The Effects of Bureaucracy in the Life of a Clerk in Benito Perez Galdos' Miau

The writer probes on the effects of bureaucracy in the life of a clerk, Don Ramon Villaamil, in Benito Perez Galdos' Miau which was written and published in 1888. It is anchored on the sociological theories of Max Weber's concept and functions of bureaucracy (Gerth and Mills, 1961) and its disintegrating effect on the main character and its repercussions in the multi-dimensional life of the protagonist. In understanding further the novel, the student writer uses Hippolyte Taine's three-pronged approach to the contextual study of a work of art, based on the aspects of what he called race, geographical and social milieu, and historical moment (

Hence, to fully understand the bureaucracy mirrored in the novel, the writer traces first the historical, political and biographical life of the author and Spain in the nineteenth century. How all these artefacts affected the writer to record vignettes of hard truths in the society is remarkably interesting to investigate.

The Spanish novelist and dramatist Benito Pérez Galdós (1843-1920) is best known for his masterly treatment of the vast panorama of Spanish society in a series of historical and contemporary novels.

Benito Pérez Galdós was born on May 10, 1843, in Las Palmas, Canary Islands. Due to a rigid upbringing he developed into a shy, quick-witted boy, interested in music, drama, and painting. He learned English from an American woman whose illegitimate daughter, Sisita, was his first cousin and childhood love. One of Galdós's most enduring remembrances concerned his affection for Sisita and the brusque intervention of his mother, who sent him away to Madrid in 1862 to study law.

In Madrid, Galdós felt irresistibly drawn to the turmoil of city life and soon abandoned his university courses for cafés, opera, theater, and long strolls through the streets. Intent upon understanding all classes and types of Spanish society, he frequented outlying districts, open-air markets, taverns, and tenement houses. By 1865 he had begun newspaper work. His articles on parliamentary sessions in Las Cortes made that newspaper famous.

Although Galdós was a perspicacious journalist, his ultimate aim was to give Spaniards not only a coherent picture of their daily lives but also a vision of a new Spain, reborn spiritually, culturally, and economically. He believed the novel best suited this purpose. In 1867 Galdós went to Paris, rediscovered the novels of Honoré de Balzac, and once back in Spain finished his first novel, La sombra (1870), and began a second, La Fontana de ore (1867-1868).

Henceforth, except for his advocacy of liberal politics, Galdós lived immersed in literary activity. He wrote almost a hundred novels and plays, which may be classified into three groups. The first group includes his 46 Episodios nacionales, historical novels beginning with Trafalgar (1873) and ending with Canovás (1912). They retell in story form stirring episodes of 19th-century Spanish history and embody Galdós's conviction that the key to Spain's present and future betterment resides in a critical examination of the past.

The second group includes Galdós's realistic social novels, which divide into two subgroups. The first comprises the Novelas de la primera época (1867-1878). Among them are Doña Perfecta (1876) and Gloria (1876-1877), which boldly depict Spain's provincial hypocrisy and religious fanaticism. The second is made up of the 24 Novelas españolas contemporáneas, (1880-1915), which mark the maturity of Galdós's art. In such works as La de Bringas (1884), his four-volume masterpiece Fortunata y Jacinta (1886-1887), and Misericordia (1897), Galdós harmonized his passion for reform with the art of creating the illusion of reality. While treating many problems of Spanish life, he did not sacrifice character freedom to any social or moral teaching. Today, as then, his novels offer a compelling imagen de la vida.

The third group is made up of Galdós's plays. After writing novels for 20 years, Galdós turned to the theater. In 1891 he recast his novel Realidad into dialogue, staging it successfully the following year. He produced 22 plays, of which La loca de la casa (1893) and El abuelo (1904) are considered his best. The premiere of Electra (1901) unleashed a storm of controversy, earning Galdós the hatred of Spain's clergy and conservative class. Galdós was an authentic revolutionary of the Spanish theater. Reacting against José Echegaray's outmoded romantic melodrama, he confronted audiences with a frank portrayal of social conflicts. His plays anticipated the innovations of modern Spanish drama.

In 1897 Galdós was elected to the Spanish Academy, and by 1912 he had become totally blind. Beset by financial difficulties, he continued to write, although his health was failing. He died on Jan. 4, 1920, in Madrid.

From the Galdos' biography, facts which are reflected in the novel Miau are his beautiful and vivid description of Madrid, the streets, the plazas, the churches, the house and even the places of entertainment such as the parks and theaters or opera houses that his women characters Senora Pura, Abelarda and Milagros Villaamil are fond of frequenting to show their social status. Likewise, the insolent and abusive Victor Cadalso has a semblance with that of radical and revolting views of Galdos.

What is striking in the novel is the inclusion of many historical allusions and daily government bureaucratic system which affected our protagonist in the novel and the domino effect to his family. The history of nineteenth century Spain is sometimes considered by other writers as the century of madness due to the gross effects of bourgeoisie capitalism, political unrest, rise and fall of one government to another and constant civil war within Spain and her colonies in the Philippines and Cuba.

It is noteworthy to look at the tumultuous history of Spain during the nineteenth that will reflect also the divisive, despotic and unpeaceful milieu which our protagonist experienced at the hands of the selfish bureaucrats.

In 1866, a revolt led by Juan Prim was suppressed, but it was becoming increasingly clear that the people of Spain were upset with Isabella's approach to governance. In 1868, the Glorious Revolution broke out when the progresista generals Francisco Serrano and Juan Prim revolted against her, and defeated her moderado generals at the Battle of Alcolea. Isabella was driven into exile in Paris.

Revolution and anarchy broke out in Spain in the two years that followed; it was only in 1870 that the Cortes declared that Spain would have a king again. As it turned out, this decision played an important role in European and world history, for a German prince's candidacy to the Spanish throne and French opposition to him served as the immediate motive for the Franco-Prussian War. Amadeus of Savoy was selected, and he was duly crowned King of Spain early the following year.

Amadeus – a liberal who swore by the liberal constitution the Cortes promulgated – was faced immediately with the incredible task of bringing the disparate political ideologies of Spain to one table. He was plagued by internecine strife, not merely between Spaniards but within Spanish parties.

Following the Hidalgo affair, Amadeus famously declared the people of Spain to be ungovernable, and fled the country. In his absence, a government of radicals and Republicans was formed that declared Spain a republic.

The republic was immediately under siege from all quarters – the Carlists were the most immediate threat, launching a violent insurrection after their poor showing in the 1872 elections. There were calls for socialist revolution from the International Workingmen's Association, revolts and unrest in the autonomous regions of Navarre and Catalonia, and pressure from the Roman Catholic Church against the fledgling republic.

Although the former queen, Isabella II was still alive, she recognized that she was too divisive as a leader, and abdicated in 1870 in favor of her son, Alfonso, who was duly crowned Alfonso XII of Spain. After the tumult of the First Spanish Republic, Spaniards were willing to accept a return to stability under Bourbon rule. The Republican armies in Spain – which were resisting a Carlist insurrection – pronounced their allegiance to Alfonso in the winter of 1874-1875, led by Brigadier General Martinez Campos. The Republic was dissolved and Antonio Canovas del Castillo, a trusted advisor to the king, was named Prime Minister on New Year's Eve, 1874. The Carlist insurrection was put down vigorously by the new king, who took an active role in the war and rapidly gained the support of most of his countrymen.

A system of turnos was established in Spain in which the liberals, led by Prásedes Mateo Sagasta and the conservatives, led by Antonio Canovas del Castillo, alternated in control of the government. A modicum of stability and economic progress was restored to Spain during Alfonso XII's rule. His death in 1885, followed by the assassination of Canovas del Castillo in 1897, destabilized the government.

Cuba rebelled against Spain in the Ten Years' War beginning in 1868, resulting in the abolition of slavery in Spain's colonies in the New World. American interests in the island, coupled with concerns for the people of Cuba, aggravated relations between the two countries. The explosion of the USS Maine launched the Spanish-American War in 1898, in which Spain fared disastrously. Cuba gained its independence and Spain lost its remaining New World colony, Puerto Rico, which together with Guam and the Philippines it ceded to the United States for 20 million dollars. In 1899, Spain sold its remaining Pacific islands-the Northern Mariana Islands, Caroline Islands and Palau-to Germany and Spanish colonial possessions were reduced to Spanish Morocco, Spanish Sahara and Spanish Guinea, all in Africa.

The "disaster" of 1898 created the Generation of '98, a group of statesmen and intellectuals who demanded change from the new government. Anarchist and fascist movements were on the rise in Spain in the early twentieth century. A revolt in 1909 in Catalonia was bloodily suppressed.

Spain's neutrality in World War I allowed it to become a supplier of material for both sides to its great advantage, prompting an economic boom in Spain. The outbreak of Spanish influenza in Spain and elsewhere, along with a major economic slowdown in the post-war period, hit Spain particularly hard, and the country went into debt. A major worker's strike was suppressed in 1919.

Mistreatment of the Moorish population in Spanish Morocco led to an uprising and the loss of this North African possession except for the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in 1921. (See Abd el-Krim, Annual). In order to avoid accountability, King Alfonso XIII decided to support the dictatorship of General Miguel Primo de Rivera, ending the period of constitutional monarchy in Spain.

In joint action with France, the Moroccan territory was recovered (1925-1927), but in 1930 bankruptcy and massive unpopularity left the king no option but to force Primo de Rivera to resign. Disgusted with the king's involvement in his dictatorship, the urban population voted for republican parties in the municipal elections of April 1931. The king fled the country without abdicating and a republic was established.

Though the novel ends with the suicide of Villaamil, his will for Spain for better administration and other advocacies are written as MIAU that stands for Morality, Income Tax, Additional Duties and Unification of the debt (Cohen, 1963: 145). It summarizes his personal wish for the total moral reformation of the government official and rank and file workers; instituting payment of personal income tax by workers; additional tariffs for the products of foreign traders and paying the national debt by consolidating all the provincial needs and paying them only once a year.

To analyze the sociological concept of bureaucracy in the novel, the student writer uses the Weberian Model which concepts are summarized thus: The last century saw the perfection of the bureaucracy – a form of organization that has been enormously successful and is the result of thousands of years of trial and error evolution. Max Weber outlined the key characteristics of a bureaucracy:

  1. specification of jobs with detailed rights, obligations, responsibilities, scope of authority
  2. system of supervision and subordination
  3. unity of command
  4. extensive use of written documents
  5. training in job requirements and skills
  6. application of consistent and complete rules (company manual)
  7. assign work and hire personnel based on competence and experience

In Miau, principles seem clear and commonplace. However, they are all inventions — the government offices did not always have these features rather the opposite.

The narrator of the novel, third person omniscient sees bureaucracies as inefficient, slow and generally bad. When don Ramon Villaamil was following up his possible reinstatement, he was totally disappointed to hear false promises that he will get back the position. For Villaamil was already in his retirement when he became a "cesante" or "suspendido" the sudden change in the government suspended all workers which are not their allies, based on favoritism. There would have been no problem had he served for two more months. He can live with his pension to sustain the pretentious and spendthrift lifestyle of his wife Dona Pura, his daughter Abelarda and his sister-in-law who all love to go to the opera house even if they were already begging because Villaamil was already penniless. In Weber's time, they were seen as marvelously efficient machines that reliably accomplished their goals. And in fact, bureaucracies did become enormously successful, easily outcompeting other organization forms such as family businesses and adhocracies. They also did much to introduce concepts of fairness and equality of opportunity into society, having a profound effect on the social structure of nations.

However, bureaucracies are better for some tasks than others. In particular, bureaucracies are not obviously good in the Spanish government. Officials abuse their authorities. Worst, unqualified officials or even clerks were promoted not on the merits of their work but with the great persons they know in the ministry. There are many instances in the novel when this immoral promotion was practiced …

Then that thankless wretch, that ungrateful scoundrel, who was a clerk in Office when I was Financial Inspector, fourth class, that shameless rogue who by sheer audacity has got himself promoted over my head and become no less than a governor, that man has the indelicacy to hand me two and a half Pesetas (Cohen, 1963: 15)

He was already asking for assistance from his former clerks when he was suspended. And he connected in saying that there's nothing left in the world but selfishness and ingratitude. He added another clerk who was promoted and got increase every year ..

"Take that clodhopper Montes, for example, who owes his career to me, because I proposed his promotion in the central Auditory. Do you know He doesn't even greet me in the street? He gives himself such airs that not even the minister … And he's going ahead all the time. They have just raised him t to fourteen thousand. He gets a rise every year. Nothing stops him. That's what you gain by flattering and crawling. He does not understand the least thing About administration . All he can do is talk about shooting with the director And about the dogs … "

Almost finding fault because of his misery, Don Villaamil could not do anything but to ask favor to their friends to follow up possible vacant post where he can work again. This was one of the weaknesses of Weberian Model of bureaucracy, he thought that the bureaucracy in his country, Germany, and her flourishing industry can be likened to all other organizations. Weber connected that all these new large-scale organizations were similar. Each was a bureaucracy. Obviously, Villaamil regarded bureaucracyas a dirty word, suggesting red tape, inefficiency, and officiousness. Bureaucracies can develop these features, especially if authority is highly centralized. The final result for his possible reinstatement which he patiently waited would have to come from one high office down to the provincial office. The red tape was indeed vicious that tremendously affected Villaamil. That of hatred to bureaucrats, the hypocrite clerks, the unworthy workers and the injustice of the government when he said to Victor, his son-in-law:

"Yes, yes. There's no beating you for bare-faced effrontery. Because you've got no shame '(livid with fury and swallowing his Bitterness)' you get everything you want. The world is at your feet Promotion at all costs, and devil take the hindmost! " (Cohen, 1963: 73)

With all the bitterness, Villaamil said that he would bear his misfortunes patiently and it never occurred to him that the government will not give his post back again.

Weber's purpose, however, was to define the essential features of new organizations and to indicate why these organizations worked so much better than traditional ones. Let us examine the features that Weber found in bureaucracies.

Above all, Weber emphasized that bureaucratic organizations were an attempt to subdue human affairs to the rule of reason-to make it possible to conduct the business of the organization "according to calculable rules." For people who developed modern organizations, the purpose was to find rational solutions to the new problems of size Weber saw bureaucracy as the rational product of social engineering, just as the machines of the industrial revolution were the rational products of mechanical engineering. He wrote:

The decisive reason for the advance of bureaucratic organization has always been its purely technical superiority over any former organization. The fully developed bureaucratic mechanism compares with other organizations exactly as does the machine with non-mechanical modes of production (Coser, 1969)

For Weber the term bureaucracy was inseparable from the term rationality. And we may speak of his concept as a "rational bureaucracy" but what were the features developed to make bureaucracies rational? Namely, they are: (1) functional specialization (2) clear lines of hierarchical authority, (3) expert training of managers, and (4) decision making based on rules and tactics developed to guarantee consistent and effective pursuit of organizational goals.

Weber noted additional features of rational bureaucracies that are simple extensions of the four just outlined, To ensure expert management, appointment and promotion are based on merit rather than favoritism, and those appointed treat their positions as full-time, primary careers.

Quite the reverse in the novel, while Villaamil is the most upright, honest, brilliant and obedient to the government, that he even worked in the Philippines when he was still new in the civil service at the age of twenty four but has to return to the mainland because he was suffering from dysentery. In complete contrast, his son-in-law, who married his favorite daughter Luisa, was always promoted even if had questionable transactions in the government. All the allegations against him were dismissed because of his charm and connection. According to the office gossip He is the favorite of the aunt of a high in the government, in short, the woman has a great influence in the government. It is called the petticoat influence. Without the influential woman going to the office, Victor, as a secret lover of the matron, secured his promotion despite his alleged plunder and malvailability of government funds.

Similarly, even other officials where Villaamil was working, all the unquestionable officials with their integrity and capacity were easily promoted, while the honest men like him are suspended.

To ensure order in decision making, bureaucracy is conducted primarily through written rules records, and communications. This is vividly described in the novel several times. Rank and file and officials as well are always on their desks for their business transactions, hence, creating the red tape. But, when the officials are out, expectedly, the office workers are not at all working. They are seen talking, eating and even jesting each other. One time when Villaamil visited the office, he saw that the office workers were just talking during office hours. The lame Guillen would even draw caricatures that even Villaamil was satirically attacked with a disgusting description of his poverty. But when Pandora, his friend, the official, arrives the office, hypocritically, workers return to work.

Weber's idea of ​​functional specialization applies both to persons within an organization and to relations between larger units or divisions of the organization. In the government of Villaamil, work was broken down into many special tasks, and employees were assigned to one or a few such tasks, including the tasks involved in coordinating the work of others. (Such coordination is called administration or management.) Weber argued that such specialization is essential to a rational bureaucracy and that the specific boundaries separating one functional division from another must be fixed by explicit rules, regulations, and procedures. Villaamil never saw it when he was already suspended. But things seemed right when he was still in the post. His honest and contented attitude in work would only allow him to work and work without giving himself in rumor-mongering. As a matter of fact, Villaamil's proposal with an acronym of MIAU, according to him, was painstakingly conceptualized and studied for ten years. But not for other characters. They were his complete opposite.

For Weber it was self-evident that coordinating the divisions of large organizations requires clear lines of authority organized in a hierarchy. That means there are clear "levels of graded authority." All employees in the organization must know who their boss is, and each person should always respect the chain of command; that is, people should give orders only to their own subordinates and receive orders only through their own immediate superior In this way, the people at the top can be sure that directives arrive where they are meant to go and know where responsibilities lie. This idea in the novel was tainted with favorite or nepotism. Their focus is directed to the official and not on their work, hence their patronage for them otherwise, they will not be promoted and will not get a raise in the salary. Victor did this several times by rubbing elbows with the officials by flattering them, or by hooking rich and influential women with his handsome looks.

Furthermore, hierarchical authority is required in bureaucracies so that highly trained experts can he properly used as managers. Rational bureaucracies can be operated, Weber argued, only by deploying managers at all levels that have been selected and trained for their specific jobs. Persons ticketed for top positions in bureaucracies are often rotated through many divisions of an organization to gain firsthand experience of the many problems that their future subordinates must face. Ironically, all this bureaucratic models that Weber conceptualized were not dutifully practiced by all the characters except by Villaamil himself and perhaps Pantoja and the young Cucurbita.

Finally, Weber stressed that rational bureaucracies must be managed in accordance with carefully developed rules and principles that can be learned and applied and that transactions and decisions must be recorded so that rules can he reviewed. Only with such rules and principles can the activities of hundreds of managers at different levels in the organization be predicted and coordinated. If we cannot predict what others will do, then we cannot count on them.

Weber's concepts of bureaucracy are rational and functional but in reality and in practice, are all idealistic. The people in the system were taught to be machine that would do as they were told. The novel Miau just showed the complete opposite. Because they are all human in the bureaucracy, they are all susceptible to human weaknesses, frailties and disdain for rules.

And with all the irony of bureaucratic system in the novel, our protagonist was totally affected by "the inhuman machine-like character of this bureaucracy" (Soileau, 2006). The effects can be gleaned on economic, physical, psychological, moral and spiritual aftermath that affected and destroyed Señor Ramon De Villaamil.

First is economic. When Villaamil was suspended, he became more conscious of the lack of food to eat on the table, if not the absence of it. It resulted further to humiliating himself by begging to his former clerks and friends in the government. His suspension in the government meant the absence of salary, the absence of money. His only joy, his grandson Luis, was a young witness to his suffering. Meanwhile, his insensitive and hypocrite wife, Dona Pura, would make a way to find food on the table just for the day. According to Villaamil, she loved beautiful things that would make them look rich, beautiful curtains, beautiful study room, that Villaamil's salary on the first day of the month is already spent on the day it is received. With this economic downfall, his daughter Abelarda and sister-in-law Milagros, together with his wife, called the three Miaus, for they resemble the face of a cat, or pussy-faced, according to Luis' classmates, would still find time to watch at the theater socializing with the true rich.

Second is physical. Many of Villaamil's former colleagues noticed his age, his emaciated face and the sadness he emanated whenever he would visit the office. The suspension totally lost his appetite, aside from the fact there was really nothing to eat, has made his body thin. That according to Dona Pura, he must be smart and elegant if he wanted to get back his post. N the end of the novel, his weak body would always stumble on the rocks of the mountains, on the edges of the table in his house and could not even last to carry his grandson Luis. This terrible effect was felt by his unsuspecting body.

Third is psychological. In the dizzying maze of bureaucracy, his impatience for the reinstatement, his economic and physical crises, indeed, pushed him to psychological abnormality. Many times, he would blame to an unseen evil force, that he suspected, might be behind the reason why he was not reinstated. Several occasions would prove that he would dwell on pessimism and negativism: "Don't come to me with optimism and tricks. I tell you again and again that I will never get back to work. I have no hope, none."; likewise he said they won't give me my job back until the afternoon of the day of judgment. "; Villaamil sank more and more into his pessimism, reaching the extreme of saying 'We'll see the sun come up in the west before You'll see me go back to work. '"; "I did not have any illusions and that's not the way", said don Ramon, raising his hands almost to the ceiling, "I never had any hope. I never believed that they would give me my job and I will never believe it . "; and, God doesn't help anyone but the crooks. Do you think I expect anything from the Ministry or from God? Everyone is the same … above and below farces, favoritism. ''. All these he uttered to others but mostly to himself (interior monologue). Since he had no more face to his outside world, even his inside world in the family , he totally lost all control to survive and live.

His lack of moral turpitude on what is good and right interspersed with his personal spiritual connection to God was totally lost in the last two chapters in the novel. It may have been a wry humor in the story but bites one in the conscience when the old, suspended, mad Villaamil was running away from the family and Mendizabal, his neighbor, who were searching for him. He was enjoying, like a child, the hide-and-seek that meant to save him from his final death.

But, it seems that, there is a Dostoyevskian belief in Villaamil that madness is a path to divine inspiration (Cohen, 1963: 5). In his majestic figure in the cliff, like Jesus when he was tempted by the devil to throw himself to the depth, he found strength in his new freedom. He was totally detached from reality. He even made a motto for his death which was: "A foul death to the whole universe" (which in Spanish the initials are MIAU- "Muerte. Infamante.Al Universo"). He enjoyed the idea of ​​not thinking for money anymore; that he would free himself from the pretentious, hypocrite and materialistic Miaus and passed them onto Ponce, the future husband of Abelarda who inherited a great sum from an uncle who just died, that he would not care for the post anymore for better is to be with God. He comforted himself by looking and talking to the birds. Those birds were surviving without to worry on what they would eat and so would he.

And with that false belief if not wrong notion of spirituality (as Luis told him about the apparition that God would get his grandfather) he shot himself… and the shot echoed in the solitude of that dark and deserted place. Villaamil gave a terrible leap, his head plunged into the shifting earth, and he rolled straight down into the gulf. He retained the consciousness only for enough time to say: "well… it did…"

In conclusion, our protagonist, who may also be considered a tragic character, in the maze of bureaucracy where it has favored the people on the basis of favoritism, nepotism, "petticoat influence", closeness, patronage of the officials, abuse can be seen, if not felt, by Villaamil, his family and his grandson. Villaamil must have been promoted based on his merits, qualifications, honesty and integrity on his work. This abuse, which led to his suspension, affected him economically, physically, psychologically, morally and spiritually and brutally put himself to death.


Cohen, JM(tr). (1966). Miau. Baltimore: Penguin Books Ltd.

Coser, Lewis A. and Bernard Rosenberg (eds). Sociological Theory: A Book of Readings.

London: The Macmillan Company.

