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natpalmer1776 said 3 months ago:

The main issue here is that AT&T employs a large workforce that is not relevant to the current (Fiber) and upcoming (5G Cellular/WISP) service technologies being rolled out en masse.

Which means as their legacy business units are retired or pulled back, they are letting go numerous employees while simultaneously hiring a slightly smaller number of more educated (up-to-date) workers to staff up their new business units.

What we are seeing here is the decline of a historically booming industry (linemen) as the overhead required to maintain these networks becomes more specialized in nature and involves fewer people than before.

Now, the ethical strategy to mitigate impacting their historically loyal workforce would be to re-train the copper linemen to work with the new technologies.

The problem with this is that its' expensive. Insanely expensive. The training is made available to many of their current workers, in as many areas as possible (where the skills will be relevant) however at the end of the day an individual 'first-line' manager will not advocate for 64 year old Joe Schmoe with average performance stats to get this expensive training if 24 year old Billy Bob with a 'young man's' performance record is also asking to get trained.

Spooky23 said 3 months ago:

That’s a scenario they created. There’s no reason the man in the van can’t hang up a WISP device or whatever. I used to run a field tech services org — it’s not that expensive to train new tasks, the hardest thing is hiring reliable people. Your old school HP and IBM CEs would service everything for 95% of service calls.

They are busting the CWA, period.

The same thing happened with National Grid in upstate NY. They’ll use 5 subcontractors and 10 guys to do a job that was handled by a 2-3 man crew 20 years ago. The hilarious thing is that that union didn’t have the stupid separation of duty stuff the contractors do. I saw one instance where they had a subcontractor on site specifically to spray bee spray.

300bps said 3 months ago:

the hardest thing is hiring reliable people...They are busting the CWA, period.

My father in law was a linesman for AT&T, then the various Bell companies then Verizon for 30 years. He started when he was 21 and retired when he was 51 about 15 years ago.

He regularly brags how the union would set hour allotments for each job and how he could complete work in 30 minutes that the union required scheduling for 5 hours. Most of the time he spent on the clock involved him hiding his work truck in the woods behind his house and sneaking into his house to work on home improvements while he was being paid.

Every once in a while he would get caught doing something wrong and would be suspended. The union would then represent him and provide him groceries and other items during the suspension. Eventually Verizon paid him a lump sum of a quarter million dollars to go away which along with saving money from decades of generous overtime rules including double time and a half on holidays let him retire at the age of 51.

petee said 3 months ago:

There will always be people who abuse the support the union offered, like your dad, who gives unions a bad rep - most members work with pride and want to do the best job they can.

Time allotted work is intended to ensure jobs are done safely; not everyone will take that long, but it ensures slower workers aren't going to cut corners just to keep schedule. Without a union, your dad would have been expected to take 30min every single time, and lose your job if you don't.

busyant said 3 months ago:

> There will always be people who abuse the support the union offered, like your dad, who gives unions a bad rep

That's a bit harsh and I think it misjudges human nature.

> Without a union, your dad would have been expected to take 30min every single time, and lose your job if you don't.

I had a summer job in a paper mill when I was 18. One of my earliest tasks was to "sweep the mill." The entire mill, which was HUGE.

I started sweeping at 7AM and by about 9AM I had completed the first floor. I was on my way to floor # 2 when an old-timer pulled me aside and said, "Hey. Don't work yourself out of a job." Then he and various other old-timers showed me places where they hid and took naps throughout the day. I decided I did not want to be the goody-goody college interloper, so I took a few naps myself that summer.

The kicker? This was a NON-union mill.

My point is that many of those jobs are shitty and unpleasant, and people do what they can to alleviate the unpleasantness of it all--with or without the union.

petee said 3 months ago:

To your first point, the guy says his dad bragged about hiding and doing work on his own house, he is clearly abusing the situation, and proud of it too. He even took groceries offered by the union (a lot of times its your fellow members actually helping you out) despite knowing he was suspended for actually doing something wrong. At minimum, its an affront to your union brothers & sisters.

As far as not working your self out of a job, its true, there will always be a balance between working your ass off, and spreading out the work, but its also heavily dependent on whats expected of you: if you're only expected to complete one specific task in a period of time, there is no gain in getting it done as fast as physically possible.

Believe me, your bosses knew the oldtimers were taking naps, and it clearly wasn't a big deal for that employer.

ptaipale said 3 months ago:

IMHO, in this kind of a case it's not the employee who gives union a bad rep - it's the union. Why do they actually support this kind of behaviour?

(FWIW, it sounds this is actually worse in the US, where the unions are supposedly "weak", than in my country which has social democrats in government and "strong unions".)

petee said 3 months ago:

No, its absolutely giving the union a bad rep by abusing its support. Keep in mind union officials rarely are physically present for the complaint at hand, so it is nearly always he-said, she-said. Likely the employee put up a fight, claimed a different take on the thing they got caught for, or it simply wasn't provable -- you absolutely can be fired for not doing your job, even if you are a union member!

The protection the union gives is that you aren't fired on the spot without good reason or a fair shake. It forces the company to actually back up their reasons; not just Joe the manager didn't like you, or someone saw you take a 30 second break once.

The fact that the guy was paid by AT&T to go away tells me he was good at playing the game, and good at not getting caught.

Spooky23 said 3 months ago:

Unions usually have an obligation to defend everyone as part of their contract.

Like anything, the douchiest people are usually best at working the system, and it takes strong and competent management to get rid of the bad eggs.

gpm said 3 months ago:

And how did that "obligation" get into their contract? You can bet the company didn't ask for it.

This sounds like a problem of their (union officials) own making.

Spooky23 said 3 months ago:

If you don’t do that, how can you claim to represent the workers?

Unions are fundamentally democratic organizations, and without an obligation to represent, you can easily find yourself in a position where your politics within the organization matter more than your circumstances.

All of this stuff is mostly a distraction. AT&T wireless is a union shop, and is very competitive in the marketplace. When you have companies that are fat and poorly managed, with the ability to dump costs on the customer, like Boeing or GM in the old days and you get shitty, poorly negotiated contracts,

In a case like this, AT&T has unlimited leverage. Much of their area are in labor-unfriendly states, and they have a pliant FCC who would take action if AT&T decided to start killing kittens. So they’re acting while the Fox is still in the hen house.

ptaipale said 3 months ago:

Unions are (supposedly) fundamentally democratic organisations also here (Nordics), but they are not obligated by their contracts to defend frivolous cases.

(They still do, sometimes, and then they take the flak in the eyes of the public, deservedly).

said 3 months ago:
petee said 3 months ago:

That "obligation" is the core tenet of union representation, has nothing to do with contract, and it's also spelled out in a union's constitution. We are a collective of workers, and we defend each other.

And who cares what the company asks for? If it were up to them you'd still be making $3 an hour on 14 hour days, 7 days a week, with no benefits, while they reap $10 billion in profit

gpm said 3 months ago:

No it isn't. There is no core tenant of unions that say they have to protect you from consequences when you commit reprehensible actions.

A union that did literally nothing but negotiate salary would be a perfectly valid form of union. The appropriate balance is somewhere in between.

