World’s Top Golf Resorts: Train and Play for Your Vacation!

September 11, 2016

The finest golf resorts in the United States, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean can be your choice for your next vacation. Make it a train-and-play golf vacation! So many package deals are available to make your trip much more than a break from your routine. A golf vacation will be a practical experience of improving your golf game, enjoying a phenomenally peaceful and luxurious setting, and visiting a different state or a different country! This planning guide will point you to some of the best-rated golf resorts in the world.Whether you ultimately book for yourself or through an experienced golf travel specialist, begin your research online where you can find premium golf courses and travel bargains. Rates, resort amenities and golf course details are available. But look further for the packages that include airfare, hotel accommodations and green fees to get your best value. The typical packaged Golf Resort Vacation will include most of these features:Airfare
Resort Accommodations
Confirmed Tee Times
Prepaid Green Fees
Shared Cart for 18 Holes
Equipment Rental
Golf Lessons
Meals at Exclusive Restaurants
Transfers to the Course
Transfers to the Airport
All Taxes and Service ChargesGolf courses are planned in lovely surroundings where you can take in sea breezes or views of lush vegetation, and you can combine golf with other resort amenities to provide a well-rounded vacation.For instance, try one of the many glamorous Club Med Golf Resorts with beautiful fairways in the most unforgettable, inviting locations around the world. Club Med offers deals including the best equipment and golf lessons for all levels! Its locations include Cancun, Mexico, as well as Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Other locations span the world: Turks and Caicos, Mauritius, Portugal, France, Italy, Brazil, Thailand, Morocco, Egypt, Senegal, and in the United States–Sandpiper Bay, Florida.

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Scotland has some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world and there are approximately 100 resorts, called “golf hotels,” among the 500-plus golf courses throughout the country. Best known are Turnberry, Gleneagles and The Old Course Hotel St. Andrews. Each of these has spa, leisure facilities, excellent restaurants and “golf tuition” packages for all levels.Mexico has numerous golf resorts perched in luxurious coastal locations. There are golf resorts at Cancun, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos. Also, Mexico has its championship Baja version of California’s famous “Pebble Beach” golf resort, called Bajamar, only a few hours’ drive from San Diego in Ensenada.For the United States, check online for some of the golf resorts suggested by key magazines such as Golflink’s which publishes The Top 100 United States Golf Courses. This issue ranks the best out of more than 21,000 public and private golf courses across the country. However, within that one hundred courses, you want to search for the resorts with package programs and golf lessons. Among the top hundred, you will find that the main vacation-destination states with golf resorts are in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas. Let’s review these states for their best locations:In sunny, always temperate Florida, Club Med’s Sandpiper Bay Golf Academy offers 2-day and 3-day golf courses. The Academy includes all aspects of the game, such as Chipping, Putting, Bunker, Pitching and Lob Shot, Full Swing with Irons and Woods. A video analyzing your swing is provided, as well as an optional video comparing your swing to that of a pro player. Also, the area within and around Miami has regional golf resorts for year-round vacationing. Each resort offers on-site amenities and services, both on and off the course, and minutes away from major Miami attractions, like South Beach and Miami MetroZoo. You will have a multitude of options during a golf vacation here.
Arizona has a climate that is suitable for many months of the year and Scottsdale has nearly 200 golf courses, many with the picturesque backdrop of the Sonoran Desert. It is a golf destination with golf schools and pro shops. Here, many resorts offer high-quality accommodations and championship golf courses. Most golf resorts offer packages where hotel guests can have discounted green fees. Also, Sedona, Arizona, offers numerous golf resorts with a mild year-round climate and spectacular red-rock scenic views.
In California, Pebble Beach has been known for being a small coastal golf destination nestled in beautiful Monterey County. It is home of the prominent Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Pebble Beach Lodge and the prestigious Inn at Spanish Bay. Each year, golfers return to rub shoulders with golf professionals and experience nature at its finest on the magnificent golf course laid out by leading golf course designers. The harmony of golf layouts and the majestic coast are awe-inspiring!
Another golfer’s paradise is conveniently located along the south Atlantic coast at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. It combines natural beauty and world-class golf on a barrier island 12 miles long and five miles wide. Nicklaus, Palmer and other golf legends have frequently played these championship courses. Since the first course opened at Sea Pines in 1961, there are now emerald links at Harbour Town and outstanding courses in Bluffton, as the Hilton Head area has become a major golf center. It is legendary for its spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, scenic marshes, and maritime forests with abundant wildlife. The temperate climate and year-round sunshine also makes Hilton Head Island the perfect place to tee off.
Las Vegas, Nevada, is quietly emerging as one of the United States’ fastest growing golf destinations amidst the glitz and glamour of its casinos. The city’s huge convention center and innumerable hotel rooms make it a natural haven for large-scale golf events. With the year-round sunshine and mild temperatures, and plenty to do after a full day of playing golf from gambling to seeing entertaining shows, this golf destination will continue to grow.
CNN ranked Austin, Texas the No. 1 city for golf in its Golf.com of 2010. Framed by the Texas Hill Country, Austin’s golf courses are among the best in the United States. The region is highlighted by the Wolfdancer Golf Club which was named No. 56 in Golfweek’s top 100 resort golf courses in 2009. In addition to being a great contemporary music city, and home of numerous celebrities, Austin offers vacationing golfers great barbeque, an idyllic, year-round climate and luxury accommodations.

