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Showing posts from 2012

The Virtual Wallet

For the big holiday spenders and yuletide ballers know the importance of the that trusty 'ole credit card. This time next year, life may be a bit easier thanks to new payments technologies. 

Introducing the rise of the mobile wallet: software and applications capable of securely storing credit card information and make purchasing from the phone a bit easier. 

Last year some $6.7 trillion was channeled through credit cards according to the Nilson Report, an industry newsletter. Throw in debit and prepaid cards and the number exceeds $15 trillion (see chart). 



This explains why start-ups want in on the industry. Hardware firms like Square and iZettle, which develop tiny card readers that hook onto smartphones, allow small businesses to swipe cards quickly and cheaply. Software companies like Visa's V.me and M-Pesa, make purchases possible from any technological device. 
The start-ups and financial technology companies would place a dent in the cards giants' earnings; however, th…

3 Things Everyone Needs To Know About The Economy

1. Your Choice Counts. This thing we call the economy is simply layers of decisions driven by choices. Your choice, as a consumer, determines what producers will make and sell. If there is a good or service that no one wants, demand for that service goes down leading to a decrease in its supply. The market will arrange for the production of goods that society wants, in the quantity society wants.

2. It's Not Just $$$. It's not that money isn't important, but it isn't everything. Money is purchasing power. At it's core, it is a medium of exchange and a weighing scale for determining something's value. Investing and spending money begins with confidence. Yes, confidence. Monetary exchange begins with the faith of the money's owner that their investment will bring them a satisfactory return. Yet, who can quantify confidence? How can anyone measure satisfaction? Sentiment- mental attitude and judgement- is a major determinant of the economy's health. We inve…

The Fiscal Cliff

The Bush tax cuts are a set of temporary tax relief measures enacted by President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003. The tax cuts included lowering federal income tax rates for everyone, lowering capital gains taxes, eliminating the phaseout on personal exemptions for higher-income taxpayers and eliminating the estate tax, among a few other cuts.

Faced with an ailing economy, President Barack Obama extended those tax cuts for temporary economic relief. The expiration date for those tax cuts is a looming 26 days away (December 31, 2012). If Congress fails to act, it means higher taxes for you and I in 2013 and an increase in unemployment. On average, most families will pay $1,600 more in taxes. 

Washington has yet to find a solution. Democrats demand tax increases for those making over $250,000 a year. Republicans say the disaster can be avoided by closing tax loopholes.

If Congress does not come to an agreement by Dec. 31, we reach the fiscal cliff. On Jan. 1, for example, defense spending…

Wealth Defined

Wealth comes from the English word "weal" which is the state of being "well off," or having ones wants supplied. This includes health, happiness, and the abundance of good things. Wealth, as defined today, is the things that make a man/woman rich.

What makes wealth? Anything that makes the possessor better off than they would be without it. The substance of the form is wealth. For example, air, which is abundant to everyone everywhere in unlimited quantity, does not make anyone rich because there is equal supply for everyone. But if you and I were in the desert, parched and near dying, and you possessed a full canteen of water, you are the wealthier of the two of us. That's because your water supply is high in importance, enriches your life (hopefully you'll share it), and makes you better off than you would be without it.

In conclusion, wealth is not just money, but any valued asset that can be leveraged and adds worth to its possessor. That means your cre…

Pre-Capitalism Technology

The eventual erosion of the feudal system- by way of centuries long riots and protests- gave way for the market system. The market system virtually unleashed technological advancement and here's how...

Technology is "any change in daily activity that increases output and enhances the productivity of a working person." Tradition-bound economies, where poor artisans and serfs tilled the property of their landlords, had little incentive to seek technological solutions to increase their yields. That's because any increase in agricultural produce would only mean more food on the landlord's table. And due to years of little to no productive change, the serfs and slaves were accustomed to selling a certain quantity to the village market. Thus,  no one carried the extra disposable income to buy the additional yields.
There was little incentive for technological innovation until the dismantling of the feudal system and its consequential end to tradition-bound job/family s…

Mileage Tax

Federal gas tax revenue fluctuates. When the economy is bad, people drive less and switch to more fuel-efficient cars that use less gas.

