Friday, October 22, 2010

Review of The Spirit Level - Why Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better

By Matt Jonas
Sex education for potential teenage mothers; free gym membership for the obese; cognitive behavioral therapy for badly behaved children - all are inadequate, piecemeal solutions to the symptoms of a wider social malaise - inequality - says a new book by UK researchers.

The Spirit Level argues that the difference in earnings between richest and poorest in developed societies is the source of a catalog of social problems.

What is more, the authors insist, these problems cannot be solved without first addressing the underlying structures of inequality.

Richard Wilkinson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Nottingham and his co-author Kate Pickett at the University of York argue that throughout human history the most effective way of increasing well-being has been to increase material wealth.

But we have reached "the end of that historical journey".

The starting point of The Spirit Level is the suggestion that when average income levels reach a certain level - comparable to earnings in countries such as Chile or Poland - increases in wealth cease to have any impact on well-being.

The book charts how inequality, not average income, is the more accurate predictor of signs of distress in developed countries - poor mental health, drug abuse, obesity, low educational performance, teenage parenting or violence.

Thus, in the US, one of the world's most unequal societies, one in four people have mental health problems. By comparison, in more equal societies such as Germany, Japan and Spain, the rate is lower than one in ten. This is just one of countless examples, backed up by compelling data. Across the 50 US states the pattern is the same: more equal states do better.

The common explanation for this is that unequal societies have proportionally more poor people. But Wilkinson and Pickett argue that although these problems affect the poor more seriously, the rich still suffer. This is why the super rich in the US, UK and Portugal - three unequal societies - do not live as long as the rich do, for example in Sweden, which has a more equal income distribution.

And this applies across the board. A rich child in the UK will not achieve as much educationally as children do in more equal European states like Belgium or Finland. On the face of it, the message is clear: we all suffer from inequality.

Wilkinson and Pickett draw on a range of evidence and theory, hypothesizing that more inequality leads to greater "status anxiety" - our concern about our standing in the world, whether we are going up or down, if we are winners or losers. Our self-image is forever in need of external praise to accept ourselves. Greater status anxiety leads to negative reactions like stress and violence, and their knock-on effects.

In offering a solution, Wilkinson and Pickett consider how some countries may have succeeded in achieving more equality. It seems that there is no single solution. Sweden and Japan for example, two of the most equal societies, operate by entirely different models.

Sweden has high taxes and redistributes wealth through a large welfare state; Japan, with some of the lowest public spending in the developed world, achieves the same by having much greater income equality before tax.

They also look to solutions already flourishing within unequal market democracies, turning to the success of the not-for-profit sector and workers co-operatives for inspiration.

Almost an outcomes agenda for the economy

A chapter is dedicated to suggesting how this philosophy can link up with current debates about environmental sustainability. Discussing the reduction of carbon emissions, they advocate a system that would make the rich - who inevitably expend more through greater consumption - pay their fair share.

But a more radical approach is needed. They question the entire ethos of consumerism and never-ending economic expansion that, they claim, is fueled largely by status competition. According to their research, cutting economic growth does not mean reductions in real quality of life. It almost sounds like an outcomes agenda for the economy.

Publishing of the book coincides with social activism in the form of The Equality Trust to carry the findings further. The trust is promoting employee-owned businesses; it commissions research on equality issues, lobbies politicians and policymakers, and engages with the media.

Were they to be widely corroborated, the conclusions of The Spirit Level would have potentially far-reaching implications for prevention and early intervention efforts. The authors acknowledge that governments can dampen the impact of some of the privations of growing up in poverty, for instance through social housing, health care and high quality early childhood education.

However, they are forthright in their criticism of interventions to tackle social problems one-by-one, on an individual basis.

"The unstated hope is that people - particularly the poor - can carry on in the same circumstances, but will somehow no longer succumb to mental illness, teenage pregnancy, educational failure, obesity or drugs." They are in no doubt that tackling inequality should be the priority before turning to intervention programs.

They question how far we can go by assisting the poor financially, without reining back the earnings of the rich. Far from being an asset, it appears the super rich are actually a burden on the rest of us. Salary caps and more progressive taxation are one way forward. Although this may horrify supporters of neo-liberal economics, Wilkinson points out that, in a curious twist of logic, equality is actually in everyone's own self-interest.

Addressing inequality is, in some ways, far simpler. It provides a universal remedy for many of society's ills. But it implies a much grander task. Rolling out a program of parenting classes for kids with conduct disorder is hard enough. Taking on inequality implies altering the values of entire societies.

The Spirit Level: Why more equal societies almost always do better by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett is published by Allen Lane. It is also available as an ePub and an eBook.

Prevention Action ( is an online news publication reporting internationally on prevention and early intervention programs for improving children's health and development.

The focus of the website extends to physical, behavioral, emotional, social and intellectual development. Daily stories, comment and blogs look at the potential causes of impairments to children's health and development, such as poverty, poor housing, genes and gene-environment interactions, and family dysfunction.

We are also interested in public policy, professional practice and public behavior that bears on the success of prevention.

Coverage takes a determinedly broad view by reporting on initiatives from all over the world, among developed and developing societies.

Prevention Action is intended to provide a high quality resource - as readable as a quality newspaper and as reliable for its high scientific standards as an academic journal.
READ MORE - Review of The Spirit Level - Why Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better

Nature and Scope of Economics

By Muhammad Waqas Nayyar
Many writers of the early days defined economics as "a science of wealth". Adam Smith commonly know as the father of modern economics, defined economics as "An enquiry into the nature and causes of wealth of nations."

These definitions were defective because they gave much importance to wealth. As wealth is not everything, it only leads to achieve welfare of human. Therefore it is man an which is the aim all of the economic activities.

Professor Dr. Alfred Marshall was the first economist who gave a logical definition of economics. He defined economics as: "A study of mankind in ordinary business of life, it examine that part of individual and social actions which is closely related with attainment and use of material requisites"


This definition gave a new direction to the study of economics. Following are the important characteristics of definition.

1. A Social Science

This Definition makes economics a social science. It is a subject that is concerned with the people living in society. According to Marshall, as the behavior of human beings is not same all the time therefore principles of economics cannot be formulated like the laws of sciences. Further laws of economics are not as exact as the laws of natural sciences. For this reason it is a social science.

2. Study Of Man

Economics is related to man; therefore it is living subject. It discusses economic problems and behavior of man. According to Marshall it studies the behavior of man In ordinary business of life.

3. Wealth As A Means Of Material Well Being

According to Marshall, wealth is not the ultimate objective of human activities and therefore we do not study wealth, for the sake of wealth. Therefore according to this definition we study wealth as a source of attainment of material welfare.

4. Economics And Welfare

This definition makes economics a welfare oriented subject. We are concerned only with those economic activities which do not promote material welfare of human beings are out of the scope of economics.

5. Materiality

Marshal stresses upon the concept of "material requisite of well being". Therefore according to this definition all economic activities resolve around the acquisition and use of material goods like food, clothing etc. because they increase welfare of human beings. On the other hand non-material requisites of human life like education, recreation are ignored.

6. Normative Outlook

According to this definition economics should take care of good and bad aspects of economic activities and therefore involve itself in "what should be and what should not be". This is called normative aspect of economics.


"Robbins and other many economists severely criticized this definition on following grounds."

1. Limited To Material Welfare

This definition limits the subject of economics to material welfare of people. But the subject of economics is not limited to the study of material welfare of human beings. In reality both material and non material aspects of wellbeing are studies in economics.

2. Vague Concept of Welfare

The concept of welfare used in this definition is also not clear. The welfare of human beings is not limited to the attainment of material requisites. There are many other factors which affect the human welfare. Further the word "welfare" has different meaning for different persons and different societies. Therefore we cannot define economics using an unclear concept of welfare.

3. Limited Scope

This definition has made the scope of economics limited. Only those activities are studied in economics which are aimed at the attainment of material requisites of well being. Further it ignores the economic activities of a person not living in society. Attainment of non material requisites of human well being fall out of the scope of economics. This division of material and non material aspects of human welfare is not correct.

4. Economics And Welfare

According to Robbins the study of economic activities on the basis of welfare is not good. It is not the duty of an economist to pass verdict that what is conducive to welfare and what is not. Thus according to Robbins "Whatever Economics is concerned with, it is not concerned with causes of material welfare as such.

5. Moral Judgment

In this definition Marshall makes economics a subject which considers the right and wrong aspect of economic activities. According to Robbins economics in neutral as regards ends and it is not the function of an economist to pass moral judgments and say what is good and what is bad.

6. Unrealistic

This definition appears to be unrealistic as we analyze it critically. The unclear concept of welfare, the division of ends into material and non material, the stress on good and bad, the concept of man living in society etc. all these concepts put unnecessary restrictions and make the scope of economics limited. These ideas make the definition unrealistic.


Although this definition gave a new direction to the subject of economics but it had many weaknesses. Some of the faults of definition are discussed above. For these reasons this definition was replaced by other new definitions of economics.
READ MORE - Nature and Scope of Economics

Reading Corner - Dreaming Green Book Review

By Caitlin Costello
Going Green" is one of the latest trends. These days nobody wants to get caught carrying a plastic bag or throwing a water bottle in the trash. However, for some people, "going green" is much more than a fad- it's a lifestyle. Dreaming Green was coauthored by husband and wife duo, Paul Gleicher (LEED accredited architect and founder and president of the prestigious Gleicher Design Group) and Lisa Sharkey (senior vice president and director of creative development at HarperCollins), who committed to living green before renovating their Upper West Side Manhattan brownstone. For the Sharkey-Gleicher family, which also includes the couple's three young children, this meant that practically everything in their home would be "sustainable or recycled, super-energy efficient, and chemical free."

