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- S. Prestek - Never a problemI am self employed and use H&R Block every year (and when it was Tax Cut). Have been for at least 15 or maybe more years after I stopped using TurboTax. These tax software packages have come a long way from the 90's and considering the complexity of the tax code these days, it's a wonder they are as good as they are. I have to deal with home depreciation and equipment depreciation which would be almost impossible for me to do without H&R Block. This year, as in past years, the compilation of my numbers was the most time consuming part. Once that was done, the generating of my return by H&R Black was quick and easy. One day I will trust the importation of my Quicken register tax categories and be done even faster!
I'd recommend H&R Block (used to be Tax Cut) to anybody without hesitation. Good product and never had a problem with it.
- Jessica - Love it!!I love this book! So much great beginner info for first time parents! It also gives you more places to look at other information online or in medical journals.
- Loyd E. Eskildson "Pragmatist" - Excellent Overview for Those (like me) Lacking Basic Understanding of India -'Reimagining India' is comprised of a collection of mostly short essays, mostly by Indian citizens or expatriates. This creates discontinuities throughout, but thanks to the competence of the contributors the overall impact is quite helpful.
India contains at least 15 major languages, hundreds of dialects, several major religions, and thousands of tribes, castes, and sub-castes. The majority of its states are governed by regional parties that have little draw in other states. The country's chief divide is between Hindus and Muslims. Most (almost 70%) of the nation's GDP comes from urban areas, but 70% of its population still live in rural India. The middle class numbers exceed 30%, yet seemingly has resigned itself to political impotence and instead of vehemently protesting lack of basic government services such as education and security, they generally pay for their own private schools and security guards. Three-quarters of the population has mobile phones - establishing ready communications and obviating years of delays in getting land lines installed.
China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan have shown it is possible to grow at near double-digit rates for three or more decades, regardless of the global economy. Further, they did so with policies that promoted rapid urbanization and the rise of manufacturing. India, however, has been less intense, focused, and consistent in its reforms - and results reflect that.
India's fractious democracy is often offered as an underlying excuse for these shortcomings. However, of the 124 nations that have generated growth over 5%/year for at least a decade since 1980, about half were democracies and the other half were authoritarian. Another contrast - Pakistan has had an authoritarian government during this same period, but its growth has been considerably inferior to India's.
Another problem - during the last decade, India's government has thrown money at expensive populist schemes (eg. guaranteeing everyone at least 100 days of work/year), doubling government spending in the process. Indian firms are investing more heavily in foreign markets and spending more to acquire foreign firms than foreign companies are investing and spending in India. Manufacturing represents only 13% of its economy, vs. 44% for China in 2004 and 31% in 2011 (World Bank).
Four out of ten workers in India are self-employed; India ranks 132 on the World Bank's ease of doing business index, vs. vs. Singapore (#1), Hong Kong (#2), U.S. (#4), and South Korea (37). (China was not listed.) India spends 4% of GDP on education, 1% on basic healthcare, and less than 1% on social security - OECD averages are 5%, 7%, and 22%. Money is instead wasted on power and fuel subsidies, inefficient public enterprises, and graft.
While fragmentation is a major political problem in India (the 2014 election may be the first in its history in which the two main parties together receive less than half the vote), Washington has shown that having only two parties isn't necessarily better - especially when combined with separation of powers. Neither system is likely to change in the foreseeable future because the only viable and defensible means of doing so lies in going through their respective broken systems. At least one contributor suspects both the U.S. and India would be better off without constant press coverage.
By default, India has embraced an economic model that relies on a limited pool of skilled labor for growth rather than its abundant supply of cheap, unskilled labor. This strategy has meant that India specializes in services rather than manufacturing, and accentuates the problems within its education system. Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore's long-time leader) notes that no country became a great economic power without first becoming an industrial power. India's unskilled labor contributes little to growth because of regulations that stifle expansion of its labor-intensive industries. Corruption in land, coal, and frequency spectra also add to manufacturing problems.
High-performing states in India tend to be run by authoritarian democrats who, once elected, face few checks and balances. Regardless, cities in India do not have the authority to raise resources and are not directly accountable to citizens --> crumbling infrastructure, even in Mumbai. Moreover, talent is fleeing the public sector. Only about 10 million Indians are employed in private-sector companies with ten or more workers, while an estimated 12 million join the work force each year.
Only about 20% of food subsidies reach people below the poverty line and there is a 25% chance that any public-school teacher is absent on a given day --> most fifth-grade students cannot read at even a second-grade level.
The best way to improve the incomes of the poor is to create jobs that help move them off farms. South Korean farm employment fell 3.9%/year from 1975 to 1995, and China's fell 2.4%/year over the last decade - meanwhile, India's has risen. Building industry clusters can be important in accomplishing this. India first tried this idea in 1965, 15 years ahead of China, but accomplished little because the government provided little in the way of infrastructure to support them. China, Dubai, Singapore, Egypt, Malaysia and others have shown these can work. Provide skills training for poor workers is another key path, encouraging private innovators to provide services - clean water, sanitation, video-conferenced medical advice (some areas have @ 37 cent cost), and technology-based education to replace failed/non-existent public systems. Transfer welfare benefits directly to the poor, while linking their continuation to school attendance and health checkups --> lower leakage/administration costs. Other needs - availability of better seeds for farmers and extension services, energy conservation that focuses on buildings and use of LEDs.