This is the logic behind the idea of a new mileage tax. More taxes on mileage, not fuel. This would look like more toll booths and other ways to charge travelers of highly traversed highways. This way,  hybrid and electric-vehicle users would also contribute more to road building and maintenance. You pay for what you use.

Of course this probably will not happen in the near future. However, one of the greatest benefits would be a more effective method for the repairment and upkeep of the most-used roads.

As I have stated numerous times on here before, America's infrastructure, especially its roads, are in need of a fix. This simply is one of the speculative ways to make that happen.




Matthew

The Market System

To understand modern economics, one must understand what is meant when "the market system," or "the market," is stated. Allow me to explain:

A market system is a system in which economic activity is left to the people. With their choices, people freely respond to the opportunities of the marketplace using information and their own preferences at their own will. Therefore, people are free to work where they want and buy what they want. Before the emergence of the market system, people's choices were heavily tradition-bound: if your parents were serfs or artisans, you were bound to be one too.

A market system gives more freedom to the individual. This also means there is a constant flow of wealth-- savings and investments-- into production through banks and other financial institutions where borrowers (you and I) pay interest for using the wealth of the lenders (banks and financial institutions).

The factors of production: Land, Labor, Capital, and Entrepreneurs…

5 Must-Have Holiday Albums

Well reader, we have reached the tip of the holiday season and it won't be long before every commercial, store, and neighborhood will have something Christmas-related. You know the yule tide is coming, why not go ahead and get in the mood now? In case you are already full of Christmas cheer or need a musical primer to get you started, here are 5 Must-Have Holiday albums to bring in that good 'ol holiday spirit!

Bing Crosby- Christmas Classics
5.Everyone must have at least one member of the Rat Pack in their holiday music collection. This compilation of Bing Crosby’s Christmas recordings features many of the classics we’ve all heard as kids. The instrumentation and Crosby's one-of-a-kind voice backed by the "ooh's" and "aah's" of rich choruses make for putting any scrooge in the holiday spirit. “Winter Wonderland” and “Frosty the Snowman” are cheery, playful, and will send shockwaves of Christmas cheer through your ears and memory. “Do You Hear Wha…

Grant That Grant!

I am currently investing my professional and creative energies toward writing an Area-Wide Planning Grant to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Writing this grant is by far the most intensive and strenuous literary work I've done to date, but I ENJOY it!!! Being awarded this grant would create an untold large number of jobs in a particular region of a city that is dear to my heart. (Under confidentiality, I am not yet sharing the details).

Writing a grant is demanding for both the rookie and the veteran. First you collect information and put it in writing. Once you've written it, you edit. As you edit, you're given more information to add to your existing draft. Then you measure your draft against the grant application, find out you're not addressing the issues in a manner the granting organization wants. From there you start all over.

I take on the project with three concepts in mind:

To be productive is to be boring. This means getting off of Facebook, Twitte…

Obama's Re-Election

Yesterday the world witnessed the re-election of the United States' 44th President, President Barack Obama. In soaring beyond the threshold 270 electoral votes by winning 303, America spoke, history was made, and Obama, once again, defied the odds.

As an African-American, up until 1868 by way of Section 2 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, my vote would have counted as of 3/5's a person. Before 1787, my vote would not have counted at all! That means a little over 200 years ago, an African-American's chance of voting, let alone being President, was as highly improbable as hell having a snowstorm. Witnessing President Obama win a second term nearly brought tears to my eyes as I watched his acceptance speech.

I often wondered how my ancestors would have reacted to see this moment. Had I been born over 200 years ago, I would have been considered someone else's "property."

My mother's family is fortunate enough to be able to trace its an…

Superstorm Sandy: Let's Help

Superstorm Sandy caught the eyes of the world this week, changing the lives of many forever and finally diverting our attention from the selfish, self-gratifying, sometimes immoral rat race that has become our thinking patterns. This will be a natural disaster that will be spoken of for generations to come because of its impact and timing in American history. The 2012 Presidential Election is days away (three to be exact), the Holiday season is preparing for kickoff. Sandy's impact and devestation alone willed its way into our nation's history books.

Having grown up in the mountains of Northwest Georgia, the closest encounter I have with any disaster of scale was the hurricane that ripped through the South and Ringgold, Georgia in 2011. The death toll in Ringgold ended at 15. The death toll of Sandy, as of this morning, is 109.

