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Monday, August 31, 2015

Introverts Are Cool

10 Reasons Why Introverts Are Incredibly Attractive People

By David K. William
Lifehacker

Introverts are often thought of as shy, aloof, disinterested and “stuck up” because they keep a low profile. But that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Think of James Bond for a moment.

Bond doesn’t always wear his emotions on his sleeve or on his face. He is quiet, pensive, confident and driven. Do you think his demeanor makes him more or less attractive? His style makes him more attractive.

Similarly, introverts don’t center themselves as the life of the party, but they are among the most incredibly attractive and fascinating people youll ever meet. Here’s why:

1. They are mysterious.

Introverts have an mysterious aura about them. People want to know what they are thinking, but will never know all of it. This makes introverts incredibly fascinating and intimidating at the same time. It is no wonder that they are so extremely misunderstood by the more outgoing and vocal people in our society.

2. They are easy to be around.

It might surprise you, but introverts are some of the nicest and friendliest people youll ever meet. They are naturally chilled out, relaxed and loving. In a world that is always in a rush and that can’t stop talking and clamoring for the limelight, the introverts cool and laid-back nature is extremely appealing. It is true that introverts are drained by crowds, but they thrive in small groups and one-on-one interactions.

3. They are dreamers.

Despite what you may have heard, dreaming is anything but a waste of time. Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman and colleagues explain that A MIND THAT WONDERS aids in the process of “creative incubation.” You may already know from experience that our best ideas come seemingly out of the blue when our minds are elsewhere.

Introverted people get lost in their minds often and come out of them with refreshing and wonderful ideas. When you are with them you are fascinated and feel like a part of the magic because of the way they treat you and let you in on intriguing, new possibilities.

4. They are good listeners.

It seems everyone in our extroverted world today is preoccupied with themselves and whatԒs on their own mind. Every day is like a shouting contest where everyone wants to speak and no one wants to listen. So, when someone shows an interest in another and is willing to listen, its a huge attractor. Introverts listen more than they speak. They listen with the view to understand and not merely to reply. And that is incredibly rare and special. It boosts stronger connections and healthier relationships.

5. They are intrinsically motivated.

As inwardly-oriented people, introverts tend to be intrinsically motivated. That means they are motivated to act by deeper, internal convictions rather than shallow, external motivations like reward and recognition.

They know who they are, what they want and what matters in their life. And that is why they are the ones most likely to pursue their true passions despite the risks and inconveniences involved. Anyone who is self-driven, motivated by higher values and passionate is undeniably attractive and inspiring.

6. They are observant.

Introverts see things others often miss or donҒt see. The world is an introverts wonderland with possibilities everywhere. They are constantly taking in information in their quiet state and using it as fodder for creative expression. When you are with an introvert, nothing is lost. And it often seems like the introverted person always knows what you want even when you havenҒt spelt it out, which is brilliant and endearing.

7. They are mindful of what they say.

Nothing makes you look stupid and unattractive faster than saying inappropriate things because you rushed to speak and did not take time to consider your words. Introverts dont speak out of turn. In fact, they wonҒt speak at all unless they have something important to say. And when they do speak, they say just enough to pique your interest and leave you wanting more. The more they speak the more fascinated you become and the more you want to hear them speak.

8. They are creative, out-of-the box thinkers.

According to studies by the psychologists MILHALY CSIKSZENTMILALYI and Gregory Feist, the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted. Thats largely because solitude is a key ingredient for creative success. Introverts have no fear of being alone. They actually cherish privacy and freedom from interruption. In the state of solitude, introverts get in touch with their inner monologue, ask the right questions and flex their creative muscles.

That natural tendency to embrace solitude, focus deeply on a subject, think and act creatively makes introverts, past and present, gloriously remarkable and attractive people.

9. They are studious and smart.

Introverts are naturally drawn to reading and study. They enjoy learning and figuring out new things for themselves. And while they might be dubbed book worms, they are smart. And a smart person is sexy and attractive. You are better off spending time with someone whoҒs knowledgeable and eagerly interested in learning more, than someone who is ignorant and disinterested.

10. They are intellectually stimulating.

Because introverts are studious and self-reflective, their conversations are intellectually stimulating. They know all kinds of things to share with others. And there is something magical and beautiful about someone who lights up and is energized by meaningful, intelligent conversations.

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10 Things Only Outgoing Introverts Would Understand

By Robert Locke
Lifehacker

Introvert or extrovert? Think of it as a spectrum where you will rarely be at one end or the other. Most people, researchers say, tend to be somewhere in the middle. They are called ambiverts. Outgoing introverts are certainly in that position but people rarely understand this and expect people to be either one or the other. The outgoing introvert knows this only too well. Here are 10 things that they will resonate with because life is not so simple.

