Tag Archives: business

Shared Experience Or Spoiled Memory?

This video is great fun to watch, and I can only imagine how much fun it would’ve been to be at that wedding and experience it myself.

Imagine if wedding had occurred before Youtube. The guests would’ve been thrilled and then they’d’ve gone home. The stories would’ve spread as people tried it at their own weddings with their own special twists. Thousands of weddings and millions of friends and families may have experienced the fun and special memories of these special occasions.

As it is, there have been a few copy cats (including The Office) but each time you know that it is a copy, and you judge it against the original. They may have their own spark of creativity and deserve commendation but you would’ve judged them. They aren’t the original and they will all be judged for that, and the memories will be spoiled.

Not that progress, the internet, and Youtube aren’t wonderful, amazing, and worthwhile things, but I think we need to be careful how we allow Youtube and this eternally connected and sharing generation influence our lives and our experiences.

Don’t let Youtube spoil your memories.

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What Is “Business Friendly”?

Big Business means a better life for you
Big business means a better life for you

There are many misconceptions standing in the way of informed consent on the part of the American Electorate.

Bugbears and villains and bogey-monsters are trotted out each election cycle to herd the voting populace into the desired frame of mind.

One of the common scape-goats (ab)used by many is the spectre of “Big Business”. And not merely content to blame big business, the abusers often employ shake-down tactics when they need additional revenue.

After all, nobody likes their boss, and everybody knows businesses are endless sources of greedy men with far too much money, right?

Sticking it to “the Man” is the favorite sport in much of America, and it’s bred and grown in an environment free of logic and fact into a monster few can avoid.

Well, here’s one shot.

Business does good for people.

It’s not that they hold your hand and sing Kumbayah, or even that businesses that contribute financially to causes we agree with are good.

This is a blanket statement without conditions: The average business in America does good.

What is good?

Good is a quality of action or intent that brings about, supports, encourages some reasonable benefit to another.

Me winning the lottery is not good. Yes I get tons of money, but that money to one not capable of handling it wisely will with great consistency, harm me and cause me greater damage than were I not to have such largess.

Me working and earning a reasonable wage is good. I earn the money and therefore know its worth to me. I use that value to trade for other things of value which have greater good to me.

Now what just occurred? Each of the players in that last paragraph exchanged something for something else.

What is that called? It’s an economy.

Let’s look at it closer: The business I work for values my work more than a certain amount of money, so we trade. My work for their money. But I can’t live eating money or in a house made of money, so I trade the money for other things I consider more valuable than the actual cash, usually with other businesses such as landlords, grocery stores, utility companies, etc.

Each of us has something we can trade for something else and it is the constant trading and exchanging throughout America that creates the immense wealth we have.

If you think you have little and you live in America, you’re most likely very, very wrong. And this pernicious lie, that we have little, that helps fuel the constant badgering that businesses ought to do this and that and owe us one thing or another.

There are plethora ways the government inhibits business, and in each and every situation where regulation and restriction purport to keep businesses playing “fair”, it is the consumer, you and I, who are hurt most.

In order for you and I to survive we must efficiently and effectively trade what we have for what we need, hopefully increasing the value of what we have in order to trade it more efficiently and for more.

Education is one key way to increase our value. By increasing our skill, our versatility, our ability, through learning and practice, we increase our value to those we’d trade our abilities to. We make a higher wage when we have more skills.

Looking at our small economy described above, government inhibits the economy, making exchanges more difficult, by taxing. By taking away percentages of the money value being used in the trade, they lower the value of our abilities. When we give a business our labor in exchange for an agreed-upon amount of their money, government takes a significant percentage of that money given to us in the form of income taxes.

They also tax the business itself, not just our wages. In fact, America has some of the highest business tax rates of the industrialized world. The government takes around one-third of businesses reported Net Profit.

Do you want to know why businesses try to write off so many expenses? Because for every dollar they cannot right off as a valid business expense, the government will take 30 cents.

What would happen if the government took 30 cents of your pay check? Well, unless you’re making very little, the government very well may be.

So maybe a better question is: What if you made 30 cents MORE for every dollar you currently make?

Let’s say you make 40 thousand dollars a year now. What would you do with 52 thousand? $12,o00 extra per year would add up significantly. A house payment in just a few years, the kids in private schools (or home schooled, grin), a new business you start yourself.

