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Friday, May 23, 2014

Boomers Vs Millenials


8 Differences Between Boomers and Millennials
Millennials are rejecting the lifestyles of their parents, just like the baby boomers did.

By Tom Sightings
US News
May 20, 2014

When the baby boomers were kids there was a generation gap. We boomers believed in long hair; our parents wanted us to cut our hair. We voted for Kennedy, Johnson and McGovern. They liked Ike and supported Richard Nixon. We wanted to turn on, tune in and drop out. They wanted us to go to school and get a job.

Of course that’s an oversimplification of the early days of the baby boom. But there are some generalizations about today’s baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and our children, the millennials (born between 1981 and 1995), that are more grounded in fact. Paul Taylor of the Pew Research Center has written a book called “The Next America” which relies on public opinion surveys and demographic data to highlight some of the contrasts between the generations. Here are some of the major differences between BABY BOOMERS and millennials:

1. It’s true that people get more conservative as they age. According to Pew Research, 59 percent of baby boomers favor smaller government. Millennials exhibit no more trust in the establishment than baby boomers did, yet the majority of millennials, 53 percent, say they want a bigger government that offers more services.

2. The generations basically agree on Social Security. Despite their preference for small government, boomers oppose making cuts in Social Security to secure the long-term FUTURE OF THE PROGRAM. Millennials are slightly more open to Social Security reforms, with 37 percent thinking some reductions to Social Security need to be considered, compared to just 29 percent of baby boomers. But for many Millennials it’s a moot point. Half of millennials don’t believe they will receive Social Security when they retire.

3. Millennials are more progressive on social issues. According to Pew Research, baby boomers oppose gay marriage by a slim margin. But a solid majority (68 percent) of millennials support gay marriage. An equal number support the legalization of marijuana. Millennials are less likely to be religious. Less than 70 percent of millennials say they are affliliated with a particular religion, compared to 80 percent of the general population.

4. But they are not necessarily Democrats. Despite a more liberal bent, millennials are reluctant to identify with a political party. Half of millennials say they are Independents, compared to 27 percent registered as Democrats and 17 percent as Republicans. Some 70 percent approved of President Obama when he was first elected president, but that support has declined to about 50 percent.

5. Millennials are less affluent. This generation is the first in U.S. history to enter adulthood in worse economic shape than their parents. The unemployment rate for millennials is higher than it was for their parents at the same age, and they have higher student debt. A new Pew Research report says 37 percent of U.S. households headed by an adult younger than 40 have student debt. Households with student loans have a median net worth of $8,700 compared to $64,700 for households without student debt.

6. Millennials are reluctant to get married. But when they do, they are more likely to marry someone of a different race. Back in the 1960s, less than 3 percent of marriages were between people of different races or ethnicities. Today, it’s 15 percent. More than a quarter of Asians and Hispanics marry outside their ethnicity, as do one out of six African Americans and 10 percent of whites. Half of millennials say intermarriage is a good thing for society, compared with a third of boomers.

7. But maybe they do want to buy a home. Millennials have flocked to the cities. But the jury is still out as to whether millennials will move back to the suburbs when they get married and have children. According to a study by the National Association of Realtors, fewer than 25 percent of 30 year olds own their own home, compared to 80 percent for boomers, and the number of young homeowners has been declining. Yet according to the Washington think tank NDN, 64 percent of millennials say it is very importantӔ to own their own home. Another survey by TD Bank found that 84 percent of renters ages 18 to 34 intend to purchase a house in the future.

8. More millennials live at home than their parents did at the same age. More than a fifth (22 percent) of households currently have two or more adult generations living under the same roof, a level not seen since the end of World War II. But while this is a symptom of the new generation gap, it does not mean there’s a war between the generations. ItӒs hard to wage a war when youre living under the same roof,Ҕ Taylor says.


Posted by Elvis on 05/23/14 •
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Monday, May 19, 2014

Corporate Power Rules


Corporate Power Must Be Tamed

By Sharan Burrow
Huffington Post
May 18, 2014

Seven years into an economic crisis that was born in America, but has left structural damage to the global economy and the global workforce, more than one in two working families in 14 countries that constitute half the world’s population cannot keep up with the rising cost of living.

Global growth will barely be above three percent this year and unemployment is set to rise again.

Historic levels of unemployment that are already surpassing 200 million underpin a new risk as we face the very real possibility that these numbers are actually structural unemployment.

Many European governments talk of large unemployment numbers as a “new normal.” It should come as no surprise therefore that 68 percent of citizens in the ITUC GLOBAL POLL 2014 think governments are doing a bad job at tackling unemployment.

