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Friday, February 7, 2014

Chatterbox: The Internet Is Talking About the Bad Behavior of Shitty Companies

Posted by on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 5:42 PM

Poor Baby: In case you missed it, AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong complained yesterday about having to supply both health care and retirement plans for his employees:

"Two things that happened in 2012," he said, according to a transcript provided by an AOL employee. "We had two AOL-ers that had distressed babies that were born that we paid a million dollars each to make sure those babies were OK in general. And those are the things that add up into our benefits cost. So when we had the final decision about what benefits to cut because of the increased healthcare costs, we made the decision, and I made the decision, to basically change the 401(k) plan."

Because the Waltons Need More Money, That's Why! Speaking of shitty companies, you really need to read this e-mail from a Walmart manager on Gawker:

As I said before, Walmart was a good company to work for in relations to the retail sector. However I feel horrible for the associates I have to manage and the struggles they face. I ask this question, How come in 1999 Walmart could pay me over $10 an hour but in 2014 I hire people in at $8.00 an hour?

Good Nerd News: FX is adapting John Scalzi's very good novel Redshirts into a TV series.

Bad Movie News: Someone is rebooting the Transporter franchise without Jason Statham. What the fuck? Was anyone clamoring for more Transporter movies? Does anyone really care about the character? So many questions.

I Got Something in My Eye: This seems like as good a way as any to end the week:


Comments (25) RSS

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Whew, Redshirts will be a limited run (i.e. mini) series. It's a fun premise, but I couldn't even imagine the mess it would become if they tried to push it to 16 or 22 episodes.
Posted by COMTE on February 7, 2014 at 6:04 PM · Report this
Rotten666 2
Redshirts is a terrible book. Great premise, started strong, disappeared up its own asshole.
Posted by Rotten666 on February 7, 2014 at 7:00 PM · Report this
AOL is probably self-insured meaning that even though another company (an insurance company) does the billing, they are on the hook for the very unlikely event that an employee or someone in their family needs millions in healthcare. In that paradigm its just a fact of life they might not have enough money to provide insurance and retirement support. I imaging them want their employees well supported but they get in trouble when in these unlikely situations. I see the statement not as evidence of their soullessness but as the symptom of a company in a nation that won't take responsibility for insuring the entire population. If we did this then a few patients requiring $1M+ in care would not be such a big deal.

All that said, $1M is a lot to pay for anyone's care and as a society we need to decide if we should pay that much for care of a single person. Especially if the expected increase in life expectancy is less that the cost of care divided by the GDP per capita.
Posted by yeti on February 7, 2014 at 7:31 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 4
Can Progressives finally stop going to HuffPo? Huffington was a Republican tool who found a good gimmick and appealed to the crazy guru-obsessed and antivax community in the left. Let that shit die.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 7, 2014 at 7:50 PM · Report this
The AOL and Walmart moves are not really bad things for American Liberals. Corporate America really doesn't want to pay benefits to their employees. It simply isn't cost effective. Somethings are better paid for Collectively/Socially both for the individual and businesses. It is about time corporations started realizing this.

Posted by Machiavelli was framed on February 7, 2014 at 8:10 PM · Report this
Water does no more than get you soaking
But people act as if they're going to drown
Forget about the summer when the sun burns their skin
Forgetting man lives not by bread alone
Posted by ruach on February 7, 2014 at 8:34 PM · Report this

How Much Higher Can Rents Go When Incomes Are Falling?

