Softpanorama

Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Bigger doesn't imply better. Bigger often is a sign of obesity, of lost control, of overcomplexity, of cancerous cells

Over 50 and unemployed

News Neoliberalism war on  labor Recommended Links Chronic Unemployment Underemployment Perma Temps Secular Stagnation The myth of human capital
Chronic stress Stoicism Surviving a Bad Performance Review Signs that you might be dismissed soon Coping with the toxic stress in IT environment Scapegoating and victimization of poor and unemployed The Iron Law of Oligarchy The Pareto Law
IT Outsourcing/Offshoring Skeptic: Fighting Outsourcing Myths Commodization of IT: "IT does not matter" fallacy and what in Nicholas Carr views matter Bootlickocracy: "Kiss up, kick down" style in corporate IT Cargo cult programming Stoicism Neoliberal rationality The role of automation and AI in decimation of workforce Uber
Office Slaves: the rise of bullshit jobs Tactful communication Diplomatic Communication  Negative Politeness Dealing With Negative Criticism Six ways to say No and mean it Rules of Verbal Self Defense   Avoiding Anger Trap 
Programmers and sysadmins health issues Marriage and unemployment Coping with prolonged joblessness Adverse Selection Bosos or Empty Suits (Aggressive Incompetent Managers) The Fiefdom Syndrome Female Sociopaths The Hare Psychopathy Checklist
Neoliberalism and Christianity Bureaucracies Bureaucratic avoidance of responsibility Bureaucratic alienation IT Outsourcing/Offshoring Skeptic Social Problems in Enterprise Unix Administration The psychopath in the corner office The IT workplace
Slightly Skeptical View on Enterprise Unix Administration Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime Corporate bullshit Information Overload Fundamental Absurdity of IT Management Slackerism Cloud Computing Related Humor IT Slang

Introduction

"Don't tell people you're unemployed. Tell them you're semiretired.
It changed my self-identity. I still look for jobs, but I feel better about myself."
 

Age discrimination has been standard operating procedure in IT for at least since 2000. And there are no significant consequences, if any consequences at all, for doing it in the USA under "neoliberal occupation", so to speak.  Outsourcing, offshoring and abuse of  H1B visas were increasing annually since year 2000.

That's why many IT professionals, who are over 50, recently found  themselves excluded and marginalized: "without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape." (Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism).  For example, IBM has laid off hundreds of thousands in the last few decades.

Typical feelings experienced after loss of employment included emptiness, inadequacy, humiliation, rage, shame, envy, and worthlessness. Additional aspects include  grief over the additional losses that followed the job loss, such as loss of social connectedness,  professional status, and hardships for the family. For some people, unresolved conflicts vis-a-vis former employers produce strong revengeful feelings.  For others, self-loathing, contempt, self-criticism, and insecurity or fear of trying new things are more prominent.

That might affect common activities such as attending children's graduations, weddings, getting through major holidays,  sustaining interest in former leisure activities or hobbies. As the period of unemployment exceeds one year most males usually experienced increased and sometimes overwhelming sadness and grief at what had been lost. Paradoxically, reentering workforce now led to comparisons of "there and then" with "here and now". Reactions including rage and feelings of unfairness  are not uncommon. The toxic mixture of shame and anger is especially notable.

The key question here is how to survive this prolonged slump, which is very similar to the situations that often happened in Arctic expeditions at the beginning of XX century: the ship squeezed by ice goes down and survivors face life in tents in Arctic weather.  With limited supplies and a long time before the rescuers can reach them. Often forced to survive in those tents Arctic winter. Dr. Sidney Blair, the Navy psychiatrist who coordinated personnel selection for the Operation Deep Freeze voiced the following opinion (BOLD ENDEAVORS. p. 260):

When I am asked, "If you want to be 100% sure that a person will adjust [ to Antarctic duty], what do you look for?"

My usual answer is that I look for somebody who loves their work. This is probably the most important thing on the list of positive factors, they have to love their work. It is almost all right, if they love their work to the exclusion of everyone else.

Another important factor is ability to survive isolation and confinement inherent in long unemployment. Neoliberalism tried to atomizes employees, destroy social bonds between them, propagating " under the disguise of competition old "Man Is Wolf to Man " mentality( from Latin "Homo homini lupus est" . Which, in essence, is an old style "divide and conquer" strategy, applied to labor force.  Moreover, there was never a trade union of IT administrators of programmers so they are by definition pretty isolated specialty, without much inter-employee solidarity. But as Mark Twain aptly said "No man is a failure who has friends". 

As Mark Twain aptly said "No man is a failure who has friends". Like with Arctic, in the situation of unemployment an isolated person is a doomed person. You need to rely of support of other people and you better start cultivating them (as well a funds) before the blow strikes.

Like is the case with Arctic, in the situation of unemployment an isolated person is a doomed person. You need to rely of support of other people and you better start cultivating them (as well a funds) before the blow strikes.

Again this is a very similar to situations that occur in Arctic expeditions; in case of loss of power in older types of ships, etc. IT specialists over 50 who succeed after long unemployment belong to the same type people who would survive in case of crash of the ship in Arctic expedition. This is a real life experiment on what we do in moments of great challenge. Do we rise to the occasion or fail? Are we heroes or cowards? Are we loyal to the people we love most or do we betray them? Are the most close people remain loyal to you in such a challenging circumstances, or they are ready to betray? What is the right thing to do in such difficult circumstances?

Like Arctic explorers in the past you need to face the danger and difficult decisions. It is easy to say that one had to be brave and strong and keep moving forward despite hardships. It is quite difficult to do. It's about ordinary people drawn into circumstances beyond their control and the choices they must make to take back some of that control... avoiding impulsive choices, dangerous choices, heart wrenching and even catastrophic choices that can't be undone. It's more complex that just bravery vs. cowardice.

People who are rated low in impatience and irritability and low in the characteristics associated with creation interpersonal conflicts (e.g. egotistic, boastful, hostile, arrogant) have better chances in this situation. People who are more concerted with well-being of other paradoxically typically fared better in situation of Arctic expedition crisis. Other-directiveness helps to survive is such harsh environment. Traits like social compatibility or likability, emotional control, patience, tolerance to others, self-confidence without egotism, ability to subordinate your own interests to the interests of the team, a sense of humor, and  are extremely valuable and are now checked for potential members of long duration expeditions that involve severe hardships.  To those scientifically established traits for selection of people into Arctic expeditions one can add

People who are more concerted with well-being of other paradoxically typically fared better in situation of Arctic expedition crisis. Other-directiveness helps to survive is such harsh environment.  The ability to take job loss "cool" without excessive negative emotions (as in "sh*t happens" attitude)  is also very important.
  1. The level of self-control. There are powerful "animal" mechanisms that are still active within us and due to them we tend to display some behaviors typical for "cornered animal" in the situation of long unemployment and unsuccessful search for a job.  Emotionally the hit of losing job is comparable with the hit of losing close relative. The ability to take those behaviors under control are critical. See also Avoiding Anger Trap. The ability to take job loss "cool" without excessive negative emotions (as in "sh*t happens" attitude)  is very important. Otherwise Job loss can cause heart issues, and the stress as well as bad habits that frequently come with unemployment and can build up over time. There is even danger to your mental health with long unemployment as depression is more common among long term unemployed:.
    Michael McKee, a psychologist and stress expert at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, agreed that attention needs to paid to the body blow that job loss can inflict on any individual’s sense of identity and self-respect.

    “If you keep trying to find a job and don’t,” he noted, “or if you find a job and then lose it, and that pattern repeats and repeats, you not only lose identity, you lose income, the structure to your day, your sense of achievement, your friends from work, your other friends because you are embarrassed to be around them, your self-confidence, your self-respect. Then you start to lose hope and meaning and purpose, [and] feel alienated and hopeless and helpless.”

    So, McKee added, “Well-meaning programs, public and private, which help people find jobs, need to add caution to eagerness. Caution that they not set people up for repeated failure, for long times between jobs, which is likely to accelerate the ride to depression. Always finding another job quickly lets you keep your hope up, but struggling [can] often lead to increased fear and anxiety.”

    Related to that is the ability to use physical exercise to control your emotional state. Consider it as an effective medication for excessive aggressiveness and anger. See also Avoiding Anger TrapThe ability to maintain your physical and emotional  tonus, which now is especially important. Stretch exercises are known to help is such situation for many people.  So called 4 x 4 running/walking (fast running for 4 minute then walking 4 minutes; and so one 4 times -- 32 min total ) also is very helpful exercise to reduce the level of aggressiveness and anger. Swimming is another highly recommended exercise.  Generally spending some time near the water tend to help many people.
     

  2. Tactfulness in interpersonal relations (see Tactful communication, Diplomatic Communication, Negative Politeness). This trait can't be overestimated. For married couples, tact can avoid one of the main problem in long unemployment - stress and possible dissolution of the marriage. No matter how hard your try to compensate this is a huge hit for your self-esteem and the truth is such a hit encourages some maladjusted compensation mechanisms and first of all excessive aggression toward family members. You need to resist this tendency. The single best prediction of marital longevity is that both partners are kind and emotionally generous to each other. But this is easier said that done is such situation as long unemployment. Those who feel appreciated and valued by thier spouse may feel more committed to their marriage and have more positive outlook on overcoming existing difficulties. 
     
  3. Effective conflict resolution skills, especially in marriage, as marriage comes under stress during period of long unemployment. See Conflict Couple A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Guide to Finding Peace.  It is better to assume part of household hours to help the other partner. Nothing destructs a person so much and so quickly as prolong period of idleness and even routine tasks related to home that you can take from your spouse are beneficial in adaptation. Consider it to be a new part time job.  Expect and prepare to problems in your marital life (Marriage and unemployment). In fact, unemployment stimulates transition of a pre-existing marital conflict into the state when spouses are separated emotionally but not physically, or  became “upstairs/downstairs” couples who are estranged, but share the same house. This is a real danger during long unemployment.
     
  4. Stoicism, ability to withstand hardships with honor, without betrayal of yourself and those who are close to you. The key idea if stoicism is that  "virtue is sufficient for happiness". Such an attitude stresses the value an inner freedom in the face of the external, often hostile world. Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions such lust and greed; the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to better understand yourself and thus overcome hardships without betrayal of yourself and those who are close to you. As Seneca said "The point is, not how long you live, but how nobly you live."

    Admiral James Stockdale, who was shot down over North Vietnam, held as a prisoner and repeatedly tortured was deeply influenced by Epictetus after being introduced to his works while at Stanford University. As he parachuted down from his plane, he reportedly said to himself "I'm leaving the world of technology and entering the world of Epictetus!"

    The same phrase can be repeated by IT specialist who are over 50 and became unemployed. 
    Practicing  Stoicism is an active process of preparation to overcome negative influence of hardships with honor  (and viewing hardships as a test that God send to evaluate a person) and acquiring deeper self-knowledge in the process (see below)
     
  5. The sense of humor.  The sense of humor is really important for survival in such circumstances. Sense of humor  serves as an important safety valve, helping to prevent the slide into depression.  The future can be scary, but people with the sense of humor adapt easer to harsh conditions.  We often cannot predict how we will be feeling – our level of emotional stability.  And sense of humor serves as a safety valve in this cases, channeling emotion into the safe path.  Even reading  humor stories can help in such cases.
     
  6. The ability to be easily entertained and  fight the sense of boredom.   This is an interesting observation: the easier one can fight the sense of boredom, the better are chances he/she has to survive long unemployment without emotional scars.  As Nansen frequently wrote in his journal, to survive isolation and confinement, one must learn to be idle without feeling guilty (BOLD ENDEAVORS, p.261)  See below You will survive: Fight the sense of isolation and related higher level of aggression I remember the story of one prisoner whom only entertainment in solitary confinement to observe a female rat in his cell. He observed how she behaved, gave birth, etc and noted that he probably would not survived without this strange companion of his confinement.  And this situation with excessive boredom is not limited to people with the long term unemployment problem.  It is pretty common for example for actors too.  Linda Fiorentino  who played the famous female sociopath character in  The Last Seduction once observed "As actors, the thing we have to fight, more than even the business part of making movies, is boredom."   Temporary work, or even volunteering are important for the same reason. You can't wait for your best chance forever. This is also very similar to the situation actors find themselves. As Linda Fiorentino noted  "Sometimes I have to work because I need the money. You weigh the issues and ask yourself, "Can I wake up every morning and do this?"
     
  7. Interest in keeping a regular log of events. That can be done either on computer on or by writing it in the form of lab journal (writing a regular journal make it easier to keep it private; in case of computer you need to use encrypted USB drive which is unlocked, for example, using fingerprint or code combination). That helps to view that situation as pretty cruel experiment that neoliberal society staged upon you, and gives you an ability see a bigger picture. The picture on the level above your personal problems. See Start a log book
     
  8. Maintaining proper (or may be even slight upscale) attire and useful work habits.  Well dressed people have higher self-esteem. As simple as that. That's an important fact that dictates that you need to be dressed up. For the same reason regular visits to the library revive your work routines. That also forces you to dress properly and helps with self-confidence  Public library can serve as a substitute for working place just for few hours a day and along with positive influence on self-confidence helps to fight the sense of isolation. The same role can play a course in your local community college (if you enroll in one course in it it is tax deductable; highly recommended). People are social animals in many respects (see Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are Amy Cuddy TED Talks - YouTube :-)  See also The importance of keeping yourself occupied
  9. Learning to cope with chronic stress coused by long-term unemployment. The most dangerous factor here is chronic stress caused by long-term unemployment. It really endanger your health and create multitude of additional problems starting from insomnia.

Like Arctic explorers with ship squeezed by ice which went down, you need to became an expect in survival in hostile environment and keeping the friendship of a few people you can rely upon. Isolated people die in Arctic really quick. The value of the ability to manage conflicts and to communicate tactfully in your current relationships increase tenfold in such situations:

It takes more skill, effort and commitment--and, at least in the short run, more stress--to face the challenge together with the other person involved in the dispute. Certainly it seems as if it would be easier to fight, withdraw, or give in. Yet in the long run, working through difficulties together will help us live a less stressful and more fulfilling life.

The value of stoicism in fighting consequences of a job loss


The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less. – Socrates

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. – Lao Tzu

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor. – Seneca

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Serenity Prayer - Wikipedia

Admiral James Stockdale, who was shot down over North Vietnam, held as a prisoner and repeatedly tortured was deeply influenced by Epictetus after being introduced to his works while at Stanford University. As he parachuted down from his plane, he reportedly said to himself "I'm leaving the world of technology and entering the world of Epictetus!" The same words can be repeated by  IT specialist who are over 50 and became unemployed: it is the ability to fight adversity that distinguishes real men from fakes.

Stoics teach us that not everything is under our control, not it should be. There are some things we have control over (our judgments, our own mental state) but for a  lot of things we do not exercise much control -- this is what the concept of destiny is about (external processes and objects, transformations of the society, like the USA conversion to neoliberalism in 1980th with banks running amok for quick profits, resulting from this social cataclysms like Great Recession or, worse,  civil war in some countries (all wars are bankers wars)). Part of our unhappiness can be traced to confusing these two categories: thinking we have control over something that ultimately we do not.

The wisdom can can be viewed as the ability to distinguish things that we can control and those that we can not. This stoic attitude was aptly captured by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr[ (1892–1971) in his famous Serenity Prayer:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Loss of job is a severe hit for a person no matter young or old. A hit comparable in its effects with the dissolution of the marriage or a death or a jail term of a close relative. In other words it is a traumatic event with negative long term consequences.  Among them:

But you have the ability to minimize them. Stoicism is a philosophy of life that might help, at least for some people,  is those circumstances. It tried to address the problem of loss of self-esteem but reformulating it from the the "dimension" of possession to the dimension of personal courage.  After all if everything if gone a man can quit the life voluntarily. That means that he should be able to fight to last breath against even uneven adds.  The key idea of stoicism is that  "personal virtue and courage in adversity, courage in fight against uneven odds is sufficient for maintaining high self-esteem". 

In other words stoicism reasserts  human dignity as the ability to fight the external, often hostile world. Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions such desperation, lust and greed; the philosophy holds that the ability to see clearly your circumstances and fight them to the extent you can  is an achievement in itself, toward which we all should strive.  No matter what is the outcome of this fight. The Stoics taught that we fail far more often than we succeed, that to be human is to be fearful, selfish, and angry far more often than we’d like. But they also taught a realistic way to be less fearful, less selfish, and less angry.  It also teaches to prepare for adversity and do not expect that your life with be smooth sailing to the very end.

In addition to this "glorification of human courage in fighting adversity" stoics also strive  "to be free from anger, envy, and jealousy" (The Stoic ideal of dispassion is accepted to this day as the perfect moral state by the Eastern Orthodox Church). AS value of a person is in his inner properties , stoics teach to accept everybody as "equals, because all men alike are products of nature." In ancient world this was an innovative, rebelous postulates. Related to social status of unemployment is remains to be so even now. In their view the external differences which are considered of such primary importance in Western civilization, such as rank and wealth should not be primary criteria of judging others, not they should the primary goals in your life, or of primary importance in social relationships

After all it is the idea of capitalism to deprive part of the population from meaning full employment to increase obedience of theirs. Neoliberalism requires that employees sell their labor as a condition of survival. Nothing more, nothing less. The "entrepreneur" can exert power by denying access to work, hence income, hence survival. Watch "Office space" which provides a pretty realistic picture how fear of loss of employment paralyzes even young, rebellious people, making the easy prey to any corporate sociopath. The state has the ability to enforce this social order by "brute force”  and in modern times, when social safety nets are weak routinely destroys efforts of the remnants of organized labor to defend employees rights. And neoliberalism  is certainly remains the preferred order among Western elites. All in all "it is not your fault". Seriously.

In the words of Epictetus (note that the word happiness here has slightly different meaning then in regular English language), you can be  "sick and yet happy, in peril and yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy..." If we assume that "happiness" means here the ability to maintain high self-esteem this quote might be more understandable. Stoic ethics stressed the rule: "Follow where reason leads." One must therefore strive to be free of the distortions caused by "passions", bearing in mind that the ancient meaning of "passion" was more close to contemporary words "emotions",  "anguish" or "suffering", that is, "passive reaction to external events, which is different from the modern use of the word. In other words you need the ability to dispassionately and persistently "stay the course" after you had chosen it with all the wisdom you are capable of; it is about "who controls whom.": either you control your your emotions, or your emotions control you. 

The four cardinal virtues of the Stoic philosophy are: wisdom (Sophia), courage (Andreia), justice (Dikaiosyne), and temperance (Sophrosyne).  The ability to fight in adversarial conditions considered to be a virtue.  This stoical sentiment with more stress on desire to fight the adversity to the bitter end despite uneven odds was expressed in old Russian song Varyag (the cruiser  that became  became famous for her crew's stoicism at the Battle of Chemulpo Bay when she alone tried to break the blockade of the port by the whole Japanese fleet)

All to the upper deck and man your battle posts,
The last battle for our ship is coming
Our proud "Varyag" will not surrender to the enemy,
And none of us want their mercy.

But this situation needs a different type of courage, then military courage required to face overwhelming enemy force and fight to the bitter end despite low or even non-existent odds of the victory and survival. Unlike military battles, unemployment can last for years. So endurance comes to the front. This is more like prolonged war, then a single battle.

Unemployment also press people to get into compromises they would never get otherwise. Stoics teach that a person should strive to be just and moral in an unjust and immoral world (see also Reinhold Niebuhr's book Moral Man and Immoral Society) despite all odds:

"Moral Man and Immoral Society", by Reinhold Neibhur, was published during the years of the Great Depression. In this work, Reinhold asserts the requirement of politics in the fight for social justice because of the depravity of human nature, that is, the arrogance of human beings. Neibur sees the flaws of the mind when it comes to solving social injustice by moral and wise means, "since reason is always the servant of interest in a social situation". This is his judgment of liberal Christian doctrine, which fully believes in the intellectual ability of humans to make themselves be good, and he admits this vulnerability as our existence. In other words, Neibhur accurately saw the evil of systems in society and its empty endeavors to better individuals and their insufficiencies.

Neibhur warns us about adopting "herd mentalities." According to him, individuals are morally able to think of the interests of others above themselves. That is, human beings can be kind. Societies, however, find it essentially impossible to manage intelligently the competing interests of subgroups. Societies, he contends, effectively gather up only individuals' selfish impulses, not their abilities for charitable thoughtfulness toward others.

According to Niebuhr, this group egocentricity of individuals-in-groups is immensely powerful. "In every human group there is less reason to guide and to check impulse, less capacity for self-transcendence, less ability to comprehend the needs of others, therefore more unrestrained egoism than the individuals, who compose the group, reveal in their personal relationships".

Avoidance of fight for justice is viewed by stoics a rejection of one's social duty. Stoic philosophical and spiritual practices included  contemplation of hardship, training to value the life as it is (similar to some forms of Eastern meditation), and daily reflection on everyday problems and possible solutions (by keeping a diary). Practicing  Stoicism is an active process of preparation to overcome  hardships that your destiny could send upon you with honor and courage  (and viewing hardships as a test that God send to evaluate a person). As well as acquiring deeper self-knowledge and the knowledge of the society in the process.

In his Meditations (which were not written for print, but as a  personal diary) Marcus Aurelius defines several such practices. For example, in Book II.I:

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of the ignorance of real good and ill... I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together...

It was stoicism that gave mankind the idea if equality of all men. In this situation it applies to those who suffer from the long term unemployment. Below are some quotations from major Stoic philosophers, selected to illustrate common Stoic beliefs:

Epictetus:

Marcus Aurelius:

Seneca the Younger:

A good introduction to Stoicism can be found in A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine. Here are some Amazon reviews of the book:

...Readers learn how to minimize worry, how to let go of the past and focus our efforts on the things we can control, and how to deal with insults, grief, old age, and the distracting temptations of fame and fortune.

We learn from Marcus Aurelius the importance of prizing only things of true value, and from Epictetus we learn how to be more content with what we have.

Finally, A Guide to the Good Life shows readers how to become thoughtful observers of their own life. If we watch ourselves as we go about our daily business and later reflect on what we saw, we can better identify the sources of distress and eventually avoid that pain in our life...

David B Richman (Mesilla Park, NM USA)
The Best Introduction to an Ancient Philosophy, December 23, 2008 See all my reviews

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (Hardcover)

I first read Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" while flying to the eastern United States for a scientific meeting. It was during a rather difficult period in my life and I had picked up on "Meditations" because of a mention of this work by Edwin Way Teale in "Near Horizons" as a book he turned to in times of trouble.

I was not disappointed by these insightful notes written for his own use nearly 2000 years ago by the Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher. It was thus that I was primed to read William B. Irvine's "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy." This is one of those books that can be really life changing, if the reader is ready for it.

Irvine briefly discusses the history of Stoic philosophy and its relationship to other philosophies in ancient Greece and Rome. He concentrates most of the book, however, on the Stoics of the Roman Empire, namely Seneca, Gaius Musonius Rufus, Epictetus and, of course, Marcus Aurelius. After his historical review Irvine spends some time on the practical aspects of Stoicism, including

  • negative visualization (visualizing how your life could be worse),
  • dichotomy of control (what we can and cannot control),
  • fatalism (about the past and present, not the future),
  • self-denial (putting off pleasure so as to appreciate it more when you have it),
  • duty (what we owe to others),
  • social relations (how we relate to others),
  • insults (how to react to them),
  • grief (how to deal with loss),
  • anger (how to turn it to humor),
  • personal values (how to deal with fame and fortune, or the lack thereof),
  • old age (how to deal with the aging process),
  • and dying (how to prepare for this certainty).

The last part of the book is devoted to the practice of Stoicism in the modern world, with both its pluses and minuses.

Although I would have to practice a modified Stoicism (I doubt that most of us would like to sleep even occasionally on a board or give up sex except for procreation), there is much of Stoicism that we can use in the modern world.

Unlike the Cynics who slept on boards all the time and generally followed ascetic practices, Stoics wanted to enjoy life and followed something akin to the Middle Way of Buddhism.

This attitude could certainly be of use to counter the worst of this "me first" society of rampant consumerism. In truth you really cannot take it with you when you die and to act like you can is the height of folly.

This book is a fascinating exposition of Stoic philosophy and its possible uses in the present day. The current economic collapse and other disasters of modern living could be a fertile ground for a revival of Stoic ideas. I also recommend it as a refreshing antidote for the hectic modern world in general. Take what is useful, and leave the rest, but read it if you would live deliberately and thus be free!

Secular stagnation of the economy

The world  entered a period of economic stagnation. American middle class families now earn less and have a lower net worth than before the Great Recession.  For individuals, this translates into less savings at the age of 50. Both in 401K and in accounts outside 401K, such as Roth or regular investment account, such as Vanguard. That means that "downsizing" in case of chronic unemployment need to go deeper and be more painful. To raise funds you not only need to change your house for apartment (a good move when you children are grown up in any case) bu take other measures, like getting rid off of extra car, boat, etc. 

Rising unemployment level of IT professional over 50 is just a tip of the iceberg of multiple problems caused by secular stagnation.  Here is a short description:

Secular Stagnation is a term proposed by Keynesian economist Alvin Hansen back in the 1930s to explain America’s dismal economic performance — in which sluggish growth and output, and employment levels well below potential, coincide with a problematically low (even negative) real interest rates even in the face of extraordinarily easy monetary policy. This is stagnation that lasts longer period then the business cycle (also called Japanification of economy). It looks like a suppression of economic performance for long (aka secular) period of time.

The global stagnation we are experiencing is the logical result of dominance of neoliberalism and a sign of its crisis an a ideology, somewhat similar to the crisis of Bolshevik's ideology in the USSR in 60th when everybody realized that the existing society cannot fulfill the key promise of higher living standards and that over centralization of economic life naturally lead to stagnation.  Analogy does not ends here, but this point is the most important.

Neoliberalism replaced over-centralization (with iron fist one party rule) with over-financialization (with iron fist rule of financial oligarchy), with generally the same result as for the economy ( In other words neoliberalism like bolshevism is equal to economic stagnation; extremes meet).  End of cheap oil did not help either. In a sense neoliberalism might be viewed as the elite reaction to the end of cheap oil, when it became clear that there are no enough cookies for everyone.

This growth in the financial sector's profits has not been an accident; it is the result of  engineered shift in the elite thinking, which changed government policies. The central question of politics is, in my view, "Who has a right to live and who does not".  In the answer to this question, neoliberal subscribes to Social Darwinism: citizens should be given much less rather than more social protection. Such  policies would have been impossible in 50th and 60th (A Short History of Neo-liberalism)

In 1945 or 1950, if you had seriously proposed any of the ideas and policies in today's standard neo-liberal toolkit, you would have been laughed off the stage at or sent off to the insane asylum. At least in the Western countries, at that time, everyone was a Keynesian, a social democrat or a social-Christian democrat or some shade of Marxist.

The idea that the market should be allowed to make major social and political decisions; the idea that the State should voluntarily reduce its role in the economy, or that corporations should be given total freedom, that trade unions should be curbed and citizens given much less rather than more social protection--such ideas were utterly foreign to the spirit of the time. Even if someone actually agreed with these ideas, he or she would have hesitated to take such a position in public and would have had a hard time finding an audience.

And this change in government polices was achieved in classic Bolsheviks coup d'état way via forming first the Party of "professional neoliberal revolutionaries" who pushed for this change. The crisis of "New Deal capitalism" helped, but without network of think tanks and rich donors, the triumph of neoliberalism in the USA would have been impossible:

...one explanation for this triumph of neo-liberalism and the economic, political, social and ecological disasters that go with it is that neo-liberals have bought and paid for their own vicious and regressive "Great Transformation". They have understood, as progressives have not, that ideas have consequences. Starting from a tiny embryo at the University of Chicago with the philosopher-economist Friedrich von Hayek and his students like Milton Friedman at its nucleus, the neo-liberals and their funders have created a huge international network of foundations, institutes, research centers, publications, scholars, writers and public relations hacks to develop, package and push their ideas and doctrine relentlessly.

Most economists are acutely aware of the increasing role in economic life of financial markets, institutions and operations and the pursuit of profits via exotic instruments such as derivatives (all this constituted  financialization). This dominant feature of neoliberalism has huge the re-distributional implications, huge effects on the US economy, international dimensions and monetary system, depth and longevity of financial crises and unapt policy responses to them.

They have built this highly efficient ideological cadre because they understand what the Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci was talking about when he developed the concept of cultural hegemony. If you can occupy peoples' heads, their hearts and their hands will follow.

I do not have time to give you details here, but believe me, the ideological and promotional work of the right has been absolutely brilliant. They have spent hundreds of millions of dollars, but the result has been worth every penny to them because they have made neo-liberalism seem as if it were the natural and normal condition of humankind. No matter how many disasters of all kinds the neo-liberal system has visibly created, no matter what financial crises it may engender, no matter how many losers and outcasts it may create, it is still made to seem inevitable, like an act of God, the only possible economic and social order available to us.  

Neoliberalism naturally leads to secular stagnation due to redistribution of wealth up. which undermines purchasing power of the 99%, or more correctly 99.9 of the population. In the USA this topic became hotly debated theme in establishment circles after Summers speech in 2013.  Unfortunately it was suppressed in Presidential campaign of 2016. Please note that Sanders speaks about Wall Street shenanigans, but not about ideology of neoliberalism.  No candidates tried to address this problem of "self-colonization" of the USA, which is probably crucial to "making America great again" instead of continued slide into what is called "banana republic" coined by American writer O. Henry (William Sydney Porter 1862–1910). Here is how Wikipedia described the term:

Banana republic or banana state is a pejorative political science term for politically unstable countries in Latin America whose economies are largely dependent on exporting a limited-resource product, e.g. bananas. It typically has stratified social classes, including a large, impoverished working class and a ruling plutocracy of business, political, and military elites.[1] This politico-economic oligarchy controls the primary-sector productions to exploit the country's economy.[2]

... ... ...

In economics, a banana republic is a country operated as a commercial enterprise for private profit, effected by a collusion between the State and favoured monopolies, in which the profit derived from the private exploitation of public lands is private property, while the debts incurred thereby are a public responsibility.

This topic is of great importance to the US elite because the USA is the citadel of  Neoliberalism. It also suggest that the natural way neoliberal economic system based on increasing of the level of inequality (redistribution of wealth up) should behave: after the initial economic boom (like in case of steroids use) caused by  financialization of economy (as well as dissolution of the USSR), helped by off-shoring of manufacturing, the destructive effects of this temporary boost come into foreground. Redistribution of wealth up increases inequality which after a certain delay starts to undercuts domestic demand. It also tilts the demand more toward conspicuous consumption (note the boom of luxury cars sales in the USA).  

But after  inequality reaches certain critical threshold  the economy faces extended period of low growth reflecting persistently weak private demand (purchasing power of lower 90% of population).  People who mostly have low level service economy jobs (aka MC-jobs) can't buy that much.  Earlier giants of American capitalism like Ford understood that, but Wall Street sharks do not and does not want.  They operate under principle "Après nous le déluge" ("After us, the deluge").

An economic cycle enters recession when total spending falls below expected by producers and they realize that production level is too high relative to demand. What we have under Neoliberalism is Marx's crisis of overproduction on a new level. At this level it is intrinsically connected with the parasitic nature of complete financialization of the economy. The focus on monetary policy and the failure to enact fiscal policy options is the key structural defect of Neoliberalism ideology and can't be changed unless neoliberal ideology is abandoned. Which probably will not happen unless another huge crisis hits the USA. That might not happen soon.  Bolshevism lasted more then 70 years. If we assume that the "age of Neoliberalism" started at 1973 with Pinochet coup d'état in Chile, Neoliberalism as a social system is just 43 years old (as of 2016). It still has some "time to live"(TTL) in zombies state due to the principle first formulated by Margaret Thatcher as TINA ("There Is No Alternative") -- the main competitor, bolshevism, was discredited by the collapse of the USSR and China leadership adoption of neoliberalism. While Soviet leadership simply abandoned the sinking ship and became Nouveau riche in a neoliberal society that followed, Chinese elite managed to preserved at least outer framework of the Marxist state and the political control of the Communist party (not clear for how long). But there was a neoliberal transformation of Chinese economy, initiated, paradoxically, by the Chinese Communist Party.

Currently, no other ideology, including old "New Deal" ideology can  compete with neoliberal ideology, although things started to change with Sanders campaign in the USA on  the left and Trump campaign on the right. Most of what we see as a negative reaction to neoliberalism in Europe generally falls into the domain of cultural nationalism.    

The 2008 financial crisis, while discrediting Neoliberalism as an ideology (in the same way as WWII discredited Bolshevism), was clearly not enough for the abandonment of this ideology. Actually Neoliberalism proved to be remarkably resilient after this crisis. Some researchers claim that it entered "zombie state" and became more bloodthirsty and ruthless.

There is also religious overtones of Neoliberalism which increase its longevity (similar to Trotskyism, and neoliberalism can be called "Trotskyism for rich"). So, from a small, unpopular sect with virtually no influence, neo-liberalism has become the major world religion with its dogmatic doctrine, its priesthood, its law-giving institutions and perhaps most important of all, its hell for heathen and sinners who dare to contest the revealed truth.  Like in most cults adherents became more fanatical believers after the prophecy did not materialized. The USA elite tried partially alleviate this problem by resorting to military Keynesianism as a supplementary strategy. But while military budget was raised to unprecedented levels, it can't reverse the tendency. Persistent high output gap is now a feature of the US economy, not a transitory state.

But there is another factor in play here: combination of peak (aka "plato" ;-) oil and established correlation of  the speed of economic growth and prices on fossil fuels and first of all on oil. Oil provides more than a third of the energy we use on the planet every day, more than any other energy source (How High Oil Prices Will Permanently Cap Economic Growth - Bloomberg). It is dominant fuel for transport and in this role it is very difficult to replace. 

That means that a substantial increase of price of oil acts as a fundamental limiting factor for economic growth. And "end of cheap oil" simply means that any increase of supply of oil to support growing population on the planet and economic growth now requires higher prices. Which naturally undermine economic growth, unless massive injection of currency are instituted. that probably was the factor that prevented slide of the US economy into the recession in 2009-2012.  Such a Catch-22.

Growth dampening potential of over $100-a-barrel oil is now a well established factor. Unfortunately, the reverse is not true. Drop of oil price to below $50 as happened in late 2014 and first half of 2015 did not increase growth rate of the USA economy. It might simply prevented it from sliding it into another phase of Great Recession. Moreover when  economies activity drops, less oil is needed.  Enter permanent stagnation.

Also there is not much oil left that can be profitably extracted at prices below $80. So the current oil price slump is a temporary phenomenon, whether it was engineered, or is a mixture of factors including temporary overcapacity . Sooner or later oil prices should return to level "above $80", as only at this level of oil price capital expenditures in new production make sense. That des not mean that oil prices can't be suppressed for another year or even two, but as Herbert Stein aptly noted   "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop,"

Move to the cloud, lumpenization of IT and degeneration of IT brass

Currently the "conversion to the cloud" in the latest IT fashion. and under this sauce a lot of salaried jobs in IT are eliminated.  Technically speaking this just a new flavor of outsourcing.  While such a move have some technical merits:

But for everything else this is not "one size fit all" type of solution. As soon as the service requires considerable bandwidth (such as backup) it became really brittle after move into the cloud.  Also large provider which enjoy economy of scale (such a Google with Gmail or Amazon cloud, Microsoft or Web hosting companies) typically often experience periodic catastrophic outages just became of their huge scale: at such scale even minor mistake can has unpredictable consequences.  And there is nothing, absolutely nothing that you can change in such a situation, if your services are outsourced.  You is just one of many customers and as such there is no special loyanty toward you from the cloud provider staff. Unless you regular employees they do not care much about your company.  See "Everything in the Cloud" Utopia

But it does not matter for IT brass. In reality this conversion is used as an opening salvo in an attack of "traditional", salaried  IT workforce. Which are first transferred to the "cloud provider" and them partially eliminated when datacenter change hands due to "move to the cloud". Many of the older folds choose to retire (and that doubles the value of sound handling of your 401K -- think about it not so much as retirement fund, but more as a private unemployment insurance).  Combining some income stream from 401K and a low paying job helps to survive this adversity

The trend  under Neoliberalism is unmistakable: temps and contractors gradually displace permanent (salaried) employees, top brass gets richer and richer.  Less qualified and lower paid personnel with less benefits gradually is replacing old workforce, whenever such change is even marginally possible. Management gets outsized bonuses.  That's why large companies now are hunting for the opportunity to "convert datacenter to the cloud". 

In reality the conversion to the cloud is used as an opening salvo in an attack of "traditional", salaried IT workforce. Which are first transferred to the "cloud outsourcer" and them partially eliminated  when datacenter change hands. Many older folds choose to retire (and that double the value of sound handling of your 401K -- think about it not so much as retirement fund, but more as a private unemployment insurance).  Combining some income stream from 401K and a low paying job helps to survive this adversity.

