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Redistribution of wealth up as the essence of neoliberalism

Decline of middle class in the USA under neoliberal regime and rise of Economic Royalists ("Let them eat cake ")

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"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

-- Abraham Lincoln

Isn’t inequality merely the price of America being No. 1? ... That’s almost certainly false... Prior to about 20 years ago, most economists thought that inequality greased the wheels of progress. Wealth Inequality in America Overwhelmingly now, people who study it empirically think that it’s sand in the wheels. ... Inequality breeds conflict, and conflict breeds wasted resources”

Samuel Bowles,
cited from Economist's View: Inequality and Guard Labor

From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

Nicholas D. Kristof, NYT, November 6, 2010

Roughly 1 in 4 Americans is employed to keep fellow citizens in line and protect private wealth from would-be Robin Hoods

Guard Labor Why is Inequality Bad

If labor is a commodity like any other, who is the idiot in charge of inventory management?.

Economist's View '


Introduction

As aptly noted Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems ( The Guardian,  April 15, 2016)

Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you'll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?

Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness , the collapse of ecosystems, rejection of the current neoliberal elite by majority of American people and the rise of candidates like Donald Trump . But we respond to these developments as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalyzed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly? 

One of the key property of neoliberalism is that it recasts inequality as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve. If you deserve to die, so be it. Of cause that does not apply to the financial oligarchy which is above the law and remains unpunished even for very serious crimes. This fate is reserved for bottom 99% of population.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations, In other words neoliberal economic model uses "unable to compete in the labor market" label for poor people in the same way Nazi used concept of Untermensch for Slavic people.

That also mean that for those outside top 20% of population the destiny is brutal exploitation not that different then in slave societies. It victimizes and artfully creates complex of inferiority among poor people trying to brainwash that they themselves are guilty in their status and that their children do not deserve better. This is why subsidies for colleges are cut. Unfortunately now even lower middle class is coming under tremendous pressure and essentially is moved into poverty. Disappearance of well-paid middle class "white collar" jobs such as IT jobs and recently oil sector jobs  and conversion of many jobs to temp or to outsourcing/off-shoring model is a fact that can't be denied. Rise in inequality in the USA for that last twenty years of neoliberalism domination is simply dramatic and medial income per family actually dropped.

Everything is moving in the direction of a pretty brutal joke: poor Americans just got a new slave-owners. And now slaves are not distinguished by  the color of their skin.

The economic status of Wal Mart employees (as well as employees of many other retailers, who are predominantly women) are not that different from slaves. In "rich" states like NY and NJ Wal-Mart cashiers are paid around $9 an hour. That's around $18K a year if you can get 40hours a week (big if),  You can't survive on those money living alone and renting an apartment. Two people might be able to survive if they share the apartment costs.  And forget about that if you have a child (aka "single mothers"  as a new face of the US poverty). You can survive only with additional social programs like food stamps. In other words the federal state subsidizes Wal-Mart, increasing their revenue at taxpayers expense.

Piketty thinks a rentier society (which is another definition of neoliberal society) contradicts the meritocratic worldview of democratic societies and is toxic for democracy as it enforces "one dollar one vote" election process (corporation buy politicians; ordinary people just legitimize with their votes pre-selected by elite candidates, see Two Party System as Polyarchy):

 “…no ineluctable force standing in the way to extreme concentration of wealth…if growth slows and the return on capital increases [as] tax competition between nations heats up…Our democratic societies rest on a meritocratic worldview, or at any rate, a meritocratic hope, by which I mean a belief in a society in which inequality is based more on merit and effort than on kinship and rents. This belief and hope play a very crucial role in modern society, for a simple reason: in a democracy the professed equality of rights of all citizens contrasts sharply with the very real inequality of living conditions, and in order to overcome this contradiction it is vital to make sure that social inequalities derive from ration and universal principles rather than arbitrary contingencies. Inequalities must therefore be just and useful to all, at least in the realm of discourse and as far as possible in reality as well…Durkheim predicted that modern democratic society would not put for long with the existence of inherited wealth and would ultimately see to it that the ownership of property ended at death.” p. 422

A neo-liberal point discussed in Raymond Plant's book on neo-liberalism is that if a fortune has been made through no injustice, then it is OK. So we should not condemn the resulting distribution of wealth, as fantastically concentrated as it may be. That that's not true, as such cases always involve some level of injustice, if only by exploiting some loophole in the current laws. Piketty is correct that to the extent that citizens understood the nature of a rentier society they would rise in opposition to it. The astronomical pay of "super-managers" cannot be justified in meritocratic terms. CEO's can capture boards and force their incentive to grow faster then  company profits. Manipulations with shares buyback are used to meet "targets". So neoliberal extreme is definitely bad.

At the same time we now know the equality if not achievable and communism was a pipe dream that actually inflicted cruelty on a lot of people in the name of unachievable utopia. But does this means that inequality, any level of inequality, is OK. It does not look this way and we can actually argue that extremes meet.

But collapse of the USSR lead to triumph of neoliberalism which is all about rising inequality. Under neoliberalism the wealthy and their academic servants, see inequality as a noble outcome. They want to further enrich top 1%, shrink middle class making it less secure, and impoverish poor. In other words they promote under the disguise of "free market" Newspeak a type of economy which can be called a plantation economy. In this type of the economy all the resources and power are in the hands of a wealthy planter class who then gives preference for easy jobs and the easy life to their loyal toadies. The wealthy elites like cheap labor. And it's much easier to dictate their conditions of employment when unemployment is high. Keynesian economics values the middle class and does not value unemployment or cheap labor. Neoliberals like a system that rewards them for their loyalty to the top 1% with an easier life than they otherwise merit. In a meritocracy where individuals receive public goods and services that allow them to compete on a level playing field, many neoliberal toadies would be losers who cannot compete.

In a 2005 report to investors three analysts at Citigroup advised that “the World is dividing into two blocs—the Plutonomy and the rest … In a plutonomy there is no such animal as “the U.S. consumer” or “the UK consumer", or indeed the “Russian consumer”.

In other words there are analysts that believe that we are moving to a replay of Middle Ages on a new, global level, were there are only rich who do the lion share of the total consumption and poor, who does not matter.

We can also state, that under neoliberal regime the sources of American economic inequality are largely political. In other words they are the result of deliberate political decision of the US elite to shape markets in neoliberal ways, and dismantle New Deal.

Part of this "shaping the markets in neoliberal ways" was corruption of academic economists. Under neoliberalism most economists are engaged in what John Kenneth Galbraith called "the economics of innocent fraud." With the important correction that there is nothing innocent in their activities. Most of them, especially "neoclassical" economists are prostitutes for financial oligarchy. So their prescription and analysis as for the reasons of high unemployment should be taken with due skepticism.

We also know that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That means that existence of aristocracy might not be optimal for society "at large". But without moderating influence of the existence of the USSR on appetites of the US elite, they engage is audacious struggle for accumulation as much power and wealth as possible. In a way that situation matches the situation in 1920th, which was known to be toxic.

But society slowly but steadily moves in this direction since mid 80th. According to the official wage statistics for 2012 http://www.ssa.gov , 40% of the US work force earned less than $20,000, 53% earned less than $30,000, and 73% earned less than $50,000. The median US wage or salary was $27,519 per year. The amounts are in current dollars and they are "total" compensation amounts subject to state and federal income taxes and to Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. In other words, the take home pay is less.

In other word the USA is now entered an inequality bubble, the bubble with the financial oligarchy as new aristocracy, which strives for absolute control of all layers of the government. The corruption has a systemic character. It take not only traditional form of the intermarriage between Wall street and DC power brokers (aka revolving doors). It also create a caste of guard labor to protect oligarchy.

New global caste structure and stratification of the US society

Some researchers point out that neoliberal world is increasingly characterized by a three-tiered social structure(net4dem.org):

This process of stratification and fossilization of "haves" and "haves-not" is now pretty much established in the USA. The US population can be partitioned into five distinct classes, or strata:

  1. Lower class (poor) bottom 20%. Those folks have income close to official poverty line, which varies from state to state. In "expensive states" like NJ and NY this category ranks much higher then national level, up to 40%. Official figures from a Census Bureau that state that in 2010 twelve states had poverty rates above 17%, up from five in 2009, while ten metropolitan areas had poverty rates over 18%. Texas had the highest poverty rate, at 33.4%, followed by Fresno, California, at 26.8%.

    According to figures published by the Social Security Administration in October 2011, the median income for American workers in 2010 was $26,364, just slightly above the official poverty level of $22,025 for a family of four. Most single parent families with children fall into this category. Many single earner families belong to this category too.

    The median income figure reflects the fact that salaries of 50% of all workers are less then $26,364 and gives a much truer picture of the real social conditions in the United States than the more widely publicized average income, which was $39,959 in 2010. This figure is considerably higher than median income because the distribution of income is so unequal—a relative handful of ultra-high income individuals pulls up the average.

  2. Lower middle class (60%). Depending on class model used, the middle class may constitute anywhere from 25% to 66% of households. Typically includes households with incomes above $46,326 (all households) or $67,348 (dual earners households) per year. The latter is more realistic. In order for two earners family to qualify each earner should get approximately $34K a year or more ($17 per hour wage with 40 hours workweek). Per household member income is around $23.5K
    The lower middle class... these are people in technical and lower-level management positions who work for those in the upper middle class as lower managers, craftspeople, and the like. They enjoy a reasonably comfortable standard of living, although it is constantly threatened by taxes and inflation. Generally, they have a Bachelor's and sometimes Masters college degree.

    —Brian K. William, Stacy C. Sawyer and Carl M. Wahlstrom, Marriages, Families & Intimate Relationships, 2006 (Adapted from Dennis Gilbert 1997; and Joseph Kahl 1993)[4]

  3. Upper middle class (top 20%). The includes households with incomes above 91K per year.
  4. Upper class (elite): top 1%. Annual comes (AGI) for this group exceed $380K per year. Commonly called multimillionaires (net worth two millions or more). In 2010 controlled at least 25% of total nation income (23.5% in 2007, 8.9% in 1979) . Top 1% owns more than 90% of combined or 33.8% of the nation private wealth.
  5. Super rich (top 0.01%, oligarchs, super-elite, or top 1000 families). A close to this category of super-rich are billionaires. US is home of 425 billionaires, while Russia and China have 95 and 96 correspondingly. The average worth of the world's billionaires is now $3.5 billion, or $500 million more than last year.( Forbes)

Share of consumption for families outside upper middle class (with income, say, below $91K per year (80% of US households) is much less then commonly assumed. That means that in the USA consumer spending are driven by upper class and as such is pretty much isolated from decline of wages of lower 80% of population. The median household income in the United States is around $50K.

Possibility of the return to the clan society

The danger of high level of inequality might be revival of nationalism and return to clan (mafia) society in the form of corporatism or even some form of national socialism. Mark S. Weine made this point in his book The Rule of the Clan. What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals About the Future of Individual Freedom . From one Amazon review:

Weiner's book is more than worth its price simply as an armchair tour of interesting places and cultures and mores, deftly and briefly described. But he has a more serious and important point to make. While the social cohesion that the values of the clan promote is alluring, they are ultimately at odds with the values of individual autonomy that only the much-maligned modern liberal state can offer.

Even the state's modern defenders tend to view it, at best, as a necessary evil. It keeps the peace, upholds (somewhat) international order, and manages the complexity of modern life in ways that allow individuals to get on with their journeys of personal fulfillment.

Weiner shows (in too brief but nevertheless eloquent ways) that this reductive view of the state is insufficient to resist the seductive appeal of the clan, and that it will be for the worse if we can't find ways to combat this allure within the legal structures of modern liberalism.

Read alongside James Ault's masterful participant study of fundamentalist Baptism, Spirit and Flesh, and draw your own conclusions.

Dramatic increase in the use of guard labor and conversion of the state into National Security State

Of course the elite is worried about security of their ill-gotten gains. And that's partially why the USA need such huge totally militarized police force and outsize military. Police and military are typical guard labor, that protects private wealth of the US plutocrats. Add to this equally strong private army of security contractors.

Other suggested that not only the USA, but the global neoliberal society is deeply sick with the same disease that the US society expected in 20th (and like previously with globalism of robber barons age, the triumph of neoliberalism in 1990th was and is a global phenomenon).

High inequality logically leads to dramatic increase of guard labor and inevitable conversion of state into National Security State. Which entail total surveillance over the citizens as a defining factor. Ruling elite is always paranoid, but neoliberal elite proved to be borderline psychopathic. They do not want merely security, they want to crush all the resistance.

Butler Shaffer wrote recently that the old state system in the United States is dying before our very eyes:

A system that insists on controlling others through increasing levels of systematic violence; that loots the many for the aggrandizement of the few; that regulates any expressions of human behavior that are not of service to the rulers; that presumes the power to wage wars against any nation of its choosing, a principle that got a number of men hanged at the Nuremberg trials; and finally, criminalizes those who would speak the truth to its victims, has no moral energy remaining with which to sustain itself.

Low mobility created potential for the degeneration of the elite

It is pretty clear that the USA became a society where there is de facto royalty. In the form of the strata which Roosevelt called "Economic royalists". Jut look at third generation of Walton family or Rocafeller family.

Remember the degenerative Soviet Politburo, or, for a change, unforgettable dyslexic President George W Bush ? The painful truth is that in the most unequal nations including the UK and the US – the intergenerational transmission of income is very strong (in plain language they have a heredity-based aristocracy). See Let them eat cake. In more equal societies such as Denmark, the tendency of privilege to breed privilege is much lower but also exists and is on the rise. As Roosevelt observed in a similar situation of 30th:

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power.

High inequality undermines social cohesion

Neoliberalism and its ideology(Randism) undermined social cohesion, making society members more hostile to each other and as such less willing to defend the country in case of real danger. Betrayal of the country is no longer an unspeakable crime.

The purpose of government should be to foster a "civil society". The slogan of the "oligarchic right" is "me first", or, as in Paul Ryan's adoration of Ayn Rand, greed is good. Objectivism became kind of new civic religion, with the goal of maximizing the wealth of a single individual at the expense of the civil society is a virtue. And those new social norms (instilled by MSM) allow the fat cats simply to stole from everybody else without fear of punishment. See an outburst from Stephen Schwarzman. If there are two societies inside of the country with bridges burned, the bottom part is less willing to spill blood for the upper part. And having a contractual army has its own set of dangers, as it spirals into high level of militarism (being in war is a new normal for the USA during the last 30 years or so), which while enriching part of the elite bankrupts the country. The quality of roads is a testament of this process.

Countervailing mechanisms and forces are destroyed. Plutocrats now can shape the conversation by buying up newspapers and television channels as well as funding political campaigns. The mousetrap of high inequality became irreversible without external shocks. The more unequal our societies become, the more we all become prisoners of that inequality. The key question is: Has our political system been so degraded by misinformation and disinformation that it can no longer function because it lost the touch with reality? The stream of outright falsehoods that MSM feed the lemmings (aka society members) is clearly politically motivated. But a side effect (externality) of all that brainwashing efforts is that nobody including players at the top of the government now understands what's going on. Look at Obama and Joe Biden.

As the growth of manufacturing base slowed down and return on capital dropped, the elite wants less government social spending. They wants to end popular government programs such as Social Security, no matter how much such cuts would cause economic dislocation and strains in the current social safety net. The claims are that these programs are "Waste" and could be cut without anyone, but the "moochers" noticing the effects. They use the economic strain felt by many in the economy to promote these cuts. They promise that cuts to vital programs will leave more money in the pockets of the average person. In reality, the increase in money will be marginal, but the effects on security and loss of "group purchasing power" economy of scale will make the cuts worse than worthless (Economist's View Paul Krugman Moment of Truthiness)

Two party system makes the mousetrap complete

The US system of voting (winner take all) leads inexorably to Two party system. Third parties are only spoilers. Protest votes in the current system are COUNTERPRODUCTIVE (i.e. they help the evil, not the merely bad). Deliberate and grotesque gerrymandering further dilutes protest votes.

Again, I would like to stress that rich consumers, few in number, getting the gigantic slice of income and the most of consumption (that's why the US consumption was so resilient during two last financial crises). There are the rest, the “non-rich”, accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie.

The question arise "Why we should care?". Most of the readers of this page are not at the bottom bracket anyway. Many are pretty high up. Here is one possible answer:

But should we care? There are two reasons we might: process and outcome.

Creating a strata of the outcasts aka permanently unemployed

It is very difficult to understand the real situation with inequality in the USA today without experiencing long term unemployed.

Or if you forced into job of a WalMart cashier or other low paid employee. Job that does not provide a living minimum wage. You need to watch this YouTube video Wealth Inequality in America to understand the reality. The video was posted anonymously by someone using the YouTube handle politizane. It is pretty clear that not only the USA became a society where there is de facto royalty, economic royalty but also a strata of people completely deprived. An Outcaste.

And the royalty became recklessly like it should promoting to the top the likes of recovered alcoholic Bush II or "private equity shark" Romney (and remember who Romney father was).

See Over 50 and unemployed

Education is no longer the answer to rising inequality

In the current circumstances education is no longer the answer to rising inequality. Instead of serving as a social lift it, at least in some cases, became more of a social trap. This is connected with neoliberal transformation of education. With the collapse of post-war public funded educational model and privatization of the University education students face a pretty cruel world. World in which they are cows to milk. Now universities became institutions very similar to McDonalds ( or, in less politically correct terms, Bordellos of Higher Learning). Like McDonalds they need to price their services so that to receive nice profit and they to make themselves more attractive to industry they intentionally feed students with overspecialized curriculum instead of concentrating on fundamentals and the developing the ability to understand the world. Which was a hallmark of university education of the past.

Since 1970th Neo-Liberal University model replaced public funded university model (Dewey model). It is now collapsing as there are not that many students, who are able (and now with lower job prospects and tale of graduates working as bartender, willing) to pay infated tuition fees. That means that higher education again by-and-large became privilege of the rich and upper middle class.

Lower student enrollment first hit minted during dot-com boom expensive private colleges, who hunt for people with government support (such a former members of Arm forces). It remains viable only in elite universities, which traditionally serve the top 1% and rich foreigners. As David Schultz wrote in his article (Logos, 2012):

Yet the Dewey model began to collapse in middle of the 1970s. Perhaps it was the retrenchment of the SUNY and CUNY systems in New York under Governor Hugh Carey in 1976 that began the end of the democratic university. What caused its retrenchment was the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

The fiscal crisis of the 1970s was born of numerous problems. Inflationary pressures caused by Vietnam and the energy embargoes of the 1970s, and recessionary forces from relative declines in American economic productivity produced significant economic shocks, including to the public sector where many state and local governments edged toward bankruptcy.

Efforts to relieve declining corporate profits and productivity initiated efforts to restructure the economy, including cutting back on government services. The response, first in England under Margaret Thatcher and then in the United States under Ronald Reagan, was an effort to retrench the state by a package that included decreases in government expenditures for social welfare programs, cutbacks on business regulations, resistance to labor rights, and tax cuts. Collectively these proposals are referred to as Neo-liberalism and their aim was to restore profitability and autonomy to free markets with the belief that unfettered by the government that would restore productivity.

Neo-liberalism had a major impact on higher education. First beginning under President Carter and then more so under Ronald Reagan, the federal and state governments cut taxes and public expenditures. The combination of the two meant a halt to the Dewey business model as support for public institutions decreased and federal money dried up.

From a high in the 1960s and early 70s when states and the federal government provided generous funding to expand their public systems to educate the Baby Boomers, state universities now receive only a small percentage of their money from the government. As I pointed out in my 2005 Logos “The Corporate University in American Society” article in 1991, 74% of the funding for public universities came from states, in 2004; it was down to 64%, with state systems in Illinois, Michigan and Virginia down to 25%, 18%, and 8% respectively. Since then, the percentages have shrunk even more, rendering state universities public institutions more in name than in funding.

Higher education under Neo-liberalism needed a new business model and it found it in the corporate university. The corporate university is one where colleges increasingly use corporate structures and management styles to run the university. This includes abandoning the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) shared governance model where faculty had an equal voice in the running of the school, including over curriculum, selection of department chairs, deans, and presidents, and determination of many of the other policies affecting the academy. The corporate university replaced the shared governance model with one more typical of a business corporation.

For the corporate university, many decisions, including increasingly those affecting curriculum, are determined by a top-down pyramid style of authority. University administration often composed not of typical academics but those with business or corporate backgrounds had pre-empted many of the decisions faculty used to make. Under a corporate model, the trustees, increasingly composed of more business leaders than before, select, often with minimal input from the faculty, the president who, in turn, again with minimal or no faculty voice, select the deans, department heads, and other administrative personnel.

University presidents became way too greedy

Neoliberalism professes the idea the personal greed can serve positive society goals, which is reflected in famous neoliberal slogan "greed is good". And university presidents listen. Now presidents of neoliberal universities do not want to get $100K per year salary, they want one, or better several, million dollar salary of the CEO of major corporation (Student Debt Grows Faster at Universities With Highest-Paid Leaders, Study Finds - NYTimes.com)

At the 25 public universities with the highest-paid presidents, both student debt and the use of part-time adjunct faculty grew far faster than at the average state university from 2005 to 2012, according to a new study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning Washington research group.

The study, “The One Percent at State U: How University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor,” examined the relationship between executive pay, student debt and low-wage faculty labor at the 25 top-paying public universities.

The co-authors, Andrew Erwin and Marjorie Wood, found that administrative expenditures at the highest-paying universities outpaced spending on scholarships by more than two to one. And while adjunct faculty members became more numerous at the 25 universities, the share of permanent faculty declined drastically.

“The high executive pay obviously isn’t the direct cause of higher student debt, or cuts in labor spending,” Ms. Wood said. “But if you think about it in terms of the allocation of resources, it does seem to be the tip of a very large iceberg, with universities that have top-heavy executive spending also having more adjuncts, more tuition increases and more administrative spending.”

... ... ...

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual survey of public university presidents’ compensation, also released Sunday, found that nine chief executives earned more than $1 million in total compensation in 2012-13, up from four the previous year, and three in 2010-11. The median total compensation of the 256 presidents in the survey was $478,896, a 5 percent increase over the previous year.

... ... ...

As in several past years, the highest-compensated president, at $6,057,615 in this period, was E. Gordon Gee, who resigned from Ohio State last summer amid trustee complaints about frequent gaffes. He has since become the president of West Virginia University.

This trick requires dramatic raising of tuition costs. University bureaucracy also got taste for better salaries and all those deans, etc want to be remunerated like vice presidents. So raising the tuition costs became the key existential idea of neoliberal university. Not quality of education, but tuition costs now are the key criteria of success. And if you can charge students $40K per semester it is very, very good. If does not matter that most population get less then $20 an hour.

The same is true for professors, who proved to be no less corruptible. And some of them, such as economic departments, simply serve as prostitutes for financial oligarchy. So they were corrupted even before that rat race for profit. Of course there are exceptions. But they only prove the rule.

As the result university tuition inflation outpaced inflation by leaps and bounds. At some point amount that you pay (and the level of debt after graduation) becomes an important factor in choosing the university. So children of "have" and "have nots" get into different educational institutions and do not meet each other. In a way aristocracy returned via back door.

Neoliberal university professes "deep specialization" to create "ready for the market" graduates. And that creates another problem: education became more like stock market game and that makes more difficult for you to change you specialization late in the education cycle. But early choice entail typical stock market problem: you might miss the peak of the market or worse get into prolonged slump as graduates in finance learned all too well in 2008. That's why it is important not to accumulate too much debt: this is a kind of "all in" play in poker. You essentially bet that in a particular specialty there will be open positions with high salary, when you graduate. If you lose this bet you are done.

As a result of this "reaction to the market trends" by neoliberal universities, when universities bacem appendixes of HR of large corporations students need to be more aware of real university machinery then students in 50th or 60th of the last century. And first of all assume that it is functioning not to their benefits.

One problem for a student is that there are now way too many variables that you do not control. Among them:

On the deep level neoliberal university is not interested to help you to find specialization and place in life where can unleash your talents. You are just a paying customers much like in McDonalds, and university interests are such they might try to push you in wrong direction or load you with too much debt.

If there is deep mismatch as was with computer science graduates after crash of dot-com boom, or simply bad job market due to economy stagnation and you can't find the job for your new specialty (or if you got "junk" specialty with inherent high level of unemployment among professionals) and you have substantial education debt, then waiting tables or having some other MacJob is a real disaster for you. As with such selaries you simply can't pay it back. So controlling the level of debt is very important and in this sence parents financial help is now necessary. In other words education became more and more "rich kids game".

That does not mean that university education should be avoided for those from families with modest means. On the contrary it provides unique experience and help a person to mature in multiple ways difficult to achieve without it. It is still one of the best ways to get vertical mobility. But unless parents can support you you need to try to find the most economical way to obtain it without acquiring too much debt. This is you first university exam. And if you fail it you are in trouble.

For example, computer science education is a great way to learn quite a few things necessary for a modern life. But the price does matter and prestige of the university institution that you attend is just one of the factors you should consider in your evaluation. It should not be the major factor ("vanity fair") unless your parents are rich and can support you. If you are good you can get later a master degree in a prestigious university after graduation from a regular college. Or even Ph.D.

County colleges are greatly underappreciated and generally provide pretty high standard of education, giving ability to students to save money for the first two years before transferring to a four year college. They also smooth the transition as finding yourself among people who are only equal or superior then you (and have access to financial respource that you don't have) is a huge stress. The proverb say that it is better to be first in the village then last in the town has some truth in it. Prestigious universities might provide a career boost (high fly companies usually accept resumes only from Ivy League members), but they cost so much that you need to be a son or daughter of well-to-do parents to feel comfortably in them. Or extremely talented. Also amount of career boost that elite universities provide depends on whom your parents are and what connections they have. It does not depend solely on you and the university. Again, I would like to stress that you should resist "vanity fair" approach to your education: a much better way is to try to obtain BS in a regular university and them try to obtain MS and then, if you are good, PHD, in a prestigious university. Here is a fragment of an interesting discussion that covers this topic (Low Mobility Is Not a Social Tragedy?, Feb 13, 2013 ; I recommend you to read the whole discussion ):

kievite:

I would like to defend Greg Clack.

I think that Greg Clack point is that the number of gifted children is limited and that exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies (story of Alexander Hamilton was really fascinating for me, the story of Mikhail Lomonosov http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Lomonosov was another one -- he went from the very bottom to the top of Russian aristocracy just on the strength of his abilities as a scientist). In no way the ability to "hold its own" (typical for rich families kids) against which many here expressed some resentment represents social mobility. But the number of kids who went down is low -- that's actually proves Greg Clack point:

(1) Studies of social mobility using surnames suggest two things. Social mobility rates are much lower than conventionally estimated. And social mobility rates estimated in this way vary little across societies and time periods. Sweden is no more mobile than contemporary England and the USA, or even than medieval England. Social mobility rates seem to be independent of social institutions (see the other studies on China, India, Japan and the USA now linked here).

Francisco Ferreira rejects this interpretation, and restates the idea that there is a strong link between social mobility rates and inequality in his interesting post.

What is wrong with the data Ferreira cites? Conventional estimates of social mobility, which look at just single aspects of social status such as income, are contaminated by noise. If we measure mobility on one aspect of status such as income, it will seem rapid.

But this is because income is a very noisy measure of the underlying status of families. The status of families is a combination of their education, occupation, income, wealth, health, and residence. They will often trade off income for some other aspect of status such as occupation. A child can be as socially successful as a low paid philosophy professor as a high paid car salesman. Thus if we measure just one aspect of status such as income we are going to confuse the random fluctuations of income across generations, influenced by such things as career choices between business and philosophy, with true generalised social mobility.

If these estimates of social mobility were anywhere near correct as indicating true underlying rates of social mobility, then we would not find that the aristocrats of 1700 in Sweden are still overrepresented in all elite occupations of Sweden. Further, the more equal is income in a society, the less signal will income give of the true social status of families. In a society such as Sweden, where the difference in income between bus drivers and philosophy professors is modest, income tells us little about the social status of families. It is contaminated much more by random noise. Thus it will appear if we measure social status just by income that mobility is much greater in Sweden than in the USA, because in the USA income is a much better indicator of the true overall status of families.

The last two paragraphs of Greg Clark article cited by Mark Thoma are badly written and actually are somewhat disconnected with his line of thinking as I understand it as well as with the general line of argumentation of the paper.

Again, I would like to stress that a low intergenerational mobility includes the ability of kids with silver spoon in their mouth to keep a status close to their parent. The fact that they a have different starting point then kids from lower strata of society does not change that.

I think that the key argument that needs testing is that the number of challengers from lower strata of the society is always pretty low and is to a large extent accommodated by the societies we know (of course some societies are better then others).

Actually it would be interesting to look at the social mobility data of the USSR from this point of view.

But in no way, say, Mark Thoma was a regular kid, although circumstances for vertical mobility at this time were definitely better then now. He did possessed some qualities which made possible his upward move although his choice of economics was probably a mistake ;-).

Whether those qualities were enough in more restrictive environments we simply don't know, but circumstances for him were difficult enough as they were.

EC -> kievite...

"the number of gifted children is limited"

I stopped reading after that. I teach at a high school in a town with a real mix of highly elite families, working class families, and poor families, and I can tell you that the children of affluent parents are not obviously more gifted than the children of poor families. They do, however, have a lot more social capital, and they have vastly more success. But the limitations on being "gifted" are irrelevant.

According to an extensive study (Turkheimer et al., 2003) of 50,000 pregnant women and the children they went on to have (including enough sets of twins to be able to study the role of innate genetic differences), variation in IQ among the affluent seems to be largely genetic.

Among the poor, however, IQ has very little to do with genes -- probably because the genetic differences are swamped and suppressed by the environmental differences, as few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances.

kievite -> EC...

All you said is true. I completely agree that "...few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances." So there are losses here and we should openly talk about them.

Also it goes without saying that social capital is extremely important for a child. That's why downward mobility of children from upper classes is suppressed, despite the fact that some of them are plain vanilla stupid.

But how this disproves the point made that "exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies"? I think you just jumped the gun...

mrrunangun:

The early boomers benefitted from the happy confluence of the postwar boom, LBJ's Great Society efforts toward financial assistance for those seeking to advance their educations, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act which opened opportunities for marginalized social groups in institutions largely closed to them under the prewar social customs in the US.

The US Supreme Court is made up of only Jews and Catholics as of this writing, a circumstance inconceivable in the prewar America. Catholics were largely relegated to separate and unequal institutions. Jews' opportunities were limited by quotas and had a separate set of institutions of their own where their numbers could support such. Where their numbers were not sufficient, they were often relegated to second rate institutions.

Jewish doctors frequently became the leading men in the Catholic hospitals in Midwestern industrial towns where they were unwelcome in the towns' main hospitals. Schools, clubs, hospitals, professional and commercial organizations often had quota or exclusionary policies. Meritocracy has its drawbacks, but we've seen worse in living memory.

College textbook publishing became a racket with the growth of neoliberalism. That means at least since 1980. And it is pretty dirty racket with willing accomplishes in form of so called professors like Greg Mankiw. For instance, you can find a used 5th edition Mankiw introductory to Microeconomics for under $4.00, while a new 7th edition costs over $200. An interesting discussion of this problem can be found at Thoughts on High-Priced Textbooks'

See Slightly Skeptical View on University Education

New generation of robber barons: US oligarchy never was so audacious

As Jesse aptly noted at his blog post Echoes of the Past In The Economist - The Return of the Übermenschen the US oligarchy never was so audacious.

And it is as isolated as the aristocracies of bygone days, isolation reinforced by newly minted royalty withdrawal into gated estates, Ivy League Universities, and private planes.

They are not openly suggesting that no child should rise above the status of parents, presumably in terms of wealth, education, and opportunity. But their policies are directed toward this goal. If you are born to poor parents in the USA, all bets are off -- your success is highly unlikely, and your servile status, if not poverty is supposedly pre-destined by poor generic material that you got.

This is of course not because the children of the elite inherit the talent, energy, drive, and resilience to overcome the many obstacles they will face in life from their parents. Whatever abilities they have (and regression to the mean is applicable to royalty children too), they are greatly supplemented, of course, by the easy opportunities, valuable connections, and access to power. That's why the result of SAT in the USA so strongly correlated with the wealth of parents. And a virtual freedom from prosecution does not hurt either, in case they have inherited a penchant for sociopathy, or something worse, along with their many gifts.

The view that the children of the poor will not do well, because they are genetically inferior became kind of hidden agenda. These are the pesky 99% just deserve to be cheated and robbed by the elite, because of the inherent superiority of the top one percent. There is no fraud in the system, only good and bad breeding, natural predators and prey.

This line of thinking rests on the assumption that I succeed, therefore I am. And if you do not, well, so be it. You will be low-paid office slave or waiter in McDonalds with a college diploma as it is necessary for the maximization of profits of the elite. There is no space at the top for everybody. Enjoy the ride... Here is an typical expression of such views:

"Many commentators automatically assume that low intergenerational mobility rates represent a social tragedy. I do not understand this reflexive wailing and beating of breasts in response to the finding of slow mobility rates.

The fact that the social competence of children is highly predictable once we know the status of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents is not a threat to the American Way of Life and the ideals of the open society

The children of earlier elites will not succeed because they are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, and an automatic ticket to the Ivy League.

They will succeed because they have inherited the talent, energy, drive, and resilience to overcome the many obstacles they will face in life. Life is still a struggle for all who hope to have economic and social success. It is just that we can predict who will be likely to possess the necessary characteristics from their ancestry."

Greg Clark, The Economist, 13 Feb. 2013

Mr. Clark is now a professor of economics and was the department chair until 2013 at the University of California, Davis. His areas of research are long term economic growth, the wealth of nations, and the economic history of England and India.

And another one:

"During this time, a growing professional class believed that scientific progress could be used to cure all social ills, and many educated people accepted that humans, like all animals, were subject to natural selection.

Darwinian evolution viewed humans as a flawed species that required pruning to maintain its health. Therefore negative eugenics seemed to offer a rational solution to certain age-old social problems."

David Micklos, Elof Carlson, Engineering American Society: The Lesson of Eugenics

If we compare this like of thinking with the thinking of eightieth century and you will see that the progress is really limited:

“With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment.

There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.

It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, if so urged by hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with a certain and great present evil.

Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage.”

Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

So all this screams of MSM about dropping consumer spending is just a smoke screen. In oligarchic republic which USA represents, consumption is heavily shifted to top 20% and as such is much less dependent of the conditions of the economy. And top 20% can afford $8 per gallon gas (European price) without any problems.

John Barkley Rosser, Jr. With Marina V. Rosser and Ehsan Ahmed, argued for a two-way positive link between income inequality (economic inequality) and the size of an underground economy in a nation (Rosser, Rosser, and Ahmed, 2000).

Globally in 2005, top fifth (20%) of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption (20:80 Pareto rule). The poorest fifth just 1.5%. I do not think the USA differs that much from the rest of the world.

Citigroup Plutonomy Research reports

There was two famous Citigroup Plutonomy research reports (2005 and 2006) featured in in Capitalism: A Love Story . Here is how Yves Smith summarized the findings (in her post High Income Disparity Leads to Low Savings Rates)

On the one hand, the authors, Ajay Kapur, Niall Macleod, and Narendra Singh get some credit for addressing a topic surprisingly ignored by mainstream economists. There have been some noteworthy efforts to measure the increase in concentration of income and wealth in the US most notably by Thomas Piketty and Edmund Saez. But while there have been some efforts to dispute their findings (that the rich, particularly the top 1%, have gotten relatively MUCH richer in the last 20 years), for the most part discussions of what to make of it (as least in the US) have rapidly descended into theological debates. One camp laments the fall in economic mobility (a predictable side effect), the corrosive impact of perceived unfairness, and the public health costs (even the richest in high income disparity countries suffer from shortened life spans). The other camp tends to focus on the Darwinian aspects, that rising income disparity is the result of a vibrant, open economy, and the higher growth rates that allegedly result will lift help all workers.

Yet as far as I can tell, there has been virtually no discussion of the macroeconomy effects of rising income and wealth disparities, or to look into what the implications for investment strategies might be. One interesting effect is that with rising inequality the share of "guard labor" grows very quickly and that puts an upper limit on the further growth of inequality (half of the citizens cannot be guards protecting few billionaires from the other half).

Now the fact that the Citi team asked a worthwhile question does not mean they came up with a sound answer. In fact, he reports are almost ludicrously funny in the way they attempt to depict what they call plutonomy as not merely a tradeable trend (as in leading to some useful investment ideas), but as a Brave New Economy development. I haven't recalled such Panglossian prose since the most delirious days of the dot-com bubble:

We will posit that:

1) the world is dividing into two blocs – the plutonomies, where economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few, and the rest. Plutonomies have occurred before in sixteenth century Spain, in seventeenth century Holland, the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties in the U.S.

What are the common drivers of Plutonomy? Disruptive technology-driven productivity gains, creative financial innovation, capitalist-friendly cooperative governments, an international dimension of immigrants and overseas conquests invigorating wealth creation, the rule of law, and patenting inventions. Often these wealth waves involve great complexity, exploited best by the rich and educated of the time…..Most “Global Imbalances” (high current account deficits and low savings rates, high consumer debt levels in the Anglo-Saxon world, etc) that continue to (unprofitably) preoccupy the world’s intelligentsia look a lot less threatening when examined through the prism of plutonomy. The risk premium on equities that might derive from the dyspeptic “global imbalance” school is unwarranted – the earth is not going to be shaken off its axis, and sucked into the cosmos by these “imbalances”. The earth is being held up by the muscular arms of its entrepreneur-plutocrats, like it, or not..

Yves here. Translation: plutonomy is such a great thing that the entire stock market would be valued higher if everyone understood it. And the hoops the reports go through to defend it are impressive. The plutomony countries (the notorious Anglo-Saxon model, the US, UK, Canada and Australia) even have unusually risk-seeking populations (and that is a Good Thing):

…a new, rather out-of-the box hypothesis suggests that dopamine differentials can explain differences in risk-taking between societies. John Mauldin, the author of “Bulls-Eye Investing” in an email last month cited this work. The thesis: Dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical, is linked with curiosity, adventure, entrepreneurship, and helps drive results in uncertain environments. Populations generally have about 2% of their members with high enough dopamine levels with the curiosity to emigrate. Ergo, immigrant nations like the U.S. and Canada, and increasingly the UK, have high dopamine-intensity populations.

Yves here. What happened to “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore”? Were the Puritans a high dopamine population? Doubtful. How about the Irish emigration to the US, which peaked during its great famine?

Despite a good deal of romanticization standing in for analysis, the report does have one intriguing, and well documented finding: that the plutonomies have low savings rates. Consider an fictional pep rally chant:

We’re from Greenwich
We’re invincible
Living off our income
Never touch the principal

Think about that. If you are rich, you can afford to spend all your income. You don’t need to save, because your existing wealth provides you with a more than sufficient cushion.

The ramifications when you have a high wealth concentration are profound. From the October 2005 report:

In a plutonomy, the rich drop their savings rate, consume a larger fraction of their bloated, very large share of the economy. This behavior overshadows the decisions of everybody else. The behavior of the exceptionally rich drives the national numbers – the “appallingly low” overall savings rates, the “over-extended consumer”, and the “unsustainable” current accounts that accompany this phenomenon….

Feeling wealthier, the rich decide to consume a part of their capital gains right away. In other words, they save less from their income, the wellknown wealth effect. The key point though is that this new lower savings rate is applied to their newer massive income. Remember they got a much bigger chunk of the economy, that’s how it became a plutonomy. The consequent decline in absolute savings for them (and the country) is huge when this happens. They just account for too large a part of the national economy; even a small fall in their savings rate overwhelms the decisions of all the rest.

Yves here. This account rather cheerily dismisses the notion that there might be overextended consumers on the other end of the food chain. Unprecedented credit card delinquencies and mortgage defaults suggest otherwise. But behaviors on both ends of the income spectrum no doubt played into the low-savings dynamic: wealthy who spend heavily, and struggling average consumers who increasingly came to rely on borrowings to improve or merely maintain their lifestyle. And let us not forget: were encouraged to monetize their home equity, so they actually aped the behavior of their betters, treating appreciated assets as savings. Before you chide people who did that as profligate (naive might be a better characterization), recall that no one less than Ben Bernanke was untroubled by rising consumer debt levels because they also showed rising asset levels. Bernanke ignored the fact that debt needs to be serviced out of incomes, and households for the most part were not borrowing to acquire income-producing assets. So unless the rising tide of consumer debt was matched by rising incomes, this process was bound to come to an ugly end.

Also under Bush country definitely moved from oligarchy to plutocracy. Bush openly claimed that "have more" is his base. The top 1% of earners have captured four-fifths of all new income.

An interesting question is whether the extremely unequal income distribution like we have now make the broader society unstable. Or plebs is satisfied with "Bread and circuses" (aka house, SUV, boat, Daytona 500 and 500 channels on cable) as long as loot from the other parts of the world is still coming...

What is the upper limit of inequality?

Martin Bento in his response to Risk Pollution, Market Failure & Social Justice — Crooked Timber made the following point:

Donald made a point I was going to. I would go a bit further though. It’s not clear to me that economic inequality is not desired for its own sake by the some of the elite. After all, studies suggest that once you get past the level of income needed for a reasonably comfortable life – about $40K for a single person in the US - the quest for money is mostly about status.

Meeting your needs is not necessarily zero sum, but status is: my status can only be higher than yours to the extent that yours is lower than mine.

The more inequality there is, the more status differentiation there is. Of course, there are other sources of status than money, but I’m talking specifically about people who value money for the status it confers. This is in addition to the “Donner Party Conservatism” calls to make sure the incentives to work are as strong as possible (to be fair, I think tolerating some inequality for the sake of incentives is worthwhile, but we seem to be well beyond that).

For example currently the USA is No.3 in Gini measured inequality (cyeahoo, Oct 16, 2009), but still the society is reasonably stable:

Gini score: 40.8
GDP 2007 (US$ billions): 13,751.4
Share of income or expenditure (%)
Poorest 10%: 1.9
Richest 10%: 29.9
Ratio of income or expenditure, share of top 10% to lowest 10%: 15.9

What is really surprising is how low the average American salary is: just $26,352 or ~$2,200 a month. This is equal approximately to $13 an hour.

At the same time:

Some interesting facts about upper class (top 1% of the US population). First of all this is pretty self-isolated group (a nation within a nation). They associate almost exclusively with members of their own social and economic standing, few members of the bottom 90% of Americans have ever even personally met a member of the upper class.

Now about top 400:

Here are some interesting hypothesis about affect of inequality of the society:

Higher inequality is somewhat connected with imperial outreach. As Kevin de Bruxelles noted in comment to What collapsing empire looks like - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com

I’m surprised a thoughtful guy like Glenn Greenwald would make such an unsubstantiated link between collapsing public services for American peasants and a collapse of America’s global (indirect) imperial realm. Is there really a historic link between the quality of a nation’s services to its citizens and its global power? If so the Scandinavian countries would have been ruling the world for the past fifty years. If anything there is probably a reverse correlation. None of the great historic imperial powers, such as the British, Roman, Spanish, Russian, Ottoman, Mongolian, Chinese, Islamic, or Persian, were associated with egalitarian living conditions for anyone outside of the elite. So from a historic point of view, the ability to divert resources away from the peasants and towards the national security state is a sign of elite power and should be seen as a sign increased American imperial potential.

Now if America’s global power was still based on economic production then an argument could be made that closing libraries and cancelling the 12th grade would lower America’s power potential. But as we all know that is no longer the case and now America’s power is as the global consumer of excess production. Will a dumber peasantry consume even more? I think there is a good chance that the answer is yes.

Now a limit could be reached to how far the elite can lower their peasant’s standard of living if these changes actually resulted in civil disorder that demanded much energy for American elites to quell. But so far that is far from the case. Even a facile gesture such as voting for any other political party except the ruling Republicrats seems like a bridge too far for 95% of the peasants to attempt. No, the sad truth is that American elites, thanks to their exceptional ability to deliver an ever increasing amount of diverting bread and circuses, have plenty of room to further cut standards of living and are nowhere near reaching any limits.

What the reductions in economic and educational options will result in are higher quality volunteers into America’s security machinery, which again obviously raise America’s global power potential. This, along with an increasingly ruthless elite, should assure that into the medium term America’s powerful position will remain unchallenged. If one colors in blue on a world map all the countries under de facto indirect US control then one will start to realize the extent of US power. The only major countries outside of US control are Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, and Venezuela. Iraq and Afghanistan are recent converts to the blue column but it far from certain whether they will stay that way. American elites will resist to the bitter end any country falling from the blue category. But this colored world map is the best metric for judging US global power.

In the end it’s just wishful thinking to link the declining of the American peasant’s standard of living with a declining of the American elite’s global power. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this proven in an attack on Iran in the near future.

High inequality and organized crime

Higher pay inequality feeds organized crime (and here we assume that banksters are different from the organized crime, which is probably a very weak hypothesis ;-). That's why Peter Drucker was probably right. He thought that top execs shouldn't get more than 25 times the average salary in the company (which would cap it around $2 millions). I would suggest a metric based on multiple from the average of lower 50% full time jobs for a particular firm (for example in Wal Mart that would cashers and cleaners, people who are living in Latin American style poverty, if they are single mothers as many are). One of the particular strengths of the idea of the maximum wage base on average of lower 50% of salaries is that if senior managers want to increase their own pay, they have to increase that of the lower-paid employees too.

And in a way financial industry itself became an organized crime. The notion of exorbitant wages prevalent in financial industry (and, before it, pioneered by in high-tech companies during dot-com boom via stock options) is based on the idea that some people are at least hundred times more productive then the others. In some professions like programming this is true and such people do exists. But any sufficiently large company is about team work. No matter what job a person does and no matter how many hours they work, there is no possible way that an single individual will create a whole product. It's a team effort. That means that neither skill nor expertise or intelligence can justify the payment of 200, 300 or even 400 times the wages of the lowest-paid 20% workers in any large organization.

This is especially questionable for financial professionals because by and large they are engaged in non-productive. often harmful for the society as whole redistribution activities, the same activities that organized crime performs. Moreover, modern traders are actually play a tremendously destructive role as subprime crisis (and before it saving and loans debacle) aptly demonstrated. which make them indistinguishable in this societal roles from cocaine pushers on the streets.

Drucker's views on the subject are probably worth revisiting. Rick Wartzman wrote in his Business Week article Put a Cap on CEO Pay' that "those who understand that what comes with their authority is the weight of responsibility, not "the mantle of privilege," as writer and editor Thomas Stewart described Drucker's view. It's their job "to do what is right for the enterprise—not for shareholders alone, and certainly not for themselves alone."

Large pay also attracts sociopathic personalities. Sociopathic personalities at the top of modern organizations is another important but rarely discussed danger.

"I'm not talking about the bitter feelings of the people on the plant floor," Drucker told a reporter in 2004. "They're convinced that their bosses are crooks anyway. It's the mid-level management that is incredibly disillusioned" by CEO compensation that seems to have no bounds. " This is especially true, Drucker explained in an earlier interview, when CEOs pocket huge sums while laying off workers. That kind of action, he said, is "morally unforgivable." There can be exceptions but they should be in middle management not in top management ranks.

Put it all together, and the picture became really discouraging. We have an ill-informed or misinformed electorate, politicians who gleefully add to the misinformation, watchdogs who are afraid to bark and guards on each and every corner. Mousetrap is complete.

Recommended Books

Winner-Take-All Politics How Washington Made the Rich Richer -- and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Paul Pierson, Jacob S. Hacker

Henry J. Farrell

Transforming American politics, September 16, 2010

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover) This is a transformative book. It's the best book on American politics that I've read since Rick Perlstein's Before the Storm. Not all of it is original (the authors seek to synthesize others' work as well as present their own, but provide due credit where credit is due). Not all of its arguments are fully supported (the authors provide a strong circumstantial case to support their argument, but don't have smoking gun evidence on many of the relevant causal relations). But it should transform the ways in which we think about and debate the political economy of the US.

The underlying argument is straightforward. The sources of American economic inequality are largely political - the result of deliberate political decisions to shape markets in ways that benefit the already-privileged at the expense of a more-or-less unaware public. The authors weave a historical narrative which Kevin Drum (who says the same things that I am saying about the book's importance) summarizes cogently here. This is not necessarily original - a lot of leftwing and left-of-center writers have been making similar claims for a long time. What is new is both the specific evidence that the authors use, and their conscious and deliberate effort to reframe what is important about American politics.

First - the evidence. Hacker and Pierson draw on work by economists like Picketty and Saez on the substantial growth in US inequality (and on comparisons between the US and other countries), but argue that many of the explanations preferred by economists (the effects of technological change on demand for skills) simply don't explain what is going on. First, they do not explain why inequality is so top-heavy - that is, why so many of the economic benefits go to a tiny, tiny minority of individuals among those with apparently similar skills. Second, they do not explain cross national variation - why the differences in the level of inequality among advanced industrialized countries, all of which have gone through more-or-less similar technological shocks, are so stark. While Hacker and Pierson agree that technological change is part of the story, they suggest that the ways in which this is channeled in different national contexts is crucial. And it is here that politics plays a key role.

Many economists are skeptical that politics explains the outcome, suggesting that conventional forms of political intervention are not big enough to have such dramatic consequences. Hacker and Pierson's reply implicitly points to a blind spot of many economists - they argue that markets are not `natural,' but instead are constituted by government policy and political institutions. If institutions are designed one way, they result in one form of market activity, whereas if they are designed another way, they will result in very different outcomes. Hence, results that appear like `natural' market operations to a neo-classical economist may in fact be the result of political decisions, or indeed of deliberate political inaction. Hacker and Pierson cite e.g. the decision of the Clinton administration not to police derivatives as an example of how political coalitions may block reforms in ways that have dramatic economic consequences.

Hence, Hacker and Pierson turn to the lessons of ongoing political science research. This is both a strength and a weakness. I'll talk about the weakness below - but I found the account of the current research convincing, readable and accurate. It builds on both Hacker and Pierson's own work and the work of others (e.g. the revisionist account of American party structures from Zaller et al. and the work of Bartels). This original body of work is not written in ways that make it easily accessible to non-professionals - while Bartels' book was both excellent and influential, it was not an easy read. Winner-Take-All Politics pulls off the tricky task of both presenting the key arguments underlying work without distorting them and integrating them into a highly readable narrative.

