Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pass That Ball

I rolled with laughter when I read this:

N.F.L. Won’t Promote Enrollment in Health Insurance Under New Law

JENNIFER PRESTON
Published: June 29, 2013

The National Football League is not participating in an effort with the Obama administration to help promote enrollment in health insurance plans under the new health care law, a spokesman said. The statement came after two Republican Senate leaders wrote to the heads of six major professional sports organizations, including the N.F.L., expressing concern that they would help encourage people to sign up in the new health insurance programs set to begin next month. Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary for health and human services, has been in talks with various groups to help with enrollment efforts. But the senators, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Cornyn of Texas, warned that doing so might not be a good idea. “Given the divisiveness and persistent unpopularity of the health care law, it is difficult to understand why an organization like yours would risk damaging its inclusive and apolitical brand by lending its name to its promotion,” the senators wrote.

Okay the NFL, home to the most physically disabling sports next to boxing is bowing to pressure by two Senators threats or whatever that was to not do the "Patriotic" thing and assist the current President in promoting a law - one even upheld by the Supreme Court!

The irony, the hubris and frankly hilarity of this makes me relieved.  As Groucho Marx once said: "any club that would have me as a member I would not join." 

The NFL currently has a player charged with one murder and being investigated for two others, they have a history of violence among many players, murderers, dog killers, absent baby daddies, rapists and the highest rate of individuals sustaining life damaging illnesses from traumatic brain injury to paralysis.  So I can see endorsing health care and insurance would be a tad ironic if not hypocritical as the NFL has denied the issues surrounding concussions and their role in their rise. 

The "culture" of sports and particularly football is not one I embrace. Last year there were more than one story of women being drugged and assaulted by members of teams from high school to colleges. Then we have the strange "catfish" story of the Notre Dame player to add to the already burgeoning file of "la strange" from its legacy of crazy. 

So really are we missing out some Tebow message of prayer and forgiveness or some end line dance coming to a PSA near you? No. 

I have an endorsement for the NFL - clean up your act. Frankly you also contribute to the excessive costs of cable television for which I pay for unwillingly.  I don't watch a sport that does nothing for the State of America in anyway.  Thanks for the fumble.


Modern Kelly Girl

I have written endlessly about the new economy and what it means with regards to employment. Be you young, old, degreed or not it doesn't matter when it comes to the job creators they have half the name right just change jobs to wealth and that is really what is about.

When you click the link to the ProPublica article read the comments. This is from one of those "degreed" persons living and working in the supposed profession of saviors. 

Brian
June 27, 2:26 p.m.
“We work very hard to abide by the law,” said Walmart’s Brooke Buchanon, “and we expect all the businesses that we do business with and that they do business with to comply with the law.” Seems to me we heard this line before - from construction firms attempting to justify their hiring of undocumented workers and wage theft. 

When the dot-com bubble popped, I went from temp job to temp job. Always sold on how this was “temp-to-perm,” and a good use of my time, as it would almost surely lead to a full-time position. I’ve lost track of how many temp jobs I had back then, but it was more than a dozen in about two years. 

Time after time, I’d get the call. This would be the one! There was so much work to do! 

Temp-to-perm! I’d book 60 hours the first week, 50 the second, 40 the third, then get the call at dinner that third Friday night advising I was no longer needed. I built servers, computers, under the counter water purification systems, even separated nuts and bolts (the most mind-numbing job in the world). It’s been a blight on my resume for the better part of a decade, but student loans don’t pay themselves.
One particularly memorable job was at a Motorola plant in Tempe, AZ. They hired about a dozen of us to work an assembly line building computers. We worked 5AM to 5PM six days a week for about a month and a half, before the OTHER contractors - the ones hired to pack and move each assembly line to the brand new facility in Nogales, Mexico - were ready to pack and move our line. Then we were shown the door. 

Irony: If you can’t take advantage of people in their home countries, take advantage of them when they come to America for a better life.

This article below discusses how the modern workforce is equivalent of a Kelly Girl - temporary and replaceable. It is now the equivalent of the day laborers outside of Home Depot.  I look forward to the day they have an app for that. 

Temp Workers, Permanent Problems

By JILLIAN DUNHAM


I found my first job out of college through a temp agency, which sent me to a brand-name bank where I stood in a windowless closet in a polyester-blend suit and heinous square-toed shoes filing carbons of personal portfolio data for individual-wealth-management clients. I was grateful to be hired, but during those humid, lifeless hours, I did think fondly of the days when I shoveled horse manure for $5 an hour.

The experiences of temp workers chronicled by Michael Grabell for ProPublica and Time are far, far worse: getting up at 4 in the morning to sit in an agency office and hope for your name to be called; having no other option but to take van rides with as many as 20 other people to get to your job; taking home less than minimum wage and falling quickly into a hand-to-mouth scramble, always worrying whether your name will be called tomorrow.

Grabell writes that there are more temporary workers now than ever before, some 2.7 million people, according to Labor Department statistics. A temp job is perhaps better than no job at all (and can sometimes lead to a permanent one), but at least 840,000 of those workers are making less than $25,000 a year, ProPublica found. The temp industry is expanding at a rate 10 times that of the private sector — it’s easy to speculate that this growth comes at the expense of full-time jobs.

“The temp system insulates the host companies from workers’ compensation claims, unemployment taxes, union drives and the duty to insure that their workers are citizens or legal immigrants,” Grabell writes. “In turn, the temps suffer high injury rates, according to federal officials and academic studies, and many of them endure hours of unpaid waiting and face fees that depress their pay below minimum wage.”

Recruiting a temporary work force has become so important to American companies that there are so-called temp towns, where anywhere from 5 to 8 percent of the workers are in temporary jobs. “In many temp towns,” Grabell writes, “agencies have flocked to neighborhoods full of undocumented immigrants, finding labor that is kept cheap in part by these workers’ legal vulnerability.” Minorities make up a large portion of the temporary workers; Grabell notes that African-Americans make up 20 percent of the temp industry, compared to 11 percent of the overall work force.

Low wages and a lack of any kind of benefits like health insurance or day care bolster Grabell’s argument that the temp industry is creating a kind of vacuum for growing economic inequality. When one temp worker tells Grabell that she dreams of owning “a really small, little house,” he asks if she thinks she can, and she laughs.

“’Earning $8.25 an hour?’ she says. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that.’”

Degree Me This

Much is made about the need for a degree to get a job and then the mate to that check means insurmountable debt and a job that may or not compensate you adequately to both pay down debt and of course acquire more in order to boost the economy. It's the American Way/Dream/Delusion.

We have of course the valley of milk and honey proclaiming that there are not enough skilled employees for the said jobs that require said skills of which they are neither specific nor truthful about but enough about the home where Jobs is just the name of a dead icon.

Today there is an article (below)  about how Colleges need to make themselves more voc than tech apparently.  And ironic that last week there was an editorial about the decline of Humanities in Universities and another one today about that same issue.  Of course women are the fault of that but soon we will be back getting our English majors, teaching until we get married and have babies in our new return to Little House of Mad Men on the Prairie fantasy America.

And yesterday I found this profile of a tech CEO called Jed Yeueh of Delphix, who ironically carries not one but two degrees in Humanities from of course Harvard.  And yet here is admitting that he taught himself programming via Excel.  So much for that needed skill set to get those unfilled jobs we keep hearing about! Maybe it was the Harvard thing that enabled the whole bypassing of STEM education that is apparently so vital for these thousands and thousands of vacant positions.  Don't say Jobs.. he's dead you know.

Why companies complain that they have few skilled workers they also apparently have a problem with the ones that do arrive degrees in hand with their what - lack of Humanity vested skills!  What is this - a conundrum, quandary or is it a double negative?  Who knows.. I have a degree in what - the Humanities! And yet I teach for a living.  Oddly teaching Language Arts.. the humanities and what do teach - Grammar, Phonetics and Linguistics. Not stuff the Common Core or the Readers/Writers workshops endorse. Well it was the Ivy League that devised those new standards. Irony on top of irony.

To break rules you need to know them. What you can't do teach.  Learning is lifelong. There are dozens more proverbial expressions that I could bore one with but in reality we have a disconnect and miscommunication that comes from the inability to actually work collaboratively and constructively on what our wants and needs are.   We have the silly obsession that the Asian education system is somehow superior and want to emulate it.  Talk to someone living and working in those countries and ask them about what the standards of education are and the types of students they are producing. (I have and it is revelatory how negative their impressions are)  It is not imaginative, innovative, creative individuals - they are worker bees. And that is what the land of milk and honey want - worker bees, they have plenty of Queen bees and they want to keep that honey and hive to themselves.

