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623 comments

well... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26559631)

Fuck. Thank you world economy.

Is it cos I iz black? (-1, Troll)

Obama (1458545) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559649)

Somehow this is all going to be linked to the new Prez, right?

Re:Is it cos I iz black? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26559829)

Somehow this is all going to be linked to the new Prez, right?

Oh.. Don't worry they can still blame Bush for another 18months...

Re:Is it cos I iz black? (2, Informative)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559859)

FDR blamed Hoover for about a decade.

-jcr

Re:Is it cos I iz black? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559947)

History still blames Hoover.

Re:Is it cos I iz black? (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560277)

That's because Hoover sucks [hoover.com]

Re:Is it cos I iz black? (5, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560043)

To be fair, it was Hoover's fault. Not that he could know; most of the techniques we use today to try and mitigate the effects of a long term downturn weren't even invented during Hoover's administration. It wasn't (at that time) recognized that unregulated capitalism was perfectly capable of committing suicide.

Re:Is it cos I iz black? (2, Interesting)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560193)

Really, it was the Federal Reserve's fault. Trying to fight inflation in a recession is stupid. But that was long before Milton Friedman's monetarism.

Of course, Hoover's protectionist policies didn't help. Hopefully Obama listens to his well chosen economic advisers and doesn't follow the same path.

Re:Is it cos I iz black? (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560217)

To be fair, it was Hoover's fault.

Hoover screwed up, but Roosevelt continued and compounded Hoover's mistakes. It's quite interesting to dig up Roosevelt's speeches from the campaign against Hoover, where he correctly lambasted Hoover for all the things that he later referred to as the "new deal" and promoted.

-jcr

Re:Is it cos I iz black? (1)

Tiber (613512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560319)

That's what's good about capitalism.

It doesn't really ever commit suicide because it's not a person.

Re:Is it cos I iz black? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560313)

go back to england, no one in america spells the word "cos"

WTF is up with IBM? (4, Interesting)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559665)

So yesterday, IBM posted great profits that beat wall street estimates [cnet.com] . And today they're doing layoffs? That makes no financial sense to me. Why should any company lay off people just because "Everyone else is doing it"?

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (5, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559699)

I don't know about Intel or Microsoft, but IBM is at a 20 year high for employment; the highest since it dropped 150k workers in the 90's.

Even though they managed to pull some solid growth last year, they're on the heavy side for a significant down turn. For a company that deals in services and hardware, it'd be shortsighted not to tighten up a bit.

Still, no fun. I sympathize with the workers over there. (Before anyone starts calling me heartless; I work for a newspaper company. My department has lost almost 70% of it's staff in the last 3 years. )

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (1, Funny)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559831)

The only way to fix this mess is with more H1-B visa's!!!

Not H1-B: Try Offshore Contracting (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560061)

Actually, the answer for IBM is "offshore contracting". Waaaay cheaper. Spoken from experience. More and more of my coworkers are in another timezone. They're in India, the Philippines, South America, et. Al. We've been training up these contractors are some of the systems. Hopefully, lucky for me, the Big Systems with Major Impact are not being segued over.

I'm posting as AC for obvious reasons, I think.

Re:Not H1-B: Try Offshore Contracting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560287)

So long as the stinky foreigners stay in their own countries and aren't imported into the U.S.

Nothing is worse than foreigner stink. The Indians are the worst, those guys' stench could knock a buzzard off a shitwagon. Unlike Indians, Africans at least know how to find the nearest stream or lake and scrub themselves with a rock. Brazilians are also stinky, and dumb to boot.

Re:Not H1-B: Try Offshore Contracting (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560357)

Of course what you left out is the many problems with off-shoring. I'm in Global Services and several accounts have threatened legal action due to quality and SLA drops. I've yet to meet an Indian or Argentina who understands that a 3 day SLA means they have to get the work done in that time. You can tell them but for them it is no big deal that it is a day or a week late. Then quality is amazingly poor.

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (3, Informative)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560245)

That's the problem right there. Business ALWAYS over-extends itself. In good times, they open tons of new factories and rather than hire some Americans who are ought of work, these businesses insist upon brining-in foreign labor.

Then they turn-around and lay them all off, and what's left are foreigners living off the dole. I think when the economy is booming, the government should say, "No imported workers. Hire some of the unemployed Americans and get them off the government's payroll."

