As unemployment continues to stay stagnant and salaries decrease in these horrible economic times, many are starting their own business. One of the most important aspects of your new business is keeping track of your income and expenses to make sure you are turning a profit or at least bringing in enough to cover the bills.

The best program on the market for small business accounting is QuickBooks and it continues to get better. It’s been around many years and is the most practical. Even without any accounting knowledge, you can easily learn the program enough to keep track of your businesses finances. And many often hire an accountant to come in only on a monthly basis to make sure everything is correct and up to date.

Some of the improvements to the program in 2013 by Intuit are listed below:

•  A calendar view has been added to allow the user to see an overview of transactions processed on a given day, with the ability to drill down to the source entry.

•  Exported Excel report formatting can now be saved •  The document feature has been enhanced, and includes bi-monthly processing.

•  Attachment feature now includes the ability to store the attachments locally.

•  A new Lead Center provides the ability to track sales leads and easily move the contact information to the Customer Center when appropriate.

•  A new batched time sheet feature allows the same time sheet to be used for multiple personnel who work the same hours.

•  Users can now search for, access, and use industry-specific report templates that have been contributed by other QuickBooks users, via a new Contributed Reports menu item.

• The QuickBooks for Windows desktop product can be used in standalone single-user mode or it can be networked for simultaneous use by multiple users (QuickBooks for Mac can be networked and, starting with the 2011 version, is capable of multi-user access).  The setup and configuration depends on the needs of the entity, the edition of QuickBooks chosen, and the number of licenses purchased.

The program we recommend to learn QuickBooks is called The QuickBooks Training Community which contains a QuickBooks tutorial for every aspect of the program.  The community is an online forum with training videos. It offers ongoing support which truly makes it the best option for learning the program.  Here is their website:

http://www.quickbookstrainingcommunity.com/

One year ago, President Reagan called for a plan to “simplify the entire tax code.” And no wonder. The U.S. Tax Code is a bewildering, 2,000-page maze of legal gibberish.

Last November, following the President’s lead, the Treasury Department announced a new tax plan. The Treasury stuck by the Presiden’ts pledge not to raise taxes and came up with a plan that its backers call “tax neutral.” This means that the plan won’t bring the Treasury any more money or any less.

But many experts say a tax hike is needed to reduce the deficit. Simplifying taxes without making a “dime’s dent in the deficit” would be pointless, says Senator Bob Packwood (R-OR), the new head of the Senae Finance Committee. CONFUSED TAXPAYERS

According to a Gallup poll, 81 percent of the public expects a tax hike. Americans don’t want one, the Gallup organization found. But they do want simpler taxes. Currently, 40 percent of U.S. wage earners pay tax preparers more than $1 billion a year to untangle their tax bills, says a representative from The eCPA Group, an online tax preparation company.

How will the Treasury simplify taxes? Mainly by reducing the number of different tax levels, and by dropping confusing deductions and exemptions. today’s system puts taxpayers into 14 different categories, or “tax brackets,” based on how much they earn. People in the lowest bracket pay 11 percent of their earnings in taxes. People in the highest bracket pay 50 percent of their earnings in taxes.

The new plan would have only three brackets. In one, the tax bite would be 15 percent of a person’s earnings. In another, the tax bite would be 25 percent. In the highest bracket, the tax bite would be 35 percent. Today, the average family pays about 26 percent of its income in taxes.

Under the new plan, only about 22 percent of all taxpayers would end up paying more than they do now. “Those are the ones who are getting away with murder,” says Joseph Pechman, a Brookings Institute tax expert.

Pechman is in favor of the new tax plan. “Lower tax rates would increase the incentive to work, save, and invest, and reduce the incentive to cheat,” he says.

If taxes were simpler and more fair, perhaps the one in five Americans who admit to cheating on taxes would stop. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that it loses about $80 billion a year through tax evasion–almost enough to cut the deficit in half. BURDEN ON BUSINESS

The burden of the new tax plan would fall on corporations. On paper, their tax rates will drop–from 46 to 33 percent. But because of tax breaks called “loopholes,” corporations today actually pay an average of only 17 percent in taxes. The new plan would close most loopholes. The Treasury estimates that this would hike its revenues by more than $500 billion between 1986 and 1990.