And who said anything about the company asking for stuff. I've worked union jobs where we were overly protected. I wished we were less protected because it would have meant not having to clean up after the (rare, but especially noticeable) coworkers who don't give a fuck.

petee said 3 months ago:

"You can bet the company didn't ask for it." is your quote, thus my, "who cares what they ask for".

And core tenet is that they defend and represent you, not that they protect you from the consequences of reprehensible actions; representation is the whole point of unions! As I said in another post, you absolutely can be fired from a union job; union just makes sure you got a fair shake and got fired for a real reason, other wise you could get fired for sneezing too loud and you'd be shit out of luck.

gpm said 3 months ago:

> "You can bet the company didn't ask for it." is your quote, thus my, "who cares what they ask for".

Wow, that's a complete misunderstanding of what I'm saying.

This was in reply to someone trying to shift the blame of a unions bad actions onto a "contract", the contract here is an agreement between the union and the company, so if it wasn't the unions fault it was in the contract it had to be the companies. I don't care about what companies do ask for (in this context), I do care about what companies didn't ask for so you can't blame them for it.

Unions should just make sure you get a fair shake, in reality my experience with them has been they make it virtually impossible to fire you no matter what you do.

petee said 3 months ago:

In reverse order to your post, I will concede that some unions have become too entrenched, but employers have rights too, and if they have an actual documented case against an employee, they can fire them.

Jumping back; They weren't trying to shift blame onto a contract, they were nearly stating a fact: Unions usually have an obligation to defend everyone as part of their contract. although were mistaken in saying that it was in a contract, when it is actually part of founding principals of unions -- As the NLRA defines a labor organization as a group "[...]in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of work."

dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes -- it is the entire purpose unions were formed. You replied with a remark to the effect that companies had no say.

Maybe I read your tone wrong, but I read negative, and decided to go with a snotty reply, "who cares what they ask for", which could have been thought out better -- but is the whole point of this in the first place: Unions don't support bad behavior, or reprehensible actions as you say, unions protect you through the process of being accused or actioned upon, despite the reason. They exist to handle disputes. Simply that.

I am curious which union you belonged to

gpm said 3 months ago:

> Unions usually have an obligation to defend everyone as part of their [founding princples/constitution]

This too is not the case, there is a difference between hearing grievances and defending legitimate ones, and defending people with illegitimate grievances. If their constitution requires the second it is again the unions fault for putting that in their constitution, and the comment that started this chain is still a illegitimate shifting of blame.

> Maybe I read your tone wrong, but I read negative

I am negative on this aspect of unions, I'm very positive on others, my original comment was mainly being negative about attempting to shift blame to a document of their own creation and not about addressing the pros or cons of unions.

CUPE 3902 is the only one I've been in that affected me in any noticeable way.

ptaipale said 3 months ago:

Then it's the founding principles which earn the bad reputation for unions.

(I presume you mean principles, not principals.)

Spooky23 said 3 months ago:

There's a collective bargaining agreement between the union and the company that governs the relationship. The union has a constitution and bylaws that govern the services that it provides to employees. As an employee in a union shop, you're not an at-will employee, your employment is subject to a contract.

Issues of employee performance aren't inherent because you have a contract. If you work for a public company, your VP probably has an employment contract that protects him from many types of arbitrary actions. A baseball player is a unionized employee with a collective bargaining agreement -- and teams obviously have tools to incentivize performance.

Managed well, a union is a tool for compliance as well. Companies and governments have done things like push healthcare administration to the union or pool sick leave to let employees police leave abuse. I've worked and managed in union shops, and have hired and fired people. The issues you talk about usually reflect immature process on the employer side. If you follow your rules, you can fire employees for misconduct.

wdn said 3 months ago:

Union is bad.

Just put into perspective.

In the Garden State Parkway in NJ, the Union Toll Plaza has 4 lanes that accept exact change. No people involved. Then few months ago, they "upgraded" the exact change lanes and put people to collect tolls, 24/7. Not to mention, it takes longer to pass the lane now if you need to pay cash.

That means, at 40hr/week per person, 168hr per week, they need 16 people to run this 4 lanes. Then another 2 to 3 people to cover for time off. Assume a low $50k per person/year, that's almost $1m per year.

What values do these toll collectors provide to society? The only reason why these jobs were created in the first place is because of the union. Don't you think money and manpower can spend on something better to serve the customers? Like repairing the road.

Spooky23 said 3 months ago:

They do that because of the incompetence of New Jersey. Pretty sure those parkway tolls are run by counties, so it’s probably a patronage mill.

Massachusetts implemented E-ZPass/LPR billing in a couple of months. It’s hard to even tell that tollbooths existed.

ahallock said 3 months ago:

The fact we have toll roads at all is concerning, considering this is a common argument against privatization. Toll stops are also pretty dangerous, especially the ones on the West Virginia Turnpike, which recently doubled in price. What can we really do, though?

gpm said 3 months ago:

The fact that you're using toll booths to collect tolls is the concerning part to me. Here in Toronto we have a toll highway where everything is automated. Via cameras/license plate if you only drive on it occasionally, or via a transponder if you drive on it often enough it's worth the discount (I assume the discount exists because the cameras are unreliable, sometimes miss people, and they want to minimize errors).

StudentStuff said 3 months ago:

Plate recognition has a fallthrough rate, and mailing out toll bills followed by processing incoming checks is a costly PITA that a transponder enabled vehicle mostly eliminates.

jonhendry18 said 3 months ago:

So what makes you think the union was responsible for this change?

The exact change lanes were removed because the change collection hardware is old and parts are becoming scarce:


Another reason for replacing exact change lanes on the busy Parkway mainline is the machines that actually count the change, coin by coin, are old, cranky and hard to get parts for, Feeney said.

“Most are from the 1990’s. The manufacturers have not made parts for them for some time,” Feeney said. “Even the secondary market is difficult.”

It doesn’t help when drivers throw other stuff in the basket like slugs, foreign coins, garbage, a fish and used kitty litter

cc439 said 3 months ago:

There are still plenty of companies making exact change machines, they just put brand new ones in on my local toll road ~3 years ago.

jonhendry18 said 3 months ago:

Maybe installing new machines from new vendors wasn't considered worthwhile given that most people use the electronic passes and they want to encourage more of that.

pravda said 3 months ago:

>Assume a low $50k per person/year,

That's a very low number to assume!

The last time I checked, base compensation for toll takers in New York was well over $120K/year.

In unionized NJ, I am sure compensation is about the same.

brianzelip said 3 months ago:

Where are you getting those numbers from? Here is data that suggest NY toll collectors make less than $20/hour, https://www.indeed.com/salaries/Toll-Collector-Salaries,-New...

pravda said 3 months ago:


On top of $60K year in base pay, you have to consider maybe $50K a year in pension benefits, then maybe $20K a year for health insurance.

And those numbers were from 8 years ago.

jonhendry18 said 3 months ago:

Those are bridge/tunnel tolls, which are a lot higher than Garden State Parkway tolls, which might mean higher pay. (No, it isn't very logical, but I can certainly see toll collectors at a $1 toll booth making less than toll collectors at a $15 toll booth if only because the higher price toll can more easily support a higher wage.)

said 3 months ago:
petee said 3 months ago:

> The only reason why these jobs were created in the first place is because of the union.

Citation please?

