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August 11, 2001 August 4, 2001 July 28, 2001 July 21, 2001 July 14, 2001 July 7, 2001 June 30, 2001 June 23, 2001 June 16, 2001 June 9, 2001 June 2, 2001 May 26, 2001 May 19, 2001 May 12, 2001 May 5, 2001 2001 Stock Meeting April 21, 2001 April 14, 2001 April 7, 2001 March 31, 2001 March 24, 2001 March 17, 2001 March 10, 2001 March 3, 2001 February 24, 2001 February 17, 2001 February 10, 2001 February 3, 2001 January 27, 2001 January 20, 2001 January 13, 2001 January 6, 2001 December 30, 2000 December 23, 2000 December 16, 2000 December 9, 2000 December 2, 2000 November 24, 2000 November 17, 2000 November 10, 2000 November 4, 2000 October 28, 2000 October 21, 2000 October 14, 2000 October 7, 2000 September 30, 2000 September 23, 2000 September 16, 2000 September 9, 2000 September 2, 2000 August 26, 2000 August 19, 2000 August 12, 2000 July 29, 2000 July 22, 2000 July 15, 2000 July 1, 2000 June 24, 2000 June 17, 2000 June 10, 2000 June 3, 2000 May 27, 2000 May 20, 2000 May 13, 2000 May 6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—March 30, 2013

  • Personnel Today: IBM crowd sourcing could see employed workforce shrink by three quarters. By Louisa Peacock. Excerpts: IT giant IBM told Personnel Today that the firm's global workforce of 399,000 permanent employees could reduce to 100,000 by 2017, the date by which the firm is due to complete its HR transformation programme.

    Tim Ringo, head of IBM Human Capital Management, the consultancy arm of the IT conglomerate, said the firm would re-hire the workers as contractors for specific projects as and when necessary, a concept dubbed 'crowd sourcing'.

    "There would be no buildings costs, no pensions and no healthcare costs, making huge savings," he said. ...

    When asked how many permanent people IBM could potentially employ in 2017, Ringo said: "100,000 people. I think crowd sourcing is really important, where you would have a core set of employees but the vast majority are sub-contracted out."

    He stressed the firm was only considering the move, and was not about to cut 299,000 jobs, as staff would be re-hired as contractors. ...

    Bernard Brown, head of business services at consultancy KPMG, warned firms should be wary of the "enormous" HR issues at stake.

    "How do you encourage these people to stay working with you? The retention issues are huge. Staff morale could also be affected."

    Other problems included the contractors not always being available when firms needed them, and the quality of work suffering. ...

    However, an IBM spokesman denied the firm was about to shrink its permanent workforce by three quarters in seven years.

    He said: "The comments are without merit. This was pure speculation about future job movements without any basis in fact. In fact, the comments run counter to IBM's history of growing its global workforce over each of the last eight years."

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: IBM's Liquid Portal Scheme" by "nowwicked". Full excerpt: Hmmm, lends more concrete in the mortar of "humans are commodities". Now one thing this article doesn't say is that most of the workforce that is still employed is making 20-30% less than they were 2 years ago. Could be more, but I'll keep it conservative in that area.

    Reduction in real pay from bonuses earned, lowered rating, increased "results demand" even if you the employee have no way to affect the ratings.

    I cannot speak to what other companies are doing but listening to employees in other companies, things are no different. We are commodities and there is another cog waiting to be employed if I don't want to do the work for what they are willing to give.

  • Fox News: Long-delayed Blue Waters supercomputer at University of Illinois among world's most powerful. Excerpts: Thom Dunning posed Monday in front of one of the dozens of cabinets that house the new Blue Waters supercomputer, a photographer's lens an uncomfortable couple of feet from his face. "We've been far more uncomfortable," the director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications joked, looking at Bill Kramer, who led the project to build what is among the world's fastest computers at the University of Illinois.

    They joke now, with the $300 million machine running, but in late in 2011, some feared that the Blue Waters project was circling the drain.

    A big, $72 million building sat mostly empty waiting to house Blue Waters as IBM, the original builder, pulled out after essentially concluding it couldn't build and maintain the machine and make money doing it. A new builder had to be found, and fast, to stay within the timeline preferred by the primary financier, the National Science Foundation.

    "We knew many of those people -- we knew that when they made this announcement that jobs were at risk, their role in national science computing was at risk," said Barry Bolding, vice president of corporate marketing at Cray Inc. The company, known for building supercomputers, took over after IBM backed out. ...

    The NSF awarded the contract to the university and IBM, and agreed to provide most of the money, just over $200 million. The university contributed $100 million.

    When IBM pulled out, about $160 million had already been spent. And the NSF's deadline to have the computer in the building by the fall of 2012 was still very much in place. "It was very, very dicey," Kramer said.

  • Bloomberg: Chinese Hacking Is Made in the U.S.A. By Alan Tonelson. Excerpts: Ten years ago, while visiting International Business Machines Corp. (IBM)’s software-research lab in Beijing, I observed dozens of Chinese employees moving about seemingly free of any security-related limitations. I asked the lab’s manager two questions:
    • “Do you have any way of knowing whether any of your Chinese staff is also working for the Chinese government?
    • “Do you have any way of knowing whether any of your Chinese staff is a spy?”

    The manager unhesitatingly answered “No” to both. He hastily added, “But you can be sure that we at IBM work very hard to protect our core intellectual property.”

    This episode could occur at any of the many U.S. corporate facilities in China. It highlights an underreported feature of recent cyberattacks: Much of China’s hacking power was Made by the U.S.A.

    For decades, U.S.-owned technology giants have set up state-of-the-art factories, laboratories and training programs in China. Their aim was to use a super-cheap, lightly regulated production base to supply Chinese and world markets, and to harness Chinese scientific talent. Greater profits were the top priority, but the companies also claimed that a more computer- and Internet-savvy China would become more peaceful and democratic. ...

    IBM also runs a China-based Global Rail Innovation Center that “focuses on every aspect of modern rail systems, such as track surveillance and infrastructure.” Undoubtedly, that knowledge could help disrupt U.S. transportation networks. IBM also has sold a wide range of advanced hardware and software to Huawei Technologies Co., whose reported extensive ties with the Chinese government and military led the House Intelligence Committee to brand it a national security threat.

    Finally, U.S.-owned companies have nurtured Chinese talent. As of 2010, Cisco was on track to build 300 of its acclaimed Networking Academies to train 100,000 Chinese students, and planned to use its curriculum to build 35 Model Software Colleges with the Education Ministry. IBM has created partnerships with more than 60 Chinese universities, and Intel is working with Chinese schools to develop their “research program and talent pool.” Texas Instruments Inc (TXN).’s worldwide Leadership University includes two leading Chinese technical institutions. ...

