Why Am I Paying $110,000 a Year in College Tuition?

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(This post originally appeared on The Philly Post)

There are some jobs I would love to have. Professional baseball player. Writer for Saturday Night Live. U.S. Congressman. With the exception of baseball (I’m only five-foot-six, unfortunately), I think I’d be pretty good at those jobs. But you know what job I’d be reallygood at? Running a university or college.

I’ve navigated my 10-person company profitably through the economy’s ups and downs over the past 20 years. And now I have the “pleasure” of paying my kids’ college tuitions as all three of them enter their sophomore year. Yes, all three at once. Two go to state colleges (one in-state, the other out-of-state), and one goes to a private university. Total tab: $110,000 a year.

My kids love their schools. They’re happy. I’m happy that they’re happy. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. And from what I’ve seen over the past year, as both a parent and a business owner, there is lots of room for improvement. A university president? Me? Here’s what I’d do if given the chance.

Everyone would work harder.

My kids generally start classes after Labor Day and wrap up their finals by mid-December. Then they have a month off before returning to class in mid-January. A few weeks later, they have … spring break! Then the final push to the finish line in early May. Sprinkled into the year are long weekends and various public holidays, too. I did the math: They spend four months out of every year not at school. And when they are there, their schedule normally consists of one or maybe two classes a day. (And remember … professors are enjoying an equally cushy schedule.)

Can everyone just work a little harder? Does any business operate like this? I prefer the military model. Just ask any kid who attends the Naval Academy, for example, about the schedule. It’s a 12-hour class-study-exercise-eat-study program every day. Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme. But there’s a middle ground. I would change the schedule to a normal workday that runs year-round. This would easily reduce a four-year degree to a three-year degree. And that would lower tuition by 25 percent. Read More…

3 Reasons Why You Should Eat At Burger King

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

There are 3 reasons why you should eat at Burger King:

1. The Whopper is delicious.

2. Their onion rings are delicious.

3. It is a well-managed company that represents the best of American capitalism.

Of course, Nos. 1 and 2 go without saying. But let’s not dwell on the obvious. How about the not so obvious? That’s No. 3 on this list.

Burger King has found itself in the middle of a political storm this week, after announcing that it was acquiring Tim Horton’s, a Canadian donut and breakfast chain. The company has laid out a myriad of factors behind this decision: the need for growth, the desire to penetrate new markets, expand their operations and offer new product lines. And these are all good, valid reasons. But no one’s paying attention to that. Everyone’s focused on taxes. Burger King is accused of being one of the latest companies to do a “tax inversion”–move their headquarters out of the U.S. in order to benefit from a lower tax rate elsewhere.

That is exactly what will happen when this deal closes. That’s because the corporate rate in the U.S. is higher (around 40%) than our northern neighbor (which is at 26%). These types of deals, which result in paying less U.S. taxes, are not popular with some, particularly those in Washington.

“Burger King is a household name, and this will focus the public’s attention on this issue in a way that earlier inversions did not,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. He predicted that the Democratic-run Senate would try to pass anti-inversion legislation soon and that Democrats would continue to push for a similar vote in the GOP-run House.” After the deal was announced Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown (D) urged Americans to boycott the chain declaring that “Burger King has always said ‘Have it Your Way'; well my way is to support two Ohio companies (Wendy’s and White Castle) that haven’t abandoned their country or customers.” Just last month, Congressional Democrats unveiled legislation to bar the awarding of federal contracts to companies that incorporate overseas for tax purposes. Around the same time investor Mark Cuban declared publicly his opposition to tax inversions: “If I own stock in your company and you move offshore for tax reasons I’m selling your stock,” Cuban tweeted. “There are enough investment choices out there.” And the President has threatened to take action on those companies that are “gaming the system.” Read More…

Here’s Why Philly Businesses Will Gladly Pay Millions for the Pope and DNC

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(This post originally appeared on The Philly Post)

Fact: If the Democratic National Committee decides to hold its 2016 convention in Philadelphia the cost could range anywhere from $50-$75 million dollars. While the federal government would pick up most of this cost, as much as $10 million could fall on our local government (at least, that’s what New York’s mayor predicts if the convention came to his town).

Fact: When the pope visits Philadelphia in 2015 as part of the World Meeting of Families theestimated cost could be another $13 million, (the city of Milan paid 10 million euros when it hosted the event in 2012).

Fact: $10 million plus $13 million means the city could be on the hook for up to $23 million in additional expenses for these two events. Maybe even more.

Fact: It’s likely that Philadelphia’s business community will step up and raise the money to pay this bill so that taxpayers are not out of pocket. “We’re the fifth largest city in America,” Comcast’s David Cohen recently said in a radio interview. “And I think our civic leadership has the capacity to be able to raise the money to host these two pretty special events in consecutive years in Philadelphia.” Read More…

Twitter’s Terrible Mistake

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Twitter has been at the center of a few controversies recently.

The social media service, is of course, no stranger to debate. It played prominently inthe Anthony Weiner scandal, has caused great embarrassment to corporate giants (likeMcDonalds, for instance) and was even threatened to be shut down in the UK during the Tottenham riots of 2011 (it wasn’t thank goodness). And now, more.

After Robin Williams’ tragic suicide, his daughter Zelda was subject to horrible abuse on the social media site, so bad that she ultimately quit the service. Not soon after, videos of the gruesome beheading of a journalist in the Middle East were distributed onTwitter TWTR +0.57%, causing public outrage and disgust. This was not the first time that Twitter was used in an offensive way, and not even the most outrageous. In fact, if you’re on Twitter and engage in a conversation and if you have an opinion then you are opening yourself up to abuse from anonymous trolls and jerks. That’s Twitter.

But the company is now taking steps to curb this abuse. Unfortunately. Read More…

3 Reasons Why It Sucks to Be the CEO Of Uber

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(This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post)

Sometimes I wonder why Uber CEO Travis Kalanick gets out of bed in the morning. OK, it’s probably the fact that his company was recently valued at more than $18 billion which, depending on his ownership, makes him at the very least a billionaire. For most business people, that’s motivation enough. But there’s got to be an easier way to make that first billion, isn’t there? I could never do what he does. I think it sucks to be the CEO of Uber. Why?

You must enjoy fights. Kalanick’s battles with regulatory authorities, competitors and haters around the world are epic. Don’t believe me? Just go ahead and search for news about “Uber.” I just did. And here’s what I found today: the company just won a short reprieve in Berlin from a city ban that had previously ruled that Uber did not comply with passenger safety standards and is now engaged in a war with taxi drivers in India. In Pittsburgh they’ve been required by the courts to provide information about its ridership. The Maryland Public Service Commission recently ruled that Uber is a “common carrier” and should be subject to greater regulation. They are fighting a growing number of ominous reports about people who keep getting into strangers’ cars because they think it’s an Uber vehicle and cab companies in San Diego who are furious with the ride sharing service for not only taking away business, but their drivers too. The company’s rating system recently came under scrutiny and some guy alleging to be a “Boston Uber driver” has attracted attention after making serious allegations about the company’s safety practices. By the way… that’s just today. Which I guess is just another day at the office for Kalanick. If this were me I’d be jumping out the window. Read More…

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