Dreaming-green, unlike other "coffee table" design books, Dreaming Green isn't only about beautiful photographs and design plans. For each of the seventeen eco-friendly homes featured in this book, there are up to five pages of detailed explanation about what types of materials went into transforming that home and how they were obtained, as well insight into the design process. Dreaming Green features a variety of homes from an "eco-farmhouse" in upstate New York to an "eco-manor" in Atlanta, Georgia.

For those who are considering making environmentally conscious changes in their own homes, there are over ten pages of resources in the back of the book, providing readers with access to many of the materials utilized in the featured homes. The "Resources" section includes everything from eco-friendly paints to kitchen cabinetry to flooring to geothermal heating, and much more. This section alone makes Dreaming Green an invaluable resource for people who are seriously planning to renovate their own homes.

Gleicher, Paul, and Lisa Sharkey. Dreaming Green. 1st ed. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2008.
READ MORE - Reading Corner - Dreaming Green Book Review

Can Capitalistic Countries Grow Their GDP Forever Without Repercussion?

By Lance Winslow
Many folks that question the ultimate end game for a capitalist nation, point to the fact that you cannot grow your GDP forever, and perhaps, you've sided with this argument on occasion. True free market thinkers will tell you that such a notion is nonsense, as an ever evolving business climate can change and find new avenues as innovation continues and that the potential for change and new offshoots is endless.

If you'd like to hear this debate taken to a whole new level leaving very few stones unturned, then I'd sure like to recommend a very good book to you, that will certainly make you think (it's about 600 pages and very comprehensive, well foot noted and researched);

"The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth" by Benjamin M Friedman; Vintage Publishing; (2006); ISBN: 978-1400095711

Very interesting book and thought topic on the subject of economic growth. It discusses the issues of economies on the top of the curve, and how shortages and disruptions are still possible; why large nations and small developing ones experience similar problems. The philosophy in the book is well founded and the arguments rather intriguing too.

The book talks about economic prosperity, GDP, taxation, float, consumer choice, standard of living. The concepts of economies of scale allowing for excesses to pay for the common good, military, social needs, education, etc. are well-defined and the argument for growth over curtailed growth to solve the challenges of civilization.

The author shows how abundance is the best choice and how that can solve the environmental issues associated with mass production better than a socialist economic mindset. He contends that a robust economy provides more choice, better freedom, stronger democracies, cleaner environment and higher standards of living all the way around. He admits that sometimes growth in the past has been problematic in some nations, but that if one has to choose, growth is a far better choice for all concerned.
READ MORE - Can Capitalistic Countries Grow Their GDP Forever Without Repercussion?

Is Our Economy a Reality? A Book Review on a Surprising Book of Economic History

By Lance Winslow
If economic theory has always bothered you or if you are a free market thinker or even a socialist intellectual, then there is one book that you can read, no matter who you are that will definitely pique your curiosity. I recommend this currently popular economic book to all:

"False Economy - A Surprising Economic History of the World" by Alan Beattie; Riverhead Books (a Penguin Publishing Group Company); New York, NY; (2009). ISBN 9781594488665.

Author Alan Beattie uses some very interesting and curious examples to explain his assertions and takes the reader through some of the most fascinating historical economic events from around the Globe. There is a great chapter on the economic crisis that hit Argentina, as well as their recovery. He explains the Egyptian challenges with importing their main food supplies.

There is a chapter on the issues with Blood Diamonds and humanity crisis surrounding the normal diamond business. Then he goes into the issues with oil, and the corruption, global politics and challenges they create. Beattie suggests with great fodder that both oil and diamonds maybe more trouble than they are worth. It's a great dialogue and intellectual argument.

There is a chapter on the Islamic world and how religion plays a part in economics and how religious rules on "the borrowing of money" have slowed down their growth. This is not a new argument, but it is very well presented here, you will enjoy the comments immensely, and it is a fair assessment and observation; very much worth reading.

There are several other great chapters that throw economic reality checks on how free markets operate or should. I am very happy to recommend this book to you, it's one that sits on the economic shelf of my personal library. So, please consider this, it will be one of the most interesting books you read all year.
READ MORE - Is Our Economy a Reality? A Book Review on a Surprising Book of Economic History

Top 4 Recommended Books to Learn How to Invest in the Stock Market

By Punit Gupta
Here is what a friend once told me:
"I have a financial planner that I send money to every month and he takes care of things for me, which I know will make some people cringe as I know I should be more involved. I will be honest and say that money and investing has always made me very nervous as I have a hard time with a lot of the lingo and I just feel stupid and intimidated."

How do you avoid that? Well get investment education. You can follow the books listed here to get yourself familiarized

1.) The Intelligent Investor

Author: Benjamin Graham

Synopsis: Founder of the science of stock analysis, Graham provides readers with the basics of "value investing." Warren Buffett, noted investor and one of Graham's former students provides the introduction.

This book clearly explains two completely different investing styles in great detail. One for every day people who don't want to think about their portfolios and the other for people who wants to enjoy maximum returns. There is a basic difference between these two kinds of people. Bottom line is more research you do, the better results you are going to get.

2.) One Up on Wall Street

Author : Peter Lynch, Former manager of Fidelity's Magellan Fund (FMAGX)

Lynch is well known for his commonsense approach to investing. The key according to him is to focus on what you know. Instead of investing in the latest Wall Street fad, look around you. Is there a new restaurant chain that's doing well? Is there a company building a new plant or warehouse in your area? Such information can help you beat market returns over and over.

3.) Security Analysis: The Classic 1934 Edition

Author: Benjamin Graham

This analysis connotes the careful study of available facts with the attempt to draw conclusions therefrom based on established principles and sound logic... Sometimes they are correct sometimes they are wrong...
READ MORE - Top 4 Recommended Books to Learn How to Invest in the Stock Market

What Are the Real Costs of Manipulated Free Markets on Capitalism? A Book Review

By Lance Winslow
This current Global Economic calamity could have been prevented, well this is what many believe and among them is a writer of the most recent economic book to hit the scene in 2009. The book is called:

"The Cost of Capitalism: Understanding Market Mayhem and Stabilizing Our Economic Future" by Robert J. Barbera; McGraw-Hill Business Book Publishers (2009).

This book comes from a rather interesting place, as Robert Barbera is a left leaning Wall Street Economist type. He claims not to be an anti-capitalist type, yet blasts capitalism at is practiced in the real world. He is a good cross-section of a Wall Streeter Liberal Ivy League Economist, as if you can put all those titles together. Perhaps, this is why his perspective is so unique and why I believe you will enjoy both his comments and his arguments in the book.

The New York Times Book review stated; "Robert J. Barbera places the blame for this abject failure in economic forecasting and government policy on a misguided confidence in the infallibility of free markets."

The author is fairly tough on the FED chairmen Bernanke and also Greenspan. Following the author's logic to fix this current problem, might include doing less than more once the banking system is set to equilibrium. Although, I personally completely disagree with the writer's personal political views, he makes a strong argument and backs it up with a number of rather indisputable facts.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who is of the opposite viewpoint and wants another argument or challenge on the cause of the current economic crisis or anyone wishing to validate their left-leaning thoughts on modern day economics.
READ MORE - What Are the Real Costs of Manipulated Free Markets on Capitalism? A Book Review

Why Not Learn About the Business Cycle and Policy Making Manipulation in Economics

By Lance Winslow
Most people do not really understand the economy, business cycles, how the Federal Reserve works or how on Earth this terrible crisis occurred that ended up taking down the whole world, causing the global crisis we are now in. But in case you are one of them, and if you care to learn a little, might I be so bold as to recommend a very good book to you?

"Meltdown - A Free Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse" by Thomas Woods; Regnery Publishing (2009)

Woods is very critical of politicians that tell us that it is the "Free Market that failed" as he says; NO, that's just not so. So what was the government's role in this, well consider the Community Re-investment Act, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and the Federal Reserve System and their manipulations and intervention of the moving market to achieve the desired results.

This book boasts that it answers the following very important questions: (1) Which brave few economists predicted the economic fallout--and why nobody listened; (2) What really caused the collapse; (3) Why the Fed--not taxpayers--should have to answer for the current economic crisis; (3) Why bailouts are band-aids that will only provide temporary relief and ultimately make things worse; and (4) What we should do instead, to put our economy on a healthy path to recovery.

And I would submit to you that he's done a very good job of showing how our manipulation of the business cycles is nothing more than a scam at times. The author says that the people that believe in Freedom are the smartest people in the world. And you may recognize his name, as he also wrote the bestselling book; "The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History."

He is a free-market guy, and rightfully so, best of all he writes with conviction in an easy to understand format that even a novice can comprehend. I very much recommend this book to you. Think on This.
READ MORE - Why Not Learn About the Business Cycle and Policy Making Manipulation in Economics

Stop Taxing Me to Pay For Other People's Expenses

By Lance Winslow
The Tax Revolt this time was peaceful, will that continue as inflation rises, taxes rise and standard of living fails? There are after all more nightmares to come in our overall economic health in America. For instance; Medicare is a nightmare and major financial crisis for this nation. Social Security is nothing more than a Ponzi Scheme Time Bomb. How big are these monsters amongst us? Try 110 Trillion Dollars? How much is that?

Well, it's about twice as much as all the assets owned by every US Citizen, that's how much it is. Interestingly enough, the Democrats want to increase the coverage, and dig us deeper into the next major crisis. Is it any wonder that there was a bit of tea being thrown around on Tax Day 2009? I would recommend that everyone read;

"Free to Choose" by Milton and Rose Friedman in 1980.

In this book he explains how unethical it is to take or steal money from you and I and then use it to pay for other people's needs and why such a fundamentally flawed system is bound to fail, regardless of the issue that it is currently a Ponzi Scheme. Ponzi Scheme in that money is taken in the form of payroll income taxation and then spent in the general fund, then the government borrows money to pay for the services they promised as they come due.

