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Posts Tagged ‘business’

The Road to Oligarchy

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Regardless of how many wars on poverty are declared and how often calls are issued to make the rich pay their fair share, neither the rich nor the poor will be going anywhere anytime soon. The question is what forces will keep the poor impoverished and where the rich will derive their wealth from.

The founder of Subway recently said that he could not have started up his company today. Similar messages have come from the founders and heads of other major companies. That isn’t to say that companies will cease to exist. What we think of as business has been changing for some time.

In most countries, starting a business does not begin with a great idea. It begins with connections. Knowing the right people is still important, but in most places it’s the most important thing.

Under the current American model, a company becomes successful and then begins to lobby Washington to gain a competitive advantage or to avert hostile lobbying directed at negating its existing competitive advantage. That is a perversion of free enterprise, but in much of the world companies begin lobbying first and then become successful. This is the model that has evolved under Obama. And it’s a familiar model to anyone doing business in Russia or China. Political connections come first and then the business becomes feasible.

Oligarchy is the inevitable outcome of an economic climate where the governments acts as a gatekeeper to the country’s customers. Measures that began as limited safety and fraud regulations have become a comprehensive political economic system that controls every aspect of every economic transaction.

The government creates markets. It creates companies and customers. It sets prices and taxes industries that it does not favor out of business.

Corporate lobbying isn’t just about the proverbial 200 dollar screwdriver. It’s about making it more expensive for some companies to make screwdrivers than others. It’s also about forcing independent screwdriver manufacturers out of business. It’s about government grants to make environmentally friendly screwdrivers and heavy taxes on companies that don’t make environmentally friendly screwdrivers.

Tactics like these aren’t new. The Esch Act eliminated white phosphorus matches through a punitive tax back in 1910. But a century later, the government wiped out the incandescent bulb industry, not for health reasons, but to comply with a trendy ideology. Microsoft, which had hardly bothered to lobby before, was dragged to Washington on monopoly charges that Google, the ultimate dot com insider, today laughs off. And Microsoft learned its lesson, investing in sizable amounts of lobbying capital.

The government is a bigger factor in business models for both large and small businesses than any other. Whether it’s struggling against the mountains of paperwork or looking for ways to profit from the latest regulations, business has come to be defined by government. The tier of governments at every level have accumulated huge amounts of wealth and power. Government power is used to control how business is done while government spending makes political officials into the country’s biggest consumers.

The fusion of business with government leads to oligarchy. The rich are not going anywhere, but wealth becomes a factor of their government connections, rather than skill or even inheritance. Government control over business began under the banner of combating monopolies only to end by creating government monopolies. The war against income inequality will end the same way and with the same results as the oligarchies in Russia, China, Mexico and everywhere else.

The future of Obamerica is a country full of corrupt government officials and tycoons. The future is an aristocracy of union bosses running their own guilds, corporate monopolies that change with each election and government officials with mansions and armed bodyguards.

Income inequality will be huge with oceans of poverty and small islands of wealth locked away behind gated communities. Populists will promise power for the people, only to make the system even more corrupt. One company or one boss will be brought down, only to be replaced with the favorites of another party.

Everyone will despise the tycoons and the government. The government will promise to protect the people from the tycoons, even as it works closely with them, and the tycoons will lavish money on certain areas in exchange for loyalty. Both the government and the tycoons will be closely tied up with organized crime which will launder its drug profits through the tycoons and use its political connections to gain protection and sanctions against rival organizations.

Big Business and Realizing Your Dreams (Podcast)

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Meet Julie Deane, who managed to fulfill her dreams when she opened The Cambridge Satchel Company. Julie and her mother originally founded the company in order to reach the goal of sending Julie’s children to a good, private school, and they became more successful than they ever imagined. Julie shares with Doug how she managed to run a company from her kitchen at home, eventually getting listed as one of the 100 most influential figures in fashion. Don’t miss this inspiring interview on the Goldstein on Gelt show.

The Art of Positive Communication (Podcast)

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Whether in terms of relationships, business, or parenting, the secret of positive communication is an ongoing subject of discussion. On this week’s Goldstein on Gelt show, Doug meets Dalton Kehoe, who has been a teacher, trainer and organizational change practitioner for over 40 years. Recently retired from York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, after a 41-year career, he is now a Senior Scholar of Communication Studies. Listen to this week’s interview to find out more about how to talk to each other and how this affects our everyday lives.