The Census Bureau has data showing that real incomes have been shrinking since 1999. Somewhere along the trend line, rental rates and tenant incomes are even now on a collision course, just as mortgage payments were getting out of hand 10 years ago, so the breaking point for rent rates is looming ever closer.…

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on February 7, 2014 at 8:39 PM · Report this
seandr 8
Companies shouldn't be providing health care insurance, the government should.
Posted by seandr on February 7, 2014 at 9:10 PM · Report this
Health care and retirement benefits should be provided by government, not companies. Companies should pay their employees solely in cold, hard, honest cash so the workers know exactly what they're getting and there's no monkey business to go back on promises once the worker is no use to the company anymore. The basic incentive structure of a democracy prevents the government from breaking its promises on health care and pensions, whereas companies only exist to turn a profit.
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on February 7, 2014 at 9:23 PM · Report this
@7 Yep and which political party in these United States is currently screaming at the top of their lungs "faster faster drive faster into the rocks faster I say"?
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on February 7, 2014 at 9:31 PM · Report this
@3 Single-payer doesn't fix this problem. Cutting off care doesn't fix this problem, either. We're not that soulless, I hope.

The only thing that fixes this problem is National Health, truly "socialized medicine," where the State owns the (or an) entire medical system, including hospitals, physicians offices, blood and imaging labs, where every medical professional is on salary, and every cost is controlled. The UK does it, with better outcomes than ours, and at a fraction of the costs.

The only reason we can't do it here is the portion of their huge profits the medical insurance and for-profit hospital industries ploughs back into political lobbying efforts.

In the UK, they still have a private health system, too, and those that prefer it and can pay are free to use it, but it doesn't have better outcomes than the National Health.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on February 7, 2014 at 10:42 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 12
How much does the CEO of AOL make? There's a place where the cost cutting could start.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on February 8, 2014 at 8:45 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 13
Actually, I looked it up. According to Forbes, in 2011 he made $3,216,534. 1 mil was straight salary, the balance was incentive payments.

One million is more than enough for a corporate parasite to make. That extra two million? There's your sick baby care right there.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on February 8, 2014 at 8:49 AM · Report this
Laurence Ballard 14
@14 It's worse than you think. Mr. Armstrong made 12.1 million in 2012, three times more than he made in 2011, according to public filings and reported in The Atlantic. (

And that 1 million dollar cost for two preemies?

a big medical cost like a premature or "distressed" birth could conceivably cost more than AOL had anticipated spending. But with two premature babies and two moms who were out of the office longer than normal, the cost to the company might have been around $100,000—a far cry from the million-dollar-a-baby figure Armstrong gave.
Posted by Laurence Ballard on February 8, 2014 at 9:05 AM · Report this
Laurence Ballard 15
@13. *sigh*
Posted by Laurence Ballard on February 8, 2014 at 9:06 AM · Report this
I don't fell sorry for a company that tries to save money and every once in a while gets burn by a bad year. What the CEO is trying to do is make employees feel guilty for making medical claims. It a subtle form of claim suppression.

Nationwide, how many employees does AOL have. I would imagine a lot. When you spread the cost over that many employees a couple of million in extraordinary claims is not that big a deal. AOL probably has a workforce that is younger than average. On average they probably have low claims. In total, they probably spend more money on waste caused by a for profit medical system with byzantine duplicative billing procedures and profits for thier third party administrator.
Posted by wl on February 8, 2014 at 9:08 AM · Report this
14, You're probably right. A heart transplant with complications can be a million dollars. That would have to be a really fucked up birth to be that expensive. The CEO is probably just looking for a scape goat to blame for cutting the 401k.
Posted by wl on February 8, 2014 at 9:13 AM · Report this
Ernie1 18
I wonder if a HIPAA violation occured here. The CEO publicly discussed the individual healthcare costs in a way that could easily reveal the identity of the recipients (they were the ones who missed work last year when their babies were in the hospital).

Either way, only a complete asshole would use specific examples to justify a reduction of benifit a for the whole company? Imagine how you would feel to be on that call with all of your colleagues and learn that everyone was losing their 401k matching because your baby almost died.
Posted by Ernie1 on February 8, 2014 at 9:17 AM · Report this
You folks are plain crazy.

Society doesn't owe you exemption from the consequences of your choices. It doesn't. We, as a nation, don't owe people a retirement plan. We don't owe people housing. We don't owe medical care. We don't owe, as a matter of public policy, a 'living wage.'