Instead, the government takes it.

I don’t begrudge the government a fair share of money. After all, government is necessary in a fallen world. And government has reasonable and rational expenses. And they are immense, relative to each of our individual budgets.

But when the government tells us it knows, better than we  ourselves do, how to do things which could either be left well enough alone or by private industry and a knowledgeable populace. Then coerces us into giving it an exorbitant amount of money to perform those services. That is not right. And it hurts us.

A business must, by nature, make more money than it spends. It must be profitable in order for it to stay in business. When people talk about windfall profits and how we ought to tax businesses making more than there fair share, they illustrate only how imbecilic their own level of understanding is regarding the economy.

When a business operates effectively and efficiently and makes an immense profit, those large profits entice other businesses into the same market. When multiple businesses operate in the same market, they must give reason for their consumers to choose them over their competitor.

Competition drives prices lower, as this is the most visible way to differentiate ones product. Competition also drives quality up, as a second, very visible differentiation.

So because a market was allowed to become lucrative, the consumers have better access to cheaper and higher quality products. Sounds great to me.

And it’s not just looking on the outside, at the balance sheets of the business and on the store shelves, at the price tags.

Those businesses that make more profit are able to employ more and more skilled workers to further improve their products.

Sure, this is a sunny picture. But in the market, averages work out in favor of the sunny picture. Your job may indeed suck, but have you tried looking for one that doesn’t?

It may not be the best time, in the present economy, with government ham-handed handling of the economy stifling the recovery and prolonging this downturn. But there are still companies looking for workers.

Maybe leaving the big city, with is stifling regulation on top of already onerous federal meddling causes most businesses to fail or move away, to a smaller city which is more willing to lower it’s regulation and encourage businesses to build and hire is what needs to occur.

But when you hear a politician or government bureaucrat tell you that businesses must pay “their fair share”, remember that business may be employing you with the money the government wants to take.

And what the government takes, it does not give back readily.

Business Friendly means employee friendly.

Employee friendly means you have a job. A good job. One where the employer has the means to take care of you and compensate you well.

As for me, I’m already paying my fair share and more, and I’m getting fed up.

Walmart And The Healthy Free Market

In case you had trouble guessing: I like businesses.

If there weren’t business there wouldn’t be internet, iphones, cars, bicycles, buildings, tents, sleeping bags, fresh produce in the middle of winter, heat and A/C, in cars too, hospitals, medication, surgery…

You get the picture.

We’ve had government since the beginning of time, and it hasn’t done a thing directly to benefit or develop beneficent products and services (except nuclear energy and other war-related items).

We’ve also had businesses since the first person decided he’d rather spread and grow his wealth instead of laboring over the same rows in the same farm for his own families sustenance.

Chipotle is an excellent example of a good business.

Our wealth allows us to pay premium price for food raised and prepared in a reasonably environmentally conscious and sustainable manner.

And it tastes good, too.

Walmart is not too different from Chipotle.

The monstrous store chain that’s easy to hate until we need cheap razer blades and jeans and socks and hand towels and garbage can liners. Then everybody loves it.

Except the unions, who are never going to love Walmart until it caves to their regressive and stiflingly stupid and anti free market strong man tactics and effects.

I pray Walmart never does, and for good reason.

When Walmart enters an area, consumers win as the often cheaper prices at Walmart “encourage” the other stores to moderate their own prices.

The prices are not always better, but they are better enough of the time and for enough products to justify the crowds you normally find at these supercenters.

Does Walmart Save You Money? (read the comments, many people report savings in the $1000’s each year while others disagree with their perception of the business practices)

But enough about prices already, Walmart benefits your health!

Huh?

Indeed, studies are showing that people living near a Walmart or “club store” (Costco, Sam’s Club, etc) are lighter on average.

But don’t all the fat and ugly people shop at Walmart? No, it’s just the ugly people and me.

In an article published in Forbes Magazine, Art Carden, an Professor of Economics at Rhodes College in Memphis TN, reports on studies showing that the increased buying power people experience when benefiting from the Walmart effect has a direct and close correlation to the health of those people.

There are several reasons this may be, and the why or how is always a bit murkier than fact of correlation, but all of the possibilities enjoy sound economic sense.