ASIDE:

I was recently laid-off. I had a phone interview for a temporary job, and now they want to interview me in person which is an unusual move for a temp job. The catch: I have to drive 14 hours from PA to NH without any kind of reimbursement, and frankly it's unlikely I'll get the job anyway. Would you be willing to go to an interview w/o reimbursement, for a temporary 6-9 month job?

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (4, Funny)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560369)

Ah, I love the smell of Capitalism in the morning!

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (5, Funny)

momerath2003 (606823) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559969)

I work for a newspaper company. My department has lost almost 70% of it's staff in the last 3 years.

Well, with apostrophe errors like that, it's no surprise to me!

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (0, Troll)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560115)

Agreed. SP's a dope.

=Smidge=

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560171)

Maybe GP works for The Gnauriad?

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559997)

PaganCoxComb: If you work for a dead-tree newspaper company you really need to rethink your raison d'etre.

=Smidge=

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560131)

IBM is at a 20 year high for employment; the highest since it dropped 150k workers in the 90's.

Aren't these two statements contradicting? How can they be at a 20 year high for employment, yet they had more employees before the 150k layoff in the 90s? The 90s were less than 20 years ago.

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560323)

In the last 20 years, there were two large peaks, one in the 90s and one today? Seems pretty obvious to me.

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (1)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560381)

2009 - 1990 = 19. Some people round. Still, you're right. It is a really poor way to word that sentence.

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (2, Informative)

Touvan (868256) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560223)

I don't know how directly this relates to you personally (probably not much), but there are some up and coming organizations that I think are doing better reporting than most dead tree presses I'm aware of - arstechnica.com is my prime example. They usually provide context, and aren't afraid to draw obvious conclusions - both of which are sorely lacking in "old" media like newspapers, tv and radio (Bill Moyers is an exception to that statement - the only one I can think of).

At Ars the writers actually seem to understand the topics they write about. How many paper writers out there could you say that about?

(Note: I don't have any affiliation with Ars, I've just been very impressed with them as of late - and I hope they make a boat load of money.)

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (2)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559701)


Well I'm not saying this is the case, but a theory would be that if everyone else is in trouble, even if IBM is not, then demand for IBM's services will go down. My sympathy to anyone who has lost their job though.

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (3, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559759)

Because culling the lowest 5-10% performing staff is good for the overall business, and now is the perfect time to do that because the story of your job cuts will get lost among all the other stories about job cuts and not cause you as much bad publicity.

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (4, Interesting)

Skreems (598317) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560041)

Sadly it sounds like that's not what they're doing. The articles and the leaked Balmer memo mention a number of divisions that will be included in the cuts, and product development is suspiciously lacking. It sounds like they're cutting all the fringe divisions (legal, HR, R&D, etc) and leaving the developers alone entirely. Which is really a shame, since they have a number of completely incompetent devs who need to go as well.

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (3, Interesting)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560155)

Don't know how it works at the there companies mentioned in the header, but it's been my experience that layoffs at many companies are based on seniority, not job performance. The jumior people tend to get the axe.

Sometimes those people are the weakest link, but sometimes they aren't.

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (4, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560443)

I've got news for you, kid: After firing the 10% worst-performing staff, a company STILL has a 10% worst-performing staff, along with newly lowered moral.

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559797)

Just because you are making money doesn't mean you don't have bloat.

Companies don't employee people just to give them jobs, they employee people because they need them. If you have no use for part of your workforce, regardless or earnings, the wise thing to do is slim-down.

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (2, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560295)

I'm looking forward to this line:

"U.S. Government announces it will layoff 50% of its staff and use the excess money to payoff the national debt & eventually lower income taxes." Of course that will never happen; either in a bad economy or a good economy. Politicians don't know how to reduce spending.

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560437)

Won't happen. If they did fire 50% of their staff it would be worse for the economy than if we let the auto companies and the banks fail, and it still wouldn't pay for the debt, especially since all those out of work people won't be paying taxes, so tax revenues would go down.

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560143)

IBM posted a profit for Q4 because they cook their books as much as the banks have been doing.

They're laying lots of people off because they know they won't be able to sugar-coat the Q1 report.

Re:WTF is up with IBM? (1)

Odonian (730378) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560281)

Just because you make your numbers for a quarter doesn't mean that your expenses are going to match (or hopefully be lower than) your income going forward. Bookings and sales projections for the rest of the year are probably much lower and they can't support their current cost structure. IT companies really don't have any other way to cut costs besides getting rid of people, unfortunately.

