WEALTH AND INCOME INEQUITY

by Allen Weiss, MD, MBA, FACP, FACR
President and CEO, NCH Healthcare System

Wealth and income inequity are defining issues forthe United States.

STATISTICS:

The wealthiest 10 percent possess 76 percent of the nation’s wealth. The calculations of Edward Wolff, a New York University economist, show the following disturbing statistics based on an imaginary total of 100 people in America:

  • The top person in the nation (one person in the imaginary scheme of only 100 people) owns 33 percent of all the property, stock market, and anything else that can be owned. Thus, in this stratosphere he (most likely male) owns 33 percent of everything;
  • The next four people own 28 percent combined, or each owns 7 percent of everything (not too shabby);
  • The next five people own 14 percent combined, or each owns 2.8 percent of everything;
  • The next 10 people own 12 percent combined, or each owns 1.2 percent of everything. The above 20 people account for 87 percent of the total wealth. Clearly these folks are the upper class. Next comes the shrinking middle class, formerly the backbone of the nation and envy of the world.
  • The next 20 people own 9 percent combined, or each owns 0.87 percent;
  • The following 20 people own 3 percent combined, or each owns 0.15 percent.

The above tally accounts for 60 of the one hundred imaginary people and 99 percent of the wealth. The remaining 40 people are out of luck because unfortunately they have virtually nothing to own. Statistically, these bottom 40 people have a negative net worth; namely, they owe more than they own. While some in this group are transient—a new college grad with student loans or an industrious dual-earning young couple with a mortgage, most of the 40 folks struggle day-by-day and either came from or are about to begin multi-generational hardship. Translating these one hundred imaginary people to the 326 million in the country should make all of us reflect on the current economic status of America and its consequences.

WEALTH VS. INCOME:

The important distinction between income and wealth cannot be overstated. Income is money coming into a family, while wealth is a family’s assets—items like savings, real estate, and businesses minus debt. The United States Census Bureau defines income as money received on a regular basis by working— salary, wages, social security/other retirement payments, and welfare —minus payments for personal income taxes, social security, union dues, Medicare deductions, etc.

Wealth is what people own. The sum of all one’s assets minus liabilities equals wealth. The poorest people or families may get by as long as they have incoming money from a job. However, poor folks have no wealth or reserve and little or no money in the bank; thus any income interruption, possibly due to something out of their control such as a recession or a hurricane, is catastrophic.

The wealthiest families may have low earned income because they are not working but have high unearned income from dividends, capital gains, and other assets. Investment income is the engine that keeps wealthy families wealthy. Recessions or stock market downturns are stressful but not devastating because markets typically recover.

Wealthy families may transiently lower their standard of living but never experience the hardship level of a poor family who are struggling to get food on the table. Financially successful retirees offer another example of the differentiation between wealth and income. These folks who planned and saved may have little income but high wealth.

Unfortunately, only a minority of the population is in this enviable position; one in three retirees has no retirement savings according to a Federal Reserve 2015 survey.

SOCIOLOGY OF WEALTH:

Wealth and income combined comprise a family’s total opportunity, typically multi-generational, to secure a desired standard of living. Depending on the inheritance tax laws, family wealth or poverty is usually passed onto children. The ability to change social classes has been an important attribute in America where we previously had a large and dominant middle class. Now with income and wealth inequity, we have what many believe is an unhealthy bi-modal distribution of wealth, namely the rich and the poor.

In addition to providing both short- and long-term financial security, wealth often bestows self-perpetuating social prestige and political power.

Wealth removes restrictions, provides comfort, offers options, and allows risk-taking—way more so than without abundant assets. The standard of living for the middle class is dependent on wages. The wealthy class depends on investments. The growing disparity between the very wealthy and the lower and middle classes is no longer sustainable according to a 2014 Harvard Business School survey of 1947 alumni.

CAUSES OF WEALTH INEQUITY:

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, is a sadly true aphorism. Wealthy people invest and reap fortunes from stocks, dividends, interest, trusts and other forms of unearned income. And unfortunately, people who are already just getting by financially cannot get past the day-to-day needs of existence to save enough money to invest. Sixty-two percent of families headed by single parents are without savings or other financial assets according to David Grusky’s Social Stratification: Class, Race, and Gender in Sociological Perspective.

