Want a Fair Tax System?

Why do Major Corporations and the Super Rich have the ability to pay less taxes?

Because they can!!

The government has become a special interest government and those who have the money to get deals and breaks can do so because they are big enough to afford lobbyists and lawyers who get them favors with politicians.

Why would politicians give favors to big companies?  I’ll let you decide.

For now let’s look at a solution, not only a solution to limit the favoritism but a solution that would make every Americans life easier and more fair.

Watch and comment;

What could be more fair than EVERYONE without exception paying the same percentage?

How Do You Describe Your Potential?

How do you describe your potential?

Do you focus on your obstacles?

So many times I have limited myself, not because of my potential, or even my obstacles, but because of my thinking. I tell myself I can’t, without even really trying. If I try and don’t succeed the first time it doesn’t mean I failed, it just means the first effort was unsuccessful. Do I give up or try again? That is a decision. That is a decision we all have the opportunity to make. Do we, or is it too hard?

My friend George Guzzardo posted this inspiring video that caused me to examine myself.

Watch this inspiring video and be honest with yourself…..do you and I really have obstacles?

I think most of us would all be embarrassed to say we did.

Rather than watch and be embarrassed, let’s watch and be inspired into ACTION.

Trystan says; “It you don’t try you will never know what could have been”

Act until we succeed or as Trystan says; “You have to try new ways to live your fullest potential. If I can do that, you can surely do that.”

Be Thankful for who we are, but strive to be all we have been created to be!

Happy Thanksgiving!

thanksgiving

Father’s Matter

This last couple weeks got me thinking about the importance of a Father in the home. First there was Father’s Day, then our daughter and grand-daughter got baptized. During our Father’s Day church service and then again at the Baptism, we were reminded of the impact parents and in particular a father has on his children.

I have heard various statistics listed different ways but they all point to the need to have a father present.

Consider these statistics:

  • 41-43% of kids in America are being raised without a father.
  • Without a father there is a 700% greater chance of a pregnancy
  • 85% of those in prison did not have a father in the home or stated another way 20 times greater chance of being in prison
  • Without a father present children are 9x more likely to drop out of school
  • Without a father present children are at a much greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse

Larry Elders makes a compelling case for the value of a father in the home. He may address specifically Black Fathers but the number of  Black, White and Hispanic fathers absent from the home has increased and so have the statistics. Watch the video and write out the statistics for yourself, do some research on your own. Lower the statistics if you feel they are exaggerated, but no matter how you slice it, the facts are still the facts. Fathers absent from their children’s lives and specifically from the home matters. Children need a father in the home.

Larry Elders asks the question;

What happened to fathers?

The answer is found in a basic law of economics: If you subsidize undesirable behavior you will get more undesirable behavior. In 1949, the nation’s poverty rate was 34 percent. By 1965, it was cut in half, to 17 percent — all before President Lyndon Johnson’s so-called War on Poverty. But after that war began in 1965, poverty began to flat line. From 1965 until now, the government has spent over $20 trillion to fight poverty.

The poverty rate has remained unchanged, but the relationship between poor men and women has changed – dramatically. That’s because our generous welfare system allows women, in effect, to marry the government. And this makes it all too easy for men to abandon their traditional moral and financial responsibilities. Psychologists call such dependency “learned helplessness.”

Do you agree with Mr. Elders?

Do you feel a father in the home makes a difference?

The Pa Project – A Call to Action

Over the last 20 + years I have had the pleasure of watching a young quiet couple from a small town in Pennsylvania grow into one of the most dynamic and caring leaders I know. Their names to most people in Pennsylvania and across America may be unknown, but their touch and influence is profound. Their life and legacy is still in progress but has been extended through their offspring. They say an apple does not fall far from the tree, and in this case their “four apples” and their spouses have inspired an entire community of leaders at Life Leadership to action; and with that The Pa Project was born.

2016-05-16-23.14.21                                    Dean & Teresa Frey Family along with Deb and Myron Kile

Dean & Teresa Frey and their amazing children Zach, Lexi, Levi and Haley are impacting lives while creating family memories and a legacy to be proud of.

What’s the Truth?

What’s the Truth?

That is the question we have to ask ourselves today with any piece of information or advice we get.