There is little recognition that this complacency from governments is about abandoning ambitions for full employment and building cumulative marginalization of both young people entering the jobs market and women and migrant workers with barely a foot in the formal economy today.

Then there is the desperation of the informal sector with no rules, no social protection and no minimum wages—this is 40 percent of the global workforce and growing.

This complacency by governments who are cowed by big business and big finance means a cocktail of increasing inequality, joblessness and informality with little or no change in the volatility of the financial sector as serious financial regulation gets pushed into the medium term at best.

As the global labor movement meets in Berlin at the 3RD ITUC WORLD CONGRESS, we have some messages for entrenched business interests.

We will not abandon the next generation or their children. The dignity of work, decent work, is non-negotiable, and if governments can’t or won’t work to lift investment in infrastructure, the green economy and the care economy, then we will put our democracies to work and stand with our communities to change the economic model.

This has to be in the interests of sensible business when our global polling shows that one in two people have direct or family experience with unemployment and 82 percent of people say their wages have fallen behind the cost of living or remained stagnant.

And when nearly half of the world’s population think it is unlikely that their children will find a decent job, this is not optimistic for cohesive communities or demand as the lifeblood of growth.

It has been extraordinary to see the governments in crisis countries go to war on their own workers—collective bargaining slashed, wages attacked, jobs lost and severance pay and social protection eroded.

Despite the injustice of this, the total sum of the economy shrunk by these measures has had global impact and growth declined in in BRICS countries last year.

Is it any wonder that 78 percent of people think the economic system favors the wealthy?

The trust in government all over the world has eroded. People know that governments are increasingly in the grip of corporate power.

When we see the global footprint of the American Chamber of Commerce—they are everywhere peddling the impoverished demands of the anti-union American corporate model.

Moldova is probably the poorest nation in Europe, but the American Chamber is there and threatened capital flight if the government introduced a minimum wage.

Their members refused join the global accord with IndustriALL and UNI in Bangladesh after the tragedy of RANA PLAZA.

And in the SLAVE STATE OF QATAR, they support the unspeakable actions of a government and blame workers themselves for the extraordinary number of worker deaths. These are workers who are forced to live in squalor, with poor food and who work long hours in extreme heat in a police state—workers who are trapped in Qatar.

And now with trade agreements like the TPP, we are at risk of seeing the insidious investor state dispute mechanisms—ISDS—which allow corporations to sue government for so-called lost profit if they change regulation, improve workers’ rights, if they protect and advance quality public services, if they protect the environment—if they simply govern in the interest of their people.

I recently heard America’s Goldman Sachs say American democracy was the “best money can buy”. If you look at the amount of investment in the financial lobby at the European level and the influence of the global footprint of the American corporate model, the danger of the “corporate parliament” is spreading.

The world has to change, power needs to re-balanced and unions plan to give this a nudge on three major fronts.

We will see slavery ended. Slave states like Qatar, the wealthiest country in the world, cannot suck business and governments into their vortex with the mighty dollar such that they collectively remain silent about workers enslaved for the benefit of the rich.

We cannot sit back and watch workers in countries like Cambodia shot and jailed by government decree with support of local governments for striking to gain a minimum living wage of just $160 a month. Similarly, in Bangladesh, Indonesia and other countries, we cannot accept poverty wages in the supply chains of global corporations. For a few cents extra on garments or a few dollars extra on electronics all workers could earn a minimum wage on which they can live with dignity. We aim to see just that.

And there are no jobs on a dead planet. If our governments won’t accept their responsibility to negotiate a treaty that will stabilise the climate, we will mobilise. The science is clear and we are out of time. We need to see industrial transformation now with a reduction in admissions and universal access to breakthrough technologies.

We need to see a just transition with necessary finance to support vulnerable nations and vulnerable communities.

There are jobs in climate justice, jobs for our children and grandchildren. Responsible business: it is time to step up—because the profit takers in your midst are putting your sustainability and ours at risk.

The ITUC represents the largest global democratic community, and workers and their families expect better. We expect better of governments, and we oppose the corporate bullies that are driving inequality in their own interests.

We are the voice of opposition, and we are the voice of progress. We share a common set of values that are founded in peace, democracy, rights, sustainability and social justice.

We are committed to building the power of workers to see these values centre stage.


