#8 Fix It Shorts. Immigrants: Great for the Economy!

When did the arguments for free trade and the benefits of immigration go out of fashion?

Why is the case for scaling back the power of the financial industry under attack by the Trump administration?

Richard and Jim spoke to three experts for this episode of “Fix It Shorts.” 

Rana Foroohar, explains why the power of Wall Street distorts the economy. “The key lessons of the crisis of 2008 still remain unlearned,” she says. “Our financial system is just as vulnerable as ever.” Rana is the author of "Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business," She is also the Associated Editor and the Global Business Columnist for the Financial Times.

"One of the prizes, one of the treasures of democracy is freedom of thought, freedom of action, freedom of movement," says Peter Coy, Economics Editor of Bloomberg Businessweek. He argues that immigration, especially legal immigration of skilled workers, is a plus for the economy.

Economist Ruchir Sharma, author of the book “The Rise and Fall of Nations - Forces of Change in the Post-Crisis World,” tells us that expanding the workforce is a vital part of growth. Reducing immigration, he says, would slam the brakes on the economy.
 

#87 Taxes: How to Avoid an Audit, Get a Refund, and Don't Panic

Do you dread filing your taxes? We simplify the process and break it down into simple steps so you can avoid costly mistakes and even an audit. You might even get back hundreds of dollars in refunds.

Our guest on this podcast is certified tax accountant, Janice Hayman, who calls herself a "tax therapist" for many of her clients. We learn which tax credits and deductions millions of taxpayers miss when they file their returns. Why dealing with the Internal Revenue Service is often a lot easier and less intimidating than many people fear. And how to avoid falling for the most common tax scams.

This show is being released at the start of the 2016 tax-filing season. Now is the time to start collecting all those W2s, 1099s and other forms you will need to ensure that you are ready before the April 15th deadline.

Solutions

  • Paperwork is crucial. Download your documents and keep them on a flash drive.
  • Keep good records of (earned and unearned) income, mortgage payments, business expenses, and brokerage accounts. If you are paying for tuition you can file a 1099T, and if you work from home keep a record of how much time you spend working from home because you could get a deduction for using a home office.
  • Assume that you could be the victim of identity theft or a tax scam. The IRS will only communicate with you by certified or regular mail. Government tax authorities will not use phone calls or email unless you have previously communicated about a specific case.
  • The IRS website (www.irs.gov) is a surprisingly useful source of information about filing taxes. The site has free tax prep software for most taxpayers. However, consider using a certified accountant if you itemize your deductions, because the tax code is very complex. Popular software programs can be confusing and may not tell you about all of deductions that you may be entitled to claim. 
  • Low and moderate-income earners don't miss out on the earned income tax credit. You could qualify for a large refund on your 2016 taxes.
  • If you are looking for additional sources, the irs.gov site does provide a link to the Internal Revenue Code, maintained by Cornell University Law School. You can also read the  "Tax Code, Regulations and Official Guidance.” On the IRS website. This will take you to a page where you can research the internal revenue code.  

If you have any questions contact a professional or the IRS.

#84 Smart Solutions for The New Year

Fresh thinking for the New Year: In 2016 we were exposed to a dazzling range of smart, practical ideas from our podcast guests - from climate change and money matters, healthcare reform, to making room for strangers in our lives.  

 

In this show we start with Rebecca Jarvis, Chief Business, Economics and Technology Correspondent for ABC News. One of her smart money resolutions for the New Year is to be skeptical. Watch out for the know-it-alls and outright charlatans of investing, who pretend to understand how to beat the market. Rebecca also urges borrowers to be aware of the full costs of personal debt.

 

The need to be wary of simplistic slogans and fixes is at the heart of global economist Ruchir Sharma's book, "The Rise and Fall of Nations.” His solution? Look beyond the headlines to long-term trends. Slower growths in the workforce and immigration rates have a big impact on prosperity and growth.  

In the excerpt from our show on nuclear power, Michael Shellenberger, author of An Ecomodernist Manifesto, challenges the views of many environmentalists. He says nuclear is a crucial source of energy that "produces zero air and water pollution." 

"At the end of the day everybody is biased," says John Gable, who joined us to explain the thinking behind AllSides.com.  This news website comes with a left/ center/ right column - showing readers how major events are interpreted by liberal, conservative and centrist media. John urges us to confront our own biases and filter bubbles as we separate truth from fake news.