Net indebtedness precludes investing, thereby perpetuating dependence on current salary and wages. Any disruption from work or unforeseen expense—car breakdown, new tires, medical illness, hurricanes, etc.—pushes those already financially precarious over the fiscal edge.

The disparity between the rich with unearned income and the poor with no reserve is now being compounded multi-generationally. Rich kids potentially have access to better education or have easier ability to network with other wealthy people, all of whom may have better investment options, thus perpetuating the high rate of unearned income.

Fortunately, public education in America has been a great equalizer. The importance of keeping excellent public educational opportunities for all cannot be overemphasized.

Estate and inheritance taxes remain controversial. While people object to further taxation, death taxes can aid in accelerating class mobility by decreasing the wealth transfer among generations. Family farmers with large tracts of land, an illiquid asset, are stressed when transferring property to their children. In other nations at other times with different cultures, the first born son of a wealthy family was disproportionally advantaged. Ultimately, this male primogeniture culture did not reward merit, thus decreasing productivity, subsequently resulting in stagnation in the economy.

Another notable exception to generational wealth is found in the reported data about successful family owned businesses. While a significant number pass to the second generation, 13 percent last three generations and only three percent survive four generations. Short sleeves to short sleeves is another aphorism with a certain amount of truth.

Children who are brought up in wealthy families do have advantages but also may catch a disease called “affluenza” that saps their motivation to work hard, requires instant gratification, and consequently encourages living a purposeless life of leisure.

CONCLUSIONS:

Inequity equals less economic growth. Everyone from the top 1 percent and especially the middle class suffers when the economy stagnates or worse still evolves into a recession or depression. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen stated in a congressional hearing, “There is no question that we’ve had a trend toward growing inequity. This trend can shape and determine the ability of different groups to participate equally in a democracy and have grave effects on social stability over time.”

Loss of the middle class has consequences for all. Wealth disparity creates fertile ground for insecurity, class clashes, political instability, and ultimately lawlessness with subsequent loss of freedom from fear. Extremely high levels of wealth inequity are “incompatible with the meritocratic values and principles of social justice fundamental to modern democratic societies,” according to economist Thomas Piketty in Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

He continues, “The risk of a drift towards oligarchy is real and gives little reason for optimism about where the United States is headed.”

Around the world, countries with maldistribution of wealth and power are not as productive or content as America has been over the past century. Whereas politicians focus on the next election cycle, statesmen can lead the way for future generations by growing the middle class, encouraging meritocracy and decreasing income and wealth inequity. By encouraging self-motivated altruistic people to participate fully in our economy and government, we will grow the middle class and re-create a sustaining environment of economic, social, and societal well-being.

We have opportunities to educate everyone, encourage industriousness, and leave a legacy for the next generations of Americans.

SAVING VISION ALL OVER THE GLOBE

by Amy E. Lane

Onboard the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, Thomas E. Johnson, M.D., professor of clinical ophthalmology operates on hundreds of patients and teaches doctors from around the world, exemplifying the diverse talent and adaptability of Bascom Palmer’s physicians.

Their ability to adjust to different environments with different cultures and still perform the most complicated surgeries is one of the ways Bascom Palmer makes a global impact. This is just one way Bascom Palmer faculty members continually volunteer in much needed ophthalmic missions throughout the world, as well as residents and fellows who participate in international efforts as part of their educational curriculum.

Faculty members use satellite and digital networks to provide telemedicine and videoconferencing services abroad. They handle complex cases working closely with medical professionals in local communities. To see Dr. Johnson in action, visit http://www.cnn.com/videos/health/2017/11/21/vital-signs-onboard-theflying-eyehospital-b.cnn

Bascom Palmer’s physicians are also active volunteers in Haiti, one of the most medically underserved countries in the Western Hemisphere. In Mexico, a team of physicians, residents and fellows performed more than 90 cataract surgeries in an indigenous community.

In the remote Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, a new Bascom Palmer humanitarian initiative is bringing badly needed vision screening and eye care services to thousands of local residents.

Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 a team of physicians and technicians traveled with the Bascom Palmer Vision Van, a 40-foot, custom designed mobile eye clinic donated by the Josephine S. Leiser Foundation, to Louisiana to meet the eye care needs of storm victims and emergency responders.

Most recently following Hurricane Irma, Richard K. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of ophthalmology, made an advance trip to assess conditions in the Upper Florida Keys and dropped off a load of medications at the Islamorada Fire Rescue Station. He determined that ophthalmic care was a pressing medical need in the Keys for residents and medical responders.