And sure, I'll admit there are some unions well entrenched, who also abuse their situation, although you can likely blame the Mafia for that in NJ

barbecue_sauce said 3 months ago:

Most jobs don't actually provide value to society.

barbecue_sauce said 3 months ago:

And frankly, I'm fine with that.

sandoze said 3 months ago:

How’s that any different than tech workers inflating story points 2x and indulging a work from home day or kicking off early. I mean other than no job security, pension, gold watch and forced obsolescence at 51.

Spooky23 said 3 months ago:

Nobody knows wtf tech workers do.

There was a candy bar commercial where a bunch of suits were eating candy snickering at the lazy construction crew hanging out below. Pretty much captures it.

booleandilemma said 3 months ago:

Sounds like a stand up guy.

kelnos said 3 months ago:

Is there a rational reason why companies would prefer to hire 3-5x the workers to do the same job, just to avoid having to deal with a union? Or is it all just union-related FUD?

Spooky23 said 3 months ago:

Push out accountability and compliance issues to the contractor.

In a state like NY, workers compensation costs for jobs with ladders are really high, for example. Contracting it out contains the cost.

They also turn capex into opex. If you pay the contractor to dig telephone poles as a service, you don’t spend capex on digging equipment.

dplgk said 3 months ago:

Presumably the cost is still passed along since the subcontractor needs insurance for their workers.

ed_balls said 3 months ago:

If there is a liability that not covered by the insurance the subcontractor can just go bankrupt. AT&T wants to protect their assets.

dplgk said 3 months ago:

NY state doesn't let anyone go without paying for worker's comp. I run a company with remote developers who sit at a desk and I am still forced to pay it. Also, contractee will require contractor to have insurance so they can sue them if needed.

bluGill said 3 months ago:

If you don't have work you don't pay the contractor. You still pay employees.

Depending on the work this can be good or bad.

When you have employees you also get flexibility in scheduling them. A contractor is expected to have other jobs and sometimes cannot get to your critical need right now.

A contractor can sometimes give you a better deal because of those other customers who are willing to pay extra for last minute service.

kelnos said 3 months ago:

> If you don't have work you don't pay the contractor. You still pay employees.

It's funny, though; a week or so ago I saw an article posted here by someone who was paid over $20k for a static web page that took him less than a day to build. After he showed up for his first day of work, he went on a 7-week odyssey doing basically nothing because the people who owed him designs and assets weren't ready yet.

hinkley said 3 months ago:

Don’t forget empire building. Why be some loser with only six employees when you could run a division with forty five people?

WalterSear said 3 months ago:

And be paid accordingly.

hinkley said 3 months ago:

Ain't that the truth.

wuliwong said 3 months ago:

What is "the CWA"?

dbcurtis said 3 months ago:

Communication Workers of America union

swoongoonz said 3 months ago:

but capitalism is efficient

StreamBright said 3 months ago:

What does capitalism has to do with unions? It is actually goes against basic capitalism to have a 2 party system where the employee and the employer negotiates the circumstances of work.

SubiculumCode said 3 months ago:

unions are an expression of capitalism. Businesses will often form partnerships/merge to better their market position/profitability/etc.. Laborers (when viewed as a business-person selling a product: their labor) should do the same to promote their own position/profitability/etc.

dragonwriter said 3 months ago:

> What does capitalism has to do with unions?

Capitalism is the problem for the working class that motivates unions as a mitigation.

anonuser123456 said 3 months ago:

Capitalism != Monopsony

StreamBright said 3 months ago:

What? Where would workers work? Capitalism is not the problem at all.

anoncake said 3 months ago:

In cooperatives and publically-owned workplaces, of course.

StreamBright said 3 months ago:

Like gulags?

anoncake said 3 months ago:

On the off-chance that you aren't trolling: A (worker's) cooperative is a company that is owned and democratically controlled by its workers. Gulags were prisons[1].

Since prisoners do often work, you could technically call a prison a publically-owned workplace provided it is actually owned by the public. It would be highly misleading, but technically not entirely wrong. But gulags weren't owned by the public but by an unambiguously dictatorial state, so no, they aren't.

I hope this helped clear things up.

[1] Calling gulags prisons is quite an understatement, but very bad prisons aren't worker's cooperatives either.

SmirkingRevenge said 3 months ago:

Capitalism IS efficient, when considering the environment upon which its juxtaposed, and when compared with alternative economic systems/social orders that humanity has experimented with. Its miraculously efficient, in fact!

Its terribly inefficient when compared against idyllic, abstract notions of societies, where resources are distributed and used with perfect efficiency. But so is every other practical alternative.

gridlockd said 3 months ago:

In other words, union labor is so burdensome, it can't even compete with 5x the manpower?

Spooky23 said 3 months ago:

More likely they are aging out the workforce.

sethhochberg said 3 months ago:

This is an area that I'm really interested in watching as there is more discussion around tech unions - the industry moves so fast, an emphasis on retraining seems essential when you'd be setting one up. Legacy unions haven't had to deal with making retraining as important a part of their value proposition in the past, but "we'll keep you safe, compensated, and relevant as the industry changes" is a pretty compelling platform.

The IATSE (union for technical/artisan roles related to film/tv/audio/events/etc) created a training trust for their members in 2011 and, from what I've heard, it seems to be working pretty well. https://www.iatsetrainingtrust.org/ I'd love to see other unions take notes when their industries start to modernize. They do all of the standard OSHA training, etc, but also keep Lynda.com subscriptions for their members, reimburse group craft training organized by local chapters, and have developed some specific certificate programs for retraining into A/V roles from less technical ones.

petee said 3 months ago:

I am an IATSE member, and can testify that the training trust is great for our membership. Most classes are free, if not significantly reduced.

One of the best things out of it though, is the free CPR/AED class, which many members have taken and has saved more than a few lives, that I know of personally.

I also regularly take advantage of Lynda.com, and we also have specialized classification training depending on what kind of work you are doing, be it special effects, welding, or aerial work. Out west, some of these classes are requirements for employment; the east is catching up

petee said 3 months ago:

An important note that I forgot, that needs to be emphasized here is that IATSE is not like many other unions in the sense that we are not a hiring hall, and do not have seniority as a policy.

Each worker is hired based on skill -- that said, if you're a horrible person, you're not likely to get work, unless your skill is really above and beyond. The end result is a group of awesome people who do outstanding work.

dmix said 3 months ago:

This would be great for tech startups. Especially globally. They'll be able to out-compete the big unionized tech companies so much easier!

DaniloDias said 3 months ago:

The real scandal is not even close to being covered:

The 23k jobs that have been cut are predominantly aging boomers who were offered packages to retire.

There is plenty of new hiring, almost exclusively targeting millennial dev-ops people as AT&T tries to mimic Silicon Valley. The union people will not be going anywhere. This is a muckraker of an article.

walshemj said 3 months ago:

That depends when BT did that a lot of people took redundancy and jumped over to competitors - there is a joke that BT's reduandancy scheme built the UK's mobile network.

tsomctl said 3 months ago:

What I've heard anecdotally is that the union contracts for the linemen are written in terms of copper wire. Since fiber optic is not copper, AT&T is doing everything they can to get rid of the union guys and their expensive paychecks.

bluedino said 3 months ago:

Didn't they lay off all the landline people and dial-up internet people years ago?

