Questions about the US

gordo

Well-known member
After watching both the Republican and Democrat convention speeches I have some questions that searches on Google don't seem to answer. I'm a Canadian so bear with my confusion....

1) "Voter I.D. discriminates against minorities." If you are going to vote - don't you have to prove that you are eligible to vote? I.e. that you are an american citizen? Or can non-citizens vote? How does a voter I.D. discriminate against minorities?

2) Immigration. From what I can understand, Americans confuse legal immigration with illegal immigration according to whatever POV is being argued. So, it seems that however you manage to get into the the US - once you're in you are entitled to all the benefits of citizenship. If not you, then your children. So why would anyone bother to try and become a US citizen legally?

3) Gay marriage. How can one's marital status be determined by what state one resides in? Isn't marriage for straights nation-wide? And if so, why would it be different for gay marriage?

4) Abortion. Roe v Wade was a supreme court ruling. Isn't that the final argument? Or does the Federal government have the right to overturn Supreme court judgements?

5) Obamacare...The argument that private vs government medical insurance encourages competition and hence lower costs. But isn't the current medical insurance system private? And has that not resulted in increased premium cost rather than lowering it?

6) Iran... Iran (unlike Israel) is a signatory to the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty which states that members agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and in exchange agree to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals. Indeed, under the treaty the US is required to aide Iran in its development of nuclear energy. However, as of 2005, it is estimated that the United States (a signatory) still provides about 180 tactical B61 nuclear bombs for use by Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey and it is argued that this violates Articles I and II of the treaty. And it appears that Iran's nuclear energy activities may be an excuse for US (or Israeli) military action. This is very confusing.

7) Guns...The second amendment to the US constitution states: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Does this mean that you can bear arms only if you are a member of a militia? Should the term "arms" be unlimited? E.g. do the people have the right to own nuclear arms? On has the right to free speech, however, for example, one cannot falsely scream "Fire" in a movie theatre as this is not protected by the First Amendment and goes beyond the rights guaranteed by free speech. So, why shouldn't the right to bear arms restrict the nature of the arms a citizen has a right to bear?

8) Religion...This seemed to be a much bigger issue with the Republicans than with the Democrats since the Republicans had religious leaders give presentations while the Democrats did not. Also Romney constantly mentioned his faith in his talks. Is religious affiliation a criteria for presidency? I.e. if you're not a "Christian" (I understand that Mormons are not viewed by all as Christians) you cannot be a presidential candidate?

best, gordo
 

chevalier

Well-known member
A lot of the answers to this stuff are opinion. I was raised in the rural South in a very conservative area and I now live in the most liberal, densely populated and most college educated neighborhood in my state. What I'm trying to say is that I kind of have a good view of both extremes of the political divide. I'm also a history buff - specifically US history.

I'll spare you a history lesson but it's important to understand that the US constitution built a union of individual states (countries) and not one big state. The whole system has become very convoluted and confusing since the US Civil War and the passing of the 17th Amendment. The trend since the US Civil War has been towards unifying into one gigantic state top-to-bottom.

1) "Voter I.D. discriminates against minorities." If you are going to vote - don't you have to prove that you are eligible to vote? I.e. that you are an american citizen? Or can non-citizens vote? How does a voter I.D. discriminate against minorities?
The theory goes if elections have been had here for 200+ years without ID being needed why the sudden need? Possessing an ID is not mandatory in the US - there is no federal ID other than a passport. A driver's license is the most common form of ID - which are controlled by the states (each state having its own driving laws). There are many legitimate citizens who do not drive and thus do not bother to go get a non-driver license ID card. This is most common amongst the poor who predominantly vote for the democratic party. It's a restriction pushed by republicans to disenfranchise these poor voters.


2) Immigration. From what I can understand, Americans confuse legal immigration with illegal immigration according to whatever POV is being argued. So, it seems that however you manage to get into the the US - once you're in you are entitled to all the benefits of citizenship. If not you, then your children. So why would anyone bother to try and become a US citizen legally?
This is extremely touchy but being a US citizen allows full opportunity while being an illegal is a very hard life. I'm mixed about how I feel about this as I married into a legal-immigrant family while many of my ancestors came to this land during the 1600s/1700s colonial period and basically were illegal immigrants who stole everything from the natives. I'll leave it at this: "Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" is the inscription at the statue of liberty.