The trend toward less qualification in IT (aka "lumpenization of IT") as also connected with the fact that as university graduates get into mature stage of development of major technologies and did not experience the emerging of all those technologies as old-timers did, unless they were amateur enthusiasts who tried to build their own computers and experimented with such OSes as MS DOS and Linux in school. That often means that they have less unique,  "in-depth" knowledge of technologies and processes that old-timers, which they acquired  by being the first hand witnesses of the  evolution of IT to the present level. As such they are more predisposed to use "packaged" solutions.

But of course there are old-timers and old-timers. Large swat of IT old-times are accidental people which moved to the field during boom years of IT (say, 1990-1998). Many of them  have neither native talent which drove "real" old-timers into IT from other specialties (often physics, or electrical engineering), nor computer science university degree which allow to see a bigger picture. Such people are just barely competent despite all the advantages cited above that their entrance at the field at the early stage of development of many important technologies (and first of all web-based technologies) provides. 

At the same time the concerns about reliability and downtime are not as simple as having old seasoned workforce on the payroll. A new generation of IT workers (mostly part-time and lower paid guys from outsourcers) is not greatly affecting network or server reliability in a negative way. May be something does happen on the margins. But major business disruptions coused by the ground floor incompetence looks completely remote to me. More often such cases are caused by gross incompetence of the top brass.

Paradoxically with the current level of hardware and software technology this new temp workers and contractors might be adequate to maintaining status quo. Its completely other game with the development of something new, but just maintaining existing services much like maining electrical network does not requires much talent and dedication. Business can survive with completely outsourced IT, if all they need are basic services. And many businesses unfortunately belongs to this type.  Of cause, everything became slow like running in the dense mud, but services somehow function and the enterprise does not collapse. Also both hardware and software architecture itself became more resilient for reasons external to the datacenter technologies used. For example, if company mail and phone network are down, people still can communicate using their cell phones SMS messages and web based personal accounts (which is bad but those are extraordinary circumstances which require extraordinary measures are better then nothing)

Another trend is that due to commodization of the technology the IT support on the level of the firm now matters less. Actually much less: any complex issues are delegated and solved by vendor support, or professional consultants. Enterprise software also became more or less standardized. Of course this is not applicable to research labs and such, but regular corporate office now runs predictable mixture of standard software suits and components including Microsoft Office, some database (Oracle or Microsoft SQL of both), backup software and storage area network, helpdesk software, datacenter monitoring software, videoconferencing software, and so on. Operating systems re also pretty much standardized: only a half dozen of operating systems such as VMware, Windows, RHEL, and SLES (with some remands of Solaris, HP-UX, AIX and remnants of mainframes OSes). Mail, DNS, proxy, firewall, NFS servers now are often implemented as appliances. 

Where  huge, damaging to the company, blunders are now made is at senior level, where the IT brass became completely detached from technology (and often from reality). In large companies, now there are way too many technically illiterate bean counters who were promoted to senior IT positions. What is important to understand is that they rely mainly on fashion (and vendor hype as well as good old bribing) in adopting new technologies for the firm. Recently misguided security efforts became a major threat to stability of the enterprise IT. In somw cases causing almost paralyses. And security for some reason attract the most incompetent careerists and "good-for-nothing" type of specialists. One typical "corporate excess" is preoccupation with firewalls. 

But contrary to the speculation about the demise of IT from the IT brass incompetence, the net result of that looks stupid and highly questionable from the ground floor are just modest cost overruns almost unnoticeable for the firm.  Nothing to be exited about. Something that should probably cost  $100K is bought for $200K or, in rare cases (if you buy from IBM ;-)  $300K. Plus additional 10-20% in annual maintenance fees. That's about it. So the level of inefficiency is not that great. Nothing in comparison with DoD. 

Please remember the cost of IT is generally around 1% of the total cost of the operation of a large company. Most often slightly less then 1%. So at the scale of the firm all those cost overruns is just a rounding error.

You should not consider your situation as your personal fault


You only have power over people so long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power - he's free again.

-- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, "Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up." Man bursts into tears. Says, "But doctor...I am Pagliacci."

You should view your situation is as a fight against unjust and cruel neoliberal society  which put you into neoliberal Gulag. In which human beings are considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. And the guards is no less cruel and much better equipped then under Stalinism. Like prisoners in Gulag "masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape." (Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism)

The social forces working toward shrinking of middle class have been building up for a while with the growth of neoliberalism. Among the the first and foremost factor here was the complete financialization of the economy (casino capitalism) and the steady rise in health costs and cost of university education. Due to this neoliberal transformation which meant redistribution of profits in favor of for the top 1% (much like in Gilded Age), not on the larger society,  outsourcing pressures are now huge. All those factors have hastened the demise of the safe, secure white-collar jobs, especially in IT.

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 completely impoverish poor limiting payment to them to what is needed for bare survival (actually for some category of worker Wal-Mart and other retailers already pay less then that). In other words they promote under the disguise of "free market" Newspeak a type of economy which can be called a plantation economy. Or XIX century economy if you want. 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 (look at academic economists as a good example of this trend ;-).  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.

Despite the neoliberal obsession with wage suppression via outsourcing, history suggests that such a policy is self-destructive, especially in high-tech industries. High wages promote both loyalty and rapid technological change that the US Information technology industry was famous for.  Now smell of "socialist enterprise" with its slogan "they pretend that they pay us, we pretend that we work" is distinctly felt in many large corporation with outsourced/offshored IT. Helpdesk tickets travel for several days, instead of resolution problems are swiped under the carpet, employees are unable to get qualified help and resort to creation of "shadow IT". And so on.

There are two major trends in job market under neoliberalism that hit especially hard older IT professionals:

One of the most important measures of the health of an economy is the following criteria: how many fulfilling, living-wage jobs are created or destroyed (most other economic factors can be distilled to this.). For example, widely used measure of economic growth, GDP is too influenced by financial masturbation and does not distinguish useful activity from harmful or irrelevant.  From this point of view we could describe the current economic system as Crapitalism, which treats ordinary people and lower level professionals as crap.

One of the most important measures of the health of an economy is the following criteria: how many fulfilling, living-wage jobs are created or destroyed (most other economic factors can be distilled to this.).

We live in a society where it's hard to maintain self-respect if you don't have a job. If you've been unemployed and are over 50 you already know this, but if you haven't, here's a news flash: Coping with prolonged joblessness is a very challenging and personally difficult task. Being unemployed is a stigma in the US neoliberal society, and being unemployed and over 50 is a double stigma. Those who are over 50 need to face subtle -- and not so subtle -- biases including hidden caveats on job ads for positions. 

Being unemployed is a stigma in the US neoliberal society, and being unemployed and over 50 is a double stigma (being young is a virtue under neoliberalism). Those who are over 50 need to face subtle -- and not so subtle -- biases including hidden caveats in job ads for relevant  positions.

And BTW the current laws don't prohibit discrimination against the jobless. As was aptly observed in Even Harvard couldn't protect me

Strikingly, no other circumstance triggers a larger decline in well-being and mental health than involuntary joblessness.

Only the death of a spouse compares.

The quest for ever higher degree of efficiency and dominance of neoliberalism as an ideology makes such a  society (and by extension the economy) extraordinarily brittle. And IT is on the forefront of this process. They essentially are destroying IT as we know it. Good, long lasting, full time jobs IT start to disappear, while percentage of IT temp jobs and low paid entry level jobs increased dramatically. Often the attitude toward older It professionals is highly negative:

"...older people are too much trouble.” When pressed on that statement, she continued, “You older folks know too much. You call us out on the BS — that every big outfit uses to keep the kids in line. Face it, you’re a threat to the system.” Evidently, overqualified also means having a social conscience today. I do pity the young folks today though. They’re growing up in a new Dickensian Age.

It does not help that white collar and professional jobs in general and IT jobs in particular are now being lost in the USA due to outsourcing. In a very deep sense many things in IT become either based on external support (and sometimes external infrastructure like in overhyped "cloud computing") or project-based with people hired at the beginning and said good by at the end. In this environment, losing a full time IT position for a person over 50 means significant hardship, as he is essentially forced by the new employment situation into temp labor pool.  As a result older IT specialist suffer a double hit -- a dramatic decline of earnings and effects of adverse selection of unemployed professionals over 50 making finding any new job a real challenge. 

A person over 50  is essentially forced by the new employment situation into temp labor pool.  As a result older IT specialist suffer a double hit -- a dramatic decline of earnings and effects of adverse selection of unemployed professionals over 50 making finding any new job a real challenge. 

The term adverse selection refers to a market process in which "bad" results occur when buyers and sellers have asymmetric information (i.e. access to different information). In this case the "inferior" products or services are more likely to be selected. As AARP noted: 

One report citing September figures noted, “Good News for Older Jobseekers Remains Elusive.” That’s one way to put it. Depressing might be another—especially if you’ve been out of work for more than a year.

“Will I ever work again?” is a common thought for unemployed people over 50, many of whom have been jobless for an average of 55 weeks. A group called Over 50 and Out of Work featuries 100 video stories on its web site to help others understand the plight of the unemployed at 50+.

Perma-temp is now a new perm for those who no longer can find full time job. You can't change the society in which you live. At least by yourself (that does not mean that you should vote for those who promote neoliberalism, which is the root case of this situation). And while you can and probably should make your voice and frustration heard via voting, on the individual day-to-day level the best philosophy to deal with this situation is Stoicism.

The fact on the ground is that IT environment as a whole seems to be thumped by "ageism" in a higher proportion than even racism or sexism. Age discrimination in the private sector IT is growing as range of candidates is vast when unemployment is high and younger employees are more malleable and controllable. Look at composition of staff of Google and, previously, at Microsoft.  It's all young people...

So situation when you are over 50 and unemployed is now pretty typical. In other word there is mass unemployment among IT professionals over 50 years old. If, despite all efforts, you got into this situation, you should try to take it easy. You are not the first and not the last who was thrown under the bus... 

Neoliberalism as a social system came as a replacement of New Deal and is about lowering standard of living of the middle class and dramatic raising the standard of living of the top 1%. This is what is happening now and It is just a part of bigger picture. You can change the society you live in. so don't take it to the heart. Other have been in this situation and survived, you will too.

This is the key point. You was thrown under the bus by neoliberal financial institutions of the country. Highly paid full time job in general and in IT  especially, are disappearing. Looks like the top 1% does not need middle class anymore and is content with Latin-American social structure of the society. So the process of Latin-americanization started we situation in It is a part of more general process of shrinking middle class.  The process which actually started decade or more ago. In other words, there is a profound, age-neutral economic transformation of the US economy: shredding large chunk of middle class jobs. For IT there are several additional powerful factors in play: commodization of IT, automation, which also affect IT jobs and, of course, outsourcing.

So people who are 50 now had the bad luck to reach their peak earning years during an economic perfect storm. Which was the recent "Great Recession" and its aftermath.

Also IT itself changes and despite the fact that most of the "cloud hype" is just hype, new technologies are gradually displacing older as hardware (especially Intel hardware) becomes more and more powerful and cheaper. Look at consolidation of OSes in Unix world into Linux as a telling example. "It's a true paradigm shift," says Karen Hochman, chair of the New York City chapter of MENG, all of whose 550 members have held top corporate jobs and half of whom are out of work.

"You've got hundreds of thousands of obsolete professionals who can't find employment in positions where they've been successful. These are people living off retirement savings 15 years before they were supposed to retire. They don't know what they're going to do."

Such understanding and mentality of a fighter for just cause can give one some additional moral strength which helps overcome the adverse situation. Mentality of a fighter for just cause, for human dignity,  greatly helps to maintain self-discipline, morale and physical condition. It gives another dimension to your physical exercises, attempt to maintain dignity and preserve a healthy lifestyle. And you should consider other is the same situation as allies that can help you, not as adversaries fighting like animals for few spots on the job market. Although you can't inflict even minor damage to neoliberals in Congress by your voting  in two party system, when both candidates competing for the job were already vetted by financial oligarchy via party "nomenclatura" (apparatchiks) mechanisms borrowed by neoliberalism from bolshevism (As George Carlin explained in his famous monologue the two party system protects interests of oligatchy extremly well  and you are f*cked no matter how you vote), it is your duty to explain to your friends and family that the situation in which you found yourself and help to navigate their choice  unless others, more radical, political actions can be taken (which sometimes is possible although such movements are either quickly "institualized" like Tea Party or suppressed like Occupy movement).  

You need to be aware that deindustrialization of the country and related job cuts often lead to long periods of unemployment, intermittent employment and/or underemployment, and the effects transcend simply the loss of pay, medical benefits and purchasing power. Financial strain creates stress, depression and family tensions, which can manifest in a variety of ways, from increased use of drugs and alcohol to suicide and domestic violence (The Social Costs of Deindustrialization):

...unemployment correlates with increased physical health problems. Reduced access to health care makes it less likely that displaced workers and their families will receive appropriate care. The mental and physical health costs of deindustrialization do not harm only pa­tients; increased demand for health care combined with decreased eco­nomic resources leads to health care workers and systems that are overburdened and ultimately unable to meet the community's needs.

Displaced workers, especially primary breadwinners, are likely to feel significant pressure and anxiety about providing for their families. But job loss causes more than just financial distress; work plays a key role in shaping individual identity and social relations. The loss of work can disrupt an individual's sense of self and his or her value and competence. As Al Gini writes, "To work is to be and not to work is not to be."42

... "anxiety, depression, and other forms of anguish may be the normal result of rational calculation of these life chances," according to Hamilton.47 Finding a new job does not entirely alleviate these fears, because the experience of being laid off can generate persistent fear about losing the next job. The security that workers once felt, especially those who worked for local companies that seemed to be dependable employers, disappears.

Neoliberalism as killing of human solidarity to enforce the rule of elite

Neoliberalism -- the ideological doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action -- has become dominant in both political thought and practice throughout much of the world since 1970 or so. It helped to crush communism in the USSR and largely displaced Marxism.

These problems are exacerbated by the loss of social networks under neoliberalism which openly process the law of jungel, the survival of the fittest for everybody execpt financial oligarchy ("masters of the universe" under neoliberalism). In other words they instill real "Homo homini lupus est" (a Latin saying  meaning "man is a wolf to [his fellow] man.")  ideology. And are pretty effective in that. 

Pope Francis recently took issue with neoliberalism and related pseudo theory called "trickle-down economics", which is designed to mask abject inequality usually created by neoliberal regimes (and resulting National Security State, where under the disguise of protecting citizens from terrorism  protects top 1% financial gains). He stressed that so-called supply side economics is a smoke screen for redistribution of wealth up by the financial oligarchy. As Eugene Patrick Devany noted in his comment to Paul Krugman's post The Case for Techno-optimism (Nov 27, 2013. NYT):

It seems that, "a persistent shortfall on the demand side" is a euphemism for the fact that half the population will remain near bankruptcy for quite sometime.

Pope Francis said two days ago

"To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others ... a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion ..."

One may consider the Pope less qualified to "pontificate" about technology than Prof. Krugman who "tracks technology" and sees that "smart machines are getting much better at interacting with the natural environment in all its complexity ... [and concluding] that a real transformative leap is somewhere over the horizon" Pope Francis said,

"This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occurring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power."

"This epochal change" seems to be a reference to "fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries" and to people forced to live "with precious little dignity".

The best description of supply side or “trickle down” economics I ever heard was by JK Galbraith:

“trickle down economics is the idea that if you feed the horse enough oats eventually some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.”

Here are several more relevant Pope Francis quotes:

... Such an [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

The shift toward neoliberalism occurred in the 1970s because businesses and the super-rich began a process of political self-organization in the early 1970s that enabled them to pool their wealth and influence to achieve dominant political power and to capture administration.  As David Swan noted in his review  (E. David Swan's review of A Brief History of Neoliberalism)

From its founding America's wealthy have feared democracy recognizing that the majority, being poor and middle class, could vote to redistribute wealth and reduce the control held by the elites. After World War II, the middle class in the United States grew dramatically somewhat flattening the countries power base. As a reaction to this dispersal of power the early 1970's saw the formation of groups like The Business Roundtable, an organization of CEO's who were `committed to an aggressive pursuit of political power for the corporation'. As the author writes, `neoliberalization was from the very beginning a project to achieve the restoration of class power'. T

The neoliberal plan was to dissolve all forms of social solidarity in favor of individualism, private property, personal responsibility and family values. It fell on well funded think tanks like The Heritage Foundation to sell neoliberalism to the general public using political-philosophical arguments.

Money pouring into lobbying firms, political campaigns, and ideological think tanks created the organizational muscle which mimics the Bolsheviks organizational muscle. And  a bunch of Trotskyite turncoats such as James Burnham, who knew the political technology of bolshevism from the first hands, were probably helpful in polishing this edifice.  Carter and Clinton sold Democratic Party to the same forces.

This rise of special interests politics has been at the expense of the middle class including IT professionals.  And the neoliberal plan was "to dissolve all forms of social solidarity in favor of individualism, private property, personal responsibility and family values" proved to be a huge success. The whole generation is now completely poised/brainwashed by those ideas. No longer the USA can be viewed as a Christian county by any objective observer. Neoliberalism became a new dominant enforced by the state religions which displaced Christianity. Now we have what we have.

Understand your situation as a part of civil war inflicted on the society by neoliberalism

Consider yourself in war zone now. In a sense it is true as your survival is at risk and you can lose you "living space". That means that you need to access all resources you have and try to make the best of them. In more then one way a way you view yourselves to be in  a war zone now.  This is a civil war for the destruction of New Deal capitalism (Neoliberal Capitalism destroying Society)

It is a form of terrorism because it abstracts economics from ethics and social costs, makes a mockery of democracy, works to dismantle the welfare state, thrives on militarization, undermines any public sphere not governed by market values, and transforms people into commodities. Neoliberalism’s rigid emphasis on unfettered individualism, competitiveness and flexibility displaces compassion, sharing and a concern for the welfare of others. In doing so, it dissolves crucial social bonds and undermines the profound nature of social responsibility and its ensuing concern for others. In removing individuals from broader social obligations, it not only tears up social solidarities, it also promotes a kind of individualism that is almost pathological in its disdain for public goods, community, social provisions, and public values. Given its tendency to instrumentalize knowledge, it exhibits mistrust for thoughtfulness, complexity, and critical dialogue and in doing so contributes to a culture of stupidity and cruelty in which the dominant ethic is organized around the discourse of war and a survival of the fittest mentality. Neoliberalism is the antithesis of democracy. – Henry A. Giroux

Like in any war, for civilian to survive one need to rely on resources you managed to accumulate in "peace time" and first of all your savings. Nothing is sacred in this situation: neither you401K not your house. They are just source of funds to survive. They should not be viewed via the usual prism "Keeping up with Jones" anymore. forget about it.   Move might be necessary, and not necessary to the place with more jobs -- move to place with much loser expenses also makes perfect sense

The "buck up and get over it" is useless advice. It's silly to assume most people aren't doing the best they can. For people who are over 50 it's not about trying or not trying. This is about premature switch to part part employment., Possibly for the rest of  your working life (that means before you can get Social Security which is around 67 years old now). There's just so little available IT jobs out there, that your chances of getting one are not that great. That does not mean that you should not try your best. You should do you best and continue trying despite disappointment. Never give up.  But some modest attempt to create income stream should proceed outside your specialty after your unemployment benefits expire. Even  reselling something like used books, cellphones or computers on eBay beats feeling hopeless. That actually allow you to write one room of your house as business expense. Think about it.

Analyze available funds and view them as bullets left

Most fold at 50 have some equity in the house and some sizable 401K. This is now two sources of supplementary income that can tremendously help if all you can get is a low paid job.

Create spreadsheet with your current expenses (see Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime).  Cutting your current expenses to bare bones is a necessary step and the earlier you can do it, the better. It is important to not to go too far here and determine what percentage you can save without dramatically lowering your standard of living. Much depends what "emergency fund" you currently have. Please not that you can also "borrow" from 401K without penalty based of "hardship" provisions of US tax code.  It is a much better move that accumulation of credit card debt. 

You usually can sell some unused staff that you accumulated over the years on eBay. While it's not much money, there are some benefits for this as small business activity which can improve the level of your psychological comfort as you are feel engaged in some systematic activity.

Create a spreadsheet of your monthly expenses and analyze each item. Some steps that help to cut your expenses are easy.

There are several other ways to make your balance sheet more healthy depending on your situation and whether you rent or own the house or apartment.  For example, if community library is nearby, using it in can slightly cuts your air conditioning or heating costs.  Adding a thin film on your windows is another good step in the same direction. Now you have time to do this, at last. Amazon has a lot of low cost offering under such titles as  "Heat control Residential Windows Film",  "Sun control Window Firm". For example Gila LES361

For the examples table below shows monthly expenses obtained by downsizing your life style:

Item Monthly Annual
Total expenses 2470 29640
Rent 800 9600
Food 800 9600
Electricity and heating (if not in rent) 100 1200
Books and once course at community colledge 50 600
Medical Insurance (hospital only) 150 1800
Car amortization/repairs/etc (one car) 100 1200
Car insurance (one car) 100 1200
Gas/transportation 60 720
Other expenses (meals, washing cloth, dry cleaning, etc) 80 960
Drugs, Doctor visits and dental costs 100 1200
Job search expenses 50 600
Cable internet 40 480
Cell phone or tablet with cell connection plus 1GB traffic a month 40 480

The importance of keeping yourself occupied

Unemployment means boredom and it destroys the person morale and self-worth assessment. That means that it is important to keep yourself occupied. It does not really matter with what activity: Creation of personal website, carving some wood, teaching free classes in the library, helping relative and neighbors. Fred Glogower, the Navy psychologist who was responsible for screening all the US Antarctic personal in 90th, stated this point in a very clear way: "The key to successful winter-over at a station is to keep the people busy."

Experienced Antarctic managers strive to identify and assign worthwhile projects to crew members that can be completed within the period of isolation and confinement. Working towards an established goal, such as writing a new program or participating if creation of documentation for some open source project provides sense of accomplishment when the goal is achieved.

Clearly defined interim goals help to maintain the focus. Self-checks of your knowledge of Unix and scripting languages, rehearsing interview with family members, passing certification exam for RHEL or their Linux distribution, etc also can help to create that sense of mission. For this reason one need to to be aware of danger of low workloads and prepare countermeasures.

Some retraining should be considered, but without too much zeal

Among other things this new situation means that you might benefit from getting some new skills or improving an old one to be more viable on the marketplace to get back to work. But please do not bite nonsense about everyone needing to reinvent themselves.  The last think you need is $40K student debt.  In this case  taking a minimum wage position is out of the question for me since all my salary would actually go to pay my debt and I would not have money even for transportation back and forth to work.

EconomistNC,  May 5, 2015

As a former public servant teaching University Level Econometrics for nearly 15 years and possessing numerous 'Excellence' awards, this development is nothing short of shameful. I have had dozens of recruiters and HR 'specialists' debase my public service as not being 'Real World' experience despite the fact that without my commitment to 'Real World Applications' education, many of those with whom I apply for employment would not hold a college degree. Indeed, I find many of the hiring managers with whom I speak regarding positions for which I have both technical and applications experience, there is impenetrable discrimination once they meet me in person.

The point made in several articles of this nature revolve around lack of knowledge and experience with newer technologies. In an effort to address this issue, I went back to school (again) to obtain expertise in IT Networking and Security, PMP Path Project Management and ITIL. Now I am being told that my education is of no value since I do not have the requisite 'Real World' experience using these newly acquired skills.

Indeed, to meet the criteria for many positions I find open requires that I be a 'recent college graduate.' When I point out that I have been continually retraining and taking online courses to keep my IT skills current, I am once again met with the lack of 'Real World' experience requirement. For a society that purports itself to value education and hard work, for those among us that have worked very hard for substandard pay and benefits to be so casually cast aside is absolutely inexcusable.

Sill some, modern steps to adapt can and should be taken. For example, fashion rules in programming and system administration and getting a course or two for the latest fad can improve your prospects getting back to work. In community college it does not cost much money and expense is tax deductible. It is also interesting opportunity professionally as often in the corporate environment longtimers are pushed to the niche which is far from being interesting and sometimes represents a dead end for their former skills.

There are several programs which might  provide some minor financial assistance, but don't count on them too much. In any case tax deduction for one couse in the community college is yours to get.

Please understand that colleges also changed and "neoliberalized"  with money becoming primary driver of their activities. That means that many of them now are greedy money extracting machines which can capitalize of your distressed situation. Don't believe hype of magical retraining courses that charge $10K or more for a summer and teach almost nothing. This is a popular brand of  educational scams, nothing more, nothing less. And those "courses" are typically run by really ruthless education sharks. Time when in films college professor was a positive hero are long gone. Now they can well be just another variety of white color criminals. Please read the notes at Slightly Skeptical View on University Education.

In other words, if you are over 50 accumulation of education debt is gambling -- it does not really improve your chances of getting back to workforce due to age discrimination issues. Making a sizable investment in re-training with an uncertain outcome, without understanding full consequences and chances to get an entry level position in newly acquired field (and forget about any other level), might make your situation dramatically worse. See comment from hen3ry below.  You are warned...

Still there are several ways of getting positive return from educational institutions without spending much money:

I would like to mention also two related educational opportunities not directly connected to the college:

You can also try to find special federal and state programs that aid adults in returning to college. Look at website of Workforce Professionals, Employment & Training Administration (ETA) - U.S. Department of Labor. They usually provide better conditions and lower interest rate then private funding (see for example Trade Act Program TAA for Workers, Employment & Training Administration (ETA) - U.S. Department of Labor). Several community organizations and foundations provide assistance to adults going back to school. You may be eligible.  Check out associations and societies that offer scholarships and grants to older students.  If you are a female and/or a single parent there are programs and awards especially for this category.

Start a log book 

With the current complexity of the environment memory is no longer reliable store of your experience.  So create a log book and write down each evening the steps you have taken. Once a week write the review of the week and once a month write the review for the month. You will be surprised at the amount of times you step on the same rake and repeated unnecessary mistakes ;-).

Also that helps you to remember key things from one encounter from another. Logbook helps you to organize your memory and avoid repeating the same mistakes again and again.

You you use regular logbook put is somewhere were nobody else can read it. If you use computer put it on electronic USB drive with built-in encruption and iether fingerprint authentication or numeric code authentication. Log should remain private and never shared with anyone.  That extremely essential. 

Learn to get to the library each (or some) of mornings as a new working place

Use library as your new "temporary working place".  It can be a community library or nearby college library but you need to get out of house at  least for the first half of the day. This will help you in a way you don't anticipate.  First of all you can meet people, the second you preserve a resemblance of your usual schedule which positively affected your general psychological state and prevent depression which often accompany long tome unemployment. People need community just of preserving psychic health.

Just the fact you still need to get up in the morning, take a bath, have breakfast and your morning coffee, dress up and go has a strong positive influence. People are creatures of routine; don't break your current routine.  You can also save on air-conditioning going to the library at summer.

Pay attention to your attire when you are going to the library. Try to dress the way you used to dress going to work or slightly better. That keeps you in tonus as being well dressed provide strong implicit feedback to you and improve your self-confidence. Like people used to say "form liberates".

Electronic libraries as Oreily Safari is also a possibility but cost money. O'Reilly provides a short trial period that you can use as additional source of books. But nothing can substitute a real library when you are unemployed.

Enroll into one course in community college

This is a tax deductable expense. And for $400-$800 this is another opportunity to meet people and learn new skills. That also a very helpful for your psychological condition and greatly helps you stay mentally sharp.  If you worked in IT for a long time, you usually lost a lot of your knowledge due to limitations of your regular corporate job.

Now there is a chance to get some of those losses back. Programming course such as Unix shell course or C++ course while not necessary for you employment actually is a great way to relearn many useful thing and feel much better about yourself as you can compare yourself with other students.  In other words attending a college course increases your self-esteem, which is an important thing in your situation.

What is also extremely important is that your status as a student gives you access to the community college computer lab and community college library.  This is a pretty powerful learning environment in itself.

 

Create a home lab

Skilled became rusty if not used on a regular basis. You can recreate part of your former environment (and actually learn few new things is the process) by creating a home lab. Used tower computers from Dell such as Optiplex and workstations. They are very inexpensive and quite reliable. They can be bought for less then $150 each on eBay (with shipping).  4GB of RAM is more then enough to have very complex Linux setups including virtual machine setup. You can also buy used CISCO router or switch if this is part of your skills.

It is more difficult to accommodate your needs if in-addition to linux you managed Solaris o, AIX or HP-UX. But still it is possible, especially with Solaris on UltraSparc (and you can use Solaris on Intel instead).   Still even if you limit yourself to Linux it is better then nothing. 

In any case creating home linux infrastructure is no-brainer. You can have two or three linux boxes and one Solaris box. Install local DNS, DHCP, sendmail and other services. Create a "lab website". Install helpdesk or ticket tracking software. And you can enroll the help of your former colleagues for thing that you currently do not understand. 

Now you are ready to run some small development project or at least tinker with the boxes to prevent losing your skills.

You will survive: Fight the sense of isolation and related higher level of aggression

  It took all the strength I had not to fall apart
Kept trying hard to mend the peaces of my broken heart
I spent so many nights just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry
But now I hold my head up high

Gloria Gaynor

Sense of isolation and desperation in finding a new job increase the level of aggressiveness in people. It's much like an animal which is being cornered. And this is strongly felt by family members, if any. Obeying simple guidelines might help

Humans can endure almost anything, but you need to be aware of typical pitfalls that develop in your situation. Material below is based on the book  BOLD ENDEAVORS, Chapter 18)

The primary lesson that can be learned form studying cases of long term unemployment is that humans are capable of enduring conditions far more austere financially and more challenging morally that initially planned. Your self-worse does not depend on the size of your salary. This is an important point.

People can adjust from change to living in a comfortable cabins on the ship to living in tent in Arctic. Their diaries reveal that members can remain cheerful and even had to remind themselves about their desperate situation.  Arctic expeditions prove that humans can endure unimaginable hardships when the survival is in stake. Humans also exhibited a remarkable capacity to adaptation to living on greatly reduced standard, incomparably lower that any unemployed face. Description o of the life in Nancen't hat on Frans Josef Land illustrate the extremes of human mental and physical endurance and should be a required reading.

the polar whaling industry during nineteen and early twentieth century is another example of people surviving under extremely austere and dangerous conditions,, The crews of sealing and wailing ships endure crowed and anti-sanitary conditions, bad food, harsh treatment and long period of boredom punctuated by now and then by hard work and danger.  Midshipman William Reynolds of the Wilkes Expedition described adaptability of sailors on one of his letters home in 1839 (BOLD ENDEAVORS, p 305):

As for bodily inconveniences, they are easily endured, and as long as extremes of endurance are not called for, all are disposed to make light of the present and trust to better luck in the future. Sailors are your true philosophers in these cases and never employ themselves in fancying their situation worse that it is,.

When you thing about such austere and difficult conditions as described in  BOLD ENDEAVORS,  long term unemployment does not look too bad of a situation anymore.

 

Church can be a valuable meeting place with people in the same situation

If you are a church goer, you can utilize this institution too. Church is one of the few place when your current situation does not have any stigma attached to it: religion is was created as an antipode to the Homo homini lupus est  attitude of the marketplace.

Moreover you can use it to create a group of people in similar situation which can a little bit help each other. Just communication with people in similar situation helps.

Checking your friends for job opportunities in their companies

It is a trivial advice, but important nuance is that you should not do it as the first step without talking to recruiter and understanding your situation better. You need to prepare for each such talk, as if you go to the interview, despite the fact that this is your friend.

If position in his/her company does exist, those are usually more reliable and valuable lids, that those from recruiter.  Create the list and call starting from the most promising, not in alphabet order. Those who will take your calls and at least formally try to help can be left on the list. Purge others. Inform those who responded about your the new plans and situation as you understand it now.

Often people do not do anything unless they are more informed about the roadblocks you face, your next steps and plans. This way they become more involved. Expect that some of your friends will do nothing.  Those who will try are kind of virtual team that you can use. Look for opportunities based of your LinkedIn account and you address book; some companies might be looking for consultants, if not permanent staff.  

Volunteer for some community work

Volunteering for some community work is an important source of keeping you skills in shape. Try to help some small business near you for free. Your church, your municipality, and small business around you are suitable targets if they have the infrastructure you know about and can improve.

This can greatly help to stay you sharp and even improve the skill valuable in the marketplace.

Adapt to the fact that you are now can exprience midlife crisis

Unemployment excsabates midlife crisis in individuals. For approximately 10% of individuals the condition is most common from the ages of 41 through 60 (a large study in the 1990s  found that the average age at onset of a self-described midlife crisis was 45). Mid-life crises last about 3–10 years in men and 2–5 years in women. If a  mid-life crisis coincides with losing your job it can form potentially toxic combination. Mid-life is the time from years 45 to 60 where a person is often evaluating his or her own life. Loss of employment creates an "overload" of stressors and exacerbate mdlife crisis. Especiallly in women who often experience additional multiple stressors because of their simultaneous roles as wives, mothers, and  daughters,. Personality type and a history of psychological crisis are believed to predispose some people to  a variety of negative symptoms and behaviors.  by aging itself, or aging in combination with changes, problems, or regrets over:

An American cultural stereotype of a man going through a midlife crisis may include the purchase of a luxury item such as an exotic car, or seeking affairs with a younger woman.  A woman's crisis is more related to re-evaluations of their roles. In both cases the emotions can be intense.

One of the main characteristics of a mid-life crisis  is the reavulation of self-worth. Moreover, the age period, between 50 and 60 if often the time when some chronic illness such as diabetes can come to the forefront. Individuals experiencing a mid-life crisis may feel:

If  individual lacks introspection capabilities they often exhibit a non-healthy response to such a crisis including:

Watching movies about unemployment can provide emotional support

There are several really insightful movies about unemployment. And first of all (Unemployment at the Movies 15 Films for Tough Times - Bloomberg):

The Grapes of Wrath (1940) Starring: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine
Director: John Ford
U.S. Unemployment Rate, 1940: 14.6%

The epic tale of the Joad family's search for jobs in Depression America. Tom (Fonda) returns from prison just in time to see his family kicked off their farm. They strike out for California, where it's rumored there are plenty of jobs. Instead they wind up in an itinerant camp with other desperate families. Tom finds more trouble than work and delivers an immortal speech against injustice.

On the Waterfront (1954) Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb
Director: Elia Kazan
U.S. Unemployment Rate, 1954: 5.6%

Terry Malloy (Brando) is the ex-prizefighter who has to choose between a cushy, no-show job and the hard work of doing the right thing. Terry provides muscle for Johnny Friendly's mobbed-up union thugs, but he falls for the sister of one of Johnny's victims. When he decides to testify about waterfront corruption, he is cast out of the gang. Kazan directs heavyweights who include Rod Steiger and a real-life fighter, "Two Ton" Tony Galento.

On the Waterfront (1954) Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb
Director: Elia Kazan
U.S. Unemployment Rate, 1954: 5.6%

Terry Malloy (Brando) is the ex-prizefighter who has to choose between a cushy, no-show job and the hard work of doing the right thing. Terry provides muscle for Johnny Friendly's mobbed-up union thugs, but he falls for the sister of one of Johnny's victims. When he decides to testify about waterfront corruption, he is cast out of the gang. Kazan directs heavyweights who include Rod Steiger and a real-life fighter, "Two Ton" Tony Galento.

The Godfather Part II (1974) Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
U.S. Unemployment Rate, 1974: 5.6%

It all began with a layoff in turn-of-the-century New York City. In Coppola's strong sequel to The Godfather, young Vito Corleone (De Niro) steals away to America and takes a job in a grocery store. He is fired when a local mob boss forces the store owner to hire his nephew. Thwarted by nepotism, Vito takes up a life of crime with pals Peter Clemenza and Sal Tessio. And the rest is cinema history.

Gung Ho (1986) Starring: Michael Keaton, Gedde Watanabe
Director: Ron Howard
U.S. Unemployment Rate, 1986: 7.0%

Hunt Stevenson (Keaton) is foreman of a Pennsylvania car factory that's been shut down; he has to convince Japanese auto executives to reopen it. They agree, but only if they can subject the American workers to lower pay and new work rules. Conflict and cultural confusion ensue. Worth watching if only to confirm that there once was a time when Japan seemed unstoppable and unions had power. \

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) Starring: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin
Director: James Foley
U.S. Unemployment Rate, 1992: 7.5%

Just imagine how cutthroat this crew would be in today's housing market. Blake (Baldwin) has been sent to light a fire under the salesmen at a tough Chicago real estate office. His pitch: a sales contest in which only the top two sellers will keep their jobs. The salesmen in this film version of David Mamet's play are matched in desperation only by their would-be clients. To quote Blake: "Only one thing counts in this life: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted." 