Posted by Elvis on 05/19/14 •
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Monday, May 12, 2014

Boomers Burned By Recession Part 6


“Traditionally in America our peak earning years were our 50’s and early 60’s. That’s when we rose to the top of our professions, that’s when we experienced the relatively high compensation that accumulated pay raises over the years provided us. Thus, that was when we were able to save most for retirement. For breadwinners with families, there’s a good chance the kids were finally on their own and (mostly at least) supporting themselves by the time you turned 55, or 60 at the latest.

Now that has all been turned on its head as experienced workers are forced out of jobs to lower payroll costs. Instead of saving money for retirement in your 50’s and 60’s increasingly people are forced to spend their retirement savings early.

By the time many make it to age 62 they have no choice but to start collecting Social Security early - they need those checks just to survive. But anyone who starts collecting S.S. at 62 is locking in significantly lower monthly earnings for the rest of their lives.

And then there is that matter of how social security earnings are calculated in the first place. It is based on a formula that averages out your peak earning years. For future retirees, whether retirement comes at age 62 or 66 or higher, those previously high incomes they were racking up between 50 and 85 will be swapped out for far lower incomes, with long periods of unemployment cutting into earning figures and high paying jobs being replaced by any job they can still find for older workers in the current market. The result? People will not only have to face retirement without a nest egg to ease the transition, they will receive smaller Social Security checks when they do finally qualify for Social Security benefits.”
- Tim Rinaldo Democratic Underground Dec 27, 2013

50 Is the New 65: Older Americans Are Getting Booted from Their Jobs—and Denied New Opportunities
Age discrimination could be headed for you, sooner than you think.

By Lynne Parramore
December 27, 2013

In every corner of America, millions of people are terrified of losing their jobs and falling into financial ruin. Men and women with impressive professional achievements and credentials are being let go, nudged out and pushed aside. They are pounding the pavement and scouring the job sites, but find themselves turned away even for the most basic retail jobs. Not because they aren’t competent. Not because they lack skills. But simply because they have a gray hair or two.

This is not just a story of people in their 60s or 70s. Workers as young as 50 are shocked to find themselves suddenly tossed onto the employment rubbish heap, just when they felt on top of their game. They’re feeling stressed, angry and betrayed by a society which has benefited greatly from their contributions.

As the global population grows older, age discrimination is on the rise. It could be headed for you, much sooner than you think.

“I Got Thrown Away”

Jan, a marketing executive from southern California, is just 51, and she has already learned the heartbreak and frustration of age-related job insecurity.

She was flying high as the head of marketing for a large financial planning firm when she was laid off in 2009 at the age of 47. The recession had done its damage, and her firm had to let some people go - mostly the youngest and oldest employees. Jan understood why the layoff happened, as sad as it was. Her firm gave her great recommendations and kept her on as a consultant for a year.

But she was not prepared for what happened when she tried to find another job.

First Jan applied for positions similar to her previous employment at banks and other financial institutions. Nothing. Keeping upbeat, she widened the net, applying for all marketing and communications jobs advertised in a 40-mile radius of her home. Still nada. Finally, she started applying for retail jobs and was shocked to find that she could not even land these. Jan got an interview at Barnes & Noble, but the store didnt call her back, and she wondered if all the young people on the floor had something to do with it. She tried a local bridal shop, thinking that she was the same age as the mothers of the brides and would be a good fit. They didn’t hire her. Even Target turned her down for a job as a store clerk. No reason was given. Thats when she started to panic.

“It’s been difficult on my family,” Jan says. My husband was a lawyer, but he has become disabled. My daughter felt embarrassed that I couldn’t find a job, and I’ve had to explain to her why she shouldn’t be. I had to explain to her that I was not ashamed, that I was mad. I had done everything I was supposed to do. I had gone to college, then to grad school. I worked very hard and I had a lot of success. Then I got thrown away.

In researching this article, I heard many stories like Jan’s, from Americans from all walks of life. A commercial fisherman with 30 years experience from Tucson, Arizona has sent out dozens of applications, but gets zero bites. An Ohio IT professional with over 30 years experience was let go after 15 years at his company, and now finds himself working in a bottom-tier customer service position with 20-year-olds.

These are downwardly mobile Americans whose dreams of stability after decades of a job well done and a comfortable retirement are vanishing before their eyes.

Bigotry That Knows No Boundaries

Age discrimination can stalk you whether youre black or white, poor or well off, male or female, gay or straight. It’s something were all likely to face if we stick around long enough. In the job market, it impacts our very survival and our sense of ourselves in the world.

