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Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and services).[need quotation to verify] Simply put, it is "any activity or enterprise entered into for profit."

Having a business name does not separate the business entity from the owner, which means that the owner of the business is responsible and liable for debts incurred by the business. If the business acquires debts, the creditors can go after the owner's personal possessions. A business structure does not allow for corporate tax rates. The proprietor is personally taxed on all income from the business.

The term is also often used colloquially (but not by lawyers or by public officials) to refer to a company. A company, on the other hand, is a separate legal entity and provides for limited liability, as well as corporate tax rates. A company structure is more complicated and expensive to set up, but offers more protection and benefits for the owner. (Full article...)

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Reaganomics (a portmanteau of "Reagan" and "economics") refers to both the real economic policies and the associate politicking of the Reagan era. The four pillars of Reagan's economic policy were to 1) reduce the growth of government spending, 2) reduce marginal tax rates on income from labor and capital, 3) reduce regulation, and (4) control the money supply to reduce inflation (sound money policy). In attempting to cut back on domestic spending while lowering taxes, Reagan's approach was a departure from his immediate predecessors.

Though reduced government spending is touted as a core element of Reaganomics, Reagan actually racked up a huge debt. Bush avoided the issue during his presidency, and lost reelection in large part on economic grounds. Only when Clinton was elected, was Greenspan's advice finally heeded, and efforts made to pay down the debt; by the end of the Clinton era that debt was largely paid off, and Greenspan was contending with the possibility of surpluses in the years to come.

Reaganomics had its roots in two of Reagan's campaign promises: lower taxes and a smaller government. Reagan reduced income tax rates, with the largest rate reductions on the highest incomes; in a time of battling inflation, Reagan raised deficit spending to its highest level (relative to GDP) since World War II. As a result, there has been endless debate on whether the economic trends of the Reagan years actually came from the free market, or from government stimulus of the kind advocated by Keynesian theorists.

With the Tax Reform Act of 1986, Reagan and Congress sought to broaden the tax base and reduce perceived tax favoritism. In 1983, Democrats Bill Bradley and Dick Gephardt had offered a proposal to clean up/broaden the tax base; in 1984 Reagan had the Treasury Department produce its own plan. The eventual bipartisan 1986 act aimed to be revenue-neutral: while it reduced the top marginal rate, it also partially "cleaned up" the tax base by curbing tax loopholes, preferences, and exceptions, thus raising the effective tax on activities previously specially favored by the code. Economists of most affiliations favor cleaning up the tax code, since tax preferences and exceptions "distort" economic decisions.

The Reagan era was marked by cuts to social programs, and large-scale deficit spending on the military. Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman has pointed to the number of pages added to the Federal Register each year as evidence of Reagan's anti-regulation presidency (the Register records the rules and regulations that federal agencies issue per year). The number of pages added to the Register each year declined sharply at the start of the Ronald Reagan presidency breaking a steady and sharp increase since 1960. The increase in the number of pages added per year resumed an upward, though less steep, trend after Reagan left office. In contrast, the number of pages being added each year increased under Ford, Carter, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and others.

The question of how much of the overall trend of deregulation can be credited to Reagan remains contentious. The economists Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales point out that many of the major deregulation efforts had either taken place or begun before Reagan (note the deregulation of airlines and trucking under Carter, and the beginning of deregulatory reform in railroads, telephones, natural gas, and banking). They argue for this and other reasons that "the move toward markets preceded the leader [Reagan] who is seen as one of their saviors." Economist William Niskanen, a member of Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers and later chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute, writes that deregulation had the "lowest priority" of the items on the Reagan agenda and that Reagan "failed to sustain the momentum for deregulation initiated in the 1970s." The apparent contradiction with Friedman's data may be resolved by seeing Niskanen as referring to statutory deregulation and Friedman to administrative deregulation. In sum, a large study by economists Paul Joskow and Roger Noll concludes that the changes in economic regulation "simply do not reflect a sudden ideological change in federal executive branch views....many of the significant changes in economic regulation began during the Carter administration and were initiated by liberal Democrats.... it is not particularly productive to refer to a generic deregulation movement or to think of it as a consequence of the election of Ronald Reagan."

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Detail from Labor, Charles Sprague Pearce (1896).

Manual labour (manual labor in American English) or manual work is physical work done by people, most especially in contrast to that done by machines, and also to that done by working animals. It is most literally work done with the hands (the word "manual" comes from the Latin word for hand), and, by figurative extension, it is work done with any of the muscles and bones of the body. For most of human prehistory and history, manual labour and its close cousin, animal labour, have been the primary ways that physical work has been accomplished. Mechanisation and automation, which reduce the need for human and animal labour in production, have existed for centuries, but it was only starting in the 19th century that they began to significantly expand and to change human culture. To be implemented, they require that sufficient technology exist and that its capital costs be justified by the amount of future wages that they will obviate.

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At this point in the inquiry relation had established itself between the "interview programme" and the results obtained in the experimental rooms. The source of those constraints, relief from which the relay assemblers had so freely expressed, had, at least in part, revealed itself. Human collaboration in work, in primitive and developed societies, has always depended for its perpetuation upon the evolution of a non-logical social code which regulates the relations between persons and their attitudes to one another. Insistence upon a merely economic logic of production-especially if the logic is frequently changed-interferes with the development of such a code and consequently give rise in the group to a sense of human defeat. This human defeat results in the formation of a social code at a lower level and in opposition to the economic logic. One of its symptoms is "restriction". In its devious road to this enlightenment, the research division had learned something of the personal exasperation caused by a continual experience of incomprehension and futility. It had also learned how serious a consequence such experience carries for industry and for the individual.

Elton Mayo, The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization, 1933


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On this day in Business history...

December 4:

  • 1935 - Paul O'Neill, prior to his term as Secretary of the Treasury, was chairman and CEO of Pittsburgh-based industrial giant Alcoa and chairman of the RAND Corporation, was born on this day.

Did you know

  • ... that at the time of her completion in 1918, American cargo ship West Lianga held the distinction of being both the fastest-launched and the fastest-constructed ocean-going ship in the world?


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