Everything Must Go (2010) Starring: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace
Director: Dan Rush
U.S. Unemployment Rate, 2010: 9.6%

No hiding the indignity of a layoff in this one. It's all out in the open—literally—for Nick Halsey (Ferrell). Nick has hit the misery trifecta: A relapsed alcoholic, he's been fired and his wife has left him. His solution? Live in his front yard with his "stuff," or at least hold a yard sale as long as he can legally pull it off. The tale is adapted from a Raymond Carver short story published in the late 1970s, yet the theme of a man's struggle for dignity seems very much of these times.

Among more modern firms we can recommend the list by Arun Kumar  (Best Movies about Unemployment - I - CreoFire)

It is often referenced in the media that a country is progressing by leaps and bounds in the matter of economy, but at the same time there is always a sharp increase in the number of unemployed. Growing population, inflation, corruption, despotism and various other factors might play a role in spawning unemployment. But, let’s forget the causes of unemployment and how it affects society on the whole. What does unemployment does to an individual and to his immediate family? In this recession era, the psychological effects of involuntary unemployment look daunting. Our societies have buried a thought that only our job defines our worthiness. For many of us job isn’t what we do to pay our bills — it defines who we are. And when that socioeconomic identity is taken away, the emotional consequences can be severe. The movies mentioned below in the list explore the various emotional stresses a person faces due to joblessness. If I have missed out any great movie, dealing this subject, please mention it in the comments section.

Up in the Air (2009)

 Jason Reitman’s part funny, part serious work is about the corporate layoffs. Its protagonist Ryan Bingham, played charmingly by George Clooney, makes his living by ending the careers of others. His baritone voice and authoritative manner makes him to fly around US to downsize employees for companies whose HR departments are too cowardly to do the task themselves. It has got a bit touchy storyline and a script that loses some fire, but captures contemporary angst of the economic fallout with wit and humanity.

Tokyo Sonata (2008)

Famous J-horror director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s bleakest indictment of modern Japan looks at the ripple effects caused within a family by corporate downsizing. The protagonist Ryuhei is cast out when his administrative job is outsourced to China. The humiliated breadwinner hides his unemployed state from his wife, Megumi and two sons. He suits up as usual and wanders around the city like a zombie and learns the routine of maintaining face over downsizing. The recession-era shows how out dignity is stripped away by a job and how the corporations turns our mind into vegetative state, devoid of basic human connections.

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

 This unsentimental Chris Gardner biopic takes an honest, intense look at the day-to-day survival that too many Americans must contend with. Every one of us could at least see some portion of the film and remember being faced with similar obstacles in their lives. Will Smith played Gardner and scored some great emotional points through his portrayal of an African-American male who turns out to be an extraordinary single-parent. The film convincingly asks us to never give up on our dreams, even when we are staying financially afloat.

Time Out (2001)

Laurent Cantet’s French psychological drama tells the story of an executive who conceals, from his family that he has been fired from his job. He later invents a phony investing scheme, calling up old friends to invest in it. The film seriously conveys absurdity behind a white-collar corporate life and showcases how words like ‘emerging markets’ can draw in even smart guys to invest huge load of money. Unlike a Hollywood protagonist, the central character here avoids over-the-top performance giving way to subtle emotions. The strain and scenarios exhibited can be understood by anyone who has held a job.
Starring: Aurélien Recoing, Karin Viard, Serge Livrozet
Director: Laurent Cantet
French Unemployment Rate, 2001: 7.8%

Vincent (Recoing) has lost his job—he's just not telling anyone. Also unclear is what he's up to now: a new consulting job with the U.N.? An investment scam? As his fantasy life ropes in a widening circle of friends and family members, the pressure builds and Vincent's calm facade begins to crumble. Vincent drives from dreary office to bland apartment complex, watching family and former colleagues through windows in the dark, having lost his identity when he was shown the door.

Office Space (1999)

 Mike Judge’s satirical comedy must be dedicated to everyone, whose life and soul is stomped out by an uncaring corporate entity. The story revolves around a frustrated corporate employee Peter Gibbons, who through an accidental session of hypnotherapy is freed from chronic anxieties and fears of unemployment. Stephen Root playing the fat, mumbling employee, Milton and three workers bashing a fax machine with a baseball bat are some of the memorable situation in the movie. Even though the movie offers enough fun, you can’t miss out the bitter truths beneath those gags.

Random Tips

The key here is to understand the your current situation is not the end of the life. You need to survive the current slump. Even if you are forced to take job at much lower salary, if this is a job that corresponds to your qualification and allow to improve them, you might be able to find something better later on.  You can also learn a few new things on a new job and such knowledge is money. You can also work less hours. Often much less hours.  Time is money after all.  Here is one relevant comment:

In worst case you will find itself in "semi-retirement" situation when the only type of jobs that are available as McJobs and entry level temporary jobs.  If you put enough efforts to adjust your cost of living with the new nasty reality you will survive even this situation.

Here are tips for getting back on your feet and into the IT job market from someone who's been there and back By Ron Nutter , Network World , 08/25/2008

Editor's note: On Feb. 20, IT manager and Network World columnist Ron Nutter was called into his boss's office and told he was being let go — that day. Once the initial shock wore off, Nutter launched an aggressive search for new employment in the Kansas City area. Over the next 76 days, Nutter applied for 85 jobs, and had 16 interviews before landing a new position. He chronicled the job search in a daily blog. Now that he has had some time to reflect on the experience, Nutter offers these 20 tips for surviving a layoff.

1. As you're getting laid off, be sure to take notes

This can be difficult to do, since losing a job can be a very emotional experience. But while everything is still fresh in your mind, write down all the details that you can remember.

For example, I was told that I would be paid for the full two-week pay period, plus my remaining vacation and sick time. When my last check arrived, there were discrepancies. Having written notes helped me when I went back and reminded my former boss and the HR folks of their commitment.

2. Take some time for yourself

Take a few days for yourself. A traumatic event has just happened to you and you need to get over the initial shock before jumping into the fray to search for a new job.

3. Review the papers from the company that laid you off

Several important things need to be attended to rather quickly. One is how to file for unemployment. Another is how long your company-paid health insurance will be in force before you have to consider paying for COBRA.

4. Update your resume

This is something that we should all do, but it doesn't always get the attention that it should. I was told a long time ago that your resume should be more than two pages with a max of three bullet points per employer. That may work in some cases but not all.

I have found that some recruiters/employers use software that does a "word count" to look for how many times a particular word, such as Cisco, or a word describing a certain type of experience is listed. I can attest that this is happening to a degree. When I was looking for a prior job, a recruiter had me just about totally rewrite my resume to specifically list all the different Cisco hardware that I had worked with. It was interesting to note how the callbacks increased after I did that.

You may find that it may be necessary to keep more than one type of resume depending on the type(s) of jobs you are looking for, so that the resume is specifically tailored to the type of job you are pursuing.

5. Get a handle on monthly bills

Even though I had a little money put back for a "rainy" day, I went through all my recurring bills to see if there was any room for saving money. One area I looked at was car and home insurance. I found that by shopping around, I was able to keep the same level of auto and homeowners coverage while reducing the amount of both bills. I had been thinking about doing it for a variety of reasons, but being unemployed helped push it to the top of the list.

6. Cut food costs

If you live by yourself, this will be easier to do. If you have a family, everyone will need to sit down and understand that they will all have to help out until you can get another job. ... ...

7. Look at health insurance options

Your company supplied health insurance will come to an end. If it was like my former employer, the health insurance ended a few days after I was separated from the company. Worse yet, I wasn't "due" to receive the COBRA information until after my company health insurance had lapsed. Because my previous employer had also been doing the claims processing for my health insurance, I wasn't comfortable with them having any further access to my medical records. Doing a little research on the Internet, I found a single health insurance policy from Blue Cross/Blue Shield for half the price and better coverage than the COBRA policy my former employer was going to offer me. 

... ... ...

10. File for unemployment compensation

This is something that I delayed a little bit. Partially because of pride and partially because I didn't anticipate the job hunting process to take more than three months. As someone pointed out to me, you earned this money and you should take advantage of it. In my case, filing was complicated by the fact that I had moved from another state in the past 18 months. The unemployment folks go back that far in figuring out where you need to file for unemployment. That potentially had me talking with three different state unemployment departments.

I spent several days on the phone with two states that would be involved in my situation. As painful as it may be to deal with this part of your unemployment process, the sooner you start, the sooner the money will start coming in to help pay the bills until you get another job.

11. Check the job boards

During my job search, I looked at CareerBuilder, Craigslist, Dice and Monster. I found no job leads from Monster in my career area. Several of the HR folks that I talked to during the process told me that they used Monster very little due in part to the higher fees that Monster charged for a job posting compared with other job boards, and the generally poorer quality of applications they received. I found some new job postings on Dice, but with a significant number of jobs cross-posted on different boards, I didn't find Dice to be a significant source of potential job leads. One source I wouldn't have thought to check for jobs was Craigslist. More than one recruiter told me that he had good results from posting new jobs on Craigslist. Set aside time each day to do this.

12. Make the job boards work for you

Dice has a feature where you can make your resume searchable by recruiters/companies looking to fill a position. I did get some calls from that. CareerBuilder recently followed suit by offering that feature as well. While Dice allows companies/recruiters to repost the same job each day so that it looks new, this makes the process of truly identifying the new jobs a little harder in some cases. Turn the tables in your favor by making periodic changes to your resume, so that when it is being searched it will show up as being new/changed and possibly get you looked at by a company or recruiter that might have passed you by the day before.

13. Prepare for the interview

One thing that I have done when preparing for an interview with a company is to do research on the company, the companies/sectors/industries that they serve. If it is a publicly listed company, do a little reading on the past quarter or two of press releases to see what changes have occurred at the company and what new directions they are heading in. From the response I have received from several companies, it seems to make a good impression that you show interest in finding out about the company when going to interview with them. It may seem like a small thing or something that you should do anyway but there seems to be quite a few people looking for a job that don't do this.

Also, have several copies of your resume printed out and with you when at an interview. This becomes even more important once you see your resume as the client/recruiter sees it, when they have downloaded it or printed it out from the job board that you applied for the position through. The formatting is pretty much gone. To make matters worse, the paragraphs or bullet points that you had in the resume will look like a series of poorly written run-on sentences that may cause distinctive or unique information about you to be overlooked.

14. Deal with recruiters

I encountered a couple of recruiters that would give used car salesmen a bad name, but as a general rule I found the recruiters pretty decent to work with. Several positions that I was approached for were not on the job boards and sometimes were only from a single recruiter. The trick I had to learn to develop was to identify the same end job when it coming from different recruiters. One situation that you want to avoid is to not have more than one recruiter pitching you to the same client. Most recruiters will usually tell you early on who the actual end client is.

15. Accept help from family

While your pride may make it hard for you to accept help, keep in mind that the unemployment situation you are dealing with is affecting them to a degree as well. Depending on the age of the family, this is something that may be new to them and that they may have never had the need to deal with. There was a time, unfortunately long gone now, when the company you first went to work for was the only company you would work for your entire career. How much help you accept from family is something that you will have to decide. Look at it this way, whatever help they do give you is that much less you will have to spend for food.

16. Keep good records

This suggestion came from a letter I received from the Department of Unemployment telling me that I would need to provide some basic information. I set up a spreadsheet in OpenOffice with three tabs. The first tab was where I kept track of the jobs I had applied for. I tracked the date, source of the job, how the job was applied for, company name (if known), job name, contact name and job number if provided. The next tab was where I kept track of the recruiters I talked to, HR folks that I had contact with for the jobs I had applied directly on, and anything else such as job fairs that I attended. This information was helpful when I got audited by the Department of Unemployment folks to make sure I was looking for another job. The last tab was where I recorded when I filed my unemployment claim each week, when I received the check, the check number, when it was deposited.

17. Get your personal records in order

When you do get an offer and accept it, one of the things that you will have to deal with is the lovely I-9 form that says you are allowed to work in this country. You will need a variety of things. If you can't find your Social Security card, now would be an excellent time to order a replacement card. This will take several weeks to get processed and get it to you. The sooner you get it, the sooner you will have it ready to produce when starting that new job. If you haven't seen a copy of the I-9 form lately, get a copy of one so you can see what documents will be needed. Another document that you want to make sure that you have a copy of, even if you don't need it for the I-9, is your birth certificate. This is one that might take a little while to get a copy of. I didn't know until recently that, depending on when and/or where you were born, there are two types of birth certificates – one that the hospital does and one done when the birth is registered with the local authorities. You will want to get one that is a copy of what is on file with the local authorities.

18. Don't wait for the phone to ring

This may be one of the harder things to do. Keep in mind that recruiters and HR types move at their own pace. That pace can be slow, very slow. When you first apply for a job, it could be several days or more before you get the first contact. Waiting for the phone to ring will have you climbing the walls in short order. Sometime you will get a call within hours of applying for a job, but expect that to be the exception. There are always things that you can do while waiting for movement on the job front and some of them may be done at little to no cost – doing that little bit of touch-up painting you have never gotten around to, do that trimming around the yard that always needs to be done. The point I am trying to make here is that you need to stay active, don't just sit around and watch the clock move forward.

19. Get out the house at least once a day

At some point you will run out of things to do around the house or just simply need to get out. There will be the occasional job fair, but that won't take a large amount of your time. While you can knock on some doors at some companies that you would like to work at, with the price of gas hovering around $4 a gallon, depending on where you live, that can be an expensive trip to make for an unknown return. Do some things that you like to do, such as going to a museum or sports game. The main thing is to get out to keep from getting cabin fever.

20. Never give up

Don't leave any stone unturned. You may just find that a company that passed you by today for another applicant may come back to you when that person leaves to move onto greener pastures. I would have never thought that could happen but I have seen it happen twice in the past year.

 


Top Visited
Switchboard
Latest
Past week
Past month

NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

Unemployment Bulletin, 2009 Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 Unemployment Bulletin, 2011 Unemployment Bulletin, 2012 Unemployment Bulletin, 2013 Unemployment Bulletin, 2014

[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 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 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?

Let us know.

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 .

Production by Joanna Brenner and Hannah Birch . Art direction by David Sleight . Illustrations by Richard Borge .

[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:
  • One of the major hardships here is laying someone off when they need income the most - to pay for their children's college education. To mitigate this, as a country we could make a public education free. That takes off a lot of the sting, some people might relish a change in career when they are in their 50s except that the drop in salary is so steep when changing careers.
  • We could lower the retirement age to 55 and increase Social Security to more than a poverty-level existence.Being laid off when you're 50 or 55 - with little chance to be hired anywhere else - would not hurt as much.
  • We could offer federal wage subsidies for older workers to make them more attractive to hire. While some might see this as a thumb on the scale against younger workers, in reality it would be simply a counterweight to the thumb that is already there against older workers.
  • Universal health care equalizes the cost of older and younger workers.

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.

Email Updates

Sign up to get ProPublica's major investigations delivered to your inbox.

Do you have information about age discrimination at IBM?

Let us know.

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] I love how IBM says everything remains the same.

Oct 30, 2018 | arstechnica.com

Danathar , Ars Scholae Palatinae et Subscriptor 5 hours ago

I love how IBM says everything remains the same.

If that were the case....then why buy them? The whole POINT of acquiring a company is so that you can leverage what the acquired company has to improve your business.

As time moves on, it's going to be obvious that some of the things RH does (partnerships, etc) compete with some of IBM's partnerships and/or products.

At some point management will look at where there is crossover and kill the ones not making money or hurting existing products.

Point is, over time RH is NOT going to just continue on as an independent entity with no effect from it's parent or vice versa.

And....let's remember this is a ACQUISITION! Not a merger.

[Oct 30, 2018] How do you say "Red Hat" in Hindi??

Oct 30, 2018 | theregister.co.uk

christie23356 , 14 hrs

Re: How do you say "Red Hat" in Hindi??

Hello)

[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] 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, outsourcing is just a huge PITA and slows things down

Oct 30, 2018 | arstechnica.com

Drizzt321 , Ars Legatus Legionis et Subscriptor an hour ago

I think a lot of the dislike for Indian developers is it's usually the outsourced, 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.

[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] My employer outsourced a lot of our IT to IBM and Cognizant in India. The experience has been terrible and 4 years into a 5 year contract, we are finally realizing the error and insourcing rapidly.

Oct 29, 2018 | features.propublica.org

Alex , Sunday, April 22, 2018 7:27 AM

My employer outsourced a lot of our IT to IBM and Cognizant in India. The experience has been terrible and 4 years into a 5 year contract, we are finally realizing the error and insourcing rapidly.
srichey321 , in reply to">
Don't worry. A small group of people made some money in the short-term while degrading the long term performance of your employer.
Johnny Player , Saturday, April 21, 2018 11:16 AM
Great investigative work.

Back in 1999 ATT moved about 4000 of us tech folks working on mainframe computers to IBM. We got pretty screwed on retirement benefits from ATT. After we moved over, IBM started slowly moving all of our workload overseas. Brazil and Argentina mainly.

It started with just tier 1 help desk. Then small IBM accounts started to go over there. They were trained by 'unwilling' US based people. Unwilling in the sense that if you didn't comply, you weren't a team player and it would show on your performance review.

Eventually the overseas units took on more and more of the workload. I ended up leaving in 2012 at the age of 56 for personal reasons.

Our time at ATT was suppose to be bridged to IBM but the only thing bridged was vacation days. A lawsuit ensued and IBM/ATT won. I'm guessing it was some of that 'ingenious' paperwork that we signed that allowed them to rip us off like that. Thanks again for some great investigation.

[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.

[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.

[Jul 17, 2018] Doesn't the Universe work in such a way that *good* is constitutionally unable to successfully confront *evil*

Notable quotes:
"... Still, doesn't the Universe work in such a way that *good* is constitutionally unable to successfully confront *evil*? Doesn't evil-fighting-evil and destroying a worse-evil leave a little less evil in this world? ..."
Jul 17, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Circe | Jul 17, 2018 6:25:12 PM | 135

...You can't put lipstick on an American fascist pig only because he pretends detente with Russia. It's tantamount to selling one's soul for an illusion. It's tantamount to treason if you live anywhere except in the U.S. OR Israel! And even if you live in the U.S. you are enabling the 1% and Zionist power.

That's it. I'm tired of Trumpgod can do no wrong when everything he stands for is wrong. Get the snow out of your eyes!

Guerrero | Jul 17, 2018 7:21:47 PM | 149

Circe @135

For sure I am in agreement: the "Trumpgod" is a shamanistic construction of a demoralized population.

Still, doesn't the Universe work in such a way that *good* is constitutionally unable to successfully confront *evil*? Doesn't evil-fighting-evil and destroying a worse-evil leave a little less evil in this world?

If that is how this Universe really works, and one has only force to work with, in the material realm, Donald Trump would seem well enough suited to the role of either lesser or greater-evil; either-way, hopefully leading-to dimunition of error, self-deception, and suffering of the children of Eve and Adam.

Activist Potato , Jul 17, 2018 9:13:30 PM | 164

@149 Guerrero said: "Still, doesn't the Universe work in such a way that *good* is constitutionally unable to successfully
confront *evil*?"

Not often one sees metaphysics enter the realm of geo-political debate in this or any political forum. But, heck, why not? The unseen forces guiding the survival instincts of the universe (of which the Earth is a part) may indeed be at work. Trump - whatever one sees in him - seems to be the man for the times. Paradigms are bending, cracking, the conversation is changing.

I'll never forget the shock in the MSM, almost to the point of stupefaction, at Trump accusing Obama during the election campaign of being the "founder of ISIS."

What was even more amazing was how weak Obama's response was. I don't think anybody posting here would disagree that ISIS was Obama's baby - whether through adoption or progeny.

But what serious candidate for President before Trump would ever say such a thing publicly - even if he knew it to be true? Whether by design or through blundering, boorish idiocy born of whatever flaws and motives you want to ascribe to him, Trump is very boisterously upsetting the political apple cart and with it the entire world order.

If it is indeed for show as the world elites close their grip on the people of the planet - it is quite a show. But I don't think so...

[Jul 14, 2018] McMaken The Military Is A Jobs Program... For Immigrants Many Others

Jul 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Fri, 07/13/2018 - 18:45 12 SHARES Authored Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

On the matter of immigration, even many commentators who support ease of migration also oppose the extension of government benefits to immigrants.

The idea, of course, is that free movement of labor is fine, but taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize it. As a matter of policy, many also find it prudent that immigrants ought to be economically self sufficient before being offered citizenship. Switzerland, for instance, makes it harder to pursue citizenship while receiving social benefits.

This discussion often centers around officially recognized "welfare" and social-benefits programs such as TANF and Medicaid. But it is also recognized that taxpayer-funded benefits exist in the form of public schooling, free clinics, and other in-kind benefits.

But there is another taxpayer-supporter program that subsidizes immigration as well: the US military.

Government Employment for Immigrants

Last week, the AP began reporting that " the US Army is quietly discharging Immigrant recruits ."

Translation: the US government has begun laying off immigrants from taxpayer-funded government jobs.

It's unclear how many of these jobs have been employed, but according to the Department of Homeland security, "[s]ince Oct. 1, 2002, USCIS has naturalized 102,266 members of the military ."

The Military as a Jobs Program

Immigrants, of course, aren't the only people who benefit from government jobs funded through military programs.

The military has long served as a jobs programs helpful in mopping up excess labor and padding employment numbers. As Robert Reich noted in 2011 , as the US was still coming out of the 2009 recession:

And without our military jobs program personal incomes would be dropping faster. The Commerce Department reported Monday the only major metro areas where both net earnings and personal incomes rose last year were San Antonio, Texas, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. -- because all three have high concentrations of military and federal jobs.

He's right. While the private sector must cut back and re-arrange labor and capital to deal with the new economic realities post-recession, government jobs rarely go away.

Because of this, Reich concludes "America's biggest -- and only major -- jobs program is the U.S. military."

Reich doesn't think this is a bad thing. He only highlights the military's role as a de facto jobs program in order to call for more de jure jobs programs supported by federal funding.

Given the political popularity of the military, however, it's always easy to protect funding for the military jobs programs than for any other potential jobs programs. All the Pentagon has to do is assure Congress that every single military job is absolutely essential, and Congress will force taxpayers to cough up the funding.

Back during the debate over sequestration, for example, the Pentagon routinely warned Congress that any cutbacks in military funding would lead to major jobs losses, bringing devastation to the economy.

In other words, even the Pentagon treats the military like a jobs program when it's politically useful.

Benefits for enlisted people go well beyond what can be seen in the raw numbers of total employed. As Kelley Vlahos points out at The American Conservative , military personnel receive extra hazard pay "even though they are far from any fighting or real danger." And then there is the "Combat Zone Tax Exclusion (CZTE) program which exempts enlisted and officers from paying federal taxes in these 45 designated countries. Again, they get the tax break -- which accounted for about $3.6 billion in tax savings for personnel in 2009 (the combat pay cost taxpayers $790 million in 2009)– whether they are really in danger or not."

There's also evidence that military personnel receive higher pay in the military than do their private-sector counterparts with similar levels of education and training.

Nor do the benefits of military spending go only to enlisted people. The Pentagon has long pointed to its spending on civilian jobs in many communities, including manufacturing jobs and white-collar technical jobs.

This, of course, has long been politically useful for the Pentagon as well, since as political scientist Rebecca Thorpe has shown in her book The American Warfare State , communities that rely heavily on Pentagon-funded employment are sure to send Congressmen to Washington who will make sure the taxpayer dollars keep flowing to Pentagon programs.

Whether you're talking to Robert Reich or some Pentagon lobbyist on Capitol Hill, the conclusion is clear: the military is both a jobs program and a stimulus program. Cut military spending at your peril!

Military Spending Destroys Private Sector Jobs

The rub, however, is that military spending doesn't actually improve the economy. And much the money spent on military employment would be best spent on the private, voluntary economy.

This has long been recognized by political scientist Seymour Melman who has discussed the need for "economic conversion," or converting military spending into other forms of spending. Melman observes :

Since we know that matter and energy located in Place A cannot be simultaneously located in Place B, we must understand that the resources used up on military account thereby represent a preemption of resources from civilian needs of every conceivable kind.

Here, Melman is simply describing in his own way what Murray Rothbard explained in Man, Economy, and State . Namely, government spending distorts the economy as badly as taxation -- driving up prices for the private sector, and withdrawing resources from private sector use.

Ellen Brown further explains :

The military actually destroys jobs in the civilian economy. The higher profits from cost-plus military manufacturing cause manufacturers to abandon more competitive civilian endeavors; and the permanent war economy takes engineers, capital and resources away from civilian production.

But, as a classic case of "the seen" vs. "the unseen," it's easy to point to jobs created by military spending. How many jobs were lost as a result of that same spending? That remains unseen, and thus politically irrelevant.

Military fan boys will of course assure us that every single military job and every single dollar spent on the military is absolutely essential. It's all the service of "fighting for freedom." For instance, Mitchell Blatt writes , in the context of immigrant recruits, "I'm not worried about the country or origin of those who are fighting to defend us. What matters is that our military is as strong as it can be." The idea at work here is that the US military is a lean machine, doing only what is necessary to get the job done, and as cost effectively as possible. Thus, hiring the "best" labor, from whatever source is absolutely essential.

This, however, rather strains the bounds of credibility. The US military is more expensive than the next eight largest militaries combined . The US's navy is ten times larger than the next largest navy. The US's air force is the largest in the world, and the second largest air force belongs, not to a foreign country, but to the US Navy.

Yet, we're supposed to believe that any cuts will imperil the "readiness" of the US military.

Cut Spending for Citizens and Non-Citizens Alike

My intent here is not to pick on immigrants specifically. The case of military layoffs for immigrants simply helps to illustrate a couple of important points: government jobs with the military constitute of form of taxpayer-funded subsidy for immigrants. And secondly, the US military acts as a job program, not just for immigrants but for many native-born Americans.

In truth, layoffs in the military sector ought to be far more widespread, and hardly limited to immigrants. The Trump Administration is wrong when it suggests that the positions now held by immigrant recruits ought to be filled by American-born recruits. Those positions should be left unfilled. Permanently.


cougar_w Fri, 07/13/2018 - 18:53 Permalink

No you retarded fuck, the military is a taxpayer-funed merc army supporting the overseas hegemonic goals of American-style Corporatism . That the military is full of the sons and daughters of poor people is only because rich whites won't send their trustfund babies to kill brown people for oil.

Smedley Butler, 1935: " War is a Racket "

How anyone still gets this wrong is symptomatic of too much inbreeding.

Expendable Container -> cougar_w Fri, 07/13/2018 - 18:58 Permalink

The military is a taxpayer-funded merc army supporting Isra hell's goals none of which benefit the US.

cougar_w -> Expendable Container Fri, 07/13/2018 - 19:12 Permalink

No, asshole. It's about money. About cash and gold. Profit. Markets. Growth. About cheap or free resources. Access to labor. New customers.

War makes companies rich, it might be the ONLY way they can get rich. War is waged when GM wants to sell trucks to the Pentagon. When Boeing wants to sell jets. When MIT wants money for arms research. When NATO wants a reason to exist. The dogs of war are loosed when oil gets tight. When countries won't "accept our cultural freedoms". When trade agreements aren't enough to open up new markets.

Isreal has fleeting nothing to do with it, except maybe when war aligns with their perceived need for hegemony in their own sphere. But by loading all this on Isreal you encourage others to miss the real fox in the henhouse. You could wipe Isreal off the Earth tomorrow and still have wars for profit for a thousand years to come.

This nation was born in war. It has practiced war since that day and will be at war with the rest of the world until humans are killed to the last and the last ounce of profit from war is had.

TeethVillage88s -> cougar_w Fri, 07/13/2018 - 19:08 Permalink

or from systematic corruption of all US Institutions and the politicization of all US Institutions... you need a job, you want to work here, you say this, and you do this, ... tow the line, no politics, no whistleblowing,... and we won't blackball your ass from the industry... got it... u got debts, keep ur nose clean!

Idiocracy's Not Sure Fri, 07/13/2018 - 18:56 Permalink

the US military has slacking pay.

Quantify -> Idiocracy's Not Sure Fri, 07/13/2018 - 18:58 Permalink

Yes the pay sucks but you get more done before 8am than most people do in a week. But seriously its a pretty good gig in the long run. Medical care a decent retirement system, travel a chance to meet and integrate with different cultures and kill them...its pretty cool.

AudiDoug Fri, 07/13/2018 - 19:17 Permalink

Excluding a small percentage, the military is much like the DMV. We have a cartoon vision of all enlisted being GI Joe, ready to grab a gun and fight evil. This in not the case at all. Most positions are very simple, repetitive bureaucratic positions. Really is a giant Jobs program to keep people busy.

Debt Slave Fri, 07/13/2018 - 19:22 Permalink

"The idea at work here is that the US military is a lean machine, doing only what is necessary to get the job done, and as cost effectively as possible."

Then why are we still in Afghanistan?

No need to answer, the question is rhetorical.

DingleBarryObummer Fri, 07/13/2018 - 18:59 Permalink

Support our B̶a̶n̶k̶s̶t̶e̶r̶s̶ Troops!

[Jun 10, 2018] Hiding the Real Number of Unemployed by Pete Dolack

Notable quotes:
"... The Globe and Mail ..."
"... The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China ..."
Jun 08, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

... ... ...

Nonetheless, you might have noticed that happy days aren't exactly here again. The real U.S. unemployment figure -- all who are counted as unemployed in the "official" rate, plus discouraged workers, the total of those employed part-time but not able to secure full-time work and all persons marginally attached to the labor force (those who wish to work but have given up) -- is 7.6 percent . (This is the "U-6" rate.) That total, too, is less than half of its 2010 peak and is the lowest in several years. But this still doesn't mean the number of people actually working is increasing.

Fewer people at work and they are making less

A better indication of how many people have found work is the "civilian labor force participation rate." By this measure, which includes all people age 16 or older who are not in prison or a mental institution, only 62.7 percent of the potential U.S. workforce was actually in the workforce in May, and that was slightly lower than the previous month. This is just about equal to the lowest this statistic has been since the breakdown of Keynesianism in the 1970s, and down significantly from the peak of 67.3 percent in May 2000. You have to go back to the mid-1970s to find a time when U.S. labor participation was lower. This number was consistently lower in the 1950s and 1960s, but in those days one income was sufficient to support a family. Now everybody works and still can't make ends meet.

And that brings us to the topic of wages. After reaching a peak of 52 percent in 1969, the percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product going to wages has fallen to 43 percent , according to research by the St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve. The amount of GDP going to wages during the past five years has been the lowest it has been since 1929 , according to a New York Times report. And within the inequality of wages that don't keep up with inflation or productivity gains, the worse-off are doing worse.

The Economic Policy Institute noted , "From 2000 to 2017, wage growth was strongest for the highest-wage workers, continuing the trend in rising wage inequality over the last four decades." The strongest wage growth was for those in the top 10 percent of earnings, which skewed the results sufficiently that the median wage increase for 2017 was a paltry 0.2 percent, the EPI reports. Inflation may have been low, but it wasn't as low as that -- the typical U.S. worker thus suffered a de facto wage decrease last year.

What this sobering news tells us is that good-paying jobs are hard to come by. An EPI researcher, Elise Gould, wrote :

"Slow wage growth tells us that employers continue to hold the cards, and don't have to offer higher wages to attract workers. In other words, workers have very little leverage to bid up their wages. Slow wage growth is evidence that employers and workers both know there are still workers waiting in the wings ready to take a job, even if they aren't actively looking for one."

The true unemployment rates in Canada and Europe

We find similar patterns elsewhere. In Canada, the official unemployment rate held at 5.8 percent in April , the lowest it has been since 1976, although there was a slight decrease in the number of people working in March, mainly due to job losses in wholesale and retail trade and construction. What is the actual unemployment rate? According to Statistics Canada's R8 figure , it is 8.6 percent. The R8 counts count people in part-time work, including those wanting full-time work, as "full-time equivalents," thus underestimating the number of under-employed.

At the end of 2012, the R8 figure was 9.4 percent , but an analysis published by The Globe and Mail analyzing unemployment estimated the true unemployment rate for that year to be 14.2 percent. If the current statistical miscalculation is proportionate, then the true Canadian unemployment rate currently must be north of 13 percent. "[T]he narrow scope of the Canadian measure significantly understates labour underutilization," the Globe and Mail analysis conclude.

Similar to its southern neighbor, Canada's labor force participation rate has steadily declined, falling to 65.4 percent in April 2018 from a high of 67.7 percent in 2003.

The most recent official unemployment figure in Britain 4.2 percent. The true figure is rather higher. How much higher is difficult to determine, but a September 2012 report by Sheffield Hallam University found that the total number of unemployed in Britain was more than 3.4 million in April of that year although the Labour Force Survey, from which official unemployment statistics are derived, reported only 2.5 million. So if we assume a similar ratio, then the true rate of unemployment across the United Kingdom is about 5.7 percent.

The European Union reported an official unemployment rate of 7.1 percent (with Greece having the highest total at 20.8 percent). The EU's Eurostat service doesn't provide an equivalent of a U.S. U-6 or a Canadian R8, but does separately provide totals for under-employed part-time workers and "potential additional labour force"; adding these two would effectively double the true EU rate of unemployed and so the actual figure must be about 14 percent.

Australia's official seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 5.6 percent , according to the country's Bureau of Statistics. The statistic that would provide a more realistic measure, the "extended labour force under-utilisation" figure, seems to be well hidden. The most recent figure that could be found was for February 2017, when the rate was given as 15.4 percent. As the "official" unemployment rate at the time was 5.8 percent, it is reasonable to conclude that the real Australian unemployment rate is currently above 15 percent.

Mirroring the pattern in North America, global employment is on the decline. The International Labour Organization estimated the world labor force participation rate as 61.9 percent for 2017, a steady decline from the 65.7 percent estimated for 1990.

Stagnant wages despite productivity growth around the world

Concomitant with the high numbers of people worldwide who don't have proper employment is the stagnation of wages. Across North America and Europe, productivity is rising much faster than wages. A 2017 study found that across those regions median real wage growth since the mid-1980s has not kept pace with labor productivity growth.

Not surprisingly, the United States had the largest gap between wages and productivity. Germany was second in this category, perhaps not surprising, either, because German workers have suffered a long period of wage cuts (adjusted for inflation) since the Social Democratic Party codified austerity by instituting Gerhard Schröder's "Agenda 2010" legislation. Despite this disparity, the U.S. Federal Reserve issued a report in 2015 declaring the problem of economic weakness is due to wages not falling enough . Yes, the Fed believes your wages are too high.

The lag of wages as compared to rising productivity is an ongoing global phenomenon. A separate statistical analysis from earlier this decade also demonstrated this pattern for working people in Canada, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Workers in both Canada and the United States take home hundreds of dollars less per week than they would if wages had kept up with productivity gains.

In an era of runaway corporate globalization, there is ever more precarity. On a global scale, having regular employment is actually unusual. Using International Labour Organization figures as a starting point, John Bellamy Foster and Robert McChesney calculate that the "global reserve army of labor" -- workers who are underemployed, unemployed or "vulnerably employed" (including informal workers) -- totals 2.4 billion. In contrast, the world's wage workers total 1.4 billion. Writing in their book The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China , they write:

"It is the existence of a reserve army that in its maximum extent is more than 70 percent larger than the active labor army that serves to restrain wages globally, and particularly in poorer countries. Indeed, most of this reserve army is located in the underdeveloped countries of the world, though its growth can be seen today in the rich countries as well." [page 145]

Having conquered virtually every corner of the globe and with nowhere left to expand into nor new markets to take, capitalists will continue to cut costs -- in the first place, wages and benefits -- in their ceaseless scrambles to sustain their accustomed profits. There is no reform that can permanently alter this relentless internal logic of capitalism. Although she was premature, Rosa Luxemburg's forecast of socialism or barbarism draws nearer.

Pete Dolack writes the Systemic Disorder blog and has been an activist with several groups. His book, It's Not Over: Learning From the Socialist Experiment , is available from Zero Books.