As noted above, the book sets out (in my view quite successfully) to reframe how we should think about American politics. It downplays the importance of electoral politics, without dismissing it, in favor of a focus on policy-setting, institutions, and organization.

In Hacker and Pierson's account, these three together account for the systematic political bias towards greater inequality. In simplified form: Organizations - and battles between organizations over policy as well as elections - are the structuring conflicts of American politics. The interests of the rich are represented by far more powerful organizations than the interests of the poor and middle class. The institutions of the US provide these organizations and their political allies with a variety of tools to promote new policies that reshape markets in their interests. This account is in some ways neo-Galbraithian (Hacker and Pierson refer in passing to the notion of `countervailing powers'). But while it lacks Galbraith's magisterial and mellifluous prose style, it is much better than he was on the details.

Even so (and here begin the criticisms) - it is not detailed enough. The authors set the book up as a whodunit: Who or what is responsible for the gross inequalities of American economic life? They show that the other major suspects have decent alibis (they may inadvertently have helped the culprit, but they did not carry out the crime itself. They show that their preferred culprit had the motive and, apparently, the means. They find good circumstantial evidence that he did it. But they do not find a smoking gun. For me, the culprit (the American political system) is like OJ. As matters stand, I'm pretty sure that he committed the crime. But I'm not sure that he could be convicted in a court of law, and I could be convinced that I was wrong, if major new exculpatory evidence was uncovered.

The lack of any smoking gun (or, alternatively, good evidence against a smoking gun) is the direct result of a major failure of American intellectual life. As the authors observe elsewhere, there is no field of American political economy. Economists have typically treated the economy as non-political. Political scientists have typically not concerned themselves with the American economy. There are recent efforts to change this, coming from economists like Paul Krugman and political scientists like Larry Bartels, but they are still in their infancy. We do not have the kinds of detailed and systematic accounts of the relationship between political institutions and economic order for the US that we have e.g. for most mainland European countries. We will need a decade or more of research to build the foundations of one.

Hence, while Hacker and Pierson show that political science can get us a large part of the way, it cannot get us as far as they would like us to go, for the simple reason that political science is not well developed enough yet. We can identify the causal mechanisms intervening between some specific political decisions and non-decisions and observed outcomes in the economy. We cannot yet provide a really satisfactory account of how these particular mechanisms work across a wider variety of settings and hence produce the general forms of inequality that they point to. Nor do we yet have a really good account of the precise interactions between these mechanisms and other mechanisms.

None of this is to discount the importance of this book. If it has the impact it deserves, it will transform American public arguments about politics and policymaking. I cannot see how someone who was fair minded could come away from reading this book and not be convinced that politics plays a key role in the enormous economic inequality that we see. And even if it is aimed at a general audience, it also challenges academics and researchers in economics, political science and economic sociology both to re-examine their assumptions about how economics and politics work, and to figure out ways better to engage with the key political debates of our time as Hacker and Pierson have done. If you can, buy it.

Great Faulkner's Ghost (Washington, DC)

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover) Many people have observed that American politics and the American economy reached some kind of turning point around 1980, which conveniently marks the election of Ronald Reagan. Some also pointed to other factors such as the deregulation of stock brokerage commissions in 1975 and the high inflation of the 1970s. Other analysts have put the turning point back in 1968, when Richard Nixon became President on the back of a wave of white, middle-class resentment against the 1960s. Hacker and Pierson, however, point the finger at the 1970s. As they describe in Chapter 4, the Nixon presidency saw the high-water market of the regulatory state; the demise of traditional liberalism occurred during the Carter administration, despite Democratic control of Washington, when highly organized business interests were able to torpedo the Democratic agenda and begin the era of cutting taxes for the rich that apparently has not yet ended today.

Why then? Not, as popular commentary would have it, because public opinion shifted. Hacker and Pierson cite studies showing that public opinion on issues such as inequality has not shifted over the past thirty years; most people still think society is too unequal and that taxes should be used to reduce inequality. What has shifted is that Congressmen are now much more receptive to the opinions of the rich, and there is actually a negative correlation between their positions and the preferences of their poor constituents (p. 111). Citing Martin Gilens, they write, "When well-off people strongly supported a policy change, it had almost three times the chance of becoming law as when they strongly opposed it. When median-income people strongly supported a policy change, it had hardly any greater chance of becoming law than when they strongly opposed it" (p. 112). In other words, it isn't public opinion, or the median voter, that matters; it's what the rich want.

That shift occurred in the 1970s because businesses and the super-rich began a process of political organization in the early 1970s that enabled them to pool their wealth and contacts to achieve dominant political influence (described in Chapter 5). To take one of the many statistics they provide, the number of companies with registered lobbyists in Washington grew from 175 in 1971 to nearly 2,500 in 1982 (p. 118). Money pouring into lobbying firms, political campaigns, and ideological think tanks created the organizational muscle that gave the Republicans a formidable institutional advantage by the 1980s. The Democrats have only reduced that advantage in the past two decades by becoming more like Republicans-more business-friendly, more anti-tax, and more dependent on money from the super-rich. And that dependency has severely limited both their ability and their desire to fight back on behalf of the middle class (let alone the poor), which has few defenders in Washington.

At a high level, the lesson of Winner-Take-All Politics is similar to that of 13 Bankers: when looking at economic phenomena, be they the financial crisis or the vast increase in inequality of the past thirty years, it's politics that matters, not just abstract economic forces. One of the singular victories of the rich has been convincing the rest of us that their disproportionate success has been due to abstract economic forces beyond anyone's control (technology, globalization, etc.), not old-fashioned power politics. Hopefully the financial crisis and the recession that has ended only on paper (if that) will provide the opportunity to teach people that there is no such thing as abstract economic forces; instead, there are different groups using the political system to fight for larger shares of society's wealth. And one group has been winning for over thirty years.

Citizen John (USA)

In Winner-Take-All Politics, two political science professors explain what caused the Middle Class to become vulnerable. Understanding this phenomenon is the Holy Grail of contemporary economics in the U.S.

Some may feel this book is just as polarizing as the current state of politics and media in America. The decades-long decline in income taxes of wealthy individuals is cited in detail. Wage earners are usually subjected to the FICA taxes against all their ordinary income (all or almost their entire total income). But the top wealthy Americans may have only a small percentage (or none) of their income subjected to FICA taxes. Thus Warren Buffett announced that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Buffett has cited income inequality for "poisoning democracy."

When you search the Net for Buffett quotes on inequality, you get a lot of results showing how controversial he became for stating the obvious. Drawing attention to the inequity of the tax regime won him powerful enemies. Those same people are not going to like the authors for writing Winner-Take-All. They say these political science people are condescending because they presume to tell people their political interests.

Many of studies of poverty show how economic and political policies generally favor the rich throughout the world, some of which are cited in this book. Military spending and financial bailouts in particular favor the wealthy. Authors Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson document a long U.S. policy trend favoring wealthy Americans. This trend resulted in diminished middle class access to quality healthcare and education, making it harder to keep up with the wealthy in relative terms. Further, once people have lost basic foundations of security, they are less willing and able to take on more risk in terms of investing or starting a business.

The rise of special interests has been at the expense of the middle class, according to the authors. Former President Carter talked about this and was ridiculed. Since then government has grown further from most of us. Even federal employees are not like most of us anymore. In its August 10, 2010 issue, USA Today discussed government salaries: "At a time when workers' pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees' average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn, a USA TODAY analysis finds."

An excellent documentary showing how difficult it is to address income inequality is One Percent, by Jamie Johnson of the Johnson & Johnson family. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jared Diamond Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed shows examples of what can happen when a society disregards a coming disaster until too late. I hope that Winner-Take-All will prompt people to demand more of elected officials and to arrest the growing income gap for the sake of our democracy.

Michael Emmett Brady "mandmbrady" (Bellflower, California ,United States)

4.5 stars-Wall Street speculators control both parties, September 19, 2010 See all my reviews

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover)

This book basically argues that Wall Street controls both political parties through the use of massive campaign contributions and lobbyists who buy off both the Republicans and Democrats in the White House,Senate and House.This is essentially correct but obvious.Anyone can go back to the 1976 Jimmy Carter campaign and simply verify that the majority of his campaign funds and advisors came from Wall Street.This identical conclusion also holds with respect to Ronald Reagan,George H W Bush,Bill Clinton,George W Bush and Barack Obama. The only Presidents/Presidential candidates not dominated by Wall Street since 1976 were Gerald Ford, Walter Mondale, Ross Perot, Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan.

For instance,it is common knowledge to anyone who carefully checks to see where the money is coming from that Wall Street financiers, hedgefunds, private equity firms and giant commercial banks are calling the shots. For example, one could simply read the July 9,2007 issue of FORTUNE magazine to discover who the major backers of John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were. One could also have read Business Week(2-25-2008) or the Los Angeles Times of 3-21-2008.Through February, 2008 the major donors to the McCain campaign were 1)Merrill Lynch, 2) Citigroup, 3)Goldman Sachs, 4)J P Morgan Chase and 5)Credit Suisse

The major donors to the Hillary Clinton campaign were 1)Goldman Sachs, 2)Morgan Stanley, 3)Citigroup, 4)Lehman Brothers and 5)J P Morgan Chase.

Guess who were the major donors to the Obama campaign ? If you guessed 1)Goldman Sachs,2)UBS Ag,3)J P Morgan Chase ,4)Lehman Brothers and 5)Citigroup, then you are correct.

It didn't matter who became President-Hillary Clinton,Barack Obama or John McCain.All three had been thoroughly vetted by Wall Street. The campaign staffs of all three candidates ,especially their economic and finance advisors, were all Wall Street connected. Wall Street would have been bailed out regardless of which party won the 2008 election.

Obama is not going to change anything substantially in the financial markets. Neither is Rep. Barney Frank, Sen. Chris Dodd, Sen. Kerry or Sen. Schumer, etc. Nor is any Republican candidate going to make any changes, simply because the Republican Party is dominated even more so by Wall Street(100%) than the Democratic Party(80%). The logical solution would be to support a Third Party candidate, for example, Ross Perot .

One aspect of the book is deficient. True conservatives like Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs have been warning about the grave dangers of hallowing out and downsizing the American Manufacturing -Industrial sector, with the consequent offshoring and/or loss of many millions of American jobs, for about 20 years at the same time that the " financial services " sector has exploded from 3% of the total service sector in 1972 to just under 40% by 2007. This is what is causing the great shrinkage in the middle class in America .

Matt Milholland (California)

An Important Book, October 9, 2010 See all my reviews

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover)

This is a phenomenal book and everyone interested in how American politics works (or more accurately, doesn't work) should pick it up. It's both really smart and really accessible to a lay audience, which is rare for a political science book.

Extreme economic inequality and the near paralysis of our governing institutions has lead to a status-quo that is almost entirely indifferent to the needs of working families. Hacker & Pierson chronicle the rise of this corrupt system and the dual, yet distinct, roles the Republican and Democratic Parties have played in abetting it.

Seriously, it's top-notch. Read this book.

Loyd E. Eskildson "Pragmatist" By(Phoenix, AZ.)

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Timely, but Also Off-Base in Some Regards, September 15, 2010 See all my reviews

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover) The thirty-eight biggest Wall Street companies earned $140 billion in 2009, a record that all taxpayers who contributed to their bailouts can be proud of. Among those, Goldman Sachs paid its employees an average $600,000, also a record, and at least partially attributable to our bailout of AIG, which promptly gave much of the money to Goldman. Prior to that, the top 25 hedge fund managers earned an average of $892 million in 2007. "Winner-Take-All Politics" is framed as a detective story about how we got to inequality levels where the top 300,000 (0.1%) receive over 20% of national income, vs. 13.5% for the bottom 180 million (60% of the population).

Between 1947 and 1973, real family median income essentially doubled, and the growth percentage was virtually the same for all income levels. In the mid-1970s, however, economic inequality began to increase sharply and middle-incomes lagged. Increased female workforce participation rates and more overtime helped cushion the stagnation or decline for many (they also increased the risk of layoffs/family), then growing credit card debt shielded many families from reality. Unfortunately, expectations of stable full-time employment also began shrinking, part-time, temporary, and economic risk-bearing (eg. taxi drivers leasing vehicles and paying the fuel costs; deliverymen 'buying' routes and trucks) work increased, workers covered by employer-sponsored health insurance fell from 69% in 1979 to 56% in 2004, and retirement coverage was either been dropped entirely or mostly converted to much less valuable fix-contribution plans for private sector employees. Some exceptions have occurred that benefit the middle and lower-income segments - Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Medicaid, and Medicare were initiated or expanded, but these have not blunted the overall trend. Conversely, welfare reform, incarceration rates rising 6X between 1970 and 2000, bankruptcy reform, and increased tax audits for EITC recipients have also added to their burden, Social Security is being challenged again (despite stock market declines, enormous transition costs, and vastly increased overhead costs and fraud opportunity), and 2009's universal health care reform will be aggressively challenged both in the courts and Washington.

Authors Hacker and Pierson contend that growing inequality is not the 'natural' product of market rewards, but mostly the artificial result of deliberate government policies, strongly influenced by industry lobbyists and donations, new and expanded conservative 'think tanks,' and inadequate media coverage that focused more on the 'horse race' aspects of various initiatives than their content and impact. First came the capital gains tax cuts under President Carter, then deregulation of the financial industry under Clinton, the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, and the financial bailouts in 2008-09. The authors contend that if the 1970 tax structure remained today, the top gains would be considerably less.

But what about the fact that in 1965 CEOs of large corporations only earned about 24X the average worker, compared to 300+X now? Hacker and Pierson largely ignore the role of board-room politics and malfeasance that have mostly allowed managers to serve themselves with payment without regard to performance and out of proportion to other nations. In 2006, the 20 highest-paid European managers made an average $12.5 million, only one-third as much as the 20 highest-earning U.S. executives. Yet, the Europeans led larger firms - $65.5 billion in sales vs. $46.5 billion for the U.S. Asian CEOs commonly make only 10X-15X what their base level employees make. Jiang Jianqing, Chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (world's largest), made $234,700 in 2008, less than 2% of the $19.6 million awarded Jamie Dimon, CEO of the world's fourth-largest bank, JPMorgan Chase.

"Winner-Take-All Politics" also provides readers with the composition of 2004 taxpayers in the top 0.1% of earners (including capital gains). Non-finance executives comprised 41% of the group, finance professionals 18.4%, lawyers 6%, real estate personages 5%, physicians 4%, entrepreneurs 4%, and arts and sports stars 3%. The authors assert that this shows education and skills levels are not the great dividers most everyone credits them to be - the vast majority of Americans losing ground to the super-rich includes many well-educated individuals, while the super-rich includes many without a college education (Sheldon Adelson, Paul Allen, Edgar Bronfman, Jack Kent Cook, Michael Dell, Walt Disney, Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, Wayne Huizenga, Steve Jobs, Rush Limbaugh, Steve Wozniak, and Mark Zuckerberg).

Authors Hacker and Pierson are political science professors and it is understandable that they emphasize political causes (PACs, greater recruitment of evangelical voters, lobbying - eg. $500 million on health care lobbying in 2009, filibusters that allow senators representing just 10% of the population to stop legislation and make the other side look incompetent, etc.) for today's income inequality. However, their claim that foreign trade is "largely innocent" as a cause is neither substantiated nor logical. Foreign trade as practiced today pads corporate profits and executive bonuses while destroying/threatening millions of American jobs and lowering/holding down the incomes of those affected. Worse yet, the authors don't even mention the impact of millions of illegal aliens depressing wage rates while taking jobs from Americans, nor do they address the canard that tax cuts for and spending by the super-wealthy are essential to our economic success (refuted by Moody's Analytics and Austan Goolsbee, Business Week - 9/13/2010). They're also annoyingly biased towards unions, ignoring their constant strikes and abuses in the 1960s and 1970s, major contributions to G.M., Chrysler, and legacy airline bankruptcies, and current school district, local, and state financial difficulties.

Bottom-Line: It is a sad commentary on the American political system that growing and record levels of inequality are being met by populist backlash against income redistribution and expanding trust in government, currently evidenced by those supporting extending tax cuts for the rich and railing against reforming health care to reduce expenditures from 17.3+% of GDP to more internationally competitive levels (4-6%) while improving patient outcomes. "Winner-Take-All Politics" is interesting reading, provides some essential data, and point out some evidence of the inadequacy of many voters. However, the authors miss the 'elephant in the room' - American-style democracy is not viable when at most 10% of citizens are 'proficient' per functional literacy tests ([...]), and only a small proportion of them have the time and access required to sift through the flood of half-truths, lies, and irrelevancies to objectively evaluate 2,000+ page bills and other political activity. (Ideology-dominated economic professionals and short-term thinking human rights advocates are two others.) Comments (2)

Brian Kodi

"Americans live in Russia, but they think they live in Sweden." - Chrystia Freeland, March 26, 2011 See all my reviews

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover)

No one should doubt the rising income inequality in America, which the authors trace back to the late 1970s since the latter part of Carter's presidency in what they call the "30 Year War". Zachary Roth, in a March 4th Time magazine article stated "A slew of conservative economists of unimpeachable academic credentials--including Martin Feldstein of Harvard, Glenn Hubbard, who was President Bush's top economic adviser, and Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke--have all acknowledged that inequality is on the rise."

And why should we care that most of the after tax income growth since 30 years ago has gone the way of the richest Americans in a "winner-take-all" economy? Because as Supreme Court justice biographer Melvin Urofsky stated, "in a democratic society the existence of large centers of private power is dangerous to the continuing vitality of a free people." (p. 81) Because if unchecked, a new economic aristocracy may replace the old hereditary aristocracy America's Founders fought to defeat (p. 298). Because unequal societies are unhappy societies, and inequality can foster individual resentment that may lead to a pervasive decline in civility and erosion of culture.

And why should we be concerned that this trend in rising inequality may not experience the period of renewal the authors are optimistic about? Because unlike the shock of the 1930s' Great Depression that served as the impetus for the politics of middle class democracy, the potential shockwaves of the 2008 Great Recession were tempered by massive government stimulus, resulting in no meaningful financial reform, and an extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy. And because of the lottery mentality of a large swath of the population which opposes tax increases on the rich. One day, they or their children too can share in the American dream. According to an October 2000 Time-CNN poll, 19 percent of Americans were convinced they belonged to the richest 1 percent. Another 20 percent thought they'd make the rank of the top 1 percent at some point in their lives. That's quite a turnover in the top 1 percent category to accommodate 20 percent of the population passing through.

Mr. Hacker and Mr. Pierson have put together powerful arguments on the root causes of income inequality in the U.S., its political and economic ramifications, and to a lesser extent, a roadmap to returning democracy to the masses. This is an eye opening and disturbing, yet informative book, even for readers who may disagree with their opinions.

J. Strauss (NYC)

3.0 out of 5 stars great history of big money influence on policy but needs more analysis of the ways policy affects the winner-take-all economy, September 21, 2011 See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover)

Writing:

A bit hokey and repetitive for the first couple chapters. Much better after that. Stick with it if you're interested in the subject.

Content:

This book does a very good job explaining how and why certain special interest groups (notably those that represent the wealthiest .1%) have come to have such a stranglehold on government, particularly Congress. I come away with a clear understanding of how the wealthiest citizens are able to exert their influence over legislative policy and enforcement at the federal level.

What I would have liked more of are better explanations of the mechanisms through which government policies exacerbate the winner-take-all economy. Tax policy (rates and loopholes) is the most obvious answer, and the book provides plenty of stats on the regression of tax policy over the past 30 years.

But complicated, interesting, and largely missing from public discourse is why PRE-TAX incomes have become so much more radically skewed during that time. This is certainly touched on - the authors are deliberate in saying it's not JUST tax policy that's contributing to increased inequality - but I would've liked much more analysis of the other policy-driven factors. "Deregulation" is too general an explanation to paint a clear picture.

The authors make it clear that they believe the increasing divide in pre-tax incomes (the winner-take-all economy) is not the inevitable result of technological changes and of differences in education ("the usual suspects"), but of policy decisions made at the state and, especially, federal levels. Personally, I wasn't fully convinced that technological change has little or nothing to do with the skew (though I agree that while education goes a long way toward explaining the gap between poor and middle class, it doesn't explain much of the gap between middle class and super rich). But I do believe, as they do, that public policy plays a large role in influencing the extent of inequality in pre-tax incomes, even beyond more obvious market-impacting factors like union influence, and mandates including the minimum wage, restrictions on pollution, workplace safety and fairness laws, etc.

Off the top of my head, here are some regulatory issues that affect market outcomes and can influence the extent of winner-take-all effects in the marketplace (a few of these may have been mentioned in the book, but none were discussed in detail):

And many more. I know regulatory issues like that play huge roles in the distribution of pre-tax "market" incomes, but I'd like to have a better understanding of how, and also to be better able to articulate how in response to those who seem to believe taxes (and perhaps obvious restrictions, such as on pollution or the minimum wage) are the only significant means through which governments influence wealth disparities.

There wasn't a whole lot of discussion of these or similar regulatory issues in the book. I would like to see another edition, or perhaps another book entirely, that does. Please let me know if you have any recommendations.


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[Nov 07, 2018] Stuxnet 2.0? Iran claims Israel launched new cyber attacks

Nov 07, 2018 | arstechnica.com

President Rouhani's phone "bugged," attacks against network infrastructure claimed.

Sean Gallagher - 11/5/2018, 5:10 PM

reader comments

Last week, Iran's chief of civil defense claimed that the Iranian government had fought off Israeli attempts to infect computer systems with what he described as a new version of Stuxnet -- the malware reportedly developed jointly by the US and Israel that targeted Iran's uranium-enrichment program. Gholamreza Jalali, chief of the National Passive Defense Organization (NPDO), told Iran's IRNA news service, "Recently, we discovered a new generation of Stuxnet which consisted of several parts... and was trying to enter our systems."

On November 5, Iran Telecommunications Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi accused Israel of being behind the attack, and he said that the malware was intended to "harm the country's communication infrastructures." Jahromi praised "technical teams" for shutting down the attack, saying that the attackers "returned empty-handed." A report from Iran's Tasnim news agency quoted Deputy Telecommunications Minister Hamid Fattahi as stating that more details of the cyber attacks would be made public soon.

Jahromi said that Iran would sue Israel over the attack through the International Court of Justice. The Iranian government has also said it would sue the US in the ICJ over the reinstatement of sanctions. Israel has remained silent regarding the accusations .

The claims come a week after the NPDO's Jalali announced that President Hassan Rouhani's cell phone had been "tapped" and was being replaced with a new, more secure device. This led to a statement by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, exhorting Iran's security apparatus to "confront infiltration through scientific, accurate, and up-to-date action."

While Iran protests the alleged attacks -- about which the Israeli government has been silent -- Iranian hackers have continued to conduct their own cyber attacks. A recent report from security tools company Carbon Black based on data from the company's incident-response partners found that Iran had been a significant source of attacks in the third quarter of this year, with one incident-response professional noting, "We've seen a lot of destructive actions from Iran and North Korea lately, where they've effectively wiped machines they suspect of being forensically analyzed."


SymmetricChaos </> , 2018-11-05T17:16:46-05:00 I feel like governments still think of cyber warfare as something that doesn't really count and are willing to be dangerously provocative in their use of it. ihatewinter , 2018-11-05T17:27:06-05:00 Another day in international politics. Beats lobbing bombs at each other. +13 ( +16 / -3 ) fahrenheit_ak </> , 2018-11-05T17:46:44-05:00

corey_1967 wrote:
The twin pillars of Iran's foreign policy - America is evil and Wipe Israel off the map - do not appear to be serving the country very well.

They serve Iran very well, America is an easy target to gather support against, and Israel is more than willing to play the bad guy (for a bunch of reasons including Israels' policy of nuclear hegemony in the region and historical antagonism against Arab states).
revision0 , 2018-11-05T17:48:22-05:00 Israeli hackers?

Go on!

Quote:

Israeli hackers offered Cambridge Analytica, the data collection firm that worked on U.S. President Donald Trump's election campaign, material on two politicians who are heads of state, the Guardian reported Wednesday, citing witnesses.

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/isr ... -1.5933977

Quote:

For $20M, These Israeli Hackers Will Spy On Any Phone On The Planet

https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrew ... -ulin-ss7/

Quote:

While Israelis are not necessarily number one in technical skills -- that award goes to Russian hackers -- Israelis are probably the best at thinking on their feet and adjusting to changing situations on the fly, a trait essential for success in a wide range of areas, including cyber-security, said Forzieri. "In modern attacks, the human factor -- for example, getting someone to click on a link that will install malware -- constitutes as much as 85% of a successful attack," he said.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-ha ... ty-expert/

+5 ( +9 / -4 )
ihatewinter </> , 2018-11-05T17:52:15-05:00
dramamoose wrote:
thorpe wrote:
The pro-Israel trolls out in front of this comment section...

You don't have to be pro-Israel to be anti-Iran. Far from it. I think many of Israel's actions in Palestine are reprehensible, but I also know to (rightly) fear an Islamic dictatorship who is actively funding terrorism groups and is likely a few years away from having a working nuclear bomb, should they resume research (which the US actions seem likely to cause).

The US created the Islamic Republic of Iran by holding a cruel dictator in power rather than risking a slide into communism. We should be engaging diplomatically, rather than trying sanctions which clearly don't work. But I don't think that the original Stuxnet was a bad idea, nor do I think that intense surveillance of what could be a potentially very dangerous country is a bad one either.

If the Israelis (slash US) did in fact target civilian infrastructure, that's a problem. Unless, of course, they were bugging them for espionage purposes.

Agree. While Israel is not about to win Humanitarian Nation of the year Award any time soon, I don't see it going to Iran in a close vote tally either.

[Nov 05, 2018] The Limits of Neoliberalism (Theory, Culture Society) by William Davies

Notable quotes:
"... In this book, I provide a somewhat cumbersome definition of neoliberalism and a pithier one, both of which inform the argument running throughout this book. The cumbersome one is as follows: 'the elevation of marked-based principles and techniques of evaluation to the level of state-endorsed norms'. ..."
Nov 05, 2018 | www.amazon.com

In this book, I provide a somewhat cumbersome definition of neoliberalism and a pithier one, both of which inform the argument running throughout this book. The cumbersome one is as follows: 'the elevation of marked-based principles and techniques of evaluation to the level of state-endorsed norms'.

What this intends to capture is that, while neoliberal states have extended and liberated markets in certain areas (for instance, via privatisation and anti-union legislation), the neoliberal era has been marked just as much by the reform of non-market institutions, so as to render them market-like or business-like. Consider how competition is deliberately injected into socialised healthcare systems or universities. Alternatively, how protection of the environment is pursued by calculating a proxy price for natural public goods, in the expectation that businesses will then value them appropriately (Fourcade, 2011). It is economic calculation that spreads into all walks of life under neoliberalism, and not markets as such. This in turn provides the pithier version: neoliberalism is 'the disenchantment of politics by economics'.

The crisis of neoliberalism has reversed this ordering. 2008 was an implosion of technical capabilities on the part of banks and financial regulators, which was largely unaccompanied by any major political or civic eruption, at least until the consequences were felt in terms of public sector cuts that accelerated after 2010, especially in Southern Europe. The economic crisis was spookily isolated from any accompanying political crisis, at least in the beginning. The eruptions of 2016 therefore represented the long-awaited politicization and publicisation of a crisis that, until then, had been largely dealt with by the same cadre of experts whose errors had caused it in the first place.

Faced with these largely unexpected events and the threat of more, politicians and media pundits have declared that we now need to listen to those people 'left behind by globalization'. Following the Brexit referendum, in her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May made a vow to the less prosperous members of society, 'we will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives. When we take the big calls, we'll think not of the powerful, but you.' This awakening to the demands and voices of marginalized demographics may represent a new recognition that economic policy cannot be wholly geared around the pursuit of 'national competitiveness' in the 'global race', a pursuit that in practice meant seeking to prioritise the interests of financial services and mobile capital. It signals mainstream political acceptance that inequality cannot keep rising forever. But it is still rooted in a somewhat economistic vision of politics, as if those people 'left behind by globalisation' simply want more material wealth and opportunity', plus fewer immigrants competing for jobs. What this doesn't do is engage with the distinctive political and cultural sociology of events such as Brexit and Trump, which are fuelled by a spirit of rage, punishment and self-punishment, and not simply by a desire to get a slightly larger slice of the pie.

This is where, 1 think, we need to pay close attention to a key dimension of neoliberalism, which 1 focus on at length in this book, namely competition. One of my central arguments here is that neoliberalism is not simply reducible to 'market fundamentalism', even if there are areas (such as financial markets) where markets have manifestly attained greater reach and power since the mid1970s. Instead, the neoliberal state takes the principle of competition and the ethos of competitiveness (which historically have been found in and around markets), and seeks to reorganise society around them. Quite how competition and competitiveness are defined and politically instituted is a matter for historical and theoretical exploration, which is partly what The Limits of Neoliberalism seeks to do. But at the bare minimum, organising social relations in terms of 'competition' means that individuals, organisations, cities, regions and nations are to be tested in terms of their capacity to out-do each other. Not only that, but the tests must be considered fair in some way, if the resulting inequalities are to be recognised as legitimate. When applied to individuals, this ideology is often known as 'meritocracy''.

The appeal of this as a political template for society is that, according to its advocates, it involves the discovery of brilliant ideas, more efficient business models, naturally talented individuals, new urban visions, successful national strategies, potent entrepreneurs and so on. Even if this is correct (and the work of Thomas Piketty on how wealth begets wealth is enough to cast considerable doubt on it) there is a major defect: it consigns the majority of people, places, businesses and institutions to the status of'losers'. The normative and existential conventions of a neoliberal society stipulate that success and prowess are things that are earned through desire, effort and innate ability, so long as social and economic institutions are designed in such a way as to facilitate this. But the corollary of this is that failure and weakness are also earned: when individuals and communities fail to succeed, this is a reflection of inadequate talent or energy on their part.

This has been critically noted in how 'dependency' and 'welfare' have become matters of shame since the conservative political ascendency of the 1980s. But this is just one example of how a culture of obligatory competitiveness exerts a damaging moral psychology, not only in how people look down on others, but in how they look down on themselves. A culture which valorises 'winning' and 'competitiveness' above all else provides few sources of security or comfort, even to those doing reasonably well. Everyone could be doing better, and if they're not, they have themselves to blame. The vision of society as a competitive game also suggests that anyone could very quickly be doing worse.

Under these neoliberal conditions, remorse becomes directed inwards, producing the depressive psychological effect (or what Freud termed 'melancholia') whereby people search inside themselves for the source of their own unhappiness and imperfect lives (Davies, 2015). Viewed from within the cultural logic of neoliberalism, uncompetitive regions, individuals or communities are not just 'left behind by globalisation', but are discovered to be inferior in comparison to their rivals, just like the contestants ejected from a talent show. Rising household indebtedness compounds this process for those living in financial precarity, by forcing individuals to pay for their own past errors, illness or sheer bad luck (Davies, Montgomerie & Wallin, 2015).

In order to understand political upheavals such as Brexit, we need to perform some sociological interpretation. We need to consider that our socio-economic pathologies do not simply consist in the fact that opportunity and wealth are hoarded by certain industries (such as finance) or locales (such as London) or individuals (such as the children of the wealthy), although all of these things are true. We need also to reflect on the cultural and psychological implications of how this hoarding has been represented and justified over the past four decades, namely that it reflects something about the underlying moral worth of different populations and individuals.

One psychological effect of this is authoritarian attitudes towards social deviance: Brexit and Trump supporters both have an above-average tendency to support the death penalty, combined with a belief that political authorities are too weak to enforce justice (Kaufman, 2016). However, it is also clear that psychological and physical pain have become far more widespread in neoliberal societies than has been noticed by most people. Statistical studies have shown how societies such as Britain and the United States have become afflicted by often inexplicable rising mortality rates amongst the white working class, connected partly to rising suicide rates, alcohol and drug abuse (Dorling, 2016). The Washington Post identified close geographic correlations between this trend and support for Donald Trump (Guo, 2016). In sum, a moral-economic system aimed at identifying and empowering the most competitive people, institutions and places has become targeted, rationally or otherwise, by the vast number of people, institutions and places that have suffered not only the pain of defeat but the punishment of defeat for far too long.

NEOLIBERALISM: DEAD OR ALIVE?

The question inevitably arises, is thus thing called 'neoliberalism' now over? And if not, when might it be and how would we know? In the UK, the prospect of Brexit combined with the political priority of reducing immigration means that the efficient movement of capital (together with that of labour) is being consciously impeded in a way that would have been unthinkable during the 1990s and early 2000s. 1'he re-emergence of national borders as obstacles to the flow of goods, finance, services and above all people, represents at least an interruption in the vision of globalisation that accompanied the heyday of neoliberal policy making between 1989-2008. If events such as Brexit signal the first step towards greater national mercantilism and protectionism, then we may be witnessing far more profound transformations in our model of political economy, the consequences of which could become very ugly.

Before we reach that point, it is already possible to identify a reorientation of national economic policy making away from some core tenets of neoliberal doctrine. One of the main case studies of this book is antitrust law and policy, which has been a preoccupation for neoliberal intellectuals, reformers and lawyers ever since the 1930s. The rise of the Chicago School view of competition (which effectively granted far greater legal rights to monopolists, while also being tougher on cartels) in the American legal establishment from the 1970s onwards, later repeated in the European Commission, meant that market commitments to neoliberal policy goals is still less than likely. Free trade areas such as NAETA, policies designed to attract and please mobile capital, the search for global hegemony surrounding international markets (as opposed to naked, mercantilist self-interest) may then continue for a few more years. But the collapse of legitimacy or popularity of these agendas will not be reversed.

Meanwhile, the inability of the Republican Party to defend these policies any longer signals the ultimate divorce between the political and economic wings of neoliberalism: the conservative coalition that came into being as Keynesianism declined post-1968, and which got Ronald Reagan to power, no longer functions in its role of rationalising and de-politicising economic policy making. If neoliberalism is the 'disenchantment of politics by economics', then economics is no longer performing its role in rationalising public life. Politics is being re-enchanted, by images of nationhood, of cultural tradition, of'friends' against enemies, ot race ana religion, une ot me many political miscalculations mat lea to Brexit was to under-estimate how many UK citizens would vote for the first time in their lives, enthralled by the sudden sovereign power that they had been granted in the polling booth, which was entirely unlike the ritual of representative democracy with a first-past-the-post voting system that renders most votes irrelevant. The intoxication of popular power and of demagoguery is being experienced in visceral ways for the first time since 1968, or possibly longer. Wendy Brown argues that neoliberalism is a 'political rationality'' that was born in direct response to Fascism during the 1930s and '40s (Brown, 2015). While it would be an exaggeration to say that the end of neoliberalism represents the re-birth of Fascism, clearly there were a number of existential dimensions of'the political' that the neoliberals were right to fear, and which we should now fear once more.

While there is plenty of evidence to suggest that 2016 is a historic turning point indeed as I've argued here, possibly the second 'book-mark' in the crisis of neoliberalism we need also to recognise how the seeds of this recent political rupture were sown over time. Indeed, we can learn a lot about policy paradigms from the way they' go into decline, for they always contain, tolerate and even celebrate the very activities that later overwhelm or undermine them. Clearly, the 2008 financial crisis was triggered by activities in the banking sector that were not fundamentally different from those which had been viewed as laudable for the previous 20 years. Equally, as we witness the return of mercantilism, protectionism, nationalism and charismatic populism, we need to remember the extent to which neoliberalism accommodated some of this, up to a point.

The second major case study in this book, in addition to anti-trust policy, is of strategies for 'national competitiveness'. The executive branch of government has traditionally been viewed as a problem from the perspective of economic liberalism, seeing as powerful politicians will instinctively seek to privilege their own territories vis-a-vis others. This is the threat of mercantilism, which can spin into resolutely anti-liberal policies such as trade tariffs and the subsidisation of indigenous industries and 'national champions'. These forms of mercantilism may now be returning, however, the logic of neoliberalism was never quite as antipathetic to them as orthodox market liberals might have been. Instead, I suggest in Chapter 4, rather than simply seek to thwart or transcend nationalist politics, neoliberalism seizes and reimagines the nation as one competitive actor amongst many, in a global contest for 'competitiveness', as evaluated by business gurus such as Michael Porter and think tanks such as the World Economic Eorum. To be sure, these gurus and think tanks have never been anything but hostile to protectionism; but nevertheless, they have encouraged a form of mild nationalism as the basis for strategic thinking in economic policy. As David Harvey has argued, 'the neoliberal state needs nationalism of a certain sort to survive': it draws on aspects of executive power and nationalist sentiment, in order to steer economic activity towards certain types of competitive strategies, culture and behaviours and away from others (Harvey, 2005: 85).

There is therefore a deep-lying tension within the politics of neoliberalism between a 'liberal' logic, which seeks to transcend geography, culture and political difference, and a more contingent, 'violent' logic that seeks to draw on the energies of nationhood and combat, in the hope of diverting them towards competitive, entrepreneurial production. These two logics are in conflict with each other, but the story I tell in this book is of how the latter gradually won out over the long history of neoliberal thought and policy making. Where the neoliberal intellectuals of the 1930s had a deep commitment to liberal ideals, which they believed the market could protect, the rise of the post-war Chicago School of economics and the co-option of neoliberal ideas by business lobbies and conservatives, meant that (what 1 term) the 'liberal spirit' was gradually lost. There is thus a continuity at work here, in the way that the crisis of neoliberalism has played out.

Written in 2012-13, the book suggests that neoliberalism has now entered a 'contingent' state, in which various failures of economic rationality are dealt with through incorporating an ever broader range of cultural and political resources. The rise of behavioural economics, for example, represents an attempt to preserve a form of market rationality in the face of crisis, by incorporating expertise provided by psychologists and neuroscientists. A form of 'neo-communitarianism' emerges, which takes seriously the role of relationships, environmental conditioning and empathy in the construction of independent, responsible subjects. This remains an economistic logic, inasmuch as it prepares people to live efficient, productive, competitive lives. But by bringing culture, community and contingency within the bounds of neoliberal rationality, one might see things like behavioural economics or 'social neuroscience' and so on as early symptoms of a genuinely post-liberal politics. Once governments (and publics) no longer view economics as the best test of optimal policies, then opportunities for post-liberal experimentation expand rapidly, with unpredictable and potentially frightening consequences. It was telling that, when the British Home Secretary, Amber Kudd, suggested in October 2016 that companies be compelled to publicly list their foreign workers, she defended this policy as a 'nudge'.

The Limits of Neoliberalism is a piece of interpretive sociology. It starts from the recognition that neoliberalism rests on claims to legitimacy, which it is possible to imagine as valid, even for critics of this system. Inspired by Luc Boltanski, the book assumes that political-economic systems typically need to offer certain limited forms of hope, excitement and fairness in order to survive, and cannot operate via domination and exploitation alone. For similar reasons, we might soon find that we miss some of the normative and political dimensions of neoliberalism, for example the internationalism that the IiU was founded to promote and the cosmopolitanism that competitive markets sometimes inculcate. There may be some elements of neoliberalism that critics and activists need to grasp, refashion and defend, rather than to simply denounce: this book's Afterword offers some ideas of what this might mean. But if the book is to be read in a truly post-neoliberal world, 1 hope that in its Interpretive aspirations, it helps to explain what was internally and normalively coherent about the political economy known as 'neoliberalism', but also why the system really had no account of its own preconditions or how to preserve them adequately. The attempt to reduce all of human life to economic calculation runs up against limits. A political rationality that fails to recognise politics as a distinctive sphere of human existence was always going to be dumbfounded, once that sphere took on its own extra-economic life. As Bob Dylan sang to Mr Jones, so one might now say to neoliberal intellectuals or technocrats: 'something is happening here, but you don't know what it is'.

... ... ...

Most analyses of neoliberalism have focused on its commitment to 'free markets, deregulation and trade. I shan't discuss the validity of these portrayals here, although some have undoubtedly exaggerated the similarities between 'classical' nineteenth-century liberalism and twentieth-century neoliberalism. The topic addressed here is a different one the character of neoliberal authority, on what basis does the neoliberal state demand the right to be obeyed, if not on substantive political grounds? To a large extent, it is on the basis of particular economic claims and rationalities, constructed and propagated by economic experts. The state does not necessarily (or at least, not always) cede power to markets, but comes to justify its decisions, policies and rules in terms that are commensurable with the logic of markets. Neoliberalism might therefore be defined as the elevation of market-based principles and techniques of evaluation to the level of state-endorsed norms (Davies, 2013: 37). The authority of the neoliberal state is heavily dependent on the authority of economics (and economists) to dictate legitimate courses of action. Understanding that authority and its present crisis requires us to look at economics, economic policy experts and advisors as critical components of state institutions.

Since the banking crisis of 2007-09, public denunciations of 'inequality' have increased markedly. These draw on a diverse range of moral, critical, theoretical, methodological and empirical resources. Marxist analyses have highlighted growing inequalities as a symptom of class conflict, which neoliberal policies have greatly exacerbated (Harvey, 2011; Therborn, 2012). Statistical analyses have highlighted correlations between different spheres of inequality', demonstrating how economic inequality influences social and psychological wellbeing (Wilkinson & Pickett, 2009). Data showing extreme concentrations of wealth have led political scientists to examine the US political system, as a tool through which inequality is actively increased (Hacker & Pierson, 2010). Emergent social movements, such as Occupy, draw a political dividing line between the '99%' and the '1%' who exploit them. Political leaders and public intellectuals have adopted the language of'fairness' in their efforts to justify and criticize the various policy interventions which influence the distribution of economic goods (e.g. Hutton, 2010).

It is important to recognize that these critiques have two quite separate targets, although the distinction is often blurred. Firstly, there is inequality that exists within reasonably delineated and separate spheres of society. This means that there are multiple inequalities, with multiple, potentially incommensurable measures. The inequality that occurs within the market sphere is separate from the inequality that occurs within the cultural sphere, which is separate from the inequality' that occurs within the political sphere, and so on. Each sphere can either unwelcome politically, or impractical (Davies, 2013). Hayek's support for the welfare state, Simons' commitment to the nationalization of key industries, the ordo-liberal enthusiasm for the 'social market' demonstrate that the early neoliberals were offering a justification for what Walzer terms 'monopoly' (separate inequalities in separate spheres) and not 'dominance' (the power of one sphere over all others).

As the next chapter explores, it was Coasian economics (in tandem with the Chicago School) that altered this profoundly. The objective perspective of the economist implicitly working for a university or state regulator would provide the common standard against which activity could be judged. Of course economics does not replace the price system, indeed economics is very often entangled with the price system (Callon, 1998; Caliskan, 2010), but the a priori equality of competitors becomes presumed, as a matter of economic methodology, which stipulates that all agents are endowed with equal psychological capacities of calculation. It is because this assumption is maintained when evaluating all institutions and actions that it massively broadens the terrain of legitimate competition, and opens up vast, new possibilities for legitimate inequality and legitimate restraint. Walzerian dominance is sanctioned, and not simply monopoly. The Coasian vision of fair competition rests on an entirely unrealistic premise, namely that individuals share a common capacity' to calculate and negotiate, rendering intervention by public authorities typically unnecessary: the social reality of lawyers' fees is alone enough to undermine this fantasy. Yet in one sense, this is a mode of economic critique that is imbued with the 'liberal spirit' described earlier. It seeks to evaluate the efficiency of activities, on the basis of the assumed equal rationality of all, and the neutrality of the empirical observer.

Like Coase, Schumpeter facilitates a great expansion of the space and time in which the competitive process takes place. Various 'social' and 'cultural' resources become drawn into the domain of competition, with the goal being to define the rules that all others must play by. Monopoly is undoubtedly the goal of competitiveness. But unlike Coase's economics, Schumpeter's makes no methodological assumption regarding the common rationality' of all actors. Instead, it makes a romantic assumption regarding the inventive power of some actors (entrepreneurs), and the restrictive routines of most others. Any objective judgements regarding valid or invalid actions will be rooted in static methodologies or rules. Entrepreneurs have no rules, and respect no restraint. They seek no authority or validation for what they do, but are driven by a pure desire to dominate. In this sense their own immanent authority comes with a 'violent threat', which is endorsed by the neoliberal state as Chapter 4 discusses.

These theories of competition are not 'ideological' and nor are they secretive. They are not ideological because they do not seek to disguise how reality is actually constituted or to distract people from their objective conditions. They have contributed to the construction and constitution of economic reality, inasmuch as they provide objective and acceptable reports on what is going on, that succeed in coordinating various actors. Moreover, they are sometimes performative, not least because of how they inform and format modes of policy, regulation and governance. Inequality has not arisen by accident or due to the chaos of capitalism or 'globalization'. Theories and methodologies, which validate certain types of dominating and monopolistic activity, have provided the conventions within which large numbers of academics, business people and policy makers have operated. They make a shared world possible in the first place. But nor are any of these theories secret either. They have been published in peer-reviewed journals, spread via policy papers and universities. Without shared, public rationalities and methodologies, neoliberalism would have remained a private conspiracy. Inequality can be denounced by critics of neoliberalism, but it cannot be argued that in an era that privileges not only market competition but competitiveness in general inequality is not publicly acceptable.

These theories of competition are not 'ideological' and nor are they secretive. They are not ideological because they do not seek to disguise how reality is actually constituted or to distract people from their objective conditions. They have contributed to the construction and constitution of economic reality, inasmuch as they provide objective and acceptable reports on what is going on, that succeed in coordinating various actors. Moreover, they are sometimes performative, not least because of how they inform and format modes of policy, regulation and governance. Inequality has not arisen by accident or due to the chaos of capitalism or 'globalization'. Theories and methodologies, which validate certain types of dominating and monopolistic activity, have provided the conventions within which large numbers of academics, business people and policy makers have operated. They make a shared world possible in the first place. But nor are any of these theories secret either. They have been published in peer-reviewed journals, spread via policy papers and universities. Without shared, public rationalities and methodologies, neoliberalism would have remained a private conspiracy. Inequality can be denounced by critics of neoliberalism, but it cannot be argued that in an era that privileges not only market competition but competitiveness in general inequality is not publicly acceptable.

The contingent neoliberalism that we currently live with is in a literal sense unjustified. It is propagated without the forms of justification (be they moral or empirical) that either the early neoliberals or the technical practitioners of neoliberal policy had employed, in order to produce a reality that 'holds together', as pragmatist sociologists like to say. The economized social and political reality now only just about 'holds together', because it is constantly propped up, bailed out, nudged, monitored, adjusted, data-mincd, and altered by those responsible for rescuing it. It does not survive as a consensual reality: economic judgements regarding 'what is going on' are no longer 'objective' or 'neutral', to the extent that they once were. The justice of inequality can no longer be explained with reference to a competition or to competitiveness, let alone to a market. Thus, power may be exercised along the very same tramlines that it was during the golden neoliberal years of the 1990s and early millennium, and the same experts, policies and agencies may continue to speak to the same public audiences. But the sudden reappearance of those two unruly uneconomic actors, the Hobbesian sovereign state and the psychological unconscious, suggests that that the project of disenchanting politics by economics has reached its limit. And yet crisis and critique have been strategically deferred or accommodated. What resources are there available for this to change, and to what extent are these distinguishable from neoliberalism's own critical capacities?

... ... ...

Neoliberalism, as this book has sought to demonstrate, is replete with its own internal modes of criticism, judgement, measurement and evaluation, which enable actors to reach agreements about what is going on. These are especially provided by certain traditions of economics and business strategy, which privilege competitive processes, on the basis that those processes are uniquely able to preserve an element of uncertainty in social and economic life. The role of the expert be it in the state, the think tank or university within this programme is to produce quantitative facts about the current state of competitive reality, such that actors, firms or whole nations can be judged, compared and ranked. For Hayek and many of the early neoliberals, markets would do this job instead of expert authorities, with prices the only facts that were entirely necessary. But increasingly, under the influence of the later Chicago School and business strategists, the 'winners' and the 'losers' were to be judged through the evaluations of economics (and associated techniques and measures), rather than of markets as such. Certain forms of authority are therefore necessary for this game' to be playable. Economized law is used to test the validity of certain forms of competitive conduct; audits derived from business strategy are used to test and enthuse the entrepreneurial energies of rival communities. But the neoliberal programme initially operated such that these forms of authority could be exercised in a primarily technical sense, without metaphysical appeals to the common good, individual autonomy or the sovereignty of the state that employed them. As the previous chapter argued, various crises (primarily, but not exclusively, the 2007-09 financial crisis) have exposed neoliberalism's tacit dependence on both executive sovereignty and on certain moral-psychological equipment on the part of individuals. A close reading of neoliberal texts and policies would have exposed this anyway. In which case, the recent 'discovery' that neoliberalism depends on and justifies power inequalities, and not markets as such, may be superficial in nature. Witnessing the exceptional measures that states have taken to rescue the status quo simply confirms the state-centric nature of neolibcralism, as an anti-political mode of politics. As Zizek argued in relation to the Wikileaks' exposures of 2011, 'the real disturbance was at the level of appearances: we can no longer pretend we don't know what everyone knows we know' (Zizek, 2011b). Most dramatically, neoliberalism now appears naked and shorn of any pretence to liberalism, that is, it no longer operates with manifest a priori principles of equivalence, against which all contestants should be judged. Chapter 2 identified the 'liberal spirit' of neoliberalism with a Rawlsian assumption that contestants are formally equal before they enter the economic 'game'. Within the Kantian or 'deontological' tradition of liberalism, this is the critical issue, and it played a part in internal debates within the early neoliberal movement. For those such as the ordoliberals, who feared the rationalizing potential of capitalist monopoly, the task was to build an economy around such an a priori liberal logic. Ensuring some equality of access to the economic game', via the active regulation of large firms and 'equality of opportunity' for individuals, is how neoliberalism's liberalism has most commonly been presented politically. As Chapter 3 discussed, the American tradition of neoliberalism as manifest in Chicago Law and Economics abandoned this sort of normative liberalism, in favour of a Benthamite utilitarianism, in which efficiency claims trumped formal arguments. The philosophical and normative elements of neoliberalism have, in truth, been in decline since the 1950s.