Gerth, HH and C. Wright Mills. (1961). From Max Weber: essays in Sociology.

New York: Oxford University Press.

Soileau, Clany. (2006). Money and Tragedy in the Nineteenth Century Novels.

Louisiana: .

Source by Wilfredo M. Valois

50 Investing Tips for Safe Investment In Stock Market

Wish to know how to make safe investing. Just follow these 50 investing tips for safe investing. Well, let us check out the investing tips.

1. Do not buy a stock without examining the financial health.

2. Go for a good and professional help so that you can be guided about the market.

3. Never buy a stock without knowing its business and who its competitor is.

4. Always focus on the leaders in an industry so that you can get good knowledge of the market.

5. Do not try to bottom guess the Indian stock market.

6. Always buy stocks when market indexes are in up-trend.

7. Try to wait until the Share market has clearly turned around.

8. Always make your decision to buy the top companies of industries.

9. Make it a point to buy companies with new products or services.

10. Make sure that you buy stocks that are expanding in the stock exchange.

11. Try to determine whether large or small caps are favored in the share market.

12. The earnings should be at least 25% quarterly.

13. Try to invest in companies that have high management.

14. Make wise decisions.

15. Do not be impatient.

16. Average up with your winners.

17. Go for a good broker.

18. Set a strict budget.

19. Set your goals.

20. Don't feel like a loser

21. Aim higher

22. Try to minimize risk.

23. Maintain market records.

24. Do not be greedy.

25. Act wise.

26. Think more.

27. Make a research.

28. Tax planning.

29. Understand the value.

30. Learn about NSE and BSE

31. Buy fixed income securities.

32. Minimize risk.

33. Try to spend less.

34. Enjoy open communication.

35. Keep track of records.

36. Ask for latest updates.

37. Beware of fraud brokers.

38. Set yourself on win-win situations.

39. Get some share tips

40. Never average down.

41. Pay attention to real estate.

42. Avoid fraud websites.

43. Set your objectives higher.

44. Do not give any credit card details.

45. Never be disappointed.

46. ​​Listen to news.

47. Give stress on investment tips.

48. Consult your experienced stock consultant.

49. Have in your hired technical or fundamental analysts

50. Do not overextend your budget.

So these are50 investing tips for safe investing you can use while investing in the stock market.

Now stop losing money in stock market. Just follow above 50 investment tips and start minting money from share market

Source by Saam Patel

We the People: Toward a Fair and Just Society and How to Get There

In 1991, after over 30 years of research and original thoughts, I published my theory of the future democratic society in "Technological Democracy: A Humanistic Philosophy of the Future Society", and presented its more refined structure in my later publications cited below. Because of the global economic crises forcing people to look for a new societal system to replace the old corporate dominated one, I decided to publish a simplified and short version of my theory, in a manifesto form of only 64 pages for general public as a guide for taking action toward changing the system. I firmly believe this is the system of the future world which will materialize within this century. It will save many lives and opportunities if we understand it now and take action to materialize it before it gets too late to stop wide-spread violence and bloodshed.

The economic concept presented here is a part from a new scientific theory of technological democracy society which is thought, sooner or later but ultimately, to replace the present two centuries old chaotic and outdated system of, so called, representative democracy. People in nearly all developed and some developing countries are earnestly looking for a modern but just and fair system to replace it. The total and detail structure of this new societal system, which is presented in three books (over 1000 pages), obviously cannot be properly presented here. The reader needs to have this in mind when some questions arise. However, understanding it with a little use of logic and reasoning is quite simple, since the scientific base of the theory rests on the application of a single principle of equality of opportunity.

Our Constitution literally covers the principle of equality of opportunity but suppose, to clarify it, we pass an amendment to our constitution recognizing equality of opportunity as an individual right in every aspect of daily life. This immediately expands democracy to cover the whole system of the societal life: economic, political, as well as social. Let's see what happens to the economy of the country and along with it to individual liberties, political process, social order, employment rights, and equality regardless of race, gender, culture, and religion. Here is a very brief account of it ..

The New Economic Theory

The manner by which property is produced, owned, and used, determines the economic structure of a society and, to a substantial degree, its social and political characteristics. A necessary condition for economic democracy is the equitable distribution of capital among the people and dispersed control over its use.

The Principle of Unjust Enrichment

The principle of equality of opportunity prescribes that every person has full authority of control and management of whatever he or she owns during his lifetime, but no one in a technological democratic society is allowed to gain opportunity over others through accumulation of wealth by profits achieved by exploitation and subjugation of others, or free transfer of assets. This principle is known as "prohibition of unjust enrichment." Such accumulation is allowed only through individual's own labor. Thus, no one can be enriched through inheritance or receiving property or assets without a comparable compensation. The reason is that such enrichment will disturb equality of opportunity by increasing one's opportunity, without his personal efforts, over those of others. Inheritance is allowed only to the extent that it does not affect equality of opportunity. Profit is another form of unjust enrichment since the capitalist receives it through exploitation of workers as well as consumers. It unjustly enhances the opportunity of the capitalist against workers and others. However, a nationally specified amount of return from the use of capital is justified.

Capital and Capital Accumulation

While capital is still one of the main forces of production, its characteristics is quite different with that under capitalism or socialism. Besides the capital accumulated through savings from a worker's own earnings, in order to attain equality of opportunity, each worker has also another source of capital accumulation. It is a determined number of shares of his employer's firm he receives every month along with and as a part from his salary. This process gradually and peacefully transfers capital from the capitalist to the worker allowing him or her increasing voice in the operation of the firm. A unique and fantastic result is attained by this process of transition; the distinction between the capitalist and working class disappears and both join together into one. It is important to note that the working class under this theory embodies anyone working in any production process from its top managers to its least qualified one.

The accumulated capital by the workers under this program stock-holding is non-transferable, but it remains under the ownership and control of the worker. It replaces the present Social Security system, providing him or her with income sufficient for a modest but comfortable living standards after retirement. Like Social Security, after the death of the owner, this non-transferable capital reverts to a public organization known as the Public Consumption Fund responsible for providing free health care and free education for all. However, in order to diversify his or her non-transferable holdings, the worker may exchange part of his or her firm's non-transferable stocks with non-transferable stocks of other companies in the stock market. In reality, these stocks are a part from the social capital in circulation providing a variety of beneficial functions, all under individual and private control. In addition, of course, the worker has capital accumulation by savings from the salary, income from capital investments in production firms, income from nontransferable stocks, and inheritance. The worker has full control over all these assets during his or her lifetime.

The Working Class, Shared Opportunity and Employment Right

The application of equality of opportunity creates a new mode of production eliminating exploitation and gradually making the worker a full participant in production and distribution process. At the workplace, it creates different opportunity levels based on each individual's education and experience.

Under equality of opportunity, employment is an individual right because there is no such equality present between those employed with those unemployed within the same level of competence. Each institution must provide employment for any applicant corresponding to his or her level of competency through the use of the principle of "shared opportunity" derived from the equality of opportunity principle. It requires that each employed person within the firm at the same level of competency as those unemployed applicants, to give up a small portion of his employment opportunity (eg 1-4 hours out of 40 hours per week) to provide the same employment opportunity for the applicants. The concept of supply and demand at each level of opportunity stabilizes the employment market for this and any other level of work nationwide. Shared opportunity causes full employment and lifetime job security for anyone desiring to work.

Work, Education, and Pay System

The general level of compensation is determined by a general position classification at the national level calculated and established by the National Economic and Production Council (NEPC) by the assistance of the Technodem, which is a national independent, self controlled electronic system and indispensable instrument in Proper application of equality of opportunity, also known as the people best and trusted friend. The Technodem by having access to prices of all goods and services and the cost of living, calculates and reports to NEPC the amount of minimum wage required for a minimum living standard. The NEPC designs a model position classification and pay system accordingly. This is fed to the Technodem equipped to supervise its application in every institution hiring workers. Each production firm then, following the national model, establishes its own position classification and pay system and feeds it into the Technodem which instantly compares it with the national model, and reports back discrepancies, if any, to be corrected. The position classification within each firm does not have to be exactly the same as the national model but it has to fit into the range specified by that model.


In technological democracy, after twelve years of general education, the work system and education merge together. Everyone is required to complete the general education program. It consists of four years of preschool education starting at age three up to seven; four years of elementary and four years of secondary education. It contains a condensed curricula from grade one through twelve. After completing this educational program, the person who is about fifteen years old, begins to work part-time while starting his higher education full-time. His study program is equally divided between general-humanistic and professional-technical parts. The first part, develops him as a democratic person, deeply devoted and committed to the principle of equality of opportunity. However, the core part of his humanistic education is achieved through his or her 12-year of general education. By the age of 22, he or she achieves the knowledge level of an MA degree under our present system, and starts to work full-time and continues his studies part time for the rest of his working years. Every worker at the time of retirement, which arrives at his early 50s after 30 years of work, accumulates knowledge, far beyond the Ph.D. level, the highest degree in higher education offered today. This higher level of knowledge is required and necessary in a highly scientific and technological and ever-changing life environment at work as well as at home. This part-time education is a part from the worker's required working hours; for a 40 hour-per-week work program, he works 32 hours and studies 8 hours. Everyone starts the life from scratch and gradually moves to a high position and high income by the time of official retirement. There remains still two or more decades of active life left for each individual after retirement to enjoy life without worry spending it in leisure, art, music, travel or other creative and desired ventures.

The Government

The technological democratic society is based on the concept of the least government being the best. Accordingly, the national government has no domestic line functions. All national departments except for defense and State, all regulatory agencies and welfare programs are discarded. The state governments are down-sized by about 40 percent; while the size and responsibilities of local governments are increased by about 20 percent. The Technodem, production firms and local social organizations carry out most of the needed public functions. Under this system there is an incredible expansion of individual rights and freedoms, free education, fee health care, employment rights, and old age benefits all under full individual and private control.

The Transition Process

The transition has to be through a peaceful process, thus, it needs to be gradual stretching from two to four decades. The following is the process proposed here subject to replacement or modification if better ways are found.

The first and immediate step is to legalize the principle of equality of opportunity through a constitutional amendment, if it fails, then through a national constitutional convention. Immediately after its passage, establish a temporary National Economic and Production Council (NEPC) (See We the People, cited below, Fig. 5, p. 49). Its first task is to create a temporary national position classification and pay system based on a minimum wage calculated by the Technodem. For example, at $ 8.00 per hour minimum wage and 5 percent annual increase, the minimum annual pay will start from $ 16640 at the age 15 rising to about $ 100,000 at the age of retirement at 53. This is the highest executive pay any worker may receive at the time of retirement. It must be noted that under the new system there is no individual income tax, or other taxes such as Social Security and Medicare. Thus, these incomes are equivalent to the real income at the present after all deductions for taxes.

All employers are required to classify their employment and pay system according to the national model established, and feed it into the National Economic and Production Council's computer. This is the initial creation of the Technodem which plays essential role in supervising and sustaining the democratic system. As the production firms prepare their own position classification and pay system, following the national model and feed them into the NEOC computer, the Technodem progresses in its information storage and capability in taking over the supervision of the application of the equality of opportunity at the workplace and ultimately its application in political and social aspects of daily life.

The period of transition will not be an easy one. There will be a need for good and sharp thinkers to smooth out the process. If Congress refuses to propose the equal opportunity amendment to the Constitution or obstacles are created by the national and state governments in calling for a National Constitutional Convention, the people will have no choice but resort to a general strike, as defined by the French philosopher George Sorel, until it succeeds. The nation may need a temporary commission composed of highly qualified individuals to put into effect the new system, supervise its progress, make necessary adjustments for its proper operation, and eliminate the old departments and agencies when they become irrelevant, including the Congress and presidency when it becomes appropriate to install the new National Legislative and Coordination Assembly and the National Executive Council. This must be the people commission and its members chosen by the people or their chosen representatives.

In a technological democracy, the social goal and common purpose, for which society is to be organized, concern itself in providing equality of opportunity for everyone. In such an accomplished society:

1. Everyone starts life from the scratch. There are neither rich nor poor under the present meaning of the terms.

2. Everyone receives 12 years of free general education up to the age 15. Not only it is totally free but no obstacle can be created to hinder it.

3. Everyone starts to work part-time at age 15, starts full-time at the age 22, and works until retirement, never facing unemployment.

4. Everyone continues his / her education full-time after the age of 15, while working part-time, and continues part-time after the age of 22, as a part from his / her work program, until retirement. Such education consists of a balanced combination of technical-professional, liberal arts, and humanities subjects. It is reduced to two courses on each subject per year after the age 22, when the worker assumes full-time position.

5. Everyone receives free health and preventive care for life.

6. Everyone, starting from zero, gradually becomes a part owner of production of goods and services. These ownership shares, which replaces the present Social Security system but fully privatized, are destined for the support of the owner after his / her retirement, and thus are not transferable.

7. Everyone works full-time for at least 30 years or equivalent of it.

8. Equivalent to one-fifth of the working hours are allocated to

education. Accordingly, for a 40 hours per week work, the person works for 32 hours and studies for 8 hours.

9. Promotion is based on the level of education and years of experience, liberal art education having the same importance as the technical or professional.

10. The age of retirement depends on the supply of the young labor force for the purpose of allowing them equal opportunity for employment. However, to guarantee a comfortable retirement life, no capable person works for less than 25 years full-time before retirement. The general retirement occurs after 30 years of full-time work.

11. After retirement, which more likely occurs when an individual is in his early 50s, he or she has enough non-transferable assets accumulated to bring him or her returns sufficient for a simple but comfortable living standards. In addition, through his or her personal savings, he or she has other transferable assets under his or her full control.

12. All elective public positions:

a. Require very high qualifications relating to education and experience.

b. Are temporary and no one is elected for the same office for more than one term. Besides other benefits, this also allows opportunities to a greater number of well qualified retired citizens to hold public office and serve the people.

c. These two requirements would allow a better chance of being elected to retired individuals since they are better educated and well experienced and are not looking for a permanent position. They are still young, but matured and capable of fruitful participation in the public policy-making process and public service.

13. As a result of democratic norms and technological developments, family life is transformed from its traditional form into a democratic unit; Parents being responsible, though in a different manner, for upbringing of the children up to the age of 15, after which the child, who is considered an adult, enters the labor market and is considered independent.

14 By the time of retirement, the family, more likely because of voluntary birth and population control, has no children to take care of; and free from this responsibility, the couple, if they desire to remain together, has many years of economically secure, very fruitful, still productive, dynamic, and enjoyable life.

15. After death, a substantial part of an individual's wealth, according to the principle of equality of opportunity, is returned to society, through the Public Consumption Fund, to sustain free services such as health care and

education for the new generation which is also to start from the scratch.

16. Though some individuals accumulate more wealth than others, the difference is not so great to cause class distinction. Furthermore, such

difference is only for the life of the person and disappears upon his death. In reality, this is a classless society with minor variations in material ownership.

17. An individual's obligatory relationship is within his family and his workplace. Outside these areas, he remains free to enjoy life with a great many things and means accessible to him in an infinite variety of combinations.

18. In its narrow application, equality of opportunity does not allow individual competition where the intention is to take opportunity from someone against whom the individual is competing. However, equality of opportunity not only allows but encourages each individual to compete against himself or herself to become better than what he or she already is. This is quite different from competing against a designated person even it may give the same result. Open competition is the backbone of the democratic market operation, but, it is free of fraudulence, propaganda, and false commercials. Self competition should be the motto of production here as well. It causes the production of better goods or services resulting in marketing success the exact specifications of the products are stated and left to the consumer to make the choice. Unlike the present situation where commercials are forced on the people by being inserted into television or radio programs, no one is forced, through any means, to watch or listen to commercials.

19. The wealth of a society is the sum total of individual wealth plus all natural and other resources which belong to the society as a whole. However, the important part of the wealth of a society is not economic and material, but technological in the form of knowledge, experience, and means which is the way of doing things.

20. More important than the production of wealth is its equitable distribution among the working class, subject only to the level of knowledge, and experience. Every worker receives nearly the same amount of income in the full period of his or her work as the others. There will be some differentiation but it will not be so remarkable to upset equality of opportunity. Each worker starts with the minimum wage and gets more as he or she climbs the ladder to higher positions or become better educated and more experienced. By the time of retirement, each worker is a high ranking official in his or her firm regardless of type of work he or she is assigned to perform.

21. In a democratic system, there is no class structure or class distinction. Differentiation is only at the work place, based on the level of knowledge, experience, and expertise. Working class refers to all working individuals including members of the board of directors, chief executives down to the least experienced.

22. The proper function of government is to establish, maintain and periodically revise the standards required by the principle of equality of opportunity, particularly relating to division of labor and compensation. The national government has no domestic line functions except some supervisory authority in the areas relating to the national consumption fund such as education, healthcare, and corresponding standards. Government is reduced to its minimum functional size.

23. Private wealth totally belongs to the individual for life. It is a wealth initiated, created, and accumulated through his / her own labor, use of his / her assets and not through profits by exploiting others.

24. Public wealth mainly constitutes of the society's natural resources. They belong to the society as a whole, and therefore, net proceeds created belong to the people. Equality of opportunity does not allow any private ownership of natural resources such as oil, gas, minerals, and forests. Such resources may be leased to specific firms to operate. Whatever is left after paying for all expenses including depreciation of tool, machineries and other properties used for production purpose, goes to Public Consumption Fund and used for public benefit.

25. The electoral system is managed by the Technodem, The only thing a candidate needs to do is to enter his or her name for the office he or she seeks to be elected, into the Technodem's list for that office. No additional information is needed, because the Technodem knows all about each individual in the society. It will present each individual's qualifications in three categories: personal, educational, and experience, and rank each candidate in each category. However, each candidate may have his or her own electoral website and may place in it additional information he may think beneficial for his campaign. No voter is obliged to vote for Technodem's first choice, Each voter selects his or her candidate from this list and votes for him or her, through the Technodem's electoral website, on the election day.

26. Political parties as we know of them today are eliminated since there is no need or justification for their existence or other organizations for electoral purposes. The electoral process is electronic, simple, and abuse free; During the election day, each qualified individual inserts his or her electronic ID card into the computer, it is checked against his or her background. If qualified he or she votes from anyplace in the world for the candidate of his or her choice for the national, state or local office.

27. There is a total private ownership of the means of production of

goods and services. This ownership is highly dispersed with no concentration in the hands of a few.

28. Giant corporations are automatically disintegrated into several smaller institutions once the workers take over the management. Huge overhead expenditures are saved.

29. A new free market economy is established with fair and open competition based on equality of opportunity.

30. No individual taxes, no property taxes, and no social security taxes.

31. There is protection of environment, preservation of natural resources, and meaningful use of them for public benefit and keeping them in proper shape for the future generations as the equality of opportunity requires.

32. A marvelous outcome of this system is the disappearance of all economic, political and social interest groups. There won't be any need or requirement for their existence. People, for the first time become free of all pressures, demands, and restriction of thousands of such organizations that exist today including all charitable organizations. What a wonderful freedom this would bring.

Morality Under Technological Democracy

The moral boundaries of technological democracy are very broad based on the principle of equality of opportunity. No conceivable common ethical code can be comprehensive enough to cover nearly boundless domain of these moral possibilities relating to such values ​​as honesty, integrity, humility and freedom. It is impossible for any mind to comprehend the infinite variety of individual freedoms and good deeds ensuing from this foundation of morality. Whether one's interests center around his or her own well-being, or the welfare of others, regardless how broad and expanded these interests may be, the end that the individual may be concerned with, is always only an infinitesimal fraction of what could be possible under this democratic system. It is within these nearly limitless confines that the individual strives for his life liberty and pursuit of happiness.



The following books and articles explain in detail a quite complex theory of a humanistic future society. Some 30 years of the author's time has been spent in its development. The readers are requested to be patient and deeply conscious in its comprehension and interpretation. After Karl Marx's theory of communism which ended up to be utopian and not actually applicable, this is the second scientific societal theory based on reason and logic; It is also pragmatic and practical. For the author's brief biography and books cited below and some relevant articles see his website and

Technological Democracy: A Humanistic Philosophy of the Future Society, 1990, pp. 365.

Technodemocratic Economic Theory: From Capitalism and Socialism to Democracy, 1991. pp. 359.

Passage to a Just Society: Secrets of Democratic Life, Leisure and Happiness. 2003. pp. 374.

We the People: Democracy as a System, a Humanistic Philosophy of the Future Society, 2010. Frederick, Maryland .: Publish America, pp. 64.

This book is a very brief and simple presentation of the theory to the general public and a guide for a national movement and action including the general strike. For those interested in forming a successful movement or action, reading the author's article about the General Strike and some writings from the French philosopher George Sorel concerning his theory of general strike are recommended.

It must be noted that when the first two books were published in the early 1990s, Vice President Al Gore had not yet invented the Internet.

Source by Dr.

Mutual Funds – An Introduction to the Types of Mutual Funds

A mutual fund is a trust handled by the fund manager that pools the savings of thousands of investors who share the same financial goals. The money collected is then invested in capital market instruments such as stocks or bonds, or a combination of the two.

Investing in mutual funds is done through the provision of different types of investing options that are made available to the investors. These falls broadly into the following categories: SIP (Systematic Investment Plan), onetime payment, yearly, half yearly and quarterly payments. SIP was essentially introduced to average out the cost of investment by purchasing a particular amount of units at regular intervals irrespective of market movement. This reduces the volatility of the fund. Thus if price of the security falls, more units are bought and if price of the securities rises lesser units are bought.

To invest in mutual fund one should know the types of mutual fund available in the market. These are: equity funds, debt funds, balanced schemes, sector funds, gilt funds, index funds, MIPs (Monthly Income Plans), MMFs (Money Market Funds) ETFs etc. Each one of these schemes follows a different investment strategy. Most of the schemes have "growth oriented" or "dividend oriented" plans, which either re-invest or pay out the dividend collected from underlying stocks.

Equity Schemes: This type of fund predominantly invests in equity shares of companies. It provides returns by way of capital appreciation. This type of fund is exposed to high risk and hence return may fluctuate. As it invests only in stocks, it is riskier than debt funds. The returns will depend on the performance of the company that the fund invests in. However, on the flipside, this fund has a high return capability since equities have historically outperformed all other asset classes. There are several types of equity schemes based on different categorization parameters.

1. Large cap funds / blue chip funds – invest in large company stocks, typically from BSE 100 index. Generally low risk investment with average returns.

2. Mid cap / small cap funds – Mid cap & small cap funds are generally considered riskier because smaller companies have higher business risks. At the same time, they can give multi bagger returns because smaller companies can grow multi fold if they are successful.

3. Sector Funds: These funds are the riskiest amongst equity funds as these invest only in specific sectors or industries. The performance of sector funds depends on the fortunes of specific sectors or industries. This type of funds maximizes returns by investing in the sector, when the sector is expected to boom and gets out before it falls. You should invest in these funds only if you really understand the sector and its trends.

4. Index Funds: These funds track a key stock market index like BSE Sensex or NSE S&P CNX Nifty. It will invest only in those stocks which form the market index, as per the individual stock weightage. The idea is to replicate the performance of the bench marked index. The performance should ideally be better than or at least the same as the concerned index. The exit load of these schemes is usually lower than regular schemes.

Debt Schemes: Debt schemes invest mainly in income bearing instruments such as bonds, debentures, government securities and commercial paper. This type of fund basically invests in FD like instruments that pay interest based on various market factors. Its volatility depends on the economy reflected by factors such as the rupee depreciation, fiscal deficit and inflationary pressures. Broadly speaking, the returns from pure debt schemes will be in line with bank FDs. There are short term, medium term and long term debt funds based on the time horizon they cater to.

