A GRAVE WARNING

A GRAVE WARNING

He’s wrong, at least in large part and as to ultimate effect.

The historian, at least. The reason the Roman state was the economic engine is the fact that the Roman state had in effect monopolized higher industries and technologies (used for architecture and building, military expansion and defense, manufacturing, mining, road building, ship building, etc.) and those capable of employing them.

The Roman economy was, in fact, far more reminiscent of the Nazi economy (a state-centered command and demand economy) and had been since the late Augustan age, than ours.

Having stripped away this human talent from elsewhere, and what the ancient world had as an equivalent of private enterprise (just as the Ptolemies did in Alexandria with all the scientists and inventors and philosophers and information specialists) was a Roman state that basically consumed all of the best pragmatic and technological specialists; engineers, administrators, military personnel, inventors, etc.

Once the state began to collapse there was, in effect, no private industry, markets, enterprises, or places to escape to. And trust me, if history is any guide at all then all states will eventually collapse. Entirely, or so thoroughly that it really doesn’t matter if it does survive in some crippled and hamstrung remnant.

He’s right about the fact that the state was the engine of growth, but wrong about that being any kind of real advantage. It assured that once the state had monopolized skills and industries and specializations and knowledge that any kind of state collapse would be utterly disastrous for the wider Roman world.

Once the state fell apart there was little to no private (or higher non-state) infrastructure left with which to rebuild it. The grand effect of relentless centralization is that once the center collapses so too must the frontiers.

This should be a definite warning to us. Binding American civilization wholly or too closely to the government of the United States is the mindset of a propagandized and state-educated fool.

Sure, we are still far from the state being the true engine of enterprise or the monopoly of most human talent in America (if anything the state is the very antithesis of most higher human talent and enterprise, or at least the counter to the same), but a great many ignorant and ill-educated people wish that were indeed the case.

A grave warning for us.

If you wish to bury America then make the state the center of anything and everything truly important.

That kind of ridiculous and simple-minded state-centered bullshit has been going on since Athens and Sparta and even far longer (the Assyrians, the Akkadians, the Hittites, and so on and so forth) and it rarely ends well.

Oh, it might go on a while, true enough, as long as your neighbors have nothing better to offer or are no stronger than you.

But once they do, or once they are, and your state collapses, so does your entire civilization.

Tying your civilization and its achievements and abilities too closely to your state is the most moronic of all human enterprises.

Don’t do it. It assures not only a steep and rapid decline of your nation, but an ultimate and thorough collapse of your entire civilization.

 

 

Why did the Roman Economy Decline?

I want to reflect on one leading account for the economic decline of Europe following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. I recently encountered an explanation of this decline that strikes me as deeply problematic.

This argument is worth paying attention to as it is advanced by Peter Brownof Princeton University, who is among my favorite historians of late antiquity, and the author of influential, insightful, and often beautifully written reflections on religion and society in the late antique world. As a writer, he has the ability to make the ancient world come alive in original and unexpected ways. I particularly admire his biography of Saint Augustineand recent work on wealth in early Christianity. Nevertheless, in recent work he has been advancing a particular explanation of the decline of the Roman empire which strikes me as incompatible with both basic economics and what we know about other comparable preindustrial societies.

I’ll focus on the summary of the argument that he presents in The Rise of Western Christendom (I’ve been reading the 2013 Tenth Anniversary Revised Edition). His presentation draws heavily on Christopher Wickham’s Framing the Middle Ages . But I focus on Brown’s version here.


It should be clear that I am writing this as an economist and not as an ancient historian. But the problem with Brown’s account does not lie with his treatment of evidence or mastery of the source material but in his use and misuse of economic concepts.


The Roman State as the Engine of Growth?

In the Rise of Western Christendom, Brown summarizes the new wisdom on the transition from late antiquity to the early middle ages. He accepts that this transition brought about an economic decline — a decline evident in the radical simplification in economic life that took place. Long distance trade contracted. Cities shrank and emptied out. The division of labor became less complex. Many professions common in the Roman world disappeared.

All of this is relatively uncontroversial. At issue is what caused this decline? Traditional accounts emphasized the destruction brought about by barbarian invasions and civil wars as the frontiers of the Western Empire collapsed. These accounts emphasized a collapse in trade and increased economic insecurity. Brown, however, argues that the bulk of modern research rejects this old fashioned view. Instead, according to Brown:

The fault lay with the weakening of the late Roman state. The state had been built up to an unparalleled level in order to survive the crisis of the third century. The “downsizing” of this state, in the course of of the fifth century, destroyed the “command economy” on which the provinces had become dependent (Brown 2013, 12).

The barbarian invasions, of course, play a role in this story because they put pressure on the Roman state. But their role is peripheral. Rather, Brown contends that the Roman state was the engine of economic growth of late antiquity. Turning on its head the old view associated with Michael Rostovtzeff that attributed the decline of the Roman economy to high taxes imposed by the Emperor Diocletian and his successors, Brown argues that these high taxes were in fact the source of economic dynamism:

High taxation did not ruin the populations of the empire. Rather, high tax demands primed the pump for a century of hectic economic growth. Fiscal pressure forced open the closed economies of the countryside. The peasantry had to increase production so as to earn the money with which to pay taxes” (Brown, 2013, xxv)

He unabashedly presents the state as key to the late Roman economy:

With its insistent gathering of wealth and goods through taxes and their distribution for the maintenance of large armies, of privileged cities, of imperial palaces, and of an entire ruling class implicated in the imperial system, the late Roman state was the crude but vigorous pump which had entered the circulation of goods in an otherwise primitive economy. When this pump was removed (as in Britain) or had lost the will to tax (as in Merovingian Gaul and in the other “barbarian” kingdoms) the Roman-style economy collapsed (Brown 2013, 13).

