U2 Nashville

This was the setlist from U2’s concert in Nashville in July 2011.  Having seen U2 various times since 1985, I would say this was one of the best shows I have been to see.  The opening act was previously unknown to me but Florence and the Machine killed it (in a good way).

It was a hot Tennessee night and the stadium at Vanderbilt was not the greatest venue but the band was worth the sweat and horrible parking.  Note to Vanderbilt Campus Police: Really? Was the number of cars trying to exit the campus a surprise? It was a horrible traffic plan, if there was one.

Main Set: Even Better Than The Real Thing, The Fly, Mysterious Ways, Until the End of the World, I Will Follow, Get On Your Boots, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – The Wanderer, Stay, Beautiful Day – Space Oddity, Elevation, Pride, Miss Sarajevo, Zooropa, City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I’ll Go Crazy (remix) – Discotheque – Psycho Killer – Life During Wartime, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Scarlet, Walk On – You’ll Never Walk Alone

Encore(s): One, Amazing Grace – Where the Streets Have No Name, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me, With or Without You, Moment of Surrender, All I Want Is You

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Higher Taxes Benefit the Economy

Taxes are an important part of how a government receives money in order to operate. Taxes are unique because, unlike other payments made by households and firms for goods and service, they are defined as “an involuntary payment of money (or goods and services) to a government by a household or firm for which the household or firm receives no good or service directly in return” (Brue, McConnell, & Flynn, 2010, p. 483). Taxes have a huge impact on how the economy operates in every nation. Lowering taxes can have some benefits but higher taxes give the most benefit to the economy.

Taxes are the foundation of government funding. Excluding social insurance premiums “income taxes— personal and corporate— account for seven out of every eight federal tax dollars. Individual income taxes alone provide nearly three-fourths of federal tax revenue” (Becker, 2002, p. 127). It is obvious that taxes will be a part of government regardless of ideology or political party. The question that faces governments today is how high should tax rates be allowed to climb.

Regardless of the type of tax those being taxed will find ways to work within any government imposed rate as explained in The Encyclopedia of Public Choice:

“Individual taxpayers will respond to tax rates by adjusting their activities so as to reduce their tax liability, with such adjustments being quite unrelated to the consumption of publicly provided goods. If an income tax is levied, for example, taxpayers may reduce work effort and consume more leisure, in order to maximize utility in the face of such taxation. This results in a reduction of economic welfare in comparison to a situation where payment for the same public output elicits no such trade-off or evasive adjustment. The size of this loss — the excess burden or deadweight cost of taxation — is used in the literature as a measure of the inefficiency created by a particular tax” (The political economy, 2010, n.p.).

When a government chooses to lower taxes it is usually in response to an economic downturn. Governments choose to use lower taxes as a stimulus for the economy. “The fiscal response to a recession is partly automatic (lower revenues and higher transfers as the economy shrinks) and partly discretionary (lower tax rates, infrastructure projects, extra help for states and so on)” (Column, 2011, n.p.). An automatic response to an economic downturn or recession is to lower taxes because it is viewed by politicians as what they should do to encourage recovery in the economy. The real benefit of their action of lowering taxes is not based on economic mechanics but encouraging faith in the strength of the system.

When taxes are lowered the effect on several parts of the economy are positive. Government spending is typically lower when taxes are lowered which can stimulate real growth in industry by its filling the void of what may have been spent by the government. Personal net income is positively affected by lower taxes when all other factors remain the same. If personal income remains the same and the tax rate on that income is lowered, the net amount taken home is increased.

Lower taxes encourage broader personal investment since there is more net income available to personal households. During the early 1980’s tax rates were lowered for those that had the ability to invest in the economy. The lower tax burden on investors had an immediate and clear result:

“The simplest and most direct interpretation of the evidence developed in the present paper is that net fixed nonresidential investment increased substantially in the first half of the 1980s as a result of the improved tax climate for investment that resulted from the 1981 tax legislation and from the reduced rate of inflation. The ratio of net fixed nonresidential investment to GNP rose from 0.027 in the second half of the 1970s and 0.030 in 1980 to 0.037 in 1984 and 0.040 in the first 3 quarters of 1985. The investment-GNP ratio for these 2 years was exceeded in only 5 years in the preceding 3 decades” (Feldstein, 2009, p. 114).

When a government chooses to raise taxes it is usually in response to a budget shortfall or spending increase. Governments have limited means of raising operating capital to satisfy monetary needs so they have a need for taxes. Politicians are constantly balancing between the need to generate revenue through taxes and their constituencies calling for lower taxes. Fiscal policy is controlled in the United States by elected officials which means they are always seeking to do what is best politically first and then what is economically best second.

When taxes are raised the effect on several parts of the economy are positive. Government spending is typically higher when taxes are raised which can stimulate government related growth and encourage private industry to match the spending pattern of the government. Personal net income can be positively affected by higher taxes although when all other factors remain the same personal net income will decline. If personal income remains the same and the tax rate on that income is raised, the net amount taken home is decreased therefore higher tax rates typically encourage households to increase the amount of income being made by the household.