1. They feel that extroversion is overdone in our society.

They may have done group work at school and team work when employed, but they feel that quieter time for reflection and the ability to work by themselves should be more valued in the workplace. They cannot always work in a group or together.

2. They can be the life and soul of the party.

Outgoing introverts can be chatty, exuberant, funny and great company at a party. They will be completely drained afterwards and may not want to see anyone for a few hours or days!

3. They can make excellent sales persons.

Tradition has it that an extrovert is the ideal person to clinch the sale, but the outgoing introvert has a lot going for them in the sales world it seems. They know when they should keep quiet and when they should push. They are also pretty good at tuning into a clients needs and
preferences.

4. They do not enjoy proms.

Being forced to take part in certain rites of passage such as proms is a real turn off for many outgoing introverts. They would much prefer to stay at home and read a book.

5. They prefer social media.

Social media has helped many an outgoing introvert to cope with all the shenanigans. It is sufficiently social while allowing for quiet downtime with no chatty interruptions. They do not have to move too far from their comfort zone. ItҒs an ideal combination acting social and being alone!

6. They prefer to be left alone sometimes.

This sometimes causes upset when they start to date. They can be chatty and great company but then they may seem to withdraw into themselves because they do not answer texts or calls. The fact is that their social batteries need recharging and this has to be done alone.

7. They don’t use their phones all the time.

One thing you notice about these introverts is that they are deeply focused and they cannot flit from one chatty remark to a text or a phone call. Listening and talking are just not compatible with their deep thinking and concentration.

8. They pick and choose their social events.

Going out may mean a lot of small talk and that can be pretty meaningless. Yes, they enjoy company and social outings but you can bet that they will be pretty choosy when doing so. Other social occasions are sometimes risky and tricky for them. They may go with the flow or they may appear withdrawn.

9. They value their introversion highly.

Silence and moments of quiet are often regarded negatively. Yet, these qualities have led to great discoveries and advanced our civilization for centuries. The outgoing introvert regards his introversion as a great strength and is perfectly content to be that way. They get very angry when people start to imply that there is something wrong with them!

10. They find it hard to adapt.

Problems arise when they are expected to be outgoing all the time and perform as if they were circus clowns. They have to do this to get a job, make friends or network. They know what society demands and expects. It is not always easy to switch on extroversion like a light.

Its great being an outgoing introvert but wouldn’t it be wonderful if people understood them a bit more?

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Posted by Elvis on 08/31/15 •
Section Personal
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Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Prescription for Peace and Prosperity

By Paul Craig Roberts
August 8 2015

The question is often asked: What can we do?” Here is a prescription for peace and prosperity.

We will begin with prosperity, because prosperity can contribute to peace. Sometimes governments begin wars in order to distract from unpromising economic prospects, and internal political stability can also be dependent on prosperity.

The Road to Prosperity

For the United States to return to a prosperous road, the middle class must be restored and the ladders of upward mobility put back in place. The middle class served domestic political stability by being a buffer between rich and poor. Ladders of upward mobility are a relief valve that permit determined folk to rise from poverty to success. Rising incomes throughout society provide the consumer demand that drives an economy. This is the way the US economy worked in the post-WWII period.

To reestablish the middle class the offshored jobs have to be brought home, monopolies broken up, regulation restored, and the central bank put under accountable control or abolished.

Jobs offshoring enriched owners and managers of capital at the expense of the middle class. Well paid manufacturing and industrial workers lost their livelihoods as did university graduates trained for tradable professional service jobs such as software engineering and information technology. No comparable wages and salaries could be found in the economy where the remaining jobs consist of domestic service employment, such as retail clerks, hospital orderlies, waitresses and bartenders. The current income loss is compounded by the loss of medical benefits and private pensions that supplemented Social Security retirement. Thus, jobs offshoring reduced both current and future consumer income.

Americas middle class jobs can be brought home by changing the way corporations are taxed. Corporate income could be taxed on the basis of whether corporations add value to their product sold in US markets domestically or offshore. Domestic production would have a lower tax rate. Offshored production would be taxed at a higher rate. The tax rate could be set to cancel out the cost savings of producing offshore.

Under long-term attack by free market economists, the Sherman Antitrust Act has become a dead-letter law. Free market economists argue that markets are self-correcting and that anti-monopoly legislation is unnecessary and serves mainly to protect inefficiency. A large array of traditionally small business activities have been monopolized by franchises and “big box” stores. Family owned auto parts stores, hardware stores, restaurants, men’s clothing stores, and dress shops, have been crowded out. Walmart’s destructive impact on Main Street businesses is legendary. National corporations have pushed local businesses into the trash bin.