This, I should add, is not presented by Brown as a tentative hypothesis or conjecture, but introduced as the current historical consensus. Brown is damning of historians who deviate from it, and particularly contemptuous of those inane enough to blame the decline on invading hordes of Germanic barbarians.


Let us grant that Brown is correct to present this argument as the current consensus among historians of late antiquity. The problem with it is that it is at odds with what standard economics and with what economic historians know about other preindustrial societies. To see why it is so flawed, I’ve done my best to reconstruct the argument.

  1. The first premise of Brown’s argument is that the Roman state was a sufficiently large player in Roman economy, in terms of the taxes it collected, and the money it spent on wages and armaments, that a reduction in state expenditure would have had a major impact on the rest of the Roman economy. And that any reduction in state spending would not have been compensated for by an increase in private spending.
  2. The second critical premise in Brown’s argument is that, in the absence of the demands of the tax collector, peasants would not have participated in the market economy. When “the great engine of enrichment stalled and, eventually stopped,” Brown writes: “No longer disciplined by the tax collector, the peasantry slacked off. They returned to subsistence farming”. It is crucial for Brown’s thesis that, without the pressures of the state, peasants would have produced only for subsistence.
  3. The third premise is that urban economy of the Roman empire served solely or predominantly to satisfy demands of Roman elites whose incomes were crucially dependent on the state. So when these state incomes declined so did Roman cities.

From these three premises, it follows that when the ability of the Roman state to collect taxes and spend tax revenues became severely damaged in the fifth century, the Roman economy went into fairly rapid decline. No longer forced to pay taxes in cash, peasants ceased producing goods for market. No longer emporia for the disbursement of state largesse, the cities of the western Empire went into decline. As the Roman fiscal state declined:

incomes dwindled, the rich no long reached out, as they had done in the glory days of the fourth century, to buy fine pottery, statuary, high-quality wines and exotic foods. They made do with the products of their region.

This, then, is Brown’s explanation for the decline of the Roman economy. It turns out that when examined one by one each one of these premises is either on shaky grounds factually, economically, or requires us to make implausible assumptions.


I think the first premise rests on a misunderstanding of textbook Keynesianism. Simply put, conventional Keynesian theory suggests that in a recession when resources are unemployed, an increase in government spending can in the short-run increase aggregate demand (either directly or via inflationary expectations). The details of this simple proposition have been endlessly critiqued and debated. But we will skip over this. What is important to note is that for standard textbook Keynesianism, this is a short-run effect. In the textbook models aggregate demand should eventually recover (via the real-balance effect). Government spending has the ability to speed up the recovery.

None of this suggests that in the long-run government spending is required to “prime the pump”. Indeed this language suggests a misunderstanding. For conventional Keynesians, the multiplier on government spending boosts short-run aggregate demand, but aggregate demand is not the binding constraint on long-run growth, supply is; growth depends on the productive capacity of the economy.

If anything, the impact of the Roman tax state on the productive capacity of the economy was more likely to be negative rather than positive. Resources were diverted from the private hands of peasants, merchants and small landowners and diverted into the hands of soldiers and officeholders.

For Brown’s thesis to hold, therefore, the Roman economy must have been in danger of continuous secular stagnation. Brown’s second premise alludes to one such source of stagnation. If peasants refused to participate in the monied economy this could indeed be a source of involution. That is, if peasant incomes went up and they spent none of this on urban-based manufactured goods but consumed the entirety of their higher incomes in the form of greater leisure. That is, Brown’s argument requires that at the margin, peasants preferred additional leisure to the wide array of affordable manufactured consumers goods that were on offer in markets and shops across the Roman empire. This is not impossible. But it is at odds with what we know about peasant behavior in other commercial societies such as early modern Europe. If we relax this highly implausible assumption, then the argument that the urban economy required the fiscal-military state, falls apart.

A similar knife-edge assumption is required for his third premise. Research on the earlier Roman empire suggests that the large cities of the empire were not merely “consumer cities” parasitical on the countryside but centers of urban production and manufacturing (see). Brown’s argument requires us to believe that if, for instance, the Roman state stopped spending on armor and weapons in a city, then the blacksmith and armor manufacturer would go out of business. This is a classic case of focusing on the seen and missing the unseen. It neglects the fact that lower taxes would give individuals more disposable income and they would likely spend some of this income to purchase amphora, pottery, textiles or other urban goods that we know the Roman economy was capable of producing. The blacksmith might switch to producing pots and pans rather than swords but he would not then go out of business.


If Brown’s account is implausible, what does account for the decline? The best account I am aware of is Bryan Ward-Perkin’s The Fall of the Roman Empire and the End of Civilization which Brown dismisses as “tendentious and ill-supported polemics”.

The collapse of the Roman state was catastrophic, not because the Roman state was an engine of economic growth, as Brown contends, but because it provided, albeit imperfectly, the public good of defense. In the absence of this, transactions costs greatly increased, long-distance trade declined, markets contracted, and urbanization declined.


Addendum: The Size of the Late Roman state.

Here I explore a related aspect of Brown’s account that appears problematic: his claims about the size of the late Roman state.

Brown claims that the post-Diocletian Roman state was a “command economy” capable of mobilizing tremendous resources and driving the Roman economy. I am skeptical of such a description being an accurate description of a premodern state. Prior to the railway and telegraph, there were severe limits to ability of states to direct economic activity. To get a feel for things I tried a back of the envelope calculation of the size of late Roman fiscal military state.

The main component of the Roman state was the army. The army grew considerably after Diocletian’s reforms. The exact size of the new army is subject to considerable controversy. John Lydos estimated the Roman army to comprise 389,704 men and a navy of 45,562. The largest estimates are based on Agathias and date from the mid-sixth century. These suggest that the total size of army and navy was around 645,000 (580,000 in the army and around 65,000 in the navy). Historians tend to think these number are too high but we will accept them for the purpose of the argument (Agathias is critiquing the government of his day by showing that the army had declined greatly from the days of Diocletian).