3) Gay marriage. How can one's marital status be determined by what state one resides in? Isn't marriage for straights nation-wide? And if so, why would it be different for gay marriage?
Federal law currently does not say anything about this. The US union system is designed so that the states experiment with policies individually and if there is a national consensus an amendment process comes in to play that mandates it nationally. Thus in my state gay marriage is completely illegal while in others it is perfectly legal. My state will not recognize a gay marriage if a gay married couple moves into my state. This gets really interesting if they want to divorce as there is no legal way for a divorce to occur either. The whole thing is a big mess that will likely be worked out within the next 4 years (read: full federal legalization of gay marriage).

4) Abortion. Roe v Wade was a supreme court ruling. Isn't that the final argument? Or does the Federal government have the right to overturn Supreme court judgements?
You're touching all the sensitive spots here. The supreme court interprets the constitution but it also has the ability to reverse its own decisions. Theoretically if the country passes an amendment changing the constitution that also overrides the supreme court.

5) Obamacare...The argument that private vs government medical insurance encourages competition and hence lower costs. But isn't the current medical insurance system private? And has that not resulted in increased premium cost rather than lowering it?
It's not about costs really it's about principles of independence and liberty. Many in the US (primarily rural people) have a mentality of independence, liberty and self-dependence above-all. Many people would rather have a huge bill (that they have no hope of ever paying) than be mandated what kind of care they can or can't get.

6) Iran... Iran (unlike Israel) is a signatory to the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty which states that members agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and in exchange agree to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals. Indeed, under the treaty the US is required to aide Iran in its development of nuclear energy. However, as of 2005, it is estimated that the United States (a signatory) still provides about 180 tactical B61 nuclear bombs for use by Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey and it is argued that this violates Articles I and II of the treaty. And it appears that Iran's nuclear energy activities may be an excuse for US (or Israeli) military action. This is very confusing.
We are complete hypocrites when it comes to international policies. It's a general consensus here that Iran getting the bomb is a bad thing. What is more interesting to me is that one nuclear armed country has never escalated a full-on attack upon another. I'm sure the Iranians understand this and also understand that the American warhawks are salivating at bombing and "democratizing" them.

7) Guns...The second amendment to the US constitution states: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Does this mean that you can bear arms only if you are a member of a militia? Should the term "arms" be unlimited? E.g. do the people have the right to own nuclear arms? On has the right to free speech, however, for example, one cannot falsely scream "Fire" in a movie theatre as this is not protected by the First Amendment and goes beyond the rights guaranteed by free speech. So, why shouldn't the right to bear arms restrict the nature of the arms a citizen has a right to bear?
This is exactly what the courts have said in this country. There are reasonable limits to both the first, second, third, fourth...... amendments. The militias are what made up the continental army lead by Geroge Washington and made up units of both sides of the Civil War. These militias were made up of mostly average joes and fought for their specific town, county, region or state. Many later became the national guard units and have been absorbed into the federal military. Every state gets to regulate firearms as they see fit as long as they do not infringe on the 2nd amendment. Many states require stringent permits and regulations (just like Canada) while other like mine have virtually no laws regarding firearms. I myself own firearms for the purposes of hobby, hunting and personal defense.

8) Religion...This seemed to be a much bigger issue with the Republicans than with the Democrats since the Republicans had religious leaders give presentations while the Democrats did not. Also Romney constantly mentioned his faith in his talks. Is religious affiliation a criteria for presidency? I.e. if you're not a "Christian" (I understand that Mormons are not viewed by all as Christians) you cannot be a presidential candidate?
There has never been a US President who did not at least claim to be Christian. The Christian majority here has a huge influence on things and has since white Europeans landed here. Romney's Mormonism being an issue is funny to me. Mormonism is possibly the most American Christianity possible (as it was "invented" here). That said the US has only had one Catholic president (John Kennedy) so having a Mormon is actually kind of a big deal.