Monopoly has more than economic effect. When six mega-media companies have control of 90 percent of the American media, a dispersed and independent press no longer exists. Yet, democracy itself relies on media helping to hold government to account. The purpose of the First Amendment is to control the government, but today media serves as a propaganda ministry for government.

Americans received better and less expensive communication services when AT&T was a regulated monopoly. Free trade in communications has resulted in the creation of many unregulated local monopolies with poor service and high charges. AT&TҒs stability made the stock a blue-chipӔ ideal for widow and orphanӔ trust funds, pensions, and wealth preservation. No such risk free stock exists today.

Monopoly was given a huge boost by financial deregulation. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspans claim that ғmarkets are self-regulating and that government regulation is harmful was blown to pieces by the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Deregulation not only allowed banks to escape from prudent behavior but also allowed such concentration that America now has ԓbanks too big to fail. One of capitalismԒs virtues and justifications is that inefficient enterprises fail and go out of business. Instead, we have banks that must be kept afloat with public or Federal Reserve subsidies. Clearly, one result of financial deregulation has been to protect the large banks from the operation of capitalism. The irony that freeing banks from regulation resulted in the destruction of capitalism is lost on free market economists.

The cost of the Federal Reserves support for the banks too big to fail with zero and negative real interest rates has been devastating for savers and retirees. Americans have received no interest on their savings for seven years. To make ends meet, they have had to consume their savings. Moreover, the Federal ReserveҒs policy has artificially driven up the stock market with the liquidity that the Federal Reserve has created and also caused a similar bubble in the bond market. The high prices of bonds are inconsistent with the buildup in debt and the money printed in order to keep the debt afloat. The dollars value itself depends on quantitative easing in Japan and the EU.

In order to restore financial stability, an obvious precondition for prosperity, the large banks must be broken up and the distinction between investment and commercial banks restored.

Since the Clinton regime, the majority of the Treasury secretaries have been top executives of the troubled large banks, and they have used their public position to benefit their banks and not the US economy. Additionally, executives of the large banks comprise the board of the New York Fed, the principal operating arm of the Federal Reserve. Consequently, a few large banks control US financial policy. This conspiracy must be broken up and the Federal Reserve made accountable or abolished.

This requires getting money out of politics. The ability of a few powerful private interest groups to control election outcomes with their campaign contributions is anathema to democracy. A year ago the Republican Supreme Court ruled that the rich have a constitutional right to purchase the government with political campaign contributions in order to serve their selfish interests.

These are the same Republican justices who apparently see no constitutional right to habeas corpus and, thus, have not prohibited indefinite detention of US citizens. These are the same Republican justices who apparently see no constitutional prohibition against self-incrimination and, thus, have tolerated torture. These are the same Republican justices who have abandoned due process and permit the US government to assassinate US citizens.

To remove the control of money over political life would likely require a revolution. Unless prosperity is to be only for the One Percent, the Supreme CourtҒs assault on democracy must be overturned.

The Road to Peace is Difficult

To regain peace is even more difficult than to regain prosperity. As prosperity can be a precondition for peace, peace requires both changes in the economy and in foreign policy.

To regain peace is especially challenging, not because Americans are threatened by Muslim terrorists, domestic extremists, and Russians. These threatsӔ are hoaxes orchestrated in behalf of special interests. Security threatsӔ provide more profit and more power for the military/security complex.

The fabricated war on terrorӔ has been underway for 14 years and has succeeded in creating even more terrorӔ that must be combated with enormous expenditures of money. Apparently, Republicans intend that monies paid in Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes be redirected to the military/security complex.

The promised three-week cakewalkӔ in Iraq has become a 14 year defeat with the radical Islamic State controlling half of Iraq and Syria. Islamist resistance to Western domination has spread into Africa and Yemen, and Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the oil emirates are ripe fruit ready to fall.

Having let the genie out of the bottle in the Middle East, Washington has turned to conflict with Russia and by extension to China. This is a big bite for a government that has not been able to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan after 14 years.

Russia is not a country accustomed to defeat. Moreover, Russia has massive nuclear forces and massive territory into which to absorb any US/NATO invasion. Picking a fight with a well-armed country with by far the largest land mass of any country shows a lack of elementary strategic sense. But that is what Washington is doing.

