Tag Archives: consumer information

PhotoVoice Project

Coffee is the life blood of the modern world, and probably has been seen the birth of civilization. Coffee’s heritage can even be traced back to the ancient plateaus of Ethiopia (NCAUSA.org, 2017). The actual cultivation and trade of coffee began in the Arabian Peninsula in the 15th-16th century, coffee became was known as the Wine of Arabia (NCAUSA.org, 2017). Coffee arrived in Europe in the 17th century and quickly gained popularity across the continent (NCAUSA.org, 2017). In England, coffee houses were referred to as Penny Universities, because of the low cost of the beverage and the interesting conversation that could always be found there (NCAUSA.org, 2017). Finally, once coffee had reached the British colonies that later became the United States and the events of the Boston Tea Party took place, coffee quickly became the American drink of choice (NCAUSA.org, 2017).

“Coffee – the favorite drink of the civilized world.” – Thomas Jefferson

 

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To answer my first question, “What choices do I have?” Well, the answer is both simple and complicated. There are lots of companies to buy from, and many sources of coffee beans (Businessinsider.com, 2011). Conversely, despite all the different flavors of coffee that is advertised, there are actually only two types of coffee (Businessinsider.com, 2011). The two types of coffee bean are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica makes up about 70% of all coffee beans sold and Robusta, which is cheaper, is typically used in instant coffee (Businessinsider.com, 2011).

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My second question is “Who’s selling me what?” In the US, there is really only five top brands that dominate the market: Keurig, Folgers, Starbucks, Maxwell House and Dunkin’ Donuts (Fortune.com, 2015). Of course, there are many independent coffee brands in the market, but none of them come close to the leading five. Besides that, they most likely buy their coffee from the same distributors or producers. Here is a list of top 10 coffee producing countries (WorldAtlas.com, 2016).:

Rank                           Country                                           Coffee Produced in Kilograms

10                                Guatemala                                                    224,871 US tons

9                                  Mexico                                                           257,940 US tons

8                                  Uganda                                                          314,489 US tons

7                                  Honduras                                                      380,296 US tons

6                                  India                                                               385,786 US tons

5                                  Ethiopia                                                         432,287 US tons

4                                  Indonesia                                                      814,629 US tons

3                                  Colombia                                                       892,871 US tons

2                                  Vietnam                                                         1,818,811 US tons

1                                  Brazil                                                              2,859,502 US tons

 

restaurant-beans-coffee-cup

Coffee is a $100 billion industry, second only to oil (Businessinsider.com, 2011). I found it interesting to learn that there are only two kinds of coffee bean, even though coffee is made out to be more diverse by coffee companies. Per the National Association of Coffee USA, Arabica beans are grown at very high altitudes, between 3600-6300 feet above sea level, and are the best beans to be used in coffee beverages.

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As a consumer and a coffee enthusiast, it is good to know that Brazilian Arabica coffee beans are the best on the market. Thankfully, Brazilian Arabica coffee is also the most common, which means that it all comes down to how the beans are roasted, which I’m sure is considered some form of a trade secret because I could not find any information on how exactly it is that so many companies, like Starbucks and D&M, can have so much variation in flavor.

The photos used for this project were more artistic in nature, rather than informative. However, they server their purpose since coffee is more artistic than anything else. In a lot of ways coffee’s trade craft resembles that of the beer industry, and it seems to carry a similar narrative with it as well. These photos help to illustrate the majestic beauty of coffee; they capture the exquisite light as it is reflects off the many forms of coffee, unleashing feelings of bliss and happiness. I can accredit these photos to pexels.com, which is a free license, open source, online photo data base.

 

References

Goldschein, E. (2011, November 14). 11 Incredible Facts About The Global Coffee Industry. Retrieved July 26, 2017, from http://www.businessinsider.com/facts-about-the-coffee-industry-2011-11#after-crude-oil-coffee-is-the-most-sought-commodity-in-the-world-1

The History of Coffee. (n.d.). Retrieved July 26, 2017, from http://www.ncausa.org/About-Coffee/History-of-Coffee

Szenthe, A. (2015, March 08). Top Coffee Producing Countries. Retrieved July 26, 2017, from http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/top-coffee-producing-countries.html

Groden, C. (2015, September 29). Here Are the 5 Top-selling Coffee Brands. Retrieved July 26, 2017, from http://fortune.com/2015/09/29/top-coffee-brands-keurig/

Free high quality photos · Pexels. (n.d.). Retrieved July 26, 2017, from https://www.pexels.com/

Glossary Post 5

Tax

What is ‘Taxes’

Taxes are generally an involuntary fee levied on individuals or corporations that is enforced by a government entity, whether local, regional or national in order to finance government activities. In economics, taxes fall on whomever pays the burden of the tax, whether this is the entity being taxed, like a business, or the end consumers of the business’s goods.

