Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Simple Business Plan for Beginners Who Want to Open a Business in 2021

Many people have the resolution to open a business in their desired field. Moreover, there are many millennials competing to develop careers in the entrepreneurial world. In fact, the results of Sea Group's research on 14,000 young Indonesians stated that 24 percent of respondents wanted to have their own business, 17 percent worked in the government; 16.5 percent want to continue their family business, and 3.2 percent want to work at startups. Well, in the business world itself, usually capital can be the main thing that becomes a problem when starting a business. The first thing to do is save to raise capital or borrow funds from financial institutions. In the digital era like now, there are many ways to get loan funds from online loan providers. 

This method can be an alternative to loan funds to choose from because the process is easy and the interest is quite competitive from conventional financial institution loans. One of the online financial institutions that provides trusted and reliable cash loans is Kredivo. Kredivo can provide cash loans of up to IDR 30 million, with the lowest interest rate on the market, 2.95 percent per month. However, doing business is not just a matter of capital. After getting a loan for business capital, people who start a business must make a business plan or business plan that is mature. Without a business plan, how will the business run and make a profit? If the business is not running, how can you also return the borrowed capital? The importance of business planning It's good to know the function of business planning before discussing it further. Basically, a business plan has many benefits, especially for the following three things: 

Designing a business strategy If you are likened to a football team, if you already have a capable team to win matches, the team also needs a strategy on how to score as many goals as possible. In a business plan is the same, usually listed short, medium and long term plans, complete with strategies to achieve them. This is useful for projecting the direction of future goals or business goals. Measuring capital Every businessman must calculate operational costs in running his business. 

Starting from production costs, human resources, maintenance, and others. Cost details are needed in a business plan to anticipate losses that will arise and calculate the price to be sold to potential customers. Increasing business value In a business plan, there are important points that indicate the potential of the business, or what is commonly called the Unique Selling Point (USP). This must be considered carefully because a business must present the advantages of a product or service so that potential customers are interested in buying it. A business plan has an equally important role as business capital. Given that this is the first step of a business, a businessman must design it carefully. For those who are still confused about making a business plan, you can follow the simple business plan example below. However, keep in mind beforehand that this business plan is just a simulation. Adjustments and more detailed explanations are needed in making a real business plan. Example of a business plan for a culinary venture. Preparation Market research to see opportunities and learn about competitors' businesses. Business people must already know what food / drink they want to sell. Seeking HR, from chefs, waiters, cashiers, and other workers needed Manage permits and other legality Choose providers of raw materials that will be used continuously Provide equipment needed in business premises Marketing Making social media accounts for online marketing Branding inside and outside the restaurant by using banners, banners, brochures, and more.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Small Business Ideas for Anyone Who Wants to Run Their Own Business

 If you dream of clocking out of your nine-to-five job for the last time and becoming your own boss, you’ve probably considered a variety of small business ideas. But, while you have plenty of passion, direction can be hard to find.

To help, I’ve pulled together small business ideas for anyone who wants to run their own business. Use these as a jumping off point to spark your own unique ideas:

Small Business Ideas

Home Business Ideas

And if all else fails, live the words of Airbnb Co-founder Brian Chesky: "If we tried to think of a good idea, we wouldn’t have been able to think of a good idea. You just have to find the solution for a problem in your own life."

Ready to take things to the next level? This ultimate guide to entrepreneurship can help you do more than dream up a good idea. It can help you turn it into reality today.

Best Small Business Ideas

1. Handyman

Are you always fixing things around the house? Often on call when friends need small projects completed? Put together a website, figure out what your time and expertise is worth, and start asking those thankful friends for referrals.

2. Woodworker

Similarly, if you have a passion for crafting beautiful furniture or other home goods out of wood — there’s demand for that. List a few of your pieces on sites like Etsy, eBay, or Craigslist. Once you build a following, consider starting a website, accepting custom orders, or expanding to refinishing work and upholstery.

3. Online dating consultant

Dating consultants usually charge for their time. They help people create successful online dating profiles, source possible matches from outside normal online channels, and offer a level of personalization Tinder just can’t. Think you’ve got a knack for the match? This might be the business for you.