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Your best package deal will be at all-inclusive resorts, where air flight, lodging, meals and golf activities are rolled into one price. On the other hand, consider traditional hotels and resorts in the locations suggested. With a little online planning, one of the finest golf resorts in the world can be your affordable choice. Enjoy the location, the exploration of the region while you improve your golf game and provide a joyful, well-rounded vacation for your family and loved ones!(c) 2012 Elizabeth McMillian

How to Choose the Right Accounting Audit Software for Your Business

September 29, 2016

Audit professional should take his time and review available software solutions solutions on the market. Comparison, research helps, but I what I would suggest is checking testimonial section of each software provider homepages. Check if there are big companies listed among clients, what sort of services they provide. That helps to understand if solution you are willing to buy is worth it.Another great strategy is before you decide what tools to buy, or should you purchase new version of your current software, go to LinkedIn. Yes it is professional social community, where business representatives communicate with each other, share their thoughts, opinions and ideas. But, have you heard how powerful are GROUPS there. Probably not, people are not usually sharing that. In Linked in groups you can find excellent professionals that may really help you with advice or feedback regarding software you are interested in or searching for. Simply find a group for accountants, auditors or network administrators and Post a question about what tools people are using or ask to give you a feedback on any specific audit software product. I bet, in the next 3 hours, you will receive the most professional recommendations that will help you to save your budget and decide the most functional software tools.

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Another great way to get professional advice and recommendation is CPA forums. You probably heard about these communities, simply Google it and you ll find a lot of them in the first 10 search results. Usually they all have threads regarding audit software. Post a new thread asking for advice or follow the discussion. Usually these communities are small, but you will not find beginners there, it’s highly professional audience that is ready to help.

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By following these simple rules you will not waste money and time on useless audit software that don’t have enough functionality to keep your work efficient.

Employment Working From Home – The Good News and the Bad News

August 16, 2016

Employment working from home can cost you a fortune and incur massive risk, traditional business models have the person working from home become effectively employed by their own business and trading their hours for dollars. Risks include, large start up costs that may never be recouped, huge quantities of certain stock that may never be sold, debt (if you manage to obtain it) keeping your stress and risk levels high.Knowing this I spent a lot of my time reading books and searching for a way to achieve employment working from home. This is when I stumbled upon Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. He explains a very important concept called the cash flow quadrant. It basically categorises people into 4 types: E – for employed, trading hours for dollars and having their big boss earn the real money, S – for self employed, a restaurant owner or even someone achieving employment working from home without a system that detaches themselves from the concept of hours worked equals dollars made, I – the investor who has large amounts of money which in turn makes them more money and finally B – for business, that is people who have a business system that works for them and has them earning residual income – that is income that continues to flow to us after we have stopped working.