    Before China’s cyberoffensive, U.S. companies could legitimately argue that they, and America, would be enriched by technological engagement. The new security threats, however, now trump any plausible economic benefits. Doing business with China can continue. Business as usual can’t.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "A word from the NRLN" by Kathi Cooper. Full excerpt: I'm posting a note from the NRLN: NRLN President's Forum - Examining Actions To Take On "De-Risking"

    You may be aware that some large U.S. corporations have chosen to pay billions of dollars to position for voluntary terminations of management pension plans. Companies may pass their plan assets and liabilities on to large financial firms and insurance companies in return for a commitment to pay the accrued full monthly plan benefit as an annuity payment to plan participants. Such plan terminations are called Standard Terminations as opposed to Distress Terminations where the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) as the ultimate insurer of defined benefit pension plans ends up paying pension payments, usually less than paid if a plan were not terminated.

    In Standard Terminations, plan sponsors are able to reduce future corporate pension plan funding obligations and are able to significantly reduce balance sheet liabilities and thus enhance their ability to borrow funds more cheaply. If a company is weak financially, pension plans could fall prey to a Distress Termination because of a bankruptcy proceeding. Retirees might feel more secure with an annuity payment resulting from a Standard Termination, rather than risk having to take a lower payment in a Distress Termination.

    This sounds straightforward and, for some, it is. However, companies are looking for new ways to implement Standard Terminations, encouraged by a number of firms who counsel pension plan sponsors in ways to tailor such terminations that could work against current and future retirees. These annuity guarantors are highly motivated to sell companies new termination ideas, and their payoff comes only if and when a plan is terminated.

    The NRLN is concerned about the variable latitude that is being taken by companies in what has become known as "de-risking" of pension plans. Or, as one NRLN member has termed it "risk shifting" to retirees.

    General Motors was the first large U.S. corporation to recently de-risk its management pension plan. GM voluntarily terminated its plan but offered a lump sum payment option to a select group of participants and advised all other participants that they had no choice but to accept an annuity payment from Prudential Insurance Company. The GM management pension plan was terminated. GM negotiated added annuity protection in its agreement with Prudential.

    At about the same time, Ford offered a lump sum pension buyout but only to select retirees. Ford did not take action to execute a Standard Termination. Most recently Verizon did not terminate its pension plan but instead shifted part of its plan assets and liabilities to Prudential to satisfy its plan obligations but only offered annuities to a select subset of management retirees. It's not clear that Verizon negotiated added protection as did GM.

    The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the law that prescribes defined benefit pension plan protections, does allow for Standard (and Distress) Terminations but is vague as to what protections there might be when plan sponsors choose to expand the boundaries of execution of a Standard Termination to include what could be discriminatory selections or exclusions and / or the exhaustion of assets through lump sum payouts that can weaken a plan's asset base over time.

    Verizon retirees have filed a lawsuit against the company on a variety of claims. Among them are claims that assert Verizon should not have terminated its obligation to select retirees only, and that the retirees selected lost protection of the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) insurance mechanism should Prudential ever fail to make good on annuity payments while others not selected continue to benefit from the PBGC's insurance protection.

    It is not clear how long it will take to litigate the Verizon case or what the outcome might be. It is even less clear that the outcome would apply, win or lose, to another case involving another twist or two by the pension plan sponsor. Advocating changes to ERISA that would define Standard Termination protections may be the only solid solution.

    At the NRLN's Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., presentations were made on February 5th about "de-risking" by Michael Calabrese, NRLN legislative adviser and preparer of a number of our Income Security white papers, and Curtis Kennedy, one of the attorneys representing Verizon retirees. After hearing the presentations, the NRLN Board has reached the conclusion that the NRLN should conduct an exhaustive analysis of "de-risking" to determine what, if any, regulatory or legislative actions the NRLN should consider and prepare a white paper with our proposals. Michael has agreed to work with a committee of NRLN Retiree Association leaders and write the white paper.

    Our existing white papers have been funded as Special Projects and most of our Retiree Associations and Chapters have agreed once again to provide a one-time special contribution toward funding that will be used to determine what, if any, regulatory or legislative action we should take to begin advocating those reforms with federal agencies and / or members of Congress. Michael has been commissioned to the start the project immediately so that we may complete it by July 1, 2013.

    Our objective is to ensure that retirees receiving defined benefit pensions will not be harmed by a conversion to lump sum buyouts or the purchase of annuities. You will be notified when the white paper has been completed and posted on the NRLN website at www.nrln.org.

    Bill Kadereit, President, National Retiree Legislative Network

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • Its a Amazing Place to Start Your Carrier and when i entered inside the premises on same moment i found my dream cmpny.” Current Employee. Pros: The Kind of work culture,environment they provide you will not get any where. Cons: I didn't find a single one. Advice to Senior Management: No Advice
    • The most toxic environment I have ever seen” Former Server Administrative. Pros: Name looks good on resume, diverse workforce, chance to get experience, lots of time off. Cons: Working at the GDF was not what I thought it would be, as time went on, it became more and more negative, all the good managers left, and many good employees kept leaving and were never replaced. People were constantly complaining, even the people who received good PBC ratings were not ever really happy. Advice to Senior Management: Treat your employees like human beings, not numbers, after all, aren't you human beings yourselves?
    • Earnings per share is more important than quality.” Current Employee. Pros: There is a lot of new technology to be involved in. Cons: They don't care about quality.
    • Flexibility only in policies not actuals” Current Advisory Systems Analyst in Bangalore (India). Pros: None i have experienced so far. Cons: Most of the things said about IBM are all false and it is NOT at all a Great Place to work. Flexibility for women is only in policies; in real when you ask them (some person called people manager) for flexibility, it is said that "it all depends on the project and your project manager, there is no concept like flexibility in IBM". Horrible place, no professionalism, no work ethics. Advice to Senior Management: The surveys that you conduct, please pay attention to what is being said in those survey's. Also do not keep things only in policies, employ them too.
    • This is the worst-managed company I have ever worked for.” Former Advisory Software Engineer. Pros: There are still lots of smart people at IBM, and the company has enormous resources. Cons: None of the smart people work in upper management. IBM is a company that is run as though the only thing that matters is financial rewards for shareholders and upper management. Customers and employees are little more than an afterthought. Short-term decision making rules EVERYTHING. Employees work long hours with little hope of reward, other than not being on the next layoff list. Advice to Senior Management: Fire yourselves and let some competent grown-ups run things.
    • Striving to meet customer needs, or gag them in red tape.” Current BAU Customer Projects in Melbourne (Australia). Pros: Some excellent people work here, and in some projects, where are intelligent, driven individuals making things happen. Cons: ...but there are many mediocre people who only know how to roll out additional red tape. Advice to Senior Management: IBM is a process-driven organisation. The process makes things achievable and repeatable, but there are many things which shouldn't be repeated, and *process flexibility* is where the customer gets the best value.
    • Declining income, impossible quotas.” Current Software Sales Specialist in Detroit, MI. Pros: Respected brand, good benefits, decent job security, great people. Cons: Sales quotas are impossible to achieve. There's no clear career path. You have to do your own internal networking to move up. Being a solid performer isn't enough to get ahead. Advice to Senior Management: Salespeople need reasonable goals to be motivated, and need to know that they have the opportunity to increase their income.
    • It has been very frustrating working at IBM Global Business Services because it is devoid of true leadership” Current Associate Partner in Herndon, VA. Pros: Great clients and interesting work. Cons: No leadership; partisanship/favoritism is rife; limited opportunities for training; people managers are not true managers—mere administrators; employees are treated like criminals relative to the T&E process; horrible travel policies; WAY TOO MUCH bureaucracy and administrative overhead. Advice to Senior Management: Value your employees and listen when they tell you something
    • IBM's vision of deeper skills and higher margin services is good, but the implementation is poor” Current STSM in Austin, TX. Pros: IBM is a vast company that includes numerous lines of business: finding something of interest is almost always possible; there are a lot of highly qualified and dedicated individuals with whom to work.