The 'liberal spirit' of neoliberalism was kept faintly alive by the authority that was bestowed upon methodologies, audits and measures of efficiency analysis. The liberal a priori just about survived in the purported neutrality of economic method (of various forms), to judge all contestants equally, even while the empirical results of these judgements have increasingly benefited alreadydominant competitors. This notion relied on a fundamental epistemological inconsistency of neoliberalism, between the Hayekian argument that there can be no stable or objective scientific perspective on economic activity, and the more positivist argument that economics offers a final and definitive judgement. American neoliberalism broadens the 'arena' in which competition is understood to take place, beyond definable markets, and beyond the sphere of the 'economy', enabling cultural, social and political resources to be legitimately dragged into the economic 'game', and a clustering of various forms of advantage in the same hands. Monopoly, in Walter's terms, becomes translated into dominance.

The loss of neoliberalisms pretence to liberalism transforms the type of authority that can be claimed by and on behalf of power, be it business, financial or state power. It means the abandonment of the globalizing, universalizing, transcendental branch of neoliberalism, in which certain economic techniques and measures (including, but not only, prices) would provide a common framework through which all human difference could be mediated and represented. Instead, cultural and national difference potentially leading to conflict now animates neoliberalism, but without a commonly recognized principle against which to convert this into competitive inequality. What I have characterized as the 'violent threat' of neoliberalism has come to the fore, whereby authority in economic decision making is increasingly predicated upon the claim that 'we' must beat 'them'. This fracturing of universalism, in favour of political and cultural particularism, may be a symptom of how capitalist crises often play out (Gamble, 2009). One reason why neoliberalism has survived as well as it has since 2007 is that it has always managed to operate within two rhetorical registers simultaneously, satisfying both the demand for liberal universalism and that for political particularism, so when the former falls apart, a neoliberal discourse of competitive nationalism and the authority of executive decision is already present and available.

One lesson to be taken from neoliberalism, for political movements which seek to challenge it, is that both individual agency and collective institutions need to be criticized and invented simultaneously. Political reform does not have to build on any 'natural' account of human beings, but can also invent new visions of individual agency. The design and transformation of institutions, such as markets, regulators and firms, do not need to take place separately from this project, but in tandem and in dialogue with it. A productive focus of critical economic enquiry would be those institutions which neolibcral thought has tended to be entirely silent on. These are the institutions and mechanisms of capitalism which coerce and coordinate individuals, thereby removing choices from economic situations. The era of applied neoliberal policy making has recently started to appear as one of rampant 'financialisation' (Krippner, 2012). So it is therefore peculiar how little attention is paid within neoliberal discourse to institutions of credit and equity, other than that they should be priced and distributed via markets. Likewise, the rising power of corporations has been sanctioned by theories that actually say very little about firms, management, work or organization, but focus all their attention on the incentives and choices confronting a few 'agents' and 'leaders' at the very top. Despite having permeated our cultural lives with visions of competition, and also permeated political institutions with certain economic rationalities, the dominant discourse of neoliberalism actually contains very little which represents the day-to-day lives and experiences of those who live with it. This represents a major empirical and analytical shortcoming of the economic theories that are at work in governing us, and ultimately a serious vulnerability.

A further lesson to be taken from neoliberalism, for the purposes of a critique of neoliberalism, is that restrictive economic practices need to be strategically and inventively targeted and replaced. In the 1930s and 1940s, 'restrictive economic practices' would have implied planning, labour organization and socialism. Today our economic freedoms are restricted in very different ways, which strike at the individual in an intimate way, rather than at individuals collectively. In the twenty-first century, the experience of being an employee or a consumer or a debtor is often one of being ensnared, not one of exercising any choice or strategy. Amidst all of the uncertainty of dynamic capitalism, this sense of being trapped into certain relations seems eminently certain. Releasing individuals from these constraints is a constructive project, as much as a critical one: this is what the example of the early neoliberals demonstrates.

Lawyers willing to rewrite the rules of exchange, employment and finance (as, for instance the ordo-liberals redrafted the rules of the market) could be one of the great forces for social progress, if they were ever to mobilize in a concerted w'ay. A form of collective entrepreneurship, which like individual entrepreneurs saw' economic nonnativity as fluid and changeable, could produce new forms of political economy, with alternative valuation systems.

The reorganization of state, society, institutions and individuals in terms of competitive dynamics and rules, succeeded to the extent that it did because it offered both a vision of the collective and a vision of individual agency simultaneously. It can appear impermeable to critique or political transformation, if only challenged on one of these terms. For instance, if a different vision of collective organization is proposed, the neoliberal rejoinder is that this must involve abandoning individual 'choice' or freedom. Or if a different vision of the individual is proposed, the neoliberal rejoinder is that this is unrealistic given the competitive global context. Dispensing with competition, as the template for all politics and political metaphysics, is therefore only possible if theory proceeds anew, with a political-economic idea of individual agency and collective organization, at the same time. What this might allow is a different basis from which to speak of human beings as paradoxically the same yet different. The problem of politics is that individuals are both private, isolated actors, with tastes and choices, and part of a collectivity, with rules and authorities. An alternative answer to this riddle needs to be identified, other than simply more competition and more competitiveness, in which isolated actors take no responsibility for the collective, and the collective is immune to the protestations of those isolated actors.

[Nov 05, 2018] Tax heavens and inequality

Notable quotes:
"... creates a parallel society in the countryside that never see these money, but are the pros of having that money there and contributing to the economy outweigh these cons? It would if the money were invested with a view of making a profit from a factory, but I don't think that happens in this case. What do you think? ..."
"... The result is what we Australians call a two-speed economy or a split economy, where one sub-economy caters for the very rich (real estate agents specialising in luxury properties, lots of luxury hotels and playgrounds, boutique shops and restaurants) and the other sub-economy is hidden away, made up of local people who have to rent their homes because they can't afford to buy their own homes, who have to hold down two or more jobs to survive and who supply the staff for the hotels, shops and restaurants frequented by the rich. Eventually the local people start disappearing to find better-paying jobs and the hotels, restaurants, etc start bringing in foreign labour to replace them. ..."
Nov 05, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

blatnoi November 5, 2018 at 3:06 am

I've lately been wondering about the economics of being a big tax haven like the UK. A place like the Bahamas, I think benefits from it since there are so few citizens and it's easy to bribe them, and it costs a lot less than paying taxes back home. But then you move on to Panama, and the grey area starts. Someone is getting rich there, but the population of Panama is a lot bigger than that of the Bahamas, and that population is not exactly rich. Does it create bigger class divisions and also retards politics in terms of trying to develop their own unique economy not dependent on servicing the rich foreign tax thieves?

Then you get to London and the UK, with their absolutely enormous population. Most of the people outside of London will never see any of this money, and in London it creates a runaway housing crisis as the best investment for laundered money is thought to be real estate. Obviously there is investment in the local economy other than that, such as buying football clubs and stores, but I don't think that money goes towards funding a pharma start-up or buying stock in a local car company.

So it exacerbates inequality sure (London real estate is insane and out of reach of most locals), and creates a parallel society in the countryside that never see these money, but are the pros of having that money there and contributing to the economy outweigh these cons? It would if the money were invested with a view of making a profit from a factory, but I don't think that happens in this case. What do you think?

Mark Chapman November 5, 2018 at 3:20 am
I think it is an extremely interesting discussion point; one that I would not venture into without doing a bit of research, but right now I have to leave for work. It's definitely something we could chew over for a bit, and I imagine Jen will have something for us on it.
Jen November 5, 2018 at 2:00 pm
Blatnoi, if you get hold of the Nicholas Shaxson book I mentioned before, I recall there's a chapter that discusses the effect of being a tax haven has on the Channel Islands economy and Jersey Island in particular. The money that ends up there is in the pockets of a very few people who use it to buy and real estate as if it were shares on the stock market.

The result is what we Australians call a two-speed economy or a split economy, where one sub-economy caters for the very rich (real estate agents specialising in luxury properties, lots of luxury hotels and playgrounds, boutique shops and restaurants) and the other sub-economy is hidden away, made up of local people who have to rent their homes because they can't afford to buy their own homes, who have to hold down two or more jobs to survive and who supply the staff for the hotels, shops and restaurants frequented by the rich. Eventually the local people start disappearing to find better-paying jobs and the hotels, restaurants, etc start bringing in foreign labour to replace them.

I certainly agree with you that a two-speed economy creates and exacerbates class divisions, and moreover destroys not only local economies in the areas where it operates but also local societies and cultures.

Aha I Googled "Shaxson", "economy" and "Jersey" and out of what Google threw at me, I found this account by Bram Wanrooij of his time living in Jersey with his family for six years:

An excerpt from Wanrooij's post:

".. I have never been so aware of wealth discrepancies as I have in Jersey. And that says a lot, as I have lived in places like Kenya and Sudan when I was younger. Disparity is on full display, in combination with a shameless promotion of greed and privilege. Range Rovers wizz past you, their 4×4 engines sputtering out clouds of pollution, utterly useless on a small island with a decent infrastructure and no real elevation to speak of. You even see flashy sports cars; quite amusing when you consider the speed limit is 40 at most. What are these people trying to prove?

The island caters to the very wealthy, especially reflected in everyday expenses and housing and travel costs. Getting off the island becomes ever more impossible as your family grows, with flights to England ridiculously expensive and ferries charging a small fortune for carrying you across the channel. In this way, Jersey has quickly become a financial and geographical prison for middle and low earners.

In the six years I've lived here, my family has had to move six times and every time we had to rent a house which was slightly beyond our budget, even though both my wife and I are hard workers with honest professions. I have seen qualified, talented people leave because of this, a phenomenon which makes no sense, neither on a social, nor an economic level "

Comparisons between the Jersey-style financial two-speed economy and economies afflicted with so-called Dutch disease (typically economies like Saudi Arabia and others dependent on oil, gas and mineral exploitation) have been made. Characteristics of such economies are outlined in detail at this link:
https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/11977/oil/dutch-disease/

Fern November 5, 2018 at 5:25 pm
I've lived on the outskirts of London for many years and what I've seen is the city becoming increasingly hollowed out. You can walk around street after street at night and everywhere is in darkness – the lights are out because no-one is home, not that evening, not ever. London is permanently under construction; huge numbers of new buildings have gone up in recent years – all of them beyond the purchasing power of most Londoners – and huge numbers of those new buildings have been purchased off plan by overseas investors with no intention or interest in living in them.

When the money moves in existing communities disintegrate, local councils seek to dump those in social housing on other, less fashionable boroughs (thus exacerbating housing problems in those areas) or even outside London so housing can be razed and the land sold to developers, those renting in the private sector are priced out, local businesses close down – their market has gone plus insane rent and rates increases etc etc. London used to have a bit of a 'village' feel to it – distinct areas with settled communities, traditional butcher-baker-candlestick maker high streets, a sense of community. All gone or going.

Moscow Exile November 5, 2018 at 3:51 am
'Billionaires Row': inside Hampstead palaces left empty for decades
On The Bishops Avenue houses worth tens of millions of pounds lay derelict in a spectacular example of waste and profligacy

The multimillion-pound wrecks are evidence of a property culture in which the world's richest people see British property as investments. One Hyde Park, a block of apartments in Knightsbridge, is another example where more than half the flats are registered with the council as empty or second homes.

Rinat Akhmetov pays record £136.4m for apartment at One Hyde Park
Ukraine's richest man spends record amount for a UK home after buying two Knightsbridge flats totalling 25,000 sq ft

He just loves the weather there!

Northern Star November 5, 2018 at 2:35 pm
Hmmm ..
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rinat_Akhmetov#Political_activity
Jen November 5, 2018 at 3:46 pm
Buying properties in hot-spot areas and leaving them empty – because you plan to trade and sell them if and when the prices rocket up to levels you want – would be typical behaviour of people who treat property portfolios like share portfolios. You want to be ready to sell when the price is right so you don't move tenants into them. Getting rid of tenants can be a hassle if you want to sell quickly.

Also buying property and deliberately leaving it to rot is a way of using it as a tax shelter to minimise land and other taxes, lower your income or claim a tax rebate on losses you make because you're forking out more in land taxes, council rates and other rates than you are making on the property, depending on the taxation jurisdiction prevailing in the area or country where you have bought the property.

Evgeny November 5, 2018 at 3:59 am
Thanks for a great article, Mark!

Apparently, the U.S. authorities believe that by squeezing the corrupt Russian money out of the Great Britain, they would force those corrupt rich Russians to return their money home and remake the Russia as a modern Western nation with the rule of law and checks and balances.

At least, that's what I have heard at anti-Putin forums. So -- and especially so in view of your article -- that ought to be taken with a grain of salt.

But if that's indeed the idea -- I'm skeptical that it would work. Definitely, it sounds alright, and if it were implemented, say, 30 years ago -- it might have sort of worked, by preventing the corrupt Russians to move their assets abroad. Now, I think, they would just move their fortunes into some other friendly jurisdiction outside of the reach of Uncle Sam and Russia's authorities.

If getting at dirty money was that easy, I doubt that China would ever need to resort to such a complex operation as the "Fox Hunt".

Moscow Exile November 5, 2018 at 4:25 am
Well it seems that Rusal has said "Kiss my arse goodbye!" to the bounteous, tax-free-zoned West.

Sanctions-hit Rusal decides to move from Jersey to Russia
November 05, 9:24 updated at: November 05, 10:24 UTC+3

That's Jersey the British Channel Island and not "New Jersey", the former British colony.

Mark Chapman November 5, 2018 at 3:36 pm
Another kick in the sack for Britain, caused by Washington but for which Washington will suffer no penalty. That Special Relationship certainly is something, isn't it?
Mark Chapman November 5, 2018 at 3:32 pm
I think you're probably right – although I never thought of such a devious motive as forcing Putin's enemies (in some cases) back to Russia, where they would presumably start financing the opposition and making trouble, I agree it likely would not work according to plan. Very likely all it would accomplish is the withdrawal of their money from London, to be hidden somewhere else.

[Nov 05, 2018] How neoliberals destroyed University education and then a large part of the US middle class and the US postwar social order by Edward Qualtrough

Notable quotes:
"... Every academic critique of neoliberalism is an unacknowledged memoir. We academics occupy a crucial node in the neoliberal system. Our institutions are foundational to neoliberalism's claim to be a meritocracy, insofar as we are tasked with discerning and certifying the merit that leads to the most powerful and desirable jobs. Yet at the same time, colleges and universities have suffered the fate of all public goods under the neoliberal order. We must therefore "do more with less," cutting costs while meeting ever-greater demands. The academic workforce faces increasing precarity and shrinking wages even as it is called on to teach and assess more students than ever before in human history -- and to demonstrate that we are doing so better than ever, via newly devised regimes of outcome-based assessment. In short, we academics live out the contradictions of neoliberalism every day. ..."
"... Whereas classical liberalism insisted that capitalism had to be allowed free rein within its sphere, under neoliberalism capitalism no longer has a set sphere. We are always "on the clock," always accruing (or squandering) various forms of financial and social capital. ..."
Aug 24, 2016 | www.amazon.com

From: Amazon.com Neoliberalism's Demons On the Political Theology of Late Capital (9781503607125) Adam Kotsko Books

Every academic critique of neoliberalism is an unacknowledged memoir. We academics occupy a crucial node in the neoliberal system. Our institutions are foundational to neoliberalism's claim to be a meritocracy, insofar as we are tasked with discerning and certifying the merit that leads to the most powerful and desirable jobs. Yet at the same time, colleges and universities have suffered the fate of all public goods under the neoliberal order. We must therefore "do more with less," cutting costs while meeting ever-greater demands. The academic workforce faces increasing precarity and shrinking wages even as it is called on to teach and assess more students than ever before in human history -- and to demonstrate that we are doing so better than ever, via newly devised regimes of outcome-based assessment. In short, we academics live out the contradictions of neoliberalism every day.

... ... ...

On a more personal level it reflects my upbringing in the suburbs of Flint, Michigan, a city that has been utterly devastated by the transition to neoliberalism. As I lived through the slow-motion disaster of the gradual withdrawal of the auto industry, I often heard Henry Ford s dictum that a company could make more money if the workers were paid enough to be customers as well, a principle that the major US automakers were inexplicably abandoning. Hence I find it [Fordism -- NNB] to be an elegant way of capturing the postwar model's promise of creating broadly shared prosperity by retooling capitalism to produce a consumer society characterized by a growing middle class -- and of emphasizing the fact that that promise was ultimately broken.

By the mid-1970s, the postwar Fordist order had begun to breakdown to varying degrees in the major Western countries. While many powerful groups advocated a response to the crisis that would strengthen the welfare state, the agenda that wound up carrying the day was neoliberalism, which was most forcefully implemented in the United Kingdom by Margaret Thatcher and in the United States by Ronald Reagan. And although this transformation was begun by the conservative part)', in both countries the left-of-centcr or (in American usage) "liberal"party wound up embracing neoliberal tenets under Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, ostensibly for the purpose of directing them toward progressive ends.

With the context of current debates within the US Democratic Party, this means that Clinton acolytes are correct to claim that "neoliberalism" just is liberalism but only to the extent that, in the contemporary United States, the term liberalism is little more than a word for whatever the policy agenda of the Democratic Party happens to be at any given time. Though politicians of all stripes at times used libertarian rhetoric to sell their policies, the most clear-eyed advocates of neoliberalism realized that there could be no simple question of a "return" to the laissez-faire model.

Rather than simply getting the state "out of the way," they both deployed and transformed state power, including the institutions of the welfare state, to reshape society in accordance with market models. In some cases creating markets where none had previously existed, as in the privatization of education and other public services. In others it took the form of a more general spread of a competitive market ethos into ever more areas of life -- so that we are encouraged to think of our reputation as a "brand," for instance, or our social contacts as fodder for "networking." Whereas classical liberalism insisted that capitalism had to be allowed free rein within its sphere, under neoliberalism capitalism no longer has a set sphere. We are always "on the clock," always accruing (or squandering) various forms of financial and social capital.

[Nov 03, 2018] Is Red Hat IBM's 'Hail Mary' pass

Notable quotes:
"... if those employees become unhappy, they can effectively go anywhere they want. ..."
"... IBM's partner/reseller ecosystem is nowhere near what it was since it owned the PC and Server businesses that Lenovo now owns. And IBM's Softlayer/BlueMix cloud is largely tied to its legacy software business, which, again, is slowing. ..."
"... I came to IBM from their SoftLayer acquisition. Their ability to stomp all over the things SoftLayer was almost doing right were astounding. I stood and listened to Ginni say things like, "We purchased SoftLayer because we need to learn from you," and, "We want you to teach us how to do Cloud the right way, since we spent all these years doing things the wrong way," and, "If you find yourself in a meeting with one of our old teams, you guys are gonna be the ones in charge. You are the ones who know how this is supposed to work - our culture has failed at it." Promises which were nothing more than hollow words. ..."
"... Next, it's a little worrisome that the author, now over the whole IBM thing is recommending firing "older people," you know, the ones who helped the company retain its performance in years' past. The smartest article I've read about IBM worried about its cheap style of "acquiring" non-best-of-breed companies and firing oodles of its qualified R&D guys. THAT author was right. ..."
"... Four years in GTS ... joined via being outsourced to IBM by my previous employer. Left GTS after 4 years. ..."
"... The IBM way of life was throughout the Oughts and the Teens an utter and complete failure from the perspective of getting work done right and using people to their appropriate and full potential. ..."
"... As a GTS employee, professional technical training was deemed unnecessary, hence I had no access to any unless I paid for it myself and used my personal time ... the only training available was cheesy presentations or other web based garbage from the intranet, or casual / OJT style meetings with other staff who were NOT professional or expert trainers. ..."
"... As a GTS employee, I had NO access to the expert and professional tools that IBM fricking made and sold to the same damn customers I was supposed to be supporting. Did we have expert and professional workflow / document management / ITIL aligned incident and problem management tools? NO, we had fricking Lotus Notes and email. Instead of upgrading to the newest and best software solutions for data center / IT management & support, we degraded everything down the simplest and least complex single function tools that no "best practices" organization on Earth would ever consider using. ..."
"... And the people management paradigm ... employees ranked annually not against a static or shared goal or metric, but in relation to each other, and there was ALWAYS a "top 10 percent" and a "bottom ten percent" required by upper management ... a system that was sociopathic in it's nature because it encourages employees to NOT work together ... by screwing over one's coworkers, perhaps by not giving necessary information, timely support, assistance as needed or requested, one could potentially hurt their performance and make oneself look relatively better. That's a self-defeating system and it was encouraged by the way IBM ran things. ..."
Nov 03, 2018 | www.zdnet.com
Brain drain is a real risk

IBM has not had a particularly great track record when it comes to integrating the cultures of other companies into its own, and brain drain with a company like Red Hat is a real risk because if those employees become unhappy, they can effectively go anywhere they want. They have the skills to command very high salaries at any of the top companies in the industry.

The other issue is that IBM hasn't figured out how to capture revenue from SMBs -- and that has always been elusive for them. Unless a deal is worth at least $1 million, and realistically $10 million, sales guys at IBM don't tend to get motivated.

Also: Red Hat changes its open-source licensing rules

The 5,000-seat and below market segment has traditionally been partner territory, and when it comes to reseller partners for its cloud, IBM is way, way behind AWS, Microsoft, Google, or even (gasp) Oracle, which is now offering serious margins to partners that land workloads on the Oracle cloud.

IBM's partner/reseller ecosystem is nowhere near what it was since it owned the PC and Server businesses that Lenovo now owns. And IBM's Softlayer/BlueMix cloud is largely tied to its legacy software business, which, again, is slowing.

... ... ...

But I think that it is very unlikely the IBM Cloud, even when juiced on Red Hat steroids, will become anything more ambitious than a boutique business for hybrid workloads when compared with AWS or Azure. Realistically, it has to be the kind of cloud platform that interoperates well with the others or nobody will want it.


geek49203_z , Wednesday, April 26, 2017 10:27 AM

Ex-IBM contractor here...

1. IBM used to value long-term employees. Now they "value" short-term contractors -- but they still pull them out of production for lots of training that, quite frankly, isn't exactly needed for what they are doing. Personally, I think that IBM would do well to return to valuing employees instead of looking at them as expendable commodities, but either way, they need to get past the legacies of when they had long-term employees all watching a single main frame.

2. As IBM moved to an army of contractors, they killed off the informal (but important!) web of tribal knowledge. You know, a friend of a friend who new the answer to some issue, or knew something about this customer? What has happened is that the transaction costs (as economists call it) have escalated until IBM can scarcely order IBM hardware for its own projects, or have SDM's work together.

M Wagner geek49203_z , Wednesday, April 26, 2017 10:35 AM
geek49203_z Number 2 is a problem everywhere. As long-time employees (mostly baby-boomers) retire, their replacements are usually straight out of college with various non-technical degrees. They come in with little history and few older-employees to which they can turn for "the tricks of the trade".
Shmeg , Wednesday, April 26, 2017 10:41 AM
I came to IBM from their SoftLayer acquisition. Their ability to stomp all over the things SoftLayer was almost doing right were astounding. I stood and listened to Ginni say things like, "We purchased SoftLayer because we need to learn from you," and, "We want you to teach us how to do Cloud the right way, since we spent all these years doing things the wrong way," and, "If you find yourself in a meeting with one of our old teams, you guys are gonna be the ones in charge. You are the ones who know how this is supposed to work - our culture has failed at it." Promises which were nothing more than hollow words.
geek49203_z , Wednesday, April 26, 2017 10:27 AM
Ex-IBM contractor here...

1. IBM used to value long-term employees. Now they "value" short-term contractors -- but they still pull them out of production for lots of training that, quite frankly, isn't exactly needed for what they are doing. Personally, I think that IBM would do well to return to valuing employees instead of looking at them as expendable commodities, but either way, they need to get past the legacies of when they had long-term employees all watching a single main frame.

2. As IBM moved to an army of contractors, they killed off the informal (but important!) web of tribal knowledge. You know, a friend of a friend who new the answer to some issue, or knew something about this customer? What has happened is that the transaction costs (as economists call it) have escalated until IBM can scarcely order IBM hardware for its own projects, or have SDM's work together.

M Wagner geek49203_z , Wednesday, April 26, 2017 10:35 AM
geek49203_z Number 2 is a problem everywhere. As long-time employees (mostly baby-boomers) retire, their replacements are usually straight out of college with various non-technical degrees. They come in with little history and few older-employees to which they can turn for "the tricks of the trade".
Shmeg , Wednesday, April 26, 2017 10:41 AM
I came to IBM from their SoftLayer acquisition. Their ability to stomp all over the things SoftLayer was almost doing right were astounding. I stood and listened to Ginni say things like, "We purchased SoftLayer because we need to learn from you," and, "We want you to teach us how to do Cloud the right way, since we spent all these years doing things the wrong way," and, "If you find yourself in a meeting with one of our old teams, you guys are gonna be the ones in charge. You are the ones who know how this is supposed to work - our culture has failed at it." Promises which were nothing more than hollow words.
cavman , Wednesday, April 26, 2017 3:58 PM
In the 1970's 80's and 90's I was working in tech support for a company called ROLM. We were doing communications , voice and data and did many systems for Fortune 500 companies along with 911 systems and the secure system at the White House. My job was to fly all over North America to solve problems with customers and integration of our equipment into their business model. I also did BETA trials and documented systems so others would understand what it took to make it run fine under all conditions.

In 84 IBM bought a percentage of the company and the next year they bought out the company. When someone said to me "IBM just bought you out , you must thing you died and went to heaven." My response was "Think of them as being like the Federal Government but making a profit". They were so heavily structured and hide bound that it was a constant battle working with them. Their response to any comments was "We are IBM"

I was working on an equipment project in Colorado Springs and IBM took control. I was immediately advised that I could only talk to the people in my assigned group and if I had a question outside of my group I had to put it in writing and give it to my manager and if he thought it was relevant it would be forwarded up the ladder of management until it reached a level of a manager that had control of both groups and at that time if he thought it was relevant it would be sent to that group who would send the answer back up the ladder.

I'm a Vietnam Veteran and I used my military training to get things done just like I did out in the field. I went looking for the person I could get an answer from.

At first others were nervous about doing that but within a month I had connections all over the facility and started introducing people at the cafeteria. Things moved quickly as people started working together as a unit. I finished my part of the work which was figuring all the spares technicians would need plus the costs for packaging and service contract estimates. I submitted it to all the people that needed it. I was then hauled into a meeting room by the IBM management and advised that I was a disruptive influence and would be removed. Just then the final contracts that vendors had to sign showed up and it used all my info. The IBM people were livid that they were not involved.

By the way a couple months later the IBM THINK magazine came out with a new story about a radical concept they had tried. A cover would not fit on a component and under the old system both the component and the cover would be thrown out and they would start from scratch doing it over. They decided to have the two groups sit together and figure out why it would not fit and correct it on the spot.

Another great example of IBM people is we had a sales contract to install a multi node voice mail system at WANG computers but we lost it because the IBM people insisted on bundling in AS0400 systems into the sale to WANG computer. Instead we lost a multi million dollar contract.

Eventually Siemens bought 50% of the company and eventually full control. Now all we heard was "That is how we do it in Germany" Our response was "How did that WW II thing work out".

Stockholder , Wednesday, April 26, 2017 7:20 PM
The author may have more loyalty to Microsoft than he confides, is the first thing noticeable about this article. The second thing is that in terms of getting rid of those aged IBM workers, I think he may have completely missed the mark, in fairness, that may be the product of his IBM experience, The sheer hubris of tech-talking from the middle of the story and missing the global misstep that is today's IBM is noticeable. As a stockholder, the first question is, "Where is the investigation to the breach of fiduciary duty by a board that owes its loyalty to stockholders who are scratching their heads at the 'positive' spin the likes of Ginni Rometty is putting on 20 quarters of dead losses?" Got that, 20 quarters of losses.

Next, it's a little worrisome that the author, now over the whole IBM thing is recommending firing "older people," you know, the ones who helped the company retain its performance in years' past. The smartest article I've read about IBM worried about its cheap style of "acquiring" non-best-of-breed companies and firing oodles of its qualified R&D guys. THAT author was right.

IBM's been run into the ground by Ginni, I'll use her first name, since apparently my money is now used to prop up this sham of a leader, who from her uncomfortable public announcement with Tim Cook of Apple, which HAS gone up, by the way, has embraced every political trend, not cause but trend from hiring more women to marginalizing all those old-time white males...You know the ones who produced for the company based on merit, sweat, expertise, all those non-feeling based skills that ultimately are what a shareholder is interested in and replaced them with young, and apparently "social" experts who are pasting some phony "modernity" on a company that under Ginni's leadership has become more of a pet cause than a company.

Finally, regarding ageism and the author's advocacy for the same, IBM's been there, done that as they lost an age discrimination lawsuit decades ago. IBM gave up on doing what it had the ability to do as an enormous business and instead under Rometty's leadership has tried to compete with the scrappy startups where any halfwit knows IBM cannot compete.

The company has rendered itself ridiculous under Rometty, a board that collects paychecks and breaches any notion of fiduciary duty to shareholders, an attempt at partnering with a "mod" company like Apple that simply bolstered Apple and left IBM languishing and a rejection of what has a track record of working, excellence, rewarding effort of employees and the steady plod of performance. Dump the board and dump Rometty.

jperlow Stockholder , Wednesday, April 26, 2017 8:36 PM
Stockholder Your comments regarding any inclination towards age discrimination are duly noted, so I added a qualifier in the piece.
Gravyboat McGee , Wednesday, April 26, 2017 9:00 PM
Four years in GTS ... joined via being outsourced to IBM by my previous employer. Left GTS after 4 years.

The IBM way of life was throughout the Oughts and the Teens an utter and complete failure from the perspective of getting work done right and using people to their appropriate and full potential. I went from a multi-disciplinary team of engineers working across technologies to support corporate needs in the IT environment to being siloed into a single-function organization.

My first year of on-boarding with IBM was spent deconstructing application integration and cross-organizational structures of support and interwork that I had spent 6 years building and maintaining. Handing off different chunks of work (again, before the outsourcing, an Enterprise solution supported by one multi-disciplinary team) to different IBM GTS work silos that had no physical spacial relationship and no interworking history or habits. What we're talking about here is the notion of "left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing" ...

THAT was the IBM way of doing things, and nothing I've read about them over the past decade or so tells me it has changed.

As a GTS employee, professional technical training was deemed unnecessary, hence I had no access to any unless I paid for it myself and used my personal time ... the only training available was cheesy presentations or other web based garbage from the intranet, or casual / OJT style meetings with other staff who were NOT professional or expert trainers.

As a GTS employee, I had NO access to the expert and professional tools that IBM fricking made and sold to the same damn customers I was supposed to be supporting. Did we have expert and professional workflow / document management / ITIL aligned incident and problem management tools? NO, we had fricking Lotus Notes and email. Instead of upgrading to the newest and best software solutions for data center / IT management & support, we degraded everything down the simplest and least complex single function tools that no "best practices" organization on Earth would ever consider using.

And the people management paradigm ... employees ranked annually not against a static or shared goal or metric, but in relation to each other, and there was ALWAYS a "top 10 percent" and a "bottom ten percent" required by upper management ... a system that was sociopathic in it's nature because it encourages employees to NOT work together ... by screwing over one's coworkers, perhaps by not giving necessary information, timely support, assistance as needed or requested, one could potentially hurt their performance and make oneself look relatively better. That's a self-defeating system and it was encouraged by the way IBM ran things.

The "not invented here" ideology was embedded deeply in the souls of all senior IBMers I ever met or worked with ... if you come on board with any outside knowledge or experience, you must not dare to say "this way works better" because you'd be shut down before you could blink. The phrase "best practices" to them means "the way we've always done it".

IBM gave up on innovation long ago. Since the 90's the vast majority of their software has been bought, not built. Buy a small company, strip out the innovation, slap an IBM label on it, sell it as the next coming of Jesus even though they refuse to expend any R&D to push the product to the next level ... damn near everything IBM sold was gentrified, never cutting edge.

And don't get me started on sales practices ... tell the customer how product XYZ is a guaranteed moonshot, they'll be living on lunar real estate in no time at all, and after all the contracts are signed hand the customer a box of nuts & bolts and a letter telling them where they can look up instructions on how to build their own moon rocket. Or for XX dollars more a year, hire a Professional Services IBMer to build it for them.

I have no sympathy for IBM. They need a clean sweep throughout upper management, especially any of the old True Blue hard-core IBMers.

billa201 , Thursday, April 27, 2017 11:24 AM
You obviously have been gone from IBM as they do not treat their employees well anymore and get rid of good talent not keep it a sad state.
ClearCreek , Tuesday, May 9, 2017 7:04 PM
We tried our best to be SMB partners with IBM & Arrow in the early 2000s ... but could never get any traction. I personally needed a mentor, but never found one. I still have/wear some of their swag, and I write this right now on a re-purposed IBM 1U server that is 10 years old, but ... I can't see any way our small company can make $ with them.

Watson is impressive, but you can't build a company on just Watson. This author has some great ideas, yet the phrase that keeps coming to me is internal politics. That corrosive reality has & will kill companies, and it will kill IBM unless it is dealt with.

Turn-arounds are possible (look at MS), but they are hard and dangerous. Hope IBM can figure it out...

[Nov 03, 2018] The evaluation system in which there was ALWAYS a "top 10 percent" and a "bottom ten percent" is sociopathic in it's nature

Notable quotes:
"... Four years in GTS ... joined via being outsourced to IBM by my previous employer. Left GTS after 4 years. ..."
"... The IBM way of life was throughout the Oughts and the Teens an utter and complete failure from the perspective of getting work done right and using people to their appropriate and full potential. ..."
"... As a GTS employee, professional technical training was deemed unnecessary, hence I had no access to any unless I paid for it myself and used my personal time ... the only training available was cheesy presentations or other web based garbage from the intranet, or casual / OJT style meetings with other staff who were NOT professional or expert trainers. ..."
"... As a GTS employee, I had NO access to the expert and professional tools that IBM fricking made and sold to the same damn customers I was supposed to be supporting. Did we have expert and professional workflow / document management / ITIL aligned incident and problem management tools? NO, we had fricking Lotus Notes and email. Instead of upgrading to the newest and best software solutions for data center / IT management & support, we degraded everything down the simplest and least complex single function tools that no "best practices" organization on Earth would ever consider using. ..."
"... And the people management paradigm ... employees ranked annually not against a static or shared goal or metric, but in relation to each other, and there was ALWAYS a "top 10 percent" and a "bottom ten percent" required by upper management ... a system that was sociopathic in it's nature because it encourages employees to NOT work together ... by screwing over one's coworkers, perhaps by not giving necessary information, timely support, assistance as needed or requested, one could potentially hurt their performance and make oneself look relatively better. That's a self-defeating system and it was encouraged by the way IBM ran things. ..."
Nov 03, 2018 | www.zdnet.com

Gravyboat McGee , Wednesday, April 26, 2017 9:00 PM

Four years in GTS ... joined via being outsourced to IBM by my previous employer. Left GTS after 4 years.

The IBM way of life was throughout the Oughts and the Teens an utter and complete failure from the perspective of getting work done right and using people to their appropriate and full potential. I went from a multi-disciplinary team of engineers working across technologies to support corporate needs in the IT environment to being siloed into a single-function organization.

My first year of on-boarding with IBM was spent deconstructing application integration and cross-organizational structures of support and interwork that I had spent 6 years building and maintaining. Handing off different chunks of work (again, before the outsourcing, an Enterprise solution supported by one multi-disciplinary team) to different IBM GTS work silos that had no physical special relationship and no interworking history or habits. What we're talking about here is the notion of "left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing" ...

THAT was the IBM way of doing things, and nothing I've read about them over the past decade or so tells me it has changed.

As a GTS employee, professional technical training was deemed unnecessary, hence I had no access to any unless I paid for it myself and used my personal time ... the only training available was cheesy presentations or other web based garbage from the intranet, or casual / OJT style meetings with other staff who were NOT professional or expert trainers.

As a GTS employee, I had NO access to the expert and professional tools that IBM fricking made and sold to the same damn customers I was supposed to be supporting. Did we have expert and professional workflow / document management / ITIL aligned incident and problem management tools? NO, we had fricking Lotus Notes and email. Instead of upgrading to the newest and best software solutions for data center / IT management & support, we degraded everything down the simplest and least complex single function tools that no "best practices" organization on Earth would ever consider using.

And the people management paradigm ... employees ranked annually not against a static or shared goal or metric, but in relation to each other, and there was ALWAYS a "top 10 percent" and a "bottom ten percent" required by upper management ... a system that was sociopathic in it's nature because it encourages employees to NOT work together ... by screwing over one's coworkers, perhaps by not giving necessary information, timely support, assistance as needed or requested, one could potentially hurt their performance and make oneself look relatively better. That's a self-defeating system and it was encouraged by the way IBM ran things.

The "not invented here" ideology was embedded deeply in the souls of all senior IBMers I ever met or worked with ... if you come on board with any outside knowledge or experience, you must not dare to say "this way works better" because you'd be shut down before you could blink. The phrase "best practices" to them means "the way we've always done it".

IBM gave up on innovation long ago. Since the 90's the vast majority of their software has been bought, not built. Buy a small company, strip out the innovation, slap an IBM label on it, sell it as the next coming of Jesus even though they refuse to expend any R&D to push the product to the next level ... damn near everything IBM sold was gentrified, never cutting edge.

And don't get me started on sales practices ... tell the customer how product XYZ is a guaranteed moonshot, they'll be living on lunar real estate in no time at all, and after all the contracts are signed hand the customer a box of nuts & bolts and a letter telling them where they can look up instructions on how to build their own moon rocket. Or for XX dollars more a year, hire a Professional Services IBMer to build it for them.

I have no sympathy for IBM. They need a clean sweep throughout upper management, especially any of the old True Blue hard-core IBMers.

[Oct 31, 2018] Over 50% Of College Students Afraid To Disagree With Peers, Professors

Social pressure to conform is natural in any organization. And universities are not exception. Various people positioned differently on confiormism-independent_thinking spectrum, so we should not generalize that social pressure makes any students a conformist, who is afraid to voice his/her opinion. Some small percentage of student can withstand significant social pressure. But the fact that around 50% can't withstand significant social pressure sounds right.
Oct 31, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
As more and more college professors express their social and political views in classrooms, students across the country are feeling increasingly afraid to disagree according to a survey of 800 full-time undergraduate college students, reported by the Wall Street Journal ' s James Freeman.

When students were asked if they've had "any professors or course instructors that have used class time to express their own social or political beliefs that are completely unrelated to the subject of the course," 52% of respondents said that this occurs "often," while 47% responded, "not often."

A majority -- 53% -- also reported that they often "felt intimidated" in sharing their ideas, opinions or beliefs in class because they were different from those of the professors. - WSJ

What's more, 54% of students say they are intimidated expressing themselves when their views conflict with those of their classmates.

The survey, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates on behalf of Yale's William F. Buckley, Jr. Program (which counts Freeman among its directors), was undertaken between October 8th and 18th, and included students at both public and private four-year universities across the country.

This is a problem, suggests Freeman - as unbiased teachers who formerly filled universities have been replaced by activists who "unfortunately appear to be just as political and overbearing as one would expect," and that " perhaps the actual parents who write checks can someday find some way to encourage more responsible behavior. "

Read the rest below via the Wall Street Journal :

***

As for the students, there's at least a mixed message in the latest survey results. On the downside, the fact that so many students are afraid of disagreeing with their peers does not suggest a healthy intellectual atmosphere even outside the classroom. There's more disappointing news in the answers to other survey questions. For example, 59% of respondents agreed with this statement:

My college or university should forbid people from speaking on campus who have a history of engaging in hate speech.

This column does not favor hatred, nor the subjective definition of "hate speech" by college administrators seeking to regulate it. In perhaps the most disturbing finding in the poll results, 33% of U.S. college students participating in the survey agreed with this statement:

If someone is using hate speech or making racially charged comments, physical violence can be justified to prevent this person from espousing their hateful views.

An optimist desperately searching for a silver lining would perhaps note that 60% of respondents did not agree that physical violence is justified to silence people speaking what someone has defined as "hate speech" or "racially charged" comments. But the fact that a third of college students at least theoretically endorse violence as a response to offensive speech underlines the threat to free expression on American campuses.

Perhaps more encouraging are the responses to this question:

Generally speaking, do you think the First Amendment, which deals with freedom of speech, is an outdated amendment that can no longer be applied in today's society and should be changed or an important amendment that still needs to be followed and respected in today's society?

A full 79% of respondents opted for respecting the First Amendment, while 17% backed a rewrite.

On a more specific question, free speech isn't winning by the same landslide. When asked if they would favor or oppose their schools having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty, 54% of U.S. college kids opposed such codes while 38% were in favor.

The free exchange of ideas is in danger on American campuses. And given the unprofessional behavior of American faculty suggested by this survey, education reformers should perhaps focus on encouraging free-speech advocates within the student body while adopting a campus slogan from an earlier era: Don't trust anyone over 30.


keep the bastards honest , 26 minutes ago link

this tyranny applies not only to politics and weirdo social world view, it runs thru everything. Group think is powerful and those not following get excluded, defunded of resources and ridicule and other punishment.

... ... ...

PGR88 , 39 minutes ago link

The education-industrial complex is a massive spending and debt-fed bubble, that has created a massive political organizing force and teflon monoculture. They are parasites feeding off government and the debt of students

... ... ...

keep the bastards honest , 55 minutes ago link

It's always been like this, at school as a 5 year old ....my little kid was sent to the headmaster for objecting to making a key ring thing in craft as not one kid had a key. He spoke a well reasoned argument and of course is at the Supreme Court now. But gained no respect or nurturing from that school. I also copped it, made career decision to be a scientist because of the stupidity of an english teacher not knowing same issues prevailed there. Was thrown out of english honours course so did the exam on my own knowledge and got first class honours in the state.

At University we all know you feed back what they want if you want to pass. Some want intelligence and best true understanding others want their crippled stuff. This also applies if you are a science, physiology researcher. Cutting edge work if not mainstream does not get published, you have to be part of a recognised institution to be published so no independent researcher,

There are set ideas and marketing there of eg antioxidants fallacies, need for estrogen, and until recently How stupid was Lamarck because he espoused the passing down of response to environment to subsequent generations...Darwin thought this too but idea was suppressed. Then epigenetics got the new hot thing for grants. Fck them all.

My child and I discussed a version with the principal when he was doing the bacceaulureate, as from 5 onwards teachers rejected correct answers and wanted their answers. The excellent advice was to view it all like a driving exam, learn the road rules and give them back.

students always know the tyranny of the teacher and evaluator. At 6 my kid was sat with the slow learners and forced to give 30answers a day ' correct' . Ie lies and untruths.

Infinity as answer to how many corners has a cylinder was not only mad bad but ridiculed.

Charlie_Martel , 2 hours ago link

Because its an indoctrination not an education.

Duc888 , 2 hours ago link

It's impossible to actually debate someone who has NO FACTS on either side of the argument....

it winds up like this....

"not even WRONG"

The phrase " not even wrong " describes an argument or explanation that purports to be scientific but is based on invalid reasoning or speculative premises that can neither be proven correct nor falsified .

Hence, it refers to statements that cannot be discussed in a rigorous, scientific sense . [1] For a meaningful discussion on whether a certain statement is true or false, the statement must satisfy the criterion called "falsifiability" -- the inherent possibility for the statement to be tested and found false. In this sense, the phrase "not even wrong" is synonymous to "nonfalsifiable". [1]

The phrase is generally attributed to theoretical physicist Wolfgang Pauli , who was known for his colorful objections to incorrect or careless thinking. [2] [3] Rudolf Peierls documents an instance in which "a friend showed Pauli the paper of a young physicist which he suspected was not of great value but on which he wanted Pauli's views. Pauli remarked sadly, 'It is not even wrong' ." [4] This is also often quoted as "That is not only not right; it is not even wrong", or in Pauli's native German , " Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig; es ist nicht einmal falsch!". Peierls remarks that quite a few apocryphal stories of this kind have been circulated and mentions that he listed only the ones personally vouched for by him. He also quotes another example when Pauli replied to Lev Landau , "What you said was so confused that one could not tell whether it was nonsense or not. " [4]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong

JimmyJones , 2 hours ago link

Chemical engineering, engineering structural (optional), basic electrical engineering and C++ programing and he can make any machine to automatically preform any chemical process out of his garage. You could probably watch a butt ton of YouTube and a library card and also learn those skills.

LetThemEatRand , 2 hours ago link

The homogenized culture of colleges today is very similar to what I imagine it was like in the 1950's, but with a different set of "values" obviously. The 1950's led to the 1960's, and a complete rejection by many young people of establishment mono-culture. Maybe the young people eventually will figure out that what they see as SJW counter-culture is actually new establishment culture, and they will rebel against it in a few years. Probably not, though.

TeethVillage88s , 2 hours ago link

Thanks. I'm older than others probably think. But I generalizae or estimate more than others my age due to the life I chose or led.

culture of colleges today is very similar to what I imagine it was like in the 1950's,

TeethVillage88s , 2 hours ago link

Thanks. I'm older than others probably think. But I generalizae or estimate more than others my age due to the life I chose or led.

culture of colleges today is very similar to what I imagine it was like in the 1950's,

dcmbuffy , 2 hours ago link

and going into debt for their prison term. bunch of punk bullies!!!

DuckDog , 2 hours ago link

When I was in the army and got sentence to 2 years less a day in Military prison in Edmonton, I paid $1.70 a day, which the military were so kind to ring up a tab for me, when I got released from prison they handed me my bill and made me work it off before I got my dishonorable discharge

Sort of like college today

[Oct 30, 2018] I have worked at IBM 17 years and have worried about being layed off for about 11 of them. Moral is in the toilet. Bonuses for the rank and file are in the under 1% range while the CEO gets millions

Notable quotes:
"... Adjusting for inflation, I make $6K less than I did my first day. My group is a handful of people as at least 1/2 have quit or retired. To support our customers, we used to have several people, now we have one or two and if someone is sick or on vacation, our support structure is to hope nothing breaks. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

Buzz , Friday, March 23, 2018 12:00 PM

I've worked there 17 years and have worried about being layed off for about 11 of them. Moral is in the toilet. Bonuses for the rank and file are in the under 1% range while the CEO gets millions. Pay raises have been non existent or well under inflation for years.

Adjusting for inflation, I make $6K less than I did my first day. My group is a handful of people as at least 1/2 have quit or retired. To support our customers, we used to have several people, now we have one or two and if someone is sick or on vacation, our support structure is to hope nothing breaks.

We can't keep millennials because of pay, benefits and the expectation of being available 24/7 because we're shorthanded. As the unemployment rate drops, more leave to find a different job, leaving the old people as they are less willing to start over with pay, vacation, moving, selling a house, pulling kids from school, etc.

The younger people are generally less likely to be willing to work as needed on off hours or to pull work from a busier colleague.

I honestly have no idea what the plan is when the people who know what they are doing start to retire, we are way top heavy with 30-40 year guys who are on their way out, very few of the 10-20 year guys due to hiring freezes and we can't keep new people past 2-3 years. It's like our support business model is designed to fail.

[Oct 30, 2018] Sam Palmisano now infamous Roadmap 2015 ran the company into the ground through its maniacal focus on increasing EPS at any and all costs. Literally.

Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

GoingGone , Friday, April 13, 2018 6:06 PM

As a 25yr+ vet of IBM, I can confirm that this article is spot-on true. IBM used to be a proud and transparent company that clearly demonstrated that it valued its employees as much as it did its stock performance or dividend rate or EPS, simply because it is good for business. Those principles helped make and keep IBM atop the business world as the most trusted international brand and business icon of success for so many years. In 2000, all that changed when Sam Palmisano became the CEO. Palmisano's now infamous "Roadmap 2015" ran the company into the ground through its maniacal focus on increasing EPS at any and all costs. Literally.

Like, its employees, employee compensation, benefits, skills, and education opportunities. Like, its products, product innovation, quality, and customer service.

All of which resulted in the devastation of its technical capability and competitiveness, employee engagement, and customer loyalty. Executives seemed happy enough as their compensation grew nicely with greater financial efficiencies, and Palisano got a sweet $270M+ exit package in 2012 for a job well done.

The new CEO, Ginni Rometty has since undergone a lot of scrutiny for her lack of business results, but she was screwed from day one. Of course, that doesn't leave her off the hook for the business practices outlined in the article, but what do you expect: she was hand picked by Palmisano and approved by the same board that thought Palmisano was golden.

People (and companies) who have nothing to hide, hide nothing. People (and companies) who are proud of their actions, share it proudly. IBM believes it is being clever and outsmarting employment discrimination laws and saving the company money while retooling its workforce. That may end up being so (but probably won't), but it's irrelevant. Through its practices, IBM has lost the trust of its employees, customers, and ironically, stockholders (just ask Warren Buffett), who are the very(/only) audience IBM was trying to impress. It's just a huge shame.

HiJinks , Sunday, March 25, 2018 3:07 AM
I agree with many who state the report is well done. However, this crap started in the early 1990s. In the late 1980s, IBM offered decent packages to retirement eligible employees. For those close to retirement age, it was a great deal - 2 weeks pay for every year of service (capped at 26 years) plus being kept on to perform their old job for 6 months (while collecting retirement, until the government stepped in an put a halt to it). Nobody eligible was forced to take the package (at least not to general knowledge). The last decent package was in 1991 - similar, but not able to come back for 6 months. However, in 1991, those offered the package were basically told take it or else. Anyone with 30 years of service or 15 years and 55 was eligible and anyone within 5 years of eligibility could "bridge" the difference. They also had to sign a form stating they would not sue IBM in order to get up to a years pay - not taxable per IRS documents back then (but IBM took out the taxes anyway and the IRS refused to return - an employee group had hired lawyers to get the taxes back, a failed attempt which only enriched the lawyers). After that, things went downhill and accelerated when Gerstner took over. After 1991, there were still a some workers who could get 30 years or more, but that was more the exception. I suspect the way the company has been run the past 25 years or so has the Watsons spinning in their graves. Gone are the 3 core beliefs - "Respect for the individual", "Service to the customer" and "Excellence must be a way of life".
ArnieTracey , Saturday, March 24, 2018 7:15 PM
IBM's policy reminds me of the "If a citizen = 30 y.o., then mass execute such, else if they run then hunt and kill them one by one" social policy in the Michael York movie "Logan's Run."