Many corporations back in the day invested in their workers not Wall Street, providing them outstanding supplementary training and education. They encouraged their employees to stay in their jobs and compensated them. Internships were steps into paid positions, now they are simply free labor.   I have said it before and it bears repeating - the Technology Sector famous for their versions 2.0 discovered that they can do with people what the do with their products - dispose and find a better cheaper version.   Saving the world one gigabyte at a time.


What It Takes to Make New College Graduates Employable

By ALINA TUGEND
Published: June 28, 2013

MY older son graduated from high school last week and has started a pleasant job as a summer lifeguard. In four years we expect to attend his college graduation, and we hope the time there leaves him with great experiences, a love of learning and some idea how to get and keep a job.

It’s that last part of the equation that I’m going to focus on. My heart sinks every time I read a news story or opinion piece quoting employers who charge that four-year colleges and universities are failing to provide graduates with the skills they need to become and remain employable. <

Of course, in many ways, this isn’t a new story.

“A four-year liberal arts education doesn’t prepare kids for work and it never has,” said Alec R. Levenson a senior research scientist for the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California.

Mara Swan, the executive vice president of global strategy and talent at Manpower Group, agreed.

“There’s always been a gap between what colleges produce and what employers want,” she said. “But now it’s widening.” That’s because workplaces are more complex and globalized, profit margins are slimmer, companies are leaner and managers expect their workers to get up to speed much faster than in the past.

“Employers are under pressure to do more with less,” Ms. Swan said.

Unemployment rates for those with bachelor’s degrees or higher are still much better — at 3.8 percent in May — than those with only a high school diploma, which was 7.4 percent in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nonetheless, a special report by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace published in March found that about half of 704 employers who participated in the study said they had trouble finding recent college graduates qualified to fill positions at their company.

But, surprisingly, it wasn’t necessarily specific technical skills that were lacking.

“When it comes to the skills most needed by employers, job candidates are lacking most in written and oral communication skills, adaptability and managing multiple priorities, and making decisions and problem solving,” the report said.

Jaime S. Fall, a vice president at the HR Policy Association, an organization of chief human resources managers from large employers, said these findings backed up what his organization was hearing over and over from employers.

Young employees “are very good at finding information, but not as good at putting that information into context,” Mr. Fall said. “They’re really good at technology, but not at how to take those skills and resolve specific business problems.”

This isn’t a dilemma just in this country, but around the world, Ms. Swan said. A global study conducted last year of interviews with 25,000 employers found that nine out of 10 employees believed that colleges were not fully preparing students for the workplace.

“There were the same problems,” she said. “Problems with collaboration, interpersonal skills, the ability to deal with ambiguity, flexibility and professionalism.”

But it’s easy for the issue to degenerate into finger-pointing.

“If you sat down with a committee of professors, and told them students are not coming out with the skills they need, they would say, ‘you’re smoking something,’ ” Mr. Levenson said. “The trouble is, those skills are applied in a college context, not a workplace context.”

But, he added, “you can’t create a school-based curriculum that can help someone transition to being highly productive on the job in 10 days.”

In other words, the onus shouldn’t just be on universities; employers also need to step up to the plate.

The in-depth training programs and apprenticeships of the past are unlikely to come back, so companies must become more innovative in helping young employees come up to speed, according to a report released in May by Accenture, a management consulting and outsourcing company.

“Rather than simply bemoaning the inability to find employees with the skills required for available jobs, organizations must step up with new and more comprehensive enterprise learning strategies,” Accenture stated in a summary of The Accenture 2013 College Graduate Employment Survey, which queried 1,010 students graduating from college in 2013 and 1,005 who graduated in 2011 and 2012.

The problem, it said, is that most recent college graduates expect employers to provide on-the-ground training, but most of them don’t actually receive it.


“Based on these findings, as well as our own work with hundreds of companies around the world, it is hard to deny the conclusion that many employers have overblown expectations for the skills of new hires — believing falsely that recent college graduates should be able to hit the ground running,” the summary added.

Katherine LaVelle, who leads Accenture’s Talent and Organization group for North America, said the employers they talked to seemed more concerned about the lack of specific technical skills than broad ones like communication. But the overall issue of preparedness remains the same.

“Universities are not in the job of vocational training but they are in the job of evolving,” Ms. LaVelle said. “The magic lies in finding a model that’s appropriate for students to build skills, but palatable and effective for employers as well.”

It would seem that the job internships that college students, and increasingly post-college students, participate in would help prepare students for the working world, but experts say most are too short and not substantial enough. Longer, more in-depth ones at prominent companies are highly competitive.

“They’re incredibly helpful, but they’re not a cure-all,” Mr. Fall said.

There is clearly no one answer, but the most important issue is communication between all sides, said Karin Fischer, a staff writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education, who helped write up the survey results.

“To what extent are employers and colleges having a conversation about what they really need?” she asked. “We see this more in the community college arena. Maybe we need more back and forth.”

It’s not that colleges and companies haven’t been trying to figure this out — and with varying success. In 2008, the Boeing Company ranked colleges based on how well their graduates performed within the corporation. The results weren’t made public, but Boeing did share them with colleges.

Richard Stephens, a former senior vice present of human resources and management at Boeing, told The Chronicle that some colleges took the findings seriously and worked with the company to refine their curriculums, while others dismissed them.

Boeing used that information to determine where the aerospace company focused its internship programs and hiring.

But a spokesman for Boeing said there were no plans for another such evaluation, saying it was “difficult to measure individuals in such a big company and difficult to implement over the long term.”

One way the industry is reaching out directly to new entrants in the work force is through a Web site, Jobipedia.org, started by the HR Policy Association. An employee posts a question and recruiters for the companies that participate answer it. One question may elicit several answers from different perspectives.

About 20 major companies — such as Gap, Merck and American Express — participated. And some 50 colleges, including Cornell, Duke University and Georgia Institute of Technology, have made the Web site available to students at their college career centers.

The questions range from career planning to interview issues to on the job concerns. For example, “Is it O.K. to have a drink at a business lunch?” elicited four responses. The consensus: Best to avoid it.

As Mr. Fall said, “colleges can’t be either/or anymore — a trade school or a liberal arts college. We need skilled people with well-rounded backgrounds and the ability to think constructively.”

You hear that, son?


Government Jobs?

Much is made by many in the mythical Unicorn world of the Randian Galt's that Government does not create jobs, industry does.  And clearly that has been working out well.  What is the nation's "official" unemployment - 7%?

Many many "free market" jobs actually come from the Government indirectly and directly.  Indirectly via those "entitlements" such as grants, tax credits and loans and directly via Contracts and other secondary means.  My personal favorite outsourcing right now is Booz Allen, they really are winners as they only have one client - the US Government.  I can think of only one other that rivals it and that was the former private military Blackwater that was an expensive contractor in more than just than what was signed on the dotted line.

But there are of course other less noteworthy groups and businesses that benefit from Governmental outsourcing.  The article below shows how the current austerity/sequestration/furloughs and other methods of cuts have affected those real job creators.  The jobs that are filled by working men and women just trying to make it work for whatever percentile they belong.


Mandatory Federal Cuts Hurt Private Sector, Too


By CATHERINE RAMPELL
Published: June 26, 2013

WASHINGTON — Congress’s $85 billion, across-the-board budget cuts may not have brought the economy to a halt, as many once feared. But they are having a negative effect on jobs in the private sector, according to an analysis of the industries whose head count is most dependent on federal funds. >

It is no surprise that some of the companies that are hurting are closely associated with military spending, which was specifically targeted to absorb about half of the cuts from the so-called sequester that began March 1. But many of the businesses experiencing the most pain are those that provide a wide range of services, like plumbing and maintenance.

“We’re kind of invisible,” says Robert M. Sacco, general manager of Aleut Facilities Support Services, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., “until your toilet overflows.”

Contractors say they are trying to make do by picking up other projects where they can, but private sector and state and local government demand has also been weak or shrinking in recent years. Many in the facilities support field, a business category that includes janitorial, maintenance, trash disposal, guard and security, mail routing, reception and laundry services, say they are frustrated by the lack of public awareness about how defense budget cuts affect workers who are not performing stereotypical military functions.

“They just kind of left us hanging,” said James M. Galligan, chief executive and founder of Strategic Consulting Alliances, a small business in Maryland that employs veterans to do things like clean bathrooms and repair roofs on government properties. “In midstream the government just sort of cut its funding in half, but I, of course, still have to pay for my workers’ health care and taxes and everything else.”

As a result, he resorted to layoffs earlier this year that brought his total payroll down to 50 from about 80.

Mr. Galligan’s and Mr. Sacco’s companies both provide facilities support services; about 43 percent of the sector’s jobs are directly or indirectly paid for by military and other national security operations.

