Gongol.com Archives: July 2010
Brian Gongol


July 25, 2010

Business and Finance A summary of the Dodd-Frank Act to bring about "financial reform"
There's some good in the act -- like giving shareholders a more direct say in matters of executive compensation. And there's a lot of bad in the act, too -- like the provision that would let the Federal Reserve arbitrarily "require a large, complex company, to divest some of its holdings if it poses a grave threat to the financial stability of the United States". In other words, a capricious authority can now simply declare a company too complex and break it up, even if no antitrust laws were broken -- or any other laws, for that matter. But the truly anxiety-inducing angle on the whole thing is simply its size and complexity. The act has been hailed as the "most sweeping financial industry reform legislation since the Great Depression." The problem with vast, sweeping reforms is that they often have vast unintended consequences. Many of the risks that were undertaken that led to the financial panic of the last couple of years were the result of another "sweeping" reform -- the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. Sweeping reforms lead to huge unintended consequences, because nobody -- including politicians -- can forecast all of the consequences of a law. The bigger the change in the law, the bigger the unintended results. And many of them will undoubtedly be harmful. And there's another problem: The tighter the regulations (on just about anything), the more that business decisions are guided by attempts to play as close to the margins of the rules as possible. We know this from our daily lives: Set the speed limit at 70, and people will try to get away with driving 72, because it's as close to the limit as they think they can play without getting busted. Nevermind that the actual safe speed might really only be 55 -- people drive according to the posted speed limit, not according to what's really most reasonable and proper. That's why research has found that fewer traffic controls actually increase traffic safety, because the burden is placed upon the driver to think about what he or she is doing, rather than turning over that thinking to the signs. As Cicero said, "The more laws, the less justice."

Health The profound importance of getting the record straight about vaccines
(Video) A doctor tells why he's incensed by opponents of vaccinations. He rightly highlights the fact that the scares about vaccines are based upon bogus claims that get a lot of traction because people respond to the science with emotion rather than reason. The really interesting nugget to take away from his talk is that the ingredients that people think are causing problems with vaccines have been removed from most vaccination cocktails -- yet opponents of vaccination claim that the problem caused by that ingredient is still growing. That makes for quite the leap from logic into absurdity.

Aviation News Canadian pilots want crushable concrete at the ends of runways
It's a design feature that helps to stop airplanes that, for whatever reason, are unable to stop on their own at the end of the tarmac. It's really quite brilliant.

Health Stay out of hospitals in July -- if you can
That's when the newly-minted doctors show up -- and they have a disproportionate propensity to leave dead patients behind

Business and Finance The IRS checklist for setting up a new company
It can be hoped that the lure of entrepreneurship still exceeds the burdens imposed by bureacracy

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