Unfortunately estimates of the Roman population are extremely rough and we don’t have any good numbers of the 3rd century. The population of the Roman empire c. 160 is estimated to have been between 60–70 million. The population in 300 was likely lower than this, though it is unlikely that it was substantially smaller, as recent research suggests that the economic vitality of the empire did not collapse as rapidly in the 3rd century as was once thought.

If we take the largest estimate of the size of the Roman army and take a pessimistic view of Roman population in 300 estimating it to be 50 million (noting that is a pure guesstimate and not based on any definite evidence), we obtain an estimate that the Roman army made up 1.3% of the population. If we employ John Lydos’s numbers we obtain an estimate of 0.87% of the population.

These numbers do not suggest that the Roman army was especially large or burdensome in comparison to other advanced preindustrial societies. In the late seventeenth century, the armies of Louis XIV represented as much as 2% of the French population of 20 million. The Dutch Republic in the 1750s also employed 2% of its population in its armed forces (45,000 out of a population of 2.25 million). The Prussian state employed around 3.5% of its population in the army in the mid-eighteenth centuries. Even Britain employed around 1.2% of its population in its army as perhaps as much as 3.8% of its population in the navy at the height of the Napoleonic wars (approximately 400,000 out of a population of 10.5 million).

What about the size of the Roman bureaucracy? It is accepted that the bureaucracy of the principate was tiny (perhaps 10,000 individuals, many of them freemen and slaves of the imperial household). The late Roman bureaucracy was substantially larger. But even if the bureaucracy after Diocletian was ten or fifteen times larger than that of the Augustinian empire, it would not meaningfully change our comparisons. At most around 1.6 % of the population would have been state employees (either soldiers or bureaucrats).

These numbers are not trivial. They certainly attest to the tax-raising powers of the Roman state. The successor states would not be able to maintain professional armies or bureaucrats at all. Nevertheless, it seems implausible to describe a state that employed less than 2% of the population as a “command economy”.

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BILLIONAIRE SOLUTIONS

18 Quotations With Images (from Billionaires)

quotations with images

We all know them. Those damn lucky bastards at the helm of billion-dollar empires and in command of countless employees. From Oprah Winfrey to Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, rich people always helped shape the world we live in. Not only that, but they haunt us with their quotes. It’s annoying because the all principles from their quotations are correct. But their so damn hard to apply! It’s one thing to know the right path. Quite a different thing to walk it. These guys talk the talk because they’ve walked the walk.

Regardless, whether rich or poor, we can at least enjoy the philosophy from this rich folks and forget for a moment that they’re worth zillions of dollars. In the end, we’re all the same. Most of the people from the list below started out with nothing at all. They were dirt poor. I don’t believe in destiny or luck. There must have be something else at play in their equation ofgetting rich.
Let’s see if they are willing to share their insight and maybe we’ll catch a glimpse of how they made pennies from their thoughts.

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Andrew-Carnegie

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Bill-Gates

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Donald-Trump

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Elon-Musk

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Henry-Ford

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Jeff-Bezos

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-JK-Rowling

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-John-Rockefeller

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-JP-Morgan

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Mark-Cuban

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Mark-Zuckerberg

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Michael-Bloomberg

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Michael-Dell

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Oprah

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Sam-Walton

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Steve-Jobs

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Warren-Buffett

Worlds-Wealthiest-Advice-Warren-Buffett

TO STRIVE, OR NOT from THE BUSINESS, CAREER, AND WORK OF MAN

Without something to really strive against few people ever bother to strive. Without something to truly strive for few people ever bother to overcome their lack of striving.

 

PROPER MONEY MANAGEMENT from THE BUSINESS, CAREER, AND WORK OF MAN

When you engage in proper money management even the seemingly impossible often becomes certain in time. When you engage in improper money management even the probable becomes impossible in time.

WHEN GOVERNMENTS DIRECT from POLITICAL CAUSE

WHEN GOVERNMENTS DIRECT THE MARKETS

When governments direct markets the very best that they can possibly hope to achieve is misdirection.

 

Germany’s Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good

By SPIEGEL Staff

Photo Gallery: The Costs of Green EnergyPhotos
DPA

Germany’s agressive and reckless expansion of wind and solar power has come with a hefty pricetag for consumers, and the costs often fall disproportionately on the poor. Government advisors are calling for a completely new start.

If you want to do something big, you have to start small. That’s something German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier knows all too well. The politician, a member of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has put together a manual of practical tips on how everyone can make small, everyday contributions to the shift away from nuclear power and toward green energy. The so-called Energiewende, or energy revolution, is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s project of the century.

“Join in and start today,” Altmaier writes in the introduction. He then turns to such everyday activities as baking and cooking. “Avoid preheating and utilize residual heat,” Altmaier advises. TV viewers can also save a lot of electricity, albeit at the expense of picture quality. “For instance, you can reduce brightness and contrast,” his booklet suggests.Altmaier and others are on a mission to help people save money on their electricity bills, because they’re about to receive some bad news. The government predicts that the renewable energy surcharge added to every consumer’s electricity bill will increase from 5.3 cents today to between 6.2 and 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour — a 20-percent price hike.

German consumers already pay the highest electricity prices in Europe. But because the government is failing to get the costs of its new energypolicy under control, rising prices are already on the horizon. Electricity is becoming a luxury good in Germany, and one of the country’s most important future-oriented projects is acutely at risk.

After the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan two and a half years ago, Merkel quickly decided to begin phasing out nuclear power and lead the country into the age of wind and solar. But now many Germans are realizing the coalition government of Merkel’s CDU and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) is unable to cope with this shift. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the public has any more confidence in a potential alliance of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens. The political world is wedged between the green-energy lobby, masquerading as saviors of the world, and the established electric utilities, with their dire warnings of chaotic supply problems and job losses.