[May 28, 2018] The Seven Pillars of the Matrix by Robert Bonomo>

Notable quotes:
"... The weakest part of this piece is that it makes all kinds of suppositions about about the true nature of mankind, that remind me of paleo diet nonsense. Humans evolved constantly so we were selected for domestication. It changed us. We are not the great apes of the savannah, but agriculturalists living in complex societies. This is our true nature and the conflict in our societies is between those who are more domesticated and those who are less domesticated. ..."
"... This text shows us a little of the biblical allegory of Pandora's box, even though we know that it is based on the sins that are present inside the box. How is a short story, so I can invent upon an invention without a known author, that in fact as we open Pandora's Box, we will not spread hatred for Earth, there is no need to spread what is already widespread, but we will find the truth. And the truth is that we are animals like those we despise. Human culture is an illusion to keep sane people. ..."
"... "Oh, well, at least Bonobo–I mean, Bonomo–didn't use the word "sheeple," so I don't have to go ballistic on him. Condescending is much too weak a word to describe this mess. Arrogant and egomaniacal fit much better." ..."
"... Despite some glaring inaccuracies and over-generalizations, overall the piece is interesting and thought-provoking. ..."
"... Freedom is in inverse proportion to security. An individual in solitary-confinement in a maximum security prison has 100% security but 0% freedom. At the opposite extreme is the "hermit" living in self-imposed exile with 100% freedom but never entirely sure of when & where his next meal is coming from and if attacked by a predator, human or animal, he is entirely on his own. Between those two extremes there is a reasonable middle-ground. ..."
Jul 29, 2014 | www.unz.com

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Contemporary baptized, corporatized and sanitized man rarely has the occasion to question his identity, and when he does a typical response might be, "I am product manager for a large retail chain, married to Betty, father of Johnny, a Democrat, Steelers fan and a Lutheran."

His answers imply not only his beliefs but the many responsibilities, rules and restrictions he is subjected to. Few if any of these were ever negotiated- they were imposed on him yet he still considers himself free.

But is free the right adjective for him, or would modern domesticated simian be more apt? He has been told what to do, believe, think and feel since he can remember. A very clever rancher has bred billions of these creatures around the globe and created the most profitable livestock imaginable. They work for him, fight for him, die for him, believe his wildest tales, laugh at his jokes and rarely get out of line. When domesticated man does break one of the rules there are armies, jailers, psychiatrists and bureaucrats prepared to kill, incarcerate, drug or hound the transgressor into submission.

One of the most fascinating aspects of domesticated man's predicament is that he never looks at the cattle, sheep and pigs who wind up on his plate and make the very simple deduction that he is just a talking version of them, corralled and shepherded through his entire life. How is this accomplished? Only animals that live in hierarchical groups can be dominated by man. The trick is to fool the animal into believing that the leader of the pack or herd is the person who is domesticating them. Once this is accomplished the animal is under full control of its homo sapien master. The domesticated man is no different, originally organized in groups with a clear hierarchy and maximum size of 150- it was easy to replace the leader of these smaller groups with one overarching figure such as God, King, President, CEO etc.

The methodology for creating this exceptionally loyal and obedient modern breed, homo domesticus, can be described as having seven pillars from which an immense matrix captures the talking simians and their conscious minds and hooks them into a complex mesh from which few ever escape. The system is so advanced that those who do untangle themselves and cut their way out of the net are immediately branded as mentally ill, anti-social, or simply losers who can't accept the 'complexity of modern life', i.e. conspiracy nuts.

Plato described this brilliantly in his Allegory of the Cave , where people only see man made shadows of objects, institutions, Gods and ideas:

"–Behold! human beings living in an underground cave here they have been from their childhood necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall "

It began with the word, which forever changed the ability of men to manipulate each other. Before language, every sensation was directly felt through the senses without the filter of words. But somewhere around 50,000 years ago language began to replace reality and the first pieces of code were put in place for the creation of the Matrix. As soon as the words began to flow the world was split, and from that fracturing was born man's angst and slavery. The words separated us from who we really were, creating the first screen onto which the images from Plato's cave were cast. Gurdjieff said it well, "Identifying is the chief obstacle to self-remembering. A man who identifies with anything is unable to remember himself."

It's no accident that in Hesiod's ages of man the Golden Age knew no agriculture, which appeared in the Silver age, and by the time we reach the Bronze age the dominant theme is toil and strife. The two key elements to the enslavement of man were clearly language and agriculture. In the hunter gatherer society, taking out the boss was no more complicated than landing a well placed fastball to the head. Only since the advent of farming was the possibility of creating full time enforcers and propagandists made possible, and hence enslavement inevitable.

The search for enlightenment rarely if ever bears fruits in those temples of words, our schools and universities. Almost all traditions point to isolation and silence as the only paths to awakening; they are the true antidotes to modern slavery. As Aristotle wrote, "Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god."

So from the institution from which we are mercilessly bombarded with words and enslaved to time, we begin our descent through the seven layers of the Matrix.

Education

There are things we are born able to do like eating, laughing and crying and others we pick up without much of an effort such as walking, speaking and fighting, but without strict institutional education there is no way that we can ever become a functioning member of the Matrix. We must be indoctrinated, sent to Matrix boot camp, which of course is school. How else could you take a hunter and turn him into a corporate slave, submissive to clocks, countless bosses, monotony and uniformity?

Children naturally know who they are, they have no existential angst, but schools immediately begin driving home the point of schedules, rules, lists and grades which inevitably lead the students to the concept of who they aren't. We drill the little ones until they learn to count money, tell time, measure progress, stand in line, keep silent and endure submission. They learn they aren't free and they are separated from everyone else and the world itself by a myriad of divides, names and languages.

It can't be stressed enough how much education is simply inculcating people with the clock and the idea of a forced identity. What child when she first goes to school isn't taken back to hear herself referred to by her full name?

It's not as if language itself isn't sufficiently abstract- nothing must be left without a category. Suzy can't just be Suzy- she is a citizen of a country and a state, a member of a religion and a product of a civilization, many of which have flags, mascots, armies, uniforms, currencies and languages. Once all the mascots, tag lines and corporate creeds are learned, then history can begin to be taught. The great epic myths invented and conveniently woven into the archetypes which have come down through the ages cement this matrix into the child's mind.

Even the language that she speaks without effort must be deconstructed for her. An apple will never again be just an apple- it will become a noun, a subject, or an object. Nothing will be left untouched, all must be ripped apart and explained back to the child in Matrixese.

We are taught almost nothing useful during the twelve or so years that we are institutionalized and conditioned for slavery- not how to cook, farm, hunt, build, gather, laugh or play. We are only taught how to live by a clock and conform to institutionalized behaviors that make for solid careers as slaveocrats.

Government

In the countries that claim to be democratic the concept of a government created to serve the people is often espoused. Government, and the laws they create and enforce are institutionalized social control for the benefit of those who have seized power. This has always been the case and always will be. In the pre-democratic era it was much clearer to recognize who had power, but the genius of massive democratic states are the layers upon layers of corporatocracy and special interests which so brilliantly conceal the identify of those who really manage the massive apparatus of control.

The functions of the state are so well ensconced in dogmatic versions of history taught in schools that almost no one questions why we need anything beyond the bare essentials of government to maintain order in the post-industrial age. The history classes never point the finger at the governments themselves as the propagators and instigators of war, genocide, starvation and corruption. In Hollywood's version of history, the one most people absorb, 'good' governments are always portrayed as fighting 'bad' ones. We have yet to see a film where all the people on both sides simply disengage from their governments and ignore the calls to violence.

The state apparatus is based on law, which is a contract between the people and an organism created to administer common necessities- an exchange of sovereignty between the people and the state. This sounds reasonable, but when one looks at the mass slaughters of the 20th century, almost without exception, the perpetrators are the states themselves.

The loss of human freedom is the only birthright offered to the citizens of the modern nation. There is never a choice. It is spun as a freedom and a privilege when it is in fact indentured servitude to the state apparatus and the corporatocracy that controls it.

Patriotism

Patriotism is pure abstraction, a completely artificial mechanism of social control. People are taught to value their compatriots above and beyond those of their own ethnic background, race or religion. The organic bonds are to be shed in favor of the great corporate state. From infancy children are indoctrinated like Pavlov's dogs to worship the paraphernalia of the state and see it as a mystical demigod.

What is a country? Using the United States as example, what actually is this entity? Is it the USPS, the FDA, or the CIA? Does loving one's country mean one should love the IRS and the NSA? Should we feel differently about someone if they are from Vancouver instead of Seattle? Loving a state is the same as loving a corporation, except with the corporations there is still no stigma attached to not showing overt sentimental devotion to their brands and fortunately, at least for the moment, we are not obligated at birth to pay them for a lifetime of services, most of which we neither need nor want.

Flags, the Hollywood version of history and presidential worship are drilled into us to maintain the illusion of the 'other' and force the 'foreigner/terrorist/extremist' to wear the stigma of our projections. The archaic tribal energy that united small bands and helped them to fend off wild beasts and hungry hordes has been converted into a magic wand for the masters of the matrix. Flags are waved, and we respond like hungry Labradors jumping at a juicy prime rib swinging before our noses. Sentimental statist propaganda is simply the mouthguard used to soften the jolt of our collective electroshock therapy.

Religion

As powerful as the patriotic sects are, there has always been a need for something higher. Religion comes from the Latin 're-ligare' and it means to reconnect. But reconnect to what? The question before all religions is, what have we been disconnected from? The indoctrination and alienation of becoming a card carrying slave has a cost; the level of abstraction and the disconnect from any semblance of humanity converts people into nihilistic robots. No amount of patriotic fervor can replace having a soul. The flags and history lessons can only give a momentary reprieve to the emptiness of the Matrix and that's why the priests are needed.

The original spiritual connection man had with the universe began to dissolve into duality with the onset of language, and by the time cities and standing armies arrived he was in need of a reconnection, and thus we get our faith based religions. Faith in the religious experiences of sages, or as William James put it, faith in someone else's ability to connect. Of course the liturgies of our mainstream religions offer some solace and connection, but in general they simply provide the glue for the Matrix. A brief perusal of the news will clearly show that their 'God' seems most comfortable amidst the killing fields.

If we focus on the Abrahamic religions, we have a god much like the state, one who needs to be loved. He is also jealous of the other supposedly non-existent gods and is as sociopathic as the governments who adore him. He wipes out his enemies with floods and angels of death just as the governments who pander to him annihilate us with cultural revolutions, atom bombs, television and napalm. Their anthem is, "Love your country, it's flag, its history, and the God who created it all"- an ethos force fed to each new generation.

Circus

The sad thing about circus is that it's generally not even entertaining. The slaves are told it's time for some fun and they move in hordes to fill stadiums, clubs, cinemas or simply to stare into their electrical devices believing that they are are being entertained by vulgar propaganda.

As long as homo domesticus goes into the appropriate corral, jumps when she is told to and agrees wholeheartedly that she is having fun, than she is a good slave worthy of her two days off a week and fifteen days vacation at the designated farm where she is milked of any excess gold she might have accumulated during the year. Once she is too old to work and put to pasture, holes are strategically placed in her vicinity so she and her husband can spend their last few dollars trying to get a small white ball into them.

On a daily basis, after the caffeinated maximum effort has been squeezed out of her, she is placed in front of a screen, given the Matrix approved beverage (alcohol), and re-indoctrinated for several hours before starting the whole cycle over again. God forbid anyone ever took a hallucinogen and had an original thought. We are, thankfully, protected from any substances that might actually wake us up and are encouraged stick to the booze. The matrix loves coffee in the morning, alcohol in the evening and never an authentic thought in between.

On a more primal level we are entranced with the contours of the perfect body and dream of 'perfect love', where our days will be filled with soft caresses, sweet words and Hollywood drama. This is maybe the most sublime of the Matrix's snares, as Venus's charms can be so convincing one willingly abandons all for her devious promise. Romantic love is dangled like bait, selling us down the path of sentimentally coated lies and mindless consumerism.

Money

Money is their most brilliant accomplishment. Billions of people spend most of their waking lives either acquiring it or spending it without ever understanding what it actually is. In this hologram of a world, the only thing one can do without money is breath. For almost every other human activity they want currency, from eating and drinking to clothing oneself and finding a partner. Religion came from innate spirituality and patriotism from the tribe, but money they invented themselves- the most fantastic and effective of all their tools of domestication.

They have convinced the slaves that money actually has some intrinsic value, since at some point in the past it actually did. Once they were finally able to disconnect money completely from anything other than their computers, they finally took complete control, locked the last gate and electrified all the fences. They ingeniously print it up out of the nothing and loan it with interest in order for 18-year-olds to spend four years drinking and memorizing propaganda as they begin a financial indebtedness that will most likely never end.

By the time the typical American is thirty the debt is mounted so high that they abandon any hope of ever being free of it and embrace their mortgages, credit cards, student loans and car loans as gifts from a sugar daddy. What they rarely asks themselves is why they must work to make money while banks can simply create it with a few key strokes. If they printed out notes on their HP's and loaned them with interest to their neighbors, they would wind up in a penitentiary, but not our friends on Wall Street- they do just that and wind up pulling the strings in the White House. The genius of the money scam is how obvious it is. When people are told that banks create money out of nothing and are paid interest for it the good folks are left incredulous. "It can't be that simple!" And therein lies the rub- no one wants to believe that they have been enslaved so easily .

Culture

"Culture is the effort to hold back the mystery, and replace it with a mythology."
– Terence McKenna

As Terence loved to say, "Culture is not your friend." It exists as a buffer to authentic experience. As they created larger and larger communities, they replaced the direct spiritual experience of the shaman with priestly religion. Drum beats and sweat were exchanged for digitized, corporatized noise. Local tales got replaced by Hollywood blockbusters, critical thinking with academic dogma.

If money is the shackles of the matrix, culture is its operating system. Filtered, centralized, incredibly manipulative, it glues all their myths together into one massive narrative of social control from which only the bravest of souls ever try to escape. It's relatively simple to see the manipulation when one looks at patriotism, religion or money. But when taken as a whole, our culture seems as natural and timeless as the air we breathe, so intertwined with our self conception it is often hard to see where we individually finish and our culture begins.

Escaping the Grip of Control

Some might ask why this all-pervasive network of control isn't talked about or discussed by our 'great minds'. Pre-Socratic scholar Peter Kingsley explains it well:

"Everything becomes clear once we accept the fact that scholarship as a whole is not concerned with finding, or even looking for, the truth. That's just a decorative appearance. It's simply concerned with protecting us from truths that might endanger our security; and it does so by perpetuating our collective illusions on a much deeper level than individual scholars are aware of."

Whoever discovered water, it certainly wasn't a fish. To leave the 'water', or Plato's cave takes courage and the knowledge that there is something beyond the web of control. Over 2,300 hundred years ago Plato described the process of leaving the Matrix in the Allegory of the Cave as a slow, excruciating process akin to walking out onto a sunny beach after spending years in a basement watching Kabuki.

How can this awakening be explained? How do you describe the feeling of swimming in the ocean at dusk to someone who has never even seen the sea? You can't, but what you can do is crack open a window for them and if enough windows are opened, the illusion begins to lose its luster.


rod1963 , August 3, 2014 at 12:03 am GMT

I'll take Neil Postman, Chesterton or C.S. Lewis over Bonomo any day.

His article merely takes a blowtorch to all and everything and worse showing very little understanding of the things he attacks is cringe worthy. There's no real analysis, no consideration of the ramifications for doing away with the state, community and faith. This is shoddy thinking at best.

And his last part "Escaping the Grip of Control" is just so much gibberish. It's not thought out at all.

Pseudonymic Handle , August 3, 2014 at 12:35 pm GMT
The weakest part of this piece is that it makes all kinds of suppositions about about the true nature of mankind, that remind me of paleo diet nonsense. Humans evolved constantly so we were selected for domestication. It changed us. We are not the great apes of the savannah, but agriculturalists living in complex societies. This is our true nature and the conflict in our societies is between those who are more domesticated and those who are less domesticated.
Bill , August 3, 2014 at 9:51 pm GMT

"I am product manager for a large retail chain, married to Betty, father of Johnny, a Democrat, Steelers fan and a Lutheran."

His answers imply not only his beliefs but the many responsibilities, rules and restrictions he is subjected to. Few if any of these were ever negotiated- they were imposed on him yet he still considers himself free.

Santoculto , August 4, 2014 at 8:17 pm GMT
To talk about themselves and their superiority as human beings, civilization and biology, we have an average of 50 or more reviews.

Have to discuss the illusion of the human ego, 12 comments, some of which were based on" not-so-children's arguments."

This text shows us a little of the biblical allegory of Pandora's box, even though we know that it is based on the sins that are present inside the box. How is a short story, so I can invent upon an invention without a known author, that in fact as we open Pandora's Box, we will not spread hatred for Earth, there is no need to spread what is already widespread, but we will find the truth. And the truth is that we are animals like those we despise. Human culture is an illusion to keep sane people.

The Plutonium Kid , August 7, 2014 at 6:50 pm GMT
Oh, well, at least Bonobo–I mean, Bonomo–didn't use the word "sheeple," so I don't have to go ballistic on him. Condescending is much too weak a word to describe this mess. Arrogant and egomaniacal fit much better.
Santoculto , August 8, 2014 at 1:40 pm GMT
"Oh, well, at least Bonobo–I mean, Bonomo–didn't use the word "sheeple," so I don't have to go ballistic on him. Condescending is much too weak a word to describe this mess. Arrogant and egomaniacal fit much better."

These "sensitive" people break my heart.

I think Mr. Bonhomme has the right to say whatever you want. Perhaps, the "descriptions" also served to you, what do you think ??

Mike , January 15, 2015 at 1:00 am GMT
It's sadly obvious that most of the negative replies to Mr. Bonomo's article, comes from complete tools.I can see that most, if not all of you tools have been thoroughly educated by sitting in front of your TV's and burping and farting large amount of odorous gases from your beer infused bodies.A friendly bit of advice, remove your collective heads from your asses and get a real life.
Stefano , February 3, 2015 at 1:57 pm GMT
@Plutonium Kid

Hahah.. did Bonomo's essay really scare you that much or did it merely strike such a chord of cognitive dissonance that it left you squirming in mental anguish? Lighten up dude!

Stefano , February 3, 2015 at 2:13 pm GMT
Despite some glaring inaccuracies and over-generalizations, overall the piece is interesting and thought-provoking.

"The system is so advanced that those who do untangle themselves and cut their way out of the net are immediately branded as mentally ill, anti-social, or simply losers who can't accept the 'complexity of modern life', i.e. conspiracy nuts."

Perhaps he means someone like a homeless person or pan-handler living on the street. Certainly few if anyone would consider a radical thinker like Noam Chomsky "mentally ill, anti-social, or simply losers".

Jeff77450 , July 21, 2015 at 5:27 pm GMT
Mr. Bonomo, interesting take on things but ultimately I don't quite agree. Here is the subparagraph of my worldview that addresses the whole free-versus-slave thing: Freedom is in inverse proportion to security. An individual in solitary-confinement in a maximum security prison has 100% security but 0% freedom. At the opposite extreme is the "hermit" living in self-imposed exile with 100% freedom but never entirely sure of when & where his next meal is coming from and if attacked by a predator, human or animal, he is entirely on his own. Between those two extremes there is a reasonable middle-ground.

The hunter-gatherers are (or were) about as free as it is possible to be and each individual not having to live as a hermit – but their lives were, as per Thomas Hobbs, "nasty, brutish and short." I've read that around the time of Christ the average lifespan was 20-22. (That's probably factoring in a lot of infant-mortality).

My life is clean, comfortable, reasonably if not perfectly safe and I'm on-track to live well into my eighties. But I'm a "wage-slave" to a job that I hate, despise and loath and frankly, at home, my wife rules the roost. If I protest too much she could divorce me and take much of what I've worked roughly thirty-four years for so she's got me over a barrel.

Hmmm, my day is ruined

thx1138 , February 11, 2017 at 1:49 am GMT
Well, years later I just want to thank you for this essay. It stated more clearly than I could the truth of the world. The only thing missing is the identity of the perpetrators, and many of us know who they are.

[Apr 24, 2018] 12 Rules for Life An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson

Notable quotes:
"... We are complicated pieces in an even more complicated puzzle. ..."
"... Peterson states that "life is tragic." His point is that people need to be ready to deal with adversity. Anyone can handle good times, because that's what we are able to rest and relax during. The true test of a person comes when they lose a loved one or a job or their health. They need to make a decision: what will they do in response. ..."
"... His 12 Rules serve as a guide on how to go from that point of failure to a point of redemption, offering a series of suggestions and guidelines to take a life that is becoming corrupted by hatred of the world and everything in it and turn it into a vessel for growth and self-improvement. ..."
Apr 24, 2018 | www.amazon.com

... Approaching Peterson a skeptic, I was not sure that reading a book would have the power to change anything in my life. The first few chapters were met with nods, hesitancy, and the concession of points that sounded good. I wasn't hostile to him, and I found many of his points quite clever.

But when Peterson delved deeper into the archetypes and depth psychology I became suspicious. I had a moderate distrust of the Jungian method; I use it to teach literature, but I did not believe in using archetypes to assess personality.

Peterson's point is that we are all part of something great and interconnected. Because it is so massive, we need to be working to make sense of it. It won't happen automatically, and if we go for an easy explanation we may find ourselves walking dark, treacherous paths of misanthropy and rejection.

We are complicated pieces in an even more complicated puzzle. Peterson's approach is one of self improvement. When we take steps to sort ourselves out, we also need to enter a symbiotic process of bringing order to our world.

The purpose of this is not to achieve some sort of superiority. It is to achieve survival. The world will change, and we will be forced to adapt.

Peterson states that "life is tragic." His point is that people need to be ready to deal with adversity. Anyone can handle good times, because that's what we are able to rest and relax during. The true test of a person comes when they lose a loved one or a job or their health. They need to make a decision: what will they do in response.

Peterson uses haunting examples to illustrate what happens when this goes wrong. Using everything from Dostoevsky to the Soviet Union (and countless other insights from modern and historical figures), he creates case studies of what happens when things go wrong and people turn to dysfunction rather than improving their situation.

His 12 Rules serve as a guide on how to go from that point of failure to a point of redemption, offering a series of suggestions and guidelines to take a life that is becoming corrupted by hatred of the world and everything in it and turn it into a vessel for growth and self-improvement.

Is it a perfect guide to living life? No. Is it helpful? Does it give insight to great truths? Yes.

[Apr 23, 2018] 12 Rules for Life An Antidote to Chaos

Notable quotes:
"... his theme of the inevitability of suffering. ..."
"... This book is too long, too verbose, too complicated for its purported goals ..."
"... Unfortunately, this book reads a lot like one of those lectures. While Peterson still provides, as ever, a number of valuable insights, he often does so in chapters that are only ostensibly related to the point he's making. ..."
"... His advice is mostly of the "No more Mr. Nice Guy" type, which I think has much to recommend. ..."
"... Whenever he talks about things like competitiveness, aggression, and sexual selection he tends to commit the naturalistic fallacy (X is right because that's how we evolved, or that's how our distant ancestors behaved, or, worst of all, that's what women evolved to find attractive). ..."
"... JP advocates the life of action and achievement, but he gives no *inspiring* reason to choose this kind of life over any of the other kinds recommended at various times by the world's philosophies and religions. ..."
"... While I enjoy Peterson's YouTube videos, I cannot say the same for this book ..."
"... While there are some good bits of insight in regards to raising children and dealing with various types of people, it's not worth reading 300+ pages of this man's thoughts when they could just as easily be viewed on YouTube. ..."
"... Interesting, but ultimately flawed and superficial. Peterson's arguments should be studied by basic students of logic - you'll find classic examples of statement and false dilemmas presented left and right. ..."
Apr 23, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Alex on January 23, 2018

This book = 12 Rules (rock solid advice) + Peterson's Philosophic musings

Jordan Peterson is a beacon of light in this chaotic world, a psychologist whose writing combines science and common sense. One of his talents is his ability to articulate complex ideas to a wide audience. Regardless of whether you have a background in psychology or not, you will understand this book. It covers his twelve rules for life, which are intended not only as a guide for life of the individual, but as a remedy for society's present ills. Peterson believes that the cure for society starts with curing the individual, the smallest unit of society. Peterson's well-known advice to clean your room is a reflection of the truth that if you can't even manage the most basic and mundane responsibilities of life, then you have no business dictating to others how to fix society.

One of the main themes of this book is: Personal change is possible. There's no doubt you can be slightly better today than you were yesterday. Because of Pareto's Principle (small changes can have disproportionately large results), this movement towards the good increases massively, and this upward trajectory can take your life out of hell more rapidly than you could believe. Life is tragic and full of suffering and malevolence. But there's something you can start putting right, and we can't imagine what good things are in store for us if we just fix the things that are within our power to do so.

The 12 Rules for Life:

In Peterson's own words, it's 12 rules to stop you from being pathetic, written from the perspective of someone who himself tried to stop being pathetic and is still working on it. Peterson is open about his struggles and shortcomings, unlike many authors who only reveal a carefully curated façade.

Rule 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back. People have bad posture, and the meaning behind it can be demonstrated by animal behaviors. Peterson uses the example of the lobster. When a lobster loses a fight, and they fight all the time, it scrunches up a little. Lobsters run on serotonin and when he loses, levels go down, and when he wins, levels go up and he stretches out and is confident. Who cares? We evolutionarily diverged from lobsters 350 million years ago, but it's still the same circuit. It's a deep instinct to size others up when looking at them to see where they fit in the social hierarchy. If your serotonin levels fall, you get depressed and crunch forward and you're inviting more oppression from predator personalities and can get stuck in a loop. Fixing our posture is part of the psycho-physiological loop that can help you get started back up again.

Rule 2: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping. People often have self-contempt whether they realize it or not. Imagine someone you love and treat well. You need to treat yourself with the same respect. Take care of yourself, your room, your things, and have respect for yourself as if you're a person with potential and is important to the people around you. If you make a pattern of bad mistakes, your life gets worse, not just for you, but for the people around you. All your actions echo in ways that cannot be imagined. Think of Stalin's mother and the mistakes she made in life, and how the ripple effects went on to affect the millions of people around him.

Rule 3: Choose your friends carefully. It is appropriate for you to evaluate your social surroundings and eliminate those who are hurting you. You have no ethical obligation to associate with people who are making your life worse. In fact, you are obligated to disassociate with people who are trying to destroy the structure of being, your being, society's being. It's not cruel, it's sending a message that some behaviors are not to be tolerated.

Rule 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today . You need to improve, and you may even be in real bad shape, but many unfairly compare themselves to some more seemingly successful person. Up till around age 17, random comparisons to other people can make sense, but afterwards, especially age 30+, our lives become so idiosyncratic that comparisons with others become meaningless and unhelpful. You only see a slice of their life, a public facet, and are blind to the problems they conceal.

Rule 5: Don't let children do things that make you dislike them. You aren't as nice as you think, and you will unconsciously take revenge on them. You are massively more powerful than your children, and have the ability and subconscious proclivity for tyranny deeply rooted within you.If you don't think this is true, you don't know yourself well enough. His advice on disciplinary procedure: (1) limit the rules. (2) use minimum necessary force and (3) parents should come in pairs.It's difficult and exhausting to raise children, and it's easy to make mistakes. A bad day at work, fatigue, hunger, stress, etc, can make you unreasonable.

Rule 6: Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world. Life is tragic and there's malevolence. There's plenty to complain about, but if you dwell on it, you will become bitter and tread down a path that will take you to twisted places. The diaries of the Columbine killers are a chilling look into minds that dwelled on the unholy trinity of deceit, arrogance, and resentment) . So instead of cursing the tragedy that is life, transform into something meaningful. Start by stop doing something, anything, that you know to be wrong. Everyday you have choices in front of you. Stop doing and saying things that make you weak and ashamed. Do only those things that you would proudly talk about in public.

Rule 7: Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient). Meaning is how you protect yourself against the suffering that life entails. This means that despite the fact that we're all emotionally wounded by life, we've found something that makes it all worthwhile. Meaning, Peterson says, is like an instinct, or a form of vision. It lets you know when you're in the right place, and he says that the right place is midway between chaos and order. If you stay firmly ensconced within order, things you understand, then you can't grow. If you stay within chaos, then you're lost. Expediency is what you do to get yourself out of trouble here and now, but it comes at the cost of sacrificing the future for the present. So instead of doing what gets you off the hook today, aim high. Look around you and see what you can make better. Make it better. As you gain knowledge, consciously remain humble and avoid arrogance that can stealthily creep on you. Peterson also says to be aware of our shortcomings, whatever they may be; our secret resentments, hatred, cowardice, and other failings. Be slow to accuse others because we too conceal malevolent impulses, and certainly before we attempt to fix the world.

Rule 8: Tell the truth -- or, at least, don't lie. Telling the truth can be hard in the sense that it's often difficult to know the truth. However, we can know when we're lying. Telling lies makes you weak. You can feel it, and others can sense it too. Meaning, according to Peterson, is associated with truth, and lying is the antithesis of meaning. Lying disassociates you with meaning, and thus reality itself. You might get away with lying for a short while, but only a short time. In Peterson's words "It was the great and the small lies of the Nazi and Communist states that produced the deaths of millions of people."

Rule 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don't. A good conversation consists of you coming out wiser than you went into it. An example is when you get into an argument with your significant other, you want to win, especially if you get angry. If you're more verbally fluent than the other person then you can win. One problem is that the other person might see something better than you, but they can't quite articulate it as well. Always listen because there's a possibility they're going to tell you something that will prevent you from running headfirst into a brick wall. This is why Peterson says to listen to your enemies. They will lie about you, but they will also say true things about yourself that your friends won't. Separate the wheat from the chaff and make your life better.

Rule 10: Be Precise in Your Speech: There is some integral connection between communication and reality (or structures of belief as he likes to say). Language takes chaos and makes it into a 'thing.' As an example, imagine going through a rough patch in your life where you can't quite put your finger on what's wrong. This mysterious thing that's bothering you -- is it real? Yes, if it's manifesting itself as physical discomfort. Then you talk about it and give it a name, and then this fuzzy, abstract thing turns into a specific thing. Once named, you can now do something about it. The unnameable is far more terrifying than the nameable. As an example, the movie the Blair Witch project didn't actually name or describe the evil. Nothing happens in the movie, it's all about the unnameable. If you can't name something, it means it's so terrifying to you that you can't even think about it, and that makes you weaker. This is why Peterson is such a free speech advocate. He wants to bring things out of the realm of the unspeakable. Words have a creative power and you don't want to create more mark and darkness by imprecise speech.

Rule 11: Don't bother children when they are skateboarding. This is mainly about masculinity. Peterson remembers seeing children doing all kinds of crazy stunts on skateboards and handrails, and believes this is an essential ingredient to develop masculinity, to try to develop competence and face danger. Jordan Peterson considers the act of sliding down a handrail to be brave and perhaps stupid as well, but overall positive. A lot of rebellious behavior in school is often called 'toxic masculinity,' but Peterson would say to let them be. An example would be a figure skater that makes a 9.9 on her performance, essentially perfect. Then the next skater that follows her seems to have no hope. But she pushes herself closer to chaos, beyond her competence, and when successful, inspires awe. Judges award her 10's. She's gone beyond perfection into the unknown and ennobled herself as well as humanity as well.

Rule 12: Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street. This chapter is mainly autobiographical and he writes about tragedy and pain. When tragic things are in front of you and you're somewhat powerless, you must keep your eyes open for little opportunities that highlight the redemptive elements of life that make it all worthwhile. The title of this chapter comes from his experience of observing a local stray cat, and watching it adapt to the rough circumstances around it. Another thing you must do when life is going to pieces is to shorten your temporal horizon. Instead of thinking in months, you maybe think in hours or minutes instead. You try to just have the best next minute or hour that you can. You shrink the time frame until you can handle it, this is how you adjust to the catastrophe. You try to stay on your feet and think. Although this chapters deals about harsh things, it's an overall positive one. Always look for what's meaningful and soul-sustaining even when you're where you'd rather not be.

Charles TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 23, 2018
Helpful, Fascinating--And Not Political (To My Surprise)

A friend of mine has been pushing me to look into Jordan Peterson for the past six months. I thought, since my friend is conservative, that Peterson offered right-wing politics, and it is true that he has recently been in the news for his thoughts on certain charged topics. However, Peterson does not, in fact, offer politics, which is refreshing in these days of rage. Rather, "12 Rules For Life" is a self-help book constructed like a Russian matryoshka doll, a nested construct. It talks, and works, on multiple levels, some of which may have political implications, but if so, they are incidental to what the book offers to each human person, both the broken and the whole.

The nested, complex nature of this book really should be no surprise, because Peterson's life's work is the study of the infinitely layered human mind, and his one earlier book, "Maps of Meaning," was an exhaustive analysis of intricate human myths, their roots in our moral beliefs, and their implications for today. In Peterson's view, all moral traditions are, at their root, exemplifications and explications of the opposition of order and chaos, as well as a way of creating shared beliefs, which are immensely valuable to any human society. His basic point in his Rules is that every individual can avoid the extremes of menacing chaos and tyrannical order by following the Way, the line between order and chaos, "through the willingness of everyone to shoulder the burden of Being and to take the heroic path." This is to "live properly," and if we can do this, we can "collectively flourish." Thus, his 12 Rules are guides to this end.

As I says, this is not a political book, but politics is downstream of this book -- that is, if you buy into what Peterson is offering, it probably changes some of your political views. Peterson's basic principle is the imperative need to recognize that reality exists, and given that so much of politics today is built around a wholesale denial of reality, Peterson's statements often seem political. In fact, they are political, even if that is not Peterson's intent, or at least not his major intent. This is especially true of his view of men and women, which permeates the book.

But let's treat the book as it is, rather than treating it as some form of archetype, for it is, if nothing else, highly original, and it is therefore hard to summarize. Peterson, both an academic and a practicing clinical psychologist, has spent a lifetime talking extensively to many people, most of them troubled, and he thinks very deeply about every word he says (as is clearly evident if you watch interviews with him available online). That doesn't mean he's didactic -- his writing tone is conversational and packed with anecdotes, carefully chosen to illustrate or add impact to the points he makes. But it does mean that nearly every sentence is crowded with meaning.

Rule 1 is "Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back." This is the backbone of all the rules, really, for in its Peterson explains that we are how we are. We are not malleable beyond a certain point. His illustration is lobsters, who were already incredibly ancient at the dawn of the dinosaurs, yet who have much in common with humans -- so much so that anti-depressants perk defeated lobsters up. Lobsters have a dominance hierarchy. And, critically, male and female lobsters are radically different -- they act differently, yes, but more broadly, male and female lobster teleology, their purpose, is different, and that is reflected in how each behaves. For lobsters, and all other creatures, "The dominance hierarchy, however social or cultural it might appear, has been around for some half a billion years. It's permanent. It's real. It is [rather than capitalism, or patriarchy, or some other ephemeral manifestation] a near-eternal aspect of the environment. . . . Dominance hierarchies are older than trees." Males, lobster or not, who fall in the dominance hierarchy have bad lives that get worse, often in a self-reinforcing loop; and they rise in the dominance hierarchy by fighting and winning, which means they get the best food, the best mental and physical health, the best shelter, and the best females. Similarly, females who rise (who fight only in their maternal stage, but compete otherwise) in the dominance hierarchy have the best mental health, and better physical circumstances by virtue of attracting high-quality suitors, that is, those high in the dominance hierarchy, whom they identify and pursue; those who fall; the reverse. Whether we like to admit it or not, humans are essentially the same as lobsters. They always have been, and they always will be.

Unlike lobsters, though, humans can self-diagnose that they are at the bottom of the hierarchy, or heading there in a downward spiral, and they can take action to improve their situation. (Peterson's book is about taking action, most of all.) Falling in a human dominance hierarchy basically means you are being bullied, and though some can't fight back, almost always, it's that people won't fight back. While fighting back can be as simple as changing your view of life, "to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open," and "accepting the end of the unconscious paradise of childhood," ultimately "[t]here is very little difference between the capacity for mayhem and destruction, integrated, and strength of character." Given that I have always believed that violence, or at least its threat, is the solution to most problems of human oppression, this certainly resonates with me, though reconciling that with turning the other cheek is difficult, and not something Peterson has much use for, despite obvious deep sympathy with Christianity. Through standing up for oneself, straight with your shoulders back, using force as necessary (and the willingness to use force likely means it will not be necessary), leads the path to human flourishing, for all.

In Rule 2, "Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible For Helping," Peterson addresses why people sabotage themselves. He first delves deeply into human mythos, closely analyzing the first chapters of Genesis in particular, though also offering nods to other traditions, such as the Vedic. This is in service of a deeper exploration of the eternal opposition of order and chaos. Order is masculine; when good, it is the structure of society, the ice on which we skate; when bad, it is tyranny and stultification. Chaos is feminine; when good, it is the origin of all things and the maker of all things new, the substance from which all things are made; when bad, it is the dangerous unknown, the chthonic underworld, and the dark water under the ice. Calling these categories of reality masculine and feminine is not arbitrary; in fact, it comports with what may be the ultimate fundamental fact of human existence, the division into two very different sexes, male and female, "natural categories, deeply embedded in our perceptual, emotional and motivational structures." (You now begin to see why the transgender ideologues are not thrilled with Peterson.) As with Adam and Eve and their self-sabotage, we sabotage ourselves, not viewing ourselves as worthy of respect, since we are capable of stupidity and evil. "And with this realization we have well-nigh full legitimization of the idea, very unpopular in modern intellectual circles, of Original Sin." But we can choose to embody the Image of God, instead. "Back is the way forward -- as T. S. Eliot insisted [in "Little Gidding"] -- but back as awake beings, exercising the proper choice of awake beings."