Consider it ammo (5, Funny)

ColonelPanic (138077) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559697)

There's 5,000 new empty chairs to fling around in Redmond!

Re:Consider it ammo (1)

mattygabe (1457601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560279)

Paging Bobby Knight...

Some perspective. (5, Interesting)

Albanach (527650) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559719)

Microsoft are cutting up to 5,000 from a total of 90,000 employees - 5.5% of its workforce.

IBM might cut 16,000 from a workforce of 387,000, a cut of 4%.

Intel are cutting up to 6,000 from a workforce of 84,000 - 7% of jobs.

Re:Some perspective. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26559837)

Some more perspective: H-1B program still going strong, with up to 65,000 visas for 2009! (more if you include the universities, which are exempt from the cap as they work only for the public good, with no self-interest whatsoever.

Step 1 to help employment: stop issuing H-1B visas. Period. No exceptions, no delay.

Re:Some perspective. (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559899)

Do the words "Smoot-Hawley" mean anything to you?

International trade is good for overall productivity, whether we're talking about commodities or services.

-jcr

Re:Some perspective. (3, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560057)

Agreed, partly. 1) That doesn't mean we should be providing tax incentives for businesses that outsource to India, either. 2) H1-B visas aren't trade per se. 65,000 H1-Bs for IT workers means 65,000 domestic IT workers without a job. 65,000 TVs imported from China, OTOH, create more jobs than they cost.

Re:Some perspective. (3, Funny)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560163)

I will concur that our tax system is severely broken. American workers are the most productive in the world, and if we had a rational tax system (like, corporate tax rates at least as low as Europe), that would remove most of the incentive for offshore production.

65,000 H1-Bs for IT workers means 65,000 domestic IT workers without a job

It's not that simple. A lot of those visas do in fact go to workers for jobs that an employer can't fill locally. It's like claiming that if we forced all the Mexicans to go home, that Americans would take the fruit-picking jobs.

-jcr

Re:Some perspective. (5, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560235)

>It's not that simple. A lot of those visas do in fact go to workers for jobs that an employer can't fill locally.

Yeah right. Im sure thats true a certain percentage of the time but the scenario "why pay someone 80k when we can get a slave for 24k" plays itself out too.

Re:Some perspective. (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560195)

Take your protectionist bullshit back to the beginning of the 20th century where it belongs.

Re:Some perspective. (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560175)

The "good" news is that microsoft is only cutting R&D and support staff so far. The bad news is that they haven't specified how many contractors are being cut.

I'm only repeating a common line of thought (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560203)

I heard that companies such as Microsoft are using this time to dump their bottom 5-10%, rather than dumping their bottom 5-10% because of the economy - although I am not sure of the validity of that reasoning.

Microsoft calls for government bailout (5, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559725)

SKID ROW, Redmond, Friday - Microsoft Corporation has enacted swingeing layoffs [today.com] in mid-January after the failure of its stock buyback program, and has called for a government bailout in the face of the credit crunch.

"Vastly popular operating systems like Vista just aren't selling," said marketing marketer emeritus Bill Gates, "and it's all because people aren't confident to spend their money. In fact, they didn't start buying it in 2007 because they were expecting this even then. A subsidy to buy good, honest American computer operating systems is essential to the health of the economy, or my part of it."

Should the Big One of American virtual office supplies fail, economists predict that it could free up millions of dollars in business spending and provide a devastating boost to an economy reeling from the impact of the credit crunch.

Hiring in most Microsoft divisions has frozen in the last six months and 30GB Zunes are already on suicide watch. "The workload's impossible to keep up with," said blog technical evangelist Gary M. Stewart. "I've even been answering Slashdot comments on Boycott Novell or Groklaw. It's impossible to keep track of! Anyway, you're just another Twitter sockpuppet. Or Mini-Microsoft. Admit it."

Additional bailouts have been hooked on the bill as riders for HD-DVD, eight-track cartridges, 78rpm gramophones and Babbage analytical engine gear manufacturers.

Senators have stated they will only bail the company out with a change in top management. "What the shit," said Linus Torvalds as his draft notice arrived.

Re:Microsoft calls for government bailout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26559763)

"Vastly popular operating systems like Vista just aren't selling," said marketing marketer emeritus Bill Gates, "and it's all because people aren't confident to spend their money.

Huh?