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So how do we achieve this business system without having any huge risk, cash outlay or even initially having to quit our jobs? It is called network marketing. It allows you to achieve employment working from home with little cost and little time commitment. Let’s take an example. I go to the movies to see Inception or Avatar and I love the film. I then tell 5 of my friends how much I loved the film and they all go and see the film. Am I going to get paid for recommending the film to them? No. Network marketing however cuts out the middle men and allows you to recommend products and services to your friends and family and people you meet every day and get paid for it. Employment working from home can definitely be achieved here.

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Network marketing has really come of age and is recommended by Robert Kiyosaki, a world renowned financial expert, as the business of the 21st century. But even still, how do we know which company is the best? How do we know that our products will be loved and that we will be paid well for our efforts? Research! Renowned magazine Network Marketing Today every year gives out awards for the top network marketing companies helping people achieve employment working from home.

Bioware is an Example to Other Game Companies

September 27, 2016

Bioware is a rare breed in the gaming industry today. Even being owned by EA has not taken away their ability to craft grand tales and immerse the player in a universe so vast it takes 40+ hours and multiple play through’s to uncover all the content.I believe that Bioware serves as an example to other gaming companies about how to develop great games. If you look at Bioware’s line-up throughout the years they have a number of outstanding gaming properties. Some like KOTR (Knights of the Old Republic) and Mass Effect are considered two of the best RPG’s of all time.

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Even though there are complaints about DragonAge because of the graphics and or game play, it still has gotten fan approval and strong reviews. It’s because Bioware tells a story like no one else on the gaming industry today. They make you care about the characters, and they let you play out the story as good or bad, or anywhere in between. Their games always give you a reason for multiple play through’s, and there is always new stuff to uncover.Bioware does not spend time on bad games or producing mediocre entertainment. They listen to the gaming community, and they take the time to produce quality. Their PC games come with a tool kit so the community can change or enhance the game, which means their PC games a lot of re-playability.

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Other companies need to play games like Mass Effect 1 & 2 so they can understand what a quality game is about. As gamers we want to play games that are most importantly fun. Bioware understands this and that is why their games rate so highly over the years.Thanks Bioware, you set a strong example to follow.

When You Tell People How To Make Money Online They Question It

August 11, 2016

For the longest time the Internet would scare people away when it came to earning money. They felt they could not handle the process. More and more people are trying to earn money online than ever before. Much of this can be attributed to the economy that has been struggling throughout the world. Even if you tell people how to make money online many times that still will not help. You think telling people how the process works is all you would need to do. The truth is many times it never works out for some people. Here is why for some making money online can be a real tough proposition.Getting a check from the Internet is something millions have never enjoyed, but just as many have. The lure of being able to sit in front of your computer and earn money is what keeps people coming back. One thing that many people fail to realize and that is earning money online is a real job and not some game. It is hard work and many times tougher than an offline job you may have.

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It is easy to lose focus when you come online for the very first time. People who have never tried to earn money online are star struck by all the opportunities that are available. With the world being your marketplace you have many different options. The key is not to lose your focus which many people do and that stops them from earning money.After a few weeks or months online people tend to go their own way. Advice that is given is not use and they prefer to show people they need no one. This is a big mistake because the learning curve online can be very lengthy. By not taking advice it will just take longer to earn living online.For people who think they need no money to earn online better get that out of their head. No matter what you do online many times you may need to put in some of your own money. Yes there are success stories that started with nothing, but those are rare.

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You can be successful online, but it is not going to happen overnight. You must pay your dues and work hard for everything you get. We all would like instant success, but for most it does not happen that way. It is a process that will take time so bear that in mind.Anyone can tell people how to make money online, but the success will depend on many different factors. The key to online success is never give up and take all the advice that is given. You may not use it all, but it never hurts to listen to successful people.

