Archive for the ‘Money’ Category

Service of When Is It Worth Selling Your Soul to the Devil?

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Photo: theodysseyonline.com

There was a day when many wouldn’t buy products from companies or countries they disapproved of. There may be a few who still don’t though I suspect less than in earlier periods. Stock brokers ask if there are industries clients want to avoid investing in. Some PR and Ad agencies refuse to represent certain clients because they don’t like what they stand for or how they operate.

Photo: cnn.com

But this isn’t always the case. As recently as the midterm election constituents voted into high office—the Senate–a man who was indicted on federal corruption charges. [The Justice Department dropped the charges against him after a hung jury and mistrial.] In order to win, another senatorial candidate [photo right] swallowed his dignity and unctuously made up to a former opponent who had seriously trashed his father and his wife. He also won.

Emperor Vespasian. Photo: en.wikipedia.org

The Roman emperor Vespasian is said to have remarked “money does not stink.” The headline of Eliot Brown’s Wall Street Journal article illustrates how true this still is: “In Silicon Valley, Saudi Money Keeps Flowing to Startups Amid Backlash–Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have remained generally quiet about Saudi funding since grisly killing of journalist.”

Brown wrote: “Two startups— View Inc., which makes light-adjustable glass, and Zume Inc., which uses robots to make pizza—disclosed investments over the past week totaling a combined $1.5 billion from SoftBank’s Saudi-backed Vision Fund.” Katerra Inc. that constructs housing units, is into SoftBank for $3 billion. SoftBank is in negotiations to lend WeWork $15-$20 billion. Wikipedia describes WeWork as “An American company that designs and provides shared workspaces for technology startup subculture communities and services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups, small business and large enterprises.” [This reporter wrote in a subsequent article on November 14 that the actual SoftBank investment in WeWork is $3 billion, although his sources told him that the larger amount is still under consideration.]

WeWork. Photo: wework.com

SoftBank is Japanese-owned. The Vision Fund has $100 billion to invest in tech companies. According to Bloomberg’s Pavel Alpeyev, “Saudi Arabia is the biggest investment partner.” Brown reported “Saudi Arabia has become the largest funder of U.S. startups in recent years as it works to diversify its economy by steering a big chunk of its Public Investment Fund toward technology. The kingdom has committed more than $12 billion to U.S. startups since mid-2016, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, largely through its $45 billion commitment to SoftBank’s $92 billion Vision Fund.”

After Turkish allegations about journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder some companies refused to attend an October conference “in Riyadh sponsored by the Saudi sovereign-wealth fund,” Brown reported—even some backed by SoftBank.

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Companies that wanted to cut ties with Saudi Arabia include what Brown called Hollywood’s biggest talent agency, Endeavor, as well as Virgin Group and “multiple Washington lobbying firms…. Republican and Democratic lawmakers also have called for curbing ties with the kingdom. …Other companies, including many in the energy industry, have stood by Saudi Arabia through the controversy.”

Are there exceptions in which crossing a moral line is legit? Have you boycotted purchases or refused to work for a company or organization on ethical grounds? Have we lost our compasses that determine right and wrong now more than before? Have expedient choices always been pretty much acceptable here?

Photo: medium.com

Service of Everyone Has a Price

Monday, March 5th, 2018

Photo: pinterest

I recently heard someone say “Everyone has a price.” He was speaking about an acquaintance of his who was making a chunk of change as one of the masterminds behind the campaign of the current president.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures” could be one reason for some to ride roughshod over common sense and decency [though I doubt this was the excuse for the person just mentioned]. I took a job in an industry that appealed to me even though it had warning signs flashing all over it. The business owner was not my cup of tea but I needed to pay the rent and didn’t have the luxury to wait for the right job in the perfect place. There was nothing dishonest about what I was doing: The culture didn’t jive. I stayed the obligatory year. 

Photo: saic.edu

Mind you, I don’t begrudge wealthy people whose bank accounts burst with cash as a result of sweat and smarts, choosing a lucrative industry, willing to take risks, folks who may also have benefitted from good timing and a dollop of luck.

Yet countless books and movies describe what happens to those who arrive by selling out. Once they get over the thrill of being rich no matter what I wonder if some regret what it took, especially if  their life falls apart as a result.

I posit that with crucial basics taken care of—enough to feed, clothe and shelter themselves and their families—no amount of money would twist the arms of the people I admire to take a job involving dodgy business. Do you have a price? Do you know folks who turned their backs on their principles, made a bundle and have no regrets?

Photo: chronologicalbibleblog.com

 

Service of Cash or Credit

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Credit cards

I used to pay cash for most things when someone pointed out that the most accurate way to track monthly expenses is to pay with credit cards. It’s all on the bill: Food, gas, clothing or gifts. Spend cash and it’s too easy to forget small and scattered purchases.

I’ve only been sorry when a retail operation I frequented was hacked.

I never thought of cash vs. credit/debit cards from a businesses’ point of view and was fascinated to read **Vipal Monga’s story, “Reports of Cash’s Death Are Premature,” in The Wall Street Journal. **The online version of this story is credited to Bruno Mallart, but for the purposes of this article I will quote Monga as I read the newspaper version first.

What was amazing to me was how much it costs a business that deals with the public to get their money no matter how customers choose to pay.

control spendingMonga wrote that customers who prefer cash do so because of convenience, avoidance of cyber hackers and to control spending. I would add that some are paid under the table and would rather not alert the IRS by depositing cash in a bank.

Monga continued: “Paper bills and coins remain the No.1 choice for payments, used in 40% of all transactions in October 2012, according to the most recent study by Federal Reserve banks in Boston, Richmond and San Francisco. Debit cards were used in a quarter of all transactions and credit cards in 17%. Checks and all other electronic-payment techniques made up the rest.” If they spend more than $21–the average cash transaction–most opt to use checks or electronic payments.

CashIt costs $millions for a company to handle cash or credit. Where cash is concerned, costly challenges range “from transportation and storage to theft and loss.” According to a Tufts University 2013 study about companies, they “pay about $55 billion a year to manage currency….Most of it–$40 billion—was due to theft and loss.”

Some banks no longer maintain vaults for cash, wrote Monga, and they “outsource cash storage and use technology to count cash and credit their accounts.”

Pilot Flying JMore than half of the $2.5 billion the 500 Pilot Flying J truck stops pull in is in cash. It costs the company $20 million to manage the cash vs. $100 million for credit card fees that average 2 percent of each transaction. Costs to handle cash includes “the time employees spend reconciling accounts, depositing the money, and performing tasks such as getting change from the in-store safe. The company also pays fees to banks and armored-car companies,” wrote Monga.

Do you prefer to pay by credit or debit card, check or cash? Did you realize how expensive it is for a business to be paid for goods and services?

Pay cash

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