      Cons: IBM's senior management and executive staff's focus on the so-called 2015 plan (US$20/EPS), and so-called shareholder value and the policies resulting from that reinforce the view within the engineering community of IBM's lack of care about its employees; 2012's change in (IBM US) 401K policy is merely the latest in a long line of insults to its employees; shareholders love IBM; almost no employee I speak with enjoys working at this company.

      What do we (rank-and-file) employees see? We see an executive staff that has increased their options and share ownership (reducing income tax bite) while non-executive staff have not seen the increases in pay (or other compensation) and an increasingly brutal culture that shows blatant disregard for these same employees while paying mere lip service to the idea of a positive culture.

      Advice to Senior Management: At least strive for integrity: if you are going to maintain that you are going to be a shareholder-driven company, then stop claiming that you are creating a culture that values employees (and these latest exercises of mandatory "Jams" are so reminiscent of "Office Space" as to consider the executive team that thought them up to be hopelessly out of touch with their workforce).; if, on the other hand, you are going to create a company that values its employees and client relationships, then, that needs to be followed through with finances: increases in resources (i.e., more employees), increases in salaries, returning benefits lost over the past decade, etc.

    • Once a great company, still a good company” Former Sales in Toronto, ON (Canada). Pros: Excellent people, excellent training for technical task, professional skills and career, decent compensation, decent benefits, flexible work styles in-office or home-mobile, good sense of belonging, good opportunity for an on-going variety in job role for those interested in moving from one job type to another. Cons: Too many internal meetings reduces time in front of customers, complex matrix management structure, lots of chiefs but fewer workers. Process and lots of administration surrounding almost anything. Expense cut-backs have greatly reduced management levers to maintain morale. Advice to Senior Management: Truly walk the talk. This company has great values, and incredible breadth in vision and capability, but not everyone lives up to them, or even tries very hard to do so.
    • Flexible work place but bad project management” Current Advisory Software Engineer in Tucson, AZ. Pros: Very flexible on work location. Big, big company can move around and experience different area. Cons: Poor bonuses and raises even for 1 rating multiple years in row. Project management does not know anything technical or how to coordinate development. Executives do not act like they value engineers. Climate is terrible and there is no investment in work facility making people want to be around the office. Advice to Senior Management: Reverse 401k decision Clean out the working at IBM 30+ yr. but doesn't do anything anymore crowd. Reward top contributors competitively.
    • No future for American employees / keep your CV up-to-date” Current Non-Direct in Atlanta, GA. Pros: Decent benefits, flexibility, still some good lower level managers.

      Cons: Absolutely no opportunities for US employees. Constant layoffs. Constant THREAT of layoffs. Bogus evaluation system to move US employees out of the business and not give raises or bonus. Forced evaluation skews that managers must adhere to or else.

      Layoffs every year, sometimes twice a year. I've seen folks get laid off, but are extended to meet customer demand. Threat of no severance if employees don't comply.

      HR is totally useless. The employee services center is the go-to place for employees to get HR answers (except for Fidelity Services) The ESC center is of course offshored someplace and give out wrong answers and read from a script. HR Partners in the US are only for management team and to help make a case against employees.

      GBS is body shop and once your skills aren't needed, you're out the door. Don't make your utilization target (through no fault of your own), you'll get a 3 performance rating. Get two of those and bye-bye.

      Advice to Senior Management: The senior executive team is decimating the U.S workforce. Executives bonus are calculated on profit. Employees on revenue. Executives have 'contracts' and a different retirement. It's a RARE executive that gets laid off. The lower band executives kowtow to the higher bands. The senior executives say Jump! and the lower bands say how high. The senior executive team is decimating the U.S workforce. Executives bonus are calculated on profit. Employees on revenue. Executives have 'contracts' and a different retirement. It's a RARE executive that gets laid off. The lower band executives kowtow to the higher bands. The senior executives say Jump! and the lower bands say how high.

      The senior execs are cleaning up like bandits. They won't change until this once great company is beaten into the ground. Read "I, Cringley" take on IBM.

    • If you are in the US, do NOT consider working for IBM” Current IT Person in Dallas, TX. Pros: Travel. Working from home (depending on what group you are hired on with). This is my second review for the same company (did one about a year ago).

      Cons: I have never worked at a company that has so little respect for their employees. Nothing you do is ever enough and as an IT person, we are held accountable to meet expectations from the business, who changes their requirements daily, with no change control and no pushback from IT leadership.

      I haven't spoken to the person who I am told is my manager in over 4 months (until I recently SameTimed him to let him know that I cannot work 24 hours a day). At IBM, you have managers on paper, but zero leadership or direction. Any direction you receive is at the project level and not at an HR level. You are just a tool, a soldier, and expected to work harder and harder, for less and less of a reward as the execs continue to line their pockets with bonuses for record profits (which do not trickle down in ANY way to US employees).

      I'm sure the reviews are skewed higher by employees from other countries which IBM is heavily investing in.

      In addition, you might see lots of jobs out there, so that it appears IBM is hiring. This is NOT true. They are trying to hire people in at lower salaries to do the same work, and will expect you to work from a "delivery center", so that they can lay off a loyal tenured employee who remembers how things used to be. Before considering a job at IBM, search the web for IBM employee comments. There are a few websites out there devoted to it, although I am not sure if I am allowed to list them here.

      Advice to Senior Management: It's too late, management has no interest in hearing from their employees. The laughable "JAM" that recently happened (which we were ordered to sign up for) was basically just a pep rally talking about how they can get more business and how great everyone's IBM manager is...and how ethical the company is and how great their values are. It reminded me of some churches I belonged to growing up.

