How to Create a 501c3 Non-Profit Corporation.

Hire a lawyer.

Ok, jokes aside, hiring a lawyer may be a good option. Filing for a 501c3 is difficult and comes with a lot of variation depending on the state you are filing in. You don’t only have to deal with the IRS, you have to deal with the Department of Revenue Services in your own state as well as the members of your new board.

If you don’t want to hire a lawyer, there are a lot of resources out there that can help you create a checklist for your state. The issue that I’ve run into is A) it’s not my corporation, so I tend to have to ask my supervisor a lot of questions because she is the director and the only person who can give me the ok signal when needed and B) filling out tax forms can really really suck. They require a lot of information and will time out constantly while you’re searching for stuff.

The bottom line is that either option, hiring a lawyer or doing it yourself, will have pros and cons. The decision will most likely rest on what aspect of your life is currently most valuable: money or time.

Best,

Eloragh

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Academic Finance Lessons

As I’ve been focusing on transitioning from teenage life to adult life, I’ve come to see that school has failed to teach me many things. A good understanding of how to balance my finances happens to be in that pile. Here’s why I think schools are bad at teaching students what to do with their money: they’re run by the government.

When I was a Montessori kid, some of my first lessons were about trading. I would count dried beans and trade them with the other students. I learned quickly that larger beans were worth two or three little beans unless they weren’t heavy. We all had our ways of deciding how many beans we were willing to part with. When I left Montessori and entered public school, I was appalled at the lack of beans. It would be twelve years until I had another finance class.

My senior year, our life and health teacher made an attempt to teach us how to budget. She used outdated worksheets from an outreach attempt made by some obscure bank. Many of them were vague and confusing, leaving much of the class with a failing grade and still no understanding of how to manage our paychecks. It was beyond frustrating. We had to move on due to the governments need to make everything seem as though it is progressing at a standard rate, and thus we all left feeling nervous about our fiscal future.

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of government. I’ve dealt with two different kinds and seen them both fail miserably to meet the needs of their citizens. The reality is, government schools are bad at teaching finance because the government is terrible with its finances. I can’t remember a year when I haven’t heard news about the “debt ceiling” or “trade deficit” that we always seem to be dealing with. Although the repetitive stories I’m referring to may all be an attempt at outrage media, I still remember feeling annoyed by the numerous administration’s continued inability to budget themselves.

I’m moving to a completely different country where the currency is lower in value than USD. I am nervous about investing, transferring money, traveling, paying my bills, getting a job, and being monitored by two different tax collecting agencies. School never taught me how to handle these worries, so now it’s up to me to figure it out. I would hope that after 12+ years in education I would know how to balance a checkbook, but I guess that’s just not on the government’s list of educational priorities. No wonder we’re all dazed and broke.

Eloragh

 

Healthcare

Being a dual citizen, I get a lot of questions about Canadian healthcare. People in America tend to think that it is a fantastically progressive country and that the US should probably adopt something similar to the Canadian system. However, many European countries, like the UK, are seeing economic collapse due to programs that are comparable to Canadian universal healthcare.

If you think of it like Social Security, you might be able to imagine that as the population grows, the incentive to work hard drops because of free programs and more and more people begin to depend on welfare systems as fewer and fewer people are paying into them. This leads to a massive deficit and eventually, if unchecked, bankruptcy.

I love free stuff as much as the next guy, especially free markets. However, free programs, such as Canada’s healthcare, tends to disrupt free markets. Nobody can compete with free. I think this idea is best explained through a real-life scenario that was brought to my attention by Magatte Wade: Tom’s shoes. Tom’s shoes whole marketing scheme is that you buy a pair of shoes and then they send a pair to a kid in Africa. It seems charitable and straightforward, but in reality, it is disruptive and has put a lot of African entrepreneurs out of business. Shoemakers in Africa cannot compete with Tom’s shoes coming in and handing out free shoes. It’s the same concept, apply it to healthcare in Canada, or anywhere else for that matter

Socialist programs akin to Canada’s healthcare system cause deficits and disrupt free markets, which, if that wasn’t bad enough, is not all that they do. My uncle went blind in December of 2015. His sight was gone overnight, and no one had any clue as to what had caused his sudden loss of vision. When they took him to the hospital, med staff took two days to diagnose him with MS and accidentally gave him 10x the dose of steroids he needed. The steroids suppressed his immune system too much, and he ended up permanently blind. The hospital took two days to diagnose him, messed up his prescription, and, almost three years later, have still refused to take responsibility for his disability. Canadian policies make it practically impossible to sue the doctor, so my uncle will never receive any reparations and will be disabled for the rest of his life.