Washington is picking a fight with Russia, because Washington is committed to the neoconservative doctrine that History has chosen Washington to exercise hegemony over the world. The US is the exceptional and indispensableӔ country, the Uni-power chosen to impose Washingtons will on the world.

This ideology governs US foreign policy and requires war in its defense. In the 1990s Paul Wolfowitz enshrined the Wolfowitz Doctrine into US military and foreign policy. In its most bold form, the Doctrine states:

ғOur first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.

As a former member of the original Cold War Committee on the Present Danger, I can explain what these words mean. The ԓthreat posed formerly by the Soviet Union was the ability of the Soviet Union to block unilateral US action in some parts of the world. The Soviet Union was a constraint on US unilateral action, not everywhere but in some places. This constraint on WashingtonԒs will is regarded as a threat.

A hostile powerӔ is a country with an independent foreign policy, such as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have proclaimed. Iran, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba, and North Korea have also proclaimed an independent foreign policy.

This is too much independence for Washington to stomach. As Russian President Vladimir Putin recently stated, Washington doesnӒt want partners. Washington wants vassals.

The Wolfowitz doctrine requires Washington to dispense with governments that do not acquiesce to WashingtonԒs will. It is a first objective.Ӕ

The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in Boris Yeltsin becoming president of a dismembered Russia. Yeltsin was a compliant US puppet. Washington became accustomed to its new vassal and absorbed itself in its Middle Eastern wars, expecting Vladimir Putin to continue Russias vassalage.

However at the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy, Putin said: “I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible in todays world.”

Putin went on to say: We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one stateӒs legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?

When Putin issued this fundamental challenge to US Uni-power, Washington was preoccupied with its lack of success with its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Mission was not accomplished.

By 2014 it had entered the thick skulls of our rulers in Washington that while Washington was blowing up weddings, funerals, village elders, and children’s soccer games in the Middle East, Russia had achieved independence from Washingtons control and presented itself as a formidable challenge to Washington’s Uni-power. Putin and Russia have had enough of Washingtons arrogance.

The unmistakable rise of Russia refocused Washington from the Middle East to Russia’s vulnerabilities. Ukraine, long a constituent part of Russia and subsequently the Soviet Union, was split off from Russia in the wake of the Soviet collapse by Washingtons maneuvering. In 2004 Washington had tried to capture Ukraine in the Orange Revolution, which failed to deliver Ukraine into WashingtonҒs hands. Consequently, according to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, Washington spent $5 billion over the following decade developing NGOs that could be called into the streets of Kiev and in developing political leaders who represented Washingtons interests.

Washington launched its coup in February 2014 with orchestrated ғdemonstrations that with the addition of violence resulted in the overthrow and flight of the elected democratic government of Victor Yanukovych. In other words, Washington destroyed democracy in a new country with a coup before democracy could take root.

Ukrainian democracy meant nothing to Washington intent on seizing Ukraine in order to present Russia with a security problem and also to justify sanctions against ԓRussian aggression in order to break up RussiaԒs growing economic and political relationships with Europe.

Having launched on this reckless and irresponsible attack on a nuclear power, can Washington eat crow and back off? Would the neoconservative-controlled mass media permit that? The Russian government, backed 89% by the Russian people, have made it clear that Russia rejects vassalage status as the price of being part of the West. The implication of the Wolfowitz Doctrine is that Russia must be destroyed.

This implies our own destruction.

What can be done to restore peace? Obviously, the EU must abandon NATO and declare that Washington is a greater threat than Russia. Without NATO Washington has no cover for its aggression and no military bases with which to surround Russia.

It is Washington, not Russia, that has an ideology of uber alles.Ӕ Obama endorsed the neoconservative claim that America is the exceptional country.Ӕ Putin has made no such claim for Russia. Putins response to ObamaҒs claim is that God created us equal.Ӕ

In order to restore peace, the neoconservatives must be removed from foreign policy positions in the government and media. This means that Victoria Nuland must be removed as Assistant Secretary of State, that Susan Rice must be removed as National Security Adviser, that Samantha Power must be removed as US UN ambassador.

The warmonger neoconservatives must be removed from Fox News,ђ CNN, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, and in their places independent voices must replace propagandists for war.

Clearly, none of this is going to happen, but it must if we are to escape armageddon.

The prescription for peace and prosperity is sound. The question is: Can we implement it?

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Posted by Elvis on 08/15/15 •
Section Dying America
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Sunday, August 02, 2015

Fleeing America Redux

dying-america.jpg

For years, I’ve been thinking about LEAVING AMERICA, because I’ve lost faith in a lot of things that once made this country great. The lack of employment opportunity, upward mobility, and HOPE, almost makes it a NO-BRAINER.