4. Sewing and alteration specialist

People will always need clothing hemmed and buttons mended — and you could be the person to do it. If you love sewing, start by offering simple services like those mentioned above, and expand your repertoire to dressmaking and design as you build a customer base and demand.

5. Freelance developer

From building websites for other small businesses to providing technical support for certain projects, quality web development is in high demand right now. With such a technical skillset, make sure you can describe what you do and how you will do it in easy-to-understand language. Test your messaging on friends and family who don’t have a firm understanding of the work you do.

6. Personal trainer

Offer in-home consultations, personalized nutrition and exercise regimens, and community boot camps to get the word out. Don’t forget to populate an Instagram feed with inspirational quotes, free exercise videos, and yummy snack ideas as well — it’s a common way for fitness gurus to build their brands.

7. Freelance graphic designer

Set your own hours, choose your projects, and build a portfolio and business you’re proud of. From website design to blog graphics and more, many companies seek out experienced graphic designers for all manner of projects.

8. Life/career coach

If you have some experience under your belt, put it to good use as a life or career coach. Many of us are looking for guidance in our careers — and finding someone with the time to mentor us can be tough. Life/career coaches don’t come cheap, but they are able to offer clients the intense and hands-on training and advice they need to make serious moves in their personal and professional lives. After all, sometimes everyone just needs some uplifting advice.

9. Resume writer

Submitting a resume, cover letter, and — when necessary — portfolio for a new job can be tough and time consuming. That’s why many people hire help. Assist clients with tailored resumes, beautifully edited cover letters, and carefully crafted portfolios that make it impossible for employers to ignore.

10. Freelance writer

If you have writing skills, there’s someone out there willing to pay you for them. Write blog posts, magazine articles, and website copy galore — just make sure you have a body of work built up to share with potential clients. Even if you create a few sample pieces to have on hand, they’ll help exhibit your work and attract new business.

11. Translator

Speak a foreign language? Start a translation service. Consider specializing in a specific genre of translation, like medical or financial translation, as you might be able to fill a niche need in your community.

12. Garden designer

Many people have the willingness to do the dirty work in their backyards, but few have the know-how to design a backyard space to begin with. Draw up the designs for your clients’ outdoor spaces and let them do the actual digging.

13. Ecommerce store owner

Do you create, collect, or curate anything special? Consider starting an ecommerce store and turning your hobby into a full-time job. Whether you need somewhere to sell all that pottery you’ve been making, or an excuse to search for the sports memorabilia you love tracking down — an ecommerce store can make it financially viable for you to pursue your passion.

14. Landscaper

Mowing, tree-trimming, and seasonal decor are all neighborhood needs. If you have or can acquire the equipment, a landscaping business can be a lucrative affair.

15. Videographer

Video production requires you to have invested in the equipment up front which can be quite expensive. But that’s also what makes your services so valuable. Make sure you have a reel of your work to share or create a website with several selections of your work available for interested viewers.

16. Photographer

Start by conducting photo shoots for your family and friends. As you build a body of work, ask for referrals. Photography businesses often grow by word of mouth, so create a Facebook page where you can tag recent clients, which will show up in their friends’ newsfeeds as well.

17. Travel planner

The time of the travel agent might be passing, but people are still looking for those with a knack for more nontraditional travel coordination. If you always plan the perfect vacations complete with beautiful hotels, the ideal location, and a bevy of delicious restaurants lined up for every evening, consider advertising your services as a more modern approach to travel planning.

18. Car-detailing specialist

The devil is in the details and you can be too. Car detailing services that travel to the client are in high demand. Just make sure you have the flexibility, transportation, and equipment to take your business on the road.

19. Home inspector

This will require a great deal of expertise and certification, but it’s a job that can give you the flexibility and pay you’ve always dreamed of. Confirm the licensing requirements in your state and consider taking a few courses to build out your knowledge, authority, and expertise.

20. House cleaner

With a low barrier to entry, house cleaning can be a great way to start doing what you love — soon. Consider advertising to homes in your neighborhood and get more bang for your buck by earning a few small businesses as clients as well. They’ll usually bring in a higher paycheck for a similar amount of work.