I remember the massive layoffs in our town in the early 2000's, the old AT&T HQ was vacant for years

oh_sigh said 3 months ago:

> 64 year old Joe Schmoe with average performance stats to get this expensive training if 24 year old Billy Bob with a 'young man's' performance record is also asking to get trained.

Even if Joe Schmoe has much better performance, it may still make sense to train Billy Bob. If training is truly expensive, and takes 5 years to pay off, odds are Joe is going to be retired at that point and it will be a waste of money.

SuoDuanDao said 3 months ago:

An additional factor is that fibre-optic generally requires less maintenance, so even given the same scale of network there'd be a smaller workforce required.

lern2code said 3 months ago:

  ...to re-train the copper 
  linemen to work with the 
  new technologies. The 
  problem with this is that 
  its' expensive. Insanely 
So... What you're telling me is that, if we were to automate lots of jobs with AI and robotics, those that lose their jobs would mostly be stranded jobless, as it would be too expensive for them to retrain for emerging jobs, or really any job at all?

That the idea of technology eliminating jobs, but also creating new opportunities is laughably unrealistic?

Aloha said 3 months ago:

I think you hit the nail on the head - and I suspect you'd find out that most of these 'job losses' are mostly attrition thru retirement, not actual layoffs

dralley said 3 months ago:

No, they are actual layoffs. You could have learned this with 5 seconds of googling or RTFA.

lovich said 3 months ago:

Did anyone really expect anything different? These are the same companies who took tax breaks in return for a promise to build out a fiber optic network and then never did it while pocketing the money.

At this point AT&T and their peers aren't fucking society, we are actively asking them to

rayiner said 3 months ago:

This article and your assertion are a really good example of how falsehoods become an unquestioned part of the accepted narrative. AT&T never "promised to create a net 7,000" jobs. The article admits as much: it quotes AT&T's CEO as saying that AT&T would invest an additional $1 billion, which is equivalent to 7,000 jobs. The article never analyzes the truth of that claim. It never determines whether AT&T actually invested that money. (In fact, AT&T is in the middle of a big push to deploy more fiber: https://www.cordcuttersnews.com/att-plans-to-expand-fiber-in...) Instead, the article points to completely unrelated layoffs that resulted from a merger. (There was also the question of who exactly this "promise" was made to. The article quotes Stephenson's comments in a speech to the Economic Club of New York, not any sort of filing to the government.)

The same is true for the "promise to build out a fiber optic network." AT&T never "promised" to do that. The arguments at the time were that deregulation would lead to higher investment into things like broadband. What nobody anticipated at the time was that the mobile revolution would happen, and all that new capital would be redirected to building wireless networks instead. That doesn't make the original claim a misrepresentation. And from a practical standpoint, it's better that all this money got invested in mobile instead of building FTTH.

lovich said 3 months ago:

Yea, you're right. AT&T never promised those jobs. They just kept talking about all the jobs that would be made if the tax cut happened. That was the main argument when they tax cuts came up, all the job that would be created. But yea, no one made an actual promise.

The reason people are upset is the same reason no one likes talking to lawyer, and why no one wants to deal with corporate or political leaders who need to be talked to like a genie to make sure your wish doesn't get twisted around.

If the response to this event and to the fiber optic debacle is "wElL tEcHniCalLy We DiDnT pRoMiSe" then why should any tax breaks be considered in the future for any company? What is the reason to believe any statement about the benefits that will come through if we could just release these poor corporate giants from their terrible tax burden, if experience shows that they never come through?

javagram said 3 months ago:

> why should any tax breaks be considered in the future for any company

Unemployment in the USA after the tax cuts is at historically low levels that haven’t been seen in more than four decades. The economy is booming.

Taxes on corporations are mainly good to encourage corporate behavior, revenue can be obtained by taxing the wealthy directly as well. Increasing taxes such as the capital gains tax while keeping corporate taxes at their reformed, globally competitive levels seems the way to go to me...

dalore said 3 months ago:

Unemployment is at low levels globally, not just USA. I would say it's some sort of global trend not because of tax cuts in the USA.


> economists attribute to changes including more flexible working practices, lower wages and rock-bottom interest rates.

said 3 months ago:
Retric said 3 months ago:

That’s a false statistic. The employment rate is 4% below what it was in 2000 and has barely recovered from the recession. https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/employment-rate

Unemployment rate is useful in the short term, but it’s not comparable across longer time periods as they kick people off the lists very quickly.

javagram said 3 months ago:

Employment rate is a false statistic if anything. The population is aging since childbirth rates have gone way down over the last few decades. A larger percent of adults are retired now and are included in that employment rate statistic.

If you just want to include people “kicked” off the lists, U-6 may be what you’re looking for. https://unemploymentdata.com/current-u6-unemployment-rate/

It’s as low as it’s been in almost two decades. Not quite as record breaking as the U-3 but still pretty good...

amanaplanacanal said 3 months ago:

Looking at those charts, I don't see any place where the tax cut kicked in. Looks like the trend just continues from before the tax cut. Looks like your mention of the tax cut is completely unrelated to unemployment figures.

javagram said 3 months ago:

Some economists believe the tax cut and other spending has been juicing the economy, leading to the record numbers we are seeing right now.

I recently listened to a NYT podcast where they discussed this theory briefly, but I’ve also been seeing it from some economists I follow on Twitter. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-argument/id1438024...

Of course as with any economics prediction it’s hard to prove what the alternate history would have been, but the idea is that the economy would have slowed down and U-3 unemployment wouldn’t have dropped to historic lows without the additional cash injection thanks to recent economic policies.

Edit: in general I think jobs numbers are very relevant to this whole thread since the article is attempting to sell the premise that the tax cuts didn’t help job growth (by using the specific example of AT&T jobs - even though this tax cut was for every company not just AT&T) despite the overall economy doing well, jobs increasing, and unemployment decreasing.

mjevans said 3 months ago:

Is that how you get on U-6... how do they count those who've never been employed? E.G. recent grads from schooling?

said 3 months ago:
Bombthecat said 3 months ago:

I think the millions of barely paid, two or three jobs at the same time, people would like to have a talk with you.

JaimeThompson said 3 months ago:

If the economy is doing so well why haven't non-tech wages been increasing at a faster rate?

javagram said 3 months ago:


> Worker paychecks are showing their biggest gains since the recovery began a decade ago, and are more than keeping up with inflation.

Not sure why tech wages are excluded from your comment. Tech jobs are jobs too...

throwaway55554 said 3 months ago:

> Worker paychecks are showing their biggest gains since the recovery began a decade ago

Ok, but they didn't really grow at all for a decade.

fuzz4lyfe said 3 months ago:

Total comp went up[0], most of the additional funds went to insurance.


throwaway55554 said 3 months ago:

Wages and Salaries 5% over 14 years. 0.35% per year.

Total compensation 9% over 14 years. 0.64% per year.

I guess technically I'm wrong.

said 3 months ago:
Frondo said 3 months ago:

With 1 in 8 Americans living underneath the federal poverty line, and 10% of employed American adults facing food insecurity (i.e. hunger), it's arguably not the case that the economy is booming.