    • Awesome people, but US workforce is no longer valued” Former Software Engineer in Poughkeepsie, NY. Pros: Pay Incredibly dedicated and talented workforce. Cons: Constant layoffs in the US. Underhanded techniques to keep layoff numbers below what is required to be reported to the state in advance, in an attempt to avoid bad publicity. Advice to Senior Management: Management needs to take a good look at who is actually doing the work. Many jobs have been outsourced to China, India, etc. but in most cases the new "resources" still require the assistance of more experienced employees in the US—even after long training periods.
    • Excellent training - Lousy management” Former Sales Specialist. Pros: Generally smart people—good IBM value training that would be better if management also honored it. Cons: Restructured 4 months after I started and cut pay by 20%. No formal notice from HR about the change—just the manager saying you are getting a "haircut". Management bites—no humanity—just pushing spreadsheets. AVOID the HR Open Door "challenge" program—it is used just to validate and protect the company—all is used against you. They sell you the benefits of it only. Products are mostly unfinished and turn into a "project" to get running at client sites. Advice to Senior Management: People are not robots. Low level management has no clue about various industries they sell into...total joke.
    • IBM treats employees horribly” Former Senior Project Manager. Pros: - Ability to work remotely; - Exposure to many different clients and businesses Cons: - Constant Layoffs (or 'Resource Actions', as they call it). They literally lay hundreds to thousands of people off every quarter; - They overwork their people tremendously. Advice to Senior Management: Stop laying people off every three months
    • Paralysed by process, Share price obsession top priority, Clients second priority, Staff 10th priority” Former Software Sales in London, England (UK). Pros: Excellent technology strategy and products. Strong Brand. Good credentials. Employees have good tools for working at home. Whole IT infrastructure is robust and rarely fails. Generally staff are respectful and talented with some management exceptions. Benefits are acceptable. Salaries appear below market rates.

      Cons: IBM efforts to reduce expense cost means the staff are increasingly meeting the day to day costs of the business i.e. self funding cell phones, stationary, some client hospitality. Working for IBM costs the employees money. Expenses are difficult to claim and are often rejected even when completely legitimate.

      Long work hours are expected. Some offices are in a poor state of repair and require attention (dirty carpets, broken chairs, broken phones, data ports not functioning, leaking ceilings, broken elevators).

      Processes are difficult and prohibitive making the working day painful and frustrating. Sales staff are driven in an unacceptable manner to achieve quarterly goals. Clients are now being driven in the same way to do deals.

      Corporate Money being diverted to growth markets and mature markets are having most back office functions outsourced to Asia/S America etc. The consequence is day-to-day business operations for USA and Europe is now more projected and onerous having moved out of the host country. Clients are also finding this a challenge too.

      Advice to Senior Management: They know what they should be doing.

    • Management at Inside sales Dublin needs to reflect and develop” Current Inside Sales Specialist in Dublin, Dublin (Ireland). Pros: Relatively good salary for the level of job expertise, which can considered to be bad or good for some. Cons: Due to the fast turnover of people, even inexperienced or incapable folks can become manager
    • Excellent Company with growth opportunities” Former Sales Manager. Pros: Great company to work for that provides internal growth an all areas of the company. it is easy to move around and get into the position you enjoy. Cons: Over the years they have focused more on business than people. Used be much more family oriented. Advice to Senior Management: Need to refocus on employee satisfaction to retain great talent
    • Just enough pay to stagnate” Current Staff Software Engineer in Markham, ON (Canada). Pros: * Decent job stability relative to the entire tech industry. * Great place to start your career, get a good grasp on software development. * Ability to work from home at your discretion, depending on team, flexible work hours. * Friendly engineers and quiet work environment. * Above average pay depending on performance. Cons: * Performance evaluations and distribution of profit sharing archaic and detrimental to team work, innovation and morale. * Extremely low bus factor as a result of people hoarding information. * A lot of talented people are being pushed to management and sales since technical jobs are getting shipped overseas to ISL. * Meetings upon meetings upon meetings. Advice to Senior Management: * Say thank-you and appreciate it when your employees put in overtime. The slightest bit of acknowledgement will go a long way and dissuade bitterness especially when there is no compensation for overtime anymore. * Less meetings and more empowering your employees to succeed.
    • Really wanted to work in this company, but was disappointed.” Current Sales Representative in Moscow (Russia). Pros: This is one of the world's oldest companies. There are wide opportunities to apply. This is the company that gave the world the computer. Cons: It all comes down to sales. 70% of the work is reporting. People are not important, so the constant staff turnover.
    • IBM Global Services” Former Project Manager in Atlanta, GA. Pros: Exposure to large commercial accounts. Employee stock purchase plan. Access to education classes, materials and certifications. Work from home. Partnerships with other large companies provide for good networking. Cons: Opportunities for advancement are limited in some positions due to a tendency to pigeonhole employees in current role from lack of availability of trained resources to assume responsibilities. Extreme cost cutting measures especially in Q4 limiting education, travel and hiring. Many layers of management to navigate. Distribution of work across global regions slows down delivery of projects. Salaries below market value. Recent 401k changes are viewed as unfavorable to employees. Overall low morale. Advice to Senior Management: More cross-training of employees. Listen to front line employees to understand results of cost-cutting measures. Work/Life balance is purely on paper not reality.
    • Bad Salaries” Former Project Manager in Buenos Aires (Argentina). Pros: You learn a lot at IBM, you can move from division to division, you get to known a lot of people. Cons: The salaries are some of the worst in Argentina. Advice to Senior Management: HHRR is not just a department to fill a check box. You can not give 5% increases in salary when the competition gives 25%.
    • Full of learning and being a big organisation its a land of opportunity.” Former Senior Systems Engineer in Gurgaon, Haryana (India). Pros: If you are in a good project there is no stopping in kind of learning you get. If after working for say 2 years you feel you are not having much learning and want to explore something new you can look for some projects with IBM which can be with in India or outside India. So its a good company if you know how to get those extra benefits. Cons: HR interaction with employees is less. The company needs to check those employees you are involved in frauds. Some employees do submit fake claims. Because of huge number of employees IBM is not auditing them much.
    • Great place to learn about technology and work with top global clients.” Former Associate Partner in Philadelphia, PA. Pros: Great learning opportunities, large global presence, opportunities to work outside of US, clients are top global companies, you can work with leading edge software solutions and other technology. Cons: Business model doesn't support true management consulting, large bureaucracy, compensation is at or below market and does not promote cross-brand collaboration,
    • Project Manager” Former Project Manager in Atlanta, GA. Pros: Ability to work from home. Cons: No loyalty and increasing population of contract workers. Advice to Senior Management: This company became great because of the people it hired. Outsourcing these responsibilities have increased profit for now, but you have put IBM's reputation at risk.
    • It's a job...” Current Staff Analog Circuit Design Engineer in Raleigh, NC. Pros: Great company to build experience. Cons: No job stability. Stressful work environment.
  • Alliance for Retired Americans: Friday Alert. This week's articles include:
    • Senate Passes Budget That Protects Social Security and Medicare, Ends Sequester
    • Senate Budget Also Includes Sanders Amendment Opposing Chained CPI
    • Republican Senator Burr Supports Chained CPI but Wants to Exempt Veterans
    • Long-Term Care Insurance Increasingly Unaffordable, Especially for Women
    • Seniors Face Growing Credit Card Debt Crisis
    • Something on Your Mind? Write a Letter to the Editor and Win a Pen!
  • Forbes: In 401(k)s, The Problem Is Fees, Not Complexity. By Mitch Tuchman. Excerpts: It’s a recurring theme among financial advisors and the personal finance media: 401(k) savers have too many choices. They are overwhelmed. ...