Advancing the Next Big Idea in Animal Health

August 29, 2016

Smallpox, polio and even influenza-these deadly diseases once ruled the earth, killing by the millions. Today, thanks to scientific research, their impact is far less. The same holds true for animal diseases such as canine parvovirus and feline leukemia. One day, a host of other diseases that affect humans or animals, and sometimes both, may meet the same fate.When major medical breakthroughs happen, such as the promising bone marrow treatment for humans with sickle cell anemia announced last December, we often don’t realize the time and effort behind a new prevention, treatment or cure. The reality, though, is that medical advancements usually take years, even decades, to come to fruition-and along the way hundreds of ideas are attempted before one of them opens the doors. Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) is committed to finding and funding the next big ideas in animal health research.We know that a novel idea goes nowhere without proper funding-and funding for the unknown is often tough to come by. The Foundation is one of the few organizations helping cutting-edge scientists gather data and test promising concepts that could one day lead to major health breakthroughs for animals.Innovative Ideas Take Flight:
Through its pilot-study program, MAF provides funding up to $10,800 for one-year studies that test a new idea and gather preliminary data to determine if the idea merits further investigation. This program provides timely funding for innovative ideas, speeds up scientific discovery and advances the Foundation’s mission to improve the health and welfare of animals.

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“Pilot research study grants are designed to support innovative research ideas and early-stage projects where preliminary data may not be available,” says Dr. Wayne Jensen, MAF chief scientific officer.One benefit to the pilot-study program is that MAF accepts these study proposals multiple times per year rather than through the traditional grant cycle of once per year. As a result, the program helps researchers respond more rapidly to emerging diseases and contemporary questions in animal health research.Funding for pilot studies is desperately needed to advance veterinary medicine for companion animals and wildlife. Dr. James Moore, chair of the Foundation’s large animal scientific advisory board, explains that most funding agencies only support proposals that already contain a sufficient amount of preliminary data to suggest that the expected outcomes will be achieved. But scientists need funding to gather preliminary data. So it was no surprise that MAF received an overwhelming response-161-to its two 2009 calls for proposals. Yet the Foundation can fund only 12 to 18 projects each year.”The greater than expected response to the request for proposals for pilot studies suggests that there are a lot of good, untested ideas out there,” Dr. Moore says.A History of Funding Health Breakthroughs:
The Foundation has a long history of funding breakthrough projects. For example, in 1999, MAF was the first to fund research to look at why California sea otters were dying off. Over the next decade, we funded several grants looking at disease risks in sea otters. What scientists learned from these projects helped them win a $1.86 million grant from the National Science Foundation. In an interview for AnimalNews 6.4, lead researcher Dr. Patricia Conrad noted that, “the Morris Animal Foundation grants were critically important. Without that support in the project’s infancy, we wouldn’t have been able to compete for bigger grants.”Beyond uncovering information about the infectious diseases that were killing sea otters, these studies also led to increased state legislative protections for the playful creatures and trained numerous up-and-coming wildlife health researchers.A current study funded by our Canine Cancer Campaign is testing a new drug therapy for bone cancer in dogs. This major project encompasses multiple facets and institutions and could eventually save the lives of thousands of dogs-yet it began as a small pilot effort. Additional pilot projects may soon lead to a promising treatment for eye cancer in horses, improved nutrition for brook trout and better pain management for reptiles.

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Current pilot studies address gastrointestinal problems, urinary infections and heartworm in dogs; osteoarthritis pain in cats; laminitis in horses and overpopulation and drug-resistant infections in pets.”Pilot studies like these are important for moving veterinary medicine forward, primarily because they can be accomplished relatively quickly and relatively inexpensively,” Dr. Moore says.Who knows where this year’s pilot projects may lead. Perhaps they will give veterinarians a tool to help them diagnose and manage osteoarthritis in cats or an inoculation that prevents certain strains of Escherichia coli from causing recurrent urinary tract infections in dogs. Or maybe equine veterinarians will get an inexpensive method for treating laminitis, a painful, life-threatening condition.The possibilities for advancing animal health are truly endless as long as we continue to support pioneering scientists with innovative ideas. These promising projects may one day change the face of veterinary medicine and help create a healthier tomorrow for animals.Learn more about the current pilot studies.

Selecting and Clearing Music For Radio Commercials

September 12, 2016

Proper music selection and proper music clearance for radio commercials is an important step in the radio advertising process. Whether you are a radio station, an ad agency, a voice-over talent, or an independent production company it is imperative that you do a good job choosing the right music for your spot, as well as getting the proper music clearance for your project. Royalty free music libraries are a great place to start, as they have many different styles of music that can be previewed online.Choosing the right song is typically the easy part. As you sit down to create your radio commercial, ask yourself the following question: “what is the mood that I need to support with my choice of music?” For example, if you are creating a public service announcement designed to tug at the heartstrings, your music choice should be emotional, mild, and slightly dramatic. On the other hand, if you are trying to sell the latest and greatest fitness equipment, you probably would want to steer the music toward some high energy, workout music. Ultimately, the music and the copy need to support each other. A radio commercial with well selected music can bring a far greater return than one that is put together without a lot of thought given to the production music.

