Living and Working in the U.S.A.

We constantly hear how the economy is improving and things are going to be great any day now.  And those of us who are still working are happy with our situation.  If we’re retired, we’re probably not happy with interest rates and our income — not to mention the cost of living.  (But hey, the CPI is till way below 2%, right?!)

In 1993 I was working for one of the top IT service bureaus in the U.S.  Although we were doing great, the corporation wasn’t.  Once things got desperate enough, they sold the IT division off via an outsourcing contract to IBM to whitewash their books — and it worked… for awhile.

So, one day I had my old badge taken and I was given a shiny new IBM badge.  I thought, “Great this should be a good deal in the long run.  Right?”  Not so fast, it was about that time that IBM hired Lou Gershner as their new CEO (aka, the ‘hatchet man’).

Shortly after he started his ‘house cleaning’.  In 1993 IBM had 400,000 employes world wide.  Of them, 250,000 were inside the U.S.  When Lou was done, he had cut 150,000 employes!!  Wow!  Those were lean days!

Since, IBM has grown back to 400,000 employes.  However there are now only 60-90K within the U.S. (depending on who you ask).  BUT, there are rumors afoot suggesting they intend to cut another 28% of employes within the U.S.!!!  And people wonder why our economy is stalling..?!

The  narrative below is from an email I received recently from a guy who I worked/consulted with (remotely).  He once made about the same salary as I, but got laid off for over two years.  He was subsequently called back at half his salary with no benefits!!  But, he was at least glad he had stopped the hemorrhaging from his 401K to pay bills.  Now today, he has been cut back to part-time employment and is back to struggling with day to day expenses.

My point is, he does not count when it comes to ‘ reporting unemployment‘.  Read his update from him below (as an example) and learn the fate of thousands of people within this country (who’s stories are not reported) and ask yourself, how will these people survive in the near future?!

I’ve been working 32-hour weeks most of the year.  I  managed to get a full 40-hour week only three weeks this year (it was only 13 weeks last year).  Then in mid-September, as part of cost cutting, I was told to stop support of all of the internal systems (there were well over 100 separate mainframe systems involved).  My management escalated this decision to a fairly high level  They said “Nope.  And if things break, they break.  So be it.”

But it gets even better.  I was also told I could not fill the week with the commercial accounts I support.  I can only work the average of what I billed to commercial the past quarter.  So, since the first of October, I am limited to working a little over 15 hours per week (that’s 38% of a normal work week).  So I only work Mondays and Tuesdays.  And I’m also back to taking early withdrawals from my retirement savings to pay the bills.  I don’t
have much left after dipping into it the two years I was unable to find work when I was first let go.

On top of that, my teammate was also told to take off over 27 days without pay from mid-October until the end of the financial year (and the four days the company is closed
around Thanksgiving and Christmas do not count).  So he is basically working only 42% of a regular schedule.  So there isn’t much coverage at all.

Who knows what’s going to happen after the first of the year?   Rumor has it on the site where employees are posting what else is happening that there could be another massive layoff between now and the end of February.

I was talking to someone in one of the security auditing groups today, and even though their work levels have not gone down, their headcount has been reduced in the past year from 40 people to 13.  That could explain why it took them four months to complete a simple userid request I submitted back in July.

Even though the company publicly gave up on that “Road Map 2015” plan and the $20 EPS goal, they are still in cutting mode.  I suspect they still have bonuses and stock options geared to the stock price, as they just announced that they are going to spend
another $5 Billion buying back the stock!  And that’s not cash they have on hand.  They’re going to BORROW the money to do that! 

It reminds me of the famous line that Wimpy used to say in the old Popeye cartoons: “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”  Only I suspect that none of the people
in Armonk plan to be anywhere in sight when Tuesday rolls around.

It’s obvious that all they are interested in is raiding all of the money possible for themselves, then they will bail, with no concern with the thousands of lives they have destroyed.

The modern day version of rape and pillage.

Meanwhile, Google announced that they will INVEST $1.2 Billion in things like space exploration, aviation, rover/robotics and other emerging technologies.

I’m in job search mode – AGAIN – and it is worse than it was for me in 2005.  Of  course, I’m now nine years older (I turned 59 last month).  As you probably know from your own job searches, no one cares about your overall knowledge.  You can only do what you’ve done the last 2, 3, or 5+ years.  There is no room for learning anymore.  If you didn’t do it full time, it doesn’t count.

Part of this may be that “con game” I’ve read so much about the past few years.  Companies post job openings with a laundry list of unrealistic requirements, then bemoan the fact that there are
supposedly no qualified Americans for those jobs.  Next they go begging the government for more H-1B visas to bring over here “skilled” workers from foreign countries.  Which was their goal all along — bring in basically slave labor at the expense of the hard working and dedicated Americans.

Unfortunately I’m now singing the comedian Dennis Leary’s song “It’s a Merry F***ing Christmas”.  Ho. Ho. Ho.

Considering that 70% of our current GDP consists of ‘consumption’ within the U.S., how will this situation improve our national economy?  If we don’t get more people back to work in this country, how will we survive in the long run?


Maybe it would be a good idea to get rid of that IBM stock you’ve grown so fond of.?!


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