Obviously, this way of misappropriation is so very similar to the Madoff Case and to think it is our own government doing it, well, that ought to make anyone's tea boil? Think on this.
READ MORE - Stop Taxing Me to Pay For Other People's Expenses

Worried About Hyper Inflation? Maybe You Should Think on It

By Lance Winslow
The United States has been busy printing money and we've been selling Treasury Notes, luckily we are borrowing at a low interest rate, but we are also putting ourselves in debt and printing money and forcing it into the economy at a rate never before seen. The Stimulus of 787 Billion Dollars and some $2 Trillion for financial bailouts; all this money flow will cause an inflation challenge in the future. So, let me recommend a very good book to you:

The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath - How Reagan and Volcker Tamed Economic Policy - and Why Obama Should Listen" by Robert J. Samuelson; Random House, New York, NY (2008).
It is also available to be loaded onto your Kindle "The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence" for the low cost of $14.00
This book reminds us of the problems with high-inflation during 1960 to 1982. Most younger folks have no clue why this is. Things were pretty bad in the 1970s and stagflation was even worse, in fact things were so bad that President Jimmy Carter lost the election.
Samuelson, a columnist for Newsweek and the Washington Post reminds us also that inflation is not so much only an economic problem, as it destroys confidence making it more social and political that one might think. One interesting quote was one by Lenin, who stated that the best way to destroy a democracy is to debase its currency. Indeed, think on that for a minute.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who is wondering if the current direction of our nation's leadership and economy is a wise choice. Consider all this.
READ MORE - Worried About Hyper Inflation? Maybe You Should Think on It

Jubilee! Church and Community Support For Local Economic Growth in a Book That Matters to All of Us

By Karl Evans
CSS Publishing Company, of Lima Ohio, has just published a book which will interest almost everyone.
Jubilee! A Workbook for Church and Community
ISBN 978-0-7880-2608-9.

Karl Evanshas spent the last 25 years developing his thinking on poverty in the USA. This book outlines the legitimate, appropriate and theologically correct targets for mission and action in both rural and urban economically deprived areas. It will soon be available from CSS Publishing Company. It is also available from any bookstore.
In addition, Evans has prepared a CD-led local church and community workshop. The workshop is available from Evans. Bulk purchases are available from him for slightly less. The workshop is good for a lengthy series of church school classes, a one or two day workshop, family development studies, community discussion series, etc. It can be led either using or not using the spoken dialogue on the CD.
The book centers on the study Evans led for the United Methodist Church General Board of Global Ministries in 1988-89. In that study, several researchers visited and studied the 25 counties of the USA with the lowest per capita income of 1987. The counties included the major ethnic groups of the country: Anglo, Black, Latin, Native. The effort was to find what executives should do when they went into these counties. That result was a recommendation that the staffers not be afraid to talk about what they saw in the counties. That was about all.
However, Evans pushed ahead with the study. Karl and Donella Evans have visited and studied most of the 250 lowest income counties of the nation since that study. The results have extended the findings of the first small study dramatically. The work has isolated 15 factors missing or weak in local realities. These economic hardships are theologically correct for almost all faith groups. They are legitimate and appropriate for the Church and other non-profit organizations, and Biblically oriented as mission and action targets. These factors are the core of Jubilee! The book is a handle for the pastor, congregation and community as it comes to grips with the call of Christ to mission in this area.
Jubilee! will serve as a planning guide to local church mission in economic strength. The outcome of the process will strengthen preaching, worship, leadership development, education, missions, inclusiveness, church expenditures, and a host of other areas. Finding handles on this subject is very difficult in our time.
Evans hopes various local pastors and lay persons will find a way to build local workshops around these presentations. With some resourcefulness, Evans and the support group will encourage them to raise their own funds for the workshops, including the purchase of books and CD, supplies and advertising. Raising about $250 will give them materials for the workshop for ten persons and about $100 general expense money and potential net. This should be an attractive package for many in low income communities..
Evans have a special heart for pastors serving very low budget ministries around the world. A majority of all congregations around the world can not afford full time pastors. He wants to make it possible for them to use these materials to produce and lead workshops in areas of need. Evans believes he can prepare the work in such a way that the local leader can realize a small profit from the process. Those local leaders will not become wealthy from the workshop, but any increase will be helpful to them. It will also give them a new sense of what must be done to support local economic growth.
This may well be one of the most important Christian social missions of our time.
READ MORE - Jubilee! Church and Community Support For Local Economic Growth in a Book That Matters to All of Us

World's Dependency on Oil

By Lawrence Leary
In today's society the world has grown to very dependent on the consumption of oil. Many countries have grown away from previous forms of energy and have made oil their primary source of energy. As the world continues to grow, the developing countries acquire a thirst for crude oil. Oil has played a unique role in the economy and history of modern times. No other raw material has been so critical in shaping the destiny of nations. While Saudi Arabia leads the world in oil exports, Russia and the United States follow closely behind in their oil exports. As for importing the United States leads the way. With their fuel ineffective vehicles, American consumes more oil than the next four leading oil consuming countries combined. The world's oil supply is running out and the demand continues to rise. With the world's building dependency on oil and if alternative forms of energy are not utilized our future gas prices, economy, and way of life will continue to suffer.

In order to reduce our dependency on oil, we need to utilize the different forms of alternative energy. The world's oil supply is running out and investments in alternative forms of energy will make for a promising future. Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Bio-Fuels, and Hydro Electric energies are all viable sources of alternative energies. Solar energy is becoming more and more common as a means to power things that normally run off of electricity. Ethanol is starting to creep into the gas tanks of more and more Americans as we see countries like Brazil in South America running on ethanol, and depending less on gas. Wind energy farms are starting to dot the countryside in countries all over the world.

The world has grown a disturbing addiction for oil. Many oil fields around the world are headed for depletion. National statistics are unreliable at best, or classified at worst, and national oil companies control up to 80 percent of oil and natural gas reserves. The main problem of oil shortages today is not lack of reserves in the ground, but lack of access above ground. The demand for oil continues to rise right along with the population growth. Recognizing the inherent, systemic, and long-term instability of the global oil markets is the first step in addressing the problem the world. is facing. Continuing research on alternative energies and creating fuel effective vehicles is a great place to start in resolving the world's oil dependency issue.
READ MORE - World's Dependency on Oil

Is Ron Mueller the Next Matthew Lesko?

By Derrick Carpenter
His name may sound kind of familiar, but His wardrobe gives him away every time - his trademark "question mark suit;" you know the one covered with neon question marks, his mismatched bright socks, wild bow ties and a seemingly inexhaustible collection of eyeglasses in every color of the rainbow.

Matthew Lesko Is the best-selling author and infomercial host, who has published over 70 books showing everyday people how to get free services and products from the federal government. He has had two New York Times best-sellers and two national best sellers, Getting Yours and Information USA.

Twenty years ago, Matthew Lesko was working out of his bedroom with one phone line helping Fortune 500 companies get information on commodities. One day he had an idea: why not publish the names and numbers of federal programs that offer free and low cost services and money programs for taxpayers.

Ron Mueller is doing for the home-based entrepreneur, with the 5th edition of his #1 New York Times best selling book, "Home Business Tax Savings Made Easy!," (formerly titled, "It's How Much You KEEP that counts, not how much you make!") what Matthew Lesko has done for the public with his grant information; which is to take the laws written by congress and the IRS and place them in one easy to find, easy to read reference guide.

Ron Mueller uses everyday language to convey his simple message, as a w-2 employee, without a home-based business, you are overpaying your taxes week after week, month after month, year after year. Every American should willingly pay our taxes we just don't need to over pay them.

So are all those tax breaks, so frequently touted by & to would-be entrepreneurs, for real or what? Unequivocally YES! They are most assuredly for real, they're NOT "loopholes," "tax dodges," or "tax avoidance schemes." They're honest, ethical, legal tax breaks, which are Authorized by Congress, Published in the IRS Code, and Approved by the Federal Tax Court.

One of the common misconceptions many home-based entrepreneurs share however is that their accountant or tax-preparer has received specialized training in home business tax laws.

According to Dr. Mueller, that be couldn't further from the truth, "An understanding of home-based business tax law is not taught in most accounting schools, and isn't even tested on the CPA exam! So, simply finding a person with CPA after their name is no indication whether they do, or don't, know ANYTHING about home-based business tax law. In most cases they will only know if self-taught."

"If I need surgery I would seek out a specialist. I now know that I need to do the same thing for tax preparation. The right surgeon can save my life. The right tax advisor can save my financial life."

How important is this guide to the average American? Quite simply stated by best-selling author and entrepreneur, Robert Allen, in the introduction to, "Home Business Tax Savings Made Easy," "everyone with a home-based business needs this book. Anyone without a home-based business needs it even more."

Dr. Mueller spent 12 months researching every tax code, congressional law or federal court ruling that pertains to home-based businesses and then another 6 months translating all of that into plain English.


Because everyone thinks they pay too much in taxes, but most people are unwilling to do anything about. This book removes the, "I didn't know" excuse from our vocab.

If you're a Network Marketing Professional who's not using the information contained in the pages of "Home Business Tax Savings Made Easy," to explain to your potential business partners the exact nature of their tax advantages - you're working way too hard.

Let's get real - What's the #1 reason most people are looking to join your business in the first place? Correct, they need more money - usually right away! Not now - RIGHT Now.

Imagine being able to flip to page 169 & showing your prospective partner how they can change the number of allowances on their w-4 and increase their take home pay as soon as their next pay period. If you believe that this would be invaluable to your business then you need to own this book.

But, don't make the mistake of thinking this book is solely for Network Marketers. If you own & operate, or are looking to own & operate any type of business, full or part-time, from your home, this book belongs in your reference library as well!
READ MORE - Is Ron Mueller the Next Matthew Lesko?