The Treasury’s plan has many opponents. Among them:

* “High tax” states. Right now, the U.S. doesn’t tax money paid out in state and local taxes. Under the new plan, the U.S. would tax that money. Hardest hit would be people who live in state where taxes are high, such as New York or California.

* Charities. Under the new plan, small contributions to charities would be taxed. Charities complain that this provision could cut the flow of contributions by as much as 20 percent.

Donald Regan, Secretary of the Treasury, says that the new plan can be changed. But even with changes, getting Congress to okay the tax package is going to be tough. Congress is divided over the plan. And special interest groups will lobby hard to save their tax breaks. also, Congress is considering two slightly different tax plans, each with its own supporters.

Joseph Pechman puts the burden for success on President Reagan’s shoulders. “If the President embraces the proposal, it’ll go far,” he says. “If he doesn’t, it will sink without a trace.”

In today’s global economy, what makes a product American, Japanese, or German? Blind nationalism is certainly not in any country’s best interests! Are US-based multinationals US companies? What about their products produced in Europe, Asia, or Japan? As the escalating cost of new wafer fabs forces AMD, Intel, Philips, Motorola, or Toshiba into partnerships with companies from outside their borders, what nationalities do they represent?

In sorting through what is key to any country and its economic viability, four considerations are primary:

* Employment — Do wages circulating in the local economy create more jobs?

* Taxes (local and federal) — Do you qualify for “local” status if you pay taxes?

* Value-added content — Do local materials, parts and/or labor contribute 60 to 80 percent of the product’s value?

* Social conscience — Does the company participate in local philanthropy and address safety, welfare, and environmental issues?

“Buying American” means selecting products that not only meet our standards for the classic criteria but also employ Americans, support our government, include value-added content (an investment of technology and locally produced goods and services, not just final assembly), and ensure the social welfare of our people.

Many in the United States support the buying of American-made products. We buy cereal from Pillsbury, gas from Shell Oil, and silicon from MEMC without realizing that all three of these companies have foreign parent companies. But the cereal, gas, and silicon we buy are made in the United States, using mostly American raw materials and employing a mostly American staff. The benefits these “American” companies provide to industry include continued product development, capital investment, and, as the companies grow, new jobs.

Consider Hoya Micro Mask, an American company that sells products in the United States. Hoya has local management and workers, over 80 percent US value-added content, and pays corporate, real estate, and social taxes to local and federal governments. However, our parent company is multinational. The benefits of this relationship include technological transfer from Japan to the United States to improve our mask-making technology. Hoya provides us with capital to enhance our processing and manufacturing equipment. It lets us create an environment of staff, equipment, and technology to meet our customers’ product needs and provide better service. Having Hoya as our parent company allows us to explore directions that might have been financially impossible before.

One goal of the Hoya USA companies is to benefit the US economy through local employment, taxes, capital investment, and technology development. Together, we and our customers become globally competitive with products and services that are superior worldwide. What the United States does not need now is for the new federal administration to unleash protectionism again. It is indeed time for an enlightened nationalism in our global community, where “local” reflects reality.

Think back to fifth or sixth grade. What were the first words you mumbled every morning in class as you shook the sleep out of your eyes? You probably repeated a bunch of words that you didn’t think much about as you were saying them. They probably sounded something like “I led to pigeons to the flag ….”

Everyone grows up saying the Pledge of Allegiance, but many of us never really learn what it actually says. Being half-asleep doesn’t help. But there are other reasons why people have trouble remembering our country’s most famous patriotic saying.

UNFAMILIAR PHRASES

One rason so many people misunderstand the Pledge, says children’s writer Ralph Keyes, is that “children who are taught unfamiliar words and phrases often convert them into ones that make more sense.” Another reason, says Keyes, is that we’ve said the Pledge so quickly and so many times that we have lost touch with its meaning.

Jon Willson, a social-studies teacher at Brooklyn Technical High School, remembers thinking that it began, “‘I pledge a lesson to the frog.’ I imagined that somewhewre in Washington, a giant frog–may be a cousin of the spelling bee–sat on a throne nodding its head in approval as I recited my multiplication tables.”

THE ACTUAL WORDS

By now, you probably know the actual words to the Pledge. But have you ever really thought about what these words mean or where they came from?