21. Personal chef

We all love to eat, but few of us have the time or energy to cook healthy, delicious meals. Advertise your services to local families and businesses alike. And consider "chunking" certain groups of clients — say, vegetarians — so you can cook larger quantities of the same dish to feed them all.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

This Company Boasted to Trump About Its Covid-19 Vaccine. Experts Are Skeptical.

Inovio, a Pennsylvania biotech company, has spent years claiming to be on the cusp of important vaccines. It has never brought one to market.

As the deadly new virus spread globally, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, a small biotech company in Pennsylvania, rushed to develop a vaccine. After announcing promising early results, Inovio’s stock soared more than 1,000 percent. Riding the momentum, the company sold more shares to the public.
That was 2009, when H1N1, better known as swine flu, was stoking fears of a devastating pandemic. In the years since, Inovio has announced encouraging news about its work on vaccines for malaria, the Zika virus and even a “cancer vaccine.” The upbeat declarations have caused the company’s stock price to leap, enriching investors and senior executives.
There’s only one catch: Inovio has never actually brought a vaccine to market.
Now, with a new pandemic raging, Inovio is working on a new vaccine: for the novel coronavirus. A flurry of positive news releases about its funding and preliminary results have sent Inovio’s shares up by as much as 963 percent — and helped the company attract money from the government and investors. At the same time, Inovio insiders have sold stock.
But some scientists and financial analysts question the viability of Inovio’s technology. While there are some early signs of promise with the company’s vaccine, Inovio has only released bare-bones data from the first phase of clinical trials. It is locked in a legal battle with a key manufacturing partner that claims Inovio stole its technology.

Shareholders have sued Inovio, claiming it has exaggerated its progress on a coronavirus vaccine to inflate its stock price. Adding to the challenges, Inovio’s potential vaccine will have to be administered by a gadget — it resembles an electric nose-hair trimmer and is called the Cellectra — that would direct genetic material into millions of patients.
And while the company has said that it is part of Operation Warp Speed — the flagship federal effort to quickly produce treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus — Inovio is not on the list of companies selected to receive financial support to mass-produce vaccines.

Goya CEO Robert Unanue saved by his sisters from getting canned

Goya Foods’ President Trump-loving CEO nearly lost his job last month as members of the family-owned business sought to inject new blood into the company through a partial sale to a private equity firm.
As The Post reported on July 19, Robert Unanue beat back efforts to sell a 25 percent stake in Goya to BDT Capital Partners in a deal that would have forced him to give up the CEO role after 18 months.
The Post has since learned, however, that Bob, 66, got his way only after his three sisters — Carol Freeborn, Mary Ellen Yorio and Lisa Unanue — threatened to never again speak to certain family members if they voted for the sale.
“Bob’s sisters threatened to cut off relations if they said yes to the sale,” said one source close to the family.
“They view him as a protector,” a second family source said of the sisters’ feelings for Bob.
The alleged drama started on July 8 — the day before Bob’s controversial White House appearance — when 53 percent of the Spanish-food empire’s shares were voted in favor of the sale to BDT during a preliminary nonbinding vote, sources said.
On board with the sale were Bob’s two younger brothers: Peter Unanue, a Goya executive vice president, and Tom Unanue, who no longer works there, sources said.
The brothers voted for the sale against Bob’s wishes because they felt their big bro had broken his promise to add three nonfamily directors to Goya’s nine-member board, sources said.
The board OK’d the board expansion plan — a pet project of Peter’s —in 2018 as a way to check Bob’s power and ensure he moved the canned-beans maker toward an initial public offering or other big payday for shareholders. But Bob rejected each and every director candidate presented to him, sources said.
That led to speculation that Bob may be trying to railroad an IPO so he can turn over the reins to his son Robert Jr. — and sent his brothers into the arms of Andy Unanue, a cousin who has been on the outs with Bob for years, sources said.
In 2004, Bob and another cousin, Francisco Unanue Jr., ousted Andy from his role as chief operating officer and heir apparent in a coup that also saw Bob replace Andy’s dad, Joseph A. Unanue, as Goya’s CEO after 28 years. Andy spearheaded the BDT deal in hopes that it would help Goya expand to Mexico and in the US beyond the East Coast, sources said.
Peter, in an e-mailed statement, said he was “troubled by the false statements that have been anonymously attributed to me and to others, as well as by the improper spreading of inaccurate and misleading claims that were purportedly made during confidential conversations among board members.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Business is blooming at NYC Flower District staple thanks to outdoor dining

