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Consider The ‘Entrepreneur Lite’ Option

The traditional career path is dead.

With rapidly changing technology and a global economy, the average company and employee in the United States continue to come to terms with the new normal.

Workers aged 50 and older who lost their jobs during the recession were 20 percent less likely to become re-employed than those 24 to 34, according to the Urban Institute. And, unemployment doubled for workers 55 and older between December 2007 and March 2012.

It’s not just factory jobs that have gone, it’s also a wide range of middle-class, white-collar jobs that are letting go of their experienced people,

Gone are the days when you could expect a job out of college to last an entire career. The new normal is, for many, a very cobbled career trajectory. Unfortunately, there are many talented, middle-aged professionals who are getting lost in the new shuffle. However, many are cutting their own new path.”

We call it “entrepreneur lite” – a franchise option that fast-tracks people to business ownership without the requirement of a brilliant idea.

In franchising, someone has already dreamed the big dream, figured out how to make it work, and marketed and sold their way into a well-defined niche. Now they’re looking for an investor and partner in building on that success.

Is the entrepreneur lite career path right for you? There are many things to consider, including  five Cs, which summarizes as:

• Capital: Most franchise companies require a minimum level of liquid capital. A number of costs beyond the initial fee need to be considered when you’re investing in a franchise. There will be legal fees, rent, royalty fees, and equipment and inventory to purchase – to name some costs. Keep in mind that there is a ramp-up period with any business. You need enough money to cover your expenses during this time when more money will be going out than coming in. Meanwhile, the ordinary expenses of life continue.

• Capacity: You must have a certain level of business acumen. As a business owner, you must understand people and how to motivate, lead and support employees. Experience in sales and operations management is a plus. It takes strong leadership skills to build a business and develop a reliable staff, and savvy hiring skills will save you from costly mistakes.

• Cooperation: A franchisor will have a detailed plan for you to follow—and they need to know you will embrace that plan in a spirit of cooperation. They want to feel confident that you’ll follow their procedures and systems to create a consistent product and service upon which they can build their brand.

• Character: Franchisors expect the people with whom they partner to operate with honesty and integrity. As a franchisee, you will be representing the brand, and franchisors will take a close look at how well you will do that. A company may do a background check on their candidates to make an assessment of this quality.

• Customer satisfaction: Warren Buffett famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Think about your own shopping and service provider experiences and how those interactions have shaped your opinion of businesses. Everyday transactions can earn your repeat business—or ensure you won’t be back. Do you have the desire and passion to create a superior customer experience? A franchise needs to ensure that you will take good care of customers.


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The Biggest Financial Mistake At The End of the Year


By Marc Sarner

As the end of the year approaches we make plans to spend time with family and friends. Where are we going for Thanksgiving? Are we traveling somewhere for Christmas?

I find that many people think about their investments and reevaluate goals. However, they don’t think to examine whether or not they can convert part of their IRA to a Roth IRA with little or no tax liability.
That’s right. It is possible that you can convert your IRA with no tax consequence.

If you are having a low-income year or are in retirement and have a large IRA balance, it is possible for you to convert part of it without incurring tax consequences.

Why would you want to convert to a Roth IRA? Here are a few advantages to the Roth:

•  Withdrawals from a traditional IRA are taxed because you were able to defer taxes on that money when you made contributions to your account. Withdrawals from a Roth IRA aren’t taxed because the deposits into the account weren’t tax deductible.

•  Any growth in a Roth IRA is tax free as long as it has grown for at least five years.

•  With a traditional IRA, when you reach age 70½ you must begin withdrawing a certain amount each year whether you want to or not. That’s called the Required Minimum Distribution. But with a Roth IRA, there is no Required Minimum Distribution so even at 70½ you can withdraw as much or as little as you like.

 You want to make sure you are talking to your tax specialist or a seasoned experienced advisor when looking at these options. One thing you can do is have them do a mock tax return to see the effect.

Why haven’t you heard of this before from your advisors? If you think about it, tax professionals are reacting to the previous year’s income and transactions. They are paid to do taxes.

Advisors are hired to manage money and plan.  When was the last time your advisor looked at your tax return to see how much money they can save you? This really isn’t an area they specialize in and they aren’t paid by you to focus on it.

For pre-retirees and retirees, planning for retirement is more than picking investments that fit your goals. Retirement planning is about becoming financially independent. Including Roth IRA conversion as part of your end of the year game plan could save you thousands in the long run.

 You have until Dec. 31 to convert. If you end up doing too much, you can always re-characterize or reverse the transaction come tax time.  However, if you don’t do enough, you can’t do more conversion.

About Marc Sarner

As president of Wake Up Financial and Insurance Services, Inc. ( for nearly two decades, Marc Sarner provides retirement solutions for retirees and pre-retirees that focus on reducing taxes, increasing income and managing risks. He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from California Polytechnic State University.