That makes it one of top five sectors that are most reliant on military spending to pay employees. The others in the top five are ship and boat building; aerospace product and parts manufacturing; scientific research and development services; and navigational, measuring, electromedical and control instruments manufacturing, based on calculations by The New York Times using Labor Department methodology. (The calculations involve looking at which industries receive government allocations, and then determine where hiring occurs when production rises or falls in one of those industries. For example, if the Pentagon spends money on fighter planes, that affects employment in the aerospace industry as well as upstream companies like metal manufacturers.)

“There is a huge amount of public sector employment today that is actually in the private sector,” said Justin Wolfers, an economics and public policy professor at the University of Michigan. “Who is a public sector worker used to be a simple thing and now it’s not.”

Across the five industries that are most sensitive to changes in military spending, employment fell at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in March and stayed flat in April, the latest month for which seasonally adjusted data are available. In all other sectors, by contrast, employment grew at annualized rates of about 1.6 percent in March and 1.7 percent in April.

Before the start of the sequester on March 1, employment at private companies heavily dependent on military spending had been more closely tracking employment in the rest of the economy, though the numbers were somewhat uneven. Military payrolls have been declining almost every month since November 2011 in response to the drawdown in American wars abroad.

These are just the sectors that are most directly hit by Pentagon cutbacks; economists fear that the sequester will ripple through the rest of the economy in more subtle ways, as downsized or furloughed government workers and contractors spend less money at their local businesses. The federal government has shed 45,000 jobs since the sequester began, and federal workers who were working part time but wanted full-time work numbered 55,000 in May, up from 38,000 a year earlier.

Government cutbacks, not just the sequester and other federal budget cuts but also several years of state and local government layoffs, appear to be an important factor in holding back the economic expansion. “The great puzzle in this recovery is why it’s not quicker, particularly relative to other recoveries,” Mr. Wolfers said. “The sequester is one of the many insults that been hurled at the recovery so far.”

Some government contractors said that their problems started even before the sequester officially began in March, partly because months of debate over Congressional budget cuts made government agencies and military bases wary about how much money they’d have available to spend.

In May 2012, for example, Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque reduced the number of times it had its bathrooms and other facilities cleaned from every other day to twice a week, according to Brian Ammerman, associate vice president of business operations at Adelante Enterprises, a nonprofit that employs people with disabilities and whose facilities support services division holds the custodial contract with Kirtland.
In other cases, new contracts have been delayed, including projects to make government buildings more energy-efficient. “There are expected jobs that we’ve been tracking for several years that we knew were supposed to hit in the first quarter of this year that we haven’t seen yet,” said Dave Mannix, director of the federal market for Sebesta Blomberg, another firm that has facilities management and other technical and engineering contracts with both public and private sector clients. “There were things that were supposed to be up for contract in the second quarter, and we haven’t seen those yet either.”

Even companies that have not been affected so far are concerned about the pipeline for future government work.

“Fiscal year 2014 is going to be a bad year,” said Mario Burgos, president of the Burgos Group, a small business in Albuquerque that provides a variety of technical, administrative and management services to federal clients, including the Navy, the Air Force and the Bureau of Land Management. “The largest amount of contract awards comes in this last fiscal quarter, which ends in September. Well, that’s also the time that the government employees who make those award decisions, who get those contracts out, are all being furloughed.”

Mr. Burgos said his company had been enjoying a good year so far, mostly by casting its net more broadly and bidding on contracts at agencies the company had not previously worked for. Nonetheless, he has resisted expanding because of uncertainty over the next federal fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1, and whether existing contracts, typically awarded on a five- or 10-year basis, might be canceled.

“It really makes us hesitant to invest in infrastructure, like additional people or additional tools, since we don’t know what could be taken away,” he said. “Usually one of the nice things about federal contracting is that you can plan on a longer time frame, as opposed to with business-to-business projects where somebody new gets hired and then they change their mind about the project. But now even in government work we don’t know what’s going to happen month to month.”

Friday, June 28, 2013

Getting Old is A Bitch

The article below is another one discussing one of my favorite industries - Technology - and their cry for skilled workers since America is a hot mess of idiots who can buy their products but create them, no, just too old and too expensive to "create jobs" for.

What it is that they treat people like their products - disposable.

Irony that an industry that believes it is changing the world would mean they would actually invent the technology to make technology so easy anyone can learn it and therefore do it, requiring special education and training obsolete if not necessary to do the job. Well any job but coding.  Give it time but this might be a little tail wagging the dog or that if they actually did cure cancer imagine the job dissolution there.   Careful what you wish for and all that.

Notice that while they are having "problems" locally finding skilled American workers it seems that once third word countries have suddenly caught up if not excelled in Education and training to the point of where their graduates are better than ours.  Funny did someone tell the colleges here?  I bet Harvard is pissed off!

Labor shortage? No cheap labor shortage.  I like mine with a side of fries and you?  That will be the only order many of the workers in this article will be filling.


A Bill Allowing More Foreign Workers Stirs a Tech Debate

By SOMINI SENGUPTA
Published: June 27, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO — As the Senate voted on a landmark immigration bill that would let Silicon Valley companies import more foreign engineers, some Americans remain locked in a deeply emotional argument over whether outsiders are taking jobs away from people like Joey Doernberg.
Mr. Doernberg worked in chip design, before that industry shrank, and then for a solar energy company, before that industry shrank, and has been unemployed since the middle of last year. By his own account, his skills are not ideal for the current job market. Nor does it help, he says, that at 53, he looks older than he is; youth is at a premium in his industry. So, too, is optimism.

“It’s a question of convincing someone that with these skills, I can do this job, even though I haven’t done it before,” he said. “I’m very optimistic. I know I will find a job.”

The questions of skills, jobs and nationality are a combustible mix these days.

Silicon Valley companies, warning of an acute labor shortage, say it is too costly to retrain older workers like Mr. Doernberg, and that the country is not producing enough younger Americans with the precise skills the industry needs. Their arguments have persuaded a majority of senators to give them what they want: a provision in the immigration bill to let in many more foreign professionals.

But Americans like Mr. Doernberg and the powerful labor lobby say that what the tech industry really wants is to depress wages and bring in more pliant, less costly temporary workers from overseas. If there is such a talent shortage, they ask, why are wages for most engineers not rising faster? Labor groups have pushed for a requirement to offer jobs to equally qualified Americans before hiring foreigners, a provision that the industry has fiercely resisted.

The pitched arguments of both sides, which are likely to resurface in the House when it takes up its version of an immigration overhaul, cloud a complicated reality. There is little empirical evidence to suggest that foreign engineers displace American engineers as a whole. If anything, one recent study suggests, the growth of immigrant workers in American companies helps younger American technical workers — more of them are hired and at higher-paying jobs — but has no noticeable consequences, good or bad, on older workers.

“In the short run, we don’t find really any adverse or superpositive effect on the employment of Americans,” said William R. Kerr, a Harvard business professor who conducted the study on the work force of 300 American companies. “People take an extremely one-sided view of this stuff and dismiss any evidence to the contrary.”

A recent analysis by the Brookings Institution reached a similar conclusion. It found that in the top 10 cities that bring in the largest number of high-skilled guest workers on H-1B visas, college-educated Americans — those who could compete for jobs with high-skilled guest workers — are not more likely to be unemployed.

At the same time, though, the industry’s claims of a labor shortage may be somewhat overblown. Most H-1B workers hold entry-level positions. Economists say that bringing in more of these workers would serve to keep wages down. It also saves employers the trouble of having to retrain workers.

There is a difference between what companies say they need and want, said Peter Cappelli, a management professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “Saying we need people with these skills is like me saying I need a four-wheel drive,” he said. “They could retrain people.”

It is true that for certain categories of engineers, wages are not going up as sharply as one would expect if good engineering talent were indeed hard to find. But it is also true that engineers with certain specialties, like software development, are hard to find.

Intel, for instance, which has more than 50,000 employees in the United States, said it has 1,000 openings. Motorola Solutions said it was scrambling for software engineers. And unemployment among technology professionals is generally about half the national average, buttressing the industry’s claims

Economists say there may be other reasons for opening the door to high-skilled immigrants. In cities where there are large concentrations of such immigrants in science and engineering, overall wages tend to go up, especially among college-educated American residents, and eventually, so do housing prices, according to a study by Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California, Davis.

The Congressional Budget Office weighed in this week too, concluding that the growth in high-skilled immigration would lead to “slightly higher” productivity and in turn higher wages overall.

Already, the fight over high-skilled immigration has led to arguments and counterarguments on the Senate floor, with one side warning that jobs will go to workers from overseas and the other rallying for Americans first.

But Ardine Williams, the vice president for human resources at Intel, said that hiring Americans is not always practical. Asked about hiring unemployed engineers in this country, she said, “I encounter those folks as well. They are skilled and have expertise outside of an area where we need engineers. In some cases they haven’t kept their skills current.”

The debate over the effect of foreign engineers on American ones has obscured the critical issue of why more Americans are not going into the thriving technology sector. Students in the United States consistently rank low on global math and science tests, suggesting that relatively few are prepared to go into rigorous science and engineering programs.

