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Hi Taylor - My wife and I are considering moving out of a big city because everything is just so expensive. At the same time, I’m worried we’ll make a lot less money in a smaller town and it’ll just even out. We both have college educations and have experience with administrative work and management. Is there any way to predict how this will work out? - Forrest

Hey Forrest - Welcome to the conundrum that so many millennials are facing. Some people thrive when they move from high-cost living to a more affordable area, while others encounter a whole new set of challenges. Here are a few indicators to help you understand how small-town living might treat you.

     1. Housing. This particular living cost is important for a few different reasons. The most obvious is how much money you can save on your rent or mortgage by moving to a smaller town or a more rural area. Housing and rental prices are also important because they can help you gauge population growth. As much as you want to save money on your living arrangement, a shockingly low price could be a sign that more people are going than coming in that particular area. People who leave cities hastily and head for a region with the cheapest housing are usually the ones who have the most difficulty finding good jobs. Keep that in mind before springing for an awesome mansion in the middle of nowhere.

     2. Adjacent industries. I’m sure you’ll check job availability before you pack up and head to a new town, and I’d encourage you to research the biggest employers in the surrounding counties as well. When a nearby district has lots of jobs in education, government or medicine, that usually helps sustain a variety of other businesses. If an area mostly employs people in a specific trade like mining or forestry, that might limit the open positions. Finding a city or county with an assortment of industries will make a big difference in your job search.

     3. Competition. This isn’t particularly easy to figure out, but you should give some thought to what the professional competition will be like in a given area. Does your work history give you experience that will translate to jobs in a smaller market? In some cases, working as a legal secretary in a Manhattan firm will make you an appealing candidate for a variety of jobs. Meanwhile, some employers won’t care that you’ve worked for fancy companies in the past. As you look for work you’re qualified for and interested in, focus on jobs you’ll be better suited for than someone without your experience.

I believe you can find work when you leave the big city for smaller pastures. As long as you have a strategy in place, you should be able to land a job and enjoy living someplace where your dollars go further. Good luck to you and your wife, Forrest!
--
Taylor J Kovar, CEO
Kovar Capital

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by Walter E. Williams

    Poverty is no mystery, and it's easily avoidable. The poverty line that the Census Bureau used in 2016 for a single person was an income of $12,486 that year. For a two-person household, it was $16,072, and for a four-person household, it was $24,755. To beat those poverty thresholds is fairly simple. Here's the road map: Complete high school; get a job, any kind of a job; get married before having children; and be a law-abiding citizen.
    How about some numbers? A single person taking a minimum wage job would earn an annual income of $15,080. A married couple would earn $30,160. By the way, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 4 percent of hourly workers in 2016 were paid the minimum wage. That means that over 96 percent of workers earned more than the minimum wage. Not surprising is the fact that among both black and white married couples, the poverty rate is in the single digits. Most poverty is in female-headed households.
    Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign garnered considerable appeal from millennials. These young people see socialism as superior to free market capitalism. Capitalism doesn't do well in popularity polls, despite the fact that it has eliminated many of mankind's worst problems, such as pestilence and gross hunger and poverty. One of the reasons is that capitalism is always evaluated against the nonexistent, non-realizable utopias of socialism or communism. Any earthly system, when compared with a utopia, will not fare well. Indeed, socialism sounds good but, when practiced, leads to disaster. Those disasters have been experienced in countries such as the USSR, China, most African nations and, most recently, Venezuela. When these disasters are pointed out, the excuse is inadequacies of socialist leaders rather than socialism itself. For the ordinary person, free market capitalism, with all of its warts, is superior to any system yet devised to deal with our ev!
eryday needs and desires.
    Here are a couple of questions: Does an act clearly immoral when done privately become moral when done collectively? Does legality or majority consensus establish morality? Before you answer, consider that slavery was legal; South African apartheid was legal; the horrendous Stalinist, Nazi and Maoist purges were legal. Clearly, the fact of legality or a majority consensus cannot establish morality.
    You might ask, "If you're so smart, Williams, what establishes morality?" That's easy, and you tell me when I make the wrong step. My initial premise is that we own ourselves. You are your private property, and I am mine. Self-ownership reveals what's moral and immoral. Rape is immoral because it violates private property. So is murder and any other initiation of violence. Most people probably agree with me that rape and murder are immoral, but what about theft? Some Americans would have a problem deciding whether theft is moral or immoral.
    Let's first define what theft is. A fairly good working definition of theft is the taking by force of one person's property and the giving of it to another to whom it does not belong. Most Americans think that doing that is OK as long as it's done by government. We think that it is OK for Congress to take the earnings of one American to give to another American in the form of agricultural subsidies, business bailouts, aid for higher education, food stamps, welfare and other such activities that make up at least two-thirds of the federal budget. If I took some of your earnings to give to a poor person, I'd go to jail. If a congressman did the same thing, he'd be praised.
    People tend to love a powerful government. Quite naturally, a big, powerful government tends to draw into it people with bloated egos, people who think they know more than everyone else and have little hesitance in coercing their fellow man. Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek explained why corruption is rife in government: "In government, the scum rises to the top."
    Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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by John Stossel

