Counterfeiting isn’t free money, it is theft. The money illicitly printed by counterfeiters doesn’t rest on any value produced, and will therefore deplete the value of dollars honestly earned by individuals and businesses. Counterfeiting therefore has a dual cost: a direct cost, with large R&D expenditures to protect the currency, and an indirect cost to the economy, by reducing the value of money.
With the economic interactions of mankind, money came around quickly – 2000 BC, per some historians. And with money, came theft. And with theft came violence, murder, property damage, evidence tampering, increased security costs and, most of all, fake money, which has taken every form, including electronic. It didn’t take long for nefarious individuals in every country to realize that it has more profitable to print fake bills than to earn money.
Every week, in Florida alone (1), approx. 70 000 counterfeit dollars are singled out and taken out of the market. And the number of arrests for banknote-forging has been on a steady rise since the year 2000. Fake money does have a cost, of course. But if it has a cost for central banks and secured printing firms who must always find more advanced ways to safeguard their paper from fraud, it has the same cost for counterfeiters – if not more, since they must operate in clandestine circumstances. It takes a large technical apparatus and top expertise to forge actual bills. It is in fact almost the name of the game to make money counterfeiting as least lucrative as possible, by adding security feature so complex they kill the profitability of the fraud.
Precisely, the first and main cost of fake bills lies in the amount of necessary technology to be injected into the notes. By working every aspect of the banknotes (ink, paper, design, security features), the cost of producing a reliable currency is greatly increased by the central banks who purchase the currency from printers. But there is an additional cost to the citizens who use the currency, and it is doubly insidious. First, their money will be worth less because of fraud. Second, they will be tempted to mover their operations towards electronic currency, which seems more secure but is in fact more liable to fraud. Third, whenever the bill is detected as forged – statistically more often when held by low-wage earners who resort more to cash and less to debit cards – the bill will be deemed worthless and refused. Malcolm Farr, analyzing money counterfeiting in Australia, says (2) “Fake currency is being found in restaurants and supermarkets and often it’s a low income earner — who is less likely to use a credit card — who is the loser.”
To tackle this economic disease, a retaliation triangle was set up: Prevention, detection and repression. Prevention is mostly the printer’s responsibility. Firms, such as Oberthur Fiduciaire (in charge of printing some of the euro banknotes (3)), oversee designing and producing banknotes. But they’re also responsible for creating a banknote nearly impossible to forge, by embedding as many security features within it. Many patents were registered by Oberthur Fiduciaire, for example, to uphold and protect banknote integrity in its finest details: Starsheen® (Security feature based on liquid crystal technology allowing brilliant and easily recognisable colorshifting effects), Labyrinth ® (Security background pattern against copying and scanning) or Diaphan® (New generation see-through public recognition security feature, combining iridescence and offset printing), and many others. Every time a new security feature is produced, money counterfeiters must reverse-engineer it before they can try to produce decent-quality forgeries. If the feature is solid, by the time the forgers crack it, a new feature will be produced. Thomas Savare, Oberthur Fiduciaire CEO, rightly considers that the fight against fake money is therefore an ongoing race.
Detection is made by banks (which scan the bills that come in) and retail (4) shop owners, who sometimes run a UV lamp over the notes they receive, so as to check their authenticity. If a concentration of forged banknotes is found in an area, it will trigger an investigation. Julie Zeveloff, executive editor of Business insider, gives a list of tips (5) to help counterfeit note detection : “Bills are printed with a security thread embedded in the bill rather than printed on it. The threads are clearly visible when the bill is held up to the light […] The threads also glow blue when held under a UV light.”
Finally, repression is made solely by government agencies. Since forging actual banknotes is considered a direct attack on the State, it is punished far more harshly than electronic fraud, which targets only private citizens and can be fragmented into small under-radar-cover misdemeanours, while yielding far more return in the end. Depending on the country and the magnitude of the fraud, sentences can be maximal: forged money can earn its creator 20 years of prison in the United States, a lifetime in Japan, and death in China.
This triple-set for fighting counterfeit money seems to work quite well, as counterfeit money circulating in the world is estimated to be under 0.1%, a rate far too low to incur economic danger for economies. But fraud has incurred defiance towards hard currency: “demand for banknotes is found to decline following a counterfeiting shock, consistent with a loss of confidence in the currency”, explains a study (6) from Reserve Bank of Australia, written by Nathan Viles, Alexandra Rush and Thomas Rohling, and entitled “The Social Costs of Currency Counterfeiting”. And vacuum was quickly filled by the emergence and generalization of electronic payment. The enormous surge in online fraud has now made electronic payments less safe than actual currency in bills or coins. It might seem at first glance it’s part of a general plan among thieves: to coax the public towards more electronic payments, where fraud is easier.