Instead, the boxwoods and hydrangeas that once lined the sidewalks along Sixth Avenue were in storage, the latest victims of the coronavirus.
Like the restaurants, barber shops and tailors forced by New York’s health officials to shut their doors for several months, Ashok Kumar’s Tropical Plants & Orchids Inc. also had to close because of the pandemic.
When the shop was allowed to reopen its landscaping business in June, the first order Kumar received was from the United Nations, whose greenery he is in charge of refreshing every month. The UN’s campus had been without fresh flowers and plants for months and was looking to add splashes of color in this dark time.
Then came the lobbies of hotels and apartment buildings across town, all ready to brighten up again. Kumar was able to open for retail on June 10, but many of his regular clients have yet to return after fleeing New York.
“We have a lot of great customers, but they’re out of the city right now,” Kumar, who took over the shop from his father and uncle in 2003, told The Post. “They don’t want to come back, but they’re still in touch with us and they know we’re waiting for them.”
The span of the lockdown was particularly painful for flower shop owners because it coincided with the all-important graduation season, when clients would normally be ordering bouquets of table orchids for parties and renting giant palms for outdoor celebrations.
“I’d say around 30 to 40 percent of business in May and June is graduation parties,” Kumar said. “We didn’t get any this year.”
And while he’d normally supply flowers to fill party halls for at least 15 weddings each summer, Kumar said that this year he hasn’t done a single one.
The slowdown in business has left Kumar with a huge backlog of inventory. Orders for spring flowers and summer plants were placed in January — well before the pandemic was a concern for most Americans — when the shop was still expecting strong warm-weather business.
“Now our suppliers are calling us and saying, ‘Hey, you still have that order sitting here,’” Kumar said. “We might have ordered 200 plants in one nursery, but we’re telling them we only need 125 or 150.”
The plants that have already been shipped to the 28th Street store are being sold at a discount, with boxes of orchids that might normally cost $65 selling for $50.
“Hotels don’t have guests, so they’re not putting orchids in their rooms,” Kumar explained. “In a month that might be changing, but right now we’re not getting a lot of business.”
Rather than lay off employees, Kumar has shortened shifts to three or four days apiece so that everyone can get some work, and he has come to an agreement with his landlords where he pays 60 percent of rent each month.
But the coronavirus has also presented new opportunities. As New York has embraced outdoor dining as a way to allow restaurants to operate during the pandemic, restaurants have turned to shops like Kumar’s to make their outdoor spaces more appealing.Tropical Plants & Orchids has decorated the outdoor seating areas of more than 40 restaurants already, including popular Upper East Side bistro Le Bilboquet and a number of spots in Little Italy.
“As long as the restaurants are open that is good news for us,” he said. “I want to see as many restaurants open as possible.”
Indeed, although he describes the past few months as the most difficult the shop has experienced since 9/11, Kumar said that there are signs of life.
“A lot of offices are opening back up,” he added. “A lot of good clients at law offices and doctors’ offices are calling me because they’re reopening and need flowers.”
The coronavirus and its airborne transmission has also seen Kumar get new business from customers with unusual requests.
“People come here asking for snake plants, they want something that can clean the air.”