Economics professor RICHARD WOLFF telle us HERE:

Germany and Scandinavia, because they provide more social services to their people than anybody else. And guess what: Not only are they not in trouble economically, they are the winners of the current situation.

Here’s a story of someone who moved to Switzerland and came back.

Living in Switzerland ruined me for America and its lousy work culture

By Chantal Panozzo
Vox
July 21, 2015

I was halfway through a job interview when I realized I was wrinkling my nose. I couldn’t help myself. A full-time freelance position with a long commute, no benefits, and a quarter of my old pay was the best they could do? I couldn’t hide how I felt about that, and the 25-year-old conducting the interview noticed.

Are you interested in permanent jobs instead?” she asked.

“I could consider a permanent job if it was part-time,” I said.

She looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language and went right back to her pitch: long commute, full-time, no benefits. No way, I thought. Who would want to do that? And then it hit me: Either I had become a completely privileged jerk or my own country was not as amazing as I had once thought it to be. This wasn’t an unusually bad offer: It was just American Reality.

“Now that I’m back, I’m angry that my own country isn’t providing more for its people”

Before I moved to Switzerland for almost a decade, American Reality was all I knew. I was living in a two-bedroom apartment making $30,000 a year in a job where I worked almost seven days a week with no overtime pay and received 10 days of paid time off a year.

In other words, for the hours worked, I was making minimum wage, if that. The glamour of this job was supposed to make up for the hours, but in reality, working every weekend is a ticket to burnout not success.

My husband and I were so accustomed to American Reality that when he was offered an opportunity to work in Switzerland, we both thought about travel and adventure - not about improving our quality of life. It hadn’t occurred to us that we could improve our quality of life simply by moving.

But without realizing it, or even asking for it, a better life quality came to us. And this is why, now that I’m back, I’m angry that my own country isn’t providing more for its people. I will never regret living abroad. It taught me to understand another culture. And it taught me to see my own. But it also taught me something else to lose touch with the American version of reality.

Here are seven ways living abroad made it hard to return to American life.

1) I had work-life balance

The Swiss work hard, but they have a strong work-life balance. According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the average Swiss worker earned the equivalent of $91,574 a year in 2013, while the average American worker earned only $55,708. But the real story is that the average American had to work 219 hours more per year for this lesser salary.

Which brings us to lunch. In Switzerland, you don’t arrive to a meeting late, but you also don’t leave for your lunch break a second past noon. If it’s summer, jumping into the lake to swim with the swans is an acceptable way to spend your lunch hour. If you eat a sandwich at your desk, people will scold you. I learned this the hard way.

“Ugh,” said Tom, a Swiss art director I shared an office with at a Zurich ad agency. “It smells like someone ate their lunch in here.” He threw open the windows and fanned the air.

“They did. I ate a sandwich here,” I said.

Tom looked at me like I was crazy.

“No. Tomorrow you’re having a proper lunch. With me,” he said.

The next day, exactly at noon, we rode the funicular to a restaurant where we dined al fresco above Zurich. After lunch, we strolled down the hill. I felt guilty for being gone for an hour and a half. But no one had missed us at the office.

Lunchtime is sacred time in Switzerland. When I was on maternity leave, my husband came home for lunch to help me care for our daughter. This strengthened our marriage. Many families still reunite during weekdays over the lunch hour.

Weekends in Switzerland encourage leisure time, too. On Sundays, you can’t even shop ח most stores are closed. You are semi-required to hike in the Alps with your family. It’s just what you do.

2) I had time and money

The Swiss have a culture of professional part-time work, and as a result, part-time jobs include every benefit of a full-time job, including vacation time and payment into two Swiss pension systems. Salaries for part-time work are set as a percentage of a professional full-time salary because unlike in the United States, part-time jobs are not viewed as necessarily unskilled jobs with their attendant lower pay.

During my Swiss career, I was employed by various companies from 25 percent to 100 percent. When I worked 60 percent, for example, I worked three days a week. A job that is 50 percent could mean the employee works five mornings a week or, as I once did, two and a half days a week. The freedom to choose the amount of work that was right for me at varying points of my life was wonderful and kept me engaged and happy.
“When I took only 10 days for a trip to Spain, my colleagues chastised me for taking so little time off”

Often, jobs in Switzerland are advertised with the percentage of work that is expected. Other times, you can negotiate what percentage you would like to work or request to go from working five days a week to four days a week, for example. There is normally little risk involved in asking.