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For most people, proper music clearance is a bit more complicated than selecting your music. For example, if a radio commercial is read as a “live spot” on the air, the station can use almost any music in the background that is covered by their ASCAP or BMI licenses. The key here is that the music is not repeated consistently, or used so frequently as to be construed as theme music for that particular radio commercial.On the contrary, most radio commercials are produced once for multiple broadcasts. Regardless of who is producing the radio commercial or where it is being produced, proper music clearance is a vital step in staying on the right side of the law. When you synchronize a piece of music with your commercial, you will need to get music clearance from the owners or representatives of that musical work (the music publisher) and of the owners of the master recordings (sometimes the publisher, sometimes the record label, sometimes the artist, etc.). Royalty free music libraries are a great place to start because they can typically grant full music clearance on both the musical work (copyright) and master recordings.

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If you are hiring someone to create your radio commercial for you, the responsibility for the music clearance typically falls on the radio station, ad agency, or production company who actually creating the spot for you. It is always a good policy to discuss music clearance with them to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Should You Employ In House Telemarketers or Use an Outbound Telemarketing Agency?

September 16, 2016

Even for larger companies with dedicated sales teams this is a valid question: should you use your own telemarketers or turn to a specialist outbound telemarketing agency?For many companies, there are three compelling reasons to outsource your telemarketing:1) Focus2) Capabilities3) CostThis article examines these three reasons and suggests why, in many cases, it makes more sense to use the services of an external telemarketing agency for business-to-business telemarketing campaigns.1) FocusFirstly, a strong reason for using an external telemarketing company is that they will focus on the task of generating leads for your business. Many companies, when using an internal resource, will hand this over to either an admin person or expect telemarketing to be done as an extension of their role.But, let’s be honest about what really happens in most businesses: they find something else to do.Unlike an external company, which employs people to make outbound telemarketing calls day-in, day-out, your employees have other duties to perform. And, believe me, they will find anything else to do rather than telemarketing. The same goes for if you choose to hire your own people “just to cold call”. After a few months, I guarantee, they will be doing something (anything) else rather than telemarketing.

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Using a telemarketing agency means that you have a resource focused on telemarketing for your business and you ensure a continual effort to generate leads, not the reluctant, ad-hoc approach you will get form your own people.2) CapabilitiesHand-in-hand with the issue of focus is that of capabilities. By outsourcing telemarketing you will access people who are far better at telemarketing that your own people. Even if you have dedicated sales people they often won’t match a seasoned telemarketer when it comes to making outbound calls.External telemarketing agencies also bring capabilities around data acquisition, segmentation, key message and “pitch” development which your own people will lack.Think about it; a good telemarketer will pitch around 100 prospects in a week. Given that the best telemarketers have been in the game for at least 10 years, that’s over 50,000 pitches. That’s a level of telemarketing experience you will never get it from an in-house employee.3) CostFinally, another reason for many companies to consider using a telemarketing agency is cost.When comparing using your people, or even yourself as the owner of a small business, against the cost of a telemarketing company, the costs are pretty compelling.Telemarketing agencies charge, on average around £250 per day for a telemarketer. That’s attractive even when you compare it against the cost of your sales people. But when you consider the cost of them not being in front of prospects and actually closing, the cost justification stacks up in favour of outsourcing.

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When comparing an external telemarketing company against an admin person making “a few cold calls” the costs need a little more study but they still make sense. Usually, the best approach is to consider two factors: a) the cost per lead and b) the opportunity cost.When looking at the former, external telemarketing agencies, which are always more efficient, typically wins. In addition, when you think about the opportunity cost of not getting new leads into your pipeline and the resulting lost new business growth, it’s usually obvious that using a telemarketing company is the best investment.So, in summary, when thinking about whether to use your own people or external telemarketers, consider the total picture of how much focused your own people will be, how good they will be, and what is the real return on their costs.We believe that, taking all these elements into account, an outbound telemarketing agency is the most attractive route for many businesses.