Re:Microsoft calls for government bailout (1)

flydpnkrtn (114575) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559941)

whoosh

Re:Microsoft calls for government bailout (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560149)

Hi, I represent Uncle Sam. Please understand that we must ask you some strict questions before we can give you your bailout money. First of all, would you like your bailout in 20 or 100 dollar bills? Secondly, do you PROMISE not to blow it on hookers and executive jets, cross your heart? And finally, what percentage of your bailout would you like to allocate in political contributions to the Congressmen who gave you this bailout?

Re:Microsoft calls for government bailout (2, Insightful)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560393)

Rules for bailout:

1. Crappy product
2. Unnecessary industry
3. Heartless executives

I can dig it.

The Numbers crunched and bought forward (1)

bossanovalithium (1396323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559747)

This equates to some 5% of the workforce, including 58 of 2900 in the UK. This financials filing wasn't due til 5.30 EST, so they must have been pretty jump about it.

When will it end? (5, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559755)

Economists like to pretend that they're dealing with a hard science but they are wrong, so very wrong. Economics is certainly a complex field of study but it is also one of the squishiest sciences there is. Economics is psychology with graphs and math. You can talk about supply and demand, this curve and that, but we're ultimately talking about human psychology. You can't use normal logic to figure this stuff out, you have to work with crowd dynamics, herd instinct, quit talking about how people should behave and pay attention to how they really behave.

If you want to understand how everything is going pear-shaped, just look at the Great White club fire. Huge crowd, small venue, and the band's pyrotechnics set the place on fire. Rationally speaking, there's no reason why anyone had to die. There were sufficient doors and sufficient time for a calm and orderly evacuation. And our economists are the ones who would look at that situation and not quite grasp why there was a panic, a human log-jam at the door, and a whole lot of dead bodies. "That wasn't rational behavior! That was irrational exuberance, or maybe irrational shit-the-bed terror. The problem here is that my observations of this event do not fit my models."

That's what we're seeing in this economy, a fire in a club. Everyone is working to maximize their own survival even though it will harm the chances for the group as a whole. Companies are shedding jobs everywhere, getting work is damned near impossible, and we've got a negative feedback loop that nobody seems to be able to break. And nobody wants to take a look at the wall where the writing stands hundreds of feet high -- "we need to reform the way we're doing business and this will change our entire economy as we've come to know it." The thought is too frightening.

Re:When will it end? (3, Insightful)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559853)

That's why the role of Govt. is so pivotal - not just in this instance, but also in cases where 'individualistic' impulses will not work for the common good - infrastructure development, for example.

Re:When will it end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26559973)

There is more to a country/economy than the common good.

Re:When will it end? (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559983)

Oh, for crying out loud.

First of all, the bulk of the freshly-inflated money that those geniuses on capitol hill are giving away is going towards keeping unprofitable ventures in business, not towards building roads. Secondly, every dollar that the government taxes, borrows or inflates is a dollar that's taken from private parties and spent on things that those people have not chosen to spend it on. Government can not "stimulate" an economy by increasing government spending, as Hoover and Roosevelt thoroughly proved during the first great depression.

-jcr

Re:When will it end? (1, Insightful)

Bozdune (68800) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560363)

Wrong. Government DID stimulate the economy out of the Depression, and Roosevelt essentially prevented a revolution (Hoover, though, did nothing useful). It's true, though, that Roosevelt's pre-war stimulus plans were too small. It took WWII and pretty much unrestrained government spending to get us fully back on track.

Re:When will it end? (1)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559999)

So ... the government's job is to squash individual freedom for the sake of a country?

Oh god, how I love spin.

Re:When will it end? (0, Troll)

0123456 (636235) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560001)

Government intervention _CREATES_ most of the problems; the current recession is due to government central banks holding interest rates too low for a decade to create an artificial boom which eventually had to go bust.

No company can screw up an economy the way government can.

Re:When will it end? (1)

msuarezalvarez (667058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560361)

No company can screw up an economy the way government can.

But lots of them surely can.

Re:When will it end? (1)

shaka999 (335100) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559877)

Actually this is positive feedback. Negative feedback produces a stable situation. We have negative news feeding back to create more negative news. Thus positive feedback. If negative news created positive results we'd have negative feedback.

No, I'm not anal at all. Just having a hard time stabilizing and amp I'm designing so its on my mind :).