BREAKING DOWN ‘Taxes’

Taxes are levied by states upon their citizens and corporations to fund public works and services. Payment of taxes at rates levied by the state is compulsory, and tax evasion, the deliberate failure to pay one’s full tax liabilities, is punishable by law. Most governments utilize an agency or department to collect taxes; in the United States, this function is performed by the Internal Revenue Service.

There are several very common types of taxes:

  • Income Tax (a percentage of individual or corporate earnings filed to the federal government)
  • Sales Tax (taxes levied on certain goods and services)
  • Property Tax (based on the value of land and property assets)
  • Tariff (taxes on imported goods imposed in the aim of strengthening internal businesses).

However, tax systems vary widely among nations, and it is important for individuals and corporations to carefully study a new locale’s tax laws before earning income or doing business there.

Advertiser Disclosure

Like many developed nations, the United States has a progressive tax system by which a higher percentage of tax revenues are collected from high-income individuals or corporations rather than from low-income individual earners. Taxes are imposed at federal, state and local levels. Generally speaking, the federal government levies income, corporate and payroll taxes, the state levies sales taxes, and municipalities or other local governments levy property taxes. Tax revenues are used for public services and the operation of the government, as well as the Social Security and Medicare programs. As baby boomer populations have aged, Social Security and Medicare have claimed increasingly high proportions of the total federal expenditure of tax revenue. Throughout United States history, tax policy has been a consistent source of political debate.

Capital gains taxes are of particular relevance for investors. Levied and enforced at the federal level, these are taxes on income that results from the sale of assets in which the sale price was higher than the purchasing price. These are taxed at both short-term and long-term rates. Short-term capital gains (on assets sold less than a year after they were acquired) are taxed at the owner’s normal income rate, but long-term gains on assets held for more than a year are taxed at a lower rate, on the rationale that lower taxes will encourage high levels of capital investment.

IRS

What is the ‘Internal Revenue Service – IRS’

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a U.S. government agency responsible for the collection of taxes and enforcement of tax laws. Established in 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln, the agency operates under the authority of the United States Department of the Treasury, and its primary purpose includes the collection of individual income taxes and employment taxes. The IRS also handles corporate, gift, excise and estate taxes. People colloquially refer to the IRS as the “tax man.”

BREAKING DOWN ‘Internal Revenue Service – IRS’

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the IRS is an expansive organization that services the taxation of all Americans. For fiscal year 2014, the IRS

processed nearly 147.5 million personal income tax returns and more than 2.2 million corporate income tax returns. These types of returns brought the federal government close to $2 trillion of revenue.

E-Filing

Individuals and corporations have the option to file income returns electronically thanks to computer technology, software programs and secure Internet connections. During the 2015 tax filing season, more than 91% of all returns came through this e-file option, which comes to more than 128 million out of 150 million returns from January to October 2015. The number of returns that use e-file has grown steadily since the IRS began that program. By comparison, 40 million out of 131 million returns, or just 31%, used the e-file option in 2001. More than 128 million taxpayers received their returns through direct deposit rather than a traditional paper check in 2015, and the average direct deposited amount was $2,935.

Audits

As part of the enforcement mission of the IRS, the agency audits a select portion of income tax returns every year. For the 2013 tax year, the agency audited approximately 1.4 million income tax returns, or 0.7% of all returns filed. This number breaks down to 0.9% of individual income tax returns and 1.3% of corporate tax returns. Around 71% of IRS audits occur through the mail, while 29% happen in the field.

After rising to a peak in 2010, the number of audits has steadily declined. The amount of funding set aside for tax enforcement declined 5% from 2014 to 2015, which indicates even fewer audits should occur. Reasons for an IRS audit vary, but some factors may increase the odds of an examination. Someone who makes more than $200,000 in one tax year has a 2.71% chance of having an audit. One out of every 13 returns of those earning more than $1 million per year undergo an audit.

Other red flags for an audit include failing to declare the right amount of income, claiming a higher-than-normal amount of deductions, running a small business as self-employed, making large charitable donations compared to income and claiming rental losses. There is no one single factor that determines who does or does not face an IRS audit each year.

References

Staff, I. (2016, June 05). Taxes. Retrieved July 24, 2017, from http://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/taxes.asp

Staff, I. (2003, November 23). Internal Revenue Service – IRS. Retrieved July 24, 2017, from http://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/irs.asp

Glossary Post 4

Giffen Good

What is a ‘Giffen Good’

A Giffen good is a good for which demand increases as the price increases, and falls when the price decreases. A Giffen good has an upward-sloping demand curve, which is contrary to the fundamental law of demand which states that quantity demanded for a product falls as the price increases, resulting in a downward slope for the demand curve. A Giffen good is typically an inferior product that does not have easily available substitutes, as a result of which the income effect dominates the substitution effect. Giffen goods are quite rare, to the extent that there is some debate about their actual existence. The term is named after the economist Robert Giffen.