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The Thieving Bastards! Trying to Steal from Social Security

United States Senator Mike Lee

This is how it happens.

Last night while you were sleeping the Senate voted to steal $150 billion dollars from the Social Security Trust Fund. I joined 34 of my colleagues in a vote to prevent this raid. I would like to thank Senator Rand Paul for leading the fight to protect to Social Security from the thieves in Washington, who seem to think that if they steal from the American people at night while they are sleeping that they will get away with it. I was proud to vote with Senator Paul on his point of order that would have protected Social Security, and I ask you to help me shine a light on what Washington has tried to hide from you in the darkness of night.

If everyone who sees this message shares it, it will reach millions of Americans. As someone who has been fighting for years to reform our broken government in Washington, I know it is exhausting, I sympathize with your frustration, and I understand your impatience. But don’t give up. Washington wants you to give up.

Just remember, a vote to raid social security in the middle of the night in a desperate attempt to perpetuate an unsustainable spending addiction isn’t a sign of strength. It is a sign of weakness.


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Michael Moore’s gutsy new film: Our military has not won a war since World War II


Look out: Moore’s new film opens with assertion sure to inflame the right, then suggests we “invade” for good ideas

This Jan. 8, 2013 photo shows filmmaker Michael Moore at the National Board of Review Awards gala at Cipriani 42nd St. in New York. More than a decade has passed since the controversial gun control documentary "Bowling for Columbine" was released and Moore says we've yet to make any strides toward ending violence in schools.  (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

This Jan. 8, 2013 photo shows filmmaker Michael Moore at the National Board of Review Awards gala at Cipriani 42nd St. in New York. More than a decade has passed since the controversial gun control documentary “Bowling for Columbine” was released and Moore says we’ve yet to make any strides toward ending violence in schools. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)



This Jan. 8, 2013 photo shows filmmaker Michael Moore at the National Board of Review Awards gala at Cipriani 42nd St. in New York. More than a decade has passed since the controversial gun control documentary “Bowling for Columbine” was released and Moore says we’ve yet to make any strides toward ending violence in schools. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) (Credit: Evan Agostini)

Michael Moore is no stranger to controversy.  He has, after all, been threatened by Clint Eastwood—twiceAnd who could forget that notorious Michigan restaurant that banned him for a tweet critical of snipers? His new film, “Where to Invade Next,” promises to be his most controversial yet.   The controversy, though, is not what many of Moore’s viewers would immediately suspect.   Instead of focusing on what is wrong in our country, Moore uses the film to focus on what is right elsewhere.  Instead of pointing out our flaws, he imagines our possibilities.   And instead of wallowing in fear and panic, he offers practical ideas for productive change.  Given that we are in the midst of another election cycle, it’s worth asking what impact it might have on voters.  While it is hard to say whether it will influence voting patterns or policy stance, there is one thing for certain: It’s really going to piss a lot of people off.

“Where to Invade Next” is currently touring film festivals.  It has screened in New YorkChicagoTorontoPhiladelphia, and it will screen on November 16 in Washington, D.C., to launch the AFI film docs series.  It will open in select cities onDecember 23, and will then have a wide U.S. release in January.

After an opening that reminds viewers that our military has not won one war since WWII, the film ironically suggests that the man to save us is Moore.  He will go out and “invade,” but this time he won’t use weapons; he will just pillage other nations for their good ideas and bring them back for us to claim.

Moore travels to Finland, Slovenia, France, Tunisia, Italy, Portugal, and beyond.  In each country he finds a policy that is not only more humane than current U.S. practice, but also more effective.  Among the many innovative policies he covers, he documents better women’s rights, prison policy, worker rights, and educational policies than we have in the United States.

The film has been called “chirpy” and “romantic,” but these reviews miss the point.  Sure it’s hilariously funny at times, sure it’s deeply ironic, but the focus on covering “good” stories from across the globe only further serves to show what’s tragic here.  It’s the deep dialectic between these images that drives the power of the film.  With each shiny image abroad, the contrasting images of the United States feel more and more tarnished.  All it takes is comparative photos of school lunches in the United States and France to turn American exceptionalism on its head.

Moore’s latest film is his most bold and most sophisticated.  Rather than focus on a single issue he covers a wide range of social practices.  The radical idea at the core of the film is that change for the better is possible if we just commit to it.  But the film’s real subversive edge lies in its ability to out GOP policy for all of its naysaying, doomsday, Chicken Little rhetoric.  And the film’s art lies in implicating that rhetoric without really citing it.  Unlike Moore’s earlier films, it is what is left unsaid that is often more powerful than what is narrated in the voice over.