The Bascom Palmer Vision Van rolled out of Miami on September 15, carrying medications for glaucoma and other eye conditions, as well as eyeglasses donated by the Bascom Palmer Optical Shop.

“Eye injuries are very common after a disaster, as are lost eyeglasses,” Leesaid, “Restoring eye health is a priority, because when people can’t see, they are at higher risk for other injuries, as their whole environment becomesunfamiliar.”

In addition, closed pharmacies mean that people quickly run out of medications and have a need for antibiotics for acute eye injuries. As Hurricane Maria formed in the Caribbean, Bascom Palmer’s attention was then directed to assisting colleagues in the region. This year’s historic hurricane season came to an end with Bascom Palmer’s professionals ready and willing to assist wherever they were needed.

NAPLES BAY CLUB AT THE NAPLES BAY RESORT

by Claudia Dal Lago

Over the last 10 years, the Naples Bay Club at the Naples Bay Resort has provided unparalleled services and amenities for Naples’ full time and seasonal residents.

Located minutes from the heart of downtown Naples right off of 41, the club offers everything from aquatic adventures such as a resort style pool and lazy river to a full service tennis center facility, state-of-the-art fitness center and an award-winning spa. It is a tropical haven for families and couples looking to immerse themselves in a day of fun and relaxation while disconnecting themselves from the outside world.

Guests looking to take a break from the beach or pool at home can slip into a lush slice of paradise and unwind in one of the club’s six water amenities. Families can enjoy the resort style pool featuring a walk-through waterfall – a favorite among kids – drift down the lazy river or warm up in the family hot tub.

While adults looking to unwind sans kids, can indulge in the infinity edge adult lap pool, regular adult pool or adult hot tub. To keep kids entertained over the weekends and on holidays, The Naples Bay Club also offers fun poolside children’s activities like the popular watermelon eating and hula hoop contests, chalk drawing, and famous critter petting, a close encounter with animals like alligator and snakes.

A children’s playground, located just off the pool area, is also available for kids. Adults can enjoy live music entertainment on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Members can relish in a sun-filled day poolside reading a book or simply take in the beauty of the Club’s tropical gardens, while sipping a specialty cocktail or savoring the flavors of the Gulf Coast from the club’s Blue Water Grill & Bar.

To satisfy their palate, guests can enjoy a full menu of tropical starters, farm fresh salads and signature sandwiches right on their lounge chairs, at the poolside cabanas (available for rent) or the outdoor restaurant and bar.

If working out is high on the priority list, the Naples Bay Club offers the ideal workout experience. The state-of-the art fitness center is fully equipped with cardiovascular and strength training machines by Techno Gym, the leading global manufacturer of fitness equipment based in Cesena, Italy. Its cutting edge innovations bring guests an overall wellness lifestyle to help achieve their exercise goals.

The team at the Naples Bay Club has also partnered with two independent locally acclaimed fitness concessionaires FLŌYŌ, a yoga studio, and tri tone rhythmic fitness, a Barre studio.

To extend their wellness routine, members can relax in the elegant and tranquil surroundings of the club’s award-winning intimate boutique spa. The spa features sauna and steam rooms, as well as a selection of organic treatments including massages (individual and couples), body wraps and waxing among others, so members can experience of day of complete rejuvenation.

The Naples Bay Club’s full service tennis center offers six lighted Har-Tru clay courts, and globally acclaimed professional coach, Ido Abougzir.

As a former USTA Top 100 player and member of the Israeli Davis Cup team, Ido has trained Naples top men’s and women’s USTA from 3.0 to 5.0 tennis teams. The tennis center provides a world-class tennis experiences for tennis fans of all ages and skills including competitive play (adult men’s, women’s and mixed leagues), private lessons, group clinics and a full-service pro shop.

On the heels of its 10-year anniversary, the club will be undergoing a partial renovation of the lobby area, which will be completely encased in floor-to-ceiling windows and feature a stone layered desk, where a dedicated concierge staff will be available to assist members and guests with all their club needs.

Other services and promotions currently offered include a business center; social events held throughout the year exclusively for members, such as the club’s popular member mixers; and discounts at championship golf courses in the area, as well as at the marina for boat, kayak and bike rentals and other excursions.

To inquire about memberships, please contact Robert Forrest, assistant club manager, at 239.530.5159 or rforrest@naplesbayresort.com.