If you aren't able to personally provide shelter and supplies to those affected by Hurricane Sandy, it doesn't mean you can't help at all.…

Weekends

Sleep is for weekends. No, musical festivities are for weekends. No, weekends are for daydreaming. No, weekends are for church activity. No, weekends are family time. No, weekends are for resting and movies. No, facebooking and tweeting are for the weekends. No, weekends are for traveling. No, weekends are for reflecting and planning. No, studying is for weekends. No, music composition and production are for weekends. No, weekends are for football games. No, weekends are to be dedicated to hobbies. No weekends are for cleaning up, running errands, and taking care of the house. No, shopping is for weekends.

What are weekends really for???




Brownfields Redevelopment

Every time a manufacturing plant or a gas station closes, contaminants from the usage of the chemicals needed to run the place remain in the soil, water, and sometimes even the air. These pollutants can be hazardous not only to the health of people who live nearby, but also to the community/city/region as a whole. Plus run-down gas stations are a total eyesore.
Economic developers, city/region planners, community activists, and government agencies often take on the tasks of redeveloping these contaminated “brownfields.” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), specifically, has taken a lead role in its activity to redevelop and revitalize these sites. Especially since many of them are located near residences and valuable pieces of infrastructure.
The EPA defines a brownfield site as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” Better than just left alone loo…

God In Control

Who else could cause the seasons to change? Who else divides night from day? Who created nature? What force dictates the trees, grass, and leaves to grow and not to grow? Who tells the stars to shine, the sun to shine, the moon to shine? Who gave you the brilliance and personality to shine?

Who gives mankind intellect, intuition, and insights? If mankind, culture, institutions, and phones are so smart, why is there still no remedy to cease winds, storms, and hurricanes? Why have they, being so rational and educated, yet to know all that exists on land, underwater, or in the depths of outer space?

Ever notice how infants need no instructions on how to breathe, cry, eat, sleep, nor poop? If mankind is so smart then why have we yet to find a way to go days/months/years without relying on sleep or any sort of rest. Some humans can't even go three hours without a nap.

There is no known power in human control that can stop cause and effect- action and consequence- first this, then that…

Bad Days

Christ took the nails. He took the beating. He took the filthy saliva of arrogant, immoral, lesser men. He took the cuss words. He took the mockery. He took punches, kicks, stabs, jabs, and any ohter move of defense mankind is capable of. He took a dirty wooden cross and caught a number of untold splinters.

He bled nonstop and died a horrible death. He received no medical attention. He stayed dead for three days.

But, through all of this... He rose. He got up. From a bloody mess to a beautiful success. Jesus Christ of Nazareth rose. He fought the enemy, won and took all power forever. He did this for yours and my salvation. He also did this to show us that no matter how bad a day we have, we too can rise. From death to blessed. We will rise.

In the chaos of a bad day when matters aren't going our way, we will remember the epic and historic victory at Calvary. Just as He rose, so can we.





All The Things You Are

This is a clip of my piano teacher, Jason L. Smith, showing how quickly and smoothly jazz shifts keys. Today marks day two of my dissecting its various changes. The II-V-I is prevalent throughout the piece.

Jehovah-Jireh

Notes and observations taken from David Worshipped a Living God by Judson Cornwall...

Instead of dreading and fearing problems, see them as altars of worship. All it takes to make idolaters of any of us is to make something as a means become an end. It's such a subtle shift to embrace the means instead of the end.

Like Abraham, we should take "our only son" to the altar and get back to the exclusive worship of God. Whatever becomes the focus of our affections becomes our god and no matter what the lips say, the object of our affections will receive the worship.

"Jireh" (in reference to Genesis 22:14) means more than "to provide." It means to see or to forsee. Provide comes from two Latin words: pro which means beforehand and vide which means to see, as in "video." Jehovah-Jireh stood at the beginning of history and saw it as though it were present and saw to everything He saw. There wasn't anything He saw that He didn't see to, so t…

Business Lessons, Observations, and Mishaps

In gratitude for my professional experiences and the wonderful and selfless people I have been privileged to meet so far, I have archived some valuable lessons learned as a young businessman. I know I have a long way to go, but as long as you benefit from this list, it makes the sharing worth it. Enjoy!