So, the expenses committed to protecting hard currency will make even more sense, if economies revert slowly back to hard cash, in the face of mounting online fraud. The securing of cash is therefore as vital as ever. Ewan Ogilvie, MD of Your Cash Europe Ltd, a European ATM provider, insists (7) upon it: “For small businesses, independent retailers and micro-businesses, cash is an absolute necessity for customer transactions, paying bills and employees”. It is vital for these companies that cash be protected, or the cost will be even higher than the price of protecting it today.
Humanity Endures During Coronavirus Pandemic
The world changed exponentially since the pandemic broke out. We changed too. Emotions are running high. We have learnt to take one day at a time and have stopped expecting changes to happen overnight.
“COVID19 is menacing the whole of humanity – and so the whole of humanity must fight back”
A clarion call from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is a call to unity and solidarity. Already plagued by natural/manmade disasters and wars, many countries seem to bite the dust for want of resources in the fight against the virus. Warning each other against complacency is appreciable but never a blame game to cover up a dysfunctional response. Not all update themselves on the governments, new economic policies and R&D on Covid vaccine. Many we come across seem to be making wise individual choices. No matter how badly the tiers of government fail us, there will always be thousands of people working to make things better. Besides, finding reasons and faults on policies for the spread doesn’t help. A virulent strain of flu had managed to spread within a few months to the remotest corners of the world infecting half a billion people – more than a quarter of the human species in 1918 long before the current age of globalization.
Separating, alienating and forswearing the endless moments of contact that knit society together thrust us into frightening new realities. The good is still there. Social distancing is nothing but taking a step back to literally give breathing space to others. Going by news & views, we understand that amid concerns of rising numbers of positive cases in frustrating circumstances, acts of kindness and solidarity are burgeoning. Yes, it’s been extremely sad and sobering to watch this all unfold, but watching people share resources and supporting one another in every conceivable way has made us feel more connected to our local communities. Whether singing a song together out on balconies, getting groceries for the elderly or calling a friend to alleviate anxiety and fear, each one I know play a part and take comfort in a sense of togetherness. We are steadily aware of our limitations yet don’t hesitate to free our wells of compassion. Do we think twice and thrice to make an online contribution to save the lives of people we don’t know and will never know!
Sadly, it has taken an invisible virus to help us belive once again that we are strongest only when we have the welfare of others in our mind. Halfway through quarantine and self-isolation a phone call, a kind word, an opportunity to reach out, a breeze, bird calls, one good news and loss of a loved one, we are hit with the necessary humility and awe we ought to feel and appreciate just how beautiful our world is and precious life is.
Post pandemic recovery will be better and bigger if life goes on with this beautiful idea, of humility, inwardness – as an ethical relationship, for the sake of others. For better or for worse, we have learnt that one can’t be an island unto himself. Lives are intertwined and are bound together. We, humans produce more rubbish than any other species. The growth in the human population is part of the explanation, but cannot account for all of the extra rubbish, a result of haste and greed both which almost skinned humans of humanity.
Unity among countries must ensure that all countries are equipped to trace, isolate and treat people infected by COVID-19. Only a global effort can avoid the collapse of any country’s medical system. Sanctions that affect health care should never be imposed. Development in one part of the world should not rob another country of it’s resources. Humanity gains the upper hand over invisible predators through the sharing of reliable scientific information, global solidarity, vaccinations, antibiotics, improved hygiene and a much better medical infrastructure. Today,it doesn’t take too much to figure out that global sharing and caring is the best defense. The Jing Si aphorism, “Good actions require everyone’s cooperation. So let’s not cling to personal biases” holds good for all times.
Stories of good samaritans are aplenty. To know humanity is still alive and kicking and is at it’s best when united assures us that we’ll come out of this “abnormal” time with a new normal. In their own unique ways, humans respond to protect life and health and ensure respect for fellow beings. ‘single-nucleotide polymorphisms’ are no joke. From handing over meals, survial kits, medicines, home made masks to calling on an old couple across the street, everything is humanity in action and it is the power of this humanity – humane behaviour towards other humans – that we seek to celebrate, improve and increase, especially during crucial times. Remember “A person with a generous heart and compassion for all beings leads the most blessed life”.