MEMBER PRICING

Family :: $350 per month

Individual :: $263 per month

Seasonal :: $399 per month

Individual Tennis :: $137 per month

THE POWER OF FAMILY

by Clay Cox
Owner/President • Kitchens by Clay

I wake up every morning and get ready for work knowing I will be working side by side with my family.

My wife, daughters and brother in-law are with me every day, all day, doing our best to help our clients enjoy their remodel or construction experience. I can’t emphasize enough how important our family environment is to our clients.

We’ve been told on numerous occasions how much they enjoy their shopping experience when working with us and in general that they feel they will get the most attention to details, large and small, when working with our Kitchens by Clay family. And the truth is all of us are involved with every client in some way or another so the fact is they will be getting the best service that can be had.

The benefit of having my family with me in our business is multi-faceted. On the one hand we share the same goals and that’s to do the best we can for our clients and our family members alike. There is, I think, a certain sense of honor and integrity that comes with working closely with family. It seems as if we hold ourselves just a little bit more accountable for our actions than companies without family involvement.

It’s safe to say that we naturally care about each other, which makes it easy for us to do our best to make everyone’s day as pleasant as possible, including our own. Obviously doing the best we can for our clients helps to make our work environment much more comfortable and that can only contribute to making our jobs successful in the end.

The fact is we have the pleasure of running a business with owner engagement at all times. That is a rare and a great thing to be able to say about any business.

Naturally we have more than just our family to think about when we come to work every day. Our designers, office personnel and quality control folks have, over the years, become family members as well, which helps to make our company one cohesive unit both in thought and actions. In fact I think of my fellow workers as my faux children.

I figure they must be my faux children since they call me their “faux Pa.”

Please E-mail Clay with your questions or comments at sales@kitchensbyclay.com.Enjoy your remodel, Clay Cox

FLAT IRONING MADE AS SIMPLE AS 1, 2, 3, 4

by Erick Carter

Want to flat iron like a pro?

  1. Select the right size iron. If your hair is short- thick or fine- an iron with narrow plates is best (half inch to an inch).
  2. For long- thick, or fine hair- use an iron with a one- and- a -half inches to two-inch plate. The right material is equally important. Look for irons with ceramic, tourmaline or titanium metals. These metals heat more evenly, and help prevent damage to the hair while making the job easier for you. Make sure the iron is NOT coated with ceramic or Teflon as the heat is not nearly as even.
  3. Also look for one with negative ions to help reduce frizz that is caused by positive ions.
  4. Don’t forget to get one with a thermostat. Consider the weight when selecting a flat iron. One that weighs two pounds gets to feel much heavier as you use it.

And, finally, find a great thermal protectant spray to protect the hair from the heat of the iron. I always tell my client to start with the finer pieces of hair, using a lower setting. Then increase the heat where the hair is thicker. Obviously, lower heat is easier on your hair, so try to use less heat where possible.

See, simple as 1,2,3,4. But, if you have additional questions, please feel free to email me or stop by the salon.

A Century of Service – American Red Cross

Clara Barton became known as “the Angel of the Battlefield” for her brave work as a nurse during the Civil War, yet that name belies her character as a woman of strong grit and determination who never backed down from a good fight.

Barton was living in Washington, D.C. in April 1861 when a battered regiment from Fort Sumter arrived in the unprepared capital. She immediately sprang into action collecting supplies and whatever the soldiers needed to recuperate. Barton had found her life’s mission.

Throughout the war she continued her tireless, heroic work. She said, “While our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them.”

This very spirit is still very much alive in the Red Cross’ Service to the U.S. Armed Forces.

After the war, Barton moved to Europe to rest and it is there that she first learned of the International Red Cross during her time in Geneva, and contemplated founding an American branch. When she finally returned to the U.S., she officially founded the American Red Cross on May 21, 1881, but only after five years of resistance from U.S. politicians. She prevailed and singlehandedly ran the organization for the next 23 years.

Part of Barton’s legacy is that she helped make it possible for women to have careers, and nursing has always been an integral part of the Red Cross. In 1959, the Lee County Chapter of the American Red Cross became the second chapter in the nation to establish the School Gray Lady Program, placing nurses in school clinics across the county. In a letter, Mrs. Robert Clapper, chairman of the chapter in 1965, states, “Over the years, women of all ages have volunteered for training and have given many hours of service in Lee County school clinics.”

