Gongol.com Archives: March 2010
Brian Gongol

March 25, 2010

Socialism Doesn't Work Social Security will run a deficit this year
That means it will start dipping into the "trust fund" six years earlier than expected. This is bad news on its own -- signaling that we're not even capable of keeping up with obligations to the program now, before the Baby Boomers really start to retire -- but it's also going to be a double-whammy for the economy. Most of the "trust fund" is in Treasury securities -- the debt of the Federal government. And for the Social Security program to generate the cash to pay the checks for the recipients, it will have to sell those securities. Unfortunately, the world's investors have become less interested in those securities lately, since it becomes more and more apparent all the time that the government here has no real self-control. Thus, the Social Security program is going to have to sell proportionally more of those Treasury bonds to make up the same revenue (since they'll have to achieve certain dollar amounts, even if the unit price of what they're selling is falling). This will only make the market for those Treasury bonds more depressed than it already is. We need a phased-in system for private savings accounts under Social Security, and we need it right now.

Threats and Hazards Philadelphia is having trouble with violent flash mobs
Technology allows people to take the concept of freedom of assembly and apply it in new and socially-unstable ways. The Constitution guarantees the right to peaceable assembly, not assembly of just any type. Flash mobs have been around since at least 2003, and it's been evident since at least 2007 that they pose a serious challenge to conventional law-enforcement approaches to maintaining order. As much as anything else, we need a society composed of people with the judgment to know what to do before the police arrive. One never knows when one could be caught in the middle of something like a flash mob -- and though it could turn out to be just a funny dance routine recorded on video, it could also turn out to be something violent.

The United States of America It's hard to find anything substantial with which to disagree in the Modern Whig platform

Computers and the Internet Firefox 3.6.2 is released
Including important security updates; Firefox users should install the update pronto

News The world's cheapest car is a textbook-quality case study in tradeoffs
There have been quality problems -- and a few safety concerns -- about the Tata Nano, the world's cheapest production car. The consensus appears to be that the vehicle definitely isn't ready for export beyond India yet. But arguments over its safety are challenging to evaluate: Compared to a vehicle on the US roadways that has been thoroughly run through NHTSA tests and Consumer Reports evaluations and crash-testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Nano is probably considered deeply unsafe. But compared with motorbikes and trains packed like cattle cars, it's probably a quantum leap in safety.

News Kaiser Foundation says hospitals, insurance companies, and doctors should all get more money under the new health-care bill
From where, pray tell, is that money going to come?

Water News EPA admin says she wants tougher rules on carcinogens in drinking water

Graphics Graphic of the day: Tolhurst Machine Works