Whether the information or advice comes from a known source such as a family or friend, or from the mainstream media, the internet, or even our own physician whom we have so come to trust, we have to question is that information really true.

This short TED Talks video of Sharyl Attkisson, formerly an investigative correspondent in the Washington bureau for CBS News might be an eye opener for many.

After watching this video it made me start to wonder “What’s the Truth?”

If our own doctor can be misinformed/educated, maybe we are being misinformed or improperly educated. If Wikipedia a trusted source for so many, contradicts Actual Peer Review Medical Research according to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, or Philip Roth a noted author in a an Open Letter to Wikipedia posted in The New Yorker Magazine contested that according to Wikipedia, he was not a credible source on himself, you have to wonder how can we tell “What’s the Truth?”

Maybe one of the telltale signs as Ms. Attkisson suggests is when you hear someone attack an issue, and the people around that issue by saying, they are nutty, telling lies, saying it’s a myth or conspiracy, maybe you need to question those who are making the attacks. As she states “instead of questioning authority they question those who question authority”

I like the concept of going to the source. If you want to know something about someone meet the person and ask them yourself. See the behavior of those closest to them, their children, friends and associates. People tend to associate with people like themselves.

The Power of a Mentor, Good Books, Perseverance, and Toughening Up

Over the last 30+ years I have learned the power of several key principles that have molded my life. Most of what I have learned have come from the advice of good mentors. It’s interesting, that those mentors who had more than average success, had about the same advice. One was to be careful where you got your advice. The second was to read books, books from a variety of authors on a variety of subjects. The third, I learned not only from my mentors and the examples given in the books I read, but from first-hand experience around me; those who persevered… succeeded. And to persevere, I had to toughen up.

I heard a TED Talk by Tai Lopez that mirrored what I have learned. It’s interesting that the principles I learned are practiced by others in various fields of life who aspire to excellence.

Here are some excerpts from Mr. Lopez’s talk that you will find are consistent with the principles I have come to respect and apply.

Mentors
Did you know Albert Einstein had a mentor?
Every Thursday, he would have lunch with a mentor growing up.
Jay-Z, the rapper, he had a mentor.
Oprah Winfrey said she had two mentors.
Alexander, the Great, had Aristotle.
Bill Gates had Paul Allen.
Warren Buffet had Benjamin Graham.

Reading
The modern education system has turned people off from books.
You have to rewire your brain.
See a book like a friend. You read it over and over.
You come back. And just like friends, you pick a handful of them.
I recommend you find 150 books. There’s 130 million. You can’t read that many.
But 150 you can read over and over for the rest of your life.
There’s no rule, either, at how fast you have to read them.
The average American buys 17 books a year, Maybe reads one a month.
You should read at least one book a week, because remember, everybody wants the good life ,but not everybody’s willing to read to get it.
You must read more.

Perseverance
The media has tricked us.
They only show us the success at the end, but Bill Gates started at 12.
It wasn’t until 31 years old that he was a billionaire.
He said from age 20 to 30, he never took a day off. Not even one.
You must persevere,

Toughen Up
Guess what the media wants to do.
We see on average 2,000 ads a day.
They’re trying to sell you something.
Luxury comes at the cost of killing your hopes, your dreams, your ambitions.
Be humble. Persevere. Read more. Toughen up

Listen to the full TED Talk Published on Jan 15, 2015
Why I read a book a day (and why you should too): The Law of 33% – by Tai Lopez
This TED Talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences.

Small Businesses Threatened by Increasing Regulation

A friend shared an interesting article that could threaten the livelihood of small business in America. Being a small business owner for over 37 years I understand the risk, effort and opportunities that making individual business decisions involve. This decision by the National Labor Relations Board increases the risk and effort, while decreasing the opportunities for small business owners by the government having greater control of a small business while taking that control away from the individual owner.

Business owners trying to keep a clear understanding and meet the federal guidelines regarding the separation of employees from independent contractors now will have the lines muddier. This opens the door for increased liabilities regarding workers compensation, unemployment compensation, insurance liability, overtime, etc.etc.

This reminds me of the gerrymandering of election districts that political parties do to control the outcome of elections. The control of  electing our electing government officials is taken away from the individual and put in the control by the parties redistricting.

