Gongol.com Archives: October 2011
Brian Gongol

October 26, 2011

The United States of America The unemployment problem is a lack-of-skills problem
The current relatively-high unemployment rate in the United States is very, very closely tied to a shortage of skilled workers. People have been laid-off in declining industries, but they haven't found ways to re-tool themselves to go to work in ascending industries, like health care and skilled trades. Anyone who paints the manufacturing sector, for instance, as "dead" is completely wrong: America's still producing more goods than any other country in the world. But the jobs aren't just the monkey-see-monkey-do jobs that too many people picture when they reflect on the manufacturing jobs of the past. More than ever, manufacturing jobs require specialty skills and technological expertise. Machines do the grunt work; people do the smart things.

The United States of America People respond to incentives, and the government is creating all the wrong incentives
The President is touting a plan to help people who are "underwater" in their home mortgages get Federal aid to refinance their homes at lower rates. But what about the homeowners who were responsible all along? What about those who looked at overheated real-estate markets and decided not to live there? These programs -- from Cash for Clunkers to this mortgage bailout -- are rewarding people for taking excessive risks or doing other stupid things, and implicitly punishing the responsible. Why should people who bought homes within their means in places that didn't have overheated real-estate markets pay Federal taxes so that the irresponsible could get bailed out for living in places where it should have been patently obvious to anyone that house prices were inexcusably high?

Computers and the Internet FCC plans to redirect funds from landline phone subsidies to broadband subsidies
The Universal Service Fund is worth $15 billion a year to landline phone services in sparsely-populated areas. They object to a plan to redirect that money into promoting broadband Internet access in underserved areas instead.

Aviation News Delta pays down job-related loans to Minneapolis
And now local officials worry that's because the company is planning to cut back on the number of people it employs there

Business and Finance Amazon's sales keep rising, but so do their reinvestments in research and development
Here's the problem with being a publicly-traded company: Amazon.com had a huge increase in sales for the third quarter, but because it's investing heavily in things like the forthcoming Kindle Fire, shareholders panicked and dumped the stock upon the news. That's the wrong lesson to teach American businesses. On a related note, a British columnist thinks he knows what makes German businesses more resilient than many British and American ones.

Business and Finance Former Goldman Sachs director could be charged with criminal behavior for passing along company secrets

Humor and Good News "Catch-22" author actually enjoyed going to war
Joseph Heller apparently actually enjoyed his time at war, contrary to the experience of his protagonist, Yossarian. Anyone who hasn't read "Catch-22" needs to make a priority of it -- the book is laugh-out-loud funny, and truly brilliant.

Humor and Good News What the most innovative culture in history does with its free time
(Video) It sure beats clubbing our neighbors over the head and stealing their stuff

Computers and the Internet BlackBerry could face class-action lawsuit over outages

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