Gongol.com Archives: March 2013
Brian Gongol


March 17, 2013

The United States of America Sen. Tom Harkin pushes for a "national manufacturing strategy"
On one hand, it's clear that there are plenty of obstacles to manufacturing in the United States. But the problem with pursuing a "national manufacturing strategy" is that it violates one of the main expectations we should have of our elected officials: They should be curious, competent, and (most importantly) humble. Humility means knowing that the government generally does more good by staying out of the way of the private sector than by trying to conceive and execute a plan for everyone else to follow. It's one thing to seek advice and counsel from people who know a lot about a subject -- like a brain trust or "Kitchen Cabinet". It's quite another to think a national strategy can be conceived and executed from on high. Developing countries -- like Japan and South Korea in the latter half of the 20th Century -- have sometimes benefitted from coordinated national industrial strategies -- but some of their greatest problems have come from letting those policies stay in place for too long. The chaebol and kerietsu probably got too much protection for too long, and that made them susceptible to trouble in the Asian financial panic around the year 2000. On a related note, the shortage of skilled workers in the US is and will remain a problem. And that's another reason why the notion of a "national manufacturing strategy" ought to be held suspect: How can you effectively offer the educational opportunities needed for skilled work when education is so ill-suited to national-scale management and intervention? And when the market itself is what drives the demand for those workers (and when rising pay opportunities still aren't enough to motivate people to seek them), how is Federal intervention going to make things better?

News On the usefulness of shame
Not everything that's bad needs to be regulated by law

Humor and Good News 42 facts about Douglas Adams
When it comes time for personality engines to hit the mainstream, his ought to be one of the first they program

Weather and Disasters Reflections on a massive tornado, 100 years later
We as a species have gotten vastly better at predicting severe weather. It's one of our most shining achievements as the human race. Predicting severe weather in all its forms saves lives.

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