It turns out to be basically the same two reasons as with German beer: namely, local tastes creating local monopolies, and government policies. The Japanese are fanatics for fresh foods. Any of you who have been to Japan, as my wife and I were in October, will remember what it says on Japanese containers. In the United States, when you go to the supermarket, there's one date on the container, the date by which you're supposed to throw away that bottle of milk. In Japan there are three dates on the container: there's the date when the milk was manufactured, and there's the date when the milk arrived at the supermarket, and then there's the date when the milk should be thrown away, and these dates are in big letters; the Japanese really care about the dates. So the result is that milk production in Japan always starts at one minute past midnight, so that the milk that goes to market that morning is today's milk. If milk had been produced at 11:59 p.m., the milk company would have to stamp on its container that this milk was made yesterday, and no Japanese person would buy it. The result is again that Japanese food-processing industries enjoy local monopolies. Obviously, a milk producer up in Hokkaido, northern Japan, is not going to be able to compete in Kyushu, in southern Japan, with a Kyushu producer, because of the several days in transit from Hokkaido. By the time a carton arrives in Kyushu, the people will read on the container that this milk is three days old, and no Japanese person would buy it.
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You've seen that effect even in modern times. Twenty years ago, a few idiots in control of the world's most populous nation were able to shut down the educational system for one billion people at the time of the Great Cultural Revolution, whereas it's impossible for a few idiots to shut down the educational system of all of Europe. This suggests, then, that Europe's fragmentation was a great advantage to Europe as far as technological and scientific innovation is concerned. Does this mean that a high degree of fragmentation is even better? Probably not. India was geographically even more fragmented than Europe, but India was not technologically as innovative as Europe. And this suggests that there is an optimal intermediate degree of fragmentation, that a too-unified society is a disadvantage, and a too-fragmented society is also a disadvantage. Instead, innovation proceeds most rapidly in a society with some intermediate degree of fragmentation.
If you want to become rich by your 30s, you should be looking at wealth-building opportunities that pay off quicker than traditional long-term investments. One of the best ways to do this is to get into the entrepreneurial game and own your own business. Once you own a business, you have unlimited potential to earn, although you also assume more risk.
What about the German beer industry? Well, the Germans are very efficient in some of their industries. The German metal-working industry and the German steel industry are equal in productivity to those of the United States, but the German beer-producing industry has a productivity only 43% that of the United States. And it's not that the Germans make bad beer; the Germans make wonderful beer. Whenever my wife and I go to Germany, we take along an extra suitcase specifically for the purpose of filling it up with bottles of German beer, which we take back and dole out to ourselves for the year after each of our trips to Germany. Why, then, since the Germans make such great beer, and since their industrial organization works so successfully for steel and metal, can't they achieve a successful industrial organization for beer?         
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And then 10,000 years ago the glaciers melted, sea level rose, and Tasmania became cut off from mainland Australia by Bass Straits, which are really rough waters. In addition, the watercraft of the Tasmanians were wash-through rafts that got waterlogged and sank after about a dozen hours. The result was that the boats of the Tasmanians could not reach Australia, and the boats of the mainland Aboriginal Australians could not reach Tasmania.
Essentially the same thing happened in China with clocks: one emperor's decision abolished clocks over China. China was also on the verge of building powerful water-powered machinery before the Industrial Revolution in Britain, but the emperor said "Stop," and so that was the end of the water-powered machinery in China. In contrast, in Europe there were princes who said no to electric lighting, or to printing, or to guns. And, yes, in certain principalities for a while printing was suppressed. But because Europe in the Renaissance was divided among 2,000 principalities, it was never the case that there was one idiot in command of all Europe who could abolish a whole technology. Inventors had lots of chances, there was always competition between different states, and when one state tried something out that proved valuable, the other states saw the opportunity and adopted it. So the real question is, why was China chronically unified, and why was Europe chronically disunified? Why is Europe disunified to this day?

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Essentially the same thing happened in China with clocks: one emperor's decision abolished clocks over China. China was also on the verge of building powerful water-powered machinery before the Industrial Revolution in Britain, but the emperor said "Stop," and so that was the end of the water-powered machinery in China. In contrast, in Europe there were princes who said no to electric lighting, or to printing, or to guns. And, yes, in certain principalities for a while printing was suppressed. But because Europe in the Renaissance was divided among 2,000 principalities, it was never the case that there was one idiot in command of all Europe who could abolish a whole technology. Inventors had lots of chances, there was always competition between different states, and when one state tried something out that proved valuable, the other states saw the opportunity and adopted it. So the real question is, why was China chronically unified, and why was Europe chronically disunified? Why is Europe disunified to this day?
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