I fear that the negative reactions here indicate (once again) that Slashdot readership consists mainly of techies. And such people often have difficulties understanding understanding how society works (even if they tend to have vocal opinions on any subject that comes along). Let me try to bring some perspective into the discussion.
Lest somebody misunderstand, the very essence of an enterprise (any enterprise) is that it is a bundle of labour and capital whose essential structure and identity is independent of and more persistent than the labour it employs. The identity behind its labour component is no more important than the identity of its capital component.
It is for this reason that any contemporary HR policy is aimed at (and this is important) divorcing the work from specific individuals.
What this means is that all and any employees must (and this is essential) be plug-replaceable as a matter of policy.
Those that aren't should either be unique individuals like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, the actual owners of the company, or leaving.
That is one of the drivers (not the only one of course) behind the desire for standardisation of work procedures and documentation of ideas and knowledge.
The result of careful execution of such policy is a situation in which personnel really is replaceable. Even when it concerns 10%-30% of the employees. Which is what we are now seeing illustrated at Cisco.
So there's no need to be surprised. And no need to be disgruntled. It's simply the consequence of a certain feature of our society we collectively decided we want and actively maintain. And it has truly served us well for the past century and a half and its end-result is the envy of our neigbours.
Unfortunately the current economic tide makes the downsides (for such they are) of this state of affairs more visible: i.e. employees are just another commodity and any successful enterprise will treat them as such. . As a result, employees can get a rough deal (if they get any deal at all, i.e. if they are employed).
Let's be clear about this: I don't know how to make those downsides go away without wrecking the competitiveness of enterprises. But I suspect it will involve a realignment in the balance of power between labour and capital.
One way of achieving this is through the use of force. Also known as "legislation". Fortunately we have a mechanism in place for effecting change. It's called Politics. But what actual policy should be enacted through Politics? If knew (and could prove it) I'd tell you, but I don't.
One of the problems is the constraints imposed on all of us through competition.
I.e. if the policy we adopt is too disadvantagous for enterprises, they will simply take their capital, set up shop elsewhere, and drive the disadvantaged enterprises off the market.
So it's up for debate really, and this isn't a new debate. It's a debate about a basic balance in our society that needs to be realigned from time to time.