Moore himself suggests that the film may, in fact, be his most angry.  The anger, though, is at the failure to imagine other possibilities.  What Moore illustrates is that one can be angry at the state of affairs without being negative or cynical. In this election cycle, it’s a radical notion and it’s guaranteed to provoke.

As soon as the film has a wider release it will likely come under attack from the right—it’s hard to imagine a Michael Moore film without conservative attacks.  But this film will be different, because this time Moore will be attacked for what he offers as vision rather than what he exposes as critique.

There will be countless complaints that one thing may be possible in Finland but not in this country.  And that is where the real brilliance of the film lies.  At a basic level the film anticipates some of the ways it will be judged—and it asks us to think deeply about the flaws to that exact line of thinking.  The place he really is trying to invade is our very own mindset—a mindset that has become accustomed to a poverty of ideas and a politics of suspicion.

But even more radical during this election circus is the fact that Moore highlights policies that have an existing connection to reality and that actually work somewhere in the world.  And that is radically different from many of the loony GOP policies we currently have on offer.

As Politifact reports, the last GOP debate was simply chock full of lies.  And when the candidates were pressed to explain their policy, they sidestepped, flubbed, or made things up.   As Robert Reich points out –almost all GOP policy is based on myths, lies and voodoo economics. The point is that much GOP policy has zero connection to reality.


In contrast, the programs Moore shows us have at least some connection to the real world. In one vignette, we see Rick Perry extolling the efficacy of abstinence. “I know it works,” he says, even after his interviewer cites data that proves it doesn’t. Hearing of this, the sex ed teacher from France, who teaches students to value their partners and treat them with care, looks quizzically at Moore and explains that “abstinence is not sex education.”

Moore will likely get hammered for the impracticality of applying these policies here at home.  But in our culture of hypocrisy, he will get hammered by the very same critics who accept delusional drivel with absolutely no connection to reality.  Imagine if Trump or Cruz or Bush or Rubio were held to the standard that Moore will be.

The crazy thing is that any number of current GOP slogans would be perfect taglines for the film: “Make America Great Again,” “Heal, Inspire, Revive,” “Reigniting the Promise of America,” “Defeat the Washington Machine. Unleash the American Dream.” Ironic coincidence?  Or tragic farce? As Moore proves in the film, it all depends on your perspective—and your politics.



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Seattle Voters Approve First-in-the-Nation ‘Democracy Vouchers’

‘We look forward to seeing more cities and states implementing their own local solutions to the problem of big money in politics,’ says campaign spokesperson

“Seattle leads the nation, first on $15 an hour and now on campaign-finance reform,” said a campaign spokesperson on Tuesday night. (Photo: Howard Ignatius/flickr/cc)

Voters in Seattle, Washington on Tuesday approved a first-in-the-nation “democracy voucher” ballot initiative that could serve as a national model on campaign finance reform.

Initiative 122 (I-122), which was endorsed by nearly every Seattle City Council candidate and enjoyed the support of dozens of local and national progressive groups, passed 60-40, according to the King County Elections Office.

Supporters say the innovative public campaign financing program could give everyday voters more control over the city’s elections while limiting the power of corporate and special interests.

The initiative states that for each city election cycle, or every two years, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) will mail four $25 vouchers to each voter. They can only be used in Seattle campaigns for mayor, city council and city attorney. The SEEC will release money to the candidates that agree to follow I-122’s rules, which include participating in three debates and accepting lower contribution and spending limits.

The measure also prohibits elected officials and their high-level staff from lobbying the city government within three years of leaving office and enacts limits on campaign contributions from people or entities that have contracts with the city.

Last year, Seattle’s City Council passed a historic measure establishing a $15 minimum wage.

“Seattle leads the nation, first on $15 an hour and now on campaign-finance reform. We look forward to seeing more cities and states implementing their own local solutions to the problem of big money in politics,” said Heather Weiner, a campaign spokesperson, on Tuesday night.

Ahead of the vote, City Council member Estevan Muñoz-Howard described the initiative as “our best chance at reducing the role of money in Seattle politics. We already have some of the most expensive city council races in the country, which are funded by less than one percent of our city’s population. This initiative will amplify the voices of regular people and reduce the role that wealthy donors and paid lobbyists play in setting our city’s priorities.”

And on Monday, Campaign for America’s Future blogger Terrance Heath speculated about what a ‘Yes’ vote could mean: “Will Seattle’s Democracy Vouchers catch on? If I–122 passes on Tuesday, the idea could spread to other cities, giving state and local governments important tools to limit the influence of big money in a post-Citizens United world,” he wrote. “If Seattle shows the way, changing local politics may prove the key to change on the national political scene.”

Maine voters also approved a clean elections ballot initiative on Tuesday.


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I  had the pleasure of reading the first draft, and what a difference a day makes!!!