New research shows that age discrimination may be even more common than we thought and more prevalent than other forms of bias, like ethnic discrimination. According to a study published in the Journal of Age and Ageing, one third of British people in their 50s and above reported age discrimination, a figure that surprised researchers. From poorer service in restaurants to ill treatment in hospitals to outright harassment, people found themselves increasingly disrespected as they aged.

Lead researcher Isla Rippon of University College London told Reuters that such day-to-day experiences impact physical and mental health: “Frequent perceived discrimination may be a chronic source of stress and build up over time, leading to social withdrawal and reluctance to go to the doctor.”

When it comes to financial stress, older Americans say that job insecurity is their number-one concern, according to a recent survey.  Many people over 50 find themselves hanging on to their jobs for dear life, aware that they are perceived as obsolete and not as valuable as younger workers, despite their vast experience and institutional knowledge. According to a 2013 AARP survey report, “more than one-third of older workers are not confident that they would find another job right away without having to take a pay cut or move (37%). Of those, about one in five (19%) say the reason they are not confident is due to age discrimination and 21 percent identify age limitations, such as feeling they are ‘too old’ or limited in some way because of their age.”

Ashton Applewhite blogs about aging and ageism at She has much to say about the myths concerning older workers that permeate our culture: that people over 50 are rigid, trapped in their jobs, take too many sick days, or can’t cope with technology. The most common myth is that older workers are all the same. Applewhite’s research shows that nothing could be further from the truth.

“The hallmark of later life is heterogeneity,” explains Applewhite. “Think about it. We become less alike with every day that passes. A group of 20-year-olds is much more alike than a group of 60-year-olds. People age at different rates. The stereotypes don’t fit. Some older people are wise, some aren’t.  Geriatricians have a saying: If you’ve seen one 80-year-old, you’ve seen one 80-year-old. You can’t neatly categorize older people.”

“It is true that younger workers can go faster,” concedes Applewhite. “Older workers go more slowly, but they’re more accurate. Age confers patience and coping skills, the ability to handle stress.”

According to Applewhite, the perception that older workers can’t handle physically demanding tasks is often outdated. She points out that chronological age is generally not an indicator of capacity, even for pilots or firefighters. Older, experienced workers actually hurt themselves less on the job.

“The idea that after a certain age you can’t do demanding tasks is just a myth,” says Applewhite, noting that even during slavery, the market price for slaves remained high well into their 70s, because slave owners knew they could do valuable work.

The stereotype that older workers cant adjust to technology is similarly overstated, she says, noting that they are usually more than capable of learning new technical skills, particularly if those skills have relevance to their work experience.

Applewhite’s research shows that the most productive and effective teams in the workplace are mixed-age groups. “Experience plus freshness just makes sense,” she says. “A team with different generational perspectives has new energy, new possibilities for collaboration.”

“People think older people are trapped in their jobs,” says Applewhite. “But in reality, most older workers work because they enjoy their jobs. Shouldn’t people have the choice - the right to continue to work if they want to? Nobody wants to be economically dependent.  The trouble comes when older workers are shunted aside or can’t find decent jobs, and then face a shredded social safety net. They become dependent, and that dependency just reinforces the myth that they are a burden. Who would want to be a burden by choice?

Older workers are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they do manage to stay employed, they are accused of taking jobs away from younger people. Yet according to a recent Pew report, that’s just another myth.

The idea that younger and older workers are engaged in a zero-sum game for a fixed number of jobs is called the “lump-of-labor” theory. According the Pew report, this theory did not hold true in the Great Recession. On the contrary, a one-percentage point increase in Baby Boomer employment had an insignificant impact on youth employment rates, unemployment rates, or hours worked. An increase in the Boomer employment rate actually correlated to a 0.28 percent increase in youths hourly wage rate.

Far from taking jobs away from younger people, the employment of older workers seems to benefit them.

Age Discrimination Is Costly

There was a time when American workers and their employers had fair contracts. The longer you worked for a company, the more you were paid, and when you retired you could expect a pension. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 made it unlawful for employers to discriminate against workers and certain job applicants 40 and over based on age.

THINGS STARTED TO CHANGE in the 1980s, when trends like deregulation, outsourcing and union-busting started to give employers more power to do with workers as they pleased. Business schools began to preach the misguided gospel of shareholder value maximization, which held that instead of investing in the skills and training of employees, companies should pursue layoffs and cost-cutting in the interest of SHORT-TERM PROFITS - moves that perverseley tend to negatively impact the long-term health of the firm.

It turns out that unbridled capitalism has a bias against older workers. Bosses started to focus more on younger workers because they are cheaper and didn’t expect things like pensions. They could also be more easily intimidated.