In 1892, James B. Upham, the head of Youth’s Companion, a popular children’s magazine, became furious about a newspaper editorial that criticized flag-raising ceremonies. It said they were no more than “worship of a textile fabric.”

“What’s happened to good old-fashioned patriotism?” Upham asked himself. “We must instill in the younger generation a love and respect for the flag.”

Upham thought the pledge students were saying at the time–”I give my hand and heart to my country, one nation, one language, one flag-”–wasn’t strong, or memorable, enough. So he and his assistant. Francis Bellamy, set out to write a new pledge “so fundamental and so stirring that it [would] live long after [the] one occasion.” They succeeded, giving us what we now call the Pledge of Allegiance.

WHAT THE WORDS MEAN

Upham and Bellamy chose the words of the Pledge carefully. Here’s what the words they wrote really mean:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America ….

Pledging our allegiance means vowing our loyalty to our country, and the symbol of our country, our flag.

… and to the Republic for which it stands.

Linking the flag with the republic (a political order based on a constitution) reminds us that the flag is not merely a “textile fabric,” but a symbol of our democratic system.

One nation, under God, indivisible…

The words “under God” were added as an Act of Congress in 1954, to remind us that we worship God in different ways.

Indivisible, a tricky term, means incapable of being divided any further. It had especially potent meaning when it was written because nearly 30 years before, the nation had almost been permanently divided by the Civil War.

. . . with liberty and justice for all.

The Pledge’s final clause reminds us that our political system guarantees each American: liberty (freedom from excessive restriction or control) and justice (fairness enforced by law.)

Source Citation

Relin, David Oliver. “What do we pledge allegiance to?” Scholastic Update 26 Feb. 1988: 22.

The U.S. economy’s restored health is the reason most experts give for President Reagan’s landslide victory in November. Just three years ago, the economy had struck bottom. Nearly 11 percent of the nation’s workers–more than 12 million people–were out of a job. The nation’s output of goods and services had dropped steadily for over a year. The nation was caught in the worst economic slowdown since the dark days of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

But tax cuts and increased government spending sparked a dramatic recovery in 1983. Unemployment plummeted, to 7 percent of the labor force by November, 1984. Employment soared, to about 107.5 million. More Americans had jobs than ever before in history.

Keeping this “incredible job machine” strong won’t be easy. The reason, experts point out, is that the economy is a delicate mechanism. Repairing one problem may worsen another one.

THE DEFICIT DILEMMA

Take the high cost of borrowed money, for instance. High interest rates make it more costly for businesses to finance expansion and for consumers to buy houses or cars. Lowering the U.S. budget deficit could bring down interest rates, experts say. But if the U.S. trims the deficit by raising taxes, consumers will have less money to spend. So, the cure for one woe, higher taxes, could make the economy sicker by cutting consumer spending.

The economic recovery has already slowed down since the summer. “We’ve been in a mild recession for almost six months and will stay athere for another three to six months,” says Roger Brinner of Data Resources, an economic forecasting firm.

Still, the slowdown doesn’t worry most economists. In fact, some say it’s a good thing, allowing the economy time to digest last year’s rapid growth. Others predict moderate growth in 1985 of at least 3 percent–the level that’s needed to absorb the flow of new workers into the labor force. And interest rates, though still high, are falling. So, the economic picture for the short term looks good. THE LONG TERM

Gauging the economy’s potential for long-term growth is harder to do, although analysts are watching two trends. One troubling trend is the creation of most new jobs in services–fast-food restaurants, computer repair, health care, and the like. Many of the new service jobs pay low wages, compared to manufacturing jobs. And they aren’t concentrated in urban areas, where unemployment is highest. “It’s made the problem of minorities worse,” Thomas M. Stanback, a senior researcher at Columbia University, told UPDATE. “There’s evidence a lot of these low-wage white collar jobs are really dead-end jobs.”

On the bright side, the number of young people entering the labor market is falling. The labor force exploded in the 1970s as the baby-boom generation–children born during the decade after World War II–began their careers, and more women sought jobs outside the home. With the labor force’s growth slowing down, competition for new jobs should ease.

Despite good economic prospects for 1985, “we really haven’t escaped from the basic problem,” Brinner told UPDATE. “President Reagan is determined to keep taxes low, Congress is determined not to give up its spending plans, and the Federal Reserve–the nation’s central bank–is determined to keep inflation low. We have to get some agreement among Washington policy makers.”