In engineering programs at American universities, a little more than 40 percent of all graduate students were from abroad, according to data from the National Science Foundation. Even among Americans who do graduate with computer science or engineering degrees, a third pursue careers outside the tech sector.

Mr. Doernberg is keeping his fingers crossed. A resident of Woodside, Calif., an upscale town south of San Francisco, he spends his days scouring online job boards and attending networking sessions at diners and church halls across Silicon Valley. One of them is a Thursday morning group that meets in a church in Saratoga, a short drive from his home.

It was set up years ago by Hamid Saadat, an electrical engineer who came to this country from Iran as a graduate student in 1978, worked at a series of semiconductor companies in the area, became a United States citizen and went through the same rite of passage as Mr. Doernberg.

In 2001, just as the technology industry slumped, he lost his job. He was 47 and he soon learned one lesson. In Silicon Valley, it may not matter where you were born, but when.

“As much as we like to believe there’s no discrimination, being younger usually helps,” Mr. Saadat said.

Ring the Alarm Bells

 I have long wondered what the obsession with the whole vagina/uterus thing the nation has been undergoing the last decade or so.  

Then today perusing the web I found this article from the Wall Street Journal, the tabloid equivalent to the 1%.  Nothing says pandering more with better vocabulary and higher level writing style then the bat signal articles the WSJ puts out under the guise of news.   Yes there are still, I have been told, some real Journalists left at this icon of Wall Street business news under the Murdoch banner but I think they are largely locked in a battle of wits - they are losing.

Today's bat signal also explains the histrionics around immigration law and add gay marriage, voting rights and anything that might have Poors doing something that the Rich's don't want them to do without their permission.

And to think all the fuss surrounding Paula Deen's use of the "n" word and her loss of endorsements, work, etc.   I have to laugh as I suspect it is something that crosses the lips of many members of the White Establishment at their private clubs and gatherings.  Recall the infamous 47% remark made by Mitt Romney at a fund raiser?  Perhaps that word is only whispered or there is another euphemism, oh that is right "urban" is the most recent that comes to mind to refer to those whom are "not white."

Now the article I believe is supposedly a note that its time to WAKE UP WHITE PEOPLE but in reality what it has done is sent them into a proverbial tizzy by ensuring that women starting having those babies.  Caring for them, educating them or helping their families eat or live in affordable housing and clean communities really not the problem.. big FU there. 

My favorite comment comes at the end... BOTTOMS UP I say.  


 More White Americans Dying than Being Born

By: Neil Shah


More white Americans are dying than being born for the first time in modern history—suggesting minorities and newcomers will play an important role in fueling the population growth America's recovering economy needs to thrive.

[image]The number of non-Hispanic white Americans who died in the year ended June 2012 exceeded the number who were born during that period by about 12,400, the first "natural decrease" for this group. That's according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released Thursday and an analysis of separate data from the National Center for Health Statistics by demographer Kenneth Johnson at the University of New Hampshire. The white population edged up in absolute terms last year thanks to immigration, Census figures show.

What's News

 In historic shift, a new Census report shows that number of deaths now exceeds births among white Americans. Supreme Court rules genes are not patentable. Best Buy to carve out Microsoft mini-stores. Joanne Po reports. Photo: AP
The Census data show that as the non-Hispanic white population grows at a slower pace, the share of young Americans who are minorities is increasing, said demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank in Washington. While most American children under 5 years old are still white—50.1%—that proportion is expected to fall because the majority of births have been minority children for two years in a row, a trend driven mostly by Hispanic and Asian births.

The growth rate of America's white population has been slowing for years, but demographers had expected white births to continue exceeding deaths for some time. Census researchers had projected the "natural decrease," or white Americans' deaths exceeding births, would begin around 2020 and the overall white population would start falling outright several years later.

"Even during the great influenza epidemic of 1919, there was no white 'natural decrease,' " said Mr. Johnson, calling the new numbers "stunning." The epidemic of 1918-19 killed more than 600,000 Americans. The big driver of the recent numbers, Mr. Johnson said, was a drop in white births, which fell about 13% last year from 2007 levels.

The findings illustrate how rapidly the U.S. is becoming more diverse and how much of the nation's population growth is likely to be driven by minorities and new immigrants in the years ahead.
The recent trends are partly due to the nation's weak economic recovery, which has encouraged many young women to delay having children—a trend that demographers say could now reverse. Fertility rates dropped to low levels during the Great Depression and the 1970s malaise before rising again, according to Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau.

But the Census numbers underscore a more powerful, long-term demographic shift. As the nation's white population ages, there are fewer white women of childbearing age—a trend unlikely to change—and that results in fewer white children. At the same time, young adults, whether white, black or Hispanic, are having fewer children. America's replacement level—how many children it takes to keep population constant as people die—is about 2.1 births per woman. The fertility rate of U.S. women is about 1.9 births.

That means U.S. population growth will depend significantly on immigration. There are now 14 states where the majority of children under 5 are nonwhite, Mr. Frey said; in 2000, only five states, including the District of Columbia, had "minority majority" toddler populations.

The U.S. population is "browning from the bottom up," Mr. Frey said.

More with a Whisper

Anger over income inequality did not spread to shareholder votes on executive pay.
That was then this is now.  Remember the infamous shout out to the Tea Party to stop the tax payer largess to stop the payoffs (in the form of a Government TARP program to rewrite underwater mortgages) that came from the front of the commodities trade building in Chicago; the cry that resulted in many interesting people donning fascinating Revolutionary style wear and taking to their mobile homes, trucks and walkers to throw dollars at town halls and march on Washington?

You don't? Well in our world that was eons ago and today the rallies at varying shareholder meetings, Wal-Mart comes to mind, are also fading quietly into the background as the behemoth bill that resulted from the outrage, Dodd-Frank, has also quietly whimpered into the darkness of Congress thanks to the varying high paying Lobbyists and their "influence" in the Capitol.

One of the "tax the rich" cries that was pronounced as "class warfare" was the idea of say on pay.  The belief that the outrageous salaries, perks, golden parachutes and other benefits of the executive suite were large in part of the problem of the near collapse of the global economy.

The idea was to stave off this risk seeking behavior by management to enter in short term profit generating schemes to earn fast bucks, cash the check and then leave the company in turn the Government to pick up the rest of the costs to stave off bankruptcy and/or collapse.  The book by CEO sycophant, Andrew Ross Sorkin, called Too Big to Fail, became not just a title but a way of life for those on Wall Street.   Sorkin, whom I do find a good writer is less a reporter than dutiful scribe to Wall Street and his recent rant about having Glen Greenwald arrested and prosecuted for helping NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden comes to mind one word for him - HYPOCRITE.

The article below is from NYT and their co-operation with Pro Publica who also works with my beloved Bill Moyers still falls into the arena of "investigative journalism" of which I am eternally grateful.  I actually don't mind opinion and advocacy but be honest and transparent about it.

I have highlighted the pertinent parts for those less inclined to read but I think the salient issues are that this say on pay idea is dead in the water,  Dodd-Frank is and was a joke, a band-aid to a seeping wound and that wound is just a mass of scar tissue now and we carry that mark for life.



In Shareholder Say-on-Pay Votes, More Whispers Than Shouts


By JESSE EISINGER, ProPublica

The “say on pay” experiment is a bust.

The Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law gave shareholders the ability to vote on the pay packages of top executives, and it turns out that they fall over themselves to approve.

More companies are achieving Fidel Castro-like election results this year than in the first two years since Dodd-Frank started requiring such votes. A full 72 percent of companies reporting votes so far have received 90 percent or more shareholder approval for their pay packages. That compares with 69 percent in both 2012 and 2011, according to Equilar, an executive compensation consultancy.

And shareholders are feeling relatively magnanimous about the rotten apples, too. Only 41 companies out of nearly 1,800 failed so far this year on say-on-pay votes, compared with 49 companies at this point last year, according to the companies tracked by the executive compensation consulting firm Semler Brossy.

Troublingly, investors pass larger companies more readily than they do smaller firms. But the chief executive of a large company deserves more scrutiny over pay, not less. That’s partly because the livelihoods of so many people depend on people running big firms, but also because those executives are largely caretakers of already established institutions. Typically, they have displayed neither vision nor entrepreneurialism but an ability to rise through a bureaucracy without offending anyone. When they arrive on the throne, they typically do a little bit better or a little bit worse than their predecessor, without distinguishing themselves in the least. Yet, they get paid as if they were the second coming of Henry Ford.

The final strike against say-on-pay is that it has had no impact on the level of compensation. Quite the opposite. Pay for chief executives was at its highest level ever last year, up 6.5 percent from a year earlier, according to an Equilar analysis. After a brief dip at the height of the recession, pay for corporate chieftains rose 6 percent in 2011 and soared 24 percent in 2010. For those keeping score at home, that sharply outpaces inflation, which was a piddling 1.7 percent last year. Median worker pay didn’t keep up with rising prices in those years.

