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Over 50 and unemployed

I know it's tough, very tough. But please do not give up. Fight even if you are excluded and marginalized: "without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape."  "No man is a failure who has friends". Like with Arctics "isolated person is a doomed person": in the situation of unemployment you need to overcome huge odds relying of your social network.

News Neoliberalism war on  labor Recommended Links Chronic Unemployment Underemployment Perma Temps Scapegoating and victimization of poor and unemployed 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 Social Isolation under neoliberalism 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 Alienation in neoliberal society Neoliberal rationality The role of automation and AI in decimation of workforce Secular Stagnation
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 Slackerism 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 Uber 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 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 1990.

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.

As the period of unemployment exceeds one year most males usually experienced increased and sometimes overwhelming sadness and grief at what had been lost.  Please continue to fight. Those who fight preserve human dignity, no matter what. Such feeling of sadness and grief, replaying actual of imaginable mistakes, are "new normal" and just yet another obstacle to overcome.

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. Use Stoicism and
  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.

 


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Old News ;-)

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

[Jun 19, 2019] America s Suicide Epidemic

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention. ..."
"... In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%). ..."
"... Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th. ..."
"... The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country. ..."
"... Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets. ..."
"... Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. ..."
"... One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . ..."
"... The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter. ..."
"... Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception. ..."
Jun 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. This post describes how the forces driving the US suicide surge started well before the Trump era, but explains how Trump has not only refused to acknowledge the problem, but has made matters worse.

However, it's not as if the Democrats are embracing this issue either.

BY Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. His latest book is The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention Originally published at TomDispatch .

We hear a lot about suicide when celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade die by their own hand. Otherwise, it seldom makes the headlines. That's odd given the magnitude of the problem.

In 2017, 47,173 Americans killed themselves. In that single year, in other words, the suicide count was nearly seven times greater than the number of American soldiers killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars between 2001 and 2018.

A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention.

In other words, we're talking about a national epidemic of self-inflicted deaths.

Worrisome Numbers

Anyone who has lost a close relative or friend to suicide or has worked on a suicide hotline (as I have) knows that statistics transform the individual, the personal, and indeed the mysterious aspects of that violent act -- Why this person? Why now? Why in this manner? -- into depersonalized abstractions. Still, to grasp how serious the suicide epidemic has become, numbers are a necessity.

According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control study , between 1999 and 2016, the suicide rate increased in every state in the union except Nevada, which already had a remarkably high rate. In 30 states, it jumped by 25% or more; in 17, by at least a third. Nationally, it increased 33% . In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%).

Alas, the news only gets grimmer.

Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th.

More importantly, the trend in the United States doesn't align with what's happening elsewhere in the developed world. The World Health Organization, for instance, reports that Great Britain, Canada, and China all have notably lower suicide rates than the U.S., as do all but six countries in the European Union. (Japan's is only slightly lower.)

World Bank statistics show that, worldwide, the suicide rate fell from 12.8 per 100,000 in 2000 to 10.6 in 2016. It's been falling in China , Japan (where it has declined steadily for nearly a decade and is at its lowest point in 37 years), most of Europe, and even countries like South Korea and Russia that have a significantly higher suicide rate than the United States. In Russia, for instance, it has dropped by nearly 26% from a high point of 42 per 100,000 in 1994 to 31 in 2019.

We know a fair amount about the patterns of suicide in the United States. In 2017, the rate was highest for men between the ages of 45 and 64 (30 per 100,000) and those 75 and older (39.7 per 100,000).

The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country.

There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last.

Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets.

The Economics of Stress

This surge in the suicide rate has taken place in years during which the working class has experienced greater economic hardship and psychological stress. Increased competition from abroad and outsourcing, the results of globalization, have contributed to job loss, particularly in economic sectors like manufacturing, steel, and mining that had long been mainstays of employment for such workers. The jobs still available often paid less and provided fewer benefits.

Technological change, including computerization, robotics, and the coming of artificial intelligence, has similarly begun to displace labor in significant ways, leaving Americans without college degrees, especially those 50 and older, in far more difficult straits when it comes to finding new jobs that pay well. The lack of anything resembling an industrial policy of a sort that exists in Europe has made these dislocations even more painful for American workers, while a sharp decline in private-sector union membership -- down from nearly 17% in 1983 to 6.4% today -- has reduced their ability to press for higher wages through collective bargaining.

Furthermore, the inflation-adjusted median wage has barely budged over the last four decades (even as CEO salaries have soared). And a decline in worker productivity doesn't explain it: between 1973 and 2017 productivity increased by 77%, while a worker's average hourly wage only rose by 12.4%. Wage stagnation has made it harder for working-class Americans to get by, let alone have a lifestyle comparable to that of their parents or grandparents.

The gap in earnings between those at the top and bottom of American society has also increased -- a lot. Since 1979, the wages of Americans in the 10th percentile increased by a pitiful 1.2%. Those in the 50th percentile did a bit better, making a gain of 6%. By contrast, those in the 90th percentile increased by 34.3% and those near the peak of the wage pyramid -- the top 1% and especially the rarefied 0.1% -- made far more substantial gains.

And mind you, we're just talking about wages, not other forms of income like large stock dividends, expensive homes, or eyepopping inheritances. The share of net national wealth held by the richest 0.1% increased from 10% in the 1980s to 20% in 2016. By contrast, the share of the bottom 90% shrank in those same decades from about 35% to 20%. As for the top 1%, by 2016 its share had increased to almost 39% .

The precise relationship between economic inequality and suicide rates remains unclear, and suicide certainly can't simply be reduced to wealth disparities or financial stress. Still, strikingly, in contrast to the United States, suicide rates are noticeably lower and have been declining in Western European countries where income inequalities are far less pronounced, publicly funded healthcare is regarded as a right (not demonized as a pathway to serfdom), social safety nets far more extensive, and apprenticeships and worker retraining programs more widespread.

Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. If so, the good news is that progressive economic policies -- should Democrats ever retake the White House and the Senate -- could make a positive difference. A study based on state-by-state variations in the U.S. found that simply boosting the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit by 10% appreciably reduces the suicide rate among people without college degrees.

The Race Enigma

One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . It increased from 11.3 per 100,000 in 2000 to 15.85 per 100,000 in 2017; for African Americans in those years the rates were 5.52 per 100,000 and 6.61 per 100,000. Black men are 10 times more likely to be homicide victims than white men, but the latter are two-and-half times more likely to kill themselves.

The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter.

According to a study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve , the white working class accounted for 45% of all income earned in the United States in 1990, but only 27% in 2016. In those same years, its share of national wealth plummeted, from 45% to 22%. And as inflation-adjusted wages have decreased for men without college degrees, many white workers seem to have lost hope of success of any sort. Paradoxically, the sense of failure and the accompanying stress may be greater for white workers precisely because they traditionally were much better off economically than their African American and Hispanic counterparts.

In addition, the fraying of communities knit together by employment in once-robust factories and mines has increased social isolation among them, and the evidence that it -- along with opioid addiction and alcohol abuse -- increases the risk of suicide is strong . On top of that, a significantly higher proportion of whites than blacks and Hispanics own firearms, and suicide rates are markedly higher in states where gun ownership is more widespread.

Trump's Faux Populism

The large increase in suicide within the white working class began a couple of decades before Donald Trump's election. Still, it's reasonable to ask what he's tried to do about it, particularly since votes from these Americans helped propel him to the White House. In 2016, he received 64% of the votes of whites without college degrees; Hillary Clinton, only 28%. Nationwide, he beat Clinton in counties where deaths of despair rose significantly between 2000 and 2015.

White workers will remain crucial to Trump's chances of winning in 2020. Yet while he has spoken about, and initiated steps aimed at reducing, the high suicide rate among veterans , his speeches and tweets have never highlighted the national suicide epidemic or its inordinate impact on white workers. More importantly, to the extent that economic despair contributes to their high suicide rate, his policies will only make matters worse.

The real benefits from the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act championed by the president and congressional Republicans flowed to those on the top steps of the economic ladder. By 2027, when the Act's provisions will run out, the wealthiest Americans are expected to have captured 81.8% of the gains. And that's not counting the windfall they received from recent changes in taxes on inheritances. Trump and the GOP doubled the annual amount exempt from estate taxes -- wealth bequeathed to heirs -- through 2025 from $5.6 million per individual to $11.2 million (or $22.4 million per couple). And who benefits most from this act of generosity? Not workers, that's for sure, but every household with an estate worth $22 million or more will.

As for job retraining provided by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the president proposed cutting that program by 40% in his 2019 budget, later settling for keeping it at 2017 levels. Future cuts seem in the cards as long as Trump is in the White House. The Congressional Budget Office projects that his tax cuts alone will produce even bigger budget deficits in the years to come. (The shortfall last year was $779 billion and it is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020.) Inevitably, the president and congressional Republicans will then demand additional reductions in spending for social programs.

This is all the more likely because Trump and those Republicans also slashed corporate taxes from 35% to 21% -- an estimated $1.4 trillion in savings for corporations over the next decade. And unlike the income tax cut, the corporate tax has no end date . The president assured his base that the big bucks those companies had stashed abroad would start flowing home and produce a wave of job creation -- all without adding to the deficit. As it happens, however, most of that repatriated cash has been used for corporate stock buy-backs, which totaled more than $800 billion last year. That, in turn, boosted share prices, but didn't exactly rain money down on workers. No surprise, of course, since the wealthiest 10% of Americans own at least 84% of all stocks and the bottom 60% have less than 2% of them.

And the president's corporate tax cut hasn't produced the tsunami of job-generating investments he predicted either. Indeed, in its aftermath, more than 80% of American companies stated that their plans for investment and hiring hadn't changed. As a result, the monthly increase in jobs has proven unremarkable compared to President Obama's second term, when the economic recovery that Trump largely inherited began. Yes, the economy did grow 2.3% in 2017 and 2.9% in 2018 (though not 3.1% as the president claimed). There wasn't, however, any "unprecedented economic boom -- a boom that has rarely been seen before" as he insisted in this year's State of the Union Address .

Anyway, what matters for workers struggling to get by is growth in real wages, and there's nothing to celebrate on that front: between 2017 and mid-2018 they actually declined by 1.63% for white workers and 2.5% for African Americans, while they rose for Hispanics by a measly 0.37%. And though Trump insists that his beloved tariff hikes are going to help workers, they will actually raise the prices of goods, hurting the working class and other low-income Americans the most .

Then there are the obstacles those susceptible to suicide face in receiving insurance-provided mental-health care. If you're a white worker without medical coverage or have a policy with a deductible and co-payments that are high and your income, while low, is too high to qualify for Medicaid, Trump and the GOP haven't done anything for you. Never mind the president's tweet proclaiming that "the Republican Party Will Become 'The Party of Healthcare!'"

Let me amend that: actually, they have done something. It's just not what you'd call helpful. The percentage of uninsured adults, which fell from 18% in 2013 to 10.9% at the end of 2016, thanks in no small measure to Obamacare , had risen to 13.7% by the end of last year.

The bottom line? On a problem that literally has life-and-death significance for a pivotal portion of his base, Trump has been AWOL. In fact, to the extent that economic strain contributes to the alarming suicide rate among white workers, his policies are only likely to exacerbate what is already a national crisis of epidemic proportions.


Seamus Padraig , June 19, 2019 at 6:46 am

Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception.

DanB , June 19, 2019 at 8:55 am

Trump is running on the claim that he's turned the economy around; addressing suicide undermines this (false) claim. To state the obvious, NC readers know that Trump is incapable of caring about anyone or anything beyond his in-the-moment interpretation of his self-interest.

JCC , June 19, 2019 at 9:25 am

Not just Trump. Most of the Republican Party and much too many Democrats have also abandoned this base, otherwise known as working class Americans.

The economic facts are near staggering and this article has done a nice job of summarizing these numbers that are spread out across a lot of different sites.

I've experienced this rise within my own family and probably because of that fact I'm well aware that Trump is only a symptom of an entire political system that has all but abandoned it's core constituency, the American Working Class.

sparagmite , June 19, 2019 at 10:13 am

Yep It's not just Trump. The author mentions this, but still focuses on him for some reason. Maybe accurately attributing the problems to a failed system makes people feel more hopeless. Current nihilists in Congress make it their duty to destroy once helpful institutions in the name of "fiscal responsibility," i.e., tax cuts for corporate elites.

dcblogger , June 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Maybe because Trump is president and bears the greatest responsibility in this particular time. A great piece and appreciate all the documentation.

Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:00 am

I'd assumed, the "working class" had dissappeared, back during Reagan's Miracle? We'd still see each other, sitting dazed on porches & stoops of rented old places they'd previously; trying to garden, fix their car while smoking, drinking or dazed on something? Those able to morph into "middle class" lives, might've earned substantially less, especially benefits and retirement package wise. But, a couple decades later, it was their turn, as machines and foreigners improved productivity. You could lease a truck to haul imported stuff your kids could sell to each other, or help robots in some warehouse, but those 80s burger flipping, rent-a-cop & repo-man gigs dried up. Your middle class pals unemployable, everybody in PayDay Loan debt (without any pay day in sight?) SHTF Bug-out bags® & EZ Credit Bushmasters began showing up at yard sales, even up North. Opioids became the religion of the proletariat Whites simply had much farther to fall, more equity for our betters to steal. And it was damned near impossible to get the cops to shoot you?

Man, this just ain't turning out as I'd hoped. Need coffee!

Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:55 am

We especially love the euphemism "Deaths O' Despair." since it works so well on a Chyron, especially supered over obese crackers waddling in crusty MossyOak™ Snuggies®

https://mobile.twitter.com/BernieSanders/status/1140998287933300736
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=apxZvpzq4Mw

DanB , June 19, 2019 at 9:29 am

This is a very good article, but I have a comment about the section titled, "The Race Enigma." I think the key to understanding why African Americans have a lower suicide rate lies in understanding the sociological notion of community, and the related concept Emil Durkheim called social solidarity. This sense of solidarity and community among African Americans stands in contrast to the "There is no such thing as society" neoliberal zeitgeist that in fact produces feelings of extreme isolation, failure, and self-recriminations. An aside: as a white boy growing up in 1950s-60s Detroit I learned that if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people.

Amfortas the hippie , June 19, 2019 at 2:18 pm

" if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people."
amen, to that. in my case rural black people.
and I'll add Hispanics to that.
My wife's extended Familia is so very different from mine.
Solidarity/Belonging is cool.
I recommend it.
on the article we keep the scanner on("local news").we had a 3-4 year rash of suicides and attempted suicides(determined by chisme, or deduction) out here.
all of them were despair related more than half correlated with meth addiction itself a despair related thing.
ours were equally male/female, and across both our color spectrum.
that leaves economics/opportunity/just being able to get by as the likely cause.

David B Harrison , June 19, 2019 at 10:05 am

What's left out here is the vast majority of these suicides are men.

Christy , June 19, 2019 at 1:53 pm

Actually, in the article it states:
"There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last."

jrs , June 19, 2019 at 1:58 pm

which in some sense makes despair the wrong word, as females are actually quite a bit more likely to be depressed for instance, but much less likely to "do the deed". Despair if we mean a certain social context maybe, but not just a psychological state.

Ex-Pralite Monk , June 19, 2019 at 10:10 am

obese cracker

You lay off the racial slur "cracker" and I'll lay off the racial slur "nigger". Deal?

rd , June 19, 2019 at 10:53 am

Suicide deaths are a function of the suicide attempt rate and the efficacy of the method used. A unique aspect of the US is the prevalence of guns in the society and therefore the greatly increased usage of them in suicide attempts compared to other countries. Guns are a very efficient way of committing suicide with a very high "success" rate. As of 2010, half of US suicides were using a gun as opposed to other countries with much lower percentages. So if the US comes even close to other countries in suicide rates then the US will surpass them in deaths. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_methods#Firearms

Now we can add in opiates, especially fentanyl, that can be quite effective as well.

The economic crisis hitting middle America over the past 30 years has been quite focused on the states and populations that also tend to have high gun ownership rates. So suicide attempts in those populations have a high probability of "success".

Joe Well , June 19, 2019 at 11:32 am

I would just take this opportunity to add that the police end up getting called in to prevent on lot of suicide attempts, and just about every successful one.

In the face of so much blanket demonization of the police, along with justified criticism, it's important to remember that.

B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:44 am

As someone who works in the mental health treatment system, acute inpatient psychiatry to be specific, I can say that of the 25 inpatients currently here, 11 have been here before, multiple times. And this is because of several issues, in my experience: inadequate inpatient resources, staff burnout, inadequate support once they leave the hospital, and the nature of their illnesses. It's a grim picture here and it's been this way for YEARS. Until MAJOR money is spent on this issue it's not going to get better. This includes opening more facilities for people to live in long term, instead of closing them, which has been the trend I've seen.

B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:53 am

One last thing the CEO wants "asses in beds", aka census, which is the money maker. There's less profit if people get better and don't return. And I guess I wouldn't have a job either. Hmmmm: sickness generates wealth.

[Jun 11, 2019] Open borders and illegal immigration are NeoLiberal tactics to promote wage arbitrage.

Jun 11, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

MG , Jun 11, 2019 8:40:24 AM | 129

@donkeytale

You stated, "Let's also ignore the fact that the sons and grandsons of the unionised postwar generation for the most part subsequently rejected blue collar work no matter what the pay. This is a sign of decadence I will grant you, and I am guilty as charged. "

This canard doesn't hold up in the face of empirical evidence. One example: 20,000 waiting in line for lousy warehouse jobs at Amazon. The fact is, open borders and illegal immigration are NeoLiberal tactics to promote wage arbitrage. In California, those impacted the most by illegal immigration are African Americans. Whole sectors, such as hotel maintenance and janitorial service, had been unionized, and had principally employed black workers whose salaries enabled them to move into the middle class. The hotel industry welcomed the influx of illegal immigrants willing to work for drastically lower wages. Black workers were replaced and the union destroyed. Unfortunately, many in the US and globally have been so propagandized about illegal immigration that even mentioning illegal immigration gets one falsely labeled racist. in the US, Democrats use illegal immigration as a "demographic strategy," which enables Democrats to remain in power while remaining wholly loyal to Wall Street and doing nothing to ameliorate the misery of the bottom 90%.

[Jun 05, 2019] America's Demise In One Simple Chart - The Path To A FIRE Economy

Notable quotes:
"... finance...is not value added....it is value SUBTRACTED! ..."
"... A job at McDonald's then was merely a job you had to make a little money on the side while attending colleges that were FREE to very low cost. Now, McDonald's is one of many low wage jobs in this GIG economy that are utilized as life sustaining. ..."
"... Production of debt instead of production of things. US is one of the largest producers of debt. Financialization as planned by the bankers. ..."
Jun 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

venturen , 2 hours ago link

finance...is not value added....it is value SUBTRACTED!

venturen , 3 hours ago link

when you can create $10 Trillion out of thin air and then give it to a select few...what did you think would happen. Instead of arresting the criminal bankers....we rescued them!

They are criminal by nature and are programmed to steal ever more! I know hundreds of NYC bankers and lawyers.....they are NOT NICE PEOPLE!

Handful of Dust , 2 hours ago link

+1,000

Between Bush and Obama bailing them out, and then destroying the middle class with regulations, Obamacare, ZIRP, offshoring, etc.....

CatInTheHat , 2 hours ago link

...Narcissists/sociopaths in America now outnumber empaths

exlcus , 2 hours ago link

America's Demise In One Simple Chart

This is one time that a ZH headline was not click bait. Not only is FIRE bigger than manufacturing, even .GOV is bigger than manufacturing now too. We're fucked, big time.

CatInTheHat , 2 hours ago link

Another boomer who lives in a state of alternate reality. Boomers were privy to government jobs and manufacturing in the US aplenty. They also were privy to government subsidies that don't exist today.

A job at McDonald's then was merely a job you had to make a little money on the side while attending colleges that were FREE to very low cost. Now, McDonald's is one of many low wage jobs in this GIG economy that are utilized as life sustaining.

Offshoring, the disappearance of government subsidies and social programs (thanks to boomers love for BILL CLINTON), wealth inequality (See the FED/Obama bank bailout/QE), stagnant wages, student loan debt, 22 TRILLION US DEBT, & 9/11 & 17 years of WAR & MORE WAR, has caused this country to become BANKRUPT.

Living in your parents basement, or with roommates, one paycheck from the streets to living on the streets is how it is for that kid YOU destroyed through your voting for sociopaths who took away the very jobs and entitlements YOU were privy to that no longer exist.

RasinResin , 1 hour ago link

I like your sarcasm, but the truth is something different entirely. Median home in 2000 - 164K. Now - 313K. Median income during the same period rose 3k. Clarified.

Handful of Dust , 1 minute ago link

If interest rates ever correct, those houses will be $164k again.

Expat , 3 hours ago link

LOL. All hail Donald! Our Real Estate Over-Lord and King of Low Interest Rates!

... ... ...

j0nx , 1 hour ago link

Bs. If they feared that then they wouldn't have ever raised rates effectively killing the refi market and putting downward pressure on prices for the past 2 years.

yogibear , 1 hour ago link

Production of debt instead of production of things. US is one of the largest producers of debt. Financialization as planned by the bankers.

desirdavenir , 1 hour ago link

Financialization as embraced by the boomers, eager to go for the fast money with no skills and no hard work.

CatInTheHat , 27 minutes ago link

Yeah it is. I wouldn't have a kid and raise it in this country today if my life depended on it. May be that's why birth rates in the US are at historic lows.

besnook , 1 hour ago link

if the country was run by shoe shine boys there would be shoe shine palaces on every corner and a law requiring everyone to get a shoeshine 3 times/day. the usa is run by banksters. you get the result described.

wonger , 1 hour ago link

ADP just missed by 153,000 jobs, bye bye real estate

HideTheWeenie , 1 hour ago link

Real Estate:They're mot making more of it ... Because they made too much of it.

BuyDash , 3 hours ago link

It happened in the blink of an eye. I told you, soon Caucasian areas will just start dying out. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Teja , 1 hour ago link

Curse of consumerist car-focussed societies everywhere. Same for Japan, China. Don't think that skin pigments will protect against it, though.

The only counter-trends are societies like the Amish, or maybe orthodox Jews. Their inoculation against most aspects of consumer society has the side effect of exponential population growth.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_Amish_population

TeethVillage88s , 1 hour ago link

Via Global Macro Monitor,

We originally posted this chart in February 2011 , which we just updated also breaking out the real estate industry from FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate). It is still just as shocking as it was back when we first produced it.

Economy Jumps The Shark. The U.S. economy jumped the shark in 1990 when FIRE overtook the manufacturing sector in terms of its contribution to GDP.

So... Finance Capitalism is real, Mises?

[May 15, 2019] Tariffs won't bring back manufacturing jobs...

The key factor here is that the USA is a neoliberal state which means profits before people and outsourcing to area with lower labor cost. Like leopard can't change its spots, neoliberalism can't change it "free movement of goods and labor" principles, or it stop being neoliberalism.
No jobs will come back to the USA as financial oligarchy is transnational body that uses the USA military as an enforcer for their gang. It does not care one bit about the common people in the USA.
May 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Originally from: Pepe Escobar Warns Over US-China Tensions The Hardcore Is Yet To Come

... ... ...

Where are our jobs?