Politics And Politicians

August 20, 2016

I hate politics and politicians! What have they done for you lately?We need balance – not extremes. Our government is supposed to represent its citizens and “provide for the common good” – not focus on special interest groups that try to influence legislation and regulations that support their unique agenda. Libertarians have a lot of good points – such as smaller government – but not their extreme view of gun and drug “freedoms”. Progressives also have some good points – such as social “protections” – but not the extreme views on abortion and gay “rights.” Politicians often pay attention to irrelevant issues. Like when we are at war (2 or 3!) and have debt that our kids and grandkids will never be able to pay off, and 10% unemployment, etc., etc. What do they focus on? Trivial stuff – like when Congress considered banning shopping bags that are purchased to save plastic and paper bags – that were found to have some lead in them. Did anyone ever ask Congress to do something about the lead in the solder in your copper water pipes?But we have a kind of system of government that, in the long term, seems to work. Some things are bad and some are good – about the “greatest democracy in the world.” Winston Churchill once said “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” The U.S. is considered by many to have an ideal model of democracy, but it is imperfect and democracy itself has its own inherent problems and limitations. Some things are necessary – like Defense, Environment, Health and Safety, Civil Rights, etc. – which we need to do right at the national level because they can’t be done effectively at the individual or state level. The U.S. federal government’s organization and processes are archaic and inefficient – but sometimes it seems to work – for example, the “Stimulus Package/Bill” in 2009 actually did help the country recover from a serious recession (despite some its shortcomings and problems). Others don’t seem to work well or belong at the national level – like the unbelievably complex, convoluted and inequitable tax code (more on that separately).There are lots of examples of stupid, unproductive, and irrelevant political actions. Here are just a few of my favorites:• Earmarks – those projects for specific congressional districts or states that are funded by tacking them onto unrelated congressional bills in exchange for votes – so called “pork barrel.” So, if you look at a major funding bill – that may be essential, such as the Defense Department budget – you will find hundreds of earmarks attached to it to fund a lot of strange, arcane, and sometimes useless projects (like the famous “bridge to nowhere” or local airports with almost no passengers, etc.). These projects may bring some federal money back to their districts, but they are in many, if not most cases, funding pet projects of political contributors. The individual requests in many cases are relatively small (at least by Washington standards) – perhaps a few $ million – but there are thousands of them every year. Collectively they can amount to hundreds of billions of dollars. And without a line item veto by Congress or the President, these projects get funded automatically when the major bill passes. How’s that for representative government spending your money?