Re:When will it end? (2, Interesting)

Skreems (598317) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559937)

Getting work is nowhere near impossible if you're really good at what you do. I quit MSFT about 4 months back (they just pissed me off too much to continue there) and went to work for Amazon. Now MSFT is in layoffs, and we still can't find enough qualified people to fill our open headcount. Not coincidentally, the working environment is much more relaxed and friendly, pays significantly better, and we actually keep out the cruft that MSFT gladly hired when they started lowering their standards 5 years ago.

Re:When will it end? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560257)

Amazon is just ridiculously picky. I interviewed there a few weeks ago and asked what percentage they hired of those they flew out: the answer was about 5%. They said I was "good, but not good enough". I answered all the interview questions competently, and kept hearing stuff like "we normally don't get to this part, because the interviewee starts out with an O(n^2) solution rather than an O(n logn) solution..." Well anyway, you may think of it as sour grapes and maybe it is, but I was definitely qualified. Give me any programming problem you think I wouldn't be qualified to solve, and I'll prove you wrong.

Re:When will it end? (3, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559951)

It's not for private enterprise to try and throw itself on the economic grenade. They're SUPPOSED to save themselves, their stockholders can SUE them if they don't try to save themselves, and having the whole crash next year when you could have cut sensibly beforehand is ridiculous.

The whole point of the capitalistic system is that the individual knows what is best for themselves. They need to act to preserve themselves, just as (in better times) they need to act to increase their gains.

Now obviously, this isn't good for the whole in times of crisis. That is where the government can step in, to pump money into the economy through targeted public works and infrastructure projects. Which is what it's been sorta doing...

This bank bailout crap has been a fiasco in terms of loosening up money, which also needs to happen. The other prong of recovery is often new private enterprise, which is fueled by large numbers of skilled workers who are no longer employed, but that usually requires some start-up capital, and that's problematic right now.

Anyway, socialist chicken little freak outs don't really help either. It's not the duty of the company to provide jobs, it's to maintain themselves. In the long run, that preserves more jobs.

Re:When will it end? (1)

msuarezalvarez (667058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560385)

The whole point of the capitalistic system is that the individual knows what is best for themselves.

The thing is, this is very rarely the case...

Re:When will it end? (1, Flamebait)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560055)

Economists like to pretend that they're dealing with a hard science but they are wrong, so very wrong. Economics is certainly a complex field of study but it is also one of the squishiest sciences there is. Economics is psychology with graphs and math. You can talk about supply and demand, this curve and that, but we're ultimately talking about human psychology. You can't use normal logic to figure this stuff out, you have to work with crowd dynamics, herd instinct, quit talking about how people should behave and pay attention to how they really behave.

I suggest you study advanced economics before making a claim like that. Bullshit armchair economists are much different than real academic economists, and it seems quite clear that you're only familiar with one of the two.

Re:When will it end? (1)

barneco (1353761) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560343)

Surely I can't be the only one immensely impressed by the use of a hair-band nightclub show reference to support economic analysis? Good stuff.

Disposable pieces (0, Offtopic)

Vexler (127353) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559771)

If only end-users are given the same power regarding software "features" they don't need and don't care for (just lay them off). You can do that fairly easily with Linux and BSD, but trying to carve up Windows is asking for pain.

Re:Disposable pieces (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560051)

How many (Microsoft) end-users are going to cut out any significant pieces further than what they can already do with the installer/uninstaller?

Perfectly normal (2, Informative)

carvalhao (774969) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559811)

This is a normal management decision. When you have prospects of declining growth, cutting 5 to 10% of your under-performers is just good management.

Rationality aside, my sympathies for the families of those being laid off (although in the USA job market this is not such a big deal).

Re:Perfectly normal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26559897)

>although in the USA job market this is not such a big deal

But you only need a few more like this for it to become one. Look at the car industry, about to collapse? All those financial giants that have gone, the lenders such as Fannie May et al?

Re:Perfectly normal (5, Insightful)

Hodar (105577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560133)

Jack Welch, when he took over GE started the whole 10% of your under-achiever hog-wash.

Now, if you have poor achievers in your company, who have been there for decades - as GE had - perhaps a 1 time 'cleansing' is necessary. But, if you are doing your interviewing competently, and are teaching and mentoring your new hires - to continuously 'fire' 10% of the workforce is not only stupid, it's counter productive.

Consider, how long does it take a person to learn his job function and all the nuances that take it from being merely fulfilled, but where he can then magnify it? Given the proper motivation, a below average performer can become a top-performer. If a person knows what's expected, is shown how to do this, and is encouraged - he will either refuse to conform (termination case) or he will improve. I've seen this, I've done this and it works.

