Gongol.com Archives: June 2007
Brian Gongol

June 20, 2007

Graphics Graphic of the day: Brown Intersection

Socialism Doesn't Work "Seven insane Soviet projects"
You can spend your own money, or other people's money, and you can spend it on yourself or you can spend it on other people. When you're in charge of a Communist state, you get unbridled capacity to spend other people's money on making yourself look good. Imagine how well that works out.

News A post-prime-ministerial job for Tony Blair
President Bush apparently wants Blair to serve as a multi-nation envoy to the Middle East. Maybe Margaret Thatcher's foundation can make a counter-offer.

News Keep calm and carry on
If it was applicable in England during WWII, it's probably good advice anytime

Humor and Good News A critical mass of soul
(Video) Nina Simone's live performance of "Ain't Got No...I've Got Life" from 1969. Anyone who can't get into the song must have a serious rhythm impairment. After such a groove, many people may require a good laugh, in which dinosaurs contemplate immortality for the self-centered.

Agriculture 2007 World Food Prize winner developed food-preservation process
Food supplies don't just depend upon production -- storage matters, too

The United States of America MTV meets the State Department
MTV and the State Department are working on a program to coordinate cultural exchanges involving musicians around college age. Though there's nothing wrong with that, it's really disappointing that this is the same government that's trying to destroy the Voice of America. It's good and useful to reach young people on a cultural level, but it's completely irresponsible for the United States to give up the VOA, which is an extremely efficient program for disseminating news and information to people living under repressive governments (which remains far too large a share of the world today).

Consider, for instance, the underground press in Poland under Communism. In order for the Solidarity movement to disseminate information, they had to run illegal printing operations that put journalists and publishers at risk. It's pretty hard to continue disseminating information to an oppressed public when the publishers are thrown in jail. But the Voice of America (and related programs, like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) can operate without that sort of fear, since radio broadcasts can cross national borders.

Through radio broadcasts, it's possible to regularly, efficiently, and immediately communicate with an unlimited share of a domestic population, since it's nigh impossible for just about any government to confiscate every radio. It's obvious that tyrants fear rebellious broadcast media: That's why Hugo Chavez has abused power in Venezuela to shut down Radio Caracas TV, which was a vocal opponent of his totalitarian behavior.

Some short-sighted individuals in the US government have suggested that we don't need to spend money on broadcasting the VOA via radio, since people can get the same information from the VOA online. But that ignores some pretty basic (and, one would think, obvious) facts: First, the "Great Firewall of China" shows that it's much easier for a government to censor the Internet than to block radio broadcasts. Gongol.com, for instance, is blocked in China. But questions of government firewalls are overshadowed even further by what should be even more obvious to the fools trying to kill the VOA: Far more people around the world have access to radios than to the Internet. This should hardly require explanation.

The total cost of running the VOA and related programs each year is less than $700 million a year -- less than what we're spending just to build an embassy in Baghdad. In fact, that overstates the cost of the VOA considerably: Taken alone, the VOA costs just $300 million a year to operate, less than President Bush promised in aid to the Palestinians in his 2005 State of the Union address, and a third of what it costs just to run the Chicago Transit Authority each year. No one in government can responsibly explain how our public diplomacy ought to be slashed like this.

Water News Gas prices make construction jobs more expensive

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