    Yes, retirement savers get a pretty nice carrot to incentivize saving in the form of tax deferral and company matches. But they also get a huge stick alongside it: punitively high fees.

    The Wall Street Journal reviewed comparative data and came up with the best characteristics of a well-run, affordable 401(k) plan.

    Total expenses, they concluded, should come to less than 1% and hopefully no more than 0.75%. Target-date funds, the kind that automatically change to lower-risk investments as a worker gets older, should cost less than 0.6%.

  • Forbes: Americans Want More Social Security, Not Less. By Edward "Ted" Siedle. Excerpts: The greatest truth to emerge from the past thirty years of our nation’s retirement planning experience is that Wall Street, i.e., private financial services companies, cannot be trusted with handling retirement savings—at least not under the existing legal and regulatory framework. Maybe Wall Street, or Las Vegas casinos for that matter, can be trusted with gambling monies—dollars individuals can afford to lose. But when it comes to all-important savings that individuals and families will have to rely upon to meet their basic needs in later years, such as food, shelter and health insurance, Wall Street should be told, “Hands off.”

    It is appropriate to judge an industry, including the retirement planning industry, by the results it produces. Any fair assessment must conclude that, as measured by the anemic financial stability it has produced, the retirement planning industry is an utter failure. You can blame workers for not saving enough, or not making the best asset allocation decisions, but the industry has known for decades what it was doing, wasn’t working. The writing was on the wall but, as long as fees were rich, the industry couldn’t have cared less. The band played on. ...

    Today there is wide belief that our Social Security system is challenged, or even poised for failure. It seems to be macho to say that one is not counting on Social Security being around in their retirement years. Don’t need it- don’t want it, seems to be the very definition of self-reliance. Hopefully, these financial cowboys who say they don’t need or want Social Security are rightly predicting their financial futures. Chances are they aren’t.

    Truth be known, the overwhelming majority of elderly Americans have little but Social Security to depend upon and, like it or not, Social Security is the most certain source of retirement income available at this time. Sure, the U.S. Government may be, or become, insolvent but remember, it was Uncle Sam that bailed out Wall Street five years ago.

    If Social Security collapses, given the large number of Americans dependent upon it for basic, minimum sustenance, USA collapses. It’s that simple.

    Do Americans want more Wall Street involvement in their retirement plans, as Wall Street and the elected officials it supports would have you believe? Is there really a groundswell of opinion that letting Wall Street get its hands on more of America’s savings is the one solution to any weakness in our limited safety net, Social Security? ...

    If we were to allow Americans to pay more into Social Security to enhance their benefits upon retirement, I firmly believe that there would be a run on Wall Street. If you could buy more Social Security income upon retirement, say another $1,000 a month, would you do it– assuming the pricing was fair? I would. Maybe you’d rather trust Goldman Sachs or Merrill Lynch to care for you when you’re old and weak.

    The national debate about Social Security and the need to reform our existing retirement system has been framed by special interests that seek ever greater profits from problems they have created or, at a minimum, exacerbated. Building and then playing upon fears about the Social Security system at a time when more Americans than ever are poised to depend upon it is, in my book, the very definition of evil. You shouldn’t be ashamed to say you’re counting on Social Security anymore than saying you’re counting on electricity, water or roads in retirement—they’re all part of our social compact, if you will.

  • The Hindu Business Line: US tech companies ask Obama to allow more skilled immigration. Excerpts: Chief executive officers of some of America’s top tech companies, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, have written to President Barack Obama and lobbied the lawmakers to allow more high-skilled immigration given their significant role in the country’s economy.

    “One of the biggest economic challenges facing our nation is the need for more qualified, highly-skilled professionals, domestic and foreign, who can create jobs and immediately contribute to and improve our economy,” wrote more than 100 technology executives in a letter dated March 14. ...

    The letter said four high-tech companies alone – IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle – have combined 10,000 openings in the United States.

  • National Public Radio (NPR): Maybe We Should Retire The Word 'Retire'. By Linton Weeks. Excerpts: Time was, the official portrait of a retired American included a steady, dependable pension; leisurely mornings puttering about the house in soft slippers — maybe replacing the chain on the toilet tank ball or knitting a doorknob cozy; slow-driving from drug store to grocery to TV repair shop — back when TVs could be repaired. Afternoons were for penning letters to faraway friends and checking on the backyard hammock hooks.

    Oh sure, there was plenty to do — foursomes of bridge and long weekend fishing trips. Perhaps for the more privileged — a beach house, a houseboat, that long-delayed trip to Mexico City.

    No mas. ...

    "Today's 60-year-old might reasonably plan to work at least part-time for another 15 years," Hannon says. "That changes the entire definition of retirement today and what it really means. For many retirees, working in retirement is quickly becoming a new stage in career progression."

  • AARP: Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. Don’t wait until your health fails before living the life you want to live. By Bronnie Ware. Excerpts: For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to 12 weeks of their lives.

    People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected: denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Yet every single patient found peace before departing. Every one of them.

    When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced. Here are the most common five...

