Understanding Block Chain Technology – How It Will Change the Future

In November 2008, an anonymous author using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto issued the white paper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” which outlined “a system for electronic transactions without relying on trust.” This system, known as blockchain, became the basis for the world’s first widely accepted cryptocurrency, bitcoin. It’s also a foundational technology that has the possibility to impact society as dramatically as the invention of the Internet itself.
Don Tapscott, author of “Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World,” claimed in an interview with McKinsey & Company that blockchain is “an immutable, unhackable distributed database… a platform for truth… a platform for trust.” An unapologetic, enthusiastic supporter of blockchain, he adds, “I’ve never seen a technology that I thought had a greater potential for humanity.”
Is the hype around blockchain justified? Let’s take a look.

The Dangers of Digital Transactions

Mutual trust is the basis for business transactions. Yet as society has grown more complex, our ability to trust another party — especially if they’re unknown and halfway around the world — has decreased. As a result, organizations develop elaborate systems of policies, procedures, and processes to overcome the natural distrust arising from the uncertainties of distance, anonymity, human error, and intentional fraud.
At the heart of this distrust is the possibility of a “double spend,” or one party using the same asset twice, particularly when the assets being exchanged are digital. When exchanging physical assets, the transaction can only occur at one time in one place (unless forgery is involved). In contrast, a digital transaction is not a physical transfer of data, but the copying of data from one party to another. If there are two digital copies of something for which there should be only one, problems arise. For example, only one deed of the ownership of a house should be applicable at a time; if there are two seemingly identical copies, two or more parties could claim ownership of the same asset.
Unfortunately, the systems and intermediaries required to ensure, document, and record business transactions have not kept pace with the technological changes of a digital world, according to Harvard Business Review.
Consider a typical stock transaction. While the trade — one party agreeing to buy and another party agreeing to sell — can be executed in microseconds, often without human input, the actual transfer of ownership (the settlement process) can take up to a week to complete. Since a buyer can’t easily or quickly verify that a seller has the securities the buyer has purchased, nor can a seller be confident that a buyer has the funds to pay for that purchase, third-party intermediaries are required as guarantors to ensure that each party to a trade performs as contracted. Unfortunately, these intermediaries often add another layer of complexity, increase costs, and extend the time it takes to complete the transaction.
Our existing systems are also vulnerable to intentional attempts to steal data and the assets they represent. International Data Corporation reports that businesses spent more than $73 billion for cybersecurity in 2016 and are projected to exceed $100 billion by 2020. These numbers don’t include security expenses for non-businesses or governments, the cost of wasted time and duplicated efforts due to data breaches, or the expense of any remedies to those affected.
Blockchain technology presents a remedy for these issues that could significantly alter the way we do business in the future.

How Blockchain Technology Works

Understanding blockchain requires an understanding of “ledgers” and how they’re used. A ledger is a database that contains a list of all completed and cleared transactions involving a particular cryptocurrency, as well as the current balance of each account that holds that cryptocurrency. Unlike accounting systems that initially record transactions in a journal and then post them to individual accounts in the ledger, blockchain requires validation of each transaction before entering it into the ledger. This validation ensures that each transaction meets the defined protocols.
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Flying on a Private Jet – Advantages and Costs

Taking a commercial flight today is “the equivalent of traveling via Greyhound bus in the 1970s,” according to Victoria Person-Goral, one of USA Today’s panel of frequent travelers.
It’s not hard to see why she says this. Today’s flight passengers are herded through slow-moving security checks that require the removal of shoes and jackets, as well as being subject to an invasive X-ray. Complain too loudly, and you may be placed on the Federal Government’s No Fly List or charged with a civil fine.
When you finally board the plane, you discover your assigned seat is between two strangers, one who keeps sniffling and another whose elbow continually trespasses into your space. There’s no room in the overhead bins for your carry-on. To add your misery, the child behind you spends the entire flight kicking the back of your seat. If you’re really unlucky, you discover on landing that your checked bags are on a different plane headed to the other side of the continent.
Fortunately, there is a better way to fly, and it’s not as expensive as you might think.

The History of Private Planes

The Piper J-3 Cub was one of the first airplanes designed for personal use. It sold for just under $1,000 in 1939 and became synonymous with the term “tail-dragger.” In the early years of flight, all planes were designed with a wheel under each wing and another under the tail, hence the name tail-dragger. This design was subsequently modified to simplify ground travel, takeoffs, and landings by moving the third wheel from the tail to the nose of the plane in a tricycle configuration. The Piper Cub carried one passenger and flew at a maximum airspeed of 74 mph. More than 20,000 Cubs were purchased by aspiring pilots, and many of these planes are still flying today thanks to committed hobbyists.
The personal aircraft market took off after World War II, with Piper, Cessna, and Beech offering multi-passenger, propeller-driven aircraft that could cruise at more than 100 mph. These light planes could utilize very short runways made of pavement or level pasture. The years between 1960 and 1980 were known as the “Golden Age of Flying” as small and large businesses used airplanes as a substitute for automobiles, trains, and commercial airlines.
Today, there are 14,485 private airports in the United States, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – nearly three times the amount of public airports (5,116). There are almost 175,000 FAA-certified private pilots. According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), more than 200,000 private planes were active in the U.S. in 2016, including almost 128,000 single-engine, piston-driven models. Pilots spent more than 24 million hours in flight that year, averaging 135 hours per plane. The average age of private pilots was 44.8 years, with most student pilots learning to fly in their early 30s.