In her letter dated 1965, she cites 16,122 incidents of sick and injured children requiring care from 153 Gray Ladies during that school year. She notes that the work of the Gray Ladies is at the very heart of the Red Cross mission.

Ladies were eligible to work in clinics after completing an extensive course in first aid, given by the Red Cross. Their training allowed them to care for children’s minor injuries and ailments in school, but it sometimes kicked in to save lives outside school – as it did when one woman was able to save her son’s life due to the instruction she had received in the course.

The volunteer service provided by the Gray Ladies was vital to healthcare in Lee County.

Today, the American Red Cross is one of the largest humanitarian and disaster relief organizations in the country. Although the Gray Lady program no longer exists, the Southern Gulf Chapter, which includes Collier, Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties, continues to deliver important services to the community, most recently seen in response to local wildfires, flooding and Hurricane Irma.

To learn more about the American Red Cross visit redcross.org or call 239.278.3401.

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH SALUTES THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN: THE LATCHKEY LEAGUE

Lois Bolin Old Naples Historian

“A woman’s work is Never Done as the Song says and happy Shee[sic] whos [sic] Strength holds out to the End of the rais [sic].”

So wrote Martha Ballard in her diary, which spanned nearly three decades from 1785-1812. It was written at time when fewer than half the women in America were literate.

A year later, on March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, and warned “if particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”

That time finally came in 1919. For those who complain about standing in line to vote, see the movie “Iron Jawed Angels” then let me know how you feel about those horrible lines. Naples local culture has woven its unique tapestry from the determination, courage, and strength from women like these in our history.

In September 1932, The Naples Woman’s Club was formed when Doris Gandees called a meeting from the Community Church(the only church in town until 1930). The club motto was: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

No one embodies this motto more than Myra Jacob Daniels, founder of the Latchkey League. In 2013 Myra(no last name needed for this icon), founder and former CEO of the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples, Florida, responded to the predicament of more than 10,000Collier school children who came home every day to empty homes. She agreed to chair the Salvation Army’s $5 million capital campaign for the construction of the new Fran Cohen Youth Center, which was officially dedicated in April 2017.

In July 2017, through Betty A. Bailey, president of the Latchkey League, I was connected to some of the Latchkey Kids, who made parachute bracelets for our Greatest Generation and Beyond Breakfast, held every second weekend in August.

I met Betty through the Above Board Chamber of Commerce and learned that she had moved to Naples in 1986 after a lengthy career with Marriott Hotels and recently retired from Bentley Village as the director of home care. She noted that the Latchkey League offers a plethora of fundraising opportunities throughout the season, which gives grants to organizations to provide funding for kids to learn about dance, music, art and theater in addition to mentoring and tutoring.

In 2015 the Latchkey League, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, was formed under the guidance of Myra and Peggy Coppola. Their mission is to support and provide educational, cultural and recreational services to children in the greater Naples area who are in need of after-school supervision and activities and to promote educational development for their future.

This past November, two years – let me repeat – two years- after its founding, the Latchkey League received the prestigious Excellence in Civics Leadership Award from the Community Foundation of Collier County at their 2017 Celebration of Philanthropy luncheon.

The League’s current board of directors, Betty Bailey, Bob Young, Karole Davis, Sally Bettin, Judy Tedder, Wendy Schaedel and Wilma Boyd, were beaming with pride as Myra, their tireless leader, received the award.

One of their many events in 2018 is a luncheon and fashion show coming Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at Wyndemere Country Club with registration beginning at 11:30 a.m. followed by lunch and fashions to help maximize your fashion potential.

While I’m no celebrity or model, I will join other local celebrity models and Latchkey ladies who will take to the runway in fashions from, Chicos, Audrey’s of Naples, K B Designs and Panache Wigs.

To “lunch and learn”, contact 239.738.4199. To become a member of the Latchkey League, which I did today, visit www.latchkeyleague.org.

So here’s a big salute to all women in our community who know that their work is never done – especially when it’s for the kids – especially for this League of Extraordinary Women.