By 1993, a Supreme Court decision involving a 62-year-old employee discharged from Hazen Paper Company just weeks before he qualified for full pension benefits gave employers the right to look at factors associated with employee age, like the length of service with the company, in deciding whether or not to fire workers without fear of violating the law. Older workers were now much easier targets for employers.

Today, age discrimination charges are on the rise, which often happens during recessions: 22,857 workers filed age-related complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2012 compared to just 16,548 in 2006. These cases involve well-known companies like Whole Foods, NBC, AT&T, and Ruby Tuesday.

Even academia, traditionally a place where older workers have enjoyed more protection, is becoming rife with age discrimination cases. A recent high-profile case involving long-time administrators at Rutgers University exhibits several of the hallmarks of unsavory practices involving older workers җ employees with excellent records suddenly receiving negative reviews, decision-making processes conducted with unusual speed and opacity, and new management.

Millions of dollars are being spent by companies in lawsuits. Meanwhile, businesses lose valuable assets they havent properly assessed. According to an overly simplistic model of economics, the economy is supposed to be self-regulating and people are supposed to be paid precisely according to their worth, or what economists call their ғmarginal productivity. The problem is, itԒs extremely difficult to tell what a workers marginal productivity actually is. Many workers perform in teams. An older, experienced workerҒs presence may have the effect of upping the game of the younger workers, but this is difficult to measure. In a newsroom, for example, an experienced journalist may bring credibility and reputation to the product, and impart valuable knowledge to newbies, who strive harder when she oversees their work. What happens when you pull out the older worker? The short-term bottom line is cut, but the team suffers and the long-term value of the company may be decreased.

Jan, the erstwhile marketing manager, thinks the U.S. is particularly obtuse when it comes to dealing with older workers. She points to Germany’s actions in the wake of the financial crisis: “The government went and created incentives for industry not to lay people off but to cut hours. Here in America, that didnt happen.:

Jan and other older workers feel a deep sense of having been contributed to an economy and society that has kicked them to the curb.

We work hard for years, and how do we benefit in the end? American companies don’t give back to the taxpayers and workers who have made their success possible. We should expect some reciprocity. We should reward companies that don’t outsource. We should improve the social safety net to help people who are unemployed through no fault of their own. There are things that I could be doing to further benefit the community, but if nobody wants to hire me, I don’t see where thats ultimately my fault. Especially when the economy is producing enough for all if it were distributed fairly.

We live in an era of planned obsolescence, in which designers deliberately make a thing limited in its useful life. Now this planned obsolescene includes human beings. Is it really an efficient use of our human capital to turn experienced workers into Walmart greeters?

Clearly, we need workplace policies and programs that expand the opportunities for older Americans to extend their labor force participation and continue to contribute their valuable skills and experience. Phased retirement plans in which older workers are kept on as part-time workers or consultants, for example, can benefit both employers and employees. Such plans mitigate the potential loss of knowledge as older workers retire.

The biggest-picture problem in the economy that needs to be addressed has to do with what economists call aggregate demand - the overall demand for goods and services. When people don’t have enough money in their pockets, which happens when economic shocks occur and the government pursues austerity policies, businesses stop hiring and people cant find jobs or keep the ones they have.

This results in involuntary unemployment; it’s like a game of musical chairs in which the music stops and somebody is going to be left without a place to sit. Unless the government invests in the economy through jobs programs, education, infrastructure-building, and so on, aggregate demand remains low and unemployment persists, which particuarlly impacts the youngest and the oldest workers. When the GOP and many centrist Democrats pursue the self-defeating policies of cutting the social safety net with calls to raise the eligibility age to collect Social Security or kicking people off unemployment, the problem is only worsened.

Telling people to accept lower paying jobs may make sense for individuals, but in the economy as a whole, as Keynesian economists constantly remind us, wage cuts just add to the shortfall in demand.

In the end, we want an economy that allows everyone to work who is able to do so, and provides a robust social safety net for those who can’t. Our current system is unsustainable, and age discrimination, which strikes even those who are still in their prime, is quickly becoming an economic, social and public health disaster for the 21st century.



Forced Out, Older Workers Are Fighting Back
Here’s how some are coping with what they see as age bias at this stage in their career

By Carole Fleck
AARP Bulletin
May 2014

The signs at first are disguised, then painfully apparent, they say. Solid performance reviews suddenly turn negative. Invitations to weekly and monthly meetings are no longer forthcoming. New demands and quotas seem harsh and unreasonable. In what some see as age bias, older workers are being forced out of their jobs. Read the five profiles on these pages to see how some workers are coping at this stage of their careers.

