Gongol.com Archives: December 2006
Brian Gongol

December 24, 2006

The American Way Optimism for some of the wrong reasons
Editorialist suggests that policy-makers should focus on improving consumer happiness rather than per-capita GDP. While it's important to consider the role of people's total utility functions (including things like happiness that don't fit well on a balance sheet), it's short-sighted to think that any real policy approach can do that well. But policies can go a long way towards interfering with or smoothing the road for economic growth. And it's economic growth, not "happiness," that saves lives, gives people the tools of literacy and communications, and helps people live longer lives with more conveniences like air conditioning and air travel...all things that undoubtedly contribute to overall happiness, even if we become so accustomed to them we forget about them. Pure economic growth, for its own sake, has done more for "happiness" than any mushy set of objectives a bunch of pundits might cook up.

Computers and the Internet Terrorist groups out-perform US government on use of Internet
At least as measured by the ability to create and sustain useful networks among like-minded people; and that's no real surprise, since it's probably easier to find Al Qaeda sympathizers who would want to buy pro-terrorism merchandise (it actually exists) than someone in Alabama who wants to buy a t-shirt from the Nevada Department of Transportation. But it should serve as a signal to non-governmental groups in the US that it's in their best interests to aggressively promote the fundamental arguments for freedom and liberty online so that undecided people who might be surfing the web in search of information about those issues on which America and certain terrorist groups disagree will find enough reason to come over to our side.

Threats and Hazards CIA warns UK, France of possible attack on Chunnel

Socialism Doesn't Work Iowa public health officials attack unlicensed nail-salon workers
Is this really a feature of government that couldn't just as easily be delivered by the private sector, if it were so necessary? If a nail salon were actually causing people to lose fingers and toes or truly giving them Hepatitis C, wouldn't that probably make the news? And if consumers really wanted to know about the quality of the nail salons, wouldn't there likely be an accrediting agency that could put its stamp of approval on the good ones, like the AAA Diamond Rating for hotels? Isn't state licensure for manicurists just an example of an interest group having gotten its own little cartel guaranteed by state law?

Health UK considering mass vaccination program for cervical cancer

Threats and Hazards Not every wrong is created equal
Nike cancels a contract with a Pakistani firm because a spot-check found a couple of underage kids working where they weren't supposed to. But by cancelling the contract, they're pulling a huge amount of income from a place that needed the cash to promote growth and security and to hold down extremists. The cancellation could leave 20,000 families without income, which is probably a much more serious wrong than tolerance of some unlawful child labor.

Iowa Safety and security should never rely on one system alone
A case study in why any "comprehensive" or one-size-fits-all solution for any safety or security measure should be rejected: Fire trucks in West Des Moines are outfitted with a system that automatically signals upcoming traffic lights to change so that the truck gets a green light and other drivers get a red. One such system failed for some reason during a November fire call, and a 16-year-old girl was killed when her car was struck by a fire truck. Investigators concluded that even though the traffic-light system should have changed but didn't, the cause of the accident was the girl's failure to yield to the truck, which was using both lights and sirens. In other words, the accident was a multi-system failure; even though the traffic-light system should have worked, it didn't -- but the girl's life could have been saved if she'd been aware of the lights and sirens. The more systems that have to fail before something tragic happens, the safer for the people involved.

News Iran says UN Security Council vote won't stop its nuclear program
The UNSC voted to approve a British/French/German proposal to freeze funds tied to Iran's nuclear program. Iran's government seems to suggest they want to reveal something big around February 11th, the anniversary of the deposition of the shah.

Humor and Good News Cap'n Crunch gets his hippie on

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