I certainly agree - that's just one of the many, many games they play with Engineers to keep salaries down and to give the majority of the pay increase pool to a few "special" members.
Most companies I've been with have just been variants on this theme.
But right now my attitude about it is better than it would have been.
1. I am currently working.
2. 3% may be chicken feed but it beats the alternatives hand down - such as pay cuts for some needed purpose, 0% or No position.
3. I actually enjoy the work I do. (But I probably should not advertise that too much).
It seems that ever since this "Great Recession / Depression" started that a lot of things have changed.
Our Fearless Leader has been trying to convince us it's all over now, but the EU would no doubt disagree!
The outlook for Corporations has improved though and some are hiring key people they can find now for some slots (but pay is not too good).
For most though, they have learned they can make a lot of money without their former staffing.
So individuals are doing more, often much much more for the same or less money. Grab a better position if you can, but it might be tough to get the next one. DO NOT do what a friend did and quit before securing the next position. Several of my Professional friends have been out for about 2 years now. I can't understand how they are surviving!
I was quite fortunate to find an Engineering position right at the start of the Recession and have held it.
It's a great position - great work, learning many skills and much programming.
After putting in the required long hours, I actually received commendations for my efforts.
I received a raise after that, but my manager told me he had to fight tooth and nail to get me 3%.
It was eye opening and after reflection, I consider myself quite lucky.
The #1 Goal of ALL Corporations is to maximize profits. Why wouldn't they take full advantage of the current employment situation?
Reading your post I find I agree with you in principle but not in practice. What our representatives feel is best for us is not necessarily the beneficial.
For instance if they are trying to solve a problem, a solution that removes freedoms but solves the problem can easily gain the votes to become law.
Also consider that our politicians typically do not campaign as champions of individual freedom. They all speak of freedom in a general sense, but how many of them even see this as an issue?
Our representatives start out as prominent citizens, usually passionately committed to the ideals of government and the nation. When the get to Capitol Hill they tend to adopt the conventional wisdom and conventions approaches to solving problems.
If our representatives understood the this problem and were called on to maintain freedoms by citizens these laws would be different and preserve freedoms.
There were rumors that the UK would be relaxing a number of their tight "War on Terror" type measures.
And now they are getting rid of a major intrusive program!
It's a great day for Britain, especially if this indicates a trend. Before this they were shedding liberties at a high rate!
Now if the US could only follow their lead!
One thing is certain, these knee jerk laws certainly erode the rights of citizens who in no way were part of the event causing the stupid reaction.
But really, since when has our government cared about freedom and rights? Being elected is a concern and getting tax money also is.
But like dogs, they seem to live entirely in the present and are incapable of extrapolating the long term consequences of all of these laws.
But they sure know how to raise Millions of Corporate contributions and note that these "sponsors" also have no stake in public freedoms.
Now you see how inventive these politicians are! Just copy the actions of less advanced nations and everything will be better!
These fellows just want a cause that is sure to be voted though. They probably could care less what it is or what impact it will have.
It is true that there is a role for anonymous communications in a free society.
Just look at how the Internet relies on anonymous communications and how this promotes individual freedom and creativity. Consider that being gone and the effect.
But notice how our current society operates: when a crackpot tries to blow up an airliner with his shoe we all must have shoes inspected, when another tries to blow up liquids, our liquids are removed.
Now an anonymous phone is used an a attempted bombing so no anonymous purchases will be allowed. Committed bombers will just use their fake ID, but everyone else loses yet another freedom (albeit minor).
Maybe we better contact the bombers and beg them not to be so creative or we will all be living in guarded barracks with no freedoms at all!
Free? Sure we are. Just keep thinking that and don't complain as our freedoms are stripped away one by one. Just to make some politician look good!
Could it be that they are observing the rich, rich politicians in the Corporate States of America and offering their souls up for sale too?
We couldn't export Democracy but we sure could export Corruption!
Not wholly owned? On Capitol Hill they all know that once the payment is received they are obligated for any requested services.
I'd be surprised if there was anything they wouldn't do short of murder or starring in porn movies. Then again.
This and other results bear our your thesis.
The same was true with the "Corporate" Healthcare Bill. Almost all of the Democrats had their hands out for the Corporate Millions.
And they voted predictably.
If possible the Democrats may actually be More Corrupt than the Republicans.
Internet access is not a luxury like entertainment and is more necessary than television or radio.
The FCC and some forces in the government logically wished to treat internet access as a utility but it appears that legal Corporate graft has won instead.
And this has happened where the ISP's are virtual monopolies!
Some of the new possibilities include finding your internet access restricted to a handful of sites unless you buy access to additional sites for extra fees.
Wish to access non-US or EU sites? Good luck finding a package for that!
Since ISP's are becoming liable for Copyrighted material why won't they just remove access to sites and services that people use to access material?
What percentage of the Internet will Americans even have access to?
And of course they can use bandwidth throttling to make sure only advertising comes through at high speeds. True Internet Hell!
So we need ISP alternatives! With today's technology their must be ways around the US ISP monopolies. What could a satellite dish and equipment do?
Is it feasible to setup a "Whole Internet" Coop with WiFi in an area? Or are there regulations making it illegal to bypass the monopolies?
They are just following standard business procedure in the Corporate States of America!
I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.