What’s the law? AGE DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS have been on the rise since 1997, when 15,785 reports were filed, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Last year, 21,396 claims were recorded. Not every lawsuit is valid, experts say. Many are settled without assigning blame. Companies are sometimes hamstrung by the law from giving their side of the story in age discrimination cases.

On the other hand, consumer advocates and lawyers say recorded claims represent only a slice of the total number of workers who get pushed out of a job because they are older.

One possible reason for the trend: an aging population. More than 20 percent of workers in the United States, some 33 million, are age 55 and up, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects workers 40 and older from personnel decisions based solely on age in hiring, firing, layoffs, promotions or demotions. The act applies to employers with at least 20 workers. That law was weakened in 2009, advocates say, when a U.S. Supreme Court ruling made it more difficult for workers to prove age discrimination. The court ruled that the burden of proof was now on the worker to show that age was the deciding factor rather than one of a number of factors, as previously held ח in a dismissal, demotion or other adverse action.

Bipartisan legislation introduced last year would restore some protections. The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, which AARP strongly supports, would amend and clarify federal antidiscrimination laws.

Older workers say the legislation is needed. In a survey of more than 1,502 older adults, about 64 percent say they have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace. Of those, 92 percent say it is very or somewhat common, according to the AARP report “Staying Ahead of the Curve.”

Grant Morris, a Washington, D.C., employment lawyer, says many companies skirt age-discrimination laws by offering severance pay to ousted older workers, with the condition that they sign waivers releasing the company from liability.

“Everyone faces huge financial pressures when they are discharged from a company,” he says, so workers are quick to accept the terms.

Cindy Levering is the volunteer chair of the pension research team at the Society of Actuaries, which conducted a 2013 study that asked recently retired people why they left their jobs.

“People who had retired voluntarily it turned out it wasn’t so voluntary,” she says. “They felt they had been pushed out. Some said employers were setting unrealistic goals. Some couldn’t do their job because of physical demands, or they didn’t feel valued. Not many said they wanted to retire to pursue their dreams or passion.”

Even when company practices are challenged, the odds of winning a case aren’t great.

“It’s so difficult to prove age discrimination that employers are emboldened,” says Laurie McCann, a senior attorney with AARP Foundation Litigation. “They think they can get away with it.”

After losing their jobs, here’s what happened.

Theresa Seibert

Former employer: Quest Diagnostics

Employment length: 26 years

Age at termination: 52

At Quest Diagnostics, one of the largest medical labs in the country, Theresa Seibert’s downfall came quickly, she says. Now 57, she’d worked for the New Jersey-based company for almost half her life. “It places you on a pedestal for knowing your stuff,” she says.

Then new management changed her sales territory and made it nearly impossible to make money or to reach new quotas, she says. In 2010, she was fired for poor performance and denied severance for her 26 years of service.

Community: Was I discriminated against? Join the discussion

How she coped: Seibert sued Quest in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, alleging that her termination was part of a plan to drive out older sales representatives and replace them with younger people who were not required to meet the same standards.

“Quest violated laws by deliberately firing Seibert and about 100 older workers on trumped-up claims of poor performances in order to avoid paying them severance,” says Glen Savits, one of her lawyers from the firm Green, Savits and Lenzo in Morristown, N.J. “The pattern was fairly clear. You have to prove these cases circumstantially because no one is stupid enough to say, ‘I’m firing you because of your age,’ “ he says. The suit is pending, and Quest has declined to comment.

Seibert returned to school to study organizational leadership and become more marketable. She’s drained half her 401(k) account to pay the bills, which include her college tuition expenses.

She’s been without permanent work for three years and counting. “There’s no such thing as a retirement in my future,” Seibert says.

Ellen Mednick

Former employer: Starz

Employment length: 15 years

Age at termination: 66

Ellen Mednick had just cashed a $14,000 bonus check for wowing her bosses at the Starz movie channel. As the executive director of creative services, she scored a major coup by arranging for actors Harrison Ford and James Caan to do on-air promotions for the network for free.

She was also celebrating an anniversary: 15 years of “kicking butt,” as she describes it, and collecting several industry awards for her work. Another notable event soon followed: her termination. In May 2013, Mednick says, she was pushed out the door. Her age was to blame, she says.

“I was really at the top of my game,” says Mednick, who lives in Denver. “I’m 67, but I’m full of energy and full of creative talent. I had so much more to contribute.”