Individual liberty and the freedom to succeed or fail has been the cornerstone of entrepreneurship. It is what made America a diverse nation in the first place. People flocked to America because they wanted the freedom to control their destiny and escape the governments controlling every aspect of their lives.

After reading this interesting article how do you feel about this decision by the National Labor Relations Board?

From – Small Business Solutions – by Diana Furchgott-Roth

Under a National Labor Relations Board decision released on Thursday, the Board has dramatically expanded the numbers of “joint employers” in America. Now, employees of franchised business such as Burger King may be classified as employees of the parent company. Employees of subcontractors, such as office cleaners, may be classified as employees of the company that hires the subcontractor.

With its decision, the Board overturned a prior ruling by its regional director that employees of Leadpoint were not joint employees of Browning Ferris, a recycling plant that subcontracted operations to Leadpoint. Subcontractors and franchisees across the country had better watch out for more lawsuits and higher costs of doing business.

Last week, speaking at the Detroit Economic Club, Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio said, “The National Labor Relations Board is on the verge of declaring that David doesn’t even own his business, that he is a ‘joint employer’ with his franchisor. The likely impact is that fewer franchises will open, and costs and litigation will increase for existing ones.”

Before this decision, if a firm did not exercise authority over the employees of its subcontractors then it was not counted as an employer.  Now the NLRB is saying that if a firm just possesses the authority to control its subcontractor’s employees—even if it does not use this authority—then it is a joint employer.

The implications of this decision are immense. Millions of franchises are at risk of being told that they are joint employers with parent companies such as Jiffy Lube, Dunkin Donuts, or H & R Block.  Millions of subcontractors may find that the company that is employing them has morphed into a boss. This raises the costs of doing business, encouraging companies to reorganize or go offshore.

The Board notes, disapprovingly, that “the diversity of workplace arrangements in today’s economy has significantly expanded. The procurement of employees through staffing and subcontracting arrangements, or contingent employment, has increased steadily…”

What the Board fails to note is that franchises and subcontractors have come about as the most efficient way of providing particular services.  Franchises make it easier for people to start their own businesses, and independent contractors can move from one employer to another at will, or work for multiple employers at one time.

The Board’s ruling follows guidelines from the Labor Department  on when to classify workers as employees, who are entitled to fringe benefits, or independent contractors, who are not.  These guidelines, which became effective in July, attempt to make it more difficult for employers to hire independent contractors.  In June the Labor Department issued new proposed expanded overtime revisions that would reduce workplace flexibility for millions more workers by prohibiting time off in exchange for extra time on the job.

With the new Labor Department rulings and the National Labor Relations Board decisions, President Obama wants to move America back to the mid-20th century when people worked for one employer for most of their lives and independent contractors were less common.  The sharing economy, with Uber and Airbnb, were unimaginable.

One result of the new 21st century economy is that unionization levels have decreased. People don’t want to pay union dues and initiation fees.With the share of wage and salary workers who belong to unions declining from 20 percent in 1983 to 11 percent in 2014, unions are feeling the pinch. They lack dues to pay salaries for union bosses and give political contributions to political parties, practically all Democrats.   That is why the Board is trying to make it easier for unions to coerce workers into joining. It is far easier for a union to organize one large workplace than several small ones.

Unions are particularly interested in the fast food industry because of its rapid turnover.  On average three people per year occupy one slot at a fast food restaurant. People come for a short period of time, such as the summer, then leave. Someone else might start in the fall. If each of these three people had to join a union, the union would get three sets of initiation fees per year.  With fees at about $50 per person, that is $150 annually.

As federal and state governments have tried to expand the benefits that employers must provide, it has become more advantageous for small firms to form to avoid these mandates.  Take the Affordable Care Act, for instance.  Firms with more than 50 employees have to offer a certain level of health insurance or pay a penalty.  Firms with fewer than 50 workers are often exempt from other mandates, too. Contracting out some operations keeps the size of the firm down, along with the costs of doing business. With the new rules, watch for more companies going offshore, and the share of Americans who are employed or looking for work declining further.

The franchise model has dramatically expanded the number of small businesses in America. Congress should place a clear definition of an employer and a subcontractor in the law.  The NLRB’s decision is a travesty that Congress and the next president can and should reverse.