One married couple I knew each worked 80 percent, which meant they each spent one day a week at home with their child, limiting the child’s time in day care to three days a week while continuing full professional lives for both of them. According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Why U.S. Women Are Leaving Jobs Behind,” 81 percent of women in Switzerland are in the workforce, versus 69 percent in the US. I believe attitudes toward professional part-time work - for both men and women - have a lot to do with this.

3) I had the support of an amazing unemployment system

About three years into my Swiss life, I lost my job. And I discovered that in Switzerland, being on unemployment meant you received 70 to 80 percent of your prior salary for 18 months. The Swiss government also paid for me to take German classes, and when I wasn’t looking for jobs, I could afford to writea book.

In the United States, on the other hand, unemployment benefits generally pay workers between 40 and 50 percent of their previous salary, and these benefits only last for six months on average. However, thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, some unemployed people now receive up to 99 weeks of benefits.

4) I witnessed what happens when countries impose wealth-based taxes

Compared with taxes in the United States, Swiss taxes are easy on the average worker. For example, a worker earning the average wage of $91,574 would pay only about 5 percent of that in Swiss federal income tax. Instead of taxing salaries at high percentages ח a practice that puts most of the tax burden on the middle class, where most income comes from wages and not from capital gains Switzerland immediately taxes dividends at a maximum of 35 percent and also has a wealth-based tax.

While the American tax system is supposed to be progressive ח so the more you earn, the more taxes you pay up to 39.6 percent tax for the highest income brackets, the superrich escape paying these kind of taxes because they aren’t making most of their money in wages.

For example, in 2010, Mitt Romney, whose total income was $21.6 million, paid only $3 million in taxes, or a tax rate of about 14 percent, which is amazing when you consider this is the same tax rate American families earning wages from about $16,750 to $68,000 paid in 2010.

The Swiss taxation method leaves money in the pocket of the average worker ח and allows them to save accordingly. The average adult in Switzerland has a net worth worth of $513,000 according to the 2013 Credit Suisse Wealth Report. Average net worth among adults in the US is half that.

While I witnessed the benefits of the Swiss tax system for the average person, I did not benefit from them due to my American citizenship. Instead, I paid both Swiss tax and American tax while living in Switzerland. Unfortunately, the US is one of the only nations in the world where tax is citizen-based instead of resident-based. (China, in a new push to enforce tax law for citizens working abroad, is one of the others, along with Eritrea.)

5) I had lots of paid vacation time and was never made to feel guilty about taking it

At my former American job, I received 10 days of paid vacation per year, and each of those days came with a sizable portion of guilt if actually used. But in Switzerland, my husband’s company gave employees six weeks of vacation a year. Most of the Swiss companies I worked for gave four the legal minimum is four. Moreover, everything shut down between Christmas and New Year’s, giving most employees like me another guaranteed week off.

People in Europe took vacation seriously. Once, when I only took 10 days for a trip to Spain, my colleagues chastised me for taking so little time off. I learned to take vacation chunks in two-week intervals. Well rested, I noticed that I felt more productive and creative when I returned to work. Recent American research confirms what I was feeling: Relaxing can make you more productive. So why don’t Americans embrace vacation time?

6) I never had to own a car

I’m currently cringing at the idea of being required to buy a car. A Honda dealer here in Chicago recently quoted me $18,000 for a 2012 Accord, and that seems like a lot of money - especially when you still need to pay for insurance, gasoline, and repairs. The price is even more daunting for someone who isn’t used to being required to pay for such a thing.

“The freedom to choose the amount of work that was right for me kept me engaged and happy”

Not owning a car is financially freeing and it saves the environment, too. In Switzerland, 21 percent of households do not own a car, versus 9.2 percent in the US.

The Swiss train connects to the bus that connects to the cable car to get you on the slopes in the middle of nowhere at the scheduled second. From Zurich, I could also take a high-speed train to Paris in three and a half hours. Now I can barely get from the western suburbs to the north side of Chicago in that amount of time - let alone have the option to do it carless. This means I’m turning down jobs instead of taking them. This isn’t good for the American economy or for me.

And let’s be clear: Living in a city suburb is no excuse for having bad transit options. I lived exactly the same distance from Zurich that I now live from Chicago (15 miles) but shared none of the public transport frustrations.

7) I had excellent health care when I gave birth and then enjoyed a fully paid 14-week maternity leave

When I gave birth in Switzerland, I was encouraged to stay five days in the hospital. So I did. The $3,000 bill for the birth and hospital stay was paid in full by my Swiss insurance. As was the required midwife, who came to my apartment for five days after I came home from the hospital to check on both my health and my baby’s.