Other employees see this, and morale improves. People do not want to leave that group/company. Motorola USED to be like this. When Samsung came into town, they had to offer 20%+ salary bumps to attract Motorola employees to leave. Why? Because the people at Motorola knew that they were 'safe', that they had a career and a future with the company. Then Hector Ruiz came along and killed Motorola, before moving on to AMD and killing them.

I do not subscribe to the 10% cull; because you very quickly come to the point that you are cutting good people, and replacing them with good people who you will fire in a year or so. This creates a hostile work environment (why should I welcome you, help you or agree to work with you - if I'm competing against you to keep my job?), slows projects down (people shift departments constantly, at the slightest rumor of a reduction in headcount in a particular division), and you spend a great deal of your time where 90% of your employees are waiting for 10% of the team to come up to speed with their job requirements.

Show me a company that embraces the 10% cull, and I'll show you a company that is on the way down the tubes. Companies that terminate the poor performers, not due to some obscure quota, but do to performance - tend to retain their employees for the long haul. IBM used to be famous for this, and they rose to world domination. Motorola used to embrace this, and they used to have a world-class semiconductor market, communications division, automotive parts, space, micro-controllers and cell phone groups. The people make a company great - not the managment. Management has never made a company great, but poor managment has certainly killed more than a few.

Re:Perfectly normal (2, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560137)

And, to be even more clear, damn near every company can lose 5-10% of its workforce without impact.

Layoffs are the perfect opportunity to get rid of the people who you don't really want there but don't want to go through the hassle of actually firing.

Anyone who has gone through the process of making the list knows that its not random, not last hired-first-fired... when its individuals in a group and not the whole group, its "who have we wanted to get rid of and actually can now without giving them multiple warnings and dragging it out for months?".

Re:Perfectly normal (1)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560439)

Besides, if everybody else is laying off too the "good" workers are less likely to work for competitor when you need them again.

Steve Ballmer's memo to employees (5, Informative)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559813)

Here is a link to the entire memo [allthingsd.com] Steve sent to employees regarding the layoffs.

No, it's not my blog nor am I affiliated in any way with the site.

Re:Steve Ballmer's memo to employees (1)

ColonelPanic (138077) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559893)

The most telling item in that memo: no merit increases in pay this year, either. How boneheaded is that?

Re:Steve Ballmer's memo to employees (1)

Cormacus (976625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559927)

Well, its actually pretty standard. I don't work for MS, but we had a similar memo go around. No merit increases, no bonuses, no more 401k matching, at least until the end of 2009.

Re:Steve Ballmer's memo to employees (3, Interesting)

Kaneda2112 (871795) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560071)

While it is unpleasant, at least Ballmer acknowledges it's happenning. At IBM (and as an IBMer), no-one has any official information. It seems like employees are being liquidated by a death squad and made into Orwellian 'unpersons' as their names disappear from 'Blupages' - the company directory.

I would rather get an offical word from the management folks ahead of time. I can only suspect IBM management is afraid of sabotage or people getting upset in public - from those that are to be shown the door. I can't think of any other reason for keeping us in the dark.

To quote Grand Moff Tarkin (sp?) - "Fear will keep the local systems in line..."

IBM is doing just fine.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26559825)

http://www.itjungle.com/bns/bns012109-story01.html

A helping hand (1, Insightful)

CaptScarlet22 (585291) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559881)

I think it's time for US companies to abandon those oversea cheap labor idea's and bring back those low paying jobs back into the US. I know the whole Global economy is a mess, but I'm a firm believer of "Charity Starts in the Home". There are so many people right now that would take those jobs. There was what, 4000 people interviewing for 150 jobs at Wal-Mart?? Times are going to get tougher and we need to reel that shit in.

Re:A helping hand (2, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560039)

Except I don't think it's really quite that simple.

Possibly, much of that "cheap, overseas labor" companies are taking advantage of are helping them stay profitable, despite the economic decline?

If they ditched that now, and tried to use US labor to replace it? They'd have to offer people nothing more than bare minimum wage and NO benefits of any kind, and still likely be paying out more than they do now.

Despite the rampant unemployment, I don't think America needs more low-paying, dead-end jobs. Those are grabbed up by the desperate, who think "Anything is better than nothing!" But in the long-run, that's not doing anybody any favors. At those low pay-rates, they're still the ones in line for every type of government assistance - because they can't pay their medical bills or pay for their kids to eat lunch at school, or .....