Pause on the sound and fury for necessary precision. Even if the Trump administration slaps 25% tariffs on all Chinese exports to the US, the IMF has projected that would trim just a meager slither – 0.55% – off China's GDP. And America is unlikely to profit, because the extra tariffs won't bring back manufacturing jobs to the US – something that Steve Jobs told Barack Obama eons ago.

What happens is that global supply chains will be redirected to economies that offer comparative advantages in relation to China, such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Laos. And this redirection is already happening anyway – including by Chinese companies.

BRI represents a massive geopolitical and financial investment by China, as well as its partners; over 130 states and territories have signed on. Beijing is using its immense pool of capital to make its own transition towards a consumer-based economy while advancing the necessary pan-Eurasian infrastructure development – with all those ports, high-speed rail, fiber optics, electrical grids expanding to most Global South latitudes.

The end result, up to 2049 – BRI's time span – will be the advent of an integrated market of no less than 4.5 billion people, by that time with access to a Chinese supply chain of high-tech exports as well as more prosaic consumer goods.

Anyone who has followed the nuts and bolts of the Chinese miracle launched by Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping in 1978 knows that Beijing is essentially exporting the mechanism that led China's own 800 million citizens to, in a flash, become members of a global middle class.

As much as the Trump administration may bet on "maximum pressure" to restrict or even block Chinese access to whole sectors of the US market, what really matters is BRI's advance will be able to generate multiple, extra US markets over the next two decades.

We don't do 'win-win'

There are no illusions in the Zhongnanhai, as there are no illusions in Tehran or in the Kremlin. These three top actors of Eurasian integration have exhaustively studied how Washington, in the 1990s, devastated Russia's post-USSR economy (until Putin engineered a recovery) and how Washington has been trying to utterly destroy Iran for four decades.

Beijing, as well as Moscow and Tehran, know everything there is to know about Hybrid War, which is an American intel concept. They know the ultimate strategic target of Hybrid War, whatever the tactics, is social chaos and regime change.

The case of Brazil – a BRICS member like China and Russia – was even more sophisticated: a Hybrid War initially crafted by NSA spying evolved into lawfare and regime change via the ballot box. But it ended with mission accomplished – Brazil has been reduced to the lowly status of an American neo-colony.

Let's remember an ancient mariner, the legendary Chinese Muslim Admiral Zheng He, who for three decades, from 1405 to 1433, led seven expeditions across the seas all the way to Arabia and Eastern Africa, reaching Champa, Borneo, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Hormuz, Aden, Jeddah, Mogadiscio, Mombasa, bringing tons of goods to trade (silk, porcelain, silver, cotton, iron tools, leather utensils).

That was the original Maritime Silk Road, progressing in parallel to Emperor Yong Le establishing a Pax Sinica in Asia – with no need for colonies and religious proselytism. But then the Ming dynasty retreated – and China was back to its agricultural vocation of looking at itself.

They won't make the same mistake again. Even knowing that the current hegemon does not do "win-win". Get ready for the real hardcore yet to come.


Tachyon5321 , 35 minutes ago link

The Swine fever is sweeping china hog farms and since the start of 2019 200+ millions hogs have been culled. Chinese hog production is down from 2016 high of 700 million to below 420 million by the end of the year. The fever is not under control.

Soybeans from Ukraine are unloaded at the port in Nantong, in eastern China. Imports of soy used to come from the US, but have slumped since the trade war began. Should point out that the Ukraine soy production matures at a different time of the year than the US soybean. The USA planting season starts in Late april, may and june. Because of the harvest time differences worldwide the USA supplies 80% of the late maturing soybeans needed by October/Nov and December.

A propaganda story by the Asian Times

BT , 46 minutes ago link

Orange Jesus just wants to be re-elected in 2020 and MIGA.

Son of Captain Nemo , 52 minutes ago link

Perhaps this is one of the "casualties" ( https://www.rt.com/news/459355-us-austria-embassy-mcdonalds/ ) of economic war given the significance of China and just how important it is to the U.S. in it's purchases of $USD to maintain the illusion of it's reserve currency status and "vigor"...

Surprised this didn't happen first at the U.S. Embassies in Russia and China?... Obviously Ronald McDonald has turned into a charity of sorts helping out Uncle $am in his ailing "health" these dayz!...

SUPER SIZE ME!... Cause I'm not lovin it anymore!... I'm needin it!!!!

joego1 , 52 minutes ago link

If Americans want to wear shoes they can make them or have a robot make them. Manufacturing can happen in the U.S. **** what Steve Jobs told Oblamy .

ElBarto , 1 hour ago link

I've never understood this "jobs aren't coming back" argument. Do you really think that it will stop tariffs? They're happening. Better start preparing.

ZakuKommander , 1 hour ago link

Oh, right, tariffs WILL bring back American jobs! Then why didn't the Administration impose them fully in 2017? Why negotiate at all; just impose all the tariffs!?! lol

Haboob , 1 hour ago link

Pepe is correct as usual. Even if America tariffs the world the jobs aren't coming back as corporations will be unable to turn profits in such a highly taxed country like America would be. What could happen however is America can form an internal free market again going isolationist with new home grown manufacturing.

Gonzogal , 41 minutes ago link

You VERY obviously have ZERO knowledge of Chinas history and its discoveries/inventions etc USED BY THE WEST.

I suggest that you keep your eyes open for "History Erased-China" on Y Tube. The series shows what would happen in todays world if countries and their contributions to the world did not happen.

here is a preview: https://youtu.be/b6PJxuheWfk

[May 11, 2019] America s Industrial Gold Rush is Over

Notable quotes:
"... I see a lot of people saying, "They should just move to where the jobs are." 1) They would need accurate and defined information about where the jobs are that are looking for their skills 2) They would need some money to get there 3) They would need a place to stay and the rents and mortages are sky high 'where the jobs are' 4) They would have to be welcome. Two previous mass migrations within the USA come to mind: Black Americans out of the South and the dust bowl migrations to California. They were not welcomed with "open arms". ..."
"... I think the author understates the importance of Corporations being Good Citizens and Good Persons. ..."
"... My father was selected to go to Akron for training and if he passed the tests and did well in the training he might get a chance at Managing a Firestone Store. He was gone for weeks at a time for this process and was even required to go to Akron for more training after becoming a store manager. My father was an intelligent person but did not have a college degree. But I can see now that Firestone did an outstanding job training their store managers in all aspects of the job. Just think about that for a while. ..."
"... Corporations today hate themselves because its only about the money. I guess the point I am trying to make is this loss of Corporate Responsibility to the Nation and its Citizens was something that did exist but is now long gone. ..."
"... All across the West you can find old ghost towns. Towns that flourished until the gold or silver ran out of the local hill. The towns then were deserted. The similar thing can happen when a major employer runs out of "gold'. What the article ignores is all of the other reasons towns die. ..."
"... I would much rather rural stay rural and not become urban. There is more to the quality of life than a constant red hot economy. ..."
"... "The schools go to hell, the crime goes way up, liberals get elected and raise taxes, etc." One only needs to look at Kansas to see that this sentence is flawed. It needs to be changed and re-ordered to properly represent cause and effect. "Conservatives cut taxes, the schools go to hell, the crime goes way up, etc." ..."
"... The days of being qualified for good, well paying work without having more than a mediocre high school are in the past. This doesn't necessarily mean college because the trades require more education than ever before. Cutting school funding to pay for tax cuts is a loser's game. Trickle down economics has failed. ..."
May 11, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

I recently read and reviewed Tim Carney's excellent book Alienated America , a sort of combination of the "how we got Trump" genre with the sociological works of researchers like Robert Putnam and Charles Murray. Carney's exploration of the Trump phenomenon, and his grappling with the timeless question of economic security versus personal responsibility in regard to the formation of virtue, family, and community, are among the best you'll find. There is a deeper subtext in his book, however, that is not excavated. But first, a quick recap.

As in most treatments of inequality, geographic immobility, deindustrialization, and related issues, Alienated America features the requisite visits to faded old towns with ghostly main streets, and paeans to the blue-collar jobs that once allowed men with high school educations to comfortably own homes, raise families, and retire with pensions.

Through a long analysis, including a fascinating visit to a fracking camp in North Dakota -- awash in money but utterly lacking in neighborliness and community -- Carney concludes that wealth alone does not produce human flourishing. It is rather community and what social researchers call "civil society" that makes the American Dream possible. Obviously, money helps, but it is not sufficient, nor, in Carney's telling, even necessary.

... ... ...

Indeed, large numbers of human settlements never do, and never have . A one-dimensional, economically undiversified city is essentially a housing tract for a factory or a wharf or whatever industry drives its economy. What is left when that economic engine breaks down? A company town without a company. This is the fate that has befallen many of America's declining places, and it is hard to argue that this economic reality doesn't play a direct role in the decline of the family and of civil society. Is this a "materialist" explanation? Perhaps. But it may also be true.

There are those who admirably hope and work for revival, for restoration in places like Gary, Detroit, or any number of gutted small towns. But many of the buildings in these ghostly, empty blocks, even with their mighty and almost pleasantly timeworn facades, are far beyond the point where renovation is economical. For now, poverty is a sort of preservative. More money, for many hollowed-out cities, would simply mean more demolition.

To urbanist and declinist James Howard Kunstler, it may simply be the case that the national gold rush of petroleum-fueled industrial growth is over . If this is the case, the crisis of declining America is a structural, inexorable economic reality on the order of the Industrial Revolution itself.

... ... ...

The unwinding of rural and post-industrial America is a human tragedy, not to be written off, much less tacitly celebrated. Yet the facts of the post-industrial landscape may not care about remaining working-class feelings. This does not mean that any of these places " deserve to die ." But it may well mean that their collapse is beyond the ability of policy -- or church -- to alter.

Addison Del Mastro is assistant editor of The American Conservative . He tweets at @ad_mastro .

Tim , says: May 9, 2019 at 6:56 pm

Interesting and probably spot on. It doesn't take a degree in economics or history to understand how prosperity came and went; a passing knowledge of the 20th century will suffice. Dating back to the '20s we experienced a classic example of the boom/bust cycle, with the bust of the 30s lasting basically the entire decade. The good times rwith the onset of WWII and continued afterward because we, of all the major combatant nations, actually experienced minimal economic, social, and cultural disruption. The devastation elsewhere was sufficient to provide us a head-start worth a couple decades of strong growth. It wound down around the beginning of the 70s, coincident with the end of the Vietnam War. We retained some strong advantages, though, and they were sufficient to provide more growth – on paper at least – even as today's yawning income-distribution gap began to open up. The the Cold War ended and the days of free-trade saving the world (aka 'Globalism') commenced. It seemed great for awhile but now we're left holding an empty bag and the rest of the world has sidelined our old industrial workforce through off-shoring for the sake of cheaper labor. Nope, there's no turning back.
LarsX , says: May 9, 2019 at 9:30 pm
"Yet the facts of the post-industrial landscape may not care about remaining working-class feelings."

Well, somebody sure as hell better care about working-class feelings or Trump will only be act one.

JonF , says: May 10, 2019 at 6:20 am
Re: The revival of the American Dream requires the re-churching of America.

Maybe, but it also requires jobs paying a living wage that offer a reasonable degree of long-term security (It's the latter is lacking in short-lived fracking boom towns)

LouB , says: May 10, 2019 at 10:37 am
Having lived in the inner Chicago burbs since the mid 1970's I have watched Chicago turn from being an industrial powerhouse to a have and have not economy. If you're working in professional/service sector or part of the management of multinational globalist activity you're doing reasonably well. What's swept under the rug is that Chicago and their ilk hide the vast swaths of decayed blight and human warehousing with pretty downtown / privileged few neighborhoods. Most of our once great second city serves little purpose other than to provide housing for the poverty class. So called "Revitalization" only provides window dressing for the parade of the chosen few.

Prior to living in Chicago, my folks lived in a small city in western IL that was a poster child for the small town decay referred to above that Mr. Williamson thinks should die.

The town was famous for their productivity. Civic pride was evident in most all aspects of community life there. A major steel mill anchored the economy as well as numerous smaller hardware manufacturers. The steel mill went belly up, the hardware manufacturers became distributors of Asian made goods.

The gravy train just dried up. Times aren't so good now for the town that holds so many fond memories for me. Progress. I guess.

Kent , says: May 10, 2019 at 11:08 am
@hooly:

"Americans are the descendants of people who crossed oceans and continents for a better life, why are Americans who live in this dying towns so different? I just don't get it."

Because there is no longer a place with a better life. People left families and homes because life could be dramatically better someplace else.

An unemployed steel-worker used to making $60,000/year in a $100,000 house isn't going to find life somehow better making $8/hour as a barista in San Francisco with a $2000/month rent.

LT , says: May 10, 2019 at 11:31 am
I see a lot of people saying, "They should just move to where the jobs are."
1) They would need accurate and defined information about where the jobs are that are looking for their skills
2) They would need some money to get there
3) They would need a place to stay and the rents and mortages are sky high 'where the jobs are'
4) They would have to be welcome. Two previous mass migrations within the USA come to mind: Black Americans out of the South and the dust bowl migrations to California. They were not welcomed with "open arms".
Tick Tock , says: May 10, 2019 at 12:09 pm
First let me say that I agree with the author almost 90+%. But I think the author understates the importance of Corporations being Good Citizens and Good Persons. That is clearly what has happened to America. As the son of a former Firestone Store Manager, I can attest that Firestone trained all of their store managers in Akron, OH.

My father was selected to go to Akron for training and if he passed the tests and did well in the training he might get a chance at Managing a Firestone Store. He was gone for weeks at a time for this process and was even required to go to Akron for more training after becoming a store manager. My father was an intelligent person but did not have a college degree. But I can see now that Firestone did an outstanding job training their store managers in all aspects of the job. Just think about that for a while.

The Company cared what the Company looked like everywhere, not just in Akron, OH. There was almost no turnover in my father's store of employees. He was finally burnt out from dealing with the public in retail sales but they promoted him to District Manager a job that he kept till he passed away. No employer today gives a crap about any employee or any client. Of course you can't learn to love someone else till you learn to love yourself. Corporations today hate themselves because its only about the money. I guess the point I am trying to make is this loss of Corporate Responsibility to the Nation and its Citizens was something that did exist but is now long gone.

While some will surely say I am crazy, I strongly believe that a very high progressive tax rate on individuals and corporations would help to change this attitude and at least get money into circulation. We also have to remove the corrupt and criminal group that has taken over the US Corporations and with that the Governments both National and Local or the US is doomed.

Steve M , says: May 10, 2019 at 12:53 pm
All across the West you can find old ghost towns. Towns that flourished until the gold or silver ran out of the local hill. The towns then were deserted. The similar thing can happen when a major employer runs out of "gold'. What the article ignores is all of the other reasons towns die.

The schools go to hell, the crime goes way up, liberals get elected and raise taxes, etc. A town can survive with a big company leaving, but if all of the social factors cause the best, brightest and hardest working people to pull up roots and leave, maybe the town didn't die, it committed suicide.

Johann , says: May 10, 2019 at 2:36 pm
Spot on Daniel P. Donnelly!

I would much rather rural stay rural and not become urban. There is more to the quality of life than a constant red hot economy. And really, today, many rural areas are more rural than they were a generation ago. Yes, farms are bigger and so there are fewer people on more land and so many small rural towns have dried up. Personally, I love it. More room to hunt and fish, less hectic, more fresh air, and more freedom.

LFC , says: May 10, 2019 at 2:37 pm
"The schools go to hell, the crime goes way up, liberals get elected and raise taxes, etc." One only needs to look at Kansas to see that this sentence is flawed. It needs to be changed and re-ordered to properly represent cause and effect. "Conservatives cut taxes, the schools go to hell, the crime goes way up, etc."

The days of being qualified for good, well paying work without having more than a mediocre high school are in the past. This doesn't necessarily mean college because the trades require more education than ever before. Cutting school funding to pay for tax cuts is a loser's game. Trickle down economics has failed.

[May 04, 2019] Someone is getting a raise. It just isn't you

stackoverflow.com

As is usual, the headline economic number is always the rosiest number .

Wages for production and nonsupervisory workers accelerated to a 3.4 percent annual pace, signaling gains for lower-paid employees.

That sounds pretty good. Except for the part where it is a lie.
For starters, it doesn't account for inflation .

Labor Department numbers released Wednesday show that real average hourly earnings, which compare the nominal rise in wages with the cost of living, rose 1.7 percent in January on a year-over-year basis.

1.7% is a lot less than 3.4%.
While the financial news was bullish, the actual professionals took the news differently.

Wage inflation was also muted with average hourly earnings rising six cents, or 0.2% in April after rising by the same margin in March.
Average hourly earnings "were disappointing," said Ian Lyngen, head of U.S. rates strategy at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

Secondly, 1.7% is an average, not a median. For instance, none of this applied to you if you are an older worker .

Weekly earnings for workers aged 55 to 64 were only 0.8% higher in the first quarter of 2019 than they were in the first quarter of 2007, after accounting for inflation, they found. For comparison, earnings rose 4.7% during that same period for workers between the ages of 35 and 54.

On the other hand, if you worked for a bank your wages went up at a rate far above average. This goes double if you are in management.

Among the biggest standouts: commercial banks, which employ an estimated 1.3 million people in the U.S. Since Trump took office in January 2017, they have increased their average hourly wage at an annualized pace of almost 11 percent, compared with just 3.3 percent under Obama.

Finally, there is the reason for this incredibly small wage increase fo regular workers. Hint: it wasn't because of capitalism and all the bullsh*t jobs it creates. The tiny wage increase that the working class has seen is because of what the capitalists said was a terrible idea .

For Americans living in the 21 states where the federal minimum wage is binding, inflation means that the minimum wage has lost 16 percent of its purchasing power.

But elsewhere, many workers and employers are experiencing a minimum wage well above 2009 levels. That's because state capitols and, to an unprecedented degree, city halls have become far more active in setting their own minimum wages.
...
Averaging across all of these federal, state and local minimum wage laws, the effective minimum wage in the United States -- the average minimum wage binding each hour of minimum wage work -- will be $11.80 an hour in 2019. Adjusted for inflation, this is probably the highest minimum wage in American history.
The effective minimum wage has not only outpaced inflation in recent years, but it has also grown faster than typical wages. We can see this from the Kaitz index, which compares the minimum wage with median overall wages.

So if you are waiting for capitalism to trickle down on you, it's never going to happen. span y gjohnsit on Fri, 05/03/2019 - 6:21pm

Carolinas

Teachers need free speech protection

Thousands of South Carolina teachers rallied outside their state capitol Wednesday, demanding pay raises, more planning time, increased school funding -- and, in a twist, more legal protections for their freedom of speech
SC for Ed, the grassroots activist group that organized Wednesday's demonstration, told CNN that many teachers fear protesting or speaking up about education issues, worrying they'll face retaliation at work. Saani Perry, a teacher in Fort Mill, S.C., told CNN that people in his profession are "expected to sit in the classroom and stay quiet and not speak [their] mind."

To address these concerns, SC for Ed is lobbying for the Teachers' Freedom of Speech Act, which was introduced earlier this year in the state House of Representatives. The bill would specify that "a public school district may not willfully transfer, terminate or fail to renew the contract of a teacher because the teacher has publicly or privately supported a public policy decision of any kind." If that happens, teachers would be able to sue for three times their salary.

Teachers across the country are raising similar concerns about retaliation. Such fears aren't unfounded: Lawmakers in some states that saw strikes last year have introduced bills this year that would punish educators for skipping school to protest.

[May 02, 2019] If The U.S. Economy Is So Great, Why Are So Many Workers Miserable

May 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

If The U.S. Economy Is So Great, Why Are So Many Workers Miserable?

by Tyler Durden Thu, 05/02/2019 - 17:45 2 SHARES Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

Millennial and generation Z workers are becoming increasingly miserable with their jobs and careers. Since we are told several times a day by the media that the economy is booming, why are so many young workers so disastrously melancholy all the time?

The mental well being of the American worker hit an all-time low in 2018, according to a report by Barron's . That's a bit shocking considering the economy is booming and wages are rising, right? Well, wages aren't rising that much, and much of the consumer spending is being put on credit cards , creating a vicious cycle of depression and consumerism that will repeat for a lot of folks.

Americans Are Financially And Mentally Unstable: Crippling Debt Is Linked To Chronic Depression

"When you're struggling with your mental health it can be much harder to stay in work or manage your spending, while being in debt can cause huge stress and anxiety – so the two issues feed off each other, creating a vicious cycle which can destroy lives," said Helen Undy the institute's chief executive. "Yet despite how connected these problems are, financial services rarely think about our mental health, and mental health services rarely consider what is happening with our money."

So why are we constantly being told everything is fine? The mainstream media loves to say that the U.S. is nearly ten years into one of the longest economic expansions in history, unemployment is the lowest it's been in almost half a century, and employees have more job choices than they've had in years. But there's just one problem. That's not actual truthful when taking all of the data into consideration. Sure, unemployment is low the way the government calculates it, but there's a reason for that. 102 million Americans are no longer "in the workforce" and therefore, unaccounted for.

Michael Snyder, who owns the Economic Collapse Blog s ays: "Sadly, the truth is that the rosy employment statistics that you are getting from the mainstream media are manufactured using smoke and mirrors."

When a working-age American does not have a job, the federal number crunchers put them into one of two different categories. Either they are categorized as "unemployed" or they are categorized as "not in the labor force".

But you have to add both of those categories together to get the total number of Americans that are not working.

Over the last decade, the number of Americans that are in the "unemployed" category has been steadily going down, but the number of Americans "not in the labor force" has been rapidly going up.

In both cases we are talking about Americans that do not have a job. It is just a matter of how the federal government chooses to categorize those individuals. – Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog

That could partially explain the misery some are feeling, but those who have jobs aren't happy either. They are often reeling from student loan and credit card debt. Being depressed makes shopping feel like a solution, but when the bill comes, the depression once again sets in making this a difficult cycle to break for so many just trying to scrape by.

Depression and suicide rates are rising sharply and other than putting the blame on superficial issues, researchers are at a loss as to the real reason why. But could it possibly be that as the elite globalists continue to take over the world and enslave mankind, people are realizing that they aren't meant to be controlled or manipulated, but meant to be free?

There's something we are all missing all around the globe. Could it possibly be free will and a life of freedom from theft and violent coercion and force that's missing?


Sick , 31 minutes ago link

Freedom to assemble is gone. That would be the only way for the awake people to make a change. Unfortunately everyone is glued to their electronics

CashMcCall , 57 minutes ago link

When even your own article lies to everyone... so the modern person that does well are those who lie the best and are the best con artists. Trump is an example. Low talent High con.

Example the US unemployment number.

Only the pool of unemployed that is Presently eligible for unemployment benefits is counted in the Unemployment number. That means self employed, commissioned workers, contractors etc are not included in the pool of unemployment even if they are out of work because they are unemployment ineligible.

Thus, over time, as unemployment benefits are lost, the unemployment pool shrinks. This is called a mathematical regression. How far does it shrink? To the point of equilibrium which is roughly 4% in which new persons enter the work force to the same extent of those losing benefits and being removed and become invisible.

Thus, Unemployment is a bogus number grossly understating truthful Unemployment. This method was first used under Obama and persists today under the Orange poser.