One possible danger however of higher tax rates is that many will be forced to increase the amount of income coming into the house but may do so in a way that circumvents the tax system. When increases in tax rates force workers to avoid the tax system they may be forced into the underground economy. The underground economy creates challenges for governments since this culture fails to induce “people to work less and take more leisure, high taxes on labor income may motivate workers to go ‘‘underground’’ to work in the informal economy where taxes are evaded. Measuring the size of the underground economy is obviously difficult, but existing empirical studies suggest that it accounts for a significant share of total economic activity even in the most developed OECD countries” (Agell & Sorenson, 2006, p. 16).

Not only are taxes an important component for governments to raise revenue but are also used to control growth. The goal of fiscal policy is for the Gross Domestic Product to increase at all times. When the GDP is contracting or growth is slowed lowering taxes can encourage more growth. When the GDP is growing and inflation is increasing higher taxes may cause the slowed growth of the GDP.

Governments have long experimented with equalizing wealth among citizens. Political ideologies such as communism and socialism seek to limit personal wealth and distribute personal needs equally among the population. There are many pitfalls that occur when governments try to redistribute wealth among their citizens. “Many economists, at least since Adam Smith, have argued that taxes should not be used for nonrevenue purposes because these uses affect the distribution of tax burdens in complex ways and distort economic behavior in general. Nevertheless, most governments have always used taxes for nonrevenue purposes” (Einhorn, 2008, p. 19). Governments should not use fiscal or monetary policies to solve, or attempt to solve political or social issues.

Taxes are an important part of how a government receives money in order to operate. Taxes are doubtless going to be a part of government for as long as there is a monetary system. There has to be a policy in place to decide how high or low taxes should be to encourage economic growth. Lowering taxes can have some benefits but higher taxes give the most benefit to the economy by encouraging increased household income and stimulating governmental spending.

References

Agell, Jonas (Editor); Sørensen, Peter Birch (Editor). Tax Policy and Labor Market Performance. (2006) Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ashford/Doc?id=10173621&ppg=17

Becker, Patricia C.(2002). Bernan Press Staff. Statistical Portrait of the United States: Social Conditions and Trends (2nd Edition)

Brue, S. L., McConnell, C. R., & Flynn, S. M. (2010). Essentials of economics (2nd ed.). New York, New York: McGraw-Hill Primis Custom Publishing.

Column: A fiscal policy fit for the next crisis. (2011, June 27). Financial Express, retrieved July 31, 2011, from Banking Information Source. (Document ID: 2385525431).

Einhorn, Robin L.. (2008). American Taxation, American Slavery. Chicago, IL, USA: University of Chicago Press. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ashford/Doc?id=10265931&ppg=19

Feldstein, Martin. Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation. (2009). Chicago, IL, USA: University of Chicago Press. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ashford/Doc?id=10288679&ppg=114

“The Political Economy of Taxation: Positive and Normative Analysis When Collective Choice Matters.” The Encyclopedia of Public Choice. (2004). Dordrecht: Springer Science Business Media. Credo Reference. 3 Feb. 2010. Web. 1 Aug. 2011.

Back to School

I am attending college.  That is not a unique statement, except that it is being made by someone who was discouraged from attending school from an early age and who was never a star pupil.  I always thought of going back to school but never found the time, or never really thought I needed the validation of a degree.  I was wrong.

I am now enrolled in a degree program at Ashford University.  I am learning new facts, I am relearning things that have faded after twenty years, and unlearning erroneous information picked up over the years.

I will begin posting updates so that I can chronicle my journey.

The Voices in Our Heads

Something happened to me today that reminded me why we need to understand the voices all of us have in our heads. I received instructions last week about a project I am working on. In the email were specific instructions about part of the project that had to be completed within 48 hours. Somehow I missed those instructions. The task did get completed but on Monday, but not in the mandated time frame.

I was sending an email back to the person responsible for the project early this morning and reread her email and noticed what I had missed earlier. Needless to say the voices in my head woke up at that point and started yelling, pointing out how badly I had done and convincing me that I had surely blown this opportunity. For the next two hours I allowed my inner voices to punish me. When I finally spoke to the project coordinator she said what she meant was 48 business hours and that it was no problem. Although relieved, it made me think about peoples internal motivations, the voices in their heads.

Often we deal with customers that want things or say things that make little sense to us. This morning reminded me that we all live inside our own heads and that the interactions we have with people are our attempt to share our internal voices. Some people are better at translating that internal voice than others. But to be professional when we are dealing with people we have to be the best at hearing what the other persons internal voices are trying to say. Always identify not only what your customer is saying out loud but also become skilled in what they are not saying, or are saying internally.