Handouts cause laziness. Now that healthcare is government funded, doctors have very minimal incentive to do their job well. In some ways, I can’t blame them. Being a Canadian doctor used to be a great job with co-pays and insurance money coming from client coverage, but now it’s practically charity. These people will never pay off ten years of medical school bills, and that will leave anyone a little sour. But, when you’re dealing with peoples lives, it’s unethical to be so casual about your job. So we find, yet again, another problem with this seemingly utopian socialist policy.

Citizens of the U.S. don’t see this though. Many leftists will take what Canada is doing at face value and say “look, the government is supporting it’s citizens, as it is supposed to.” They don’t hear the stories about fathers and uncles who go blind because of malpractice, of girls who have to have their ankles rebroken because it took them over a week to see a specialist, of young children who wait months to see their GP, just for their parents to receive a notice of cancelation the day before the appointment. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s causing an epidemic of chronically injured and ill Canadians. However, the Canadian government would receive nothing good from sharing these stories, so those outside of the country only hear what the government wants them to hear.

During my four years of high school, I was deeply disturbed by the amount of influence the left has on what is taught to children and teenagers. Most of my history textbooks made my life out to be inherently apologetic and praised the socialist systems of the past. I argued endlessly with teachers against their communist ways of thinking in an effort to maintain my stance that a free market, the freedom of competition and the right to abdicate, was the best way for a society to flourish. I was sickened by the public education systems willingness to promote such a toxic and dependent government system that only ever ended in the expansion of administrations. I saw it as yet another way that the school system was instructing students to hand over their independence in the name of what is right and just.

Socialism doesn’t work. It never has, it never will, and it frustrates me to watch people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez preach a destructive doctrine. If America becomes more socialist, if it adopts the Canadian system, we will see the downfall of the free market. We will see laissez-faire become an idea of the past and the consent of the governed will be lost as citizens depend on the government to survive. Call me radical, but I have always seen socialism and welfare as a fast track for dependency. You want a fast track to a dystopia where we can’t dissolve the government? Implement socialism.

Eloragh

Too Niche

For the past six months or so, I’ve been working a lot on growth. Personal growth, web growth, social growth, professional growth, etc. Trying to formulate any kind of progress, internal or external, is a long and involved process. Lately, I’ve been wondering if my efforts are too niche and what exactly that may mean.

Since December of last year, most of my work was focused solely on alternative education. I was sure that alt ed was the niche I was meant to work in and, although I don’t think I was completely wrong, I think I was limiting my perspective. Alternative education is continuing to blossom as more and more parents, and students realize that traditional ways of “learning” aren’t actually beneficial, but this mass exodus has much broader implications.

In April of this year, I started working with an incredible alternative school in Senegal. When I went to visit the students, I did a lot more than act as an instructor. I learned a lot about poverty in Sub-saharan Africa and how western countries often perpetuate it through relief efforts. If you own a pair of Tom’s shoes, you probably haven’t really helped support impoverished people in Africa. You buy a pair of those shoes, Tom’s sends a pair to a child in Africa, sounds charitable and straightforward right? If only economics were that easy to work around. It’s impossible to compete with free, so that pair of shoes that were supposed to help end poverty just put another local African shoemaker out of business. By purchasing these shoes, you’re falling into a pit trap of western pity.

Suddenly, the depth of my own ignorance was brought to my attention. I had never bought into the Tom’s shoes model, mostly because of my own vanity (I think they’re ugly, sorry,) but I found myself sickened by the thought of how much the company has profited off of this marketing scam. I am aware that the owner of Tom’s acknowledged the problem and made an apology, claiming he had no clue that the scheme would end up backfiring so horrifically; but his apology won’t bring back the jobs he took.