These results demonstrate that shareholders don’t care about pay if their stocks are going up. But if say-on-pay merely takes the temperature of the stock market, why bother? Stocks usually go up and down together, especially in a market driven more by Federal Reserve monetary policy than by individual corporate performance.

Permission is hereby granted to relinquish any hope that shareholders will try to distinguish between the chief executives who are “worth” their giant pay packages and those who aren’t.

But what did anyone expect from say-on-pay? It’s yet another example of Dodd-Frank’s ineptitude and impoverishment. The Securities and Exchange Commission finalized its say-on-pay rule, required by the financial overhaul, in January 2011. And what did it come up with?

The vote was nonbinding. It’s as if the government wanted to allow shareholders to conduct a primal scream. Instead, they whisper sweet nothings. And companies are required to hold the votes only once every three years. So the rule didn’t force companies to comply with anything. Instead of making policy to address the problem, Congress and the regulators came up with toothless P.R.
Corporate chieftains may think: Whaddya gonna do, sue me? Well, that’s been tried. And the plaintiffs’ bar has whiffed. According to an analysis by the law firm Haynes and Boone, a series of lawsuits filed in 2010 and 2011 alleging breaches of fiduciary duty went nowhere. The following year, a bunch of suits contended that companies had inadequately disclosed their compensation plans. The suits accused directors of violating their duties, and charged the companies with aiding and abetting, but they, too, mostly fizzled.

There is a clear winner, here, of course. As a result of say-on-pay, the S.E.C. now requires tables upon tables of indecipherable material, so companies indulge in an orgy of disclosure. As with most regulation these days, corporate law firm partners emerge victorious, on the backs of the poor associates who have to wade through these materials in the wee morning hours.

So that was a bust. We can’t count on shareholders to be assertive. The plaintiffs’ lawyers, unsurprisingly, can’t make much hay out of possible noncompliance with a nonbinding vote.
The best we could hope for is that say-on-pay shifted the social norms about compensation. Maybe executives would be embarrassed not to win fulsome support from their shareholders. Well, it turns out that many millions of dollars comforts a chief executive just fine on those lonely nights after the rare shareholder rebuke.

And putting shareholders in charge of enforcing social norms is like having Lindsay Lohan advise Miley Cyrus on temperance. Active managers are an underperforming bunch. They aren’t exactly rushing to call attention to other underperformers. And as Harvard Business Review’s Justin Fox has pointed out, they share an interest with chief executives in remaining overpaid.

A new study from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute notes that the rise in incomes for the top 1 percent — and especially the top 0.1 percent — is mostly accounted for by the rise in compensation for top corporate executives and finance professionals. Without those two groups, income inequality in this country would be substantially lessened. And the institute’s study contends, persuasively, that this rise has been in excess of what these people would require in order to be motivated to do their jobs.

The pay problem is often ascribed to crony boards of directors paying off their buddies so they in turn can receive excess pay. But having shareholders judge these packages replicates the problem. One overpaid class rewards another.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The 21st Century Overrated

No really it is. I long for the 1950s, the pre Mad Men era when even Don Draper was still Don Whitman or whatever his name was. But Roger on the other hand was still Roger.  I do love me some Roger.

With the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the Voter's Rights Act, the current climate and the amazing and surprising filibuster in Texas over women's reproductive rights, the immigration bills stagnation, the fight for the rights to marriage equality, the role of education to educate only those who can afford it, the need to pollute the air, the whole right to organize, unionize, to show that one can be discriminated in a workplace for age, color, gender or fill in the blank, or in fact vote at all. Why not just cut that 22nd Amendment, do women really NEED an amendment to vote nowadays? How about that 14th one? It is not like we are going to go back to slavery.

In fact let's just cut that Constitution down to the Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments that the founding fathers wanted and wrote, the rest are just aspirational wanabees.  Guns for everyone! Freedom not so much but hey what.ever.

I find the war on women is not just on women but on poors.  Those without access, without representation, without a voice.  If you think you have elected said voices, think again.  Check and mate is pretty much our current state of Government. One move forward another back.

I rarely discuss politics unless it is in regard to issues economic or social with regards to those issues I deem "sustainable." But is our current Government sustainable?  The state of both political parties shows utter disregard and disengagement from those who live and work in the United States, be they small business, job creators or just people.  Are not we all just people who live here and want to be here?

I find it fairly distressing that the entire focus on women's reproductive rights is about access to abortion. Frankly, even if you are morally/religiously opposed to the notion, what business is that of yours to tell any woman what to do with her private medical decisions.  Isn't that what all the fuss about Obamacare was about? This idea that the Government will interfere with private medical decisions.  Yet when it comes to women's vagina's apparently all bets are off.

I watched Bill Moyers again this weekend discussing the acronym named group, ALEC, Investigating ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or as I call them - the shadow puppets who really control government.  I have put the link up and its worth a watch.

We have no lobbyists us poors.  We have no one speaking out for us. When they do as the legislator in Texas, orange shoes and all did, yesterday, they did her best to stifle it... ah Archie you are still with us although your Edith just passed away recently.  Ah the "good old days".

I wonder what we are to do with all these children that are supposedly being aborted? There are no safety nets, no education, no health care, food aid or even maternity leave so what is this mother to do with this child?  Well if they give the right to marry to Gays then maybe they can adopt them. Well that might not happen as many States prevent that as well.  Marry yes but kids no.  Check and mate.

America we are not sustainable on this path. Not at all. 



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Boomers So Die Already

Everyday I see another article targeting boomers in some way or another blaming all of those born in the 20 year span for all of the worlds ills. 

Then of course we also have all the world ills that thankfully the Medical Industrial Complex is at the ready waiting to inject, ingest or shove up our asses that which will "cure" us - as long as someone pays through the ass for it.

The most recent declaration is that all Boomers must now be tested for Hepatitis C.  Okay. I remember it was Mother Judd who said decades ago she was a once a nurse and now a patient of said disease. Apparently its an epidemic waiting to happen.  This goes of course along with all the other "needed" tests that in a few years we find out that well - whoops - over reaction, but hey you are safe now, right?

As "Obamacare" gets closer to the finish line I cannot wait to see what new compulsions, disorders, diseases or just plain annoyances will be declared a major imperative that will require those 55 Million or so Boomers to get their asses into the local clinic for a wipe.  We have covered the letter "C" what begins with "D"?


Hepatitis C Test for Baby Boomers Urged by Health Panel

By ANDREW POLLACK
Published: June 24, 2013

An influential health advisory group has reversed itself and concluded that all baby boomers should be tested for hepatitis C, meaning that under the new health law many insurance plans will have to provide screening without charge to patients.

The group, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, announced its change of heart on Monday, saying there was likely to be some benefit from such screening.

An estimated 15,000 Americans a year die from the consequences of hepatitis C infection, which can cause liver scarring, liver failure and liver cancer, although such effects typically do not show up for decades, if at all.

About three-quarters of the more than three million Americans with hepatitis C are baby boomers, most of them infected decades ago. But most do not know it because they have no symptoms. Those at highest risk for the infection include users of injected drugs and recipients of blood transfusions before 1992, when screening of donated blood for the virus began.

The task force had said in a preliminary decision in November that screening all baby boomers would probably offer only a small benefit.

That finding put it at odds with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which had said a few months earlier that all people born between 1945 and 1965 should be offered a one-time test to see if they are infected with the hepatitis C virus.

But the task force said on Monday that after reviewing some new studies and the public comments that it had received on its preliminary decision, it decided to recommend screening of baby boomers, saying there was a “moderate certainty” it would have a “moderate net benefit.”

The decision is good for drug companies selling or developing drugs to treat hepatitis C, like Merck, Vertex, Gilead and AbbVie, because it means more people who harbor the virus but do not know it will be discovered, making them candidates for treatment. The decision could also help companies that make hepatitis C tests, like OraSure Technologies.

New drugs introduced by Merck and Vertex Pharmaceuticals have increased the cure rates for hepatitis C when used along with existing drugs. Companies including Gilead Sciences and AbbVie are racing to bring drugs to market in the next two or three years that would do away with the need for weekly injections of a harsh drug, alpha interferon.

The task force, which is made up of independent experts appointed by the government, said in its preliminary decision that the C.D.C. might have overestimated how many infected people would develop liver problems or die, thus overstating the benefits of screening.

But in its final decision, the task force said new studies and the growing effectiveness of treatment buttressed the case for screening even those without any symptoms or risk factors.

Many of those who had submitted public comments after the preliminary decision had argued that screening all baby boomers would be more effective than testing only those thought to be at risk, like people who had used injected drugs. Many people either do not remember risky behavior from decades ago or do not want to tell their doctors about it.