As for what you can credit the tax cuts with, well, here you go:


The tl;dr: share buybacks and corporate profits are the biggest consequence of the TCJA, not employment.

javagram said 3 months ago:

I don’t see what those two statistics have to do with whether the economy is booming.

Would you argue the economy has never boomed before? 1 in 8 Americans below the federal poverty line seems to be pretty decent when seen historically according to https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Number_in_Poverty_...

Numbers for 2018 don’t seem to be available yet but I’d assume they continue to trend down.

fulafel said 3 months ago:

Another view is that the US is as bad as ever compared to peers: https://www.statista.com/statistics/233910/poverty-rates-in-...

fuzz4lyfe said 3 months ago:

Mexico has lower rates of poverty than the US? It wants me to pay to see how they gather the data but 33% of Mexicans live on less than $5 a day[0] while "42% of Mexico's total population living below the national poverty line" yet the rate in your graph is 16.7%

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_Mexico

fulafel said 3 months ago:

It's true that the oecd definition kind of breaks on poor countries with low median income. But still the list is interesting if you look at the more comparable rich countries vs the US.

Frondo said 3 months ago:

Yes, if 1 in 10 working Americans struggles with food, and that has always been the case, then yes, I would say our economy has never boomed.

If you're telling me that it's okay for 1 in 8 to live beneath the poverty line or face regular food insecurity, then I guess we have different views of what life should be like in a rich developed nation; especially one with a "booming economy".

thrower123 said 3 months ago:

It's mindboggling that we can have such incredible poverty and food insecurity problems, while having catastrophic obesity rates, and have huge overlaps in the populations supposedly suffering both problems simultaneously.

skookumchuck said 3 months ago:

Yet employment levels are at historic highs. Clearly, something is working well after the tax cut.

jhayward said 3 months ago:

A trillion dollar tax cut that raises the annual deficit to over a trillion dollars a year can certainly ignite some economic activity. So can lighting a bonfire using the household furniture and next year's crop of seed corn.

This isn't organic economic growth, it is the lowest form of political populism that doesn't even pretend to be an actual economic policy intended to make the US economy strong.

FireBeyond said 3 months ago:

> it quotes AT&T's CEO as saying that AT&T would invest an additional $1 billion, which is equivalent to 7,000 jobs.

That's a simplification of the quote. Add in the next part, "These are not entry-level jobs. These are 7,000 jobs of people putting fiber in ground, hard-hat jobs that make $70,000 to $80,000 per year."

and try to tell me with a straight face that "AT&T never said or implied that they'd be creating new jobs".

rayiner said 3 months ago:

He said they’d be investing an additional $1 billion and said that is equivalent to 7,000 jobs. The article never proves otherwise. He never said AT&T’s global workforce would be 7,000 positions larger or even implied that.

FireBeyond said 3 months ago:

That's.. disingenuous. Because if he wanted to make a big deal about job creation, he could have gone with minimum wage call center employees and said that it'd be the equivalent of 30,000 jobs and sounded even more impressive.

But no, he called out a specific job, specific responsibilities and specific pay.

FireBeyond said 3 months ago:

Out of curiosity, while not an employee of any telco, would you feel it was appropriate to disclose that you have represented telecom companies or telecom industry associations in multiple matters as an attorney?

rayiner said 3 months ago:

If the thread was closely related enough for that, I wouldn’t comment at all. “Telecom” is an entire sector of the economy, like “ad tech.” You don’t see Google-ers caveat their posts when commenting on an article about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

danans said 3 months ago:

> You don’t see Google-ers caveat their posts when commenting on an article about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

I don't know about comments on Cambridge Analytica or Facebook, but Googlers appear to disclose their employer quite frequently when it's relevant to their comments on HN:


Disclosure: Googler.

said 3 months ago:
rayiner said 3 months ago:

The first example is illustrative: “Disclosure: I work on Google Cloud,” in an article about Google Cloud. You don’t see Googlers adding caveats to posts about Facebook on the theory that both are in the same industry and share interests unrelated to the discussion at hand.

nullc said 3 months ago:

Other people's unethical behavior does not excuse your own.

rayiner said 3 months ago:

I think the practice is consistent with general HN expectations, and also what you might expect for say a legal journal. I will also add that many people on HN, including me, post under their real name so that anyone can Google them and see what they’re about.

lovich said 3 months ago:

>or even implied that

Thats an unusual take when the direct quote is him not only specifying a number of jobs, but the quality and pay for them. People dont usually assume that when I say "This would add 7000 jobs" that me removing 23000 jobs net is the end result as long as the jobs were added somewhere

rayiner said 3 months ago:

That's why you can't ignore the "we will invest $1 billion" part, as you are doing. "We will invest $1 billion, which will translate into jobs for 7,000 workers." He's talking about jobs in connection with specified investments--not about total headcount.

Look at it this way. Suppose he had said: "We will build a new HQ building, which will create jobs for 7,000 workers." Would you still assume that precludes the possibility of a merger that results in job losses elsewhere (or, as mentioned above, not replacing union employees that retire)?

lovich said 3 months ago:

That's the weasel words. If it didn't matter and they weren't trying to make the implication, why bring it up?

>Suppose he had said: "We will build a new HQ building, which will create jobs for 7,000 workers." Would you still assume that precludes the possibility of a merger that results in job losses elsewhere (or, as mentioned above, not replacing union employees that retire)?

If the person saying it is asking for a tax break that they say will fund this increase in jobs, then yes I would assume it precludes cutting jobs elsewhere. The whole point was it would be additive to society rather them shifting resources around but still pocketing the money.

You seem to believe that there is no implications to their words or actions beyond the explicit meanings of the words. If that's how they want to act, while also making sure to say things in a way that the average person will assume an implication, they should never get a deal again.

They were not making statements in good faith if we go by your interpretation of their statements

rayiner said 3 months ago:

> If the person saying it is asking for a tax break that they say will fund this increase in jobs, then yes I would assume it precludes cutting jobs elsewhere. The whole point was it would be additive to society rather them shifting resources around but still pocketing the money.

I don’t think that assumption is at all sound. AT&T has 2.7x as many employees as Alphabet, but just 21% more revenue. It has a huge, unionized workforce that is in a long term process of being trimmed down over time due to market changes and automation. (It had 310,000 employees in 2007, and is down to 260,000.) A commitment to invest money that will create some jobs cannot be interpreted as a commitment to reverse that long term process altogether.

lovich said 3 months ago:

It may not be sound, I don't disagree. They shouldn't have been talking about tax cuts leads to them investing 1 billion leads to 7k more jobs. They made the claim, they get the ire for either being wrong or intentionally misleading

walshemj said 3 months ago:

First time I have heard "ground work" not described as entry level grunt work.

ChuckMcM said 3 months ago:

Which explains nicely why tax "loopholes" are much better at achieving the desired result than tax "breaks."

In the former, the tax burden is reduced in exchange for specific actions by the taxpayer. For example you give AT&T the option to file for a reduction in their taxes in proportion to their investment in new fiber, or in proportion to the number of "hard hat" jobs they create. In the latter, you simply cut their taxes and take their word for it that the result will achieve your policy goals because they said it might.

