Gongol.com Archives: September 2011
Brian Gongol

September 16, 2011

The United States of America Senator Harkin wants an even bigger Federal spending package
Senator Harkin, you're no economist. Government spending was not what ended the Great Depression, and it isn't going to be the prescription for boosting the economy today. We should be investing in things like infrastructure spending, to be sure -- but we should be doing so upon its own merits, not as a job-creation exercise. By making infrastructure spending a ploy for "job creation", all you're doing is creating a whole new bubble to replace the old one. We had a bubble in residential and commercial construction, which was one of the causes of the recent recession. Creating a whole new one in building roads and bridges is just going to prolong the hangover when the money runs out. It's not the job of the government to "create jobs" -- it's the duty of government to create a fair, level playing field for the private sector, then to stay out of the way.

Business and Finance Active money management is ripping off America
The manager of the gigantic Fidelity Magellan fund -- a fund in which people have invested $17.4 billion, which is about the size of utility giant PG&E -- has been fired for falling well behind the competition in investment performance. The problem with funds like Magellan is that they pay their management companies big chunks of change in return for their supposed management expertise. But consistently strong performance is extremely difficult to achieve. Not impossible, but extremely difficult. But the individual investor isn't well-equipped to know which active manager is going to be good and which is going to be bad, yet all of them charge similarly high management fees. The thing that makes the most sense for most people is to put their money into index funds that simply buy into the entire market as a whole. That ensures that the performance of the fund will roughly be the average of the market as a whole, minus the expenses paid to the management company. But index funds generally pay vastly less to their managers than actively-managed funds, so over time, the "average"-performing index fund ends up leaving a whole lot more money in the pockets of the investor.

Iowa Iowa caucuses: Good for promoting the state, not so good for the economy
Iowa may get a lot of additional TV time and newspaper coverage due to the caucuses, but an ISU economist has looked at the numbers and concluded that they don't really bring in any more money than a small manufacturing company would -- about $15.5 million last time around.

The United States of America At any given moment, there are 850,000 Americans shopping at Wal-Mart
That's an astonishing figure in its own right

Humor and Good News Turn my headphones up!
(Video) One of the funniest Dave Chappelle sketches

Humor and Good News This guy knows how to tell a story
(Video) An Arizonan caught in a traffic accident tells his story -- colorfully

News What is with the use of the phrase "to love on"?
An article in the Omaha World-Herald describes how an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska uses a very heavy dose of Christian theology to motivate his players, who include a Muslim. It sounds like everyone gets along politely, but the assistant coach makes this odd statement: "I just need to love up on him and let God do what he wants with him." The phrase "to love on" pops up with a lot of frequency among some Christians, and it really makes no sense -- one does not love on another person, one simply loves that person. Why torture the English language like that? It sounds weird and contrived.

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