Nepotism and Affirmative action

Why would this make people unhappy? Chronic underemployment. Advancement is mostly by nepotism or affirmative action the flip side of the same coin. The incoming Harvard Class this year was 30% legacy student... and 30% affirmative action and the rest be damned. Happy?

Feminism has gripped the workplace.

Men hate working for female bosses. They don't trust them, they don't trust their judgment which often looks political and never logical. Men feel those women were promoted because of gender.

I saw this years ago in a clean room at National Semiconductor. A woman was put in charge of a team of roughly 30 white nerd males. She was at them constantly for not locking doors behind them and other menial infractions. She could not comprehend the complexity of the work or how inspiration operates but she would nag them and bully them.

At another facility there was a genius that would come to work and set up a sleeping bag and go to sleep under his desk. He was a Unix programmer and system engineer. So when something went wrong they would wake him and he would get up, solve the problem and go back to sleep.

Then the overstuffed string of pearls showed up as the new unit boss. She was infuriated that somebody would dare sleep on the clock and so blatantly. So she would harass him and wake him. Then one day she got so mad she started kicking him while he was sleeping. He grabbed his sleeping bag and briefcase and stormed out.

Ultimately the woman's boss took her to task and explained to her that it didn't matter if that employee slept under his desk because when he worked to solve problems only he could solve he saved the company millions. She was fired. As a token stipulation the sleeping genius came back and a sign was posted on his desk. "Kicking this employee is grounds for immediate dismissal."

Usually the nerd walks and just gets replaced by some diversity politician and string of pearls then sets the tone by making the workplace ****. Women simply are not as intelligent as men and pretending they are just wrecks morale of the people who are really intelligent. The rise of the shoulder padded woman string of pearls bully is a scourge to one and all.

bizznatch14 , 2 hours ago link

Simple answer: because people are spineless and terrible negotiators.

Long answer: for years the adage has been "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" or "find a good job and never leave" or "work your way to the top" or "be a hard worker, trust your leadership, keep your head down, and don't make waves."

********.

If you do what you love, you'll learn to hate it. Welcome to misery.

Upward mobility doesn't happen unless you leave. If you're a good little productive worker drone, management has no incentive to give you more than 1-3% raises every year to keep you 'loyal.' Once you've wasted 20 or so years being a robot, welcome to misery.

Nobody gets promoted unless you're a useless ***-kisser who fails to be productive and hasn't done anything egregious enough to get canned. Once you've been passed by for that promotion you want enough times, welcome to misery.

The people making the decisions at the top are the useless ***-kissers that can't do what you do but they talk a good game. Most of them are case studies in the Peter Principle. Once you realize that the 'top' consists of nothing but fuckwads, welcome to misery.

The only way to get ahead and get what you want out of a career is to develop the skills you need and market yourself top someone who'll pay you what you're worth.

Develop strong negotiation skills early, know your market value, and don't be afraid of change.

Employer loyalty is a farce; if you think your employer is loyal to you, I've got some oceanfront property in New Mexico to sell you.

Interested_Observer , 2 hours ago link

All the good jobs are being taken over by "imported labor" who are getting paid 1/2 of what Americans are getting paid.

There is no longer upward mobility unless you are part of an Indian Mafia.

Enjoy working for these freaks who treat everyone like crap?

[Apr 28, 2019] Prisoners of Overwork A Dilemma by Peter Dorman

Highly recommended!
This is true about IT jobs. Probably even more then for lawyers. IT became plantation economy under neoliberalism.
Notable quotes:
"... mandatory overwork in professional jobs. ..."
"... The logical solution is some form of binding regulation. ..."
"... One place to start would be something like France's right-to-disconnect law . ..."
"... "the situation it describes is a classic prisoners dilemma." ..."
Apr 28, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

The New York Times has an illuminating article today summarizing recent research on the gender effects of mandatory overwork in professional jobs. Lawyers, people in finance and other client-centered occupations are increasingly required to be available round-the-clock, with 50-60 or more hours of work per week the norm. Among other costs, the impact on wage inequality between men and women is severe. Since women are largely saddled with primary responsibility for child care, even when couples ostensibly embrace equality on a theoretical level, the workaholic jobs are allocated to men. This shows up in dramatic differences between typical male and female career paths. The article doesn't discuss comparable issues in working class employment, but availability for last-minute changes in work schedules and similar demands are likely to impact men and women differentially as well.

What the article doesn't point out is that the situation it describes is a classic prisoners dilemma.* Consider law firms. They compete for clients, and clients prefer attorneys who are available on call, always prepared and willing to adjust to whatever schedule the client throws at them. Assume that most lawyers want sane, predictable work hours if they are offered without a severe penalty in pay. If law firms care about the well-being of their employees but also about profits, we have all the ingredients to construct a standard PD payoff matrix:

There is a penalty to unilateral cooperation, cutting work hours back to a work-life balance level. If your firm does it and the others don't, you lose clients to them.

There is a benefit to unilateral defection. If everyone else is cutting hours but you don't, you scoop up the lion's share of the clients.

Mutual cooperation is preferred to mutual defection. Law firms, we are assuming, would prefer a world in which overwork was removed from the contest for competitive advantage. They would compete for clients as before, but none would require their staff to put in soul-crushing hours. The alternative equilibrium, in which competition is still on the basis of the quality of work but everyone is on call 24/7 is inferior.

If the game is played once, mutual defection dominates. If it is played repeatedly there is a possibility for mutual cooperation to establish itself, but only under favorable conditions (which apparently don't exist in the world of NY law firms). The logical solution is some form of binding regulation.

The reason for bringing this up is that it strengthens the case for collective action rather than placing all the responsibility on individuals caught in the system, including for that matter individual law firms. Or, the responsibility is political, to demand constraints on the entire industry. One place to start would be something like France's right-to-disconnect law .

*I haven't read the studies by economists and sociologists cited in the article, but I suspect many of them make the same point I'm making here.

Sandwichman said...
"the situation it describes is a classic prisoners dilemma."

Now why didn't I think of that?

https://econospeak.blogspot.com/2016/04/zero-sum-foolery-4-of-4-wage-prisoners.html April 26, 2019 at 6:22 PM

[Apr 13, 2019] For those IT guys who want to change the specalty

Highly recommended!
The neoliberal war on labor in the USA is real. And it is especially real for It folk over 50. No country for the old men, so to speak...
Notable quotes:
"... Obviously you need a financial cushion to not be earning for months and to pay for the training courses. ..."
"... Yeah, people get set in their ways and resistant to make changes. Steve Jobs talked about people developing grooves in their brain and how important it is to force yourself out of these grooves.* ..."
"... Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them. ..."
"... The brain is like a muscle, it needs to be constantly worked to become strong. If you waste it watching football or looking at porn your brain will atrophy like the muscles of a person in a wheelchair. ..."
"... IBEW (licensed electricians) has no upper age limit for apprentices They have lots of American engineers who applied in their 30s after realizing most companies want diverse HI-B engineers. ..."
"... At 40+, I still can learn advanced mathematics as well as I ever did. In fact, I can still compete with the Chinese 20 year olds. The problem is not mental horsepower, it's time and energy. I rarely have time to concentrate these days (wife, kids, pets), which makes it hard to get the solid hours of prime mental time required to really push yourself at a hard pace and learn advanced material. ..."
"... That's a huge key and I discovered it when I was asked to tutor people who were failing chemistry. I quickly discovered that all it took for most of them to "get it" was to keep approaching the problem from different angles until a light came on for them and for me the challenge of finding the right approach was a great motivator. Invariably it was some minor issue and once they overcame that, it became easy for them. I'm still astonished at that to this day. ..."
"... Sorry man, English teaching is huge, and will remain so for some time to come. I'm heavily involved in the area and know plenty of ESL teachers. Spain for me, and the level of English here is still so dreadful and they all need it, the demand is staggering and their schools suck at teaching it themselves. ..."
"... You have to really dislike your circumstances in the US to leave and be willing to find some way to get by overseas. ..."
"... We already saw this in South Africa. Mandela took over, the country went down the tubes, the wealthy whites left and the Boers were left to die in refugee camps. They WANT to leave and a few went to Russia, but most developed countries don't want them. Not with the limited amount of money they have. ..."
"... Americans are mostly ignorant to the fact that they live in a 2nd world country except for blacks and rednecks I have met in the Philippines who were stationed there in the military and have a $1000 a month check. Many of them live in more dangerous and dirty internal third worlds in America than what they can have in Southeast Asia and a good many would be homeless. They are worldly enough to leave. ..."
Apr 13, 2019 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [388] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 1:26 pm GMT

@YetAnotherAnon

" He's 28 years old getting too old and soft for the entry-level grunt work in the skilled trades as well. What then?"

I know a UK guy (ex City type) who retrained as an electrician in his early 50s. Competent guy. Obviously no one would take him on as an apprentice, so he wired up all his outbuildings as his project to get his certificate. But he's getting work now, word gets around if you're any good.

Obviously you need a financial cushion to not be earning for months and to pay for the training courses.

Yeah, people get set in their ways and resistant to make changes. Steve Jobs talked about people developing grooves in their brain and how important it is to force yourself out of these grooves.*

I know a Haitian immigrant without a college degree who was working three jobs and then dropped down to two jobs and went to school part time in his late 40's and earned his degree in engineering and is a now an engineer in his early 50's.

*From Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Simon and Schuster, 2011), pp.330-331:

"It's rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing," Jobs said wistfully to the writer David Sheff, who published a long and intimate interview in Playboy the month he turned thirty. "Of course, there are some people who are innately curious, forever little kids in their awe of life, but they're rare." The interview touched on many subjects, but Jobs's most poignant ruminations were about growing old and facing the future:

Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them.

I'll always stay connected with Apple. I hope that throughout my life I'll sort of have the thread of my life and the thread of Apple weave in and out of each other, like a tapestry. There may be a few years when I'm not there, but I'll always come back. . . .

If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you've done and whoever you were and throw them away.

The more the outside world tries to reinforce an image of you, the harder it is to continue to be an artist, which is why a lot of times, artists have to say, "Bye. I have to go. I'm going crazy and I'm getting out of here." And they go and hibernate somewhere. Maybe later they re-emerge a little differently.

anonymous [191] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 9:59 pm GMT
@The Anti-Gnostic

"fluid intelligence" starts crystallizing after your 20's". Nonsense, I had a great deal of trouble learning anything from my teen years and 20's because I didn't know how to learn. I went for 30 years and eventually figured out a learning style that worked for me. I have learned more and mastered more skills in the past ten years ages 49-59 than I had in the previous 30.

You can challenge yourself like I did and after a while of doing this (6 months) you will find it a lot easier to learn and comprehend than you did previously. (This is true only if you haven't damaged your brain from years of smoking and drinking). I constantly challenged myself with trying to learn math that I had trouble with in school and eventually mastered it.

The brain is like a muscle, it needs to be constantly worked to become strong. If you waste it watching football or looking at porn your brain will atrophy like the muscles of a person in a wheelchair.

Anon [257] Disclaimer , says: March 15, 2019 at 4:29 am GMT
@YetAnotherAnon

IBEW (licensed electricians) has no upper age limit for apprentices They have lots of American engineers who applied in their 30s after realizing most companies want diverse HI-B engineers.

Upper age limits for almost every occupation disappeared decades ago in America because of age discrimination laws.

I can't see how any 28 year old could possibly be too soft to go into any kind of manual labor job.

jbwilson24 , says: March 15, 2019 at 9:31 am GMT
@anonymous Yeah, there was a recent study showing that 70 year olds can form neural connections as quickly as teenagers.
At 40+, I still can learn advanced mathematics as well as I ever did. In fact, I can still compete with the Chinese 20 year olds. The problem is not mental horsepower, it's time and energy. I rarely have time to concentrate these days (wife, kids, pets), which makes it hard to get the solid hours of prime mental time required to really push yourself at a hard pace and learn advanced material.

This is why the Chinese are basically out of date when they are 30, their companies assume that they have kids and are not able to give 110% anymore.

jacques sheete , says: March 15, 2019 at 11:14 am GMT
@anonymous

eventually figured out a learning style that worked for me.

That's a huge key and I discovered it when I was asked to tutor people who were failing chemistry. I quickly discovered that all it took for most of them to "get it" was to keep approaching the problem from different angles until a light came on for them and for me the challenge of finding the right approach was a great motivator. Invariably it was some minor issue and once they overcame that, it became easy for them. I'm still astonished at that to this day.

The brain is like a muscle, it needs to be constantly worked to become strong. If you waste it watching football or looking at porn your brain will atrophy like the muscles of a person in a wheelchair.

No doubt about it. No embellishment needed there!

s.n , says: March 15, 2019 at 11:42 am GMT
@The Anti-Gnostic

Yeah. He's 28 years old and apparently his chosen skillset is teaching EASL in foreign countries. That sector is shrinking as English becomes the global lingua franca and is taught in elementary schools worldwide. He's really too old and soft for his Plan B (military), and getting too old and soft for the entry-level grunt work in the skilled trades as well. What then?

do you know anything first hand about the teaching- english- as-a- second- language hustle?

Asking sincerely – as I don't know anything about it. However I kinda suspect that 'native speakers' will be in demand in many parts of the globe for some time to come [as an aside – and maybe Linh has written of this and I missed it – but last spring I was in Saigon for a couple of weeks and, hanging out one day at the zoo & museum complex, was startled to see about three groups of Vietnamese primary-school students being led around by americans in their early 20s, narrating everything in american english . Apparently private schools offering entirely english-language curriculum are the big hit with the middle & upper class elite there. Perhaps more of the same elsewhere in the region?]

At any rate the young man in this interview has a lot more in the way of qualifications and skill sets than I had when I left the States 35 years ago, and I've done just fine. I'd advise any prospective expats to get that TEFL certificate as it's one extra thing to have in your back pocket and who knows?

PS: "It really can't be overstated how blessed you are to have American citizenship" – well, yes it can. Everyone knows that the best passport on earth is from Northwest Euroland, one of those places with free university education and free health care and where teenage mothers don't daily keel over dead from heroin overdoses in Dollar Stores .. Also more places visa-free

The Anti-Gnostic , says: Website March 15, 2019 at 2:37 pm GMT
@s.n

When you left the States 35 years ago, the world was 3 billion people smaller. The labor market has gotten a tad more competitive. I don't see any indication of a trade or other refined skillset in this article.

People who teach EASL for a living are like people who drive cars for a living: you don't do it because you're really good at teaching your native language, you do it because you're not marketable at anything else.

jeff stryker , says: March 15, 2019 at 3:20 pm GMT
@jacques sheete JACQUES

I think being Australian is the best citizenry you can have. The country is far from perfect, but any lower middle class American white like myself would prefer to be lower middle class there than in Detroit or Phoenix, where being lower income means life around the unfettered urban underclass that is paranoia inducing.

Being from the US is not as bad as being Bangladeshi, but if you had to be white and urban and poor you'd be better off in Sydney than Flint.

The most patriotic Americans have never been anywhere, so they have no idea whether Australia or Tokyo are better. They have never traveled.

s.n , says: March 15, 2019 at 11:42 am GMT
@The Anti-Gnostic

Yeah. He's 28 years old and apparently his chosen skillset is teaching EASL in foreign countries. That sector is shrinking as English becomes the global lingua franca and is taught in elementary schools worldwide. He's really too old and soft for his Plan B (military), and getting too old and soft for the entry-level grunt work in the skilled trades as well. What then?

do you know anything first hand about the teaching- english- as-a- second- language hustle?

Asking sincerely – as I don't know anything about it. However I kinda suspect that 'native speakers' will be in demand in many parts of the globe for some time to come [as an aside – and maybe Linh has written of this and I missed it – but last spring I was in Saigon for a couple of weeks and, hanging out one day at the zoo & museum complex, was startled to see about three groups of Vietnamese primary-school students being led around by americans in their early 20s, narrating everything in american english .

Apparently private schools offering entirely english-language curriculum are the big hit with the middle & upper class elite there. Perhaps more of the same elsewhere in the region?]

At any rate the young man in this interview has a lot more in the way of qualifications and skill sets than I had when I left the States 35 years ago, and I've done just fine. I'd advise any prospective expats to get that TEFL certificate as it's one extra thing to have in your back pocket and who knows?

ps: "It really can't be overstated how blessed you are to have American citizenship" – well, yes it can. Everyone knows that the best passport on earth is from Northwest Euroland, one of those places with free university education and free health care and where teenage mothers don't daily keel over dead from heroin overdoses in Dollar Stores ..

Also more places visa-free

s.n , says: March 16, 2019 at 7:23 am GMT
@The Anti-Gnostic

People who teach EASL for a living are like people who drive cars for a living: you don't do it because you're really good at teaching your native language, you do it because you're not marketable at anything else.

well that's the beauty of it: you don't have to be good at anything other than just being a native speaker to succeed as an EASL teacher, and thousands more potential customers are born every day. I'd definitely advise any potential expats to become accomplished, and, even better, qualified, in as many trades as possible. But imho the real key to success as a long term expat is your mindset: determination and will-power to survive no matter what. If you really want to break out of the States and see the world, and don't have inherited wealth, you will be forced to rely on your wits and good luck and seize the opportunities that arise, whatever those opportunities may be.

Thedirtysponge , says: March 16, 2019 at 4:01 pm GMT
@The Anti-Gnostic

Sorry man, English teaching is huge, and will remain so for some time to come. I'm heavily involved in the area and know plenty of ESL teachers. Spain for me, and the level of English here is still so dreadful and they all need it, the demand is staggering and their schools suck at teaching it themselves.

You are one of those people who just like to shit on things:) and people make a lot of money out of it, not everyone of course, like any area. But it's perfectly viable and good to go for a long time yet. It's exactly that English is the lingua Franca that people need to be at a high level of it. The Chinese market is still massive. The bag packer esl teachers are the ones that give off this stigma, and 'bag packer' and 'traveller' are by now very much regarded as dirty words in the ESL world.

Mike P , says: March 16, 2019 at 5:52 pm GMT
@Thedirtysponge

ESL teachers. Spain for me

There is a very funny version also with Jack Lemmon in "Irma la Douce", but I can't find that one on youtube.

jeff stryker , says: March 17, 2019 at 7:26 am GMT
@Thedirtysponge S.N. & DIRTY SPONGE

Most Americans lack the initiative to move anywhere. Most will complain but will never leave the street they were born on. Urban whites are used to adaptation being around other cultures anyhow and being somewhat street smart, but the poor rural whites in the exurbs or sticks whose live would really improve if they got the hell out of America will never move anywhere.

You have to really dislike your circumstances in the US to leave and be willing to find some way to get by overseas.

Lots of people will talk about leaving America without having a clue as to how hard this is to actually do. Australia and New Zealand are not crying out for white proles with high school education or GED. It is much more difficult to move overseas and stay overseas than most Americans think.

Except of course for the ruling elite. And that is because five-star hotels look the same everywhere and money is an international language.

We already saw this in South Africa. Mandela took over, the country went down the tubes, the wealthy whites left and the Boers were left to die in refugee camps. They WANT to leave and a few went to Russia, but most developed countries don't want them. Not with the limited amount of money they have.

Australia and NZ would rather have refugees than white people in dire circumstances.

Even immigrating to Canada, a country that I worked in, is much much harder than anyone imagines.

jeff stryker , says: March 17, 2019 at 7:37 am GMT
A LONGTIME EXPAT ON LIVING ABROAD

Americans are mostly ignorant to the fact that they live in a 2nd world country except for blacks and rednecks I have met in the Philippines who were stationed there in the military and have a $1000 a month check. Many of them live in more dangerous and dirty internal third worlds in America than what they can have in Southeast Asia and a good many would be homeless. They are worldly enough to leave.

But most Americans whose lives would be vastly improved overseas think they are living in the greatest country on earth.

[Apr 01, 2019] Retail Layoffs Are 92% Higher In 2019, And Now Even Wal-Mart Is Quietly Closing Stores by Michael Snyder

Notable quotes:
"... "The decision to close our local stores is a difficult one," said Lifeway Chief Executive Officer Brad Waggoner. "While we had hoped to keep some stores open, current market projections show this is no longer a viable option." ..."
"... And yes, Internet retailing has been growing, but it still accounts for less than 10 percent of all U.S. retail sales. In addition, it is important to point out that Internet retailers had a very disappointing holiday season just like brick and mortar retailers did. ..."
"... Ultimately, the truth is that the U.S. economy has been steadily slowing down in recent months. During the months of December, January and February, the amount of stuff being moved around the country by truck, rail and air was lower than during all of those same months a year earlier. The following comes from Wolf Richter ..."
"... Unfortunately, it appears that things are only going to get rougher for the U.S. economy in the months ahead. So more retail workers are going to get laid off, more stores are going to close, and there are going to be a lot more stories about our ongoing "retail apocalypse" in the mainstream media. ..."
Apr 01, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

Just like we witnessed during the last recession, major retailers are laying off tens of thousands of workers, and it looks like this will be the worst year for store closings in all of U.S. history. Many are referring to this as "the retail apocalypse" , and without a doubt this is one of the toughest stretches for retailers that we have ever seen. But many believe that what we have witnessed so far is just the beginning . After all, if retailers are struggling this much now, how bad will things be once the next recession really gets rolling? Of course the truth is that things have been rocky for the retail industry for quite a few years, but the numbers are telling us that this crisis is really starting to accelerate.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, retail layoffs were up a whopping 92 percent in January and February compared to the same period a year ago. The following comes from NBC News

More than 41,000 people have lost their jobs in the retail industry so far this year -- a 92 percent spike in layoffs since the same time last year, according to a new report.

And the layoffs continue to mount, with JCPenney announcing this week it would be closing 18 stores in addition to three previously announced closures, as part of a "standard annual review."

Yes, competition from Internet commerce is hurting the traditional retail industry, but it certainly doesn't explain a 92 percent increase.

And very few retailers have been able to avoid this downsizing trend. At this point, even the largest retailer in the entire country has begun "quietly closing stores"

Walmart is closing at least 11 US stores across eight states.

The stores include one Walmart Supercenter in Lafayette, Louisiana, and Walmart Neighborhood Market stores in Arizona, California, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

For decades, Wal-Mart has been expanding extremely aggressively.

They have plenty of cash, and so the only way that it would make sense for them to close stores is if they anticipated that we are heading into a recession.

Here is a list of the addresses where Wal-Mart stores are closing

Of course Wal-Mart is in far better shape than almost everyone else in the industry.

One of Wal-Mart's key competitors, Shopko, has just announced that they will be shutting down all of their stores

Shopko will liquidate its assets and close all of its remaining locations by mid-June.

The company was unable to find a buyer for the retail business and will begin winding down its operations beginning this week, the company said in statement released Monday. The decision to liquidate will bring an end to the brick-and-mortar business that began in 1962 with one location in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

And personally I was very saddened to learn that Lifeway Christian Bookstores has also decided to close all their brick and mortar stores

Lifeway Christian Bookstores announced last week it would be closing the doors of all 170 brick and mortar stores, in a pivot to focusing on digital and e-commerce.

"The decision to close our local stores is a difficult one," said Lifeway Chief Executive Officer Brad Waggoner. "While we had hoped to keep some stores open, current market projections show this is no longer a viable option."

Whenever I do an article like this, I always have some readers that try to convince me that this is only happening because of the growth of Internet retailing.

And yes, Internet retailing has been growing, but it still accounts for less than 10 percent of all U.S. retail sales. In addition, it is important to point out that Internet retailers had a very disappointing holiday season just like brick and mortar retailers did.

