Yesterday the business press was busy lauding IBM's decision to cut back on their pension plan.
IBM said it expects the announced changes, along with 2006 changes under consideration in several other countries, to cut worldwide retirement-related expenses this year by $450 million to $500 million. From 2006 through 2010, the company expects to cut costs by $2.5 billion to $3 billion.
This is absurd. IBM is one of the most successful corporations in the world. Even Bill Gates recently acknowledged (albeit somewhat disingenously as a back-handed swipe at Google) IBM as the company for Microsoft to beat with four times as many employees as Microsoft. If anyone can afford to pay their workers properly and treat their retirees with dignity it is IBM.
The employees getting those good pensions did a lot to create the wealth in which they had expected to share in old age. For decades IBM was able to scoop up many of the best minds in engineering and MBA programs. Those signing on the dotted line might have looked elsewhere if they were to know the ingratitude that awaited them.
Yet another violation of the social contract.
Every time these pension plans gets cut or goes bankrupt after being pillaged by the mother corporation, it is our money (as working people) which is stolen. We worked, we created these pensions funds. Pay us our pensions and stop robbing us.
It is high time that white collar crime is treated with the severity of petty crime. Why are our millions less worthy of protection than the merchandise of the local Walmart?
What really incenses me though is the applause for this behaviour from the press. I suppose most in the press long ago were forced to give up any kind of job security, let alone decent pensions. They are thrilled to see those with join them with nothing. Even better if it is retroactive, so they can point their spindly fingers and shriek to their parents and siblings or anyone else who will listen - I told you there was nothing wrong in becoming a freelance journalist - there is no job security for anybody!
As far as I am concerned this is theft and double-dealing and the rogues who came up with the plan to cheat their fellow workers should be in prison - not collecting triple bonuses this year.
On the up side, enough shenanigans like this at the expense of the middle class (we are not talking about screwing Walmart employees this time) and we will be able to talk about a revolution again.
For more on how Americans on being swindled out of their lives by the new economy. A very fine and detailed article. Via Melanie.