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook has made Instagram, WhatsApp better

In prepared testimony to the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, Zuckerberg says Facebook has used its infrastructure to improve Instagram and WhatsApp in ways that benefitted users.
“These benefits came about as a result of our acquisition of those companies, and would not have happened had we not made those acquisitions,” says Zuckerberg’s testimony, which NBC News earlier reported. “… The end result is better services that provide more value to people and advertisers, which is a core goal of Facebook’s acquisition strategy.”
For instance, he says, Facebook helped Instagram to control “runaway spam” and build the direct-messaging and video services that are key parts of the app today. Additionally, WhatsApp became free after its merger with Facebook and built voice and video-calling products on Facebook’s technology, according to Zuckerberg.
The billionaire social-media tycoon will deliver the testimony at a hotly anticipated congressional hearing examining the power of tech giants. Zuckerberg will appear along with Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Apple chief Tim Cook and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.
Some Washington lawmakers have questioned whether Facebook should control three of the world’s biggest social media platforms over concerns about competition and privacy.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) cited Facebook as an example of a company that has used mergers to limit competition in her presidential campaign proposal to break up big tech companies. And Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) pressed Zuckerberg in a meeting last year to sell Instagram and WhatsApp to prove Facebook’s commitment to data privacy, the Associated Press reported.
Zuckerberg reportedly told Facebook staffers last year that he would “go to the mat” in a fight against Warren’s breakup proposal.
Facebook shares rose 0.8 percent in premarket trading to $231.97 as of 7:13 a.m. Wednesday after dropping 1.4 percent Tuesday.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Fed worries about small business failures due to coronavirus

A large number of small US businesses could fail during the coronavirus recession, the Federal Reserve said on Friday, slowing recovery and creating lasting damage to the world’s largest economy.

“The nature of the economic recovery that follows the COVID-19 crisis will depend in part on the survival of small businesses,” the Fed said in its biannual monetary policy report to Congress on Friday. “The pandemic poses acute risks to the survival of many small businesses [whose] widespread failure would adversely alter the economic landscape of local communities and potentially slow the economic recovery and future labor productivity growth.”
Congress has extended some help, including $660 billion to cover payrolls and overhead. About three-quarters of small businesses with employees have applied for the aid, with many getting funding, the Fed said. Still, “some industries may face an ongoing need” after the program expires this summer.
Meanwhile, job losses have been steeper at small businesses than large ones, with many small firms stopping paychecks entirely, the Fed said. Some 30 percent to 40 percent of small firms in sectors most affected by social distancing have gone inactive since February.
Spending at small restaurants was down 80 percent by April during the height of the nation’s shutdowns and was still down by half in early June, the Fed said, citing data from credit card transaction processor Womply.
Small businesses account for nearly half of jobs in the private sector, and new business formation fell steeply in the early months of the crisis, data from the Census Bureau shows.
Small business failures not only destroy jobs but “erase the productive knowledge within the firms, deplete the assets of business owners, alter the character of communities and neighborhoods, and, in some cases, deprive the country of innovations,” the Fed said.

Mark Zuckerberg loses $7.2B over major advertising boycotts on Facebook

The company’s shares fell 8.3 percent Friday, the most in three months after Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers said it would stop selling its products on Facebook, Bloomberg reported. The company joined other large firms such as Verizon Communications, Hershey Co. and Honda in pulling their ads from the social media giant. Coca Cola said it would suspend its advertising on all social media platforms for at least a month.
The share-price drop eliminated $56 billion from Facebook’s market value and pushed Zuckerberg’s own net worth down to $82.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The move left Facebook’s chief executive in fourth place on the list, overtaken by LVMH Moet Hennessy boss Bernard Arnault, who is now in third place behind billionaires Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates.
In a response to the ad boycotts, Zuckerberg said the company would label all voting-related posts with a link encouraging users to look at its new voter information hub. The company also announced that it would prohibit “claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others.”

Monday, June 22, 2020

The world of SEO continues

The world of SEO continues to change day by day. The big search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing continuously fight to give the best and most accurate information to their users. Algorithms like PANDA, PENGUIN, BERT, PIGEON, HUMMINGBIRD have been designed so that the results are the most important in each search.

 SEO Professionals

  It is no longer valid to create "with bad techniques & software" low quality content and backlinks. All the Seo that apply this type of techniques are seeing the websites of their clients punished. Following the editorial rules of the big search engines is what a good SEO should do. Google, Yahoo, Bing are not an enemy.

A lot of website owners think it's the end of the world and SEO. However, there are still very important uses for SEO services, and there are still many ways that these services can benefit your website and your business. The only thing that has changed in the SEO world is that bad SEO professionals are disappearing, and that good SEO professionals have to be more aware of the changes to get results for their clients.