For Christians, though, this poses a perceived difficulty. Yes, as Peterson notes, Christianity reduced evil and barbarism in the areas it conquered. But it encouraged excessive self-sacrifice through erroneous thinking. "Christ's archetypal death exists as an example of how to accept finitude, betrayal and tyranny heroically -- how to walk with God despite the tragedy of conscious self-knowledge -- and not as a directive to victimize ourselves in the service of others." We have to care for others as we care for ourselves; only in that way can both of us flourish. Peterson explores this line of thought at considerable length; it is impossible to shorten his words and retain the meaning, but it is both fully compatible with Christian belief and an antidote to a certain line of Christian excessive self-abnegation (a failing I found in Thomas à Kempis's The Imitation of Christ, though I hesitate to criticize a book of such renown).

Rule 3 advises us to choose and to see our friends clearly. You must not only see the best in people. You can show them to what they should aspire, but you cannot lift them up unless they wish to be so lifted. "Not everyone who is failing is a victim, and not everyone at the bottom wishes to rise." "But Christ himself, you might object, befriended tax-collectors and prostitutes. How dare I cast aspersions on the motives of those who are trying to help? But Christ was the archetypal perfect man. And you're you. How do you know that your attempts to pull someone up won't instead bring them -- or you -- further down?" Again, nearly every word is perfect: "Success: that's the mystery. Virtue: that's what inexplicable. . . . . Things fall apart, of their own accord, but the sins of men speed their degeneration. And then comes the flood."

Rule 4 returns to an internal focus, advising us to "Compare Yourself To Who You Were Yesterday, Not To Who Someone Else Is Today." Just because you can always find an area where someone, or everyone, is better, does not mean that area is or should be relevant to you. A myriad of games are possible in each person's life; choose your game, choose your starting point, and improve yourself, incrementally and gradually. In fact, you should reward yourself for doing so, as silly as that sounds. And if you resent someone else, you need to realize it is either stupid immaturity, in which case you should stop it, or it is a legitimate complaint, in which case you must address it, or it will only get worse and cause more problems.

Next, on Rule 5, "Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them," Peterson switches gears, from the world of adults to the world of children as it intersects with adults. He strongly objects to certain psychological tendencies in child-rearing, especially the protection of children from dangers at the expense of making them fully functioning and competent human beings (a problem mainly with male children and their mothers, he says). Children must be socialized; they are not inherently good (or inherently bad, for that matter). Individual problems do not call for social restructuring, which is mostly stupid. "Each person's private trouble cannot be solved by a social revolution, because revolutions are destabilizing and dangerous." Socialization means limitations; limitations facilitate creative achievement, not crimp it. Along the way, Peterson discusses tangential topics, such as that hierarchies are rarely, if ever, arbitrary. He recognizes, of course, that each child is very different (as I know, having five myself), but certain basic approaches (including "discipline and punish," I assume a joke at Foucault's expense) are the most likely to lead to success, for all of child, parents, and society.

In Rule 6, Peterson returns to adult self-help, "Set Your Own House In Perfect Order Before You Criticize The World." He evaluates here, as he does in more than one place in this book, the nihilism of the smarter Columbine killer, Eric Harris. This is of course topical, with the present focus on school shootings. True, they have not actually increased in recent decades, but they have increased from forty or fifty years ago, when children carrying guns to school was unexceptional, and the reason is almost certainly some form of this nihilism. Peterson is violently opposed to the idea that humans are some kind of plague, as Harris maintained, and he identifies this sort of thinking, common among certain elites today, who adhere to the self-definition of Goethe's Mephistopheles as "the spirit who negates," as among the worst in the modern world. (Peterson would prefer Normal Borlaug to William Vogt, in Charles Mann's excellent recent "The Wizard and the Prophet.") Yes, life is very hard, and suffering, great suffering, is nearly inevitable for everyone. But transformation, not vengeance, is the answer. Abel, not Cain. Rather than blaming everyone else for what is wrong, stop today what you know to be wrong, and start doing what you know to be right. Thereby, you help yourself, and you strike a blow for Being, for the Way, and against nihilism.

Peterson continues the focus on suffering in Rule 7, "Pursue What Is Meaningful (Not What Is Expedient)." Here, he dives into Egyptian mythology, as well as several passages from the New Testament. He returns to, and expands on, his earlier thoughts about the impact of Christianity and the resulting new problems, noting that "In consequence [of Christianity], the metaphysical conception of the implicit transcendent worth of each and every soul established itself against impossible odds as the fundamental presumption of Western law and society. That was not the case in the world of the past, and is not the case yet in most places in the world of the present." (I've been saying this for years, but it's nice to find someone prominent who agrees with me!) But in addition to the tendency toward self-abnegation, long a potential problem for flourishing in this life, Christianity's decline has left a void. Here Peterson talks of Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Milton, Solzhenitsyn, and much more, including his own personal moral development, and returns again to suffering and nihilism, which are bad, but which at least point out, when addressed directly, that there is something good that opposes them. Expedience is lying and not facing up to your sins and the reality of things. Meaning is the balance between chaos and order, and it leads to good. "Meaning is the Way, the path of life more abundant, the place you live when you are guided by Love and speaking Truth and when nothing you want or could possibly want takes any precedence over precisely that." And by much the same token, but more personal and humanized, Rule 8: "Tell The Truth -- Or At Least, Don't Lie." Deceit leads to evil, which leads to, and is embodied, suffering.

Rule 9 tells us to "Assume That The Person You Are Listening To Might Know Something You Don't." Here a plea for, in essence, humility, along with some fascinating ideas about how to conduct disagreements with one's spouse, and related thoughts on memory and wisdom. Rule 10 says "Be Precise In Your Speech." As I say, Peterson embodies this rule. I like to say (which probably says something about me), in the context of political arguments, that I am a professional killer. I have nothing on Peterson, though. You can see the wheels turning when he is asked a question, and what comes out is precise and irrefutable, each word weighted with meaning and exquisitely interlocked, intertwining and supporting, with every other. (He never seems to say "um," that's for certain.) Lack of precision leads to chaos; lack of precision may be a failure of vocabulary, but it is more often a failure to communicate at all, to identify and address problems between two people before they grow to enormous, malevolent proportions. But, "If we speak carefully and precisely, we can sort things out, and put them in their proper place, and set a new goal, and navigate to it -- often communally, if we negotiate; if we reach consensus. If we speak carelessly and imprecisely, however, things remain vague. The destination remains unproclaimed. The fog of uncertainty does not lift, and there is no negotiating through the world."

Next to last, in Rule 11, Peterson returns to children, "Do Not Bother Children When They Are Skateboarding." Danger, especially for men, is part of growth. And young men are the element of society at greatest risk today -- this is not a major theme of this book, but it is a major theme of Peterson's public thought. They are protected from developing properly, they are deliberately socialized like and as girls, yet they are blamed for the world's ills, and as a result, some turn to nihilism, and fascism, encouraged by certain other men who, in essence, Peterson calls evil.

Here, Peterson returns emphatically to his proclamation of the deep and abiding differences between men and women. "[Some] insist, ever more loudly, that gender is a social construct. It isn't. This isn't a debate. The data are in." For example, in the "emancipated" Scandinavian countries, girls choose traditionally feminine pursuits and behaviors at extremely high rates. And in the United States, it is just a lie that there are few women law firm partners due to discrimination; the reason is, purely, women's choice. (I know this from personal experience, although you are forbidden to say it at a law firm -- you would be fired instantly, yet another of many distortions of reality today, and a form of coerced lying and mass collective self-delusion.) The dominance hierarchy is only one example of this, but it is enormously important, like it or not, for young men, and making it so they can't win in any aspect of it is catastrophic for men -- and for women, who have a reduced selection of competent partners to meet their different, but complementary, needs.

The movie Frozen is "deeply propagandistic," an embodied falsehood, not because a woman necessarily needs a man to rescue her, though she probably does to some extent, as does a man need a woman to make him whole, but because it pretends that masculine traits are of no consequence to human flourishing. The "oppression of the patriarchy" is a pack of lies. "The so-called oppression of the patriarchy was instead an imperfect collective attempt by men and women, stretching over millennia, to free each other from privation, disease and drudgery." The miserable result of denying this is what we see today. "We do not teach our children that the world is flat. Neither should we teach them unsupported ideologically-predicated theories about the nature of men and women -- or the nature of hierarchy." He even boldly directly attacks transgender ideology. "Gender is constructed, but an individual who desires gender re-assignment surgery is to be unarguably considered a man trapped in a woman's body (or vice versa). The fact that both of these cannot logically be true, simultaneously, is just ignored."

The answer is simple. Rather than feeding or believing all these lies, men and women should each do, and be, what they are. "A woman should look after her children -- although that is not all she should do. And a man should look after a woman and children -- although that is not all he should do. But a woman should not look after a man, because she must look after children, and a man should not be a child. This means he must not be dependent." In this is found what men should do, not in a turn to nihilism or fascism, and equally not in a turn to emasculation and feminization to avert stupid accusations of "toxic masculinity."

Finally, in Rule 12, "Pet A Cat When You Encounter One On The Street," Peterson turns most personal, describing the trials and suffering of his daughter from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. It is moving stuff, and Peterson returns again to his theme of the inevitability of suffering. But being open to cats, and myriad other joys, means you can "get a reminder that for just fifteen seconds that the wonder of Being might make up for the ineradicable suffering that accompanies it."

Peterson ends with a series of fascinating brief questions and answers, along with short explanations of the answers, posed from himself to himself, on everything from "What shall I do with my life?" (Answer: "Aim for Paradise, and concentrate on today"), to "What shall I do with a torn nation?" (Answer: "Stitch it back together with careful words of truth"), to "What shall I do with my infant's death?" (Answer: "Hold my other loved ones and heal their pain"). These are meant to, in a type of stream of consciousness, embody some of the basic principles underlying the rules in the book. Really, though, they are more; they are nearly an entire philosophy of life, which is probably why this book is so popular. If you are broken, there is much in it for you. But Peterson's point is that everyone is broken, sometimes more, sometimes less -- so there is something in this book for everyone.

By Laurel VanWilligen on February 13, 2018
A few good nuggets

There is a lot to like in this book. I apparently needed a bit of nudging about some things that maybe should have been self-evident. I especially liked the part in 'Rule 4' where he instructs on negotiating with your inner/child self on getting a few little things done without self-bullying. To me, that was the best part of the book.

Therein lies one of my complaints. This book is too long, too verbose, too complicated for its purported goals. If you want to make the average person's life better (and of course sell more books), I think you could have cut out about 75% of the book. We already know (well, I do) that Jordan Peterson is well-read, erudite, incredibly introspective and ambitious. Of course if there were any doubt about that, you could read about how he'd "flown a hammerhead roll in a carbon fiber stunt plane....consulted for the UN Secretary General's High-level Panel on Sustainable Development....identified thousands of promising entrepreneurs in sixty different countries...." Really? Who was responsible for putting that on the last printed page? That alone almost made me throw the book away.

Finally, I am an atheist. I have to say that hearing his complaints and criticism of atheists makes me wonder if all that erudition has done him any favors. He seems to have lost the ability to look out the windows of his own two eyes, without all of this information he's gleaned from other scholars, and realize that once you have an explanation for how the natural world works you can figure out how to optimize your place in it. Being self-destructive, or generally destructive, makes no sense and is not in your self-interest.

So I looked to his book for some guidance on how to continue improving my life in this rational universe. And I found a few nuggets. I'm not positive the hours of slogging through the unnecessary parts was worth it. My jury's still out....

The jury's back. I think for my purposes, 'Wear Sunscreen' by Mary Schmich (the 1997 'Commencement Address' often mistakenly attributed to Kurt Vonnegut) does as good a job, in a couple of pages that can be taped to my wall, than this tome. Maybe better. And it's free.

By Arthur Figgis on February 12, 2018
Standard JP; no major revelations, little structure

If you're a fan of Peterson's, there's a lot to like here, and a good deal of it will be familiar.

I was hoping that the written format would help reign in some of Peterson's desultory tendencies. When delivering a lecture, Peterson often allows himself to get off on tangents, and that is, in part, why his talks are so engaging and entertaining - you get the sense that you're watching someone engage in the hard work of real thought before your very eyes. That same tendency also highlights Peterson's wide-ranging erudition on religion, culture and history.

Unfortunately, this book reads a lot like one of those lectures. While Peterson still provides, as ever, a number of valuable insights, he often does so in chapters that are only ostensibly related to the point he's making. His rules themselves are simple, logical and sensible, but he often focuses on the rules themselves for only a paragraph or two in each chapter. The rest is typical freewheeling Peterson - engaging and interesting, sure, but often failing to build a comprehensive, convincing argument. Major themes repeat themselves throughout chapters, which isn't a problem in and of itself - Peterson clearly has a few key concepts he's trying to instill to his readers - but the repetition of these concepts and the less-than-strict adherence to the given topic of each chapter can result in a generally samey feel: sure, life is a struggle between order and chaos; okay, dominance hierarchies are found across almost all life on earth - but I forget, is this the chapter about standing up straight, or the one about telling the truth?

This is by no means a bad book, but I was eager to hear Peterson's thoughts presented in a more logical, organized, intentional manner, and that's not quite what this book is or does.

By Stan S. on March 13, 2018
Somewhat interesting but insanely overrated

Let me say up front that I'm going to judge this book by a very high standard here. I have no doubt that this is one of the better books of its kind.

Jordan Peterson offers some useful, if not completely original, practical advice. His advice is mostly of the "No more Mr. Nice Guy" type, which I think has much to recommend. Therefore, I praise the book wholeheartedly as a kind of how-to guide for getting certain things out of life, the kinds of things that most people want.

But Peterson falls down whenever he waxes philosophical or moralistic. Whenever he talks about things like competitiveness, aggression, and sexual selection he tends to commit the naturalistic fallacy (X is right because that's how we evolved, or that's how our distant ancestors behaved, or, worst of all, that's what women evolved to find attractive). You'd be excused if you came away with the message that qualities like gentleness and compassion (what JP calls "agreeableness") are contemptible and bad, because they may not always further certain of your interests. But I for one would much rather live in a world where the average level of agreeableness were high than its opposite.

Kant says in one of his ethical treatises that the purpose of reason is to live a moral life, not to make men happy, and that the happiest are usually those who use their instinct rather than their reason. JP seems to confuse morality with that which leads to practical success.

JP advocates the life of action and achievement, but he gives no *inspiring* reason to choose this kind of life over any of the other kinds recommended at various times by the world's philosophies and religions. He only dangles the prospect of (to use a phrase from C.S. Lewis) "girls and gold and guns" thinking that this settles the issue. Perhaps he does not think very highly of his audience.

I must mention I find his frequent, extensive use of the Bible to justify his biological reductionism rather irritating and inappropriate. I'd have given the book one more star if these parts had been edited out.

As I said at the beginning, I don't doubt that this is one of the better, perhaps one of the best books of its kind. But, at least by my lights, it is overrated to a very great degree, and I'd be surprised of JP is much talked about or read ten, or even five years from now.

By Amazon Customer on February 21, 2018
Stick to Peterson's YouTube lectures

While I enjoy Peterson's YouTube videos, I cannot say the same for this book. His style of writing is exactly like listening one of his lectures, which I do not feel translates well on paper. This style might be good for a lecture to get people thinking, but I found myself wondering why the heck he was expounding upon some things and not resolving them, while clarifying other concepts that did not feel as profound. Additionally, I cannot agree with his analysis of men and women (Men representing order and Women representing chaos), or some of his other theological points he tries to make (Eve shaming Adam to make him self-conscious into eating the forbidden fruit). It feels as though in these respects he oversteps his area of knowledge and delves into pop-psychology. While there are some good bits of insight in regards to raising children and dealing with various types of people, it's not worth reading 300+ pages of this man's thoughts when they could just as easily be viewed on YouTube.

By Ken S on April 15, 2018
OK at best

Highly overrated - ramble ramble ramble, some good points buried in there somewhere.

By KG on March 26, 2018
Two Stars

As a JBP fan and agnostic psych major I prefer his lectures to this book. Very different things

By Pablo on March 27, 2018
It is better to watch Peterson's conferences on-line than buying the book

Shallow and vague. It is better to watch Peterson's conferences on-line than buying the book.

By J. Rice on March 2, 2018
Interesting, but ultimately flawed and superficial. Peterson's arguments ...

Interesting, but ultimately flawed and superficial. Peterson's arguments should be studied by basic students of logic - you'll find classic examples of statement and false dilemmas presented left and right.

There are some points that Peterson makes they are reasonable, but he attempts to extend them beyond all rational limits. As I said, mildly interesting but fundamentally flawed as an intellectual or philosophical work.

By Vince on April 3, 2018
Would have been a great blog post....otherwise pure drudgery.

As some reviewers recommend, you have to put in the "work" to really read and appreciate the book. Well, I put in the work and it felt like work. Pure drudgery for me. This book could have been a good blog entry - 12 solid bullet points with the why and the how. If you are interested in the 12 Rules, pick any number of reviews here that summarize the book and you will get a more useful read, and certainly a better use of your time.

Rule number 1 - stand up straight. I get it, I agree with it. I don't need to be beaten over the head with pages and pages of background into the biology of the lobster to understand how this can change my life.

I like the idea and tried hard to like the book. Even tried the audio version read by the author - no better. Poorly executed and I can only guess what prompted all those 5 star reviews....maybe a pat on the back for having put in the "work"? "Hey, look at me...with my shoulders proudly back...I'm the alpha Lobster...I'm so enlightened thanks to this brilliant author."

[Apr 22, 2018] Jordan Peterson and the Return of the Stoics by Tim Rogers

Unlike almost every modern book in the self-help genre, happiness is a not a major theme here, and to Peterson it is not necessarily even a primary goal.
His book in part is about accepting the ubiquity of human suffering. No wonder reviewers don't get it.
Notable quotes:
"... Pain is its one incontrovertible fact (he remarks at one point that it is a miracle that anything in the world gets done at all: such is the ubiquity of human suffering) ..."
"... You will suffer. Accept that, and shift your focus to the one thing that is within your control: your attitude. ..."
Apr 22, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

His book in part is about accepting the ubiquity of human suffering. No wonder reviewers don't get it.

"Aphorisms," wrote James Geary, "are like particle accelerators for the mind." When particles collide inside an accelerator, new ones are formed as the energy of the crash is converted into matter. Inside an aphorism, it is minds that collide, and what spins out is that most slippery of things, wisdom.

... ... ...

These reviewers have done a disservice to their readers. In large measure, they have failed to engage with a work that is complex, challenging, and novel. Peterson is sketching out a draft for how we can survive, look in the mirror, and deal with psychological pain.

To understand his message, the first task is not to be distracted by the title or genre, and look for the metaphorical glue that binds it all together. 12 Rules sets out an interesting and complex model for humanity, and it really has nothing to do with petting a cat or taking your tablets or being kind to lobsters. It is about strength, courage, responsibility, and suffering, but it is deep and difficult, and it is not easy to pigeonhole. In a sense, 12 Rules contains a number of hidden structures and hidden processes, and confusingly, these are not always made explicit in the text.

The first of these is Deep Time. We are biological creatures, evolved beings who can only be truly understood through a model that encapsulates the notion of geological time. The concept of Deep Time is very recent: just a few generations ago science thought that the earth was a few thousand years old. The realization that the planet has been around for billions of years and that life itself not much younger has brought about a shift in the story of ourselves and our place in the world. We are the products of processes that are old, old, old. We stretch back across unfathomable reaches, incomprehensible spans, but we carry that history within us.

... ... ..

Unlike almost every modern book in the self-help genre, happiness is a not a major theme here, and to Peterson it is not necessarily even a primary goal. Like Freud, Peterson sees life as suffering. Pain is its one incontrovertible fact (he remarks at one point that it is a miracle that anything in the world gets done at all: such is the ubiquity of human suffering). 12 Rules is not about the pursuit of pleasure, and indeed parts of his message are pure Stoicism. Resistance to life's depredations is futile. You will suffer. Accept that, and shift your focus to the one thing that is within your control: your attitude.

... His much-derided directive to "tidy your room" makes sense at every level. Indeed, if your room is too big, start with "tidy your desk," and then move forward. Find meaning in the tiniest acts of kindness, and push on from there. Concede the transience of pleasure and the inevitability of death. This isn't happiness, but it is a step closer to the Good Life, and contra the reviewers, readers are responding. Active, purposeful "Being in the World" is the dominant theme, and much of the book is taken up with exploring the whys and wherefores of this. Courage and strength and kindness, yes, to be sure, but importantly, courage "in spite of" and kindness "in spite of."

Following Carl Rogers, meaning is to be found in active engagement in a wondrous and hazardous world, and here there is no shirking the "hazardous." It seems to me that Peterson is calling for a return to ataraxia , that imperturbability and equanimity that has been out of fashion amongst the intelligentsia (at least in the West) for a century or more.

The underlying political philosophy is conservative, without question. As Christian Gonzalez identified in The American Conservative , Peterson's closest contemporary equivalent is Roger Scruton. "We have learned to live together and organize our complex societies slowly and incrementally, over vast stretches of time," he writes, "and we do not understand with sufficient exactitude why what we are doing works."

Peterson on the American culture wars sounds like Scruton on the English Common Law: we are "from the soil," we need time, it is senseless to break what we barely understand. Each person's private trouble cannot be solved by a social revolution, because revolutions are destabilizing and dangerous. Those left-leaning critics who see "just another reactionary" have failed to understand the complexity. What permeates this project is an implicit biopsychosocial model of the human condition (Peterson spares the reader that dread term but it is the only description I know for his integrative model).

... ... ...

Tim Rogers is a consultant psychiatrist in Edinburgh. He's written for Encounter magazine, and has published in both Quillette and Areo .

[Apr 18, 2018] I believe Stoicism has a great deal of value for modern man.

Apr 18, 2018 | thesaker.is

Rob from Canada on April 15, 2018 , · at 5:39 pm UTC

In my opinion, the ego becomes "mental" when it starts believing in duality, that it's the centre of the personality and in control. It's just the centre of the field of consciousness.

I believe Stoicism has a great deal of value for modern man.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5897dMWJiSM&t=333s

"The axiom of Maria. A precept in alchemy: "One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth."
Jung used the axiom of Maria as a metaphor for the whole process of individuation. One is the original state of unconscious wholeness; two signifies the conflict between opposites; three points to a potential resolution; the third is the transcendent function; and the one as the fourth is a transformed state of consciousness, relatively whole and at peace."

­
Stuart Harlan Doblin on April 16, 2018 , · at 5:43 pm UTC
Good Day Rob from Canada – Stuart says, "Hi".

"In my opinion, the ego becomes "mental" when it starts believing in duality, that it's the centre of the personality and in control. It's just the centre of the field of consciousness."

Stuart begins: Our ego is a vestigal organ, long since gone by the by, and all that remains is a cell-wall-less gooey-plasma ready at the moment to luminesce and retire into nothingness.

I take it as axiotmatic that our Whole Mind cannot lose it Self.

OK, Rob from Canada, now to your opinions:

One: "the ego becomes "mental" when it starts believing in duality".
Two: "(the ego is) the centre of the personality".
Three: "(the ego is) in control".
Four: "(the ego) is the centre of the field of consciousness".

Regarding Point One: Please explain how fracturing an entirely mistaken ideal can lead to dualism and not chaos?
Two: "Who says?"
Three: "Of What?"
Four: An unconscious ideal cannot attain consciousness, except in illusions.

Barry on April 15, 2018 , · at 10:46 pm UTC
Hi Stuart! Here's my take on the issue of ego being mental, and from my own experience it is correct. With very little practice one can observe his thoughts and internal dialogue. It doesn't require meditation. It's simply a matter of paying attention to our internal dialogue. We all talk to ourselves. That internal dialogue is the ego talking to itself. The ego is a mental construction based on the brain's interpretation of it's experience since birth. So what are we witnessing the ego's internal dialogue and thoughts with? That's where our "spirituality" lies, regardless of religion or no religion. We all have immediate access to the witness to our own ego but few use it. The "witness" is silent. It observes and knows, but doesn't know how or why it knows. Call it "knowingness". That witnessing awareness is silent. Zen Buddhists call it the practice of "no mind". In modern sports it's called being in "The Zone". Though silent is is a very aware state of consciousness.
Instead of using our brain to think when we want to use it to think, we let the brain's ego think us and think our lives for us. Our ego is our own worst enemy. The ego never sees the "big picture" of all involved. The ego/mind is always insecure and spends it's life trying to compensate is some way or another to overcome it's basic insecurity.
Humans for the most part, identify with their mental chatter (the ego). Any real spiritual teaching, teaches us to identify, instead, with the observer of the ego, which is transcending the ego.
All the problems we face on this planet are because of insecure individual egos, grouping to form tribal egos, such as tribes of nationalism, tribes of religious beliefs, tribes of political beliefs, tribes of sports team fans. Egos tend to be competitive and want to be "one up" in some way. One can easily see that the party of Democrats has an ego identity as does the party of Republicans. Egos are mental creations. Mental creations are not necessarily true. They are beliefs about our perception, whether actually correct or not. The witness or observer we all have and share knows the truth of the moment and the appropriate action to take. Of all the books on Spiritual Practices I've read through the years (I'm 80), I recommend Eckhart Tolle's "The Power Of Now". The best to you!
Stiv R on April 16, 2018 , · at 1:59 am UTC
To Barry, thank you for your post. I have read Tolle's book too, about 8 years ago, and found it really making good sense to me. Your explanation of our internal dialogue not being who we really are, is very clear and well-said. These can be hard concepts to get one's head around. You did an admirable job of it in your post.
Thanks again for posting your thoughts.
Anonymous on April 16, 2018 , · at 5:12 am UTC
Insecure group think problems at the crux of existence.

Simple, profound and, also from my experience, true.

Thank you Barry.

Stuart Harlan Doblin on April 16, 2018 , · at 5:35 pm UTC
Barry, I pride myself in speaking to an octogenarian! "And from my own experience" .

"Here's my take on the issue of ego being mental, and from my own experience it is correct. With very little practice one can observe his thoughts and internal dialogue. It doesn't require meditation. It's simply a matter of paying attention to our internal dialogue. We all talk to ourselves. That internal dialogue is the ego talking to itself. The ego is a mental construction based on the brain's interpretation of it's experience since birth."

Barry, the internal dialogue of what you speak, is to me, your conscience and your inner self, not the ego talking to a hallucination of itself; for what can an illusion manifest but more illusions of : it : self.

The ego is a misprojection from our higher mind; ergo, not mind, but misunderstanding, illusion, maya, separate from reality, separate from us, not us, not anyone, just lost awareness with no where to settle but nonexistence from which it came.

Robin Gaura on April 17, 2018 , · at 5:51 pm UTC
Cool. I´d take it a bit further, though. Putting the mind on emptiness, the place without characteristics, in a deep meditative state. One sees the way things really exist, the way consciousness creates our reality, the truth of emptiness and karma. Its called entering the stream. The beginning of the transformation to the divine being. Its an experience that changes you forever.
Beyond words. Meditation is essential.

[Apr 02, 2018] How Many Opioid Overdoses Are Suicides

Notable quotes:
"... By Martha Bebinger of WBUR. Originally published at Kaiser Health News ..."
"... The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255. ..."
"... This story is part of a partnership that includes WBUR , NPR and Kaiser Health News. ..."
Apr 02, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on March 30, 2018 by Yves Smith Yves here. See also this related Kaiser Health News story: Omissions On Death Certificates Lead To Undercounting Of Opioid Overdoses .

It takes a lot of courage for an addict to recover and stay clean. And it is sadly not news that drug addiction and high levels of prescription drug use are signs that something is deeply broken in our society. There are always some people afflicted with deep personal pain but our system is doing a very good job of generating unnecessary pain and desperation.

By Martha Bebinger of WBUR. Originally published at Kaiser Health News

Mady Ohlman was 22 on the evening some years ago when she stood in a friend's bathroom looking down at the sink.

"I had set up a bunch of needles filled with heroin because I wanted to just do them back-to-back-to-back," Ohlman recalled. She doesn't remember how many she injected before collapsing, or how long she lay drugged-out on the floor.

"But I remember being pissed because I could still get up, you know?"

She wanted to be dead, she said, glancing down, a wisp of straight brown hair slipping from behind an ear across her thin face.

At that point, said Ohlman, she'd been addicted to opioids -- controlled by the drugs -- for more than three years.

"And doing all these things you don't want to do that are horrible -- you know, selling my body, stealing from my mom, sleeping in my car," Ohlman said. "How could I not be suicidal?"

For this young woman, whose weight had dropped to about 90 pounds, who was shooting heroin just to avoid feeling violently ill, suicide seemed a painless way out.

"You realize getting clean would be a lot of work," Ohlman said, her voice rising. "And you realize dying would be a lot less painful. You also feel like you'll be doing everyone else a favor if you die."

Ohlman, who has now been sober for more than four years, said many drug users hit the same point, when the disease and the pursuit of illegal drugs crushes their will to live. Ohlman is among at least 40 percent of active drug users who wrestle with depression, anxiety or another mental health issue that increases the risk of suicide.

Measuring Suicide Among Patients Addicted To Opioids

Massachusetts, where Ohlman lives, began formally recognizing in May 2017 that some opioid overdose deaths are suicides. The state confirmed only about 2 percent of all overdose deaths as suicides, but Dr. Monica Bhare l, head of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, said it's difficult to determine a person's true intent.

"For one thing, medical examiners use different criteria for whether suicide was involved or not," Bharel said, and the "tremendous amount of stigma surrounding both overdose deaths and suicide sometimes makes it extremely challenging to piece everything together and figure out unintentional and intentional."

Research on drug addiction and suicide suggests much higher numbers.

"[Based on the literature that's available], it looks like it's anywhere between 25 and 45 percent of deaths by overdose that may be actual suicides," said Dr. Maria Oquendo , immediate past president of the American Psychiatric Association.

Oquendo pointed to one study of overdoses from prescription opioids that found nearly 54 percent were unintentional. The rest were either suicide attempts or undetermined.

Several large studies show an increased risk of suicide among drug users addicted to opioids, especially women. In a study of about 5 million veterans, women were eight times as likely as others to be at risk for suicide, while men faced a twofold risk.

The opioid epidemic is occurring at the same time suicides have hit a 30-year high , but Oquendo said few doctors look for a connection.

"They are not monitoring it," said Oquendo, who chairs the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. "They are probably not assessing it in the kinds of depths they would need to prevent some of the deaths."

That's starting to change. A few hospitals in Boston, for example, aim to ask every patient admitted about substance use, as well as about whether they've considered hurting themselves.

"No one has answered the chicken and egg [problem]," said Dr. Kiame Mahaniah , a family physician who runs the Lynn Community Health Center in Lynn, Mass. Is it that patients "have mental health issues that lead to addiction, or did a life of addiction then trigger mental health problems?"

With so little data to go on, "it's so important to provide treatment that covers all those bases," Mahaniah said.

'Deaths Of Despair'

When doctors do look deeper into the reasons patients addicted to opioids become suicidal, some economists predict they'll find deep reservoirs of depression and pain.

In a seminal paper published in 2015, Princeton economists Angus Deaton and Anne Case tracked falling marriage rates, the loss of stable middle-class jobs and rising rates of self-reported pain. The authors say opioid overdoses, suicides and diseases related to alcoholism are all often "deaths of despair."

"We think of opioids as something that's thrown petrol on the flames and made things infinitely worse," Deaton said, "but the underlying deep malaise would be there even without the opioids."

Many economists agree on remedies for that deep malaise. Harvard economics professor David Cutle r said solutions include a good education, a steady job that pays a decent wage, secure housing, food and health care.

"And also thinking about a sense of purpose in life," Cutler said. "That is, even if one is doing well financially, is there a sense that one is contributing in a meaningful way?"

Tackling Despair In The Addiction Community

"I know firsthand the sense of hopelessness that people can feel in the throes of addiction," said Michael Botticelli , executive director of the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center; he is in recovery for an addiction to alcohol.

Botticelli said recovery programs must help patients come out of isolation and create or recreate bonds with family and friends.

"The vast majority of people I know who are in recovery often talk about this profound sense of re-establishing -- and sometimes establishing for the first time -- a connection to a much larger community," Botticelli said.

Ohlman said she isn't sure why her attempted suicide, with multiple injections of heroin, didn't work.

"I just got really lucky," Ohlman said. "I don't know how."

A big part of her recovery strategy involves building a supportive community, she said.

"Meetings; 12-step; sponsorship and networking; being involved with people doing what I'm doing," said Ohlman, ticking through a list of her priorities.

There's a fatal overdose at least once a week within her Cape Cod community, she said. Some are accidental, others not. Ohlman said she's convinced that telling her story, of losing and then finding hope, will help bring those numbers down.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.

This story is part of a partnership that includes WBUR , NPR and Kaiser Health News.

[Mar 27, 2018] Cutting 'Old Heads' at IBM

Mar 27, 2018 | news.slashdot.org

(propublica.org) As the world's dominant technology firm, payrolls at International Business Machines 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. 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.

[Jan 16, 2018] The New Stoicism by Leah Libresco

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumphs ..."
"... Ego is the Enemy ..."
"... The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living ..."
"... Massimo Pigliucci does considerably better in his How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life ..."
"... Ego is the Enemy ..."
"... he Obstacle is the Way ..."
"... Acknowledging that we are powerless to rectify a wrong can be true, denying that a wrong is wrong never is. ..."
"... Both men praise the stoic practice of negative visualization as a way of preparing for (and perhaps avoiding) serious suffering. ..."
"... The Obstacle is the Way ..."
"... How to Be a Stoic ..."
"... Stoicism is about endurance, not hope. Stoicism for the masses arms readers for small problems, but leaves them unprepared for the biggest disruption of all. ..."
"... Christians cannot escape this reality. We know that we are created beings, sustained moment to moment by God. In his first Epistle, St. John the Evangelist writes almost the same thing as Epictetus: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world -- the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches -- comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever" (1 John 2:15-17, NRSVCE). ..."
Jan 03, 2018 | farefwd.com
No matter how much planning my teacher did for our fourth-grade field trip to the Circle Line Ferry, my personal commitment to Stoicism must have come as a surprise.

We students had all packed lunches, which went in three big coolers, which were loaded onto our buses and were supposed to have come onto the ferry. Only two of the coolers were actually transferred, and the teachers were breaking the bad news to the children with no lunches, trying to forestall meltdowns. "All right, then," I said. "I just won't be hungry." My teacher seemed confused, so I explained, in my little, piping voice, "There's no point in being hungry if I don't have any food. I can't control whether there's lunch, I can only control if I'm upset about it. So I won't be."

... ... ...

[Dec 25, 2017] American Carnage by Brad Griffin

Notable quotes:
"... It tells me that the bottom line is that Christmas has become a harder season for White families. We are worse off because of BOTH social and economic liberalism which has only benefited an elite few. The bottom half of the White population is now in total disarray – drug addiction, demoralization, divorce, suicide, abortion, atomization, stagnant wages, declining household income and investments – and this dysfunction is creeping up the social ladder. The worst thing we can do is step on the accelerator. ..."
Dec 24, 2017 | www.unz.com

As we move into 2018, I am swinging away from the Republicans. I don't support the Paul Ryan "Better Way" agenda. I don't support neoliberal economics. I think we have been going in the wrong direction since the 1970s and don't want to continue going down this road.

  1. Opioid Deaths: As we all know, the opioid epidemic has become a national crisis and the White working class has been hit the hardest by it. It is a "sea of despair" out there.
  2. White Mortality: As the family crumbles, religion recedes in his life, and his job prospects dwindle, the middle aged White working class man is turning to drugs, alcohol and suicide: The White suicide rate has soared since 2000:
  3. Median Household Income: The average household in the United States is poorer in 2017 than it was in 1997:
  4. Real GDP: Since the late 1990s, real GDP and real median household income have parted ways:
  5. Productivity and Real Wages: Since the 1970s, the minimum wage has parted ways with productivity gains in the US economy:
  6. Stock Market: Since 2000, the stock market has soared, but 10% of Americans own 80% of stocks. The top 1% owns 38% of stocks. In 2007, 3/4th of middle class households were invested in the stock market, but now only 50% are investors. Overall, 52% of Americans now own stocks, which is down from 65%. The average American has less than $1,000 in their combined checking and savings accounts.

