Since the beginning of civilization, there has been tension over the role of government and the provision of services paid for with public funds (tax dollars). Before the advent of democracies, ambitious, enterprising men sought the favor of royalty in order to gain political power and riches at the expense of the population.
Achieving a successful career while maintaining a solid marriage is difficult; practically impossible, for some. When asked how she could reconcile family life with a career, Marie Curie – the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for her groundbreaking work on radioactivity – dryly replied, “Well, it has not been easy.” An understatement if there ever was one.
In recent generations, the difficulty of maintaining a happy home life while climbing the corporate ladder has become even more stressful than in the past due to several factors.
By Michael Lewis
The need to effectively communicate one’s personality, abilities, and experiences to others is important from the day you begin playing with other kids and throughout your childhood and adult life. Your skill in the critical process of interviewing determines your friends, your spouse, your job, and career. Fortunately, interviewing is a skill that can be learned and improves with practice, whether your objective is to get that first job or a promotion in management ranks.
As a former senior executive as well as a small business owner, I have interviewed hundreds of candidates seeking entry-level positions to vice president promotions. I’ve also been on the other side of the table and understand the stress, even desperation, that accompanies an uncertain result.
By Michael Lewis
While saving for retirement is important, there are times when it makes sense to delay making investments. Most people invest for retirement in a tax-advantaged plan such as an IRA or 401k with early withdrawal penalties and adverse income tax consequences. While these vehicles provide tax-advantaged growth that help your money grow, they can wreak havoc on your finances if you need to make withdrawals from them before you retire.
If money is tight and any of these situations apply to you, you may want to consider deferring retirement contributions or contributing to a Roth IRA instead – in which contributions can be withdrawn at any time without penalty.
By Michael Lewis
Many people dream of a new career earning more money doing the things they love. In fact, labor surveys suggest that four out of five people are unhappy in their careers and want to make a change. We Americans are optimistic with a tendency to accept that the “grass is always greener” on the other side of the fence. Yet few people actually pursue a career change voluntarily. Why? Because age, high income, and debt lock many into their current jobs or fields, making it that much harder to change.
Many people’s first experience with life insurance is when a friend or acquaintance gets an insurance license. In my case, a college friend, recently hired by a major insurance company, contacted me to buy a $10,000 policy. He reached out to several other friends as well, and many of us signed on the dotted line.
Though this isn’t the ideal way to buy life insurance, it is, nonetheless, the way by which most people acquire it: They don’t buy life insurance – it is sold to them.
For years, investors, fund managers, and stock analysts have sought reliable indicators to project the future return and risk of owning an individual stock, bond, or a portfolio of securities. The underlying assumptions are as follows:
1. All investments have inherent risk which is assumed upon ownership.
2. Returns and risk can be objectively quantified by mathematical analysis of historical results.
3. The correlation of potential return and underlying risk constantly varies, providing opportunities to acquire investments with maximum potential return and minimal risk.
By Michael Lewis
Human beings have always been fascinated with “secrets” through which power is attained, riches gained, and success assured. Our belief in secrets and its natural cousins, conspiracies and superstitions, often appears when we are under stress, dealing with matters seemingly outside our control. According to Science Magazine, humans in those situations have increased illusory pattern perception, creating nonexistent causal links and correlations in an unconscious effort to rationalize the outcome and affirm ourselves.
Did you know that people decide how they feel about you within the first three seconds of meeting? This reaction, an auto-response generated in the most primitive part of our brains, evolved in our early pre-human ancestors when instant decisions about friend or foe were required to survive. The way we look and act generates subconscious impressions and comparisons with “stereotypes” in the minds of observers, often generating powerful emotions and judgments.
First impressions, even when untrue representations, are difficult to dislodge and change. A “good” first impression can be a powerful impetus for your career, just as a negative impression can be an impossible obstacle to overcome.
One of the worst feelings a parent can experience is learning that his or her child is a victim of bullying. Anger is quickly followed by feelings of frustration, helplessness, and worry. And unfortunately, the problem is rampant: 15% of students do not go to school every day for fear of being bullied, and 1 of 10 students drops out due to repeated bullying. According to DoSomething.org, 90% of fourth through eighth graders report being victims of bullying.
Bullying has existed since humans began to socialize, and is likely to continue despite efforts of schools and parents to intervene and break the cycle. The unfortunate fact is that many Americans don’t take bullying very seriously.
By Michael Lewis
During the past presidential campaign, the Keystone XL Pipeline became a political football. Since that time, the pipeline’s planned route has been changed to avoid potential harm to the Ogallala Aquifer and is currently awaiting final approval from the State Department.
Many Americans, however, are surprised to learn that the Keystone Pipeline already exists, transporting since 2010 590,000 barrels of “heavy” crude oil a day, 2,148 miles from the oil sands surrounding Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska and subsequently to holding facilities in Patoka and a ConocoPhillips refinery at Wood River, Illinois. The Keystone, owned by TransCanada, is one of many crude oil pipelines currently crossing the border between the United States and Canada, including the Express and Enbridge lines.
Newspapers and television news reports have shrieked the appearance of new “superbugs” and the dangers they pose for humanity. “Deadly Superbug Scare: Flesh-Eating Germ in 31 of 63 State Hospitals” headlined the “Boston Herald” on March 7, 2013. ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser proclaimed earlier on a March 6th newscast that “bacteria that start in hospitals often find their way out into the community. That would be a nightmare scenario.”
It is that time of the year again: The days you wrestle with old receipts, canceled checks, W-2 forms, 1099s, and monthly statements from your banks, mortgage brokers, and credit card companies, documenting every possible payment to lower your federal income taxes.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the average tax payer spends 16 hours preparing and submitting their tax returns, struggling with a complex tax code of almost four million words undergoing constant changes (579 times in 2010 alone). More than half of taxpayers rely on someone else to fill out the forms for them; another 30% use tax software from firms such as TurboTax to complete the tax forms. The IRS offers free tax help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with tools to electronically file returns, calculate withholding, or determine whether a payer might be subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT).
By Michael Lewis
The term “big government” stimulates plenty of images and emotions, and they’re generally negative. Words like “bureaucratic,” “inefficient,” “intrusive,” and even “corrupt” are often associated with the term. Economists charge that big government interferes with the mechanisms of free enterprise. Libertarians believe it seeks to control private or personal freedoms guaranteed by the “natural law” eloquently philosophized by John Locke and formalized in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights. And politicians claim big government lacks checks and balances on its exercise of power, leading it to represent special interests to the detriment of its citizens.
Imagination is the ability to see “what can be” from “what is.” Galileo Galilei’s famous experiment of falling objects occurred in the laboratory of his mind, not from the balcony of the Tower of Pisa. Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity was rooted in a thought experiment at age 16 where he imagined chasing a beam of light; and supposedly, his final breakthrough came during a daydream, lying on a country hill in 1915.
As the great scientist said, “Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”