Friday, June 19, 2020

After Covid-19, the Climate

WILL THE RESPONSE TO COVID-19 BE CITED AS A PRECEDENT BY CLIMATE CHANGE ACTIVISTS?:  You bet it will.  Indeed, it already has been.  This is from a blog piece in the London Review of Books:
If there is a silver lining to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is what it might mean for the climate crisis. Not only have attempts to control the virus led to a reduction in carbon emissions, they have also led to a significant shift in the way individuals, institutions and politicians discuss our responsibility to protect vulnerable groups in our societies.
By late last year, it seemed clear that decades of attempts to coax governments and business leaders into taking seriously the risks posed by the climate crisis were leading nowhere. Yet faced with the far more immediate threats posed by a global pandemic, states that for decades had been committed to neoliberal thinking have slowly begun to embrace such radically old-fashioned ideas as planning for the future, relying on scientific expertise, or calling on their constituents to make sacrifices in order to protect vulnerable members of society. Environmental campaigners and journalists have begun to document the effects that the shut-down of factories, cancellation of large conferences, postponement of sporting events, and limitations on freedom of movement have had on carbon emissions.
For those of us who work in universities, the possibility that academic life can go on despite a major reduction in air travel may prove to be a turning point. In recent years, many faculty had begun to reflect critically on the carbon footprint of academic conferencing. That conversation intensified after Greta Thunberg sailed from Stockholm to New York to take part in the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. Yet most of us continued to decide that our careers, the connections we made from attending events in person, the insights we were bringing to the world, or simply surviving in the hyper-competitive and entrepreneurial world of the modern university, justified continuing to travel regularly rather than rethinking our addiction to a carbonised academic lifestyle.
As the Covid-19 situation began to unfold, however, that calculation shifted. The week before last, faculty at my law school in Melbourne received an email advising us that we should cancel all non-essential travel for the foreseeable future. Many employees of universities, companies, hospitals and research institutes received similar advice. If travel was avoidable without major impact – because it could be postponed, or we could attend online – it should not proceed. If we believed our travel was essential, we could present our case to the dean. Yet with medical experts engaged in disaster management planning, trying to conjure up extra intensive care beds, ventilators, protective equipment and medical staff in preparation for the tsunami of acute respiratory cases that will arrive in the new few weeks, our reasons to travel seem far less compelling than the reasons to stay still and play a part in delaying the spread of the virus.
Numerous governments have now introduced social-distancing policies to win time for front-line medical staff and for the elderly patients who will be at most risk in the crisis phase. The contrast with the way that governments have approached climate change regulation is stark. In the early days of the environmental movement, the international lawyer Edith Brown Weiss developed the principle of intergenerational equity, arguing that we have obligations to future generations. Yet international lawyers long ago stopped discussing such principles seriously.
Instead, it became conventional wisdom that the appropriate framework for thinking about negotiating climate agreements was rational choice economics or game theory, with the guiding assumption that rational actors – from genes to individuals to states – will always pursue their self-interest at the expense of others. The idea that people might be willing to make sacrifices for the general good, let alone for a different generation, seemed utopian. Our ‘way of life’, as George H.W. Bush bluntly declared at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, is ‘not up for negotiations’.
Yet in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, government leaders are now directly, and properly, calling on all of us to make whatever sacrifices we can to slow down the rate at which this disaster unfolds. That includes closing schools and universities worldwide to delay the spread of infections among students in order to protect their grandparents’ generation.
A similarly stark difference can be seen in the way that governments engage with experts and corporate lobbyists. The response to Covid-19 has relied heavily on the advice of public health experts, statistical modelling and logistical planning. The idea that ageing leaders might dismiss the whole crisis as fake news or partisan politics is not sitting well with a public looking for guidance, clear advice and funding for vital testing and medical infrastructure. The entrenched model of corporate lobbyists shaping the priorities of government decision-makers is coming under increased scrutiny.
The Australian government imposed travel bans on China, South Korea and Iran, but exempted travellers from Northern Italy until the evening after the Formula One teams had arrived for the Australian Grand Prix. The news that Ferrari had weeks ago demanded ‘assurances’ that it would not be faced with any regulatory surprises has raised questions about the role of lobbyists in increasing risks to human life and health. Yet when it comes to climate change, the dismissal of scientific expertise and the commitment to protecting corporate investors from the risks that future environmental or health regulations might pose to their bottom line have been central for decades.
The regulatory responses to the crisis of Covid-19 remind us that there are many ways in which individuals, communities, law-makers and states may respond to a crisis, and that policy-making can be driven by something other than appeals to self-interest. Ideals of intergenerational equity, the collective good and making sacrifices to protect the vulnerable have reappeared in political discourse. Perhaps, once the Covid-19 pandemic is finally over, governments may be ready to bring that wisdom to bear on the crisis of climate change.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Supreme Court rules LGBT people protected from job discrimination

 WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment, a resounding victory for LGBT rights from a conservative court.
The court decided by a 6-3 vote that a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 known as Title VII that bars job discrimination because of sex, among other reasons, encompasses bias against LGBT workers.

“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”
Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas dissented.
“The Court tries to convince readers that it is merely enforcing the terms of the statute, but that is preposterous,” Alito wrote in the dissent. “Even as understood today, the concept of discrimination because of ‘sex’ is different from discrimination because of ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity.’”
Kavanaugh wrote in a separate dissent that the court was rewriting the law to include gender identity and sexual orientation, a job that belongs to Congress. Still, Kavanaugh said the decision represents an “important victory achieved today by gay and lesbian Americans.”
The outcome is expected to have a big impact for the estimated 8.1 million LGBT workers across the country because most states don’t protect them from workplace discrimination. An estimated 11.3 million LGBT people live in the U.S., according to the Williams Institute at the UCLA law school.
But Monday’s decision is not likely to be the court’s last word on a host of issues revolving around LGBT rights, Gorsuch noted.
Lawsuits are pending over transgender athletes’ participation in school sporting events, and courts also are dealing with cases about sex-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms, a subject that the justices seemed concerned about during arguments in October. Employers who have religious objections to employing LGBT people also might be able to raise those claims in a different case, Gorsuch said.
“But none of these other laws are before us; we have not had the benefit of adversarial testing about the meaning of their terms, and we do not prejudge any such question today,” he wrote.
The cases were the court’s first on LGBT rights since Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement and replacement by Kavanaugh. Kennedy was a voice for gay rights and the author of the landmark ruling in 2015 that made same-sex marriage legal throughout the United States. Kavanaugh generally is regarded as more conservative.
The Trump administration had changed course from the Obama administration, which supported LGBT workers in their discrimination claims under Title VII.
During the Obama years, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had changed its longstanding interpretation of civil rights law to include discrimination against LGBT people. The law prohibits discrimination because of sex, but has no specific protection for sexual orientation or gender identity.
In recent years, some lower courts have held that discrimination against LGBT people is a subset of sex discrimination, and thus prohibited by the federal law.
Efforts by Congress to change the law have so far failed.
The Supreme Court cases involved two gay men and a transgender woman who sued for employment discrimination after they lost their jobs.
Aimee Stephens lost her job as a funeral director in the Detroit area after she revealed to her boss that she had struggled with gender most of her life and had, at long last, “decided to become the person that my mind already is.” Stephens told funeral home owner Thomas Rost that following a vacation, she would report to work wearing a conservative skirt suit or dress that Rost required for women who worked at his three funeral homes. Rost fired Stephens.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, ruled that the firing constituted sex discrimination under federal law.
Stephens died last month. Donna Stephens, her wife of 20 years, said in a statement that she is “grateful for this victory to honor the legacy of Aimee, and to ensure people are treated fairly regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The federal appeals court in New York ruled in favor of a gay skydiving instructor who claimed he was fired because of his sexual orientation. The full 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 10-3 that it was abandoning its earlier holding that Title VII didn’t cover sexual orientation because “legal doctrine evolves.” The court held that “sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination.”
That ruling was a victory for the relatives of Donald Zarda, who was fired in 2010 from a skydiving job in Central Islip, New York, that required him to strap himself tightly to clients so they could jump in tandem from an airplane. He tried to put a woman with whom he was jumping at ease by explaining that he was gay. The school fired Zarda after the woman’s boyfriend called to complain.
Zarda died in a wingsuit accident in Switzerland in 2014.
In a case from Georgia, the federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled against Gerald Bostock, a gay employee of Clayton County, in the Atlanta suburbs. Bostock claimed he was fired in 2013 because he is gay. The county argues that Bostock was let go because of the results of an audit of funds he managed.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Bostock’s claim in a three-page opinion that noted the court was bound by a 1979 decision that held “discharge for homosexuality is not prohibited by Title VII.”