Those benefiting most from the Walmart affect are…

…women, the poor, African-Americans and people who live in urban areas.

The arguments as to why and how and many, as I noted earlier, and some may find them difficult. Read it a few times if necessary.

Our evidence is indirect, but we think it shows that price changes can have subtle and sometimes hard-to-detect consequences. Any change in price results in two phenomena. The first is the substitution effect: a change in consumption mix due to a change in relative prices. If a bag of salad is $2 and a bag of potato chips is $1, then the price of salad in terms of chips is two bags and the price of a bag of chips is half a bag of salad. If a Wal-Mart opens and reduces the price of salad to $1 a bag and the price of chips to 75 cents a bag, the “salad price” of chips has risen (from 1TK2 bag to 3TK4 bag) and the “chip price” of salad has fallen from 2 bags to 4TK3 bags. In short, salad has become cheaper relative to chips.

This argument is based on basic price comparison. If the salad cost 2 times what chips cost before Walmart,  Jack and Jill are more likely to buy the salad now because it only costs 1.3 times more than the chips now.

Then there is the income effect:

If Wal-Mart sells food at lower prices–even if our incomes don’t change–every dollar can buy more. Therefore, we’re richer.

The crux of their findings is that people, when given a choice and a suitable price range, will purchase healthier foods.

Our data suggest that we buy healthier food when our purchasing power increases. There is a small increase in consumption of fruit and vegetables in places where Wal-Mart does a lot of business and a decrease–or smaller increase–in fatty food consumption relative to places where Wal-Mart doesn’t do business. That is, people might consume more fatty foods, but consumption of those unhealthy goods increases more slowly than it does for the rest of the population.

There are other facts, findings, and arguments in the article. I urge you to read the whole thing: Wal-Mart’s Weight Effect.

The point is, don’t be too quick to denigrate or disparage the current state of our free martket system.

It’s not always pretty, and it’s easy to find fault.

However, compared with any other system out there, capitalism and the free market are the best at providing escalating levels of service and product to the most people most equitably and with the least amount of downside.

It’s been proven time and again, yet we in America now are dangerously close to forgetting completely, if we haven’t already.

The free market and capitalism isn’t about the blind, mindless pursuit of money at all costs, that’s anarchy.

Free markets and capitalism are about working in tandem with those around us to maximize our return by providing the best service or product to others. It’s a mutually beneficial system.

And we’re in danger of throwing it away.

Government-Run Business, Epic Fail

As I’ve said before, several times, government involvement and control of business is a recipe for failure, disaster, loss, pain, hurt, evilness, etc.

In the Wall Street Journal, John Steele Gordon:

In 1913, for instance, thinking it was being overcharged by the steel companies for armor plate for warships, the federal government decided to build its own plant. It estimated that a plant with a 10,000-ton annual capacity could produce armor plate for only 70% of what the steel companies charged.

When the plant was finally finished, however — three years after World War I had ended — it was millions over budget and able to produce armor plate only at twice what the steel companies charged. It produced one batch and then shut down, never to reopen.

But epic failures on the Government’s part aren’t relegated to such ancient history.

Medicare is a prime example of government-run medical care:

Last year the Government Accountability Office estimated that no less than one-third of all Medicare disbursements for durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and hospital beds, were improper or fraudulent. Medicare was so lax in its oversight that it was approving orthopedic shoes for amputees.

And such failures through the history of government are not aberrations, they’re inherent to the system. John Gordon argues there are at least seven reasons government failure is the rule and not the exception when it comes to running things:

  1. Governments are run by politicians, not businessmen
  2. Politicians need headlines
  3. Governments use other people’s money
  4. Government does not tolerate competition
  5. Government enterprises are almost always monopolies
  6. Government is regulated by government

John Gordon ends his argument admitting that Capitalism isn’t necessarily pretty or perfect:

Indeed, to paraphrase Winston Churchill’s famous description of democracy, it’s the worst economic system except for all the others. But the inescapable fact is that only the profit motive and competition keep enterprises lean, efficient, innovative and customer-oriented.

In other words, Government hurts and harms. Damage and destruction are in it’s nature. Why else is government the best at war?

And private enterprise is the best there is at alleviating suffering and maximizing wealth to the most people most effectively and efficiently.

Read John Gordon’s whole article.