    I wish I didn't work so hard. This came from every male patient I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site
  • Job Cut Reports
    • Comment 03/24/13: Visitors seen given sales tours of Roch MN facilities. Trying to lease unused space, but no takers. Mothballing buildings. If mgmt compressed occupied space, half the site would be unused. -Frank-
    • Comment 03/25/13: IBM Seems to be Preparing to Sell is Services Business. Like IBM jettisoned the PC business years ago, citing a highly commoditized market and the inability to make enough profit, IBM's services business is under similar pressure and may be being secretly prepared for sale. Feedback from insiders suggests that the cuts are so deep in recent months, that there is really no other viable explanation other than the services business is being prepared for sale. If this is true for services, it is also true for many other business units at IBM. Will Ginni's legacy be overseeing a garage sale of IBM businesses? If Ginni can't stop IBM from selling off its business units that do not drive enough bottom line profit, she will not only fail as its new CEO, she will go down in history as IBM's worst CEO of all time. Anyone care to chime on on this? -SOmaybegonesoon-
    • Comment 03/26/13: So the WWERS expense reimbursement system has been down and now I can't get reimbursed for my expenses that I paid out of pocket. IBM has to be cooking the books on expenses unbelievable, they will probably open up the system on 4/1 April Fools day. Isn't it illegal to do this? -I want to be reimbursed-
    • Comment 03/28/13: IBM putting 800-job tech center in Baton Rouge: http://news.yahoo.com/ibm-putting-800-job-tech-205312971.html Thank You Taxpayers, for the $74 Million Donation to the IBM Fund for underprivileged Billionaire Executive Managers! Without this generous donation, many IBM Executives would have had to downsize to only a 50 foot yacht, and give up the lease on their private jets. -Ginni Madoff with my Pension-
    • Comment 03/29/13: To -SOmaybegonesoon: IBM split off its managed cloud offering from GTS into a new/separate division. I believe you may be right. It looks like they are planning on selling off the old GTS/SO soon. They kept the up-and-coming profit cow, and will jettison the flailing GTS to someone else. Keep on, keeping on. Watch out for the roadkill, on the way to 2015. -dun-4-
    • Comment 03/29/13: WWERS - it seems that it has been "down" all over the world with plenty of "dodgy" rejections and unaccountable delays. No coincidence that there is also a push to delay expenses until 2Q. -Bored-
    • Comment 03/29/13: Re delays on expense reports... this is consistent with delays on commission payments. No payments for 1Q13 sales until April 30. Normally commissions are paid the month following the sale. Ginni should send a thank-you note to the sales team for their help with IBM's cash flow. Meanwhile, I need to borrow money to pay my bills, including Uncle Sam come April 15. -anonymous-
    • Comment 03/31/13: 'WWERS - it seems that it has been "down" all over the world' I hope you just mean the IBM internal expense reporting employee application end of things. WWERS seems to go through frequent re-orgs and they canned their long time IBM director last year. WWERS client code I heard is Java based. Perhaps the newer Java is to blame? Maybe the digital certificates for the WWERS app. need to be renewed? It could be lots of things but probably your right that it is political to keep it the way it is behaving now to make IBM's 1st QTR look better. I don't think IBM have many pens filled with red ink and don't or can't want to expense any so make by this is a reason too! :) IBM is all about fuzzy math, questionable expense accounting practices (non-GAAP). No wonder they can pull Profit their blue rabbit out of a paper bag whenever they want too (maybe today.. Happy Easter!) -Anonymous-
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • Salt Lake Tribune: Last chance. If ACA fails, single payer is next. Excerpts: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should be seen as what it is: One last opportunity for the private health insurance market to prove that it can offer a service that covers the millions of Americans who were previously left out, at a cost that we — as individuals, employers and taxpayers — can afford.

    If that is a goal beyond the grasp of the existing system, then it needs to be finally swept aside in favor of something that will meet those needs.

    The most valid critique of the law, better known as Obamacare, is that it does not do enough to reduce, or even retard, increases in the cost of health care across the board. That, in furtherance of its humanitarian goal of catching up to every other industrialized nation by providing near-universal health care, it does too much to increase the cost of that coverage to individuals, employers and taxpayers. ...

    But this is, or should be, the private health insurance industry’s last chance. If Obamacare fails, a return to the cold-hearted free market is not a realistic or humane choice.

    An entity with the chops to bargain down the actual cost of care is necessary. At the very least, a robust public option, an idea President Obama bargained away in the creation of the ACA, must be provided. Better still would be a single-payer plan — Medicare for all.

  • Physicians for a National Health Program: Selling private health insurance will not strengthen democracy. By Andrew D. Coates, M.D. Excerpts: Health system planning in the U.S. is increasingly based upon maximizing corporate profits, consolidating financial control, and otherwise enhancing corporate interests. It is based less and less upon individual and community health needs.

    Despite its modest benefits, the ACA does not resolve these problems. In many ways it exacerbates them. ...

    When it comes to health care needs in the United States, we must keep our eye on the prize. The fact remains that nothing short of a public, national single-payer health program will be able to control costs, guarantee access to all, improve the quality of care and protect the vulnerable.

    Yes, the movement that wins health care for all will need to draw lessons from the great social movements of the past. Yes, real health reform will give new impetus to our nation's democracy. Peddling private health insurance policies to the working poor will not get us there.

  • Washington Post: Obamacare’s most popular provisions are its least well known. By Ezra Klein. Excerpts: This poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation tells you almost everything you need to know about the politics of Obamacare.

    It is, by now, so well known as to be almost a cliche: Obamacare is unpopular even though most of its major provisions are highly popular. But this Kaiser poll adds to our understanding. What you’re seeing in those long blue lines at the bottom is that Obamacare’s least popular elements — the individual mandate, the employer penalty — are also its best known. And some of its most popular elements — closing the Medicare Part D “donut hole,” creating insurance exchanges, extending tax credits to small businesses — are its least well known.

  • The Health Care Blog: Why Only Business Can Save America From Health Care. By Brian Klepper. Excerpts: For a large and growing number of us with meager or no coverage, health care is the ultimate “gotcha.” Events conspire, we receive care and then are on the hook for a car- or house-sized bill. There are few alternatives except going without or going broke.

    Steven Brill’s recent Time cover story clearly detailed the predatory health care pricing that has been ruinous for many rank-and-file Americans. In Brill’s report, a key mechanism, the hospital chargemaster, with pricing “devoid of any calculation related to cost,” facilitated US health care’s rise to become the nation’s largest and wealthiest industry. His recommendations, like Medicare for all with price controls, seem sensible and compelling. But efforts to implement Brill’s ideas, on their own, would likely fail, just as many others have, because he does not fully acknowledge the deeper roots of health care’s power.

    He does not adequately follow the money, question how the industry came to operate a core social function in such a self-interested fashion or pursue why it has been so difficult to dislodge its abuses. For that, we need to turn our attention to a far more intractable and frightening problem: lobbying and the capture of regulation that dictates how American health care works.

    It is hardly a coincidence that, in 2009, as Congress cobbled together the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than 4,500 health industry lobbyists, eight for every member of Congress, delivered more than $1.2 billion in campaign contributions in exchange for influence over the shape of the law. Framed against an annual $2.8 trillion national health care expenditure, this paltry investment will deliver massive returns for decades.

    The industry wanted two things in the reform law: to increase the number of Americans with publicly financed health coverage and to neutralize health care cost containment efforts. Its lobbyists, tasked with spinning every relevant legislative bill and regulation to advantage, achieved both to a breathtaking degree.

  • Forbes: Proof That Obamacare 'Rate Shock' Is An Ugly Insurance Company Deception. By Rick Ungar. Excerpts: Over the past few months, the nation’s largest health insurance companies have been hard at work selling a narrative claiming that the Affordable Care Act is about to result in dramatically larger premium costs for a significant number of Americans. Indeed, the warnings have become so worrisome that the massive increases they are predicting have taken on a frightening descriptor all its own—rate shock.