 

Crucial Conversations

There are a few defining moments in our lives that make all the difference. Many of these moments come from crucial or breakthrough conversations with important people in emotionally charged situations where the decisions made take us down one of several roads, each of which leads us to an entirely different destination. When a challenge in life is met by a response that is equal to it you have success.
Just as the world is changing at a frightening speed, so have the stresses and pressures we experience. This makes it all the more imperative that we nourish our relationships, and develop tools, skills and enhanced capacity to find new and better solutions to our problems.

25 years of research with 20,000 people and hundreds of organizations, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switler have proven that individuals who are the most influential, who can get things done and at the same time build on relationships are those who master their crucial conversations.

Crucial conversations create an entirely new level of bonding. They transform people and relationships. Not a compromise between two opposites but a higher middle way, like the apex of a triangle. Because two or more people have created something new from genuine dialogue, bonding takes place just like the bonding that takes place in a family when a new child is created. When you produce something with another person that is truly creative it’s one of the most powerful forms of bonding there is.

Crucial conversations are interactions that happen to everyone. They’re the day-to-day conversations that affect your life. What makes one of the conversations crucial as opposed to one that is not?
1. OPINIONS VARY
2. STAKES ARE HIGH
3. EMOTIONS RUN STRONG

What makes each of these conversations crucial?
It’s that the results could have a huge impact on the quality of your life.
By definition, crucial conversations are about tough issues and were masters at avoiding tough conversations.

For example:
1. coworkers send an email to each other when they should walk down the hall and talk turkey
2. bosses leave a voicemail in lieu of meeting with her direct reports
3. family members change the subject when a shoe gets too risky
4. a friend who learns through a voicemail message that his wife was divorcing him

We use all kinds of tactics to dodge touchy issues
If you know how to handle and even master crucial conversations, you can step up and effectively hold tough conversations about virtually any topic.

2014 – Let’s Consider Our Legacy…..Again

2014

In a post I did on January 2nd 2013 entitled Your Legacy I challenged us all to;

  1. Be thankful
  2. Change our input
  3. Determine our Legacy

If you haven’t been able to determine what you want that legacy to be for you, perhaps I can give you a perspective you may not have thought of, or some insight into a legacy beyond yourself. That is you know what legacy’s are really all about….what we did for others or what we did for mankind.

 In this excerpt of a recent article on the Legacy of 2013  by Oliver DeMille are some facts and thoughts on where America is headed. For you maybe this article can give you some ideas as to what you want your legacy to be.

During 2013 state governments in the United States passed over 40,000 new laws.

That’s not a typo. It’s 40,000 new laws — which means five times that many regulations when all the agencies of government write these laws into agency policies. It’s even more if you add the new federal laws.

Taken together, these signal a serious period of decline for America. We are a nation being overtaken by our biggest competitor (some would say future enemy) China, and simultaneously mired in skyrocketing levels of regulation.

Governments, federal and state, now seem determined to regulate and overregulate every facet of our lives — private and business. Many entrepreneurs, who were already reeling from reams of Obamacare regulations, are now facing more government red tape from every flank.

The free enterprise economy is literally under siege. Those who think this is exaggerated should try to open a significant new business in the United States. Most of the biggest entrepreneurs and corporations who have attempted this recently have decided to build in China or some other economy instead. The U.S. government has become generally hostile to business.

This is a strange reality for the land of the free and the home of the brave. Long considered the bastion of world freedom and economic opportunity, America is consistently less appealing to many businesses and investors.

The December 31, 2013 issue of USA Today summarized this overarching trend by saying that “aristocracy” is now “in” in America.

Aristocracy, really? That’s a bold statement. Yet it is increasingly true. The lower classes are more dependent on government, and the middle classes only survive by using debt. Only the upper class, the elites, are financially flourishing — and many of them rely on international investment that is growing in foreign economies.

Anyone relying on the U.S. economy right now is concerned. What will the escalating rollout of Obamacare bring? How many more government regulations will come in 2014, and how will this further weaken the economy?

The experts are finally taking notice of sharply rising levels of regulation, even if Washington isn’t.