Ultimately, the truth is that the U.S. economy has been steadily slowing down in recent months. During the months of December, January and February, the amount of stuff being moved around the country by truck, rail and air was lower than during all of those same months a year earlier. The following comes from Wolf Richter

Now it's the third month in a row, and the red flag is getting more visible and a little harder to ignore about the goods-based economy: Freight shipment volume in the US across all modes of transportation – truck, rail, air, and barge – in February fell 2.1% from February a year ago, according to the Cass Freight Index , released today. The three months in a row of year-over-year declines are the first such declines since the transportation recession of 2015 and 2016.

I have a feeling that when we get the final numbers for March that they will show that this streak has now extended to four months.

Right now, unsold goods are starting to pile up in U.S. warehouses at a rate that we haven't seen since the last recession. Many retailers that are barely clinging to life will simply not survive if economic conditions continue to deteriorate.

Unfortunately, it appears that things are only going to get rougher for the U.S. economy in the months ahead. So more retail workers are going to get laid off, more stores are going to close, and there are going to be a lot more stories about our ongoing "retail apocalypse" in the mainstream media.

[Mar 18, 2019] Middle Class Once Meant Stability and Now Means Fragility

Notable quotes:
"... Was the American Middle Class a Cold War thing? ..."
"... The British middle class seems to have been mostly people living on investments -- not in the manorial style, but with enough to have a flat, and a servant -- in a style that you might associate with Sherlock Holmes. A middle class that included people with jobs definitely seems post-WWII, and, of course, since the wage stagnation starting in the mid 1970's, it's mostly ended by now. ..."
Mar 18, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Alissa Quart, Executive Editor, Economic Hardship Reporting Project. Cross posted from the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

feel that being middle class is not what it once was and that we are all running in place as fast as we can to stay the same, to quote Alice in Wonderland's Red Queen," Brenda Madison, an art director and graphic designer in Laguna Beach (Orange County), told me. "Never did I think I would worry that Social Security and Medicare may not be available in my future or that a medical injury or unexpected repair would bankrupt us."

She and her husband, now in their middle years, "are not sure we will be able to retire in our home."

Patricia Moore is a single mother of three who lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles and a licensed vocational nurse working in hospice about to take the licensing exam to be a registered nurse. Due to a shortage of space, she sleeps on the couch and is "still struggling to make ends meet." Her rent is $1,598 a month, her pay is about $3,200, and her student loan payback is $375 a month. Moore recently has had to resort to a GoFundMe campaign so she could stay home with her daughter during a monthlong health crisis, and has at times had to donate plasma. She said she is unable to provide "the extras for her kids."

Moore began to enter her youngest son in focus groups in office buildings or hotels in neighborhoods like Beverly Hills. Sometimes he would make $75 an hour and the whole family would eat from buffets, the kind with cantaloupe, and maybe they'd also get a gift card. At first, he tested toys and then video games but also an MRI to map his brain. It was only because of these gigs that Moore could finally say, "Go buy yourself something," to her children.

The extreme cost of living has forced some California families to take unusual steps like this. As the Department of Housing and Urban Development recently reported, a family of four in the San Francisco metropolitan area making $117,400 a year qualifies as "low income."

These were Americans for whom the meaning of middle-class life had altered from something stable to implied economic fragility.

Their burdens were the price of health and child care, educational debt or a housing market gone berserk. They wanted job security, pensions and Social Security and unions, but these things seemed like a fantasy out of a mid-century American novel like "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit." The middle class' long historical association with the status quo -- strongly identifying with institutions or corporations, rejecting restive discontent -- has made their new wobbliness all the more startling to them.

But when did that vulnerability start? Toward the end of the past century into this one, there was a rise in what author Barbara Ehrenreich has called a "fear of falling," an anxiety among the professional-managerial class about downward mobility. I think of fear of falling as the opposite side of the coin of American individualism and its historic promise of social and economic progress.

Since the 1980s, some members of the middle class have gone "from a kind of security to being reduced to the kind of economic unstable state that working-class Americans have had to experience forever," explained Caitlin Zaloom, an anthropologist at New York University who studies the middle-class financial experience. The office or academic job started to resemble the precarious work life that working poor Americans have long understood to be their lot, she said. And then there are the robots waiting in the wings to take their ostensible share of middle-class jobs, and soon.

This new fragility is one theory to explain the 2016 election of Donald Trump. Trump voters were sometimes mistaken for all hillbilly elegiac or Rust Belt proletariat. In truth, an estimated 38 percent of white people with bachelor degrees voted for the man -- closer to "office worker elegy." Indeed, as much as Trump's messaging has been jingoistic or racist, he has also been addressing middle-class anxiety when he continually repeated that the system is "rigged."

While some have protested that Trump's success has more to do with loss of status or rank bigotry, Johns Hopkins University sociologist Stephen L. Morgan has conducted studies that reveal one substantial motivator of the Trump vote was economic. He noted that a successful national Democratic candidate would be one who appealed "to people who have not fared well in the postindustrial economy," such as those in some once-prosperous areas of the Midwest.

Ordinary middle-class people's struggles can be, of course, ameliorated by broad shifts, such as adopting a form of universal basic income or a flat monthly cash stipend for familial caregivers of their young or elderly kin. And we should at least explore adopting Medicare for all, to address rising health care costs. We also need to more effectively push for longer paid parental leave -- or, in many cases, any paid parental leave.

But if we can't get relief from federal programs or our employers, we will need to craft local or state solutions. Retaining rent stabilization laws is key in our cities, as is building more affordable housing for, say, teachers and municipal workers, so they can continue to live in the places they serve.

Finally, I saw when reporting my book that, when squeezed, people revealed their financial woes to others, they tended to then recognize that their obstacles were partially systemic. That, in turn, meant they didn't simply internalize their real-world burdens into self-punishment. They seemed more able to patch together personal solutions -- small-scale child care fixes like sharing pickup with their neighbors, for instance.

Simply voicing hopes and difficulties, and making them audible for their leaders to name and address, is a small part of what must happen for things to change. Although for some, these needed transformations may seem to be coming too late.

As Madison put it, "We are trying not to think too much about the future."

This article was supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and was first published by the San Francisco Chronicle .

ambrit , March 18, 2019 at 3:23 am

My ground level observations indicate that there is a lot of "denial" going on in the minds of the putative 'middle class.'

One major barrier to the public 'conversations' about the economic malaise affecting America today is the still prevalent custom of shaming the victims of bad luck. I see this tying all the way back to the Calvinist theological concept of "Election," which is an aspect of "Predestination." In effect, one suffers in life because the Deity chooses to make it so. Thus, those who do well in life can "legitimately" look down on those who suffer. It is a perfect excuse for callousness of heart.

We read Weber's "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism" in class in my High School. Written around 1900, it still has merit as a descriptive and predictive tome.

Die wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Protestant_Ethic_and_the_Spirit_of_Capitalism

Old ideas die hard.

marieann , March 18, 2019 at 9:44 am

"The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate."

Just so we know our place and stay there

Sanxi , March 18, 2019 at 12:24 pm

"Capitalism is a that system which has become that which the living are converted to the the living dead."

jrs , March 18, 2019 at 12:53 pm

Some of what is perceived as shaming, may just be understood as trying to understand how those with good professions etc. end up that way (and no I don't judge those without "good professions" – I don't think we choose our fate to any real degree see. It's just takes more to understand why is all). Now from the inside some good professions are not really, or have become so niche that that is the story but

Acacia , March 18, 2019 at 5:11 am

Mod: looks like some issue in the first paragraph

Amfortas the hippie , March 18, 2019 at 6:31 am

This:"Finally, I saw when reporting my book that, when squeezed, people revealed their financial woes to others, they tended to then recognize that their obstacles were partially systemic. That, in turn, meant they didn't simply internalize their real-world burdens into self-punishment. They seemed more able to patch together personal solutions -- small-scale child care fixes like sharing pickup with their neighbors, for instance."

commiseration is new, in my experience. not too long ago, one didn't speak about economic difficulties in polite company at least in the middle class(poor people, oth, sometimes do) that they're finding such behaviour is worrying, as it means the precariousness is spreading which causes cognitive dissonance, since it's counterintuitive according the the Narrative we're all supposed to cling to.
to wit, in my recent exposure to network tv in hotels and dr's offices, i note that -- like in the Matrix–a grand illusion of the late 90's is laid across the world.

I hear locally upper middle class soccer moms having lunch, and it's oneupmanship all around everything's fine, and we went to the most wonderful resort, in our new suv, and our son married a doctor and they honeymooned as missionaries (!) but it's all nonsense, and everyone knows it.(the quick flash of panic in their eyes, "will the card work?")

That was the norm not so long ago all the way down to the dregs of the former middle class. i see the rending of that pretension the misty veil of utopian just-worldism as what's at the root of so many of these dislocations an eruptions of late.

"Believe Real Hard" just doesn't cut it any more, and those soccer moms don't know how to think about it. Per Ambrit's reference to Calvinism, at some point reality intrudes and one must climb down from the pillar.

jefemt , March 18, 2019 at 9:03 am

Becoming They and The Other. It can't happen to me -- I am a Exceptional! ™ (and white). Could Compassion be on the horizon– on the wax as more and more realize they are in the global Lemming-fall rat-race to the bottom ?

kareninca , March 18, 2019 at 8:48 pm

They're not attending/joining churches because that costs money and they don't have the money. Once there are more "churches" that only cost what people can afford, more people will attend. Just a prediction.

sanxi , March 18, 2019 at 12:30 pm

Sadly first the great suffering must turn into the great awareness that it's not your fault than love oneself and compassion for all else

jrs , March 18, 2019 at 12:58 pm

it's not all illusions, a part of the population is doing pretty well, they take vacations and crap (who even has ANY paid time off anymore anyway? not me. even STAYCATIONS are off the table! Heck getting a cold is pretty much off the table ..). But others

But yea the Big Lie Narrative of these times is that the economy is doing well, Trump's economic performance will get him reelected (this economy is total garbage, so F trump and the horse he rode in on), unemployment is low and other BS.

The Rev Kev , March 18, 2019 at 6:32 am

Lots of sad reading here. But seriously – $117,400 a year qualifies as "low income."? I know that it is true but at the same time that is so stupid on the face of it. I do have to admit here to a weakness for nostalgia – especially for places that I have never experienced but have read about. Sometimes out of idle curiosity I might flick through a few videos like that on America in earlier times and you can see one such clip at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECFH3Pe21oQ or at this one at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOr1fIIHQFk

Having said this, I sometimes wonder what would have happened if neoliberalism had spluttered out during the 1970s as a nonstarter of an idea and instead a different timeline had formed. In this one, instead of wages flate-lining back in the 70s, they had kept apace with GDP like they had the previous thirty years. People, more secure in their wages, would never have embarked on the credit boom like they did when wages dropped. In this timeline too the rich are still taxed at 70% which mopped up all the surplus that would otherwise have instead gone on to founding think tanks and money in politics. With an affluent population, there was never was a need to import so much from China and the unions were still strong enough to stop industries being shipped off to there. It would have been a completely different America.

But that is another timeline and we are instead in one where people will soon be in a position where they have nothing else to lose. And that is a very dangerous proposition that. And they still have potentially a very powerful weapon – their numbers. And their votes.

russell1200 , March 18, 2019 at 9:00 am

The 70s were going to be a very tough decade: The loss of our huge post-WW2 advantages in manufacturing, oil shocks, a very expensive war to pay for, and Watergate probably fits in their somewhere.

I am not sure what we did in the 70s and after was exactly neoliberalism, but any restraint shown in the face of the new realities (Carter and his sweaters, Bush breaking his tax pledge) were massively unpopular, and I think that was going to be the case in general – regardless of what path we went down.

The very idea that neo-liberalism was the cause (as opposed to an interaction with) of the root problems I think is indicative of over optimism about our situation. Contrary, I do think it is very reasonable to say that neo-liberalism made the problems worse.

The distinction is important, you can reject our current situation and policies, and still not be particularly convinced that the opposing voices are being more realistic.

Carla , March 18, 2019 at 9:44 am

After reading "Democracy in Chains" by Nancy MacLean, I'm leaning toward neoliberalism as a cause. It kicked into high gear with Reagan's election in 1980, and Bill Clinton made sure there was no stopping it.

In reference to this from the original post: "In truth, an estimated 38 percent of white people with bachelor degrees voted for [Trump]," I have to say, I think you call those people Republicans, and don't kid yourself. They will do it again.

Sanxi , March 18, 2019 at 12:43 pm

Carla, thank you, exactly so. The technique of it all was quite insidious, as it was an appeal disguised and self righteous to greed to a two groups: baby boomers and their parents sociology primed for such pitches. Once that genie got out of the bottle there was no getting it back in.

polecat , March 18, 2019 at 1:12 pm

So, will the millenials kill-off the Genie for good .. or will they, in their turn, rub that lamp all the more, to parlay their 3 wishes towards other equally speciously sparklely endeavors ??

super extra , March 18, 2019 at 3:31 pm

we can't 'rub the lantern'; when those in power in 1981 set off down the neoliberal road, the conditions of their wish were fulfilled by debt-enslavement of everyone who came after them to support enriching those who clawed their way to the top.

the only millennial oligarch is Zuckerberg and I don't think anyone believes he is going to maintain his power even half as long as, say, Bill Gates. the only millenials who believe in neoliberalism are paid shills for the elite like Ben Shapiro or Charlie Kirk and by the same Zuckerberg:Gates ratio, they have less than half as much power as a Rush Limbaugh.

Neoliberalism is dead, we're in the gramscian interregnum, at this point I just hope and plead with the infinite that we get Bernie in 2020 instead of Cotton/Creshaw primarying Trump or something awful like that because the familyblogging Democrats refuse to pass the torch in favor of one more term of grift.

russell1200 , March 18, 2019 at 1:32 pm

Rev Kev, who I was responding to, correctly noted that the 1970s were when wages began to drop. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton of course come later. This doesn't mean that their policies were not problematic, but it does make it difficult to blame them as the causal agents of something that started in the 1970s.

If you want to blame Johnson/Nixon and their Vietnam War policies, that would make some sense, but they don't seem to me to be poster children for Neoliberalism with one being associated with the Great Society and the other the author of price controls to suppress inflation.

witters , March 18, 2019 at 6:48 pm

When things get a bit tough (and note that in the 70's for all the hype they were not in fact that tough – until govt policy of a NL kind stepped in) – then you have policy choices. If you go NL, then that is a choice, and causally so. (It was usual to hide this causality in TINA.)

scott 2 , March 18, 2019 at 9:15 am

Financialization of the housing market creates obscene rents, leading to less household formation, then the need to "do something" about population decline. Japan is 20 years ahead of us in that regard,

Dan , March 18, 2019 at 10:06 am

$117,400 a year qualifies as "low income"?

Indeed it does here in the SF Bay Area. The surprise of it all is part of the denial – the wife and I look at our family income (usually 10-20% less than that) and are straight up perplexed that it doesn't go as far as it "should". We certainly have a pleasant enough middle-class life, but it feels precarious in a way that we never expected. And we only have that because we have subsidized housing (we live in a house the family has owned for years, so are paying well below the insane market rates). If we had to pay market rates we would be poor, or close to it.

We certainly rant to one another about the systemic issues behind this situation, but there are a lot of California liberals who bitterly cling to questionable ideas like a balanced budget or Kamala Harris.

I've been wondering when I'll hear a candidate advocating lower home and rent prices – where I live we absolutely need that if we're to keep a semblance of civilization and democracy.

ambrit , March 18, 2019 at 11:53 am

You have hit on a major 'disrupter' of the body social. "Civilization and democracy" are being willfully sacrificed to the Gods of Profit. That betrayal is a core part of neo-liberalism.

Carla , March 18, 2019 at 5:27 pm

Re; lower home and rent prices. For the last 40 years, as the prosperous Great Lakes region became the rust belt, we who live here have been constantly told: if you want a job, just MOVE to where the jobs are.

Now are we allowed to say to the mortgage-or-rent-impoverished middle class folks who live on the coasts, "If you want lower house and rent prices, just move to where the lower priced houses and apartments are" ? We got plenty of room for y'all here, honest. And we're mostly midwest-nice, too.

Altandmain , March 18, 2019 at 5:34 pm

Unfortunately a candidate advocating for lower prices of housing will likely be defeated by thr NIMBY types.

JBird4049 , March 18, 2019 at 12:04 pm

But seriously – $117,400 a year qualifies as "low income."?

If you are very lucky, and I mean lucky , you might find an old junior one bedroom apartment for the low, low price of $1,500 a month. No patio, no dishwasher, no nothing except a parking spot. This is not exaggeration, sarcasm or humor, but reality. In some places in California it's closer to three thousand dollars.

Most of us Californians do not make even fifty thousand and, if we do, we have to live closer to the cities where the well paying jobs are. I keep waiting for the housing bust to arrive for last time the rents dropped as much as thirty percent. Hopefully, I will still be in my apartment, or at least in an apartment when that happens.

rd , March 18, 2019 at 1:49 pm

Another factor is cities not allowing for higher density housing. If somebody has a brownstone or something similar, they will fight tooth and nail against that 6 story apartment building that would allow a lot more people to live in the neighborhood. Under-investment in rapid mass transit also hurts workers commuting to jobs and forces far more cars on the roads and parking spaces.

Ed , March 18, 2019 at 7:36 am

Was the American Middle Class a Cold War thing?

pretzelattack , March 18, 2019 at 8:10 am

it was certainly precarious in the great depression, seems to thrive in boom periods. the white middle class, and some of the black middle class did well in the 50's and early 60's. that was when the us was economically at the pinnacle of the world, and i think that was because most of the other first world economies were rebuilding from the rubble of ww2.

Wukchumni , March 18, 2019 at 8:30 am

The only item I can think of that was an import from the Soviet Union and on retail shelves for sale here during the Cold War, was Stolichnaya vodka, and as far as the Peoples Republic of China goes, fireworks.

If I didn't finish the food on my plate, my parents would admonish me with tales of people starving to death in China, and indeed they were.

ambrit , March 18, 2019 at 11:16 am

For me as a child, the starvation place was Africa. I wonder about the psychological motivations that made our parents ignore the suffering right nearby in our own neighborhoods and focus instead on some far away place.

Today, that starvation is all around us. I personally feel guilty now that we cannot give very much to beggars and homeless etc. due to our own straitened circumstances. The myth of "The Exceptional Ones" (TM) is still a strong part of the social narrative today.

polecat , March 18, 2019 at 1:34 pm

I try to do my infinitesmal part, ambrit .. by taking any surplus from the garden, when there IS a surplus that is .. and donate it to the local foodbank. Last year it was 5 full lugs of grapes fresh off the vine, a few yrs before that it was an over abundance of beets. This season it might be potatoes THATs My lifestyle !

All on less than a $35,000 yr combined income. But that means no trips to Cancun, no new Car every couple of years, no DeathCare expenditures, and no mortgage.

I feel humbled every time I make a delivery, especially when I see families in obvious distress w/ young children .. looking for sustenance that they cannot otherwise afford to buy .. it breaks my heart.

ambrit , March 18, 2019 at 4:23 pm

Yes to that. We got a bumper crop of 'volunteer' Muscadines last year. They made good jelly. I should build a trellis or wire support network for the vines this year. With this weather, we should get another good crop.
Living the 'prepper' life has it's compensations.

polecat , March 18, 2019 at 6:31 pm

Our's were primarily muscat as well, what we donated. I ended up canning the rest, turning them into muscat conserves half of which we've already given away to friends and aquaintances. The other grapes, the Mars variety, became raisins, for home consumption.

Everyone should learn how to can .. cuz you never know when just-in-time .. just STOPS !

John Wright , March 18, 2019 at 11:06 am

re: American Middle Class Cold War thing?

Possibly this was a major influence. When the USA had identified large foreign enemies that must be countered (Russia and China) there was an impetus to build in America and keep the USA population engaged with the Russian and "Red" Chinese threat.

The USA was also an oil exporter until 1971, which allowed some control of oil prices.

Globalization was not prominent and I remember the poor quality Japanese tools of the 1960's (and Chinese manufactured stuff rarely seen by me (firecrackers?))

Furthermore we had two large countries that economically were not as advanced as the USA and were not viewed as particularly successful with their flawed Communist systems.

Effectively, China and Russia were playing the game with one hand tied behind their back.

This may also have allowed USA unions to be strong, increasing wages for union and non-union workers.

Perhaps the USA is currently making some other countries focus inwardly on their countries as the USA did in the 1950's and 1960's.

By forcing sanctions on various countries (Iran, Russia, Venezuela) the USA may make them less dependent on global resources and more like the more self sufficient USA of the 50's and 60's.

Mel , March 18, 2019 at 11:23 am

Very, very possibly. Thanks to Project Gutenberg, I'm reading a lot of fin de siècle novels and literature, e.g. Booth Tarkington.

The British middle class seems to have been mostly people living on investments -- not in the manorial style, but with enough to have a flat, and a servant -- in a style that you might associate with Sherlock Holmes. A middle class that included people with jobs definitely seems post-WWII, and, of course, since the wage stagnation starting in the mid 1970's, it's mostly ended by now.

Harold , March 18, 2019 at 1:53 pm

Middle class always had servants because cost of labor was low. Middle class households sometimes had boarders & often elderly or unmarried relatives.

MisterMr , March 18, 2019 at 9:00 am

"While some have protested that Trump's success has more to do with loss of status or rank bigotry, Johns Hopkins University sociologist Stephen L. Morgan has conducted studies that reveal one substantial motivator of the Trump vote was economic. He noted that a successful national Democratic candidate would be one who appealed "to people who have not fared well in the postindustrial economy," such as those in some once-prosperous areas of the Midwest."

But this is circular reasoning, why would people in the "middle class" think that Trump's policies are better for them than Clinton's policies?

It's not like Trump is a sort of middle class guy himself, in facts H. Clinton is probably more "middle classey" than Trump.

Plus, what does the term "middle class" mean specifically? How are these people different from "working class" or small bourgoise?

Wukchumni , March 18, 2019 at 9:08 am

Middle class to me growing up, meant that the school custodian across the street and 3 doors down from us, could afford to buy a home, or you played little league with the son of a gas station owner, who made enough from his 2 service bays always full (cars weren't nearly as reliable in the 60's) to also own a home.

MisterMr , March 18, 2019 at 1:10 pm

Thanks for the answer.

My doubt about the middle class is this: it is a term that various schools/sociologists/economists used to mean very different things, so when someone speaks of the middle class it's difficult for me to understand what he/she is speaking about.

For example:

1) In marxism it generally means the small bourgoise, meaning the small shopkeeper, the farmer who owns his land etc;

2) at times, it just means people of the working class who have good jobs, that is different from the definition (1). The disappearence of the middle class just means the disappearence of good jobs;

3) sometimes (wrongly IMHO) "workers" are supposed to be only blue collar and only without high education, so "middle class" means people who have a degree and are white collars;

etc.

At times these categories can somehow mix but the class interest of someone who is a small business owner is different from the class interest of someone who has a good employee job which might be different from the interest of someone who could have a degree and a sucky white collar job.

So this very general idea of middle class is very confusing IMHO.