    At the heart of the health insurers’ retelling of the Chicken Little story is a regulation promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services a few months back limiting what a health insurer can charge a 64 year old to three times what they charge a 21 year old. Currently, the average bump for older participants is typically five times that of the younger customers—although there are examples where the increase can reach ten times what is paid by the young immortals buying coverage. ...

    Now, The Urban Institute—an organization so clearly bi-partisan that even the most suspicious partisan would encounter extreme difficulty making a case for bias—is out with a study that states that the ‘rate shock’ argument is “unfounded”, particularly when applied to the millions of Americans in the individual market. ...

    While any new law as significant as the Affordable Care Act creates questions and concerns, the false campaign being waged by the health insurance companies is a prime example of an industry using fear as a tool to get the government to change a regulation that they don’t like. ...

    As The Urban institute study makes crystal clear, the ‘rate shock’ controversy has far more to do with insurance company lobbying efforts and far less to do with the reality of what health insurance will cost for millions of young Americans.

  • Washington Post: Employee health-plan options shrinking to one with a high deductible. By Michelle Andrews. Excerpts: Historically, one of the perks of working at a big company has been generous health benefits with modest out-of-pocket costs. But increasingly, large companies are offering their employees only one option: a plan with a relatively high deductible linked to a savings account for medical expenses. ...

    Shifting to health plans with higher deductibles and savings accounts is supposed to help workers become more cost-conscious in choosing health care. But the extent to which this is occurring is unclear.

    An analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that synthesized research findings on consumer-driven health plans (another term applied to plans with relatively high deductibles and a consumer spending account) found that, on average, they reduced total health-care spending by 5 to 14 percent.

    The reductions were concentrated among healthier enrollees and were mainly due to lower spending on prescription drugs and outpatient care. Results were mixed on whether people in such plans cut back indiscriminately on both necessary and unnecessary care, as earlier research has found.

  • Washington Post: 21 graphs that show America’s health-care prices are ludicrous. By Ezra Klein. Excerpts: Every year, the International Federation of Health Plans — a global insurance trade association that includes more than 100 insurers in 25 countries — releases survey data showing the prices that insurers are actually paying for different drugs, devices, and medical services in different countries. And every year, the data is shocking.

    The IFHP just released the data for 2012. And yes, once again, the numbers are shocking.

    This is the fundamental fact of American health care: We pay much, much more than other countries do for the exact same things. For a detailed explanation of why, see this article. But this post isn’t about the why. It’s about the prices, and the graphs.

    Editor's note: One of the 21 graphs is shown here:

  • PR Newswire: Consumer Reports: So Many Drugstores, So Many Prices; New Report Finds Price Mayhem At The Pharmacy. Excerpts: Consumers who don't shop around for their prescription drugs may be overpaying BIG time, explains Consumer Reports in its May issue. Failing to comparison shop could result in overpaying by as much as $100 a month or even more, depending on the drug.

    Consumer Reports compared drug prices for five blockbuster drugs that have recently gone generic, including heart drugs Lipitor and Plavix, finding that Costco offered the lowest retail prices overall and CVS charged the highest. The report is available wherever magazines are sold and online at www.ConsumerReports.org. ...

    Some price comparisons:

    • If you shop around, a month's supply of generic Lipitor will set you back $17 at Costco, CR's secret shoppers found. However, if you fail to do your homework and purchase it from CVS, you could pay $150. That's a difference of $133. Rite Aid and Target were also pricey.
    • For the antidepressant Lexapro, Consumer Reports found a month's supply available of the generic version at a cost of $7 at Costco and $126 at CVS. Rite Aid, grocery stores, and Walgreens also charged high prices on average.
    • Generic Plavix, which is prescribed to people with cardiovascular disease, was also available at widely varying prices. For example, on the low end, a month's supply was available at $12 through Healthwarehouse.com and $15 at Costco, while CVS quoted $180 when CR's secret shoppers inquired about prices.
    • For the market basket of drugs CR checked, independent and grocery store pharmacies' prices varied widely between stores, sometimes offering the cheapest and the most expensive price for the same drug. So consumers should shop around.
  • Washington Post: How Fortune 500 companies plan to cut health costs: Act like Medicare. By Sarah Kliff. Excerpts: For as long as we’ve had a health-care system, insurers have paid doctors and hospitals a fee for every service they provide. This isn’t an especially unique model. Any widget-maker tends to earn more money for selling more widgets.

    That’s the whole goal in the world of widget sales — selling more widgets — but it’s not the same aim for the health-care system. At GE, Galvin knew more widgets just meant higher health insurance spending.

    GE could go to insurers and demand they change their payment models. It is, after all, the country’s sixth-largest company. That’s not a contract that a health plan wants to lose, but it still doesn’t have the clout of large government programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, which cover millions of Americans. Because of that, both have been able to launch more aggressive programs that require doctors’ performance to factor into their paychecks.

  • New York Times: U.S. Health Care Prices Are the Elephant in the Room. By Uwe E. Reinhardt. Excerpts: Traditionally, the theory driving discussions on the high cost of health care in the United States has been that there is enormous waste in the system, taking the form of excess utilization of care. From that theory it follows that methods of controlling the growth of health spending should focus on ways to reduce the use of unnecessary or only marginally beneficial health care.

    Largely overlooked in these discussions has been the elephant in the room: the extraordinarily high prices Americans pay for health care. However, as a group of us noted in a paper in 2004, “It’s the Prices, Stupid,” it is higher health spending coupled with lower – not higher — use of health services that adds up to much higher prices in the United States than in any other member nation of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Aside from a few high-tech services, Americans actually use less health care and rely on fewer real health-care resources than do residents of other industrialized countries.

  • New York Times editorial: Report Card on Health Care Reform. Excerpt: Republican leaders in Congress regularly denounce the 2010 Affordable Care Act and vow to block money to carry it out or even to repeal it. Those political attacks ignore the considerable benefits delivered to millions of people since the law’s enactment three years ago Saturday. The main elements of the law do not kick in until Jan. 1, 2014, when many millions of uninsured people will gain coverage. Yet it has already thrown a lifeline to people at high risk of losing insurance or being uninsured, including young adults and people with chronic health problems, and it has made a start toward reforming the costly, dysfunctional American health care system.
  • AARP: Why So Many Americans Put Off Medical Care. By Kaiser Health News. Excerpts: Hidalgo is a county in southern Texas just across the Rio Grande from Mexico. It’s also home to the highest prevalence of U.S. adults – about 40 percent of the population– delaying necessary medical care because of cost, according to data in the March 28 New England Journal of Medicine.

    The research letter in the March 28 issue of the journal found this number to vary significantly across the country and to be lower in places with less restrictive eligibility criteria for Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for low-income citizens.