When did things change? (5, Insightful)

Hodar (105577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559885)

Once upon a time, a company had loyalty to it's people, and the worker's were expected to have some loyalty to the company. If the company had a rough quarter or a poor year, people pulled together and worked harder. A company USED to do layoffs to avoid going bankrupt. Workers viewed each other as extended family members - it was common for workers to get together at each other's homes on weekends and holidays. Families got to know each other, work was done in a 'team' enviroment; and if you pulled your weight and did your job - you could expect to retire with the company you worked for. 20 years of service was celebrated, opportunties for promotion were biased such that someone who had shown loyalty to the company had first dibs, over someone coming in from the outside.

Today, despite record profits, companies close plants and terminate people - so the few executives can reap huge bonus's. Getting laid off by a plant closing, business downturn, or poor managment decisions punishes employees who were powerless to avoid the mistake - but end up taking full responsibility in that they have to sell their homes, and re-locate to find work elsewhere. With the cost of housing - this means that the 401K money must be robbed today, so they can continue to make mortgage payments while they try to sell their home, and have money to bring to closing when their home sells for less than what they paid for it.

I've been there, I've had my retirment almost depleted because companies transferred jobs to India, a plant closing, terminating a project I was involved with, a company purchased and moved overseas, and a company that failed due to poor managment. Now after 20 years, I finally have solid career.

When did all this change? Why did this change? It certainly hasn't been for the better - for the USA used to lead the world in production, in technology and development. People used to matter, now each of us is just a cog in the company machine. We are all expendable, and will be dropped on a whim. I wonder why.

Re:When did things change? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560053)

When did all this change? Why did this change?

Mostly in the 1930s, when FDR decided that the government should promote adversarial relations between labor and management through the unconstitutional "National Industrial Recovery Act". As is often the case with laws, this one was misnamed. It was in fact an act to prevent recovery, by preventing repricing of gods and services to cope with deflation.

-jcr

Re:When did things change? (5, Interesting)

Punko (784684) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560067)

It changed when your company went public. As soon as the first duty of the company changed from working owners to non-employee shareholders, employees are simply meaningless. As a shareholder of our own privately held firm, our employees are our number one asset. Layoffs, when necessary due to lower service demands, are keenly felt. If our firm was to go public, we would morph into the same heartless money machines as all other publicly traded firms. You want employees to matter? Don't go public.

Re:When did things change? (1, Insightful)

Shajenko42 (627901) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560119)

When did all this change? Why did this change?

Unions became far less powerful.

Re:When did things change? (1)

xenolion (1371363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560169)

Its the greed state not just the company but the employees too. Ask anyone around you right now, Are you working here for the love of the company or the paycheck? 90% of them will say paycheck. If your doing something cause you love it your working for a non-profit company other wise you work for a profit "Yours". Im willing to bet if you have a solid job now you also have a house, car and family. Tell me does the company give you food or pay for those things or the cash they pay you do that and if someone came around offering your more would you turn it down?

Re:When did things change? (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560329)

I don't think there's a simple and complete answer to your question. One big factor, I think, was WWII. Before that, we were in the "Great Depression" and there was really no sign of us getting back out of it either. (All those government work programs FDR started back then would likely have just extended the depression, if it weren't for WWII kick-starting our economy.)

I think after the war, you had this great sense of "teamwork" by almost all Americans. Soldiers were coming back, victorious, and people who weren't sent off to war felt like they helped them win too. (Think of all the propaganda about rationing of goods and donating rubber or metal items for the war effort. People felt like they collectively scrimped, saved and donated to make it all happen.)

Nations that otherwise would have been our biggest business competitors (like Germany and Japan) were smashed down, so we had a prime window to "own the world marketplace".

It's easy to see why businesses would prosper, and management and employees would view each other "like family" in that situation.

I don't think that was sustainable though, ultimately. The rest of the world has been playing catch-up with us ever since. Plus, a whole generation has passed since WWII. Now, you have those post-war created companies run by sons of the original owners, who had things handed to them. They tend to grow and profit by mergers and buyouts. After enough of that? The whole sense of "family" is completely lost.

Re:When did things change? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560353)

Because our workers are more expensive than workers who can do the same work in other countries.

Or was that rhetorical?