Carla , March 18, 2019 at 5:40 pm

@MisterMr -- I think that because EVERYTHING in the good ole US of A is about money, the understanding of a term like "middle class" becomes just about money, too.

When I was young (yes, a long time ago), I was given to understand that "middle class" meant basically people with white collar jobs or jobs that required some professional accreditation: teachers, nurses, lawyers, accountants, etc. "Working class" meant people with blue-collar jobs, even if some of them regularly made more money than a teacher or, say, a nurse. "Upper class" included high-earning professionals, CEO's, and of course those with inherited wealth. Poor, then as now, was the one thing you definitely didn't want to be.

But, as I said, money has obliterated all those fine distinctions of snobbery. Now there is only one: $.

JBird4049 , March 18, 2019 at 7:34 pm

The label of "Middle Class" in America can be used as either for the social class or for the economic class with the white collar workers generally being both and the blue collar workers being, before the 1950s, working class with working class wages. For about two decades the high and low ends of the income range collapsed with most people being squeezed into the economic middle class regardless of social class.

Now, income disparity has destroyed the economic middle class and the classic pyramid shaped map of the social and economic system reappearing. The tiny wealthy elites; the slightly larger service and professional class providing what the elites want; the small number of bureaucrats, lawyers, doctors, mechanics, religious workers and so that any large societies need just to function at all; the greatest numbers are the laboring class, and I don't mean the working class.

The mental map of most Americans is stuck on the almost flat pyramid of 1970 in which all classes were getting wealthier collapsing together economically, with the exception of the wealthy not gaining wealth at the same rate as the bottom 99%. Even the poorest blacks finally started to improve economically.

That picture is buried somewhere deeeep in our collective heads where the only real differences was what type of job you were going to have and where mistakes, failure, and disaster did not mean poverty. At worst, it meant a change of work or a temporary set back or a change of social class but not economic class.

Find that image in your head, yank it out, put a stake in its heart, burn it, and scatter the ashes. That picture died around 1973. Whatever the truth of that image it is long dead.

But too many people are trying to pretend that we are not living in a zero sum game of winner take all.

John Wright , March 18, 2019 at 11:17 am

Trump had the advantage that he was not tagged, directly or indirectly, with Bill Clinton's NAFTA, welfare reform or supporting "Free trade" that seemed to only work well in economists' minds (TPP).

Clinton also supported the Iraq War, Libya and other military adventures, and Trump couldn't vote for/against these operations that directly affected their communities.

Campaigning Trump called these wars "mistakes" while Hillary C would not.

Someone summed the election as "With Hillary you know you are screwed, with Trump you might not be."

MisterMr , March 18, 2019 at 1:12 pm

Thanks, however it is a fact that a situation of bad economy and increasing inequality, that ideally is supposed to be the main reason to vote left, is causing an upsurge in right-leaning populism instead.

And not only in the USA.

john Wright , March 18, 2019 at 3:02 pm

One could argue that the USA reluctantly moved left in the Great Depression while Nazi Germany and Italy moved right.

In the USA, recently the left has been cast as weak and ineffectual.

The left doesn't "bring home the bacon" in the minds of many.

Bernie is popular, but the knives are out from the establishment pols (of both parties) to do him in.

In the USA, moving to the populist right, to me, seems quite understandable.

jrs , March 18, 2019 at 3:46 pm

there is no populist right that brings home the bacon in the U.S. either as far as I can see. Theoretically there could be, but theoretically a lot of things, including much more plausibly and likely the rise of a left that brings home the bacon. IOW the trains don't even run on time now.

jrs , March 18, 2019 at 1:05 pm

Trump's economy is scarcely better than Obama's (depends on which year though, in the worst of the Great Recession only then was it worse). So if it's really about the economy: then Trump will lose the next election.

MisterMr , March 18, 2019 at 1:14 pm

IMHO it IS about the economy, but not in the direct sense we mean: if the economy goes on as it is, Trump will be able to spin it as good, whereas a democrat would be toast.

But I expect a recession to hit earlier, in which case I think Trump will not be re-elected.

Norb , March 18, 2019 at 9:28 am

Whenever I read articles illustrating the dawning awareness of the middling classes to their extreme precarious social status, I can't help but marvel at the audacity of elites jumping to the front of the protest line proclaiming their desire to "lead" the distraught masses. Even more so, those same distraught workers giving their oppressors the opportunity to do so. That is the definition of a dysfunctional society- rewarding failure. The elites might think themselves clever, and exceptional, for dreaming up such scams, but that dynamic alone goes a long way to explaining the rapid decline of America's prominence in the world.

America is consumed by a cynical rot that has firmly entered into the body politic. There is no easy way to excise this cancer, but the answer must lie in some form of national mission. The current American leadership have chosen a militaristic vision of conquest for the nation masked with a marketing program of bringing democracy to the world. This contradictory scam will not work, and there is ample evidence showing just how destructive and impotent this strategy truly is. The rest of the world is moving on, and if Americans don't wise up to the the destructive nature of their system, they will be left behind.

Corporations must be in the service of the nation, not the other way around. Corporations must be allowed to die and change, the nation, and its people must prevail over time. It is an obscene contradiction that the American system is reversing this dynamic. The people are allowed to die, while the corporations, and those that control them are allowed to persist.

As a working class American, my only desire at this point is for an American elite leadership that has a vision larger and broader than worshiping a bank account. If American workers don't demand a better leadership, history will show them to be worse than peasants, they will be proven to be willful consumerist dupes.

America is in an identity crisis- a cultural crisis. That does not bode well for the nation and makes it ill equipped to deal with other nations and the world's problems- let alone our own.

Summer , March 18, 2019 at 10:16 am

"The current American leadership have chosen a militaristic vision of conquest for the nation masked with a marketing program of bringing democracy to the world."

That train officially left the station around 1898.

Oso , March 18, 2019 at 1:27 pm

agree although the date closer to 1620 when the militaristic conquest of nations began.

Summer , March 18, 2019 at 2:25 pm

"masked with a marketing program of bringing democracy to the world."

For the USA, those thoughts didn't get put into action until post Civil War

Rod , March 18, 2019 at 11:41 am

"There is no easy way to excise this cancer, but the answer must lie in some form of national mission."

here lies the way to better angels and there is no shortage of things that must be done

diptherio , March 18, 2019 at 1:36 pm

As someone on social.coop said the other day, "they're not 'elites,' they are 'the predatory class'."

Joe Well , March 18, 2019 at 10:31 am

Thank you for posting this.

1. The author doesn't really explore how rent extraction through housing is the single biggest destroyer of American household wealth, with housing costs outpacing wages almost everywhere.

2. "Explore" Medicare for all? Build "affordable" housing, but only for certain deserving individuals like teachers?

It's disappointing that the author chooses to end this with such centrist Dem proposals.

There needs to be a right to housing, which means a right to build housing: abolish any zoning that excludes dense residential development. Seize land by eminent domain if necessary.

Jerry B , March 18, 2019 at 1:55 pm

===There needs to be a right to housing, which means a right to build housing: abolish any zoning that excludes dense residential development. Seize land by eminent domain if necessary===

Thanks Joe. While I am not an expert in housing, the lack of affordable housing seems to be tied to:

1. As you say zoning laws that exclude dense residential development.
2. Land Use regulations which are probably tied to #1 above.
3. The high costs incurred by residential developers in navigating the byzantine and bureaucratic maze of permits and regulations at the federal, state, and local levels.
4. The speculative nature of the housing market i.e. IMO the housing bubble is driven by monetary policies and the actions of "behind the scenes" lever pullers. If housing is treated as a commodity by the finance sector then the machinations of Wall Street can impact housing prices as they did in the 2008 crash.
5. To my point above, in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago there is a lot of empty office space and light industrial space. So excess supply would tell you that the prices for these properties should go down. Not the case. They are still expensive. If a homeowner is trying to sell their house they will lower the price until it is sold or not sell it. But the same rules do not apply to businesses.

To #5 above, again if we "believe" what we are told in Econ 101 about free markets and supply and demand then an excess supply should result in a downward price drop until the excess supply is cleared. God help me! I just typed the previous sentence from memory as if verbatim from my Econ 101 class 30 years ago!! #head on desk! So if office and industrial prices are not dropping then someone has to be holding the "bank notes" as is not concerned about if or when they sell.

Basically in short it seems zoning issues and cost issues are the big obstacles in dense residential development. I am not an advocate of relaxing regulations which could result in shoddy and unsafe construction but maybe there is a middle ground. Something needs to be done.

polecat , March 18, 2019 at 3:16 pm

It's not just dense housing, it ALL housing .. in terms of livability (environs with nature as an active component), and Affordable design/construction with energy efficiency in mind .. on a large enough scale to benefit the public ! There is, for all practical purposes none of that to be had. As it currently stands, you have to be richer than God to do ANYTHING other than the unimaginative and wasteful development that has been built up to this point.
So instead of "Where's My flying car??" .. the question might now more accurately be "Where's My passive solar, earthen-berm, strawbale, rammed-earth, or cob house/apartment???"

super extra , March 18, 2019 at 3:45 pm

4. The speculative nature of the housing market

to expand and maybe add onto this, AirBnb/vacation rentals + rental 'business as income' (at institutional eg Berkshire Hathaway and the associated securitized offerings as well as individuals and small biz creating the 'income stream' via LLC pass through) is a major driver affecting the speculation. What happened to all the foreclosures from a decade ago? They were turned into rentals, they still exist.

I am all for an affordable housing mandate, but not in an Obamacare fashion by building tons more housing at crappy inflated prices with some means-tested voucher all so the rentiers can keep their profits. Destroy the rentiers and make housing right, make it a policy that is enforced with regulations and limits on numbers of rental units.

Jerry B , March 18, 2019 at 6:49 pm

Thanks Super.

==AirBnb/vacation rentals + rental 'business as income' (at institutional eg Berkshire Hathaway and the associated securitized offerings as well as individuals and small biz creating the 'income stream' via LLC pass through) is a major driver affecting the speculation===

To your point there was a recent article on NC that discussed your comment above.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/08/wolf-richter-comes-second-wave-big-money-buy-rent-scheme.html

Across the street from the townhouse subdivision where my wife and I live is a subdivision of $275K – $350K houses. One of the more expensive houses was sold a year ago to a company that uses it for a rental.

I talked to the previous owner frequently while walking our dog, and he sold the house after it had been on the market for only about a month. As far as the previous owner was concerned the house sold for close to his asking price so he was happy. He had no concern about selling the house to a company that was going to use it for a rental. The previous owner had been living in that house in that neighborhood for 25 years and seemed to know most everybody in his subdivision. He and his wife raised their two sons in that house and also put a lot of time and effort into the landscaping around the house.

The rental company that bought the house does the absolute minimal landscaping of the house and barely mows the lawn on a semi regular basis. The company clearly does not have any regard for the "appearance" of the house or the neighborhood. Which is a shame because the other houses near it are well maintained which, due to the lack of landscape maintenance, makes the "rental company" house an eyesore as far as grass, weeds, etc. are concerned.

I do not begrudge the previous owner for selling to the rental company. His asking price was met so he was happy. And in the last few years, other houses in that subdivision have taken 1-2 years to sell. What I have an issue with is these vulture rental companies acting as mercenaries and treating houses and the neighborhood as so much fodder on a balance sheet.

One could also make the argument that without the rental company sticking it's nose where it does not belong, the (ahem, cough, cough) free market would have been allowed to work somewhat. By that I mean if this particular house had also taken a long time to sell like the others in that neighborhood, and had subsequent price reductions in order to sell it, then maybe the average housing price in that neighborhood/town/suburb would have gone down helping affordability.

justsayknow , March 18, 2019 at 11:03 am

From the Business Insider published today:

"In fact, the typical CEO made a whopping 312 times their median employees' salary in 2017, according to the Economic Policy Institute."

Note that is vs median salary not lowest paid.

The self serving disconnect between the management class and labor class is truly amazing.

Work is not valued. And the contribution to productivity is extracted and given to ownership. It's not income inequality we should emphasize but simple fairness. Let's call it Income Fairness.

anon y'mouse , March 18, 2019 at 11:35 am

"fairness" is too vague and insubstantial a concept around which to base any kind of rights, much less what some should get or we should do as a society.

we once thought it was "fair" as a society to enslave people. after we stopped that (and not because it wasn't "fair", but as a political move), we thought it was "fair" to continue to deny them many of their rights because they weren't "white".

huge numbers of us still think it is fair that people die from various issues caused by their "unwillingness to work" or "unwillingness to work smarter". how many times do people say "if you don't get more education, you can just shut up about earning enough to live on. working at McDonald's, you are slacking and therefore can not demand anything. go to school, fool!" people argue all of the time that a "living wage" is not fair, because a person who does low-value jobs isn't making enough money for their employer to justify the wage (basically, profit produced by that employee would either be nil or zero). and that is perfectly "fair" to these arguers.

fair is the idea that some deserve more and some less, due to something being "earned" by someone. it is a nice idea to teach children. real world morality is much more complicated than that, and a society of justice and laws and policies and bureaucracies can not be based around that. waaay too nebulous, and open to interpretation. everyone -knows what "fair" is- when they see it, because everyone's definition of "fairness" is different. as some kind of lofty ideal, it is fine. in practice, it is meaningless.

Robin Kash , March 18, 2019 at 11:57 am

Is this simply a Rip van Winkle account of the middle-class situation that has been well-reported and vigorously commented upon for some time? What am I missing?

ambrit , March 18, 2019 at 12:32 pm

The shift came when ol' Rip realized that the rumbling sound he heard was not the sound of the ghostly sailors bowling but the sound of distant cannon fire.

Another Amateur Economist , March 18, 2019 at 2:04 pm

The middle class stands upon the floor provided by the working class. And that floor is failing, as the human capital of society is gradually, but with increasing rapidity, plundered, from the bottom up.

The poor used to have more than they do now, and be less dependent on government redistributions of income.

Even the middle class owns less productive capital, as the small business owners who used to populate the main streets of American towns have been driven out of business by the Walmarts. Those businessmen were the social elites of their communities, giving those communities leadership, shape, structure and dimension.

Owning less productive capital, their communities pretty much hollowed out, the middle class have lost much of their self sufficiency, and have become increasingly dependent on the whims of distant oligarchs. First the Walmarts. Now the Amazons. And there will be even fewer resources available to support the necessary services local communities provide.

The middle class are right to be afraid. The distant oligarchs and their bankers will only allow so much debt before they pull out the rug.

Too bad no one paid attention what was happening to the working poor. Long ago, the 1% used to command 7% of the nation's income. Now they command 21%. That 14% had to come from someone.

rd , March 18, 2019 at 2:22 pm

With almost 40 years of work under my belt, I have been passing along some advice to my kids to help them navigate the current "middle class conundrums":

1. Owning a home is unlikely to make you wealthy. With just a few major city core exceptions, don't expect it to go up by more than inflation over the decades. So buy or rent just what you need and do real analysis of what you need and why.

2. Only live in a big expensive city if you need to for your chosen career. The smaller cities have a lot of opportunity for people with good work habits, even in the "Rust Belt" and the living costs are far lower.

3. College degrees are useful. Getting them with large debt loads is a bad idea though. Don't take on more student debt than about 2/3 of your expected starting salary for a four year degree and take on little or not debt for a 2-year degree.

4. Going to a name-brand school is worthwhile if you don't have to rack up significant extra debt. Otherwise, pick college and university by major and cost. Your internal traits make a far bigger difference than the school you went to.

5. Only go to graduate school if your desired career path requires it. Otherwise, you are losing years of earning power while incurring costs and debt. If you want a grad degree just for the joy of it, do it as night school as a hobby.

6. Start a Roth IRA with monthly contributions early, even if it is only $50/month. It builds habits and over the years will likely ensure you are in the top 25% in assets.

7. We are in a golden age of investing right now compared to 30 years ago. You can have worldwide, multi-asset class diversified investments at an annual expense ratio of 0.25% which was unheard of at the beginning of my career. So inexpensive Target Date funds or similar vehicles from companies like Vanguard mean you can do fire-and-forget investing while you focus on the rest of your life.

8. Don't assume the full value of a company or state pension will be there when you retire. These are rife with deliberate and accidental mismanagement and partial defaults are likely with many of them. Instead save so that you are not reliant on them for a basic acceptable standard of living.

8. You don't need financial advisors for investing, just to help you with personal finance instead. But that is not what they are usually selling, so 99% of the purported financial advisors are to be avoided as they are hazardous to your finances.

10. Try to get a positive cash flow in your life as early as possible to dramatically reduce stress. That is difficult if you have kids, large student loans, or large mortgage/rent costs, so those are the big decisions you need to make on life-finance balance.

Regarding Social Security, it is currently structured to provide 75% to 80% of its current benefits starting in 2034. That is still a significant safety net, but would require Congress to act to get it back to around 100%.

Medicare is just part and parcel of the US healthcare cost issues. If the US can get down to less than 14% of GDP in healthcare expenditures while providing universal coverage, then the Medicare/Medicaid funding issue effectively goes away. This is not impossible as the US is the only developed country that is above 14%.

rc , March 18, 2019 at 4:01 pm

Elizabeth Warren had a good speech at UC-Berkeley. She focused on the middle class family balance sheet and risk shifting. Regulatory policies and a credit based monetary system have resulted in massive real price increases in inelastic areas of demand such as healthcare, education and housing eroding purchasing power. Further, trade policies have put U.S. manufacturing at a massive disadvantage to the likes of China, which has subsidized state-owned enterprises, has essentially slave labor costs and low to no environmental regulations. Unrestrained immigration policies have resulted in a massive supply wave of semi- and unskilled labor suppressing wages.

Recommended initial steps to reform:
1. Change the monetary system-deleverage economy with the Chicago Plan (100% reserve banking) and fund massive infrastructure lowering total factor costs and increasing productivity. This would eliminate
2. Adopt a healthcare system that drives HC to 10% to 12% of GDP. France's maybe? Medicare model needs serious reform but is great at low admin costs.
3. Raise tariffs across the board or enact labor and environmental tariffs on the likes of China and other Asian export model countries.
4. Take savings from healthcare costs and interest and invest in human capital–educational attainment and apprenticeships programs.
5. Enforce border security restricting future immigration dramatically and let economy absorb labor supply over time.

Video of UC-B lecture:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akVL7QY0S8A&feature=youtu.be

Jerry B , March 18, 2019 at 5:26 pm

As I have said in other comments, I like Liz Warren a lot within the limits of what she is good at doing (i.e. not President) such as Secretary of the Treasury etc. And I think she likes the media spotlight and to hear herself talk a little to much, but all quibbling aside, can we clone her??? The above comment and video just reinforce "Stick to what you are really good at Liz!".

I am not a Liz Warren fan boi to the extent Lambert is of AOC, but it seems that most of the time when I hear Warren, Sanders, or AOC say something my first reaction is "Yes, what she/he said!".

[Mar 11, 2019] The university professors, who teach but do not learn: neoliberal shill DeJong tries to prolong the life of neoliberalism in the USA

Highly recommended!
DeJong is more dangerous them Malkin... It poisons students with neoliberalism more effectively.
Mar 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Kurtismayfield , , March 10, 2019 at 10:52 am

Re:Wall Street Democrats

They know, however, that they've been conned, played, and they're absolute fools in the game.

Thank you Mr. Black for the laugh this morning. They know exactly what they have been doing. Whether it was deregulating so that Hedge funds and vulture capitalism can thrive, or making sure us peons cannot discharge debts, or making everything about financalization. This was all done on purpose, without care for "winning the political game". Politics is economics, and the Wall Street Democrats have been winning.

notabanker , , March 10, 2019 at 12:26 pm

For sure. I'm quite concerned at the behavior of the DNC leadership and pundits. They are doubling down on blatant corporatist agendas. They are acting like they have this in the bag when objective evidence says they do not and are in trouble. Assuming they are out of touch is naive to me. I would assume the opposite, they know a whole lot more than what they are letting on.

urblintz , , March 10, 2019 at 12:49 pm

I think the notion that the DNC and the Democrat's ruling class would rather lose to a like-minded Republican corporatist than win with someone who stands for genuine progressive values offering "concrete material benefits." I held my nose and read comments at the kos straw polls (where Sanders consistently wins by a large margin) and it's clear to me that the Clintonista's will do everything in their power to derail Bernie.

polecat , , March 10, 2019 at 1:00 pm

"It's the Externalities, stupid economists !" *should be the new rallying cry ..

rd , , March 10, 2019 at 3:26 pm

Keynes' "animal spirits" and the "tragedy of the commons" (Lloyd, 1833 and Hardin, 1968) both implied that economics was messier than Samuelson and Friedman would have us believe because there are actual people with different short- and long-term interests.

The behavioral folks (Kahnemann, Tversky, Thaler etc.) have all shown that people are even messier than we would have thought. So most macro-economic stuff over the past half-century has been largely BS in justifying trickle-down economics, deregulation etc.

There needs to be some inequality as that provides incentives via capitalism but unfettered it turns into France 1989 or the Great Depression. It is not coincidence that the major experiment in this in the late 90s and early 2000s required massive government intervention to keep the ship from sinking less than a decade after the great unregulated creative forces were unleashed.

MMT is likely to be similar where productive uses of deficits can be beneficial, but if the money is wasted on stupid stuff like unnecessary wars, then the loss of credibility means that the fiat currency won't be quite as fiat anymore. Britain was unbelievably economically powerfully in the late 1800s but in half a century went to being an economic afterthought hamstrung by deficits after two major wars and a depression.

So it is good that people like Brad DeLong are coming to understand that the pretty economic theories have some truths but are utter BS (and dangerous) when extrapolated without accounting for how people and societies actually behave.

Chris Cosmos , , March 10, 2019 at 6:43 pm

I never understood the incentive to make more money -- that only works if money = true value and that is the implication of living in a capitalist society (not economy)–everything then becomes a commodity and alienation results and all the depression, fear, anxiety that I see around me. Whereas human happiness actually comes from helping others and finding meaning in life not money or dominating others. That's what social science seems to be telling us.

Oregoncharles , , March 10, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Quoting DeLong:

" He says we are discredited. Our policies have failed. And they've failed because we've been conned by the Republicans."

That's welcome, but it's still making excuses. Neoliberal policies have failed because the economics were wrong, not because "we've been conned by the Republicans." Furthermore, this may be important – if it isn't acknowledged, those policies are quite likely to come sneaking back, especially if Democrats are more in the ascendant., as they will be, given the seesaw built into the 2-Party.

The Rev Kev , , March 10, 2019 at 7:33 pm

Might be right there. Groups like the neocons were originally attached the the left side of politics but when the winds changed, detached themselves and went over to the Republican right. The winds are changing again so those who want power may be going over to what is called the left now to keep their grip on power. But what you say is quite true. It is not really the policies that failed but the economics themselves that were wrong and which, in an honest debate, does not make sense either.

marku52 , , March 10, 2019 at 3:39 pm

"And they've failed because we've been conned by the Republicans.""

Not at all. What about the "free trade" hokum that DeJong and his pal Krugman have been peddling since forever? History and every empirical test in the modern era shows that it fails in developing countries and only exacerbates inequality in richer ones.

That's just a failed policy.

I'm still waiting for an apology for all those years that those two insulted anyone who questioned their dogma as just "too ignorant to understand."

Glen , , March 10, 2019 at 4:47 pm

Thank you!