The task force’s preliminary recommendation had a grade C, meaning testing could be offered to select patients and would probably have a small benefit. The final recommendation has a grade B, suggesting a moderate benefit.

Under the Affordable Care Act, preventive services that get a grade A or B from the task force are supposed to be provided without co-payments from patients, although some existing health plans are grandfathered in and would be exempt.

Although the task force is considered quasi-governmental — and its recommendations are meant for primary care physicians — it can be ignored. It encountered significant resistance from doctors and other medical experts when it recommended a reduction in mammography screening. It also got criticism over its recommendation against prostate screening, although the American Urological Association eventually reached a similar conclusion.

Legislators in New York State this month passed what advocates called the first state bill that would require hospitals and other health care providers to offer hepatitis C screening. The bill will now go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

Wake Up!

One of my favorite expressions is to the incredulous that believe that nothing happens to good people who do good things, "work hard" and have all the I's and T's, dotted and crossed is to "What-ever. Wake up White People."

But I loved this article today to find that one more white shoe law firm is taking it in the shorts. YAY. Of course none of the young dismissed Attorneys would hang a shingle out, call their firm, Street Legal (one of my most favorite Canadian shows as a kid) and actually do street law; law that helps the poor and in need of navigating perhaps the most damaged, frustrating and absurd complexes that almost (I said almost) makes the Medical Industrial Complex seem accessible.   But Mommy how would we pay for our six figure education that did nothing for us! Hell if I know kid, but I have a motion that I need written and filed.

Next up on the list soon I suspect. The technology sector. Couldn't happen to a nicer group. Hope they load up on snacks on the way out.. free food can't go to waste. They could drop it at a Shelter or food bank... nah.

Mass Layoffs at a Top-Flight Law Firm

By PETER LATTMAN


Two former employees of Weil, Gotshal & Manges leaving the General Motors building in New York City after layoffs were announced on Monday. 
Robert Caplin for The New York TimesTwo former employees of Weil, Gotshal &Manges leaving the General Motors building in New York City after layoffs were announced on Monday.

Layoffs are a brutal reality of corporate America. During fallow periods, publicly traded companies, including the big banks, routinely cull their ranks. The country’s largest law firms, by contrast, have historically taken a kinder, gentler approach, rarely firing employees en masse.

The news on Monday that Weil, Gotshal & Manges, among the nation’s most prestigious and profitable law firms, was laying off a large number of lawyers and support staff while also reducing the pay of some of its partners, sent shock waves through the industry and underscored the financial difficulties facing the legal profession.

Sixty junior lawyers, known at firms as associates, lost their jobs. That amounts to roughly 7 percent of Weil’s associates. Annual compensation will be reduced for roughly 30 of the firm’s 300 partners, in many cases by hundreds of thousands of dollars. And 110 non-lawyers — roughly half of them secretaries — were let go.

The leadership of Weil, a New York-based firm of 1,200 lawyers that counts General Electric and Sanofi as marquee clients and handled the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, informed its employees Monday morning about the reductions.

“While we have been able to avoid these actions in the past, and it is very painful from a human perspective, the management committee believes that these actions are essential now to enable our firm to continue to excel and retain its historic profitability in the new normal,” Barry M. Wolf, Weil’s executive partner, wrote in a firmwide e-mail.

The “new normal,” in the view of Weil’s management and echoed by legal industry experts, is that the market for high-end legal services is continuing to shrink. Dan DiPietro, chairman of the law firm group at Citi Private Bank, said he believed that the profession could experience a wave of job cuts. He said that there were too many lawyers at the country’s largest firms, estimating the excess capacity at as much as 10 percent of the lawyer population.

“My guess is that a good number of firms have been thinking about right-sizing and waiting for someone to provide them cover and we’ll see more of these moves,” Mr. DiPietro said. “As difficult as layoffs are, it seems that they will be necessary for some firms to get in sync with the current market dynamics.”

Those market dynamics have shifted starkly from the boom years leading up to the financial crisis. Pre-2008, profitability exploded and the number of lawyers grew at the country’s top firms as demand increased about 4 percent a year. But demand has been flat to down for the last five years, according to several industry reports, and shows little sign of picking up.

At Weil, whose partners make, on average, about $2.2 million a year, the situation is unique. During the depths of the downturn, the firm avoided the layoffs that some other firms were forced to make. That was largely because of the firm’s pre-eminent bankruptcy practice, which advised both General Motors and Lehman on their Chapter 11 filings. Those assignments, particularly Lehman, generated hundreds of millions of dollars in fees, not only in bankruptcy work, but also from the reams of litigation that flowed from them.

In an interview last week, Mr. Wolf said that Weil’s leaders thought that as the crisis-related assignments wound down and the economy recovered, the firm would see a pickup in its “transactional business,” the lucrative work of advising corporations and private equity firms on acquisitions, as well as performing legal work for stock and bond offerings. But transactional activity at Weil remains soft and has not returned to anywhere near pre-2008 levels.

Nevertheless, the firm has performed well relative to its peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters. In 2012, Weil was ranked No. 1 in private equity representations globally. It ranked No. 2 in domestic mergers and acquisitions last year and has maintained that position in 2013, advising on deals like the American Airlines merger with US Airways. Still, Mr. Wolf said, there was not enough work to keep Weil’s army of lawyers sufficiently busy.

“Our market share has been improving, but the market has been shrinking,” Mr. Wolf said.

Mr. Wolf, a corporate lawyer who joined Weil in 1984 straight out of law school, said that while the decision to cut associates and staff was personally distressing for him and the management committee, there was little disagreement that it was the right one.

“We believe that this not just a cycle but that the supply-demand balance is out of whack across the industry,” he said. “If we thought this was a cycle and our business was going to pick up meaningfully next year, we would not be doing this.”

Monday was a grim day at Weil, with partners informing associates of their dismissals in one-on-one meetings. Each gets six months of severance. Partners subject to salary reductions have already been informed by firm management. (There are no partner cuts because under Weil’s partnership agreement, partners can be fired only for cause.)

The mass layoffs are the first in the 82-year history of Weil, which has 21 offices worldwide and headquarters in the General Motors building, one of New York’s most coveted business addresses. Last year, the firm posted revenue of about $1.2 billion, and its profits per partner ranked 17th of all firms nationally.

In Monday’s e-mail, Weil said it was taking the action “from a position of strength.” It said that it had zero debt and a fully financed pension plan with more than $500 million in assets. It also noted that its partners did not have long-term compensation guarantees.

By listing those attributes, Weil appeared to be pre-emptively addressing comparisons to Dewey & LeBoeuf, a firm of a similar size that dissolved last year. Dewey collapsed after disappointing profits and a heavy debt load forced it to slash partners’ salaries. Many Dewey partners had multiyear, multimillion-dollar contracts. When they did not get paid their guarantee, they fled, crippling the firm.

Now, a year after Dewey’s demise, most industry specialists view the firm as an outlier, a victim of gross financial mismanagement. Still, some of Dewey’s problems partly derived from the same industry trends facing successful firms like Weil.

Among the main factors hurting law firm profitability is that corporate clients have become stingy. Until recently, pricing pressure barely existed for premium legal services. Decades ago, clients would receive a bill with only a lump sum and the statement “for professional services rendered.”

But today, big corporations, facing pressures of their own, have clamped down on legal expenses. They have beefed up their in-house legal staffs and perform much of the work themselves. They are demanding that for routine assignments like document discovery, work be sent to outsourcing firms and contract lawyers rather than given to expensive associates. And they ask for discounts or capped fees at places like Weil, which charge more than $1,000 an hour for some partners’ work.

Steven J. Harper, a retired partner at Kirkland & Ellis and author of “The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis” (Basic Books, 2013), said that Weil’s move highlighted the inexorable long-term trend: big firm partnerships were now nothing more than bottom-line, profit-maximizing businesses.

Profits per partner — a statistic highlighted annually in the closely watched American Lawyer magazine rankings — have become an unhealthy obsession, Mr. Harper said. Driving this fixation is the frenzied lateral hiring market, in which firms are poaching lawyers with big books of business from rivals. Firms fear that if profitability wanes, they will lose their stars.

“The culture at most of these large law firms is that you must maintain astronomical levels of partner earnings in order to keep your top talent,” Mr. Harper said. “Cutting staff is one way to do that.”

Mr. Wolf of Weil said that while layoffs would help the firm’s profits, the move was not motivated by reducing expenses to enrich partners.

“This is not about cost-cutting but about the future of the firm and strategically positioning us for the next five years,” Mr. Wolf said.

Several industry experts applauded the move. Peter Zeughauser, a law firm consultant, said that many firms were in denial about slack demand, and Weil’s cutbacks could pressure them into getting leaner.