From Wiki, in case you don't know: "It depicts a utopian future society on the surface, revealed as a dystopia where the population and the consumption of resources are maintained in equilibrium by killing everyone who reaches the age of 30. The story follows the actions of Logan 5, a "Sandman" who has terminated others who have attempted to escape death, and is now faced with termination himself."

Jr Jr , Saturday, March 24, 2018 4:37 PM
Corporate loyalty has been gone for 25 years. This isnt surprising. But this age discrimination is blatantly illegal.

[Oct 30, 2018] This might just be the deal that kills IBM because there's no way that they don't do a writedown of 90% of the value of this acquisition within 5 years.

Oct 30, 2018 | arstechnica.com

afidel, 2018-10-29T13:17:22-04:00

tipoo wrote:
Kilroy420 wrote:
Perhaps someone can explain this... Red Hat's revenue and assets barely total about $5B. Even factoring in market share and capitalization, how the hey did IBM come up with $34B cash being a justifiable purchase price??

Honestly, why would Red Hat have said no?

You don't trade at your earnings, you trade at your share price, which for Red Hat and many other tech companies can be quite high on Price/Earnings. They were trading at 52 P/E. Investors factor in a bunch of things involving future growth, and particularly for any companies in the cloud can quite highly overvalue things.

A 25 year old company trading at a P/E of 52 was already overpriced, buying at more than 2x that is insane. This might just be the deal that kills IBM because there's no way that they don't do a writedown of 90% of the value of this acquisition within 5 years.

[Oct 30, 2018] The insttuinaliuzed stupidity of IBM brass is connected with the desire to get bonuses

Oct 30, 2018 | arstechnica.com

3 hours ago afidel wrote: show nested quotes Kilroy420 wrote: Perhaps someone can explain this... Red Hat's revenue and assets barely total about $5B. Even factoring in market share and capitalization, how the hey did IBM come up with $34B cash being a justifiable purchase price??

Honestly, why would Red Hat have said no?

You don't trade at your earnings, you trade at your share price, which for Red Hat and many other tech companies can be quite high on Price/Earnings. They were trading at 52 P/E. Investors factor in a bunch of things involving future growth, and particularly for any companies in the cloud can quite highly overvalue things.
A 25 year old company trading at a P/E of 52 was already overpriced, buying at more than 2x that is insane. This might just be the deal that kills IBM because there's no way that they don't do a writedown of 90% of the value of this acquisition within 5 years.

OK. I did 10 years at IBM Boulder..

The problem isn't the purchase price or the probable write-down later.

The problem is going to be with the executives above it. One thing I noticed at IBM is that the executives needed to put their own stamp on operations to justify their bonuses. We were on a 2 year cycle of execs coming in and saying "Whoa.. things are too centralized, we need to decentralize", then the next exec coming in and saying "things are too decentralized, we need to centralize".

No IBM exec will get a bonus if they are over RedHat and exercise no authority over it. "We left it alone" generates nothing for the PBC. If they are in the middle of a re-org, then the specific metrics used to calculate their bonus can get waived. (Well, we took an unexpected hit this year on sales because we are re-orging to better optimize our resources). With that P/E, no IBM exec is going to get a bonus based on metrics. IBM execs do *not* care about what is good for IBM's business. They are all about gaming the bonuses. Customers aren't even on the list of things they care about.

I am reminded of a coworker who quit in frustration back in the early 2000's due to just plain bad management. At the time, IBM was working on Project Monterey. This was supposed to be a Unix system across multiple architectures. My coworker sent his resignation out to all hands basically saying "This is stupid. we should just be porting Linux". He even broke down the relative costs. Billions for Project Monterey vs thousands for a Linux port. Six months later, we get an email from on-high announcing this great new idea that upper management had come up with. It would be far cheaper to just support Linux than write a new OS.. you'd think that would be a great thing, but the reality is that all it did was create the AIX 5L family, which was AIX 5 with an additional CD called Linux ToolBox, which was loaded with a few Linux programs ported to a specific version of AIX, but never kept current. IBM can make even great decisions into bad decisions.

In May 2007, IBM announced the transition to LEAN. Sounds great, but this LEAN was not on the manufacturing side of the equation. It was in e-Business under Global Services. The new procedures were basically call center operations. Now, prior to this, IBM would have specific engineers for specific accounts. So, Major Bank would have that AIX admin, that Sun admin, that windows admin, etc. They knew who to call and those engineers would have docs and institutional knowledge of that account. During the LEAN announcement, Bob Moffat described the process. Accounts would now call an 800 number and the person calling would open a ticket. This would apply to *any* work request as all the engineers would be pooled and whoever had time would get the ticket. So, reset a password - ticket. So, load a tape - ticket. Install 20 servers - ticket.

Now, the kicker to this was that the change was announced at 8AM and went live at noon. IBM gave their customers who represented over $12 Billion in contracts 4 *hours* notice that they were going to strip their support teams and treat them like a call center. (I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine if they would accept that kind of support after spending hundreds of millions on a support contract).

(The pilot program for the LEAN process had its call center outsourced overseas, if that helps you try to figure out why IBM wanted to get rid of dedicated engineers and move to a call-center operation).

[Oct 30, 2018] Arbitrators overwhelmingly favor employers

Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

When it comes to employment claims, studies have found that arbitrators overwhelmingly favor employers. Research by Cornell University law and labor relations specialist Alexander Colvin found that workers win only 19 percent of the time when their cases are arbitrated. By contrast, they win 36 percent of the time when they go to federal court, and 57 percent in state courts. Average payouts when an employee wins follow a similar pattern.

Given those odds, and having signed away their rights to go to court, some laid-off IBM workers have chosen the one independent forum companies can't deny them: the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That's where Moos, the Long Beach systems security specialist, and several of her colleagues, turned for help when they were laid off. In their complaints to the agency, they said they'd suffered age discrimination because of the company's effort to "drastically change the IBM employee age mix to be seen as a startup."

In its formal reply to the EEOC, IBM said that age couldn't have been a factor in their dismissals. Among the reasons it cited: The managers who decided on the layoffs were in their 40s and therefore older too.

[Oct 30, 2018] I see the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) problem as its nearly impossible to take the fact that we know PIP is a scam to court. IBM will say its an issue with you, your performance nose dived and your manager tried to fix that. You have to not only fight those simple statements, but prove that PIP is actually systematic worker abuse.

Notable quotes:
"... It is in fact a modern corporate horror story; it's also life at a modern corporation, period. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

Cindy Gallop , Thursday, March 22, 2018 10:24 AM

This makes for absolutely horrifying, chills-down-your-spine reading. A modern corporate horror story - worthy of a 'Black Mirror' episode. Phenomenal reporting by Ariana Tobin and Peter Gosselin. Thank you for exposing this. I hope this puts an end to this at IBM and makes every other company and industry doing this in covert and illegal ways think twice about continuing.
Daisy S Cindy Gallop , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Agree..a well written expose'. I've been a victim of IBM's "PIP" (Performance Improvement Plan) strategy, not because of my real performance mind you, but rather, I wasn't billing hours between projects and it was hurting my unit's bottom line. The way IBM instructs management to structure the PIP, it's almost impossible to dig your way out, and it's intentional. If you have a PIP on your record, nobody in IBM wants to touch you, so in effect you're already gone.
Paul Brinker Daisy S , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I see the PIP problem as its nearly impossible to take the fact that we know PIP is a scam to court. IBM will say its an issue with you, your performance nose dived and your manager tried to fix that. You have to not only fight those simple statements, but prove that PIP is actually systematic worker abuse.
dragonflap Cindy Gallop , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Cindy, they've been doing this for at least 15-20 years, or even longer according to some of the previous comments. It is in fact a modern corporate horror story; it's also life at a modern corporation, period.
Maria Stone dragonflap , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
This started happening in the 1990's when they added 5 years to your age and years of service and ASKED you to retire.
Matt_Z , Thursday, March 22, 2018 6:01 PM
After over 35 years working there, 19 of them as a manager sending out more of those notification letters than I care to remember, I can vouch for the accuracy of this investigative work. It's an incredibly toxic and hostile environment and has been for the last 5 or so years. One of the items I was appraised on annually was how many US jobs I moved offshore. It was a relief when I received my notification letter after a two minute phone call telling me it was on the way. Sleeping at night and looking myself in the mirror aren't as hard as they were when I worked there.
IBM will never regain any semblance of their former glory (or profit) until they begin to treat employees well again.
With all the offshoring and resource actions with no backfill over the last 10 years, so much is broken. Customers suffer almost as much as the employees.
I don't know how in the world they ended up on that LinkedIn list. Based on my fairly recent experience there are a half dozen happy employees in the US, and most of them are C level.
Jennifer , Thursday, March 22, 2018 9:42 AM
Well done. It squares well with my 18 years at IBM, watching resource action after resource action and hearing what my (unusually honest) manager told me. Things got progressively worse from 2012 onward. I never realized how stressful it was to live under the shadow of impending layoffs until I finally found the courage to leave in 2015. Best decision I've made.

IBM answers to its shareholders, period. Employees are an afterthought - simply a means to an end. It's shameful. (That's not to say that individual people managers feel that way. I'm speaking about IBM executives.)

Herb Jennifer , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Well, they almost answer to their shareholders, but that's after the IBM executives take their share. Ginni's compensation is tied to stock price (apparently not earnings) and buy backs maintain the stock price.
Ribit , Thursday, March 22, 2018 8:17 AM
If the criteria for layoff is being allegedly overpaid and allegedly a poor performer, then it follows that Grinnin' Jenny should have been let go long ago.
Mr. Hand Ribit , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Yes! After the 4th of those 22 consecutive quarters of declining revenues. And she's no spring chicken either. ;-)
DDRLSGC Ribit ,
Especially these CEOs who have ran their companies into the ground for the last 38 years.
owswitch , Thursday, March 22, 2018 8:58 AM
Just another fine example of how people become disposable.
And, when it comes to cost containment and profit maximization, there is no place for ethics in American business.
Businesses can lie just as well as politicians.

Millennials are smart to avoid this kind of problem by remaining loyal only to themselves. Companies certainly define anyone as replaceable - even their over-paid CEO's.

DDRLSGC owswitch

The millennials saw what happen to their parents and grandparents getting screwed over after a life time of work and loyalty. You can't blame them for not caring about so called traditional American work ethics and then they are attacked for not having them when the business leaders threw away all those value decades ago.

Some of these IBM people have themselves to blame for cutting their own economic throats for fighting against unions, putting in politicians who are pro-business and thinking that their education and high paying white collar STEM jobs will give them economic immunity.

If America was more of a free market and free enterprise instead of being more of a close market of oligarchies and monopolies, and strong government regulations, companies would think twice about treating their workforce badly because they know their workforce would leave for other companies or start up their own companies without too much of a hassle.

HiJinks DDRLSGC

Under the old IBM you could not get a union as workers were treated with dignity and respect - see the 3 core beliefs. Back then a union would not have accomplished anything.

DDRLSGC HiJinks
Doesn't matter if it was the old IBM or new IBM, you wonder how many still actually voted against their economic interests in the political elections that in the long run undermine labor rights in this country.
HiJinks DDRLSGC
So one shouldn't vote? Neither party cares about the average voter except at election time. Both sell out to Big Business - after all, that's where the big campaign donations come from. If you believe only one party favors Big Business, then you have been watching to much "fake news". Even the unions know they have been sold out by both and are wising up. How many of those jobs were shipped overseas the past 25 years.
DDRLSGC HiJinks ,
No, they should have been more active in voting for politicians who would look after the workers' rights in this country for the last 38 years plus ensuring that Congressional people and the president would not be packing the court system with pro-business judges. Sorry, but it is the Big Business that have been favoring the Republican Party for a long, long time and the jobs have been shipped out for the last 38 years.

[Oct 30, 2018] The women who run large US companies are as shallow and ruthless as the sociopathic men.

Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

Bob Gort , Saturday, March 31, 2018 9:49 PM

Age discrimination has been standard operating procedure in IT for at least 30 years. And there are no significant consequences, if any consequences at all, for doing it in a blatant fashion. The companies just need to make sure the quota of H1B visas is increased when they are doing this on an IBM scale!
900DeadWomen Bob Gort , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Age discrimination and a myriad other forms of discrimination have been standard operating procedure in the US. Period. Full stop. No need to equivocate.
Anon , Friday, March 30, 2018 12:49 PM
Wait for a few years and we can see the same happening to "millenials".

And the women who run these companies are as shallow and ruthless as the sociopathic men.

[Oct 30, 2018] Soon after I started, the company fired hundreds of 50-something employees and put we "kids" in their jobs. Seeing that employee loyalty was a one way street at that place, I left after a couple of years. Best career move I ever made.

Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

Al Romig , Wednesday, April 18, 2018 5:20 AM

As a new engineering graduate, I joined a similar-sized multinational US-based company in the early '70s. Their recruiting pitch was, "Come to work here, kid. Do your job, keep your nose clean, and you will enjoy great, secure work until you retire on easy street".

Soon after I started, the company fired hundreds of 50-something employees and put we "kids" in their jobs. Seeing that employee loyalty was a one way street at that place, I left after a couple of years. Best career move I ever made.

GoingGone , Friday, April 13, 2018 6:06 PM
As a 25yr+ vet of IBM, I can confirm that this article is spot-on true. IBM used to be a proud and transparent company that clearly demonstrated that it valued its employees as much as it did its stock performance or dividend rate or EPS, simply because it is good for business. Those principles helped make and keep IBM atop the business world as the most trusted international brand and business icon of success for so many years. In 2000, all that changed when Sam Palmisano became the CEO. Palmisano's now infamous "Roadmap 2015" ran the company into the ground through its maniacal focus on increasing EPS at any and all costs. Literally. Like, its employees, employee compensation, benefits, skills, and education opportunities. Like, its products, product innovation, quality, and customer service. All of which resulted in the devastation of its technical capability and competitiveness, employee engagement, and customer loyalty. Executives seemed happy enough as their compensation grew nicely with greater financial efficiencies, and Palisano got a sweet $270M+ exit package in 2012 for a job well done. The new CEO, Ginni Rometty has since undergone a lot of scrutiny for her lack of business results, but she was screwed from day one. Of course, that doesn't leave her off the hook for the business practices outlined in the article, but what do you expect: she was hand picked by Palmisano and approved by the same board that thought Palmisano was golden.
Paul V Sutera , Tuesday, April 3, 2018 7:33 PM
In 1994, I saved my job at IBM for the first time, and survived. But I was 36 years old. I sat down at the desk of a man in his 50s, and found a few odds and ends left for me in the desk. Almost 20 years later, it was my turn to go. My health and well-being is much better now. Less money but better health. The sins committed by management will always be: "I was just following orders".

[Oct 30, 2018] Verizon is making similar moves, only sending them to third-party outsourcers instead of laying off.

Oct 30, 2018 | arstechnica.com

atomic.banjo , Smack-Fu Master, in training et Subscriptor 5 hours ago New Poster

Legatum_of_Kain wrote:
It is not a good thing towards employees that are getting fired before retirenment.

https://features.propublica.org/ibm/ibm ... n-workers/

Verizon is making similar moves, only sending them to third-party outsourcers instead of laying off.

[Oct 30, 2018] IBM age discrimination

Notable quotes:
"... Correction, March 24, 2018: Eileen Maroney lives in Aiken, South Carolina. The name of her city was incorrect in the original version of this story. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

Consider, for example, a planning presentation that former IBM executives said was drafted by heads of a business unit carved out of IBM's once-giant software group and charged with pursuing the "C," or cloud, portion of the company's CAMS strategy.

The presentation laid out plans for substantially altering the unit's workforce. It was shown to company leaders including Diane Gherson, the senior vice president for human resources, and James Kavanaugh, recently elevated to chief financial officer. Its language was couched in the argot of "resources," IBM's term for employees, and "EP's," its shorthand for early professionals or recent college graduates.

Among the goals: "Shift headcount mix towards greater % of Early Professional hires." Among the means: "[D]rive a more aggressive performance management approach to enable us to hire and replace where needed, and fund an influx of EPs to correct seniority mix." Among the expected results: "[A] significant reduction in our workforce of 2,500 resources."

A slide from a similar presentation prepared last spring for the same leaders called for "re-profiling current talent" to "create room for new talent." Presentations for 2015 and 2016 for the 50,000-employee software group also included plans for "aggressive performance management" and emphasized the need to "maintain steady attrition to offset hiring."

IBM declined to answer questions about whether either presentation was turned into company policy. The description of the planned moves matches what hundreds of older ex-employees told ProPublica they believe happened to them: They were ousted because of their age. The company used their exits to hire replacements, many of them young; to ship their work overseas; or to cut its overall headcount.

Ed Alpern, now 65, of Austin, started his 39-year run with IBM as a Selectric typewriter repairman. He ended as a project manager in October of 2016 when, he said, his manager told him he could either leave with severance and other parting benefits or be given a bad job review -- something he said he'd never previously received -- and risk being fired without them.

Albert Poggi, now 70, was a three-decade IBM veteran and ran the company's Palisades, New York, technical center where clients can test new products. When notified in November of 2016 he was losing his job to layoff, he asked his bosses why, given what he said was a history of high job ratings. "They told me," he said, "they needed to fill it with someone newer."

The presentations from the software group, as well as the stories of ex-employees like Alpern and Poggi, square with internal documents from two other major IBM business units. The documents for all three cover some or all of the years from 2013 through the beginning of 2018 and deal with job assessments, hiring, firing and layoffs.

The documents detail practices that appear at odds with how IBM says it treats its employees. In many instances, the practices in effect, if not intent, tilt against the company's older U.S. workers.

For example, IBM spokespeople and lawyers have said the company never considers a worker's age in making decisions about layoffs or firings.

But one 2014 document reviewed by ProPublica includes dates of birth. An ex-IBM employee familiar with the process said executives from one business unit used it to decide about layoffs or other job changes for nearly a thousand workers, almost two-thirds of them over 50.

Documents from subsequent years show that young workers are protected from cuts for at least a limited period of time. A 2016 slide presentation prepared by the company's global technology services unit, titled "U.S. Resource Action Process" and used to guide managers in layoff procedures, includes bullets for categories considered "ineligible" for layoff. Among them: "early professional hires," meaning recent college graduates.

In responding to age-discrimination complaints that ex-employees file with the EEOC, lawyers for IBM say that front-line managers make all decisions about who gets laid off, and that their decisions are based strictly on skills and job performance, not age.

But ProPublica reviewed spreadsheets that indicate front-line managers hardly acted alone in making layoff calls. Former IBM managers said the spreadsheets were prepared for upper-level executives and kept continuously updated. They list hundreds of employees together with codes like "lift and shift," indicating that their jobs were to be lifted from them and shifted overseas, and details such as whether IBM's clients had approved the change.

An examination of several of the spreadsheets suggests that, whatever the criteria for assembling them, the resulting list of those marked for layoff was skewed toward older workers. A 2016 spreadsheet listed more than 400 full-time U.S. employees under the heading "REBAL," which refers to "rebalancing," the process that can lead to laying off workers and either replacing them or shifting the jobs overseas. Using the job search site LinkedIn, ProPublica was able to locate about 100 of these employees and then obtain their ages through public records. Ninety percent of those found were 40 or older. Seventy percent were over 50.

IBM frequently cites its history of encouraging diversity in its responses to EEOC complaints about age discrimination. "IBM has been a leader in taking positive actions to ensure its business opportunities are made available to individuals without regard to age, race, color, gender, sexual orientation and other categories," a lawyer for the company wrote in a May 2017 letter. "This policy of non-discrimination is reflected in all IBM business activities."

But ProPublica found at least one company business unit using a point system that disadvantaged older workers. The system awarded points for attributes valued by the company. The more points a person garnered, according to the former employee, the more protected she or he was from layoff or other negative job change; the fewer points, the more vulnerable.

The arrangement appears on its face to favor younger newcomers over older veterans. Employees were awarded points for being relatively new at a job level or in a particular role. Those who worked for IBM for fewer years got more points than those who'd been there a long time.

The ex-employee familiar with the process said a 2014 spreadsheet from that business unit, labeled "IBM Confidential," was assembled to assess the job prospects of more than 600 high-level employees, two-thirds of them from the U.S. It included employees' years of service with IBM, which the former employee said was used internally as a proxy for age. Also listed was an assessment by their bosses of their career trajectories as measured by the highest job level they were likely to attain if they remained at the company, as well as their point scores.

The tilt against older workers is evident when employees' years of service are compared with their point scores. Those with no points and therefore most vulnerable to layoff had worked at IBM an average of more than 30 years; those with a high number of points averaged half that.

Perhaps even more striking is the comparison between employees' service years and point scores on the one hand and their superiors' assessments of their career trajectories on the other.

Along with many American employers, IBM has argued it needs to shed older workers because they're no longer at the top of their games or lack "contemporary" skills.

But among those sized up in the confidential spreadsheet, fully 80 percent of older employees -- those with the most years of service but no points and therefore most vulnerable to layoff -- were rated by superiors as good enough to stay at their current job levels or be promoted. By contrast, only a small percentage of younger employees with a high number of points were similarly rated.

"No major company would use tools to conduct a layoff where a disproportionate share of those let go were African Americans or women," said Cathy Ventrell-Monsees, senior attorney adviser with the EEOC and former director of age litigation for the senior lobbying giant AARP. "There's no difference if the tools result in a disproportionate share being older workers."

In addition to the point system that disadvantaged older workers in layoffs, other documents suggest that IBM has made increasingly aggressive use of its job-rating machinery to pave the way for straight-out firings, or what the company calls "management-initiated separations." Internal documents suggest that older workers were especially targets.

Like in many companies, IBM employees sit down with their managers at the start of each year and set goals for themselves. IBM graded on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being top-ranked.

Those rated as 3 or 4 were given formal short-term goals known as personal improvement plans, or PIPs. Historically many managers were lenient, especially toward those with 3s whose ratings had dropped because of forces beyond their control, such as a weakness in the overall economy, ex-employees said.

But within the past couple of years, IBM appears to have decided the time for leniency was over. For example, a software group planning document for 2015 said that, over and above layoffs, the unit should seek to fire about 3,000 of the unit's 50,000-plus workers.

To make such deep cuts, the document said, executives should strike an "aggressive performance management posture." They needed to double the share of employees given low 3 and 4 ratings to at least 6.6 percent of the division's workforce. And because layoffs cost the company more than outright dismissals or resignations, the document said, executives should make sure that more than 80 percent of those with low ratings get fired or forced to quit.

Finally, the 2015 document said the division should work "to attract the best and brightest early professionals" to replace up to two-thirds of those sent packing. A more recent planning document -- the presentation to top executives Gherson and Kavanaugh for a business unit carved out of the software group -- recommended using similar techniques to free up money by cutting current employees to fund an "influx" of young workers.

In a recent interview, Poggi said he was resigned to being laid off. "Everybody at IBM has a bullet with their name on it," he said. Alpern wasn't nearly as accepting of being threatened with a poor job rating and then fired.

Alpern had a particular reason for wanting to stay on at IBM, at least until the end of last year. His younger son, Justin, then a high school senior, had been named a National Merit semifinalist. Alpern wanted him to be able to apply for one of the company's Watson scholarships. But IBM had recently narrowed eligibility so only the children of current employees could apply, not also retirees as it was until 2014.

Alpern had to make it through December for his son to be eligible.

But in August, he said, his manager ordered him to retire. He sought to buy time by appealing to superiors. But he said the manager's response was to threaten him with a bad job review that, he was told, would land him on a PIP, where his work would be scrutinized weekly. If he failed to hit his targets -- and his managers would be the judges of that -- he'd be fired and lose his benefits.

Alpern couldn't risk it; he retired on Oct. 31. His son, now a freshman on the dean's list at Texas A&M University, didn't get to apply.

"I can think of only a couple regrets or disappointments over my 39 years at IBM,"" he said, "and that's one of them."

'Congratulations on Your Retirement!'

Like any company in the U.S., IBM faces few legal constraints to reducing the size of its workforce. And with its no-disclosure strategy, it eliminated one of the last regular sources of information about its employment practices and the changing size of its American workforce.

But there remained the question of whether recent cutbacks were big enough to trigger state and federal requirements for disclosure of layoffs. And internal documents, such as a slide in a 2016 presentation titled "Transforming to Next Generation Digital Talent," suggest executives worried that "winning the talent war" for new young workers required IBM to improve the "attractiveness of (its) culture and work environment," a tall order in the face of layoffs and firings.

So the company apparently has sought to put a softer face on its cutbacks by recasting many as voluntary rather than the result of decisions by the firm. One way it has done this is by converting many layoffs to retirements.

Some ex-employees told ProPublica that, faced with a layoff notice, they were just as happy to retire. Others said they felt forced to accept a retirement package and leave. Several actively objected to the company treating their ouster as a retirement. The company nevertheless processed their exits as such.

Project manager Ed Alpern's departure was treated in company paperwork as a voluntary retirement. He didn't see it that way, because the alternative he said he was offered was being fired outright.

Lorilynn King, a 55-year-old IT specialist who worked from her home in Loveland, Colorado, had been with IBM almost as long as Alpern by May 2016 when her manager called to tell her the company was conducting a layoff and her name was on the list.

King said the manager told her to report to a meeting in Building 1 on IBM's Boulder campus the following day. There, she said, she found herself in a group of other older employees being told by an IBM human resources representative that they'd all be retiring. "I have NO intention of retiring," she remembers responding. "I'm being laid off."

ProPublica has collected documents from 15 ex-IBM employees who got layoff notices followed by a retirement package and has talked with many others who said they received similar paperwork. Critics say the sequence doesn't square well with the law.

"This country has banned mandatory retirement," said Seiner, the University of South Carolina law professor and former EEOC appellate lawyer. "The law says taking a retirement package has to be voluntary. If you tell somebody 'Retire or we'll lay you off or fire you,' that's not voluntary."

Until recently, the company's retirement paperwork included a letter from Rometty, the CEO, that read, in part, "I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you well on your retirement While you may be retiring to embark on the next phase of your personal journey, you will always remain a valued and appreciated member of the IBM family." Ex-employees said IBM stopped sending the letter last year.

IBM has also embraced another practice that leads workers, especially older ones, to quit on what appears to be a voluntary basis. It substantially reversed its pioneering support for telecommuting, telling people who've been working from home for years to begin reporting to certain, often distant, offices. Their other choice: Resign.

David Harlan had worked as an IBM marketing strategist from his home in Moscow, Idaho, for 15 years when a manager told him last year of orders to reduce the performance ratings of everybody at his pay grade. Then in February last year, when he was 50, came an internal video from IBM's new senior vice president, Michelle Peluso, which announced plans to improve the work of marketing employees by ordering them to work "shoulder to shoulder." Those who wanted to stay on would need to "co-locate" to offices in one of six cities.

Early last year, Harlan received an email congratulating him on "the opportunity to join your team in Raleigh, North Carolina." He had 30 days to decide on the 2,600-mile move. He resigned in June.

David Harlan worked for IBM for 15 years from his home in Moscow, Idaho, where he also runs a drama company. Early last year, IBM offered him a choice: Move 2,600 miles to Raleigh-Durham to begin working at an office, or resign. He left in June. (Rajah Bose for ProPublica)

After the Peluso video was leaked to the press, an IBM spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal that the " vast majority " of people ordered to change locations and begin reporting to offices did so. IBM Vice President Ed Barbini said in an initial email exchange with ProPublica in July that the new policy affected only about 2,000 U.S. employees and that "most" of those had agreed to move.

But employees across a wide range of company operations, from the systems and technology group to analytics, told ProPublica they've also been ordered to co-locate in recent years. Many IBMers with long service said that they quit rather than sell their homes, pull children from school and desert aging parents. IBM declined to say how many older employees were swept up in the co-location initiative.

"They basically knew older employees weren't going to do it," said Eileen Maroney, a 63-year-old IBM product manager from Aiken, South Carolina, who, like Harlan, was ordered to move to Raleigh or resign. "Older people aren't going to move. It just doesn't make any sense." Like Harlan, Maroney left IBM last June.

Having people quit rather than being laid off may help IBM avoid disclosing how much it is shrinking its U.S. workforce and where the reductions are occurring.

Under the federal WARN Act , adopted in the wake of huge job cuts and factory shutdowns during the 1980s, companies laying off 50 or more employees who constitute at least one-third of an employer's workforce at a site have to give advance notice of layoffs to the workers, public agencies and local elected officials.

Similar laws in some states where IBM has a substantial presence are even stricter. California, for example, requires advanced notice for layoffs of 50 or more employees, no matter what the share of the workforce. New York requires notice for 25 employees who make up a third.

Because the laws were drafted to deal with abrupt job cuts at individual plants, they can miss reductions that occur over long periods among a workforce like IBM's that was, at least until recently, widely dispersed because of the company's work-from-home policy.

IBM's training sessions to prepare managers for layoffs suggest the company was aware of WARN thresholds, especially in states with strict notification laws such as California. A 2016 document entitled "Employee Separation Processing" and labeled "IBM Confidential" cautions managers about the "unique steps that must be taken when processing separations for California employees."

A ProPublica review of five years of WARN disclosures for a dozen states where the company had large facilities that shed workers found no disclosures in nine. In the other three, the company alerted authorities of just under 1,000 job cuts -- 380 in California, 369 in New York and 200 in Minnesota. IBM's reported figures are well below the actual number of jobs the company eliminated in these states, where in recent years it has shuttered, sold off or leveled plants that once employed vast numbers.

By contrast, other employers in the same 12 states reported layoffs last year alone totaling 215,000 people. They ranged from giant Walmart to Ostrom's Mushroom Farms in Washington state.

Whether IBM operated within the rules of the WARN act, which are notoriously fungible, could not be determined because the company declined to provide ProPublica with details on its layoffs.

A Second Act, But Poorer

W ith 35 years at IBM under his belt, Ed Miyoshi had plenty of experience being pushed to take buyouts, or early retirement packages, and refusing them. But he hadn't expected to be pushed last fall.

Miyoshi, of Hopewell Junction, New York, had some years earlier launched a pilot program to improve IBM's technical troubleshooting. With the blessing of an IBM vice president, he was busily interviewing applicants in India and Brazil to staff teams to roll the program out to clients worldwide.

The interviews may have been why IBM mistakenly assumed Miyoshi was a manager, and so emailed him to eliminate the one U.S.-based employee still left in his group.

"That was me," Miyoshi realized.

In his sign-off email to colleagues shortly before Christmas 2016, Miyoshi, then 57, wrote: "I am too young and too poor to stop working yet, so while this is good-bye to my IBM career, I fully expect to cross paths with some of you very near in the future."

He did, and perhaps sooner than his colleagues had expected; he started as a subcontractor to IBM about two weeks later, on Jan. 3.

Miyoshi is an example of older workers who've lost their regular IBM jobs and been brought back as contractors. Some of them -- not Miyoshi -- became contract workers after IBM told them their skills were out of date and no longer needed.

Employment law experts said that hiring ex-employees as contractors can be legally dicey. It raises the possibility that the layoff of the employee was not for the stated reason but perhaps because they were targeted for their age, race or gender.

IBM appears to recognize the problem. Ex-employees say the company has repeatedly told managers -- most recently earlier this year -- not to contract with former employees or sign on with third-party contracting firms staffed by ex-IBMers. But ProPublica turned up dozens of instances where the company did just that.

Only two weeks after IBM laid him off in December 2016, Ed Miyoshi of Hopewell Junction, New York, started work as a subcontractor to the company. But he took a $20,000-a-year pay cut. "I'm not a millionaire, so that's a lot of money to me," he says. (Demetrius Freeman for ProPublica)

Responding to a question in a confidential questionnaire from ProPublica, one 35-year company veteran from New York said he knew exactly what happened to the job he left behind when he was laid off. "I'M STILL DOING IT. I got a new gig eight days after departure, working for a third-party company under contract to IBM doing the exact same thing."

In many cases, of course, ex-employees are happy to have another job, even if it is connected with the company that laid them off.

Henry, the Columbus-based sales and technical specialist who'd been with IBM's "resiliency services" unit, discovered that he'd lost his regular IBM job because the company had purchased an Indian firm that provided the same services. But after a year out of work, he wasn't going to turn down the offer of a temporary position as a subcontractor for IBM, relocating data centers. It got money flowing back into his household and got him back where he liked to be, on the road traveling for business.

The compensation most ex-IBM employees make as contractors isn't comparable. While Henry said he collected the same dollar amount, it didn't include health insurance, which cost him $1,325 a month. Miyoshi said his paycheck is 20 percent less than what he made as an IBM regular.

"I took an over $20,000 hit by becoming a contractor. I'm not a millionaire, so that's a lot of money to me," Miyoshi said.

And lower pay isn't the only problem ex-IBM employees-now-subcontractors face. This year, Miyoshi's payable hours have been cut by an extra 10 "furlough days." Internal documents show that IBM repeatedly furloughs subcontractors without pay, often for two, three or more weeks a quarter. In some instances, the furloughs occur with little advance notice and at financially difficult moments. In one document, for example, it appears IBM managers, trying to cope with a cost overrun spotted in mid-November, planned to dump dozens of subcontractors through the end of the year, the middle of the holiday season.

Former IBM employees now on contract said the company controls costs by notifying contractors in the midst of projects they have to take pay cuts or lose the work. Miyoshi said that he originally started working for his third-party contracting firm for 10 percent less than at IBM, but ended up with an additional 10 percent cut in the middle of 2017, when IBM notified the contractor it was slashing what it would pay.

For many ex-employees, there are few ways out. Henry, for example, sought to improve his chances of landing a new full-time job by seeking assistance to finish a college degree through a federal program designed to retrain workers hurt by offshoring of jobs.

But when he contacted the Ohio state agency that administers the Trade Adjustment Assistance, or TAA, program, which provides assistance to workers who lose their jobs for trade-related reasons, he was told IBM hadn't submitted necessary paperwork. State officials said Henry could apply if he could find other IBM employees who were laid off with him, information that the company doesn't provide.

TAA is overseen by the Labor Department but is operated by states under individual agreements with Washington, so the rules can vary from state to state. But generally employers, unions, state agencies and groups of employers can petition for training help and cash assistance. Labor Department data compiled by the advocacy group Global Trade Watch shows that employers apply in about 40 percent of cases. Some groups of IBM workers have obtained retraining funds when they or their state have applied, but records dating back to the early 1990s show IBM itself has applied for and won taxpayer assistance only once, in 2008, for three Chicago-area workers whose jobs were being moved to India.

Teasing New Jobs

A s IBM eliminated thousands of jobs in 2016, David Carroll, a 52-year-old Austin software engineer, thought he was safe.

His job was in mobile development, the "M" in the company's CAMS strategy. And if that didn't protect him, he figured he was only four months shy of qualifying for a program that gives employees who leave within a year of their three-decade mark access to retiree medical coverage and other benefits.

But the layoff notice Carroll received March 2 gave him three months -- not four -- to come up with another job. Having been a manager, he said he knew the gantlet he'd have to run to land a new position inside IBM.

Still, he went at it hard, applying for more than 50 IBM jobs, including one for a job he'd successfully done only a few years earlier. For his effort, he got one offer -- the week after he'd been forced to depart. He got severance pay but lost access to what would have been more generous benefits.

Edward Kishkill, then 60, of Hillsdale, New Jersey, had made a similar calculation.

A senior systems engineer, Kishkill recognized the danger of layoffs, but assumed he was immune because he was working in systems security, the "S" in CAMS and another hot area at the company.

The precaution did him no more good than it had Carroll. Kishkill received a layoff notice the same day, along with 17 of the 22 people on his systems security team, including Diane Moos. The notice said that Kishkill could look for other jobs internally. But if he hadn't landed anything by the end of May, he was out.

With a daughter who was a senior in high school headed to Boston University, he scrambled to apply, but came up dry. His last day was May 31, 2016.

For many, the fruitless search for jobs within IBM is the last straw, a final break with the values the company still says it embraces. Combined with the company's increasingly frequent request that departing employees train their overseas replacements, it has left many people bitter. Scores of ex-employees interviewed by ProPublica said that managers with job openings told them they weren't allowed to hire from layoff lists without getting prior, high-level clearance, something that's almost never given.

ProPublica reviewed documents that show that a substantial share of recent IBM layoffs have involved what the company calls "lift and shift," lifting the work of specific U.S. employees and shifting it to specific workers in countries such as India and Brazil. For example, a document summarizing U.S. employment in part of the company's global technology services division for 2015 lists nearly a thousand people as layoff candidates, with the jobs of almost half coded for lift and shift.

Ex-employees interviewed by ProPublica said the lift-and-shift process required their extensive involvement. For example, shortly after being notified she'd be laid off, Kishkill's colleague, Moos, was told to help prepare a "knowledge transfer" document and begin a round of conference calls and email exchanges with two Indian IBM employees who'd be taking over her work. Moos said the interactions consumed much of her last three months at IBM.

Next Chapters

W hile IBM has managed to keep the scale and nature of its recent U.S. employment cuts largely under the public's radar, the company drew some unwanted attention during the 2016 presidential campaign, when then-candidate Donald Trump lambasted it for eliminating 500 jobs in Minnesota, where the company has had a presence for a half century, and shifting the work abroad.

The company also has caught flak -- in places like Buffalo, New York ; Dubuque, Iowa ; Columbia, Missouri , and Baton Rouge, Louisiana -- for promising jobs in return for state and local incentives, then failing to deliver. In all, according to public officials in those and other places, IBM promised to bring on 3,400 workers in exchange for as much as $250 million in taxpayer financing but has hired only about half as many.

After Trump's victory, Rometty, in a move at least partly aimed at courting the president-elect, pledged to hire 25,000 new U.S. employees by 2020. Spokesmen said the hiring would increase IBM's U.S. employment total, although, given its continuing job cuts, the addition is unlikely to approach the promised hiring total.

When The New York Times ran a story last fall saying IBM now has more employees in India than the U.S., Barbini, the corporate spokesman, rushed to declare, "The U.S. has always been and remains IBM's center of gravity." But his stream of accompanying tweets and graphics focused as much on the company's record for racking up patents as hiring people.

IBM has long been aware of the damage its job cuts can do to people. In a series of internal training documents to prepare managers for layoffs in recent years, the company has included this warning: "Loss of a job often triggers a grief reaction similar to what occurs after a death."

Most, though not all, of the ex-IBM employees with whom ProPublica spoke have weathered the loss and re-invented themselves.

Marjorie Madfis, the digital marketing strategist, couldn't land another tech job after her 2013 layoff, so she headed in a different direction. She started a nonprofit called Yes She Can Inc. that provides job skills development for young autistic women, including her 21-year-old daughter.

After almost two years of looking and desperate for useful work, Brian Paulson, the widely traveled IBM senior manager, applied for and landed a position as a part-time rural letter carrier in Plano, Texas. He now works as a contract project manager for a Las Vegas gaming and lottery firm.

Ed Alpern, who started at IBM as a Selectric typewriter repairman, watched his son go on to become a National Merit Scholar at Texas A&M University, but not a Watson scholarship recipient.

Lori King, the IT specialist and 33-year IBM veteran who's now 56, got in a parting shot. She added an addendum to the retirement papers the firm gave her that read in part: "It was never my plan to retire earlier than at least age 60 and I am not committing to retire. I have been informed that I am impacted by a resource action effective on 2016-08-22, which is my last day at IBM, but I am NOT retiring."

King has aced more than a year of government-funded coding boot camps and university computer courses, but has yet to land a new job.

David Harlan still lives in Moscow, Idaho, after refusing IBM's "invitation" to move to North Carolina, and is artistic director of the Moscow Art Theatre (Too).

Ed Miyoshi is still a technical troubleshooter working as a subcontractor for IBM.

Ed Kishkill, the senior systems engineer, works part time at a local tech startup, but pays his bills as an associate at a suburban New Jersey Staples store.

This year, Paul Henry was back on the road, working as an IBM subcontractor in Detroit, about 200 miles from where he lived in Columbus. On Jan. 8, he put in a 14-hour day and said he planned to call home before turning in. He died in his sleep.

Correction, March 24, 2018: Eileen Maroney lives in Aiken, South Carolina. The name of her city was incorrect in the original version of this story.

Do you have information about age discrimination at IBM?

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Peter Gosselin joined ProPublica as a contributing reporter in January 2017 to cover aging. He has covered the U.S. and global economies for, among others, the Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe, focusing on the lived experiences of working people. He is the author of "High Wire: The Precarious Financial Lives of American Families."

Ariana Tobin is an engagement reporter at ProPublica, where she works to cultivate communities to inform our coverage. She was previously at The Guardian and WNYC. Ariana has also worked as digital producer for APM's Marketplace and contributed to outlets including The New Republic , On Being , the St. Louis Beacon and Bustle .

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[Oct 30, 2018] Cutting 'Old Heads' at IBM

Notable quotes:
"... I took an early retirement package when IBM first started downsizing. I had 30 years with them, but I could see the writing on the wall so I got out. I landed an exec job with a biotech company some years later and inherited an IBM consulting team that were already engaged. I reviewed their work for 2 months then had the pleasure of terminating the contract and actually escorting the team off the premises because the work product was so awful. ..."
"... Every former or prospective IBM employee is a potential future IBM customer or partner. How you treat them matters! ..."
"... I advise IBM customers now. My biggest professional achievements can be measured in how much revenue IBM lost by my involvement - millions. Favorite is when IBM paid customer to stop the bleeding. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

I took an early retirement package when IBM first started downsizing. I had 30 years with them, but I could see the writing on the wall so I got out. I landed an exec job with a biotech company some years later and inherited an IBM consulting team that were already engaged. I reviewed their work for 2 months then had the pleasure of terminating the contract and actually escorting the team off the premises because the work product was so awful.

They actually did a presentation of their interim results - but it was a 52 slide package that they had presented to me in my previous job but with the names and numbers changed. see more

DarthVaderMentor dauwkus , Thursday, April 5, 2018 4:43 PM

Intellectual Capital Re-Use! LOL! Not many people realize in IBM that many, if not all of the original IBM Consulting Group materials were made under the Type 2 Materials clause of the IBM Contract, which means the customers actually owned the IP rights of the documents. Can you imagine the mess if just one customer demands to get paid for every re-use of the IP that was developed for them and then re-used over and over again?
NoGattaca dauwkus , Monday, May 7, 2018 5:37 PM
Beautiful! Yea, these companies so fast to push experienced people who have dedicated their lives to the firm - how can you not...all the hours and commitment it takes - way underestimate the power of the network of those left for dead and their influence in that next career gig. Memories are long...very long when it comes to experiences like this.
davosil North_40 , Sunday, March 25, 2018 5:19 PM
True dat! Every former or prospective IBM employee is a potential future IBM customer or partner. How you treat them matters!
Playing Defense North_40 , Tuesday, April 3, 2018 4:41 PM
I advise IBM customers now. My biggest professional achievements can be measured in how much revenue IBM lost by my involvement - millions. Favorite is when IBM paid customer to stop the bleeding.

[Oct 30, 2018] It s all about making the numbers so the management can present a Potemkin Village of profits and ever-increasing growth sufficient to get bonuses. There is no relation to any sort of quality or technological advancement, just HR 3-card monte

Notable quotes:
"... It's no coincidence whatsoever that Diane Gherson, mentioned prominently in the article, blasted out an all-employees email crowing about IBM being a great place to work according to (ahem) LinkedIn. I desperately want to post a link to this piece in the corporate Slack, but that would get me fired immediately instead of in a few months at the next "resource action." It's been a whole 11 months since our division had one, so I know one is coming soon. ..."
"... I used to say when I was there that: "After every defeat, they pin medals on the generals and shoot the soldiers". ..."
"... 1990 is also when H-1B visa rules were changed so that companies no longer had to even attempt to hire an American worker as long as the job paid $60,000, which hasn't changed since. This article doesn't even mention how our work visa system facilitated and even rewarded this abuse of Americans. ..."
"... Well, starting in the 1980s, the American management was allowed by Reagan to get rid of its workforce. ..."
"... It's all about making the numbers so the management can present a Potemkin Village of profits and ever-increasing growth sufficient to get bonuses. There is no relation to any sort of quality or technological advancement, just HR 3-card monte. They have installed air bearing in Old Man Watson's coffin as it has been spinning ever faster ..."
"... Corporate America executive management is all about stock price management. Their bonus's in the millions of dollars are based on stock performance. With IBM's poor revenue performance since Ginny took over, profits can only be maintained by cost reduction. Look at the IBM executive's bonus's throughout the last 20 years and you can see that all resource actions have been driven by Palmisano's and Rominetty's greed for extravagant bonus's. ..."
"... Also worth noting is that IBM drastically cut the cap on it's severance pay calculation. Almost enough to make me regret not having retired before that changed. ..."
"... Yeah, severance started out at 2 yrs pay, went to 1 yr, then to 6 mos. and is now 1 month. ..."
"... You need to investigate AT&T as well, as they did the same thing. I was 'sold' by IBM to AT&T as part of he Network Services operation. AT&T got rid of 4000 of the 8000 US employees sent to AT&T within 3 years. Nearly everyone of us was a 'senior' employee. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | disqus.com

dragonflap7 months ago I'm a 49-year-old SW engineer who started at IBM as part of an acquisition in 2000. I got laid off in 2002 when IBM started sending reqs to Bangalore in batches of thousands. After various adventures, I rejoined IBM in 2015 as part of the "C" organization referenced in the article.

It's no coincidence whatsoever that Diane Gherson, mentioned prominently in the article, blasted out an all-employees email crowing about IBM being a great place to work according to (ahem) LinkedIn. I desperately want to post a link to this piece in the corporate Slack, but that would get me fired immediately instead of in a few months at the next "resource action." It's been a whole 11 months since our division had one, so I know one is coming soon.

Stewart Dean7 months ago ,

The lead-in to this piece makes it sound like IBM was forced into these practices by inescapable forces. I'd say not, rather that it pursued them because a) the management was clueless about how to lead IBM in the new environment and new challenges so b) it started to play with numbers to keep the (apparent) profits up....to keep the bonuses coming. I used to say when I was there that: "After every defeat, they pin medals on the generals and shoot the soldiers".

And then there's the Pig with the Wooden Leg shaggy dog story that ends with the punch line, "A pig like that you don't eat all at once", which has a lot of the flavor of how many of us saw our jobs as IBM die a slow death.

IBM is about to fall out of the sky, much as General Motors did. How could that happen? By endlessly beating the cow to get more milk.

IBM was hiring right through the Great Depression such that It Did Not Pay Unemployment Insurance. Because it never laid people off, Because until about 1990, your manager was responsible for making sure you had everything you needed to excel and grow....and you would find people that had started on the loading dock and had become Senior Programmers. But then about 1990, IBM starting paying unemployment insurance....just out of the goodness of its heart. Right.

CRAW Stewart Dean7 months ago ,

1990 is also when H-1B visa rules were changed so that companies no longer had to even attempt to hire an American worker as long as the job paid $60,000, which hasn't changed since. This article doesn't even mention how our work visa system facilitated and even rewarded this abuse of Americans.

DDRLSGC Stewart Dean7 months ago ,

Well, starting in the 1980s, the American management was allowed by Reagan to get rid of its workforce.

Georgann Putintsev Stewart Dean7 months ago ,

I found that other Ex-IBMer's respect other Ex-IBMer's work ethics, knowledge and initiative.

Other companies are happy to get them as a valueable resource. In '89 when our Palo Alto Datacenter moved, we were given two options: 1.) to become a Programmer (w/training) 2.) move to Boulder or 3.) to leave.

I got my training with programming experience and left IBM in '92, when for 4 yrs IBM offerred really good incentives for leaving the company. The Executives thought that the IBM Mainframe/MVS z/OS+ was on the way out and the Laptop (Small but Increasing Capacity) Computer would take over everything.

It didn't. It did allow many skilled IBMers to succeed outside of IBM and help built up our customer skill sets. And like many, when the opportunity arose to return I did. In '91 I was accidentally given a male co-workers paycheck and that was one of the reasons for leaving. During my various Contract work outside, I bumped into other male IBMer's that had left too, some I had trained, and when they disclosed that it was their salary (which was 20-40%) higher than mine was the reason they left, I knew I had made the right decision.

Women tend to under-value themselves and their capabilities. Contracting also taught me that companies that had 70% employees and 30% contractors, meant that contractors would be let go if they exceeded their quarterly expenditures.

I first contracted with IBM in '98 and when I decided to re-join IBM '01, I had (3) job offers and I took the most lucrative exciting one to focus on fixing & improving DB2z Qry Parallelism. I developed a targeted L3 Technical Change Team to help L2 Support reduce Customer problems reported and improve our product. The instability within IBM remained and I saw IBM try to eliminate aging, salaried, benefited employees. The 1.) find a job within IBM ... to 2.) to leave ... was now standard.

While my salary had more than doubled since I left IBM the first time, it still wasn't near other male counterparts. The continual rating competition based on salary ranged titles and timing a title raise after a round of layoffs, not before. I had another advantage going and that was that my changed reduced retirement benefits helped me stay there. It all comes down to the numbers that Mgmt is told to cut & save IBM. While much of this article implies others were hired, at our Silicon Valley Location and other locations, they had no intent to backfill. So the already burdened employees were laden with more workloads & stress.

In the early to mid 2000's IBM setup a counter lab in China where they were paying 1/4th U.S. salaries and many SVL IBMers went to CSDL to train our new world 24x7 support employees. But many were not IBM loyal and their attrition rates were very high, so it fell to a wave of new-hires at SVL to help address it.

Stewart Dean Georgann Putintsev7 months ago ,

It's all about making the numbers so the management can present a Potemkin Village of profits and ever-increasing growth sufficient to get bonuses. There is no relation to any sort of quality or technological advancement, just HR 3-card monte. They have installed air bearing in Old Man Watson's coffin as it has been spinning ever faster

IBM32_retiree • 7 months ago ,

Corporate America executive management is all about stock price management. Their bonus's in the millions of dollars are based on stock performance. With IBM's poor revenue performance since Ginny took over, profits can only be maintained by cost reduction. Look at the IBM executive's bonus's throughout the last 20 years and you can see that all resource actions have been driven by Palmisano's and Rominetty's greed for extravagant bonus's.