During my internal argument I was not at my best handling the other things going on at work. Occasionally we may have a teammate who is usually on point, ready to tackle the next challenge, who all of a sudden seems flat and distracted. As a team manager or fellow teammate we should be careful to identify the problem before wading in with advice or criticism, they may be in a deep discussion with their internal voices and may or may not need your help.

Acknowleging your own internal voice is difficult. Far too often people simply internalize their feelings or ignore what, deep inside they know to be true. The opposite is to listen so much to the voices that you fail to hear the outside world of logic and reason. So the key is to have a balance, listen to the voices, but decide if they are saying something you should pay attention to or something to ignore. The ability to know that difference will change the course of your life.

You Cant Teach Talent, You Cant Learn It Either

Each of us has a talent.  Few properly identify their talent.  Fewer still correctly use that talent in their lives.  Those that do can soar with the eagles.
 
From this idea, I learned that you cannot teach talent.  As a manager I often believed that I could take anyone that was ambitious enough and make them into a great salesperson.  I knew how to train them effectively, how to coach for success, how to build a team, so I was convinced I could make everyone around me acheive greatness.  The truth, however, was that I could make better salespeople, but unless there was some underlying talent, I could not make them into great salespeople.
 
Coaches in most sports know that there are players on their teams that have more talent than others.  Having the most talent on a team does not ensure greatness; this is why coaches continue to make all their players practice constantly.  Talent without honing the required skills for success is merely wasted talent.
 
Skills are essential to learn, regardless of a person’s level of talent.  As opposed to talent, skills can be taught.  As a manager I learned that I had to focus on teaching skills, not talent.
 
The first step is to identify the talents that you need to make a successful team and go recruit them.  Secondly, you must be involved in the hiring process; not being involved creates a handicap in your management potential.  If this is not possible, your recruiter should understand what talent is needed to complete your team.  Once you have gathered the talent you need, practice and drill the essential skills each team member needs to fulfill his potential.
 
Understand one thing, not all talented people have the desire necessary to acheive greatness.  Sometimes it is necessary to cut a team member, even a talented one, if they are not executing the skills you have taught them.  Remember, too, that most people don’t recognize their own talents,  You must be the expert and provide the mirror for them to see their potential.
 
Never believe what someone tells you during an interview regarding their intrinsic talents.  Devise your own style of identifying the characteristics of the talent you are seeking.

*Thanks to my new editor, Michelle Moravec, she is the Booklady!

It Is All About Perspective

Perspective is one of the strongest words in the English language, yet most people do not understand how it exerts it’s force in their lives. Every day that we interact with people we must involve ourselves with perspective.

A basic illustration of how we must adjust to perspective is when giving directions to two people coming from different parts of town. If we give them both the same set of directions we may get them both to the destination but likely only one person will find the destination. The same is true of motivating employees.

Each employee we hire and manage is coming from a different life location. Some employees are coming from a place where motivation should be based on competition while others are better motivated by nurturing. It is our job as managers to recognize what motivates each member of our team and use that information to get the most from each team member.

As salespeople it is our job to understand perspective and how it relates to each customer we interact with. Often we believe that because a particular word track worked once it should work each time we face a particular objection. It may, if those customers all have the same perspective, all coming from the same life location. That is often where we fail, we assume customers have the same perspective on the situation as we do. Spend time with customers early in the sales process not only identifying needs but also focusing in on perspective. Ask yourself regarding each customer you deal with if you really understand not only the needs they have but also why those needs are there, what is their life location? Only by doing this can you expect to understand why customers and employees react the way they do.

Abort, Retry, Fail, What Would DOS Do?

Is it possible we learned everything we needed to know about life from DOS (for people under 20 look up DOS in wikipedia)? When DOS came to a error it couldn’t handle it would display an error, “Abort, Retry, Fail?” What worked for DOS can work for life.

Presented with a problem we are faced with choices, we can give up trying or Abort, we can keep trying or Retry, or we can proceed without solving the problem or Fail.

The decision to Abort, or give up trying, is the easiest of the choices we can make when faced with a decision. It is the natural choice when there are no external factors involved. The next natural response to a problem we can’t solve is to ignore, or Fail.

The overall process may be able to continue without obtaining the solution to a specific part of the problem. With this choice however, we are pushing ahead without all the necessary information, often in the wrong direction. The natural progression of problem solving goes from Retry to Fail. The more we extend past this sequence, the more sucessful we will be.

External factors often force us to continue on, for instance hunger will force an animal to continue chasing prey even after several failed attempts. What we must do is create internal motivation that moves us on past failures just like that hunger that drives animals past the natural first and second options.

Part of our motivation to continue hitting the Retry key has to come from an internal drive to succeed. We must have the realization that our instinct may be to accept the failure but greatness only comes when we push past the initial failure, regardless of the number of attempts it takes.

DOS taught us there were three choices when an error was encountered, success teaches us there is only one acceptable choice, the choice to continue hitting the Retry key until we get it right.