1. Gilt Funds: This is a sub-type of debt funds, which invests only in government securities and treasury bills. They are generally considered safer than corporate bonds and are more tuned towards long term investments.

2. Monthly Income Plans (MIPs): This is basically a debt scheme which invests a marginal amount of money (10% – 25%) in equity to boost the scheme's return. This fund will give slightly higher return than traditional long term debt scheme.

3. Money Market Funds (MMFs): These are also known as liquid funds. These funds are debt schemes that invest in certificate of deposit (CDs), Interbank call money market, commercial papers and short term securities with a maturity horizon of less than 1 year. The funds objective is to preserve principal while yielding a moderate return. It is a low risk- low return investment which offers instant liquidity.

Balanced Schemes / Hybrid Schemes: This scheme invests in both equity shares and in income bearing instruments in such a proportion that balances the portfolio. The aim is to reduce the risk of investing in stocks by having a stake in the debt market as well. It usually gives a reasonable return with a moderate risk exposure. There can be hybrid funds that are more oriented towards equity (60-70% in equity) and there can be debt oriented hybrid funds (60-70% in debt).

Fund of Funds: Fund of fund is a secondary fund, which invests in different types of funds based on market conditions. Eg if the stock markets are in a bearish mood, it might be prudent to invest in debt, and not equity. So this kind of a fund will sell its equity holdings and buy units of debt fund of the same fund house. "Asset allocation funds" is also a term used for these kinds of funds that take a macro call and invest in equity, debt, gold or some other security.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): These are the funds that are traded on the market like regular stocks. You don't need to pay Exit load to trade them, but you pay brokerage just like regular stocks. You can do intraday trading with ETFs, which is not possible with regular funds. There are ETFs that are based on Nifty (index), Gold and so on. Generally speaking, they are suitable for short term traders who want to take a position in the market using underlying security.

Source by Sunny TK

Larry Silverstein and the Bernard Mendik-Vornado Realty Connection

It’s difficult for many to see the wood for the trees when it comes to 9/11. So much horror, so much information, so many conspiracy theories, so much fear by those that don’t want to be seen to buy into the theories, or even look at the evidence presented in case they are seen as a “traitor” and we all know that famous Bushwellian comment, that has been drilled into the American psyche, to the point it has been as affective as a national lobotomy; ”you are either with us or with the terrorists”. It doesn’t give one much room to move or make an informed opinion does it?

So, with all the fear and paranoia of being seen as a ”traitor” or even “‘terrorist” by taser toting Home Land Security, most prefer to just ignore the evidence. Muslim goes hand in hand with terrorism, Jew goes hand in hand with Israel, or does it? Much has been said about the use of the term “‘Jewish” with regard to the 9/11 insurance article about Mr Laurence Silverstein, multi Billionaire owner of the 99 year lease to the second biggest crime scene of all time, The World trade centre. (the first being Auschwitz-Birkenau). Some even say using the term ‘Jewish’ in context, is somehow anti-Semitic! Yet why are people so much less sensitive when the term “‘Muslim” is used whenever speaking of ‘the terrorists’?

But in all fairness to be clear, one needs to be specific and include ‘Islamic fundamentalists’ to the Muslim in the case of Jihadists and Zionist to the Jew or other, that is intent on the total control of Palestine and the ethnic cleansing of those lands of the Palestinian peoples. After all, one can’t really be a Jihadist unless a Muslim but one can be a Zionist without necessarily being a Jew. But the chances are, if you are a very wealthy American Jew, you are more than likely to be Zionist. But one needs to remember the Zionist plot to monopolize the holy land is only part of the Endgame to a One World Government controlled by the Bankster elite, with a pretext that the Jews are the chosen people and that Palestine or Israel, as the Zionists prefer to call it, is exclusively home to the lost tribe of Israel the Jews. I should add here, before I return to the core of this commentary on Laurence Silverstein and gang, that Jews and Muslims have lived in peace for hundreds of years before the Zionist plot to dominate Palestine and the endless propaganda created to create hatred between the two communities is merely that, propaganda. But what is the objective of this propaganda? What is it’s purpose? and how does one plan this New World Order Endgame with the complete support of the western world?

Let’s start by looking at a hypothesis, for example; how could one go about taking away civil power from the people in the west without a fight? Even better, in a way where the public literally hand over that power voluntarily? To start with, if I were mastermind and puppet-master of the ‘Endgame’ I would imagine we need a scapegoat and none better than the muslims, as they have so much to offer. After all, it is mainly within the Arab lands where the greatest riches and largest pools of petroleum resources lie, plus the largest poppy fields. So we have decided the Muslim Arabs are the initial candidates for scapegoats. Then we need to get everyone to mistrust and hate the scapegoat Muslims, not just the crazed ignorant fundamentalist Muslim that truly believes that after they have blown themselves and many innocents up, they will spend the rest of time in paradise drinking honey out of the cleavages of singing virgins. No, for a plan like this to work, we have to hate all muslims, men women and children. We can take some great tips from Hitler; he did exactly this when he made scapegoats of the Jews and Gypsies. A good start is to lock them up in a big concentration camp, we can do that in Gaza and starve and leave them with no sanitary conditions no clean water, no work, no freedom, nothing! And we don’t let them come out unless we say so.

To keep them feeling utterly hopeless, we need to hound, harass and humiliate them, shooting the odd child and woman in the back when going to the shops is good, make them ‘mad’! Make them hate us! Make them so mad they will do anything to get revenge, make them crazy and then we’ll groom and recruit those crazies through our own agents that are infiltrated within the islamic ’cause’. Then we finance and groom our mad crazy Jihadists to pull off false flag ops for us! Wow! This could work. We could pull off shocking murderous operations on civilians and blame it all on the ‘Jihadist terrorists’, just as we did with the 1954 Operation Susannah the 1985 hijacking of The Archille Lauro, the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, the list is long and truly impressive. Not only that, we need to do some really big scary horrific stuff so everyone hands over their civil liberties in the name of security. Slicing off the head of an American Jewish journalist on camera would be amazingly powerful, that will scare the pants off them! Imagine that on American TV! Fear is the key, the public should be reminded constantly that we are all under ‘threat’ from the nasty ‘terrorists’. Then We’ll set up ‘off shore’ detention camps and invent plots and cells that we can blame on innocent men going about their daily business, till we come in the night, cross- border and kidnap and drag them off to the detention camp.

Here we will use lots of grisly torture and threaten that we will do equally nasty things to their women and children so they confess to something they have never done. Oh, no trial, no access to legal process, of course not, it’s got to be under wraps, can’t have the bastards coming up with alibi’s and evidence of their innocence. Great Plan! We had better do away with Habeas Corpus though! Oh, of course we already did that, great! We could dominate the entire Arab world and loot all the resources and after smashing the place up, we’ll send in our own companies to ‘rebuild’. All our rebuild contracts paid for by the dumb taxpayer! We are clever, yeah, who’s going to stop us? We have the perfect excuse that we have to go in and “get them”. We’ll tell everyone, “we need to stop dictatorships” and “we need to spread democracy” to these murderous unlawful regimes that don’t respect human rights and who give refuge to the terrorists, yeah! that works. If half of the American public are dumb enough to believe that the Federal Reserve is a governmental institution and that Kennedy was shot by a lone gunman they’ll believe anything!, They don’t even know what democracy really means do they? After all, we whacked democracy years ago and buried it with the Patriot Act! But to continue to do this, we need to keep it amongst ourselves, yeah! Just our very close friends and those that do big favours for us. Hmm, what about our friend Larry Silverstein?

Mr Larry Silverstein is a man that can only be well connected. Born in Brooklyn, to poor middle-class Russian-Jewish parents during the depression, Larry still grew up doing all the things boys from better families do. Larry was taught to play the piano by his classical pianist father Harry and read lots and lots of good books. Larry attended the New York High School of Music and Art. But Larry’s father realised that music and books don’t make big bucks in Brooklyn, so he turned his hand to being a property broker, renting scruffy loft spaces in the rag district of Brooklyn. What Larry’s parents lacked in pennies, they more than made up for in ambition. Larry’s family although still relatively poor, surviving on rental commissions, managed to get Larry through NYU. Larry, after graduating from NYU with a new sense of business acumen, went to work full time for his father. Larry though, had bigger plans than his father and told Harry that being a middle man and just taking commission, was not where the money was, to make money letting, one really needed to own the lofts. In 1957, they established Silverstein Properties, as Harry G. Silverstein & Sons, and bought their first building, in Manhattan. Larry set about getting friends and family to invest money in him to buy and renovate scruffy lofts and cheap buildings in run down areas of New York. Now the Silverstein’s could command some decent rents and real income through sales. What Larry lacked in development know how, he made up in zealous salesman traits saying;

“You’ve got to believe it to sell” “You’ve got to sell with a passion.”

In 1956 Larry married Klara, who he had met at Jewish summer camp. The family struggled to start with and Klara used her paltry $3,200 salary as a teacher to help the family get through those early years. The family joke is that Klara was the original Silverstein breadwinner.

Around this time, Larry’s best friend |Bernard Mendik, a later New York law School graduate, married Larry’s sister Annette and became part of the Silverstein family business. The three men Harry, Larry and Bernard then set their sights on becoming the most powerful real estate developers of New York. When Harry Silverstein died in 1966, Bernard Mendik and Silverstein’s son Larry formed Silverstein & Mendik.

Larry and Klara went on to have three children the eldest Sharon, although Harvard educated, then married and became a home-maker but the two younger children, Lisa and Roger went on to work for their father and still work for Silverstein properties today.

Silverstein’s first big break came when he bought 11 west 42nd street near Bryant Park, before it was renovated to what it is today. He then built at 42nd west of Eleventh Avenue, and in lower Manhattan at 120 Broadway, a 1.8 million-square-foot giant occupying a full square block, steps from Wall Street. By the eighty’s, Silverstein was a multi- millionaire and controlled more than 10 million square feet of Manhattan residential and commercial property.

By the time Silverstein set his sights on the WTC, his brother-in-law Bernard Mendik had split from Silverstein after divorcing Larry’s sister. With the divorce, also came the split of the Silverstein Mendik business partnership. Mendik was now running his own property company, The Mendik Company. At the time of the split with Silverstein, Mendik cited disagreements with Silverstein over real estate strategies, with Mendik wanting to buy buildings while Silverstein wanted to build. It is said things were “‘not good” between Larry and Bernard at the time of their split and it was also said that “‘Larry and Bernard had a messy falling-out after Mr. Mendik divorced Mr. Silverstein’s sister Annette” Mendik, who went on to be a very successful lawyer and property developer in his own right after splitting from Silverstein was well liked and did much for charity.

Both men went their own ways till April 1997, when Bernard Mendik, ex brother in law of Silverstein folded his company holdings into the Vornado Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust with shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange. It was said at the time of the negotiations ”The combination, of Vornado with the Mendik Company’s 40-year experience in the ownership and operation of office properties is expected to create a powerhouse that will be an active player in the city market.”

It was written by Lois Weiss in The Real Estate weekly in March 1997

“In one of the most interesting transactions this year, developer/owner Bernard Mendik has agreed to swap his city real estate portfolio to become part of the Vornado Realty Trust. The transaction is valued at $654 million in a combination of cash, stock and debt,”

Mendik was at the time very close to forming his own REIT when Michael D. Fascitelli the former investment banker from Goldman Sachs who had been lured to Vornado Realty, convinced Mendik to join forces with Vornado. Mendik became Vornado’s co-chairman. But later resigned in October 1998 to “‘look after his personal investments”. Mendik was quoted as saying he was “stifled” by corporate bureaucracy, but he still remained a major stockholder in Vornado after his resignation. Vornado Realty just happens to be the very same company which was Silverstein’s competitor and beat Silverstein in the initial bid to the port authority for the WTC.

Mendik, through his great success and power in the city, become a very close friend to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. So much of a trusted friend, that Mendik was hand-picked by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani to head a business group that provides sanitation, security and other services around Grand Central Terminal. But rifts were caused between the men when Mendik had his own ideas about how to do things and made changes to the board of directors, much to the utter outrage of Giuliani. At the time, Mendik was quoted as saying ” the new group would be free of political interference”

There is no doubt that by the year 2000 Bernard Mendik, former best friend, founding business partner and brother-in-law of Silverstein was now not only a equal major player like Silverstein, but a powerful voice in the property world, in his tenth year as Chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York and certainly Silverstein’s toughest competitor.

On February the 15th 2001 Vornado’s bid for the WTC, outbid Silverstein Properties $3.2billion bid by over 50 million dollars. It has been said that at some point between the end of March and mid April 2001 Vornado “suddenly changed their minds” and “suddenly pulled out” There have been various reasons given for this, but there is nothing to verify either version.

On April the 26th 2001 Larry Silverstein put in his final bid for the WTC, only four weeks later Bernard Mendik was dead! On July the 24th 2001 Silverstein’s offer which was 50 million dollars less than Vornado’s was formally accepted and closed.

Bernard Mendik, major shareholder of Vornado Realty died on the 28th May 2001 after being taken “suddenly” ill. Only weeks after Vornado “suddenly pulled out” after the winning bid that beat Silverstein for the WTC. The official verdict was ‘heart attack’ Although heart attack is often un unpredicted health emergency, many of his friends find this hard to believe, as Mendik was as far as they could tell a ”very fit and health conscious man” in fact, Mendik had even played his regular game of tennis the very day of his death. He had also had regular checkups by the best doctors that money could buy. It was later said that the heart attack was the result of “a blood disorder”. He had just turned 72. Whatever the cause of Mendik’s demise one thing is certain, the withdrawal of Vornado’s bid and the death of Mendik left the way clear for ”Lucky Larry” Silverstein, to accomplish his multi million dollar dream.


Mendik at the time of his death was in his tenth year as Chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York. As chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), Mendik and the organization lobbied successfully to eliminate the onerous “Cuomo” tax on capital gains that took ten cents on each dollar, and obtained the passage of state legislation that reduced the 3 percent transfer taxes on properties that were merely being exchanged for stock and not cash” courtesy.

Source by Laurence De Mello

6 Things That Affect Land Values

There are many factors which will influence and affect land values ​​and these factors may fluctuate from time to time. For anyone who is thinking about land investment it is very important that you know what these factors are and how they may affect land values. You will have an idea of ​​what the land is presently valued and what the potential future value is likely to be.

The keyword here is future and someone who is able to speculate well what the prices of the land will be in future will always be on the gainers side. Here are 6 things that affect land values:


The basic principles here remains the same, that something which is tradable and is available in plenty have lesser value than something which is available in less volume. This factor is very significant and for eg we can see that the prices in the prime locations of any city, town or just any region is always higher than prices in the suburbs. This is because the prime locations has much more facilities and amenities which are available and due to which many people want to move over there and set up their business or buy a home there. This increases the demand where as the prices in the suburbs and outskirts are low because land is scarce in the cities and the opportunities are less and lifestyle too is not as good as towns. Here if you are able to buy land that is scarce at a reasonable price you will be able to make a profit for selling later at a higher price.


There are many land areas which are very fertile and cultivable. Places which are fertile and are cultivable are valued very high than non fertile areas .. If you purchase fertile land, you can easily sell it in the future as arable land is always in demand especially for agriculture. Due to this great demand for arable land the price that can be had is usually good.

Zoning Issues

There are local authorities that will place certain restriction on the kind of development that can be done on the land. Certain areas are zoned for certain kinds of development and amenities. Every land owner must apply for permission from the authorities to do any kind of development on any land. Permission is granted or denied based on zoning laws and other considerations and these all will affect the land price.


The land value is also greatly affected by the kinds of development that takes place on it. If a very successful business is developed on it then you can include it in the overall value of the land. You can also choose to sell off the business while still retaining the property. This can help in earn profit from two sources. Thus, profit is coming from selling the business for a good profit and also a regular fixed income from the use of the land by the new business owner.


The land value is also very much dependent on the area it is located in and the taxes that are attached to it. If the land tax is considerably high, then it might be a very god reason for the potential buyer to make another choice. Different states have different tax rates attached to land and depending on the type of land there may be a different tax attached. Also the size of the land will affect the amount of tax paid. Thus the larger the land the more tax will be paid and vice versa. Also the land to be invested in may have tax arrears that must be paid up before any transfer of title can occur.


The safety of the area in which the land as located, is an important factor in determining land value. If the area is one that is crime riddled then the value will be lower. The safer the area the land is located in, the more likely that the land investment can produce positive returns over the long term.

When making a land investment these factors that affect land values ​​are to be seriously considered and steps taken to reduce or eliminate their effects.

Source by Gregory Akerman

The Pain of the SBA 8(a) Certification Process is Worth Your Effort

In 2005, I decided to expand my company into the “big contracting arena”. After researching, I determined the SBA 8(a) status was critical to my company’s future success. Here are tips to help you successfully apply for and receive SBA Certification on your own. FYI… The government does not charge you to apply for this program. So what’s keeping you from starting today?

Let me repeat… You don’t have to pay an “expert” to fill out this basic government application form. When I started this process, I was somewhat intimidated. by the SBA website. However, being a small business owner I did not have a lot of cash on-hand to pay someone else to fill out a form for me.

AND…. just think about this other aspect… you will be submitting your most personal information in this process. I can only imagine that companies you pay to submit this form for you maybe hiring low-wage people who are not bonded or even are outsourced in a third world country to fill out your form. Would you open your tax records or financial records open to complete strangers? I won’t. Save your dollars, save your privacy, complete your application on your own, do it yourself!

Also, knowing that government agencies are moving into a paperless mode, it did not make sense to download and submit the paperwork in hard copy. This adds weeks to the application process. Take the time, do it online. I made the commitment to myself that I would not rush the process but complete the application in chunks, taking it one step at a time, so it would be accurate and get through the screening process, the first time.

The online application is very straight forward and will cost you nothing to apply for. You can start / stop the application process at anytime to gather required documents or company references. While you can take your time in the application process, I would recommend you set a goal to get it completed in a week. I was very diligent and got mine done in a couple days.

If you have a question about the SBA application process you can always call the agency and get answers, another free access to advice.

Is there pain in the process? YES. This form will delve into the most personal aspects of your business … business references, income tax returns, personal credibility and finances. So be prepared for the pain! But keep focused on the goal you have set…to gain SBA 8(a) status for your company.

Upon submitting the application, you may receive an email from the SBA stating you need to provide additional information. If you are a caucasian woman like me, you may be asked to write a Social Disadvantaged Narrative. The bad news is…they don’t really give you much information or advice on this document. The good news is …that I was again able to write the narrative on my own (and not pay someone else $1000- $5000 to write my own story) and so can you.

What is the Social Disadvantage Narrative?

This is a story about your life, in your own words, that describes how your life circumstances caused you to have to struggle.

The SBA defines social disadvantage as:

“Socially disadvantaged individuals are those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as members of a group. Social disadvantage must stem from circumstances beyond their control.

In the absence of evidence to the contrary, individuals who are members of the following designated groups are presumed to be socially disadvantaged:

o Black Americans

o Hispanic Americans

o Native Americans (American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians)

o Asian Pacific Americans

o Members of other groups designated by the SBA.”

Author’s note: Members of other groups includes Caucasian women.

When reading about evidence of social disadvantage, it is important to keep in mind this quote… “However, an individual’s statement of personal experiences in combination with the generalized evidence may be sufficient to demonstrate social disadvantage.” This is why you SHOULD NOT HIRE SOMEONE ELSE to write YOUR story.

What does the narrative include?

There are three areas the SBA wants to see evidence of discrimination: education, employment and business work history. You can put together a compelling argument, just like I did, by focusing on four areas in your life. They are:

o Family Background / Influence: Describe the influence your family exerted on your career decisions. What were you expected to do with your life / career? What types of careers did your parents, siblings, grandparents or extended family members pursue? How did this differ from what you wanted to achieve later in life?

o Educational Background / Opportunities: Educational experiences directly influence your ability to make career choices. Describe your educational background. Do you have a college degree? How long did it take you to complete your education?

o Career Experience / Earning capacity: Career experiences directly influence your earning capacity and overall quality of life. Can you give an example of when you were subjected to harassment in your work environment that had a dramatic negative affect on your overall job performance?

o Business Work History / Your experience as a small business owner and potential jobs you were not able to bid on or receive.

Be prepared to live through buried personal pain

If you are like me, deciding to become an entrepreneur was a decision that evolved from your life experiences. Perhaps you worked for many years in companies and were not satisfied with the people you reported to or the salary you were paid. Your decision to start your own business was built upon opportunities that came your way or that you were denied.

As you start to go through the writing process, you may feel a full range of emotions erupt including: Anger, Fear, Frustration, Mental Pain, Anguish, Sorrow, Doubt

Why do I mention this? Because I experienced these emotions when I wrote my narrative and I want you to be prepared. Creating this document is like opening old wounds, remembering “bad stuff” and reliving events you really don’t want to dwell on.

You have worked through these bad times to make a better life for yourself and your family. And it is so frustrating to recount times that you did not win, those times you were bypassed for promotions and this negativity dredges up anger and self-doubt. But it is only temporary pain and think of it as a positive reinforcement that you made the right choice to start your own business.

With that said…. Here is another tip… While you do need to set a time limit on getting this document prepared, give yourself a break and write on it until you start to feel too emotional. Stop and come back later to continue writing. Keep the tissues nearby and decide that when you complete this task you have earned a little personal reward for your efforts.

Two Key Points

Here are the two key points to remember as you prepare the narrative:

1. Think of this as a writing exercise: Plan on spending at least 3-4 hours writing, editing and preparing the final narrative. Keep it in perspective, this is just a paper, don’t stress!

2. Put on your Whiner Cap: This is the one time that it is OK to be a whiner. You have permission to whine and write about all of the people and events that “did you wrong”.

And finally…. be sure to add some quotes to your narrative to support your claims. I used eight quotes in my seven page narrative. The best way to locate quotes is to do a Google search on key words that you want to emphasize in your narrative. For example I used the following descriptors: women salaries, women education, Texas women careers

In Summary

Getting certified as an SBA 8(a) firm is worth the pain. Remember that… You do not have to hire someone to apply for SBA 8(a) status or write your Social Disadvantage Narrative. You can do it yourself successfully. If you need some advice on writing the narrative, check out the Design2Train website for information on our toolkit.

Source by V. Karen Miller

Vacant Land Loan: Things You Need to Know

Vacant Land Loan allows you to purchase a parcel of land where you can build your home in the near future.

Types of Vacant Land

There are specifically four types of land, but only three (3) qualify for Vacant Land Loan. These three are as follows: 1) Standard land blocks, which are appropriate for a normal house in a major city, a regional centre, or a regional town; 2) Standard land blocks, suitable for a normal house in smaller towns of less than 10,000 people; and 3) Large, lifestyle hobby farm blocks of up to 50 hectares or 123.5 acres. The fourth type of vacant land which is commercial farms, are not acceptable for home loans.


With vacant land loans, the benefits include redraw facility; no penalties for extra repayments; and for your choice of repayments, you can opt for weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. There’s also an automatic repayment through direct debit.

Other Details

There are many lenders in the market offering Vacant Land Loans. Most offer the same schemes, except for some tweaks being offered as marketing incentives.

Generally, interest rate for vacant land loan can be fixed or variable. Other normal requirements are as follows: Maximum borrowing amount (LVR) of 90%; deposit required is 10%; term of loan is 30 years; plus other fees that are subject to change.