The over arching message, that cutting taxes as a way of putting more money into the working man's hands, is false on its face remains true. Even the folks who invented trickle down economics say that.[1]

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/0...

rayiner said 3 months ago:

I think that's true. But the purpose of the 1996 deregulation was not to have companies build fiber specifically. The goal was to increase private investment in telecom generally. In that regard, deregulation was wildly successful. (It should also be noted that telecom deregulation was part of an overall long-term strategy of deregulation that included airline, trucking, freight, energy, etc., deregulation, all of which are widely regarded as successful. So successful that European countries pretty much uniformly followed suit. While there are differences here and there, European telecom, energy, etc., markets look a lot like the American ones, and quite different than what those markets looked like in Europe or the U.S. before.)

ChuckMcM said 3 months ago:

Oh absolutely, and one of my biggest customers in 1999 was one of those "private phone companies" that was made possible by deregulation. They also allowed me to experience having a customer file for Chapter 7 in the bankruptcy code :-).

But the article that is linked, and which we are commenting on, was specifically calling out AT&T which lobbied strongly for the 2018 Trump "tax cuts" which cut corporate taxes specifically. AT&T argued in favor suggesting that the money they saved in taxes they would invest in building out their fiber and creating "hard hat jobs". The union argues this never happened.

I doubt anyone here was surprised that corporations, receiving a large chunk of cash to the bottom line with a reduced tax burden, did not turn around and dole that out into either infrastructure development nor worker salaries. Rather, it has largely been used to pay one time bonuses to executives or returned through dividend to investors, or just sat upon as these companies are all too willing to do.

I was pointing out that giving someone money and suggesting uses for it that you would like, is less successful than holding on to the money and giving it to them after they show they have done something you would like and then "rewarding" them for that.

For example, adding a corporate tax that would add 1% to the corporations general obligation for each multiple of 100 difference in pay between the executive staff and the non-executive staff, would "reward" them for more equal pay and penalize them for less equal pay.

mindslight said 3 months ago:

Deregulation itself wasn't successful. Rather it was only the first step of forced unbundling that spurred investment.

The second step was then removing the restrictions on the public networks after they'd been privatized - national telcom policy being redeclared such that "competition" between incumbent phone and incumbent cable was good enough. The CLECs all but disappeared.

Twenty years ago, basic phone service from Verizon was $15/mo. Now it's $75. The only success is for the investors that successfully looted the public networks.

Competition with Comcast only came to town when the municipal electric company decided to build out fiber. When the only source of competition is the local de jure government, one is hard pressed to claim that is a functional market.

rayiner said 3 months ago:

> Twenty years ago, basic phone service from Verizon was $15/mo. Now it's $75. The only success is for the investors that successfully looted the public networks.

Pre-deregulation, local telephone service was artificially cheap because carriers were required to cross-subsidize it from long-distance charges. So the price of phone service 20 years ago was never really something that was economically feasible standing alone. Moreover, as copper subscribers are dwindling, the per-subscriber cost of maintaining the whole network is rapidly increasing.

Standalone copper phone service, makes no economic sense. When a storm knocks down a telephone line, the truck roll costs the same whether you're delivering $15/month phone service or $150/month triple play. (And these aren't gig-economy workers doing that repair--the average Verizon union employee receives $130,000 in wages and benefits: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/14/business/verizon-workers-...) The cost of the truck roll, moreover, is now amortized over far fewer paying subscribers in the neighborhood, versus back when everyone subscribed to copper landline service.

Verizon will sell you 100/100 FiOS for $40/month ($55/month after the 12-month promotional period ends). Combine that with VoIP and Netflix/Hulu, and you're paying a lot less than you used to back in the day for local phone + long distance + cable TV.

mindslight said 3 months ago:

I'll give you that the per-subscriber costs of copper will naturally go up as it's phased out. On the other hand, when I was in a different market that still had a functioning CLEC, for $40/mo I had a nice copper landline and VDSL2 (12/2 Mbit compared to Verizon's 3/384).

> Verizon will sell you 100/100 FiOS for $40/month

No, no they won't. That only happens in areas with functioning competition. You seem to be sorely missing this.

In order for FIOS to be built out in most areas, Verizon would require public money. Why should that infrastructure then belong to privately-owned Verizon rather than staying with the public entities that paid for it?

javagram said 3 months ago:

> No, no they won't. That only happens in areas with functioning competition. You seem to be sorely missing this

FWIW I live in an apartment building and get 100/100 fios for $44.99 a month. I think it’s supposed to be 39.99 but for some reason my autopay discount isn’t registering and I haven’t bothered contacting customer support to see if I can fix it.

There is zero competition here, the apartment is only wired for FiOS so the only other options I would have would be congested 4G and maybe a satellite dish.

I’m not really sure why fios offers such a low price when they are a monopoly...

RcouF1uZ4gsC said 3 months ago:

The $15/month was just local service. You had to pay per minute for long distance calls.

That $75/month now included unlimited calling as well as texts and probably has some data as well.

mindslight said 3 months ago:

I was comparing copper. AFAIK you can't text over copper.

The $15/mo was metered service for even local calls, which I would happily go back to. Cell ($10/mo) and VOIP (effectively free) manage the bulk of calling just fine.

Obviously the plan is to move off the copper, to stop getting robbed. But that isn't a justification of the robbers.

I'll note that the involvement here is mainly due to my older father, which is the demographic really meant to be squeezed by this rent extraction.

ChuckMcM said 3 months ago:

I think the general thrust of your argument has validity but it is weakened a bit by a poor example.

None of the things that have happened, post deregulation, were impossible to do before, but there was no incentive to do them. A copper line, using either ADSL or SDSL signaling can do anything a wireless signal can, text, data, voice, all at the same time.

What deregulation did was two fold, first it forced the legacy phone company (Bell Telephone, and then the broken up "baby" Bells) to provide access on demand to the copper line, and it allowed private companies to then provide services over that line. New companies were created like Copper Mountain which, under the new options of deregulation, converted "POTS"[1] lines into DSL lines with additional features. The "baby" bells, had to upgrade their networks in order to compete. As part of that upgrade, they needed much more network capacity between their central offices (one copper pair could now host 3 or 4 voice calls, be sending video for example) and much of the late 90's saw miles and miles of new fiber optic networks laid in across the country.

Deregulation also gave phone companies the option of raising their rates without the strict controls of the regulatory infrastructure of "pubic" monopolies, and they sought to recoup their investments in creating new infrastructure by raising rates.

[1] "Plain Old Telephone Service" - aka a switched, voice only network with one channel per line.

mindslight said 3 months ago:

The quip about texting over copper was only in response to a presumption that I was comparing a $75/mo cell phone plan, when I was directly referencing Verizon's landline price in 2019. It was actually $85/mo before I called up to attempt to drop DSL (no savings from that, actually. I'm resisting the urge to plug the DSL modem into the router to play with multihoming, to not further increase the dependencies on this copper).

I'll admit their absolute lowest price isn't $75/mo, but $40/mo for "local only". Which I would actually accept, but for caller ID (a modern necessity) being $20/mo on top of that. The whole setup wreaks of gouging a captive market, which effectively describes why I am in this position.