“We have been telling our clients about these economic realities for some time,” Mr. Zeughauser said. “Weil is a bellwether firm, and this will be a real wake-up call.”







Stayin Alive

The change in the economy has meant a change in how we work.  The 5 day, 40 hour work week has long been altered with the advent of smart phones.  Now you are attached to your job 24/7 and with many they feel obligated to do so as a form of self preservation versus actual need.

I have looked at a site recently that rates and provides job information about a wealth of companies.  My personal favorite is the negativity that surrounds the "new" employers, such as Zappos, where the average pay is $11 and the rigmarole that goes into getting, keeping and doing the job is something akin to a cult indoctrination.

Amazon has many praises but admittedly the number one complaint is the hours in which they work and the lack of "work-life" balance lending to the turnover mark of 4 years when stock options vest.

This is the new economy and the new job front.  Sell your soul and drink the kool aid.  The other option is temporary work, "internships" (aka Django Unchained) or 1099 contracts.  Both which are coming to be the number one/two option as the dreaded Obamacare affect takes place.  In reality it is actually cheaper for companies that fall into that strange 50 cutoff to pay the $2K fee per employee over the first 30 which are exempt, as the average cost for health care insurance per employee is over $11K annually.  You can do the math.

The legacy of this is of course FDR, the same man who gave us the dreaded Social Security and Unemployment Insurance, the scourge of all Republicans and Libertarians who are sure that it has created a generation of lazy free loaders just waiting to live it up on all that cash!

The editorial article below discusses what is coming as we move forward into this new frontier of work.  We already have seen further deterioration of what comprises equal rights and in turn discrimination as decided today by the Supreme Court, it is only a matter of time the next ALEC sponsored bill will do more than take away collective bargaining rights.

We are all just trying to stay alive. 



The Future of Fair Labor


By JEFFERSON COWIE
Published: June 24, 2013

ITHACA, N.Y. — SEVENTY-FIVE years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act to give a policy backbone to his belief that goods that were not produced under “rudimentary standards of decency” should not be “allowed to pollute the channels of interstate trade."

The act is the bedrock of modern employment law. It outlawed child labor, guaranteed a minimum wage, established the official length of the workweek at 40 hours, and required overtime pay for anything more. Capping the working week encouraged employers to hire more people rather than work the ones they had to exhaustion. All this came not from the magic of market equilibrium but from federal policy.

For decades afterward, Congress brought more people under the law’s purview and engaged in perennial struggles to maintain or increase the minimum wage. Fifty years ago this month, John F. Kennedy signed its most important amendment, the Equal Pay Act, which guaranteed women and others equal pay for equal work.

Despite this noble history, today the act faces an uncertain future, thanks to a series of disconcerting shifts in the way we think about work in America.

The problem is indicative of the moral and political slipperiness of our time. A large and growing number of employers willfully classify their employees as “exempt” from the law by shifting their jobs, but not their pay, to administrative, executive and professional categories. Being exempt allows employers to ignore pesky things like overtime or minimum wages, since these are salaried, not hourly workers. Lawsuits over back overtime pay resulting from misclassifications have gone through the roof.

If the line between exempt and nonexempt workers has become unfairly blurred, the line distinguishing employee and independent contractor has faded to near invisibility. We are moving toward the “1099 economy,” named after the tax form provided to independent contractors, a classification that often walks the line of legality.

For some workers, being a 1099’er means more flexibility, creativity and control over their work. However, there are many more reluctant 1099 workers who want regular jobs but find themselves locked out of the system by employers looking for an easy way to buck their responsibility to their employees.

And then there is the most infamous classification hustle: the internship. For bright, young (and typically affluent) interns at America’s top corporations there is no actual job, so there are no fair labor standards to apply. That means no minimum wage and no maximum hours. There is often no pay at all.

A recent decision by the Federal District Court in Manhattan declaring that the hard-working “interns” involved in making the 2010 film “Black Swan” for Fox Searchlight were really employees is encouraging, and may well have long-range implications. It’s a hopeful sign that we may yet be able to re-establish an idea that is as old-fashioned as it is good: work and you get paid.

And yet, countercurrents persist. When Obamacare goes into effect next year, businesses that have more than 50 full-time employees will have to start offering health insurance. This could produce a scramble among small companies to reclassify enough employees so as not to have to pay for health insurance.

In response, we need a new commitment from the federal government to buttress the Fair Labor Standards Act.

More money for enforcement is a must. Compliance actions from the Department of Labor’s Division of Wages and Hours fell by over a third between 1997 and 2007. This is partly a matter of resources: for this coming budget year, the Obama administration is seeking a modest increase of $15 million for enforcement of both the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. That’s not enough.

There are several other ways to improve the act. Because its enforcement scheme relies on employees to come forward, rather than on government-initiated supervision through audits and worksite visits, protection against retaliation needs to be more robust. We can also improve the law’s deterrence function, in the form of punitive damages for severe or pervasive violations.

It’s true that we are in the middle of a seismic shift in the way we structure our work lives. Both workers and employers want more flexibility. But that similarity of interests shouldn’t mask the fact that employers will always have more power than their employees, and that it’s in their interests to make those employees work as long and as cheaply as possible.

In Roosevelt’s day, the courts found most wages and hours legislation unconstitutional based on the doctrine of “liberty of contract.” The idea was as simple as it was pernicious: wages and hours legislation violated an individual’s freedom to make an independent (read: worse) deal with his employer.

We can’t afford to drift further back to the bad old days of liberty of contract. Americans are drastically overworked and underpaid compared to workers in other advanced countries, and our workers are trapped in a rigid pattern of inequality that has ended a historic claim to being the nation of upward mobility.

Roosevelt did not bother with economic arguments when it came to hours and wages. He offered a simple framework, both moral and patriotic. “A self-supporting and self-respecting democracy,” he proclaimed, “can plead no justification for the existence of child labor, no economic reason for chiseling workers’ wages or stretching workers’ hours.” That is as true today as it was then.


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Try something out of the box and see if it works for you.  The timing couldn't be better and the prices certainly are.










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Monday, June 24, 2013

People Kill People

This is is our America. Gun makers, Car manufacturers and anyone with a fantastic acronym or well connected lobbyist can in turn ensure that their role in society is one absolved of all guilt and responsibility when it comes to how the consumers of their product elect to use their product.

Today's editorial pages are full of the varying ways anyone can kill someone else, be it behind the wheel of a smartphone (even Cars are somehow becoming one with them) to Guns.  When does it stop?  The ultimate drive by might be texting someone while committing a drive by shooting - talk about win-win!

Why is it that MADD, a once useful activist group, now frankly a group of temperance individuals have no interest in anything but ensuring that the fake science and other constitutional infringements secure the roads safe from the supposed scourge of drunken maniacs behind the wheel of a car?  Why do they have no interested in distracted drivers or gun safety legislation.?  I mean they are Mother's right?  And they care about kids right?  Still mad I assume?  Well no but that is not the point.  When anyone has to look deeper into any acronym group or non profit taking monies directly from the same government they are lobbying to - conflict of interest and facts -  get lost in the process.

The same goes to the NRA. They are not just a government lobbyist giving money to government they actually get funds from it as well. As do the manufacturers of guns in the form of tax credits. It is a viscous circle of hypocrisy and corruption regardless of their intent or purpose.

Now of course enabling citizens the right to sue a corporate person hood is under the gun (pun intended) as the Supreme Court is very biased towards the individual called Corporate X and their recent American Express ruling validates this. And we have states, such as Texas, whose idea of Tort Reform, is to make it impossible to file individual suits let alone class actions.  Nothing says business friendly than a State who has no regulations and then when a business blows up destroying a town the audacity to say we won't be adding any anytime soon and then ask FEMA for money, but hey Texans do it bigger.

And of course when you read the articles they mention big Tobacco and of course anyone recalls a former Pres/VP Candidate who made his money suing the same and then decided that good behavior and legality was not something he needed to be a part of furthers the hypocrisy.  But in reality we need to have the rights to speak out and court is the one way it can get heard.  Not fairly nor equally but it is there.  

I will let you read the below and make your own conclusions.  Public Safety is also a public health crisis and victims of all assaults - regardless of the type - deserve the right to be heard and to be MAD they are not.


Hands-Free Distractions

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Published: June 23, 2013

As Americans have become more aware of the dangers of using cellphones while driving, the makers of cars and mobile devices have increasingly sold hands-free and speech-recognition technologies as safer alternatives. But a new report presents compelling evidence that drivers who use such tools are as distracted as people who hold their phone to their ear. Even when drivers keep both hands on the wheel, the report says, a lot of mental energy is required to hold two-way conversations or talk coherently into speech-recognition devices.