The Long Angle Iron Trade Business Collective Seeks the World's Power

By Zhang Ming
The establishment stock market transaction standard, in the application establishment profession the petty loan organization, extends the industrial chain to high-end reforming, recently, area the river, Zhejiang, Shanghai's steel and iron foreign traders were accelerating to move. On February 15, holds "the first long angle iron trade wealth forum" in the Jiangsu Wuxi chill in the air in early spring on, the Shanghai first steel city market share Limited company (i.e. original "leisurely immortal steel city group") Chairman Zhou Huarui every single word or phrase emphasized: "2009 pair of steel trade business is especially essential one year, the outside (finance) the crisis causes to be beset with difficulties, the internal market overall supply exceeds demand, the steel trade enterprise must strengthen the cooperation, can enhance the coordinated motion and resistance risk ability, can enlarge with the steel mill negotiations, and government dialog ability."

The collective seeks utterance right

Zhou Hua Rui has started out "the former store queen warehouse " steels merchandise on hand business pattern before more than ten years, steel Corp. has built up and production and marketing on the afterwards with treasure assembling an effect , has drive the Shanghai steel city blowout dyadic development , starting an undertaking having also spurred the Ning De City, especially Zhou Ning county book businessman on intense emotion. According to Zhou Hua Rui introduction , now Shanghai beach, among more than 60 steels marketplace, have person more than 40 is come untied by Zhou Ning county book , volume of business takes up more of 80%.

Judging from entire long triangle area but , at present steel trade estate already forms one taking Shanghai as centre , the business opening up an exhibition to Jiangsu-Zhejiang, both wings encloses, have assembled big medium-sized more than 110 iron and steel cash market. Have almost 40 family to be with Fujian merchant only right away in Jiangsu province manage the main body steels marketplace, annual sales volume exceeds 100 billion yuan.

This relatives and neighbors help characteristic pattern, was also "the control" the long angle iron city has created the convenience, also will promote for the steel and iron circulation industry reforming to lay down in the future sinking sickness. in 2008 the steel city, a half year rises suddenly for a half year to fall suddenly, if the hot rolling volume board may 5000 multi-dimensional drop to 2800 Yuan from the maximum each ton. "our country economy's low cost development time already passed by, already entered the high cost development time."China Iron and steel industry Association expert Professor Dong Zhihong said. The custom operates independently the foreign trader also starts to faint from fear, "holds Qian Qiuhuo to look at the complexion, attains the resources make money" the time also to occur transformed in every way: Although the financial crisis forces the steel mill to the entity economy's influence to start "to pursue the foreign trader but actually", but they must "kowtow facing the downstream sell". This kind has not fixed a price the power, actually to put together a life and death condition in the terminal market, has not changed. Therefore this winter spring, they start the collective to seek the words power.

Zhou Huarui indicated to newspaper reporter: "if wants to strengthen the words power, only has to the comprehensive service provider reforms." He emphatically and "the foreign trader" separates out "the service provider": "the present steel trade business divides into two kinds: Generally foreign trader, but also has is in the spot transaction market coordinated process development and so on collection warehousing, processing, packing, transportation service providers." Wuxi valuable Xin steel and iron building materials warehousing Limited company routine vice-total Chen Shifan indicated to reporter: "the steel products foreign trader has survived in the crevice, thus we encourage in the market the enterprise, toward high added value product reforming, although this also requires certain time." To further promote the market mechanism, Chen Shifan also told the reporters, at present the steel city and so on "" the prefix enterprise is discussing the third party supervision matters concerned with the foreign shipment, by the time can the better control supervisor, the guard operational risk.

However, the country gets rich switching over to shift macro-economy research institute subdean Chen Dong Qi expressing the contrary idea: Whether the middle low-income people , the consumption including a peasant can get it in gear really that "I worry about most is consumption, especially. The first half of the year is especially obvious according to that my observation , actual purchasing power of resident go down will maybe be in this year".

This is also that steel trade merchant is the most anxious. The large-scale steel trade enterprise person in charge who one is unwilling to disclose a full name tells a reporter: "Though the country appears personally the home appliance pulls the enthusiasm for production having moved home appliance enterprise within the plan , a period of time going to the countryside. Whether can consume the problem having up but, but not solving to the consumer". The "beautiful " stoppage a few days ago nearly all-round on the grounds of one of his inform , important customer is purchased.
READ MORE - The Long Angle Iron Trade Business Collective Seeks the World's Power

Home Made Energy Guide

By Dillon Wayne
Home Made Energy is a guide that will teach how to make solar panels and wind turbines for under 200$! I researched this product quite a bit, and a high percentage of people are fully satisfied. With the recession and the growing energy costs this could come in handy. If you are like most people in America paying outrageous prices for energy, or just want to help the environment, this a something to buy.

I'm one of those people who wants to help the environment and all that jazz, but I can't afford to buy all of the expensive solar panels and other energy helping devices. I was looking for "green" things i could get instead of the less "green" items that do the same thing when I ran into this. I read through the sales page then searched for some user opinions. As I said above, a high percentages (not sure of exact numbers, 80-95%) of the people who have bought this don't regret it one bit and are saving tons of money. These weren't the responses you see in ads, I actually sent messages to a few of the people. On top of that I spent most of my free time since i was 10 on the internet so I've learned to recognize fakes.

This guide is really easy to understand. I read it was written so a 10 year old would be able to understand. All of the materials you need you can buy at a local hardware store for 200$ (total). Once again, this product would be a great buy and will save you plenty of money of energy.
READ MORE - Home Made Energy Guide

Confessions of a Mortgage Insider

By Shannon Evans
Have you wondered why the mortgage and banking industry are in their current shape of disarray? Did you ever wonder how some people managed to get something for nothing and leave us the average tax payer footing the bill? Are you curious why the once respectable mortgage industry became so corrupt and brought the US economy so quickly to its knees?

Denny Andrew's first book, Confessions of a Mortgage Insider, explores how the mortgage brokerage industry went into a spiraling failure that resulted in a complete meltdown of epidemic proportions. Confessions of a Mortgage Insider uncovers more than the excesses of the industry. It explores the people and personalities of those who worked in the industry through the personal stories of leaders, followers, slimy wheeler-dealers, and the victims. It tells the story through the eyes of mortgage broker Rick Agnew. Agnew goes from naïve freshman loan application agent to a diamond level broker whose life is filled with fast cars, fast women and fast parties. His up close and personal experiences with the industry open his eyes to the rampant fraud and chicanery of the industry.

Part story collection, part instruction, and part personal discovery, Andrew's book is a fun and interesting book that makes you angry with the money lust of the brokers, makes you cry for those who are victimized, and laugh at the antics of Rick Agnew the half man/half naughty child protagonist. Using illustrative stories and hilarious hi-jinx this book instructs even the most casual reader on the dangers of the current mortgage failure to the housing market. This book can be that 'tell all' source the casual reader has been seeking to establish some sanity from the current economic crisis in the mortgage industry.

Confessions of a Mortgage Insider prompts the reader to really assess where they are currently in their mortgage and financial stability and then to make a specific plan to get where they want to be. Living in the house of your dreams is not just a wish if you plan carefully and shop wisely for a mortgage and a mortgage broker, according to Andrews. The American dream is not has just become something that once again is only realized through hard work and a good savings plan.

The mortgage bubble has been broken and according to Denny Andrews, it is not a bad thing that the party is over. His exposure of the ugly secrets of such a sleekly designed profiteering machine clearly illustrates the symptoms of our society's pervasive illness: excess. This fast moving book encourages responsible lending and commanding the life choices that promotes accountability and fiduciary common sense. Andrews captures the madness and mayhem through his original stories and then provides sound business advice that everyone can understand.
READ MORE - Confessions of a Mortgage Insider

The Green Economy

By Bruce Kaler M.D.
We can't drill and burn our way out of our economic and ecological ills, but we can invent and invest our way out", says Van Jones, the author of The Green Collar Economy and founder of Green for All.

This guy doesn't need my help nor do I get any consideration for recommending this book. But this is a thoughtful straight forward view of how we can help the economy, create jobs, and retool America to get out of this economic slump while repairing the environment. That's an incredible task and often encompassing goals that seem contradictory. But it's do-able! There is hardly anything these days that is more important or has more far reaching effects on each of us who live on the "third rock from the sun". We are all citizens of a global community. What happens to one of us good or bad, affects the rest of us. Check this book out. It is informative, thoughtful and I think you'll find it eye opening just how simple the solution is to getting our efforts headed in an effective and more appropriate manner.

You'll find it a very educational and entertaining read. No matter how you voted in the recent election, it was very clear that the large majority of us were ripe for change. We have all seen how our daily lives have been effected by the environment, poor decisions and lack of responsiveness over the last few years. Nobody can deny we need some changes. Van Jones shows us how our goals to provide an better place to live, more jobs, security for our families and save the environment are all goals that can be accomplished together without sacrificing one over another.

The Green Collar Economy by Van Jones available on and bookstores everywhere
READ MORE - The Green Economy

Economy Doesn't Lie

By Hans Bool
The title of this article is not of my own, but the translation of a book title, invented and written by Guy Sorman.
A great title.
Perhaps for the title, itis one of those books I would like to read, the many on the to-do list...

Guy Sorman writes about economic progress and stresses the importance of good decisions making in the field of economic politics. Or economic policies.

...Sorman explains why there is "only one correct economy: the one that works". (1) the one that Works has moved us recently into a crisis but others haven't worked either:

Socialist economy sunk because "with Socialism, the State pretends it pays the workers, and the workers pretend they work".

He analyses which economies work and which not or only "at times," And does that by reviewing the economy of different countries.