Even well-informed citizens can no longer keep track of all the additional costs being imposed on them. According to government sources, the surcharge to finance the power grids will increase by 0.2 to 0.4 cents per kilowatt hour next year. On top of that, consumers pay a host of taxes, surcharges and fees that would make any consumer’s head spin.

Former Environment Minister Jürgen Tritten of the Green Party once claimed that switching Germany to renewable energy wasn’t going to cost citizens more than one scoop of ice cream. Today his successor Altmaier admits consumers are paying enough to “eat everything on the ice cream menu.”

Paying Big for Nothing

For society as a whole, the costs have reached levels comparable only to the euro-zone bailouts. This year, German consumers will be forced to pay €20 billion ($26 billion) for electricity from solar, wind and biogas plants — electricity with a market price of just over €3 billion. Even the figure of €20 billion is disputable if you include all the unintended costs and collateral damage associated with the project. Solar panels and wind turbines at times generate huge amounts of electricity, and sometimes none at all. Depending on the weather and the time of day, the country can face absurd states of energy surplus or deficit.

If there is too much power coming from the grid, wind turbines have to be shut down. Nevertheless, consumers are still paying for the “phantom electricity” the turbines are theoretically generating. Occasionally, Germany has to pay fees to dump already subsidized green energy, creating what experts refer to as “negative electricity prices.”

On the other hand, when the wind suddenly stops blowing, and in particular during the cold season, supply becomes scarce. That’s when heavy oil and coal power plants have to be fired up to close the gap, which is why Germany’s energy producers in 2012 actually released more climate-damaging carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than in 2011.

If there is still an electricity shortfall, energy-hungry plants like the ArcelorMittal steel mill in Hamburg are sometimes asked to shut down production to protect the grid. Of course, ordinary electricity customers are then expected to pay for the compensation these businesses are entitled to for lost profits.

The government has high hopes for the expansion of offshore wind farms. But the construction sites are in a state of chaos: Wind turbines off the North Sea island of Borkum are currently rotating without being connected to the grid. The connection cable will probably not be finished until next year. In the meantime, the turbines are being run with diesel fuel to prevent them from rusting.

In the current election campaign, the parties are blaming each other for the disaster. Meanwhile, the federal government would prefer to avoid discussing its energy policies entirely. “It exposes us to criticism,” says a government spokesman. “There are undeniably major problems,” admits a cabinet member.

But this week, the issue is forcing its way onto the agenda. On Thursday, a government-sanctioned commission plans to submit a special report called “Competition in Times of the Energy Transition.” The report is sharply critical, arguing that Germany’s current system actually rewards the most inefficient plants, doesn’t contribute to protecting the climate, jeopardizes the energy supply and puts the poor at a disadvantage.

The experts propose changing the system to resemble a model long successful in Sweden. If implemented, it would eliminate the more than 4,000 different subsidies currently in place. Instead of bureaucrats setting green energy prices, they would be allowed to develop indepedently on a separate market. The report’s authors believe the Swedish model would lead to faster and cheaper implementation of renewable energy, and that the system would also become what it is not today: socially just.

Trouble Paying the Bills

When Stefan Becker of the Berlin office of the Catholic charity Caritas makes a house call, he likes to bring along a few energy-saving bulbs. Many residents still use old light bulbs, which consume a lot of electricity but are cheaper than newer bulbs. “People here have to decide between spending money on an expensive energy-saving bulb or a hot meal,” says Becker. In other words, saving energy is well and good — but only if people can afford it.

A family Becker recently visited is a case in point. They live in a dark, ground-floor apartment in Berlin’s Neukölln neighborhood. On a sunny summer day, the two children inside had to keep the lights on — which drives up the electricity bill, even if the family is using energy-saving bulbs.

Becker wants to prevent his clients from having their electricity shut off for not paying their bill. After sending out a few warning notices, the power company typically sends someone to the apartment to shut off the power — leaving the customers with no functioning refrigerator, stove or bathroom fan. Unless they happen to have a camping stove, they can’t even boil water for a cup of tea. It’s like living in the Stone Age.

Once the power has been shut off, it’s difficult to have it switched on again. Customers have to negotiate a payment plan, and are also charged a reconnection fee of up to €100. “When people get their late payment notices in the spring, our phones start ringing,” says Becker.

In the near future, an average three-person household will spend about €90 a month for electricity. That’s about twice as much as in 2000.Two-thirds of the price increase is due to new government fees, surcharges and taxes. But despite those price hikes, government pensions and social welfare payments have not been adjusted. As a result, every new fee becomes a threat to low-income consumers.

THE LESSON – THE BUSINESS OF BUSINESS

Last night, at our weekly Family Business Meeting important lessons were learned and important lessons were taught.

We had a half hour meeting to discuss old and new business and then I conducted an hour and a half meeting on stocks and successful stock investing, culminating in asking them to each have a profitable Blue Chip stock recommendation for me by next week in which they can invest. Also I asked for an assessment of which industry sectors most interested them when it came to investment.

This is hardly the first lesson they’ve had on investing, or even on stock investing, but it seems to have really sunk in quite well this time, for all of them. Most importantly my wife and children were able to correctly answer almost every question I put to them regarding stock investing. A superb omen for the future.

WEALTH AND WEAL FOR THE SOLDIER

Wealth and Weal for the Soldier: as some of you might know I’ve been outlining the idea behind several books, which involve teaching business, economic, financial, investment, and money management principles to people who usually get little training in this regard, or who have little exposure to such ideas, concepts, and principles (maybe because they have little time for it). In any case some of the audiences I have targeted to address my books on Wealth and Prosperity Training to include Wealth and Weal for Black Folks, Wealth and Weal for Poor People, Wealth and Weal for Immigrants, and Wealth and Weal for College Students.