He created FAILED policies. He pushed policies which have harmed America, harmed Americans, and destroyed the American dream.

Kevin Carhart , , March 10, 2019 at 4:29 pm

It's intriguing, but two other voices come to mind. One is Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste by Mirowski and the other is Generation Like by Doug Rushkoff.

Neoliberalism is partially entrepreneurial self-conceptions which took a long time to promote. Rushkoff's Frontline shows the Youtube culture. There is a girl with a "leaderboard" on the wall of her suburban room, keeping track of her metrics.

There's a devastating VPRO Backlight film on the same topic. Internet-platform neoliberalism does not have much to do with the GOP.

It's going to be an odd hybrid at best – you could have deep-red communism but enacted for and by people whose self-conception is influenced by decades of Becker and Hayek? One place this question leads is to ask what's the relationship between the set of ideas and material conditions-centric philosophies? If new policies pass that create a different possibility materially, will the vise grip of the entrepreneurial self loosen?

Partially yeah, maybe, a Job Guarantee if it passes and actually works, would be an anti-neoliberal approach to jobs, which might partially loosen the regime of neoliberal advice for job candidates delivered with a smug attitude that There Is No Alternative. (Described by Gershon). We take it seriously because of a sense of dread that it might actually be powerful enough to lock us out if we don't, and an uncertainty of whether it is or not.

There has been deep damage which is now a very broad and resilient base. It is one of the prongs of why 2008 did not have the kind of discrediting effect that 1929 did. At least that's what I took away from _Never Let_.

Brad DeLong handing the baton might mean something but it is not going to ameliorate the sense-of-life that young people get from managing their channels and metrics.

Take the new 1099 platforms as another focal point. Suppose there were political measures that splice in on the platforms and take the edge off materially, such as underwritten healthcare not tied to your job. The platforms still use star ratings, make star ratings seem normal, and continually push a self-conception as a small business. If you have overt DSA plus covert Becker it is, again, a strange hybrid,

Jeremy Grimm , , March 10, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Your comment is very insightful. Neoliberalism embeds its mindset into the very fabric of our culture and self-concepts. It strangely twists many of our core myths and beliefs.

Raulb , , March 10, 2019 at 6:36 pm

This is nothing but a Trojan horse to 'co-opt' and 'subvert'. Neoliberals sense a risk to their neo feudal project and are simply attempting to infiltrate and hollow out any threats from within.

There are the same folks who have let entire economics departments becomes mouthpieces for corporate propaganda and worked with thousands of think tanks and international organizations to mislead, misinform and cause pain to millions of people.

They have seeded decontextualized words like 'wealth creators' and 'job creators' to create a halo narrative for corporate interests and undermine society, citizenship, the social good, the environment that make 'wealth creation' even possible. So all those take a backseat to 'wealth creator' interests. Since you can't create wealth without society this is some achievement.

Its because of them that we live in a world where the most important economic idea is protecting people like Kochs business and personal interests and making sure government is not 'impinging on their freedom'. And the corollary a fundamental anti-human narrative where ordinary people and workers are held in contempt for even expecting living wages and conditions and their access to basics like education, health care and living conditions is hollowed out out to promote privatization and become 'entitlements'.

Neoliberalism has left us with a decontextualized highly unstable world that exists in a collective but is forcefully detached into a context less individual existence. These are not mistakes of otherwise 'well meaning' individuals, there are the results of hard core ideologues and high priests of power.

Dan , , March 10, 2019 at 7:31 pm

Two thumbs up. This has been an ongoing agenda for decades and it has succeeded in permeating every aspect of society, which is why the United States is such a vacuous, superficial place. And it's exporting that superficiality to the rest of the world.

VietnamVet , , March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

I read Brad DeLong's and Paul Krugman's blogs until their contradictions became too great. If anything, we need more people seeing the truth. The Global War on Terror is into its 18th year. In October the USA will spend approximately $6 trillion and will have accomplish nothing except to create blow back. The Middle Class is disappearing. Those who remain in their homes are head over heels in debt.

The average American household carries $137,063 in debt. The wealthy are getting richer.

The Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates families together have as much wealth as the lowest half of Americans. Donald Trump's Presidency and Brexit document that neoliberal politicians have lost contact with reality. They are nightmares that there is no escaping. At best, perhaps, Roosevelt Progressives will be reborn to resurrect regulated capitalism and debt forgiveness.

But more likely is a middle-class revolt when Americans no longer can pay for water, electricity, food, medicine and are jailed for not paying a $1,500 fine for littering the Beltway.

A civil war inside a nuclear armed nation state is dangerous beyond belief. France is approaching this.

[Feb 26, 2019] THE CRISIS OF NEOLIBERALISM by Julie A. Wilson

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... While the Tea Party was critical of status-quo neoliberalism -- especially its cosmopolitanism and embrace of globalization and diversity, which was perfectly embodied by Obama's election and presidency -- it was not exactly anti-neoliberal. Rather, it was anti-left neoliberalism-, it represented a more authoritarian, right [wing] version of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Within the context of the 2016 election, Clinton embodied the neoliberal center that could no longer hold. Inequality. Suffering. Collapsing infrastructures. Perpetual war. Anger. Disaffected consent. ..."
"... Both Sanders and Trump were embedded in the emerging left and right responses to neoliberalism's crisis. Specifically, Sanders' energetic campaign -- which was undoubtedly enabled by the rise of the Occupy movement -- proposed a decidedly more "commongood" path. Higher wages for working people. Taxes on the rich, specifically the captains of the creditocracy. ..."
"... In other words, Trump supporters may not have explicitly voted for neoliberalism, but that's what they got. In fact, as Rottenberg argues, they got a version of right neoliberalism "on steroids" -- a mix of blatant plutocracy and authoritarianism that has many concerned about the rise of U.S. fascism. ..."
"... We can't know what would have happened had Sanders run against Trump, but we can think seriously about Trump, right and left neoliberalism, and the crisis of neoliberal hegemony. In other words, we can think about where and how we go from here. As I suggested in the previous chapter, if we want to construct a new world, we are going to have to abandon the entangled politics of both right and left neoliberalism; we have to reject the hegemonic frontiers of both disposability and marketized equality. After all, as political philosopher Nancy Fraser argues, what was rejected in the election of 2016 was progressive, left neoliberalism. ..."
"... While the rise of hyper-right neoliberalism is certainly nothing to celebrate, it does present an opportunity for breaking with neoliberal hegemony. We have to proceed, as Gary Younge reminds us, with the realization that people "have not rejected the chance of a better world. They have not yet been offered one."' ..."
Oct 08, 2017 | www.amazon.com

Quote from the book is courtesy of Amazon preview of the book Neoliberalism (Key Ideas in Media & Cultural Studies)

In Chapter 1, we traced the rise of our neoliberal conjuncture back to the crisis of liberalism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, culminating in the Great Depression. During this period, huge transformations in capitalism proved impossible to manage with classical laissez-faire approaches. Out of this crisis, two movements emerged, both of which would eventually shape the course of the twentieth century and beyond. The first, and the one that became dominant in the aftermath of the crisis, was the conjuncture of embedded liberalism. The crisis indicated that capitalism wrecked too much damage on the lives of ordinary citizens. People (white workers and families, especially) warranted social protection from the volatilities and brutalities of capitalism. The state's public function was expanded to include the provision of a more substantive social safety net, a web of protections for people and a web of constraints on markets. The second response was the invention of neoliberalism. Deeply skeptical of the common-good principles that undergirded the emerging social welfare state, neoliberals began organizing on the ground to develop a "new" liberal govemmentality, one rooted less in laissez-faire principles and more in the generalization of competition and enterprise. They worked to envision a new society premised on a new social ontology, that is, on new truths about the state, the market, and human beings. Crucially, neoliberals also began building infrastructures and institutions for disseminating their new' knowledges and theories (i.e., the Neoliberal Thought Collective), as well as organizing politically to build mass support for new policies (i.e., working to unite anti-communists, Christian conservatives, and free marketers in common cause against the welfare state). When cracks in embedded liberalism began to surface -- which is bound to happen with any moving political equilibrium -- neoliberals were there with new stories and solutions, ready to make the world anew.

We are currently living through the crisis of neoliberalism. As I write this book, Donald Trump has recently secured the U.S. presidency, prevailing in the national election over his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Throughout the election, I couldn't help but think back to the crisis of liberalism and the two responses that emerged. Similarly, after the Great Recession of 2008, we've saw two responses emerge to challenge our unworkable status quo, which dispossesses so many people of vital resources for individual and collective life. On the one hand, we witnessed the rise of Occupy Wall Street. While many continue to critique the movement for its lack of leadership and a coherent political vision, Occupy was connected to burgeoning movements across the globe, and our current political horizons have been undoubtedly shaped by the movement's success at repositioning class and economic inequality within our political horizon. On the other hand, we saw' the rise of the Tea Party, a right-wing response to the crisis. While the Tea Party was critical of status-quo neoliberalism -- especially its cosmopolitanism and embrace of globalization and diversity, which was perfectly embodied by Obama's election and presidency -- it was not exactly anti-neoliberal. Rather, it was anti-left neoliberalism-, it represented a more authoritarian, right [wing] version of neoliberalism.

Within the context of the 2016 election, Clinton embodied the neoliberal center that could no longer hold. Inequality. Suffering. Collapsing infrastructures. Perpetual war. Anger. Disaffected consent. There were just too many fissures and fault lines in the glossy, cosmopolitan world of left neoliberalism and marketized equality. Indeed, while Clinton ran on status-quo stories of good governance and neoliberal feminism, confident that demographics and diversity would be enough to win the election, Trump effectively tapped into the unfolding conjunctural crisis by exacerbating the cracks in the system of marketized equality, channeling political anger into his celebrity brand that had been built on saying "f*** you" to the culture of left neoliberalism (corporate diversity, political correctness, etc.) In fact, much like Clinton's challenger in the Democratic primary, Benie Sanders, Trump was a crisis candidate.

Both Sanders and Trump were embedded in the emerging left and right responses to neoliberalism's crisis. Specifically, Sanders' energetic campaign -- which was undoubtedly enabled by the rise of the Occupy movement -- proposed a decidedly more "commongood" path. Higher wages for working people. Taxes on the rich, specifically the captains of the creditocracy.

Universal health care. Free higher education. Fair trade. The repeal of Citizens United. Trump offered a different response to the crisis. Like Sanders, he railed against global trade deals like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). However, Trump's victory was fueled by right neoliberalism's culture of cruelty. While Sanders tapped into and mobilized desires for a more egalitarian and democratic future, Trump's promise was nostalgic, making America "great again" -- putting the nation back on "top of the world," and implying a time when women were "in their place" as male property, and minorities and immigrants were controlled by the state.

Thus, what distinguished Trump's campaign from more traditional Republican campaigns was that it actively and explicitly pitted one group's equality (white men) against everyone else's (immigrants, women, Muslims, minorities, etc.). As Catherine Rottenberg suggests, Trump offered voters a choice between a multiracial society (where folks are increasingly disadvantaged and dispossessed) and white supremacy (where white people would be back on top). However, "[w]hat he neglected to state," Rottenberg writes,

is that neoliberalism flourishes in societies where the playing field is already stacked against various segments of society, and that it needs only a relatively small select group of capital-enhancing subjects, while everyone else is ultimately dispensable. 1

In other words, Trump supporters may not have explicitly voted for neoliberalism, but that's what they got. In fact, as Rottenberg argues, they got a version of right neoliberalism "on steroids" -- a mix of blatant plutocracy and authoritarianism that has many concerned about the rise of U.S. fascism.

We can't know what would have happened had Sanders run against Trump, but we can think seriously about Trump, right and left neoliberalism, and the crisis of neoliberal hegemony. In other words, we can think about where and how we go from here. As I suggested in the previous chapter, if we want to construct a new world, we are going to have to abandon the entangled politics of both right and left neoliberalism; we have to reject the hegemonic frontiers of both disposability and marketized equality. After all, as political philosopher Nancy Fraser argues, what was rejected in the election of 2016 was progressive, left neoliberalism.

While the rise of hyper-right neoliberalism is certainly nothing to celebrate, it does present an opportunity for breaking with neoliberal hegemony. We have to proceed, as Gary Younge reminds us, with the realization that people "have not rejected the chance of a better world. They have not yet been offered one."'

Mark Fisher, the author of Capitalist Realism, put it this way:

The long, dark night of the end of history has to be grasped as an enormous opportunity. The very oppressive pervasiveness of capitalist realism means that even glimmers of alternative political and economic possibilities can have a disproportionately great effect. The tiniest event can tear a hole in the grey curtain of reaction which has marked the horizons of possibility under capitalist realism. From a situation in which nothing can happen, suddenly anything is possible again.4

I think that, for the first time in the history of U.S. capitalism, the vast majority of people might sense the lie of liberal, capitalist democracy. They feel anxious, unfree, disaffected. Fantasies of the good life have been shattered beyond repair for most people. Trump and this hopefully brief triumph of right neoliberalism will soon lay this bare for everyone to see. Now, with Trump, it is absolutely clear: the rich rule the world; we are all disposable; this is no democracy. The question becomes: How will we show up for history? Will there be new stories, ideas, visions, and fantasies to attach to? How can we productively and meaningful intervene in the crisis of neoliberalism? How can we "tear a hole in the grey curtain" and open up better worlds? How can we put what we've learned to use and begin to imagine and build a world beyond living in competition? I hope our critical journey through the neoliberal conjuncture has enabled you to begin to answer these questions.

More specifically, in recent decades, especially since the end of the Cold War, our common-good sensibilities have been channeled into neoliberal platforms for social change and privatized action, funneling our political energies into brand culture and marketized struggles for equality (e.g., charter schools, NGOs and non-profits, neoliberal antiracism and feminism). As a result, despite our collective anger and disaffected consent, we find ourselves stuck in capitalist realism with no real alternative. Like the neoliberal care of the self, we are trapped in a privatized mode of politics that relies on cruel optimism; we are attached, it seems, to politics that inspire and motivate us to action, while keeping us living in competition.

To disrupt the game, we need to construct common political horizons against neoliberal hegemony. We need to use our common stories and common reason to build common movements against precarity -- for within neoliberalism, precarity is what ultimately has the potential to thread all of our lives together. Put differently, the ultimate fault line in the neoliberal conjiuicture is the way it subjects us all to precarity and the biopolitics of disposability, thereby creating conditions of possibility for new coalitions across race, gender, citizenship, sexuality, and class. Recognizing this potential for coalition in the face of precarization is the most pressing task facing those who are yearning for a new world. The question is: How do we get there? How do we realize these coalitional potentialities and materialize common horizons?

HOW WE GET THERE

Ultimately, mapping the neoliberal conjuncture through everyday life in enterprise culture has not only provided some direction in terms of what we need; it has also cultivated concrete and practical intellectual resources for political interv ention and social interconnection -- a critical toolbox for living in common. More specifically, this book has sought to provide resources for thinking and acting against the four Ds: resources for engaging in counter-conduct, modes of living that refuse, on one hand, to conduct one's life according to the norm of enterprise, and on the other, to relate to others through the norm of competition. Indeed, we need new ways of relating, interacting, and living as friends, lovers, workers, vulnerable bodies, and democratic people if we are to write new stories, invent new govemmentalities, and build coalitions for new worlds.

Against Disimagination: Educated Hope and Affirmative Speculation

We need to stop turning inward, retreating into ourselves, and taking personal responsibility for our lives (a task which is ultimately impossible). Enough with the disimagination machine! Let's start looking outward, not inward -- to the broader structures that undergird our lives. Of course, we need to take care of ourselves; we must survive. But I firmly believe that we can do this in ways both big and small, that transform neoliberal culture and its status-quo stories.

Here's the thing I tell my students all the time. You cannot escape neoliberalism. It is the air we breathe, the water in which we swim. No job, practice of social activism, program of self-care, or relationship will be totally free from neoliberal impingements and logics. There is no pure "outside" to get to or work from -- that's just the nature of the neoliberalism's totalizing cultural power. But let's not forget that neoliberalism's totalizing cultural power is also a source of weakness. Potential for resistance is everywhere, scattered throughout our everyday lives in enterprise culture. Our critical toolbox can help us identify these potentialities and navigate and engage our conjuncture in ways that tear open up those new worlds we desire.

In other words, our critical perspective can help us move through the world with what Henry Giroux calls educated hope. Educated hope means holding in tension the material realities of power and the contingency of history. This orientation of educated hope knows very well what we're up against. However, in the face of seemingly totalizing power, it also knows that neoliberalism can never become total because the future is open. Educated hope is what allows us to see the fault lines, fissures, and potentialities of the present and emboldens us to think and work from that sliver of social space where we do have political agency and freedom to construct a new world. Educated hope is what undoes the power of capitalist realism. It enables affirmative speculation (such as discussed in Chapter 5), which does not try to hold the future to neoliberal horizons (that's cruel optimism!), but instead to affirm our commonalities and the potentialities for the new worlds they signal. Affirmative speculation demands a different sort of risk calculation and management. It senses how little we have to lose and how much we have to gain from knocking the hustle of our lives.

Against De-democratization: Organizing and Collective Coverning

We can think of educated hope and affirmative speculation as practices of what Wendy Brown calls "bare democracy" -- the basic idea that ordinary' people like you and me should govern our lives in common, that we should critique and try to change our world, especially the exploitative and oppressive structures of power that maintain social hierarchies and diminish lives. Neoliberal culture works to stomp out capacities for bare democracy by transforming democratic desires and feelings into meritocratic desires and feelings. In neoliberal culture, utopian sensibilities are directed away from the promise of collective utopian sensibilities are directed away from the promise of collective governing to competing for equality.

We have to get back that democractic feeling! As Jeremy Gilbert taught us, disaffected consent is a post-democratic orientation. We don't like our world, but we don't think we can do anything about it. So, how do we get back that democratic feeling? How do we transform our disaffected consent into something new? As I suggested in the last chapter, we organize. Organizing is simply about people coming together around a common horizon and working collectively to materialize it. In this way, organizing is based on the idea of radical democracy, not liberal democracy. While the latter is based on formal and abstract rights guaranteed by the state, radical democracy insists that people should directly make the decisions that impact their lives, security, and well-being. Radical democracy is a practice of collective governing: it is about us hashing out, together in communities, what matters, and working in common to build a world based on these new sensibilities.

The work of organizing is messy, often unsatisfying, and sometimes even scary. Organizing based on affirmative speculation and coalition-building, furthermore, will have to be experimental and uncertain. As Lauren Berlant suggests, it means "embracing the discomfort of affective experience in a truly open social life that no

one has ever experienced." Organizing through and for the common "requires more adaptable infrastructures. Keep forcing the existing infrastructures to do what they don't know how to do. Make new ways to be local together, where local doesn't require a physical neighborhood." 5 What Berlant is saying is that the work of bare democracy requires unlearning, and detaching from, our current stories and infrastructures in order to see and make things work differently. Organizing for a new world is not easy -- and there are no guarantees -- but it is the only way out of capitalist realism.

Against Disposability: Radical Equality

Getting back democratic feeling will at once require and help us lo move beyond the biopolitics of disposability and entrenched systems of inequality. On one hand, organizing will never be enough if it is not animated by bare democracy, a sensibility that each of us is equally important when it comes to the project of determining our lives in common. Our bodies, our hurts, our dreams, and our desires matter regardless of our race, gender, sexuality, or citizenship, and regardless of how r much capital (economic, social, or cultural) we have. Simply put, in a radical democracy, no one is disposable. This bare-democratic sense of equality must be foundational to organizing and coalition-building. Otherwise, we will always and inevitably fall back into a world of inequality.

On the other hand, organizing and collective governing will deepen and enhance our sensibilities and capacities for radical equality. In this context, the kind of self-enclosed individualism that empowers and underwrites the biopolitics of disposability melts away, as we realize the interconnectedness of our lives and just how amazing it feels to

fail, we affirm our capacities for freedom, political intervention, social interconnection, and collective social doing.

Against Dispossession: Shared Security and Common Wealth

Thinking and acting against the biopolitics of disposability goes hand-in-hand with thinking and acting against dispossession. Ultimately, when we really understand and feel ourselves in relationships of interconnection with others, we want for them as we want for ourselves. Our lives and sensibilities of what is good and just are rooted in radical equality, not possessive or self-appreciating individualism. Because we desire social security and protection, we also know others desire and deserve the same.

However, to really think and act against dispossession means not only advocating for shared security and social protection, but also for a new society that is built on the egalitarian production and distribution of social wealth that we all produce. In this sense, we can take Marx's critique of capitalism -- that wealth is produced collectively but appropriated individually -- to heart. Capitalism was built on the idea that one class -- the owners of the means of production -- could exploit and profit from the collective labors of everyone else (those who do not own and thus have to work), albeit in very different ways depending on race, gender, or citizenship. This meant that, for workers of all stripes, their lives existed not for themselves, but for others (the appropriating class), and that regardless of what we own as consumers, we are not really free or equal in that bare-democratic sense of the word.

If we want to be really free, we need to construct new material and affective social infrastructures for our common wealth. In these new infrastructures, wealth must not be reduced to economic value; it must be rooted in social value. Here, the production of wealth does not exist as a separate sphere from the reproduction of our lives. In other words, new infrastructures, based on the idea of common wealth, will not be set up to exploit our labor, dispossess our communities, or to divide our lives. Rather, they will work to provide collective social resources and care so that we may all be free to pursue happiness, create beautiful and/or useful things, and to realize our potential within a social world of living in common. Crucially, to create the conditions for these new, democratic forms of freedom rooted in radical equality, we need to find ways to refuse and exit the financial networks of Empire and the dispossessions of creditocracy, building new systems that invite everyone to participate in the ongoing production of new worlds and the sharing of the wealth that we produce in common.

It's not up to me to tell you exactly where to look, but I assure you that potentialities for these new worlds are everywhere around you.

[Feb 15, 2019] Losing a job in your 50s is especially tough. Here are 3 steps to take when layoffs happen by Peter Dunn

Unemployment usually is just six month or so; this is the time when you can plan you "downsizing". You do not need to rush.
Often losing job logically requires selling your home and moving to a modest apartment, especially if no children are living with you. At 50 it is abut time... You need to do it later anyway, so why not now.
But that's a very tough decision to make... Still, if the current housing market is close to the top, this is one of the best moves you can make. Getting from your house several hundred thousand dollars allows you to create kind of private pension to compensate for losses in income till you hit your Social Security check, which currently means 66.
$300K investment in A quality bonds that returns 3% per year are enough to provides you with $24K per year "pension" from 50 to age of 66. That allows you to pay for the apartment and amenities. The food is extra...
This way you can take lower paid job and survive.
And in this case you 401k remains intact and can supplement your SS income later on. Simple Excel spreadsheet can provide you with a complete picture of what you can afford and what not. Actually ability to walk of fresh air for 3 or more hours each day worth a lot of money ;-)
Notable quotes:
"... Losing a job in your 50s is a devastating moment, especially if the job is connected to a long career ripe with upward mobility. As a frequent observer of this phenomenon, it's as scary and troublesome as unchecked credit card debt or an expensive chronic health condition. This is one of the many reasons why I believe our 50s can be the most challenging decade of our lives. ..."
"... The first thing you should do is identify the exact day your job income stops arriving ..."
"... Next, and by next I mean five minutes later, explore your eligibility for unemployment benefits, and then file for them if you're able. ..."
"... Grab your bank statement, a marker, and a calculator. As much as you want to pretend its business as usual, you shouldn't. Identify expenses that don't make sense if you don't have a job. Circle them. Add them up. Resolve to eliminate them for the time being, and possibly permanently. While this won't necessarily lengthen your fuse, it could lessen the severity of a potential boom. ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

... ... ...