With thousands of migrant workers taking it on their chin, vehicles filled with food and ration along highways reach the needy and stranded and canteens serve free food. Rays of sunshine! We see through hypocrisy and deceptions, hear excuses for inefficiency, inadequacy and inflexibility and within the tumult and uncertainty we are doing much, much better in life than we thought we can. Quietly. Kindly. Gently. Being able to spare a part of us to help someone live is worth being thankful for. ” Giving with an expectation for return brings misery”. May we give generously, but don’t guilt ourselves if we can’t. If we have nothing left to spare, let’s go slow and kind.
The world is being taught a lesson, the harder way. This lesson is not about rich and powerful versus poor and powerless but about leadership that treasure the common wealth and common good, above private greed and profit and above protecting the privileges of a handful elites.
None of us are actually going anywhere. Might as well stay. The conclusion we draw from this crisis is that all humans matter equally, that we need to give a hand, raise one another, flourish or perish together- no matter what our limitations are, we’re capable of a great deal. This virus backlash is nothing short of a fleeting lesson to all leaders about how sane, humane societies should function all the time. Those who regard themselves as wonderfully favored of leadership, power and pelf are called to do great things. Anything that constantly arise to cause conflicts or disunion must be questioned, criticized, denounced and judged.
Be it a forced contemplation of our mortality or a sudden urge of self denial or an awareness of the passage of time and life, this screeching halt is proof that humans are designed to be more productive when connected, even in isolation. So, not all hope is lost. The time has come when we must know for ourselves why we believe in humanity as we do.
“Do something good for somebody today; the people who are trying to make the world worst aren’t taking days off.”
Gestures to honor humanity are varied, aplenty. A flypast in India is a cruel joke on the already tumbling down economy and on the selfless humanitarians who spare nothing to reach out. We can only wish the trail of showered petals, if showered will guide the departing victims of COVID19. Flying past/over ground realities is a highly irresponsible act of governments. Also, a misuse and mismanagement of meagre resources.
Was it a premonition that urged saint Thiruvalluvar, celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher to get on with kural 578 which when translated into English goes as
” The world is theirs (Kings) who are able to show kindness, without injury to their affairs, (administration of Justice).
Congress’s Electoral Enervation
Lately, the Grand Old Party of India has been suffering from severe political lacerations. It is bleeding profusely but it still refuses to recognize and feel the pain of its grisly wounds. The Congress party is obstinately practicing political podsnappery and this is further eviscerating its relevance. Slowly and steadily, its ideological roots are being chipped away. We are witnessing a kind of dilemmatic democratic party, which is strangulating in the ever-shifting tectonic plates of Indian politics. The fresh act of defection by Jyotiraditya Scindia foregrounds the ideologically weak aura which now surrounds the Congress.
In every period of its history, a particular type of ideological encrustation surrounded the Congress and illuminated its charm among the Indian voters. This ideology rooted it firmly in a vast network of ideologies. This ideology, for the most part, has been secular and liberal and acted as a strong bulwark against a xenophobically framed anti-secular strategy. But now, this prodigious party has shrunk to a miniscule group. This cataclysmic contraction has happened primarily due to the elitist imagery to which it was tethered. Congress’s political rivals portrayed it as an inherently elitist group by harping on its corruption scandals like the Satyam Scam, Coal Scam, Chopper Scam, Adarsh Scam and Tatra Truck Scam. All this overemphasis on the financial impurity of the Congress led to the citizens believing that the Congress party is an aristocratic admixture of kleptocracy and bogus secularism.
The political dynasticism of the Congress further solidified this elitist imagery and soon, Congress became the ‘suit, boot ki Sarkar’. The usage of the aforementioned epithet successfully established the presence of the Congress party as a technocratic liberal party, accustomed to high-handed bureaucratic methods of administration. The attribute of a ‘pro-people party’ was snatched away from the Congress and it was represented as a technocratic group, largely unconnected from the material conditions of the citizens.
Apart from the political and financial palm-greasing, the Congress has also been disemboweled due to its confounding ideological quagmire. The Grand Old Party is stuck in a regal fort, where it is continuously wavering between a secular strategy and a thinly-veiled contrivance of religious pandering. It has already flip-flopped on its ideological plank by pitching Rahul Gandhi as a religious leader which actually backfired because people at once understood that he had suddenly become a synthetically Hinduized leader.
And now, it is lending its support to the Anti-CAA protests and has all of a sudden, arrived like a knight in shining armor, chaotically shouting secular slogans. Opportunistic acts like these cause severe trust deficit and the party incurs widespread odium for its electoral opportunism. So, due to the Congress’s ideological shilly-shally, its attempt to provide guidance to the Anti-CAA protests is seen as a crude act of politically hijacking the protests. To say succinctly, the Congress has been utterly passive in reacting to some major political events and has not even tried to extend its sinews to drag itself out from the quicksand of financial dissoluteness and ideological vacillation.