Yesterday I was laying in the sun working on an invention when God suddenly said to me, “you know, those books on Wealth and Weal are pretty good ideas, but you know who else really needs that kinda training? A lot of Soldiers, and Police, and Firefighters.” And He was right of course, because that’s the way He is.

So I went inside and started jotting down chapter ideas. These would be chapters specifically targeted at these audiences. Such as:

Business Projects for the Soldier/Policeman
Inventions (triggered by where they serve)
Investment Principles
Service Capabilities (developing and profiting from new ways and capabilities to serve)
Operational Improvements (how to suggest and profit from advancing operational methods of service)
Service Entrepreneurism
Business and Career Idea Generation
Hazard Pay (how to profit from and invest your Hazard Pay)
Budgeting
Developing Supplementary methods and means of Income
Preparing for and Pre-Developing Your Post Service Career
Business, Career, and Employment Planning
Spiritual Development and Religious Life
Family Life
Psychological Health and Development
Networking – in and out of Service
Contacts – military, civilian, political, and among your Service Zones

THE BEST BUSINESS, AND THE WORST

Map: The Best And Worst Countries For Business 2014

Forbes’ annual ranking of the Best Countries for Business grades countries on 11 different metrics, including property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape, investor protection and stock market performance (click here for complete coverage). This year Denmark returns to the top spot, where it ranked three straight years between 2008 and 2010.

We enlisted mapping firm Esri this year to plot the top 25 and bottom 10 countries on an interactive world map that allows users to scan through the countries and access basic economic data by clicking on a country name (see below). Europe dominates the top 25 with more than 70% of the entries. These countries score well almost across board on trade and personal freedom, as well as innovation and corruption. The Asia-Pacific region landed five locales on the list with the U.S. and Canada making up the final components of the top 25. The U.S. ranks No. 18 this year, down four spots from 2013. It is the fifth straight year of declines for the world’s largest economy.

African nations make up 60% of the bottom 10 with high levels of corruption, red tape and taxes registering as major issues. Guinea, which is at the center of the Ebola breakout, brings up the rear at No. 146.

 

MONEY AND POWER 101

As a child my parents taught me almost nothing at all about money. (Other than earn and save it.) Despite the fact that my father was a successful tool and die maker, an inventor, and had owned and sold his business (at a nice profit) I nevertheless received a very scant education in money matters.

I remember many times, seeing my parents doing their taxes and asking them, “teach me about taxes, teach me about money, and how this works.”

They always basically told me, “You’re a child, you don’t need to worry about this right now, you’ll learn about this when you grow up – on your own.”

I guess that was simply the Weltanschauung of their generation and age. It is, however, not mine.

Because of that when I entered college, and for the rest of my life, I have been learning about business, capital, Capitalism, economics, finance, investment, money, and all other related money-matters. Money is a big part of my Personal-Education Plan (PEP Program), and my self developed IEA (Individual Education Account).

When I first got married I realized pretty quickly that my wife had no idea about money, how it operated, or why it worked as it did. She, likewise, had little to no real education on money matters from her parents either.

Determined not to let financial ignorance and bad money management work against her, me, our marriage, or in the lives of my children I have developed Economic and Monetary Educational Materials to use for their instructional benefit. Since I homeschooled my children for their entire primary educational period (pre-college) I made sure to incorporate both basic and advanced course materials on budgeting, business, Capitalism, career, economics, entrepreneurship, finances, investment, profit, etc. I also make sure they practice what they learn. Both are far better at money matters than I was at their age.

I am to the point now that regardless of what happens to me I feel confident that they are in possession of enough useful materials, and have been trained and habituated in such a way as to assure they will be successful in their own businesses, careers, and with money.

Below you will find a very basic summary of the most fundamental things I have taught them concerning money. They are well advanced beyond these simple ideas, but, in starting any venture it is always necessary to begin with the fundamentals. Often, over the course of time, it is necessary to return to the fundamentals as well.

Beneath the section on Money and Power 101 is a short document I developed regarding the Hoards I believe each person should develop over their lifetimes and how to employ and use these Hoards.

This “List of Hoards” is hardly exhaustive, but it does include most of the Hoards I consider most basic, except for the Word Hoard. Which technically could be a part of your Charisma Hoard, but really I consider a person’s language, linguistic, and vocabulary (Word) hoards to be an entirely separate set of treasures.

I offer these posts in the hopes that they may assist you, especially if you are just starting out in the world, to master your own Money and to develop the Hoards that you will find most useful.

I do not insist you necessarily agree with my definitions, but I do urge you to make your own studies of Money and the Power it engenders, I do urge you to master Money (rather than be mastered by it, wither as a poverty-stricken person or as a wealthy person), and I do urge you to develop and grow your own Hoards.

You will thank yourself for such efforts later on in life, and very likely the world will thank you for having made such efforts.

Comments are welcome.

____________________

MONEY AND POWER 101

MONEY is the financial power to do as you need and wish in the world. The more money your have the more power you have, the less money you have the less power you have.

SURPLUS is the amount of anything you have in excess to your actual or current needs. Your surplus should always be as great as possible of imperishable items.

PROFIT is the amount of money earned or generated in excess of expenditures.

INSURANCE is a money pool set aside for emergencies. If possible it is best to self-insure.

TAXES are the amount of money lost or exhausted to an individual by being seized by the government.

EARNINGS are the amount of money you generate for yourself through various actions of Work. Earnings are divided into three separate subcategories.

Income is the total amount of earnings one generates through all earnings sources. Originally it was that income (come-in) generated by investments.

Investments is the amount of earnings generated by whatever vehicles one is invested (vested) in. Investments are earnings or income vehicles generated by Risk.

Salaries or Wages is the amount of earnings generated by working for or laboring for others paid in the form of salary or wages. (Time or Work for money.)

