Gongol.com Archives: December 2006
Brian Gongol

December 11, 2006

Graphics Behind Bars

Socialism Doesn't Work Worker-drought solution: Higher wages
The Des Moines Register proposes spending more money on the Vision Iowa program in order to shore up a "worker shortage" in Iowa. Here's a much better idea: Stop spending tax money on flashy projects with little or no accountability and cut state spending instead so that more of the money circulating around Iowa can go toward private-sector growth. It's not the job of Joe Taxpayer to subsidize attractions so that firms can get more workers -- that's an implicit subsidy of the firm by the individual taxpayer. A shortage of workers comes from exactly one thing alone: Wages that are too low. Higher wages equals more willing employees. Period. It's not the job of the taxpayer to supply non-pecuniary benefits just so employers can try to get away with paying lower wages.

Computers and the Internet People who make laws about the Internet need to stop being ignorant
Draft legislation called the "Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act" requiring virtually every website containing user-generated content (including message boards) to file Federal reports about things that get posted on their sites. As usual, it's nominally a "protect-the-children" kind of law, but it reveals a complete ignorance of the scope and nature of the Internet to expect a huge portion of the nation's active websites to start filing reports on their content. There are better ways to "protect children" than to increase bureaucracy. One way would be fund and train police to more effectively track down individual offenders -- people who can be actively convicted of crimes. Another would be to increase the penalties for truly malicious behavior. What's being proposed sounds distinctly like punishment for all for the misbehavior of some, and that practically never works.

The American Way How microfinance works in the United States
It's still a nascent industry in the US, though the concept has already demonstrated success elsewhere in the world. In a way, the US has always had a kind of non-banking lending industry like microfinance in the form of credit unions, but credit unions haven't ever ventured much into commercial lending, in part because of tight caps on commercial loans as a percent of total assets. If politicians were serious about helping people out of poverty, instead of raising the minimum wage, they'd look at ways to make it easier for people to capitalize on their own ingenuity and motivation.

Water News Platte River Cooperative Agreement will go into effect

Socialism Doesn't Work Reality tourism: A stay in a former KGB prison
Tourists can stay overnight in a former KGB prison in Latvia -- and even get a five-minute stay in solitary, which is apparently quite enough to convince one of the brutality of Communism

Computers and the Internet Zero-day exploit released against Microsoft Word
Not good, considering the vast number of Word documents e-mailed around the globe every day. Microsoft says the extent of the attacks is "very, very limited", but even if that information is true, it won't necessarily stay that way for long. People exchanging documents online ought to use PDF files wherever possible, and might want to try using OpenOffice to read Word documents until the exploit is fixed. The crooks are using Word as a back-door to drop a password-stealing Trojan horse on users.

Humor and Good News "Go and boil your head."
Lots of fun ways to disrupt strangers' attempts at conversation, including memorizing facts about carpets.

The American Way December 11, 2006 Carnival of the Capitalists

Agriculture Borlaug will get Congressional Gold Medal
It's a much-deserved reward for a man who used science and vision to help feed millions of hungry people without pillaging the public coffers

Humor and Good News Lido or Promenade Deck, Congressman?
Fred Grandy, who served on the "Love Boat" and on the ship of state, now does talk radio in DC