Hopefully that helped more than it hurt. Let me know if you have further quandaries/questions.
 
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dabob

Well-known member
1) "Voter I.D. discriminates against minorities." If you are going to vote - don't you have to prove that you are eligible to vote? I.e. that you are an american citizen? Or can non-citizens vote? How does a voter I.D. discriminate against minorities?

The theory goes if elections have been had here for 200+ years without ID being needed why the sudden need? Possessing an ID is not mandatory in the US - there is no federal ID other than a passport. A driver's license is the most common form of ID - which are controlled by the states (each state having its own driving laws). There are many legitimate citizens who do not drive and thus do not bother to go get a non-driver license ID card. This is most common amongst the poor who predominantly vote for the democratic party. It's a restriction pushed by republicans to disenfranchise these poor voters.


My answer to this is tied into the immigration answer below - by the estimates I found there are anywhere between 7 and 20 million illeagle immigrants currently in the US. If they all voted they could easily change the election results - The majority of americans have to have some form of ID, even Social Security has required direct deposit since may of 2011 and to my knowledge you need an ID to get a bank account - and personally not ever claiming unemployment or welfare I would have to assume that you would need some kinda of ID to receive that so that eliminates the "people that can't afford the small fee charged by the state for a state issued ID" - I, personally am for the voter ID law and I think it is to keep our elections honest - last time I checked, felons in about 25% of the states depending on the crime can permanently lose their right to vote ( I would think some kind of ID would be required there also)

2) Immigration. From what I can understand, Americans confuse legal immigration with illegal immigration according to whatever POV is being argued. So, it seems that however you manage to get into the the US - once you're in you are entitled to all the benefits of citizenship. If not you, then your children. So why would anyone bother to try and become a US citizen legally?

This is extremely touchy but being a US citizen allows full opportunity while being an illegal is a very hard life. I'm mixed about how I feel about this as I married into a legal-immigrant family while many of my ancestors came to this land during the 1600s/1700s colonial period and basically were illegal immigrants who stole everything from the natives. I'll leave it at this: "Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" is the inscription at the statue of liberty.


I don't confuse legal vs illegal immigration - I personally have helped a mexican citizen immigrate here, at first he worked at my shop and was one of the best all around printers I have ever seen, he has since opened his own print shop and is making a life for himself and his family here - I have no problem with that - but the 7 - 20 million illegal immigrants are a drain on the government services and are part of the reason for the rise in health care costs since very few illegal immigrants have health insurance and sill go to the hospitals and get treated without having to pay (the rest of us pay the bill) = higher health care. If you want to quote the statute of liberty, remember that was in 1886 when the population of the United States was approximately 76 million and we were trying to encourage immigration to help fill up the Western States - if you may have noticed that as times change laws change, perceptions change and reality changes. The US now has 314,000,000 people living here and we are out of room to encourage unlimited immigration, also the government services in 1866 were limited, i.e. welfare, unemployment, social security all these didn't exist and there were jobs for everyone who wanted to work.

I have other beliefs that I believe are opinions and won't express them there but the above are pretty much provable facts if you care to check them out.
 
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GuruMorgor

Active member
Well put chevalier, I'm pretty much a frivalous bunghole and don't really dwell upon any of those subjects. I guess I'm sort of a tree hugger and worry more about how we're douching the planet up for future generations. Americans are mega-consumerists, that worries me.
 

gordo

Well-known member
Thanks Chevalier! That's what I was hoping for, an explanation about the situation rather than an opinion about the rightness of a particular POV.

Helps a lot!