Due to all the above mentioned iniquitous inadequacies, Congress is withering and losing its elephantine presence on the electoral platform. This is the most appropriate time for the Congress to recognize its Achilles heel and try to overcome this deficiency. The defection of Jyotiraditya Scindia highlights the fact that now, an ideological string no longer ties any Congress member and the party needs to alter its highly feudal organizational structure which is identical to a form of royal structure, based on monarchical munificence. The Congress party can utilize the following remedial measures to perform the medical operation which is indispensable for it to regain its health.
It should try assiduously to interconnect itself with the common masses and change its political behavioral pattern by staging what can be called ‘constitutional struggles’. These constitutional struggles will essentially be democratic demonstrations, aiming to recover the lost sheen of the constitution. These protests should be able to blend constitutional patriotism with a Gandhian non-violent idea of struggle. In this way, the Congress party would be successful in politically fructifying its vast receptacles of historical significance and will harmonize its history as a torchbearer of freedom with the present calamitous conditions. One important reason behind the need to make Mahatma Gandhi the vanguard of Congress’s recuperation struggle is the vast space which he occupies in the collective imagination of the Indian citizens. By spotlighting Gandhi, the Congress party can easily initiate a resistance movement whose objective will be to find the Gandhian truths in this age of political prevarications and fabrications.
Change Organizational Configurations
The Congress party needs to change its organizational configurations. The sybaritic structure of dynasticism should be superseded by a bottom-up approach which is decentralized. The present organizational architecture is extremely centralistic and all the members of the Congress party are seen as the supine members of a sycophantic entourage, revolving around the singular nucleus of nobility, which has invariably been the Gandhi family. The senior members of the Congress party such as Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel and Manmohan Singh are depicted as the servile stooges of the Gandhi family who possess an unbreakable fidelity to the dynastic autocracy of the Congress party. The congress leadership is also currently rudderless. During the elections, it played the role of a dabbler. After Indira Gandhi, all the Gandhis (Except Sanjay Gandhi) were reluctant politicians. They were compelled because the Nehru – Gandhi name was associated with the party. All these aspects of party functioning need to be radically changed so that non-Gandhi members are not seen as mere appendages of the supposed undisputed overlord which is the Gandhi family. (3) A coherently unified ideological political programme needs to be built. The lumbering party is in a state of delirium and is unable to properly specify its political stance. It should solidly settle this predicament by choosing to continue with its former political posture as a truly secular and democratic party, committed to constitutional values. If this operation is not undertaken, the Congress will be finally consigned to the political graveyard, where it will die with its shambolic ideological structure.
4 Tips To Help Tradesmen Advance Their Careers
Learning a trade is a great way to start a stable career with plenty of opportunities. People will always need plumbers, carpenters and builders, and if you are good at what you do, you should be able to find plenty of work. It’s best to start out working for another company before eventually starting your own business. However, a lot of contractors find that they grow to a certain point and hit a bit of a wall. If you are struggling to advance your career as a tradesman, here are a few tips to help you reach the next level.
This is by far the most important thing to remember if you want to advance your career. A lot of your business comes from word of mouth, and if you are not reliable, people will not recommend you to their friends and family. People are always concerned about dealing with a dodgy tradesman, so it’s important that you show people that you are professional and reliable. Always take care with your work and be realistic about the time scale for a job. If you promise to do things too quickly, you will either finish late or rush the job and the quality of the work will be poor.
Learn New Skills
Learning new skills is so important if you want to expand your customer base and take on new jobs. For example, if you take a course with an accredited excavator trainer, you can start taking on larger jobs without the need to hire another person to operate heavy machinery. If you’re a kitchen fitter, why not take some plumbing courses so you can do the entire job without having to call subcontractors in? Expanding your skill set allows you to vary the jobs that you take on, and you will have more work available to you.
Build Your Network
Networking is important in the trade industry because it can open doors for you. If you can build a network of other tradesmen, they will be able to help you find work and if you build relationships with big companies, they will be able to get you onto big commercial jobs that you would not otherwise be able to land.
Although word of mouth is important for tradesmen and you will get a lot of work off the back of recommendations, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to market yourself. A lot of tradesmen underestimate the importance of an online presence, and they miss out on a lot of work because of it. If people need some work done and they can’t get a recommendation from friends and family, they will head online and do a search. That’s why it’s important that you have a professional website and active social media pages. If you post pictures of your past work online, you should see an increase in queries and you will get a lot more work.
If you follow these important steps, you can advance your career and start landing some bigger clients.
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