My Experience as a Plane Owner & Pilot

I know from experience how rewarding private aviation can be.
In the 1980s, my company had subsidiary operations in small towns from New Mexico to Mississippi. The officers, including myself, visited each site monthly, so every week someone was on the road. Commercial airlines didn’t serve the small communities where our facilities were located, so we had to rent a car and drive several hours to and from our plants and larger airports. Missing a flight led to an overnight motel stay, wasting time and money.
In the summer of 1984, two of the traveling executives and I purchased a used 1969 Cessna 210 airplane. The plane had room to carry four to six people with luggage with a load limit of 1,012 pounds. The Cessna cruised at over 200 mph and utilized the short runways common to our sites.
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is the U.S. Tax System Fair?

“Congress, Congress! Don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree.” This 1930s ditty reflects the sentiments of most Americans today as Congress once again tries to simplify and reform the 74,608-page Federal Tax Code and Federal taxes. Their task is particularly challenging since about 40% of citizens feel that they pay more than their fair share, according to Pew Research. The groups that don’t pay enough include corporations (80% agree), wealthy people (78% agree), and poor people (40% agree).
Overall, 56% of Americans feel that the existing system is either not too fair or not fair at all. But how exactly does the Federal tax system work? Is it truly unfair?

Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Taxes and Fairness

To answer the question “Is the U.S. tax system fair?” we must first explore:

  1. The Necessity of Taxes. The American colonists’ complaint of “no taxation without representation” was misleading. According to historian Richard T. Ely, “One of the things against which our forefathers in England and the American colonies contended was not against oppressive taxation, but against the payment of taxes at all.” For decades, the American government relied on excise taxes, tariffs, customs duties, and public land sales. Are income taxes necessary?

  3. Our Current Tax System. What taxes do Americans pay? According to one blog, Americans pay 97 different taxes each year. We pay taxes on the income we earn, the property we own, and the goods and services we buy. The government taxes gifts we make to others, assets we leave to our families, bad habits in which we indulge, and ill-gotten criminal gains. Who are the winners and losers of America’s existing tax system?

  5. The Difference Between Statutory and Effective Tax Rates. Misperceptions complicate understanding and agreement – especially those surrounding the Federal tax system. A 2017 poll found about a third of Americans claim to understand a “fair” or a “great deal” about U.S. tax policies but are unable to reach agreement on basic facts, such as whether the average Federal income tax rate is higher or lower than other Western democracies. This lack of understanding fosters disagreement about policy and complicates reform efforts.

  7. The Definition of Fairness. John Stuart Mill, in his “Principles of Political Economy,” wrote, “If anyone bears less than his fair share of the burden, some other person must suffer more than his share, and the alleviation to the one is not, on the average, so great a good to him as the increased pressure upon the other is an evil. Equality of taxation, therefore, as a maxim of politics, means equality of sacrifice.” Should taxes be proportional or progressive? Are they solely a revenue source or a method of social justice and income redistribution?

The complexity of the tax code, the machinations of those with special interests, and the sheer scope of administering, paying, and collecting taxes promotes misunderstandings, myths, and even malevolence about the role of taxes in society and the character of those charged with their administration.
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Turning Point – Free Trade or Protectionism

free tradeThe debate about free trade versus protective tariffs (taxes) has raged for centuries. However, it has become especially virulent as industrialized countries lose an increasing amount of jobs to emerging nations. Free traders, worried about the possibility of new tariffs to protect native industries, predict a trade apocalypse. Reported by TIME, Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, claimed, “If we start to trigger a round of protectionism, as you saw in the 1930s, it could deepen the world crisis.”
Proponents of free trade – including many economists – claim that the benefits of lower prices far outweigh the costs of lower incomes and displaced workers. Professor of Economics Alan Binder, writing in the Library of Economics and Liberty, claims that a country’s wage level depends not upon its trade policy, but its productivity: “As long as American workers remain more skilled and better educated, work with more capital, and use superior technology, they will continue to earn higher wages than their Chinese counterparts.”
Opponents of free trade disagree. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has consistently voted against trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He argues that trade agreements have encouraged corporations that seek low-income labor and fewer regulations to close factories and ship jobs overseas. According to the senator on Fox News, “Over the years, we [America] have lost millions of decent-paying jobs. These trade agreements have forced wages down in America so the average worker in America today is working longer hours for lower wages.”
Understanding the history of tariffs and free trade, especially in the United States, is necessary to evaluate the effects of NAFTA and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Two other major trade agreements are also being discussed – The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the China Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) – which could have global ramifications as well.

Tariffs and Free Trade in the 20th Century

By the end of World War I, advocates of high tariffs recognized that tariffs weren’t the most important source of government revenues and so adopted an alternative argument. There was the widespread belief that tariffs benefited the wealthy while raising the cost of goods for other Americans. As a consequence, protectionists justified tariffs primarily as a way to promote employment for citizens of their country. This argument coincided with a growing concern that inexpensive foreign goods would destroy domestic manufacturers and lead to widespread unemployment.
After World War I, economic nationalism and protectionism dominated world trade with countries creating new taxes on foreign goods to protect native industries and maintain full employment of their citizens. As the global economy shrank, countries retreated behind the new tariffs and trade blocks to protect native industries until after World War II.
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