Losing a job in your 50s is a devastating moment, especially if the job is connected to a long career ripe with upward mobility. As a frequent observer of this phenomenon, it's as scary and troublesome as unchecked credit card debt or an expensive chronic health condition. This is one of the many reasons why I believe our 50s can be the most challenging decade of our lives.

Assuming you can clear the mental challenges, the financial and administrative obstacles can leave you feeling like a Rube Goldberg machine.

Income, health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, bills, expenses, short-term savings and retirement savings are all immediately important in the face of a job loss. Never mind your Parent PLUS loans, financially-dependent aging parents, and boomerang children (adult kids who live at home), which might all be lurking as well.

When does your income stop?

From the shocking moment a person learns their job is no longer their job, the word "triage" must flash in bright lights like an obnoxiously large sign in Times Square. This is more challenging than you might think. Like a pickpocket bumping into you right before he grabs your wallet, the distraction is the problem that takes your focus away from the real problem.

This is hard to do because of the emotion that arrives with the dirty deed. The mind immediately begins to race to sources of money and relief. And unfortunately that relief is often found in the wrong place.

The first thing you should do is identify the exact day your job income stops arriving . That's how much time you have to defuse the bomb. Your fuse may come in the form of a severance package, or work you've performed but have't been paid for yet.

When do benefits kick in?

Next, and by next I mean five minutes later, explore your eligibility for unemployment benefits, and then file for them if you're able. However, in some states severance pay affects your immediate eligibility for unemployment benefits. In other words, you can't file for unemployment until your severance payments go away.

Assuming you can't just retire at this moment, which you likely can't, you must secure fresh employment income quickly. But quickly is relative to the length of your fuse. I've witnessed way too many people miscalculate the length and importance of their fuse. If you're able to get back to work quickly, the initial job loss plus severance ends up enhancing your financial life. If you take too much time, by your choice or that of the cosmos, boom.

The next move is much more hands-on, and must also be performed the day you find yourself without a job.

What nonessentials do I cut?

Grab your bank statement, a marker, and a calculator. As much as you want to pretend its business as usual, you shouldn't. Identify expenses that don't make sense if you don't have a job. Circle them. Add them up. Resolve to eliminate them for the time being, and possibly permanently. While this won't necessarily lengthen your fuse, it could lessen the severity of a potential boom.

The idea of diving into your spending habits on the day you lose your job is no fun. But when else will you have such a powerful reason to do so? You won't. It's better than dipping into your assets to fund your current lifestyle. And that's where we'll pick it up the next time.

We've covered day one. In my next column we will tackle day two and beyond.

Peter Dunn is an author, speaker and radio host, and he has a free podcast: "Million Dollar Plan." Have a question for Pete the Planner? Email him at AskPete@petetheplanner.com. The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

[Feb 13, 2019] Microsoft patches 0-day vulnerabilities in IE and Exchange

It is unclear how long this vulnerability exists, but this is pretty serious staff that shows how Hillary server could be hacked via Abedin account. As Abedin technical level was lower then zero, to hack into her home laptop just just trivial.
Feb 13, 2019 | arstechnica.com

Microsoft also patched Exchange against a vulnerability that allowed remote attackers with little more than an unprivileged mailbox account to gain administrative control over the server. Dubbed PrivExchange, CVE-2019-0686 was publicly disclosed last month , along with proof-of-concept code that exploited it. In Tuesday's advisory , Microsoft officials said they haven't seen active exploits yet but that they were "likely."

[Feb 12, 2019] Older Workers Need a Different Kind of Layoff A 60-year-old whose position is eliminated might be unable to find another job, but could retire if allowed early access to Medicare

Highly recommended!
This is a constructive suggestion that is implementable even under neoliberalism. As everything is perverted under neoliberalism that might prompt layoffs before the age of 55.
Notable quotes:
"... Older workers often struggle to get rehired as easily as younger workers. Age discrimination is a well-known problem in corporate America. What's a 60-year-old back office worker supposed to do if downsized in a merger? The BB&T-SunTrust prospect highlights the need for a new type of unemployment insurance for some of the workforce. ..."
"... One policy might be treating unemployed older workers differently than younger workers. Giving them unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than younger workers would be one idea, as well as accelerating the age of Medicare eligibility for downsized employees over the age of 55. The latter idea would help younger workers as well, by encouraging older workers to accept buyout packages -- freeing up career opportunities for younger workers. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

The proposed merger between SunTrust and BB&T makes sense for both firms -- which is why Wall Street sent both stocks higher on Thursday after the announcement. But employees of the two banks, especially older workers who are not yet retirement age, are understandably less enthused at the prospect of downsizing. In a nation with almost 37 million workers over the age of 55, the quandary of SunTrust-BB&T workforce will become increasingly familiar across the U.S. economy.

But what's good for the firms isn't good for all of the workers. Older workers often struggle to get rehired as easily as younger workers. Age discrimination is a well-known problem in corporate America. What's a 60-year-old back office worker supposed to do if downsized in a merger? The BB&T-SunTrust prospect highlights the need for a new type of unemployment insurance for some of the workforce.

One policy might be treating unemployed older workers differently than younger workers. Giving them unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than younger workers would be one idea, as well as accelerating the age of Medicare eligibility for downsized employees over the age of 55. The latter idea would help younger workers as well, by encouraging older workers to accept buyout packages -- freeing up career opportunities for younger workers.

The economy can be callous toward older workers, but policy makers don't have to be. We should think about ways of dealing with this shift in the labor market before it happens.

[Jan 31, 2019] Linus Torvalds and others on Linux's systemd by By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Notable quotes:
"... I think some of the design details are insane (I dislike the binary logs, for example) ..."
"... Systemd problems might not have mattered that much, except that GNOME has a similar attitude; they only care for a small subset of the Linux desktop users, and they have historically abandoned some ways of interacting the Desktop in the interest of supporting touchscreen devices and to try to attract less technically sophisticated users. ..."
"... If you don't fall in the demographic of what GNOME supports, you're sadly out of luck. (Or you become a second class citizen, being told that you have to rely on GNOME extensions that may break on every single new version of GNOME.) ..."
"... As a result, many traditional GNOME users have moved over to Cinnamon, XFCE, KDE, etc. But as systemd starts subsuming new functions, components like network-manager will only work on systemd or other components that are forced to be used due to a network of interlocking dependencies; and it may simply not be possible for these alternate desktops to continue to function, because there is [no] viable alternative to systemd supported by more and more distributions. ..."
| www.zdnet.com

So what do Linux's leaders think of all this? I asked them and this is what they told me.

Linus Torvalds said:

"I don't actually have any particularly strong opinions on systemd itself. I've had issues with some of the core developers that I think are much too cavalier about bugs and compatibility, and I think some of the design details are insane (I dislike the binary logs, for example) , but those are details, not big issues."

Theodore "Ted" Ts'o, a leading Linux kernel developer and a Google engineer, sees systemd as potentially being more of a problem. "The bottom line is that they are trying to solve some real problems that matter in some use cases. And, [that] sometimes that will break assumptions made in other parts of the system."

Another concern that Ts'o made -- which I've heard from many other developers -- is that the systemd move was made too quickly: "The problem is sometimes what they break are in other parts of the software stack, and so long as it works for GNOME, they don't necessarily consider it their responsibility to fix the rest of the Linux ecosystem."

This, as Ts'o sees it, feeds into another problem:

" Systemd problems might not have mattered that much, except that GNOME has a similar attitude; they only care for a small subset of the Linux desktop users, and they have historically abandoned some ways of interacting the Desktop in the interest of supporting touchscreen devices and to try to attract less technically sophisticated users.

If you don't fall in the demographic of what GNOME supports, you're sadly out of luck. (Or you become a second class citizen, being told that you have to rely on GNOME extensions that may break on every single new version of GNOME.) "

Ts'o has an excellent point. GNOME 3.x has alienated both users and developers . He continued,

" As a result, many traditional GNOME users have moved over to Cinnamon, XFCE, KDE, etc. But as systemd starts subsuming new functions, components like network-manager will only work on systemd or other components that are forced to be used due to a network of interlocking dependencies; and it may simply not be possible for these alternate desktops to continue to function, because there is [no] viable alternative to systemd supported by more and more distributions. "

Of course, Ts'o continued, "None of these nightmare scenarios have happened yet. The people who are most stridently objecting to systemd are people who are convinced that the nightmare scenario is inevitable so long as we continue on the same course and altitude."

Ts'o is "not entirely certain it's going to happen, but he's afraid it will.

What I find puzzling about all this is that even though everyone admits that sysvinit needed replacing and many people dislike systemd, the distributions keep adopting it. Only a few distributions, including Slackware , Gentoo , PCLinuxOS , and Chrome OS , haven't adopted it.

It's not like there aren't alternatives. These include Upstart , runit , and OpenRC .

If systemd really does turn out to be as bad as some developers fear, there are plenty of replacements waiting in the wings. Indeed, rather than hear so much about how awful systemd is, I'd rather see developers spending their time working on an alternative.

[Jan 29, 2019] 7th Circuit Rules Age Discrimination Law Does Not Include Job Applicants

Notable quotes:
"... By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans. ..."
"... Kleber filed suit, pursuing claims for both disparate treatment and disparate impact under the ADEA. The Chicago Tribune notes in Hinsdale man loses appeal in age discrimination case that challenged experience caps in job ads that "Kleber had out of work and job hunting for three years" when he applied for the CareFusion job. ..."
"... Unfortunately, the seventh circuit has now held that the disparate impact section of the ADEA does not extend to job applicants. .Judge Michael Scudder, a Trump appointee, wrote the majority 8-4 opinion, which reverses an earlier 2-1 panel ruling last April in Kleber's favor that had initially overruled the district court's dismissal of Kleber's disparate impact claim. ..."
"... hiring discrimination is difficult to prove and often goes unreported. Only 3 percent have made a formal complaint. ..."
"... The decision narrowly applies to disparate impact claims of age discrimination under the ADEA. It is important to remember that job applicants are protected under the disparate treatment portion of the statute. ..."
"... I forbade my kids to study programming. ..."
"... I'm re reading the classic of Sociology Ain't No Makin It by Jay MacLeod, in which he studies the employment prospects of youths in the 1980s and determined that even then there was no stable private sector employment and your best option is a government job or to have an excellent "network" which is understandably hard for most people to achieve. ..."
"... I think the trick is to study something and programming, so the programming becomes a tool rather than an end. ..."
"... the problem is it is almost impossible to exit the programming business and join another domain. Anyone can enter it. (evidence – all the people with "engineering" degrees from India) Also my wages are now 50% of what i made 10 years ago (nominal). Also I notice that almost no one is doing sincere work. Most are just coasting, pretending to work with the latest toy (ie, preparing for the next interview). ..."
"... I am an "aging" former STEM worker (histology researcher) as well. Much like the IT landscape, you are considered "over-the-hill" at 35, which I turn on the 31st. ..."
"... Most of the positions in science and engineering fields now are basically "gig" positions, lasting a few months to a year. ..."
Jan 29, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided in Kleber v. CareFusion Corporation last Wednesday that disparate impact liability under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) applies only to current employees and does not include job applicants.

The case was brought by Dale Kleber, an attorney, who applied for a senior position in CareFusion's legal department. The job description required applicants to have "3 to 7 years (no more than 7 years) of relevant legal experience."

Kleber was 58 at the time he applied and had more than seven years of pertinent experience. CareFusion hired a 29-year-old applicant who met but did not exceed the experience requirement.

Kleber filed suit, pursuing claims for both disparate treatment and disparate impact under the ADEA. The Chicago Tribune notes in Hinsdale man loses appeal in age discrimination case that challenged experience caps in job ads that "Kleber had out of work and job hunting for three years" when he applied for the CareFusion job.

Some Basics

Let's start with some basics, as the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) set out in a brief primer on basic US age discrimination law entitled Questions and Answers on EEOC Final Rule on Disparate Impact and "Reasonable Factors Other Than Age" Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 . The EEOC began with a brief description of the purpose of the ADEA:

The purpose of the ADEA is to prohibit employment discrimination against people who are 40 years of age or older. Congress enacted the ADEA in 1967 because of its concern that older workers were disadvantaged in retaining and regaining employment. The ADEA also addressed concerns that older workers were barred from employment by some common employment practices that were not intended to exclude older workers, but that had the effect of doing so and were unrelated to job performance.

It was with these concerns in mind that Congress created a system that included liability for both disparate treatment and disparate impact. What's the difference between these two concepts?

According to the EEOC:

[The ADEA] prohibits discrimination against workers because of their older age with respect to any aspect of employment. In addition to prohibiting intentional discrimination against older workers (known as "disparate treatment"), the ADEA prohibits practices that, although facially neutral with regard to age, have the effect of harming older workers more than younger workers (known as "disparate impact"), unless the employer can show that the practice is based on an [Reasonable Factor Other Than Age (RFAO)]

The crux: it's much easier for a plaintiff to prove disparate impact, because s/he needn't show that the employer intended to discriminate. Of course, many if not most employers are savvy enough not to be explicit about their intentions to discriminate against older people as they don't wish to get sued.

District, Panel, and Full Seventh Circuit Decisions

The district court dismissed Kleber's disparate impact claim, on the grounds that the text of the statute- (§ 4(a)(2))- did not extend to outside job applicants. Kleber then voluntarily dismissed his separate claim for disparate treatment liability to appeal the dismissal of his disparate impact claim. No doubt he was aware – either because he was an attorney, or because of the legal advice received – that it is much more difficult to prevail on a disparate treatment claim, which would require that he establish CareFusion's intent to discriminate.

Or at least that was true before this decision was rendered.

Unfortunately, the seventh circuit has now held that the disparate impact section of the ADEA does not extend to job applicants. .Judge Michael Scudder, a Trump appointee, wrote the majority 8-4 opinion, which reverses an earlier 2-1 panel ruling last April in Kleber's favor that had initially overruled the district court's dismissal of Kleber's disparate impact claim.

The majority ruled:

By its terms, § 4(a)(2) proscribes certain conduct by employers and limits its protection to employees. The prohibited conduct entails an employer acting in any way to limit, segregate, or classify its employees based on age. The language of § 4(a)(2) then goes on to make clear that its proscriptions apply only if an employer's actions have a particular impact -- "depriv[ing] or tend[ing] to deprive any individual of em- ployment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect[ing] his status as an employee." This language plainly demonstrates that the requisite impact must befall an individual with "status as an employee." Put most simply, the reach of § 4(a)(2) does not extend to applicants for employment, as common dictionary definitions confirm that an applicant has no "status as an employee." (citation omitted)[opinion, pp. 3-4]

By contrast, in the disparate treatment part of the statute (§ 4(a)(1)):

Congress made it unlawful for an employer "to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privi- leges of employment, because of such individual's age."[opinion, p.6]

The court compared the disparate treatment section – § 4(a)(1) – directly with the disparate impact section – § 4(a)(2):

Yet a side-by-side comparison of § 4(a)(1) with § 4(a)(2) shows that the language in the former plainly covering appli-cants is conspicuously absent from the latter. Section 4(a)(2) says nothing about an employer's decision "to fail or refuse to hire any individual" and instead speaks only in terms of an employer's actions that "adversely affect his status as an employee." We cannot conclude this difference means nothing: "when 'Congress includes particular language in one section of a statute but omits it in another' -- let alone in the very next provision -- the Court presumes that Congress intended a difference in meaning." (citations omitted)[opinion, pp. 6-7]

The majority's conclusion:

In the end, the plain language of § 4(a)(2) leaves room for only one interpretation: Congress authorized only employees to bring disparate impact claims.[opinion, p.8]

Greying of the Workforce

Older people account for a growing percentage of the workforce, as Reuters reports in Age bias law does not cover job applicants: U.S. appeals court :

People 55 or older comprised 22.4 percent of U.S. workers in 2016, up from 11.9 percent in 1996, and may account for close to one-fourth of the labor force by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The greying of the workforce is "thanks to better health in older age and insufficient savings that require people to keeping working longer," according to the Chicago Tribune. Yet:

numerous hiring practices are under fire for negatively impacting older applicants. In addition to experience caps, lawsuits have challenged the exclusive use of on-campus recruiting to fill positions and algorithms that target job ads to show only in certain people's social media feeds.

Unless Congress amends the ADEA to include job applicants, older people will continue to face barriers to getting jobs.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

The [EEOC], which receives about 20,000 age discrimination charges every year, issued a report in June citing surveys that found 3 in 4 older workers believe their age is an obstacle in getting a job. Yet hiring discrimination is difficult to prove and often goes unreported. Only 3 percent have made a formal complaint. Allowing older applicants to challenge policies that have an unintentionally discriminatory impact would offer another tool for fighting age discrimination, Ray Peeler, associate legal counsel at the EEOC, has said.

How will these disparate impact claims now fare?

The Bottom Line

FordHarrison, a firm specialising in human relations law, noted in Seventh Circuit Limits Job Applicants' Age Discrimination Claims :

The decision narrowly applies to disparate impact claims of age discrimination under the ADEA. It is important to remember that job applicants are protected under the disparate treatment portion of the statute. There is no split among the federal appeals courts on this issue, making it an unlikely candidate for Supreme Court review, but the four judges in dissent read the statute as being vague and susceptible to an interpretation that includes job applicants.

Their conclusion: "a decision finding disparate impact liability for job applicants under the ADEA is unlikely in the near future."

Alas, for reasons of space, I will not consider the extensive dissent. My purpose in writing this post is to discuss the majority decision, not to opine on which side made the better arguments.

antidlc , January 27, 2019 at 3:28 pm

8-4 opinion. Which judges ruled for the majority? Which judges ruled for the minority opinion?

Sorry,,,don't have time to research right now. It says a Trump appointee wrote the majority opinion. Who were the other 7?

grayslady , January 27, 2019 at 6:09 pm

There were 3 judges who dissented in whole and one who dissented in part. Of the three full dissensions, two were Clinton appointees (including the Chief Justice, who was one of the dissenters) and one was a Reagan appointee. The partial dissenter was also a Reagan appointee.

run75441 , January 27, 2019 at 11:25 pm

ant: Not your law clerk, read the opinion. Easterbook and Wood dissented. Find the other two and and you can figure out who agreed.

YankeeFrank , January 27, 2019 at 3:58 pm

"depriv[ing] or tend[ing] to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect[ing] his status as an employee."

–This language plainly demonstrates that the requisite impact must befall an individual with "status as an employee."

So they totally ignore the first part of the sentence -- "depriv[ing] or tend[ing] to deprive any individual of employment opportunities " -- "employment opportunities" clearly applies to applicants.

Its as if these judges cannot make sense of the English language. Hopefully the judges on appeal will display better command of the language.

Alfred , January 27, 2019 at 5:56 pm

I agree. "Employment opportunities," in the "plain language" so meticulously respected by the 7th Circuit, must surely refer at minimum to 'the chance to apply for a job and to have one's application fairly considered'. It seems on the other hand a stretch to interpret the phrase to mean only 'the chance to keep a job one already has'. Both are important, however; to split them would challenge even Solomonic wisdom, as I suppose the curious decision discussed here demonstrates. I am less convinced that the facts as presented here establish a clear case of age discrimination. True, they point in that direction. But a hypothetical 58-year old who only earned a law degree in his or her early 50s, perhaps after an earlier career in paralegal work, could have legitimately applied for a position requiring 3 to 7 years of "relevant legal experience." That last phrase, is of course, quite weasel-y: what counts as "relevant" and what counts as "legal" experience would under any circumstances be subject to (discriminatory) interpretation. The limitation of years of experience in the job announcement strikes me as a means to keep the salary within a certain budgetary range as prescribed either by law or collective bargaining.

KLG , January 27, 2019 at 6:42 pm

Almost like the willful misunderstanding of "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State "? Of course, that militia also meant slave patrols and the occasional posse to put down the native "savages," but still.

Lambert Strether , January 28, 2019 at 2:08 am

> "depriv[ing] or tend[ing] to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect[ing] his status as an employee."

Says "or." Not "and."

Magic Sam , January 27, 2019 at 5:53 pm

They are failing to find what they don't want to find.

Magic Sam , January 27, 2019 at 5:58 pm

Being pro-Labor will not get you Federalist Society approval to be nominated to the bench by Trump. This decision came down via the ideological makeup of the court, not the letter of the law. Their stated pretext is obviously b.s.. It contradicts itself.

Mattie , January 27, 2019 at 6:05 pm

Yep. That is when their Utah et al property mgt teams began breaking into homes, tossing contents – including pets – outside & changing locks

Even when borrowers were in approved HAMP, etc. pipelines

PLUG: If you haven't yet – See "The Florida Project"

nothing but the truth , January 27, 2019 at 7:18 pm

as an aging "stem" (cough coder) worker who typically has to look for a new "gig" every few years, i am trembling at this.

Luckily, i bought a small business when I had a few saved up, so I won't starve.

Health insurance is another matter.

I forbade my kids to study programming.

Lambert Strether , January 28, 2019 at 2:09 am

Plumbing. Electrical work. Permaculture. Get those kids Jackpot-ready!

Joe Well , January 28, 2019 at 11:40 am

I'm re reading the classic of Sociology Ain't No Makin It by Jay MacLeod, in which he studies the employment prospects of youths in the 1980s and determined that even then there was no stable private sector employment and your best option is a government job or to have an excellent "network" which is understandably hard for most people to achieve. So I'm genuinely interested in what possible options there are for anyone entering the job market today or God help you, re-entering. I am guessing the barriers to entry to those trades are quite high but would love to be corrected.

jrs , January 28, 2019 at 1:39 pm

what is the point of being jackpot ready if you can't even support yourself today? To fantasize about collapse while sleeping in a rented closet and driving for Uber? In that case one's personal collapse has already happened, which will matter a lot more to an individual than any potential jackpot.

Plumbers and electricians can make money now of course (although yea barriers to entry do seem high, don't you kind of have to know people to get in those industries?). But permaculture?

Ford Prefect , January 28, 2019 at 1:00 pm

I think the trick is to study something and programming, so the programming becomes a tool rather than an end. A couple of my kids used to ride horses. One of the instructors and stable owners said that a lot of people went to school for equine studies and ended up shoveling horse poop for a living. She said the thing to do was to study business and do the equestrian stuff as a hobby/minor. That way you came out prepared to run a business and hire the equine studies people to clean the stalls.

jrs , January 28, 2019 at 1:36 pm

Do you actually see that many jobs requiring something and programming though? I haven't really. There seems no easy transition out of software work which that would make possible either. Might as well just study the "something".

rd , January 28, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Programming is a means to an end, not the end itself. If all you do is program, then you are essentially a machine lathe operator, not somebody creating the products the lathe operators turn out.

Understanding what needs to be done helps with structured programs and better input/output design. In turn, structured programming is a good tool to understand the basics of how to manage tasks. At the higher level, Fred Brooks book "The Mythical Man-Month" has a lot of useful project management information that can be re-applied for non computer program development.