I do fondly remember DSL from Speakeasy/Covad. My point is most CLECs have effectively gone out of business, seemingly due to unbundling going out of fashion and never being applied to coax networks. Although I will say MegaPath remains a great resource for enumerating all services available at an address, the prices will just be at the business level.

vonmoltke said 3 months ago:

> Which explains nicely why tax "loopholes" are much better at achieving the desired result than tax "breaks."

> In the former, the tax burden is reduced in exchange for specific actions by the taxpayer.

Then you would just have people misrepresent the "loopholes" as "breaks", like they did in the Amazon NYC fiasco.

JaimeThompson said 3 months ago:

More fully quoting him might be helpful "“From my standpoint, the driver of this is the business tax reform… if we get investment going, we get productivity going, we get wage gain going, we invest another billion dollars. Every billion dollars AT&T invests is 7,000 hard hat jobs. These are not entry-level jobs. These are 7,000 jobs of people putting fiber in ground, hard hat jobs that make $70,000 to $80,000 per year,” Stephenson said at an event hosted by The Economic Club of New York on Wednesday."

rayiner said 3 months ago:

Right, but the question still is: did AT&T invest that $1 billion? AT&T's capital expenditures in 2017 was $21.6 billion, and $25 billion in 2018: https://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/at-t-s-capex-to-rise.... In 2019, it is expected to be $23 billion: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/at-t-expects....

loktarogar said 3 months ago:

nah, the question is did they create anywhere near 7000 jobs

-23,000 seems to suggest no

DFHippie said 3 months ago:

And given that Randall Stephenson said each billion would create 7000 jobs and AT&T got 3 billion, did they create anywhere near 21,000 jobs? He's kind of crappy at this. He was off by 44k. I guess making economic projections like this isn't in his wheelhouse.

linsomniac said 3 months ago:

Are you sure AT&T and the other telcos never promised to do FTTH? My understanding and recollection (I worked at QWest 1995-'98), was that this surcharge was explicitly to replace the copper infrastructure with fiber. I worked on the billing system but talked to people who were managing a pilot project in West Omaha.


tssva said 3 months ago:

Actually the article does talk about whether they spent the additional $1 billion in capital investments. They didn't. They have cut capital investments. Even though they also got net neutrality eliminated which they also claimed would lead them to increase capital investment.

rcombine said 3 months ago:

We need stronger regulations on businesses and corporations. Eroding them has clearly resulted in negative effects.

snarf21 said 3 months ago:

We need to split up all the mega-mergers that have happened in the last 15 years. Every time one of these is realized, you are looking at a 10-20% job cut across both companies. Splitting them up will allow for more competition and bring the jobs back (somewhere).

SkyBelow said 3 months ago:

Is the solution to corrupt government giving money to corporations to have more government?

bilbo0s said 3 months ago:

That one's easy.

The solution to corrupt government is good government, which people are free to elect if they choose. And the solution to corrupt corporations is to be tough on crime, ie - regulations with real teeth. Which the good government, that people can elect if they choose, can easily enact.

Now if people don't want to elect good government, if they want to stick with the sort of government they are currently electing term after term, well, I guess I don't know what to tell them?

But yeah, solution to electing corrupt government officials should be blindingly obvious. Don't do that. Elect officials who are not corrupt. When you hire someone for your company, depending on the position, you likely do a criminal check, a credit check, a general background check, a drug check, etc etc etc. All those kinds of employment related checks we all have to do. Most of us don't do that when we vote, we just kind of say, "Meh, this guy's on my team, I'll vote for him."

paulddraper said 3 months ago:

Thinking regulation hurts big players like AT&T.

mfatica said 3 months ago:

Not sure how you reach that conclusion about regulations which are separate from taxes

drocer88 said 3 months ago:

We need less regulations.

We need more people boycotting Silicon Valley nonsense, AT&T, Verizon, Facebook , google etc.

These guys LOVE regulation. It will build them a bigger moat.

dtwest said 3 months ago:

We need to stop making generalizations about regulations. Some are good, some are bad, some are both.

said 3 months ago:
KorematsuFred said 3 months ago:

"Jobs" as a political issue to bargain vote is the real problem. Finally the voters ask their representatives "what you have done for jobs?" It is that misplaced attitude of voters that eventually gives us these evil policies and pretty much nonsensical claims like "someone else is taking our jobs".

Every company out there is trying to employ more people. The only problem is in finding people who are a right fit, who have right skills and so on. The problem becomes more acute in a country like USA where economy is always in optimal mode. Everything you get in USA is mostly state of art requiring specialized skill.

Government has zero role to play in "creating jobs" or "attracting jobs". If government gets into that it will end up with corruption with 100% probability. Government however can play a big role in ensuring people have skills. Government is the only entity that can publish macroeconomic data about skills and shortages, Government can help universities and community colleges and private entrepreneurs develop those skills.

gridlockd said 3 months ago:

> Every company out there is trying to employ more people.

That isn't true, many companies have far too many employees relative to the size of their business. Companies grow much in the same way that bureaucracies do (see Parkinson's law). Firing people isn't necessarily easy, but it can be very profitable.

> The only problem is in finding people who are a right fit, who have right skills and so on.

Don't forget price.

> Government has zero role to play in "creating jobs" or "attracting jobs".

It has a massive role in increasing the price and risk of hiring people. Corporate taxes also directly affect the risk/return calculations for new investment.

This article makes it sound like AT&T execs lied about creating jobs, but they de-facto didn't. Creating 1000 jobs through investment doesn't imply not getting rid of 1000 other jobs through restructuring. Of course you're not going to be boasting about planned layoffs in the same breath, at least not to the press that serves the general population.

zanny said 3 months ago:

> Every company out there is trying to employ more people.

Every company out there is trying to make more money. If employing people doesn't correlate, and the trends between the two (making money and employing people) are diverging, then companies will make more money and employ less people.

It happens for many reasons - the solvable, as is the case with market capture monopolies, particularly for services (there exist patent troll businesses who employ no one, make no products, but sue with acquired IP rights to make large amounts of profit) and the "unfixable" as is the case with automation and technological efficiency.

The last 30 years have largely been defined by American businesses moving operations towards profit without labor - the per-employee revenues of some of the largest corporations are ludicrous compared to what could be found back then. That trend is unlikely to reverse and very likely to go exponential.

rootusrootus said 3 months ago:

How about next time we want to give a company a tax break to incentivize job creation, we make it a rebate payable in five years, contingent on the jobs actually being created.

Of course, that assumes 1) that giving a tax break is actually an effective mechanism for creating jobs, and 2) that the people involved are not corrupt to begin with. I'm not sure either is a safe assumption.

jayd16 said 3 months ago:

How about focusing on public works so at least we get some contractually obligated public infrastructure out of the stimulus.

beenBoutIT said 3 months ago:

The border wall obsession on one side and Trump investigation obsession on the other have replaced any possibility of focusing on infrastructure.

jayd16 said 3 months ago:

The Dems are talking about a Green New Deal for exactly this type of public works while the GOP has passed tax cuts and tariffs. Even if you assume the Democrats are all talk, the equivalency is a false one.

ben509 said 3 months ago:

Ironically, the GND highlights why, as Obama put it, "there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects." [1]

In a nuthsell, environmental regulations and activism make large public works projects nigh impossible.