I realize that mature behavior is beyond you, but try to understand this: grownups provide the means to live and the things it buys FOR THEMSELVES. Your government (which is to say those citizens who act like adults and must pay the tax bill for those who stubbornly refuse to do so) is not your mommy or daddy. Your insane notions didn't work in Russia or North Korea, the end result of the kind of cradle to grave nanny state you want. They don't work in Europe where austerity measures are desperately trying to keep the various states from bankruptcy caused by the unsustainable promises made a few generations ago. Your toddler notions of government just don't work. They don't, they never have, they never will.

God, how do you people survive with the IQ and understanding of a retarded cauliflower?
Posted by Seattleblues on February 8, 2014 at 9:50 AM · Report this
Oh, and fyi, you get paid a salary or wages from your employer. This they owe you, pursuant to the laws of employment and the terms you negotiate at employment and in reviews.

The benefits package is a bonus. They now, stupidly, often 'owe' you health insurance. Which, you know, just means less to offer in salary or wages. Your retirement is YOUR PROBLEM. It isn't your bosses. It's yours. Want to retire and enjoy yourself? Yeah, that's your deal, not your employers'.

Seriously, grow the hell up.
Posted by Seattleblues on February 8, 2014 at 9:57 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 21
It's really surprising to me, Seattleblahs, how you can't find a job. You're so naturally compliant to the corporate world that I would think that you could at least find something in light manufacturing. Maybe packing things at one of Amazon's facilities.

I know you get tired of my nagging, but you really should try Goodwill. They have some wonderful programs to help people find work. I fear that It's only a matter of time before Worksource and L&I "catch wise" to your "lifestyle", and then you'll be in a world of hurt.

Remember Seattleblahs, there is dignity in all work. I know you think you'll be able to work the escort pages forever, but time catches up with all of us. Believe me, I know.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on February 8, 2014 at 11:31 AM · Report this

I have no doubt that you know the sex workers problems from personal experience, and the effects of time on your umm...sales stock.

Normally, seeing how others experience has worked is interesting to me, but engaging in that conversation just after I ate lunch isn't a thing I want to do. But hey, lucky for you neither utilities nor unions care about your past or your ability to do your job or anything but your ability to piss and moan about management and Republicans. You need never walk the streets of Seatac at 3 in the morning hoping for some nearsighted travelling salesman's 5 bucks again, provided you don't try to actually do your job or try to be efficient or competent at the power company!

Posted by Seattleblues on February 8, 2014 at 12:33 PM · Report this
Jebus, just when we get to the issue of how scummy it is to blame, really, anything on sick babies (babies! Blaming babies. Come on), SB shows up using "retarded" like an insult. Anne Coulter is that you?!…
Posted by wxPDX on February 8, 2014 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 24
Seattleblahs, I know you feel alone and afraid, and that's why you lash out. But if you just "let go and let God", I guarantee you your slog family will be there to give you all the love and support you need. But no money. You'd only waste that on cheap Chablis and feeding the video machine at the arcade. Your "looking for Mr. Goodbar" lifestyle has got to end.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on February 8, 2014 at 7:44 PM · Report this
Auntie Seattleblues calm down. Most of the comments here agree with you. Businesses should not be providing healthcare.

Like roads health care is something we should all be responsible for and maintain. Just like we all are responsible for and maintain the road at the end of your driveway.

(notice when you drive in the poor sections of towns the roads suck, and in the rich sections then don't? There is a reason for that and that reason is the Choice/Reponsiblity/wealth you crow about. Your right effort and money matter. Nonetheless you dear Auntie Seattleblues benefit from those roads you never travel. That they exist makes your world cheaper)

A base level National healthcare with the ability for both individuals and businesses to buy private insurance upgrades or offer them as "benefits". Is way more logical then what we have now. And by now I mean Obamacare.

Do try and keep up. Obamacare is now the law of the land. And yes it is flawed. Just not the way you think it is.

Posted by Machiavelli was framed on February 8, 2014 at 9:19 PM · Report this

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