It is a page turner from the start.  Some of the concepts and settings are so bizarre it’s hard to conceptualize, or process what is going on.  Some may think that sounds negative, but in this case it works.  Mike keeps you guessing throughout the book.  When you think you have it figured out, you are wrong.

The characters are entertaining enough in their own right, but the story line is unique and immensely entertaining.

He even gave me closure at the end.  Thanks Mike, for listening. Too much Spielberg in my past to enjoy being left hanging.  This book does not disappoint!

MMCoverFinal-Mod-8-26-webThe Devil’s Marque
is a science fiction mystery about Calliope Dancer and what’s happening to all of Mr. Appleyard’s unsavory clients. His cash flow is taking a hit and he’s very unhappy about it. Then along comes a mysterious lawyer and a very old connection to China. It all happens over a summer, and the last 112 years, maybe more. Even Calliope’s special candy doesn’t help her much this time – or with her own guilt about her client either. Good and evil are just ambiguous concepts after all. Everything is something it isn’t. Even the first time we meet other beings.

Meet Calliope Dancer: confectiontionaire extraordinaire with abilities to connive, control, and correct everything she contracts for and more. Or she thought until  a spider and a lawyer catch her in their web, and her candy helps not at all to get her beyond their wall. The police are unamused and her client unsatisfied. Now what can she do?

What starts out as a favor for a friend soon turns into a very strange and dangerous assignment from a client that Calliope wishes she had never heard of. Good and evil weave a tangled web that only a very old and crafty being seems to understand. Maybe it is just a dream from too much sugar and chemistry.

After all, life can’t be that strange – can it?

Mike Macartney is an aerospace engineer from Nevada. He spent a career in the space business as an analysis engineer, an engineering manager, an armored vehicle business manager, and a consultant to NASA. He helped to found an IT and a software company in Northern California.



Looking for a Great Short Read? The Devil’s Marque


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5 Tips For Outwitting Porch Pirates


During The Gift-Giving Season

Land-Locked Blackbeards Who Snatch Packages From Doorsteps May Also Hack Into Online Tracking Systems
Online shopping has made life easier for consumers – and is especially handy during the holidays ¬– but it’s also created more opportunities for “porch pirates,” the thieves who prey on those parcels left on our doorsteps.

Many porch pirates are low tech, simply cruising neighborhoods where they know deliveries are taking place and grabbing the unattended packages.

But porch pirates who also happen to be cyber criminals can use your own technology against you, says Gary Miliefsky, CEO of SnoopWall (, a company that specializes in cyber security.

“A more sophisticated porch pirate might send you an SMS message or email with malware,” Miliefsky says.

 “That would let them gain access to your computer or smartphone, and they could install a RAT (Remote Access Trojan). Then they can eavesdrop on your orders and deliveries.”

They also might be able to locate you through the geolocating feature on your phone, he says. That would tell them when you are away from home, the final link in their well-laid plan.

“If they know you aren’t home and that a package is scheduled for delivery, it’s going to be easy for them to steal it,” Miliefsky says.

Miliefsky offers these tips for outwitting porch pirates and keeping those packages safe:

Get permission to ship all your packages to work. That way they aren’t left unguarded at your doorstep for hours where anyone walking by could snatch them. If this arrangement works out, be sure to tell all your friends and family also to ship packages to your work address.

Ask a friend or neighbor to receive your packages for you. You might not be home on work days, but plenty of people are. Trusted friends who are retired or who work at home might be happy to let you have packages delivered to them for safe keeping.

If a neighbor can’t receive your packages and you can’t get them at work, another option is available. Miliefsky suggests trying Doorman, a service that lets you arrange for a package to be held at a warehouse until you arrive home. Then you can arrange delivery for evening hours that better suit you. More on Doorman is available at

Disable geolocation on your smartphone so that porch pirates – or other hackers for that matter – can’t track your location. No need to make it easier on them.

Set up a live recording video camera aimed at your porch. That could allow you to spot a theft as it happens and alert law enforcement, or at least provide you with video later that might help identify the porch pirates.

“Porch pirates count on you being lax with your defenses,” Miliefsky says. “But with a little preparation, you can thwart their plans and leave them empty handed.”

About Gary S. Miliefsky

Gary Miliefsky recently blew the lid on the how Russian, Chinese and Indian hackers are behind the top 10 flashlight apps specifically designed to collect and expose your personal information to cybercriminals abroad. He is Founder of SnoopWall Inc. (, a cutting edge counter-intelligence technology company offering free consumer based software to secure personal data on cell-phones and tablets, while generating revenues helping banks and government agencies secure their networks. He has been active in the INFOSEC arena, as the Executive Producer of Cyber Defense Magazine and a regular contributor to Hakin9 Magazine. He has patents and patents pending on his inventions for Computer and Network Security.


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