Gongol.com Archives: June 2010
Brian Gongol

June 15, 2010

News Sarah Palin plans to meet Margaret Thatcher
What they have in common: Both are nominally-conservative female political leaders. What they do not have in common: A serious meeting of the minds on an intellectual basis for conservatism. Margaret Thatcher is a paragon of modern conservative (or classical liberal) leadership: Her philosophy in office was lucid (free markets and personal liberty under the rule of law), and drew from a wide range of thoughtful intellectual contributions from people like Friedrich Hayek. Palin, on the other hand, has been on a nauseating populist and anti-intellectual streak ever since her nomination by the Republican Party to the Vice Presidency that gives conservatism a bad name. Contrast Palin's "The difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick" comment with Thatcher's "You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning." Thatcher advocated a conservatism of ideas, not feelings. Palin does precisely the opposite, and in the process is scarcely that conservative at all -- she's populist. And in the grand scheme of things, the difference between the two is so vast it's unfortunate that many people will probably think the two are somehow alike. If only we were to be so lucky as to have a leader as thoughtful as Thatcher around today.

Socialism Doesn't Work Cedar Rapids, the new police state
Interstate 380 now has speed cameras mounted along the freeway as it passes through Cedar Rapids. This is abhorrent. When Iowa City puts up nuclear-weapon-free zone signs along the streets, it just looks goofy and anachronistic. (Who's going to carry a nuke into Iowa City?) But when Cedar Rapids mounts police cameras along the road and uses those to issue fines, it reeks of creepy authoritarianism. When the law is enforced via camera, rather than by an individual officer of the law with judgment and discretion, then we're turning over our responsibilities to think to the machines, and asking to be baby-sat by Big Brother. An old saying goes, "If a police officer follows you for 500 miles, you're going to get a ticket." With cameras like this in place, no one's going to have to drive the full 500 miles.

Business and Finance Afghanistan may have $1 trillion in mineral wealth
Which, if true, could certainly be of short-term benefit to the country; it could certainly bring in a fresh supply of cash and provide a rival economic activity to the heroin trade. But in the long term, it could end up creating more harm than good if it isn't used wisely. Few countries have done as well with endowments of natural resources wealth (like the oil-rich states of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria) as other states have done by adopting free markets and encouraging free trade under the rule of law (which has made resource-poor countries and states like Japan and Hong Kong filthy rich). It's been called the curse of oil wealth, and for good reason. While it may not be oil wealth they've found in Afghanistan, vast mineral wealth would be quite like the same thing.

Broadcasting A look at the WGN transmitter site

Humor and Good News A small vote in favor of free speech
(Video) Jon Stewart steps out of his usual political antagonism and makes a pretty fine statement in favor of freedom of speech. Good for him. And, in an extra touch of goodness, it's pretty entertaining, too.

Broadcasting Podcast: Is technology causing insomnia?

Broadcasting Podcast: Skin grafts, printed on demand

Water News Flash flooding in eastern Iowa

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