Laffer Curve

What is the ‘Laffer Curve’

The Laffer Curve is a theory developed by supply-side economist Arthur Laffer to show the relationship between tax rates and the amount of tax revenue collected by governments. The curve is used to illustrate Laffer’s main premise that the more an activity such as production is taxed, the less of it is generated. Likewise, the less an activity is taxed, the more of it is generated.

BREAKING DOWN ‘Laffer Curve’

Laffer Curve

The Laffer Curve suggests that, as taxes increase from low levels, tax revenue collected by the government also increases. It also shows that tax rates increasing after a certain point (T*) would cause people not to work as hard or not at all, thereby reducing tax revenue. Eventually, if tax rates reached 100%, shown as the far right on his curve, all people would choose not to work because everything they earned would go to the government. Governments would like to be at point T*, because it is the point at which the government collects maximum amount of tax revenue while people continue to work hard.

References

Picardo, C. E. (2015, July 24). Giffen Good. Retrieved July 24, 2017, from http://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/giffen-good.asp

Staff, I. (2015, September 11). Laffer Curve. Retrieved July 24, 2017, from http://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/laffercurve.asp

Early Life & Childhood/Youth Prompt One

Those planning families are vulnerable to being misinformed by the media due to a greater focus on profit and a lesser focus on providing quality, evidence-based information geared towards helping them make educated decisions. An example of this is information on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) used to initiate pregnancies presented on the websites of clinics that provide related services. An analysis done on clinic websites providing information on their ARTs and induction services found that many were guilty of using language intended to advertise their services as superior to others (Walden, 2013). Many clinics were found to violate polices put in place by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) and American Medical Association (AMA) by describing their services as “superior” to other clinics and using colorful language such as “dream”, many failing to provide objective and comparable information. This type of practice can get in the way of potential parent’s ability to receive evidence-based information that they can use to compare and make an educated decision.

New parents; whether in preconception, prenatal, or postpartum stages; want to know the best ways in which to make healthy and sustainable choices for themselves and their children. Carrying parents (non-cisgendered males and non-gendered people can also carry children) want to know how their bodies may be affected by pregnancy and what to expect when giving birth. Posting birthing videos on the internet has become a trend in recent years (MacGregor, 2012). Using birthing videos as an educational tool is one way that carrying parents can figure out what to expect. Professionally made birthing videos can also be a good way to ease anxiety among expecting parents as well, since they’re less likely to show the scarier aspects of birth. Expecting and new parents also want to know what steps they can take to improve their reproductive health and prevent diseases; before, during, and after pregnancy. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) enacted several requirements for insurers to cover without cost-sharing in their care packages, including: preventative care visits, tests, screenings, and counseling (Sonfield, 2012). Of course, whether or not these requirements have affected general reproductive knowledge and health depends on whether or not young people have been made aware of them. It’s also unknown how long the ACA will still apply to healthcare law, and how reproductive health and disease prevention will be covered without cost-sharing.

At this time the United States healthcare system operates in terms of how to make the biggest profit. Providing consumers with quality, evidence-based, and unbiased information is often put on the sidelines. Public health organizations attempt to regulate this information for the sake of education and integrity. For example, the AMA has guidelines for their clinics on how to formulate their websites. However Walden pointed out that the AMA does not check for compliance, and a study found that “the majority of fertility clinic websites failed to meet basic AMA guidelines…”(2013). So while guidelines are in place, they are not always met. New and expecting parents need to be wary of this system that doesn’t always have their best interest in mind.

Sources:

Huang, J. Y., Discepola, F., Al-Fozan, H., & Tulandi, T. (2005). Quality of fertility clinic websites. Fertility and Sterility, 83(3), 538-544. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2004.08.036

MacGregor, H. (2012, September 6). The birth of a trend: Posting childbirth videos online. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-birth-movies-20120809-story.html

Pearson, R. (2016). Consumer Health: Birth, Birth Options, Maternal-Child Consumer Issues [PowerPoint Slides]. Retrieved from chrome-extension://bpmcpldpdmajfigpchkicefoigmkfalc/views/app.html

Sonfield, A. (2012). Beyond Contraception: The Overlooked Reproductive Health Benefits of Health Reform’s Preventive Services Requirement. Guttmacher Policy Review, 15(4). Retrieved from https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2012/10/beyond-contraception-overlooked-reproductive-health-benefits-health-reforms-preventive

Walden, R. (2013, March). Direct-to-Consumer: Fertility Clinic Advertising on the Web. National Women’s Health Network: A Voice for Women, A Network for Change. Retrieved from https://www.nwhn.org/direct-to-consumer-fertility-clinic-advertising-on-the-web/