism” in the region. As Lawrence Summers, then a deputy Treasury secretary, put it in a speech in August 1998: “In Asia, the problems related to ‘crony capitalism’ are at the heart of this crisis, and that is why structural reforms must be a major part” of the International Monetary Fund’s solution.
The American critique of the Asian crisis was correct. The countries involved were nominally capitalist but needed major reforms to create accountability and competitive markets.
Something similar is true today of the United States. ...
Capitalism is so successful an economic system partly because of an internal discipline that allows for loss and even bankruptcy. It’s the possibility of failure that creates the opportunity for triumph. Yet many of America’s major banks are too big to fail, so they can privatize profits while socializing risk.
The upshot is that financial institutions boost leverage in search of supersize profits and bonuses. Banks pretend that risk is eliminated because it’s securitized. Rating agencies accept money to issue an imprimatur that turns out to be meaningless. The system teeters, and then the taxpayer rushes in to bail bankers out. Where’s the accountability? ...
Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist, adds that some inequality is necessary to create incentives in a capitalist economy but that “too much inequality can harm the efficient operation of the economy.” In particular, he says, excessive inequality can have two perverse consequences: first, the very wealthy lobby for favors, contracts and bailouts that distort markets; and, second, growing inequality undermines the ability of the poorest to invest in their own education. “These factors mean that high inequality can generate further high inequality and eventually poor economic growth,” Professor Katz said. ...
So, yes, we face a threat to our capitalist system. But it’s not coming from half-naked anarchists manning the barricades at Occupy Wall Street protests. Rather, it comes from pinstriped apologists for a financial system that glides along without enough of the discipline of failure and that produces soaring inequality, socialist bank bailouts and unaccountable executives. It’s time to take the crony out of capitalism, right here at home.
For example, last week New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman took us to Illinois where Doug Oberhelman, the CEO of Caterpillar, one of the largest companies in the country, complained that he could not find qualified hourly workers for his manufacturing facilities. Oberhelman went on to complain that he also could not find engineering service technicians or even welders.
Friedman also recounted a conversation with Chicago's new mayor, former Obama Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. According to Friedman, Emanual complained about "staring right into the whites of the eyes of the skills shortage." Friedman recounts a story from Emanuel about two young CEOs in the healthcare software business who claimed that they have 50 job openings today, but can't find the people. ...
While the experience of CEOs cited by Friedman might appear to be atypical since it is not reflected in the data, there is another aspect to the problem that is even more disconcerting. These CEOs apparently do not know how a business is supposed to respond to the inability to find qualified workers.
According to standard economics, when businesses can't fill job openings, they are supposed to offer higher wages. If these businesses offered higher wages, then they could lure away workers from their competitors. They may also be able to attract workers from other states or even other countries. Certainly there are workers somewhere in the world who have the skills that are needed to work at Caterpillar or at software firms run by Mr. Emanuel's friends. If these CEOs raised wages high enough, then these workers would be willing to work for their companies.
However, they have not chosen to raise wages to the market clearing level for some reason and therefore can't get the workers they want. Apparently, these CEOs do not know how to raise wages.
This inability to raise wages is also reflected in the data. There is no major occupation group that has seen substantial increases in real wages over the last decade. Even college graduates as a group (excluding those with a post-graduate degree) have not seen an increase in real wages over the last decade. This indicates either there is no problem of skills shortages or that companies are increasingly being run by CEOs who do not know how to increase wages.
The traffic jam metaphor for the political consequences of economic mobility was originally proposed by Albert Hirschman, the noted economist, in 1973 to explain changes in tolerance for income in equality in poor countries. The idea was as simple as it was powerful: even a modicum of social mobility – sparked by economic growth – buys patience and political stability in developing countries. As people see their relatives and neighbours improve their lot they are willing to wait for their turn.
This idea, which was offered to explain the tolerance for inequality in poor countries, is now in theory applicable to some of the world’s wealthiest nations – except that the Occupy Wall Street crowds, the protesters in the City of London, or the Italian and Greek protesters are getting out of their “cars”, and clashing with the police not just because they see their “traffic lane” horribly jammed. It’s also because they are moving backwards.
They are also paying more attention to the fact that others are advancing thanks to what they perceive as tricks, special privileges and corner-cutting. This is not about hopes sparked by others doing well, but about the collective rage at an elite doing obscenely well while the rest backslides.
We sold ourselves a pipe dream that everyone could get rich and no one would get hurt — a pipe dream that exploded like a pipe bomb when the already-rich grabbed for all the gold; when they used their fortunes to influence government and gain favors and protection; when everyone else was left to scrounge around their ankles in hopes that a few coins would fall. ...
We have not taken care of the least among us. We have allowed a revolting level of income inequality to develop. We have watched as millions of our fellow countrymen have fallen into poverty. And we have done a poor job of educating our children and now threaten to leave them a country that is a shell of its former self. We should be ashamed. Poor policies and poor choices have led to exceedingly poor outcomes. Our societal chickens have come home to roost.
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