SAVINGS – the amount of money already earned but not invested or spent but retained for long term goals or for emergencies.

EXPENDITURES – all monies spent to buy or pay for non-income producing items or services

Bills and Living Expenses – those monies paid to creditors or service providers for goods and services purchased. Bills and Living Expenses are monies lost to others.

Necessities – those monies expended for all goods and services of a necessary nature: food, shelter, power, necessary maintenance, etc.

Emergencies – those monies expended for emergencies and immediately unforeseen expenses, such as medical bills and repairs.

Entertainment – those mines expended for entertainment, recreation, etc.

GIVING – all monies given to the care and well-being of others to service their needs, also any resources given to others for their support.

Charity – giving to Church and/or Charitable causes with the intention of supporting the long term needs of an individual or an organization.

Philanthropy – giving to humane and other causes with the intent of addressing or solving specific needs or problems or projects. For instance one might found or support a philanthropic enterprise to support literacy, to build a hospital, to fund a scholarship, etc.

PREPARATION – always keep your money growing, in motion, invested, and in use for worthwhile things. Always plan as far ahead as possible regarding expenditures to be made. Always have accurate and complete information about all aspect s of your money and how it will be used.

RISK – all enterprises require risk. Risk is the amount of danger required to service a worthwhile enterprise or investment relative to the potential reward or Return on Investment (ROI) the enterprise or investment will generate (in the case of business, financial, and monetary activity). Generally speaking the higher the risk the greater the return or reward, and the lower the risk the lower the return or reward. However measures should always be taken to favorably mitigate risk as much as possible.

REWARD – is the amount of gain generated by the successful conclusion or progress of a worthwhile Risk. Another term that is synonymous with reward in financial and monetary matters is Return on Investment, which is a measure of gain generated by risk relative to the danger of initial loss of the initial loss of the investment.

MONEY – having more than enough money needed to meet all of your needs and the needs of others should make you happy. Making money should make you happy, and having a large surplus of money should be associated with pleasant thoughts and feelings and with security. Money is a personal, physical, financial, economic, psychological, social, and spiritual force, or power, and should be treated and employed as such. Money should not master a man, either by having too little, or by being consumed and over-powered by it. Money is a servant, not a Lord.

CAPITALISM – is that form of economic activity, or that system of economics, that seeks to build and generate Capital Pools, or reserves of money, that can thereafter be employed to build businesses, funneled into investments, grow and expand enterprises, etc. and thereby generate even more Capital and ever larger reserves of Profits. Capitalism depends on the fact that money is constantly invested and employed and that new ventures and enterprises are continually started and grown so as to continually create New Wealth. Capitalism also depends heavily upon Free and Unfettered Markets.

 

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THE HOARDS

ACTIVE HOARDS

Always make ongoing use of and constantly develop your hoards for an unused hoard is useless and an undeveloped hoard has no value.

 

ABILITY HOARD – every ability, capability, skill, and talent that a person possesses and develops in life

ACHIEVEMENT HOARD – every good and worthwhile achievement or enterprise that a person ever accomplishes

CHARISMA HOARD – all beneficial influence and powers of persuasion an individual possesses to sway others to participate in worthwhile endeavors

CHARITY AND PHILANTHROPY HOARD – all charitable and philanthropic works that one engages in to assist others

CREATION AND WORK HOARD – everything of value that a person creates, and all of the valuable Work that one ever does over the course of life.

ESTATE AND LAND HOARD – all estates, lands, and real properties that one owns or controls

INVESTMENT HOARD – all good and profitable investments that a person is engaged in or is participating in

RELATIONSHIP HOARD – all beneficial relationships which an individual may rely upon for advancement, comfort, friendship, and support

TREASURE HOARD – all objects, things, or possessions that are of economic, monetary, and physical value

VIRTUE HOARD – all of the Virtues that a person possesses and can command within his person

BLESSINGS, HEIRLOOMS, LEGACIES, AND INHERITANCE – all of the blessings, heirlooms, legacies, and inheritances passed down by one individual or one generation to another

THE WILLING SLAVE from POLITICAL CAUSE

When a nation begins to willfully confuse liberty with license it will certainly willingly confuse self-discipline with slavery

ALWAYS CHOOSE THE BEST MAN FOR THE JOB

Very well observed…

Obama’s Ebola Czar Is A Dangerous Mistake: Here Are 3 Who Could Do The Job

President Obama made a monumental mistake in appointing a political hack, Ron Klain, as the Ebola czar. He must undo his error now and give the job to someone of stature and genuine ability. For all the Administration’s what-me-worry posturing and the President’s obvious indifference and annoyance with the crisis, this strain of Ebola could still become a catastrophic pandemic of historic lethality. Hopefully authorities will succeed in containing the disease, except for isolated cases, to West Africa, and then eradicate it there and globally. Even if this becomes the outcome, we should be better prepared for future mutations of Ebola or other lethal viruses. As for this strain of Ebola, read the sobering post of Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former deputy commissioner of the FDA: “We don’t fully understand this Ebola strain…In short, we are treading on uncharted ground.”

In alphabetical order, here are three individuals the President should consider immediately for this crucial post:

article continued on Forbes link.

MULTIPLYING BOTH PEOPLE AND PROFIT

Concur.

It has been my personal experience that profits wisely shared with Wise Employees only serve to multiply profits.

 

Why The Container Store Pays Its Retail Employees $50,000 A Year

Kip TindellAP/Mark LennihanThe Container Store founder and CEO Kip Tindell.
Despite starting out with just a $35,000 investment in 1978, The Container Store founder and CEO Kip Tindell has grown his business to one that has 67 US locations and rings up annual sales of nearly $800 million.

 

Equally impressive is the fact that he’s done all that while paying his retail employees nearly twice the industry average.