Aging and Your Dental Health

THE LINK BETWEEN MEDICATIONS AND CAVITIES

You may wonder why you’re suddenly getting cavities when you haven’t had them in years. As we get older, we enter a second round of cavity prone years. One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. However, it is a side-effect in more than 500 medications, including those for allergies or asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety or depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

This is just one reason why it’s so important to tell your dentist about any medications that you’re taking. Your dentist can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities. Here are some common recommendations:

  • Use over-the-counter oral moisturizers, such as a spray or mouthwash.
  • Consult with your physician on whether to change the medication or dosage.
  • Drink more water. Carry a water bottle with you, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Your mouth needs constant lubrication.
  • Use sugar-free gum or lozenges to stimulate saliva production.
  • Get a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that irritate dry mouths, like coffee, alcohol, carbonated soft drinks, and acidic fruit juices.
  • Your dentist may apply a fluoride gel or varnish to protect your teeth from cavities.

VISIT A DENTIST REGULARLY

Get regular dental checkups at least twice a year –please do not wait until you have pain. Why? As you age, the nerves inside your teeth become smaller and less sensitive. By the time you feel pain from a cavity, it may be too late and you may lose your tooth. There are also more serious conditions that your dentist will look for, like oral cancer and gum disease, which do not always cause pain until the advanced stages of the disease. By then, it’s more difficult and costly to treat. Plus, with today’s advances in dental technology, cavities can be detected with the Carivu, a near-infrared camera, at an earlier state, which can be less costly and much more conservative.

When you go to your dentist for a check-up bring the following information:

  • List of medications, including vitamins, herbal remedies, and over-the-counter medications
  • List of medical conditions and allergies
  • Information and phone numbers of all health care providers, doctors, and your previous dentist
  • Information about your emergency contacts, someone who can help make decisions on your behalf in the case of a medical emergency
  • Your dentures or partials, even if you don’t wear them

Dr. Cheryl Malick and the Dental Excellence team are pleased to be serving the Naples area and look forward to personally welcoming you today. We are proud to be celebrating our 15 year anniversary and sincerely thank the Naples community and our patients for their support and patronage. Look for Dental Excellence, 7955 Airport Rd. N, Suite 201, in the Fountain Park Office Centre near the corner of Airport Road North and Vanderbilt Beach Road.

Call us today to schedule your complimentary consultation at239 596.3434

STUDENT DESIGNS CAREER IN FASHION WITH HELP FROM THE IMMOKALEE FOUNDATION

JON CANTU STUDIED FOR A WEEK AT THE ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF ART AND COMPLETED A THREE-WEEK PROGRAM AT THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

by Steven Kissinger

Jonathan Cantu was a junior in high school when he realized what career field he wanted to pursue – fashion– though how he would get there was a mystery.

“I had heard about all the good things The Immokalee Foundation had been doing in the community, for high school kids and figured it was worth a shot,” he said. So Cantu wrote a letter to the foundation about how much he wanted to attend a summer program at the Art Institute of Chicago to prepare for future in fashion.

That’s when doors began to open. Not only did he spend that summer in the program at the Art Institute of Chicago, Cantu also attended another at the Illinois Institute of Art. While working on body casting, painting, art history and fashion design, he created his own 10-piece designer garment collection and earned his first three college credits.

When he returned to Immokalee following that summer, Cantu said he couldn’t have made his dream come true without The Immokalee Foundation; he still says that today, even as his dream has grown.

“I had no idea how awesome The Immokalee Foundation really was,” he said then. “They truly want the best for Immokalee students, and they do everything and anything they can to better our futures and further our education. This opportunity has really changed my life, and I feel like this will provide me numerous opportunities in the future. ”

And it has. Cantu can even pinpoint the day when he thought he just might be able to make his dream of a fashion career come true. He had many firsts traveling to Chicago– plane, train and cab rides. “That was the point where I felt like I could do it,” he recalled recently. “Before that, I always had creative drive in me, but I never knew anyone who did fashion. And there was nothing in or around Immokalee to support that.”

The foundation helped connect him with fashion curricula, contacts and scholarships. While his parents’ dream was for him to go to college, neither had taken classes beyond high school. Money was tight as he and his three older siblings were growing up in Immokalee.

Because of those opened doors and his hard work, today Cantu is a fashion design graduate of Philadelphia University who has worked for Nautica, QVC and – at just 25 years old – is now an associate manager for Lilly Pulitzer’s Coconut Point location.

ONATHAN CANTU (RIGHT) AT TIF’S 2016 GRADUATION CEREMONY WITH ROLANDO AND BERENICE RAMIREZ (PARENTS) AND MIRANDA HERRERA (SISTER)

Cantu’s job combines his expertise in fashion with service to the community. He works with nonprofits in Lee and Collier counties on behalf of Lilly Pulitzer to organize Shop N’ Share sales, where guests are invited to shop on a certain day with a percentage of sales donated to a chosen service organization.