The report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety studied how distracted drivers became while performing various tasks: listening to the radio, talking to a passenger, using a hand-held phone, using a hands-free phone and sending messages with a speech-to-text system. The authors measured distraction by observing how long it took drivers to brake when the car ahead did; the distance they kept between their car and the one ahead; and whether they looked at hazards, like crosswalks.
On a scale of one to five, where one represented no distraction, drivers who used the speech-to-text system registered 3.06. People who talked on a hand-held cellphone landed at 2.45, and drivers with a hands-free phone scored 2.27. Drivers listening to the radio scored just 1.21.

These results suggest that states should ban the non emergency use of all communications devices by drivers, as has been recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board. In 2011, 3,331 people died in accidents involving a distracted driver, which was 10 percent of all traffic fatalities, up from 3,267 deaths in 2010.

Unfortunately, these numbers do not seem to alarm car makers. A spokeswoman for the auto industry told The Times that “people want to be connected in their car just as they are in their home or wherever they may be.” They may, however, place far greater value on getting to their destination without killing themselves or anyone else.

Make Gun Companies Pay Blood Money

By JOHN G. CULHANE
Published: June 23, 2013

GUN manufacturers have gone to great lengths to avoid any moral responsibility or legal accountability for the social costs of gun violence — the deaths and injuries of innocent victims, families torn apart, public resources spent on gun-related crime and medical expenses incurred.

But there is a simple and direct way to make them accountable for the harm their products cause. For every gun sold, those who manufacture or import it should pay a tax. The money should then be used to create a compensation fund for innocent victims of gun violence.

This proposal is based on a fundamentally conservative principle — that those who cause injury should be made to “internalize” the cost of their activity by paying for it. Now, gun manufacturers and sellers are mostly protected from lawsuits by federal law.

As it happens, a model for this approach already exists. Under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, those injured by vaccines are eligible for compensation from a fund financed by an excise tax on the sale of every dose of vaccine. In creating this no-fault system in the 1980s, Congress sought to provide care for those injured by vaccines while protecting manufacturers from undue litigation.

Vaccines are essential for public health but inevitably cause harm to a small number of people. Since all of us benefit from a vaccinated population, the compensation program spreads the costs when things go wrong to everyone who received a vaccination, rather than leaving the injured and their families to bear the cost. It also avoids the time, expense and inefficiencies of litigation, and dispenses with the need to prove fault. The compensation fund thus ensures that vaccine manufacturers will remain in the market rather than being forced out by the prospect of huge legal judgments against them.

Guns, of course, are not essential for public health. But Congress has made painfully clear that it values the largely unfettered ownership of guns and their manufacture — despite the social costs of the violence that results when guns work as designed. For that reason, it makes sense to tax gun manufacturers directly. The result would be that those who derive a benefit from guns — for hunting, target practice, self-defense or simply for collecting — would shoulder some of the social costs of their choice as manufacturers pass along the cost of the tax to them.

Such a tax might also exert at least some economic pressure on manufacturers to market especially lethal guns less aggressively, or to implement safer gun technologies, like “smart guns” that could be used only by the registered owner. Right now, they have no such incentive — they’re immune from most lawsuits, and guns are expressly exempt from regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is supposed to protect the public from unreasonable risks from consumer products. (Thus, the commission can ban lawn darts or cork guns, but not real firearms.)

Since safer guns would mean fewer compensable injuries or deaths, the tax should be adjustable, rising when injuries and deaths increase, and falling when they decrease. The tax rate could also be adjusted to reflect the relative lethality of guns. Those guns that are most often used to kill or maim the largest number of people could be taxed at a higher rate, while guns used primarily for hunting or sport that are much less often involved in fatalities or injuries would be taxed at a lower rate.

Gun makers know that their products are lethal, and sometimes used illegally. They know that some of their dealers’ sales practices contribute to guns’ falling into criminal hands. They know that each year a significant number of innocent people will be killed or maimed by the use of guns. But quite often, the shooters themselves cannot be held fully or even partially accountable, financially, because they are unknown, destitute or dead.

A serious discussion will be required about the amount of compensation, and whether victims’ family members would also be entitled to recover from the fund. These important conversations about eligibility and amounts are common to all compensation funds. Just as these questions have been and will be tackled for these other funds, they can be thoughtfully and carefully worked out for this one.

Some of the victims of recent mass shootings — including the massacres at Aurora, Colo., Newtown, Conn., and Virginia Tech, as well as those who survived the 9/11 attack — have recently banded together to ask Congress to enact a National Compassion Fund, to make sure that charitable donations get to their victims rather than being swallowed up in administrative costs.

That’s a good idea, but it is not enough. Gun manufacturers should pony up. A national tax on the sale of guns is the way to do that.

Let Shooting Victims Sue

By ROBERT M. MORGENTHAU
Published: June 23, 2013

A BASIC function of law in a civilized society is to allocate the costs of harm to those who caused it. In the case of a gang shooting or terrorist attack, penalties are imposed on the gang member or terrorist. But what of the person who sold them their weapons?

In 2004, relatives of eight people shot in the Washington-area sniper attacks received $2.5 million dollars from the maker and seller of the rifle used in those shootings. That was a matter of simple justice. But the gun lobby had no use for that kind of justice. They went to work and, the next year, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, severely reducing the legal liability of gun manufacturers, distributors and dealers for reckless acts that send guns to the black market. The National Rifle Association called it “the most significant piece of pro-gun legislation in 20 years.”

This kind of legislation encourages arms dealers to turn a blind eye to the lethal consequences of what they peddle, and rewards their breathtaking irresponsibility.

An executive at one top gun company admitted that it didn’t try to learn whether the dealers who sold its firearms were involved in the black market. “I don’t even know what a gun trafficker is,” he said in a court deposition reviewed by The New York Times. < The 2005 law is just one example of Congressional actions that have reduced gun-industry liability and gutted consumer protections. The result of all this legislation, as Jonathan E. Lowy, director of the legal action project at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, has noted, is that a defective BB gun can be recalled, but not a real gun with a similar defect. What is at stake? According to the most recent data, between 30 and 40 percent of gun acquisitions take place without any background check. Many of these transactions happen online, at gun shows and in private homes. Each of those guns represents a potential danger to the public. Following the elementary-school massacre in Newtown, Conn., in December, there was overwhelming support to end unsupervised gun sales. The N.R.A. fought back and, as everyone knows, won.
More tragedy will result. A mountain of research has proved this danger. One study examined the consequence of Missouri’s foolish decision to repeal a state law requiring residents to obtain a gun permit before purchasing a gun. A result of repealing the law? Without background checks, more guns fell into the hands of criminals, and the homicide rate in Missouri spiked 25 percent, even as violence declined across the United States.

And while gun violence touches every segment of society, it does not do so uniformly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans are 70 percent more likely to be killed by gun violence than are whites — though black-on-black violence rarely makes headlines. One wonders whether our nation’s legislators would be equally comfortable excluding the gun lobby from liability if more of them had to raise their children on the South Side of Chicago or in other inner-city neighborhoods plagued by gun violence.

There is a basic principle of law that imposes liability when someone’s unreasonable act results in foreseeable harm to someone else. It is a wise and ancient rule, as fundamental as the principle that my right to swing my fist stops somewhere short of your nose.

In a 1999 case, Jack B. Weinstein, a federal judge in Manhattan, wisely articulated that principle as it should apply to handgun makers. “The duty of manufacturers of a uniquely hazardous product,” he wrote, is to “take reasonable steps” that would “reduce the possibility” that firearms would “fall into the hands of those likely to misuse them.” That basic principle was gutted when Congress caved to the gun lobby and passed the 2005 immunity law.

The 2005 law also deprived New York and other states of their right to protect, or at least compensate, their citizenry by imposing civil liability on those manufacturers and dealers who failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the abuse and illegal trafficking of their weapons.

While the nation continues to debate the issue of background checks — a cause to which Gabrielle Giffords, the former representative from Arizona who was grievously wounded in a mass shooting in 2011, has dedicated herself — Congress should act decisively to restore responsibility and end this unique legal protection for the gun industry. Until it does so, there will be no incentive for the industry to act reasonably.

Decades ago, the tobacco industry hired doctors to plug the health benefits of cigarettes, and the auto industry claimed that seat belts were an unnecessary extravagance. The results were an epidemic of deaths, followed by civil law suits, followed by industry reform.

Today, smoking is down and cars are safer. In part, we have the market to thank. When these industries acted irresponsibly, basic principles of civil liability placed the costs of illness and accident where they belonged. Once their bottom line was affected, even the most myopic executives had to take notice.

I believe that with rights come responsibilities. By immunizing the gun industry from basic principles of legal liability, Congress kept the rights and repealed the responsibilities.

The Second Amendment right to bear arms is an important right. But the contours of that right must not extend to those who look away as their guns enter the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable. Congress should immediately repeal the 2005 gun immunity law, and let free-market incentives encourage responsible behavior by the gun industry.