 

According to Tindell’s book, “Uncontainable,” the average Container Store retail salesperson makes nearly $50,000 a year compared with what the Bureau of Labor Statistics says is a national average of just above $25,000.

 

In an interview with Business Insider’s Jenna Goudreau, Tindell says the secret to the company’s high wages is what he calls “the 1=3 rule,” meaning that one great employee will be as productive as three employees who are merely good.

 

As a result, Tindell feels he gets ahead by receiving three times the productivity of an average worker at only two times the cost.

 

“They win, you save money, the customers win, and all the employees win because they get to work with someone great,” he tells Business Insider.

A THING UNQUESTIONED from THE BUSINESS, CAREER, AND WORK OF MAN

A thing unquestioned and untested is unproven and unimprovable.

PROFITS AND THE PROPHETS OF PROFIT

My daughter is young and has recently had a few new jobs. These are her first jobs (entry-level) and we are letting her work some during her gap year between graduation and college. She was not allowed to work during the time she was homeschooled and prior to graduating High School.

(This is the way my parents did it as well, although I was not homeschooled. That is to say that I was not allowed to work a real job, except during the summers, before graduating High School although on the weekends as I got older I would often sneak off on my own and work secretly without them knowing of it.)

Anyway, that aside being what it is, my daughter has recently held a job at a deli preparing food. At the close of each business day any food not sold must be disposed of. And so they do. By throwing it away like garbage.

Now I fully understand as both a business and a health matter that any food that might be rotten or unsanitary in any way must be disposed of in this way. But what about the food that has simply gone unsold during the day’s normal business operations?

Many employees have written to the owner of this particular establishment asking, even begging, that this food not be disposed of meaninglessly but rather be donated to public shelters or to the homeless or the poor.

The owner’s answer to these requests has, so far at least, always been along these general lines, “I pay for the food and pay my employees to prepare and sell the food for a profit, if I give the left-over food away for nothing I make the same profit as if I just throw it away (that being none) so it is easier to just throw it away.”

Now I fully understand that as businessman this can be a somewhat complicated and even tricky issue for several different reasons. First of all, you have individuals, people who could easily work to make the money to buy their own food but choose not to harassing you all of the time for “free food,” especially at closing time. Many people nowadays feel as if they are owed something and will happily beg and live a life of outright dependency simply because they can, not because they must or should. They wish to be a consumer of society only, and never a real producer. How do you avoid encouraging or promoting this disastrous habit (and it is a disastrous and malignant habit – both individually and societally) by giving away free food to undeserving recipients?

Secondly you might very well end up with several organizations vying for your leftover food, and how do you determine who is truly needy or in the most need. (This might be the organizational equivalent of the undeserving individual, or it might simply be an honest contest between equally needy or equally responsible organizations.) Indeed nowadays you might even inspire bad publicity from one organization or another offended that you chose another cause over them in their quest to obtain your leftover foods.

Third, as a businessman (or as anyone who has ever started-up or run their own business or company) I know that there is the simple but sometimes daunting logistical problem(s) involved – how is this left-over food distributed, to whom, where, and when?

Finally there is the liability issue. Suppose some of your donated leftover food is consumed by someone who becomes ill, and regardless of whether it can be reliably and scientifically established that your organization was at fault, or not, you might still face a lawsuit or at least the threat of one at some point in the future?

Now, as I said above I am fully aware of the difficulties involved in giving away free and left-over food in this manner. I happen to agree that all of the points I addressed above are valid concerns and worth consideration. They are all liabilities arguing against the giving away of free and left-over food at the end of each business day. (And since food is an immediately perishable item it is difficult to store and properly retain, it is not like simply putting paper products into inventory. Food must be used and used quickly, or it will be wasted. Therefore it has a very short-lived half and shelf life.)

However, all of that being said and true, I am nevertheless both a Cristian and a Capitalist. In either case I do not believe in or find it to be a good business or personal or economic or even spiritual practice to needlessly waste perfectly good resources (even if those resources have a very short useful shelf-life).

And to be perfectly honest there are viable and workable solutions to each problem I listed above. You could rather easily (though it may take some time and experimentation) develop a relationship with reputable non-profit organizations that assist and feed the homeless, the helpless, the poor, the wounded veteran, or the medically disabled. You could develop contractual agreements with such organizations that state that they accept any left-over foods at their own risk and that you are free of liability.

(An unnecessary risk you say, and not worth the effort? Well, anyone who works with food knows that sooner or later, either through the food itself or through the employee handling it, you will make a customer or client ill, possibly even, though no fault of your own – such as undetected infection at a processing plant – kill someone with the food you serve. Tragic accidents such as those occur all of the time handling food, and although people don’t like to even honestly and realistically consider the idea, it is true. Sooner or later, whether the food be sold or given away as free leftovers, someone will be made sick or worse by consuming it.)

As for encouraging unnecessary and counterproductive dependence in the lazy and slothful, that will require a policy similar to that of determining the best organizations to work with in distributing the leftover food. You don’t want to give your leftover foods to the lazy and irresponsible but to the deserving, hard-working, truly indigent, and responsible end-user. But that can be done.

Finally, as regards the logistical problem(s) you can insist that anyone that takes the left-over food do so at their own expense, that they provide their own pick-up and transportation services so that this does not eat into your own profit or disrupt your own business operations. The risks might seem great at first glance, but each problem is soluble and just to be honest all of life and all of business is, by very nature, risk. Modern people might not like to hear that, they might do all they can to flee risk or to mitigate risk (and mitigating truly reckless risk is always wise, mitigating all risk always foolish) or to simply avoid risk, but the truth remains business and life itself is risk. That’s just the way life works. Many modern people don’t like that fact but it still remains, and will remain for the foreseeable future, a true and unavoidable fact. Business is risk. Life is risk.

Now let me return to the fact that I am both a Christian and a Capitalist.