Medicare, which by 1988 could absorb 10 percent of the federal budget, will be the broadest arena for debate, touching virtually every aspect of health care from money to medical ethics. Increased beneficiary cost sharing may not emerge in this politically risky presidential election year, but many other options to reduce federal spending are certain to be targets for possible action. Included in the growing list are mandatory assignment for physicians and reductions in Medicare payment rates for hospitals. Without question, the mood will be one of restriction, of tightening down.

Congress did not reach a consensus on major, long-term issues last year and may continue its postponement of reducing the federal deficit, predicted to top $200 billion a year into the indefinite future, or making structural changes in spending and tax laws to assure the solvency of Medicare’s Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund. These could well become the legacy of the 99th Congress in 1985, as some legislators already have predicted.

This “congressional impotence,” as House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL) called it, was not without its price to hospitals. AHA-supported provisions to improve the area wage index under prospective pricing were put on hold, as were continuation of a delay in the single reimbursement limit for skilled nursing facilities and hospital representation on peer review organization (PRO) governing bodies. And along with such holdovers was legislation in the House that would have exempted nonprofit hospitals from restrictions on the use of tax-exempt bonds.

Also put aside was a Senate bill (S. 951) to provide health insurance for the unemployed at a federal cost of $1.8 billion, including an amendment by Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX)–strongly backed by the AHA, the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and National Association of Public Hospitals–that would have required states to spend 10 percent of program funds on grants to hospitals serving large numbers of the uninsured who are unable to pay for care. The House had attached similar provisions to its more generous $4 billion version of the bill (H.R. 3521), also lost in the haste to adjourn, that would have provided $233 million over three years to such hospitals.

Those issues will arise anew. And continued, perhaps more rancorous, debate will center on the politically charged issue of increased Medicare beneficiary cost sharing. In addition, recommendations of HHS’s Advisory Council on Social Security, which labored exclusively throughout 1983 on Medicare’s money problems, will raise the specter of capping the amount of tax-free employer-paid health insurance premiums (an option endorsed by the AHA); phasing-in an increase in Medicare eligibility age to 67, starting January 1, 1985; and requiring mandatory physician assignment, among other proposals. Early clues to the Reagan Administration’s initiatives, many to be based on council recommendations, are expected in the President’s health budget, which will be announced early in the year, probably not long after Congress convenes on January 23. But, for political safety, increased beneficiary cost sharing is not likely to be among them.

In the jargon of econometrics, values are endogenous, not exogenous. The values held by individuals are products of the institutional structure in which the individual finds herself. That is, values are not pulled out of thin air by individuals. Values are learned. But the learning process of pluralism is strikingly different from that of hegemony. In a pluralistic society, the learning is active. Individuals cannot simply accept what they are taught, because different institutions teach them different things. They are forced to make choices and to defend the choices they make. Individuals are forced to take an active role in the formation of their own moral character, to synthesize creatively their own values from the competing ones they encounter all around them. Under pluralism, individuals go mad, or they acquire moral integrity.

Under hegemony, individuals go soft. In a hegemonic society, such as ours is becoming, the learning is purely passive. Individuals accept what they are taught, because all institutions teach them the same thing. The individual plays a dependent role in the value formation process of hegemony. She is not forced to make choices and defend them, so she does not synthesize or reconstruct her own values out of the competing ones she encounters. She does not acquire moral integrity.

Moral integrity is increasingly lacking in the American character. The American character is being tamed because pluralism is being lost. The diverse institutions which should be teaching contradictory values are not doing so. Emulation has emptied them of their force. But emulation has filled the corporation with the force lost by the other institutions. Rising to hegemony, corporate values are replacing the diverse values of the formerly independent church, state, family, school, and union. This is not to say that American youth are becoming loyal servants of the corporation without a struggle, for they are not. Some of them are showing refreshing new signs of moral revulsion. But it is to say that American white collar strata are coming to accept one particular set of values, beliefs, and meanings, inculcated through emulation, through mindless striving after more for me. Church, state, family, school, and union have fallen away as sources of values, beliefs, and meanings. Corporate ones have come to dominate. In the resulting corporate hegemony, moral choice and challenge are gone — so too is the moral integrity forged by making choices and by overcoming challenges. Values have become more endogenous than ever.