Dan Yurman7 months ago ,

Bravo ProPublica for another "sock it to them" article - journalism in honor of the spirit of great newspapers everywhere that the refuge of justice in hard times is with the press.

Felix Domestica7 months ago ,

Also worth noting is that IBM drastically cut the cap on it's severance pay calculation. Almost enough to make me regret not having retired before that changed.

RonF Felix Domestica7 months ago ,

Yeah, severance started out at 2 yrs pay, went to 1 yr, then to 6 mos. and is now 1 month.

mjmadfis RonF7 months ago ,

When I was let go in June 2013 it was 6 months severance.

Terry Taylor7 months ago ,

You need to investigate AT&T as well, as they did the same thing. I was 'sold' by IBM to AT&T as part of he Network Services operation. AT&T got rid of 4000 of the 8000 US employees sent to AT&T within 3 years. Nearly everyone of us was a 'senior' employee.

weelittlepeople Terry Taylor7 months ago ,

Good Ol Ma Bell is following the IBM playbook to a Tee

emnyc7 months ago ,

ProPublica deserves a Pulitzer for this article and all the extensive research that went into this investigation.

Incredible job! Congrats.

On a separate note, IBM should be ashamed of themselves and the executive team that enabled all of this should be fired.

WmBlake7 months ago ,

As a permanent old contractor and free-enterprise defender myself, I don't blame IBM a bit for wanting to cut the fat. But for the outright *lies, deception and fraud* that they use to break laws, weasel out of obligations... really just makes me want to shoot them... and I never even worked for them.

Michael Woiwood7 months ago ,

Great Article.

Where I worked, In Rochester,MN, people have known what is happening for years. My last years with IBM were the most depressing time in my life.

I hear a rumor that IBM would love to close plants they no longer use but they are so environmentally polluted that it is cheaper to maintain than to clean up and sell.

scorcher147 months ago ,

One of the biggest driving factors in age discrimination is health insurance costs, not salary. It can cost 4-5x as much to insure and older employee vs. a younger one, and employers know this. THE #1 THING WE CAN DO TO STOP AGE DISCRIMINATION IS TO MOVE AWAY FROM OUR EMPLOYER-PROVIDED INSURANCE SYSTEM. It could be single-payer, but it could also be a robust individual market with enough pool diversification to make it viable. Freeing employers from this cost burden would allow them to pick the right talent regardless of age.

DDRLSGC scorcher147 months ago ,

The American business have constantly fought against single payer since the end of World War II and why should I feel sorry for them when all of a sudden, they are complaining about health care costs? It is outrageous that workers have to face age discrimination; however, the CEOs don't have to deal with that issue since they belong to a tiny group of people who can land a job anywhere else.

pieinthesky scorcher147 months ago ,

Single payer won't help. We have single payer in Canada and just as much age discrimination in employment. Society in general does not like older people so unless you're a doctor, judge or pharmacist you will face age bias. It's even worse in popular culture never mind in employment.

OrangeGina scorcher147 months ago ,

I agree. Yet, a determined company will find other methods, explanations and excuses.

JohnCordCutter7 months ago ,

Thanks for the great article. I left IBM last year. USA based. 49. Product Manager in one of IBMs strategic initiatives, however got told to relocate or leave. I found another job and left. I came to IBM from an acquisition. My only regret is, I wish I had left this toxic environment earlier. It truely is a dreadful place to work.

60 Soon • 7 months ago ,

The methodology has trickled down to smaller companies pursuing the same net results for headcount reduction. The similarities to my experience were painful to read. The grief I felt after my job was "eliminated" 10 years ago while the Recession was at its worst and shortly after my 50th birthday was coming back. I never have recovered financially but have started writing a murder mystery. The first victim? The CEO who let me go. It's true. Revenge is best served cold.

donttreadonme97 months ago ,

Well written . people like me have experienced exactly what you wrote. IBM is a shadow of it's former greatness and I have advised my children to stay away from IBM and companies like it as they start their careers. IBM is a corrupt company. Shame on them !

annapurna7 months ago ,

I hope they find some way to bring a class action lawsuit against these assholes.

Mark annapurna7 months ago ,

I suspect someone will end up hunt them down with an axe at some point. That's the only way they'll probably learn. I don't know about IBM specifically, but when Carly Fiorina ran HP, she travelled with and even went into engineering labs with an armed security detail.

OrangeGina Mark7 months ago ,

all the bigwig CEOs have these black SUV security details now.

Sarahw7 months ago ,

IBM has been using these tactics at least since the 1980s, when my father was let go for similar 'reasons.'

Vin7 months ago ,

Was let go after 34 years of service. Mine Resource Action latter had additional lines after '...unless you are offered ... position within IBM before that date.' , implying don't even try to look for a position. They lines were ' Additional business controls are in effect to manage the business objectives of this resource action, therefore, job offers within (the name of division) will be highly unlikely.'.

Mark Vin7 months ago ,

Absolutely and utterly disgusting.

Greybeard7 months ago ,

I've worked for a series of vendors for over thirty years. A job at IBM used to be the brass ring; nowadays, not so much.

I've heard persistent rumors from IBMers that U.S. headcount is below 25,000 nowadays. Given events like the recent downtime of the internal systems used to order parts (5 or so days--website down because staff who maintained it were let go without replacements), it's hard not to see the spiral continue down the drain.

What I can't figure out is whether Rometty and cronies know what they're doing or are just clueless. Either way, the result is the same: destruction of a once-great company and brand. Tragic.

ManOnTheHill Greybeard7 months ago ,

Well, none of these layoffs/ageist RIFs affect the execs, so they don't see the effects, or they see the effects but attribute them to some other cause.

(I'm surprised the article doesn't address this part of the story; how many affected by layoffs are exec/senior management? My bet is very few.)

ExIBMExec ManOnTheHill7 months ago ,

I was a D-banded exec (Director-level) who was impacted and I know even some VPs who were affected as well, so they do spread the pain, even in the exec ranks.

ManOnTheHill ExIBMExec7 months ago ,

That's different than I have seen in companies I have worked for (like HP). There RIFs (Reduction In Force, their acronym for layoff) went to the director level and no further up.

[Oct 30, 2018] Anyone working at IBM after 1993 should have had no expectation of a lifetime career

Under neoliberlaism the idea of loyalty between a corporation and an employee makes no more sense than loyalty between a motel and its guests.
Notable quotes:
"... Any expectation of "loyalty", that two-way relationship of employee/company from an earlier time, was wishful thinking ..."
"... With all the automation going on around the world, these business leaders better worry about people not having money to buy their goods and services plus what are they going to do with the surplus of labor ..."
"... This is the nail in the coffin. As an IT manager responsible for selecting and purchasing software, I will never again recommend IBM products ..."
"... The way I saw it, every time I received a paycheck from IBM in exchange for two weeks' work, we were (almost) even. I did not owe them anything else and they did not owe me anything. The way I saw it, every time I received a paycheck from IBM in exchange for two weeks' work, we were (almost) even. I did not owe them anything else and they did not owe me anything. The idea of loyalty between a corporation and an at-will employee makes no more sense than loyalty between a motel and its guests. ..."
"... The annual unemployment rate topped 8% in 1975 and would reach nearly 10% in 1982. The economy seemed trapped in the new nightmare of stagflation," so called because it combined low economic growth and high unemployment ("stagnation") with high rates of inflation. And the prime rate hit 20% by 1980. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org
Jeff Russell , Thursday, March 22, 2018 4:31 PM
I started at IBM 3 days out of college in 1979 and retired in 2017. I was satisfied with my choice and never felt mistreated because I had no expectation of lifetime employment, especially after the pivotal period in the 1990's when IBM almost went out of business. The company survived that period by dramatically restructuring both manufacturing costs and sales expense including the firing of tens of thousands of employees. These actions were well documented in the business news of the time, the obvious alternative was bankruptcy.

I told the authors that anyone working at IBM after 1993 should have had no expectation of a lifetime career. Downsizing, outsourcing, movement of work around the globe was already commonplace at all such international companies. Any expectation of "loyalty", that two-way relationship of employee/company from an earlier time, was wishful thinking .

I was always prepared to be sent packing, without cause, at any time and always had my resume up-to-date. I stayed because of interesting work, respectful supervisors, and adequate compensation.

The "resource action" that forced my decision to retire was no surprise, the company that hired me had been gone for decades.

DDRLSGC Jeff Russell , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
With all the automation going on around the world, these business leaders better worry about people not having money to buy their goods and services plus what are they going to do with the surplus of labor
John Kauai Jeff Russell , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I had, more or less, the same experience at Cisco. They paid me to quit. Luckily, I was ready for it.

The article mentions IBMs 3 failures. So who was it that was responsible for not anticipating the transitions? It is hard enough doing what you already know. Perhaps companies should be spending more on figuring out "what's next" and not continually playing catch-up by dumping the older workers for the new.

MichiganRefugee , Friday, March 23, 2018 9:52 AM
I was laid off by IBM after 29 years and 4 months. I had received a division award in previous year, and my last PBC appraisal was 2+ (high performer.) The company I left was not the company I started with. Top management--starting with Gerstner--has steadily made IBM a less desirable place to work. They now treat employees as interchangeable assets and nothing more. I cannot/would not recommend IBM as an employer to any young programmer.
George Purcell , Friday, March 23, 2018 7:41 AM
Truly awesome work. I do want to add one thing, however--the entire rhetoric about "too many old white guys" that has become so common absolutely contributes to the notion that this sort of behavior is not just acceptable but in some twisted way admirable as well.
Bob Fritz , Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:35 PM
I read the article and all the comments.

Is anyone surprised that so many young people don't think capitalism is a good system any more?

I ran a high technology electronic systems company for years. We ran it "the old way." If you worked hard, and tried, we would bend over backwards to keep you. If technology or business conditions eliminated your job, we would try to train you for a new one. Our people were loyal, not like IBMers today. I honestly think that's the best way to be profitable.

People afraid of being unjustly RIFFed will always lack vitality.

petervonstackelberg , Thursday, March 22, 2018 2:00 PM
I'm glad someone is finally paying attention to age discrimination. IBM apparently is just one of many organizations that discriminate.

I'm in the middle of my own fight with the State University of New York (SUNY) over age discrimination. I was terminated by a one of the technical colleges in the SUNY System. The EEOC/New York State Division of Human Rights (NYDHR) found that "PROBABLE CAUSE (NYDHR's emphasis) exists to believe that the Respondent (Alfred State College - SUNY) has engaged in or is engaging in the unlawful discriminatory practice complained of." Investigators for NYDHR interviewed several witnesses, who testified that representatives of the college made statements such as "we need new faces", "three old men" attending a meeting, an older faculty member described as an "albatross", and "we ought to get rid of the old white guys". Witnesses said these statements were made by the Vice President of Academic Affairs and a dean at the college.

davosil , Sunday, March 25, 2018 5:00 PM
This saga at IBM is simply a microcosm of our overall economy. Older workers get ousted in favor of younger, cheaper workers; way too many jobs get outsourced; and so many workers today [young and old] can barely land a full-time job.
This is the behavior that our system incentivises (and gets away with) in this post Reagan Revolution era where deregulation is lauded and unions have been undermined & demonized. We need to seriously re-work 'work', and in order to do this we need to purge Republicans at every level, as they CLEARLY only serve corporate bottom-lines - not workers - by championing tax codes that reward outsourcing, fight a livable minimum wage, eliminate pensions, bust unions, fight pay equity for women & family leave, stack the Supreme Court with radical ideologues who blatantly rule for corporations over people all the time, etc. etc. ~35 years of basically uninterrupted Conservative economic policy & ideology has proven disastrous for workers and our quality of life. As goes your middle class, so goes your country.
ThinkingAloud , Friday, March 23, 2018 7:18 AM
The last five words are chilling... This is an award-winning piece....
RetiredIBM.manager , Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:39 PM
I am a retired IBM manager having had to execute many of these resource reduction programs.. too many.. as a matter of fact. ProPUBLICA....You nailed it!
David , Thursday, March 22, 2018 3:22 PM
IBM has always treated its customer-facing roles like Disney -- as cast members who need to match a part in a play. In the 60s and 70s, it was the white-shirt, blue-suit white men whom IBM leaders thought looked like mainframe salesmen. Now, rather than actually build a credible cloud to compete with Amazon and Microsoft, IBM changes the cast to look like cloud salespeople. (I work for Microsoft. Commenting for myself alone.)
CRAW David ,

Now IBM still treats their employees like Disney - by replacing them with H-1B workers.

MHV IBMer , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:35 PM
I am a survivor, the rare employee who has been at IBM for over 35 years. I have seen many, many layoff programs over 20 years now. I have seen tens of thousands people let go from the Hudson Valley of N.Y. Those of us who have survived, know and lived through what this article so accurately described. I currently work with 3 laid off/retired and rehired contractors. I have seen age discrimination daily for over 15 years. It is not only limited to layoffs, it is rampant throughout the company. Promotions, bonuses, transfers for opportunities, good reviews, etc... are gone if you are over 45. I have seen people under 30 given promotions to levels that many people worked 25 years for. IBM knows that these younger employees see how they treat us so they think they can buy them off. Come to think of it, I guess they actually are! They are ageist, there is no doubt, it is about time everyone knew. Excellent article.
Goldie Romero , Friday, March 23, 2018 2:31 PM
Nice article, but seriously this is old news. IBM has been at this for ...oh twenty years or more.
I don't really have a problem with it in terms of a corporation trying to make money. But I do have a problem with how IBM also likes to avoid layoffs by giving folks over 40 intentionally poor reviews, essentially trying to drive people out. Just have the guts to tell people, we don't need you anymore, bye. But to string people along as the overseas workers come in...c'mon just be honest with your workers.
High tech over 40 is not easy...I suggest folks prep for a career change before 50. Then you can have the last laugh on a company like IBM.
jblog , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:37 AM
From pages 190-191 of my novel, Ordinary Man (Amazon):

Throughout it all, layoffs became common, impacting mostly older employees with many years of service. These job cuts were dribbled out in small numbers to conceal them from the outside world, but employees could plainly see what was going on.

The laid off employees were supplanted by offshoring work to low-costs countries and hiring younger employees, often only on temporary contracts that offered low pay and no benefits – a process pejoratively referred to by veteran employees as "downsourcing." The recruitment of these younger workers was done under the guise of bringing in fresh skills, but while many of the new hires brought new abilities and vitality, they lacked the knowledge and perspective that comes with experience.

Frequently, an older more experienced worker would be asked to help educate newer employees, only to be terminated shortly after completing the task. And the new hires weren't fooled by what they witnessed and experienced at OpenSwitch, perceiving very quickly that the company had no real interest in investing in them for the long term. To the contrary, the objective was clearly to grind as much work out of them as possible, without offering any hope of increased reward or opportunity.

Most of the young recruits left after only a year or two – which, again, was part of the true agenda at the company. Senior management viewed employees not as talent, but simply as cost, and didn't want anyone sticking around long enough to move up the pay scale.

turquoisewaters , Thursday, March 22, 2018 10:19 PM
This is why you need unions.
Aaron Stackpole , Thursday, March 22, 2018 5:23 PM
This is the nail in the coffin. As an IT manager responsible for selecting and purchasing software, I will never again recommend IBM products. I love AIX and have worked with a lot if IBM products but not anymore. Good luck with the millennials though...
awb22 , Thursday, March 22, 2018 12:14 PM
The same thing has been going on at other companies, since the end of WWII. It's unethical, whether the illegality can be proven or not.

In the RTP area, where I live, I know many, many current and former employees. Times have changed, but the distinction between right and wrong hasn't.

Dave Allen , Thursday, March 22, 2018 1:07 PM
I worked for four major corporations (HP, Intel, Control Data Corporation, and Micron Semiconductor) before I was hired by IBM as a rare (at that time) experienced new hire.

Even though I ended up working for IBM for 21 years, and retired in 2013, because of my experiences at those other companies, I never considered IBM my "family."

The way I saw it, every time I received a paycheck from IBM in exchange for two weeks' work, we were (almost) even. I did not owe them anything else and they did not owe me anything. The way I saw it, every time I received a paycheck from IBM in exchange for two weeks' work, we were (almost) even. I did not owe them anything else and they did not owe me anything. The idea of loyalty between a corporation and an at-will employee makes no more sense than loyalty between a motel and its guests.

It is a business arrangement, not a love affair. Every individual needs to continually assess their skills and their value to their employer. If they are not commensurate, it is the employee's responsibility to either acquire new skills or seek a new employer.

Your employer will not hesitate to lay you off if your skills are no longer needed, or if they can hire someone who can do your job just as well for less pay. That is free enterprise, and it works for people willing to take advantage of it.

sometimestheyaresomewhatright Dave Allen , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I basically agree. But why should it be OK for a company to fire you just to replace you with a younger you? If all that they accomplish is lowering their health care costs (which is what this is really about). If the company is paying about the same for the same work, why is firing older workers for being older OK?
Dave Allen sometimestheyaresomewhatright , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Good question. The point I was trying to make is that people need to watch out for themselves and not expect their employer to do what is "best" for the employee. I think that is true whatever age the employee happens to be.

Whether employers should be able to discriminate against (treat differently) their employees based on age, gender, race, religion, etc. is a political question. Morally, I don't think they should discriminate. Politically, I think it is a slippery slope when the government starts imposing regulations on free enterprise. Government almost always creates more problems than they fix.

DDRLSGC Dave Allen , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Sorry, but when you deregulate the free enterprise, it created more problems than it fixes and that is a fact that has been proven for the last 38 years.
Danllo DDRLSGC , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
That's just plain false. Deregulation creates competiiton. Competition for talented and skilled workers creates opportunities for those that wish to be employed and for those that wish to start new ventures. For example, when Ma Bell was regulated and had a monopoly on telecommunications there was no innovation in the telecom inudstry. However, when it was deregulated, cell phones, internet, etc exploded ... creating billionaires and millionaires while also improving the quality of life.
DDRLSGC Danllo , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
No, it happens to be true. When Reagan deregulate the economy, a lot of those corporate raiders just took over the companies, sold off the assets, and pocketed the money. What quality of life? Half of American lived near the poverty level and the wages for the workers have been stagnant for the last 38 years compared to a well-regulated economy in places like Germany and the Scandinavian countries where the workers have good wages and a far better standard of living than in the USA. Why do you think the Norwegians told Trump that they will not be immigrating to the USA anytime soon?
NotSure DDRLSGC , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
What were the economic conditions before Regan? It was a nightmare before Regan.

The annual unemployment rate topped 8% in 1975 and would reach nearly 10% in 1982. The economy seemed trapped in the new nightmare of stagflation," so called because it combined low economic growth and high unemployment ("stagnation") with high rates of inflation. And the prime rate hit 20% by 1980.
DDRLSGC NotSure , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
At least we had a manufacturing base in the USA, strong regulations of corporations, corporate scandals were far and few, businesses did not go under so quickly, prices of goods and services did not go through the roof, people had pensions and could reasonably live off them, and recessions did not last so long or go so deep until Reagan came into office. In Under Reagan, the jobs were allowed to be send overseas, unions were busted up, pensions were reduced or eliminated, wages except those of the CEOs were staganent, and the economic conditions under Bush, Senior and Bush, Jr. were no better except that Bush, Jr, was the first president to have a net minus below zero growth, so every time we get a Republican Administration, the economy really turns into a nightmare. That is a fact.

You have the Republicans in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin using Reaganomics and they are economic disaster areas.

DDRLSGC NotSure , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
You had an industrial base in the USA, lots of banks and savings and loans to choose from, lots of mom and pop stores, strong government regulation of the economy, able to live off your pensions, strong unions and employment laws along with the court system to back you up against corporate malfeasance. All that was gone when Reagan and the two Bushes came into office.
james Foster , Thursday, March 29, 2018 8:37 PM
Amazingly accurate article. The once great IBM now a dishonest and unscrupulous corporation concerned more about earnings per share than employees, customers, or social responsibility. In Global Services most likely 75% or more jobs are no longer in the US - can't believe a word coming out of Armonk.
Philip Meyer james Foster , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I'm not sure there was ever a paradise in employment. Yeah, you can say there was more job stability 50 or 60 years ago, but that applied to a much smaller workforce than today (mostly white men). It is a drag, but there are also lot more of us old farts than there used to be and we live a lot longer in retirement as well. I don't see any magic bullet fix either.
George A , Tuesday, March 27, 2018 6:12 PM
Warning to Google/Facebook/Apple etc. All you young people will get old. It's inevitable. Do you think those companies will take care of you?
econdataus , Sunday, March 25, 2018 3:01 PM
Great article. What's especially infuriating is that the industry continues to claim that there is a shortage of STEM workers. For example, google "claim of 1.4 million computer science jobs with only 400,000 computer science graduates to fill them". If companies would openly say, "we have plenty of young STEM workers and prefer them to most older STEM workers", we could at least start addressing the problem. But they continue to promote the lie of there being a STEM shortage. They just want as big a labor pool as possible, unemployed workers be damned.
Buzz , Friday, March 23, 2018 12:00 PM
I've worked there 17 years and have worried about being layed off for about 11 of them. Moral is in the toilet. Bonuses for the rank and file are in the under 1% range while the CEO gets millions. Pay raises have been non existent or well under inflation for years. Adjusting for inflation, I make $6K less than I did my first day. My group is a handful of people as at least 1/2 have quit or retired. To support our customers, we used to have several people, now we have one or two and if someone is sick or on vacation, our support structure is to hope nothing breaks. We can't keep millennials because of pay, benefits and the expectation of being available 24/7 because we're shorthanded. As the unemployment rate drops, more leave to find a different job, leaving the old people as they are less willing to start over with pay, vacation, moving, selling a house, pulling kids from school, etc. The younger people are generally less likely to be willing to work as needed on off hours or to pull work from a busier colleague. I honestly have no idea what the plan is when the people who know what they are doing start to retire, we are way top heavy with 30-40 year guys who are on their way out, very few of the 10-20 year guys due to hiring freezes and we can't keep new people past 2-3 years. It's like our support business model is designed to fail.
OrangeGina , Friday, March 23, 2018 11:41 AM
Make no mistake. The three and four letter acronyms and other mushy corporate speak may differ from firm to firm, but this is going on in every large tech company old enough to have a large population of workers over 50. I hope others will now be exposed.
JeffMo , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:23 AM
This article hits the nail right on the head, as I come up on my 1 year anniversary from being....ahem....'retired' from 23 years at IBM....and I'll be damned if I give them the satisfaction of thinking this was like a 'death' to me. It was the greatest thing that could have ever happened. Ginny and the board should be ashamed of themselves, but they won't be.
Frankie , Friday, March 23, 2018 1:00 AM
Starting around age 40 you start to see age discrimination. I think this is largely due to economics, like increased vacation times, higher wages, but most of all the perception that older workers will run up the medical costs. You can pass all the age related discrimination laws you want, but look how ineffective that has been.

If you contrast this with the German workforce, you see that they have more older workers with the skills and younger workers without are having a difficult time getting in. So what's the difference? There are laws about how many vacation weeks that are given and there is a national medical system that everyone pays, so discrimination isn't seen in the same light.

The US is the only hold out maybe with South Africa that doesn't have a good national medical insurance program for everyone. Not only do we pay more than the rest of the world, but we also have discrimination because of it.

Rick Gundlach , Thursday, March 22, 2018 11:38 PM
This is very good, and this is IBM. I know. I was plaintiff in Gundlach v. IBM Japan, 983 F.Supp.2d 389, which involved their violating Japanese labor law when I worked in Japan. The New York federal judge purposely ignored key points of Japanese labor law, and also refused to apply Title VII and Age Discrimination in Employment to the parent company in Westchester County. It is a huge, self-described "global" company with little demonstrated loyalty to America and Americans. Pennsylvania is suing them for $170 million on a botched upgrade of the state's unemployment system.
Jeff , Thursday, March 22, 2018 2:05 PM
In early 2013 I was given a 3 PBC rating for my 2012 performance, the main reason cited by my manager being that my team lead thought I "seemed distracted". Five months later I was included in a "resource action", and was gone by July. I was 20 months shy of 55. Younger coworkers were retained. That was about two years after the product I worked on for over a decade was off-shored.

Through a fluke of someone from the old, disbanded team remembering me, I was rehired two years later - ironically in a customer support position for the very product I helped develop.

While I appreciated my years of service, previous salary, and previous benefits being reinstated, a couple years into it I realized I just wasn't cut out for the demands of the job - especially the significant 24x7 pager duty. Last June I received email describing a "Transition to Retirement" plan I was eligible for, took it, and my last day will be June 30. I still dislike the job, but that plan reclassified me as part time, thus ending pager duty for me. The job still sucks, but at least I no longer have to despair over numerous week long 24x7 stints throughout the year.

A significant disappointment occurred a couple weeks ago. I was discussing healthcare options with another person leaving the company who hadn't been resource-actioned as I had, and learned the hard way I lost over $30,000 in some sort of future medical benefit account the company had established and funded at some point. I'm not sure I was ever even aware of it. That would have funded several years of healthcare insurance during the 8 years until I'm eligible for Medicare. I wouldn't be surprised if their not having to give me that had something to do with my seeming "distracted" to them. <rolls eyes="">

What's really painful is the history of that former account can still be viewed at Fidelity, where it associates my departure date in 2013 with my having "forfeited" that money. Um, no. I did not forfeit that money, nor would I have. I had absolutely no choice in the matter. I find the use of the word 'forfeited' to describe what happened as both disingenuous and offensive. That said, I don't know whether's that's IBM's or Fidelity's terminology, though.

Herb Jeff , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Jeff, You should call Fidelity. I recently received a letter from the US Department of Labor that they discovered that IBM was "holding" funds that belonged to me that I was never told about. This might be similar or same story .

[Oct 30, 2018] There are plenty of examples of people who were doing their jobs, IN SPADES, putting in tons of unpaid overtime, and generally doing whatever was humanly possible to make sure that whatever was promised to the customer was delivered within their span of control. As they grew older corporations threw them out like an empty can

Notable quotes:
"... The other alternative is a market-based life that, for many, will be cruel, brutish, and short. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

Lorilynn King

Step back and think about this for a minute. There are plenty of examples of people who were doing their jobs, IN SPADES, putting in tons of unpaid overtime, and generally doing whatever was humanly possible to make sure that whatever was promised to the customer was delivered (within their span of control... I'm not going to get into a discussion of how IBM pulls the rug out from underneath contracts after they've been signed).

These people were, and still are, high performers, they are committed to the job and the purpose that has been communicated to them by their peers, management, and customers; and they take the time (their OWN time) to pick up new skills and make sure that they are still current and marketable. They do this because they are committed to doing the job to the best of their ability.... it's what makes them who they are.

IBM (and other companies) are firing these very people ***for one reason and one reason ONLY***: their AGE. They have the skills and they're doing their jobs. If the same person was 30 you can bet that they'd still be there. Most of the time it has NOTHING to do with performance or lack of concurrency. Once the employee is fired, the job is done by someone else. The work is still there, but it's being done by someone younger and/or of a different nationality.

The money that is being saved by these companies has to come from somewhere. People that are having to withdraw their retirement savings 20 or so years earlier than planned are going to run out of funds.... and when they're in nursing homes, guess who is going to be supporting them? Social security will be long gone, their kids have their own monetary challenges.... so it will be government programs.... maybe.

This is not just a problem that impacts the 40 and over crowd. This is going to impact our entire society for generations to come.

NoPolitician
The business reality you speak of can be tempered via government actions. A few things:

The other alternative is a market-based life that, for many, will be cruel, brutish, and short.

[Oct 30, 2018] Elimination of loyalty: what corporations cloak as weeding out the low performers tranparantly reveals catching the older workers in the net as well.

Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

Great White North, Thursday, March 22, 2018 11:29 PM

There's not a word of truth quoted in this article. That is, quoted from IBM spokespeople. It's the culture there now. They don't even realize that most of their customers have become deaf to the same crap from their Sales and Marketing BS, which is even worse than their HR speak.

The sad truth is that IBM became incapable of taking its innovation (IBM is indeed a world beating, patent generating machine) to market a long time ago. It has also lost the ability (if it ever really had it) to acquire other companies and foster their innovation either - they ran most into the ground. As a result, for nearly a decade revenues have declined and resource actions grown. The resource actions may seem to be the ugly problem, but they're only the symptom of a fat greedy and pompous bureaucracy that's lost its ability to grow and stay relevant in a very competitive and changing industry. What they have been able to perfect and grow is their ability to downsize and return savings as dividends (Big Sam Palmisano's "innovation"). Oh, and for senior management to line their pockets.

Nothing IBM is currently doing is sustainable.

If you're still employed there, listen to the pain in the words of your fallen comrades and don't knock yourself out trying to stay afloat. Perhaps learn some BS of your own and milk your job (career? not...) until you find freedom and better pastures.

If you own stock, do like Warren Buffett, and sell it while it still has some value.

Danllo , Thursday, March 22, 2018 10:43 PM
This is NOTHING NEW! All major corporations have and will do this at some point in their existence. Another industry that does this regularly every 3 to 5 years is the pharamaceutical industry. They'll decimate their sales forces in order to, as they like to put it, "right size" the company.

They'll cloak it as weeding out the low performers, but they'll try to catch the "older" workers in the net as well.

[Oct 30, 2018] American companies pay health insurance premiums based on their specific employee profiles

Notable quotes:
"... As long as companies pay for their employees' health insurance they will have an incentive to fire older employees. ..."
"... The answer is to separate health insurance from employment. Companies can't be trusted. Not only health care, but retirement is also sorely abused by corporations. All the money should be in protected employee based accounts. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

sometimestheyaresomewhatright , Thursday, March 22, 2018 4:13 PM

American companies pay health insurance premiums based on their specific employee profiles. Insurance companies compete with each other for the business, but costs are actual. And based on the profile of the pool of employees. So American companies fire older workers just to lower the average age of their employees. Statistically this is going to lower their health care costs.

As long as companies pay for their employees' health insurance they will have an incentive to fire older employees. They have an incentive to fire sick employees and employees with genetic risks. Those are harder to implement as ways to lower costs. Firing older employees is simple to do, just look up their ages.

The answer is to separate health insurance from employment. Companies can't be trusted. Not only health care, but retirement is also sorely abused by corporations. All the money should be in protected employee based accounts.

By the way, most tech companies are actually run by older people. The goal is to broom out mid-level people based on age. Nobody is going to suggest to a sixty year old president that they should self fire, for the good of the company.

[Oct 30, 2018] If I were a Red Hat employee over 40, I'd be sweating right now.

Oct 30, 2018 | arstechnica.com

Morley Dotes , Ars Centurion et Subscriptor 4 hours ago

jandrese wrote:
IMHO this is perilous for RHEL. It would be very easy for IBM to fire most of the developers and just latch on to the enterprise services stuff to milk it till its dry.

Why would you say that? IBM is renowned for their wonderful employee relations. </s>

If I were a Red Hat employee over 40, I'd be sweating right now.

Unless I had equity.

NeghVar1 , Wise, Aged Ars Veteran 4 hours ago
Reminds me of when Oracle bought Sun
sviola , Ars Scholae Palatinae 4 hours ago
Peevester wrote:
Muon wrote:
blockquote> We run just about everything on CentOS around here, downstream of RHEL. Should we be worried?

I don't think so, at least no more than you should have already been. IBM has adopted RHEL as their standard platform for a lot of things, all the way up to big-iron mainframes. Not to mention, over the two decades, they've done a hell of a lot of enhancements to Linux that are a big part of why it scales so well (Darl Mcbride just felt like someone walked over his grave. Hey, let's jump on it a bit too!).

Say what you like about IBM (like they've turned into a super-shitty place to work for or be a customer of), but they've been a damn good friend to Linux. If I actually worked for Red Hat though, I would be really unhappy because you can bet that "independence" will last a few quarters before everyone gets outsourced to Brazil.

Brazil is too expensive. Last time I heard, they were outsourcing from Brazil to chapear LA countries...

informationsuperhighway , Wise, Aged Ars Veteran et Subscriptor 2 hours ago
CousinSven wrote:
IBM are paying around 12x annual revenue for Red Hat which is a significant multiple so they will have to squeeze more money out of the business somehow. Either they grow customers or they increase margins or both.

IBM had little choice but to do something like this. They are in a terminal spiral thanks to years of bad leadership. The confused billing of the purchase smacks of rush, so far I have seen Red Hat described as a cloud company, an info sec company, an open source company...

So IBM are buying Red Hat as a last chance bid to avoid being put through the PE threshing machine. Red Hat get a ludicrous premium so will take the money.

And RH customers will want to check their contracts...

They will lay off Redhat staff to cut costs and replace them with remote programmers living in Calcutta. To big corporations a programmer is a fungible item, if you can swap programmer A woth programmer B at 1/4 the cost its a big win and you beat earnings estimate by a penny.

Rotoars , Ars Centurion 2 hours ago
bolomkxxviii wrote:
No good will come from this. IBM's corporate environment and financial near-sightedness will kill Red Hat. Time to start looking for a new standard bearer in Linux for business.

This will kill both companies. Red has trouble making money and IBM has trouble not messing up what good their is and trouble making money. They both die, but a slow, possibly accelerating, death.

[Oct 30, 2018] Cutting Old Heads at IBM by Peter Gosselin and Ariana Tobin

Mar 22, 2018 | features.propublica.org

This story was co-published with Mother Jones.

F or nearly a half century, IBM came as close as any company to bearing the torch for the American Dream.

As the world's dominant technology firm, payrolls at International Business Machines Corp. swelled to nearly a quarter-million U.S. white-collar workers in the 1980s. Its profits helped underwrite a broad agenda of racial equality, equal pay for women and an unbeatable offer of great wages and something close to lifetime employment, all in return for unswerving loyalty.

How the Crowd Led Us to Investigate IBM

Our project started with a digital community of ex-employees. Read more about how we got this story.

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But when high tech suddenly started shifting and companies went global, IBM faced the changing landscape with a distinction most of its fiercest competitors didn't have: a large number of experienced and aging U.S. employees.

The company reacted with a strategy that, in the words of one confidential planning document, would "correct seniority mix." It slashed IBM's U.S. workforce by as much as three-quarters from its 1980s peak, replacing a substantial share with younger, less-experienced and lower-paid workers and sending many positions overseas. ProPublica estimates that in the past five years alone, IBM has eliminated more than 20,000 American employees ages 40 and over, about 60 percent of its estimated total U.S. job cuts during those years.

In making these cuts, IBM has flouted or outflanked U.S. laws and regulations intended to protect later-career workers from age discrimination, according to a ProPublica review of internal company documents, legal filings and public records, as well as information provided via interviews and questionnaires filled out by more than 1,000 former IBM employees.

Among ProPublica's findings, IBM:

Denied older workers information the law says they need in order to decide whether they've been victims of age bias, and required them to sign away the right to go to court or join with others to seek redress. Targeted people for layoffs and firings with techniques that tilted against older workers, even when the company rated them high performers. In some instances, the money saved from the departures went toward hiring young replacements. Converted job cuts into retirements and took steps to boost resignations and firings. The moves reduced the number of employees counted as layoffs, where high numbers can trigger public disclosure requirements. Encouraged employees targeted for layoff to apply for other IBM positions, while quietly advising managers not to hire them and requiring many of the workers to train their replacements. Told some older employees being laid off that their skills were out of date, but then brought them back as contract workers, often for the same work at lower pay and fewer benefits.

IBM declined requests for the numbers or age breakdown of its job cuts. ProPublica provided the company with a 10-page summary of its findings and the evidence on which they were based. IBM spokesman Edward Barbini said that to respond the company needed to see copies of all documents cited in the story, a request ProPublica could not fulfill without breaking faith with its sources. Instead, ProPublica provided IBM with detailed descriptions of the paperwork. Barbini declined to address the documents or answer specific questions about the firm's policies and practices, and instead issued the following statement:

"We are proud of our company and our employees' ability to reinvent themselves era after era, while always complying with the law. Our ability to do this is why we are the only tech company that has not only survived but thrived for more than 100 years."

With nearly 400,000 people worldwide, and tens of thousands still in the U.S., IBM remains a corporate giant. How it handles the shift from its veteran baby-boom workforce to younger generations will likely influence what other employers do. And the way it treats its experienced workers will eventually affect younger IBM employees as they too age.

Fifty years ago, Congress made it illegal with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act , or ADEA, to treat older workers differently than younger ones with only a few exceptions, such as jobs that require special physical qualifications. And for years, judges and policymakers treated the law as essentially on a par with prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation and other categories.

In recent decades, however, the courts have responded to corporate pleas for greater leeway to meet global competition and satisfy investor demands for rising profits by expanding the exceptions and shrinking the protections against age bias .

"Age discrimination is an open secret like sexual harassment was until recently," said Victoria Lipnic, the acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, the independent federal agency that administers the nation's workplace anti-discrimination laws.

"Everybody knows it's happening, but often these cases are difficult to prove" because courts have weakened the law, Lipnic said. "The fact remains it's an unfair and illegal way to treat people that can be economically devastating."

Many companies have sought to take advantage of the court rulings. But the story of IBM's downsizing provides an unusually detailed portrait of how a major American corporation systematically identified employees to coax or force out of work in their 40s, 50s and 60s, a time when many are still productive and need a paycheck, but face huge hurdles finding anything like comparable jobs.

The dislocation caused by IBM's cuts has been especially great because until recently the company encouraged its employees to think of themselves as "IBMers" and many operated under the assumption that they had career-long employment.

When the ax suddenly fell, IBM provided almost no information about why an employee was cut or who else was departing, leaving people to piece together what had happened through websites, listservs and Facebook groups such as "Watching IBM" or "Geographically Undesirable IBM Marketers," as well as informal support groups.

Marjorie Madfis, at the time 57, was a New York-based digital marketing strategist and 17-year IBM employee when she and six other members of her nine-person team -- all women in their 40s and 50s -- were laid off in July 2013. The two who remained were younger men.

Since her specialty was one that IBM had said it was expanding, she asked for a written explanation of why she was let go. The company declined to provide it.

"They got rid of a group of highly skilled, highly effective, highly respected women, including me, for a reason nobody knows," Madfis said in an interview. "The only explanation is our age."

Brian Paulson, also 57, a senior manager with 18 years at IBM, had been on the road for more than a year overseeing hundreds of workers across two continents as well as hitting his sales targets for new services, when he got a phone call in October 2015 telling him he was out. He said the caller, an executive who was not among his immediate managers, cited "performance" as the reason, but refused to explain what specific aspects of his work might have fallen short.

It took Paulson two years to land another job, even though he was equipped with an advanced degree, continuously employed at high-level technical jobs for more than three decades and ready to move anywhere from his Fairview, Texas, home.

"It's tough when you've worked your whole life," he said. "The company doesn't tell you anything. And once you get to a certain age, you don't hear a word from the places you apply."

Paul Henry, a 61-year-old IBM sales and technical specialist who loved being on the road, had just returned to his Columbus home from a business trip in August 2016 when he learned he'd been let go. When he asked why, he said an executive told him to "keep your mouth shut and go quietly."

Henry was jobless more than a year, ran through much of his savings to cover the mortgage and health insurance and applied for more than 150 jobs before he found a temporary slot.

"If you're over 55, forget about preparing for retirement," he said in an interview. "You have to prepare for losing your job and burning through every cent you've saved just to get to retirement."

IBM's latest actions aren't anything like what most ex-employees with whom ProPublica talked expected from their years of service, or what today's young workers think awaits them -- or are prepared to deal with -- later in their careers.

"In a fast-moving economy, employers are always going to be tempted to replace older workers with younger ones, more expensive workers with cheaper ones, those who've performed steadily with ones who seem to be up on the latest thing," said Joseph Seiner, an employment law professor at the University of South Carolina and former appellate attorney for the EEOC.

"But it's not good for society," he added. "We have rules to try to maintain some fairness in our lives, our age-discrimination laws among them. You can't just disregard them."

[Oct 30, 2018] The Watson family held integrity, equality, and knowledge share as a formidable synthesis of company ethics. With them gone old IBM was gone...

It not Watson family gone it is New Deal Capitalism was replaced with the neoliberalism
Notable quotes:
"... Except when your employer is the one preaching associate loyalty and "we are family" your entire career. Then they decide you've been too loyal and no longer want to pay your salary and start fabricating reasons to get rid of you. ADP is guilty of these same practices and eliminating their tenured associates. Meanwhile, the millennials hired play ping pong and text all day, rather than actually working. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

Zytor-LordoftheSkies , Thursday, March 22, 2018 11:55 AM

A quick search of the article doesn't find the word "buy backs" but this is a big part of the story. IBM spent over $110 BILLION on stock buy backs between 2000 and 2016. That's the number I found, but it hasn't stopped since. If anything it has escalated.

This is very common among large corporations. Rather than spend on their people, they funnel billions into stock buy backs which raises or at least maintains the stock value so execs can keep cashing in. It's really pretty disgraceful. This was only legalized in 1982, which not-so-coincidentally is not long after real wages stalled, and have stalled ever since.

Suzan Zytor-LordoftheSkies ,
Thanks for this bit of insanely true reporting. When laid off from Westinghouse after 14 years of stellar performance evaluations I was flummoxed by the execs getting million-dollar bonuses as we were told the company wasn't profitable enough to maintain its senior engineering staff. It sold off every division eventually as the execs (many of them newly hired) reaped even more bonuses.
Georgann Putintsev Suzan ,
Thank you ... very insightful of you. As an IBMer and lover of Spreadsheets / Statistics / Data Specalist ... I like reading Annual Reports. Researching these Top Execs, BOD and compare them to other Companies across-the-board and industry sectors. You'll find a Large Umbrella there.
There is a direct tie and inter-changeable pieces of these elites over the past 55 yrs. Whenever some Corp/ Political/ Government shill (wannbe) needs a payoff, they get placed into high ranking top positions for a orchestrating a predescribed dark nwo agenda. Some may come up the ranks like Ginny, but ALL belong to Council for Foreign Relations and other such high level private clubs or organizations. When IBM sells off their Mainframe Manufacturing (Poughkeepsie) to an elite Saudi, under an American Co. sounding name of course, ... and the U.S. Government ... doesn't balk ... that has me worried for our 1984 future.
Carol Van Linda Suzan ,
Sears is doing this also
Suzan Carol Van Linda ,
Details? Thanks!
vibert Zytor-LordoftheSkies ,
True in every large corporation. They use almost free money from the US Government to do it. (Taxpayer's money)
DDRLSGC vibert ,
Yeah, it is amazing how they stated that they don't need help from the government when in reality they do need government to pass laws that favor them, pack the court system where judges rule in their favor and use their private police and the public sector police to keep the workers down.
Johnny Player DDRLSGC ,
Why do you put disqus in your name? . Is that so you can see if they sell your info and you know where it originated from?
Theo Geauxvan Zytor-LordoftheSkies ,
I wonder how many billions (trillions?) have been funneled from corporate workers pockets this way? It seems all corporations are doing it these days. Large-scale transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy.
Stevie Ponders Theo Geauxvan ,
It's called asset stripping. Basically corporate raiding (as in pillage) from the inside.
R. J. Smith , Thursday, March 22, 2018 9:06 AM
"Member of the IBM family" -- BS. Your employer is not your family.
Randall Smith R. J. Smith
Not anymore. With most large companies, you've never been able to say they are "family." Loyalty used to be a thing though. I worked at a company where I saw loyalty vanish over a 10 year period.
marsto R. J. Smith
Except when your employer is the one preaching associate loyalty and "we are family" your entire career. Then they decide you've been too loyal and no longer want to pay your salary and start fabricating reasons to get rid of you. ADP is guilty of these same practices and eliminating their tenured associates. Meanwhile, the millennials hired play ping pong and text all day, rather than actually working.
DDRLSGC marsto
Yeah, and how many CEOs actually work to make their companies great instead of running them into the ground, thinking about their next job move, and playing golf
Mary Malley R. J. Smith ,
I have to disagree with you. I started with IBM on their rise up in those earlier days, and we WERE valued and shown that we were valued over and over through those glorious years. It did feel like we were in a family, our families mattered to them, our well-being. They gave me a month to find a perfect babysitter when they hired me before I had to go to work!

They helped me find a house in a good school district for my children. They bought my house when I was moving to a new job/location when it didn't sell within 30 days.

They paid the difference in the interest rate of my loan for my new house from the old one. I can't even begin to list all the myriad of things that made us love IBM and the people we worked with and for, and made us feel a part of that big IBM family.

Did they change, yes, but the dedication we gave was freely given and we mutually respected each other. I was lucky to work for them for decades before that shift when they changed to be just like every other large corporation.

Georgann Putintsev Mary Malley ,
The Watson family held integrity, equality, and knowledge share as a formidable synthesis of company ethics moving a Quality based business forward in the 20th to 21st century. They also promoted an (volunteer) IBM Club to help promote employee and family activities inside/outside of work which they by-en-large paid for. This allowed employees to meet and see other employees/families as 'Real' & "Common-Interest" human beings. I participated, created, and organized events and documented how-to-do-events for other volunteers. These brought IBMers together inside or outside of their 'working' environment to have fun, to associate, to realize those innate qualities that are in all of us. I believe it allowed for better communication and cooperation in the work place.

To me it was family. Some old IBMers might remember when Music, Song, Skits were part of IBM Branch Office meetings. As President of the IBM Clubs Palo Alto branch (7 yrs.), I used our Volunteer Club Votes to spend ALL that IBM donated money, because they <administratively> gave it back to IBM if we didn't.

Without a strong IBM Club presence, it gets whittled down to 2-3 events a year. For a time WE WERE a FAMILY.

bookmama3 Georgann Putintsev , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Absolutely! Back when white shirts/black suits were a requirement. There was a country club in Poughkeepsie, softball teams, Sunday brunch, Halloween parties in the fall, Christmas parties in December where thousands of age appropriate Fisher Price toys were given out to employee's kids. Today "IBMer" is used by execs as a term of derision. Employees are overworked and under appreciated and shortsighted, overpaid executives rule the roost. The real irony is that talented, vital employees are being retired for "costing too much" while dysfunctional top level folk are rewarded with bonuses and stock when they are let go. And it's all legal. It's disgraceful.
OrangeGina R. J. Smith , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
very true, however for many of us, our co-workers of a very long time ARE family. Corporations are NOT people, but they are comprised of them.
HiJinks R. J. Smith , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
It was true at one time, but no more.
Herb Tarlick R. J. Smith , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
This one was until the mid eighties.

[Oct 30, 2018] Eventually all the people who I worked with that were outsourced to IBM were packaged off and all of our jobs were sent offshore.

Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

Joe Harkins , Saturday, March 24, 2018 12:12 PM

I recall, back in the mid-1960s, encountering employees of major major corporations like IBM, US Steel, the Big Three in Detroit, etc, There was a certain smugness there. I recall hearing bragging about the awesome retirement incomes. Yes, I was jealous. But I also had a clear eye as to the nature of the beast they were working for, and I kept thinking of the famous limerick:

There was a young lady of Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a Tiger;
They came back from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the Tiger.

JoeJoe , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:25 AM
As an ex-IBM employee, I was given a package ( 6 months pay and a "transition" course) because I was getting paid too much or so I was told. I was part of a company (oil industry) that outsourced it's IT infrastructure support personnel and on several occasions was told by my IBM management that they just don't know what to do with employees who make the kind of money I do when we can do it much cheaper somewhere else (meaning offshore).

Eventually all the people who I worked with that were outsourced to IBM were packaged off and all of our jobs were sent offshore. I just turned 40 and found work back in the oil industry. In the short time I was with IBM I found their benefits very restricted, their work policies very bureaucratic and the office culture very old boys club.

If you weren't part of IBM and were an outsourced employee, you didn't fit in. At the time I thought IBM was the glory company in IT to work for, but quickly found out they are just a dinosaur. It's just a matter of time for them.

[Oct 30, 2018] To a bean counter a developer in a RH office in North America or Europe who s been coding for RH for 10 years is valued same as a developer in Calcutta who just graduated from college

Notable quotes:
"... There's not an intrinsic advantage to being of a certain nationality, American included. Sure, there are a lot of bad companies and bad programmers coming from India, but there are plenty of incompetent developers right here too. ..."
"... A huge problem with the good developers over there is the lack of English proficiency and soft skills. However, being born or graduated in Calcutta (or anywhere else for that matter) is not a determination of one's skill. ..."
"... I get what the intention of the first comment was intended to be, but it still has that smugness that is dangerous to the American future. As the world becomes more interconnected, and access to learning improves, when people ask you why are you better than that other guy, the answer better be something more than "well, I'm American and he is from Calcutta" because no one is going to buy that. The comment could've said that to a bean counter a solid developer with 10 years of experience is worth the same as a junior dev who just came out of school and make the same point. What exactly was the objective of throwing in Calcutta over there? ..."
"... I have dealt with this far too much these VPs rarely do much work and simply are hit on bottom line ( you are talking about 250k+), but management in US doesn't want to sit off hours and work with India office so they basically turn a blind eye on them. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | arstechnica.com

dmoan, 2018-10-30T07:32:29-04:00

Drizzt321 wrote: show nested quotes

A.Felix wrote:

Drizzt321 wrote:

Dilbert wrote:

motytrah wrote:

bolomkxxviii wrote:

No good will come from this. IBM's corporate environment and financial near-sightedness will kill Red Hat. Time to start looking for a new standard bearer in Linux for business.

I agree. Redhat has dev offices all over. A lot of them in higher cost areas of the US and Europe. There's no way IBM doesn't consolidate and offshore a bunch of that work.

This. To a bean counter a developer in a RH office in North America or Europe who's been coding for RH for 10 years is valued same as a developer in Calcutta who just graduated from college. For various definitions of word 'graduated'.

I'm just waiting until some major company decides that some of the nicer parts of middle America/Appalachia can be a LOT cheaper, still nice, and let them pay less in total while keeping some highly skilled employees.