   Union protestors and celebrity advocates have decided that waiters' tips aren't big enough.
    They are upset that in 43 states, tipped workers can be paid a lower minimum wage, as low as $2.13 an hour.
    Not fair! say celebrities like Jane Fonda, who recorded commercials saying, "That's barely enough to buy a large cup of coffee!"
    As usual, those who want the government to decide that workers must be paid more insist that "women and minorities" are hurt by the market.
    But waitress Alcieli Felipe is a minority and a woman. She says the celebrities and politicians should butt out.
    Thanks to tips, Felipe says in my new internet video, she makes "$25 an hour. By the end of the year, $48,000 to $50,000."
    She understands that if government raises the minimum, "It'll be harder for restaurants to keep the same amount of employees ... (T)he busboy will be cut."
    She's right.
    Minimum wage laws don't just raise salaries without cost. If they did, why not set the minimum at $100 an hour?
    Every time a minimum is raised, somebody loses something. "In the (San Francisco) Bay Area, you've got a 14 percent increase in restaurant closures for each dollar increase in the minimum wage," says Michael Saltsman of the Employment Policy Institute.
    Activists are unmoved. "The problem with tips is that they're very inconsistent," University of Buffalo law professor Nicole Hallett told me. Hallett is one of those activist professors who gets students to join her in "social justice" protests.
    "I simply don't believe that increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers will lead to a reduction in the restaurant workforce," she said. "Studies have shown that restaurants have been able to bear those costs."
    I pointed out that last time New York raised its minimum, the city lost 270 restaurants.
    "Restaurants always close," she replied.
    "Restaurants don't always close," responds Saltsman. "Yeah, there's turnover in the industry, but what we're doing now to an industry where there's low profit margins, jacking up restaurant closures ... Something's not right."
    The media rarely focus on those closings. We can't interview people who are never hired; we don't know who they are. Instead, activists lead reporters to workers who talk about struggling to pay rent.
    "Forty-six percent of tipped workers nationwide rely on public benefits" like food stamps, Hallett told me.
    I pointed out that many tipped workers are eligible for benefits because they don't report tip income to the government.
    She didn't dispute that. "Many restaurants and restaurant workers don't report 100 percent of their income," she acknowledged.
    Hallett and other higher-minimum activists also claim that tipping should be discouraged because it causes sexual harassment. Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Jane Fonda and 12 other actresses wrote a letter urging New York's governor to increase the minimum wage, claiming that "relying on tips creates a more permissive work environment where customers feel entitled to abuse women in exchange for 'service.'"
    Tipping causes customers to abuse women?
    Saltsman says research using federal data doesn't support that. "Data shows some of the states that have gone down this path that the activists want, changing their tipping system, actually have a higher rate of sexual harassment."
    When I pointed that out to Hallett, she replied, "Sexual harassment is complicated; no single policy is going to eliminate that problem."
    So raising the minimum won't reduce sexual harassment but will raise prices, will force some restaurants to either fire workers or close and will reduce tip income.
    This is supposed to help restaurant workers?
    Many object to being "helped." When Maine voters increased the minimum, so many restaurant workers protested that the politicians reversed the decision.
    Alcieli Felipe doesn't want the government "helping" her either: "We are fine. Who are those people? Have they worked in the restaurant industry?"
    Most haven't.
    I'm a free market guy. I wonder, "Why should there be any minimum? Why can't the employer and employee make whatever deal they want?"
    "That policy has been rejected," Hallett told me, "rejected for the last hundred years. We're not in that world."
    Unfortunately, we aren't. We live in a world where activists and government "protect" workers right out of their jobs.
    John Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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By John Stossel