Had I been in the US for my delivery, the cost would have been much higher ח and the quality of care arguably lower. The average price for a vaginal birth in the US is $30,000 and includes an average of less than a two-day hospital stay.

Swiss law also mandates a 14-week maternity leave at a minimum of 80 percent pay. I was lucky enough to receive 100 percent pay. Compare that with the US, where new mothers aren’t guaranteed any paid time off after giving birth. In Switzerland, it’s also common to choose how much work to return to after having a child. Since my Swiss job at the time had been full time, I chose to return at 60 percent.

Other American friends in Switzerland who gave birth also chose to return to their careers part time: My engineering manager friend chose 70 percent, and my lawyer friend chose 80 percent. We had great careers, we had balance, and we also had a Swiss government that paid a monthly child stipend whether we needed it or not. For Americans like me, Swiss Reality was privilege.

Finally, finally, after almost a decade abroad, my husband and I decided we needed to go home to see what home felt like, or if the United States even felt like home anymore. So we put our Swiss residence permits on hold for two years and went back to Chicago.

While I enjoy being close to family again, returning to the United States made me realize who I’ve become: someone who can’t believe companies aren’t required to pay into a pension fund beyond Social Security. Someone who is offended that most women in America don’t have the maternity benefits she had.

And someone who is mad that she must own a car for lack of efficient public transportation. Someone who, because of all of this, is still debating where she ultimately wants to call home.

Chantal Panozzo is the author of Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known. She has written about Switzerland and expat life for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 08/02/15 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Still Looking For Reasons To Keep Away From Windows? Part 21

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Microsoft collects information about you, your devices, applications and networks, and your use of those devices, applications and networks. Examples of data we collect include your name, email address, preferences and interests; browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data; device configuration and sensor data; and application usage.

Windows 10 spies on you by default

By Shannon Stapleton
Reuters
July 31, 2015

Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system is immensely popular, with 14 million downloads in just two days. The price of the free upgrade may just be your privacy, though, as changing Windows 10’s intrusive default settings is difficult.

Technology journalists and bloggers are singing Windows 10s praises, often using the words such as “amazing,” “glorious” and “fantastic.” The operating system has been described as faster, smoother and more user-friendly than any previous version of Windows. According to Wired magazine, more than 14 million people have DOWNLOADED their upgrade since the system was released on Wednesday.

While the upgrade is currently free of charge to owners of licensed copies of Windows 8 and Windows 7, it does come at a price. Several tech bloggers have warned that the privacy settings in the operating system are invasive by default, and that changing them involves over a dozen different screens and an external website.

According to Zach Epstein of BGR News, all of Windows 10s features that could be considered invasions of privacy are enabled by default. Signing in with your Microsoft email account means Windows is reading your emails, contacts and calendar data. The new Edge browser serves you personalized ads. Solitaire now comes with ads. Using Cortana - the voice-driven assistant that represents Redmond’s answer to Apple’s Siri - reportedly “plays fast and loose with your data.”

“I am pretty surprised by the far-reaching data collection that Microsoft seems to want,” web developer Jonathan Porta wrote on his blog. “I am even more surprised by the fact that the settings all default to incredibly intrusive. I am certain that most individuals will just accept the defaults and have no idea how much information they are giving away.”

As examples, Porta cited Microsoft having access to contacts, calendar details, and"other associated input data” such as “typing” and “inking” by default. The operating system also wants access to user locations and location history, both of which could be provided not just to Microsoft, but to its “trusted partners.”

“Who are the trusted partners? By whom are they trusted? I am certainly not the one doing any trusting right now,” Porta wrote, describing the default privacy options as “vague and bordering on scary.”

Alec Meer of the “Rock, Paper, Shotgun” blog POINTED OUT this passage in Microsoft’s 12,000-word, 45-page terms of use agreement:

“We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to.”

While most people are used to ads as the price of accessing free content, writes Meer, Microsoft is not making it clear enough that they are gathering and storing vast amounts of data on your computing habits,ԓ not just browser data.

Opting out of all these default settings requires navigating 13 different screens and a separate website, the bloggers have found. 

Meer was underwhelmed with Microsoft executives claims of transparency and easily understandable terms of use. ԒThere is no world in which 45 pages of policy documents and opt-out settings split across 13 different Settings screens and an external website constitutes real transparency,ӑ he wrote.