US Taxes and the American Citizen Abroad (Podcast)

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

This week, Anne Hornung-Soukup, finance director of the ACA (American Citzens Abroad), comes back to Goldstein on Gelt to tell us more about the American government’s taxation policy and how it relates to U.S. expats. Taxation for American citizens abroad is a complicated story. Listen to this week’s show to find out how U.S. taxes still affect you, even if you haven’t been back to the States for years or have never been there but have American parents…

How to Combine Business With Motherhood

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Gail Reynolds, “the “Six Million-Pound Mum,”” shares more of her insights on how to build a business while being a full-time mother. Gail tells us more about how she worked her way up through Avon to become a successful woman entrepreneur who has addressed the European Union on the subject of women in business. How did she do it? And can it work for you? Listen to this week’s show to find out.

A Haredi Role Model

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

I often distinguish between moderate Haredim and extremist Haredim. But the truth is that there is probably a continuum between the two extremes that contains an entire spectrum of Haredi behavior. It is therefore difficult to find the cutoff line between the extreme and the moderate.

Without trying to write a discourse about what makes someone extreme or moderate – which would probably take a book like many of the subjects I discuss here – I think we can say that at least at the polar ends of the spectrum we can tell who is extreme and who is moderate. I happen to believe that the vast majority of Haredim fall into the moderate category.

One of the things I have been saying is that the wave of the future belongs to moderate Haredim who along with the less populous right wing Modern Orthodox community will (and perhaps already does) comprise the largest and most unified segment of Orthodox Jewry.

An example of how this type of Haredi Jew might be seen in the person of 36 year old Shraga Zatlzman of London, England. Mr. Zaltzman attended the very Haredi Gateshead Yeshiva (where Rav Matisyahu Salomon was once the Mashgiach) and then Yeshivas Mir in Yeurshalyim. Thus firmly establishing his Haredi orientation. But Mr. Zaltzman did something else. He attended Bar Ilan University and received a master’s degree in business.

In 2007 he was hired by a Haredi Tzedaka organization that helps people find jobs. The people he helps are not only Haredi Jews, but any Jew in search of employment. In fact in one instance he helped a Muslim eager to study in a modest environment.

80% of the people in an internship program they run are not even religious. The organization does not charge for its basic services and unlike other placement services that tend to operate from the employer’s perspective, this one operates from the job seeker’s perspective.

What is the environment like in this organization? From a JTA article by Miriam Shaviv:

[D]espite the religious distance between the organization and many of its beneficiaries, Zaltzman says there has never been friction with the people who walk through its doors.

This is a win/win for everyone. Haredim who have not been prepared for the workplace because of the rigorous Talmud study programs in Yeshiva (at the expense of any education or preparation at all for careers in the outside world) can now be brought up to speed. Many will get on the job training and otherwise learn how the marketplace of careers and jobs work.

It fosters an environment of tolerance and appreciation on both sides of the Hashkafic spectrum. It teaches those who have been sheltered from the outside world how to better deal with it. It teaches that there are other religious Jews in the world who are fine and decent people – God fearing just like them. And it teaches that non religious Jews are fine and decent people too as well as non Jews. Even Muslims.

It also teaches Modern Orthodox Jews, non religious Jews, and even non-Jews that the Haredi world consists mostly of fine and decent people too, unlike the miscreant extremists we constantly read about in the media. Mr. Zaltzman is a moderate Haredi who can be a role model for all of us.

This does not mean by any stretch that the poverty that is rampant and increasing in the Haredi world has been solved. That will only happen when there is a paradigm shift in education that will allow for more Parnassa preparation.

The organization which Mr. Zaltzman heads is a huge boost for Haredim. More than that it helps find jobs for anyone who needs one and applies. People of all religious backgrounds. But perhaps its biggest achievement is in fostering what I believe to be an unprecedented climate of tolerance and Achdus.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Secrets of Strategic Thinking (Podcast)

Monday, December 17th, 2012

How do business owners plan? Is there a specific set of thinking skills that you need to make your enterprise a success? And can strategic thinking be applied to everyday life? This week, Doug interviews Professor Stanley Ridgley, Assistant Professor in the Department of Management at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. Professor Ridgley is the author of The Complete Guide to Business School Presentations: What your professors don’t tell you…what you absolutely must know. Professor Ridgley tells Doug which skills you need to make the most of your business.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/goldstein-on-gelt/secrets-of-strategic-thinking-podcast/2012/12/17/

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