While self-proclaimed "democratic socialists" win Democratic primaries in America, actual socialists in Cuba are finally backing away from some of the ideas that kept Cubans poor.
    Sunday, Cuba's National Assembly approved a draft of a new constitution that recognizes a right to own private property. That's progress. Would Senator Bernie Sanders and celebrity-of-the-moment Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez approve? I'm not sure.
    Instead of saying that "communism" is the purpose of the state, Cuba will now say that "socialism" is the basis of the economy.
    That's an ambiguous difference, but "socialism" tends to mean a larger private sector.
    Cuba's new leaders also say they welcome foreign investment. Maybe this will bring some prosperity to the long-suffering Cuban population.
    It may bring more freedom, too. The new draft says a criminal defendant is innocent until proven guilty. That's progress. It also sets term limits on presidents -- no more than two consecutive five-year terms. Fidel Castro ruled for 50 years.
    The new Cuba may also permit gay marriage. The draft defines marriage as being between two individuals, not necessarily a man and a woman. That's a big step for a country that recently locked gay people up in "work" camps.
    On the other hand, the state-run newspaper says Cuba "will never return to capitalism." And while some open speech is permitted, crackdowns against dissidents, even ones who just sing angry rock songs, continue.
    Still, the U.S. should be happy about the changes, and the last thing we should do when we want to encourage free market changes in a country is slap an embargo on it.
    Yet some conservatives want to do that, and President Trump reversed some of President Obama's "Cuba opening."
    This is a bad idea. Nothing gets a population accustomed to decentralized, nongovernmental commercial activity like commercial activity.
    The more we restrict trade, the more we drive a country's population into the hands of the state.
    If you can't sell your products to American customers, you might just work for your country's corrupt state-run enterprises. Instead of having casual contact with customers who live outside your country's political system, that system becomes all you know. Your idea of what's possible shrinks.
    Embargoes favored by the right are just one wrong approach. The left does everyone an injustice by praising Cuban communism. I live in New York, where my socialist-leaning mayor, Bill de Blasio, was so enamored of Cuba that he honeymooned there.
    Bernie Sanders acknowledges that the Cuban economy is "a disaster" but says at least they have health care and education -- as if we don't.
    American socialists are economically clueless. But conservative embargo advocates are just as bad.
    Democratic congressional candidate David Richardson of Florida, who plans to visit Havana as part of his campaign, has the right idea.
    "A half-century of isolation did not achieve progress for the everyday Cuban," he told the Tampa Bay Times. "I fully support a position of engagement with Cuban civil society ... Rolling back travel and trade restrictions has changed the lives of the Cuban people, helped private Cuban entrepreneurs, and strengthened the connection between the residents of Little Havana and Havana."
    That's a good thing.
    Embargoes are not only bad for Cuba, they are bad for Americans who are less free to pick which people and companies to work with.
    Partial embargoes in the form of tariffs are also bad. Adding tariffs is like imposing an embargo on ourselves.
    Trump defenders argue that his tariffs are a short-term tactic meant to shock other countries into lowering their own trade barriers.
    The ideal is "no (trade) barriers ... no subsidies," said Trump. "Ultimately, that's what you want." I hope he succeeds, but I'm skeptical. So far, his tariffs have just brought nasty retaliation.
    Not everyone agrees that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff caused the Great Depression, but tariffs have awful economic consequences. Smoot-Hawley certainly prolonged the Depression and made it worse.
    Less trade means less prosperity. It doesn't matter whether trade restrictions are imposed by conservatives or by communists.
    Let goods flow.
    John Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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by Walter E. Williams

   Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers predicted that if Donald Trump were elected, there would be a protracted recession within 18 months. Heeding its experts, a month before the election, The Washington Post ran an editorial with the headline "A President Trump could destroy the world economy." Steve Rattner, a Democratic financier and former head of the National Economic Council, warned, "If the unlikely event happens and Trump wins, you will see a market crash of historic proportions." When Trump's electoral victory became apparent, Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman warned that the world was "very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight." By the way, Krugman has been so wrong in so many of his economic predictions, but that doesn't stop him from making more shameless predictions.
    People whom we've trusted as experts have often been wrong beyond imagination, and it's nothing new. Irving Fisher, a distinguished Yale University economics professor in 1929, predicted, "Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." Three days later, the stock market crashed. In 1945, regarding money spent on the Manhattan Project, Adm. William Leahy told President Harry S. Truman, "That is the biggest fool thing we have ever done. The (atomic) bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives."
    In 1903, the president of the Michigan Savings Bank, advising Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in Ford Motor Co., said, "The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty -- a fad." Confidence in the staying power of the horse was displayed by a 1916 comment of the aide-de-camp to Field Marshal Douglas Haig at a tank demonstration: "The idea that cavalry will be replaced by these iron coaches is absurd. It is little short of treasonous."
    Albert Einstein predicted: "There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will." In 1899, Charles H. Duell, the U.S. commissioner of patents, said, "Everything that can be invented has been invented." Listening to its experts in 1936, The New York Times predicted, "A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere."
    To prove that it's not just academics, professionals and businesspeople who make harebrained predictions, Hall of Fame baseball player Tris Speaker's 1919 advice about Babe Ruth was, "Taking the best left-handed pitcher in baseball and converting him into a right fielder is one of the dumbest things I ever heard." For those of us not familiar with baseball, Babe Ruth was one of the greatest outfielders who ever played the game.
    The world's greatest geniuses are by no means exempt from out-and-out nonsense. Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was probably the greatest scientist of all time. He laid the foundation for classical mechanics; his genius transformed our understanding of physics, mathematics and astronomy. What's not widely known is that Newton spent most of his waking hours on alchemy. Some of his crackpot experiments included trying to turn lead into gold. He wrote volumes on alchemy, but after his death, Britain's Royal Society deemed that they were "not fit to be printed."
    Then there's mathematical physicist and engineer Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), whose major contribution was in thermodynamics. Kelvin is widely recognized for determining the correct value of absolute zero, approximately minus 273.15 degrees Celsius or minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit. In honor of his achievement, extremely high and extremely low temperatures are expressed in units called kelvins. To prove that one can be a genius in one area and an idiot in another, Kelvin challenged geologists by saying that Earth is between 20 million and 100 million years old. Kelvin predicted, "X-rays will prove to be a hoax." And he told us, "I can state flatly that heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
    The point of all this is to say that we can listen to experts but take what they predict with a grain or two of salt.
    Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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