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• Political Priorities – The Congress and the President are often involved in the absurdities and travesties of what they view as political priorities – at our expense. For example, pursuing a constitutional amendment against gay marriage while passing a law exempting gun manufacturers and dealers from all potential liabilities – including illegal sales to criminals! That’s just screwed up!! Who thinks up this stuff – and who do they think they are representing?• Gerrymandering – Our elected Congress works very hard to get re-elected – on our dime. From Wikipedia: “Gerrymandering is a practice of political corruption that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected, and neutral districts.” With the manipulation of election districts, it is possible for minority parties to win a majority of districts in an election – or neutralize a strong district of a majority party. This is a process that is facilitated by the mandated re-assessment of congressional representation after every 10 year census – and it can neutralize your vote! There are no uniform electoral districts. Your representatives design the election districts to protect incumbents. For example:o “In 2004, not one of California’s 173 state legislative and federal congressional seats changed party-hands.”
o “No House member from Tennessee ever lost a bid for re-election during 1980-2005.”Other developed countries have established processes for “defining constituency boundaries” by objective third-party organizations. But politics in the U.S. is not that progressive – so much for “one person, one vote.”• Subsidies – Our government, which we pay for, thanks to our politicians, provides substantial subsidies to some very profitable industries – at our expense. Here are a couple of examples:Agriculture – Agriculture is obviously very important to an economy, so what is wrong with federal programs to support it? First, a few facts (from The Cato Institute): “The U.S. Department of Agriculture distributes between $10 billion and $30 billion in cash subsidies to farmers and owners of farmland each year… More than 800,000 farmers and landowners receive subsidies, but the payments are heavily tilted toward the largest producers… Although policymakers love to discuss the plight of the small farmer, the bulk of federal farm subsidies goes to the largest farms. For example, the largest 10 percent of recipients have received 72 percent of all subsidy payments in recent years. Numerous large corporations and even some wealthy celebrities receive farm subsidies because they are the owners of farmland… In 2008, Congress overrode a presidential veto to enact farm legislation that extended existing supports and created new subsidy programs… The 2008 farm bill added a new sugar-to-ethanol program under which the government buys excess imported sugar that might put downward pressure on inflated domestic sugar prices. The program defends domestic sugar growers’ 85 percent of the U.S. sugar market, and it provides for the government to sell excess sugar, at a loss if need be, to ethanol producers… Since 2000 the USDA has paid $1.3 billion in farm subsidies to people who own land that is no longer used for farming.” Agricultural subsidies in the U.S. comprise 11% of farm production.So, why are subsidies to farmers bad? Simply, because they don’t achieve the intended results. Most of the money goes to large, profitable farms and corporations. They can upset the natural balance between supply and demand – by facilitating over-production – which can unrealistically affect the prices of food commodities and farm land. “Perhaps the biggest scandal with regard to farm subsidies is that congressional agriculture committees are loaded with members who are active farmers and farmland owners. Those members have a direct financial stake whenever Congress votes to increase subsidies, which is an obvious conflict of interest.”Other countries have experimented with eliminating agricultural subsidies – with some success. New Zealand is one example. “New Zealand’s farmers have cut costs, diversified their land use, sought nonfarm income, and developed niche markets such as kiwifruit… New Zealand farm productivity, profitability, and output have soared since the reforms.”Oil – The largest, most profitable industry in the U.S. – and worldwide – receives federal subsidies! Why?? Technically they are tax breaks, but only because of the way our Congress writes the rules and defines the terms. The subsidies/tax breaks to the U.S. oil industry amounts to about $4 billion each year. This includes a “depletion allowance” that treats oil reserves as capital equipment – in addition to very favorable terms for writing off exploration costs. But the major oil companies have been making more than 10 times that in profits each year. Do they really need incentives to explore for oil – when the world market price for oil has been in the neighborhood of 3-5 times the cost of production for decades? And what is the attitude of our politicians? – “we’re only talking about four billion dollars.”!!• Social Security – One of my pet peeves has been the most sacred of all federal government programs. For over 70 years, Social Security has been “an insurance program for everyone”. But up until 1984, government employees, including Members of Congress, did not pay into the Social Security program – when all of us “citizens” were required to by law. The Social Security program, which has been going broke for decades, was good enough for “the people”, but not for the government employees and politicians who are supposed to be serving them. So now it is an example of how a political abuse can be fixed. However, the benefits for federal employees are still very attractive – and not typical of industry jobs. In addition to now participating in Social Security, federal employees have a defined benefit pension plan (which no longer exists in most of industry today) as well as a “Thrift Savings Plan” – the equivalent of a 401K plan – with up to a 5% match. Members of Congress are eligible for full pension at age 62 after only five years of service – and they are eligible at age 50 if they’ve served 20 years. So our “public servants” have more rewarding benefits than most taxpayers receive.

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And there is more – much more!!So, how can the “greatest country in the world” be so screwed up (at least at times)? I blame it on the politicians and the uninformed/uninterested electorate. Other countries must just be worse. Part of the problem is that the public is often not well informed – or just doesn’t care. How do you communicate important political issues so that the general public really understands – the complete facts and truth? Most news and views are at too high a level (e.g., small “sound bites” – or talk show opinions) so that they leave either a limited or wrong impression. For example, issues like abortion and stem cell research are highly controversial and emotional and don’t really get covered objectively.Is there a solution? It would be nice if we could focus on real/important issues and attract intelligent, sincere people into politics. What kinds of people want to run for political office? – ego-centrics, power hungry, self promotional – are these the type of people we want to represent us?? Why would you trust a politician with your life and welfare? But that is what we have – at least in many cases. And what are the financial implications? How can really good political leaders afford to be politicians? Even with the elevated salaries and benefits for politicians (at least at the Congressional level), the cost of the life style in Washington, DC is far too expensive to be covered by federal payments. So, they must either be independently wealthy – or seek an opportunity to capitalize on their political position – either during or after their term in office. What would make a constituent think that their representative is working in their best interest?
I don’t have a solution. That’s why I hate politics and politicians.All Rights Reserved © 2011 Henry P. Mitchell