As I started to learn more about economics and confronted my own lack of education on the subject, I became increasingly absorbed and fascinated by the ideas and possibilities that it held. I started writing more about economics, politics, and theory and less about alternative education. I realized that my content was no longer relevant to a lot of the sites I used to write for, and it really threw my creativity through a loop. On the one hand, my newfound curiosity for economics and how it influences human behavior was captivating, but on the other, I was still very dedicated to alternative education. I wondered if I had pigeonholed myself into a niche that allowed for minimal variation in my writing.

Is it possible to be too niche? That’s the question I kept asking myself. Had I shoved my way into a community that was so specialized in its battle for change that it was keeping me from growing? In short, no, I had not. I had every right to leave that community and stop fighting for alternative education if I wanted to. The problem was that I didn’t want to give up my interest in alt ed, it was that I began to see the push for different methods of school as a symptom of a much larger consensus; the consensus that the lives we are all living are not primarily dictated by our will. I saw economics, education, politics, lifestyles, etc. all under this umbrella of suppression of free will.

I do think it is possible to be too niche, but I don’t think it is easy or sustainable. Onc I stopped worrying about whether or not my content was relevant and started thinking about the audience I was appealing to, my content became a lot more interesting. Many alt ed advocates also battle for the decentralization of government and laissez-faire policies, topics that I was interested in exploring. Those people didn’t want to read about education 24/7, just like I didn’t want to write about it 24/7. Most people want to see the connections between all of these ideas and form a network of compatible concepts.

Regarding marketing, niches are useful. If you can appeal to a particular idea or group of people, you have a much better chance of building an audience quickly. However, those groups are limited not only in scope but in readers. To create an audience that will last, it’s smarter to use niches as a foundation and expand your content from there.

Start with a niche, build content for those ideas, become familiar with concepts that are compatible with them, and start expanding. Soon enough, you’ll appeal to more than one niche and your content will be on an exponential curve of relevance. Very few people participate in one niche exclusively. There are more than enough opportunities to integrate your ideas into several groups of people. The challenge is patience and perseverance.

French Variation

Around 11:30am EST, I drove onto the island of Montreal, QC with my father. I’ll be living here until July 25th to participate in a ballet intensive. I came a few days early to set up a bank account, get my McGill student ID (yes, my picture did turn out awful), and get my social insurance number for when I move up here permanently in August.

We’re staying in a VRBO until I can move to my long-ish term apartment, so we went down to the Marche Jean-Talon to get some groceries. Montreal summers can be brutal, but we were lucky enough to arrive on a mild, breezy day. As we walked down the streets next to the market, I thought about the parallels between Quebec and Senegal, another French-speaking place I visited recently. I also noted how French colonization had influenced both areas differently.

For reference, Senegal was a French colony until 1960 when it gained independence. In places such as Thies and Saint-Louis, the architecture and culture mimic French style very clearly. Much like Montreal, becoming independent didn’t mean losing the French lifestyle or development, it just meant political and economic freedom. The difference lies in how each country has changed since becoming its own nation.

Canada has undoubtedly had a much longer time (93 years longer) to expand its economy and form its political system than Senegal has. Canada also has a much more diverse economy, with lumber, fishing, and oil being just a few of its many resources. Senegal really only has its fishing industry and phosphate, a mineral that many westerners travel to Africa to mine and sell. Canada has little regulation and restriction on trade and business relative to Senegal, which has made it very difficult to export/import and nearly impossible for an average citizen to become an entrepreneur.

There are certainly more aspects that make up the difference between these countries. Just their geography alone has a great influence on the relative wealth of each former French colony. The fact that Canada is technically still within the British common-wealth probably helps as well.

I’m no expert on either country, but my thoughts often wander to these ideas when in a French-speaking country/province. I think my history classes definitely neglected the scope of influence that French colonization had on the world. The education I received focused mainly on England and, while the English obviously had a giant impact through exploration and expansion, other countries such as Spain, France, and Portugal also established themselves as countries of expedition and growth during the same time.

My blogs usually come down to this idea, and maybe I’m nitpicking here, but this is yet another flaw I see in traditional education. There are never enough school days to develop a thorough understanding of any period of history. In homeschooling/unschooling environments, students have the freedom and time to learn as much about anything they want without sacrificing the exciting details for the big ideas.

But that’s just my opinion.

Eloragh