For example, Francis Fukuyama called our time “The Great Unravelling” (The American Interest, Jan/Feb 2014) and Steven M. Teles called it “Kludgeocracy in America” (National Affairs, Fall 2013). We have become a Kludgeocracy indeed, with more business-killing regulation every week.

In The Discovery of Freedom, Rose Wilder Lane said that,

“Men in Government who imagine that they are controlling a planned economy must prevent economic progress—as, in the past, they have always done.”

What is her definition of a planned economy? Answer: modern France, Britain, and the United States. She quoted Henry Thomas Buckle, who wrote:

“In every quarter, and at every moment, the hand of government was felt. Duties on importation, and on exportation; bounties to raise up a losing trade, and taxes to pull down a remunerative one; this branch of industry forbidden, and that branch of industry encouraged; one article of commerce must not be grown because it was grown in the colonies, another article might be grown and bought, but not sold again, while a third article might be bought and sold, but not leave the country.

“Then, too, we find laws to regulate wages; laws to regulate prices; laws to regulate the interest of money…The ports swarmed with [government officials], whose sole business was to inspect nearly every process of domestic industry, to peer into every package, and tax every article…”

This was written about France, just before it lost its place as the world’s most powerful nation, and it was published as a warning to Britain, just before it lost it’s superpower status. This quote applies perfectly to America today.

Great nations in decline need innovation and entrepreneurialism, but instead they choose anti-innovation and anti-entrepreneurial regulation. It’s amazing how every nation repeats this well-known but addictive path of self-destruction.

As Lane Kenworthy argues in Foreign Affairs, opponents of bigger government “are fighting a losing battle.” In the near future, he says,

“More Americans will work in jobs with low pay, will lose a job more than once during their careers, and will reach retirement age with little savings.”

But this will be offset, he suggests, by more vacation days, less working hours each week, and more government programs that pay for many of these people’s needs.

Many of the experts agree — he U.S. economy isn’t going to boom anytime soon, but this will be balanced for investors by significant economic successes in Mexico, South Korea, Poland, Turkey, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, among other places.

All of this adds up to an America on the verge of what Paul Kennedy called the “fall of great powers”: overreach in international affairs that spends much of the nation’s prosperity, and simultaneously too much government regulation at home — shutting down a nation’s innovative/entrepreneurial class at the same time that the government taxes and spends more and more.

This same pattern brought down the top leader status of Spain, France, Britain and the Soviet Union. Before these, it brought down Athens, Rome, and the Ottoman Empire. Unless the United States changes course, it is following this same blueprint for decline.

When historians look back on 2013, they may well see it as the tipping point to a rapid American downturn. Partisan conflicts, government spying on its own people, drastic government spending, constantly increasing regulation, the rapid rise of China — any of these could fuel real decline. Together they may be insurmountable.

But one thing stands out: In a nation desperately in need of innovation and entrepreneurial initiative, the government is handing out innovation-blocking regulations at a breakneck pace.

The good news in all this is that entrepreneurs don’t give up easily. Tenacity is part of their DNA. The future will be determined by this race between politicians (increasing regulations) and entrepreneurs (innovation and prosperity).

Whoever wins will lead the 21st Century.

Our future as a nation, as well as our children and grandchildren’s future depend on who wins. Perhaps the role you could play in helping to develop a stronger and freer America might be your legacy. So look at the last year and determine what you will do differently this year, then look beyond this year and determine when you get to the end of your life what you want your Legacy to be. Perhaps it will be one that changes the course of history for the benefit of all freedom loving people.

Be aware of the magnitude of YOUR significance and remember;

  1. Be Thankful – YOU are alive today to play a role
  2. Change YOUR Input – educate and develop yourself
  3. Determine YOUR Legacy – only YOU can

Do We Need a New Definition of Austerity? Or a New Definition of Leader?

Austerity to Blame? But Where’s the Austerity? an article I first read in Forbes by Paul Roderick Gregory is a fabulous essay written that challenges the concept that governments of this world are really cutting their spending.

In economicsausterity describes policies used by governments to reduce budget deficits during adverse economic conditions according to the definition provided in Wikipedia.

Paul Gregory is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He holds an endowed professorship in the Department of Economics at the University of Houston, Texas. Mr. Gregory is a research professor at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin, and is chair of the International Advisory Board of the Kiev School of Economics.