Best, gordo
 

chevalier

Well-known member
There are 47 million medically uninsured Citizens here already. Our healthcare system has run amok and is completely out of cost control for many reasons including illegal immigration but it is an incredibly small part of the problem.
FactCheck.org : Uninsured U.S. Citizens

As far as population density goes here are the numbers. Overpopulation is a matter of opinion no matter how it is measured. Have you ever driven across the country? Even in our most densely populated areas there tends to be a lot of nearby "vacant" space (exclusion: NYC).
List of sovereign states and dependent territories by population density - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

FileJockey

Well-known member
Great questions. The most meaningful to me personally are 5 and 6.
Obamacare was a compromise between the rational and practical need for some kind of affordable health care for the US on the one hand, and the disgustingly greedy insurance industry on the other. Here in Massachusetts we have actually had "Obamacare" for many years, although it is ironically "Romneycare," since Romney as the Mass. governor first established the strange hybrid system that we now have nationally. As far as competition, health care is a need that has been exploited by insurance companies and some providers for a long time. Those profiting from the system don't actually need to "compete" for customers. Instead have been racing each other to the top.

The US nuclear/military hypocrisy is among the most grotesque of our arrogant empire. We can do anything we want in the interest of "national security," whether it is attacking civilians in other countries with unmanned drones, or actually executing American citizens abroad with no due process when the State Department deems them dangerous to US foreign interests.
Israel's role in this is especially pernicious. The largest lobbying group in the US is AIPAC - the America Israel Public Affairs Council. They continually plow billions into US campaign coffers in order to ensure that Israel's interests are at the top when it comes to US foreign policy. AIPAC maintains a low public profile, since many Americans would be justifiably upset to learn that we have been driven into 2 disastrous wars, mostly thanks to their influence. (Republicans' major donor this election cycle is Sheldon Adelson, an avowed "Israel firster" who will spend anything to make sure his candidate serves Israel's interests). At this very moment they are pushing hard for the US to attack Iran (which is no threat to the US, but a threat to Israel's nuclear dominance of the Middle East). Iran, as you point out are signatories of the Non-proliferation treaty, while Israel cannot even be bothered with it.
 

gordo

Well-known member
I don't confuse legal vs illegal immigration - I personally have helped a mexican citizen immigrate here, at first he worked at my shop and was one of the best all around printers I have ever seen, he has since opened his own print shop and is making a life for himself and his family here

AFAIK in Canada you cannot hire anyone unless they have a social security number or working (time-limited) visa (that is for income tax purposes both Canadian and foreign). If the person you employ does not have one of those two things then you would have to pay their wages in cash (i.e. underground economy/no records). Here, legitimate companies of any size don't pay employees cash because it does not benefit the company from an accounting point of view to do so.

Doesn't something like that happen in the states? (The Green Card?). In that case they would be legal residents and documented (but not immigrants (yet)).

Heck, whenever I provide any service to a US company, the company that hires me requires me to fill out a US Form w-8ben otherwise they will not pay me. That form is for government (US and Canada) income tax purposes. That form requires my social security number (which is how the governments track income).

So what was the status of the Mexican citizen that you hired, and how could he later go on to run a business?

(I'm not arguing policy, I'm just trying to understand the mechanics of how these things work in the US).

best, gordo
 

chevalier

Well-known member
AFAIK in Canada you cannot hire anyone unless they have a social security number or working (time-limited) visa (that is for income tax purposes both Canadian and foreign). If the person you employ does not have one of those two things then you would have to pay their wages in cash (i.e. underground economy/no records). Here, legitimate companies of any size don't pay employees cash because it does not benefit the company from an accounting point of view to do so.

Doesn't something like that happen in the states? (The Green Card?). In that case they would be legal residents and documented (but not immigrants (yet)).

Heck, whenever I provide any service to a US company, the company that hires me requires me to fill out a US Form w-8ben otherwise they will not pay me. That form is for government (US and Canada) income tax purposes. That form requires my social security number (which is how the governments track income).

So what was the status of the Mexican citizen that you hired, and how could he later go on to run a business?

(I'm not arguing policy, I'm just trying to understand the mechanics of how these things work in the US).

best, gordo

Yes, you are required to state your immigration status and provide ID/SSN etc. but there is not a legal requirement of verification. Some states and employers require this now (I think) but the databases are known to have errors. The way it works is that if you are an illegal immigrant you just write down a SSN and the employer looks the other direction. Then there are the so-called cash jobs where no documentation is performed. Another trick is outsourcing your work to another individual via private contract. This allows you avoiding having to ask immigration questions and keeps you legally off the hook.
 