Successful people are simply problem solvers.Never ever toot your own horn.Information breeds confidence.Relationships are everything. Relationships are everything. Relationships are everything.When asking a question, don't attempt to answer it yourself.People can sense flakiness. Be yourself.A handwritten "Thank You" note/card is always necessary to those who have had great impact on you personally and professionally.Dress how you want to be addressed.Keep your word.Immediate follow-up is invaluable.To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late.Napkins belong in the lap, not on the table.Give: do not hold back on lending your resources (time, wisdom, a key con…

Where Is The Jazz?

Here lately I've been listening to all sorts of gospel music in search of jazzy touch, feeling, or vibe-- something reminiscent of jazz in gospel...The results are dismal.

That's not a bad thing. However, from the views of an aspiring jazz pianist, I wonder now more than ever why the harmonies, intervals, and voicings of jazz are so rare in gospel. I love both genres of music and I have to constantly remind myself: jazz is all about the music, gospel is all about the message.
My only concern is will my church/gospel music colleagues ever dig deep and explore the possibilities of how jazz can enhance the sound, the feeling, and mood of a song? Or will they grow content in their comfort zones citing previous James Hall and Hezekiah Walker songs as the closest to jazz they'll ever get?
The music of Take 6, Darryl Coley, Kim Burrell, The Clark Sisters, Commissioned, Yolanda Adams, Ramsey Lewis, Melvin Crispell, John Peters, PJ Morgan, Cory Henry, The Powell Family are some of th…

Case Study: Humility

In Tokyo, Japan, on the night of February 11, 1990, the young king of boxing fell to his unforgettable demise in one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

"Iron" Mike Tyson, was the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history. At 23 years old he was the youngest to capture the World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association, and International Boxing Federation titles. His unmarveled combination of power and quickness, his physical specimen, and 37-0 record were feared around the world.

In June 1988, Tyson reduced Olympic gold medalist Michael Spinks to a heap of shame. A year later in July 1989, Tyson blasted Carl "The Truth" Williams who, before Tyson, was the youngest to be crowned champion. Both were easy first round knockouts for Tyson.

Buster Douglas was by no means an elite boxer. The Tyson-Douglas bout was to be merely practice for Tyson. However, throughout the months before the fight, Tyson was going through an ugly divorce from an impulsive marr…

Duplicity of the Declaration

These thoughts stem from American Creation by Joseph J. Ellis. So far, a great book.

In  May of 1776, the Second Continental Congress appointed a five person committee consisting of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman to draft a resolution expressing the North American colonies' freedom from the British crown and declaring their own independence.

As the unofficial overseer of the committee, Adams first asked Franklin. Franklin declined citing among his reasons, a dislike for writing anything that would be edited by a committee. From there, Adams asked Jefferson who performed the the duty promptly. Once the committee made minor revisions, the committee presented Jefferson's draft to the full congress on June 28.

The congress spent two days making changes to the document and among them: removing any reference to the slave trade or slavery itself, even though Jefferson blamed it all on King George III. The congress focused on the…

Mo' Fruit

The more I read and mature in the Word of God, the more I grow to love it. Throughout the summer months at Bible study we began an in-depth study on the book of Ephesians. The richness of the truth, literature, and promises of God's salvation is mind blowing!

This analysis of Ephesians has prompted me to do a gut check of myself, inside and out. Matters concerning how I treat people, how I manage my time, set priorities, and grow to ensuring my life is pleasing to the Lord.

This desire is undoubtedly the inner workings of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:7- one of the meanings of 'redemption' is the residency of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:22) and He dwells in those that have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior. He gives the wisdom to make the right choices to please God the Father. Decisions that please the Father can only yield positive fruit.

Today's message in church came from Ephesians 4:1-3. Lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, love, and temperance are not natu…

Meanness or Me-Ness?

It should be my constant prayer to ask the Lord to help me to stop looking through the lenses of shortcomings, expiration dates, and judgment, but to accept people and things for who and what they are and enjoy them. To laugh. To learn. To appreciate. This gives an entirely new meaning to the expression "living in the moment."

