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…
Posts Tagged ‘business’
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 weeks show to find out.
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.
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 Universitys LeBow College of Business. Professor Ridgley is the author of The Complete Guide to Business School Presentations: What your professors dont tell you…what you absolutely must know. Professor Ridgley tells Doug which skills you need to make the most of your business.
Forget all the talk about whether we will or won’t go over the fiscal cliff. We ourselves are the fiscal cliff and have been for some time now. The real fiscal cliff is not the point at which we run out of money, our credit rating sinks lower than Enron and or everyone is fighting over jars of cat food at Wal-Mart. The real fiscal cliff is when even the dumbest person in the country is no longer able to deny what the packs of robbers and thieves he appointed to steal for him have perpetrated for their own benefit in his name. And that fiscal cliff may never come.
Soviet leaders used to promise their people that one day they would live under true Communism. Under our hybrid system, many Americans already live under Communism. And the rest of the country pays for it. As the number of people living under Communism grows and the number of people subsidizing Communism shrinks, the fiscal cliffs begin coming in faster than Wile E. Coyote on jet-powered rocket skates.
Our class warfare is not determined by paycheck size. The United States has only two classes. The working class and the government class.
The working class extends through the lower class, the middle class and the upper class, and everyone of every income level who derives their income from gainful employment. The government class similarly extends from the poor to the middle class to the rich, and consists of those whose chief source of income is the government; whether it’s welfare checks, government jobs or crony capitalism.
Not everyone in the working class is a saint and not everyone in the government class is a parasite. There are plenty of corporations who care only about short term profit and create social problems that the rest of the country has to live with. Immigration is a classic example. And there are also plenty of government employees who perform vital and even heroic functions. Your local firefighter and member of the armed services are obvious examples.
The government class is dependent on the working class, deriving its income from their income. The government class turns from the symbiotic to the parasitic to the extent that its demands on the working class become unsustainable and exploitative, that its functions grow bloated, its spending programs reek of corruption and its government contracts emerge out of backdoor deals with friendly politicians.
The government class can never be productive, because it is not a creative force, it only provides secondary non-innovative services to the working class, but it is legitimate to the extent that it performs vital functions on behalf of the working class with their consent and in an economically sustainable fashion. When it violates these principles, then it becomes a parasite sucking the life out of the working class.
It is not just the government employee who is a member of the government class. The welfare class is a subgroup of the government class. And the welfare class is not only parasitic, it is the axis around which an entire parasitic constellation of the government class revolves around.
The classic welfare family has become the income generating center of the government class. They are the “wealth creators” for an entire infrastructure of social services built around them from the government officials who process their aid forms to the social workers who provide them with benefit counseling to the employees of those clinics who provide them with health care, and the extra teachers hired to help raise standards at their perpetually failing schools, the drug counselors who help them get clean and the police officers who break up their fights.
All or almost all of these people are members of unions. Those unions have their own employees. Those union employees have their own politicians. The politicians provide grants to the community social welfare infrastructure and generous benefits for union contracts. All this money and influence spins around the welfare family, but they only benefit from a minute fraction of it.
Around their dungheap, fly community groups and a horde of other private non-profits, “advocating” for them while operating on government grants. The buildings they live in are affordable housing projects built for them by the government, and cleaned, managed and repaired for them by government employees.
Homeowners must be alert to storm-chasing contractors who try to exploit the confusion after superstorm Sandy to make shoddy repairs or steal down payments, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud warns.
Most contractors are honest, but shady contractors typically descend on disaster areas such as those inflicted by Sandy, whose total damages could reach $50 billion.
Storm chasers typically go door-to-door seeking business. They’re often from out of state, incompetent and unlicensed. They intend to cheat anxious homeowners who urgently need repairs after the storm. Local contractors also may be dishonest.
Homeowners could lose thousands of dollars to contractor scams. Shoddy repairs also can take months to correct, making it harder for homeowners to put their lives back together again.
Contractor inquiries have ranked No. 1 for five straight years by the Better Business Bureau. Contractor-related complaints were ranked 3rd by the Consumer Federation of America for 2011. Home-improvement contractors were the No. 1 source of consumer complaints in New Jersey last year, reveals the state Division of Consumer Affairs.
Five Scams to Avoid
Pre-pay. The contractor demands a large cash payment upfront, then disappears after doing little or no work. The contractor also may illicitly require you to pay for bids.
Shoddy work. The work is low quality, using cheap or substandard materials. Homeowners may have to redo the entire job, often at their expense.
Phantom damage. A contractor creates storm damage. Nicking undamaged sidewall or roof shingles with a screwdriver to mimic hail damage is one come-on.