How she coped: Mednick hired Diane King, a Colorado employment lawyer. King says a suit will be filed this spring against Starz on behalf of Mednick and three other older workers who were let go in what she called a pattern of age discrimination. The company declined to comment.

“They got rid of the oldest person at every department where they had layoffs,” King says. “These people were longtime employees, well respected, never written up, got raises and bonuses. These days, there’s typically no direct evidence of discrimination because people are too smart for that. But if they’re always picking the oldest person, that’s a pattern.”

Mednick, who supports a disabled adult son, has tapped into her 401(k) savings to help pay bills while looking for work. She also applied for Social Security, which she’d planned on taking later for a bigger payout.

“I’ve really cut back on my lifestyle,” she says. “It’s a struggle.”

Paul Oravez

Former employer: Johnson & Johnson

Employment length: 10 years

Age at termination: 59

Paul Oravez was just about to collect a coveted perk for putting in a decade of work at health care giant Johnson & Johnson: retiree medical benefits. Instead, he was let go.

“It’s a golden thing to get that,” says Oravez, now 64. “I almost made it.”

In fact, he would have been eligible long ago for retiree benefits if he had been credited for the eight years he worked for a pharmaceutical company that Johnson & Johnson acquired.

A spokesman declined to comment on former employees’ work histories.

“You start wondering if you should bring an age-discrimination suit,” says Oravez, who lives in West Chester, Pa. “But the company gives you a severance package, and if you didn’t sign papers saying you wouldn’t bring a suit against them, you wouldn’t get this nice payout to help you transition to a new life ... . It’s like golden handcuffs. You take the money and run.”

How he coped: The prospect of hunting for work was “wearing thin,” he says. At the same time, he’d become a caregiver for his wife, who later died after a long illness. With investments, a pension to fall back on and no mortgage, Oravez settled into retirement. “I watch my nickels and dimes,” he says.

Dave Lundin

Former employer: General Motors

Employment length: 26 years

Age at termination: 58

It’s been nearly 14 years since Dave Lundin took a buyout from General Motors after a 26-year marketing career. Lundin says he was told by the company his skills were no longer needed.

“I didn’t want to retire. I couldn’t afford to retire,” says Lundin, now 72, of Troy, Mich. “I was walking by a dumpster and I thought I might as well throw myself inside. They just trashed me.”

After applying for “dozens and dozens of jobs in marketing, at the age of 58, I didn’t get any response whatsoever,” he says. “I was making about $200,000 a year at GM and I was willing to work for $50,000. I did not get even an interview.”

How he coped: Lundin went back to school and earned a second master’s degree in counseling. He tried to build a psychotherapy practice but couldn’t make it happen, even after a decade. He used part of his 401(k) and pension funds to buy two businesses, one after another. Neither was profitable. One year ago, Lundin landed a full-time job with a clinic, where he earns $40,000. “I have to keep working,” he says. “I chose psychotherapy because you can work for as long as you can get clients. It’s one area where age is valued.”

Bonjet Sandigan

Former employer: Dun & Bradstreet

Employment length: 26 years

Age at termination: 51

When Bonjet Sandigan was let go in early 2011 from his technology management job in Austin, Texas, it was the third time in a career that spanned 27 years.

“I was the oldest in a group of about a dozen workers and I was the highest paid,” says Sandigan, now 53. “I looked the other way because there was no point in doing anything about it. You go through a moment of silence to figure out what you want to do. I said I would not be a victim of a layoff anymore.”

How he coped: Sandigan, who had moved to the U.S. from the Philippines, took about a year off, using his severance and savings, to research franchise opportunities. In 2012, he settled on ShelfGenie, which makes custom pull-out shelving for cabinets. He moved to Delray Beach, Fla., and says he expects to draw enough of an income this spring so that he won’t have to continue to tap savings. He also plans to buy a second business this summer and hopes he’ll be able to retire comfortably in his early 60s.

“You get monthly income,” he says of his franchise, “and it’s an investment for when you sell it, provided it’s a successful business.”


Posted by Elvis on 05/12/14 •
Section Dying America
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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Crusade Against Homelessness

Utah is Ending Homelessness by Giving People Homes

By Terrance Heath
Campaign for Americas Future
January 23, 2014

Earlier this month, Hawaii State representative Tom Bower (D) began walking the streets of his Waikiki district with a sledgehammer, and SMASHING SHOPPING CARTS used by homeless people. Disgusted by the city’s chronic homelessness problem, Bower decided to take matters into his own hands - literally. He also took to rousing homeless people if he saw them sleeping at bus stops during the day.