Some lenders allow 100% home loan offset, which means you can make the most of your available funds to reduce interest costs and to cut down the term of your loan.

The redraw facility will allow you to access any additional loan payments you have made. There is a note on this however: any principal reductions made during any fixed rate period will not be available to be redrawn.

You may also opt for a split loan, which will afford you the security of a fixed rate home loan, and the benefits of a variable loan.


These are the basic requirements for those planning to apply for a Vacant Land Loan:

For employment requirement, P.A.Y.G. must be full-time, or part-time permanent. If applicant is self-employed, the minimum requirement is two years. For proof of income: P.A.Y.G. Pay slips, group certificates, or employer letter. For the self-employed, two years of tax returns are necessary. Only citizens and permanent residents of Australia are eligible to apply.

How much can you borrow?

Normally, most lenders offer the following: for first home buyers, ninety-five percent (95%) of the property value, with some restrictions. For investors, its still ninety-five percent (95%) of the property value, without restrictions. For those availing the Low doc, they are allowed eighty percent (80%) of the property value.

What will the bank assess?

Different lenders have different treatments of land. Normally, these are the things they look into when assessing the land: land size, location, access, services, zoning, land use, and intention to build.

If you want to know more about Vacant Land Loans, search for more information in the Internet, and know what your options are.

Source by Jamie A Allen

Why Politicians Shouldn't Create Or Save Jobs

In this economy, politicians talk about how they have created or saved jobs for their constituents, but what does that mean, exactly, and in what context would that be good for us? There are several examples of how they might go about performing such feats, and upon more careful examination, I'm not sure any of them are actually to our benefit.

Just to be sure we're on the same page, let's begin with a definition of these two concepts.

  1. To "create" a new job means to do something that causes someone to be hired for a position that is not already held by someone else. If someone else is being fired or replaced in order to hire the new person, it's a pre-existing job, not a "new" job.
  2. To "save" a job means to do something that prevents an existing position from becoming eliminated, transferred, or outsourced. If an employee simply isn't working out and a replacement employee is hired, while the original individual has "lost" his or her job, the job itself continues to exist.

With these definitions in mind, let's explore possible ways that someone might create or save a job. Before we begin the exploration of this topic, however, let's keep one important concept in mind: a politician represents all of his or her constituents in government, and should act with their common best interests in mind; an individual without a job is just one of the politician's constituents, and serving him or her should not be at the expense of the common good. Lastly, let me caution you in advance that the examples provided herein will be instructional, but severely over-simplified.

Long, long ago, in a savannah far, far away, before Internet shopping, before grocery stores, and before even tribes, there was a period when each of our living ancestors of the day was responsible for obtaining his or her own food. If you've ever camped, hunted, or fished, and if you try very hard to imagine feeding yourself without the benefit of a rifle, bow and arrow, or rod and reel, you may begin to recognize that a sizeable chunk of your day is expended just to find and overcome prey for yourself. My memories of camping always circle back to the fact that seemingly-vast quantities of firewood burn in much less time than it takes to collect them although I've never hunted or seriously fished, I can't imagine those efforts are more productive than collecting firewood, especially when performed without tools. Further, without refrigeration, even a large kill wouldn't last long. So, back in those days, all living people had jobs: to find and provide food for themselves. Those who did not perform well at this job did not feed themselves and died. Employment = 100%, but I doubt any of us would want to return to that era.

Fast forward a few generations, and at some point, someone discovered agriculture and domestication of livestock. Instead of wondering where the next meal might come from, people knew – it would come from the farmer or rancher. The fruits and vegetables were growing, the chickens were laying eggs in their cages, the cows could be milked at will, and the pigs and lambs could be slaughtered as needed. While killing animals, picking produce, and preparing meals still required a little time, the bulk of the time that used to be required to track, stalk, find, trap, and carry food back to feed oneself was no longer a factor. In fact, farming and domestication of livestock made food acquisition so much more productive that it no longer required 100% employment in order to feed the population.

While a comparatively-small group of people continued to be involved in the food-producing vocations, many were freed up to pursue other interests. Some built the facilities in which the food production was performed or the machines that performed the food production more efficiently and some became security guards for those facilities. Besides those directly or indirectly involved in food production, trades were established as some became cobblers, blacksmiths, fletchers, bowyers, tanners, builders, and shipwrights. While one cannot subsist on a diet of shoes, since the farmers could produce more than enough food for themselves, they could trade their surplus food for the cobblers' surplus shoes, and as a result, all parties involved enjoyed a higher standard of living. Whereas people spending most of their day stalking prey might not have time to make good footwear, clothing, homes, or tools, now, with most of the population freed up by technological advances, there were opportunities for them to enjoy all of this and more .

When we talk about creating jobs, this is what one might imagine as the shining example of job creation: a technological improvement in one area that permits people to pursue other areas of interest, making the whole of civilization richer as a result. Upon more careful examination, though, this really isn't job creation at all, but it's actually job attrition. 100% of people were employed in providing their own food, and then a huge percentage of them were laid off, made obsolete by technological advances. OK – they weren't really laid off – they could have continued doing what they were doing yesterday, and provided food for themselves (just as you could for yourself), but systemization of the industry made them so ridiculously inefficient compared to the alternative that They preferred to pursue other interests (just as you probably have).

So what do politicians mean when they say they've created jobs? Is it something along these lines? Is it something by which they are freeing up swaths of population from dull, unproductive, menial jobs to permit them to enrich society with art, poetry, and music? Probably not. When FDR did it, he hired people to build dams and bridges, to build rock walls on property lines, and to engage in parks and conservancy projects. While these may seem like admirable projects and efficient use of otherwise unemployed labor capacity, why had the projects been put off until then, and when he hired those unemployed people to perform such work, what happened to the employees of the viable construction companies he didn 't hire?

Furthermore, these jobs weren't magically created – not only did he engage labor to do work that was important enough to do earlier, and not only did he hire the unemployed labor from a section of the market that had been displaced by other better-run companies instead of hiring those better-run companies, but he paid for it with public money. This meant that the people who still managed to earn a taxable income during those tough times were compelled to pay for projects that either weren't necessary or weren't economical, and that hired laborers who must on average have been less productive than the laborers that weren't out of work, rather than reward the well-run companies that were still in business and were still paying salaries to people.

OK, so extreme situations may require extreme measures, but the mindset persists still today. President George W Bush created a lot of jobs, too. The Department of Homeland Security that he created has ballooned into a behemoth. In addition to all the US Customs, Immigration, and USDA agents that always used to be present at every US international airport and seaport, we now also have an army of TSA agents. If you've traveled internationally recently, you may also have noticed that there are so many flights into this country from around the world that we can no longer even provide security for all of them within the space of our own airports. Not only has outbound luggage screening been relegated to what used to be the front-end of our airports, but we've now also installed agents in the larger, more frequently-traveling foreign airports, to screen passengers before they get onto their inbound flights .

Whereas we used to have some number of international airports in this country, each staffed with federal agents for security enforcement, think about how many foreign countries there are and how many international airports each of them has. I shudder to think about the number of federal agents we must now employ to facilitate this paradigm. The other countries don't do this, so we're either being overcautious or they've figured out how to do it another way. Oh, and although you've probably guessed, for sake of completeness, let me point out that the employed taxpayers are the ones paying for these jobs the politicians have created.

When politicians talk about creating jobs, I'm not relieved; I'm incensed – it means they've hired people with my tax money to perform some function that I probably wasn't missing before, rather than do something with my money that I'd really want done, like hire contractors to pave the roads. I'd prefer that they keep their meddling hands off and just let the economy take care of itself. When they "create" jobs, we pay the bill, and if these created jobs were truly necessary and important, don't you think someone else would have hired someone else to do them long ago?

What about "saving jobs?" These are predominantly jobs that are being paid for by something other than my tax revenue, so saving them must be good, right? Probably not. If you've followed stocks at all, when companies announce layoffs the price of their stock typically rises. When a company decides to relocate a division to a tax-advantaged state or to outsource a department to another country where labor costs a fraction of what it does here, the price of their stock rises. Why, if jobs are being lost would investors bid up the price of such companies? Those investors know that the layoff will not be random, but will predominantly be of the less-productive employees; the work will still all get done – just more efficiently. They know that the move to a state willing to provide tax concessions will reduce the company's expenses, making it more productive. They know that while management and the executives will be retained, the move of the company to a less expensive country will save a wad on labor and benefits costs, allowing the company to either invest more back into itself or pay out larger dividends to the shareholders . In short, they know that such actions will be good for the business, and for them if they own the business.

How would a politician "save" those jobs? One way or another, he has to make up to the company what they would be getting if they went ahead with their job-cutting plans. Guess who's paying for that? Whereas I could pay less to buy my car if the manufacturer were able to build it cheaper somewhere else, now, someone else will get the benefit of the cheaper car while my tax money goes to make it "cheaper" for that manufacturer, right here . Their employees will be happier because they'll still have jobs, but who is really paying for those "saved" jobs? It's not the employer, and it's not the people reaping the benefit of the "cheaper" finished goods; It's the local tax-payer, while his or her money is used to entice that company to keep those jobs here. His taxes will either increase or the services he receives for his tax payments will be reduced to cover the new job-saving expenses.

Creating and saving jobs are just two of the latest euphemisms for redistributing the wealth. Yes, as I mentioned before, I know that some people will be unemployed without such measures. I also know that unemployment insurance is just another method of redistributing the wealth, so even if our politicians don't create or save jobs for these people, I know that those of us with taxable incomes will still be paying to support the unemployed. The difference, however, is that the creation or salvation of a job has a more permanent connotation to it, whereas unemployment insurance has a less permanent connotation. Salary is thought of as being indefinite, but insurance is thought of as paying out a benefit and then being exhausted until additional premiums are paid in.

The problem with the system is not that we need to invent jobs for people and not that we need to encourage jobs to stay here rather than move to places where they can be performed more economically or more efficiently (which saves us all money on purchasing the fruits of that labor). The problem is that we need the unemployed hunter-gatherers to retrain as cobblers. Anyone can still go hunt for his or her own food, but not nearly as economically and efficiently as big business can do it. This frees us up to pursue other endeavors, but we must find ones that are profitable so we can earn enough revenue to buy that food from its producers. Should the government have saved every buggy-whip manufacturer so that those jobs would be secure despite the fact that we no longer use horse-drawn buggies? Think about who would be paying for that.

When I was "in between jobs" a bunch of years ago, I briefly collected unemployment insurance. My experience with the system was that it was exactly backwards. Rather than encourage the unemployed to find work or to train for new positions, it encouraged laziness and passivity, and in-fact discouraged employment and education. A minimum-wage job would have paid less than unemployment insurance was paying me to sit on my couch, and couch-sitting isn't quite as difficult and thankless a job as those that pay minimum wage. Unemployment benefits, however, are only available to people who are ready and willing to work; those in school are predisposed, and are thus ineligible (at least that's how it worked at the time).

I was similarly discouraged from putting time or effort into my fledgling business; Whether it earned a meager income that day or not, if I worked at it for a minute, calling prospects or reading bid documents, I was ineligible to claim benefits for the day. Unemployment insurance should operate on a declining rate; every week the benefit should go down. At some point it will make those minimum-wage jobs start looking pretty good, and as if by magic, the unemployed will find work. Unemployment services should not only provide job retraining, but it should require it – on any day of claiming benefits, the claimant should be required to attend a few hours of classes on resume writing, interviewing skills, general education (math, English, foreign language , etc), or specific job skills, such as basic computer usage, typing, sorting & filing, or telephone etiquette. Such classes could be offered in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings, to permit time for beneficiaries to still apply for jobs and attend interviews.

I don't want the government creating or saving jobs – there's no shortage of work to be done already. Instead, encourage the population to advance their skills, experience, and education, and to retrain or relocate themselves as necessary to find work. To hire them with my tax money or to encourage some business to hire them with concessions paid for by my tax money only makes us all less productive on average.

Source by Brian Blum

Globlization And Its Impact Of Insurance Industry In India


The word “Fear” has only four alphabets like love but both of them have very different e meaning. Whatever man (malor female) does for the love of their families always starts with the background of fear. Generally so many times we have been asking our selves that, what will happen if we were not there, but we keep on asking rather then doing something for it. Time is precious, it never stops for any one and we are living in the world of uncertainty; the uncertainty of job, the uncertainty of money, the uncertainty of property and like this the story goes continuous for the whole life of a man.

A thriving insurance sector is of vital importance to every modern economy. Firstly because it encourages the habit of saving, secondly because it provides a safety net to rural and urban enterprises and productive individuals. And perhaps most importantly it generates long- term invisible funds for infrastructure building. The nature of the insurance business is such that the cash inflow of insurance companies is constant while the payout is deferred and contingency related.

This characteristic feature of their business makes insurance companies the biggest investors in long-gestation infrastructure development projects in all developed and aspiring nations. This is the most compelling reason why private sector (and foreign) companies, which will spread the insurance habit in the societal and consumer interest are urgently required in this vital sector of the economy. Opening up of insurance to private sector including foreign participation has resulted into various opportunities and challenges in India.


The Life Insurance market in India is an underdeveloped market that was only tapped by the state owned LIC till the entry of private insurers. The penetration of life insurance products was 19 percent of the total 400 million of the insurable population. The state owned LIC sold insurance as a tax instrument, not as a product giving protection. Most customers were under- insured with no flexibility or transparency in the products. With the entry of the private insurers the rules of the game have changed.

The 12 private insurers in the life insurance market have already grabbed nearly 9 percent of the market in terms of premium income. The new business premium of the 12 private players has tripled to Rs 1000 crore in 2002- 03 over last year. Meanwhile, with regard to state owned LIC’s new premium business has fallen.

Innovative products, smart marketing and aggressive distribution. That’s the triple whammy combination that has enabled fledgling private insurance companies to sign up Indian customers faster than anyone ever expected. Indians, who have always seen life insurance as a tax saving device, are now suddenly turning to the private sector and snapping up the new innovative products on offer.

The growing popularity of the private insurers is evidenced in other ways. They are coining money in new niches that they have introduced. The state owned companies still dominate segments like endowments and money back policies. But in the annuity or pension products business, the private insurers have already wrested over 33 percent of the market. And in the popular unit-linked insurance schemes they have a virtual monopoly, with over 90 percent of the customers.

The private insurers also seem to be scoring big in other ways- they are persuading people to take out bigger policies. For instance, the average size of a life insurance policy before privatization was around Rs 50,000. That has risen to about Rs 80,000. But the private insurers are ahead in this game and the average size of their policies is around Rs 1.1 lakh to Rs 1.2 lakh- way bigger than the industry average.

Buoyed by their quicker than expected success, nearly all private insurers are fast- forwarding the second phase of their expansion plans. No doubt the aggressive stance of private insurers is already paying rich dividends. But a rejuvenated LIC is also trying to fight back to woo new customers.


In 1993, Malhotra Committee, headed by former Finance Secretary and RBI Governor R. N. Malhotra, was formed to evaluate the Indian insurance industry and recommend its future direction. The Malhotra committee was set up with the objective of complementing the reforms initiated in the financial sector.

With the setup of Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) the reforms started in the Insurance sector. It has became necessary as if we compare our Insurance penetration and per capita premium we are much behind then the rest of the world. The table above gives the statistics for the year 2000.

With the expected increase in per capita income to 6% for the next 10 year and with the improvement in the awareness levels the demand for insurance is expected to grow.

As per an independent consultancy company, Monitor Group has estimated a growth form Rs. 218 Billion to Rs. 1003 Billion by 2008. The estimations seems achievable as the performance of 13 life Insurance players in India for the year 2002-2003 (up to October, based on the first year premium) is Rs. 66.683 million being LIC the biggest contributor with Rs. 59,187 million. As of now LIC has 2050 branches in 7 zones with strong team of 5,60,000 agents.


While nationalized insurance companies have done a commendable job in extending the volume of the business, opening up insurance sector to private players was a necessity in the context of globalization of financial sector. If traditional infrastructural and semipublic goods industries such as banking, airlines, telecom, power etc., have significant private sector presence, continuing a state of monopoly in provision of insurance was indefensible and therefore, the globalization of insurance has been done as discussed earlier. Its impact has to be seen in the form of creating various opportunities and challenges.

The introduction of private players in the industry has added colours to the dull industry. The initiatives taken by the private players are very competitive and have given immense competition to the on time monopoly of the market LIC. Since the advent of the private players in the market the industry has seen new and innovative steps taken by the players in the sector. The new players have improved the service quality of the insurance. As a result LIC down the years have seen the declining in its career. The market share was distributed among the private players. Though LIC still holds 75% of the insurance sector the upcoming nature of these private players are enough to give more competition to LIC in the near future. LIC market share has decreased from 95%(2002-03) to 81% (2004-05). The following company holds the rest of the market share of the insurance industry.




LIC 82.3








AVIVA 0.79






In a tough battle to expand market shares the private sector life insurance industry consisting of 14 life insurance companies at 26% have lost 3% of market share to the state owned Life Insurance Corporation(LIC) in the domestic life insurance industry in 2006-07. According to the figures released by Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority, the total premium of these 14 companies have shot up by 90% to Rs 19,471.83 crore in 2006-07 from Rs 10, 252 crore.

LIC with a total premium mobilisation of Rs 55,934 crore has been able to retain a market share of 74.26 % during the reporting period. In total the life insurance industry in first year premium has grown by 110% to Rs 75, 406 crore during 2006-07. The 2006-07 performance has thrown a few surprises in the ranking among the private sector life insurance companies. New entrants like Reliance Life and SBI Life had shown a huge growth of over 381% and 210% respectively during the year. Reliance Life which has become one of the top five companies ended the year with a premium of Rs 930 crore during the year.

Though ICICI Prudential Life Insurance remained as the No 1 private sector life insurance company during the year. Bajaj Allianz overtook ICICI Prudential in terms of monthly market share in March, for the first time ever. Bajaj’s market share among private players in non-single premium for March stood at 29.1% vs. ICICI Prudential’s 23.8%. Bajaj gained 4.6 percentage point market share among private sector players for FY07.

Among other private players, SBI Life and Reliance Life continued to do well, each gaining 4% market share in FY07. SBI Life’s growth was driven by increasing contribution from ULIP premiums. Another notable developments of the 2006-07 performance has been the expansion of retail markets by the life insurance comapnies. Bajaj Alliannz Life insurance has added 20 lakh policies while ICICI Prudential has expanded over 19 lakh policies during the year.

With the largest number of life insurance policies in force in the world, Insurance happens to be a mega opportunity in India. It’s a business growing at the rate of 15-20 per cent annually and presently is of the order of Rs 450 billion. Together with banking services, it adds about 7 per cent to the country’s GDP. Gross premium collection is nearly 2 per cent of GDP and funds available with LIC for investments are 8 per cent of GDP.

Yet, nearly 80 per cent of Indian population is without life insurance cover while health insurance and non-life insurance continues to be below international standards. And this part of the population is also subject to weak social security and pension systems with hardly any old age income security. This itself is an indicator that growth potential for the insurance sector is immense.

A well-developed and evolved insurance sector is needed for economic development as it provides long term funds for infrastructure development and at the same time strengthens the risk taking ability. It is estimated that over the next ten years India would require investments of the order of one trillion US dollar. The Insurance sector, to some extent, can enable investments in infrastructure development to sustain economic growth of the country.

Insurance is a federal subject in India. There are two legislations that govern the sector- The Insurance Act- 1938 and the IRDA Act- 1999. The insurance sector in India has become a full circle from being an open competitive market to nationalisation and back to a liberalised market again. Tracing the developments in the Indian insurance sector reveals the 360 degree turn witnessed over a period of almost two centuries.

Important milestones in the life insurance business in India

1912: The Indian Life Assurance Companies Act enacted as the first statute to regulate the life insurance business.

1928: The Indian Insurance Companies Act enacted to enable the government to collect statistical information about both life and non-life insurance businesses.

1938: Earlier legislation consolidated and amended to by the Insurance Act with the objective of protecting the interests of the insuring public.

1956: 245 Indian and foreign insurers and provident societies taken over by the central government and nationalised. LIC formed by an Act of Parliament- LIC Act 1956- with a capital contribution of Rs. 5 crore from the Government of India.

In a tough battle to expand market shares the private sector life insurance industry consisting 14 life insurance companies at 26% have lost 3% of market share to the state owned Life Insurance Corporation(LIC) in the domestic life insurance industry in 2006-07. According to the figures released by Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority the total premium these 14 companies have shot up by 90% to Rs 19,471.83 crore in 2006-07 from Rs 10, 252 crore.

LIC with a total premium mobilisation of Rs 55,934 crore has been able retain a market share of 74.26 % during the reporting period. In total the life insurance industry in first year premium has grown by 110% to Rs 75, 406 crore during 2006-07. The 2006-07 performance has thrown a few surprises in the ranking among the private sector life insurance companies. New entrants like Reliance Life and SBI Life had shown a huge growth of over 381% and 210% respectively during the year. Reliance Life which has become one of the top five companies ended the year with a premium of Rs 930 crore during the year.

Though ICICI Prudential Life Insurance remained as the No 1 private sector life insurance company during the year Bajaj Allianz overtook ICICI Prudential in terms of monthly market share in March, for the first time ever. Bajaj’s market share among private players in non-single premium for March stood at 29.1% vs. ICICI Prudential’s 23.8%. Bajaj gained 4.6 percentage point market share among private sector players for FY07.

Among other private players, SBI Life and Reliance Life continued to do well, each gaining 4% market share in FY07. SBI Life’s growth was driven by increasing contribution from ULIP premiums. Another notable development of the 2006-07 performance has been the expansion of retail markets by the life insurance companies. Bajaj Alliannz Life insurance has added 20 lakh policies while ICICI Prudential has expanded over 19 lakh policies during the year.


– A state monopoly has little incentive to innovative or offers a wide range of products. It can be seen by a lack of certain products from LIC’s portfolio and lack of extensive risk categorization in several GIC products such as health insurance. More competition in this business will spur firms to offer several new products and more complex and extensive risk categorization.

– It would also result in better customer services and help improve the variety and price of insurance products.

– The entry of new players would speed up the spread of both life and general insurance. Spread of insurance will be measured in terms of insurance penetration and measure of density.

– With the entry of private players, it is expected that insurance business roughly 400 billion rupees per year now, more than 20 per cent per year even leaving aside the relatively under developed sectors of health insurance, pen More importantly, it will also ensure a great mobalisation of funds that can be utilized for purpose of infrastructure development that was a factor considered for globalisation of insurance.

– More importantly, it will also ensure a great moblisation of funds that can be utilized for purpose of infrastructure development that was a factor considered for globalisation of insurance.

– With allowing of holding of equity shares by foreign company either itself or through its subsidiary company or nominee not exceeding 26% of paid up capital of Indian partners will be operated resulting into supplementing domestic savings and increasing economic progress of nation. Agreements of various ventures have already been made to be discussed later on in this paper.

– It has been estimated that insurance sector growth more than 3 times the growth of economy in India. So business or domestic firms will attempt to invest in insurance sector. Moreover, growth of insurance business in India is 13 times the growth insurance in developed countries. So it is natural, that foreign companies would be fostering a very strong desire to invest something in Indian insurance business.

– Most important not the least tremendous employment opportunities will be created in the field of insurance which is burning problem of the present day today issues.


New age companies have started their business as discussed earlier. Some of these companies have been able to float 3 or 4 products only and some have targeted to achieve the level of 8 or 10 products. At present, these companies are not in a position to pose any challenge to LIC and all other four companies operating in general insurance sector, but if we see the quality and standards of the products which they issued, they can certainly be a challenge in future. Because the challenge in the entire environment caused by globalisation and liberalization the industry is facing the following challenges.