One forecast for 2017: due to the squabbling in Washington DC, over the role of federal government more solutions will be local. We spoke with obstetrician-gynecologist Rose Gowen, a City Commissioner in Brownsville, Texas. She told us how she was able to reduce high obesity rates using grants, a farmers market and bike trails and other local initiatives. 

Pulitzer-prize winning author, and New York Times journalist, Charles Duhigg talks about how we can improve our bad habits and become smarter, faster, and better. In this clip, we discuss to-do lists, mental models and making the most of our time - in life and in business. 

#83 Best Moments of 2016

 

Alan Dershowitz on Trump; what an Islamic fundamentalist learned in an Egyptian jail; plus a tenured professor explained why she quit her job—trigger warning ahead.

 

 

No doubt about it - the nomination and election of Donald Trump was the biggest, most surprising news story of 2016. At the start of this show we get two fascinating takes on the Trump story from a marketing man and a Harvard Professor.

For decades Alan Dershowitz has been on the front lines in the fight for civil liberties. He also has a refreshing take on the Trump phenomenon. "He was unpredictable: somebody who gave some people hope that maybe things won't be the same," says Dershowitz.

British marketing expert Mark Earls, made a second visit to our podcast, told us that emotion and identity play far greater roles in our voting decisions than many of us realize." We imagine that people consider in something as important as politics the pros and cons and the policy, but we don’t.

We spoke to Karen Firestone, the author of Even the Odds, about the time she met the famous advice columnist, Anne Landers, on a plane. The advice Landers gave Firestone changed her life. Find out why.

Do you like talking to strangers on planes, or talking to strangers? If the answer is no, then listen to Kio Stark (TED author and speaker), she may change your mind. We can all benefit from talking to strangers; find out why and how. 

Joan Blades tells us how she brings progressives and Tea Party supporters together for Living Room Conversations.

As a young Muslim man in Britain, Maajid Nawaz joined a global Islamist group. Jailed in Egypt in 2001, Maajid began an extraordinary personal journey. In this episode he describes his transformation towards liberal, democratic values as a secular Muslim. Today, Maajid is an active counter-extremist and founding Chairman of Quilliam - a global organization focusing on integration, religious freedom, citizenship and identity.  He is also the author of, "Radical: My Journey Out of Islamic Extremism."

Historian Alice Dreger, author of "Galileo's Middle Finger", reveals her personal fight for academic freedom and why it cost her a tenured job at a prestigious university.

#81 Rana Foroohar: Wall Street's Giant Threat to the Economy

More than eight years after the financial meltdown, we still have a lot to learn, says our guest, CNN global economic analyst Rana Foroohar.  

"The rise of finance has actually kind of eaten the rest of the economy," Rana tells this in this "Fix It" episode. "Finance controls the rest of industry.  Finance has become the tail that wags the dog." At the same time, the financial industry remains at risk for another hugely destructive collapse.

In her book, "Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business", Rana says only 15% of all the money in financial markets ends up in the real economy in the form of loans to help grow business.  The rest is traded and shuffled around the financial system. 

"Finance is there to serve business. We need to simplify it," Rana says.  That means deciding "what kinds of activities in our economy we want to incentivize and then creating the rules around finance to help capital flow to those areas."

Solutions:

  • Reform the tax code that “treats one-year investment gains the same way it treats longer-term investments, and induces financial institutions to push overconsumption and speculation, rather than healthy lending to small businesses and job creators.” End the system's bias favoring debt over equity.
  • Reduce the U.S. corporate tax rate - and abolish complex loopholes. Encourage multinational corporate to return cash kept overseas, reinvesting it in U.S. enterprises. 
  • End offshore banking, which allows corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying tax.
  • Discourage stock buybacks. Boost incentives for large corporations to fund research and innovation.
  • Reform banking laws. Impose new safety limits on the amount of money banks must have in cash. 
  • Impose a financial transaction tax: forcing banks to pay a small fee for each trade in bonds, stocks, and derivatives.
  • Limit leverage: impose safety controls that require banks to hold a larger percentage of holdings in cash.
  • Simplify and overhaul the enormously complex Dodd-Frank law, which penalizes community and regional banks.  Pass a new form of Glass-Steagall Act - the 1933 law that separated commercial banking from investing and trading. 
  • Take a page from airline safety.  Set up a financial version of the independent National Transportation Safety Board to investigate bank failures and other threats to the financial system.
  • End "cognitive capture" or group think. When debating financial reform, listen to the views of all stakeholders: large and small banks, consumers, manufacturing businesses and academics that study the impact of finance on other sectors of the economy.