Tracking and harvesting user data has been a business model for many tech giants. Privacy advocates have raised concerns over GoogleҔs combing of emails, Apples Siri, and FacebookҒs tracking cookies that keep monitoring peoples browser activity in order to personalize advertising and content.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 08/02/15 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Microsoft And Windows
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Saturday, August 01, 2015

Propaganda American Style

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“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
- Malcolm X

How the NDAA Allows US Gov to Use Propaganda Against Americans

By Susanne Posel
Occupy Corporatism
July 22, 2013

The US government has unbound the legal regulations against using propaganda against foreign audiences and American citizens. The intention is to sway public opinion by using TELEVISION, radio, newspapers, and social media targeting the American and foreign people in controlled psy-ops.

The newest version of the NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT (NDAA) has an amendment added that negates the SMITH-MUNDT ACT OF 1948 (SMA) and the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1987.

These laws made propaganda used to influence foreigners and US citizens illegal. Without these laws, disinformation could run rampant throughout our information junkets.

This amendment added to the NDAA has passed into implementation as of this month.

SMA defines the prohibition of domestic access to influence information through a variety of means, from broadcast to publishing of books, media, and online sources by restricting the State Department.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors was created from SMA. This agency claims to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. They omit that their specialty is making sure propaganda is added to the informational flow we all depend on.

The amendment sanctions the US government, without restriction, the use of any mode of message to control how we perceive our world.

As of now, the level of propaganda in the MAINSTREAM MEDIA (MSM) is quite high, with all of our television, printed media and internet sites associated with MSM OWNED BY ONLY 5 corporations.

Without these laws, the lies purveyed as truth to foreigners would find their way to our doorsteps as a purposeful operation enacted by our government. And in the name of national security, the US government could, and probably would, disseminate misinformation to gain public support for otherwise decidedly deplorable actions.

Amendment 114 of the NDAA was approved by the House in May of 2012.

The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act (2012) reads:

Sec. 501. (a) The Secretary and the Broadcasting Board of Governors are authorized to use funds appropriated or otherwise made available for public diplomacy information programs to provide for the preparation, dissemination, and use of information intended for foreign audiences abroad about the United States, its people, and its policies, through press, publications, radio, motion pictures, the Internet, and other information media, including social media, and through information centers, instructors, and other direct or indirect means of communication.

(b)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), the Secretary and the Broadcasting Board of Governors may, upon request and reimbursement of the reasonable costs incurred in fulfilling such a request, make available, in the United States, motion pictures, films, video, audio, and other materials prepared for dissemination abroad or disseminated abroad.

According to Michael Hastings : The new law would give sweeping powers to the State Department and Pentagon to push television, radio, newspaper, and social media onto the U.S. public. ӓIt removes the protection for Americans, says a Pentagon official who is concerned about the law. ԓIt removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.

Representatives Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (D-WA) in the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act (2012) (H.R. 5736), advocate that it is time to liberate the authority of the US government to broadcast American produced foreign propaganda in the U.S.

The amendment, which was hidden within the NDAA, has remained relatively unnoticed. However, it empowers the State Department and Pentagon to utilize all forms of media against the American public for the sake of coercing US citizens to believe whatever version of the truth the US government wants them to believe.

All oversight is removed with AMENDMENT 114. Regardless of whether the information disseminated is truthful, partially truthful or completely false bears no weight.

Thornberry believes that with the use of the internet by terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, the federal government needs to have the freedom to circulate their own propaganda to combat terrorism effectively.

“I just dont want to see something this significant whatever the pros and cons go through without anyone noticing,” says one source on the Hill, who is disturbed by the law. According to this source, the law would allow U.S. propaganda intended to influence foreign audiences to be used on the domestic population.֓

Four billion dollars per year is spent by the Pentagon on propaganda aimed at the American public; as well as $202 million spent by the Department of Defense on misinformation operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2011.

Currently, the Pentagon is using SOCK PUPPET (fake handles) on social media sites to purvey false information, harass users and enact psy-ops to influence Americans.

A California corporation is working with the US Central Command (CENTCOM) in spreading propaganda overseas. They provide online persona “management service” that allows active duty military to set up an estimated 10 different false identities that are used worldwide.

Each fake persona comes complete with a background history and safeties to prevent “sophisticated adversaries” from discovering the lie.

CENTCOM spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said: “The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable CENTCOM to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US.”

Sophisticated software allows military to engage in online conversations with coordinated answers, blog comments and instant messaging remarks that are solely meant to spread pro-American propaganda.

US Army whistleblower, Lieutenant Col. Daniel Davis believes there is a definitive aspiration within the US government to enable Public Affairs officers to influence American public opinion when they deem it necessary to “protect a key friendly center of gravity,” to wit US national will.

Edward Bernays would be proud.

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Posted by Elvis on 08/01/15 •
Section Revelations • Section Privacy And Rights • Section Dying America
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