There are various types of economic policies and one of them is intervention: "there is something worse than avoiding reality; public intervention at a wrong time can sink an economy into depression". The reason for the mistakes is well known: "during times of crisis, magical thinking seems to arise again and erases the rationality which had been reached; demagogy and panic can remove the knowledge taught by economic science."
READ MORE - Economy Doesn't Lie

Unjust Deserts - Book Revie

By Joel Hirschhorn
Like a law of physics, corrupt politics, unshared national wealth and uncontrolled greed combine to produce economic inequality and delusional prosperity. Now comes a book that should have been titled Stolen Wealth. This would have been more consistent with its long subtitle: How the Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance and Why We Should Take It Back.

In today's world of economic crashes and calamity it comes to this: Should there be higher taxes on the richest people in society? Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly make a very sound case that considerable research demonstrates that a huge fraction of the success of the wealthiest people results from inherited knowledge that society at large owns. The incredible economic inequality we see today, therefore, is morally unacceptable.

If President-elect Obama and his many economic advisors buy into the intellectual arguments presented in this book, which is very likely, then we can expect a strong push for higher rates of federal taxation on the highest incomes and capital gains, as well as on accumulated wealth by higher inheritance taxes. This book presents the central argument for such public policies, namely the incredible importance of inherited knowledge accumulated over long periods that forms the basis for financial success by some individuals. Their smartness, creativity and hard work cannot explain their disproportionate wealth. It largely results from inherited, accumulated knowledge from the past.

According to this understanding, it is not so much about redistribution of wealth from the richest people to everyone else, it is more about the morally correct and necessary action to rectify the unjust and immoral ownership of wealth that a relatively small fraction of the population has improperly (though legally) attained.

What Americans need to be told by politicians is that "ever-increasing knowledge, accumulating across the generations, is central to the creation of all wealth," according to the authors. Therefore the proper role of government is to ensure that many more people get some of this wealth. And the practical way to do this is through higher taxation of the unjust deserts now enjoyed by the Upper Class.

Looking at this another way: the economic decline of the middle class and the expansion of the working poor result from all these unjust deserts. All the unshared wealth that has resulted from inherited knowledge that a few people have managed to unfairly benefit from. This has produced rising economic inequality and increased economic suffering by so many Americans.

This is not the easiest book to read because it is written in an academic rather than a populist style. Nevertheless, for anyone that wants better justification for "taxing the rich" public policies it is essential reading. Another good title for the book would have been: Battling Economic Injustice.
READ MORE - Unjust Deserts - Book Revie

Suze Orman Shares Investing Common Sense With Women & Money

By Lisa Manyon
Women & Money ~ Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny
Money is a topic you either embrace or avoid. Orman's book delivers straight talk on investing for women and building individual wealth.

Personally I've always known just enough about investing to put some money away each month and I rely on financial advisers to steer me in the right direction.

Suze shares a candid look at her life and how she got to where she is now. Plus she offers a no nonsense approach to making sure women begin to really think about taking care of their own business.

With an uplifting vein of optimism about what is possible throughout the book, Orman successfully illustrates traits and tactics to help women thoughtfully approach investing.

Orman's 8 qualities of wealthy women have been shared on national talk shows and cannot be stressed enough.

Qualities 1 and 2 are harmony and balance. These are said to be the most important qualities because they are the foundation for all other qualities.

Quality 3 is courage. Orman writes that "Courage gives harmony expression. When your thoughts and feelings are one, courage helps you manifest them in the form of words and actions."

Quality 4 is generosity. Orman points out that women tap into this almost too quickly. We tend to be overly generous with our time, support, love and money. The true measure of generosity, according to Orman, is being able to allow money to come into your hands and out through your heart.

This was a concept I can relate to. Orman challenges women to look at why and what they give and how it makes them feel. She also offers six rules for giving (but, you'll have to grab a copy of the book to find out what these are).

Quality number 5 is happiness. According to Orman when you find the courage to live your life in harmony and balance, you understand and practice generosity, happiness will spontaneously appear.

And perhaps the most important point she shares about happiness is this; "Happiness is not a luxury. It is a necessity for true wealth."

Quality number 6 comes in the form of wisdom. Who doesn't want to be wiser?

According to Orman, wisdom is more than intellectual and not directly related to education. Wisdom is an express result of tapping into your core beliefs to make the right decisions for yourself.

The 7th quality is cleanliness and is all about the importance of order and organization. A laundry list of situations that subtract from your wealth status include;

- Not knowing where your money is
- Not having a systematized filing system for important documents
- Pulling crumpled bills and receipts out of your purse
- Maintaining a vehicle that looks like a garbage can
- Having closets that are filled with junk and clutter.

I am sure most of us can relate to at least one area we need to work on. I have to admit, as organized as I am, I could relate to a couple of those scenarios. Orman's philosophy really makes sense and I've corrected my personal problem areas. My first order of business was donating clothing I had not used or worn in the past year to charity.

The final quality is beauty. Orman ties all the qualities together by noting beauty is what you achieve when all the qualities are combined.

To some it may seem strange that the qualities of wealthy women are included in a book on investing. However, if you personally don't possess the qualities it will not be as easy for you to achieve your wealth potential.

In addition to the foundational building blocks Orman shares solid advice on choosing the right investor, the importance of having one personal savings account in your name only and discusses investment options in layman's terms so anyone can get started right way.

This article may be reproduced in its entirety with the following inclusion: Lisa Manyon specializes in POWERFULLY communicating your marketing messages to increase results. She's a Professional copywriter and Marketing strategist. Her work has been featured by the National Association of Women Writers, Absolute Write, Copywriting TNT, Lewiston Tribune and more. Manyon works directly with Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero as the Red Hot Communications GOLD Copywriting Mentorship Managing Director, is the first professional copywriter in Idaho to earn Glazer -Kennedy's Creating Copy That Sells certification and the Copywriting Expert for the Association of Web Entrepreneurs. Manyon specializes in making life easier for business owners and entrepreneurs by knocking one more thing off their "to do "list. She accomplishes this with her copywriting expertise and commitment to long-term business relationships. Get a Free Copywriting Action Plan & discover 7
READ MORE - Suze Orman Shares Investing Common Sense With Women & Money

How to Judge Your Purchases Today

By George Hooper
Reading is my one true passion. When I was young, I dreamed of better places. Places where all things were possible where all dreams came true. I read a book called ''Jericho'' published around early 60s and learned about people in difficult times. Books about Science, in the fields Biology, Geology & Earth Sciences. Science Fiction was always my favorite. The works of H.G. Wells, Huxley and Ray Bradbery fascinated me. Reading opened whole new worlds for me.

I recently went to a book store with my son looking for books he needed for University. Expensive books(shudder). While I was walking around the store looking at a variety of tiles and subject areas, I spotted an unusual cover a spilled coffee cup. Reading the upside-down writing on the cup it said '' This Coffee is Expensive''. Okay, So why was it spilled ? Curiosity Plus 1 the first step in my buying process. My next step is the back cover, endorsements from two well establish newspapers and 2 very well known writers told me I needed to read this book.

Title: The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford ISBN 978-0-349-11985-4 I was amazed and fascinated by what he was telling me. How branding works. How pricing works. Economics why it works and why it does not work in one book!!. A Must Read for everyone given the current economic crisis. Explains in simple everyday words how big and small companies work. Economics !0! for everyone. Why some prices are high and low. Do you have to buy or should you buy at all. Shortages are they real, imagined or just something you are lead to believe is true. Time to take a serious look at all marketing practices.

Are we asking the right questions of our governments. Should oil futures be fixed? Who bought the oil futures that lead up this crisis? Where did they get the money to purchase them? Is there really a shortage of oil as we have been lead to believe or is it just bigger profits for the o1l companies. Supply and demand some might say or are they just being paid to say that by big oil companys to boast profits. Maybe I think to much but these are real questions everyone needs to be asking

Maybe reading this book is not right for you. I read it in one night and will read it again and again. Then I will give it to my son and scream at him until he reads it.
READ MORE - How to Judge Your Purchases Today

Read Any Good Economics Books Lately?

By Lance Winslow
Okay, so the other day a good friend of my at our Think Tank asks me if I had read any good economic books lately, not a question anyone would generally ask, after all, why would anyone go out of their way to read an economics book? Well, I am one, and the book I recommended to him, is one I would also recommend to you:

"Econopower: How a New Generation of Economists is Transforming the World" by Mark Skousen; Published by John Wiley and Son, Hoboken, NJ; 2008.

This book demonstrates how everything we see, buy, own, do and dream of is indeed governed by economics. Our decisions, our religions, or politics, is all about economics. Education, science, history, law and finance, he show evidence of the reality that economics is the way we do, whether it is about the individual, the leaders, societal changes or the movement of America at a national level. Even more interesting is the fact as the author shows that the US is exporting these ideas, the same ideas initiated by Adam Smith.

Health Care, Education and even crime all are governed by economic theory in one way or another, perhaps even without reading this book you can understand the similarities through a little thought and understanding. This author takes that and develops it into a deep and interesting researchical study of all we are, all we have built and all we think that we know.

And just to let you know this author is no dummy, he formerly was an analyst for the CIA, wrote for Forbes Magazine, past President of the FEE (foundation for economic education), he also has a PhD in economics from George Washington University. The man has credentials and the information in the book and the thinking and philosophy is extremely interesting and worthy. I recommend this book to anyone.
READ MORE - Read Any Good Economics Books Lately?

Is This a Housing Crisis Or a Financial Crisis?

By John Sprague
One built the other, I would say and it was then encouraged by still other factors. Many people are apt to tell you that this is not a worldwide problem and was created in the United States. Yes, our government contributed to the problem but greed by owners and investors was the main cause after inflating prices. The out of control housing costs caused this financial situation. It definitely is a world wide financial crisis caused by an overinflated real estate market that has spread over nearly the entire globe. European realty costs are as inflated as American pricing.