I don't know about that. Cities can be expensive but part of the reason is that a lot of people want to live there, and supply/demand laws start acting. You'll be able to get some talent no doubt, but a lot of people who live nearby big cities wouldn't like to leave all the quality of life elements you have there, like entertainment, cultural events, shopping, culinary variety, social events, bigger dating scene, assorted array of bars and night clubs, theatre, opera, symphonies, international airports... you get the drift.

I understand everyone is different, but you would actually need to pay me more to move to a smaller town in middle America. I also work with people who would take the offer without hesitation, but in my admittedly anecdotal experience, more tech people prefer the cities than small towns. Finally, if you do manage to get some traction in getting the people and providing the comforts, then you're just going to get the same increase in cost of living wherever you are because now you're just in one more big city.

Costs of life are a problem, but we need to figure out how to properly manage them, instead of just saying "lets move them somewhere else". Also we shouldn't discount the capability of others, because going by that cost argument outsourcing becomes attractive. The comment you're replying to tries to diminish Indian engineers, but the reverse can still be true. A developer in India who has been working for 10 years costs even less than an American who just graduated, for various definitions of graduated. There's over a billion people over there, and the Indian Institutes of Technology are nothing to scoff at.

There's not an intrinsic advantage to being of a certain nationality, American included. Sure, there are a lot of bad companies and bad programmers coming from India, but there are plenty of incompetent developers right here too. It's just that there are a lot more in general over there and they would come for cheap, so in raw numbers it seems overwhelming, but that sword cuts both ways, the raw number of competent ones is also a lot.

About 5% of the American workforce are scientists and engineers, which make a bit over 7 million people. The same calculation in India brings you to almost 44 million people.

A huge problem with the good developers over there is the lack of English proficiency and soft skills. However, being born or graduated in Calcutta (or anywhere else for that matter) is not a determination of one's skill.

I get what the intention of the first comment was intended to be, but it still has that smugness that is dangerous to the American future. As the world becomes more interconnected, and access to learning improves, when people ask you why are you better than that other guy, the answer better be something more than "well, I'm American and he is from Calcutta" because no one is going to buy that. The comment could've said that to a bean counter a solid developer with 10 years of experience is worth the same as a junior dev who just came out of school and make the same point. What exactly was the objective of throwing in Calcutta over there? Especially when we then move to a discussion about how costly it is to pay salaries in America. Sounds a bit counterproductive if you ask me.

I think a lot of the dislike for Indian developers is that they usually are the outsourced to cheap as possible code monkey developers. Which can be a problem anywhere, for sure, but at least seem exacerbated by US companies outsourcing there. In my limited experience, they're either intelligent and can work up to working reasonably independently and expanding on a ticket intelligently. Or they're copy a pasta code monkey and need pretty good supervision of the code that's produced. Add in the problem if timezones and folks who may not understand English that great, or us not understanding their English, and it all gives them a bad name. Yet I agree, I know some quite good developers. Ones that didn't go to a US college.

My impression, totally anecdotal, is that unless you can hire or move a very good architect/lead + project/product manager over there so you can interact in real-time instead of with a day delay, it's just a huge PITA and slows things down. Personally I'd rather hire a couple of seemingly competent 3 years out of college on their 2nd job (because they rarely stay very long at their first one, right?) and pay from there.

Companies/management offshore because it keep revenue per employee and allows them to be promoted by inflating their direct report allowing them to build another "cheap" pyramid hierarchy. A manager in US can become a director or VP easily by having few managers report to him from India. Even better this person can go to India ( they are most often Indian) and claim to lead the India office and improve outsourcing while getting paid US salary.

I have dealt with this far too much these VPs rarely do much work and simply are hit on bottom line ( you are talking about 250k+), but management in US doesn't want to sit off hours and work with India office so they basically turn a blind eye on them.

[Oct 30, 2018] IBM is bad, but it s just the tip of the iceberg. I worked for a major international company that dumped almost the entire IT workforce and replaced them with managed services , almost exclusively H-1B workers from almost exclusively India.

Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org
netmouse , Saturday, March 24, 2018 10:49 AM
Outstanding. I had to train people in IBM India to do my job when (early) "retired". I actually found a new internal job in IBM, the hiring manager wrote/chat that I was a fit. I was denied the job because my current group said I had to transfer and the receiving group said I had to be on a contract, stalemate! I appealed and group HR said sorry, can't do and gave me one reason after another, that I could easily refute, then they finally said the job was to be moved overseas. Note most open jobs posted were categorized for global resources. I appealed to Randy (former HR SVP) and no change. At least I foced them to finally tell the truth. I had also found another job locally near home and received an email from the HR IBM person responsible for the account saying no, they were considering foreigners first, if they found no one suitable they would then consider Americans. I appealed to my IBM manager who basically said sorry, that is how things are now. All in writing, so no more pretending it is a skill issue. People, it is and always has been about cheap labor. I recall when a new IBM technology began, Websphere, and I was sent for a month's training. Then in mid-2000's training and raises pretty much stopped and that was when resource actions were stepped up.
TVGizmo , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:36 PM
IBM started downhill as a result of many factors.

But the single most cause was when.....Respect for the Individual (the first Basic Belief) was ignored. Everything else was collateral damage.

Former 'Manager of the Year' in the old Field Engineering Division.

CRAW , Friday, March 23, 2018 9:51 AM
IBM is bad, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. I worked for a major international company that dumped almost the entire IT workforce and replaced them with "managed services", almost exclusively H-1B workers from almost exclusively India. This has been occurring for decades in many, MANY businesses around the country large and small. Even this article seems to make a special effort to assure us that "some" workers laid off in America were replaced with "younger, less experienced, lower-paid American workers and moving many other jobs overseas." How many were replaced with H-1B, H-4 EAD, OPT, L-1, etc? It's by abusing these work visa programs that companies facilitate moving the work overseas in the first place. I appreciate this article, but I think it's disingenuous for ProPublica to ignore the elephant in the room - work visa abuse. Why not add a question or two to your polls about that? It wouldn't be hard. For example, "Do you feel that America's work visa programs had an impact on your employment at IBM? Do you feel it has had an impact on your ability to regain employment after leaving IBM?" I'd like to see the answer to THOSE questions.

[Oct 30, 2018] Neoliberal way of screwing up people is via HR

Notable quotes:
"... I too was a victim of IBM's underhanded trickery to get rid of people...39 years with IBM, a top performer. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org
xn0 , Monday, April 2, 2018 1:44 PM
These practices are "interesting". And people still wonder why there are so many deadly amok runs at US companies? What do they expect when they replace old and experienced workers with inexperienced millenials, who often lack basic knowledge about their job? Better performance?

This will run US tech companies into the ground. This sort of "American" HR management is gaining ground here in Germany as well, its troubling. And on top they have to compete against foreign tech immigrants from middle eastern and asian companies. Sure fire recipe for social unrest and people voting for right-wing parties.

nottigerwoods , Friday, March 30, 2018 1:39 PM
I too was a victim of IBM's underhanded trickery to get rid of people...39 years with IBM, a top performer. I never got a letter telling me to move to Raleigh. All i got was a phone call asking me if i wanted to take the 6 month exception to consider it. Yet, after taking the 6 month exception, I was told I could no longer move, the colocation was closed. Either I find another job, not in Marketing support (not even Marketing) or leave the company. I received no letter from Ginni, nothing. I was under the impression I could show up in Raleigh after the exception period. Not so. It was never explained....After 3 months I will begin contracting with IBM. Not because I like them, because I need the money...thanks for the article.
doncanard , Friday, March 30, 2018 1:33 PM
dropped in 2013 after 22 years. IBM stopped leading in the late 1980's, afterwards it implemented "market driven quality" which meant listen for the latest trends, see what other people were doing, and then buy the competition or drive them out of business. "Innovation that matters": it's only interesting if an IBM manager can see a way to monetize it.

That's a low standard. It's OK, there are other places that are doing better. In fact, the best of the old experienced people went to work there. Newsflash: quality doesn't change with generations, you either create it or you don't.

Sounds like IBM is building its product portfolio to match its desired workforce. And of course, on every round of layoffs, the clear criterion was people who were compliant and pliable - who's ready to follow orders ? Best of luck.

[Oct 30, 2018] In the late 1980s, IBM offered decent packages to retirement eligible employees. For those close to retirement age, it was a great deal - 2 weeks pay for every year of service (capped at 26 years) plus being kept on to perform their old job for 6 months (while collecting retirement, until the government stepped in an put a halt to it).

Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

HiJinks , Sunday, March 25, 2018 3:07 AM

I agree with many who state the report is well done. However, this crap started in the early 1990s. In the late 1980s, IBM offered decent packages to retirement eligible employees. For those close to retirement age, it was a great deal - 2 weeks pay for every year of service (capped at 26 years) plus being kept on to perform their old job for 6 months (while collecting retirement, until the government stepped in an put a halt to it). Nobody eligible was forced to take the package (at least not to general knowledge). The last decent package was in 1991 - similar, but not able to come back for 6 months.

However, in 1991, those offered the package were basically told take it or else. Anyone with 30 years of service or 15 years and 55 was eligible and anyone within 5 years of eligibility could "bridge" the difference.

They also had to sign a form stating they would not sue IBM in order to get up to a years pay - not taxable per IRS documents back then (but IBM took out the taxes anyway and the IRS refused to return - an employee group had hired lawyers to get the taxes back, a failed attempt which only enriched the lawyers).

After that, things went downhill and accelerated when Gerstner took over. After 1991, there were still a some workers who could get 30 years or more, but that was more the exception. I suspect the way the company has been run the past 25 years or so has the Watsons spinning in their graves. Gone are the 3 core beliefs - "Respect for the individual", "Service to the customer" and "Excellence must be a way of life".

Chris S. HiJinks

could be true... but i thought Watson was the IBM data analytics computer thingy... beat two human players at Jeopardy on live tv a year or two or so back.. featured on 60 Minutes just around last year.... :

ArnieTracey , Saturday, March 24, 2018 7:15 PM
IBM's policy reminds me of the "If a citizen = 30 y.o., then mass execute such, else if they run then hunt and kill them one by one" social policy in the Michael York movie "Logan's Run."

From Wiki, in case you don't know: "It depicts a utopian future society on the surface, revealed as a dystopia where the population and the consumption of resources are maintained in equilibrium by killing everyone who reaches the age of 30. The story follows the actions of Logan 5, a "Sandman" who has terminated others who have attempted to escape death, and is now faced with termination himself."

Jr Jr , Saturday, March 24, 2018 4:37 PM
Corporate loyalty has been gone for 25 years. This isnt surprising. But this age discrimination is blatantly illegal.

[Oct 30, 2018] Neoliberal IT working place is really a minefield for older workers

Notable quotes:
"... The annual unemployment rate topped 8% in 1975 and would reach nearly 10% in 1982. The economy seemed trapped in the new nightmare of stagflation," so called because it combined low economic growth and high unemployment ("stagnation") with high rates of inflation. And the prime rate hit 20% by 1980. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

disqus_qN55ZbK3Ce , Friday, March 23, 2018 3:09 PM

If anything, IBM is behind the curve. I was terminated along with my entire department from a major IBM subcontractor, with all affected employees "coincidentally" being over 50. By "eliminating the department" and forcing me to sign a waiver to receive my meager severance, they avoided any legal repercussions. 18 months later on the dot (the minimum legal time period), my workload was assigned to three new hires, all young. Interestingly, their combined salaries are more than mine, and I could have picked up all their work for about $200 in training (in social media posting, something I picked up on my own last year and am doing quite well, thank you).

And my former colleagues are not alone. A lot of friends of mine have had similar outcomes, and as the article states, no one will hire people my age willingly in my old capacity. Luckily again, I've pivoted into copywriting--a discipline where age is still associated with quality ("dang kids can't spell anymore!"). But I'm doing it freelance, with the commensurate loss of security, benefits, and predictability of income.

So if IBM is doing this now, they are laggards. But because they're so big, there's a much more obvious paper trail.

Stephen McConnell , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:44 AM
One of the most in-depth, thoughtful and enlightening pieces of journalism I've seen. Having worked on Capitol Hill during the early 1980's for the House and Senate Aging Committees, we worked hard to abolish the remnants of mandatory retirement and to strengthen the protections under the ADEA. Sadly, the EEOC has become a toothless bureaucracy when it comes to age discrimination cases and the employers, as evidenced by the IBM case, have become sophisticated in hiding what they're doing to older workers. Peter's incredibly well researched article lays the case out for all to see. Now the question is whether the government will step up to its responsibilities and protect older workers from this kind of discrimination in the future. Peter has done a great service in any case.
Mark , Friday, March 23, 2018 1:05 AM
The US tech sector has mostly ignored US citizen applicants, of all ages, since the early 2000s. Instead, preferring to hire foreign nationals. The applications of top US citizen grads are literally thrown in the garbage (or its electronic equivalent) while companies like IBM have their hiring processes dominated by Indian nationals. IBM is absolutely a poster-child for H-1B, L-1, and OPT visa abuse.
CRAW Mark , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
EXACTLY. Work visas are the enabler of this discrimination. We are overrun.
Warren Stiles , Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:17 PM
Bottom line is we have entered an era when there are only two classes who are protected in our economy; the Investor Class and the Executive Class. With Wall Street's constant demand for higher profits and increased shareholder value over all other business imperatives, rank and file workers have been relegated to the class of expendable resource. I propose that all of us over fifty who have been riffed out of Corporate America band together for the specific purpose of beating the pants off them in the marketplace. The best revenge is whooping their youngster butts at the customer negotiating table. By demonstrating we are still flexible and nimble, yet with the experience to avoid the missteps of misspent youth, we prove we can deliver value well beyond what narrow-minded bean counters can achieve.
DDRLSGC Warren Stiles , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
or whipping the butts of the older managers who thought that their older workers were over the hill.
Warren Stiles DDRLSGC , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Just like they are...
Jeff Russell , Thursday, March 22, 2018 4:31 PM
I started at IBM 3 days out of college in 1979 and retired in 2017. I was satisfied with my choice and never felt mistreated because I had no expectation of lifetime employment, especially after the pivotal period in the 1990's when IBM almost went out of business. The company survived that period by dramatically restructuring both manufacturing costs and sales expense including the firing of tens of thousands of employees. These actions were well documented in the business news of the time, the obvious alternative was bankruptcy.

I told the authors that anyone working at IBM after 1993 should have had no expectation of a lifetime career. Downsizing, outsourcing, movement of work around the globe was already commonplace at all such international companies. Any expectation of "loyalty", that two-way relationship of employee/company from an earlier time, was wishful thinking. I was always prepared to be sent packing, without cause, at any time and always had my resume up-to-date. I stayed because of interesting work, respectful supervisors, and adequate compensation. The "resource action" that forced my decision to retire was no surprise, the company that hired me had been gone for decades.

DDRLSGC Jeff Russell , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
With all the automation going on around the world, these business leaders better worry about people not having money to buy their goods and services plus what are they going to do with the surplus of labor
John Kauai Jeff Russell , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I had, more or less, the same experience at Cisco. They paid me to quit. Luckily, I was ready for it.

The article mentions IBMs 3 failures. So who was it that was responsible for not anticipating the transitions? It is hard enough doing what you already know. Perhaps companies should be spending more on figuring out "what's next" and not continually playing catch-up by dumping the older workers for the new.

MichiganRefugee , Friday, March 23, 2018 9:52 AM
I was laid off by IBM after 29 years and 4 months. I had received a division award in previous year, and my last PBC appraisal was 2+ (high performer.) The company I left was not the company I started with. Top management--starting with Gerstner--has steadily made IBM a less desirable place to work. They now treat employees as interchangeable assets and nothing more. I cannot/would not recommend IBM as an employer to any young programmer.
George Purcell , Friday, March 23, 2018 7:41 AM
Truly awesome work. I do want to add one thing, however--the entire rhetoric about "too many old white guys" that has become so common absolutely contributes to the notion that this sort of behavior is not just acceptable but in some twisted way admirable as well.
Bob Fritz , Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:35 PM
I read the article and all the comments.

Is anyone surprised that so many young people don't think capitalism is a good system any more?

I ran a high technology electronic systems company for years. We ran it "the old way." If you worked hard, and tried, we would bend over backwards to keep you. If technology or business conditions eliminated your job, we would try to train you for a new one. Our people were loyal, not like IBMers today. I honestly think that's the best way to be profitable.

People afraid of being unjustly RIFFed will always lack vitality.

petervonstackelberg , Thursday, March 22, 2018 2:00 PM
I'm glad someone is finally paying attention to age discrimination. IBM apparently is just one of many organizations that discriminate.

I'm in the middle of my own fight with the State University of New York (SUNY) over age discrimination. I was terminated by a one of the technical colleges in the SUNY System. The EEOC/New York State Division of Human Rights (NYDHR) found that "PROBABLE CAUSE (NYDHR's emphasis) exists to believe that the Respondent (Alfred State College - SUNY) has engaged in or is engaging in the unlawful discriminatory practice complained of." Investigators for NYDHR interviewed several witnesses, who testified that representatives of the college made statements such as "we need new faces", "three old men" attending a meeting, an older faculty member described as an "albatross", and "we ought to get rid of the old white guys". Witnesses said these statements were made by the Vice President of Academic Affairs and a dean at the college.

davosil , Sunday, March 25, 2018 5:00 PM
This saga at IBM is simply a microcosm of our overall economy. Older workers get ousted in favor of younger, cheaper workers; way too many jobs get outsourced; and so many workers today [young and old] can barely land a full-time job.
This is the behavior that our system incentivises (and gets away with) in this post Reagan Revolution era where deregulation is lauded and unions have been undermined & demonized. We need to seriously re-work 'work', and in order to do this we need to purge Republicans at every level, as they CLEARLY only serve corporate bottom-lines - not workers - by championing tax codes that reward outsourcing, fight a livable minimum wage, eliminate pensions, bust unions, fight pay equity for women & family leave, stack the Supreme Court with radical ideologues who blatantly rule for corporations over people all the time, etc. etc. ~35 years of basically uninterrupted Conservative economic policy & ideology has proven disastrous for workers and our quality of life. As goes your middle class, so goes your country.
ThinkingAloud , Friday, March 23, 2018 7:18 AM
The last five words are chilling... This is an award-winning piece....
RetiredIBM.manager , Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:39 PM
I am a retired IBM manager having had to execute many of these resource reduction programs.. too many.. as a matter of fact. ProPUBLICA....You nailed it!
David , Thursday, March 22, 2018 3:22 PM
IBM has always treated its customer-facing roles like Disney -- as cast members who need to match a part in a play. In the 60s and 70s, it was the white-shirt, blue-suit white men whom IBM leaders thought looked like mainframe salesmen. Now, rather than actually build a credible cloud to compete with Amazon and Microsoft, IBM changes the cast to look like cloud salespeople. (I work for Microsoft. Commenting for myself alone.)
CRAW David , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Now IBM still treats their employees like Disney - by replacing them with H-1B workers.
MHV IBMer , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:35 PM
I am a survivor, the rare employee who has been at IBM for over 35 years. I have seen many, many layoff programs over 20 years now. I have seen tens of thousands people let go from the Hudson Valley of N.Y. Those of us who have survived, know and lived through what this article so accurately described. I currently work with 3 laid off/retired and rehired contractors. I have seen age discrimination daily for over 15 years. It is not only limited to layoffs, it is rampant throughout the company. Promotions, bonuses, transfers for opportunities, good reviews, etc... are gone if you are over 45. I have seen people under 30 given promotions to levels that many people worked 25 years for. IBM knows that these younger employees see how they treat us so they think they can buy them off. Come to think of it, I guess they actually are! They are ageist, there is no doubt, it is about time everyone knew. Excellent article.
Goldie Romero , Friday, March 23, 2018 2:31 PM
Nice article, but seriously this is old news. IBM has been at this for ...oh twenty years or more.
I don't really have a problem with it in terms of a corporation trying to make money. But I do have a problem with how IBM also likes to avoid layoffs by giving folks over 40 intentionally poor reviews, essentially trying to drive people out. Just have the guts to tell people, we don't need you anymore, bye. But to string people along as the overseas workers come in...c'mon just be honest with your workers.
High tech over 40 is not easy...I suggest folks prep for a career change before 50. Then you can have the last laugh on a company like IBM.
jblog , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:37 AM
From pages 190-191 of my novel, Ordinary Man (Amazon):

Throughout
it all, layoffs became common, impacting mostly older employees with many years
of service. These job cuts were dribbled out in small numbers to conceal them
from the outside world, but employees could plainly see what was going on.

The laid off
employees were supplanted by offshoring work to low-costs countries and hiring
younger employees, often only on temporary contracts that offered low pay and
no benefits – a process pejoratively referred to by veteran employees as
"downsourcing." The recruitment of these younger workers was done under the
guise of bringing in fresh skills, but while many of the new hires brought new
abilities and vitality, they lacked the knowledge and perspective that comes
with experience.

Frequently,
an older more experienced worker would be asked to help educate newer
employees, only to be terminated shortly after completing the task. And the new
hires weren't fooled by what they witnessed and experienced at OpenSwitch,
perceiving very quickly that the company had no real interest in investing in
them for the long term. To the contrary, the objective was clearly to grind as
much work out of them as possible, without offering any hope of increased
reward or opportunity.

Most of the
young recruits left after only a year or two – which, again, was part of the
true agenda at the company. Senior management viewed employees not as talent,
but simply as cost, and didn't want anyone sticking around long enough to move
up the pay scale.

turquoisewaters , Thursday, March 22, 2018 10:19 PM
This is why you need unions.
Aaron Stackpole , Thursday, March 22, 2018 5:23 PM
This is the nail in the coffin. As an IT manager responsible for selecting and purchasing software, I will never again recommend IBM products. I love AIX and have worked with a lot if IBM products but not anymore. Good luck with the millennials though...
awb22 , Thursday, March 22, 2018 12:14 PM
The same thing has been going on at other companies, since the end of WWII. It's unethical, whether the illegality can be proven or not.

In the RTP area, where I live, I know many, many current and former employees. Times have changed, but the distinction between right and wrong hasn't.

Suzan awb22 , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I was hired by one of the government agencies in RTP last year and then never given a start date after I submitted my SS number & birth certificate.

Anyone familiar with this situation?

Dave Allen , Thursday, March 22, 2018 1:07 PM
I worked for four major corporations (HP, Intel, Control Data Corporation, and Micron Semiconductor) before I was hired by IBM as a rare (at that time) experienced new hire. Even though I ended up working for IBM for 21 years, and retired in 2013, because of my experiences at those other companies, I never considered IBM my "family." The way I saw it, every time I received a paycheck from IBM in exchange for two weeks' work, we were (almost) even. I did not owe them anything else and they did not owe me anything. The idea of loyalty between a corporation and an at-will employee makes no more sense than loyalty between a motel and its guests. It is a business arrangement, not a love affair. Every individual needs to continually assess their skills and their value to their employer. If they are not commensurate, it is the employee's responsibility to either acquire new skills or seek a new employer. Your employer will not hesitate to lay you off if your skills are no longer needed, or if they can hire someone who can do your job just as well for less pay. That is free enterprise, and it works for people willing to take advantage of it.
sometimestheyaresomewhatright Dave Allen , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I basically agree. But why should it be OK for a company to fire you just to replace you with a younger you? If all that they accomplish is lowering their health care costs (which is what this is really about). If the company is paying about the same for the same work, why is firing older workers for being older OK?
Dave Allen sometimestheyaresomewhatright , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Good question. The point I was trying to make is that people need to watch out for themselves and not expect their employer to do what is "best" for the employee. I think that is true whatever age the employee happens to be.

Whether employers should be able to discriminate against (treat differently) their employees based on age, gender, race, religion, etc. is a political question. Morally, I don't think they should discriminate. Politically, I think it is a slippery slope when the government starts imposing regulations on free enterprise. Government almost always creates more problems than they fix.

DDRLSGC Dave Allen , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Sorry, but when you deregulate the free enterprise, it created more problems than it fixes and that is a fact that has been proven for the last 38 years.
Danllo DDRLSGC , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
That's just plain false. Deregulation creates competiiton. Competition for talented and skilled workers creates opportunities for those that wish to be employed and for those that wish to start new ventures. For example, when Ma Bell was regulated and had a monopoly on telecommunications there was no innovation in the telecom inudstry. However, when it was deregulated, cell phones, internet, etc exploded ... creating billionaires and millionaires while also improving the quality of life.
DDRLSGC Danllo , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
No, it happens to be true. When Reagan deregulate the economy, a lot of those corporate raiders just took over the companies, sold off the assets, and pocketed the money. What quality of life? Half of American lived near the poverty level and the wages for the workers have been stagnant for the last 38 years compared to a well-regulated economy in places like Germany and the Scandinavian countries where the workers have good wages and a far better standard of living than in the USA. Why do you think the Norwegians told Trump that they will not be immigrating to the USA anytime soon?
NotSure DDRLSGC , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
What were the economic conditions before Regan? It was a nightmare before Regan.

The annual unemployment rate topped 8% in 1975 and would reach nearly 10% in 1982. The economy seemed trapped in the new nightmare of stagflation," so called because it combined low economic growth and high unemployment ("stagnation") with high rates of inflation. And the prime rate hit 20% by 1980.
DDRLSGC NotSure , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
At least we had a manufacturing base in the USA, strong regulations of corporations, corporate scandals were far and few, businesses did not go under so quickly, prices of goods and services did not go through the roof, people had pensions and could reasonably live off them, and recessions did not last so long or go so deep until Reagan came into office. In Under Reagan, the jobs were allowed to be send overseas, unions were busted up, pensions were reduced or eliminated, wages except those of the CEOs were staganent, and the economic conditions under Bush, Senior and Bush, Jr. were no better except that Bush, Jr, was the first president to have a net minus below zero growth, so every time we get a Republican Administration, the economy really turns into a nightmare. That is a fact.

You have the Republicans in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin using Reaganomics and they are economic disaster areas.

DDRLSGC NotSure , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
You had an industrial base in the USA, lots of banks and savings and loans to choose from, lots of mom and pop stores, strong government regulation of the economy, able to live off your pensions, strong unions and employment laws along with the court system to back you up against corporate malfeasance. All that was gone when Reagan and the two Bushes came into office.
james Foster , Thursday, March 29, 2018 8:37 PM
Amazingly accurate article. The once great IBM now a dishonest and unscrupulous corporation concerned more about earnings per share than employees, customers, or social responsibility. In Global Services most likely 75% or more jobs are no longer in the US - can't believe a word coming out of Armonk.
Philip Meyer james Foster , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I'm not sure there was ever a paradise in employment. Yeah, you can say there was more job stability 50 or 60 years ago, but that applied to a much smaller workforce than today (mostly white men). It is a drag, but there are also lot more of us old farts than there used to be and we live a lot longer in retirement as well. I don't see any magic bullet fix either.
George A , Tuesday, March 27, 2018 6:12 PM
Warning to Google/Facebook/Apple etc. All you young people will get old. It's inevitable. Do you think those companies will take care of you?
econdataus , Sunday, March 25, 2018 3:01 PM
Great article. What's especially infuriating is that the industry continues to claim that there is a shortage of STEM workers. For example, google "claim of 1.4 million computer science jobs with only 400,000 computer science graduates to fill them". If companies would openly say, "we have plenty of young STEM workers and prefer them to most older STEM workers", we could at least start addressing the problem. But they continue to promote the lie of there being a STEM shortage. They just want as big a labor pool as possible, unemployed workers be damned.
Buzz , Friday, March 23, 2018 12:00 PM
I've worked there 17 years and have worried about being layed off for about 11 of them. Moral is in the toilet. Bonuses for the rank and file are in the under 1% range while the CEO gets millions. Pay raises have been non existent or well under inflation for years. Adjusting for inflation, I make $6K less than I did my first day. My group is a handful of people as at least 1/2 have quit or retired. To support our customers, we used to have several people, now we have one or two and if someone is sick or on vacation, our support structure is to hope nothing breaks. We can't keep millennials because of pay, benefits and the expectation of being available 24/7 because we're shorthanded. As the unemployment rate drops, more leave to find a different job, leaving the old people as they are less willing to start over with pay, vacation, moving, selling a house, pulling kids from school, etc. The younger people are generally less likely to be willing to work as needed on off hours or to pull work from a busier colleague. I honestly have no idea what the plan is when the people who know what they are doing start to retire, we are way top heavy with 30-40 year guys who are on their way out, very few of the 10-20 year guys due to hiring freezes and we can't keep new people past 2-3 years. It's like our support business model is designed to fail.
OrangeGina , Friday, March 23, 2018 11:41 AM
Make no mistake. The three and four letter acronyms and other mushy corporate speak may differ from firm to firm, but this is going on in every large tech company old enough to have a large population of workers over 50. I hope others will now be exposed.
JeffMo , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:23 AM
This article hits the nail right on the head, as I come up on my 1 year anniversary from being....ahem....'retired' from 23 years at IBM....and I'll be damned if I give them the satisfaction of thinking this was like a 'death' to me. It was the greatest thing that could have ever happened. Ginny and the board should be ashamed of themselves, but they won't be.
Frankie , Friday, March 23, 2018 1:00 AM
Starting around age 40 you start to see age discrimination. I think this is largely due to economics, like increased vacation times, higher wages, but most of all the perception that older workers will run up the medical costs. You can pass all the age related discrimination laws you want, but look how ineffective that has been.

If you contrast this with the German workforce, you see that they have more older workers with the skills and younger workers without are having a difficult time getting in. So what's the difference? There are laws about how many vacation weeks that are given and there is a national medical system that everyone pays, so discrimination isn't seen in the same light.

The US is the only hold out maybe with South Africa that doesn't have a good national medical insurance program for everyone. Not only do we pay more than the rest of the world, but we also have discrimination because of it.

Rick Gundlach , Thursday, March 22, 2018 11:38 PM
This is very good, and this is IBM. I know. I was plaintiff in Gundlach v. IBM Japan, 983 F.Supp.2d 389, which involved their violating Japanese labor law when I worked in Japan. The New York federal judge purposely ignored key points of Japanese labor law, and also refused to apply Title VII and Age Discrimination in Employment to the parent company in Westchester County. It is a huge, self-described "global" company with little demonstrated loyalty to America and Americans. Pennsylvania is suing them for $170 million on a botched upgrade of the state's unemployment system.
Jeff , Thursday, March 22, 2018 2:05 PM
In early 2013 I was given a 3 PBC rating for my 2012 performance, the main reason cited by my manager being that my team lead thought I "seemed distracted". Five months later I was included in a "resource action", and was gone by July. I was 20 months shy of 55. Younger coworkers were retained. That was about two years after the product I worked on for over a decade was off-shored.

Through a fluke of someone from the old, disbanded team remembering me, I was rehired two years later - ironically in a customer support position for the very product I helped develop.

While I appreciated my years of service, previous salary, and previous benefits being reinstated, a couple years into it I realized I just wasn't cut out for the demands of the job - especially the significant 24x7 pager duty. Last June I received email describing a "Transition to Retirement" plan I was eligible for, took it, and my last day will be June 30. I still dislike the job, but that plan reclassified me as part time, thus ending pager duty for me. The job still sucks, but at least I no longer have to despair over numerous week long 24x7 stints throughout the year.

A significant disappointment occurred a couple weeks ago. I was discussing healthcare options with another person leaving the company who hadn't been resource-actioned as I had, and learned the hard way I lost over $30,000 in some sort of future medical benefit account the company had established and funded at some point. I'm not sure I was ever even aware of it. That would have funded several years of healthcare insurance during the 8 years until I'm eligible for Medicare. I wouldn't be surprised if their not having to give me that had something to do with my seeming "distracted" to them. <rolls eyes="">

What's really painful is the history of that former account can still be viewed at Fidelity, where it associates my departure date in 2013 with my having "forfeited" that money. Um, no. I did not forfeit that money, nor would I have. I had absolutely no choice in the matter. I find the use of the word 'forfeited' to describe what happened as both disingenuous and offensive. That said, I don't know whether's that's IBM's or Fidelity's terminology, though.

Herb Jeff , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Jeff, You should call Fidelity. I recently received a letter from the US Department of Labor that they discovered that IBM was "holding" funds that belonged to me that I was never told about. This might be similar or same story.
AlmostNative , Sunday, April 1, 2018 4:27 PM
Great article. And so so close to home. I worked at IBM for 23 years until I became yet another statistic -- caught up in one of their many "RA's" -- Resource Actions. I also can identify with the point about being encouraged to find a job internally yet hiring managers told to not hire. We were encouraged to apply for jobs outside the US -- Europe mainly -- as long as we were willing to move and work at the prevailing local wage rate. I was totally fine with that as my wife had been itching for some time for a chance to live abroad. I applied for several jobs across Europe using an internal system IBM set up just for that purpose. Never heard a word. Phone calls and internal e-mails to managers posting jobs in the internal system went unanswered. It turned out to be a total sham as far as I was concerned.

IBM has laid off hundreds of thousands in the last few decades. Think of the MILLIONS of children, spouses, brothers/sisters, aunts/uncles, and other family members of laid-off people that were affected. Those people are or will be business owners and in positions to make technology decisions. How many of them will think "Yeah, right, hire IBM. They're the company that screwed daddy/mommy". I fully expect -- and I fully hope -- that I live to see IBM go out of business. Which they will, sooner or later, as they are living off of past laurels -- billions in the bank, a big fat patent portfolio, and real estate that they continue to sell off or rent out. If you do hire IBM, you should fully expect that they'll send some 20-something out to your company a few weeks after you hire them, that person will be reading "XYZ for Dummys" on the plane on the way to your offices and will show up as your IBM 'expert'.

[Oct 29, 2018] A nasty but subtle practice of diminishing employee status and compensation that encourages the employee to prematurely consider retirement or employment elsewhere

Oct 29, 2018 | features.propublica.org

John Mamuscia , Monday, March 26, 2018 3:08 PM

> I was given the choice, retire or get a bad review and get fired, no severance. I retired and have not been employed since because of my age. Got news for these business people, experience trumps inexperience. Recently, I have developed several commercial Web sites using cloud technology. In your face IBM.
Stimpy , Friday, March 23, 2018 11:17 PM
> This could well have been written about Honeywell. Same tactics exactly. I laid myself off and called it retirement after years of shoddy treatment and phonied up employee evaluations. I took it personally until I realized that this is just American Management in action. I don't know how they look themselves in the mirror in the morning.
sukibarnstorm , Thursday, March 22, 2018 6:38 PM
> As an HR professional, I get sick when I hear of these tactics. Although this is not the first company to use this strategy to make a "paradigm shift". Where are the geniuses at Harvard, Yale, or the Wharton school of business (where our genius POTUS attended)? Can't they come up with a better model of how to make these changes in an organization without setting up the corp for a major lawsuit or God forbid ......they treat their employees with dignity and respect.
DDRLSGC , in reply to">
> They are not trained at our business schools to think long-term or look for solutions to problems or turn to the workforce for solutions. They are trained to maximizes the profits and let society subsidies their losses and costs.
John Kauai , in reply to">
> Isn't it interesting that you are the first one (here or anywhere else that I've seen) to talk about the complicity of Harvard and Yale in the rise of the Oligarchs.

Perhaps we should consider reevaluation of their lofty perch in American Education. Now if we could only think of a way to expose the fraud.

[Oct 29, 2018] In the early 1980's President Regan fired the striking air traffic controllers. This sent the message to management around the USA that it was OK to abuse employees in the workplace.

Notable quotes:
"... In the early 1980's President Regan fired the striking air traffic controllers. This sent the message to management around the USA that it was OK to abuse employees in the workplace. By the end of the 1980's unions were totally emasculated and you had workers "going postal" in an abusive workplace. When unions were at their peak of power, they could appeal to the courts and actually stop a factory from moving out of the country by enforcing a labor contact. ..."
"... The American workplace is a nuthouse. Each and every individual workplace environment is like a cult. ..."
"... The American workplace is just a byproduct of the militarization of everyday life. ..."
"... Silicon Valley and Wall Street handed billions of dollars to this arrogant, ignorant Millennial Elizabeth Holmes. She abused any employee that questioned her. This should sound familiar to any employee who has had an overbearing know-it-all, bully boss in the workplace. Hopefully she will go to jail and a message will be sent that any young agist bully will not be given the power of god in the workplace. ..."
Oct 29, 2018 | features.propublica.org

Stauffenberg , Thursday, March 22, 2018 6:21 PM

In the early 1980's President Regan fired the striking air traffic controllers. This sent the message to management around the USA that it was OK to abuse employees in the workplace. By the end of the 1980's unions were totally emasculated and you had workers "going postal" in an abusive workplace. When unions were at their peak of power, they could appeal to the courts and actually stop a factory from moving out of the country by enforcing a labor contact.

Today we have a President in the White House who was elected on a platform of "YOU'RE FIRED." Not surprisingly, Trump was elected by the vast majority of selfish lowlives in this country. The American workplace is a nuthouse. Each and every individual workplace environment is like a cult.

That is not good for someone like me who hates taking orders from people. But I have seen it all. Ten years ago a Manhattan law firm fired every lawyer in a litigation unit except an ex-playboy playmate. Look it up it was in the papers. I was fired from a job where many of my bosses went to federal prison and then I was invited to the Christmas Party.

What are the salaries of these IBM employees and how much are their replacements making? The workplace becomes a surrogate family. Who knows why some people get along and others don't. My theory on agism in the workplace is that younger employees don't want to be around their surrogate mother or father in the workplace after just leaving the real home under the rules of their real parents.

The American workplace is just a byproduct of the militarization of everyday life. In the 1800's, Herman Melville wrote in his beautiful book "White Jacket" that one of the most humiliating aspects of the military is taking orders from a younger military officer. I read that book when I was 20. I didn't feel the sting of that wisdom until I was 40 and had a 30 year old appointed as my supervisor who had 10 years less experience than me.

By the way, the executive that made her my supervisor was one of the sleaziest bosses I have ever had in my career. Look at the tech giant Theranos. Silicon Valley and Wall Street handed billions of dollars to this arrogant, ignorant Millennial Elizabeth Holmes. She abused any employee that questioned her. This should sound familiar to any employee who has had an overbearing know-it-all, bully boss in the workplace. Hopefully she will go to jail and a message will be sent that any young agist bully will not be given the power of god in the workplace.

[Oct 29, 2018] The Rental Affordability Crisis Explained In Three Charts

Oct 29, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Four years ago, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) warned of "the worst rental affordability crisis ever," citing data that:

"About half of renters spend more than 30% of their income on rent, up from 18% a decade ago, according to newly released research by Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. Twenty-seven percent of renters are paying more than half of their income on rent."

This is a significant problem for US consumers, and especially millennials, because as we have noted repeatedly over the past year, and a new report confirms , "rent increases continue to outpace workers' wage growth, meaning the situation is getting worse."

In the second quarter of 2017, median asking rents jumped 5% from $864 to $910. In the first half of 2018, they have remained at levels crushing the American worker.

While the surge in median asking rents has triggered an affordability crisis, new data now shows just how much a person must make per month to afford rent.

According to HowMuch.Net, an American should budget 25% to 30% of monthly income for rent, but as shown by the New Deal Democrat, workers are budgeting about 50% more of their salaries than a decade earlier. The report specifically looked at the nation's capital, where a person must make approximately $8,500 per month to afford rent.

In California, the state with the largest housing bubble, the monthly income to afford rent is roughly $8,300, followed by Hawaii at $7,800 and New York at $7,220.

In contrast, the Rust Belt and the Southeastern region of the United States, one needs to make only $3,500 per month to afford rent.

"Based on the rule of applying no more than one-third of income to housing, people living in the Northeast must earn at least twice as much as those living in the South just to afford rent for what each market considers an average home," HowMuch.net's Raul Amoros told MarketWatch .

Which, however, is not to say that owning a house is a viable alternative to renting. In fact, as Goldman notes in its latest Housing and Mortgage Monitor, "buying is looking increasingly less affordable vs. renting with home prices growing faster than rents."

In short: the situation is not likely to improve in the short-term.

A sign of relief could be coming in the second half of 2019 or entering into 2020 when the US economy is expected to enter a slowdown, if not outright recession. This would reverse the real estate market, thus providing a turning point in rents that would give renters relief after a near decade of overinflated prices.

[Oct 25, 2018] For-profit college chain files (for receivership)

Notable quotes:
"... While I am generally not in favor of bankruptcy discrimination, the ineligibility of bankrupt colleges for taxpayer funding is eminently sensible ..."
Oct 25, 2018 | www.creditslips.org

The Bezzle: "For-profit college chain files (for receivership)" [ Credit Slips ].

"While I am generally not in favor of bankruptcy discrimination, the ineligibility of bankrupt colleges for taxpayer funding is eminently sensible.

Given the weakness of institutional gatekeeping and the political challenges to shutting down predatory schools, and the for-profit college business model in which taxpayer grants and loans are used to prepay tuitions for students who are frequently misled about career chances, we don't need bankruptcy to give these failing schools a new lease on life." • Ouch.

[Oct 22, 2018] Neoliberal US has no concept of solidarity.

Oct 22, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

somebody , Oct 21, 2018 3:53:21 PM | link

49
Number of people with preexisting conditions

About half of nonelderly Americans have one or more pre-existing health conditions, according to a recent brief by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, that examined the prevalence of conditions that would have resulted in higher rates, condition exclusions, or coverage denials before the ACA. Approximately 130 million nonelderly people have pre-existing conditions nationwide, and, as shown in the table available below, there is an average of more than 300,000 per congressional district. Nationally, the most common pre-existing conditions were high blood pressure (44 million people), behavioral health disorders (45 million people), high cholesterol (44 million people), asthma and chronic lung disease (34 million people), and osteoarthritis and other joint disorders (34 million people).

While people with Medicaid or employer-based plans would remain covered regardless of medical history, the repeal of pre-ex protections means that the millions with pre-existing conditions would face higher rates if they ever needed individual market coverage. The return of pre-ex discrimination would hurt older Americans the most. As noted earlier, while about 51 percent of the nonelderly population had at least one pre-existing condition in 2014, according to the HHS brief, the rate was 75 percent of those ages 45 to 54 and 84 percent among those ages 55 to 64. But even millions of younger people, including 1 in 4 children, would be affected by eliminating this protection.

US has no concept of solidarity.

[Oct 21, 2018] Which is why popular anger and resentment must constantly be directed outward, at an external enemy. Wake up, Americans Russia and China are robbing you of your American Dream!! It's their fault, not that of your own elites and/or the political system that assures their place!!

Oct 21, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Reply


Patient Observer October 20, 2018 at 9:13 am

I understand that you may not be a fan of the Unz website but this is a pertinent article from said website:

http://www.unz.com/runz/the-myth-of-american-meritocracy/

Mark Chapman October 20, 2018 at 9:35 am
Which is why popular anger and resentment must constantly be directed outward, at an external enemy. Wake up, Americans – Russia and China are robbing you of your American Dream!! It's their fault, not that of your own elites and/or the political system that assures their place!!

In at least one area, though, Unz is full of it.

This perhaps explains why so many sons and daughters of top Chinese leaders attend college in the West: enrolling them at a third-rate Chinese university would be a tremendous humiliation, while our own corrupt admissions practices get them an easy spot at Harvard or Stanford, sitting side by side with the children of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and George W. Bush.

It is not as easy as he makes out, as a timely lawsuit suggests – Asian-Americans often have to tiptoe through an admissions minefield whose process is exquisitely designed to discover their ethnic background, so that Asian admissions can be limited. According to this reference, basing its conclusions on an internal study conducted by Harvard itself, if that institution looked only at academic standards when filling its admissions, Asians and Asian-Americans would make up 43% of its student body. Instead, it's maybe half that.

https://abovethelaw.com/2018/10/asian-american-affirmative-action-lawsuit-against-harvard-has-always-been-on-behalf-of-mediocre-white-people/

It is uniquely-American irony that the driving force behind the initiative is Ed Blum, about as far from a populist as you could get, who is pushing the lawsuit as a means of wrecking any correction of the system; it's designed to lose.

Patient Observer October 20, 2018 at 10:06 am
Unz did indicate that the Ivy league schools found ways to throttle Asian enrollment to about 15% after some initial fine tuning.
Mark Chapman October 20, 2018 at 11:31 am
I must have missed that bit, but if so, how does he reconcile that with children of the Chinese leadership just coasting into the Ivy League as if the admissions process were a slide?
Jen October 20, 2018 at 12:43 pm
In Australia here anyway, some universities have very large international student intakes to the extent that in some institutions, overseas students (mostly from China and India) constitute as much as or more than 40% of the entire student population.
http://www.universityrankings.com.au/international-student-numbers.html

A major part of the reason must be that as government funding to universities here continues to decrease, universities are forced to make up the shortfall by relying on full fee-paying students and international students and their families can be exploited in this way by being forced to pay upfront for their education.

No doubt, being private educational institutions, Ivy League universities view the children of Chinese political elites as similar gold mines and the admission standards required of such potential students are likely to be very different from what is applied to students coming out of American high schools.

yalensis October 20, 2018 at 2:42 pm
Dear Patient Observer: I try to give credit where credit is due; so any sociological theory that is factual and based on mathematics deserves to be aired in public.
My beef with Unz is their overall fascist slant. Some of the articles are so viciously anti-Jewish, that one is simply forced to ask: "What is your end game? A second Holocaust?" (which the more Nazi of the commenters are forced into Zugzwang, because they deny the first one even happened, and yet call for a second one )
Having said that, I call upon people to perform a simple thought experiment: Imagine it were actually proved scientifically factual (beyond a statistical doubt) that certain ethnic groups were intellectual "smarter" in the arena of, say, college success. (For example, Jews or "Asians".) Then what should be the policy ensuing? Should governments institute quotas to make sure the "dumber" ethnos get their share of the college degrees? Or just let nature take its course?
I reckon the answer would depend on the government in question, and the whole damn history. When the Soviet Union decided (in the late 70's and 1980's) to limit Jews to certain quotas in university admissions, they were raked over the coals by Westies. And yet when Westie institutions attempt to set ethnic quotas, then it might be reasonable.

Where do I stand on this issue? I honestly don't know but I admit that I don't have the answers

Patient Observer October 20, 2018 at 4:00 pm
I told this story before but will do so again as it has relevancy. My 2nd term calculus graduate assistance was a young woman; perhaps 18 years old. Her name was Stern or Sternberg. She was socially awkward, clearly uncomfortable in the classroom and not good at teaching

A few years later, I read a story in a regional newspaper about her. The headline was something like "Is this Perfection?". Anyway, the story indicated that she graduated from the University at the age of 16. She was the product of an experiment by her parents. From conception onward, she was exposed to every sort of stimulation to build her intellectual development – classical music played while in the womb, every sort of pre-school educational stimulation and constant urging to excel in academics.

My take is most "ethnic" intellectual achievement is the product of sociological factors. Overbearing Jewish moms or Asian tiger moms are likely a major factor in such academic achievements. In my value system, that behavior is destructive to the kids psychological well-being. Not worth it in the long run I believe.

Mark Chapman October 20, 2018 at 11:09 pm
Asians I personally know tell me that Asian kids are not genetically smarter than anyone else. Their parents value education, and make them work harder than most western kids do. Got spare time? Study. Already mastered the subject? Take up another. When you're good at all of them, then you can take a break.

A friend of mine who was a junior officer in the Navy is Chinese. She consented to be interviewed by a Chinese magazine, because of her position as a military officer, but it was clear to her that her interviewers were a little disappointed that she was not fluent in Mandarin. When they proceeded with the interview in English, they wanted to know, "Why you no doctor? Why you no Rawyer?"

moscowexile October 20, 2018 at 9:21 pm
But isn't the selection of African or Asian students who may study in Europe or the USA based more on class? Surely, if you are a Chinese or African – black, brown, sky-blue-with-pink-polka-dots or whatever, you must be bourgeois if you have been allowed to study at Yale or Oxford etc.

In the UK, the working class is becoming increasingly uneducated, and class is not ethnicity.

[Oct 20, 2018] Creating A-Plus Conformists The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Our US students have been taught since at least grade 6, but mostly since school began, that there are only certain acceptable ideas, and genuflecting to those ideas is what makes you the Top Student, the Front Row kid, the one who checks all the boxes to get into Brown or Oberlin or Yale. ..."
"... My brother is a biology professor at an elite liberal arts college in the Midwest. He uses no pronouns with his students, as the demands escalate and change daily. A whole cluster of young female students in the physics department have suddenly declared themselves trans. ..."
"... He says that it is impossible -- absolutely impossible -- to question what is happening in society concerning the abandonment of human biological facts or to have a rational debate about any of this on campus, either among the faculty or with the students. ..."
"... This is 100% correct and also the result of our K-12 education system doing what it was designed to do: engineer certain social outcomes. ..."
"... I grew in a period of suffocating conformity, the dregs of the Cold War hysteria that communists are hiding under your bed and in your anxiety closet to burst out and turn your local church into a museum pretending that a Russian invented the telephone. ..."
"... Somehow, quite a few of us found the means to stand up, to challenge, to question, to dismiss, to lampoon, and most of all, to turn back mindless adjectives accusing us of Thining The Wrong Way. I doubt that any generation coming up now is so mindlessly conformist as the writer insinuates. ..."
"... I also find it ironic that a piece called "Creating A-Plus Conformists" is published by the author of "The Benedict Option". I can't think of a greater force for creating conformity than religious orthodoxy. ..."
"... I have no idea who Alice is. But as a college professor, I find this to be (and this is being charitable) exaggerated nonsense. Has Alice actually ever stood in front of and talked to class of college freshman? ..."
Oct 20, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Creating A-Plus Conformists By Rod DreherOctober 19, 2018, 12:20 PM

Reader Alice comments on the hyperpoliticization of college students:

Understand: they *arrive at universities thinking this way*.

Our US students have been taught since at least grade 6, but mostly since school began, that there are only certain acceptable ideas, and genuflecting to those ideas is what makes you the Top Student, the Front Row kid, the one who checks all the boxes to get into Brown or Oberlin or Yale.