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gordo

Well-known member
Great questions. The most meaningful to me personally are 5 and 6.
Obamacare was a compromise between the rational and practical need for some kind of affordable health care for the US on the one hand, and the disgustingly greedy insurance industry on the other. Here in Massachusetts we have actually had "Obamacare" for many years, although it is ironically "Romneycare," since Romney as the Mass. governor first established the strange hybrid system that we now have nationally. As far as competition, health care is a need that has been exploited by insurance companies and some providers for a long time. Those profiting from the system don't actually need to "compete" for customers. Instead have been racing each other to the top.

When I first heard of Obamacare I thought that the US would have looked at the various medical services systems in other country and put a plan together that took the best practices being used and avoided the pitfalls (as much as possible since no system is going to be perfect). But I don't that's what happened. From what I understand, US citizens will be required to buy health insurance from the same pool of companies they currently buy from (so that maintains the status quo regarding private insurers as well as any benefits (or lack thereof) of competing private companies). What changes is that you cannot be denied by the insurers due to pre-existing conditions. Also, if you don't buy insurance you will be fined.

Is that essentially correct?

On a sidebar, in Canada the hospitals are private - not run by the government. Everyone pays for health insurance either individually or through their employer. If you cannot afford to pay (as documented by your income tax form) then there are various levels of government subsidies that kick in based on your income. So, if you earn below a certain threshold the subsidy can be 100%. We have also have private insurance for things that are not covered by basic health care (e.g. private hospital rooms, dental, etc.).

We carry a card (looks like a credit card) that shows the doctor/hospital that we are insured.

best gordo
 
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chevalier

Well-known member
When I first heard of Obamacare I thought that the US would have looked at the various medical services systems in other country and put a plan together that took the best practices being used and avoided the pitfalls (as much as possible since no system is going to be perfect). But I don't that's what happened.

From what I understand, US citizens will be required to buy health insurance from the same pool of companies they currently buy from (so that maintains the status quo regarding private insurers as well as any benefits (or lack thereof) of competing private companies). What changes is that you cannot be denied by the insurers due to pre-existing conditions. Also, if you don't buy insurance you will be fined.

Is that essentially correct?

This is the United States Congress we're talking about not the German Bundestag. Logic and thoughtful consideration had nothing to do with it - ever. Pharmaceutical companies, insurers and medical associations lobbied it into whatever makes them most profitable. We're now mandated into buying the same bad insurance products with a few minor concessions like the ban on denial based upon pre-existing condition.
 

FileJockey

Well-known member
When I first heard of Obamacare I thought that the US would have looked at the various medical services systems in other country and put a plan together that took the best practices being used and avoided the pitfalls (as much as possible since no system is going to be perfect). But I don't that's what happened. From what I understand, US citizens will be required to buy health insurance from the same pool of companies they currently buy from (so that maintains the status quo regarding private insurers as well as any benefits (or lack thereof) of competing private companies). What changes is that you cannot be denied by the insurers due to pre-existing conditions. Also, if you don't buy insurance you will be fined.

Is that essentially correct?
Yes. The mandate to buy insurance (mostly from the same insurers already doing business) came with a few provisions about pre-existing conditions. More classes of insurance plans were also introduced, including some "affordable" alternatives for low-income subscribers. These plans are lower-cost, but drastically limit health care services. The fine for not purchasing a plan supposedly comes in the form of an income tax penalty. Not sure how that affects people without incomes.
The whole thing began with great intentions but was reduced to political grandstanding point scoring.
 

gordo

Well-known member
Thanks for all your clear answers. Very helpful to understanding what's going on south of our border.
We're so close the the US in so many ways that, for me anyway, it is confusing when I don't understand how the US has arrived at many of the positions it has on some of these basic issues.

thanks again! gordo
 

chevalier

Well-known member
Thanks for all your clear answers. Very helpful to understanding what's going on south of our border.
We're so close the the US in so many ways that, for me anyway, it is confusing when I don't understand how the US has arrived at many of the positions it has on some of these basic issues.

thanks again! gordo

A question for you or any others on the PP from North or South America:
Why do people from the US solely get to call themselves generically American? How do you feel about it?