Real Estate locations all over the world have seen unprecedented market prices that had never previously been reached. Property from Ireland to Russia as well as Eastern Europe went way out of control as did pricing in places like Australia and the Far East. Possibly greed is more a human condition than just something that occurs in America. If the cause began in the US, investors and property owners went along with it everywhere else. They were just as happy to go along for the ride and line their pockets like everyone else. Profit is never left on the table for long. Regulation in other countries may not have been solidly in place as well as at home in this country.

This crisis was constructed from such a long stretch of increasing inflated costs just about everywhere. There wasn't a sign of a possible correction for this run away train and it was allowed to go haywire. It jumped the track and rolled over a few times. Most intelligent people and economists especially, could see that at some point, this expanding unstoppable bubble would have to burst eventually. Many of these same people believed it wouldn't happen for a few more years and it wasn't their problem anyway. Many modern day speculators turned to the real estate market for investment. It was more reliable than the stock market and their change of profit required less risk.

Banks and investment houses were involved in increasing the problem merely by encouraging the borrowing of money against the equity in people's homes. Some businesses like special realty mortgage companies were created just for the purpose of buying and selling mortgages. Their main function was to do nothing but the refinancing of properties and this was their line of expertise. These businesses became a whole new industry unlike anything we had seen it the past. People were encouraged to refinance loans at low interest rates and take their profits to spend on travel, investment or anything that caught their fancy. So, homeowners would just take the money out and spend, spend, spend. The money financed cars, toys, computers and boats.

There was no end in sight. The money provided by banks and financial organizations should have gone into housing enhancements but did not. This seemingly free money did not go into renovations or expansion of the properties to be quite frank. Once in a while, some people did the right thing and did the housing renovations but they were not required to by these banking institutions that had few rules. It was no rules, just right! Where there is no control, there is bound to be corruption and the rest is history.

Even the government got into the task of encouraging banks and lending institutions to relax their loan requirements and policies so more people could own homes. They sought perfection in an imperfect word. Put all the poor people that couldn't afford home ownership into their own places. Many individuals that were not adequately qualified or could not hope to repay those loans were given the ultimate opportunity to purchase their dream house and enter the housing market. They would now be a proud owner and could move out of their rental units. The government, in addition to these relaxed banking regulations, had encouraged ownership thus helping the housing industry to go further out of control. Some of the regulations that were relaxed had been put into operation long ago following the great depression of 1929. This was the crash of 1929 that our parents and grandparents may have told you about.

In those days, they had suffered so badly that they didn't ever want that financial crisis to ever rear its ugly head again. They had known the sacrifice brought on by mismanagement of financial assets in an earlier time. Did we forget about that historical masterpiece? Well, history always seems to repeat itself, doesn't it? We should never ever let our guard down again. By removing regulations or at least relaxing them, has helped this bad situation to re-emerge from its entombment.

The current housing market and now its realignment had built the very basis for this current financial meltdown. Human greed and government interference have spun the wheels to new heights. Hopefully, we can get our priorities straightened out and the necessary regulations back in place. Many years from now, I'm sure it will happen again but for now let's get our house in order.
READ MORE - Is This a Housing Crisis Or a Financial Crisis?

We Miss the Eloquence and Logic of Milton Friedman Now More Than Ever

By Geoff Ficke
One of the signal economic thinkers of the 20th century was the Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman. His many books and papers, interviews and television specials have left us a valuable trove of thoughts and observations that should serve as guideposts during our current difficult economic times. His death has left a void that no contemporary thinker has been able to fill. That is most unfortunate, especially now.

Recently, I revisited my copy of Professor Friedman's signature work, Free to Choose. It is still as pertinent, fresh and poignant, as it was the day it was first published. His reasoned defense of economic and personal freedom, strictly limited government and the rule of law need to be reviewed and protected fiercely by each citizen that values these sacred rights.

"Thank heavens we do not get all of the government that we are made to pay for", stated Professor Friedman in one of his most oft quoted observations. The simple, but powerful clarity of these 17 words serve as testament to the deep understanding and concern he possessed about the ever-expanding role of centrally planned, distant government and the excessive price we pay for it. We see the detritus of insatiable government in every aspect of our lives, and yet, we seem incapable of slowing, preferably stopping the rapid growth of this corrupt, inefficient monster.

The Federal Government is nearing a 3 trillion dollar annual budget. No one really knows the exact amount of deficit spending we incur each year, but it is massive and growing. The more revenue the government realizes, the faster spending increases. We have un-funded liabilities of somewhere around $53 trillion for Medicare and Medicaid, and $25 trillion for Social Security. These are just estimates; no one can state the absolute accurate numbers. And, remember the government refers to these obligations as "un-funded liabilities", not debt as private citizens and industry would be required to report and account for.

In 1976, President Jimmy Carter created the Department of Education. Before then, education was largely a local affair. This boondoggle has grown massively since its inception in employees, budget, programs and un-funded mandates. Less than 7% of the $60 Billion annual budget for the DOE is returned to state and local schools as grants. The rest is consumed in "bureaucracy heaven". Can anyone seriously argue that public school performance has improved since we were blessed with the Department of Education and the thousands of theoreticians, consultants and knowledge brokers that this cesspool supports? You can actually graph the decline of graduation rates, the increase in truancy, lowered standardized test scores and achievement tests from the date we were blessed with the DOE.

The government enjoys natural monopolies in many areas. The Postal Service, the Passport Office, AMTRACK, The FAA, and so many more government agencies provide we citizens with one stop shopping. In every case, the result is subsidy, waste, and mismanagement. Waiting up to 90 days to receive a passport is ridiculous. The Postal Service and AMTRACK require subsidies every year, while FedEx, UPS, and the railroads make billions of dollars in profit each year. Why would any thinking person believe that government should be expanded into even more areas of our lives.

Thomas Jefferson, a soul brother to Milton Friedman said, "He is governed best who is governed least". And yet, an ever-growing segment of our citizenry constantly seeks to redress perceived grievances and personally poor decision making by petitioning politicians for outcomes favorable to their desires. We know with absolute certainty that government is too large, inefficient, duplicitous and wasteful to solve problems.

Government is not in business to solve problems: it is in business to institutionalize problems! Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Welfare, Food Stamps have all grown exponentially. The problems these programs, and many others, were supposed to address have grown even more exponentially. Bureaucracies are not in the business of solving problems and shrinking, then going out of business as they successfully complete their mission. The very core of the nature of a bureaucracy is to grow insatiably.

As more citizens abdicate their personal responsibilities and seek government support, there are all too many politicians, lobbyists, issue advocates and social engineers ready to comply and satisfy this sycophancy. We see many people campaigning for a government takeover of the health care system. When government provides free health care: that is when health care will get really expensive! How in the world can so many people, be so blind about so much.

My Company provides consulting services to inventors, small businesses and entrepreneurs bootstrapping businesses. By their very nature, these people are fearless, independent, creative and driven. They seek to take advantage of the amazing opportunities available to every citizen of the United States, if only they would take advantage of these possibilities. To a person, successful entrepreneurs do not understand, and usually despise government dependency. Simply being a citizen of this great country is the equivalent of winning the geographic lottery.

President John Kennedy famously stated, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country"? The growing sentiment today seems to infer, ask not what you can do for your country; ask what your country can do for you? John Kennedy, Milton Friedman and Thomas Jefferson are symbolic personages of a sentiment that must be revived. Every citizen must contribute to the public good, but the government must get out of the way and let the populace live and prosper by the dint of their own efforts. Downsizing this albatross is in order, and quickly!

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.
READ MORE - We Miss the Eloquence and Logic of Milton Friedman Now More Than Ever

70 Million Baby Boomers, Eh? Sounds Like Opportunity to Me!

By Lance Winslow
Folks have been talking about the paradigm shift coming to the United States as the Baby Boomers grow older and retire. Social Security will soon collapse, it was scheduled for 2042, but it will occur a decade sooner. When social security was really working well, 17 people were working for every 1 person in retirement, good stuff, no problems. But in a less than a decade there will be one retired person and only 1.9 people for each still working. Obviously, that is not going to work out mathematically.

Many have talked about what is to come, and it has already happened in Japan with their post economic boom. With an aging population, the workforce is having trouble holding up the economic expansion and with zero growth, it is tough to supply the needs of the civilization. Europe is next and then the US after that. Brilliant minds like Ken Dychwald have been discussing this for years.

There is also an interesting book out now called; Futurecast" by Robert Shapiro, which is a remake of all the previous studies, research and works on this subject. Having read all the data on demographics and this coming shift, I do recommend the folks above, but would also like to recommend another economic book on this topic:

"Boom, Bust & Echo; How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Shift" By David K. Foot with Daniel Stoffman; Macfarlane, Walter & Ross, Toronto, Canada; 1996.

He discusses real estate crisis, investing issues, social security problems, retail sales, manufacturing problems, retirees younger longer and how our retirement cities will grow and be so much different than the past. He discusses the crisis in Health Care, which we are now seeing over a decade later, all great predictions, he did not miss any and there are a few more to come too.

He speaks to the Canadian problems that mimic the US population and what it means to our Northern neighbors. The appendix is a lot of data that will scare the bejesus out of any leader or economists trying to figure out how to fix the problem. You need to read this book, it's a quick one, only 210 pages, but it will blow you away.
READ MORE - 70 Million Baby Boomers, Eh? Sounds Like Opportunity to Me!

A Review on Krugman's Argument - Japan - Still Trapped

By Dias Satria
1. Introduction
Japanese economy has caught in a stagnation and deflation in almost a decade. Svensson (2003) summarizes that two factors which trigger Japan caught in a trap are policy mistakes and a failure to coordinate policies to recover Japanese economy.