The Gift of Giving Is a Gift in Itself

August 28, 2016

The act of giving a gift can elicit a multitude of positive emotions to the giver, that indeed it is quite possible that they experience more pleasure than the recipient of the gift. It has been found that giving gifts is an important interaction that strengthens bonds between family and friends. Giving to others strengthens one’s feelings for these people, and also makes one feel more loving and caring.Pursuing the ideal gift can be a taxing experience. Once upon a time, one would have to literally travel from store to store searching for the perfect gift. Apart from the time and effort consumed by the travelling, it was never quite easy to compare and contrast the possibilities in one’s mind, as one was relying on memory of the entire details of each potential gift. Now, with the advent and advantage of online shopping, this one daunting part of gift giving is no longer necessary. The requirement of physical travelling has been eliminated as one merely sits in front of a computer or other Internet browsing device and searches for the perfect gift. Alas, the choices are endless, and not always as organized as one would wish. However, once one has narrowed down the choices, one can actually revisit each choice and compare the images of the potential gifts, and eventually make a selection.

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Giving comes from within, and no matter who the recipient of the gift is, the actual selection of the gift should be a heartwarming process. Knowing the person’s likes and dislikes, wants and needs, circumstances, and events in their life deepens the emotion behind the gift selection process. Giving a gift however, should not be a process that comes with a hardship to the giver. An aura of competitiveness and the need to impress has overshadowed the gentle and caring act of gift giving. For instance, if one is searching for a gift for their brother in law who is an avid golf player, the normal search would begin in the world of golf in the universe of the Internet. However, remembering that your brother in law was recently promoted, and his peers all carry classic name brand fountain pens encased in handsome leather cases, would certainly have some influence on your gift selection thought process. Between the golf equipment and the fountain pen and it’s accessories, an instant “astronomical price” headache begins to form.A mistake often made by many is that they set a price tag on the gift they are going to purchase before they actually make the purchase. In the name of budgeting that is actually a great idea, but unfortunately, we are in the times of “competitive” gift giving, and some people feel the need to outdo others in the extravagance of the gift purchased. It is absurd that many people actually spend money they cannot afford to spend on gifts simply because they are trying to create an impression. The heartwarming experience of the giving of the gift has not been experienced, and instead has been replaced by a aggressive and competitive approach. After the gift has been given, there will certainly be an uncomfortable feeling for as long as that charge remains on the credit card.Very few people remain unscathed by these recent changes in the economical status worldwide. To increase one’s debt in order to compete with others, or create an extravagant impression is not only ridiculous, but also makes the giving of the gift actually an unpleasant experience from start to finish and beyond. Returning to the example of one’s brother-in law, let it be assumed that a new set of golf clubs and an expensive fountain pen with a leather case is entirely out of one’s budget. A less expensive and more personal gift would surely make the selection process a much more personal and enjoyable one. There is no rule that dictates we must cater to the indulgent tastes or more affluent means of others. The art of gift giving must come with the desire to please the recipient with the gift, to take pleasure in the selection of the gift, to keep the cost within one’s budget and means, and to select a gift that will be admired and used.

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Unique gifts for the home or for personal wear are always a warm and sincere gift. Many handmade gifts are available for purchase at reasonable prices via the Internet. They range from hand crocheted tablecloths, to custom made jewelry, to silk floral arrangements, and many home décor items. All of these items are ones that will actually be used instead of being a “showpiece” such as a fountain pen that never actually makes it out of the beautiful leather case. As much pleasure as the gift recipient will receive from their gift, the giver will also be pleased whenever they see the gift being worn or used. A set of throw cushions that was given as a gift will always please the giver every time he or she visits the home of the recipient and sees the throw cushions in use. Truly, these types of gifts are those that are described as “The Gift That Keeps On Giving”.