Gongol.com Archives: January 2015

Brian Gongol

January 3, 2015

Business and Finance Left-wing, union-backed policy group says trade deficit with China cuts jobs in every Congressional district but one
Without deeply examining their methodology or claims, it's quite possible that there has been some meaningful net reduction in employment in the United States as a result of persistent trade deficits -- not just with China, but with the entire world. But the predominant concern shouldn't be with the jobs "created" or "destroyed" -- it should be with the ultimate impact on net wealth. As a country, if we're importing a lot more than we're exporting, then in the long term, we are sending our dollars overseas and building up a non-trivial balance on a metaphorical national "credit card". If we don't turn that around in a hugely meaningful way, then we'll have to pay down that debt and repatriate those dollars by selling off a significant amount of assets. Not everything, of course, but if our trade deficits linger at about 3% of our national income (about $40 to $45 billion a month on about $1,400 billion in GDP each month), then it's not going to be pretty when the day of reckoning arrives. Let's not overlook the real numbers, either: With a population of 320 million people, it's the equivalent of us each buying about $1600 a year worth of foreign stuff more than we're creating. We need to agree and understand that it's not sustainable and then get to work on debating the proper solutions -- ones that won't squash all of the benefits we do obtain from free trade (and there are many).

Health Critics want Gates Foundation to stop focusing on specific diseases
While it's understandable that they want a more holistic approach to "health-system strengthening", they're overlooking the fact that accountability requires at least some specificity. The broader and more vague the mandate, the more likely it is that any organization will fail to actually achieve its mission. One could scarcely expect to get good value by assigning someone a large pile of money and saying, "Go fix transportation". But if instead, the options (air travel, ships, trains, cars, and so on) were carefully evaluated for their likely effectiveness at achieving certain specific goals (like getting food to market, or moving people at low cost to metropolitan centers), then specific and worthwhile investments could be made with a reasonable expectation of getting results. Health is the same: The Gates mission is to find specific causes of illness and death, target them relentlessly, and eliminate them. There will be some unintended consequences, mistakes, and oversights along the way to be sure. But if you're not specific about what you're trying to fix, you're likely to do a lot worse.

Computers and the Internet Customers sue Apple over iOS 8
They say it takes up a lot of storage space on their devices -- particularly when upgraded from a previous version -- and that it's a shadowy way to force people to pay for cloud storage. The claim holds that a device advertised as having 16 Gb of storage really only offers about 80% of that amount once the OS has taken up residence. It's probably a silly and frivolous suit, but it does highlight the fact that people need to realize that they can't store endlessly, nor is the listed storage capacity of a device what they'll actually get in practice.

Threats and Hazards "The smuggling and sale of oil provides ISIL with as much as $1 million per day"

Business and Finance Americans probably don't realize how far we are from saving enough
Saving enough for a comfortable and independent retirement requires thinking on the order of about a million dollars. Maybe more, maybe less, but that's the order of magnitude of the thinking required.

Broadcasting Show notes - WHO Radio Wise Guys - January 3, 2015

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