The reactionary right is onto something — our values, beliefs, and meanings are disintegrating, collapsing into conformity. This collapse is a very important subject for social economists to study. But the reactionary right fails to identify the real cause of the collapse, so this social economy analysis helps to set the record straight. The values corrupting us are products of corporate hegemony, not of welfare statism. The organizational revolution, not the New Deal, is the fountainhead of competitive conformity. And, the collapse into conformity is driven by emulation, not secular humanism. As more and more of us have moved into the large-scale, bureaucratic organizational world, we have taken on more and more of the values, beliefs, and meanings useful for getting ahead in that world. We have adapted to the organizational revolution. Nevertheless, we have failed to understand what has happened to us as we adapted to hegemony. Instead, we have accepted the ready-made scapegoats offered us by the reactionaries. And yet, in spite of all our confusion, some facts are hard to avoid: It was Ivan Boesky, financial capitalist, not Beatrice Washington, welfare mother, who was caught with his hand in the till to the tune of $100 million.

The touchstone for American Renewal must be conscious and continuous effort, at every family table, in every neighborhood, every organization and every region of the nation, to cast aside racism and prejudice in all their forms. We must remind ourselves and our children of the metaphor of the rising loaf of the shared American experience.

At the same time, every civic group must nurture and develop the leaders of the future. The object is not so much to prepare “heroic” leaders as it is young people who grasp the techniques of working together collaboratively, rather than acting alone in frustration.

Learning about collaborative leadership and mediation also can be a “refresher” for people who find themselves victims of mid-life “stalling” — workers sidetracked by lay-offs or new technologies, burned-out journalists and community activists, and disillusioned professionals. The issue is not so much training as it is renewal through a pooling of talents. The same processes also can function collectively, permitting, for example, leaders of a region to think together about ways to deal with their mounting crises.

The push for renewal must infect every institution of the land, from churches and corporations to every group representing those “factions” of democracy of which James Madison first wrote. In every sphere, we need the equivalent of Reinventing Government — the idea that with the same resources, one can indeed achieve more public good, be more responsive to impatient and insistent constituencies, and motivate and empower workers.

Organizational renewal does not come easily. Just as in personal and family life, the urge to protect what one has is immense. What is required is creative in-surgency. This means the insurgency of men and women who believe deeply in their families, neighborhoods and the missions of their organizations, while realizing they are falling far short of their potential. One example would be what some people call the “shadow government” of experts in frequently clashing industries, governments and environmental organizations. These people would jump at the chance to agree on workable compromises and creative “win-win” scenarios to move public policy forward. Sadly, they all too rarely get the chance to do so. But the dreary refrains of organizational orthodoxy too often squelch their originality.

Indeed, insurgents generally have a tough time of it, often because they are going against the grain. But in a real sense, they are the salt, the true patriots of our time.

And if collaboration, not conflict, is a secret to American Renewal, the message to the popular media must be “you, too.” Fights, scraps and competition in every arena from sports to government, are easy to cover. Corruption and the transgressions of people in high positions are red meat for the media. No one wants to suppress legitimate investigative coverage. Butan American Renewal demands a great deal more of the media. Americans want press, radio and television coverage that focuses on their deepest concerns and interests. They worry about the future, and want media coverage that treats them as adults, illuminates policy alternatives and explains the substantive barriers to solving our shared problems, as well as the potential for break-through.

Fundamentally, the message of American Renewal is that we need a new patriotism — as bold as the raw courage of our nation’s founders, as visionary as the framers of the most durable democracy in recorded history — because we face the challenge of reorganizing some of our most complex and resistant systems.

We need new standards for civic life. We need a new social contract that says every citizen counts, not just at the ballot box, but at parent-teacher meetings at schools, on committees to hammer out conflicts between growth and environmental conservation, and in neighborhoods to stop crime and save at-risk youth.

Amid this message of idealism, we need the pragmatism to understand that renewal is never complete. It does not equal contentment. There is no magic day on which it will be complete. We must commit ourselves to a “rolling renewal,” for while renewal seeks to invent new forms, it does not pretend those forms will be perfect. Our Declaration of Independence, the commitment of our Founders, reminds us that self-governance is a dynamic process — a state of mind, requiring surges of fresh energy and commitment.

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