There are some debatable arguments related to the Japanese policy to escape Japan from the liquidity trap. One of debates comes from Krugman that said Japanese economy has caught in a liquidity trap. He highlights the importance of a negative real rate of interest to equilibrate the economy, to match saving with investment in Japan.

This paper will outline Krugman's point of view on his article "Japan: still trapped", and give an opinion about his argument that a negative real rate of interest is necessary to restore full employment. This paper will also relate cagan's stability model to krugman analysis and point out the role of fiscal policy in maintaining stability of the Japanese economy.

2. An overview about Japanese economy and Krugman's argument

Since 1990, Japan has fallen to a stagnation and deflation in economy. There are several causes which make Japan continued to recession. A high saving's rate and low consumption rate in Japan, for example, have led to a terrible drop in demand and cause Japan difficult to recover the economy. Furthermore, yen appreciation to dollar has also been a serious problem which led to cause the economic bubble, asset price deflation, and the liquidity trap. (Okimoto, 1999)

Krugman reveals some facts that Japan caught in a trap, such as : the low short term interest rate which have reached nearly zero, BOJ actions to stimulate demand by lowering interest rate is ineffective and some money hoarding transactions. To explain the economic situations on Japan, he started his analysis from the basic IS-LM model. (1) (2)

From the first equation, saving (S) and investment (I) are contingent on the level of real income (y) and real interest rate (r). Meanwhile in the second equation, i is the nominal interest rate, the real rate plus expected inflation.

He argues that the concept of liquidity trap happens when saving exceed investment at full employment even at zero real interest rate - that . It can be clear from the graph above that the solution for the interest rate to match saving and investment equal at full employment is a negative real rate of interest. This is the critical point for Krugman to stress the importance of negative real rate of interest to restore full employment. In this point of view, he argues that, given zero interest rate, a positive expected rate of inflation is needed to generate negative real interest rates, which will stimulate aggregate demand and restore full employment.

3. Critiques on Krugman's argument

In order to make an understanding about Krugman's argument, its better to review about the concept of liquidity trap. What make Krugman's is incomprehensible is about the distinction between the cost and the return on capital. Rogers (n.a) argue that Krugman is not clearly to explain about the distinction between the cost and the return on capital. Furthermore, he also think that Krugman's concept to come out from liquidity trap by setting a negative cost of capital to equate to the negative return on capital makes no economic sense.

From Roger's idea, what is important for Japanese economy to escape from liquidity trap and to recover the economy is the positive marginal efficiency of capital (MEC). It means that to induce new investment the rate of return over cost must exceed the rate of interest. Thus, as the difference between what is returned and the costs constitute the profits, to induce new investment, the rate of profit (marginal efficiency of capital/MEC) must exceed the interest rate.

Roger also reveals the relevance of Wicksell theory to recover Japanese economy. This idea is understandable because if the money rate of interest was below the natural rate of return on capital, people would borrow at the money rate to purchase capital, thus rising demand for some resources and also their prices. In this terminology, price stability would result only when the money rate of interest and the natural rate of return on capital-the marginal product of capital-were equal.

4. Cagan convergence condition and Japanese economy

In order to simplify an economic instability in Japan, I will use a Cagan convergence condition, which has developed by Cagan in 1956. He has developed a model of hyperinflation by deriving such condition, as shown below. (3) (4) (5)

We can substitute to the equation. So. From the first equation, we substitute, and drop variables that are not involved in this convergence analysis, so we set. Thus, We can apply that equations to the matrix.

To solve simultaneous differential equations, the necessary and sufficient conditions for stability are that the determinant of 2x2 matrix be positive and that the trace be negative. Thus, it must statisfied, or So.

In early 1990s, Japanese economy has fall into the bubles economy in property and share price. In such situation of liquidity trap, the interest elasticity of money demand is to be expected so high. Furthermore, ZIR Policy of Bank of Japan Then would set nominal interest rate nearly to zero. Another component in cagan model (speed people adjustment expectation) is likely to rise, thus from the condition, the Japanese economy is predicted unstable and would fall into a deflation spiral.

This term-deflationary spiral-can clearly explained by Svensson (2003) that the situation of deflation would give a negative consequence to Japanese economy. First of all, deflation situation would increase the real value of nominal debt which may cause some indebted households and firms to bankrupt and fall in asset prices. Furthermore, this problems would trigger instability in financial system due to banks would face a collateral loses value and bad loans.

He also reveals that instability in Japanese economy is deteriorating with a deflationary spiral due to a rising unemployment rate in Japanese economy and a rigid wage. In this case, due to deflation the real wages would not go down, but increase, further escalating unemployment rate. All in all, this may contribute to a further drop in aggregate demand, a further increase in deflation and a further increase in the real interest rate.

5. The role of fiscal policy in Japan

The role of fiscal policy to escape Japanese economy from a liquidity trap is still debatable. Although some people might argue that Expansionary fiscal policy is powerful to be a stabilization policy when economy goes into the recession, to restore full employment in a liquidity trap. This policy, instead, has led Japan to a massive national debt. Krugman (1998) actually pay almost no attention to the role of fiscal policy in Japan. He argues that the fiscal policy would have no effect if consumers really do exhibit something like Ricardian equivalence. In this case, People would anticipate a policy of higher government debt by increasing their saving, because they expect that there would be a tax increases or a reduction of government benefit. Furthermore, he also argues that some fiscal spending in Japan are unproductive to stimulate its economy.
READ MORE - A Review on Krugman's Argument - Japan - Still Trapped

Who Was the Real "Forgotten Man?"

By Douglas Jamiel
"The Forgotten Man" -
A Revisionist Look at the Great Depression
by Douglas Jamiel

While the symbol of the "forgotten man" has long been remembered as a touchstone for the plight of the impoverished and dispossessed of America's Great Depression, it is for author Amity Shlaes quite the opposite. In her book, "The Forgotten Man - A New Look at the Great Depression," the itinerant worker who rode the rails, the guy who pushed a broom for the WPA and the farmer who hung on to his property for dear life are merely refugees of the government's war waged against the true victim of the Great Depression: the American business owner.

At once a hagiography of economic elites and an argument for economic royalism, "The Forgotten Man" is the Depression in a parallel, right-wing universe where men like Andrew Mellon and Samuel Insull - the captains of industry who fed the speculative bubble - are victims, locked in an epic struggle with Franklin Roosevelt and his New Dealers. Men like Rexford Tugwell, Harry Hopkins and Harold Ickes are, for Shlaes, communist sympathizers, quasi-fascists, political opportunists, and narcissistic academicians more concerned with vindicating their theories than with the welfare and well-being of the American populace. "The Forgotten Man" is "Amity Through the Looking Glass," and her revisionist world looks "curiouser and curiouser" with each chapter.

On the whole, Shlaes follows the basic chronology of every other Depression history: the swollen pre-Crash market, the New Deal programs, the labor unrest, and the pivotal court decisions like Schecter (which was the death knell for the National Industrial Recovery Act, or, N.I.R.A.) and Ashwander (which gave FDR's Tennesse Valley Authority, or T.V.A., the thumbs-up to produce electric power). However, she is like an armchair quarterback reviewing plays after the game, recommending this or that laissez-faire remedy she believes the New Dealers should have called into play to fix the ailing economy. But this makes sense; the real world tells a different story. Given the fact that those very same laissez-faire principles provided the philosophical underpinnings for the gross inequities and predations of the Gilded Age before the Great War, and the very real failure of supply-side economics many years later under Ronald Reagan, it is understandable that Shlaes would seek refuge in the safe harbor of criticizing others' decisions in another time.

Stylistically, Shlaes crafts metaphors which leave a brackish aftertaste from the water of false association and innuendo they are forced to carry. In a chapter titled "The Junket," for example, Shlaes recounts an actual voyage to Soviet Russia by some of the left-wing intellectuals who would come to form the core of FDR's brain trust. Aboard a ship aptly named The President Roosevelt (after Teddy, himself a reformer), the author portrays their vessel as a sort of left-wing "Flying Dutchman." Ideologically isolated and cast adrift from the "prosperity" presided over by Harding and Coolidge, the "pilgrims" float uncertainly toward a nascent Soviet Union, in search, Shlaes suggests, of a place more hospitable to their ideas. The author plays this "red" card repeatedly throughout the book, conflating the group with the Soviets. But that was okay because, Shlaes says with tongue in cheek, "If one squinted, things looked almost reasonable in Soviet Russia."

However, as author Kevin Phillips reminds us in his book "Wealth and Democracy," Shlaes' rosy assessment of the roaring twenties requires its own squinting. Citing a 1929 report by Wesley Mitchell, a popular economist of the day, Phillips puts the lie to Shlaes' statement that "The Gilded Age was generally proving gilded for the average, even the poor man." Technological improvements did indeed increase productivity, but the fruits of that productive engine were far from equally distributed and went overwhelmingly to profits rather than wages. And while Shlaes would further try to convince us of the distributive triumph of the bubble market, claiming that the earnings of workers between 1923 and 1929 increased by 16 percent, a little more squinting is needed to discover that the value of common stocks increased by that amount, not wages. For the average man or woman in the workplace, wages increased only about 1.4 percent.

The ill-fated frenzy of stock buying - made easy by lax credit, tons of cash liberated by Treasury Secretary Mellon's tax cuts, and liberal margin calls - was a pastime reserved for 42 percent of families making over $2,000 a year. "But," according to historian Howard Zinn (A People's History), "six million families, 42 percent of the total, made less than $1,000 per year. One tenth of one percent of the families at the top received as much income as 42 percent of the families at the bottom." And in this time before OSHA and the Wagner Act, life was dangerous in the workplace as well. In every year before the Crash, about 25,000 workers were killed on the job and 100,000 permanently disabled from industrial accidents and wretched conditions.

