Gongol.com Archives: December 2006
Brian Gongol

December 15, 2006

Graphics Trip into the Light

Socialism Doesn't Work A low minimum wage beats higher crime rates any day
Britain is struggling with a big uptick in the number of 16- to 24-year-olds who aren't in school and don't go to work: A total of 1.24 million right now. That's huge. The government is (mistakenly) taking this to be a sign of "social breakdown," whereas the much more likely cause is clearly identified in the news: Welfare benefits are sufficiently generous that the shiftless don't have to find work. The very same problem is at the root of one of the biggest problems with raising the minimum wage: When the law seeks too hard to cushion unemployment and to ensure that an effective minimum wage is in place, that keeps young people from getting entry-level jobs. Without those jobs, they can't develop the necessary skills and experience to get better jobs later. The problem then compounds itself as the non-working, uneducated 16-year-old becomes a non-working, uneducated 22-year-old who still doesn't have any useful work experience. It should be no surprise that there's a concomitant rise in crime. There's nothing wrong with discussing the importance of family strength in helping young people become responsible adults, but the economic causes of the problem are extremely clear.

Computers and the Internet ISU student goes to jail for MySpace fraud
Created a fake profile page posing as another student, then put out sexually explicit photos under that profile

Health What you see is what you smell
Research suggests that everyone has at least a little synesthesia -- a mixing of sensory signals that causes a stimulus for one sense to be experienced as a stimulus of another

The American Way Do-it-yourself microfinance
Another example of entrepreneurial charity: A website that lets individuals offer their own microfinance loans to people in developing countries. Organizations like Kiva and the Acumen Fund are great because they leverage financial capital (which is cheap in places like the US but expensive in the developing world) in order to help people in developing nations turn their human capital (which is cheap in the developing world but expensive in the US) into economic growth. It's much better than handout-type charity: It's a means of creating actual economic growth.

Water News Ellsworth to offer associate's degree in renewable energy technology

News Priest gets 15 years in prison for helping with Rwandan genocide
Punishments for war crimes are a double-edged sword: On one hand, they may cause perpetrators to consider long-term consequences of their actions, but on the other, they may simply encourage those perpetrators to try to maximize the impact of their crimes (especially in desperate moments), since they may assume that their punishments can't be any worse if they kill, say, 10,000 rather than 1,000.

News Hundreds of kids parent-less after Swift raids
And just as predicted, it's evolving into a public-relations snafu as human-rights groups start lodging complaints.

News British cops complain that "CSI" is making it harder to catch criminals

Agriculture Scientists ID the blight that caused the Irish potato famine
And it appears to have come from a breed of nightshade

Health In case of pandemic flu, wash your hands and stay home if you get sick
That's basically what a report from the National Institute of Medicine concludes is about all we can do at this stage. They advise some limited use of antiviral drugs in order to head off further infections and a few public-education policies, but generally conclude there's just not enough known about how to respond to a major outbreak that public officials need to "not overstate the level of confidence or certainty in the effectiveness" of any strategy.