Two questions for a Canadian to completely baffle almost anybody from the US...
What is parliamentary democracy and how does it works?
Who is the US' largest trading partner?

From my experiences the average American doesn't understand the basics of their own government or the very brief history of their country. I'd bet that in the plant where I where I work less than 20% of the people could name the two US Senators that represent them. Maybe, that's more universal globally than I would like to believe. Anyway, congratulations you are possibly now more informed than the average US voter.
 

gordo

Well-known member
A question for you or any others on the PP from North or South America:
Why do people from the US solely get to call themselves generically American? How do you feel about it?

Two questions for a Canadian to completely baffle almost anybody from the US...
What is parliamentary democracy and how does it works?
Who is the US' largest trading partner?

Nobody knows how the parliamentary system works...but it seems to! LOL :-D

Canaduh is by far the largest supplier of oil to the US. The chart here is very informative: US Petroleum Imports by Country � The Cost of Energy

Canada is also the US's largest trading partner.

Well calling themselves "American" is much easier than calling themselves United Statesians so they are forgiven - as long as they still refer to their country as the US eh!

Best, gordo
 

Dan Roll

Well-known member
Most Americans have no idea we but more oil from Canada than we do from Saudi Arabia. When we demonize the oil exporters we do not mean you guys, just those middle easterners........
 

curiosity

Well-known member
no tackled this, so...

no tackled this, so...

8) Religion...This seemed to be a much bigger issue with the Republicans than with the Democrats since the Republicans had religious leaders give presentations while the Democrats did not. Also Romney constantly mentioned his faith in his talks. Is religious affiliation a criteria for presidency? I.e. if you're not a "Christian" (I understand that Mormons are not viewed by all as Christians) you cannot be a presidential candidate?

best, gordo[/QUOTE]

What the many media outlets showed you is not necessarily what happened. I bounced around the networks and noticed that many did not show the religious leaders speak at the DNC. However, they were there.
Apparently the networks show their audience what they want to. I think that distorts the message.
 

zevrix

Active member
6) Iran... Iran (unlike Israel) is a signatory to the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty which states that members agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and in exchange agree to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals. Indeed, under the treaty the US is required to aide Iran in its development of nuclear energy. However, as of 2005, it is estimated that the United States (a signatory) still provides about 180 tactical B61 nuclear bombs for use by Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey and it is argued that this violates Articles I and II of the treaty. And it appears that Iran's nuclear energy activities may be an excuse for US (or Israeli) military action. This is very confusing.

"Very confusing" sums it up pretty well. And the more you read on the subject, the more confused you'll most likely become, especially that you'll never know the real truth anyway. The issue with Iran is that it's run by fanatical religious fundamentalists and it did issue specific threats towards Israel. Actually, Canada just recently severed ties with Iran in a really surprising move (I'm from Toronto, BTW).

Israel isn't interested in any "military action" against Iran. It's only interested in destroying Iranian nuclear facilities and live on quietly knowing they don't exist. Obviously, they'd prefer Iran to shut them down itself.

You may know that Israel destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981... that is few months after Iran destroyed the same reactor, but the French repaired it again. Not surprisingly, Iran didn't complain then (let alone there's an opinion that Israel coordinated its actions with Iran). It was a controversial action back then. But after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait a few years later, nobody really shed a tear about that reactor.

A few years ago, Israel also quietly destroyed Syrian nuclear reactor. Syria didn't make any noise and never even admitted it because... umm... they weren't supposed to have any nuclear reactor.

Anyway, I'm just giving you some background and perspective. Should Israel destroy the Iranian reactor? I really don't want it to happen because the situation will be quite nervous. Is it a good idea to leave Iran alone? I think all of us will sleep more quietly knowing that Iran doesn't produce any nuclear materials. Bottom line - none of us here knows if this action is justified - and never will.

Cheers,
Leo
 

Controlling the Purse Strings

Avanti
CONTROLLING THE
PURSE STRINGS

By Noel Ward, Editor@Large
What did you buy for your
business last week?
And how are you making sure everything you purchase is properly managed and accounted for?

Read the Article

   
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