“It’s the biggest part of my job, and I find it very rewarding, “Cantu said. “It’s a very cool thing to be able to do. I reach out to organizations to try to get them the best event possible, and that is beneficial both to Lilly Pulitzer and the community.

“As a brand, Lilly Pulitzer is very charitable. One of the things she always said was, ‘If you don’t have any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble,’” Cantu said.

In fact, the company’s mission became very personal to Cantu in November, when he organized a Shop N’ Share and raised $860 for The Immokalee Foundation at Lilly Pulitzer’s Naples and Coconut Point stores.

Cantu now is a three-year board member and producer for the Fashion Industries Association, where he serves as an inspiration in his field. Just as important, he is an inspiration at home, as well. Watching her son go to college helped Cantu’s mother see her future differently: She went back to school and is now a nurse. His stepfather advanced in his career as well, becoming marketing director for a home health agency.

“They’re extremely proud of me,” Cantu said. It’s clear that he is proud of them, too.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, and life skills development leading to economic independence.

To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239.430.9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.

Steven Kissinger, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation,can be reached at steven.kissinger@immokaleefoundation.org.

TAX LEGISLATION AND 2018 STANDARD RATES

Michael Wiener, E.A.

As it does every year, the Internal Revenue Service recently announced the inflation- adjusted 2018 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable or medical purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (or a van, pickup or panel truck) are: 54.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (including a 25-cent-per-mile allocation for depreciation). This is up from 53.5 cents in 2017; miles driven for medical purposes now get 18 cents per each, up from 17 cents in 2017; and driven in service of charitable organizations now earn 14 cents per mile.

The business standard mileage rate is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical purposes is based on the variable costs as determined by the same study. The rate for using an automobile while performing services for a charitable organization is statutorily set (it can only be changed by Congressional action) and has been 14 cents per mile for over 15 years.

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle for business rather than using the standard mileage rates. In addition to the potential for higher fuel prices, the extension and expansion of the bonus depreciation as well as increased depreciation limitations for passenger autos in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may make using the actual expense method worthwhile during the first year a vehicle is placed in business service. However, the standard mileage rates cannot be used if you have used the actual method (using Sec. 179, bonus depreciation and/or MACRS depreciation) in previous years. This rule is applied on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for any vehicle used for hire, for more than four vehicles simultaneously, or by corporations and nonpassive partnerships.

Employer Reimbursement – When employers reimburse employees for business-related car expenses using the standard mileage allowance method for each substantiated employment connected business mile, the reimbursement is tax-free if the employee substantiates to the employer the time, place, mileage and purpose of employment-connected business travel.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated employee business expenses as an itemized deduction, effective for 2018 through 2025. Therefore, employees may no longer take a deduction on their federal returns for unreimbursed employment-related use of their light trucks or vans.

Faster Write-Offs for Heavy Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) – Many of today’s SUVs weigh more than 6,000 pounds and are therefore not subject to the limit rules on luxury auto depreciation; taxpayers with these vehicles can utilize both the Section 179 expense deduction (up to a maximum of $25,000) and the bonus depreciation (the Section 179 deduction must be applied before the bonus depreciation) to produce a sizable first-year tax deduction. However, the vehicle cannot exceed a gross unloaded vehicle weight of 14,000 pounds. Caution: Business autos are five-year class life property. If the taxpayer subsequently disposes of the vehicle before the end of the five-year period, as many do, a portion of the Section 179 expense deduction will be recaptured and must be added back toy your income (SE income for self-employed individuals). The future ramifications of deducting all or a significant portion of the vehicle’s cost using Section 179 should be considered.

If you have questions related to the best methods of deducting the business use of your vehicle or the documentation required, please give this office a call.

If you should have a topic that you would like me to discuss or if you should have a question, please feel free to call 239.403.4410 or e-mail me at michael@mwtaxandaccounting.com.

4280 East Tamiami Trail Executive Suite 302-M | Naples, FL 34112

An enrolled agent, licensed by the US Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before the IRS for audits, collections and appeals. To attain the enrolled agent designation, candidates must demonstrate expertise in taxation, fulfill continuing education credits and adhere to a stringent code of ethics.