401(k) plans move a step closer to pooling with private equity

The Department of Labor on Wednesday issued a letter that clarifies how, under existing rules, certain retirement plan sponsors, including 401(k)s, can put money into private equity investments that are usually reserved for the super rich and big institutional investors.
Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said the new guidance “helps level the playing field for ordinary investors and is another step by the department to ensure that ordinary people investing for retirement have the opportunities they need for a secure retirement.”
But it’s unclear how quickly the managers of big retirement plans will embrace private-equity investments. Vanguard, one of the largest managers of 401(k) plans in the country, declined to comment on the letter. Another major manager, Fidelity, did not respond to a request for comment.

Consumer advocates and some regulators have been wary of giving ordinary investors broader access to investments in businesses that do not adhere to the same disclosure rules as public companies and that could put them at risk.
Even without access to this untapped pool of capital, private equity managers have been able to raise record amounts in recent years. Fund managers in the United States had access to $914 billion as of mid-May, according to investment data firm Preqin.
Many of those dollars come from wealthy clients, but big pension funds, such as the Texas County and District Retirement System, also put their money into funds managed by private equity firms.
But the move away from traditional pensions and into defined contribution plans means most retail investors don’t have access to those kinds of investments, which proponents say can provide added diversification to an investment portfolio.
“This is a positive step toward helping more Americans gain access to private equity investment,” Drew Maloney, chief executive of the American Investment Council, which represents the private equity industry, said in a statement.
Private equity investments in new startups or in growth businesses can produce high returns. The private equity funds in the top 25% for performance earned at least 16.2% over the 10 years that ended in September 2018, according to PitchBook.
But that comes with numerous risks.
As the term “private equity” suggests, investments can be opaque. Companies in such portfolios don’t have to disclose as much information as publicly traded businesses. Investors also can’t cash out as easily as they can with public investments. Money is often locked up for eight to 10 years at a time.
And while private equity can score big by investing in the next Facebook, it can also lose money when a company doesn’t get off the ground. According to the same PitchBook data, the bottom 10% of funds had negative returns over 10 years.
In November, Andrea Seidt, the Ohio securities commissioner, told the federal Securities and Exchange Commission that a review of 100 enforcement actions over the prior two years — a partial snapshot — showed that more than 1,000 investors had lost in excess of $100 million in private offerings gone wrong.
The private marketplace has become increasingly important as startups stay private longer. Also, there are half as many public companies as there were two decades ago, leaving fewer places for everyday investors to store their money.
The Labor Department outlined the new guidance in coordination with the SEC. Jay Clayton, the commission’s chairman, said in the statement that the clarification “will provide our long-term Main Street investors with a choice of professionally managed funds that more closely match the diversified public and private market asset allocation strategies.”
The SEC has supported giving smaller investors access to private equity through special investment vehicles that might work like mutual funds. Right now, only accredited investors — those with at least $1 million in assets not including their home, or $200,000 in annual income — can participate in private equity deals.
In December, the agency proposed rules that would relax the accredited investor rules, but it stopped short of figuring out a way to make private equity more widely accessible. The Labor Department’s guidance was a response to Partners Group, a private equity firm with $94 billion in assets under management, and Pantheon Group, which has $49 billion in assets under management and is controlled by Affiliated Managers Group, a publicly listed company that specializes in asset management.
Susan Long McAndrews, a partner at Pantheon, said in a statement that the change was “a critical step toward improving retirement outcomes.”
Tara Siegel Bernard contributed reporting.