Here is Mr Gregory’s article:

Keynesian Economic thinkers complain that the world’s economies are drowning in austerity. They argue we need more government spending and stimulus, not spending cuts. Northern Europe should bail out its less-fortunate neighbors to the South so they can pay their teachers, public employees and continue generous transfers to the poor and unemployed. If not, Europe’s South will remain mired in recession. In America, Keynesians entreat the skinflint Republicans to loosen the purse strings so we can escape sub par growth. They advise Japan to spend itself out of permanent stagnation and welcome recent steps in this direction.

The stimulationists complain that they have been overwhelmed by the defeatist austerity crowd, lead by the un-neighborly Germans and the obstructionist Republicans.  If only Germany would shift its economy into high gear while transferring its tax revenues to ailing Southern Europe, and the rascally Republicans drop the sequester cuts, we would be sailing along to a healthy worldwide recovery. We don’t need spending restraint. Instead, we need stimulus, stimulus, and more stimulus to revive economic growth. We’ll deal with the growing deficits later, the stimulation crowd tells us, but we must first get our economies growing again.

The Keynesian stimulus crowd blames austerity for the world’s economic woes without bothering to examine facts.

Take the PIIGS of Europe (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) have supposedly been devastated by cutbacks in public spending.  The official figures show that PIIGS governments embarked on massive spending sprees between 2000 and 2008. During this period, their combined general government expenditures rose from 775 billion Euros to 1.3 trillion – a 75 percent increase. Ireland had the largest percentage increase (130 percent), and Italy the smallest (40 percent). These spending binges gave public sector workers generous salaries and benefits, paid for bridges to nowhere, and financed a gold-plated transfer state. What the state gave has proven hard to take away as the riots in Southern Europe show.

Then in 2008, the financial crisis hit. No one wanted to lend to the insolvent PIIGS, and, according to the Keynesian narrative, the PIIGS were forced into extreme austerity by their miserly neighbors to the north. Instead of the stimulus they desperately needed, the PIIGS economies were wrecked by austerity.

Not so according to the official European statistics. Between the onset of the crisis in 2008 and 2011, PIIGS government spending increased by six percent from an already high plateau.  Eurostat’s projections (which make the unlikely assumption that the PIIGS will honor the fiscal discipline promised their creditors) still show the PIIGS spending more in 2014 than at the end of their spending binge in 2008.

As  Erber wryly notes: “Austerity is everywhere but in the statistics.”

The PIIGS remind me of the patient whose doctor orders him to lose weight by eating less. The patient responds by doubling his calorie intake. He later cuts back by ten percent and wonders why he is not losing weight. The PIIGS went on a spending binge from which they do not want to retreat. They then blame their problems on austerity and the lack of charity of others.

There is another message in these figures: the insolvent PIIGS cannot finance their deficits on their own in credit markets. They can keep on spending only with loans from international organizations and the European Central Bank. That PIIGS have continued to spend unabated means that their “miserly” neighbors have continued to bail them out, largely out of public sight.

So much for the scourge of austerity in Southern Europe. The facts show it simply does not exist.

Which leads us to the austerity that is supposedly underway in the United States (Remember that radical sequester that was supposed to ruin the economy?) Our figures tell exactly the same story as the PIIGS  – a binge of public spending that has not been reversed. Between 2000 and 2008, both federal and state and local spending increased by almost two thirds. Despite budget cliff hangers, sequestration, and Republican intransience (so claim the Democrats), the federal government today is spending 16 percent more than at the peak of its binge spending in 2008.  State and local governments, which cannot borrow as freely as the Feds, are spending a modest 11 percent more.

Instead of “where’s the beef?” we should ask “where’s the austerity?”

Perhaps you can show me in the chart below where the spending has been cut, because I just don’t see it.

US_National_Debt_Chart_2010

If those who control the spending of our tax dollars are going to make an effective change in the long term stability of our nation(s) they are going to need a new definition of austerity. Perhaps WE need a New Definition of Leader, because the current “leaders” of the nations of this world are doing a very poor job of leading, not just here in the United States but around the globe. When we compare ourselves to other nations and say we are doing comparatively well, reminds me of the phrase “pigs don’t know pigs stink” (not to be confused with the PIIGS Mr. Gregory speaks of in his article).