As a Christian I am in no way in favor of unnecessarily wasting resources, especially resources that given our current national and world economy people are both in desperate need of, and which are perishable and not immediately replaceable or retainable (to many at least). As a Christian I do not want to encourage dependency but personal productivity, and the useful and vital employment of each individual’s particular talents. That is one reason we exist as human beings, to make best and most productive use of our individual human and God-given talents. Yet I am also fully aware by both simple observation and personal experience that individual people fall on hard times, become injured or ill on occasion, or become faced with some problem (sometimes unwittingly, sometimes through no fault of their own) that they cannot solve alone. That is exactly when charity is most needed and most effective. Therefore it behooves the Christian businessman, or any businessman, to remember those salient facts of human existence. And to assist others whenever and wherever and however they can. This is not only a business matter, it is a moral matter.

As a Capitalist I am also acutely aware of this Truth – the injured or ill man, the needy man, the indigent man, the man who yesterday or today was down on his luck or awash in unfortunate circumstances may very well tomorrow be the successful man, the profitable person, the businessman, a potential partner, or even a wealthy client or customer. Capitalism feeds itself in this way, as it should, for it is not a static and self-consuming economic system (when functioning properly and when properly applied) such as socialism, but a dynamic and vital system that continually makes millionaires of paupers, and sometimes paupers of the wealthy. Therefore as a Capitalist it is a reckless and entirely self-defeating act to ever senselessly waste vital and useful resources; especially much needed resources that perish quickly. Resources that could save and rebuild lives. Just to be honest to waste food is an entirely anti-Capitalistic idea because contrary to the current and popular misconception of Capitalism as a purely profit-driven (in the low sense of the term) and inhuman mechanism (it is definitely not) it is always actually an entirely voluntary exchange of free human motivations and drives seeking both best self-interest and the best self-interest of the other in commercial and social exchange. For if your client and customer always remains indigent and poor and ill and incapable then he is also too indigent and too poor and too incapable to purchase your own products and services. Especially your best products and services. In other words the poor client or customer is not a good client and customer, whereas the wealthy client and customer is a good client and customer (in a business and commercial sense). Therefore the Wise Capitalist seeks communal and mutual Profit, not just individual and personal Profit. The True and High Minded Capitalist is like the True and High-Minded Christian, he knows that the better off is the Other Person, then the better off is he himself. And it will always be that way. The profits lay in the margins of advantage between the Self and Other, not in the separating disadvantages between the self and the other.

Therefore my conclusions in this matter are that it is both a senseless and anti-Capitalistic act to dispose of and waste food such as my daughter’s employer and business owner does, and an immoral and un-Christian act to do so.

This is not even to mention the obverse of the equation: the possible enormous public relations advantages that might be gained by being widely known as a responsible, morally-driven, and socially beneficial company or corporation as well as a highly-profitable one, both now and in the future.

I am writing this article therefore, and this is far from all that might be said on the issue (as a matter of fact this might even become an Interactive Essay on the issue, and perhaps it should), so that currently operating companies and corporations can take a good and honest look at their own operations in this regard. Are you needlessly and senselessly wasting valuable customer, human, and property resources merely because you have a misguided conception of both Capitalism and Profit, or merely because you fear risk in making and developing your True and Foundational Profits?

Because if so then I say to you, my friend, “there are profits, and then there are Prophets of Profits.”

Be not a slave to mere profits, but rather a Great Prophet of High-Profits. And you will discover that as a result not only you, but the whole world will thrive.

THE 3 DAY WORK WEEK… NO THANK YOU

Not for me it won’t. I may be a kind of throwback but Work is far too enjoyable and far too important a part of my very Nature for me to limit it to 3 days per week. As a matter of fact I often Work 7 days a week if you count having ideas and making notes about projects I intend to later pursue.

I cannot imagine only wanting to work 3 days per week or how unfulfilling that would be, but to me it would be extremely unfulfilling. Now if someone wants to pay me 7 days worth of compensation for 3 days worth of Work and effort than that is fine by me, But I would not simply screw away the other two days. I’d find something productive to do with them, and  Work on that thing.

By the way simply having more time will not buy you more opportunities, more things, or more useful and fun activities or experiences. More money allows you to buy more control over your time, but more time alone will not purchase anything other than unproductive and wasted time.

More money will allow you to purchase more control of your life, but more time without more money will purchase nothing in itself. It is the time-to-money-ratio that is the pathway to profit and control of your time and resources, not the time in exchange for money ratio.

 

Carlos Slim: The 3-day work week will happen

October 8, 2014: 12:11 PM ET

The richest man in the world thinks you’re working too much.

Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecom tycoon worth over $80 billion, believes life would be better with a three-day work week.

“You should have more time for you during all of your life — not when you’re 65 and retired,” Slim told CNNMoney’s Christine Romans on Tuesday.

But if Slim had his way, people would also work longer days and much later in life. He suggested 11-hour shifts and pushing the retirement age to 75.

Slim raised eyebrows over the summer by calling for a three-day work week, but he doubled down on that proposal on Tuesday.

“I am sure it will happen,” the 74-year-old told CNNMoney, though he conceded he’s not sure when.

While “machines should work 24 hours and services should work as much as possible,” Slim said people deserve more time for entertainment, family and to train for better jobs.

Related: World’s shortest work weeks

He also believes the radical change would give younger workers more opportunity to enter the workforce and be a positive for the economy and financial markets.

“It’s a society of knowledge and experience. You have better experience and knowledge when you are 60, 65 and 70,” Slim said.

The $83 billion man: It’s an interesting idea considering the source: a self-made billionaire who Forbes estimates is worth about $83 billion. Slim has been alternating the crown for the world’s richest man with Microsof (MSFT, Tech30)founder Bill Gates, whose wealth is valued at nearly $81 billion…

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