Do you know what this tells me?

It tells me that the bottom line is that Christmas has become a harder season for White families. We are worse off because of BOTH social and economic liberalism which has only benefited an elite few. The bottom half of the White population is now in total disarray – drug addiction, demoralization, divorce, suicide, abortion, atomization, stagnant wages, declining household income and investments – and this dysfunction is creeping up the social ladder. The worst thing we can do is step on the accelerator.

Paul Ryan and his fellow conservatives look at this and conclude we need MORE freedom. We need lower taxes, more free trade, more deregulation, weaker unions, more immigration and less social safety net spending. He wants to follow up tax reform with entitlement reform in 2018. I can't but see how this is going to make an already bad situation for the White working class even worse.

I'm not rightwing in the sense that these people are. I think their policies are harmful to the nation. I don't think they feel any sense of duty and obligation to the working class like we do. They believe in liberal abstractions and make an Ayn Rand fetish out of freedom whereas we feel a sense of solidarity with them grounded in race, ethnicity and culture which tempers class division. We recoil at the evisceration of the social fabric whereas conservatives celebrate this blind march toward plutocracy.

Do the wealthy need to own a greater share of the stock market? Do they need to own a greater share of our national wealth? Do we need to loosen up morals and the labor market? Do we need more White children growing up in financially stressed, broken homes on Christmas? Is the greatest problem facing the nation spending on anti-poverty programs? Paul Ryan and the True Cons think so.

Yeah, I don't think so. I also think it is a good thing right now that we aren't associated with the mainstream Right. In the long run, I bet this will pay off for us. I predict this platform they have been standing on for decades now, which they call the conservative base, is going to implode on them. Donald Trump was only the first sign that Atlas is about to shrug.

(Republished from Occidental Dissent by permission of author or representative)

[Dec 18, 2017] Small business is more of a trap then opportunity

A half of all small businesses fail in the first 5 years.
Notable quotes:
"... I also suspect that with all the rhetorical celebration of "small businesses", a lot of people don't really want to have "jobs" but would prefer to be small business owners, with all of the attached narratives of autonomy ("be your own boss") etc. ..."
"... Many take jobs for lack of such opportunity, or because deep down they know they are not leadership material or don't have the stomach to deal with business management issues every day, which is closer to reality than living the dream. But maybe one day, they will open their own shop. ..."
"... Visions about workers, jobs, etc. may not appeal to them as much as imagined, aside from decades of hearing promises of jobs etc. that never materialized for a lot of people. ..."
"... I used to think when "small businesses" is mentioned in e.g. election ads or messaging to convince people to vote yes or no on a proposition, it means "right wing". I'm no longer sure that's universally the case. ..."
"... When I think of "small business" I usually think of marginally competent management (one step ahead of bankruptcy) and brutal exploitation of low paid labor. ..."
"... about 90% of small businesses have 20 employees or less and revenues under $2 million. Even Forbes thinks the SBA's definition that you cite is BS. ..."
"... half of all small businesses fail in the first 5 years. ..."
Oct 20, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

cm -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , October 20, 2016 at 08:04 AM

I also suspect that with all the rhetorical celebration of "small businesses", a lot of people don't really want to have "jobs" but would prefer to be small business owners, with all of the attached narratives of autonomy ("be your own boss") etc.

Many take jobs for lack of such opportunity, or because deep down they know they are not leadership material or don't have the stomach to deal with business management issues every day, which is closer to reality than living the dream. But maybe one day, they will open their own shop. This is basically the same argument as the "temporarily embarrassed millionaire", though it is not (primarily) about financial riches but personal fulfillment.

Visions about workers, jobs, etc. may not appeal to them as much as imagined, aside from decades of hearing promises of jobs etc. that never materialized for a lot of people.

I used to think when "small businesses" is mentioned in e.g. election ads or messaging to convince people to vote yes or no on a proposition, it means "right wing". I'm no longer sure that's universally the case.

DrDick -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , October 20, 2016 at 12:08 PM
When I think of "small business" I usually think of marginally competent management (one step ahead of bankruptcy) and brutal exploitation of low paid labor.
Tom aka Rusty said in reply to DrDick... , October 20, 2016 at 12:55 PM
Using $5M in gross revenue as a definitional cut-off, I could introduce you to dozens of exceptions to your rule.
DrDick -> Tom aka Rusty... , October 20, 2016 at 01:06 PM
And they represent exactly what percentage of "small businesses"?
DrDick -> DrDick... , October 20, 2016 at 01:27 PM
Never mind, I looked it up myself and about 90% of small businesses have 20 employees or less and revenues under $2 million. Even Forbes thinks the SBA's definition that you cite is BS.
Tom aka Rusty said in reply to DrDick... , October 20, 2016 at 02:02 PM
Ok, make it $2M, same applies. By the way that 10% includes a good chunk of lite manufacturing and construction.
Tom aka Rusty said in reply to DrDick... , October 20, 2016 at 02:03 PM
And what evidence do you have they are largely incompetent and near bankruptcy?
DrDick -> Tom aka Rusty..., October 20, 2016 at 02:13 PM
typepad does not seem to like my link, but half of all small businesses fail in the first 5 years.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to DrDick... , -1
Yep, that sounds just like the restaurant business.

[Dec 15, 2017] The Crisis Ahead The U.S. Is No Country for Older Men and Women

Notable quotes:
"... The U.S. has a retirement crisis on its hands, and with the far right controlling the executive branch and both houses of Congress, as well as dozens of state governments, things promise to grow immeasurably worse. ..."
"... It wasn't supposed to be this way. Past progressive presidents, notably Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, took important steps to make life more comfortable for aging Americans. FDR signed the Social Security Act of 1935 into law as part of his New Deal, and when LBJ passed Medicare in 1965, he established a universal health care program for those 65 and older. But the country has embraced a neoliberal economic model since the election of Ronald Reagan, and all too often, older Americans have been quick to vote for far-right Republicans antagonistic to the social safety net. ..."
"... Since then, Ryan has doubled down on his delusion that the banking sector can manage Social Security and Medicare more effectively than the federal government. Republican attacks on Medicare have become a growing concern: according to EBRI, only 38 percent of workers are confident the program will continue to provide the level of benefits it currently does. ..."
"... As 2017 winds down, Americans with health problems are still in the GOP's crosshairs -- this time because of so-called tax reform. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (both the House and Senate versions) includes provisions that would undermine Obamacare and cause higher health insurance premiums for older Americans. According to AARP, "Older adults ages 50-64 would be at particularly high risk under the proposal, facing average premium increases of up to $1,500 in 2019 as a result of the bill." ..."
"... Countless Americans who are unable to afford those steep premiums would lose their insurance. The CBO estimates that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would cause the number of uninsured under 65 to increase 4 million by 2019 and 13 million by 2027. The bill would also imperil Americans 65 and over by cutting $25 billion from Medicare . ..."
"... Analyzing W2 tax records in 2012, U.S. Census Bureau researchers Michael Gideon and Joshua Mitchell found that only 14 percent of private-sector employers in the U.S. were offering a 401(k) or similar retirement packages to their workers. That figure was thought to be closer to 40 percent, but Gideon and Mitchell discovered the actual number was considerably lower when smaller businesses were carefully analyzed, and that larger companies were more likely to offer 401(k) plans than smaller ones. ..."
"... Today, millions of Americans work in the gig economy who don't have full-time jobs or receive W2s, but instead receive 1099s for freelance work. ..."
"... The combination of stagnant wages and an increasingly high cost of living have been especially hellish for Americans who are trying to save for retirement. The United States' national minimum wage, a mere $7.25 per hour, doesn't begin to cover the cost of housing at a time when rents have soared nationwide. Never mind the astronomical prices in New York City, San Francisco or Washington, D.C. Median rents for one-bedroom apartments are as high as $1,010 per month in Atlanta, $960 per month in Baltimore, $860 per month in Jacksonville and $750 per month in Omaha, according to ApartmentList.com. ..."
"... yeah, Canada has a neoliberal infestation that is somewhere between the US and the UK. France has got one too, but it is less advanced. I'll enjoy my great healthcare, public transportation, and generous paid time off while I can. ..."
"... Europeans may scratch their heads, but they should recall their own histories and the long struggle to the universal benefits now enjoyed. Americans are far too complacent. This mildness is viewed by predators as weakness and the attacks will continue. ..."
"... Not sure if many of the readers here watch non-cable national broadcast news, but Pete Peterson and his foundation are as everpresent an advertiser as the pharma industry. Peterson is the strongest, best organized advocate for gutting social services, social security, and sending every last penny out of the tax-mule consumer's pocket toward wall street. The guy needs an equivalent counterpoint enemy. ..."
"... The social advantages that we still enjoy were fought in the streets, and on the "bricks" flowing with the participants blood. 8 hr. day; women's right to vote; ability and right for groups of laborers to organize; worker safety laws ..and so many others. There is no historical memory on how those rights were achieved. We are slowly slipping into an oligarchy greased by the idea that the physical possession of material things is all that matters. Sheeple, yes. ..."
"... Mmm, I think American voters get what they want in the end. They want their politicians because they believe the lies. 19% of Americans believe they are in the top 1% of wealth. A huge percentage of poor people believe they or their kids will (not can, but will) become wealthy. Most Americans can't find France on a map. ..."
"... I may have been gone for about thirty years, but that has only sharpened my insights into America. It's very hard to see just how flawed America is from the inside but when you step outside and have some perspective, it's frightening. ..."
"... Our government, beginning with Reagan, turned its back on promoting the general welfare. The wealthy soon learned that their best return on investment was the "purchase" of politicians willing to pass the legislation they put in their hands. Much of their investment included creating the right wing media apparatus. ..."
"... The Class War is real. It has been going on for 40 years, with the Conservative army facing virtually no resistance. Conservatives welcome Russia's help. Conservatives welcome barriers to people voting. Conservatives welcome a populace that believes lies that benefit them. Conservatives welcome the social and financial decline of the entire middle class and poor as long as it profits the rich financially, and by extension enhances their power politically. ..."
"... "Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of the day, but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing [a people] to slavery" Thomas Jefferson. Rights of British America, 1774 ME 1:193, Papers 1:125 ..."
"... yes, my problem with the post as well, completely ignores democrat complicity the part where someone with a 26k salary will pay 16k in insurance? No they won't, the system would collapse in that case which will be fine with me. ..."
"... As your quote appears to imply, it's not a problem that can be solved by voting which, let's not forget, is nothing more than expressing an opinion. I am not sticking around just to find out if economically-crushed, opiod-, entertainment-, social media-addled Americans are actually capable of rolling out tumbrils for trips to the guillotines in the city squares. I strongly suspect not. ..."
"... This is the country where, after the banks crushed the economy in 2008, caused tens of thousands to lose their jobs, and then got huge bailouts, the people couldn't even be bothered to take their money out of the big banks and put it elsewhere. Because, you know, convenience! Expressing an opinion, or mobilizing others to express an opinion, or educating or proselytizing others about what opinion to have, is about the limit of what they are willing, or know how to do. ..."
Dec 14, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. I imagine many readers are acutely aware of the problems outlined in this article, if not beset by them already. By any rational standard, I should move now to a much cheaper country that will have me. I know individuals who live most of the year in third-world and near-third world countries, but they have very cheap ways of still having a toehold in the US and not (yet or maybe ever) getting a long-term residence visa. Ecuador is very accommodating regarding retirement visas, and a Social Security level income goes far there, but yours truly isn't retiring any time soon. And another barrier to an international move (which recall I did once, so I have some appreciation for what it takes), is that one ought to check out possible destinations but if you are already time and money and energy stressed, how do you muster the resources to do that at all, let alone properly?

Aside from the potential to greatly reduce fixed costs, a second impetus for me is Medicare. I know for most people, getting on Medicare is a big plus. I have a very rare good, very old insurance policy. When you include the cost of drug plans, Medicare is no cheaper than what I have now, and considerably narrows my network. Moreover, I expect it to be thoroughly crapified by ten years from now (when I am 70), which argues for getting out of Dodge sooner rather than later.

And that's before you get to another wee problem Lambert points out that I would probably not be happy in a third world or high end second world country. But the only bargain "world city" I know of is Montreal. I'm not sure it would represent enough of an all-in cost saving to justify the hassle of an international move and the attendant tax compliance burdens .and that charitably assumes I could even find a way to get permanent residence. Ugh.

By Alex Henderson, who has written for the L.A. Weekly, Billboard, Spin, Creem, the Pasadena Weekly and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson. Originally published at Alternet

Millions can no longer afford to retire, and may never be able when the GOP passes its tax bill.

The news is not good for millions of aging Baby Boomers and Gen Xers in the United States who are moving closer to retirement age. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute's annual report on retirement preparedness for 2017, only 18 percent of U.S.-based workers feel "very confident" about their ability to retire comfortably ; Craig Copeland, senior research associate for EBRI and the report's co-author, cited "debt, lack of a retirement plan at work, and low savings" as "key factors" in workers' retirement-related anxiety. The Insured Retirement Institute finds a mere 23 percent of Baby Boomers and 24 percent of Gen Xers are confident that their savings will last in retirement. To make matters worse, more than 40 percent of Boomers and over 30 percent of Gen Xers report having no retirement savings whatsoever .

The U.S. has a retirement crisis on its hands, and with the far right controlling the executive branch and both houses of Congress, as well as dozens of state governments, things promise to grow immeasurably worse.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Past progressive presidents, notably Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, took important steps to make life more comfortable for aging Americans. FDR signed the Social Security Act of 1935 into law as part of his New Deal, and when LBJ passed Medicare in 1965, he established a universal health care program for those 65 and older. But the country has embraced a neoliberal economic model since the election of Ronald Reagan, and all too often, older Americans have been quick to vote for far-right Republicans antagonistic to the social safety net.

In the 2016 presidential election, 55 percent of voters 50 and older cast their ballots for Donald Trump against just 44 percent for Hillary Clinton. (This was especially true of older white voters; 90 percent of black voters 45 and older, as well as 67 percent of Latino voters in the same age range voted Democratic.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) economic proposals may have been wildly popular with millennials, but no demographic has a greater incentive to vote progressive than Americans facing retirement. According to research conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons, the three greatest concerns of Americans 50 and older are Social Security, health care costs and caregiving for loved ones -- all areas that have been targeted by Republicans.

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, a devotee of social Darwinist Ayn Rand , has made no secret of his desire to privatize Social Security and replace traditional Medicare with a voucher program. Had George W. Bush had his way and turned Social Security over to Wall Street, the economic crash of September 2008 might have left millions of senior citizens homeless.

Since then, Ryan has doubled down on his delusion that the banking sector can manage Social Security and Medicare more effectively than the federal government. Republican attacks on Medicare have become a growing concern: according to EBRI, only 38 percent of workers are confident the program will continue to provide the level of benefits it currently does.

The GOP's obsession with abolishing the Affordable Care Act is the most glaring example of its disdain for aging Americans. Yet Obamacare has been a blessing for Boomers and Gen Xers who have preexisting conditions. The ACA's guaranteed issue plans make no distinction between a 52-year-old American with diabetes, heart disease or asthma and a 52-year-old who has never had any of those illnesses. And AARP notes that under the ACA, the uninsured rate for Americans 50 and older decreased from 15 percent in 2013 to 9 percent in 2016.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the replacement bills Donald Trump hoped to ram through Congress this year would have resulted in staggering premium hikes for Americans over 50. The CBO's analysis of the American Health Care Act, one of the earlier versions of Trumpcare, showed that a 64-year-old American making $26,500 per year could have gone from paying $1,700 annually in premiums to just over $16,000. The CBO also estimated that the GOP's American Health Care Act would have deprived 23 million Americans of health insurance by 2026.

As 2017 winds down, Americans with health problems are still in the GOP's crosshairs -- this time because of so-called tax reform. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (both the House and Senate versions) includes provisions that would undermine Obamacare and cause higher health insurance premiums for older Americans. According to AARP, "Older adults ages 50-64 would be at particularly high risk under the proposal, facing average premium increases of up to $1,500 in 2019 as a result of the bill."

The CBO estimates that the bill will cause premiums to spike an average of 10 percent overall, with average premiums increasing $890 per year for a 50-year-old, $1,100 per year for a 55-year-old, $1,350 per year for a 60-year-old and $1,490 per year for a 64-year-old. Premium increases, according to the CBO, would vary from state to state; in Maine, average premiums for a 64-year-old would rise as much as $1,750 per year.

Countless Americans who are unable to afford those steep premiums would lose their insurance. The CBO estimates that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would cause the number of uninsured under 65 to increase 4 million by 2019 and 13 million by 2027. The bill would also imperil Americans 65 and over by cutting $25 billion from Medicare .

As morally reprehensible as the GOP's tax legislation may be, it is merely an acceleration of the redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top that America has undergone since the mid-1970s. (President Richard Nixon may have been a paranoid right-winger with authoritarian tendencies, but he expanded Medicare and supported universal health care.) Between the decline of labor unions, age discrimination, stagnant wages, an ever-rising cost of living, low interest rates, and a shortage of retirement accounts, millions of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers may never be able to retire.

Traditional defined-benefit pensions were once a mainstay of American labor, especially among unionized workers. But according to Pew Charitable Trusts, only 13 percent of Baby Boomers still have them (among millennials, the number falls to 6 percent). In recent decades, 401(k) plans have become much more prominent, yet a majority of American workers don't have them either.

Analyzing W2 tax records in 2012, U.S. Census Bureau researchers Michael Gideon and Joshua Mitchell found that only 14 percent of private-sector employers in the U.S. were offering a 401(k) or similar retirement packages to their workers. That figure was thought to be closer to 40 percent, but Gideon and Mitchell discovered the actual number was considerably lower when smaller businesses were carefully analyzed, and that larger companies were more likely to offer 401(k) plans than smaller ones.

Today, millions of Americans work in the gig economy who don't have full-time jobs or receive W2s, but instead receive 1099s for freelance work. Tax-deferred SEP-IRAs were once a great, low-risk way for freelancers to save for retirement without relying exclusively on Social Security, but times have changed since the 1980s and '90s when interest rates were considerably higher for certificates of deposit and savings accounts. According to Bankrate.com, average rates for one-year CDs dropped from 11.27 percent in 1984 to 8.1 percent in 1990 to 5.22 percent in 1995 to under 1 percent in 2010, where it currently remains.

The combination of stagnant wages and an increasingly high cost of living have been especially hellish for Americans who are trying to save for retirement. The United States' national minimum wage, a mere $7.25 per hour, doesn't begin to cover the cost of housing at a time when rents have soared nationwide. Never mind the astronomical prices in New York City, San Francisco or Washington, D.C. Median rents for one-bedroom apartments are as high as $1,010 per month in Atlanta, $960 per month in Baltimore, $860 per month in Jacksonville and $750 per month in Omaha, according to ApartmentList.com.

That so many older Americans are renting at all is ominous in its own right. FDR made home ownership a primary goal of the New Deal, considering it a key component of a thriving middle class. But last year, the Urban Institute found that 19 million Americans who previously owned a home are now renting, 31 percent between the ages of 36 and 45. Laurie Goodman, one of the study's authors, contends the Great Recession has "permanently raised the number of renters," and that the explosion of foreclosures has hit Gen Xers especially hard.

The severity of the U.S. retirement crisis is further addressed in journalist Jessica Bruder's new book "Nomadland: Surviving America in the 21st Century," which follows Americans in their 50s, 60s and even 70s living in RVs or vans , barely eking out a living doing physically demanding, seasonal temp work from harvesting sugar beets to cleaning toilets at campgrounds. Several had high-paying jobs before their lives were blown apart by the layoffs, foreclosures and corporate downsizing of the Great Recession. Bruder speaks with former college professors and software professionals who now find themselves destitute, teetering on the brink of homelessness and forced to do backbreaking work for next to nothing. Unlike the big banks, they never received a bailout.

These neo-nomads recall the transients of the 1930s, themselves victims of Wall Street's recklessness. But whereas FDR won in a landslide in 1932 and aggressively pursued a program of progressive economic reforms, Republicans in Congress have set out to shred what little remains of the social safety net, giving huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires . The older voters who swept Trump into office may have signed their own death warrants.

If aging Americans are going to be saved from this dystopian future, the U.S. will have to forge a new Great Society. Programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will need to be strengthened, universal health care must become a reality and age discrimination in the workplace will have to be punished as a civil rights violation like racial and gender-based discrimination. If not, millions of Gen Xers and Boomers will spend their golden years scraping for pennies.

Expat , , December 14, 2017 at 6:29 am

I certainly will never go back to the States for these and other reasons. I have a friend, also an American citizen, who travels frequently back to California to visit his son. He is truly worried about getting sick or having an accident when he is there since he knows it might bankrupt him. As he jokes, he would be happy to have another heart attack here in France since it's free!

For those of you who have traveled the world and talked to people, you probably know that most foreigners are perplexed by America's attitude to health care and social services. The richest nation in the world thinks that health and social security (in the larger sense of not being forced into the street) are not rights at all. Europeans scratch their heads at this.

The only solution is education and information, but they are appalling in America. America remains the most ignorant and worst educated of the developed nations and is probably beaten by many developing nations. It is this ignorance and stupidity that gets Americans to vote for the likes of Trump or any of the other rapacious millionaires they send to office every year.

A first step would be for Americans to insist that Congress eliminate its incredibly generous and life-long healthcare plans for elected officials. They should have to do what the rest of Americans do. Of course, since about 95% of Congress are millionaires, it might not be effective. But it's a start.

vidimi , , December 14, 2017 at 6:40 am

France has its share of problems, but boy do they pale next to the problems in America or even Canada. Life here is overall quite pleasant and I have no desire to go back to N.A.

Marco , , December 14, 2017 at 6:46 am

Canada has problems?

WobblyTelomeres , , December 14, 2017 at 7:47 am

Was in Yellowknife a couple of years ago. The First Nations people have a rough life. From what I've read, such extends across the country.

vidimi , , December 14, 2017 at 8:03 am

yeah, Canada has a neoliberal infestation that is somewhere between the US and the UK. France has got one too, but it is less advanced. I'll enjoy my great healthcare, public transportation, and generous paid time off while I can.

JEHR , , December 14, 2017 at 1:46 pm

The newest neoliberal effort in Canada was put forward by our Minister of Finance (a millionaire) who is touting a bill that will get rid of defined benefit pension plans given to public employees for so-called target benefit pension plans. The risk for target plans is taken by the recipient. Morneau's former firm promotes target benefit pension plans and the change could benefit Morneau himself as he did not put his assets from his firm in a blind trust. At the very least, he has a conflict of interest and should probably resign.

There is always an insidious group of wealthy people here who would like to re-make the world in their own image. I fear for the future.

JEHR , , December 14, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Yes, I agree. There is an effort to "simplify" the financial system of the EU to take into account the business cycle and the financial cycle .

Dita , , December 14, 2017 at 8:25 am

Europeans may scratch their heads, but they should recall their own histories and the long struggle to the universal benefits now enjoyed. Americans are far too complacent. This mildness is viewed by predators as weakness and the attacks will continue.

jefemt , , December 14, 2017 at 10:02 am

We really should be able to turn this around, and have an obligation to ourselves and our 'nation state' , IF there were a group of folks running on a fairness, one-for-all, all-for-one platform. That sure isn't the present two-sides-of-the-same-coin Democraps and Republicrunts.

Not sure if many of the readers here watch non-cable national broadcast news, but Pete Peterson and his foundation are as everpresent an advertiser as the pharma industry. Peterson is the strongest, best organized advocate for gutting social services, social security, and sending every last penny out of the tax-mule consumer's pocket toward wall street. The guy needs an equivalent counterpoint enemy.

Check it out, and be vigilant in dispelling his message and mission. Thanks for running this article.

Running away: the almost-haves run to another nation state, the uber-wealthy want to leave the earth, or live in their private Idaho in the Rockies or on the Ocean. What's left for the least among us? Whatever we create?
https://www.pgpf.org/

Scramjett , , December 14, 2017 at 1:43 pm

I think pathologically optimistic is a better term than complacent. Every time someone dumps on them, their response is usually along the lines of "Don't worry, it'll get better," "Everything works itself out in the end," "maybe we'll win the lottery," my personal favorite "things will get better, just give it time" (honestly it's been 40 years of this neoliberal bullcrap, how much more time are we supposed to give it?), "this is just a phase" or "we can always bring it back later and better than ever." The last one is most troubling because after 20 years of witnessing things in the public sphere disappearing, I've yet to see a single thing return in any form at all.

I'm not sure where this annoying optimism came from but I sure wish it would go away.

sierra7 , , December 14, 2017 at 8:45 pm

The "optimism" comes from having a lack of historical memory. So many social protections that we have/had is seen as somehow coming out of the ether benevolently given without any social struggles. The lack of historical education on this subject in particular is appalling. Now, most would probably look for an "APP" on their "dumbphones" to solve the problem.

The social advantages that we still enjoy were fought in the streets, and on the "bricks" flowing with the participants blood. 8 hr. day; women's right to vote; ability and right for groups of laborers to organize; worker safety laws ..and so many others. There is no historical memory on how those rights were achieved. We are slowly slipping into an oligarchy greased by the idea that the physical possession of material things is all that matters. Sheeple, yes.

Jeremy Grimm , , December 14, 2017 at 4:44 pm

WOW! You must have been outside the U.S. for a long time. Your comment seems to suggest we still have some kind of democracy here. We don't get to pick which rapacious millionaires we get to vote for and it doesn't matter any way since whichever one we pick from the sad offerings ends up with policies dictated from elsewhere.

Expat , , December 14, 2017 at 6:10 pm

Mmm, I think American voters get what they want in the end. They want their politicians because they believe the lies. 19% of Americans believe they are in the top 1% of wealth. A huge percentage of poor people believe they or their kids will (not can, but will) become wealthy. Most Americans can't find France on a map.

So, yes, you DO get to pick your rapacious millionaire. You send the same scumbags back to Washington every year because it's not him, it the other guys who are the problem. One third of Americans support Trump! Really, really support him. They think he is Jesus, MacArthur and Adam Smith all rolled up into one.

I may have been gone for about thirty years, but that has only sharpened my insights into America. It's very hard to see just how flawed America is from the inside but when you step outside and have some perspective, it's frightening.

Disturbed Voter , , December 14, 2017 at 6:29 am

The Democrat party isn't a reform party. Thinking it is so, is because of the "No Other Choice" meme. Not saying that the Republican party works in my favor. They don't. Political reform goes deeper than reforming either main party. It means going to a European plurality system (with its own downside). That way growing Third parties will be viable, if they have popular, as opposed to millionaire, support. I don't see this happening, because of Citizens United, but if all you have is hope, then you have to go with that.

Carolinian , , December 14, 2017 at 8:05 am

Had George W. Bush had his way and turned Social Security over to Wall Street, the economic crash of September 2008 might have left millions of senior citizens homeless.

Substitute Bill Clinton for George Bush in that sentence and it works just as well. Neoliberalism is a bipartisan project.

And many of the potential and actual horrors described above arise from the price distortions of the US medical system with Democratic acquiescence in said system making things worse. The above article reads like a DNC press release.

And finally while Washington politicians of both parties have been threatening Social Security for years that doesn't mean its third rail status has been repealed. The populist tremors of the last election -- which have caused our elites to lose their collective mind -- could be a mere prelude to what will happen in the event of a full scale assault on the safety net.

KYrocky , , December 14, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Substitute Obama's quest for a Grand Bargain as well.

Our government, beginning with Reagan, turned its back on promoting the general welfare. The wealthy soon learned that their best return on investment was the "purchase" of politicians willing to pass the legislation they put in their hands. Much of their investment included creating the right wing media apparatus.

The Class War is real. It has been going on for 40 years, with the Conservative army facing virtually no resistance. Conservatives welcome Russia's help. Conservatives welcome barriers to people voting. Conservatives welcome a populace that believes lies that benefit them. Conservatives welcome the social and financial decline of the entire middle class and poor as long as it profits the rich financially, and by extension enhances their power politically.

If retirees flee our country that will certainly please the Conservatives as that will be fewer critics (enemies). Also less need or demand for social programs.

rps , , December 14, 2017 at 5:01 pm

"Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of the day, but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing [a people] to slavery" Thomas Jefferson. Rights of British America, 1774 ME 1:193, Papers 1:125

tegnost , , December 14, 2017 at 8:59 am

yes, my problem with the post as well, completely ignores democrat complicity the part where someone with a 26k salary will pay 16k in insurance? No they won't, the system would collapse in that case which will be fine with me.

Marco , , December 14, 2017 at 6:55 am

"President Richard Nixon may have been a paranoid right-winger with authoritarian tendencies, but he expanded Medicare and supported universal health care."

"Gimme that old time Republican!"

One of the reasons I love NC is that most political economic analysis is often more harsh on the Democrats than the Repubs so I am a bit dismayed how this article is way too easy on Team D. How many little (and not so little) knives in the back from Clinton and Obama? Is a knife in the chest that much worse?

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , December 14, 2017 at 3:57 pm

This entire thread is simply heartbreaking, Americans have had their money, their freedom, their privacy, their health, and sometimes their very lives taken away from them by the State. But the heartbreaking part is that they feel they are powerless to do anything at all about it so are just trying to leave.

But "People should not fear the government; the government should fear the people"

tagio , December 14, 2017 at 4:39 pm

It's more than a feeling, HAL. https://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/is-america-an-oligarchy Link to the academic paper embedded in article.

As your quote appears to imply, it's not a problem that can be solved by voting which, let's not forget, is nothing more than expressing an opinion. I am not sticking around just to find out if economically-crushed, opiod-, entertainment-, social media-addled Americans are actually capable of rolling out tumbrils for trips to the guillotines in the city squares. I strongly suspect not.

This is the country where, after the banks crushed the economy in 2008, caused tens of thousands to lose their jobs, and then got huge bailouts, the people couldn't even be bothered to take their money out of the big banks and put it elsewhere. Because, you know, convenience! Expressing an opinion, or mobilizing others to express an opinion, or educating or proselytizing others about what opinion to have, is about the limit of what they are willing, or know how to do.

[Dec 13, 2017] A stunning 33% of job seekers ages 55 and older are long-term unemployed, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute

Notable quotes:
"... And, recent studies have shown, the longer you're out of work - especially if you're older and out of work - the harder it becomes to get a job offer. ..."
Dec 13, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Livius Drusus , December 13, 2017 at 2:44 pm

I thought this was an interesting article. Apologies if this has been posted on NC already.

A stunning 33% of job seekers ages 55 and older are long-term unemployed, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. The average length of unemployment for the roughly 1.2 million people 55+ who are out of work: seven to nine months. "It's emotionally devastating for them," said Carl Van Horn, director of Rutgers University's John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, at a Town Hall his center and the nonprofit WorkingNation held earlier this year in New Brunswick, N.J.

... ... ...

The fight faced by the long-term unemployed

And, recent studies have shown, the longer you're out of work - especially if you're older and out of work - the harder it becomes to get a job offer.

The job-finding rate declines by roughly 50% within eight months of unemployment, according to a 2016 paper by economists Gregor Jarosch of Stanford University and Laura Pilossoph of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. "Unemployment duration has a strongly negative effect on the likelihood of subsequent employment," wrote researchers from the University of Maryland and the U.S. Census Bureau in another 2016 paper.

"Once upon a time, you could take that first job and it would lead to the next job and the job after that," said Town Hall panelist John Colborn, chief operating officer at the nonprofit JEVS Human Services, of Philadelphia. "The notion of a career ladder offered some hope of getting back into the labor market. The rungs of the ladder are getting harder and harder to find and some of them are broken."

In inner cities, said Kimberly McClain, CEO of The Newark Alliance, "there's an extra layer beyond being older and out of work. There are issues of race and poverty and being defined by your ZIP Code. There's an incredible sense of urgency."

... ... ...

Filling a work gap

If you are over 50, unemployed and have a work gap right now, the Town Hall speakers said, fill it by volunteering, getting an internship, doing project work, job-shadowing someone in a field you want to be in or taking a class to re-skill. These kind of things "make a candidate a lot more attractive," said Colborn. Be sure to note them in your cover letter and résumé.

Town Hall panelist Amanda Mullan, senior vice president and chief human resources officer of the New Jersey Resources Corp. (a utility company based in Wall, N.J.), said that when her company is interviewing someone who has been out of work lately, "we will ask: 'What have you done during that time frame?' If we get 'Nuthin,' that shows something about the individual, from a motivational perspective."

... ... ...

The relief of working again

Finally finding work when you're over 50 and unemployed for a stretch can be a relief for far more than financial reasons.

"Once I landed my job, the thing I most looked forward to was the weekend," said Konopka. "Not to relax, but because I didn't have to think about finding a job anymore. That's 24/7 in your head. You're always thinking on a Saturday: 'If I'm not doing something to find a job, will there be a posting out there?'"

Full article: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobs-are-everywhere-just-not-for-people-over-55-2017-12-08

[Dec 13, 2017] Stress of long-term unemployment takes a toll on thousands of Jerseyans who are out of work by Leslie Kwoh

Notable quotes:
"... Leslie Kwoh may be reached at lkwoh@starledger.com or (973) 392-4147. ..."
Jun 13, 2010 | www.nj.com

At 5:30 every morning, Tony Gwiazdowski rolls out of bed, brews a pot of coffee and carefully arranges his laptop, cell phone and notepad like silverware across the kitchen table.

And then he waits.

Gwiazdowski, 57, has been waiting for 16 months. Since losing his job as a transportation sales manager in February 2009, he wakes each morning to the sobering reminder that, yes, he is still unemployed. So he pushes aside the fatigue, throws on some clothes and sends out another flurry of resumes and cheery cover letters.

But most days go by without a single phone call. And around sundown, when he hears his neighbors returning home from work, Gwiazdowski -- the former mayor of Hillsborough -- can't help but allow himself one tiny sigh of resignation.

"You sit there and you wonder, 'What am I doing wrong?'" said Gwiazdowski, who finds companionship in his 2-year-old golden retriever, Charlie, until his wife returns from work.

"The worst moment is at the end of the day when it's 4:30 and you did everything you could, and the phone hasn't rung, the e-mails haven't come through."

Gwiazdowski is one of a growing number of chronically unemployed workers in New Jersey and across the country who are struggling to get through what is becoming one long, jobless nightmare -- even as the rest of the economy has begun to show signs of recovery.

Nationwide, 46 percent of the unemployed -- 6.7 million Americans -- have been without work for at least half a year, by far the highest percentage recorded since the U.S. Labor Department began tracking the data in 1948.

In New Jersey, nearly 40 percent of the 416,000 unemployed workers last year fit that profile, up from about 20 percent in previous years, according to the department, which provides only annual breakdowns for individual states. Most of them were unemployed for more than a year.

But the repercussions of chronic unemployment go beyond the loss of a paycheck or the realization that one might never find the same kind of job again. For many, the sinking feeling of joblessness -- with no end in sight -- can take a psychological toll, experts say.

Across the state, mental health crisis units saw a 20 percent increase in demand last year as more residents reported suffering from unemployment-related stress, according to the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies.

"The longer the unemployment continues, the more impact it will have on their personal lives and mental health," said Shauna Moses, the association's associate executive director. "There's stress in the marriage, with the kids, other family members, with friends."

And while a few continue to cling to optimism, even the toughest admit there are moments of despair: Fear of never finding work, envy of employed friends and embarassment at having to tell acquaintances that, nope, still no luck.

"When they say, 'Hi Mayor,' I don't tell a lot of people I'm out of work -- I say I'm semi-retired," said Gwiazdowski, who maxed out on unemployment benefits several months ago.

"They might think, 'Gee, what's wrong with him? Why can't he get a job?' It's a long story and maybe people really don't care and now they want to get away from you."


SECOND TIME AROUND

Lynn Kafalas has been there before, too. After losing her computer training job in 2000, the East Hanover resident took four agonizing years to find new work -- by then, she had refashioned herself into a web designer.

That not-too-distant experience is why Kafalas, 52, who was laid off again eight months ago, grows uneasier with each passing day. Already, some of her old demons have returned, like loneliness, self-doubt and, worst of all, insomnia. At night, her mind races to dissect the latest interview: What went wrong? What else should she be doing? And why won't even Barnes & Noble hire her?

"It's like putting a stopper on my life -- I can't move on," said Kafalas, who has given up karate lessons, vacations and regular outings with friends. "Everything is about the interviews."

And while most of her friends have been supportive, a few have hinted to her that she is doing something wrong, or not doing enough. The remarks always hit Kafalas with a pang.

In a recent study, researchers at Rutgers University found that the chronically unemployed are prone to high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness and even substance abuse, which take a toll on their self-esteem and personal relationships.