– The existing insurer, LIC and GIC, have created a large group of dissatisfied customers due to the poor quality of service. Hence there will be shift of large number of customers from LIC and GIC to the private insurers.

– LIC may face problem of surrender of a large number of policies, as new insurers will woo them by offer of innovative products at lower prices.

– The corporate clients under group schemes and salary savings schemes may shift their loyalty from LIC to the private insurers.

– There is a likelihood of exit of young dynamic managers from LIC to the private insurer, as they will get higher package of remuneration.

– LIC has overstaffing and with the introduction of full computerization, a large number of the employees will be surplus. However they cannot be retrenched. Hence the operating costs of LIC will not be reduced. This will be a disadvantage in the competitive market, as the new insurers will operate with lean office and high technology to reduce the operating costs.

– GIC and its four subsidiary companies are going to face more challenges, because their management expenses are very high due to surplus staff. They can’t reduce their number due to service rules.

– Management of claims will put strain on the financial resources, GIC and its subsidiaries since it is not up the mark.

– LIC has more than to 60 products and GLC has more than 180 products in their kitty, which are outdated in the present context as they are not suitable to the changing needs of the customers. Not only that they are not competent enough to complete with the new products offered by foreign companies in the market.

– Reaching the consumer expectations on par with foreign companies such as better yield and much improved quality of service particularly in the area of settlement of claims, issue of new policies, transfer of the policies and revival of policies in the liberalized market is very difficult to LIC and GIC.

– Intense competition from new insurers in winning the consumers by multi-distribution channels, which will include agents, brokers, corporate intermediaries, bank branches, affinity groups and direct marketing through telesales and interest.

– The market very soon will be flooded by a large number of products by fairly large number of insurers operating in the Indian market. Even with limited range of products offered by LIC and GIC, the consumers are confused in the market. Their confusion will further increase in the face for large number of products in the market. The existing level of awareness of the consumers for insurance products is very low. It is so because only 62% of the Indian population is literate and less than 10% educated. Even the educated consumers are ignorant about the various products of the insurance.

– The insurers will have to face an acute problem of the redressal of the consumers, grievances for deficiency in products and services.

– Increasing awareness will bring number of legal cases filled by the consumers against insurers is likely to increase substantially in future.

– Major challenges in canalizing the growth of insurance sector are product innovation, distribution network, investment management, customer service and education.


– Indian insurance industry needs the following to meet the global challenges

– Understanding the customer better will enable insurance companies to design appropriate products, determine price correctly and increase profitability.

– Selection of right type of distribution channel mix along with prudent and efficient FOS [Fleet On Street] management.

– An efficient CRM system, which would eventually create sustainable competitive advantages and build a long-lasting relationship

– Insurers must follow best investment practices and must have a strong asset management company to maximize returns.

– Insurers should increase the customer base in semi urban and rural areas, which offer a huge potential.

– Promoting health insurance and using e-broking to increase the business.


Thus, in the last on basis of above the discussion we can conclude that need for private sector entry is justifiable on the basis of enhancing the efficiency of operation, achieving greater density and insurance coverage in the country and for greater mobilization of long-term savings for long gestation infrastructure projects. In the wake of such competition it is essential for the government monopolies (LIC and GIC) that they quickly up grade their technology, restructure themselves on more efficient lines and operate as broad run enterprise. New players should not be treated as rivalries to government companies, but they can supplement in achieving the objective of growth of insurance business in India.

* Lecturer, Department of Commerce, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore-46

Email –

** Ph.D Scholar, Department of Commerce, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore. Email –

Source by Bala Murugan

Living and Working in the United Arab Emirates

Getting towards the end of my career, I'd been waiting for some excitement in my life for years. My job with the Australian Government had changed after successive restructures to a job in which I was not interested, not trained, educated or experienced. Sure, I coped with the work, but I felt like a fish out of water. I desperately needed a new direction as I sat waiting for a promised redundancy package.

When my wife returned from a trip to the Middle East and suggested I apply for a job in the UAE, I thought she was joking. She was not. Within days I was searching the Internet for job vacancies and found there were hundreds. Within a month or two I had a job offer to work as a teacher within the Faculty of Business at Al Ain Women's College, one of 13 Higher Colleges of Technology.

Having never lived overseas before, it was a big decision to go somewhere with a vastly different culture, far away from our children and grandson. We decided that we'd take the challenge and if it did work out, we could always come home.

Our Arrival

We arrived at Dubai International Airport at some ungodly hour after a 14 hour trip from Melbourne, Australia. We had been told that we needed to pick up our Temporary Visas from an immigration desk, but while we found the desk, the staff was elusive, our first clue that everything doesn't run as well in the UAE as it does in Australia. Within an hour, we had passed through Customs, collected our bags and visas and left the airport with a very likeable, well-dressed and well-spoken Indian man called Vijay. Vijay was a driver employed by the Al Ain Colleges and we found out soon that he was the person who made things happen for new employees … Mr Fix It.

After signing my contract, I was handed two envelopes. One contained a sum of cash to cover our stay at a hotel for six days, the other had a check for 30,000 Dirhams for setup costs. We had no idea what a Dirham was really worth, but it seemed like a lot of money … and I hadn't done a day's work yet.


We found Al Ain a delightful oasis with two-lane carriageways divided by iron fences and date palm trees. It was surprisingly green for a place in the middle of the desert, but everywhere we went, we saw that the municipality had taken great pride in providing a beautiful city with an excellent system of roads and infrastructure. It was much nicer than our town in Australia and water was obviously plentiful.

Very evident to us was the difference in dress among the populous who were largely Indian, Pakistani, Afghani, Asians, and Arabs. Caucasians like us were relatively scarce (about 3,000 among 400,000 population). We could tell where people were from by their dress, if not their appearance. Even the Arabs have different dress; Visitors from nearby Oman have headdress that distinguishes them from the local Emiratis, but both wear similar kandora (a long white, dress-like robe).

Everyone we met was friendly, despite frequent language barriers. There was no graffiti and litter was scarce. Buildings ranged from ostentatious to crumbling brick box abodes for low paid labor. Our accommodation in a huge housing complex was palatial by Australian standards; four bedrooms and a maid's room, five toilets, high ceilings, and a two car garage. We couldn't believe that two people were to be accommodated in such large accommodation.

The HCT's orientation for our 14 new staff was lengthy and comprehensive, the best orientation program I had ever experienced. In September I began teaching with classes in human resources topics for final year students and computing and general business for first year students.

The Challenges of Teaching

For the first few months I wondered whether I had made the right decision. I had 140 students in class groups of 20 aged between 19 and 25. Their English ranged from almost incapable to passable and most couldn't construct a simple sentence. They were apparently unaccustomed to study and not very motivated to learn. Life at college was an escape from their homes.

My ladies wore traditional garb … black abeyas from neck to foot and black headdress. Several had only their eyes visible. Their names were not only lengthy, but mostly new to me. I had great difficulty pronouncing some names and remembering who was who when they all looked similar; brown eyes, brown skin and black clothing. After I settled in, I began to realize that they were a very immature lot compared with Australian teenagers. Many had never been to a shop; most had never spoken to males outside their families; their knowledge of the world was very narrow fitting tightly within the strict bounds of their Islamic religion, culture and place in life. They had mainly pleasant, humorous dispositions, which was a lifesaver as I quickly developed an excellent rapport with most of them who in some ways reminded me of my own daughter now so far away.

This strange fellow from Australia with a funny accent who spoke fast and sometimes used Australianisms soon fitted in to his new surrounds and made friends with the locals.

While work was a significant challenge trying to motivate them, deliver education in a meaningful and understandable way, it was also satisfying to know that one day, what I had helped them learn, would be of value to them and would, perhaps, help the United Arab Emirates.

Making Friends

The best part of the whole adventure was the new friends we made with expats from Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, the US, Jordan, Egypt, France, Turkey and even Australia. With the cost of living so cheap, we dined out frequently and celebrated every birthday, national day, and often dined out just to share a meal, a glass of wine and some good company.

During our summer holidays we managed to travel all over Europe, to Canada, Hong Kong and several Middle Eastern countries outside the UAE. We spent a week at Cyprus. One of our reasons for moving to the UAE was to travel. We certainly did that and it was much cheaper than doing it from Down Under.

Making Money

While my salary was about the same as I earned in Australia, there is no income tax. In fact there is hardly any tax at all, although if you dine at a hotel now, you pay 10% service charge and 6% tourism tax. There are fees for motor vehicle registration, driver's licenses etc, but all were much, much cheaper than I would have paid in Australia. Petrol was dirt cheap as was food and almost everything else, so we lived like kings and deprived ourselves of nothing, knowing that this dream would eventually end.

Although we hadn't gone to the UAE to make money, my wife did work and we did our very best to spend it on travel, a new car and living comfortably, we left with a large amount of cash, some new furniture and tailor-made clothing etc. We did very well out of the UAE.


When you live in an isolated place like Australia, it is easy to become Australia-centric and maybe a bit arrogant. Visiting other places broadens your outlook and is the experience of a lifetime that every Australian should take. It has a humbling effect when you see countries that don't have drunks stumbling about the streets, no graffiti, no petty theft, no street brawls, and clean, well-dressed people with pride, unlike much of Australia. Conversely, a couple of countries we visited reminded us how very lucky we are to be able to get on a jet and return to Australia.

Copyright 2008 Robin Henry

Source by Robin Henry

Mobsters, Gangs – Johnny "Dio" Dioguardi

If there was a way to make an illegal buck, Johnny” Dio” Dioguardi, called by Bobby Kennedy the “master labor racketeer,” had his sticky fingers in the pot. Dio was such a treacherous thug at a young age, in 1936, U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Dewey claimed Dio was, “A young gorilla who began his career at the age of 15.”

Johnny Dio was born Giovanni (John) Ignazio Dioguardi on April 28, 1914, on Forsyth Street in downtown Manhattan. Dio had three brothers: Frank and Vincent, who were legitimate guys, and Tommaso, or Thomas, who became, as did Johnny Dio, a capo in the Luchesse crime family. Dio also had an unnamed sister who can be identified only as “Mrs. Dioguardi-Priziola.”

Dio’s father Giovanni B. Dioguardi, who owned a bicycle shop, was murdered in August 1930 on a street in Coney Island, in what police called a “mob-related execution.” It seemed that the elder Dioguardi and another enterprising gentleman had robbed a rich lady of her jewelry, and the two men had were arguing over how to split the proceeds. The elder Dioguardi, who had been arrested twice for murder but never convicted, took six shots to various parts of his body, and it is presumed the other gentleman kept all the jewelry.

Johnny Dio graduated grammar school, but after less than two years at Stuyvesant High School, Dio dropped out and went to work for his uncle on his mother side: gangster James “Jimmy Doyle” Plumeri. By this time, the handsome Dio (who was said to have looked like silent movie star Rudolph Valentino) had already gotten a reputation on the Lower East Side as a tough youth, who terrorized street vendors into giving him a good portion of their wares for free. Uncle Jimmy Doyle (nobody called him by his real name Plumeri), recognizing Dio’s talents for thuggery, immediately put Dio to work as a schlammer (leg-breaker) in the Garment Center for Doyle’s Jewish associates Louie “Lepke” Buchalter and Lepke’s partner Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro, who were affectionately known as “The Gorilla Boys.” Lepke, along with Albert “The Lord High Executioner” Anastasia, was the head of Murder Incorporated, a group of stone killers who murdered whomever the mob bosses in New York City and around the country said needed to be murdered. However, there is no proof that Dio ever joined that august group. Dio’s specialty was union-related extortion, and in that, he was tops in his field.

Dio and Doyle started a garment workers trucking association, whereby the truckers working in the Garment Center were forced to join the trucker’s union, headed, of course, by Dio and Doyle. If a poor sap trucker decided he didn’t want to join the union, a trip to the hospital was inevitable, if not a trip to the morgue. The union dues was hefty, but at whatever price they were forced to pay, it was a small price indeed to ensure the trucker’s continued good health. Of course, the “union dues” never made it into the union’s coffers (it went straight into Dio’s and Doyle’s pockets instead), and phony books were established to satisfy whomever decided to enquire about the trucker’s union’s financial solvency.

Members of the trucker’s union were even told where to spend their money and how much to spend on specific items. Dio and Doyle were pals with a local barber, and they ordered their truckers to patronized this special barber to the nifty tune of $2.50 a month. The truckers were also told where to buy their wine, where to buy their meats, and where to buy their clothing, and how much to spend on each item, which was certainly not at bargain prices.

For several years in the 1930s, Dio and Doyle, with nobody to stop them, had a sweet deal going for themselves in the Garment Center. Besides extorting the truckers, the dynamic duo of Dio and Doyle profited from the other end of the totem pole too. They forced the Garment Center’s clothing manufacturers (bosses) to employ only union truckers. Then they used the clout of their trucker’s union to bulldoze the clothing manufacturers into paying hefty off-the-books fees in order to keep their business up-and-running, and profitable.

If the clothing manufacturers refused to pay the extortion fees, Dio and Doyle would order their union truckers to go on strike, putting a dead stop to the clothing manufacturer’s cash flow. On occasions, if the bosses didn’t play ball, union thugs (schlammers) would break the bosses’ fingers, their arms and legs; and sometimes all three body parts on the same visit. In extreme cases, like if a boss threatened to talk to the Feds, Lepke’s Murder Incorporated boys would enter the scene, and seconds later, the chatty boss would exit the face of the earth, toes up.

In 1932 and 1933, Dio and Plumeri were indicted twice for extortion, but they beat the rap both times, because their victims refused to talk to the Feds. In 1934, Dio was lucky enough to be elected executive secretary of the Allied Truckmen’s Mutual Association, an association of employers. Even though Dio was boss of the trucker’s union, he represented their employers during a strike by 1,150 Teamsters in September 1934.

Nice work if you can get it.

However, in 1937, both Dio and Doyle ran out of luck. The nephew and uncle duo were indicted for extortion and “atrocious assault.” During the trial it was alleged that Dio and Doyle, and several other of their gangster underlings, had been extorting as much as $500 from each trucker. Plus, it was alleged they had forced the clothing manufacturers to add a hefty “tariff” to every suit, coat, and pair of pants manufactured in the Garment Center. This tariff went straight in the pockets of Dio and Doyle, and that increased the cost of good for the general public.

Sweet deal indeed.

According to an article in the New York Daily Mirror, “At the trial, frightened witnesses testified how recalcitrant employers and employees were beaten when they refused to pay. One man said he was confined to bed for two weeks after an assault. Another said the hoodlums had threatened to cut off his ears.”

Realizing they were dead in the water, during the middle of the trial, both Dio and Doyle pled guilty as charged. In return they received free room and board in upstate Sing Sing Prison for a period of three-five years.

After he was released from prison, Dio decided New York City was too hot for him, so he moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he took up roots long enough to open his own dress manufacturing plant; non-union, of course. He later sold the plant, and to guarantee the new owners would have no trouble, Dio took $11,200 under the table to ensure that his erstwhile plant would remain non-union.

Dio sped back to New York City, and using the same tactics he had employed in Allentown, he set up a dress wholesaler. Using his profits from the business, Dio was smart enough to buy legitimate businesses, which included real estate and trucking. He also dabbled in the stock market, making him seem to the IRS as just another tax-paying citizen. But the New York City police knew better. They just couldn’t pin anything illegal on Dio, although they continued trying.

Back in his old Forsyth Street neighborhood, Dio decided to start a family. He married the former Anne Chrostek (a non-Italian). She bore Dio two sons (Philip and Dominick) and one daughter (Rosemary) who sadly passed away from an unknown illness. It was during this time that Dio, before the age of forty, was officially inducted into the Luchesse Crime Family, making him all the more untouchable on the streets of New York City. Even though they were only Italian on their father’s side, both of Dio’s sons eventually followed in their father’s footsteps into a life of crime. Philip Dio, who was called “Fat Philly,” was later inducted into the Colombo Crime Family, while Dominick, like his father, became a made man in the Luchesse Crime Family.

(Editor’s note: The Mafia rules changed around this time to allow more members to be inducted into the “Honored Society,” to fill the gaps of those who either were killed or sent to the can; “college” as the mob likes to call it. At this point, only your father (not both parents) had to be Italian for you to get “your button.” If your mother was Italian and your father a non-Italian — you were spit out of luck. Them’s the breaks.)

By the 1950’s, Dio had become a powerful captain (capo) in the Luchesse Crime Family, and with money pouring into his coffers in bundles (he allegedly earned $100,000 a week), he started living the life of a colonial baron. In the early 1960s, Dio moved his family into a spacious estate out on Freeport, Long Island, which cost Dio $75,000 in cash (Dio didn’t like banks or bank loans). During the week, Dio ate with his cronies in the best New York City eateries (his favorite being the trendy Black Angus Steakhouse). But, as is the Italian custom, Sundays were strictly for the family (famiglia). Inviting family member and close friends, Dio was proud of the fact he was an expert cook and was personally able to conjure up the best Italian delicacies to delight his guests. Dio was especially gracious to his wife, whom he loved dearly (unlike most mob men, Dio was faithful to his wife). Instead of personally buying his wife Christmas presents, Dio would give her a shoe box stuffed with cash, with a little note saying, “Buy yourself some nice clothes, honey.”

During the 1950’s, through his connections with New York City Teamster leaders Martin Lacey and John O’Rourke, Dio became tight pals with Teamster big-wig Jimmy Hoffa. Dio and Hoffa first met in a secret meeting in a New York City hotel room, and Hoffa, who had hoped to unseat Teamster President Dave Beck, figured Dio, with his union background, would be the perfect person to become chums with. In late 1955, Dio was able to obtain charters from the Teamsters to set up seven Teamster locals, called “paper locals,” because they did not have actual teamsters as members. The roles were filled with Dio’s relatives and pals, and their vote for teamster president was in Hoffa’s back pocket.

Dio’s modus operandi for more than 30 years was this: control the unions, then use the unions as a sledgehammer over the heads of the bosses. Dio would tell the bosses, “Pay or my boys will strike.” The bosses always paid, the workers always got screwed, and Dio made out like a bandit every time.

During his illustrious criminal career, Dio controlled the unions to the detriment of its members to such an extent, that during the 1950’s McClellan Committee hearings into organized crime, the committee issued the statement, “It cannot be said, using the widest possible latitude, that Johnny Dioguardi was ever interested in bettering the lot of the workingman.”

Famous Mafia turncoat Joe Valachi owned a dress factory on Prospect Avenue in the Bronx for 12 years. Valachi once said, “I never belonged to any union. If I got into any trouble, any union organizer came around, all I had to do was call Johnny Dio and all my troubles were straightened out.”

However, in 1956, as the Teamsters elections neared and they were scheming for control, both Hoffa and Dio had a stone in their shoe, and his name was syndicated newspaper columnist Victor Riesel.

Victor Riesel was born on March 16, 1913 on the Lower East Side to Jewish parents in a mixed Italian/Jewish neighborhood, not far from where Dio grew up. Victor’s father, Nathan Riesel, was very proactive in union activities and was instrumental in creating the Bonnaz, Singer, and the Hard Embroiderers Unions. In 1913, he also helped organized Local 66 of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, and soon he was elected secretary-treasurer of that union, then finally president.

When Victor Riesel was a young child, his father taught him how to make union speeches, which the young Victor fiercely gave at union meetings and at outdoor union rallies. Nathan Riesel was hard-line anti-communist, and he was strident in preventing the communists from infiltrating his locals. Victor saw his father return home many times, beaten and bloodied from fights he had with communists activists, or the mobsters (schlammers) who were hired by the factory owners to break up union strikes that Nathan Riesel had participated in. This formed the notion in Victor Riesel’s young mind that gangsters were the bane of legitimate unions.

In 1926, Nathan Riesel moved his family to the Bronx, where Victor attended and graduated with honors from Morris High School. While in high school, Riesel began working as an “stringer” for several newspapers throughout America. His writings were mostly about the labor movement in the United States, and how they were hampered by a “gangster element,” who sought to play both ends of the spectrum by infiltrating the unions, then working for the boss manufacturers to physically quell any union strikes or demonstrations. In 1928, Riesel enrolled in night classes in the City College of New York City (CCNY), where he took courses in human resource management and industrial relations. To support himself while attending night school, Riesel worked at strenuous jobs, both in a steel mill and in a saw mill. While in college, Riesel also worked as a columnist, then as an editor on the student newspaper. Besides writing columns on the labor movement, Riesel also wrote columns on varied subjects like literature, and the theater.

While in college, to get needed experience in the outside newspaper world, Riesel took a job as a general office boy at The New Leader, a political and cultural weekly magazine that was both liberal and anti-communist. Riesel cuts his teeth in the business by doing anything his bosses at the newspaper told him to do, including sweeping the floors, and writing columns for the newspaper. In 1940, after 12 long years of hard work, both in and out of school, Riesel finally earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from CCNY. He was offered the job as the managing editor at The New Leader, and he took the job with the determination of ridding the unions of “gangsterism.”

Riesel caught his first big break, when in 1941, he was hired as a columnist for The New York Post. In the 1948, when the Post changed management, Riesel switched to the New York Daily Mirror, owned by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hurst. By 1956, Riesel’s column was syndicated in 193 newspapers throughout the United States. In that same year, Riesel began working in conjunction with United States Attorney Paul Williams, with the expressed purpose of taking on the gangsters who ran the New York City garment and trucking unions.

This was a double whammy for Johnny Dio, who was heavily involved in both unions, and for Jimmy Hoffa, who was trying to unseat Dave Beck as head of the Teamsters.

On April 5, 1956, Riesel was asked to be a guest host on Barry Gray’s WMCA overnight radio talk show. Riesel had recently been on a rant in his columns concerning the International Union of Operating Engineers and its President William DeKoning Jr., who Riesel claimed was conspiring with known labor gangster Joseph Fay to reinstall DeKoning’s father William DeKoning Sr. as the president of the union. DeKoning Sr. had just exited the can after being imprisoned for extortion, and Riesel felt that having the senior DeKoning back as president of the union would be a downright disaster.

As a result of his columns on both DeKonings and Fay, Riesel received numerous death threats. However, Riesel shrugged them off, knowing only a fool would hurt an esteemed member of the press. Doing so would certainly result in the law coming down hard on all union racketeers, and their rackets.

On this particular radio show, Riesel invited two members of the International Union of Operating Engineers, who were challenging the DeKonings for control of the union. This did not sit too well with Johnny Dio, or with Jimmy Hoffa, who both figured Riesel would go gunning for them next.

Gray’s show originated at Hutton’s Restaurant on Lexington Avenue and 47th Street. After the show, which ended at 2 a.m., Riesel and his secretary moseyed over to Lindy’s restaurant, on Broadway between 49th and 50th Street, to grab a bite to eat and drown the food down with hot steaming coffee. (Ironically, this was the same Lindy’s Restaurant in front of which small-time gambler Herman Rosenthal was shot to death in 1912.)

At approximately 3 a.m., Riesel and his secretary emerged from Lindy’s and started walking toward the secretary’s parked car on 51st Street. Riesel wore his eyeglasses to work, but when he was out in public, for appearances sake, he normally removed his eyeglasses. Just as Riesel and his secretary neared the secretary’s car, Riesel took off his eyeglasses, put them in an eyeglass case, and inserted the case into the breast pocket of his overcoat. Suddenly, a tall, thin man, wearing a blue and white jacket, sprung from the shadows of the Mark Hellinger Theater and flung a vial contain sulfuric acid into Riesel’s eyes, rendering Riesel blind for the rest of his life. Then the assailant calmly walked away and disappeared into the night. Thereafter, Riesel wore sunglasses to shield the public from the sight of his severely disfigured eyes.

