Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and services).[need quotation to verify] Simply put, it is "any activity or enterprise entered into for profit. It does not mean it is a company, a corporation, partnership, or have any such formal organization, but it can range from a street peddler to General Motors."

Having a business name does not separate the business entity from the owner, which means that the owner of the business is responsible and liable for debts incurred by the business. If the business acquires debts, the creditors can go after the owner's personal possessions. A business structure does not allow for corporate tax rates. The proprietor is personally taxed on all income from the business.

The term is also often used colloquially (but not by lawyers or by public officials) to refer to a company. A company, on the other hand, is a separate legal entity and provides for limited liability, as well as corporate tax rates. A company structure is more complicated and expensive to set up, but offers more protection and benefits for the owner.

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John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 8 May 1873) was a British philosopher, political economist and Member of Parliament, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. He was an advocate of utilitarianism, the ethical theory that was systemized by his godfather, Jeremy Bentham, but adapted to German romanticism. It is usually suggested that Mill is an advocate of negative liberty. However, this has been contested by many academics, notably Dr. David Walker of Newcastle University in England. The canonical statement of Mill's Utilitarianism can be found in Utilitarianism. This philosophy has a long tradition, although Mill's account is primarily influenced by Jeremy Bentham, and Mill's father James Mill. Mill’s famous formulation of Utilitarianism is known as the "greatest happiness principle." It holds that one must always act so as to produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. One of Mill's major contributions to Utilitarianism is his argument for the qualitative separation of pleasures. Bentham treats all forms of happiness as equal, whereas Mill argues that intellectual and moral pleasures are superior to more physical forms of pleasure. Mill distinguishes between "happiness" and "contentment," claiming that the former is of higher value than the latter, a belief wittily encapsulated in his statement that it is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.

Mill furthermore dealt with one of the prime problems associated with utilitarianism, that of schadenfreude. Detractors of utilitarianism argued, among other objections, that if enough people hated another person sufficiently that simply reducing the happiness of the object of their hatred would cause them pleasure, it would be incumbent upon a utilitarian society to aid them in harming the individual. Mill argued that, in order to have such an attitude of malice, a citizen would have to value his own pleasure over that of another, and so society is in no way obligated to indulge him, and, to the contrary, is fully permitted to suppress his actions.

Mill's early economic philosophy was one of free markets. However, he accepted interventions in the economy, such as a tax on alcohol, if there were sufficient utilitarian grounds. He also accepted the principle of legislative intervention for the purpose of animal welfare. Mill believed that "equality of taxation" meant "equality of sacrifice" and that progressive taxation penalised those who worked harder and saved more and was therefore "a mild form of robbery".

Mill's Principles of Political Economy, first published in 1848, was one of the most widely read of all books on economics in the period. As Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations had during an earlier period, Mill's Principles dominated economics teaching. (In the case of Oxford University it was the standard text until 1919, probably because the text that replaced it was written by Cambridge's Alfred Marshall).

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Schooner attacking a merchant ship
Photo credit: Caciss

Seaborne piracy has been affecting trade since the 13th century BC. Seaborne piracy against transport vessels remains a significant issue, with estimated worldwide losses of US $13 to $16 billion per year.

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National GDP per capita ranges from wealthier states in the north and south to poorer states in the east. These figures from the 2002 World Bank are converted to US dollars.
...The economy of Africa consists of the trade, industry, and resources of the peoples of Africa. As of July 2005, approximately 887 million people were living in 54 different states. Africa is by far the world's poorest inhabited continent, and it is, on average, poorer than it was 25 years ago. Of the 175 countries reviewed in the United Nations' Human Development Report 2003, 25 African nations ranked lowest.

Africa's current poverty is rooted, in part, in its history. The decolonization of Africa was fraught with instability aggravated by cold war conflict. Since mid-20th century the Cold War and increased corruption and despotism have also contributed to Africa's poor economy. While China and India have grown rapidly and Latin America has experienced moderate growth, lifting millions above subsistence living, Africa has stagnated and even regressed in terms of foreign trade, investment, and per capita income. This poverty has widespread effects, including low life expectancy, violence, and instability, which in turn perpetuate the continent's poverty. Over the decades, attempts to improve the economy of Africa have been met with little success. However, recent data suggest African economies are experiencing faster growth. The World Bank reports the economy of Sub-Saharan African countries grew at rates that match global rates. The economies of the fastest growing African nations experienced growth significantly above the global average rates. The top nations in 2007 include Mauritania with growth at 19.8%, Angola at 17.6% and Mozambique at 7.9%.

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"In the United States, there is a union for each job function with many unions in each company. Lathe operators are allowed to operate only lathes. A drilling job must be taken to a drilling operator. And because the operators are single-skilled, a welding job required at the lathe section cannot be done there but must be taken to a welding operator. As a consequence, there are a large number of people and machines. For American industries to achieve cost reduction under such conditions, mass production is the only answer.

When large quantities are produced, the labor cost per car and depreciation burden are reduced. This requires high-performance, high-speed machines that are both large and expensive.

This type of production is a planned mass production system in which each process makes many parts and forwards them to the next process. This method naturally generates an abundance of waste. From the time it acquired this American system until 1973 oil crisis, Japan had the illusion that this system fit their needs."

Taiichi Ohno, Toyota Production System, English edition of 1988


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  • ...that Valrhona, a company based in the small town of Tain l'Hermitage in the Rhône Valley in France, is one of the world's leading manufacturers of high-quality chocolate?
  • ... that Hollywood accounting is the practice of distributing the profit earned by a large project to corporate entities which, though distinct from the one responsible for the project itself, are typically owned by the same people, with the net result of reducing the project's profit by a substantial margin, sometimes even eliminating it altogether.


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