"They're the forgotten group," said Carl Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, and a co-author of the report. "And the longer you are unemployed, the less likely you are to get a job."

Of the 900 unemployed workers first interviewed last August for the study, only one in 10 landed full-time work by March of this year, and only half of those lucky few expressed satisfaction with their new jobs. Another one in 10 simply gave up searching.

Among those who were still unemployed, many struggled to make ends meet by borrowing from friends or family, turning to government food stamps and forgoing health care, according to the study.

More than half said they avoided all social contact, while slightly less than half said they had lost touch with close friends. Six in 10 said they had problems sleeping.

Kafalas says she deals with her chronic insomnia by hitting the gym for two hours almost every evening, lifting weights and pounding the treadmill until she feels tired enough to fall asleep.

"Sometimes I forget what day it is. Is it Tuesday? And then I'll think of what TV show ran the night before," she said. "Waiting is the toughest part."


AGE A FACTOR

Generally, the likelihood of long-term unemployment increases with age, experts say. A report by the National Employment Law Project this month found that nearly half of those who were unemployed for six months or longer were at least 45 years old. Those between 16 and 24 made up just 14 percent.

Tell that to Adam Blank, 24, who has been living with his girlfriend and her parents at their Martinsville home since losing his sales job at Best Buy a year and half ago.

Blank, who graduated from Rutgers with a major in communications, says he feels like a burden sometimes, especially since his girlfriend, Tracy Rosen, 24, works full-time at a local nonprofit. He shows her family gratitude with small chores, like taking out the garbage, washing dishes, sweeping floors and doing laundry.

Still, he often feels inadequate.

"All I'm doing on an almost daily basis is sitting around the house trying to keep myself from going stir-crazy," said Blank, who dreams of starting a social media company.

When he is feeling particularly low, Blank said he turns to a tactic employed by prisoners of war in Vietnam: "They used to build dream houses in their head to help keep their sanity. It's really just imagining a place I can call my own."


LESSONS LEARNED

Meanwhile, Gwiazdowski, ever the optimist, says unemployment has taught him a few things.

He has learned, for example, how to quickly assess an interviewer's age and play up or down his work experience accordingly -- he doesn't want to appear "threatening" to a potential employer who is younger. He has learned that by occasionally deleting and reuploading his resume to job sites, his entry appears fresh.

"It's almost like a game," he said, laughing. "You are desperate, but you can't show it."

But there are days when he just can't find any humor in his predicament -- like when he finishes a great interview but receives no offer, or when he hears a fellow job seeker finally found work and feels a slight twinge of jealousy.

"That's what I'm missing -- putting on that shirt and tie in the morning and going to work," he said.

The memory of getting dressed for work is still so vivid, Gwiazdowski says, that he has to believe another job is just around the corner.

"You always have to hope that that morning when you get up, it's going to be the day," he said.

"Today is going to be the day that something is going to happen."

Leslie Kwoh may be reached at lkwoh@starledger.com or (973) 392-4147.

DrBuzzard Jun 13, 2010

I collect from the state of iowa, was on tier I and when the gov't recessed without passing extension, iowa stopped paying tier I claims that were already open, i was scheduled to be on tier I until july 15th, and its gone now, as a surprise, when i tried to claim my week this week i was notified. SURPRISE, talk about stress.

berganliz Jun 13, 2010

This is terrible....just wait until RIF'd teachers hit the unemployment offices....but then, this is what NJ wanted...fired teachers who are to blame for the worst recession our country has seen in 150 years...thanks GWB.....thanks Donald Rumsfeld......thanks Dick Cheney....thanks Karl "Miss Piggy" Rove...and thank you Mr. Big Boy himself...Gov Krispy Kreame!

rp121 Jun 13, 2010

For readers who care about this nation's unemployed- Call your Senators to pass HR 4213, the "Extenders" bill. Unfortunately, it does not add UI benefits weeks, however it DOES continue the emergency federal tiers of UI. If it does not pass this week many of us are cut off at 26 wks. No tier 1, 2 -nothing.

[Dec 13, 2017] Unemployment health hazard and stress

The longer you are unemployed, the more you are effected by those factors.
Notable quotes:
"... The good news is that only a relatively small number of people are seriously affected by the stress of unemployment to the extent they need medical assistance. Most people don't get to the serious levels of stress, and much as they loathe being unemployed, they suffer few, and minor, ill effects. ..."
"... Worries about income, domestic problems, whatever, the list is as long as humanity. The result of stress is a strain on the nervous system, and these create the physical effects of the situation over time. The chemistry of stress is complex, but it can be rough on the hormonal system. ..."
"... Not at all surprisingly, people under stress experience strong emotions. It's a perfectly natural response to what can be quite intolerable emotional strains. It's fair to say that even normal situations are felt much more severely by people already under stress. Things that wouldn't normally even be issues become problems, and problems become serious problems. Relationships can suffer badly in these circumstances, and that, inevitably, produces further crises. Unfortunately for those affected, these are by now, at this stage, real crises. ..."
"... Some people are stubborn enough and tough enough mentally to control their emotions ruthlessly, and they do better under these conditions. Even that comes at a cost, and although under control, the stress remains a problem. ..."
"... One of the reasons anger management is now a growth industry is because of the growing need for assistance with severe stress over the last decade. This is a common situation, and help is available. ..."
"... Depression is universally hated by anyone who's ever had it. ..."
"... Very important: Do not, under any circumstances, try to use drugs or alcohol as a quick fix. They make it worse, over time, because they actually add stress. Some drugs can make things a lot worse, instantly, too, particularly the modern made-in-a-bathtub variety. They'll also destroy your liver, which doesn't help much, either. ..."
"... You don't have to live in a gym to get enough exercise for basic fitness. A few laps of the pool, a good walk, some basic aerobic exercises, you're talking about 30-45 minutes a day. It's not hard. ..."
Dec 13, 2017 | www.cvtips.com

It's almost impossible to describe the various psychological impacts, because there are so many. There are sometimes serious consequences, including suicide, and, some would say worse, chronic depression.

There's not really a single cause and effect. It's a compound effect, and unemployment, by adding stress, affects people, often badly.

The world doesn't need any more untrained psychologists, and we're not pretending to give medical advice. That's for professionals. Everybody is different, and their problems are different. What we can do is give you an outline of the common problems, and what you can do about them.

The good news is that only a relatively small number of people are seriously affected by the stress of unemployment to the extent they need medical assistance. Most people don't get to the serious levels of stress, and much as they loathe being unemployed, they suffer few, and minor, ill effects.

For others, there are a series of issues, and the big three are:

Stress

Stress is Stage One. It's a natural result of the situation. Worries about income, domestic problems, whatever, the list is as long as humanity. The result of stress is a strain on the nervous system, and these create the physical effects of the situation over time. The chemistry of stress is complex, but it can be rough on the hormonal system.

Over an extended period, the body's natural hormonal balances are affected, and this can lead to problems. These are actually physical issues, but the effects are mental, and the first obvious effects are, naturally, emotional.

Anger, and other negative emotions

Not at all surprisingly, people under stress experience strong emotions. It's a perfectly natural response to what can be quite intolerable emotional strains. It's fair to say that even normal situations are felt much more severely by people already under stress. Things that wouldn't normally even be issues become problems, and problems become serious problems. Relationships can suffer badly in these circumstances, and that, inevitably, produces further crises. Unfortunately for those affected, these are by now, at this stage, real crises.

If the actual situation was already bad, this mental state makes it a lot worse. Constant aggravation doesn't help people to keep a sense of perspective. Clear thinking isn't easy when under constant stress.

Some people are stubborn enough and tough enough mentally to control their emotions ruthlessly, and they do better under these conditions. Even that comes at a cost, and although under control, the stress remains a problem.

One of the reasons anger management is now a growth industry is because of the growing need for assistance with severe stress over the last decade. This is a common situation, and help is available.

If you have reservations about seeking help, bear in mind it can't possibly be any worse than the problem.

Depression

Depression is universally hated by anyone who's ever had it. This is the next stage, and it's caused by hormonal imbalances which affect serotonin. It's actually a physical problem, but it has mental effects which are sometimes devastating, and potentially life threatening.

The common symptoms are:

  • Difficulty in focusing mentally, thoughts all over the place in no logical order
  • Fits of crying for no known reason
  • Illogical, or irrational patterns of thought and behavior
  • Sadness
  • Suicidal thinking

It's a disgusting experience. No level of obscenity could possibly describe it. Depression is misery on a level people wouldn't conceive in a nightmare. At this stage the patient needs help, and getting it is actually relatively easy. It's convincing the person they need to do something about it that's difficult. Again, the mental state is working against the person. Even admitting there's a problem is hard for many people in this condition.

Generally speaking, a person who is trusted is the best person to tell anyone experiencing the onset of depression to seek help. Important: If you're experiencing any of those symptoms:

  • Get on the phone and make an appointment to see your doctor. It takes half an hour for a diagnosis, and you can be on your way home with a cure in an hour. You don't have to suffer. The sooner you start to get yourself out of depression, the better.
  • Avoid any antidepressants with the so-called withdrawal side effects. They're not too popular with patients, and are under some scrutiny. The normal antidepressants work well enough for most people.

Very important: Do not, under any circumstances, try to use drugs or alcohol as a quick fix. They make it worse, over time, because they actually add stress. Some drugs can make things a lot worse, instantly, too, particularly the modern made-in-a-bathtub variety. They'll also destroy your liver, which doesn't help much, either.

Alcohol, in particular, makes depression much worse. Alcohol is a depressant, itself, and it's also a nasty chemical mix with all those stress hormones.

If you've ever had alcohol problems, or seen someone with alcohol wrecking their lives, depression makes things about a million times worse.

Just don't do it. Steer clear of any so-called stimulants, because they don't mix with antidepressants, either.

Unemployment and staying healthy

The above is what you need to know about the risks of unemployment to your health and mental well being.

These situations are avoidable.

Your best defense against the mental stresses and strains of unemployment, and their related problems is staying healthy.

We can promise you that is nothing less than the truth. The healthier you are, the better your defenses against stress, and the more strength you have to cope with situations.

Basic health is actually pretty easy to achieve:

Diet

Eat real food, not junk, and make sure you're getting enough food. Your body can't work with resources it doesn't have. Good food is a real asset, and you'll find you don't get tired as easily. You need the energy reserves.

Give yourself a good selection of food that you like, that's also worth eating.

The good news is that plain food is also reasonably cheap, and you can eat as much as you need. Basic meals are easy enough to prepare, and as long as you're getting all the protein veg and minerals you need, you're pretty much covered.

You can also use a multivitamin cap, or broad spectrum supplements, to make sure you're getting all your trace elements. Also make sure you're getting the benefits of your food by taking acidophilus or eating yogurt regularly.

Exercise

You don't have to live in a gym to get enough exercise for basic fitness. A few laps of the pool, a good walk, some basic aerobic exercises, you're talking about 30-45 minutes a day. It's not hard.

Don't just sit and suffer

If anything's wrong, check it out when it starts, not six months later. Most medical conditions become serious when they're allowed to get worse.

For unemployed people the added risk is also that they may prevent you getting that job, or going for interviews. If something's causing you problems, get rid of it.

Nobody who's been through the blender of unemployment thinks it's fun.

Anyone who's really done it tough will tell you one thing:

Don't be a victim. Beat the problem, and you'll really appreciate the feeling.

[Dec 13, 2017] Being homeless is better than working for Amazon by Nichole Gracely

Notable quotes:
"... According to Amazon's metrics, I was one of their most productive order pickers -- I was a machine, and my pace would accelerate throughout the course of a shift. What they didn't know was that I stayed fast because if I slowed down for even a minute, I'd collapse from boredom and exhaustion ..."
"... toiling in some remote corner of the warehouse, alone for 10 hours, with my every move being monitored by management on a computer screen. ..."
"... ISS could simply deactivate a worker's badge and they would suddenly be out of work. They treated us like beggars because we needed their jobs. Even worse, more than two years later, all I see is: Jeff Bezos is hiring. ..."
"... I have never felt more alone than when I was working there. I worked in isolation and lived under constant surveillance ..."
"... That was 2012 and Amazon's labor and business practices were only beginning to fall under scrutiny. ..."
"... I received $200 a week for the following six months and I haven't had any source of regular income since those benefits lapsed. I sold everything in my apartment and left Pennsylvania as fast as I could. I didn't know how to ask for help. I didn't even know that I qualified for food stamps. ..."
Nov 28, 2014 | theguardian.com

wa8dzp:

Nichole Gracely has a master's degree and was one of Amazon's best order pickers. Now, after protesting the company, she's homeless.

I am homeless. My worst days now are better than my best days working at Amazon.

According to Amazon's metrics, I was one of their most productive order pickers -- I was a machine, and my pace would accelerate throughout the course of a shift. What they didn't know was that I stayed fast because if I slowed down for even a minute, I'd collapse from boredom and exhaustion.

During peak season, I trained incoming temps regularly. When that was over, I'd be an ordinary order picker once again, toiling in some remote corner of the warehouse, alone for 10 hours, with my every move being monitored by management on a computer screen.

Superb performance did not guarantee job security. ISS is the temp agency that provides warehouse labor for Amazon and they are at the center of the SCOTUS case Integrity Staffing Solutions vs. Busk. ISS could simply deactivate a worker's badge and they would suddenly be out of work. They treated us like beggars because we needed their jobs. Even worse, more than two years later, all I see is: Jeff Bezos is hiring.

I have never felt more alone than when I was working there. I worked in isolation and lived under constant surveillance. Amazon could mandate overtime and I would have to comply with any schedule change they deemed necessary, and if there was not any work, they would send us home early without pay. I started to fall behind on my bills.

At some point, I lost all fear. I had already been through hell. I protested Amazon. The gag order was lifted and I was free to speak. I spent my last days in a lovely apartment constructing arguments on discussion boards, writing articles and talking to reporters. That was 2012 and Amazon's labor and business practices were only beginning to fall under scrutiny. I walked away from Amazon's warehouse and didn't have any other source of income lined up.

I cashed in on my excellent credit, took out cards, and used them to pay rent and buy food because it would be six months before I could receive my first unemployment compensation check.

I received $200 a week for the following six months and I haven't had any source of regular income since those benefits lapsed. I sold everything in my apartment and left Pennsylvania as fast as I could. I didn't know how to ask for help. I didn't even know that I qualified for food stamps.

I furthered my Amazon protest while homeless in Seattle. When the Hachette dispute flared up I "flew a sign," street parlance for panhandling with a piece of cardboard: "I was an order picker at amazon.com. Earned degrees. Been published. Now, I'm homeless, writing and doing this. Anything helps."

I have made more money per word with my signs than I will probably ever earn writing, and I make more money per hour than I will probably ever be paid for my work. People give me money and offer well wishes and I walk away with a restored faith in humanity.

I flew my protest sign outside Whole Foods while Amazon corporate employees were on lunch break, and they gawked. I went to my usual flying spots around Seattle and made more money per hour protesting Amazon with my sign than I did while I worked with them. And that was in Seattle. One woman asked, "What are you writing?" I told her about the descent from working poor to homeless, income inequality, my personal experience. She mentioned Thomas Piketty's book, we chatted a little, she handed me $10 and wished me luck. Another guy said, "Damn, that's a great story! I'd read it," and handed me a few bucks.

[snip]

[Dec 12, 2017] Can Uber Ever Deliver Part Eleven Annual Uber Losses Now Approaching $5 Billion

Notable quotes:
"... Total 2015 gross passenger payments were 200% higher than 2014, but Uber corporate revenue improved 300% because Uber cut the driver share of passenger revenue from 83% to 77%. This was an effective $500 million wealth transfer from drivers to Uber's investors. ..."
"... Uber's P&L gains were wiped out by higher non-EBIDTAR expense. Thus the 300% Uber revenue growth did not result in any improvement in Uber profit margins. ..."
"... In 2016, Uber unilaterally imposed much larger cuts in driver compensation, costing drivers an additional $3 billion. [6] Prior to Uber's market entry, the take home pay of big-city cab drivers in the US was in the $12-17/hour range, and these earnings were possible only if drivers worked 65-75 hours a week. ..."
"... An independent study of the net earnings of Uber drivers (after accounting for the costs of the vehicles they had to provide) in Denver, Houston and Detroit in late 2015 (prior to Uber's big 2016 cuts) found that driver earnings had fallen to the $10-13/hour range. [7] Multiple recent news reports have documented how Uber drivers are increasing unable to support themselves from their reduced share of passenger payments. [8] ..."
"... Since mass driver defections would cause passenger volume growth to collapse completely, Uber was forced to reverse these cuts in 2017 and increased the driver share from 68% to 80%. This meant that Uber's corporate revenue, which had grown over 300% in 2015 and over 200% in 2016 will probably only grow by about 15% in 2017. ..."
"... Socialize the losses, privatize the gains, VC-ize the subsidies. ..."
"... The cold hard truth is that Uber is backed into a corner with severely limited abilities to tweak the numbers on either the supply or the demand side: cut driver compensation and they trigger driver churn (as has already been demonstrated), increase fare prices for riders and riders defect to cheaper alternatives. ..."
"... "Growth and Efficiency" are the sine qua non of Neoliberalism. Kalanick's "hype brilliance" was to con the market with "revenue growth" and signs ..."
Dec 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Uber lost $2.5 billion in 2015, probably lost $4 billion in 2016, and is on track to lose $5 billion in 2017.

The top line on the table below shows is total passenger payments, which must be split between Uber corporate and its drivers. Driver gross earnings are substantially higher than actual take home pay, as gross earning must cover all the expenses drivers bear, including fuel, vehicle ownership, insurance and maintenance.

Most of the "profit" data released by Uber over time and discussed in the press is not true GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) profit comparable to the net income numbers public companies publish but is EBIDTAR contribution. Companies have significant leeway as to how they calculate EBIDTAR (although it would exclude interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization) and the percentage of total costs excluded from EBIDTAR can vary significantly from quarter to quarter, given the impact of one-time expenses such as legal settlements and stock compensation. We only have true GAAP net profit results for 2014, 2015 and the 2nd/3rd quarters of 2017, but have EBIDTAR contribution numbers for all other periods. [5]

Uber had GAAP net income of negative $2.6 billion in 2015, and a negative profit margin of 132%. This is consistent with the negative $2.0 billion loss and (143%) margin for the year ending September 2015 presented in part one of the NC Uber series over a year ago.

No GAAP profit results for 2016 have been disclosed, but actual losses likely exceed $4 billion given the EBIDTAR contribution of negative $3.2 billion. Uber's GAAP losses for the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2017 were over $2.5 billion, suggesting annual losses of roughly $5 billion.

While many Silicon Valley funded startups suffered large initial losses, none of them lost anything remotely close to $2.6 billion in their sixth year of operation and then doubled their losses to $5 billion in year eight. Reversing losses of this magnitude would require the greatest corporate financial turnaround in history.

No evidence of significant efficiency/scale gains; 2015 and 2016 margin improvements entirely explained by unilateral cuts in driver compensation, but losses soared when Uber had to reverse these cuts in 2017.

Total 2015 gross passenger payments were 200% higher than 2014, but Uber corporate revenue improved 300% because Uber cut the driver share of passenger revenue from 83% to 77%. This was an effective $500 million wealth transfer from drivers to Uber's investors. These driver compensation cuts improved Uber's EBIDTAR margin, but Uber's P&L gains were wiped out by higher non-EBIDTAR expense. Thus the 300% Uber revenue growth did not result in any improvement in Uber profit margins.

In 2016, Uber unilaterally imposed much larger cuts in driver compensation, costing drivers an additional $3 billion. [6] Prior to Uber's market entry, the take home pay of big-city cab drivers in the US was in the $12-17/hour range, and these earnings were possible only if drivers worked 65-75 hours a week.

An independent study of the net earnings of Uber drivers (after accounting for the costs of the vehicles they had to provide) in Denver, Houston and Detroit in late 2015 (prior to Uber's big 2016 cuts) found that driver earnings had fallen to the $10-13/hour range. [7] Multiple recent news reports have documented how Uber drivers are increasing unable to support themselves from their reduced share of passenger payments. [8]

A business model where profit improvement is hugely dependent on wage cuts is unsustainable, especially when take home wages fall to (or below) minimum wage levels. Uber's primary focus has always been the rate of growth in gross passenger revenue, as this has been a major justification for its $68 billion valuation. This growth rate came under enormous pressure in 2017 given Uber efforts to raise fares, major increases in driver turnover as wages fell, [9] and the avalanche of adverse publicity it was facing.

Since mass driver defections would cause passenger volume growth to collapse completely, Uber was forced to reverse these cuts in 2017 and increased the driver share from 68% to 80%. This meant that Uber's corporate revenue, which had grown over 300% in 2015 and over 200% in 2016 will probably only grow by about 15% in 2017.

MKS , December 12, 2017 at 6:19 am

"Uber's business model can never produce sustainable profits"

Two words not in my vocabulary are "Never" and "Always", that is a pretty absolute statement in an non-absolute environment. The same environment that has produced the "Silicon Valley Growth Model", with 15x earnings companies like NVIDA, FB and Tesla (Average earnings/stock price ratio in dot com bubble was 10x) will people pay ridiculous amounts of money for a company with no underlying fundamentals you damn right they will! Please stop with the I know all no body knows anything, especially the psychology and irrationality of markets which are made up of irrational people/investors/traders.

JohnnySacks , December 12, 2017 at 7:34 am

My thoughts exactly. Seems the only possible recovery for the investors is a perfectly engineered legendary pump and dump IPO scheme. Risky, but there's a lot of fools out there and many who would also like to get on board early in the ride in fear of missing out on all the money to be hoovered up from the greater fools. Count me out.

SoCal Rhino , December 12, 2017 at 8:30 am

The author clearly distinguishes between GAAP profitability and valuations, which is after all rather the point of the series. And he makes a more nuanced point than the half sentence you have quoted without context or with an indication that you omitted a portion. Did you miss the part about how Uber would have a strong incentive to share the evidence of a network effect or other financial story that pointed the way to eventual profit? Otherwise (my words) it is the classic sell at a loss, make it up with volume path to liquidation.

tegnost , December 12, 2017 at 9:52 am

apples and oranges comparison, nvidia has lots and lots of patented tech that produces revenue, facebook has a kajillion admittedly irrational users, but those users drive massive ad sales (as just one example of how that company capitalizes itself) and tesla makes an actual car, using technology that inspires it's buyers (the put your money where your mouth is crowd and it can't be denied that tesla, whatever it's faults are, battery tech is not one of them and that intellectual property is worth a lot, and tesla's investors are in on that real business, profitable or otherwise)

Uber is an iphone app. They lose money and have no path to profitability (unless it's the theory you espouse that people are unintelligent so even unintelligent ideas work to fleece them). This article touches on one of the great things about the time we now inhabit, uber drivers could bail en masse, there are two sides to the low attachment employees who you can get rid of easily. The drivers can delete the uber app as soon as another iphone app comes along that gets them a better return

allan , December 12, 2017 at 6:52 am

Yet another source (unintended) of subsidies for Uber, Lyft, etc., which might or might not have been mentioned earlier in the series:

Airports Are Losing Money as Ride-Hailing Services Grow [NYT]

For many air travelers, getting to and from the airport has long been part of the whole miserable experience. Do they drive and park in some distant lot? Take mass transit or a taxi? Deal with a rental car?

Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are quickly changing those calculations. That has meant a bit less angst for travelers.

But that's not the case for airports. Travelers' changing habits, in fact, have begun to shake the airports' financial underpinnings. The money they currently collect from ride-hailing services do not compensate for the lower revenues from the other sources.

At the same time, some airports have had to add staff to oversee the operations of the ride-hailing companies, the report said. And with more ride-hailing vehicles on the roads outside terminals,
there's more congestion.

Socialize the losses, privatize the gains, VC-ize the subsidies.

Thuto , December 12, 2017 at 6:55 am

The cold hard truth is that Uber is backed into a corner with severely limited abilities to tweak the numbers on either the supply or the demand side: cut driver compensation and they trigger driver churn (as has already been demonstrated), increase fare prices for riders and riders defect to cheaper alternatives. The only question is how long can they keep the show going before the lights go out, slick marketing and propaganda can only take you so far, and one assumes the dumb money has a finite supply of patience and will at some point begin asking the tough questions.

Louis Fyne , December 12, 2017 at 8:35 am

The irony is that Uber would have been a perfectly fine, very profitable mid-sized company if Uber stuck with its initial model -- sticking to dense cities with limited parking, limiting driver supply, and charging a premium price for door-to-door delivery, whether by livery or a regular sedan. And then perhaps branching into robo-cars.

But somehow Uber/board/Travis got suckered into the siren call of self-driving cars, triple-digit user growth, and being in the top 100 US cities and on every continent.

Thuto , December 12, 2017 at 11:30 am

I've shared a similar sentiment in one of the previous posts about Uber. But operating profitably in decent sized niche doesn't fit well with ambitions of global domination. For Uber to be "right-sized", an admission of folly would have to be made, its managers and investors would have to transcend the sunk cost fallacy in their strategic decision making, and said investors would have to accept massive hits on their invested capital. The cold, hard reality of being blindsided and kicked to the curb in the smartphone business forced RIM/Blackberry to right-size, and they may yet have a profitable future as an enterprise facing software and services company. Uber would benefit from that form of sober mindedness, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

David Carl Grimes , December 12, 2017 at 6:57 am

The question is: Why did Softbank invest in Uber?

Michael Fiorillo , December 12, 2017 at 9:33 am

I know nothing about Softbank or its management, but I do know that the Japanese were the dumb money rubes in the late '80's, overpaying for trophy real estate they lost billions on.

Until informed otherwise, that's my default assumption

JimTan , December 12, 2017 at 10:50 am

Softbank possibly looking to buy more Uber shares at a 30% discount is very odd. Uber had a Series G funding round in June 2016 where a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund resulted in its current $68 billion valuation. Now apparently Softbank wants to lead a new $6 billion funding round to buy the shares of Uber employees and early investors at a 30% discount from this last "valuation". It's odd because Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has pledged $45 billion to SoftBank's Vision Fund , an amount which was supposed to come from the proceeds of its pending Aramco IPO. If the Uber bid is linked to SoftBank's Vision Fund, or KSA money, then its not clear why this investor might be looking to literally 'double down' from $3.5 billion o $6 billion on a declining investment.

Yves Smith Post author , December 12, 2017 at 11:38 am

SoftBank has not yet invested. Its tender is still open. If it does not get enough shares at a price it likes, it won't invest.

As to why, I have no idea.

Robert McGregor , December 12, 2017 at 7:04 am

"Growth and Efficiency" are the sine qua non of Neoliberalism. Kalanick's "hype brilliance" was to con the market with "revenue growth" and signs of efficiency, and hopes of greater efficiency, and make most people just overlook the essential fact that Uber is the most unprofitable company of all time!

divadab , December 12, 2017 at 7:19 am

What comprises "Uber Expenses"? 2014 – $1.06 billion; 2015 $3.33 billion; 2016 $9.65 billion; forecast 2017 $11.418 billion!!!!!! To me this is the big question – what are they spending $10 billion per year on?

ALso – why did driver share go from 68% in 2016 to 80% in 2017? If you use 68% as in 2016, 2017 Uber revenue is $11.808 billion, which means a bit better than break-even EBITDA, assuming Uber expenses are as stated $11.428 billion.

Perhaps not so bleak as the article presents, although I would not invest in this thing.

Phil in Kansas City , December 12, 2017 at 7:55 am

I have the same question: What comprises over 11 billion dollars in expenses in 2017? Could it be they are paying out dividends to the early investors? Which would mean they are cannibalizing their own company for the sake of the VC! How long can this go on before they'll need a new infusion of cash?

lyman alpha blob , December 12, 2017 at 2:37 pm

The Saudis have thrown a few billion Uber's way and they aren't necessarily known as the smart money.

Maybe the pole dancers have started chipping in too as they are for bitcoin .

Vedant Desai , December 12, 2017 at 10:37 am

Oh article does answer your 2nd question. Read this paragraph:-

Since mass driver defections would cause passenger volume growth to collapse completely , Uber was forced to reverse these cuts in 2017 and increased the driver share from 68% to 80%. This meant that Uber's corporate revenue, which had grown over 300% in 2015 and over 200% in 2016 will probably only grow by about 15% in 2017.

As for the 1st, read this line in the article:-

There are undoubtedly a number of things Uber could do to reduce losses at the margin, but it is difficult to imagine it could suddenly find the $4-5 billion in profit improvement needed merely to reach breakeven.

Louis Fyne , December 12, 2017 at 8:44 am

in addition to all the points listed in the article/comments, the absolute biggest flaw with Uber is that Uber HQ conditioned its customers on (a) cheap fares and (b) that a car is available within minutes (1-5 if in a big city).

Those two are not mutually compatible in the long-term.

Alfred , December 12, 2017 at 9:49 am

Thus (a) "We cost less" and (b) "We're more convenient" -- aren't those also the advantages that Walmart claims and feeds as a steady diet to its ever hungry consumers? Often if not always, disruption may repose upon delusion.

Martin Finnucane , December 12, 2017 at 11:06 am

Uber's business model could never produce sustainable profits unless it was able to exploit significant anti-competitive market power.

Upon that dependent clause hangs the future of capitalism, and – dare I say it? – its inevitable demise.

Altandmain , December 12, 2017 at 11:09 am

When this Uber madness blows up, I wonder if people will finally begin to discuss the brutal reality of Silicon Valley's so called "disruption".

It is heavily built in around the idea of economic exploitation. Uber drivers are often, especially when the true costs to operate an Uber including the vehicle depreciation are factored in, making not very much per hour driven, especially if they don't get the surge money.

Instacart is another example. They are paying the deliver operators very little.

Jim A. , December 12, 2017 at 12:21 pm

At a fundamental level, I think that the Silicon Valley "disruption" model only works for markets (like software) where the marginal cost for production is de minimus and the products can be protected by IP laws. Volume and market power really work in those cases. But out here in meat-space, where actual material and labor are big inputs to each item sold, you can never just sit back on your laurels and rake in the money. Somebody else will always be able to come and and make an equivalent product. If they can do it more cheaply, you are in trouble.

Altandmain , December 12, 2017 at 5:40 pm

There aren't that many areas in goods and services where the marginal costs are very low.

Software is actually quite unique in that regard, costing merely the bandwidth and permanent storage space to store.

Let's see:

1. From the article, they cannot go public and have limited ways to raise more money. An IPO with its more stringent disclosure requirements would expose them.

2. They tried lowering driver compensation and found that model unsustainable.

3. There are no benefits to expanding in terms of economies of scale.

From where I am standing, it looks like a lot of industries gave similar barriers. Silicon Valley is not going to be able to disrupt those.

Tesla, another Silicon Valley company seems to be struggling to mass produce its Model 3 and deliver an electric car that breaks even, is reliable, while disrupting the industry in the ways that Elon Musk attempted to hype up.

So that basically leaves services and manufacturing out for Silicon Valley disruption.

Joe Bentzel , December 12, 2017 at 2:19 pm

UBER has become a "too big to fail" startup because of all the different tentacles of capital from various Tier 1 VCs and investment bankers.

VCs have admitted openly that UBER is a subsidized business, meaning it's product is sold below market value, and the losses reflect that subsidization. The whole "2 sided platform" argument is just marketecture to hustle more investors. It's a form of service "dumping" that puts legacy businesses into bankruptcy. Back during the dotcom bubble one popular investment banker (Paul Deninger) characterized this model as "Terrorist Competition", i.e. coffers full of invested cash to commoditize the market and drive out competition.

UBER is an absolute disaster that has forked the startup model in Silicon Valley in order to drive total dependence on venture capital by founders. And its current diversification into "autonomous vehicles", food delivery, et al are simply more evidence that the company will never be profitable due to its whacky "blitzscaling" approach of layering on new "businesses" prior to achieving "fit" in its current one.

It's economic model has also metastasized into a form of startup cancer that is killing Silicon Valley as a "technology" innovator. Now it's all cargo cult marketing BS tied to "strategic capital".

UBER is the victory of venture capital and user subsidized startups over creativity by real entrepreneurs.

It's shadow is long and that's why this company should be ..wait for it UNBUNDLED (the new silicon valley word attached to that other BS religion called "disruption"). Call it a great unbundling and you can break up this monster corp any way you want.

Naked Capitalism is a great website.

Phil in KC , December 12, 2017 at 3:20 pm

1. I Agree with your last point.

2. The elevator pitch for Uber: subsidize rides to attract customers, put the competition out of business, and then enjoy an unregulated monopoly, all while exploiting economically ignorant drivers–ahem–"partners."

3. But more than one can play that game, and

4. Cab and livery companies are finding ways to survive!

Phil in KC , December 12, 2017 at 3:10 pm

If subsidizing rides is counted as an expense, (not being an accountant, I would guess it so), then whether the subsidy goes to the driver or the passenger, that would account for the ballooning expenses, to answer my own question. Otherwise, the overhead for operating what Uber describes as a tech company should be minimal: A billion should fund a decent headquarters with staff, plus field offices in, say, 100 U.S. cities. However, their global pretensions are probably burning cash like crazy. On top of that, I wonder what the exec compensation is like?

After reading HH's initial series, I made a crude, back-of-the-envelope calculation that Uber would run out of money sometime in the third fiscal quarter of 2018, but that was based on assuming losses were stabilizing in the range of 3 billion a year. Not so, according to the article. I think crunch time is rapidly approaching. If so, then SoftBank's tender offer may look quite appetizing to VC firms and to any Uber employee able to cash in their options. I think there is a way to make a re-envisioned Uber profitable, and with a more independent board, they may be able to restructure the company to show a pathway to profitability before the IPO. But time is running out.

A not insignificant question is the recruitment and retention of the front line "partners." It would seem to me that at some point, Uber will run out of economically ignorant drivers with good manners and nice cars. I would be very interested to know how many drivers give up Uber and other ride-sharing gigs once the 1099's start flying at the beginning of the year. One of the harsh realities of owning a business or being an contractor is the humble fact that you get paid LAST!

Jan Stickle , December 12, 2017 at 5:00 pm

We became instant Uber riders while spending holidays with relatives in San Diego. While their model is indeed unique from a rider perspective, it was the driver pool that fascinates me. These are not professional livery drivers, but rather freebooters of all stripes driving for various reasons. The remuneration they receive cannot possibly generate much income after expenses, never mind the problems associated with IRS filing as independent contractors.

One guy was just cruising listening to music; cooler to get paid for it than just sitting home! A young lady was babbling and gesticulating non stop about nothing coherent and appeared to be on some sort of stimulant. A foreign gentleman, very professional, drove for extra money when not at his regular job. He was the only one who had actually bought a new Prius for this gig, hoping to pay it off in two years.

This is indeed a brave new world. There was a period in Nicaragua just after the Contra war ended when citizens emerged from their homes and hit the streets in large numbers, desperately looking for income. Every car was a taxi and there was a bipedal mini Walmart at every city intersection as individuals sold everything and anything in a sort of euphoric optimism towards the future. Reality just hadn't caught up with them yet .

[Dec 09, 2017] November Jobs Report: good month, same caveats

Notable quotes:
"... U6 underemployment rate rose +0.1% from 7.9% to 8.0% ..."
Dec 09, 2017 | bonddad.blogspot.com

So U6 is almost 10% of population. Scary...

HEADLINES :
  • +228,000 jobs added
  • U3 unemployment rate unchanged at 4.1%
  • U6 underemployment rate rose +0.1% from 7.9% to 8.0%
Here are the headlines on wages and the chronic heightened underemployment: Wages and participation rates
  • Not in Labor Force, but Want a Job Now: rose +53,000 from 5.175 million to 5.238 million
  • Part time for economic reasons: rose +48,000 from 4.753 million to 4.801 million
  • Employment/population ratio ages 25-54: rose +0.2% from 78.8% to 79.0%
  • Average Weekly Earnings for Production and Nonsupervisory Personnel: rose +$.0.5 from a downwardly revised $22.19 to $22.24, up +2.4% YoY. (Note: you may be reading different information about wages elsewhere. They are citing average wages for all private workers. I use wages for nonsupervisory personnel, to come closer to the situation for ordinary workers.)
Holding Trump accountable on manufacturing and mining jobs

Trump specifically campaigned on bringing back manufacturing and mining jobs. Is he keeping this promise?
  • Manufacturing jobs rose by +31,000 for an average of +15,000 a month vs. the last seven years of Obama's presidency in which an average of 10,300 manufacturing jobs were added each month.
  • Coal mining jobs fell -400 for an average of -15 a month vs. the last seven years of Obama's presidency in which an average of -300 jobs were lost each month

September was revised upward by +20,000. October was revised downward by -17,000, for a net change of +3,000.

