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- December 29 - Two of the most important trends during the past year seem
certain to have major impacts in 1999 and beyond -- the momentum of "merger mania" and the unraveling of America's safety net.
Experts critical of these developments can be contacted directly
by editors, reporters and producers:
** Merger Mania **
ROBERT WEISSMAN, (202) 387-8030, (202) 986-7262,
firstname.lastname@example.org , http://www.essential.org/action
Co-director of Essential Action, a Ralph Nader-founded corporate accountability group, Weissman points out that "1998
has witnessed an unprecedented merger spree." He adds: "Exxon plans to gobble Mobil for nearly $80 billion. BP is taking over
Amoco for $58 billion. In telecommunications, Bell Atlantic and GTE plan to combine in a $70 billion-plus deal, SBC (Southern
Bell) is buying Ameritech for nearly $70 billion, WorldCom acquired MCI for $37 billion and AT&T is merging with TCI in a
$33 billion deal. Merger mania in financial services manifested itself in the form of the NationsBank-BankAmerica merger ($42
billion), the Citicorp-Travelers Group marriage ($37 billion, even though existing law does not permit such a merger), a Wells
Fargo-Norwest deal ($32 billion) and many others. While these mergers may be good for Wall Street, they are a bad deal for
everyone else. They mean less competition, higher prices, corporate downsizing, less consumer choice and concentrated
economic power that gives rise to a dangerous concentration of political power."
** Unraveling of the Safety Net **
FRANCES FOX PIVEN, (518) 789-3525, email@example.com
Piven is a Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the graduate school of the City University of New
York. Her books include "The Breaking of the American Social Compact." She comments: "In 1998, many of the poorest Americans
did worse, as the safety net created during the New Deal continued to unravel. The new welfare law gives the states a lump
sum, no matter the number of people they aid, creating a financial incentive for the states to slash the rolls. This they
are doing by simply `diverting' or denying applicants, or dropping families from the rolls for transgressing one or another
of a tangle of new rules. Early reports on what has happened to the families dropped from the rolls are ominous.... Whether they
actually find work or not, the policy of pushing hundreds of thousands of desperate mothers into the search for work is
certain to drive down wages at the bottom of the labor market where wage recovery has just begun."