The loss of factory jobs is just a fact of globalization. The product doesn't care where it gets made, and the consumer will buy the best product for the best price. Period. We can jack up tarrifs to make our stuff more competitive in terms of price, but then the people suffer because the products cost a zillion dollars, and their standard of living decreases.

As far as technology, we've always been a backward country in many respects. Slow to accept Evolution. Hell, slow to accept continental drift, which was a no brainer. No metric system, etc. But we're a nice place to live, and we've always done well importing great scientists from other, less nice, places. We made out like bandits in per and post WW2, and we did great in the post soviet world as well.

That's the same thing that made us great in manufacturing: we brought in masses of strong, cheap, willing labor to work our factories. But, of course, once the industry is established, then it's all a case of "We don't need any more, thanks, we've got enough."

This sound familiar?

The Vista Factor (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559905)

In anticipation of the Vista jokes, the following excerpt from an article [nytimes.com] on the subject may help shed some light on the matter:

The direct impact of falling personal-computer sales, which roiled Intel last week, were evident in Microsoft's results, as sales of its PC operating-system software dove 8 percent to $3.98 billion from $4.33 billion last year ... Blaming market uncertainty, Microsoft declined to issue a revenue or earnings forecast for the rest of its fiscal year.

I think a fair translation of the above would be that the economy is in the toilet no one knows if Vista will sell. Err ... Windows 7.

On the other hand, with people being put out of work, it's a lot less fun to bash Microsoft.

Re:The Vista Factor (2, Interesting)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560429)

It's also short sighted to bash them for this move.

Let's be honest about the situation here. With one major electronics retailer going down and layoffs in droves from other industries it's pretty clear to see that MS is taking a wise point of view to realize that PC sales are going to be somewhere between stagnant and declining.

Windows sales are largely driven by PC sales. If PC sales are in a slump it's going to directly relate to Microsoft sales. This shouldn't be a hard concept. Otherwise you'd need to provide me with numbers that show that PC sales are either increasing or steady. If you could do that you would be able to show that there is a market swing from Windows based systems of 8% in the last year. Those kinds of numbers simply don't exist anyplace.

PLEASE JOIN ME IN A MOMENT OF BLUR (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560031)

First Obama and now Microsoft Layoffs! This calls for a Slashdot moment:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg4aPJ93b8o

            Everyone up out of your chairs! Exercise time..

This one going out to you Jay Miner and others who did not live to see the Day!

Only one safe place in a time like this ... (5, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560083)

I know somebody who works at IBM. They work on a project that supports HR department's requirements when they are doing big layoffs.

In a kafkaesque sort of way, they have job security just so long as things suck and there are additional layoffs coming down the pipeline.

Job OPENINGS (4, Informative)

CrazyTalk (662055) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560239)

Go to the Microsoft Careers home page and search for job openings - there are six new openings for TODAY alone - 853 openings altogether. Wonder how many of those will eventually be closed?

Just ignore it? (4, Insightful)

AlpineR (32307) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560241)

Previous economic discussions on Slashdot have included several posts with the sentiment: "I'm choosing to ignore this recession. I still have a job so I'm going to continue as before. The only economic problem we have is psychological."

Are you still so certain that your job will remain when another 5% of your customers are about to become unemployed? Are you still so optimistic that you could easily find a new job with a million other educated and experienced workers back on the job hunt too?

Even if this recession were purely psychological, it has set a wave in motion that will splash around for a while causing layoffs and bankruptcies. If there is a rational basis for the economic shrinkage then it could be even worse. I wonder how long it will take to return to growth and optimism.

M$ lays of marketing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560251)

Did anyone else catch this? They are cutting marketing expenses. The only division that actually does something useful within the company.

Small beans! (1)

zerosomething (1353609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560339)

Circuit City closed so now there are 35K jobs lost! Why is less than 1% percent workforce layoff from MS a big deal?

Whats with the ads (0, Troll)

minijedimaster (1434893) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560395)

Offtopic: Is there a reason why when I was reading this story in my igoogle page that an ad for Al Jazeera showed up in the reader window? Since when has slashdot starting accepting ads from terrorist supporting organizations.

Ping pong, air hockey tables, and barber chairs (2, Interesting)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560425)

Remember what that was deemed appropriate must have office equipment for the hip IT company?

Why don't they sell some of that crap?

If Ballmer and Gates chipped in half a billion each, that would pay 1000 employees a hundred grand for a year.

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