  1. likbez December 9, 2017 7:52 pm

    There are now large categories of jobs, both part-time and full time, that can't provide for living and are paying below or close to minimum wage (plantation economy jobs). it looks like under neoliberalism this is the fastest growing category of jobs.

    Examples are Uber and Lift jobs (which are as close to predatory scam as one can get) . Many jobs in service industry, especially retail. See for example

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/16/jobs-earn-less-than-minimum-wage_n_2689419.html

    They should probably be calculated separately as "distressed employment", or something like that.

    Also in view of "seasonal adjustments" the number of created jobs is probably meaningless.

[Dec 03, 2017] Business Has Killed IT With Overspecialization by Charlie Schluting

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... What happened to the old "sysadmin" of just a few years ago? We've split what used to be the sysadmin into application teams, server teams, storage teams, and network teams. There were often at least a few people, the holders of knowledge, who knew how everything worked, and I mean everything. ..."
"... Now look at what we've done. Knowledge is so decentralized we must invent new roles to act as liaisons between all the IT groups. Architects now hold much of the high-level "how it works" knowledge, but without knowing how any one piece actually does work. In organizations with more than a few hundred IT staff and developers, it becomes nearly impossible for one person to do and know everything. This movement toward specializing in individual areas seems almost natural. That, however, does not provide a free ticket for people to turn a blind eye. ..."
"... Does your IT department function as a unit? Even 20-person IT shops have turf wars, so the answer is very likely, "no." As teams are split into more and more distinct operating units, grouping occurs. One IT budget gets split between all these groups. Often each group will have a manager who pitches his needs to upper management in hopes they will realize how important the team is. ..."
"... The "us vs. them" mentality manifests itself at all levels, and it's reinforced by management having to define each team's worth in the form of a budget. One strategy is to illustrate a doomsday scenario. If you paint a bleak enough picture, you may get more funding. Only if you are careful enough to illustrate the failings are due to lack of capital resources, not management or people. A manager of another group may explain that they are not receiving the correct level of service, so they need to duplicate the efforts of another group and just implement something themselves. On and on, the arguments continue. ..."
Apr 07, 2010 | Enterprise Networking Planet

What happened to the old "sysadmin" of just a few years ago? We've split what used to be the sysadmin into application teams, server teams, storage teams, and network teams. There were often at least a few people, the holders of knowledge, who knew how everything worked, and I mean everything. Every application, every piece of network gear, and how every server was configured -- these people could save a business in times of disaster.

Now look at what we've done. Knowledge is so decentralized we must invent new roles to act as liaisons between all the IT groups. Architects now hold much of the high-level "how it works" knowledge, but without knowing how any one piece actually does work. In organizations with more than a few hundred IT staff and developers, it becomes nearly impossible for one person to do and know everything. This movement toward specializing in individual areas seems almost natural. That, however, does not provide a free ticket for people to turn a blind eye.

Specialization

You know the story: Company installs new application, nobody understands it yet, so an expert is hired. Often, the person with a certification in using the new application only really knows how to run that application. Perhaps they aren't interested in learning anything else, because their skill is in high demand right now. And besides, everything else in the infrastructure is run by people who specialize in those elements. Everything is taken care of.

Except, how do these teams communicate when changes need to take place? Are the storage administrators teaching the Windows administrators about storage multipathing; or worse logging in and setting it up because it's faster for the storage gurus to do it themselves? A fundamental level of knowledge is often lacking, which makes it very difficult for teams to brainstorm about new ways evolve IT services. The business environment has made it OK for IT staffers to specialize and only learn one thing.

If you hire someone certified in the application, operating system, or network vendor you use, that is precisely what you get. Certifications may be a nice filter to quickly identify who has direct knowledge in the area you're hiring for, but often they indicate specialization or compensation for lack of experience.

Resource Competition

Does your IT department function as a unit? Even 20-person IT shops have turf wars, so the answer is very likely, "no." As teams are split into more and more distinct operating units, grouping occurs. One IT budget gets split between all these groups. Often each group will have a manager who pitches his needs to upper management in hopes they will realize how important the team is.

The "us vs. them" mentality manifests itself at all levels, and it's reinforced by management having to define each team's worth in the form of a budget. One strategy is to illustrate a doomsday scenario. If you paint a bleak enough picture, you may get more funding. Only if you are careful enough to illustrate the failings are due to lack of capital resources, not management or people. A manager of another group may explain that they are not receiving the correct level of service, so they need to duplicate the efforts of another group and just implement something themselves. On and on, the arguments continue.

Most often, I've seen competition between server groups result in horribly inefficient uses of hardware. For example, what happens in your organization when one team needs more server hardware? Assume that another team has five unused servers sitting in a blade chassis. Does the answer change? No, it does not. Even in test environments, sharing doesn't often happen between IT groups.

With virtualization, some aspects of resource competition get better and some remain the same. When first implemented, most groups will be running their own type of virtualization for their platform. The next step, I've most often seen, is for test servers to get virtualized. If a new group is formed to manage the virtualization infrastructure, virtual machines can be allocated to various application and server teams from a central pool and everyone is now sharing. Or, they begin sharing and then demand their own physical hardware to be isolated from others' resource hungry utilization. This is nonetheless a step in the right direction. Auto migration and guaranteed resource policies can go a long way toward making shared infrastructure, even between competing groups, a viable option.

Blamestorming

The most damaging side effect of splitting into too many distinct IT groups is the reinforcement of an "us versus them" mentality. Aside from the notion that specialization creates a lack of knowledge, blamestorming is what this article is really about. When a project is delayed, it is all too easy to blame another group. The SAN people didn't allocate storage on time, so another team was delayed. That is the timeline of the project, so all work halted until that hiccup was restored. Having someone else to blame when things get delayed makes it all too easy to simply stop working for a while.

More related to the initial points at the beginning of this article, perhaps, is the blamestorm that happens after a system outage.

Say an ERP system becomes unresponsive a few times throughout the day. The application team says it's just slowing down, and they don't know why. The network team says everything is fine. The server team says the application is "blocking on IO," which means it's a SAN issue. The SAN team say there is nothing wrong, and other applications on the same devices are fine. You've ran through nearly every team, but without an answer still. The SAN people don't have access to the application servers to help diagnose the problem. The server team doesn't even know how the application runs.

See the problem? Specialized teams are distinct and by nature adversarial. Specialized staffers often relegate themselves into a niche knowing that as long as they continue working at large enough companies, "someone else" will take care of all the other pieces.

I unfortunately don't have an answer to this problem. Maybe rotating employees between departments will help. They gain knowledge and also get to know other people, which should lessen the propensity to view them as outsiders

[Dec 03, 2017] Nokia Shareholders Fight Back

On the topic of outsourcing, IMO it can be cheaper if done right. On paper it always seems like a great idea, but in practice it's not always the best idea financially and/or getting the same or better result in comparison to keeping it in-house. I've worked for companies where they have outsourced a particular department/function to companies where I am the one the job is outsourced to. My observation has been the success of getting projects done (e.g.: programing) or facilitating a role (e.g.: sys admin) rely on a few factors regardless of outsourcing or not.
Notable quotes:
"... On the topic of outsourcing, IMO it can be cheaper if done right. On paper it always seems like a great idea, but in practice it's not always the best idea financially and/or getting the same or better result in comparison to keeping it in-house. I've worked for companies where they have outsourced a particular department/function to companies where I am the one the job is outsourced to. My observation has been the success of getting projects done (e.g.: programing) or facilitating a role (e.g.: sys admin) rely on a few factors regardless of outsourcing or not. ..."
Slashdot

noc007 (633443)

On the topic of outsourcing, IMO it can be cheaper if done right. On paper it always seems like a great idea, but in practice it's not always the best idea financially and/or getting the same or better result in comparison to keeping it in-house. I've worked for companies where they have outsourced a particular department/function to companies where I am the one the job is outsourced to. My observation has been the success of getting projects done (e.g.: programing) or facilitating a role (e.g.: sys admin) rely on a few factors regardless of outsourcing or not.

The first is a golden rule of sorts on doing anything:

  • Cheap
  • Quality
  • Fast

You can only pick two; NO exceptions. I've encountered so many upper management types that foolishly think they can get away with having all three. In my experience 9/10 of the time it turns out a lack of quality bites them in the butt sometime down the road when they assumed they somehow managed to achieve all three.

The second is communication. Mostly everyone in at least the US has experienced the pain of being subjected to some company's outsourced customer service and/or tech support that can't effectively communicate with both parties on the same page of understanding one another. I really shouldn't need to explain why communication, understanding one another is so important. Sadly this is something I have to constantly explain to my current boss with events like today where my non-outsourced colleague rebooted a number of production critical servers when he was asked to reboot just one secondary server.

Third is the employee's skill in doing the job. Again, another obvious one, but I've observed that it isn't always on the hiring menu. Additionally I've seen some people that interview well, but couldn't create a "Hello World" HTML page for a web developer position as an example. There's no point in hiring or keeping a hired individual to do a job that they lack the skill to do; even if it's an entry-level position with training, that person should be willing to put for the effort to learn and take notes. I accept that everyone has their own unique skills that can aide or hinder their ability to learn and be proficient with a particular task. However, I firmly believe anyone can learn to do anything as long as they put their mind to it. I barely have any artistic ability and my drawing skills are stick figures at best (XKCD is miles ahead of me); if I were to put forth the effort to learn how to draw and paint, I could become a good artist. I taught an A+ technician certification class at a tech school a while back and I had a retired Marine that served in the Vietnam War as one of my students. One could argue his best skill was killing and blowing stuff up. He worked hard and learned to be a technician and passed CompTIA's certification test without a problem. That leads me to the next point.

Lastly is attitude of the end employee doing the actual work. It boggles my mind how so many managers loose the plot when it comes to employee morale and motivation. Productivity generally is improved when those two are improved and it usually doesn't have to involve spending a bunch of money. The employee's attitude should be getting the work done correctly in a reasonable amount of time. Demanding it is a poor approach. Poisoning an employee will result in poisoning the company in a small manner all the way up to the failure of the company. Employees should be encouraged through actual morale improvements, positive motivation, and incentives for doing more work at the same and/or better quality level.

Outsourcing or keeping things in house can be successful and possibly economical if approached correctly with the appropriate support of upper management.

Max Littlemore (1001285)

How dramatic? Isn't outsourcing done (like it or not) to reduce costs?

Outsourcing is done to reduce the projected costs that PHBs see. In reality, outsourcing can lead to increased costs and delays due to time zone differences and language/cultural barriers.

I have seen it work reasonably well, but only when the extra effort and delays caused by the increased need for rework that comes from complex software projects. If you are working with others on software, it is so much quicker to produce quality software if the person who knows the business requirements is sitting right next to the person doing design and the person cutting code and the person doing the testing, etc, etc.

If these people or groups are scattered around the world with different cultures and native languages, communication can suffer, increasing misunderstanding and reducing the quality. I have personally seen this lead to massive increase in code defects in a project that went from in house development to outsourced.

Also, time zone differences cause problems. I have noticed that the further west people live, the less likely they are to take into account how far behind they are. Working with people who fail to realise that their Monday morning is the next day for someone else, or that by the time they are halfway through Friday, others are already on their weekend is not only frustrating, it leads to slow turn around of bug fixes, etc.

Yeah, I'm told outsourcing keeps costs down, but I am yet to see conclusive evidence of that in the real world. At least in complex development. YMMV for support/call centre stuff.

-- I don't therefore I'm not.

[Dec 03, 2017] IT workers voices heard in the Senate, confidentially

The resentment against outsourcing was brewing for a long time.
Notable quotes:
"... Much of the frustration focused on the IT layoffs at Southern California Edison , which is cutting 500 IT workers after hiring two offshore outsourcing firms. This has become the latest example for critics of the visa program's capacity for abuse. ..."
"... Infosys whistleblower Jay Palmer, who testified, and is familiar with the displacement process, told Sessions said these workers will get sued if they speak out. "That's the fear and intimidation that these people go through - they're blindsided," said Palmer. ..."
"... Moreover, if IT workers refuse to train their foreign replacement, "they are going to be terminated with cause, which means they won't even get their unemployment insurance," said Ron Hira, an associate professor at Howard University, who also testified. Affected tech workers who speak out publicly and use their names, "will be blackballed from the industry," he said. ..."
"... Hatch, who is leading the effort to increase the H-1B cap, suggested a willingness to raise wage levels for H-1B dependent employers. They are exempt from U.S. worker protection rules if the H-1B worker is paid at least $60,000 or has a master's degree, a figure that was set in law in 1998. Hatch suggested a wage level of $95,000. ..."
"... Sen. Dick Durbin, (Dem-Ill.), who has joined with Grassley on legislation to impose some restrictions on H-1B visa use -- particularly in offshoring -- has argued for a rule that would keep large firms from having more than 50% of their workers on the visa. This so-called 50/50 rule, as Durbin has noted, has drawn much criticism from India, where most of the affected companies are located. ..."
"... "I want to put the H-1B factories out of business," said Durbin. ..."
"... Hal Salzman, a Rutgers University professor who studies STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workforce issues, told the committee that the IT industry now fills about two-thirds of its entry-level positions with guest workers. "At the same time, IT wages have stagnated for over a decade," he said. ..."
"... H-1B supporters use demand for the visa - which will exceed the 85,000 cap -- as proof of economic demand. But Salzman argues that U.S. colleges already graduate more scientists and engineers than find employment in those fields, about 200,000 more. ..."
Mar 18, 2015 | Network World

A Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today on the H-1B visa offered up a stew of policy arguments, positioning and frustration.

Much of the frustration focused on the IT layoffs at Southern California Edison, which is cutting 500 IT workers after hiring two offshore outsourcing firms. This has become the latest example for critics of the visa program's capacity for abuse.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee chair who has long sought H-1B reforms, said he invited Southern California Edison officials "to join us today" and testify. "I thought they would want to defend their actions and explain why U.S. workers have been left high and dry," said Grassley. "Unfortunately, they declined my invitation."

The hearing, by the people picked to testify, was weighted toward critics of the program, prompting a response by industry groups.

Compete America, the Consumer Electronics Association, FWD.us, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many others submitted a letter to the committee to rebut the "flawed studies" and "non-representative anecdotes used to create myths that suggest immigration harms American and American workers."

The claim that H-1B critics are using "anecdotes" to make their points (which include layoff reports at firms such as Edison) is a naked example of the pot calling the kettle black. The industry musters anecdotal stories in support of its positions readily and often. It makes available to the press and congressional committees people who came to the U.S. on an H-1B visa who started a business or took on a critical role in a start-up. These people are free to share their often compelling and admirable stories.

The voices of the displaced, who may be in fear of losing their homes, are thwarted by severance agreements.

The committee did hear from displaced workers, including some at Southern California Edison. But the communications with these workers are being kept confidential.

"I got the letters here from people, without the names," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). "If they say what they know and think about this, they will lose the buy-outs."

Infosys whistleblower Jay Palmer, who testified, and is familiar with the displacement process, told Sessions said these workers will get sued if they speak out. "That's the fear and intimidation that these people go through - they're blindsided," said Palmer.

Moreover, if IT workers refuse to train their foreign replacement, "they are going to be terminated with cause, which means they won't even get their unemployment insurance," said Ron Hira, an associate professor at Howard University, who also testified. Affected tech workers who speak out publicly and use their names, "will be blackballed from the industry," he said.

While lawmakers voiced either strong support or criticism of the program, there was interest in crafting legislation that impose some restrictions on H-1B use.

"America and American companies need more high-skilled workers - this is an undeniable fact," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). "America's high-skilled worker shortage has become a crisis."

Hatch, who is leading the effort to increase the H-1B cap, suggested a willingness to raise wage levels for H-1B dependent employers. They are exempt from U.S. worker protection rules if the H-1B worker is paid at least $60,000 or has a master's degree, a figure that was set in law in 1998. Hatch suggested a wage level of $95,000.

Sen. Dick Durbin, (Dem-Ill.), who has joined with Grassley on legislation to impose some restrictions on H-1B visa use -- particularly in offshoring -- has argued for a rule that would keep large firms from having more than 50% of their workers on the visa. This so-called 50/50 rule, as Durbin has noted, has drawn much criticism from India, where most of the affected companies are located.

"I want to put the H-1B factories out of business," said Durbin.

Durbin got some support for the 50/50 rule from one person testifying in support of expanding the cap, Bjorn Billhardt, the founder and president of Enspire Learning, an Austin-based company. Enspire creates learning development tools; Billhardt came to the U.S. as an exchange student and went from an H-1B visa to a green card to, eventually, citizenship.

"I actually think that's a reasonable provision," said Billhardt of the 50% visa limit. He said it could help, "quite a bit." At the same time, he urged lawmakers to raise the cap to end the lottery system now used to distribute visas once that cap is reached.

Today's hearing went well beyond the impact of H-1B use by outsourcing firms to the displacement of workers overall.

Hal Salzman, a Rutgers University professor who studies STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workforce issues, told the committee that the IT industry now fills about two-thirds of its entry-level positions with guest workers. "At the same time, IT wages have stagnated for over a decade," he said.

H-1B supporters use demand for the visa - which will exceed the 85,000 cap -- as proof of economic demand. But Salzman argues that U.S. colleges already graduate more scientists and engineers than find employment in those fields, about 200,000 more.

"Asking domestic graduates, both native-born and immigrant, to compete with guest workers on wages is not a winning strategy for strengthening U.S. science, technology and innovation," said Salzman.

See also

[Nov 28, 2017] The Stigmatization of the Unemployed

"This overly narrow hiring spec then leads to absurd, widespread complaint that companies can't find people with the right skills" . In the IT job markets such postings are often called purple squirrels
Notable quotes:
"... In particular, there seems to be an extremely popular variant of the above where the starting proposition "God makes moral people rich" is improperly converted to "Rich people are more moral" which is then readily negated to "Poor people are immoral" and then expanded to "Poor people are immoral, thus they DESERVE to suffer for it". It's essentially the theological equivalent of dividing by zero ..."
"... That said, the ranks of the neoliberals are not small. They constitute what Jonathan Schell calls a "mass minority." I suspect the neoliberals have about the same level of popular support that the Nazis did at the time of their takeover of Germany in 1932, or the Bolsheviks had in Russia at the time of their takeover in 1917, which is about 20 or 25% of the total population. ..."
"... The ranks of the neoliberals are made to appear far greater than they really are because they have all but exclusive access to the nation's megaphone. The Tea Party can muster a handful of people to disrupt a town hall meeting and it gets coast to coast, primetime coverage. But let a million people protest against bank bailouts, and it is ignored. Thus, by manipulation of the media, the mass minority is made to appear to be much larger than it really is. ..."
Mar 20, 2011 | naked capitalism

Spencer Thomas:

Very good post. Thank you.

Over the past three decades, large parts of our culture here in the US have internalized the lessons of the new Social Darwinism, with a significant body of literature to explain and justify it. Many of us have internalized, without even realizing it, the ideas of "dog eat dog", "every man for himself", "society should be structured like the animal kingdom, where the weak and sick simply die because they cannot compete, and this is healthy", and "everything that happens to you is your own fault. There is no such thing as circumstance that cannot be overcome, and certainly no birth lottery."

The levers pulled by politicians and the Fed put these things into practice, but even if we managed get different (better) politicians or Fed chairmen, ones who weren't steeped in this culture and ideology, we'd still be left with the culture in the population at large, and things like the "unemployed stigma" are likely to die very, very hard. Acceptance of the "just-world phenomenon" here in the US runs deep.

perfect stranger:

"Religion is just as vulnerable to corporate capture as is the government or the academy."

This is rather rhetorical statement, and wrong one. One need to discern spiritual aspect of religion from the religion as a tool.

Religion, as is structured, is complicit: in empoverishment, obedience, people's preconditioning, and legislative enabler in the institutions such as Supreme – and non-supreme – Court(s). It is a form of PR of the ruling class for the governing class.

DownSouth:

perfect stranger,

Religion, just like human nature, is not that easy to put in a box.

For every example you can cite where religion "is complicit: in empoverishment, obedience, people's preconditioning, and legislative enabler in the institution," I can point to an example of where religion engendered a liberating, emancipatory and revolutionary spirit.

Examples:

•Early Christianity •Nominalism •Early Protestantism •Gandhi •Martin Luther King

Now granted, there don't seem to be any recent examples of this of any note, unless we consider Chris Hedges a religionist, which I'm not sure we can do. Would it be appropriate to consider Hedges a religionist?

perfect stranger:

Yes, that maybe, just maybe be the case in early stages of forming new religion(s). In case of Christianity old rulers from Rome were trying to save own head/throne and the S.P.Q.R. imperia by adopting new religion.

You use examples of Gandhi and MLK which is highly questionable both were fighters for independence and the second, civil rights. In a word: not members of establishment just as I said there were (probably) seeing the religion as spiritual force not tool of enslavement.

Matt:

This link may provide some context:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology

In particular, there seems to be an extremely popular variant of the above where the starting proposition "God makes moral people rich" is improperly converted to "Rich people are more moral" which is then readily negated to "Poor people are immoral" and then expanded to "Poor people are immoral, thus they DESERVE to suffer for it". It's essentially the theological equivalent of dividing by zero

DownSouth:

Rex,

I agree.

Poll after poll after poll has shown that a majority of Americans, and a rather significant majority, reject the values, attitudes, beliefs and opinions proselytized by the stealth religion we call "neoclassical economics."

That said, the ranks of the neoliberals are not small. They constitute what Jonathan Schell calls a "mass minority." I suspect the neoliberals have about the same level of popular support that the Nazis did at the time of their takeover of Germany in 1932, or the Bolsheviks had in Russia at the time of their takeover in 1917, which is about 20 or 25% of the total population.

The ranks of the neoliberals are made to appear far greater than they really are because they have all but exclusive access to the nation's megaphone. The Tea Party can muster a handful of people to disrupt a town hall meeting and it gets coast to coast, primetime coverage. But let a million people protest against bank bailouts, and it is ignored. Thus, by manipulation of the media, the mass minority is made to appear to be much larger than it really is.

The politicians love this, because as they carry water for their pet corporations, they can point to the Tea Partiers and say: "See what a huge upwelling of popular support I am responding to."

JTFaraday:

Well, if that's true, then the unemployed are employable but the mass mediated mentality would like them to believe they are literally and inherently unemployable so that they underestimate and under-sell themselves.

This is as much to the benefit of those who would like to pick up "damaged goods" on the cheap as those who promote the unemployment problem as one that inheres in prospective employees rather than one that is a byproduct of a bad job market lest someone be tempted to think we should address it politically.

That's where I see this blame the unemployed finger pointing really getting traction these days.

attempter:

I apologize for the fact that I only read the first few paragraphs of this before quitting in disgust.

I just can no longer abide the notion that "labor" can ever be seen by human beings as a "cost" at all. We really need to refuse to even tolerate that way of phrasing things. Workers create all wealth. Parasites have no right to exist. These are facts, and we should refuse to let argument range beyond them.

The only purpose of civilization is to provide a better way of living and for all people. This includes the right and full opportunity to work and manage for oneself and/or as a cooperative group. If civilization doesn't do that, we're better off without it.

psychohistorian:

I am one of those long term unemployed.

I suppose my biggest employment claim would be as some sort of IT techie, with numerous supply chain systems and component design, development, implementation, interfaces with other systems and ongoing support. CCNP certification and a history of techiedom going back to WEYCOS.

I have a patent (6,209,954) in my name and 12+ years of beating my head against the wall in an industry that buys compliance with the "there is no problem here, move on now" approach.

Hell, I was a junior woodchuck program administrator back in the early 70's working for the Office of the Governor of the state of Washington on CETA PSE or Public Service Employment. The office of the Governor ran the PSE program for 32 of the 39 counties in the state that were not big enough to run their own. I helped organize the project approval process in all those counties to hire folk at ( if memory serves me max of $833/mo.) to fix and expand parks and provide social and other government services as defined projects with end dates. If we didn't have the anti-public congress and other government leadership we have this could be a current component in a rational labor policy but I digress.

I have experience in the construction trades mostly as carpenter but some electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc. also.

So, of course there is some sort of character flaw that is keeping me and all those others from employment ..right. I may have more of an excuse than others, have paid into SS for 45 years but still would work if it was available ..taking work away from other who may need it more .why set up a society where we have to compete as such for mere existence???????

One more face to this rant. We need government by the people and for the people which we do not have now. Good, public focused, not corporate focused government is bigger than any entities that exist under its jurisdiction and is kept updated by required public participation in elections and potentially other things like military, peace corps, etc. in exchange for advanced education. I say this as someone who has worked at various levels in both the public and private sectors there are ignorant and misguided folks everywhere. At least with ongoing active participation there is a chance that government would, once constructed, be able to evolve as needed within public focus .IMO.

Ishmael:

Some people would say I have been unemployed for 10 years. In 2000 after losing the last of my four CFO gigs for public companies I found it necessary to start consulting. This has lead to two of my three biggest winning years. I am usually consulting on cutting edge area of my profession and many times have large staffs reporting to me that I bring on board to get jobs done. For several years I subcontacted to a large international consulting firm to clean up projects which went wrong. Let me give some insight here.

  1. First, most good positions have gate keepers who are professional recruiters. It is near impossible to get by them and if you are unemployed they will hardly talk to you. One time talking to a recruiter at Korn Fery I was interviewing for a job I have done several times in an industry I have worked in several times. She made a statement that I had never worked at a well known company. I just about fell out of my chair laughing. At one time I was a senior level executive for the largest consulting firm in the world and lived on three continents and worked with companies on six. In addition, I had held senior positions for 2 fortune 500 firms and was the CFO for a company with $4.5 billion in revenue. I am well known at several PE firms and the founder of one of the largest mentioned in a meeting that one of his great mistakes was not investing in a very successful LBO (return of in excess of 20 multiple to investors in 18 months) I was the CFO for. In a word most recruiters are incompetent.
  2. Second, most CEO's any more are just insecure politicians. One time during an interview I had a CEO asked me to talk about some accomplishments. I was not paying to much attention as I rattled off accomplishments and the CEO went nuclear and started yelling at me that he did not know where I thought I was going with this job but the only position above the CFO job was his and he was not going anywhere. I assured him I was only interested in the CFO position and not his, but I knew the job was over. Twice feed back that I got from recruiters which they took at criticism was the "client said I seemed very assured of myself."
  3. Third, government, banking, business and the top MBA schools are based upon lying to move forward. I remember a top human resource executive telling me right before Enron, MCI and Sarbanes Oxley that I needed to learn to be more flexible. My response was that flexibility would get me an orange jump suit. Don't get me wrong, I have a wide grey zone, but it use to be in business the looked for people who could identify problems early and resolve them. Now days I see far more of a demand for people who can come up with PR spins to hide them. An attorney/treasurer consultant who partnered with me on a number of consulting jobs told me some one called me "not very charming." He said he asked what that meant, and the person who said that said, "Ish walks into a meeting and within 10 minutes he is asking about the 10,000 pound guerilla sitting in the room that no one wants to talk about." CEO do not want any challenges in their organization.
  4. Fourth, three above has lead to the hiring of very young and inexperienced people at senior levels. These people are insecure and do not want more senior and experienced people above them and than has resulted in people older than 45 not finding positions.
  5. Fifth, people are considered expendable and are fired for the lamest reasons anymore. A partner at one of the larger and more prestigious recruiting firms one time told me, "If you have a good consulting business, just stick with it. Our average placement does not last 18 months any more." Another well known recruiter in S. Cal. one time commented to me, "Your average consulting gig runs longer than our average placement."

With all of that said, I have a hard time understanding such statements as "@attempter "Workers create all wealth. Parasites have no right to exist." What does that mean? Every worker creates wealth. There is no difference in people. Sounds like communism to me. I make a good living and my net worth has grown working for myself. I have never had a consulting gig terminated by the client but I have terminated several. Usually, I am brought in to fix what several other people have failed at. I deliver basically intellectual properties to companies. Does that mean I am not a worker. I do not usually lift anything heavy or move equipment but I tell people what and where to do it so does that make me a parasite.

Those people who think everyone is equal and everyone deserves equal pay are fools or lazy. My rate is high, but what usually starts as short term projects usually run 6 months or more because companies find I can do so much more than what most of their staff can do and I am not a threat.

I would again like to have a senior challenging role at a decent size company but due to the reasons above will probably never get one. However, you can never tell. I am currently consulting for a midsize very profitable company (grew 400% last year) where I am twice the age of most people there, but everyone speaks to me with respect so you can never tell.

Lidia:

Ishmael, you're quite right. When I showed my Italian husband's resume to try and "network" in the US, my IT friends assumed he was lying about his skills and work history.

Contemporaneously, in Italy it is impossible to get a job because of incentives to hire "youth". Age discrimination is not illegal, so it's quite common to see ads that ask for a programmer under 30 with 5 years of experience in COBOL (the purple squirrel).

Hosswire

Some good points about the foolishness of recruiters, but a great deal of that foolishness is forced by the clients themselves. I used to be a recruiter myself, including at Korn Ferry in Southern California. I described the recruiting industry as "yet more proof that God hates poor people" because my job was to ignore resumes from people seeking jobs and instead "source" aka "poach" people who already had good jobs by dangling a higher salary in front of them. I didn't do it because I disparaged the unemployed, or because I could not do the basic analysis to show that a candidate had analogous or transferrable skills to the opening.

I did it because the client, as Yves said, wanted people who were literally in the same job description already. My theory is that the client wanted to have their ass covered in case the hire didn't work out, by being able to say that they looked perfect "on paper." The lesson I learned for myself and my friends looking for jobs was simple, if morally dubious. Basically, that if prospective employers are going to judge you based on a single piece of paper take full advantage of the fact that you get to write that piece of paper yourself.

Ishmael:

Hosswire - I agree with your comment. There are poor recruiters like the one I sited but in general it is the clients fault. Fear of failure. All hires have at least a 50% chance of going sideways on you. Most companies do not even have the ability to look at a resume nor to interview. I did not mean to same nasty things about recruiters, and I even do it sometimes but mine.

I look at failure in a different light than most companies. You need to be continually experimenting and changing to survive as a company and there will be some failures. The goal is to control the cost of failures while looking for the big pay off on a winner.

Mannwich:

As a former recruiter and HR "professional" (I use that term very loosely for obvious reasons), I can honestly say that you nailed it. Most big companies looking for mid to high level white collar "talent" will almost always take the perceived safest route by hiring those who look the best ON PAPER and in a suit and lack any real interviewing skills to find the real stars. What's almost comical is that companies almost always want to see the most linear resume possible because they want to see "job stability" (e.g. a CYA document in case the person fails in that job) when in many cases nobody cares about the long range view of the company anyway. My question was why should the candidate or employee care about the long range view if the employer clearly doesn't?

Ishmael:

Manwhich another on point comment. Sometimes either interviewing for a job or consulting with a CEO it starts getting to the absurd. I see all the time the requirement for stability in a persons background. Hello, where have they been the last 15 years. In addition, the higher up you go the more likely you will be terminated sometime and that is especially true if you are hired from outside the orgnanization. Companies want loyalty from an employee but offer none in return.

The average tenure for a CFO anymore is something around 18 months. I have been a first party participant (more than once) where I went through an endless recruiting process for a company (lasting more than 6 months) they final hire some one and that person is with the company for 3 months and then resigns (of course we all know it is through mutual agreement).

Ishmael:

Birch:

The real problem has become and maybe this is what you are referring to is the "Crony Capitalism." We have lost control of our financial situation. Basically, PE is not the gods of the universe that everyone thinks they are. However, every bankers secret wet dream is to become a private equity guy. Accordingly, bankers make ridiculous loans to PE because if you say no to them then you can not play in their sand box any more. Since the govt will not let the banks go bankrupt like they should then this charade continues inslaving everyone.

This country as well as many others has a large percentage of its assets tied up in over priced deals that the bankers/governments will not let collapse while the blood sucking vampires suck the life out of the assets.

On the other hand, govt is not the answer. Govt is too large and accomplishes too little.

kevin de bruxelles:

The harsh reality is that, at least in the first few rounds, companies kick to the curb their weakest links and perceived slackers. Therefore when it comes time to hire again, they are loath to go sloppy seconds on what they perceive to be some other company's rejects. They would much rather hire someone who survived the layoffs working in a similar position in a similar company. Of course the hiring company is going to have to pay for this privilege. Although not totally reliable, the fact that someone survived the layoffs provides a form social proof for their workplace abilities.

On the macro level, labor has been under attack for thirty years by off shoring and third world immigration. It is no surprise that since the working classes have been severely undermined that the middle classes would start to feel some pressure. By mass immigration and off-shoring are strongly supported by both parties. Only when the pain gets strong enough will enough people rebel and these two policies will be overturned. We still have a few years to go before this happens.

davver:

Let's say I run a factory. I produce cars and it requires very skilled work. Skilled welding, skilled machinists. Now I introduce some robotic welders and an assembly line system. The plants productivity improves and the jobs actually get easier. They require less skill, in fact I've simplified each task to something any idiot can do. Would wages go up or down? Are the workers really contributing to that increase in productivity or is it the machines and methods I created?

Lets say you think laying off or cutting the wages of my existing workers is wrong. What happens when a new entrant into the business employs a smaller workforce and lower wages, which they can do using the same technology? The new workers don't feel like they were cut down in any way, they are just happy to have a job. Before they couldn't get a job at the old plant because they lacked the skill, but now they can work in the new plant because the work is genuinely easier. Won't I go out of business?

Escariot:

I am 54 and have a ton of peers who are former white collar workers and professionals (project managers, architects, lighting designers, wholesalers and sales reps for industrial and construction materials and equipment) now out of work going on three years. Now I say out of work, I mean out of our trained and experienced fields.

We now work two or three gigs (waiting tables, mowing lawns, doing free lance, working in tourism, truck driving, moving company and fedex ups workers) and work HARD, for much much less than we did, and we are seeing the few jobs that are coming back on line going to younger workers. It is just the reality. And for most of us the descent has not been graceful, so our credit is a wreck, which also breeds a whole other level of issues as now it is common for the credit record to be a deal breaker for employment, housing, etc.

Strangely I don't sense a lot of anger or bitterness as much as humility. And gratitude for ANY work that comes our way. Health insurance? Retirement accounts? not so much.

Mickey Marzick:

Yves and I have disagreed on how extensive the postwar "pact" between management and labor was in this country. But if you drew a line from say, Trenton-Patterson, NJ to Cincinatti, OH to Minneapolis, MN, north and east of it where blue collar manufacturing in steel, rubber, auto, machinery, etc., predominated, this "pact" may have existed but ONLY because physical plant and production were concentrated there and workers could STOP production.

Outside of these heavy industrial pockets, unions were not always viewed favorably. As one moved into the rural hinterlands surrounding them there was jealously and/or outright hostility. Elsewhere, especially in the South "unions" were the exception not the rule. The differences between NE Ohio before 1975 – line from Youngstown to Toledo – and the rest of the state exemplified this pattern. Even today, the NE counties of Ohio are traditional Democratic strongholds with the rest of the state largely Republican. And I suspect this pattern existed elsewhere. But it is changing too

In any case, the demonization of the unemployed is just one notch above the vicious demonization of the poor that has always existed in this country. It's a constant reminder for those still working that you could be next – cast out into the darkness – because you "failed" or worse yet, SINNED. This internalization of the "inner cop" reinforces the dominant ideology in two ways. First, it makes any resistance by individuals still employed less likely. Second, it pits those still working against those who aren't, both of which work against the formation of any significant class consciousness amongst working people. The "oppressed" very often internalize the value system of the oppressor.

As a nation of immigrants ETHNICITY may have more explanatory power than CLASS. For increasingly, it would appear that the dominant ethnic group – suburban, white, European Americans – have thrown their lot in with corporate America. Scared of the prospect of downward social mobility and constantly reminded of URBAN America – the other America – this group is trapped with nowhere to else to go.

It's the divide and conquer strategy employed by ruling elites in this country since its founding [Federalist #10] with the Know Nothings, blaming the Irish [NINA - no Irish need apply] and playing off each successive wave of immigrants against the next. Only when the forces of production became concentrated in the urban industrial enclaves of the North was this strategy less effective. And even then internal immigration by Blacks to the North in search of employment blunted the formation of class consciousness among white ethnic industrial workers.

Wherever the postwar "pact of domination" between unions and management held sway, once physical plant was relocated elsewhere [SOUTH] and eventually offshored, unemployment began to trend upwards. First it was the "rustbelt" now it's a nationwide phenomenon. Needless to say, the "pact" between labor and management has been consigned to the dustbin of history.

White, suburban America has hitched its wagon to that of the corporate horse. Demonization of the unemployed coupled with demonization of the poor only serve to terrorize this ethnic group into acquiescence. And as the workplace becomes a multicultural matrix this ethnic group is constantly reminded of its perilous state. Until this incre