The day after the attack, the Daily Mirror offered a $10,000 reward for information that led to the capture and conviction of Riesel’s assailant. The Newspaper Guild of America, the New York Press Photographers, the New York Reporters Association, and the Overseas Press Club chipped in with another five grand. In less than a week, donations from assorted groups, including the labor unions and radio station WMCA, had raised the reward total to $41,000.

With tips coming in in droves, some reliable, some not so reliable, in August of 1956, the FBI ascertained that Riesel’s assailant had been small-time hood Abraham Telvi. The only problem was, Telvi was now deceased; apparently murdered on July 28 because he had demanded another $50,000 on top of the paltry $500 he had already been paid for throwing the acid in Riesel’s face.

On August 29, Dio was arrested for conspiracy in the Riesel attack. Dio pled not guilty and was released on $100,000 bond.

On October 22, Dio’s pal Joseph Carlino pled guilty to hiring Telvi to attack Riesel. Carlino implicated two other men, Gandolfo Maranti and Dominick Bando, as accomplices in hiring Telvi. Carlino also said that Dio had ultimately given the order for the attack. Dio lawyered up with a top New York City mob attorney, and his attorney was able to get Dio’s trial severed from the trial of Maranti and Bando.

At their trial, both Maranti and Bando verified Carlino’s assertion that Dio had engineered the attack against Riesel. Maranti and Bando were both found guilty of conspiracy. But their sentencing was delayed until after the Dio trial.

Dio’s attorney was able to delay his trial for almost six months, and during this time Maranti and Bando began to have bouts of memory loss. When Dio’s trial finally commenced, both Maranti and Bando recanted their testimony, and with no corroboration of Carlino’s claim that Dio ordered the Riesel attack, all charges against Dio were dropped. Maranti was given 8-16 years in prison, and Bando 2-5 years in prison, and another 5 years for contempt of court. Amazingly, Carlino received a suspended sentence for aiding the law in the convictions of Maranti and Bando. However, no matter how the situation was cleared or not cleared up in court, Dio has forever been remembered as the man who “blinded Victor Riesel.”

In October of 1956, Dio was indicted, along with several Teamster officials, on extortion and conspiracy charges. The indictment said that Dio had extorted money from New York City Garment Center truck drivers, and had also extorted money from Garment Center manufacturing bosses not to have the same truck drivers go out on strike. Also included in the indictment was the alleged extortion of New York City stationery store owners, whose stores Dio’s men had picketed. The store owners were allegedly told that if they wanted the picketing stopped, they would have to force their employees to join Teamster Local 295, and hire Johnny Dio’s “labor consulting” firm, Equitable (not) Research Associates, for a $3,500 retainer, and $200 a month salary.

Because Dio’s attorneys were so adept at stalling tactics, and the fact that key government witnesses had recanting their testimony, Dio’s trial did not take place until November of 1957.

The trial took four weeks, but when it ended, Dio was convicted as charged and sentenced to two years in prison. While in prison, Dio was indicted again on extortion charges. This time, instead of the victims being stationery store owners, they were the owners of electroplating shops. In 1958, Dio was convicted again, and this time the judge threw the book at Dio, sentencing him to 15-30 years. Dio began serving his time in Sing Sing Prison, while appealing his sentence. On June 23, 1959, an appeals court inexplicable overturned the decision in Dio’s trial, saying that since Dio didn’t issue the threats personally, he should not have been convicted of extortion. A split court ruled, “Extortion cannot be committed by one who does not himself induce fear, but who receives money for the purpose of removing or allaying pre-existing fear instilled by others.”

Jonathan Kwitney said in his book Vicious Circles, “The decision seemed to legitimize the whole purpose of the Mafia.”

However, the law was not finished with Johnny Dio. On June 24, 1959, one hour after he finished his two-year bit on the first extortion charge, Dio was pinched by the Feds and charged with income tax evasion; for non-payment of taxes for three dress manufacturing companies he owned (non-union, of course), and two labor union locals. Dio went on trial in March of 1960. He was found guilty and was sentenced to four years at the federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia. Dio was released in March of 1963, partially on the basis that he had obtained a real job in a legitimate industry. Dio claimed he was now a salesman for Consumers Kosher Provision Company, another sham job that provided Dio the opportunity to do what he had done in several other industries before. This time it was the kosher meat business that would pay the piper for Dio’s Machiavellian machinations.

At first, the scam worked like a charm. Dio and a bunch a his mobster buddies separately approached two rival kosher meat companies and convinced both of them that their business would be ruined if they did not hire their group of thugs to fight back against the other company’s group of thugs. The two competing companies were the Consumers Kosher Provision Company, run by a dupe named Herman Rose, and the American Kosher Provision Inc., who had employed mobster Max Block (he had just been forced to resign as head of the butcher’s union) to make sure other mobsters didn’t try to shake down American Kosher. Block’s muscle was provided by Genovese thug Lorenzo “Chappy” Brescia, who had been extorting the butcher’s union for years. According to Vicious Circles, Block was receiving an annual salary of $50,000 a year from American Kosher, and Brescia’s cut was $25,000 a year.

This is where Dio began working his magic in the kosher meat business. Through two intermediaries, Dio approached Herman Rose and convinced Rose that in order to compete with American Kosher, it was imperative Rose hire Johnny Dio to protect his interests. Rose figured this was the right thing to do and he hired Dio at the salary of $250 a week; not an exorbitant amount of money. But it gave Dio the appearance of an honest job, and it gave the Mafia the opportunity to control the prices in the two top kosher meat companies in the area. (This is why, overnight the price of kosher meats skyrocketed.)

After Herman Rose died in 1964, Dio convinced the Kleinberg family, which owned the majority of stock in Consumer Kosher that it was good business to merge with American Kosher. The Kleinbergs, trembling in their boots, agreed with Dio’s assessment, and with the mob running both companies, the “bust-out business” in the kosher meat industry began in full throttle.

Soon, Dio and his pals, using their usual tactics, began scooping up, and creating from scratch, other small kosher meat companies. Stock was transferred back and forth between the companies, and so were the assets, which included the kosher meat itself. First, Consumer Kosher went bankrupt; then did American Kosher. The other Dio-controlled companies started acquiring the meats (that had not been paid for), and one by one, they too declared bankruptcy, only to be acquired by another sham company owned by, what the newspapers called, “The Kosher Nostra.” The suppliers of the meat out west, because of the multiple bankruptcy proceeding, were stiffed of their meat payments. According to New York Post reporter Marvin Smilon, one of these meat providers had the temerity to ask one of Dio’s meat cronies, “Why do we have to deal with Dio?” He was told, “Sit down and be quiet. You ask too many questions.”

But all good things must come to an end. In 1966, Dio, along with four of his associates, were indicted for “bankruptcy fraud.” In 1967, they were all found guilty, and Dio was sentenced to five years in prison. However, with his high-powered attorneys working their magic, Dio was able to stay out of prison for almost four years. This gave Dio the extra time he needed to work another scam, called “The Great Mafia Bagel War.”

It started with Ben Willner, who had a machine that could make automated bagels, for around 50 cents a bagel, whereas a hand-rolled bagel cost about 65 cents to produce. This was not good news for the Bakery and Confectioners Workers Union, because it put their member’s jobs at risk. Willner was great pals with Moe Steinman, who didn’t care too much how the bagels were being made, because he had a stranglehold on bagel distribution, not bagel production. Willner ran to Steinman, and Steinman, hoping to help his pal out, introduced Willner to Johnny Dio, whom Steinman knew was an expert at “labor-related problems.” Dio helped out Willner, for a piece of the pie of course, and soon Steinman was packing his supermarkets with anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000 worth of Willner’s bagels a week.

The only problem was that Genovese Crime Family capo Thomas “Tommy Ryan” Eboli had his own bagel maker, who was being short-changed because of the Willner/Dio/automated bagel-making machine trio. This man was named Arthur Goldberg and he ran to Eboli, screaming. Eboli demanded a sit-down with Dio, who had been with the Luchesse Family for more than 30 years. At the time, in the New York City Mafia pecking order, the Genovese Family was much more powerful than the Luchesse Family, and Dio was effectively pushed out of the bagel business for good. Dio broke the bad news to Willner, and as a result, in December of 1969, Willner was forced to close shop. This led to the Eboli/Goldberg crew taking over Willner’s business, and his automated bagel-making machines.

Dio felt bad about losing his bagel scheme, but he felt even worse, when in November of 1970, he ran out of appeals and was forced to go to prison for a five-year stretch at the federal prison at Lewisburg, P.A. on the bankruptcy fraud charges. (He did not Pass Go, and he did not collect the customary two hundred dollars.)

In 1972, while still in prison, Dio was indicted again, this time for stock fraud, concerning the At Your Service Leasing Corp., a luxury car leasing firm that did most of its business with organized crime figures. It was alleged that in 1969, before Dio went to prison, Dio, along with Carmine Tramunti, Vincent Aloi, and Michael Hellerman, “floated” $300,000 of false stock in the car leasing company. Dio’s group then either bribed, or forced security dealers to sell the stock, and then turn over the money to the Dio investment group. The jury found Dio guilty, and he was hit when a knockout blow when he was sentenced to nine and ten-year prison terms, to run consecutively. Dio appealed his convictions twice, but he lost both appeals.

Johnny “Dio” Dioguardi never was a free man again. Dio died on January 12, 1979, in a Pennsylvania hospital, where he had been transferred to from federal prison. To add insult to injury, Dio was scheduled for parole in just a few short months.

The news of Johnny Dio’s death did not receive an inch of space in any of the New York City daily newspapers, even though a paid death notice appeared a few days after his death in the New York Daily News.

It was as if Johnny Dio, a gangster’s gangster if there ever was one, had never existed.

Source by Joseph Bruno

Best Investments in India – Best SIP Funds 2010

There are lot of investment options for the investors in India. Some of the best investment options available for the investors are listed below. You can also find the best companies that offers such investment options.

Fixed Deposits:

  • State Bank of India
  • ICICI Bank
  • Axis Bank
  • Indian Overseas Bank


  • Life Insurance Corporation of India
  • HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company
  • Bharti Axa Life Insurance Company

Mutual Funds:

  • State Bank of India
  • Franklin Templeton
  • Kotak Mutual Fund
  • HDFC Mutual Fund

Best SIP Plans:

Recently a lot of investors are investing their money in the Funds. It is mainly because, in these schemes you get the returns of the stock markets, provided the risk of investing is very less as it is managed by professionals. These investment companies have launched “Systematic Investment Plans” to attract more retail investors and low income persons. Some of the best schemes that would be recommended for investing in the year 2010 are listed below. You can consult an expert analyst before investing in any of these schemes.

  • Fidelity Tax Advantage Funds
  • SBI Magnum Sector Funds Umbrella – Contra Fund
  • Reliance Equity Fund
  • Religare Tax Plan Fund – Growth
  • SBI Magnum Sector Funds Umbrella – Emerging Fund

Systematic investment plans are one of the best investment options in India. You can also get the list of best SIP funds for 2010 from various websites. Once you get the list of schemes that are performing well, you can choose the best.

Next Step: Get the list of best SIP Plans in India and start investing.

Source by Balajee Kannan

SBI SIP Plan – Why SBI SIP Mutual Fund is Amongst the Best in India?

Systematic Investment Plan is the best option for retail investors to invest in Mutual Funds. SBI Mutual Fund is one of the best performing mutual fund company in India. The investors feel more comfortable in SBI SIP plan. You can make a SIP plans comparison and find the best SBI SIP fund.

There are many reasons for the investors feeling that SBI SIP fund is the best systematic investment plan in india. Most of the schemes under SBI Systematic investment plan has been generating returns more consistently. If you check the returns for most of the SIP plans, they are generating consistent returns for the past 6 months, 1 year and 3 years. This would prove that the SBI schemes are performing well than the funds launched by the other companies.

Some of the best performing SBI SIP schemes are:

  • SBI Magnum Sector Funds Umbrella – Contra Fund
  • SBI Magnum Sector Funds Umbrella – Emerging Fund
  • SBI Magnum Sector Funds Umbrella – IT Fund
  • SBI Magnum Midcap Fund
  • SBI Magnum Taxgain Scheme 93

The minimum amount that has to be paid every month is Rs 500. Recently SBI has launched another fund “SBI Chotta SIP Scheme” in which the minimum investment amount is Rs 100. This scheme was introduced to encourage more retail participation. The low income people will be more benefited from this scheme as this type of investment is similar to investing in a recurring deposit and they can get the benefits of the stock markets.

Next Step: Start Investing:

You can apply for the SBI plans online. You can find the application form in the related websites.

Source by Kamalkk Kannan

Real Estate in Your IRA – Can You Afford to Retire Without It?

Where would you be today if your IRA/401K funds had grown as much as your home has appreciated over the last 5, 10, 20 years?

The social Security Administration provides 89% of all the retirement income. 9 out of 10 Americans are relying on an annual income of $13,500.00/yr. or $1250/mo. Imagine trying to survive on those meager funds!

Do you know how much income you will need to live on when you retire that is above and beyond the amount that Social Security will be providing. Let’s take a look at some hard facts here…

For every $5000.00 of net income you will have to have $2,000,000 in cash put away into a guaranteed investment such as US Treasuries earning 4% annually. How will you get there?

Also with the volatility of the stock market you cannot afford to take a big loss. The government puts restrictions on the amount of contribution you can put back into your retirement plan.

Based on The Rule of 72 at a 10% return your money will double every 7.2 years

Did you realize that you have alternatives to the stock market and under performing assets. Section 408 of the IRS code allow individuals to place real estate into your retirement plan. Not all CPA’s and Attorney’s & Financial Planners are aware of this though.

Imagine using the most stable and virtually risk free vehicle to build your portfolio. Who has the time to manage stocks, mutual funds, and all of the other tools to create wealth? Wouldn’t you rather build it the easy way, using the power of appreciation and time to create huge profits with little or no tax at all?

When placing real estate into your retirement mix you have to be selective. Why risk bad tenants, debt with a mortgage, another real estate bubble or housing market shift. You need to purchase real estate in a major growth path. It must be usable, free of defects or clouds on the title. Also you must be able to use the power of joint tenants to gain leverage.

Ask your self what has been the best purchase you have ever made? Was it your house; where did you buy it? When did you buy it? What is it worth today. Would you like to see a better real estate purchase that will yield you better returns over time than your house did? Try land banking.

Not just any old land it has to have very strict criteria. Growth is the primary engine, what about water, economy, strong tax basis, planned business, community, roads, sewer. Are you starting to see the picture now? would you like to retire rich and create the lifestyle you have always dreamed about?

Source by Ryan Wegman

Impact of Product Patent on FDI in Indian Pharmaceutical Industry

An Ordinance on Patents (Third) Amendment was promulgated by the Government on December 26, 2004 to make the Indian patents law WTO compliant and to fulfill India’s commitment under TRIPS to introduce product patent protection for Drugs, Food and Chemicals with effect from January 1, 2005.

An overview of Indian pharmaceutical industry

The Indian pharmaceutical industry, with US$4 billion in domestic sales and over US$3

billion in exports, is showing satisfactory progress in terms of infrastructure development, technology base and product use. The industry now produces bulk drugs belonging to all major therapeutic groups requiring complicated manufacturing processes and has also developed excellent ‘good manufacturing practices’ (GMP) compliant facilities for the production of different dosage forms. The strength of the industry is in developing cost-effective technologies in the shortest possible time for drug intermediates and bulk actives without compromising on quality. This is realized through the country’s strengths in organic synthesis and process engineering.

The focus under the R&D effort is to encourage development of new molecules. A provision of Rs. 150 crore has been made under the Pharmaceutical Research & Development Support Fund. A Drug Development Promotion Board under the Department of Science & Technology has also been set up for the utilisation of this fund. Feasibility of setting up a Mega Chemical Industrial Estate in the country with world class infrastructure facilities is also being studied. For the first time in many years, the international pharmaceutical industry is finding great opportunities in India. The process of consolidation, which has become a generalised phenomenon in the world pharmaceutical industry, has started taking place in India.

The pharmaceutical industry, with its rich scientific talent and research capabilities, supported by Intellectual Property Protection regime, is well set to take a great leap forward. As regards product patents for

drugs, an amendment to the Indian Patents Act has been carried out through the Patent (Amendments) Ordinance, 2004 on December 26, 2004. The Ordinance amends the Indian Patents Act, 1970 for the third time with a view to introducing product patents for drugs, food and chemicals. Apart from manufacture of drugs, the product patent regime will help the pharmaceutical industry to tap outsourcing of clinical research. By participating in the international system of IPR protection, India, with its vast pool of scientific and technical personnel, and well-established expertise in medical treatment and health care, has unlocked vast opportunities in both exports and outsourcing and has the potential to become a global hub in the area of R&D based clinical research. The Patent Ordinance also provides adequate safeguards to protect the interest of the domestic industry, and the citizen from any increase in prices of drugs.

Impact of product patent on Indian Pharma industry

With a regulatory system focused only on process patents, helped to establish the foundation of a strong and highly competitive domestic pharmaceutical industry which in the grip of a rigid price control framework transformed into a world supplier of bulk drugs and medicines at affordable prices to common man in India and the developing world. Introduction of product patents will, however, mark the end of a golden age for IPI (Indian Pharmaceutical Industry). The new regulations will reshape the landscape of IPI forcing significant changes and divide within the industry.

A look into organization of pharmaceutical producers of India (OPPI) directory shows only 300 units out of 10,000 registered companies are in the organized sector. While process patent helped to flourish IPI into a world-class generics industry, product patent regime will filter the best from the pack and would be favorable to players with built-in scientific and technical resources. The impact of the new regulations will not deter the Indian pharma majors as they are already doing roaring business in the very countries where these patent laws are strictly in force.

Export markets increasingly drive IPI: in a turnover of US$5 billion, exports constitute $3.2 billion and the industry is poised to grow to $25 billion by 2010. The share of IPI in world pharmaceutical market is 1.0% (ranks 13th) in value and 8% (ranks 4th) in volume terms. The global market for generic drugs is estimated at $27 billion (2001) and the expiry of patents on drugs will be worth $80 billion (2005) offers a huge opportunity to IPI. India today has the largest number of US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved drug manufacturing facilities outside the US. In addition, Drug Master Files (DMFs) filed by Indian companies with the FDA is 126 higher than Spain, Italy, China and Israel put together. DMF has to be approved by FDA for a drug to enter the US market.

Research & Development (R&D) is a key to the strength of pharmaceutical industry especially in the product patent period. The global pharmaceutical industry spent $30.4 billion (2001) on R&D. The R&D expenditure (as a percentage of turnover) by the IPI is low (1.9%) when compared global giants (1016%). With transition into the new regime many Indian companies are mobilizing their resources war chest with an increase in their R&D budget. Government of India (GOI) encouraged the R&D in pharmaceutical companies by extending 10 year tax holiday to this sector. Besides, planning commission has earmarked $34 million towards drug industry R&D promotion fund for the tenth plan.

FDI in India was low in prior Product Patent era. Why?

Bringing a new drug into the market costs a company an average of about $800 to $900 million. Some estimates show that patient recruitment and medical personnel account for nearly 70 per cent of the clinical costs that are required to bring a drug to market. The less expensive means to raise research productivity is outsourcing research to low cost havens such as India and China. The global pharmaceutical outsourcing market stands at $10 billion (2004). Pharma multinationals have maintained a low-key presence in Indian market due to absence of product patents and rigid price controls. Pharmaceutical industry did not receive significant foreign direct investment (FDI). From August 1991 to December 1998 this industry accounted for a meager 0.44% of the total FDI. Introduction of product patents will see multinationals strengthening their presence in the country. The second largest population in the world, a growing economy and rising income levels makes Indian market difficult to ignore. Global companies would be reluctant to invest in a country where there is no IPR protection. Eli Lilly (world’s 7th Largest Pharma Firm) has its clinical research focus in the country and had spent considerable amounts over the last 2-3 years. But we would be only maintaining the quantum and will not expand even though there is huge potential. Global companies face the same frustration.

So the main activity of the company in the country would be to introduce products from the parent pipeline.mIn the domestic market, the share of Indian companies has steadily increased from around 20 per cent in 1970 to 70 percent now. Ranbaxy Laboratories is the market leader in terms of revenues followed by Cipla and Dr Reddys Laboratories. Glaxo is the only multinational to figure among the top ten pharma companies in India. In India, 97 per cent of drugs are off patent and are manufactured by a vast number of companies. The key therapeutic segments include anti-infectives, cardio vascular and central nervous system drugs. Anti-infective comprise the largest therapeutic segment in India, accounting for about 26 per cent of the market.

Globally, pharmaceutical industry grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 9.1 per cent in the last 23 years to $491 billion propelled by a string of innovative blockbusters. Multinationals were reshaped by mergers and acquisitions as a way of fattening their research pipelines. This at best represents a short-term solution. With a slew of brand name drugs losing patent protection in the next few years and the pressure building for pharmaceuticals to cut price, these giants find themselves under immense strain to find new drugs and reduce price.

So, from the above discussion it’s very evident that before any proper IPR regime specially in the absence of “Product patent” in India it was not a judicious decision for the international Pharma companies to invest here in India. FDI cap was raised from 74% to 100% in 2001 only but we didn’t find any change in the pattern of FDI in Pharma Sector.

Impact after 2005?

India a signatory to the WTO resolution on TRIPS Agreement India was thus committed to recognising product patents by amending The Indian Patents Act 1970. As per the minimum standards mentioned in the TRIPS agreement, patent shall be granted for any inventions, whether products or processes, in all fields of technology provided they are new, involve an inventive step and are capable of industrial application without any discrimination to the place of invention or to the fact that products are locally produced or imported. Accordingly, now patents will have to be granted in all areas including pharmaceuticals and the effective period of protection is for twenty years from the date of filing the application. With the implementation of TRIPS agreement by most of the developing countries by 2005, a stronger patent regime or product patents will be uniformly applicable on the pharmaceutical innovations among the member countries of the World Trade Organisation.

The implications of TRIPS for the pharmaceutical sector are that: patents will be granted both for products and processes for all the inventions in all fields of technology; the patent term will be twenty years from the date of the application (compared to the seven years under the 1970 Act), which is applicable to all the member countries and thus rules out all the differences in the protection terms prevailed in different countries; patents will be granted irrespective of the fact whether the drugs were produced locally or imported from another country; though the grant of the patent excludes unauthorized use, sale or manufacture of the patented item, yet there are clauses which provide manufacturing or other such rights of the patented item to a person other than the patent holder. In the case of a dispute on infringement the responsibility (to prove that a process other than the one used in the patented product has actually been used in the disputed product) lies with the accused rather than with the patent holder (in the 1970 Act, the responsibility is with the patent holder). This is the broad framework, which will guide the pharmaceutical industry of India in the WTO regime ( i.e. post 2005 period).

In order to increase the global prospects of the pharmaceutical industry in the post 2005 period, the Central Government has fixed the deadline of December 2003, to comply with the Good Manufacturing Practices set by World Health Organisation. Since this is mandatory for all the units, it means incurring expenditures that could range from Rs. 15 lakhs to 1 crore per unit. In some cases, it would involve shifting to new premises altogether. A few units might exit from business because of this. As contract manufacturers it is essential that both the parent unit and the loan licensee meet these requirements in cases where the production is meant for exports. While these standards improve the quality on par with international standards, it will also act as potential entry barriers for new firms to enter.