We are doing a lot of work with mobile computing and data collection to assist in our regular work. The people doing this are mainly non-computer scientists that have learned enough programming to get by.

The engineering programs that we use are typically written more by engineers than by programmers as the entire point behind the program is to apply the theory into a numerical computation and presentation system. Programmers with a graphic design background can assist in creating much better user interfaces.

If you have some sort of information theory background (GIS, statistics, etc.) then big data actually means something.

nothing but the truth , January 28, 2019 at 7:02 pm

the problem is it is almost impossible to exit the programming business and join another domain. Anyone can enter it. (evidence – all the people with "engineering" degrees from India) Also my wages are now 50% of what i made 10 years ago (nominal). Also I notice that almost no one is doing sincere work. Most are just coasting, pretending to work with the latest toy (ie, preparing for the next interview).

Now almost every "interview" requires writing a coding exam. Which other profession will make you write an exam for 25-30 year veterans? Can you write your high school exam again today? What if your profession requires you to write it a couple of times almost every year?

Hepativore , January 28, 2019 at 2:56 pm

I am an "aging" former STEM worker (histology researcher) as well. Much like the IT landscape, you are considered "over-the-hill" at 35, which I turn on the 31st. While I do not have children and never intend to get married, many biotech companies consider this the age at which a worker is getting long in the tooth. This is because there is the underlying assumption that is when people start having familial obligations.

Most of the positions in science and engineering fields now are basically "gig" positions, lasting a few months to a year. A lot of people my age are finding how much harder it is to find any position at all in these areas as there is a massive pool of people to choose from, even for permatemp work simply because serfs in their mid-30s might get uppity about benefits like family health plans or 401k

Steve , January 27, 2019 at 7:32 pm

I am 59 and do not mind having employers discriminate against me due to age. ( I also need a job) I had my own business and over the years got quite damaged. I was a contractor specializing in older (historical) work.

I was always the lead worker with many friends and other s working with me. At 52 I was given a choice of very involved neck surgery or quit. ( no small businesses have disability insurance!)

I shut down everything and helped my friends who worked for me take some of the work or find something else. I was also a nationally published computer consultant a long time ago and graphic artist.

Reality is I can still do many things but I do nothing as well as I did when I was younger and the cost to employers for me is far higher than a younger person. I had my chance and I chose poorly. Younger people, if that makes them abetter fit, deserve a chance now more than I do.

Joe Well , January 27, 2019 at 7:49 pm

I'm sorry for your predicament. Do you mean you chose poorly when you chose not to get neck surgery? What was the choice you regret?

Steve , January 27, 2019 at 10:12 pm

My career choices. Choosing to close my business to possibly avoid the surgery was actually a good choice.

Joe Well , January 28, 2019 at 11:47 am

I'm sorry for your challenges but I don't think there were many good careers you could have chosen and it would have required a crystal ball to know which were the good ones. Americans your age entered the job market just after the very end of the Golden Age of labor conditions and have been weathering the decline your entire working lives. At least I entered the job market when everyone knew for years things were falling apart. It's not your fault. You were cheated plain and simple.

Lambert Strether , January 28, 2019 at 2:14 am

> I had my chance and I chose poorly.

I don't see how it's possible to predict the labor market years in advance. Why blame yourself for poor choices when so much chance is involved?

With a Jobs Guarantee, such questions would not arise. I also don't think it's only a question of doing, but a question of sharing ("experience, strength, and hope," as AA -- a very successful organization! -- puts it, in a way of thinking that has wide application).

Dianne Shatin , January 27, 2019 at 7:46 pm

Unelected plutocrat and his international syndicate funded by former IBM artificial intelligence developer and social darwinian. data manipulation electronic platforms and social media are at the levels of power in the USA. Anti justice, anti enlightenment, etc.

Since the installation of GW Bush by the Supreme Court, almost 20 yrs. ago, they have tunneled deeply, speaking through propaganda machines such as Rush Limbaugh gaining traction .making it over the finish line with KGB and Russian oligarch backing. The net effect on us? The loss of all built on the foundation of the enlightenment and an exceptional nation no king, a nation of, for and by the people, and the rule of law. There is nothing Judeo-Christian about social darwinism but is eerily similar to National Socialism (Nazis). The ruling againt the plaintiff by the 7th circuit in the U.S. and their success in creating chaos in Great Britain vis a vis "Brexit" by fascist Lafarge Inc. are indicators how easy their ascent.
ows how powerful they have become.

anon y'mouse , January 27, 2019 at 9:19 pm

They had better get ready to lower the SSI retirement age to 55, then. Or I predict blood in the streets.

jrs , January 28, 2019 at 1:49 pm

I wish it was so. They just expect the older crowd to die quietly.

How is it legal , January 27, 2019 at 10:04 pm

Where are the Bipartisan Presidential Candidates and Legislators on oral and verbal condemnation of Age Discrimination , along with putting teeth into Age Discrimination Laws, and Tax Policy. – nowhere to be seen , or heard, that I've noticed; particularly in Blue ™ California, which is famed for Age Discrimination of those as young as 36 years of age, since Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed anyone over 35, over the hill in the early 2000's , and never got crushed for it by the media, or the Politicians, as he should have (particularly in Silicon Valley).

I know those Republicans are venal, but I dare anyone to show me a meaningful Age Discrimination Policy Proposal, pushed by Blue Obama, Hillary, even Sanders and Jill Stein. Certainly none of California's Nationally known (many well over retirement age) Gubernatorial and Legislative Democratic Politicians: Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, and Ro Khanna (or the lesser known California Federal State and Local Democratic Politicians) have ever addressed it; despite the fact that homelessness deaths of those near 'retirement age' have been frighteningly increasing in California's obscenely wealthy homelessness 'hotspots,' such as Silicon Valley.

Such a tragic issue, which has occurred while the last over a decade of Mainstream News and Online Pundits, have Proclaimed 50 to be the new 30. Sadistic. I have no doubt this is linked to the ever increasing Deaths of Despair and attempted and successful suicides of those under, and just over retirement age– while the US has an average Senate age of 65, and a President and 2020 Presidential contenders, over 70 (I am not at all saying older persons shouldn't be elected, nor that younger persons shouldn't be elected, I'm pointing out the imbalance, insanity, and cruelty of it).

Further, age discrimination has been particularly brutal to single, divorced, and widowed females , whom have most assuredly made far, far less on the dollar than males (if they could even get hired for the position, or leave the kids alone, and housekeeping undone, to get a job):

Patrick Button, an assistant economics professor at Tulane University, was part of a research project last year that looked at callback rates from resumes in various entry-level jobs. He said women seeking the positions appeared to be most affected.

"Based on over 40,000 job applications, we find robust evidence of age discrimination in hiring against older women, especially those near retirement age, but considerably less evidence of age discrimination against men," according to an abstract of the study.

Jacquelyn James, co-director of the Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, said age discrimination in employment is a crucial issue in part because of societal changes that are forcing people to delay retirement. Moves away from defined-¬benefit pension plans to less assured forms of retirement savings are part of the reason.

Lambert Strether , January 28, 2019 at 2:15 am

> "Based on over 40,000 job applications, we find robust evidence of age discrimination in hiring against older women, especially those near retirement age, but considerably less evidence of age discrimination against men," according to an abstract of the study.

Well, these aren't real women, obviously. If they were, the Democrats would already be taking care of them.

jrs , January 28, 2019 at 1:58 pm

From the article: The greying of the workforce is "thanks to better health in older age and insufficient savings that require people to keeping working longer," according to the Chicago Tribune.

Get on the clue train Chicago Tribune, because your like W and Trump not knowing how a supermarket works, that's how dense you are. Even if one saved, and even if one won the luck lottery in terms of job stability and adequate income to save from, healthcare alone is a reason to work, either to get employer provided if lucky, or to work without it and put most of one's money toward an ACA plan or the like if not lucky. Yes the cost of almost all other necessities has also increased greatly, but even parts of the country without a high cost of living have unaffordable healthcare.

Enquiring Mind , January 27, 2019 at 11:07 pm

Benefits may be 23-30% or so of payroll and represent another expense management opportunity for the diligent executive. One piece of low-hanging fruit is the age-related healthcare cost. If you hire young people, who under-consume healthcare relative to older cohorts, you save money, ceteris paribus. They have lower premiums, lower loss experience and they rebound more quickly, so you hit a triple at your first at-bat swinging at that fruit. Yes, metaphors are fungible along with every line on the income statement.

If your company still has the vestiges of a pension or similar blandishment, you may even back-load contributions more aggressively, of course to the extent allowable. That added expense diligence will pay off when those annuated employees leave before hitting the more expensive funding years.

NB, the above reflects what I saw and heard at a Fortune 500 company.

rd , January 28, 2019 at 12:56 pm

Another good reason for a Canadian style single payer system. That turns a deciding factor into a non-factor.

Jack Hayes , January 28, 2019 at 8:15 am

A reason why the court system is overburdened is lack of clarity in laws and regulations. Fix the disparity between the two sections of the law so that courts don't have to decide which section rules.

rd , January 28, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Polarization has made tweaks and repairs of laws impossible.

Jeff N , January 28, 2019 at 10:17 am

Yep. Many police departments *legally* refuse to hire anyone over 35 years old (exceptions for prior police experience or certain military service)

Joe Well , January 28, 2019 at 12:36 pm

It amazes me how often the government will give itself exemptions to its own laws and principles, and also how often "progressive" nonprofits and political groups will also give themselves such exemptions, for instance, regarding health insurance, paid overtime, paid training, etc. that they are legally required to provide.

Ford Prefect , January 28, 2019 at 2:27 pm

There are specific physical demands in things like policing. So it doesn't make much sense to hire 55 year old rookie policemen when many policemen are retiring at that age.

Arthur Dent , January 28, 2019 at 2:59 pm

Its an interesting quandary. We have older staff that went back to school and changed careers. They do a good job and get paid at a rate similar to the younger staff with similar job-related experience. However, they will be retiring at about the same time as the much more experienced staff, so they will not be future succession replacements for the senior staff.

So we also have to hire people in their 20s and 30s because that will be the future when people like me retire in a few years. That could very well be the reason for the specific wording of the job opening (I haven't read the opinion). I know of current hiring for a position where the firm is primarily looking for somebody in their 20s or early 30s for precisely that reason. The staff currently doing the work are in their 40s and 50s and need to start bringing up the next generation. If somebody went back to school late and was in their 40s or 50s (so would be at a lower billing rate due to lack of job related experience), they would be seriously considered. But the firm would still be left with the challenge of having to hire another person at the younger age within a couple of years to build the succession. Once people make it past 5 years at the firm, they tend to stay for a long time with senior staff generally having been at the firm for 20 years or more, so hiring somebody really is a long-term investment.

[Jan 17, 2019] The financial struggles of unplanned retirement

People who are kicked out of their IT jobs around 55 now has difficulties to find even full-time McJobs... Only part time jobs are available. With the current round of layoff and job freezes, neoliberalism in the USA is entering terminal phase, I think.
Jan 17, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

A survey by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found on average Americans are retiring at age 63, with more than half indicating they retired sooner than they had planned. Among them, most retired for health or employment-related reasons.

... ... ...

On April 3, 2018, Linda LaBarbera received the phone call that changed her life forever. "We are outsourcing your work to India and your services are no longer needed, effective today," the voice on the other end of the phone line said.

... ... ...

"It's not like we are starving or don't have a home or anything like that," she says. "But we did have other plans for before we retired and setting ourselves up a little better while we both still had jobs."

... ... ...

Linda hasn't needed to dip into her 401(k) yet. She plans to start collecting Social Security when she turns 70, which will give her the maximum benefit. To earn money and keep busy, Linda has taken short-term contract editing jobs. She says she will only withdraw money from her savings if something catastrophic happens. Her husband's salary is their main source of income.

"I am used to going out and spending money on other people," she says. "We are very generous with our family and friends who are not as well off as we are. So we take care of a lot of people. We can't do that anymore. I can't go out and be frivolous anymore. I do have to look at what we spend - what I spend."

Vogelbacher says cutting costs is essential when living in retirement, especially for those on a fixed income. He suggests moving to a tax-friendly location if possible. Kiplinger ranks Alaska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Florida as the top five tax-friendly states for retirees. If their health allows, Vogelbacher recommends getting a part-time job. For those who own a home, he says paying off the mortgage is a smart financial move.

... ... ...

Monica is one of the 44 percent of unmarried persons who rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income. At the beginning of 2019, Monica and more than 62 million Americans received a 2.8 percent cost of living adjustment from Social Security. The increase is the largest since 2012.

With the Social Security hike, Monica's monthly check climbed $33. Unfortunately, the new year also brought her a slight increase in what she pays for Medicare; along with a $500 property tax bill and the usual laundry list of monthly expenses.

"If you don't have much, the (Social Security) raise doesn't represent anything," she says with a dry laugh. "But it's good to get it."

[Dec 14, 2018] 10 of the best pieces of IT advice I ever heard

Dec 14, 2018 | www.techrepublic.com
  1. Learn to say "no"

    If you're new to the career, chances are you'll be saying "yes" to everything. However, as you gain experience and put in your time, the word "no" needs to creep into your vocabulary. Otherwise, you'll be exploited.

    Of course, you have to use this word with caution. Should the CTO approach and set a task before you, the "no" response might not be your best choice. But if you find end users-and friends-taking advantage of the word "yes," you'll wind up frustrated and exhausted at the end of the day.

  2. Be done at the end of the day

    I used to have a ritual at the end of every day. I would take off my watch and, at that point, I was done... no more work. That simple routine saved my sanity more often than not. I highly suggest you develop the means to inform yourself that, at some point, you are done for the day. Do not be that person who is willing to work through the evening and into the night... or you'll always be that person.

  3. Don't beat yourself up over mistakes made

    You are going to make mistakes. Sometimes will be simple and can be quickly repaired. Others may lean toward the catastrophic. But when you finally call your IT career done, you will have made plenty of mistakes. Beating yourself up over them will prevent you from moving forward. Instead of berating yourself, learn from the mistakes so you don't repeat them.

  4. Always have something nice to say

    You work with others on a daily basis. Too many times I've watched IT pros become bitter, jaded people who rarely have anything nice or positive to say. Don't be that person. If you focus on the positive, people will be more inclined to enjoy working with you, companies will want to hire you, and the daily grind will be less "grindy."

  5. Measure twice, cut once

    How many times have you issued a command or clicked OK before you were absolutely sure you should? The old woodworking adage fits perfectly here. Considering this simple sentence-before you click OK-can save you from quite a lot of headache. Rushing into a task is never the answer, even during an emergency. Always ask yourself: Is this the right solution?

  6. At every turn, be honest

    I've witnessed engineers lie to avoid the swift arm of justice. In the end, however, you must remember that log files don't lie. Too many times there is a trail that can lead to the truth. When the CTO or your department boss discovers this truth, one that points to you lying, the arm of justice will be that much more forceful. Even though you may feel like your job is in jeopardy, or the truth will cause you added hours of work, always opt for the truth. Always.

  7. Make sure you're passionate about what you're doing

    Ask yourself this question: Am I passionate about technology? If not, get out now; otherwise, that job will beat you down. A passion for technology, on the other hand, will continue to drive you forward. Just know this: The longer you are in the field, the more likely that passion is to falter. To prevent that from happening, learn something new.

  8. Don't stop learning

    Quick-how many operating systems have you gone through over the last decade? No career evolves faster than technology. The second you believe you have something perfected, it changes. If you decide you've learned enough, it's time to give up the keys to your kingdom. Not only will you find yourself behind the curve, all those servers and desktops you manage could quickly wind up vulnerable to every new attack in the wild. Don't fall behind.

  9. When you feel your back against a wall, take a breath and regroup

    This will happen to you. You'll be tasked to upgrade a server farm and one of the upgrades will go south. The sweat will collect, your breathing will reach panic level, and you'll lock up like Windows Me. When this happens... stop, take a breath, and reformulate your plan. Strangely enough, it's that breath taken in the moment of panic that will help you survive the nightmare. If a single, deep breath doesn't help, step outside and take in some fresh air so that you are in a better place to change course.

  10. Don't let clients see you Google a solution

    This should be a no-brainer... but I've watched it happen far too many times. If you're in the middle of something and aren't sure how to fix an issue, don't sit in front of a client and Google the solution. If you have to, step away, tell the client you need to use the restroom and, once in the safety of a stall, use your phone to Google the answer. Clients don't want to know you're learning on their dime.

See also

  • [Dec 14, 2018] Blatant neoliberal propagamda anout "booming US job market" by Danielle Paquette

    That's way too much hype even for WaPo pressitutes... The reality is that you can apply to 50 jobs and did not get a single responce.
    Dec 12, 2018 | www.latimes.com

    Economists report that workers are starting to act like millennials on Tinder: They're ditching jobs with nary a text. "A number of contacts said that they had been 'ghosted,' a situation in which a worker stops coming to work without notice and then is impossible to contact," the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago noted in December's Beige Book report, which tracks employment trends. Advertisement > National data on economic "ghosting" is lacking. The term, which normally applies to dating, first surfaced on Dictionary.com in 2016. But companies across the country say silent exits are on the rise. Analysts blame America's increasingly tight labor market. Job openings have surpassed the number of seekers for eight straight months, and the unemployment rate has clung to a 49-year low of 3.7% since September. Janitors, baristas, welders, accountants, engineers -- they're all in demand, said Michael Hicks, a labor economist at Ball State University in Indiana. More people may opt to skip tough conversations and slide right into the next thing. "Why hassle with a boss and a bunch of out-processing," he said, "when literally everyone has been hiring?" Recruiters at global staffing firm Robert Half have noticed a 10% to 20% increase in ghosting over the last year, D.C. district President Josh Howarth said. Applicants blow off interviews. New hires turn into no-shows. Workers leave one evening and never return. "You feel like someone has a high level of interest, only for them to just disappear," Howarth said. Over the summer, woes he heard from clients emerged in his own life. A job candidate for a recruiter role asked for a day to mull over an offer, saying she wanted to discuss the terms with her spouse. Then she halted communication. "In fairness," Howarth said, "there are some folks who might have so many opportunities they're considering, they honestly forget." Keith Station, director of business relations at Heartland Workforce Solutions, which connects job hunters with companies in Omaha, said workers in his area are most likely to skip out on low-paying service positions. "People just fall off the face of the Earth," he said of the area, which has an especially low unemployment rate of 2.8%. Some employers in Nebraska are trying to head off unfilled shifts by offering apprentice programs that guarantee raises and additional training over time. "Then you want to stay and watch your wage grow," Station said. Advertisement > Other recruitment businesses point to solutions from China, where ghosting took off during the last decade's explosive growth. "We generally make two offers for every job because somebody doesn't show up," said Rebecca Henderson, chief executive of Randstad Sourceright, a talent acquisition firm. And if both hires stick around, she said, her multinational clients are happy to deepen the bench. Though ghosting in the United States does not yet require that level of backup planning, consultants urge employers to build meaningful relationships at every stage of the hiring process. Someone who feels invested in an enterprise is less likely to bounce, said Melissa and Johnathan Nightingale, who have written about leadership and dysfunctional management. "Employees leave jobs that suck," they said in an email. "Jobs where they're abused. Jobs where they don't care about the work. And the less engaged they are, the less need they feel to give their bosses any warning." Some employees are simply young and restless, said James Cooper, former manager of the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park, where he said people ghosted regularly. A few of his staffers were college students who lived in park dormitories for the summer. "My favorite," he said, "was a kid who left a note on the floor in his dorm room that said, 'Sorry bros, had to ghost.' " Other ghosters describe an inner voice that just says: Nah. Zach Keel, a 26-year-old server in Austin, Texas, made the call last year to flee a combination bar and cinema after realizing he would have to clean the place until sunrise. More work, he calculated, was always around the corner. "I didn't call," Keel said. "I didn't show up. I figured: No point in feeling guilty about something that wasn't that big of an issue. Turnover is so high, anyway."

    [Dec 14, 2018] You apply for a job. You hear nothing. Here's what to do next

    Dec 14, 2018 | finance.yahoo.com

    But the more common situation is that applicants are ghosted by companies. They apply for a job and never hear anything in response, not even a rejection. In the U.S., companies are generally not legally obligated to deliver bad news to job candidates, so many don't.

    They also don't provide feedback, because it could open the company up to a legal risk if it shows that they decided against a candidate for discriminatory reasons protected by law such as race, gender or disability.

    Hiring can be a lengthy process, and rejecting 99 candidates is much more work than accepting one. But a consistently poor hiring process that leaves applicants hanging can cause companies to lose out on the best talent and even damage perception of their brand.

    Here's what companies can do differently to keep applicants in the loop, and how job seekers can know that it's time to cut their losses.


    What companies can do differently

    There are many ways that technology can make the hiring process easier for both HR professionals and applicants.

    Only about half of all companies get back to the candidates they're not planning to interview, Natalia Baryshnikova, director of product management on the enterprise product team at SmartRecruiters, tells CNBC Make It .

    "Technology has defaults, one change is in the default option," Baryshnikova says. She said that SmartRecruiters changed the default on its technology from "reject without a note" to "reject with a note," so that candidates will know they're no longer involved in the process.

    Companies can also use technology as a reminder to prioritize rejections. For the company, rejections are less urgent than hiring. But for a candidate, they are a top priority. "There are companies out there that get back to 100 percent of candidates, but they are not yet common," Baryshnikova says.

    How one company is trying to help

    WayUp was founded to make the process of applying for a job simpler.

    "The No. 1 complaint from candidates we've heard, from college students and recent grads especially, is that their application goes into a black hole," Liz Wessel, co-founder and CEO of WayUp, a platform that connects college students and recent graduates with employers, tells CNBC Make It .

    WayUp attempts to increase transparency in hiring by helping companies source and screen applicants, and by giving applicants feedback based on soft skills. They also let applicants know if they have advanced to the next round of interviewing within 24 hours.

    Wessel says that in addition to creating a better experience for applicants, WayUp's system helps companies address bias during the resume-screening processes. Resumes are assessed for hard skills up front, then each applicant participates in a phone screening before their application is passed to an employer. This ensures that no qualified candidate is passed over because their resume is different from the typical hire at an organization – something that can happen in a company that uses computers instead of people to scan resumes .

    "The companies we work with see twice as many minorities getting to offer letter," Wessel said.

    When you can safely assume that no news is bad news

    First, if you do feel that you're being ghosted by a company after sending in a job application, don't despair. No news could be good news, so don't assume right off the bat that silence means you didn't get the job.

    Hiring takes time, especially if you're applying for roles where multiple people could be hired, which is common in entry-level positions. It's possible that an HR team is working through hundreds or even thousands of resumes, and they might not have gotten to yours yet. It is not unheard of to hear back about next steps months after submitting an initial application.

    If you don't like waiting, you have a few options. Some companies have application tracking in their HR systems, so you can always check to see if the job you've applied for has that and if there's been an update to the status of your application.

    Otherwise, if you haven't heard anything, Wessel said that the only way to be sure that you aren't still in the running for the job is to determine if the position has started. Some companies will publish their calendar timelines for certain jobs and programs, so check that information to see if your resume could still be in review.

    "If that's the case and the deadline has passed," Wessel says, it's safe to say you didn't get the job.

    And finally, if you're still unclear on the status of your application, she says there's no problem with emailing a recruiter and asking outright.

    [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 ski