What's surprising is mostly that this is even a surprise. If environmentalists have been clear on anything, they've been clear that they don't like massive concrete and steel structures. It blows my mind that the Dems are going to try this again, when they're getting the mailers from Sierra Club promising to tie up these public works projects in court for 20 years.

[1]: https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/magazine/17obama-t.html

jayd16 said 3 months ago:

Pretty sure environmentalism is not what's causing right of way sand bagging and foot dragging on our phone poles and it's not what's standing in the way of fiber rollouts and other information infrastructure.

diminoten said 3 months ago:

It's hardly the dem's fault there's a lot going on that needs investigation...

arcticbull said 3 months ago:

How about payable after 5 years in equal installments over 5 years, subject to performance assessment by a third party auditor?

tpurves said 3 months ago:

I've heard this story before. Friend of mine runs a small manufacturing business in Canada. Got subsidized by a Canadian government program to import and install a big new modern machine for his shop floor from Germany. Goal of the gov program obviously being to create manufacturing jobs. And sure enough, 3 new and good union jobs required to operate the new thing, and because the new thing is so modern and highly automated, he was able to lay-off 20 other workers it took to run the older machines it replaced...

rchaud said 3 months ago:

Was the explicit purpose of the grant to increase employment? Or simply make the business more competitive with advanced machinery? These agreements can be set up such that the grant need not be repaid only if the business creates X full time jobs over a period of Y years. If that condition isn't met, the grant is repayable.

icxa said 3 months ago:

This story is so common it has a name: the paradox of subsidies.

rconti said 3 months ago:

Coincidentally, AT&T just strung fiber up on my street in late March, about a week or two after Sonic announced they'd be rolling their own.

For the past 3 weeks I've been happily using un-capped symmetrical gigabit fiber provided by AT&T, and re-sold by Sonic.

Once Sonic rolls theirs later this year, I'll immediately switch to them and save another $40/mo. As if I needed more incentive to make sure no more dollars flow into AT&T and other incumbent utility providers.

randyrand said 3 months ago:

For all we know they would have otherwise cut 30,000?

I don't think we should be enacting laws based on promises anyway. The effects of tax breaks are reasonably well understood without the need for promises.

ben7799 said 3 months ago:

I had a Software Engineering contract at Verizon around the time Fios was starting up.

Verizon went through/is still going through the same thing.

The companies are a bit sketchy but the whole mismatch in workers is a real thing. They had lots and lots of unionized 55+ blue collar guys who couldn't even login to a computer and had near zero interest in learning. It always felt like the union was trying to fight for the status quo as opposed to trying to facilitate moving forward.

So it gets to look real attractive to try and get them to retire early and hire some young guy since the job requirements have switched to needing lots of computer skills.

The whole tax part.. that's just standard "Be as evil as possible." Given the whole "Be as evil as possible part" the union does become very necessary.

throwaway55554 said 3 months ago:

When does AT&T never break a promise?

They broke promises here.

They broke promises with Time Warner merger.

They promise broadband speeds and deliver dial up speeds.

They promised raises after the tax break and only gave bonuses.

They promised to stop selling location data and kept doing it.

They promised 5G and only gave us 5Ge. (Ok, that ones a joke).

I mean, Randall is a master at lying on the scale of Zuckerberg.

There's lies, damn lies and then AT&T saying, "hold my beer!".

throwayEngineer said 3 months ago:

Can we stop letting the government make deals? They are doing a terrible job.

When AT&T couldn't maintain connection at my home, and wasted 3 half days fixing it, and didn't fix it, I stopped doing business with them.

This is a failure of government making one sided deals.

godzillabrennus said 3 months ago:

The CWA union quoted in this article has been fighting its diminishing power for years.

About 10 years ago I spoke with them about DSLAM vs IP DSLAM tech. The contracts they had were only requiring union techs be used for equipment that didn’t use internet protocol. They didn’t like what I had to say about IP DSLAM.

ausbah said 3 months ago:

Do these tax breaks not have any regulatory teeth? "If you fail to do X, you must pay us back."

zanny said 3 months ago:

Corporate welfare, by design, is not meant to be accountable.

Arbalest said 3 months ago:

The funny thing is, incentives for startups here seem to have all sorts of requirements which are enforced. Seems like "Once you get big enough, we trust you" but then how did they get big in the first place?

olliej said 3 months ago:

Why aren’t tax breaks like these ever made absolutely conditional on companies doing what they’ve said they would do?

Eg if you say you’ll do X in exchange for a tax cut, and don’t do it then they have to pay back those taxes, with interest (otherwise there’s little downside)

javagram said 3 months ago:

They are when they are intended for a specific purpose. E.g. tax credits for jobs are often given to companies like amazon in exchange for locating their HQ in NoVA . If the deal falls apart the credits automatically vanish or reduce proportionally.

This tax break was a general reduction in the corporate tax. It applied to every company in America and wasn’t created in exchange for a specific promise. The concept was that we switch our US tax rate to a globally competitive rate, while also getting rid of the incentives for companies to shelter money overseas rather than spend it in the US after being double taxed.

RIMR said 3 months ago:

Does anyone here actually buy the "giving the rich more money lets them create more jobs" BS anymore?

Hasn't trickle-down economics been thoroughly disproven at this point?

aeturnum said 3 months ago:

I'm sure that AT&T will helpfully explain that they hired 7,000 people and laid off 30,000 people for totally unrelated reasons.

said 3 months ago:
wnevets said 3 months ago:

How much more proof do we need a sociality that tax breaks to create "jobs" is just a scam?

throwayEngineer said 3 months ago:

You will always have masses of people that think government can create jobs.

It's not a fact driven problem.

It's that companies will pay the members of a political party to create special interests.

I don't know the best solution, but I certainly don't trust the federal government to be the solution.

cosmic_ape said 3 months ago:

If that's true, isn't there some organization in the government that can sue them for this?

javagram said 3 months ago:

The Republicans came into power promising to push a tax break from the beginning of the campaign. It was a crucial part of the 2016 campaign and their promise to voters.

They aren’t going to sue AT&T over a non-legally binding statement in a speech nor would they have legal standing to do so even if they wanted.

TallGuyShort said 3 months ago:

If there was, that organization would announce an investigation that was quickly concluded with a redacted report and confidential hearing and no further action. The chairman of said agency would then mysteriously get a high-paid position as an advisor to the AT&T board of directors, a job that necessitates a young female intern and frequently requires travel to countries with legal prostitution.

said 3 months ago:
padseeker said 3 months ago:

Why would the government currently being run by people who are perfectly happy with this want to sue?

It brings up an interesting point. The supposed motivation of the tax cuts was under the guise that it would increase jobs and mean more money for employees. I have a hard time believing anyone who voted for the tax cut actually believed that. And the people lobbying for the tax cuts are not legally obligated to make good on any of the things they said would happen when the tax cuts went through.

The most likely thing is the people who were elected and passed the tax cuts are held accountable and then the cuts are rolled back but don't hold your breath.

said 3 months ago:
maxhedrome said 3 months ago:

No, the problem here is that AT&T is, and always has been a raging back of cocks.

spacemanmatt said 3 months ago:


said 3 months ago:
xof711 said 3 months ago:

AT&T is just another big Corporation, not a person! Why would we expect them not to do what best for the shareholders vs. what good for its employees???!!!