Gongol.com Archives: May 2012
Brian Gongol


May 18, 2012

Computers and the Internet On the Facebook IPO
A lot of people who were early investors are getting rich. But: Suppose I own a small business. Five years ago, it lost $13,800. Four years ago, it lost $5,600. Then it started to turn a profit. In the next three years, it made $22,900, then $60,600, and then $100,000. ■ If I told you today that I'd be happy to sell you half of that business for $5 million, but that you would have no say in its management, would you buy it? No? Then don't buy Facebook stock today.

Socialism Doesn't Work With Hollande on the scene, is President Obama no longer the "last Keynesian standing"?
For one to dismiss everything about Keynesianism out-of-hand would be unfair and short-sighted. The key is to understand that Keynesianism makes a lot of promises on the backs of the people of the future. Even if "in the long run, we are all dead", the long run is still made up of lots of short runs, all chained together. And if our decisions are made largely on the basis only of short-run thinking (which is what Keynesianism tends to use), then sooner or later, the consequences of short-run thinking start to catch up with us. ■ Consider it like this: If a business person is known as a ruthless negotiator, then he or she may do very well on some early deals. But after a while, that reputation for ruthlessness may start to make people wary of working with them. Vendors may start to go into negotiations with inflated starting figures, in the expectation of being beaten over the head for discounts. What works once or a few times early on for that "tough negotiator" may turn out to adjust the expectations of other parties, who start to implicitly account for those expectations. ■ The same goes for an economy. If people start to anticipate that governments will intervene in "stimulating" ways to support the economy when things get slow, then the effect of that stimulation may be so widely-anticipated that it no longer counts for anything. Look at the last few years: We've had Cash for Clunkers, housing bailouts, bank bailouts, student-loan bailouts, and even government subsidies for the replacement of old appliances. At some point or another, people start to assume that they'll get government support when things go bad...which in turn may only encourage more of the behavior that leads to trouble in the first place. ■ The solution isn't for the government to do nothing at all. That may be what the Austrian School wants, but the modern Austrian movement has to be careful about going too far. There is a valuable recognition of reality and practicality that is offered by the Chicago School that pulls Austrianism's extreme libertarianism back from the brink just enough to keep it from giving people complete economic indigestion. But if there is any rationality at all to how economies behave, then the Keynesians need to realize that, like a junkie for whom only ever-escalating hits of a drug deliver the same high, the people who make up an economy also get used to anticipating intervention. And if they're too inoculated by intervention to take responsibility for their own personal and household and business behavior, then trouble is most certainly ahead.

Business and Finance Survey says college students are infatuated with the idea of going to work for Google
Business majors...computer majors...even liberal-arts majors want to work there. For all the loudmouths who constantly bemoan "corporate America", there sure are a lot of people looking to work for big corporations. It would be interesting to know what proportion of students think seriously about working for much smaller companies, where their impact on results is much more direct.

Aviation News First private-sector delivery to International Space Station scheduled for Saturday
NASA is outsourcing deliveries to the ISS to contractors -- SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp. SpaceX is planning to make their first launch this weekend.

Health Take two minutes for a self-exam today
Take a minute or two and conduct some basic self-screenings for cancer. Early detection saves lives. There's lots of misinformation about cancer that finds its way around the Internet, largely because we've been trained to wait expectantly for some sort of magic-bullet solution to cancer. But cancer risks can be significantly reduced through a balanced diet, exercise, and early detection and treatment. Meanwhile, science is making great progress towards improving genetic detection, which holds great promise for some types of cancer. Instead of forwarding hoax-ridden e-mails about "cancer cures" and false threats, people should instead remind their friends and family to assess their health once a month.

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