The strength of the Indian pharmaceutical industry is in reverse engineering. Such units by utilising the provisions under compulsory licensing, exceptions to exclusive rights and the Bolar exception should aim at producing the generic version of the patented product and those that are nearing patent expiry. Such firms should also be engaged in research leading to new drug delivery mechanisms and in identifying new uses of existing drugs. In this context, it is also essential to protect the innovations that have been introduced by the technology spillovers. It is suggested that in order to develop domestic innovations, developing countries require utility models or petty patents. These petty patents can be available for a shorter period of time for process innovations made over an existing product. The TRIPS agreement leaves members to introduce such legislation, as there are no specific rules on this subject. Such patents will encourage the small firms.

One of the concerns regarding product patents is the access to patented products. Some of the provisions within the TRIPS agreement clearly indicate that price controls could be imposed on the patented products. However, exemptions from price controls has been suggested by the government for the products that are produced domestically using the domestic R&D and resources and are patented in India. Such exemptions will keep the prices high and make access to the drugs difficult. It appears that `who patents the product’ matters more for the government than what is patented. In the recently concluded Doha meeting, a separate declaration on the TRIPS agreement has clarified that members have the right to grant compulsory licence in the area of pharmaceuticals and that they have the freedom to determine the ground upon which such licenses are granted, which can have a considerable impact on the availability as well as on their prices. However, the amendments made by the Government of India, make the procedures very cumbersome which needs to be revised in the third amendment to the Patents Act. While parallel trade in pharmaceutical may facilitate access to medicine, yet compulsory licence will be the only course of option to facilitate flow of technology and R&D. Scherer and Watal (2001) suggest that tax concessions should be provided to the pharmaceutical manufacturers to encourage them to donate the high technology drugs to the less developed and developing countries which is a viable option.

A majority of the population does not have access to the essential medicines (most of which are off patent) either in the government or private health care systems because they are not within their capacity to reach. Now that the percentage of drugs under price control has been reduced drastically it is essential to keep the prices of the essential drugs under check, especially those concerning the common diseases.

Currently only a handful of pharmaceutical firms in India invest in R&D which needs to be improved. The Pharmaceutical Research and Development Committee (1999) has suggested that a mandatory collection and contribution of 1 per cent of MRP of all formulations sold within the country to a fund called pharmaceutical R&D support fund for attracting R&D towards high cost-low-return areas and be administered by the Drug Development Promotion Foundation. The domestic universities and other academic institutions can play the role of research boutiques or contract research organisations (CRO), which can supply the technical know-how and manpower. Units that already have such facilities can also function as a CRO for other firms.

In the post TRIPS era, the government will have to probe in to factors that contribute to the widening gap between the proposed FDI and the actual FDI and rectify these bottlenecks. Similarly the difference between the number of patents filed and the patents granted calls for a detailed analysis to figure out where the Indian firms are lacking.

Governments at various levels should take active part in disseminating knowledge about the IPRs and the possible strategies that can be adopted by the industry. This will remove some of the impediments. Lessons should be drawn from the Chinese experiences where systematic efforts were taken to educate the bureaucrats, policy makers and the industry about the WTO and product patents in the pharmaceutical industry. India will have to strengthen the patent examination process and speed up the processing procedures. This will help in checking the products that may enter the country utilising the import monopoly route provided by the EMR. Besides a strong institutional and judicial framework will have to be set up for monitoring the prices, to prevent infringement and trade dress cases of patented products respectively.

As far as India’s pharmaceutical industry is concerned, various options are possible in the WTO regime. These are to: (a) manufacture off patented generic drugs, (b) produce patented drugs under compulsory licensing or cross licensing, (c) invest in R&D to engage in new product development, (d) produce patented and other drugs on contract basis, (e) explore the possibilities of new drug delivery mechanisms and alternative use of existing drugs, and (f) collaborate with multinationals to engage in R&D, clinical trials, product development or marketing the patented product on a contract basis and so on. Besides these strategies, India’s strength lies in process development skills. This expertise utilised within the WTO framework with emphasis on quality standards will provide India a competitive advantage over other Asian countries.

To conclude we can anticipate more FDI nature of investment in India in the field of Pharma Sector?

It’s a question which requires more time to be answered, but we can draw inferences from the facts & data discussed above. As from the above discussion it is obvious that Pharma industry is high investment seeking industry, & the other most important fact about it is that it require enormous R&D. The new Patent regime brings both opportunities and challenges to the domestic pharma industry. Even larger Indian companies lack the financial muscle to be major international player in basic R&D, that involves discovery of new chemical entities (NCEs). They would be helped by the government’s decision not to restrict patenting to NCEs. The Patent Ordinance issued recently defines the term patentability as per the TRIPS guidelines but does not exclude patenting of incremental inventions like new drug delivery systems, polymorphs etc, brightening the chances of Indian companies to benefit from the patent regime, but it may act as a disincentive for the international Pharma firms to invest in India.

Again if we look at the patent amendment act there are certain provisions of this Act which are discouraging the FDI in Pharma sector like

1. Deletion of the provisions relating to Exclusive Marketing Rights (EMRs) (which would now become redundant), and introduction of a transitional provision for safeguarding EMRs already granted.

2. a) Conditional grant of patent (Section 47) : Empowers the Government to import, make or use any patent for its own purpose. For drugs, it also empowers import for public health distribution.

3. Revocation of patent in public interest (Section 66): Empowers the Government to revoke a patent where it is found to be mischievous to the State or prejudicial to the public.

4. Grant of compulsory licence (Sections 82 to 94): Chapter XVI deals with the general principles and circumstances for grant of compulsory licences in order to protect public interest particularly public health and nutrition. These provisions check the abuse of patent rights. They can be invoked if the reasonable requirements of the public with respect to patented inventions have not been satisfied, and the patented invention is not available for public at a reasonably affordable price, and if the patented invention is not worked in the territory of India. Section 92 of this law provides for action in case of national emergency, extreme urgency and public non-commercial use, and can be invoked without the grace period of 3 years from grant of patent.

5. Use of invention for the purpose of Government [Sections 100 & 101]: Compliments Section 47.

6. Acquisition of invention and patent for public purpose [Section 102]: Empowers the Government to acquire a patent to meet national requirements.

7. Bolar provision [Section 107 (A) (a)]: Facilitates production and marketing of patented products immediately after expiry of the term of patent protection by permitting preparatory action by non patentees during the life of the patent.

8. Parallel import [Section 107 (A) (b)]: Provides for import so that patented product can become available at the lowest international price.

These provisions are basically public interest provisions but these are anti FDI in nature because in a sector of high investment & high uncertainty every investing firm need complete protection & patronage but here it is not guaranteed.

So we can anticipate that product patent is going to have a very little impact on the FDI scenario in a country like India.

Source by Arvind Singhatiya

Which Types of Commercial Property Should You Invest In?

When it comes to commercial real estate investment, investors often want to know which types of properties they should consider investing in. This article discusses about 5 groups of properties and reasons why you should or should not consider them.

1. Land: the people who invest in raw land often hope to buy agricultural land near commercially-zoned land at a few thousand dollars per acre. They dream their lot will be re-zoned to commercial in the near future which is worth hundreds of thousand dollars or more an acre. People who convince you to invest in raw land often try to sell you this dream. While this dream actually happens just like it's possible to hit the jackpot in Las Vegas, the reality is most investors lose money or get little return in land investment. It is a very risky investment as land generates either no or very little income. From an income tax viewpoint, land does not depreciate in value so you cannot claim depreciation. On top of that the interest rate to land loan is also very steep compared to other types of commercial properties. So each month, you would need to come up with money to pay for the mortgage while collecting none. You should consider invest in land if you

– Know how to develop so you could convert raw land into a shopping center.

– Know exact what you do and have deep pocket.

– Own the land of a shopping center (you don't own the buildings).

2. Apartments: this is a management intensive investment as the turn over rate is high. The leases are short-termed often at one year of month to month. As tenants move in and out, you would need to spend money to get the unit ready for occupancy. Apartment tenants tend to have higher late payments history than other tenants as they are more often have a tighter budget. If you don't like the headaches dealing with lots of tenants, you probably want to stay away from apartments. The key to successful apartment investment is to

– Control or minimize the expenses. This may sound like a trivial task until you see the expense list provided by the property manager. These expenses include: advertising, accounting, bank fees (for insufficient funds), capital improvement, coin laundry subsidy, cleaning, collection fees, garbage disposal, insurance, landscaping, legal (eviction) fees, maintenance, offsite property management, onsite property management , pest control, painting, repairs, sweeping, security, property taxes, utilities and water.

– Invest only in properties in a good location with no deferred maintenance.

– Stay away from areas with rent control, eg Berkeley, Los Angeles.

Otherwise you may end up getting little cash flow or even having negative cash flow. If one of your investment objectives is to get high cash flow, you may want to stay away from apartments. In California, if you own a 16 or more units apartment you must have an onsite manager. This increases the expenses further. In general, apartments are easy to buy and harder to sell. There are always lots of them on any markets. The upside about apartments is they tend to have high occupancy rate as everyone needs a roof over their heads. Due to this fact the interest rate for apartments is often ¼-to ½ percent lower than other commercial properties.

3. Special Purpose Properties: These are properties designed for a specific business, eg restaurants, gas stations, and hotels / motels.

– Restaurants: some investors like to invest in brand name fast food restaurant like Burger King, Pizza Hut, Jack In The Box, KFC. These are single tenant properties with long term absolute triple-net lease which often require no management responsibilities from the landlord. However, the rental income or cap rate for these restaurants is often lower in the 5-7% range. Emerging regional brand name restaurants like Johnny Carino's, Back Yard Burger, Zaxby's or Tia's TexMex tend to offer higher cap rate in the 7-8.5% range. However, when you look deeper in the financial statements they may not make a profit yet. The restaurant operators sell the real estate to investors higher cap rate and lease back the property for 20 years. They in turn use the sale proceeds to expand their business by building more restaurants. So if you are willing to take higher risks, you will be rewarded to high income with these emerging restaurants.

– Gas stations: when you buy a gas station, you buy both real estate and the gas station business. Most gas stations also have convenience stores and sometimes several car repair bays. The profit margin for gas is fixed at 10-20 cents per gallon [many customers wrongly blame the high gas prices on the innocent gas station operators] but is pretty high for convenience store. This is considered an owner-occupied property which qualifies you to a SBA loan with as little as 10% down payment is required. If you don't plan to get involved in running the gas station, auto repair and convenience store business, you may want to stay away from gas stations as gasoline is a chemical that could contaminate the soil. Once a leakage occurs and contaminates the environment, it takes years and lots money to clean up the soil. You may even be liable to damages from owners of adjacent properties as contamination may spread out to their properties. It's almost impossible to sell your property as no lenders want to loan the buyers the money to buy it.

– Hotels / Motels: once you buy a hotel / motel, you buy the real estate and a 24-hour-a-day 365-day-a-year business. This business requires hard work, and marketing skills to get the rooms filled. The rooms are worthless if they are vacant. The business tends to be seasonal and may be affected immediately by economic downturns and political events, eg 9-11. Many of these properties are owned by Indians with the last name Patel as they seem to work harder and know this business well.

4. Office Buildings: these properties are single or multi-story buildings. The older two-story office buildings without elevators tend to have trouble finding tenants on the upper floor as many service businesses may have physically-challenged customers who cannot walk up the stairs.

– Single-tenant buildings: the properties are used as corporate headquarters of big corporations like Cisco. These big buildings tend to be more sensitive to the economy. Once vacant, it's hard to find a replacement tenant.

– Multi-tenant buildings: these properties are leased by small businesses, eg real estate, tax accountants. Investors who purchase these properties want to spread out the investment risks. When one tenant vacates a unit, you lose just a small percentage of rental income.

– High Quality Tenants: most of them have good credits, lot of assets and promptly pay the rent when due.

– Leases: The leases for office building vary from full service [landlords pay property tax, insurance, maintenance and utilities] to NNN [tenants pay property tax, insurance, maintenance and utilities]. The NNN lease is a litmus test on whether the office building is in high demand by tenants or not.

– Medical buildings: these properties are primarily leased by doctors and dentists. A good medical building should be in front of or across the street from a hospital. This makes it convenient for doctors to go back and forth between hospital and their offices. Some investors prefer medical buildings as medical tenants are very recession proof.

5. Shopping / Retail Centers: These centers are mostly single-story and can accommodate wide varieties of tenants: retail and service businesses, restaurant, medical, school, and even church. As a result, this is the most popular type of commercial properties that investors look for. They are always in high demand as there are more buyers and few sellers.

– Multi-tenant strip: the advantage of this investment is when a tenant moves out, you only lose a portion of the total income while you are looking for a new tenant. So you spread out the risks in this property.

– Single-tenant building: The advantage is you just have to work with one tenant. Some of the tenants, eg Costco, Home Deport, Walmart, CVS Pharmacy sign 10-20 year lease and guarantee with their corporate assets which could be worth billions of dollars. This makes your investment very safe.

– High Quality Tenants: most of them have good credits, lot of assets and promptly pay the rent when due. They often sign long term 5-30 year leases so you don't have worry about finding new tenants every year. They keep your property in good condition and sometimes even spend their own money to make it look better in order to attract the customers to the stores.

– Triple Net (NNN) Leases: the leases for retail centers are often in favor of the landlord. The tenants pay a base rent and reimburse the landlord for property taxes, insurance, maintenance and sometimes even property management fees. This takes away a lot of risks from you as an investor. The NNN lease in a sense is a litmus test on whether the property is in high demand by tenants or not.

– Ground Lease: sometimes a retail center with ground lease is for sale. When you buy this center, you only own the improvement but not the land underneath. It could be a trophy property but you should think thrice about investing. Once the ground lease expires and the land owner refuses to extend the land lease, you own nothing! So it's easy to buy this center but very hard to sell.

Source by David V. Tran

Right Mutual Fund Distributor: Here's How to Choose

Information on anything and everything is available at our fingertips. In this age of information technology, we investors are blessed to access and gain knowledge about various mutual fund schemes, their returns, etc. And all this information can be accessed for free.

It is no different for those providing financial services, too. There would be a host of emails, messages, and websites hogging to provide information.

Many mutual fund distributors will be approaching you to solicit mutual fund investments into new and the existing mutual fund. Especially now, since the economy is returning from its recession and the markets are turning favorable for investments.

While most of the information sent to us is already there on the world wide web. We can easily check the information about a fund from the AMCs (Asset Management Company's) website. Still, for some investors, it may be a valuable service.

These mailers and messages keep updating us on the new launches, returns of various schemes, their NAV (Net Asset Value), and many other advantages and disadvantages related to them. But is that all we need to know about investing?

Don't you think it would be sensible to choose the Best Mutual Fund Distributor who can help manage your investments? What if all this information is only adding to your confusion?

What with the names changes of many mutual fund schemes and portfolio realignments, most investors get confused about what they should do with their mutual fund holdings.

It may make sense to work with a mutual fund distributor who can advise and guide you on your investment decisions.

Only returns are not enough basis to select the right mutual fund distributor. There are many other things you need to look for.

1. Qualification of the Mutual Fund Distributor

The Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) makes it necessary that the individuals engaged in service of mutual fund advisory to have a certification issued by the National Institute of Securities Management (NISM).

But merely relying on the certification isn't enough as you would need to search a bit more into the philosophy (attitude and rationalization) and research process which the mutual fund distributor and his team adopt while advising clients. Moreover, you need to make sure that the distributor is not an individual who peddles investments as side-business. Remember, acting on the advice offered by a mutual fund distributor who does not hold the requisite knowledge, could spell disaster for your money and investments.

2. Expertise of the Mutual Fund Distributor

Check for the expertise of the mutual fund distributor and his team. Check how well qualified they are in terms of education and what kind of knowledge and experience they possess.

Also, look into whether the distributor has good knowledge of the whole variety of asset classes. Such as equity, debt, fixed income, gold, etc.

They should be able to understand and decipher how these asset classes would be affected by various domestic, international events, decisions or changes in trends related to oil prices interest rates, etc.

Understanding the mutual funds, identifying their suitability for you and your investment portfolio, balancing the asset allocation, and knowing how changes in assets will affect you require a high degree of expertise.

Therefore, you must check how skilled the distributor is and what kind of experience he or she possesses. The mutual fund should be able to identify products that will meet your life requirements as and when they are needed.

3. Accessibility

The mutual fund distributor you choose must be easily contactable. Whether by email, phone, or by meeting in person within a reasonable duration. It is important that the distributor, whom you have entrusted your money with, is accessible as and when you need him. The distributor or team should be able to clarify your doubts within a reasonable period.

Is this distributor able to execute the transactions for you well in time? Timing is of crucial importance in the world of investing in Best Mutual Funds and Stocks. The distributor should be able to execute your transactions within a short time. As quickly as possible.

All these things matter when your hard-earned money is involved.

4. Provide Complete Financial Solutions

We Indians do not like discussing our finances or financial status with all and sundry. Because we have been taught not to reveal our finances and investments with too many people. We have been taught to keep such things and details, confidential and under wraps.

So it would be preferable to find a distributor who is a one-stop solution for all our financial needs. An advisor who can understand and handle our investments better and with confidentiality. An unbiased one. One who would be able to offer us mutual fund products from all fund houses. Not just one or two fund houses.

5. Is the Distributor Asking Questions?

This is the one attribute that will tell you whether a mutual fund distributor is interested in only selling or is he / she really interested in understanding your requirements and needs. And then take the investment forward, accordingly.

Is he / she asking you questions to know better your financial needs, situations and goals? Or are you only being given details about the products to convince you to buy a product and not the solution which you actually are looking out for?

Without posing questions to you, how would anyone know for sure which particular plan is the most suitable for you? Whether you can take the risk of investing in Small-caps or should your investments be limited to debt Mutual Funds? Whether you have one or two Life and Health Insurances or not? These two are quintessential ones to have before we start with mutual fund investments. To secure our loved ones.

Not only helping the investors, but all this information also gathered from them and from other investors all over the country and submitted to the fund houses. With this data collected, the fund houses, as well as the government, are able to better understand the investor's moods and inclinations. It also helps them bring up new policies and policy changes. Devise new strategies. Develop and come up with new and attractive plans.

6. Infrastructure and Value Added Services

Apart from assessing his qualifications and attitude towards clients, you also need to judge whether he has the right infrastructure set up. Would you be able to receive prudent advice continuously? Remember entering an investment is only a beginning. You want your investments to be monitored and tracked regularly. Change must be advised promptly if an investment has become redundant or non-performer.

Therefore, you should ideally be provided various tools and calculators for online tracking of your investments, as value addition.

Besides, the mutual fund distributor should be sending regular updates on your portfolio. What all changes may be made according to the changes in the market conditions and financial goals? What all new development has been made in the field of mutual funds? What new plans have come up? What new policies have been devised that will benefit you or vice versa?

7. What kind of After-Sales Support is Provided?

As stated earlier that entering into an investment is simply a starting point. Only with the help of a prudent and reliable after-sale support, we would be able to monitor, track and further our investment portfolio. All the tracking tools may not be so easily understandable by every investor.

The reason for investing with a mutual fund distributor and not investing in Direct Mutual Funds is because we are not familiar and comfortable with the market. All the reports that are sent periodically by the fund houses to the investors are too full of jargons which we don't understand always. To interpret them, we require the help of professionals. This help must be provided by the mutual fund distributor.

As and when you need it. Not as and when it is convenient with them.

8. Past Track Record

Well, if you are offered this, you would be able to gauge the quality of the advice. You need to cross-check the data provided by him / her with some of his clients as a reference check. The best way is to ask around for referrals.

Use social media, to know if anyone has recommended the advisor or his firm. Check online for any referrals, ask your friends or relatives, if they know of any references. What kind of knowledge and experience is associated? This way you can have an idea about his / her strengths and weaknesses.

Inspect for how long the advisor has been in business and his way of operating. Search for what field the mutual fund distributor was working in and what knowledge he / she and the team have. Someone who has gone through multiple market cycles would be experienced and, hence, preferred.

This exercise would not only help you understand his past performance track record but also help identify whether prompt and reliable after-sales service is provided or not.

There is no formal rating or ranking system for mutual fund distributors in India, for now. So we have to work it out on our own.

9. Compensation

A mutual fund distributor is in this business to earn. Whether it is an individual, partnership or a company, it wouldn't be able to survive for long if it doesn't get compensated.

Maintaining a website, helping you make a financial plan, gathering data on your behalf, keeping it free for you, and keeping all these services alive requires effort and money.

Many financial planners and advisors could charge a fee for the same. To write out a comprehensive financial plan, taking into account risk appetite, future requirements, and life goals. You are asked to pay them a fee, regularly. It is just that they don't tell you about is that they get a commission, as well, on all the investments they make on your behalf.

Whether a mutual fund distributor is being honest with you or not, this is the crucial criterion to check for.

Bottom Line

Today with so many options available to invest in, the task of doing prudent investment planning has become quite difficult. Because we are surrounded by so much information about each of these options, such as stocks, mutual funds, bank FDs, NCDs, corporate bonds, Public Provident Funds (PPF), National Savings Certificate (NSC), etc.

And, still, at the end of all the searching and evaluating, we keep wondering whether we made the right investment decision.


For us to be able to remove this chaos caused by "information overload", what is required is getting hold of a mutual fund distributor who provides independent and unbiased financial advice. With no vested interests (of commissions). The one who would help, assist and guide you through prudent investment planning.

This is what the best Mutual Fund Distributor will do for you. This is what the vision and objective of WealthBucket are.

Source by Rahul Jain

The House at the Epicenter

The Setting

As I entered the yard with a high white fence and a big front yard, I noticed a bundle of small Hindu religious flags at the corner of the two story family house on 87th Road nestled between Parsons Boulevard and 150th Street with its back to Hillside Avenue. I was in the heart of New York’s second largest Indo-Guyanese community located in Jamaica, Queens. (The largest Indo-Guyanese community is located in Richmond Hill, Queens).

Southern Queens is one of the epicenters of the housing bubble crisis which led to the Great Recession that shattered or setback the American dream for many in the Caribbean community. I came to this house during the tax season to survey how the different socioeconomic classes (working class and middle class) were affected by the Housing Bubble Aftermath and the American public policy that tarnished the American dream for this community.

The homeowner – a widowed Indo-Guyanese immigrant purchased it in 2000. Before purchasing the home with cash, she and her daughter lived with her father for 14 years as she saved the money for the purchase. She and her daughter immigrated to the United States in 1986 after she lost her husband in a car accident.

The house serves multiple purposes. The homeowner maintains a tax preparing and immigration service home business on the first floor while she operates a mandir (i.e., Hindu temple) in the basement.