Gains in productivity made possible by technology were, furthermore, used to displace workers rather than enrich them as holders of capital undercut their own markets in the mad scramble for more profits with less costs. In short, businesses were making more and more with fewer and fewer workers. "The supply of new jobs," wrote economist Mitchell at the time, "has not been equal to the number of new workers plus the old workers displaced. Hence, there has been a net increase in unemployment between 1920 and 1927 which exceeds 650,000." Shades of things to come.

And where were the unions in all this? They too had been lulled by the illusion of abundance and sat on the sidelines through the early twenties, still smarting from the constant clubbing at the hands of the corporate-government alliance in the decades before the Great War. Besides, everything would be okay, Shlaes constantly implies, if only workers would stop their nagging preoccupation with subsistence and just let the market "correct itself" at their expense.

One of the most disturbing and revealing passages of Shlaes' book is her reaction to the Supreme Court's overturning of the Frazier-Lehmke Act, legislation enacted early in Roosevelt's administration to stem the hemorrhage of farm foreclosures by putting a moratorium on them. "Even a contract between a starving farmer and a nasty banker had to be honored," she writes in a tone almost ringing with schadenfreude over the farmers' fate, "and the government did not have the power to intervene." Or consider her reaction to the Schecter - the "Sick Chicken" - decision that effectively scuttled the N.I.R.A. by invalidating its code-making and price-fixing powers. By exploiting the subtle semantic difference between the words inter- and intra- state commerce, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not interfere with intra-state commerce and dictate how customers of the Shecter brothers' poultry business picked their chickens. The federal government was, thereby, plucked of its regulatory power. "The market," Shlaes proclaims, "had its own natural laws, the laws of chicken blood, competition and profits. It was neither good nor evil."

For Shlaes, the rules of the market are made on the fly and the winners make the rules. This is William Graham Sumner's market in which, like Darwin's jungle, there are no moral imperatives. As certain as the grazing herds exist to appease the lion's appetite, the great mass of toiling society must serve the proven predators of the human species. It is, for Shlaes and for Sumner, an immutable law of economic science.

But in economics there are no immutable laws, and as the Depression itself proved, economies do not perform with Newtonian certainty. The speed of a falling object, for instance, is something quite different than a theory that sanctions a government's indifference to its starving citizens; a government that holds the surplus of a minority above the sustenance of the majority. "The Forgotten Man" begs the question, "What is government's role when Adam Smith's Invisible Hand is palsied." For the author the answer is simple: nothing. It is no surprise, then, that those who did do something - FDR and the New Dealers - are to be mocked, vilified and discredited as enemies of capitalism.

As quantifiable proof of the New Deal's failure, Shlaes begins each chapter with the Dow Jones Index and the unemployment rate for each increment of time about which she's writing. With numeric consistency the numbers seem indeed to show little or no increase in jobs nor any enthusiasm for stocks. But in a collapsed economy ordinarily driven by the profit motive - an economy concocted, manipulated and bankrupted like a bad night at the casino on the floor of a stock exchange - it is absurd to even consider a stock index to be a reliable indicator of anything. Indeed, to measure the unemployment rate under such circumstances is simply to measure the very failure of a system which holds the well-being of many hostage to the self-interest of a few. "In the relief business," wrote Harry Hopkins, "where our finished product is nothing more than amelioration, effectiveness has to be measured in less ambitious terms than success. That word applies better to marginal profit, cash or otherwise. Relief deals with human misery."

Born of necessity -of crisis - the New Deal never quite reconciled its own identity. Was it conceived to fix the ailing capitalist order or, as some in the business community feared, to replace it? Notwithstanding Shlaes' characterization of Franklin Roosevelt as a power hungry opportunist, to depict him as a natural social engineer is simply false. He was, frankly, conservative by nature and only the dire circumstances the country confronted led him to entertain the advice and counsel of a more radical element. As the fulminations of the 1932 election faded, he was, at the New Deal's inception, quite conciliatory with the business community and saw the N.I.R.A. as a voluntary government-business alliance forged in the interest of the country. Had his ambitions, as Shlaes asserts, been more akin to Hitler or Mussolini, then the Blue Eagle would have had real talons to enforce its mandates instead of the quibbling committees with no real power of enforcement.

In the face of constant attack, it seemed like a no-win situation for Roosevelt and the heads of the alphabet agencies for whom the plight of the indigent was immediate and all consuming. There was little time for head scratching and second guessing. When programs used low-tech tools - i.e., two hundred people with shovels rather than a bulldozer - they were accused of being "inefficient." When they put the destitute to work producing the necessities they could not otherwise afford to buy in the private market, they were labeled "unfairly competitive."

The cries of "boondoggle" and "wasteful" leveled at the New Deal ring hollow when one gets to the core of the real fear business owners felt in the face of these programs. In contrast to an amoral corporate structure which, without the promise of a fistful of money to inspire it, proved itself incapable of making anything, there arose on the periphery of society a whole separate, self-contained economy based not on the aggrandizement of a few, but on the real needs of many - a frightening prospect for free marketers and Social Darwinists like Shlaes. It was a use economy based not on the plunder of consumer society like cars, radios and gadgets, but on things that everyone needed and things that would benefit everyone like bridges, dams, schools and roads. It was run without commissars and politburos. Such a thing could not be tolerated; not in America where, as Coolidge proclaimed, "The business of America is business."

Considering the forces arrayed against it and its somewhat confused and conciliatory agenda, she is, in part, correct. With its nebulous identity unresolved and with more and more of its programs chopped away as 1940 neared, the New Deal was absorbed into the ultimate jobs program - war. Every aspect of the economy from prices to production came under government control, and its obvious efficiency went unchallenged by the usual right-wing detractors as long as the agenda was to wage war rather than to help others. The free market, it seems, is not the preferred weapon of Mars.

In the end, the failure of conservatives to privatize Social Security in our own time and the country's continued willingness to entrust their government with matters of collective welfare is in great part a legacy of FDR and his minions. There are, of course, alternate views. For these, one need only follow "Amity Through the Looking Glass."
READ MORE - Who Was the Real "Forgotten Man?"

Money Changes Everything - Twenty-Two Writers Tackle the Last Taboo

By Gregory Anne Cox
Money Changes Everything
Twenty-Two Writers Tackle the Last Taboo with Tales of Sudden Windfalls, Staggering Debts, and Other Surprising Turns of Fortune
Edited by Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappell

We live in a tell-all culture. Sex, troubles with our kids, complaints about our spouses, and even our indiscretions are acceptable dinner table conversation-or at least ok while sharing a latte. Our money side in contrast is kept hidden from view.

Money is loved, feared, and worshiped. Some see it as dirty, not in keeping with a spiritual life, unnecessary. It can make a god-fearing person swear and ordinarily loving couples spit fire. Money can change everything.

The editors of this book put it this way, "To shine a light on how much we make, how much we spend, how much we owe, and how much we've got secretly socked away is to give others a potent glimpse into the values we live by. Because of this, admitting to money troubles can often feel like admitting to a weakness of character."

The money troubles coin has two sides. "Shrinks have coined the phrase "affluenza" to describe the angst and aimlessness that arise from being so wealthy you don't have to work for a living. Yet despite their insistence that affluenza can be a genuine hardship, therapists are finding it a hard sell to make others feel sorry for their clients. Most people can sympathize with the pain and struggle of the less fortunate, but the anxieties that attend being "too rich" are much harder to imagine" write the editors.

So silence and hiding are the order of the day whether the wolf is at the door or the view from the penthouse leaves you wanting.

Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappell, brought together twenty-two great writers who agreed to write about how their lives have been shaped, complicated and/or enhanced by this often hidden aspect of our lives.

The writing is sometimes comic, as in Chris Offut's story Porn Bought My Football. It can also be achingly sad and as in Marian Fontana's, A Dollar A Tear, about the money she received after her husband was killed in NYC on 9/11.

The writing is always brilliant.

Fred Leebron and Kathryn Rhett are married and each recalls their version of the money game as they describe their early lives together. Did they really experience the same things? His is titled For Richer, hers, For Poorer. It represents the wedding vow but also the way money can divide otherwise loving couples.

Walter Kirn in Treasure Me tells of failed marriages because they were based on his using his money to perhaps buy affection and love. He "tallies up just how much it costs to have sex" and does it in a very funny way.

Daniel Handler, author of the Lemony Snicket series and no slouch in the money earning category wrote a few pages titled "Winning." His idea for this essay was to buy a $1200 bottle of wine. He begins by asking, "Do you want to know what a $1200 bottle of wine tastes like? Of course you do."

His agent warns him that he shouldn't write this essay. "$1200 on a bottle of wine?" she asks. "It's immoral. People are going to attack you. People are going to call you an immoral person" she warned.

"That's what I'm interested in," said Daniel. "I keep telling people about this bottle of wine. First everybody wants some, then everybody thinks it's immoral. This is the thing with money."

And so it is and the remaining eighteen writers pose equally thought provoking ideas through their behind the scenes, behind their money accounts. Have some fun with these writers and think about your own money stories. How has money or a lack of it had an impact on your life over the years?

Gregory Anne Cox, certified life coach, was one of the early female graduates of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. She spent 20+ years in the hospitality industry, and recently, cooking privately for some of the country's rich and famous on the eastern end of Long Island in the Hamptons, NY where she currently lives with her husband and 4 cats.

Currently Gregory offers teleseminars on Midlife wellness, one on one and group coaching, is an author and speaker on the topic of midlife women's mind and body tune ups and heart health. Her newsletter and blog, both titled The You Revolution, keep subscribers and clients up to date on what's new in feeling and looking better than ever in the second half of life.
READ MORE - Money Changes Everything - Twenty-Two Writers Tackle the Last Taboo