Bowers tactics were over the top, and so UNPOPULAR that he quickly declared “Mission accomplished,” and retired his sledgehammer. But Bower’s frustration with his citys homelessness problem is just an extreme example of the frustration that has led cities to pass measures that effective deal with the homeless by criminalizing homelessness.

· City council members in COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, concerned that the city was becoming “a magnet for homeless people,” passed an ordinance giving the homeless the option to either relocate or get arrested. The council later rescinded the ordinance, after backlash from police officers, city workers, and advocates.

· Last year, TAMPA, FLORIDA - which had the most homeless people for a mid-sized city - passed an ordinance allowing police officers to arrest anyone they saw sleeping in public, or storing personal property in public. The city followed up with a BAN ON PANHANDLING downtown, and other locations around the city.

· PHILADELPHIA took a somewhat different approach, with a law banning the feeding of homeless people on city parkland. Religious groups objected to the ban, and announced that they would not obey it.

· Raleigh, North Carolina took the step of asking religious groups to stop their longstanding practice of feeding the homeless in a downtown park on weekends. Religious leaders announced that they would risk arrest rather than stop.

This trend makes Utah’s accomplishment even more noteworthy. In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015.

How did Utah accomplish this? Simple. Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached. Each participant in Utah’s Housing First program also gets a caseworker to help them become self-sufficient, but they keep the apartment even if they fail. The program has been so successful that other states are hoping to achieve similar results with programs modeled on Utahs.

It sounds like Utah borrowed a page from Homes Not Handcuffs, the 2009 report by The National Law’ Center on Homelessness & Poverty and The National Coalition for the Homeless. Using a 2004 survey and anecdotal evidence from activists, the report concluded that permanent housing for the homeless is cheaper than criminalization. Housing is not only more human, it’s economical.

This happened in a Republican state! Republicans in Congress would probably have required the homeless to take a drug test before getting an apartment, denied apartments to homeless people with criminal records, and evicted those who failed to become self-sufficient after five years or so. But Utahs results show that even conservative states can solve problems like homelessness with decidedly progressive solutions.


Posted by Elvis on 05/11/14 •
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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Kiss Small Business Good Bye

U.S. businesses are being destroyed faster than theyre being created

By Christopher Ingraham
Washington Post
May 5, 2014

The American economy is less entrepreneurial now than at any point in the last three decades. That’s the conclusion of a NEW STUDY out from the Brookings Institution, which looks at the rates of new business creation and destruction since 1978.

Not only that, but during the most recent three years of the study—2009, 2010 and 2011—businesses were collapsing faster than they were being formed, a first. Overall, new businesses creation (measured as the share of all businesses less than one year old) declined by about half from 1978 to 2011.


The authors don’t mince words about the stakes here: If the decline persists, “it implies a continuation of slow growth for the indefinite future.” This lack of economic dynamism, particularly the steep drop since 2006, may be one reason why our current recovery has felt like much less than a recovery. As Matt O’Brien NOTED on Wonkblog last week, annual job growth rates have stubbornly refused to budge above 2 percent for the duration of the recovery.

The authors of the Brookings study dug beyond the national numbers to look at the change in new firms at the state and metro levels and found that they generally mirrored the national trends.

I mapped the state data HERE. While all states showed steep drops in new firms, New York stands out for its much smaller decline in the share of new companies than other states—only 18 percent, compared with the 50-state average of 47.2 percent. Illinois, Texas, New Jersey and Missouri round out the top five.

At the other end, Alaska had the largest drop in new business, at 61 percent. Hawaii, Vermont, New Mexico and Wyoming rounded out the bottom five. Teasing out the causes of the overall decline or the variation between states is difficult; the authors stressed to me that their data don’t answer the questions of why or how just yet. But they will be looking into that in the months ahead.

No immediate pattern emerges from the state-level geography, but one thing is worth nothing. For kicks I tried to correlate the drops in new businesses in each state with the states’ scores on the Tax Foundation’s 2014 State Business Tax Climate Index. There was no significant relationship one way or the other. For example, New York, which showed the lowest decrease in new businesses, actually scored dead last in the Tax Foundation’s ranking. Wyoming had one of the largest declines, even though it ranked first in the Tax Foundation’s report.

At the very least, the Brookings findings strongly suggest that when it comes to luring new businesses to a given state, there are a lot more factors at play than straightforward calculations of corporate tax rates.


Posted by Elvis on 05/07/14 •
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