However, the mandir is administered by two pandits – one elder and a younger – in a very large basement with a low ceiling. You entered the basement from the side of the house off a concrete driveway. A series of shoe racks greet you at the door. As you descend a steep stairwell being mindful of your head rubbing against the ceiling if you’re way over 6 feet tall, you are greeted by other greeters – incense, the sounds of musical instruments and singing, dimmed lighting, and the soft rugs under your feet. The incense is very appealing to the nostrils amidst the harmonious sounds of singing, clapping, guitars, cymbals, tambourines and drums, and out of the dimmed lighting you could see an arrangement of vivid images. The first image to greet you -embedded in an opposing wall – is a large brazen image of Ganesha – the elephant-headed Hindu god of success. The large brazen image is very brilliant due to the flickering light of the adjacent candles snuggled among fruit offerings and burning incenses in front of a pantheon of Hindu gods’ statuettes. Kali – the multi-armed Hindu god of death – stands in the front row. Standing in the back row is a large statuette of Krishna – a blue skinned Hindu god – the author of the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad Gita. A group of female teenagers attending to the food offerings sit in front of the pantheon of the Hindu gods. To the right, the pandits are seated while a couple of elderly females are seated to the left. The congregation is composed of Indo-Guyanese Hindu worshippers who are professionals, executives, small business owners, students from a socioeconomic spectrum of middle class to working class background. As families dressed in traditional clothing queued down the stairway, they clasp their hands and bow as they enter the basement to join a closely knit large community. The majority of the community resides in Queens and Long Island who meet every Sunday morning to festively sing, play instruments, pray and praise in the underground mandir.

As I exited the basement, the homeowner’s grandson escorted me to the backyard. It is a large backyard where two small housing units are built. One of the housing units is a converted gym where I met the homeowner’s son-in-law who is a physical therapist. I shook his hand as he took a break from his workout to speak to me.

Next, the homeowner’s granddaughter escorted me to the upstairs residence. The homeowner’s daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren reside on the second floor. The homeowner’s daughter gave me a tour of a very large attic above the second floor. She told me that she owns a house in Florida but she and her family reside upstairs in New York City (NYC). However, the homeowner’s, the helper’s (i.e., live-in maid) and the guest bedrooms are located on the first floor.

Introducing the Subjects (from Both Sides of the Tracks)

As I entered the immaculately kept and elegant main floor, I was greeted at the door where I took my shoes off in the foyer and I was led into the living room where clients (filing income and small business corporate taxes) waited to see the homeowner (warrior caste – second ranking caste in the Hindu religion; immigrated to the US in 1986) who specialized in tax and immigration preparation services.

On this particular day, I didn’t survey any small business owners – who are usually in the middle class with a household (i.e., family of four) income on or above 150,000 USD (Perry and Perry, 2010) – in the waiting clientele. As a matter of fact, the waiting clientele mainly consisted of the working class – a domestic helper, an auto-mechanic (part-time student) and other blue-collar workers with household incomes from 30,000 USD to 80,000 USD. Not all were from Guyana – one was from Antigua while another was from Surinam. Most were women and the elderly.

During the interviews, they told me that the bursting of the housing bubble caused their real estate properties to tremendously decline and left shuttered houses in the community. They stated that the United States is reverting to a third world country and that there is no difference between Guyana (recently discovered oil) and America. As a matter of fact, a registered nurse (a single mother and divorcee; first immigrated to the US in 1987; lives in Cambria Heights, Queens) told me that one of her sisters and a nephew decided to return to Surinam (neighboring Guyana) after she filed their papers (permanent residency) for them. They believe that Surinam offers a better quality of life and socioeconomic conditions.

In order to interview the middle class clientele, I went back to the house on the corporate tax deadline – March 15th. The homeowner reserved the day for mainly small business owners. One interviewee (warrior caste; first immigrated to the US in 1978) who lives in Floral Park, Queens stated that besides the property value of his home. He was not really affected much by the crisis. Nonetheless, he knows of people who are hurting, he works for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (union representative) and his wife is a small business owner. Like the working class taxpayers, he blamed George W. Bush and the Republicans’ domestic and foreign policies and politics that leads to war on the middle class and wars abroad. As a matter of fact, he told me that he recently led a union protest in Albany, New York. He argued that the union contributed greatly to his middle class status.

I thought perhaps I should spread my net a little bit wider to see if I could find a middle class client who might reflect a different perspective from the other interviewees thus far. Therefore, I traveled to see Eddie who owns Eddie’s Furniture on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, Queens since he is middle class and a business owner. Perhaps, he might be more conservative. Eddie (warrior caste; immigrated to the US in 1987) has been a client of the homeowner for almost 25 years. Eddie shared the sentiments of the other interviewees. He stated that his business has declining revenues because some of his customers lost their jobs or are underemployed. Additionally, most in the community own two family houses that depend on the rent of their tenants to pay their mortgages. When the tenants lose their jobs and cannot afford the rent, the homeowners lose their homes because they cannot afford the mortgage since most of the household income is from rent – a non-labor income. Surprisingly, he pointed out to me that he knows of family members living in Guyana who are sending remittances to family members in New York to make ends meet instead of the other way around. The currency exchange rate is 200 Guyanese dollars to 1 American dollar and the Guyanese median income is 3,900 USD. Like the others, he blamed public policies/fiscal policies orchestrated by George W. Bush and the Republicans.

Blending into my Research Environment

This is an ethnographic study centered on a house which is a residence, a home business and a place of Hindu worship (mandir). Particularly, I chose this house as my field site because of the tax preparation and immigration services provided on the main floor. I knew that most of the home business owner’s clientele were from the Caribbean. They are mostly Indo-Guyanese clients. In particular, they are Hindus.

My goal is to investigate the impact of the recent housing bubble burst on the American dream of this immigrant community. The clientele which I used as a proxy or a sample of the immigrant community is mainly divided along the line of the working class and the middle class. For this study, the working class is defined as mainly blue-collar workers with household incomes from 30,000 USD to 80,000 USD while the middle class is defined as mainly white-collar workers with household incomes on or above 150,000 USD.

Even more interesting, I’m drawn to the traditional Hindu religion’s rigid caste system and how it correlates to the socioeconomic stratification of the observed immigrant community. By attending a mandir service at the house, and interviewing the pandits and other worshippers, I learned that the caste system in Guyana is not as rigid as in India. Andy, a CPA with KPMG, noted that most of the original émigrés (including his ancestors) to Guyana in the mid-1800s were socioeconomically disadvantaged in India. The British – a colonizer of the Indian subcontinent – promised them socioeconomic advancement in the Caribbean (including Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica and other islands – after the abolition of slavery in 1834). Most of the Indian migrants settled in British Guyana.

I promised most of my interviewees that I will not use their names in my paper except for a few interviewees such as Andy (senior associate at KPMG) and Eddie (Eddie’s Furniture). I promised them privacy so that they may freely and honestly interact with me.

During one interview session, the homeowner passed me as I interviewed one of her middle class clients – Krishna – an MTA union representative.

Homeowner: “Hi Krishna! I know Karl for almost twenty years. He is an honorary Indian among us. As a matter of fact, his paternal grandmother’s maternal grandmother is East Indian. Observe his eyes, his nose and his lips… he could pass for an Indian young man.” By the way, Karl, I recommend you that speak to one my clients who owns a real estate agency in the community.

Krishna proceeded to share (presumably, a bonding process) some of his Indian vegetarian cuisine with me and spoke of the traditional conservative values instilled in the Indo-Guyanese family as it pertains to housings and savings. Nonetheless, to his surprise, the erosion of the American dream caused by Housing Bubble – the Great Recession is very real in his community. I told him of my intention to interview the former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan.

Thus, I, a product of diversity – whose father’s father’s father was born and raised as a Jamaican Maroon and whose mother’s mother’s mother was born and raised as a Portuguese Sephardic Orthodox Jew – was accepted and allowed to see how the American fiscal policy and monetary policy negatively impacted an immigrant community across socioeconomic classes.

Variation of Perspectives & Definition of the Situation

As I proceeded to visit my field site, one of my students – Nazir Ishak – asked me about my PhD program and, in particular, about my CUNY Graduate Center course. I told him that I was rushing to my field site and about the topic of my ethnographic research. In response, he stated that as an Indo-Guyanese (Muslim), he believes I will find that the Housing Bubble Crisis had little or no impact on the Indo-Guyanese community in Queens. How so? He continued that “customarily Indo-Guyanese couples are often known as the paper bag family – take lunch in a paper bag, live in a basement, buy a house and normally never lose the house.” In a matter of fact way, he argued he doubts that there was a foreclosed Indo-Guyanese home in Jamaica or Richmond Hill, Queens.

On the block of my field site, I ran into a past acquaintance who is an Afro-Guyanese and his wife who is an Indo-Guyanese. I relayed to them what Nazir said to me. They concurred. They argued that the Indo-Guyanese community generally have arranged marriages, are community oriented and rarely suffer financial tensions in the marriage. They likened the Indo-Guyanese community to the Chinese-American Community and even to the Jewish American community. For instance, these communities are perceived to be future oriented instead of present oriented communities. However, they argued that unlike the Jewish American community that benefits from inherited wealth passed down from generation to generation, the Indo-Guyanese community and the Chinese-American community migrated to the United States with only “two dollars” in their pockets. They are mostly from a very poor background in their respective mother country. The Guyanese couple was speaking of the mass migration (including Guyanese and Chinese) in 1986 around the time when President Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to unauthorized immigrants who were living in the country for a period of time. To be fair and balanced, it is well documented that Jewish émigrés had limited resources upon their transit through Ellis Island during earlier mass migrations, also.

Upon entering the gates of my field site, I was greeted by many clients who were working mostly on immigration matters since the tax season is over. I went over to greet the homeowner who, in turn, introduced me to one of her clients. The client is an Indo-Guyanese Hindu (a Pace University graduate with a degree in Finance) whose husband is an Indo-Jamaican Christian. She works in finance for a Wall Street investment bank, the homeowner told her client about the project I’m working on. I proceeded to tell them what Nazir and others have told me about how the Indo-Guyanese community was able to weather the Housing Bubble Crisis due to their inherent “values.” The homeowner and her client stated that the facts don’t support my student and acquaintances’ assertions. They lamented how poor Indo-Guyanese families and new immigrants were “hoodwinked” into subprime loans by their own Indo-Guyanese compatriots (a minority). They only hoped that they could be prosecuted for their predatory behavior. Unfortunately, due to pride and shame, few people will publicly admit that they lost their homes or that they were stuck with balloon payments on their mortgage.

For support and evidence, the homeowner directed me to three Indo-Guyanese realtors (two Hindus and one Muslim) who are her clients and who are based in Richmond Hill, Queens. I contacted the three realtors. Each told me of the devastation the Housing Bubble Crisis caused in the Indo-Guyanese communities. For example, Surujdai (Shanta) Gopaul, CBR, who owns Remax Homes Realty on Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill, Queens, stated that she is working on three short sales as she is speaking to me. Additionally, her office has worked on many foreclosures and mortgage modifications. Moreover, some of her clients had to give up second homes or investment homes that were underwater. Yes, she points out that the Indo-Guyanese community collectively fared better than other communities, perhaps, due to their inherent values. Nonetheless, they are also severely scorched by the Housing Bubble Crisis, especially, the working poor and the new immigrants in her community. “After all, the poor but never the rich is always exploited!” exclaimed Shanta.

The Root of the Demise of the American Dream

As mentioned throughout the paper, many critics (including some of the interviewees) point to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy for the demise, in part, of the American dream in this immigrant community and others.

To get to the root of the matter, I attended a Princeton Club hosted conference entitled Rethinking Finance: New Perspectives on the Crisis – A conference on the lessons from the financial crisis. The Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke was the keynote speaker. At the august halls of the Princeton Club, I shook the Chairman’s hand and told him that I look forward to asking him a question during the Q & A. He smiled as Princeton University Professor Alan Blinder (whom I interviewed for another project in 2010) ushered him into the conference room.

During the Q & A sessions, I was unable to ask my question because my raised hand was drowned in a sea of raised hands. I was hoping that I would stand out since I was one of two Black attendees (the other was Queens College Economics Professor Raymond Myrthyl whom I invited). However, a Princeton University Economics professor (on the behalf of one of her students doing a senior thesis on the Housing crisis) asked the Chairman about his predecessor’s role in the Housing Bubble Crisis. He didn’t directly answer the question but to state that many people make so many ex post bad decisions – these bad decisions are the causes of the foreclosure crisis.

Regardless, based on the presentations, I argued that the Fed and Congress shared in the American Dream’s demise via their inability or unwillingness to regulate subprime lending primarily by state-chartered lenders (as per Dr. Robert E. Litan’s presentation).

Interestingly, an immigrant community known for its future oriented behavior toward finance and housing fell victim to the Housing Bubble Crisis similarly to other communities. I argued that the American Dream turning into an American Nightmare on Main Street could have been avoided if Alan Greenspan’s Federal Reserve Bank had assumed the role of a referee as it pertains to monetary policy. For example, Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok (2010) argued that former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan (1987 to 2006; appointed by President George H. W. Bush) could have managed the housing bubble by raising interest rates and/or warn the market. Additionally, he could have smoothed out the fluctuations in the market by “popping the bubble” with a tight monetary policy to prevent housing prices from rising too high. In so doing, the boom and the downturn would have been more moderate thus causing moderate consequences in the economy.

However, Alan Greenspan was one of the leading cheerleaders during the housing bubble whose burst negatively affected the American dream (which begins with homeownership) of both the working class and middle class of an immigrant community.

Source by Karl Mitchell

The Greek Brigands – The Culture of Financial Crisis

"But what about the Greeks? Their national character is based on the idea of ​​the impoverished and downtrodden little man getting the better of the world around him by sheer cunning." – Lawrence Durrell, Prospero's Cell (1945)

The Greek crisis has exposed existential weaknesses in the Greek economy and revealed shortcomings in the larger European system of financial checks and balances. But the often emotional responses have also proven a cultural polarity between north and south. The German magazine, Focus, captured this antagonism by an image of the Venus of Milo suggestively sticking up the middle finger at Germany. Angered Greeks in return reminded Germans of the Nazi looting of Greek gold reserves and unpaid war retributions.

Beyond this populism in the media, there exists a fundamental rift in policy views between Mediterranean countries on the one side and Atlantic countries on the other side. In his influential book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), the German sociologist Max Weber studied already the relationship between culture and economic performance. Weber considered the Protestant working ethic a pivotal element in the development of capitalist modernity. Behind the state of affairs of the Greek crisis lie causes rooted deeper in Greek culture than the immediate problems of government and economic structure. The traces of these historic roots carve an individual psychology and shape social norms that are difficult to change with measures of policy by politicians responding to the market's wits.

In traditional Greek dances a group of dancers, interlocked arm over shoulder, form a circle and move with a set of prescribed steps. The Greeks do not easily break with their tradition and they do not possess an innate curiosity for the new like Western culture. Greeks depend on the bonds with family and their community. Arms locked, only the leader of the dance improvises, while the rest do not break the line of the circle.

The eyes of the international financial markets are on the fiscal measures announced by George Papandreou, the first citizen of Athens, and the reforms to be implemented by the central government. The response of Greek society and the economic support by the European Union members will be decisive in their success. The question is if the government can enforce the new policies in a country so geographically scattered and with a history of tax evasion as Greece. Historically Greeks dislike central government and have relied primarily on local self-governance, strengthened by the geographic distance of the islands from Athens and the isolation of mountainous villages. Not even the chief-god Zeus could rule the lesser Greek gods from the peaks of Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in the country. Greek history justifies mistrust in a Greek success. Measures to centralize government and constitution an efficient modern state have always been resisted, from classic times with the Delian League that ended in the Peloponnesian War, the occupation by the Ottoman Empire that gave birth to the palikare, the Greek folk hero, or the rise of the current government for which corruption and tax evasion are emblematic.

When the Persian empire threatened the independence of the Greek city states, Athens and the allied Greek city states formed the Delian League in 487 BCE. Members of the League were obliged to contribute soldiers for the defense of Greek democracies or could alternatively pay taxes to the League. When Athens started to control the League, Athens forced other city states to continue paying taxes to the League solely for its own benefit. When cities refused, they faced the wrath of the Athenian army and were simply annexed by Athens. But when the famous statesman Pericles moved the treasury holding the paid tax contributions, from the island of Delos to Athens, the rest of the Greeks defied. The resistance against dominance by Athens resulted in the Peloponnesian Wars and finally in the defeat and surrender of Athens in 404 BCE. Can Athens ensure a different outcome now?

Already under the Ottoman empire the Greeks resisted taxation, which was a symbol of oppression. From the fifteenth century they suffered heavy taxation by the Ottomans. As Christians under Islamic rule they were obliged to pay a land tax and the jizya, a tax for non-Muslims which was symbolic for subjection to the Ottoman rule. Heavy taxation reduced most Greeks to subsistence farming, while large estates fell into the hands of Ottoman nobles. Resentment against such taxation accumulated over almost five hundred years of occupation. The problems of modern Greece cannot be understood without understanding this Ottoman occupation of Greece and the long struggle for independence that lasted over a century, only ending bitterly for the Greeks in the disastrous defeat of 1922 against the forces of Atatürk's modern Turkish state. The 1922 defeat meant an end to the Greek megali idea or great idea of ​​a larger Greece that included Asia Minor and Constantinople, current day Istanbul. This defeat of the Greek state in Asia Minor was a failure by the central state with traumatic consequences.

The Museum for the Macedonian Struggle in Thessaloniki is a very small museum but with a deeply significant meaning for Greeks. In a corner mansion behind Aristotle Square, it showcases the history of the Macedonian Struggle, the guerrilla war against the Ottomans from 1900 to 1908, which annexed the Greek populace in Macedonia to the independent Greek territory. In 1821 the Greeks had won independence but it did not extend far beyond the Peloponnesos and Attica. The annexation of Macedonia gave the Greek state a renewed confidence that defined the Greek national identity and placed a claim on all territory in the greater region with the Greek populations.

One room in the museum is devoted to Pavlos Melas who fought in the Macedonian Struggle. Behind a vitrine lay on view relics of Melas and part of his former personal belongings, a Smith and Wesson 38 revolver, an invitation card to his wedding, ribbons from his memorial wreaths, and a tin cup. He is a national symbol for the enosi or union of Greece that was hard fought and thus of the Greek national identity. He is the embodiment of the traditional Greek folk hero, the palikare. As a lieutenant he left the regular service in the new army of the Greek state in order to fight as a brigand or irregular fighter against Ottoman occupation in Northern Greece. Greece was confined largely to the Peloponnese and consisted of a patchwork of people with different dialects. The irregular fighters became folk heroes to the Greeks, where the regular Greek army seemed incapable to protect the occupied Greeks in the north.

The irregular fighters fought in the same tradition as the Greek Klepths. These men had fled to the mountains in the eighteenth century to avoid the rule of the Ottomans and had formed bands of outlaws that later fought in the Greek War of Independence from 1821 to 1829. But also the Ottomans had used irregular forces to control impenetrable mountain areas. They allowed powerful local captains in these lawless areas to rule at will under oversight of distant Ottoman overlords. Even in our time, the use of irregular fighters was widespread during the recent Balkan Wars.

The palikare was in essence not more than a small brigand, who in groups roamed the mountains under the banner of irredentism and liberation of the Greeks. They evaded the rule of law and depended often on captains that exercised local power. The Greek national writer, Nikos Kazantzakis, describes this archetype colorful in his novels. In Freedom and Death the palikare Captain Michales refuses to swallow the occupation of Crete by the Turks, and the unruly Zorba is described in the novel Zorba the Greek, brilliantly enacted by Anthony Quinn in the 1964 film. The mountain freedom fighter, evading authority and growing a beard in defiance, this is the Greek traditional spirit.

The palikare is a symbol of the current Greek financial crisis, reflected in a popular sentiment that rejects the centralized modern state and commends the outlaw. The Greeks do not identify with the politics of central government, despite the fact that one out of every four Greeks is a public servant and is directly dependent on the government for their income. The central government is considered wasteful and corrupt, from which it is justified to extort money. While the citizen rejects subjection to the rule of the central state, the central state is a corrupt body that accommodates a game of lies in order to accumulate monetary gain.

The Greeks cunningly receive an income from government, while evading taxes and participating in the informal economy, defrauding the central state. This lack of loyalty extends to the even more more remote European Union. Greeks gladly accept the EU subsidies paying lip services to its demands, but resent any interference in their lives. This practice goes back to the times of the Ottoman state, where Greek subjects evaded being taxed but sent representatives to Constantinople to request fiscal favors. While Ottoman rule had instituted local self-governance as the means for tax-assessment and tax-collection, the system developed local councils that were dominated by powerful local captains and wealthy families with a patron-client dependence.

Since its independence in 1821 the modern Greek state that emerged out of the Ottoman system has not been able to eradicate this local patron-client system which depends on counter dealings and favoritism. On the contrary, it could only emerge and survive by favoring such interests of the powerful local patrons or captains in return for their support, in a similar process as the centralized power of the European Union only is advanced by returning political favors.

Prime-minister George Papandreou understands the Atlantic European perspective and sensitivities. Like many Greeks who worked in Germany or America for the best part of their lives, he lived and studied in America and in Sweden during the formative years in his life. But although George Papandreou calms European suspicions by vocalizing a firm though nothing but verbal promise of reform, he himself is a vested representative of those powerful families that are symbolic of the centuries-old formalized corruption. Papandreou's grandfather was three times prime-minister of Greece, his father founded the social-democratic party PASOK and also served as prime-minister, while the Nea Democratia party has been dominated by the patrons of the Karamanlis family.

Greek promises and measures of reform have pacified international markets and appeased European political leaders for the time being. Since Greece's accession to the EU, however, Greek promises and assurances have been provided continuously under very similar scandals, and there have been little assurance from recent developments in Greece that this time will be different. The cotton-growers of Thessaly are perhaps exemplary for the problems of the Greek economy which is simply not compatible on the international market and for Greek fraud. Cotton growers depend heavily on subsidies for profitability, not shunning fraud and corruption, like wetting the cotton crop with water to increase the weight of the cotton. In 1992, for instance Greek farmers invented one fifth of its cotton crop in order to claim extra EU subsidies, and in Greece cotton farmers recently blocked most of the highways in Northern Greece, demanding payments from the government to offset loss of income from falling cotton Prices on the international markets, while having resisted agricultural reforms for decades.

And even while prime-minister George Papandreou was on a credibility-building tour around European capitals, among other speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos to calm unrest on the financial markets and restore political credibility, his own Minister of Agriculture Katerina Batzeli reached an agreement with protesting farmers to provide financial compensation. Among the key measures was the injection of five and a half billion Euro by the Greek state to boost incomes and liquidity, promising little change in policies at home. And ask a Greek for an analysis of the current crisis, they will without exception point at the corruption of remote politicians, only admitting to some blame themselves in a delayed sub-clause.

But Europe has always been blinded by its love for Greece and one must fear that this will not change overnight. It has always admired Greece as the ideological and cultural foundation of European values. We learn from Greece the principles of Athenian democracy and copy Greek architecture, our secular thinkers study Heraclitus and Parmenides, our Christian moralists study Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, we learn the mathematics of Pythagoras, Euclid and Archimedes, our intellectuals learn by heart the Iliad and the Odyssey, even European cynics and stoics cling to the Greek. But this impression of Greece is overly romantic and Byronic, and one must hope that it is soon replaced by a more northern sense for Real-Politics.

The Philhellenic idea of ​​a pastoral Greece in perfect harmony with nature disputes the complex reality of a twenty first century Greece. The sentiment of betrayal felt in Europe is as much a self-betrayal by a European Byronic complex. As Greece struggles to reconcile Western austerity with its Orthodox Byzantine generosity.

So, the Greek suitors have feasted and the time for reckoning has come. The return of order must be considered without sentimental attachments or unreasonable demands, while Europe must not be blinded by Greek cunning and abuse. The Greeks must decide to either be part of Europe and respect its fiscal rules or return to the Drachma as a political currency and loose its place at the European table.

"I detest that man, who hides one thing in the depths of his heart, and speaks forth another." – Homer, Iliad IX, 312-13

Source by Remko Caprio

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