The "best and brightest" accepted to these schools are kids who, consciously or unconsciously, have learned to excel in places by accepting as true the acceptable ideas and never bringing up the unacceptable. Some thoughts are just too dangerous to have. Trajectories that are good for one's future to the Ivies don't allow you to engage these unacceptable ideas. So in school and in other places where one deals with adults, these front row kids learn to believe, or at least be comfortable with parroting, these acceptable ideas. Just as there's a correct answer to a calculus question, there's a correct answer to questions such as why one country is more successful than another, why there are measurable differences in incarceration rates by race (even as there's also a contradictory answer to the question of what is a race), what a nation owes non-citizens vs. citizens, how much training can alter [ ], are sex differences on average innate, are there two sexes, etc.

Meanwhile, if you hear something unacceptable, you've also been equipped with the trump card to demolish the argument: arguer is racist, sexist, bigot. So the Overton window is big for trans rights and little for the role of, say, duty to ones' elders, big for microaggression but little for the personality differences of men and women.

Whether they believe it or not at the beginning is irrelevant. They make the appropriate verbal gestures, they get a reward. After 6-12 years of doing so, they're not capable of engaging in debate or rhetoric, argument from evidence, even following a line of reasoning or recognizing a fallacy. They've never done it, and anyone who tried was actively shut down either calls of "my truth".

On the past, ignorance and obnoxious self regard were demolished by profs rather quickly. What's changed is college profs no longer push back on this crap. They no longer demand argument, reason, and counter argument. They simply are stunned that they share no overlap of consciousness with the students they bequeathed to themselves. They are afraid of them and afraid to stand up to the students or spineless weasel administrators.

MrsDK , says: October 20, 2018 at 10:19 am
I live on the east coast and can only tell you what we see. The public schools teach gender identity ideology, starting in elementary. I didn't even know what that is until our autistic daughter suddenly decided that she's "really a guy", along with a cluster of her school friends, when she was 16. They are 19 now, and two of her friends have had irreversible surgery which has made them sterile.

My brother is a biology professor at an elite liberal arts college in the Midwest. He uses no pronouns with his students, as the demands escalate and change daily. A whole cluster of young female students in the physics department have suddenly declared themselves trans. The mantra of "supporting women in physics!" swiftly changed to "supporting transgender people in physics!"

He says that it is impossible -- absolutely impossible -- to question what is happening in society concerning the abandonment of human biological facts or to have a rational debate about any of this on campus, either among the faculty or with the students.

The unthinkable has happened. An ideology which would have been laughed at as ridiculous on college campuses in the 1980s is now driving social, legal, and medical practice throughout our entire country. If you haven't been affected by this yet, then you will be. Soon.

Chris - the other one , says: October 19, 2018 at 12:51 pm
This is 100% correct and also the result of our K-12 education system doing what it was designed to do: engineer certain social outcomes.

Conservative calls to "de-fund college" over this are misplaced.

Also, the reason that college professors don't stand up to this is because they know that the administration won't have their back if a student accuses them of being racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic. And the administrator won't have their back due to the desire to avoid bad press and students protesting on campus. Give the (vocal) students what they want so everyone stays happy.

Ted Rose , says: October 19, 2018 at 12:54 pm
You could correlate this to the rise of the NPC meme, too, and why the left is so upset by it: they know it's true.
Shelley , says: October 19, 2018 at 12:58 pm
I could not disagree with this more strongly. This is the false argument of broad generalization. The vast majority of schools are not en masses teaching radical SJW thought control. They are doing their best to teach AT ALL given the federal over reach into state public education and the excessive focus on testing and scores and the impact that has on funding.

And certainly anecdote does not equal accumulative data but our personal experience of high school

For our children is that there is zero indoctrination of SJW values coming from the teachers of the institution. Certainly the peer group has SJW people and activities but I'm here to declare that not one teacher or one principal in my district has for e fed my children any SJW dogma. In fact I can list multiple examples of Tim's when I've wondered how teachers got away with things like singing Christian or Jewish music at a choir concert or teaching the Our Father prayer in German or studying the great schism and having my kids present the Orthodox side of the story in World History.

Who knows. Maybe I live in an anomaly. But I wonder if the hyping of crazy SJW stories of abuse in schools has created an image in people's minds that ALL schools are crazy SJW hotbeds.

It's just not true. Public education IS in crisis due to ridiculous over testing and funding that is abysmal. And the majority of people who work in public ed are really just hanging on by their fingernails trying to do their best and make rent!!!

Sure there's a crazy teacher, waka-doodle principal or spineless superintendent that makes the news. And certainly the NEA is an bastion of left leaning ideas, but to make this huge sweep that the kids arriving at University were indoctrinated by their 1st grade teacher and on up through their childhood is just absolutely not true.

It is fear monger it.

Blake , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:02 pm
It's the NPC meme.
Retired debater , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:07 pm
A hundred years or so ago, I was in high school debate. One of the good things about that is we had to learn how to argue either for or against the same thing with equal conviction. Because we were young and inexperienced, i.e. stupid, most of us were pretty liberal, but the idea that there was only one way to think about a problem was completely foreign.
Siarlys Jenkins , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:10 pm
Well, the writer of that comment paints a picture. But that assumes facts not in evidence. I don't have a statistical overview of all the high schools in the country, but I know enough about enough students at enough of them to question whether the above description is The Truth About The Meaning Of Life And Everything.

I grew in a period of suffocating conformity, the dregs of the Cold War hysteria that communists are hiding under your bed and in your anxiety closet to burst out and turn your local church into a museum pretending that a Russian invented the telephone.

Somehow, quite a few of us found the means to stand up, to challenge, to question, to dismiss, to lampoon, and most of all, to turn back mindless adjectives accusing us of Thining The Wrong Way. I doubt that any generation coming up now is so mindlessly conformist as the writer insinuates.

There are two answers to being reflexively called "racist, sexist, bigot."

1) So what?

2) Prove it.

I prefer the second option, but there are other adjectival nouns I would respond to with the first.

Andrew in MD , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:17 pm
This situation will not last. The Social Justice canon is too clearly false and modern people are too rebellious to shoulder it for long. One of the characteristics of liquid modernity is that the pendulum swings more freely than it ever has before. It will be interesting to see, when the Social Justice narrative finally collapses, how much of our foundational mythology goes along with it.

As far as I can tell, our modern dysfunction is a very consistent and rational result of one simple foundational lie: "All men are created equal." The intent of this lie may have been noble but it is self-evidently false. And the Social Justice narrative rests very comfortably upon it. I can't see how it survives the collapse of Social Justice no matter how badly we desire to maintain it.

P.S. I understand the reflexive anger and distrust that most readers will feel upon reading this post. This is certainly a painful idea to grapple with. It is embedded deeply into our many intersecting identities. But what would you say to someone claiming that all pots are created equal? Would you posit that anyone denying this claim is a wok supremacist? No. If two things are not interchangeable, then they are not equal. But this does not mean that one is ultimately superior to the other. Human equality is a comfortable illusion. But we can find better reasons to treat one another with the proper respect and kindness. And in the process we might build a more perfect civilization.

Ready for the Apocalypse , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:25 pm
I don't know if it's deliberate on your part, but the picture on your post reminds me of the new "NPC meme" that is causing outrage among liberals:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/us/politics/npc-twitter-ban.html

SammyF , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:30 pm
Andrew-

The natural follow up for those in power to saying "Some men are more equal than others" is to say "therefore the better men are the ones in power."

No. Being born poor makes it much, much harder to succeed. Having connections puts incompetents and immoral people in power. We need to understand that the rich and powerful *are* usually born with silver spoons in their mouths. Injustice is real. Face it.

joel , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:35 pm
College students today are the first generation in US history to have grown up with openly gay friends and neighbors. They know, from lived experience, that there is nothing wrong with gay people. They know it in their bones.
So, yah, they think differently than we do on sexual issues, and they tune us out when we say things they know to be false.
Mccormick47 , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:41 pm
"Kids, I don't know what's wrong with the kids these days".

So a reader send this in without citing any Support for her conclusions and you tack on a headline about conformism and print it.

One could easily write a companion piece about homeschooled kids going off to some evangelical college where they set aside all reason and accept creationism and the Bible as the sole arbiter of truth. But those kids aren't going to get into "Brown or Oberlin or Yale".

That's where Alice tips her hand. This has nothing to do with the brainwashing or indoctrination of our youth, but that the Brown, Oberlin and Yale graduates are going to end up running this country, while Alice doesn't get, and isn't in anyway entitled too, tell them what to think.

TA , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:55 pm
Our US students have been taught since at least grade 6, but mostly since school began, that there are only certain acceptable ideas, and genuflecting to those ideas is what makes you the Top Student, the Front Row kid, the one who checks all the boxes to get into Brown or Oberlin or Yale.

There has never been a time in history that this hasn't been true.

S , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:58 pm
Rod, the comment is okay, but seems to lack an actual article written around it. Looks quite incomplete both from a literary perspective and from the perspective of the idea.
Pogonip , says: October 19, 2018 at 2:08 pm
I differ with Andrew. Modern people seem much more submissive than when I graduated in 1977.
Matt in VA , says: October 19, 2018 at 2:31 pm
This may sound mawkish, and it's based on just a few years teaching undergrads when I was in grad school, but I think there are a lot of college students who want to be able to say or write something more than the party line, but often they don't know how and have managed to go through high school without having read anything. My students, of both sexes and all races, included a good number of kids who, once I made it clear enough that I didn't want to hear any canned "diversity is excellence" crap or whatever, seemed pretty happy that they could try writing about something else for a change.

There are always the sycophantic apple-polishers whose whole shtick is regurgitating the conventional wisdom at every opportunity, but people hate that kind of person (see Hillary Clinton).

Raskolnik , says: October 19, 2018 at 2:35 pm
Public education IS in crisis due to ridiculous over testing and funding that is abysmal.

Found the NPC

anon_parent , says: October 19, 2018 at 2:37 pm
"Maybe I live in an anomaly"

You could spend some time reading your kids' AP World History and AP US History textbooks to discover the "analytical" grid that everything is rammed through. Good for you/your kids if your local teachers don't teach it in that manner, but trust me, the AP test questions are geared toward certain ideological answers.

Also, when Alice mentioned "My truth" I wondered if she has also had a kid in an elite college prep school. If so, it sure sounds like she and I have come to the same conclusions from experience.

LFC , says: October 19, 2018 at 2:53 pm
Working in IT I get to talk to a lot of young people coming out of college with a variety of degrees. Most have no idea what Alice is talking about. Perhaps if you go for something like a sociology or general liberal arts degree at the most liberal schools in the nation this is true but real students are worried about their fields of study (business, software, UX design, etc.) and the courses that might teach these types of things are fluff electives they skate through and ignore as much as possible.

I also find it ironic that a piece called "Creating A-Plus Conformists" is published by the author of "The Benedict Option". I can't think of a greater force for creating conformity than religious orthodoxy.

TOS , says: October 19, 2018 at 2:59 pm
This post is one big exercise in confirmation bias. There are no facts, just assertions stated firmly enough to convince the already-convinced. I expect better from The American Conservative.

The fact that it's supposedly an example of other peoples' conformity is just the ironic icing on the non-self-aware cake.

Some Wag , says: October 19, 2018 at 3:07 pm
Andrew in MD:

"But what would you say to someone claiming that all pots are created equal?"
That pots are objects with objective value and none inherent, while people are subjects who invest value in objects and possessed of inherent worth that is not objectively comparable, so we shorthand render it "equality". You know, the reason conservatives are supposed to hate 'borshun.

lee , says: October 19, 2018 at 3:14 pm
How can this be true when the be all and end all of our culture is radical individualism?
Jesse , says: October 19, 2018 at 3:41 pm
Actual studies shows actually, what happens in college is professors move left-wing students slightly to the right and right-wing students slightly to the left.
Alice , says: October 19, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Hi Rod, sorry about the typos in the original! Thanks for the raising the comment. I hope it's fruitful.

To some folks saying 'this is an overgeneralization', my comments were in the post re: what's happening at the elite institutions, and so were directed to the set of kids on k-12 that intend to get to such institutions. Those elite univs are more likely to select students with this SJW profile on the first place, yes. But again, the kids intending to go to such places know this is the profile.

To those questioning whether every k-12 school is like this, I ask you to look at the required courses in teaching colleges and master's programs that credential teachers. It's SJWism everywhere all the time, in every single discipline. Math class is about racial equity. Reading class is about gender equity. There's no other lens through which teachers are taught, so this is the lens through which they teach. Read the journals in teaching and see the articles.

To those questioning whether every college is like this, I suggest you look more closely at your community college's bookstore.

I'm in a southern state that voted for Trump. The big city cc offers this required English class,

ENG-111: Writing and Inquiry

'This course is designed to develop the ability to produce clear writing in a variety of genres and formats using a recursive process. Emphasis includes inquiry, analysis, effective use of rhetorical strategies, thesis development, audience awareness, and revision. Upon completion, students should be able to produce unified, coherent, well-developed essays using standard written English. This course will also introduce students to the skills needed to produce a college-level research essay.'

Seems a reasonable course, right? Freshman English.

The Reader for the course in 2017:

Again, you can claim I'm cherry picking, but you will find this in every city in every state.

I'd suggest spending some time reading Haidt and Lukianoff (Coddling of the American Mind) and some of Haidt's blog posts about his talks at high schools. This one is rather an object lesson:
https://heterodoxacademy.org/the-yale-problem-begins-in-high-school/#comment-104

Or read about Edina, MN. https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/07/left-wing-indoctrination-in-the-schools-its-worse-than-you-think.php

Or just listen to vacuous comments of middle school admins. Look at when districts give days off to kids to bus them to anti Trump rallies, and ask yourself if such a place is real pushing a socratic discussion about these points of view.

If you listen closely, you will understand this is everywhere.

Brian in Brooklyn , says: October 19, 2018 at 4:19 pm
Andrew in MD: "If two things are not interchangeable, then they are not equal." Is interchangeability the sole criteron of equality? Could a person argue that since all people are sinners/fallen, they are, therefore, equal? Or are some more sinning or fallen?

The Buddha demonstrated that all people are empty of self – why cannot that suffice for the establishment of equality?

MikeS , says: October 19, 2018 at 4:28 pm
Andrew in MD: some great American (John Randolph?) once said "I do not believe that all men are equal, for the simple reason that it isn't true". So, nothing anger-producing in your post. If giving up this noble lie is what is needed to consign SJWism to the ideological trash bin along with other totalitarian ideologies like Maoism, then out it goes.
Sid Finster , says: October 19, 2018 at 4:36 pm
When I was, in my late college years through my first ten or so years in The Real World, I was a doctrinaire conservative Republican, although not a member of any church or religion.

In a way, this did me some good, because I was attending some elite, some not-so-elite, and all very leftish educational institutions. Often my grades suffered, but I had to learn to marshal facts and formulate arguments that people did not want to hear. Often this was pretty easy, because the people I was arguing with had never really thought about what they believed or why, much less the unspoken assumptions underlying those beliefs, and they had never heard them challenged.

Usually the response was sputtering outrage, but that's a poor substitute for logical argument, especially when I am almost autistic in how little I care what other people think of me. In fact, if you react by being even calmer and more logical, the other person will dissolve into a spitting mad Donald Duck meltdown.

If I had simply gone with the flow, all that was necessary was to recite the correct dogmas and platitudes with adequate conviction and I would have been greeted with hosannas.

They say that a person becomes more conservative as they get older, but the opposite happened to me. I suppose because I enjoy challenging my own beliefs, finding facts that don't fit my own theories and then trying to make sense of them.

I learned that theory didn't always apply in real world conditions and pat answers don't always translate into solutions. (Apply "markets in all the things" to healthcare, for instance.)

They also say that a person becomes more conservative as they become more successful, but that wasn't the case for me either. I suppose to a certain extent, I am successful because I was lucky.

Whatever.

cka2nd , says: October 19, 2018 at 5:17 pm
Honestly, what Shelley wrote sounds more accurate than what Alice did, although I think there is at least a grain of truth in Alice's post, too. And the poster at another one of Rod's pieces who put more of the blame on the Internet than on schools and teachers at any level made sense, too.
G , says: October 19, 2018 at 5:35 pm
Count me skeptical

As much as I find the content on AmCon to be generally thought provoking, the complaint expressed by "Alice" is a recurring sentiment that I think "conservatives" use to cover up shoddy arguments

"I have all these really great ideas and deep insights about race and gender, but every time I try to express them, I get called a bigot, and I'm totally not a bigot, but those dastardly liberals won't even let me make my argument because they are always shouting me down and calling me a bigot, so me and the vast majority of ordinary folks who also agree with me are effectively silenced a shrill few elites, which is totally unfair! Anyone else feel this way? Sad!"

Point #1

Something doesn't jive about the general premise. Summarizing Alice's post as "All the kids today are totally brainwashed by SJWs, and everyone mindlessly goes along with whatever the PC police say". On a related note, last week's major news item was essentially "ordinary Americans were recently polled and 92% of them don't support political correctness and they are totally sick of identity politics and fed up with SJWs -- #WalkAway #RedWave #MAGA"

Am I missing something? Because those don't seem to make sense to be occurring in the same place at the same time. "The kids are totally brainwashed by identity politics and are just a bunch of useful idiots for the Left", BUT "they also see right through it, see that it's a sham, and they thoroughly reject it". Also, "The ordinary folks are cowering in fear, there's nothing they can do about it, the situation is beyond hopeless because the SJWs have effectively silenced all dissent", BUT "there's a revolution about to burst forth because so many ordinary people are mad as hell and not going to take it any more and in November they are going to vote hardcore against all this identity stuff and kick these knuckleheads out of power."

Doesn't make sense. It's one or the other, not both.

Point #2

I don't instinctively believe that all Republicans and Conservatives are bigots. I'm a Conservative. I don't think I'm a bigot. But I do get a little skeptical of a particular handful of my fellow conservatives who always seem to be running around complaining "everyone's always calling me a bigot, everyone's always calling me a bigot, I'm totally not a bigot, but everyone's always calling me a bigot when I express my ideas".

Well, okay, what exactly are these wonderful, totally not bigoted ideas that you have? Would you like to share them with us?

For example, Alice (or anyone else), please illuminate us with the answer to one of the questions that you raised in your post, one of those off-limits questions where people are always unfairly saying that your answer is racist: why there are measurable differences in incarceration rates by race?

Help me to understand, in your own, totally not-bigoted words, what is the answer that we all need the hear, the answer that the SJWs won't let us hear? I promise, promise, promise that I will not call you a racist. This is a safe space for you.

KevinS , says: October 19, 2018 at 5:46 pm
I have no idea who Alice is. But as a college professor, I find this to be (and this is being charitable) exaggerated nonsense. Has Alice actually ever stood in front of and talked to class of college freshman?
John , says: October 19, 2018 at 6:04 pm
The upside is that all the good little Maoists will starve, come some real crises in our society. Good for them that they can make up micro aggressions out of nothing, not so good for them that they won't be able to feed their soy faces when things begin to break down in this nation.

I figured we'd already gone around the useless bend with these people years ago when I was trapped someplace and MTV was playing. Some yoyo on the TV was talking about a show he was producing and soooooo scared that it wasn't going to go right and freaking out and all this, basically over nothing. I then noticed more and more of this type of behavior once I started looking for it. Lots of younger and younger people living in fear of absolutely nothing just fear for its own sake.

Learned fear and helplessness, nothing less or more. You have an increasingly large number of kids who are raised up as sheltered as possible and who have no real will or ability to take care of themselves. Couple that with the ideological vampires that roam higher education these days and you wind up with people who don't really care about whatever cause they're promoting, or what they're protesting, but it becomes all abut trying to drive out any dissenting sound from a basis of fear.

The soy boys are wretched creatures at best, and the harpies who lead them about by the nose are just as pitiful. Kinda dangerous, but only to a point, because all of them value their own skin more than real confrontation or principles (this is kinda true of the alt-right, too, which is why the media always suffers meltdowns at violence that wouldn't even merit a mention in Freikorps-riddled Germany, where the Browns and Reds duke it out regularly and Hitler brandished a pistol, not a Twitter hissy fit).

There's really no upside, just the irritation of living with these people on a daily basis and trying to tune out their BS. Maybe the social credit system will get rolling here and some point, which will be a clue to move to the sticks and learn how to raise organic produce and enjoy the simpler things. Lord knows, none of them are going to want to risk getting mud on their hipster work boots by being in the real country.

Ray Woodcock , says: October 19, 2018 at 6:07 pm
I'm sure Reader Alice is identifying a real phenomenon, but it's funny to see a traditional Christian publishing it. Are we saying the other side is a haven of consistently rational debate ?
Cato , says: October 19, 2018 at 6:57 pm
I teach high school kids for a living. My school is in a high income area and nearly 100% of the kids are college bound, many of them to very selective universities. My experience is that our stronger students take challenging and reasonably balanced courses – they do not arrive to college as leftist zombies. Our weaker students sometimes find a home with the leftists and realize that they can be praised by adults and sometimes even given high grades in politicized but low level classes. These are the ones I worry about. I have a good view of the next generation, and from where I sit the most capable 17 year olds are for more influenced by Lin Manuel Miranda than by Ta Nehisi Coates – and I find that fairly encouraging.
Bob Loblaw , says: October 19, 2018 at 7:13 pm
I taught high school English in the California Bay Area and even there, I encountered only a couple teachers who could be said to have any kind of liberal agenda and to have included it in the classroom. My 3 kids have gone to California public schools (2 of them are currently in high school), in the Bay Area and the Sacramento regions, and we haven't experienced any of what the writer of this post describes. It's been my experience that kids get their political leanings these days mostly from their peers, their media heroes and social media.

Now, college is another matter entirely, but I don't need to tell anyone here that.

charles cosimano , says: October 19, 2018 at 7:17 pm
Ah the joys of high school.

I remember well the time I made the perfectly wise and rational statement in history class that "might makes right," which of course it does. My poor teacher, at his usual loss for words in dealing with my divine wisdom sputtered some foolishness to the effect that, "Hitler had might. Was he right?'

To which I responded, as the Young Voice of God, "Hitler lost."

The look on the poor man's face was worth the price of admission for he had chosen exactly the wrong example to use. He slumped back, defeated, for he had proven me right.

Fear not. The young will grow up and, as their compatriots in Christian schools will, learn to see past the platitudes, knowing that the very idea of justice is a vile thing, incompatible with their personal freedom, and they will end up despising it from their very bones.

That is why the future is Cosimanian Orthodox.

Old West , says: October 19, 2018 at 7:20 pm
Jonathan Haidt has pointed out a key reason why we get such mixed messages about what is really happening.

Millennials get blamed for a lot of this, but most of this stuff is actually the arrival of the first of the immediate post-millennial generation at college, just within the last couple of years.

He points out that this is the first generation to have gone through formative late childhood/early adolescent years experiencing the destructive impact social media throughout their development. (Previous generations encountered it after they were just that bit older and more emotionally stable.)

I can look back at my kids, who were born smack-dab in the middle of the millennial generation, and their high school experience wasn't remotely like anything described above. Granted, they grew up in Old West country, but it was at a very large high school–and as this blog repeatedly points out, nowhere is sheltered from the modern diseases. Their teachers were certainly overwhelmingly liberal, as is true pretty much everywhere these days, no matter how red the state.

If Haidt is right, the experience my millennial kids had (and the experiences that many readers of this blog will be appealing to) is *completely* irrelevant. There is something brand-new just arrived on the scene, and only in the last 2-3 years.

We can argue about whether teachers caused it, culture caused it, social media caused it, parents caused it The question is what we are going to do about it.

RATMDC , says: October 19, 2018 at 7:21 pm
I find this really, really hard to believe. Also, I think I can state (with some degree of confidence) that Alice does, in fact, believe that there is only one answer to her questions about incarceration, national success, etc.

The "best and brightest" come in a few different flavors. A lot of them are the kids who do everything absolutely right, don't seem to rock any particular boats, and are often pretty conservative in various ways, including politically.

Others are those fueled by a desire for justice and reforms, because they've been on the receiving end of injustice, or they've witnessed it and felt sympathy/empathy. These are the ones who often clash with administrators and/or the more entitled demographics among their peers. They're the ones standing by their controversial school newspaper articles, the ones organizing the gay-straight (etc.) alliances in the face of often serious threat, and so on. This isn't happening because they've been indoctrinated, though they may have been inspired by that one English or History teacher.

I know what you think of them.

Seoulite , says: October 19, 2018 at 9:41 pm
As others have said Rod, you've stumbled across the NPC meme. No doubt someone will be along to tell you about how you are dehumanizing people, because having an NPC avatar will get you banned from twitter but calling white people dogs will get you on the editorial board of the NYT.

For those unfamiliar with it, NPC means Non-Player-Character. It comes from video games, although I've read that it appeared in DnD before that. In any case it is mostly relevant to RPG games here. In an RPG game, the player will encounter many NPCs who have a few scripted responses that they will repeat whenever the player talks to them. The meme is that SJWs do not think for themselves, and simply respond to everything with a few scripted responses to any political debate, usually some variation of an 'ist' or an 'ism' or white privilege or lived experience. It has been an effective meme for mocking the left, which is why twitter moved so quickly to shut it down.

So the Overton window is big for trans rights and little for the role of, say, duty to ones' elders, big for microaggression but little for the personality differences of men and women.

This is exactly right, and is actually the reason why the experience of becoming "red-pilled" can be so exhilarating and freeing for many people. Suddenly there are huge areas of discussion and debate that you can explore. It is especially potent because often these areas were once filed under "common sense" or "fairness". Examples include the differences between men and women which are evident to most toddlers, or the intrinsic unfairness of judging people guilty for crimes that were committed hundreds of years before they were born.

The euphoria of this rediscovered freedom can lead people to over-correct, and go very far into conspiracy theories in search of more "truths" which have been considered off-limits. I've seen this in an acquaintance who went far down the rabbit-hole of holocaust denial theories and neo-nazism. I think it became a rush for him to go where others fear to tread, and I think it is somehow connected to the red-pill experience.

[NFR: I found the graphic when I typed "conformity" into Shutterstock's search engine. -- RD]

JimDandy , says: October 19, 2018 at 9:44 pm
Shelley, I don't mean this as an insult, but you are 100% completely out of touch on this issue. My sense is that you don't want to know the truth. This is evidenced by statements like this:

"For our children is that there is zero indoctrination of SJW values coming from the teachers of the institution. Certainly the peer group has SJW people and activities but I'm here to declare that not one teacher or one principal in my district has for e fed my children any SJW dogma."

First of all, this is anecdotal. Secondly, I can ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEE you that your absolutist statement is wrong. Your assertion that you know every single thing that teachers/administrators have "fed" to your children shows how unserious you are about soberly assessing/investigating the situation. You are operating on selective evidence and faith.

We are living in a time where our schools, the mainstream media, the entertainment industry, high ed, and The Democratic party are united in a vitriolic, hysterical insistence that citizens of all ages support The Narrative, OR ELSE.

I think your mindset is shared by many who simply can't accept the fact that what should be the fringe rantings of the occasional "waka-doodle" has become the norm in the leftist controlled institutions I listed above. I hope you all wake up, and see the extremist agenda and actual violence that the left is supporting. If you don't, we will descend into actual civil war. That probably sounds crazy to you, too. I wish you were right.

redbrick , says: October 19, 2018 at 10:58 pm
Andrew in MD

"This situation will not last. The Social Justice canon is too clearly false and modern people are too rebellious to shoulder it for long."

Agree ..I would call it the social justice Koran though ..but unlike the Islamic Koran (Qu'ran) it keeps changing all the time.

One day you're an "ally" the next day you find yourself a "nazi"

Seriously ..just go around campus today saying lines from Obama speeches back in 2008 ."I believe marriage is between a man and a woman" and "immigration must be controlled and the violence on the southern border must be stopped"

Thats now "hate speech"

At least the wahhabis tend to stick to one set of rules.

Selvar , says: October 20, 2018 at 12:01 am
As someone who has spent most of my life in education and higher education, it is not my experience that there is some sort of universal SJW indoctrination. In reality what basically happens is this:
  1. Certain professions at the commanding heights of the culture (journalism, entertainment, academia etc ) are inherently cosmopolitan and tend to disproportionately appeal to liberals/leftists.
  2. Therefore, most college profs, students, and academic types end up being Nice Moderate Liberals. Most are not dogmatic or hateful, and are willing to entertain rational argumentation (to a point). Many–especially the students–are apolitical.
  3. However, centrist liberal hegemony is largely defenseless against radical SJWs, especially if they are ethnic minorities/women making accusations of racism/sexism, and the Nice Moderate Liberals get bullied (sometimes quite literally) into going along with the SJW agenda.

So, for instance, during the big SJW freakouts in places like Yale and Evergreen State, the SJWs were not protesting and shutting down conservatives (too few of them to really matter). They were protesting/assaulting/shutting down moderate liberals.

Seoulite , says: October 20, 2018 at 2:55 am
[NFR: I found the graphic when I typed "conformity" into Shutterstock's search engine. -- RD]

I was referring more to the content of the post than the picture, although the picture itself is not dissimilar from the meme.

Laurie Wolpert , says: October 20, 2018 at 7:10 am
I was and still am a teacher (worked in public schools). Some teachers are liberal, some are conservative. Personal politics does not come into the classroom unless a teacher brings it in. However, standardized testing, funding, and infrastructure spending are all political realities that affect teachers.

The idea that there are teachers indoctrinating your children is a conservative boogeyman. There are a few bad teachers, but they are usually apathetic, not passionate. There are also a few doctors who have sexually abused their clients, but that doesn't demonize the whole health profession.

If parents are so concerned about transmitting values, they are free to homeschool, but it would involve living on one income and re-prioritizing their finances. Many people are not really that concerned about it, but it's easy to decry the fictional bad teachers they imagine are stalking the schools. If public schools did not exist, all of these parents would be forced to educate their own children, and they would realize a small sampling of what teachers contend with on a daily basis.

Please stop painting a false picture of the profession. Public education is a genuine good of democracy. If it disappears completely, people will one day realize what they have lost.

Mark VA , says: October 20, 2018 at 7:22 am
Alice:

I would like to echo reader G's sentiment – paraphrasing G, you've stated your arguments in a detached way, without giving any samples of your own thinking. It's as if you seek some implied consensus on conclusions you are, for some reason, unwilling to share. Your arguments seem to be:

(a) Grade and high school age students are being indoctrinated into "certain acceptable ideas", which they carry to the university;

(b) Universities confirm and deepen this indoctrination: "Some thoughts are just too dangerous to have";

(c) Science and engineering fields lead to objectively correct, singular solutions to given questions. The humanities try to mimic them, by insisting that there are singular solutions to more complex questions as well;

(d) Here you do give us a few hints of these complex questions: some countries are more successful than others, incarceration rates vary by race, what is the correct treatment of non-citizens, the number of sexes, and possibly, a question on IQ;

If I've misunderstood any of your arguments, please correct me. I would also like to echo G's invitation for you to provide a sample of your own thinking on any of these questions. Should you respond, I too promise not to engage in polemics. To encourage you, Alice, for what it's worth, these are my early thoughts on why "one country is more successful than another":

At an individual's level, the basic idea of "success" is biological survival and procreation. At the level of a country (and by that, I mean a nation which embodies a certain culture), it is cultural survival, and handing down of its culture to succeeding generations for preservation and improvement. Thus, at this basic level, the most successful countries are those that faced adversity, even dissolution as states (some for several generations), and still managed to preserve, improve, and pass on their culture till more favorable times. This is one proof, perhaps the strongest, of cultural resilience;

Other measures of "success" are more ephemeral. All countries, if they survive long enough, experience cycles of economic and military ups and downs, cultural rots and regenerations, and demographic changes, to list a few examples. Thus, history decrees that in these matters, no country can expect to be "number one" in perpetuity. In my mind, such passing things are not good indicators of "success". For countries, success depends on those cultural factors that are transmittable and willingly accepted (even embraced and cherished) by succeeding generations. It also depends of each generation to have the wherewithal to continuously adapt and improve them. The next question would be, what are these factors?

JonF , says: October 20, 2018 at 8:11 am
Has anyone considered that these kids (who are certainly no where close to a majority) might be picking up these values at home? Leftwing people also have kids.
Raskolnik , says: October 20, 2018 at 9:11 am

from where I sit the most capable 17 year olds are far more influenced by Lin Manuel Miranda than by Ta Nehisi Coates – and I find that fairly encouraging.

That's supposed to be REASSURING???

RATMDC , says: October 20, 2018 at 9:40 am
You know the way Leah Anthony Libresco first (I think) appeared in the prominent headlines, right?

https://www.democracynow.org/2007/7/3/we_do_not_want_america_to

Publicly standing up against the Bush administration was not the sort of thing that was an unthinking default at the time. I don't think it was the way to get into the best universities. I don't think it was a path prescribed by teachers and the corporate media (though lots of conservatives claimed otherwise).

It represented a struggle for social justice, and an unpopular one at that.

[Oct 19, 2018] Win for Students Having Loans From For-Profit Educational Institutions

Notable quotes:
"... The federal student loan system creates perverse incentives that enable bad actors to prey on students. Without adequate protections for students, these predatory corporations will continue to base their business models on the availability of these loans, with little commitment to providing quality education. ..."
"... These Obama-era protections and remedies were being blocked by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss rejected a request by for-profit college representatives to halt the regulations. Even with the win, the answer from the Department of Education is arrogant in response. Student loan servicers do not hesitate a moment to penalize a borrower with penalties and fees if the are late. ..."
"... DeVos and conservatives have said the Obama-era policies are unfair to colleges and too costly for taxpayers. She has proposed creating a stricter standard for fraud claims and eliminating the ban on mandatory arbitration agreements ..."
Oct 19, 2018 | angrybearblog.com

run75441 | October 18, 2018 10:50 am

A Federal Court cleared the way for students who have been defrauded by for-profit institutions (I hesitate to call them schools).

"This court ruling is a major victory for thousands of students across the country who were defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges taking advantage of our broken student loan system. We commend Attorney General Maura Healey for her leadership fighting for students who were left with thousands of dollars in debt after their for-profit colleges collapsed.

The federal student loan system creates perverse incentives that enable bad actors to prey on students. Without adequate protections for students, these predatory corporations will continue to base their business models on the availability of these loans, with little commitment to providing quality education. "

These Obama-era protections and remedies were being blocked by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss rejected a request by for-profit college representatives to halt the regulations. Even with the win, the answer from the Department of Education is arrogant in response. Student loan servicers do not hesitate a moment to penalize a borrower with penalties and fees if the are late.

"DeVos and conservatives have said the Obama-era policies are unfair to colleges and too costly for taxpayers. She has proposed creating a stricter standard for fraud claims and eliminating the ban on mandatory arbitration agreements.

But DeVos' push to finalize those revised regulations has hit an unexpected snag that will delay having a replacement policy on the books by another year. The Education Department said it won't meet a key Nov. 1 regulatory deadline, meaning that the replacement regulations aren't likely to take effect until July 2020 at the earliest."

Hopefully the State Attorneys and others can convince the Judge to hold Betsy DeVos in contempt for not activating the court's requirements in a reasonable amount of time less than 2 years.

likbez , October 19, 2018 1:15 pm

Under neoliberalism any such victory is temporary and will be eventually rolled back

[Oct 19, 2018] These kids all had 4.0 GPAs when they got into our school, here they were barely passing in my class.

Oct 19, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Anton Worter , Oct 18, 2018 6:46:17 PM | link

47

Adding to what you just said, let me just put this out there as a teacher, and not trying to wag a Big White Triumphal Exceptionalist Stick, our US kids are dumb as rocks too, but this is based on actual experience, and documented records:

My East Asian students showed up to class with no textbooks. They can't afford them in their eyes. $75USD is 1,000,000 rupiahs! When I sighed and said, 'OK, I'll add one more prep to my 16-hour day, and print copies in the teacher's lounge for $25 apiece, if anyone wants one, see me after class.'

An East Asian kid came up to me with a $20, and I'm like, what? He says, and I quote, "Does this mean I'll get an A?"
I always try to learn the local lingo, and be non-judgmental, but I am a teacher and grading is part of the job and you have to hold the line. So I said, 'No!' He got rather upset, thinking I was raising my asking price! $20 always worked for him to get an A before, back in East Asia.

So now I'm getting perturbed. These kids all had 4.0 GPAs when they got into our school, here they were barely passing in my class. Is it ESL language? Is it my presentation? So I got hold of an East Asian teacher and got the East Asian grading rubric: >70% is an A, >80% is an A+! That's nuts! In the USA, 70% is just barely passing, and you need 95% for an A+! So there was zero parity between rubrics. They're passing them through as 4.0's for bribes and H-2B student visa fees!

So I mention this to my Dean, he smiles, and says, 'You're job is just to make sure they all pass." H-2Bs is a big, big money maker for US colleges. I had to give them the final exam three times, dumbing it down each time. The last time, we read the exam questions and the answers out loud together, then I gave them the test. Two of them STILL did not pass, and I got called in and got my ass chewed!

That's why you see so many smiling East Asian students everywhere. Half of the classes, at least, are East Asian. So when an East Asian 'college' (sic) graduate claiming an A+ East Asian GPA, their East Asian colleges even docent the after-graduation testing for graduate school! They don't have independent SAT or GRE exam boards, their colleges do the grading!

But let's drill down one more layer. I got to meet the now-a-Green Card mother of one of my students, and we had a little Asian food buffet and then she's asking me how her kid is doing, and you know, what do you say? Then she tells me, they paid $20,000USD to get the visas! Their whole family back in East Asia is in hock to the human-trafficker mafiyas, and that's why the "A+" schtick and why the 'just make sure they pass' pipeline, is to get them over here so they can do IT coding or pluck chickens or drive for Uber or whatever , to keep their family in East Asia from being bludgeoned.

So let's build a $TRILLION wall, for East Asians to fly over by the jumbo-jet load, 10 plane flights every day, and we'll call it MAGA! and WINNING! and 'lowest unemployment on record' ... because all the new jobs are going to East Asians.
E pluribus now get back to work. Oh, and remember to vote! Really get high-fever pitched! DRINK THE RED AND BLUE KOOLAID!

[Oct 18, 2018] Student Debt Bondage Becoming More Widespread naked capitalism

Oct 18, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

A fresh story at Bloomberg, which includes new analysis, shows the ugly student debt picture is getting uglier. The driver is that higher education costs keep rising, often in excess of the likely wages for graduates. The article's grim conclusion: "The next generation of graduates will include more borrowers who may never be able to repay."

Student debt is now the second biggest type of consumer debt in the US. At $1.5 trillion, is is second only to the mortgage market, and is also bigger than the subprime market before the crisis, which was generally pegged at $1.3 trillion. 1 Bloomberg also points out that unlike other categories of personal debt, student debt balances has shown consistent, or one might say persistent, growth since the crisis.

From the article:

Student loans are being issued at unprecedented rates as more American students pursue higher education . But the cost of tuition at both private and public institutions is touching all-time highs , while interest rates on student loans are also rising. Students are spending more time working instead of studying . (Some 85 percent of current students now work paid jobs while enrolled.) Experts and analysts worry that the next generation of graduates could default on their loans at even higher rates than in the immediate wake of the financial crisis.

The last sentence is alarming. As graduates of the class of 2009 like UserFriendly can attest, the job market was desperate. And for the next few years, the unemployment rate of new college graduates was higher than that of recent high school graduates. One of the corollaries of that is that more college graduates than before were taking work that didn't require a college degree; this is still a significant trend today. And on top of that, studies have found that early career earnings have a significant impact on lifetime earnings. While there are always exceptions, generally speaking, pay levels key off one's earlier compensation, so starting out at a lower income level is likely to crimp future compensation.

And on top of that, interest costs are rising. The rate for direct undergraduate loans is 5% and for graduate and professional schools, 6.6%. So student debt costs will also go up even before factoring in inflating school costs. So the ugly picture of delinquencies and defaults is destined to get worse.

Students attending for-profit universities and community colleges represented almost half of all borrowers leaving school and beginning to repay loans in 2011. They also accounted for 70 percent of all defaults. As a result, delinquencies skyrocketed in the 2011-12 academic year, reaching 11.73 percent.

Today, the student loan delinquency rate remains almost as high, which Scott-Clayton attributes to social and institutional factors, rather than average debt levels. "Delinquency is at crisis levels for borrowers, particularly for borrowers of color, borrowers who have gone to a for-profit and borrowers who didn't ultimately obtain a degree," she said, highlighting that each cohort is more likely to miss repayments on their loans than other public and private college students.

Those most at risk of delinquency tend to be, counterintuitively, those who've incurred smaller amounts of debt, explained Kali McFadden, senior research analyst at LendingTree. Graduates who leave school with six-figure degrees that are valued in the marketplace -- such as post-graduate law or medical degrees -- usually see a good return on their investment.

I'm a little leery of cheerful generalizations like "big ticket borrowers for professional degrees do better." "Better" may still not be that good. Recall that law school and in the last year, business school enrollments have fallen because candidates question whether the hard costs and loss of income while in school will pay off. And there are some degrees, like veterinary medicine, that are so pricey it's hard to see how they could possibly make economic sense.

What is distressing about this ugly picture is the lack of effective activism by the victims. I am sure some are trying, but in addition to the burden of being so overwhelmed by the debt burden as to lack the time and energy to do anything beyond cope, is the fact that being in debt is stigmatized in our society, and borrowers may not want to deal with condescension and criticism. Another obstacle to organizing is that most of the victims are lower income and/or from minority groups, which means Team Dem can ignore them on the usual assumption that they have nowhere else to go. It is also harder to create an effective coalition across disparate economic, geographic, and age groups

But the experience of the post-Civil War South says things could get a lot worse. From Matt Stoller in 2010:

A lot of people forget that having debt you can't pay back really sucks. Debt is not just a credit instrument, it is an instrument of political and economic control.

It's actually baked into our culture. The phrase 'the man', as in 'fight the man', referred originally to creditors. 'The man' in the 19th century stood for 'furnishing man', the merchant that sold 19th century sharecroppers and Southern farmers their supplies for the year, usually on credit. Farmers, often illiterate and certainly unable to understand the arrangements into which they were entering, were charged interest rates of 80-100 percent a year, with a lien places on their crops. When approaching a furnishing agent, who could grant them credit for seeds, equipment, even food itself, a farmer would meekly look down nervously as his debts were marked down in a notebook. At the end of a year, due to deflation and usury, farmers usually owed more than they started the year owing. Their land was often forfeit, and eventually most of them became tenant farmers.

They were in hock to the man, and eventually became slaves to him. This structure, of sharecropping and usury, held together by political violence, continued into the 1960s in some areas of the South. As late as the 1960s, Kennedy would see rural poverty in Arkansas and pronounce it 'shocking'. These were the fruits of usury, a society built on unsustainable debt peonage.

Sanders has made an issue of student debt, but politicians who want big bucks from financiers and members of the higher education complex pointedly ignore this issue. As we've pointed out, top bankruptcy scholar Elizabeth Warren won't even endorse a basic reform, that of making student debt dischargable in bankruptcy. So it may take student debtors becoming a bigger percentage of voters for this issue to get the political traction it warrants.

______

1 Higher estimates typically included near subprime mortgages then called "Alt A".

Geo , October 18, 2018 at 5:02 am

There are many, many passages in this obscure old book called The Bible speaking of usury as a grave sin. So many it is actually one of the most clear and condemned sins in the entire book. Maybe we could see if any of our Congress persons have ever heard of it? They could learn something from it regarding this topic.
That said, it's passages on gender equality and family structures are pretty outdated and abhorrent so I wouldn't want them to get any bad ideas from this book on those subjects.

https://www.openbible.info/topics/usury

Neujack , October 18, 2018 at 5:56 am

Indeed, all of the old "Iron Age religions" (Judaism, Early Christianity, and Islam) explicitly denounce usury.

The great irony of the Deep South in te USA is that they've been frequently banning Sharia law, even when Sharia law is one of the few types of law in the world which explicitly bans charging interest.

L , October 18, 2018 at 9:57 am

It is always intriguing how many politicians are so eager to endorse a literalist fealty to the social structures of the bible but ignore, or even vehemently rail against, the more balanced social restrictions on things like usury or the old idea of a debt jubilee. But then Jesus himself railed (physically) against embedding money in religion and now we have "entrepreneurial churches" who preach a "doctrine of prosperity" so I guess times have changed.

xformbykr , October 18, 2018 at 11:23 am

Michael Hudson wrote about the history of 'debt jubilees' and debt cancellation today.

https://michael-hudson.com/2018/01/could-should-jubilee-debt-cancellations-be-reintroduced-today/

Pete , October 18, 2018 at 5:46 am

I graduated 10 years ago and the most frustrating part was everyone telling me it would be alright and ignoring thw whole you never recover thing. I am still unable to find worthwhile employment and probably never will be able to.

kurtismayfield , October 18, 2018 at 6:56 am

You really can't listen to many of us over 40.. we really lived in complete my different conditions. When I got out of college in the 90's they were basically hiring everyone with a pulse in tech. From what I have seen from recent graduates it's getting easier, as I am seeing a lot more intershops turn into job offers. But for the generation that you are part of, it's an economic hole that may never be recovered from simply because you were born at the wrong time.

Looking at that graph, notice how the only debt that is backstopped completely by the federal government is growing the fastest. The no default on student loans rules have to be rescinded.

Big River Bandido , October 18, 2018 at 10:05 am

I graduated in the 1990s, and if you were not in tech, the job market was just as lousy as it is now.

The Rev Kev , October 18, 2018 at 6:13 am

Extrapolating from these trends, then in a few years the only young people that would be able to afford higher education in the United States would the the children of the ten per cent – plus a smattering of scholarships to talented individuals found worthy of supporting. It follows then that as these educated people entered the workforce, that over time that the people that would be running the country would be children of the elite in a sort of inbred system. It sounds a lot like 19th century class-based Britain that if you ask me.
As for the country itself it would be disastrous. Going by present population levels, it would mean that instead of recruiting the leaders and thinkers of the country from the present population of 325 million, that at most you would be recruiting them from a base level of about 30-40 million. It is to be hoped that these people are not from the shallow end of the gene pool. You can forget about any idea of an even-handed meritocracy and America would be competing against countries that might employ the idea of a full meritocracy in the recruitment of their leaders. I wonder how that might work out.

Brooklin Bridge , October 18, 2018 at 6:46 am

You could put that whole paragraph in the present tense quite nicely.

Eclair , October 18, 2018 at 6:56 am

"I wonder how that might work out." Ummm . the Monty Pythons had an idea in the 1970's.

The "Upper Class Twit of the Year" competition. Gotta love the "Kick a Beggar" event.

Henry Moon Pie , October 18, 2018 at 5:13 pm

"America would be competing against countries that might employ the idea of a full meritocracy in the recruitment of their leaders. I wonder how that might work out"

Would the performance of U. S. men in international soccer competition be a similar situation?

eg , October 18, 2018 at 6:40 am

Why is America so determined to reconstruct an aristocracy its founders abhorred?

zagonostra , October 18, 2018 at 8:41 am

They only abhorred the British aristocracy, they framed to Constitution to create a home grown one; and, they succeeded beyond their wildest dream.

Matthew , October 18, 2018 at 10:00 am

Because they think it will help them stay rich?

Big River Bandido , October 18, 2018 at 10:06 am

an aristocracy its founders abhorred

Alexander Hamilton liked the idea very much. It's why the musical is SO popular among the neoliberal set.

KYrocky , October 18, 2018 at 11:47 am

The concept of student debt as it exists today would be repulsive to our Founders. Not just for the larger issue of our country being on the trajectory of becoming an economic aristocracy, but specifically because the Federal government is profiting tremendously from this crushing usury being applied to majority and the least among us.
Our Founders had no problem with the conquest and seizure of Native Americans land, and they fully respected the rights and claims of other European countries to do the same. One of their strongest repudiations of the aristocracy was the expansion of private property rights beyond what was known under any monarchy on the planet to that point in history. In the pre-industrial world the vast majority of people lived in an agrarian society and economy. Owning land secured you with your livelihood, your living, and much of your resources; it fully supported most families.

For its founding and for generation after generation the United States government gave land to countless men for military service, government service, homesteds, etc. Expansions by the Louisiana Purchase and war and treaties with other European nations, quickly resulting in making these lands available for settlement to our citizens and to immigrants.

The point is that for well over 100 years the government provided to its citizens a huge amount of what our citizens needed to live their lifetimes through these grants of land. These land grants were then passed from generation to generation and formed the economic foundations for millions of people, their children and their next generations.

Our Government did this.

The United States ceased to be a predominantly agrarian country in the mid 20th century. But they did not stop aiding our people and their economic needs. Our government (Federal and states) did continue to provide to our population through public education (very affordable college), the GI Bill that served millions with income, housing and educational benefits, Social Security, Medicare, etc.

Since our country's very founding our government has recognized the benefit and need to facilitate the support of its citizens. The American economy became the greatest on earth because of our land conquest heritage and our collective investments as a nation. No one did it all on their own, and no one pretended they did.

Reagan killed this legacy. Reagan claimed that our nations success and our heritage was built on our history of rugged individualism and that our government was the obstacle to returning to these roots. It was a lie; nothing could have been further from the truth.

Student debt, as it exists to day, is crippling the economic futures of the millions who have accrued this debt and the millions to come, year after year, who will do the same. The student is debt is robbing our nation of the economic activity that historically matriculated out from those passing from college to the world. That has come almost to an end. Worse yet, our government has positioned itself to also profit off this debt, and to prevent the indebted from escaping this type of debt through the legal means available for virtually all other forms of debt.

Our student debt is un-American. It is a cancer on our economy. It exists for the vast short term profit of the few at the expense of our nations future.

Avalon Sparks , October 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Amazing essay, thank you!

zagonostra , October 18, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Admirable and well thought-out post.

I hope people keep in mind it was the Democrats, specifically Joe Biden, who made student debt even more crippling and heartless by changing the bankruptcy laws so that creditors can garnish your Social Security benefits (assuming Mitch McConnell doesn't gut them first).

Republicans are open about what they hope to accomplish, you have to clear the verbal BS that clouds what Democrats are after, but at the end of the day they are both about enslavement and debt bondage over unwashed masses.

Mobee , October 18, 2018 at 7:32 am

I'm sure it's often the parents that end up paying the debt, as my sister is doing. Parents have deep pockets and are desperate to help their loved ones get a good start in life.