The way I view time, unwanted conversation, "boring" people, and the daily hustle aren't with the eyes of joy and gratitude like they should be nor does this please God the Father who Himself is joy (1 John 4:8).
The root cause of my meanness, better yet my "me-ness," is selfishness. Selfishness and joy are not related. In fact, they're opposites. Selfishness is pseudo-joy. Selfishness does not consider the thoughts, attitudes, or well-being of others while joy does consider the thoughts, attitudes, and well-being of others. When joy takes root in the heart, a wellspring of love, gratitude, and laughter become evident fruit.T…

Growthville, USA

I spent my Friday night in intense, concentrated thinking. Although it is not the most entertaining ways to spend my week's signature festive night, I felt I needed to.

In my exploration and deep thought, I found two US city rankings that both have Atlanta listed in the top 25. I read both articles in depth and asked myself "What makes a city good for business?" To answer that question in entirety would take more than a blog posting, but I did find a few factors that each city shared and wanted to point those out.

The rankings come from Bloomberg's America's Best Cities and Global Trade Magazine's Top 50 Cities for Global Trade. Both polls are legitimate and both are directly related to (creating and getting) jobs and investment.

Bloomberg's rankings of the top cities shared quite a few similarities: education, weather, safety, restaurants, entertainment (night life), air, crime, shopping and retail options, household income, and public parks. All of these r…

Football: The Economics of Sport

Football season is here and in full swing. Sports fans wait all year for this special time of the year, summer's ending, autumn's beginning and a weekend schedule similar to something like this: Friday night- high school football; Saturday- college football; Sunday- NFL.

As an economist, I find it interesting that the economics of sports (not just money) is a highly overlooked subject. When I say economics here I am specifically referring to choices because economics at its core is all about, well, choices and football is a pretty easy model to examine for several reasons: the game is limited to a specified time frame, the field stretches 100 yards, results are immediate, and whoever has the most points at the end of the time period walks away victorious.

Simple so it seems, but beyond that, factors determining the game's outcome must also be examined: coaches are motivated by their supporters, their own reputations, pride, and money; players are motivated to win by all me…

A Look Back: TSPLOST

I advocated very strongly in favor of the July 31 Transportation Referendum. It was my first time ever participating in a political campaign and what a joy it was to champion causes of taxation, infrastructure, and quality of life.

As many know, there are two words in this country that can cause a politician to lose his job and even the most peaceful of human beings to turn into chaotic rioters, "new taxes." The referendum ran contradictory to that logic, but the long-term benefits of this 1% regional sales tax was enough for many Atlantans to still vote "Yes," but unfortunately not enough to win the overall campaign.

The ugly defeat (63% voted "No") still sits in the back of my mind and with it comes many important lessons on business, government, and human behavior, as well as stories to tell my grandchildren (although stories tend to twist with each passing year, by the time I'm 60 I'm sure I'll be stating how we came from behind at the last …

_ _ _ _ography with Fries & a Coke

Last week I saw the new Hardee's Memphis BBQ Thickburger commercial for the first time. Being a man, the first feature of the commercial that caught my eyes wasn't the burger... It was the two women first grilling, then later eating the burger.

The ladies were basically naked and I felt guilty for even watching the commercial. At its core, this commercial is nothing more than soft core porn. 

I mean this as nothing against Hardee's. Being a burger fanatic, I enjoy Hardee's and I am not against the restaurant, but I am totally against nearly naked women as a means of advertising food. We're talking food here! Plus I'm no health nut so I have absolutely no place to talk about the nutritional value of the burger.

I'm also not against advertising, but I do believe it is an art that requires more creativity than simply putting naked women at a grill. Some say "sex sales," but being a young man choosing to do what's right, I choose not to agree.

The i…

Petitioning, Rejoicing, Victorying

Ever had that connecting the dot experience? That moment when the light bulb goes off inside your head? Moments ago I had that experience while reading my Bible. Thus, it is the Holy Spirit who initially turned on the bulb, connected those dots, and prompted me to write about it.
1.Psalm 20:5 (NKJV)- "We will rejoice in your salvation, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions."
2.Philippians 4:6 (NKJV)- "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God."
3.Psalm 20:4 (NKJV)- "May He grant you according to your heart's desire and fulfill all your purpose."
All three verses speak of God granting requests. A petition (1) is a request made for something desired and it is addressed to an authority, power, or superior. That "authority, power, and superior," is God the Father. Banners (2) signify victory as does rejoicing…