    Authors found that people with incomes between 67 percent and 127 percent of the federal poverty line, which is $23,550 for a family of four, had up to a 16 percent chance of delaying care. The odds went up to 42 percent for those with lower incomes.

    The findings come at a time when states are deciding whether to pursue the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, which would extend eligibility to adults with incomes at or below 133 percent of the poverty level.

    Norfolk, Mass., with a 6.5 percent prevalence of adults delaying care, was at the opposite end of the spectrum from Hidalgo, researchers said. Massachusetts’ adoption of state health reforms since 1990, including Medicaid expansions, and the state’s history of investing in health care were likely reasons, said one of the authors, Dr. Cheryl Clarke from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

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.

  • AlterNet: Five Ugly Extremes of Inequality in America -- The Contrasts Will Drop Your Chin to the Floor. By Paul Buchheit. Excerpts: A single top income could buy housing for every homeless person in the U.S. On a winter day in 2012 over 633,000 people were homeless in the United States. Based on an annual single room occupancy (SRO) cost of $558 per month, any ONE of the ten richest Americans would have enough with his 2012 income to pay for a room for every homeless person in the U.S. for the entire year. These ten rich men together made more than our entire housing budget. ...

    The U.S. is nearly the most wealth-unequal country in the entire world. Out of 141 countries, the U.S. has the 4th-highest degree of wealth inequality in the world, trailing only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon. ...

    A can of soup for a black or Hispanic woman, a mansion and yacht for the businessman. That's literally true. For every one dollar of assets owned by a single black or Hispanic woman, a member of the Forbes 400 has over forty million dollars.

  • The Fiscal Times: Why Don’t Politicians Care about the Working Class? By Mark Thoma. Excerpts: If we want to ensure that our children and grandchildren have the brightest possible future, the national debt is not the most important problem to address. Reversing the polarization of the labor market – the hollowing out of the middle class and the associated rise in inequality over the last thirty years or so – is much more important. But money driven politics and a political class that has all but forgotten about the working class – Democrats in particular have forgotten who they are supposed to represent – stand in the way of progress on this important problem. ...

    Solving these and other problems – low and stagnant wages, reduced health care and retirement benefits or no benefits at all, fewer hours, reduced job security, and, if Republicans get their way, substantially less social insurance – won’t be easy. To be successful, we must make jobs our top priority.

    Instead, our focus has been on the debt, but all of the hand wringing over the debt and the future of our children is a ruse by Republicans that diverts our attention from the plight of the working class. As I explained a few weeks ago, we can pay our bills. If we have problems, it will be because of the politics surrounding the debt, the political brinksmanship conservatives have used in pursuit of ideological gains, not the economics. If reducing the debt was the true goal of Republicans, then tax increases would be on the table. Republicans see the large debt, much of which was caused by the recession, as a golden opportunity to reduce the size of government and, by extension, to reduce the chance that high-income households will have to pay higher taxes to support social programs, the overriding political goal. ...

    But more broadly the indifference of both parties to the problems of the unemployed – the failure to take any real action to help after it became clear the initial stimulus package was far, far from enough – speaks to the lack of political power of the majority of people in the U.S. today. Money talks loudly in Washington, and there was a time when unions gave the working class a voice that could be heard. That voice has faded with the demise of unions, and – as people often complain – Washington is not as responsive to the needs of the vast majority of households as it ought to be. Unless Democrats can remember who they are supposed to represent without the “memory aid” provided by powerful, well-funded unions, it’s hard to see how that will change.

  • Washington Post: The corporate ‘predator state’. By Katrina vanden Heuvel. Excerpts: Bipartisan agreement in Washington usually means citizens should hold on to their wallets or get ready for another threat to peace. In today’s politics, the bipartisan center usually applauds when entrenched interests and big money speak. Beneath all the partisan bickering, bipartisan majorities are solid for a trade policy run by and for multinationals, a health-care system serving insurance and drug companies, an energy policy for Big Oil and King Coal, and finance favoring banks that are too big to fail.

    Economist James Galbraith calls this the “predator state,” one in which large corporate interests rig the rules to protect their subsidies, tax dodges and monopolies. This isn’t the free market; it’s a rigged market.

    Wall Street is a classic example. The attorney general announces that some banks are too big to prosecute. Despite what the FBI called an “epidemic of fraud,” not one head of a big bank has gone to jail or paid a major personal fine. Bloomberg News estimated that the subsidy they are provided by being too big to fail adds up to an estimated $83 billion a year. ...

    But true conservatives are — or should be — offended by corporate welfare as well. Conservative economists Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales argue that it is time to “save capitalism from the capitalists,” urging conservatives to support strong measures to break up monopolies, cartels and the predatory use of political power to distort competition. ...

    Camille Moran, president and chief executive of Caramor Industries and Four Seasons Christmas Tree Farm in Natchitoches, La., rails against the “Wall Street wheelers and dealers.” They knew, she argues, that they “ would get no sympathy saying that ending the high-income Bush tax cuts would hurt them, so instead they pretend it would hurt Main Street small business and employment. Don’t fall for it. . . . That’s a trillion dollars less we would have for education, roads, security, small business assistance and all of the other things that actually help our communities.” ...

    Polls show these aren’t isolated views. The ASBC, the Main Street Alliance and the Small Business Majority sponsored a poll by Lake Research of small business owners. Ninety percent believe “big corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes that small businesses have to pay,” and three-fourths said their own businesses suffer because of it.

  • Washington Post: Tax burden for the Dow 30 drops. By Darla Cameron and Jia Lynn Yang. Excerpts: Most of the 30 companies listed on the country’s most famous stock index, the Dow Jones industrial average, have seen a dramatically smaller percentage of their profits go to U.S. coffers over the past 40 years.

    A Washington Post analysis of data compiled by Capital IQ found that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, companies in the current Dow 30 routinely cited U.S. federal tax expenses that were up to half of their worldwide profits. Now, most are reporting less than half that amount.

  • DealBook: Windfalls for Wall Street Executives Taking Jobs in Government. By Susanne Craig. Excerpts: People usually say they go into government to perform public service. If they came from Wall Street, however, their former employers often provide another service.

    Banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, all have provisions that allow acceleration of payments owed to senior executives if they take government jobs, a new study finds.

    Such a benefit was highlighted recently during the confirmation hearing for Jacob J. Lew as Treasury secretary. His previous employer, Citigroup, had guaranteed him preferential financial treatment if he were to leave to take a job in the government. When Mr. Lew left Citigroup he held stock that he could not immediately cash worth as much as $500,000, according to a government filing.

    “These companies seem to be giving a special deal to executives who become government officials,” says the study, to be released Thursday by the Project on Government Oversight. “In exchange, the companies may end up with friends in high places who understand their business, sympathize with it, and can craft policies in its favor.”

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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