Inflated damage. Contractors may enlarge holes in a roof to increase their billings. Simply inflating the bill to include more work than was done is another ruse.
Pay your deductible. Offering to pay your insurance deductible to get your business typically is a come-on to lure you into fraudulent work.
Six Ways to Prevent Fraud
Avoid door-to-door contractors. These usually are the storm chasers who canvass damaged neighborhoods for repair jobs. All too often these contractors have fraudulent repairs in mind.
Verify license. Contact your state and local licensing agencies to ensure the contractor is licensed.
Work with your insurance company. Contact your insurer right away to help screen out scam artists. Work closely with your insurer throughout the claim process to assess the damage, determine what repairs are covered, and the cost. Get the right repairs done, and done right.
Watch for red flags. No business cards or referrals…P.O. Box instead of a street address…van looks rundown and has no company name…poor personal appearance…can’t show proof of workers compensation insurance or surety/performance bond.
Insist on a contract. Have a signed contract specifying exactly what work will be done, plus the price and repair schedule. Never sign a contract with blanks.
Contact local Better Business Bureau. Does the contractor have a history of complaints? See if the contractor has a BBB review.
For most of us, the word conjures up images of a spongy white unpalatable mass that is best left on the shelf of our local health food emporium.
But for New Jersey resident David Mintz, tofu is a magical substance that holds endless possibilities, particularly for the kosher consumer. For over thirty two years, Mintz’s Tofutti Brands has waved its magic wand, transforming soybean curd into numerous non-dairy delights, most notably, Tofutti, a non-dairy ice cream substitute available nationwide – and in thirty foreign countries.
There is no doubt that Mintz comes by his obsession for feeding people honestly. The son of a Williamsburg baker, he began his career in the food business in the mid 1960′s with a Catskills grocery store, quickly discovering that the real money was in selling prepared foods. He augmented his own recipe base by recruiting help from experienced cooks, by placing an ad in a local publication asking grandmothers to share their cooking secrets with him. Eventually, Mintz relocated to Brooklyn, opening two restaurants there, with a third on Manhattan’s East Side, in addition to a thriving catering business. While customer’s enjoyed Mintz’s menu, he was besieged with requests from those who wanted ice cream for dessert.
“Obviously I couldn’t serve ice cream after a meat based meal,” recalled Mintz. “I lost a lot of business that way. I even had people who would ask me to supply the food for an event and then they would bring in their own ice cream for dessert, but I couldn’t go along with that. I wondered what I could do to solve this problem and that was what spurred me on.”
Having read about tofu, which had long been used in China, Mintz ventured to Chinatown in order to conduct his own trials with the chameleon-like soybean curd. At first taste, tofu left a lot to be desired.
“It tasted like biting into a pillow,” reminisced Mintz.
Undaunted, Mintz began to experiment, discovering early on that while tofu made an impressive non-dairy sour cream substitute and incorporated it into numerous recipes, including quiches and dips. But turning tofu into ice cream was a much more difficult process, ultimately it took Mintz ten years.
“I would close my restaurant at nine and then would begin ‘Tofu Time’, when the ladies would work with me till two, three or even four in the morning, trying to create a passable ice cream product,” said Mintz. “There were so many disappointments and I can’t even begin to count how many times I nearly gave up.”
In fact, it was the Lubavticher Rebbe who provided Mintz with continuous encouragement during his ten-year odyssey.
“The whole block where my Manhattan restaurant was located was bought by Donald Trump in order to make way for Trump Plaza,” explained Mintz. “I kept asking for extensions, but they were razing the entire area and I had to leave. Rabbi Shlomo Riskin from the Upper West Side came into my restaurant and offered to help me out at a new location on 72nd and Broadway. I made all the arrangements and then I went to see the Rebbe for a bracha.”
The Rebbe categorically refused to give his blessing to the new restaurant.
“B’shum oyfen nisht, (Absolutely not),” declared the Rebbe.
“Why not,” queried Mintz. “It is a golden opportunity.”
“It is not for you,” responded the Rebbe.
Instead, the Rebbe encouraged Mintz to continue with his tofu experiments, assuring him divine assistance and ultimately worldwide success.
“The Rebbe was my driving force,” recalled Mintz. “He told me I could do the impossible and he urged me to have bitachon, to believe that Hashem would help me. There were many times I was ready to throw in the towel and then I would remember the Rebbe’s words. The next day, I would pick the towel up again and get back to work.”
Mintz’s earliest test runs, at the Welsh Farms plant in Long Valley, New Jersey, were nothing short of disastrous, as the Tofutti prototypes were too viscous for the ice cream machines and literally blew out of the presses, spraying geysers of the ice cream substitute all over the ceiling.