In my sister's case, they sent their girls to private high school, where they spent the money that could have paid for college. Not a smart decision. But they love their children and really wanted to do give them the best.

Now the girls are struggling to make a living and my sister cannot afford to retire.

Musicismath , October 18, 2018 at 8:18 am

There are so many feedback loops, multipliers, and perverse incentives driving forward this bubble (and its calamitous social and cultural effects) that it's hard to know where to begin.

As Goldman Sachs have pointed out , student-loan-based securities are increasingly "attractive" investments for speculators:

Although the "bubble" is getting bigger, it's not a risk to overall financial stability, Goldman's Marty Young and Lotfi Karoui said in a recent note. In fact, there's one segment of the market that's emerging as an attractive investment.

It's the $190 billion of outstanding [student] loans that are held within asset-backed securities (ABS) refinanced by private lenders such as SoFi.

With these securities, lenders pool loans that have similar risk profiles and sell them as instruments in the public markets. Investors profit as graduates pay back their principal and interest.

So the more student debt there is, and the higher the interest rates are, the better, from that perspective.

It's undeniable, too, that high student loan burdens mean graduates are slower to form households and will probably have fewer children than they would otherwise. Their diminished spending power, meanwhile, adds to the ongoing erosion of the "real economy," in favour of the financial one. Student loans therefore disrupt the basic means of social reproduction. The resulting declines in fertility then demand high rates of immigration to compensate. A fact cheered on, inevitably, by the open borders crowd (a substantial number of whom, oddly or not, seem to work in or for universities).

So we see yet another instance in which "right" neoliberalism and "left" identitarianism go hand in hand–forming, indeed, two heads of the same beast. Student loans have enabled the enormous inflation in tuition costs that have plagued the Anglosphere over the last couple of decades. This fees income feeds the academic beast (or at least its administrators and senior managers), while driving the one economic and social crisis (mass migration and the resulting populist backlash) that "left neoliberals," centrists, and Clinton/Progress types appear to care about. It's a self-licking ice cream of catastrophic size and reach.

Petunia , October 18, 2018 at 9:09 am

One specific example: hospital chaplains are facing a big retirement crisis. And yet the job requires (to be hoard certified): an undergraduate degree & then a Master's of Divinity degree, plus a year-long residency. For a job that pays around $60,000 to $70,000. At least one school, Princeton, funds almost all of their divinity students. But I don't think it's the norm. And then you throw in the fact that such person ideally would be emotionally & spiritually mature, with enough life experience to meet with a wide range of people, who are often facing financial hardship due to being sick (as well as existential concerns). I don't even know how to begin reframing the job or the qualifications or the salary to fit America in 2020. There are a lot of other angles, such as: what about well-qualified people who can't afford seminary? I know there needs to be a way to screen-out and screen-in the best people (who won't proselytize), but is a Master's degree the right hurdle? But, I must say, the need for access to interfaith Spiritual Care is only increasing, as times get tougher & other hospital staff (RNs) don't have time to sit and listen. People are in pain, not only in their bodies. One thought leader in the field has speculated that the job will just go away due to lack of advocacy & inability to evolve into a profit center.

redleg , October 18, 2018 at 9:23 am

It would be interesting to see that student loan debt chart superimposed over %adjuncts and number of administrators. Its pretty easy to guess what that would look like, but seeing that would be decisive.

Fiddler Hill , October 18, 2018 at 2:39 pm

I think a little delineation is in order. I've been an adjunct professor and believe the increasing use of adjuncts at universities has been very beneficial overall -- in terms of the quality of education students are getting. Unfortunately, as we know, that's not why universities are hiring so many more adjuncts; they're being hired because schools can get away with paying them abysmally.

The situation is so embarrassing that, at the university where I was teaching five years ago, the full-time faculty passed a resolution asking the administration to give the entire projected increase in teaching salaries entirely to the adjuncts, an amazing act of selflessness.

The relevance to our discussion here, of course, is the insupportable increase in the annual cost of attending college even as the schools radically reduce their overall expenditures on faculty salaries.

Di Modica's Dumb Steer , October 18, 2018 at 9:49 am

So how long before this leads to a mass "We Won't Pay" movement? I'm stuck on the dumb treadmill myself, but I wouldn't begrudge an entire generation for just saying no. Sure, they can garnish wages and the like, but if 30 million people simultaneously say 'eff this', it's more than just a wrench in the works it's drastic enough to force action.

DolleyMadison , October 18, 2018 at 10:45 am

Why DO they keep paying? The debts are always bought by debt collectors who don't even have COPIES promissory notes. Let them sue you and show up for the hearing and demand proof. They can still ruin your "credit" but if student loans haven't taught you to eschew credit nothing will. If EVERYONE "walked away" what could they do?

Tangled up in Texas , October 18, 2018 at 11:01 am

Unfortunately that is never going to happen. This society has been trained to worship at the altar of the FICO score, and most job seekers cannot afford to have a low score. Said score will be examined and potentially held against you when pursuing employment.

Also, employers frown upon employees who do not pay their bills and then have their wages garnished – at least the smaller emlpoyers do. This creates extra work for the employer and makes the employee suspect, as in irresponsible.

This problem was created by the political class and is going to require a political solution, i.e. legislation to assist the student loan borrower or a debt jubilee. Unfortunately, there's too much money being made off the student borrower – even if the practice is killing the host. And the "I got mine" crowd will not allow a jubilee even if it is for the greater good of society. Lastly, student loan borrowers coming from a different era (who have paid off their loans) will begrudge the forgiving of the loans and consider them undeserved. In this case, perhaps the best resolution is to give everyone money toward their student loans – whether they are currently paid or unpaid.

I cannot jeopardize my employment by joining in a "eff this" movement as much as I would like to. Instead, I will continue on this treadmill called life, pay my bills and hope to escape as unscathed as possible.

Harrison Bergeron , October 18, 2018 at 1:42 pm

I work for a company that contracts with department of Ed to get student loan borrowers out if default and back into the hands of loan servicers. The amount of money sloshing around is stunning. I'm sure they've got well paid lobbyists telling legislators that people will be unemployed if student loans are reformed. I owe well over six figures so the irony is not lost on me. Hiring one half of the working class to debt collect from the other.

Tomonthebeach , October 18, 2018 at 2:58 pm

Who pays for diploma-mill educations, and why? I have always assumed that people attended cash-n-carry schools because they did not qualify aptitude/grade-wise for entrance to a state school, OR a 3rd party like DOD or VA was footing the tab. Both assumptions appear to be supported by data. Given the far-above-average drop/flunkout rate of diploma mills. I know from my military career that enlisted members sign up for courses (local or online) at diploma mills to get extra points toward promotions – at Navy expense. Personally, I would not pay to send my dog to such institutions to learn how to sit up and beg.

One thing is certain, collich kidz do not appear to spend nearly as much time researching where they go to $chool as they do buying the car they drive.

Democrita , October 18, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Jumping into the conversation a little late, but my alma mater recently embarked on a major rethink of the college business model, and cut tuition from around 50k to around 30k. We even got a writeup from Frank Bruni for it .

College officials (I'm relatively active as a fundraiser for my class) describe it as a shift to a "philanthropy model" of funding. Which worries me for lots of reasons. But at least it's a conversation-starter.

It's also very much a school that is not for people looking to buy a future income flow, but rather an education.

[Oct 08, 2018] What an Audacious Hoax Reveals About Academia

Notable quotes:
"... Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview. ..."
"... This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous. For many, this problem has been growing increasingly obvious, but strong evidence has been lacking. For this reason, the three of us just spent a year working inside the scholarship we see as an intrinsic part of this problem." ..."
"... We spent that time writing academic papers and publishing them in respected peer-reviewed journals associated with fields of scholarship loosely known as "cultural studies" or "identity studies" (for example, gender studies) or "critical theory" because it is rooted in that postmodern brand of "theory" which arose in the late sixties. ..."
Oct 08, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Dr. Buddy Tubside , Oct 8, 2018 3:41:22 AM | link

What an Audacious Hoax Reveals About Academia

Three scholars wrote 20 fake papers using fashionable jargon to argue for ridiculous conclusions.

Harvard University's Yascha Mounk writing for The Atlantic:

"Over the past 12 months, three scholars -- James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian -- wrote 20 fake papers using fashionable jargon to argue for ridiculous conclusions, and tried to get them placed in high-profile journals in fields including gender studies, queer studies, and fat studies. Their success rate was remarkable


Sokal Squared doesn't just expose the low standards of the journals that publish this kind of dreck, though. It also demonstrates the extent to which many of them are willing to license discrimination if it serves ostensibly progressive goals.

This tendency becomes most evident in an article that advocates extreme measures to redress the "privilege" of white students.

Exhorting college professors to enact forms of "experiential reparations," the paper suggests telling privileged students to stay silent, or even BINDING THEM TO THE FLOOR IN CHAINS

If students protest, educators are told to "take considerable care not to validate privilege, sympathize with, or reinforce it and in so doing, recenter the needs of privileged groups at the expense of marginalized ones. The reactionary verbal protestations of those who oppose the progressive stack are verbal behaviors and defensive mechanisms that mask the fragility inherent to those inculcated in privilege."

In an article for Areo magazine, the authors of the hoax explain their motivation: "Something has gone wrong in the university -- especially in certain fields within the humanities.

Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview.

This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous. For many, this problem has been growing increasingly obvious, but strong evidence has been lacking. For this reason, the three of us just spent a year working inside the scholarship we see as an intrinsic part of this problem."

We spent that time writing academic papers and publishing them in respected peer-reviewed journals associated with fields of scholarship loosely known as "cultural studies" or "identity studies" (for example, gender studies) or "critical theory" because it is rooted in that postmodern brand of "theory" which arose in the late sixties.

As a result of this work, we have come to call these fields "grievance studies" in shorthand because of their common goal of problematizing aspects of culture in minute detail in order to attempt diagnoses of power imbalances and oppression rooted in identity.

We undertook this project to study, understand, and expose the reality of grievance studies, which is corrupting academic research.

Because open, good-faith conversation around topics of identity such as gender, race, and sexuality (and the scholarship that works with them) is nearly impossible, our aim has been to reboot these conversations.''

To read more, see Areo magazine + "academic grievance studies and the corruption of scholarship"

[Sep 29, 2018] True, this "living wage" issue has become now America's chronic illness.

Sep 29, 2018 | www.unz.com

Andrei Martyanov , says: Website August 11, 2017 at 8:18 pm GMT

@iffen

Employment at less than a living wage is not "employment."

True, this "living wage" issue has become now America's chronic illness. Once one begins to look at the real estate dynamics, even for a good earners living in such places as Seattle, Portland (not to speak of L.A. or SF) becomes simply not affordable, forget buying anything decent. Hell, many rents are higher than actual mortgages, however insane they already are.

[Sep 20, 2018] What do you say about libertarians?

A lot of people see society in organic terms, and think the maintenance of the whole over-rides the welfare of any particular bit – even if that particular bit happens to be themselves (Trump recently hit this theme when he tweeted that "patriotic" Americans were prepared to sacrifice for the greater good in the trade war).
Heirarchy is probably unavoidable, not for reasons of individual difference but because one-to-many organisation is the only form that scales readily. We can all have an equal voice on a jury, but not when building a henge or a operating a car-factory.
Notable quotes:
"... A lot of non-conservatives have a very difficult time grappling with the notion that a commitment to inequality, that a belief in the inherent superiority of some people over others, that one group has the the right to rule and dominate others, is a moral belief. ..."
"... Since, according to this argument, you are amongst other things, your social class, I cannot judge your moral actions unless I understand your social circumstances. But morality is a form of judgement, or to put it another way a ranking. Morality is means nothing unless I can say: 'you are more moral then him, she is more moral than you' and so on. (Nietzsche: 'Man is Man the esteemer' i.e. someone who ranks his or her fellow human beings: human beings cannot be morally equal or the phrase has no meaning). ..."
"... Therefore, unless people have a role in life (i.e. butcher, baker, candlestick maker) then morality collapses (this is the weak point in the argument and if you wanted to tear the whole edifice down you would start here). ..."
"... And of course this social order must be hierarchical, or else anyone can be anything one wants to be, and in that case, who will sweep the streets? ' ..."
"... In other words Conservatives believe that without hierarchy, without ranking and without a stratified (and therefore meaningful) social order, morality actually disintegrates. You simply cannot have a morality without these things: everything retreats into the realm of the subjective. Conservatives don't believe that things like the Khmer Rouge's Killing Fields, the Great Terror, the Cultural Revolution are bad things that happened to happen: they believe that they are the necessary and inevitable end result of atheistical, relativistic, egalitarian politics. ..."
"... To the Right, the Left has no morality, as they understand the term, and cannot in fact do so. Leftist morality is a contradiction in terms, in this worldview. ..."
Sep 20, 2018 | crookedtimber.org

Hidari 09.18.18 at 8:50 am ( 105 )

I think this is an incredibly important point here:

'One last point: A lot of non-conservatives have a very difficult time grappling with the notion that a commitment to inequality, that a belief in the inherent superiority of some people over others, that one group has the the right to rule and dominate others, is a moral belief. For many people, particularly on the left, that idea is not so much immoral as it is beyond the pale of morality itself. So that's where the charge that I'm being dismissive or reductive comes from, I'm convinced. Because I say the animating idea of the right is not freedom or virtue or limited government but instead power and privilege, people, and again I see this mostly from liberals and the left, think I'm making some sort of claim about conservatism as a criminal, amoral enterprise, devoid of principle altogether, whereas I firmly believe I'm trying to do the exact opposite: to focus on where exactly the moral divide between right and left lies.'

Both the Right and the Left, think that they are moral. And yet they disagree about moral issues. How can this be?

The solution to this problem is to see that when Rightists and Leftists use the word 'moral' they are using the word in two different (and non compatible) senses. I won't dwell on what the Left mean by morality: I'm sure most of you will be familiar with, so to speak, your own moral code.

What the Right mean by morality is rather different, and is more easily seen in 'outliers' e.g. right wing intellectuals like Evelyn Waugh and T.S. Eliot rather than politicians. Intellectuals can be rather more open about their true beliefs.

The first key point is to understand the hostility towards 'abstraction': and what purposes this serves. Nothing is more alien to right wing thought that the idea of an Abstract Man: right wing thought is situational, contextual (one might even call it relativistic) to the core. de Maistre states this most clearly: 'The (French) constitution of 1795, like its predecessors, has been drawn up for Man. Now, there is no such thing in the world as Man . In the course of my life, I have seen Frenchmen, Italians, Russians, etc.; I am even aware, thanks to Montesquieu, that one can be a Persian. But, as for Man, I declare that I have never met him in my life.'

This sounds postmodern to us, even Leftist (and of course Marx might have given highly provisional approval to this statement). But the question is not: is this statement true? It's: 'what do the right do with this statement?'

Again to quote another reactionary thinker Jose Ortega y Gasseett: 'I am myself plus my circumstances'. Again this is simply a definition of contextualism. So what are your circumstances? They are, amongst other things, your social circumstances: i.e. your social class.

Since, according to this argument, you are amongst other things, your social class, I cannot judge your moral actions unless I understand your social circumstances. But morality is a form of judgement, or to put it another way a ranking. Morality is means nothing unless I can say: 'you are more moral then him, she is more moral than you' and so on. (Nietzsche: 'Man is Man the esteemer' i.e. someone who ranks his or her fellow human beings: human beings cannot be morally equal or the phrase has no meaning).

But I can't hermeneutically see what moral role you must play in life, I cannot judge you, unless I have some criteria for this judgement, and for this I must know what your circumstances are.

Therefore, unless people have a role in life (i.e. butcher, baker, candlestick maker) then morality collapses (this is the weak point in the argument and if you wanted to tear the whole edifice down you would start here). Because unless we know what one's social role is then we can't assess whether or not people are living 'up to' that role. And of course this social order must be hierarchical, or else anyone can be anything one wants to be, and in that case, who will sweep the streets? '

And if anyone has any smart arse points to raise about that idea, God usually gets roped in to function, literally, as a Deux ex Machina.

' The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.'

Clive James put it best when discussing Waugh: 'With no social order, there could be no moral order. People had to know their place before they knew their duty he (and, more importantly society) needed a coherent social system (i.e. an ordered social system, a hierarchical social system)'

In other words Conservatives believe that without hierarchy, without ranking and without a stratified (and therefore meaningful) social order, morality actually disintegrates. You simply cannot have a morality without these things: everything retreats into the realm of the subjective. Conservatives don't believe that things like the Khmer Rouge's Killing Fields, the Great Terror, the Cultural Revolution are bad things that happened to happen: they believe that they are the necessary and inevitable end result of atheistical, relativistic, egalitarian politics. Social 'levelling', destroying meaningful (i.e. hierarchical ('organic' is the euphemism usually used)) societies will usually, not always but usually, lead to genocide and/or civil war. Hence the hysteria that seizes most Conservatives when the word relativism is used. And their deep fear of postmodernism, a small scale, now deeply unfashionable art movement with a few (very few) philosophical adherents: as it destroys hierarchy and undermines one's capacity to judge and therefore order one's fellow human beings, it will tend to lead to the legalisation of pedophilia, the legalisation of rape, the legalisation of murder, war, genocide etc, because, to repeat, morality depends on order. No social order= no morality.

Hence the Right's deep suspicion of the left's morality. To the Right, the Left has no morality, as they understand the term, and cannot in fact do so. Leftist morality is a contradiction in terms, in this worldview.

[Sep 16, 2018] Challenging Freedom: Neoliberalism and the Erosion of Democratic Education by Robert Karaba

"Teaching to the test" is a perversion of education. Excessive quantification is bad. Both are primary features of neoliberal education.
Notable quotes:
"... If we care about the prospects of democratic education, we must take neoliberalism's success seriously, for it is a philosophical framework in which freedom and democratic education are mutually exclusive. ..."
"... We must intentionally challenge the neoliberal notion of the value freedom and the usefulness of its associated philosophical assumptions. ..."
Sep 16, 2018 | democracyeducationjournal.org

Goodlad, et al. (2002) rightly point out that a culture can either resist or support change. Schein's (2010) model of culture indicates observable behaviors of a culture can be explained by exposing underlying shared values and basic assumptions that give meaning to the performance. Yet culture is many-faceted and complex. So Schein advised a clinical approach to cultural analysis that calls for identifying a problem in order to focus the analysis on relevant values and assumptions. This project starts with two assumptions:

  1. The erosion of democratic education is a visible overt behavior of the current U.S. macro-culture, and
  2. This is a problem.

I intend to use this problem of the erosion of democratic education as a basis for a cultural analysis. My essential question is: What are the deeper, collective, competing value commitments and shared basic assumptions that hinder efforts for democratic education? The purpose of this paper is to start a conversation about particular cultural limitations and barriers we are working with as we move toward recapturing the civic mission of education.

... ... ...

Neoliberalism's success in infiltrating the national discourse shuts out alternative discourses and appears to render them irrelevant in everyday American culture (R. Quantz, personal communication, Summer 2006). If we care about the prospects of democratic education, we must take neoliberalism's success seriously, for it is a philosophical framework in which freedom and democratic education are mutually exclusive. Dewey (1993), in all his wisdom, warned:

And let those who are struggling to replace the present economic system by a cooperative one also remember that in struggling for a new system of social restraints and controls they are also struggling for a more equal and equitable balance of powers that will enhance and multiply the effective liberties of the mass of individuals. Let them not be jockeyed into the position of supporting social control at the expense of liberty [emphasis added]. (p. 160)

Yet, that is exactly the situation in which we find ourselves today. Democratic education is viewed as a social control policy, as an infringement on the supremacy of the [neoliberal] freedom. We witness a lack of democratic citizenship, moral, and character education in our schools. We see a lack of redistributing resources for equality of educational opportunity. We observe a lack of talk about education's civic mission, roles, and goals. Democratic education is viewed as tangential, secondary, and mutually exclusive from the prioritized value of "liberty." How can we foster alternative notions of freedom, such as Lincoln's republican sense of liberty as collectively inquiring and deciding how we rule ourselves?

We must intentionally challenge the neoliberal notion of the value freedom and the usefulness of its associated philosophical assumptions.

[Sep 16, 2018] Challenging Freedom: Neoliberalism and the Erosion of Democratic Education

Sep 16, 2018 | democracyeducationjournal.org

Goodlad, et al. (2002) rightly point out that a culture can either resist or support change. Schein's (2010) model of culture indicates observable behaviors of a culture can be explained by exposing underlying shared values and basic assumptions that give meaning to the performance. Yet culture is many-faceted and complex. So Schein advised a clinical approach to cultural analysis that calls for identifying a problem in order to focus the analysis on relevant values and assumptions. This project starts with two assumptions:

(1) The erosion of democratic education is a visible overt behavior of the current U.S. macro-culture, and

(2) this is a problem.

I intend to use this problem of the erosion of democratic education as a basis for a cultural analysis. My essential question is: What are the deeper, collective, competing value commitments and shared basic assumptions that hinder efforts for democratic education? The purpose of this paper is to start a conversation about particular cultural limitations and barriers we are working with as we move toward recapturing the civic mission of education.

[Sep 16, 2018] Ending the Secrecy of the Student Debt Crisis

Pervasive racketeering rules because we allow it to, especially in education and medicine. Both are self-destructing under the weight of their own money-grubbing schemes.
Notable quotes:
"... Because of the loans' disgracefully high interest rates, my family and I have paid more or less the equivalent of my debt itself in the years since I graduated, making monthly payments in good faith -- even in times of unemployment and extreme duress -- to lenders like Citigroup, a bank that was among the largest recipients of federal bailout money in 2008 and that eventually sold off my debt to other lenders. This ruinous struggle has been essentially meaningless: I now owe more than what I started out owing, not unlike my parents with their mortgage . ..."
"... By Daniela Senderowicz. Originally published in Yes! Magazine ..."
"... Activists are building meaningful connections among borrowers to counter the taboo of admitting they can't pay their bills. ..."
"... Gamblers and reality TV stars can claim bankruptcy protections when in financial trouble, but 44 million student loan borrowers can't. Unemployed, underpaid, destitute, sick, or struggling borrowers simply aren't able to start anew. ..."
"... With a default rate approaching 40 percent , one would expect armies of distressed borrowers marching in the streets demanding relief from a system that has singled out their financial anguish. Distressed student debtors, however, seem to be terror-struck about coming forward to a society that, they say, ostracizes them for their inability to keep up with their finances. ..."
"... When we spoke to several student borrowers, almost none were willing to share their names. "I can't tell anyone how much I'm struggling," says a 39-year-old Oregon physician who went into student loan default after his wife's illness drained their finances. He is terrified of losing his patients and reputation if he speaks out about his financial problems. ..."
"... Debtors are isolated, anxious, and in the worst cases have taken their own lives . Simone confirms that she has "worked with debtors who were suicidal or had psychological breakdowns requiring psychiatric hospitalization." ..."
"... "Alienation impacts mental health issues," says New York mental health counselor Harriet Fraad. "As long as they blame themselves within the system, they're lost." ..."
"... A recent manifesto by activist and recent graduate Eli Campbell calls for radical unity among borrowers. "Young people live in constant fear that they'll never be able to pay off their debt. We're not buying houses or able to afford the hallmarks of the American dream," he explains. ..."
"... Do a little research on car selling and you will see the pressures on the dealer sales force to suck the vast majority of buyers into long term debt. Car loans are now five or six years, routinely. ..."
Sep 16, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This article describes how the stigma of struggling to pay student debt is a burden in and of itself. I wish this article had explained how little it take to trigger an escalation into default interest rates and how punitive they are. The piece also stresses the value of activism as a form of psychological relief, by connecting stressed student debt borrowers with people similarly afflicted.

But the bigger issue is the way indebtedness is demonized in a society that makes it pretty much impossible to avoid borrowing. One reader recounted how many (as in how few) weeks of after tax wages it took to buy a car in the 1960s versus now. Dealers don't want to talk to buyers who want to pay in full at the time of purchase. And if you don't have installment credit or a mortgage, the consumer credit agencies ding you!

It goes without saying that the sense of shame is harder to endure due to how shallow most people's social networks are, which is another product of neoliberalism.

In keeping, the New York Times today ran an op-ed by one of its editors on how student debtors are also victims of the crisis, reprinted from a longer piece in The Baffler (hat tip Dan K). Key sections :

Because of the loans' disgracefully high interest rates, my family and I have paid more or less the equivalent of my debt itself in the years since I graduated, making monthly payments in good faith -- even in times of unemployment and extreme duress -- to lenders like Citigroup, a bank that was among the largest recipients of federal bailout money in 2008 and that eventually sold off my debt to other lenders. This ruinous struggle has been essentially meaningless: I now owe more than what I started out owing, not unlike my parents with their mortgage .

Many people have and will continue to condemn me personally for my tremendous but unexceptional student debt, and the ways in which it has made the recession's effects linger for my family. I've spent quite a lot of time in the past decade accepting this blame. The recession may have compounded my family's economic insecurity, but I also made the conscious decision to take out loans for a college I couldn't afford in order to become a journalist, a profession with minimal financial returns. The amount of debt I owe in student loans -- about $100,000 -- is more than I make in a given year. I am ashamed and embarrassed by this, but as I grow older, I think it is time that those profiting from this country's broken economic system share some of my guilt

[At my commencement in 2009] Mrs. Clinton then echoed a fantasy of boundless opportunity that had helped guide the country into economic collapse, deceiving many of the parents in attendance, including my own, into borrowing toward a future that they couldn't work hard enough to afford. "There is no problem we face here in America or around the world that will not yield to human effort," she said. "Our challenges are ones that summon the best of us, and we will make the world better tomorrow than it is today." At the time, I wondered if this was accurate. I now know how wrong she was.

By Daniela Senderowicz. Originally published in Yes! Magazine

Activists are building meaningful connections among borrowers to counter the taboo of admitting they can't pay their bills.

Gamblers and reality TV stars can claim bankruptcy protections when in financial trouble, but 44 million student loan borrowers can't. Unemployed, underpaid, destitute, sick, or struggling borrowers simply aren't able to start anew.

With a default rate approaching 40 percent , one would expect armies of distressed borrowers marching in the streets demanding relief from a system that has singled out their financial anguish. Distressed student debtors, however, seem to be terror-struck about coming forward to a society that, they say, ostracizes them for their inability to keep up with their finances.

When we spoke to several student borrowers, almost none were willing to share their names. "I can't tell anyone how much I'm struggling," says a 39-year-old Oregon physician who went into student loan default after his wife's illness drained their finances. He is terrified of losing his patients and reputation if he speaks out about his financial problems.

"If I shared this with anyone they will look down upon me as some kind of fool," explains a North Carolina psychologist who is now beyond retirement age. He explains that his student debt balance soared after losing a well-paying position during the financial crisis, and that he is struggling to pay it back.

Financial shame alienates struggling borrowers. Debtors blame themselves and self-loathe when they can't make their payments, explains Colette Simone, a Michigan psychologist. "There is so much fear of sharing the reality of their financial situation and the devastation it is causing in every facet of their lives," she says. "The consequences of coming forward can result in social pushback and possible job -- related complications, which only deepen their suffering."

Debtors are isolated, anxious, and in the worst cases have taken their own lives . Simone confirms that she has "worked with debtors who were suicidal or had psychological breakdowns requiring psychiatric hospitalization."

With an average debt of just over $37,000 per borrower for the class of 2016 , and given that incomes have been flat since the 1970s , it's not surprising that borrowers are struggling to pay. Student loans have a squeaky-clean reputation, and society tends to view them as a noble symbol of the taxpayers' generosity to the working poor. Fear of facing society's ostracism for failure to pay them back has left borrowers alienated and trapped in a lending system that is engulfing them in debt bondage.

"Alienation impacts mental health issues," says New York mental health counselor Harriet Fraad. "As long as they blame themselves within the system, they're lost."

Student debtors can counter despair by fighting back through activism and political engagement, she says. "Connection is the antidote to alienation, and engaging in activism, along with therapy, is a way to recovery."

Despite the fear of coming forward, some activists are building a social movement in which meaningful connections among borrowers can counter the taboo of openly admitting financial ruin.

Student Loan Justice, a national grassroots lobby group, is attempting to build this movement by pushing for robust legislation to return bankruptcy protections to borrowers. The group has active chapters in almost every state, with members directly lobbying their local representatives to sign on as co-sponsors to HR 2366. Activists are building a supportive community for struggling borrowers through political agitation, local engagement, storytelling, and by spreading a courageous message of hope that may embolden traumatized borrowers to come forward and unite.

Julie Margetaa Morgan , a fellow at The Roosevelt Institute, recently noted that student debt servicers like Navient have a powerful influence on lawmakers. "Student loan borrowers may not have millions to spend on lobbying, but they have something equally, if not more, powerful: millions of voices," she says.

A recent manifesto by activist and recent graduate Eli Campbell calls for radical unity among borrowers. "Young people live in constant fear that they'll never be able to pay off their debt. We're not buying houses or able to afford the hallmarks of the American dream," he explains.

In his call for a unified national boycott of student loan payments, inevitably leading to a mass default on this debt, Campbell hopes to expose this crisis and instigate radical change. In a recent interview he explained that the conditions for borrowers are so bad already that debtors may not join the boycott willingly. Instead, participation may simply happen by default given the lack of proper work opportunities that lead to borrowers' inability to pay.

While a large-scale default may not happen through willful and supportive collective action, ending the secrecy of the crisis through massive national attention may destigmatize the shame of financial defeat and finally bring debtors out of the isolation that causes them so much despair.

Activists are calling for a significant conversation about the commodification of educating our youth, shifting our focus toward investing into the promise of the young and able, rather than the guarantee of their perpetual debt bondage. In calling for collective action they soothe the hurt of so many alienated debtors, breaking the taboos that allow them to say, "Me, too" and admit openly that in this financial climate we all need each other to move forward.


Jane , September 16, 2018 at 4:15 am

How much are the interest rates on student loans there in the USA? Here in India its 11.5% if you want to finance studies abroad. 8.5 for some select institutions.

JVR , September 16, 2018 at 5:36 am

I wonder if the media's obsession with "millenials" isn't primarily a way to try to divide people with shared interests, above all around the topics of student debt and the job market and to make the problems seem like they have shallower roots than they really do. The individuals mentioned here are older than that 24-37 age cohort, one of them much older.

Epistrophy , September 16, 2018 at 6:42 am

Dealers don't want to talk to buyers who want to pay in full at the time of purchase.

Yes Yes. Car manufacturers are actually finance houses selling products manufactured by subcontractors – such is the state of American industry – but their dream is to move to a SaaS model where ownership, of anything, becomes a relic of the past (except for the overlords and oligarchs).

This could not be possible without government corruption and revolving-door regulation. Maybe these PAYG vehicles will contain built-in body scanners too; for our own security, of course.

In his call for a unified national boycott of student loan payments, inevitably leading to a mass default on this debt, Campbell hopes to expose this crisis and instigate radical change.

Default, or radical change, would bring the economy to it's knees. But when there is another economic downturn, this is going to happen anyway. Terrible situation; negative real interest rates destroying the pensions of the elderly, student loan servitude destroying the youth and the middle class being squeezed to oblivion. What can be done to fix it, I ask?

Yet they are doing God's work, are they? Well, this is not a God I choose to worship.

JTMcPhee , September 16, 2018 at 8:33 am

Well good for you. How many cars, of what age, have you bought, for your anecdote to rate as anything vaguely resembling the wide reality, and how does your personal financial situation let you just write checks for $30 or $70,000?

Do a little research on car selling and you will see the pressures on the dealer sales force to suck the vast majority of buyers into long term debt. Car loans are now five or six years, routinely.

And one wonders what the investment is in trying to impeach the points of this report, wth such an unlikely and atypical claim.

UserFriendly , September 16, 2018 at 6:57 am

NYT ran the same story , interesting they edited out his total debt and major though.

JTMcPhee , September 16, 2018 at 8:39 am

Maybe a little traction, then, for the notion, and increasingly the inescapable reality, of #juststoppaying on those "remember Joe Biden" virtually non-dischargeable, often fraudulently induced, "student loan" debt shackles?

[Sep 15, 2018] Who Speaks For the Suffering Upper Middle Class

Sep 15, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

It seems fatuous to argue, especially in a healthy economy, that the upper middle class faces overwhelming financial insecurities. After all, U.S. stocks have entered the longest bull market ever recorded, the labor force has markedly improved, and small business optimism is at a level unseen since the early 1980s. It appears that happy days are here again. But this halcyon period -- marked by invigorating statistics -- still hasn't prevented even upper-middle-class Americans from feeling discontent. For countless families, especially in thriving metro regions, a six-figure salary fails to deliver economic security. Their sense of vulnerability is real, not imagined.

What defines the upper middle class? According to the Pew Research Center, middle-class households, as of 2010, had incomes ranging from $35,294 to $105,881. In 2016, U.S. Census Bureau data showed that the median household income was $59,039. Based on Census findings from that year, the highest earning households -- before the top 5 percent ($224,251 and upward) -- ranged from $74,878 to $121,018. Reviewing these findings, a household income ranging anywhere from $75,000 to $200,000 could fall under the upper-middle class.

A six-figure income should bring long-term stability. But members of the upper-middle class find themselves prisoners of voluntary yet inescapable costs. A multi-generational phenomenon has unfolded, its roots traceable to the economic slowdown of the early 2000s and the subsequent Great Recession. There is a feeling of anxiety among Baby Boomers who cannot retire, Gen. Xers saddled with expensive mortgages and child care costs, and Millennials paralyzed by insurmountable student debt. Data cannot measure emotion. The sense of unease is palpable despite the economy's booming conditions.

A helpful cultural reference point is HBO's Divorce , which concluded its second season earlier this year. The comedy-drama focuses on the angst and dysfunction of a middle-aged divorced couple in Hastings-on-Hudson, an idyllic town in New York's prosperous Westchester County. Frances DuFresne, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, quits her day job in the city to open an art gallery. Her ex-husband, played by Thomas Hayden Church, is a former Wall Street executive now struggling as a contractor. The estranged couple, raising two children, are undeniably upper-middle class. Their professional background, cultural tastes, and suburban lifestyle personify affluence. But their financial insecurity, mainly the result of career choices, remains a theme throughout the series. The DuFresnes' social circles remind them that their economic position, while favorable, is vulnerable compared to the higher earners inhabiting their bucolic suburb.

The characters portrayed in Divorce exemplify a modern reality: many upper-middle-class households are high earning but asset poor. In 2015, Quartz's Allison Schrager illustrated how "America's upper middle class have almost no emergency cushion and are woefully unprepared for retirement." Reviewing Federal Reserve data, Schrager showed the precarious financial position of upper-middle-class individuals aged 40 to 55 with household incomes ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. The data indicated that this income bracket had fewer assets than ever (assets exclude a house, car, or business, but include retirement funds). As Schrager noted, even a high earner who worked for many years typically had only $70,000 in financial assets. Approximately 25 percent of upper-middle-class 40- to 55-year-olds, meanwhile, had less than $17,500 in financial assets.

Such findings suggest that seemingly high earners are living paycheck-to-paycheck. While Federal Reserve data has since found that median family income grew 10 percent between 2013 and 2016, a disproportionate number of upper-income Americans still cannot retire. In addition to their own financial woes, they must support their elderly parents, which involves innumerable costs. Overwhelming debt has become a vicious trap.

In one Brookings Institution study , researchers reported that nearly one quarter of households earning $100,000 to $150,000 a year claim to be unable to pull together $2,000 in a month to pay bills. Sustained economic growth has not repaired this cycle of debt. According to Deutsche Bank economist Torsten Slok, Americans have more debt than cash than at any time since 1962. The 2018 Northwestern Mutual Planning and Progress Study found that the average American's personal debt (independent of home mortgages) now exceeds $38,000. Stock market growth and rising home prices have not altered this trend.

In a Washington Post report last year, Todd C. Frankel demonstrated how modern life adds up for an upper-middle class family. Frankel reported on a couple in suburban Atlanta with a combined income of $180,000, an indisputably high earning level. But financial uncertainty rises from a mortgage, three children, day care costs, and the prospect of college tuition. "I don't feel wealthy," the wife, a tax manager, told Frankel. "I don't have a bunch of money stashed away anywhere." While the 2017 tax reform bill brought relief for many Americans, limits on state and local tax deductions have further engendered economic unease.

Scrapping Economics and Starting Over Homeownership Does Not Guarantee Middle Class Prosperity

In her new book Squeezed , Alissa Quart captures how middle-class American families are struggling to attain the standard of living once enjoyed by their parents. And in an important chapter on the upper middle class, she profiles "life at the bottom of the top." Quart argues that higher earners, like most Americans, contend with income disparity and the extreme wealth enveloping metro regions. In the San Francisco Bay Area, for instance, upper-middle-class families go broke hiring tutors and maintaining lifestyles that permit their children to compete with their wealthiest peers. The parents, working professionals, are emotionally ravaged by endless costs. They discover few perks in geographical serendipity, graduate degrees, or traditionally high-earning professions like law.

Quart reveals how the legal profession has induced economic stress since the 2008 recession. In the past decade, law firms and corporations have hired fewer lawyers. Yet for lawyers just entering the profession, student debt is a crippling part of their lives. As Quart notes, student debt at the average law school increased from $95,000 to about $112,000 in 2014. It is difficult to fathom how simple steps in life -- getting married, buying a home, starting a family -- are financially possible with such debt levels. But the struggle transcends age. Quart profiles a 59-year-old Mississippi lawyer who, following health setbacks, was ultimately "pushed out" by her employer. Life continued at its indifferent pace. The mother still had to pay for her son's college tuition during her initial medical leave. "This is a vastly different life from what I expected to be having at this age," she told Quart. "The six-figure salaries and benefits are long gone."

The upper middle class's discontent also transcends political ideology. A seemingly high-earning Republican household in suburban Cleveland confronts expenses similar to a high-earning Democratic household in suburban Philadelphia. These are people who tune out the minute-by-minute plot twists of the Trump presidency. If anything, they are streaming Netflix or watching HGTV for a nurturing distraction. Their daily focus is on remaining financially viable.

Aspirations prove costly regardless of geography. A four-year degree at a public college, for example, costs nearly twice as much as it did in 1996. Exorbitant college debt now dictates the financial future of Baby Boomers, Gen. Xers, and Millennials. Boomers, at the peak of their earnings, postpone retirement and support children with student loans. Gen. Xers, nearing the height of their careers, remain broke due to years of paying off higher education debt. Millennials, still young in their professional lives, primarily work to pay off monthly federal and private student loan bills. Credit cards are a necessary prescription for each generation's economic survival. In 2017, the nation's total credit card debt was over $1 trillion.

Economic insecurity is not limited to higher education. The cost of health care has also doubled since the 1990s. Obamacare only accelerated the costs incurred by households. The Journal of the American Medical Association has reported studies suggesting that the consolidation of medical practices actually "drives up costs." Obamacare hastened the swallowing of regional hospitals by larger health care systems. This merger frenzy has empowered hospital systems to negotiate with insurance companies. But the mergers have increased costs, eliminated competition, and created barriers to care. The upper middle class, like so many others, are absorbing the costs of this transformed landscape. Rising premiums only add to their financial burden.

Of course, the upper middle class is in a better position than most Americans. In Dream Hoarders , Richard V. Reeves correctly unveiled how they are collectively removed from the socio-economics of the nation's majority. Their economic outcomes remain favorable compared to the struggles of countless working-class Americans. But a sizable number of higher earning households are not "opportunity hoarding." There is a cost to working parents ensuring their children have better lives than their own. In the booming 2010s, this segment of the population thought they would be in a better place than what they'd anticipated during the booming 1990s. Yet their diplomas did not translate into liquid cash. Upper-middle-class families, while affluent and well connected, have been met with empty pockets and unfulfilled dreams in this brave new economy.

Charles F. McElwee III is a writer based in northeastern Pennsylvania. He's written for The American Conservative , City Journal, The Atlantic , National Review , and the Weekly Standard , among others.


Intelliwriter September 13, 2018 at 3:07 pm

At the end of the day, it's math. If you spend more than you take in, you'll be broke. I have always thought of myself as "New England Frugal," and I wear it like a badge of honor. We could've sent our kids to private school, but they went to public (as did my husband and I). We could've driven Mercedes, but I like Toyota. We could've lived in a big fancy home, but stayed in our more modest home.

The good news is that we were able to pay our kids' college bills (paying now for our daughter's master's degree). We finally bought a couple of nicer cars. Still in our house though.

We have never really cared what others have. We are both savers and that's what we did. Recent promotions mean more money coming in and we can spend a little more, but if either one of us gets laid off, the other can pay the bills. Math.

Thrice A Viking , says: September 13, 2018 at 6:05 pm
Law and orderly made the point that they should move out of overpriced cities. I think that rings true. I just read an article – about the number of millionaires in each state – that Manhattan in NYC has a cost-of-living that's 138% above the national average, or 238% of that average. That means that a household has to make $71,400 just to be the same as $30,000 gets them in Everytown, USA. (I believe that the actual median in Manhattan is a bit over $80,000, which puts them at about 34 grand.) That ironically makes this high-rolling borough below average in effective income. I would highly advise many of them to get out, and live with the Apple Knockers or the rest of us hicks.
Lord Karth , says: September 13, 2018 at 6:48 pm
Let's not forget taxes. "Upper middle class" Americans pay far more in taxes than they did in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly the self-employed.

FICA can be a stone b!tch.

Your servant,

Lord Karth

Fred Bowman , says: September 13, 2018 at 7:44 pm
The article itself seemed like on big whine. The comment section OTOH seem to have a lot of common sense advice attached to it. I live a more modest lifestyle nowadays and to tell the truth I seem to be happier and less stressed. To tell the truth it took a long time for me to live within my means.

[Sep 13, 2018] Today we live in a world of predatory educators

Notable quotes:
"... Interesting article on and comments by Thomas Frank, touching on the cognitive elite as a unified class and war on the middle class (my words not his) ..."
"... "Today we live in a world of predatory bankers, predatory educators, even predatory health care providers, all of them out for themselves . Liberalism itself has changed to accommodate its new constituents' technocratic views. Today, liberalism is the philosophy not of the sons of toil but of the 'knowledge economy' and, specifically, of the knowledge economy's winners: the Silicon Valley chieftains, the big university systems, and the Wall Street titans who gave so much to Barack Obama's 2008 campaign . They are a 'learning class' that truly gets the power of education......." ..."
Sep 13, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Pft , Sep 13, 2018 2:38:42 AM | link

Interesting article on and comments by Thomas Frank, touching on the cognitive elite as a unified class and war on the middle class (my words not his)

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/09/read-book-itll-make-radical-conversation-thomas-frank.html

".....the ongoing dissolving and crumblingand sinking -- all his metaphors -- of our society. And with such metaphors Frank describes the "one essential story" he is telling in Rendezvous with Oblivion: "This is what a society looks like when the glue that holds it together starts to dissolve. This is the way ordinary citizens react when they learn that the structure beneath them is crumbling. And this is the thrill that pulses through the veins of the well-to-do when they discover that there is no longer any limit on their power to accumulate" "

And this

"Today we live in a world of predatory bankers, predatory educators, even predatory health care providers, all of them out for themselves . Liberalism itself has changed to accommodate its new constituents' technocratic views. Today, liberalism is the philosophy not of the sons of toil but of the 'knowledge economy' and, specifically, of the knowledge economy's winners: the Silicon Valley chieftains, the big university systems, and the Wall Street titans who gave so much to Barack Obama's 2008 campaign . They are a 'learning class' that truly gets the power of education......."

[Sep 07, 2018] 30% of America's Student Loan Borrowers Can't Keep Up After Six Years

Sep 07, 2018 | news.slashdot.org

recently ruled that under some circumstances employers can link their 401(k) matching contributions to the amount of an employee's student loan repayments -- making it easier for recent graduates to take advantage of this employer benefit. But that's one spot of good news in a sea of bad, according to one anonymous Slashdot reader: Two new articles criticize America's student loan policies (under both the Obama and Trump administrations). CNBC cites reports that within six years, more than 15% of student borrowers had officially defaulted , while 10% more had stopped making payments and another 4.8% were at least 90 days late. And for-profit colleges fared even worse, where nearly 25% of graduates defaulted, and a total of 44% faced "some form of loan distress."

These trends were masked by Department of Education reports which stopped tracking repayment rates after just three years (reporting defaults rates of just 10%), according to Ben Miller, senior director for post-secondary education at the left-leaning Center for American Progress. "Official statistics present a relatively rosy picture of student debt. But looking at outcomes over more time and in greater detail shows that hundreds of thousands more borrowers from each cohort face troubles repaying."

[Sep 04, 2018] Kunstler Warns -Some Kind Of Epic National Restructuring Is In The Works

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The shale oil "miracle" was a stunt enabled by supernaturally low interest rates, i.e. Federal Reserve policy. Even The New York Times said so yesterday ( The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground ). ..."
"... As with shale oil, they depend largely on dishonest financial legerdemain. They are also threatened by the crack-up of globalism, and its 12,000-mile supply lines, now well underway. Get ready for business at a much smaller scale. ..."
"... Hard as this sounds, it presents great opportunities for making Americans useful again, that is, giving them something to do, a meaningful place in society, and livelihoods. ..."
"... Pervasive racketeering rules because we allow it to, especially in education and medicine. Both are self-destructing under the weight of their own money-grubbing schemes. ..."
"... A lot of colleges will go out of business. Most college loans will never be paid back (and the derivatives based on them will blow up) ..."
"... The leviathan state is too large, too reckless, and too corrupt. Insolvency will eventually reduce its scope and scale. Most immediately, the giant matrix of domestic spying agencies has turned on American citizens. ..."
"... It will resist at all costs being dismantled or even reined in. One task at hand is to prosecute the people in the Department of Justice and the FBI who ran illegal political operations in and around the 2016 election. These are agencies which use their considerable power to destroy the lives of individual citizens. Their officers must answer to grand juries. ..."
"... As with everything else on the table for debate, the reach and scope of US imperial arrangements has to be reduced. ..."
Sep 04, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

And so the sun seems to stand still this last day before the resumption of business-as-usual, and whatever remains of labor in this sclerotic republic takes its ease in the ominous late summer heat, and the people across this land marinate in anxious uncertainty.

What can be done?

Some kind of epic national restructuring is in the works. It will either happen consciously and deliberately or it will be forced on us by circumstance. One side wants to magically reenact the 1950s; the other wants a Gnostic transhuman utopia. Neither of these is a plausible outcome.

Most of the arguments ranging around them are what Jordan Peterson calls "pseudo issues." Let's try to take stock of what the real issues might be.

Energy

The shale oil "miracle" was a stunt enabled by supernaturally low interest rates, i.e. Federal Reserve policy. Even The New York Times said so yesterday ( The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground ).

For all that, the shale oil producers still couldn't make money at it. If interest rates go up, the industry will choke on the debt it has already accumulated and lose access to new loans. If the Fed reverses its current course - say, to rescue the stock and bond markets - then the shale oil industry has perhaps three more years before it collapses on a geological basis, maybe less. After that, we're out of tricks. It will affect everything.

The perceived solution is to run all our stuff on electricity, with the electricity produced by other means than fossil fuels , so-called alt energy. This will only happen on the most limited basis and perhaps not at all. (And it is apart from the question of the decrepit electric grid itself.) What's required is a political conversation about how we inhabit the landscape, how we do business, and what kind of business we do. The prospect of dismantling suburbia -- or at least moving out of it -- is evidently unthinkable. But it's going to happen whether we make plans and policies, or we're dragged kicking and screaming away from it.

Corporate tyranny

The nation is groaning under despotic corporate rule. The fragility of these operations is moving toward criticality. As with shale oil, they depend largely on dishonest financial legerdemain. They are also threatened by the crack-up of globalism, and its 12,000-mile supply lines, now well underway. Get ready for business at a much smaller scale.

Hard as this sounds, it presents great opportunities for making Americans useful again, that is, giving them something to do, a meaningful place in society, and livelihoods.

The implosion of national chain retail is already underway. Amazon is not the answer, because each Amazon sales item requires a separate truck trip to its destination, and that just doesn't square with our energy predicament. We've got to rebuild main street economies and the layers of local and regional distribution that support them. That's where many jobs and careers are.

Climate change is most immediately affecting farming. 2018 will be a year of bad harvests in many parts of the world. Agri-biz style farming, based on oil-and-gas plus bank loans is a ruinous practice, and will not continue in any case. Can we make choices and policies to promote a return to smaller scale farming with intelligent methods rather than just brute industrial force plus debt? If we don't, a lot of people will starve to death. By the way, here is the useful work for a large number of citizens currently regarded as unemployable for one reason or another.

Pervasive racketeering rules because we allow it to, especially in education and medicine. Both are self-destructing under the weight of their own money-grubbing schemes. Both are destined to be severely downscaled.

A lot of colleges will go out of business. Most college loans will never be paid back (and the derivatives based on them will blow up).

We need millions of small farmers more than we need millions of communications majors with a public relations minor. It may be too late for a single-payer medical system. A collapsing oil-based industrial economy means a lack of capital, and fiscal hocus-pocus is just another form of racketeering. Medicine will have to get smaller and less complex and that means local clinic-based health care. Lots of careers there, and that is where things are going, so get ready.

Government over-reach

The leviathan state is too large, too reckless, and too corrupt. Insolvency will eventually reduce its scope and scale. Most immediately, the giant matrix of domestic spying agencies has turned on American citizens.

It will resist at all costs being dismantled or even reined in. One task at hand is to prosecute the people in the Department of Justice and the FBI who ran illegal political operations in and around the 2016 election. These are agencies which use their considerable power to destroy the lives of individual citizens. Their officers must answer to grand juries.

As with everything else on the table for debate, the reach and scope of US imperial arrangements has to be reduced. It's happening already, whether we like it or not, as geopolitical relations shift drastically and the other nations on the planet scramble for survival in a post-industrial world that will be a good deal harsher than the robotic paradise of digitally "creative" economies that the credulous expect.

This country has enough to do within its own boundaries to prepare for survival without making extra trouble for itself and other people around the world. As a practical matter, this means close as many overseas bases as possible, as soon as possible.

As we get back to business tomorrow, ask yourself where you stand in the blather-storm of false issues and foolish ideas, in contrast to the things that actually matter.