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Economics

book reviews
It's the economy, stupid!
Thinkonomics

"A LARGE PART OF CRIME IS ECONOMICS. THE CONVERSE IS TRUE AS WELL." - Jeffree Benet

Someone working hard to buy a house and raise a family is less likely to turn to crime than someone sitting on the Board of Directors with no checks on corporate irresponsibility...

Why E-Cigarettes Should Not Be Banned

           Remember the good old days? Back when ’Merica was still a free country? You know what I’m talking about, right? Back when god-loving, red-blooded Americans could hold their heads high and just know they lived in the greatest, freest gosh darn country in the whole wide world. Am I talking about the assault on guns, you say? Is this a Second Amendment thing? No, dear reader, not at all. And nope, ladies and gents, I’m not talking about prayer in our schools. It’s worse than all that. I’m talking about smoke. I’m talking about cigarette smoke out on the streets, smoke clouding up bars and restaurants. I’m talking about my god-given right to fill other people’s lungs with my poison. I mean, what happened to America? An honest fellow used to have no trouble hurting others with his own freedom, but now, I just don’t even recognize my beloved U S of A anymore.

            No. Sorry. All jokes aside, let’s be clear. I hated the “good old days.” I hated breathing in other people’s cancerous filth any time I wanted to enjoy a night out. If they wanted to kill themselves with cigarettes, that was fine by me. But they had no right to take me down with them. And today, I have no sympathy for the smokers I see out on the curb in the freezing cold, huffing down their cigarettes while I enjoy a meal in the cozy warmth of my booth and breathe in the fresh air. I know I’m not alone in these sentiments. I know many, like me, rejoice when public smoking bans come to their cities. And they should! But unfortunately, my many like-minded friends have become something of a problem when it comes another matter that bears only a passing resemblance to cigarettes, and something needs to change.

            Because listen. I believe in reason. I believe in making decisions and passing laws based on credible evidence. And recent efforts by places like New York City to outlaw public vaping don’t live up to such standards.

            First and foremost, let’s investigate the ignorance and the fear and replace it with truth. Cigarettes are made of tobacco, paper, and a whole host of poisonous chemicals whose names I can’t even pronounce. Apply fire to all this and a chemical change takes place, rendering what was a solid into smoke and ash. These things don’t just disappear. They have to go somewhere. Like your lungs. Or in your eyes. Or on your clothes until you stink like an ashtray. Not to mention the wider environment, and I’d say our air is dirty enough without smokers adding their share. If that smell can linger for hours on your skin, imagine how long it lingers in your lungs as an irritant and a carcinogen. In other words, we have good reason to protect the average person (and Mother Nature) from Mr. Chimney’s chain smoking.

            So, when people hear the term e-cigarette instead of vapes, vaping, vaporizing, etc., and then they see massive clouds flowing from people’s mouths (you know you vapers like to blow storm clouds!), they somewhat reasonably think we’re in the same ballpark as cigarettes. But the truth is this: there’s no fire and there’s no solid substance converting into smoke and ash. What we have instead is heat (again, not fire) applied to a water-based fluid. This produces a vapor that disperses within seconds rather than a lingering smoke that spreads throughout the air. A conversion does take place when ejuice is heated, but because ejuice contains none of the harmful chemicals that cigarettes do, that conversion poses no threats to bystanders. And as a test, check your clothes after you’ve hung out with a vaper. Smell anything? Didn’t think so. That’s because there’s nothing there. Everything quickly dissipated into the air. If nothing sticks to your clothes, I’d say your lungs are in good shape too.

            Of course, there’s more to this than just reason. There’s that self-righteousness I mentioned earlier. Let’s face it – many people look down on smokers. Many people think smokers are dirty people with no self-control. In their ignorance, these self-styled judges lump vapers in with smokers. Obviously, this needs to stop. Judgment never gets us anywhere, but it also blinds us to the good that can come from vaping. Most vapers were once smokers, so more vapers mean fewer smokers, and that means less nasty smoke in the air and fewer people slowly killing themselves with Big Tobacco’s poisons. That’s a win-win situation all around, and we should be doing everything we can to support it. Consider an analogy. Would we want to tell a recovering alcoholic that he can’t drink non-alcoholic beer in a restaurant, even though it helps with the oral fixation that comes with drinking? Of course not. So why would New York City or any other city want to get in the way of people putting down dangerous cigarettes and picking up a safe alternative like vaping? It’s just plain nonsense. We want alcoholics to get sober, and we want smokers to get healthy.

            So, should e-cigarettes be banned from public places? I think the answer is pretty clear. Once you remove the ignorance, the groundless fears, and the self-righteous moralizing, arguments in favor of banning don’t have a leg to stand on.

              

Manufacturing entrepreneurs: Tips to compete with emerging markets

In recent years, emerging markets such as India and China have proved to be a problem for smaller companies in other parts of the world, particularly in the US. One of the reasons for this is India and China are able to carry out similar work for a lower cost. These countries have a lower cost of living, lower operating costs and pay lower wages than first world nations so they are able to offer similar products at a much lower price.

 

Shift in manufacturing

Over the last decade or so many companies have opted to stop manufacturing in their home country and moved operations abroad, to countries such as India and China. When times are difficult companies need to consider their operating costs and if moving manufacturing abroad is the difference between remaining in business and shutting up shop then most will take that step of relocating. However, times are changing a little now and it is much easier for small US companies to compete with Chinese manufacturers.

One of the reasons for this is that labor costs in China have increased. Workers there are acquiring more skills and therefore are commanding higher rates of pay. In some areas there is a limited workforce as the one child per family rule has taken effect over the years. This is also driving up wages. Factories have to compete for the most highly skilled workers. Problems have also been encountered with exchange rates, which often make it more expensive to manufacture in China. Some US companies are still making the switch to foreign shores despite changes such as this taking place.

 

How US companies can compete

Streamlining manufacturing costs would be an obvious way to compete with cheaper manufacturers abroad. For example, implementing Lean processes can help to cut waste and save money. This could make the savings offered by taking your company abroad look a little lame in comparison. Lean can be applied to every aspect of a company’s working day but it is important to make sure that it is done properly and with precision so that the most costly processes can be streamlined.

Innovation is important for companies that want to compete. Even the introduction of just one niche product can help to solidify a company’s place in the market. Companies such as Transducer Techniques have done just that – focusing on weight gauges and becoming experts in the manufacturing of precision weights and other instruments. This has allowed the company to keep the manufacturing process within the US and compete effectively with other markets.

When a company hits difficult times it can be very tempting to take the obvious route of moving the manufacturing process to a place where traditionally it is cheaper. However, as times are changing this may not be the most cost effective option and competing with foreign manufacturers is getting easier all the time, particularly for those businesses that are happy to focus on the future and make the necessary changes to their working practices.

 

    

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