Gongol.com Archives: December 2016

Brian Gongol

December 9, 2016

News Justice Department rolls back Presidential emergency powers

Took you long enough: The standard in place had been around since 1982 and granted probably too much authority to the President to do things without the supervision and check of Congress.

News When is "Buy American" bad for American workers?

A plan to require "American Iron and Steel" in the construction of water infrastructure projects has been derailed from a Federal spending bill, and though it may seem paradoxical, that's probably a good thing for American workers. AIS requirements have actually imposed an unnecessary, complex, and expensive burden on a good number of American manufacturing companies that have made perfectly rational decisions to use supply chains that stop outside the United States sometimes. A lot of manufacturing happens up the manufacturing chain -- at high-value assembly of complex products. Artificially fumbling around with the inputs that these companies are required to use actually makes it harder for them to operate effectively and competitively -- especially if it means they have to set up multiple production configurations so they can meet domestic regulations with one process, and find ways to make other products at more competitive prices for export. Far too often, regulations like AIS end up doing more net harm than good.

News Wait; there was almost another government shutdown?

Once again, it would seem, the Federal government will be funded by swinging a few months at a time. But a fight over benefits for coal miners almost took us into a shutdown until a very, very last-minute vote bought some time. This is no way for a great country to act; nor is it any way for a country with a $19.87 trillion Federal debt to behave. Divided evenly among 325 million Americans, that's more than $61,000 in Federal debt per person. It's madness to run up that kind of debt without at least getting some long-term benefit from it. But that's not what we're doing -- our deficit spending is just the equivalent of running up a credit-card bill to pay ordinary household expenses. This reckless behavior will bring about consequences someday. Bad ones.

Computers and the Internet Samsung is going to brick all of the Galaxy Note 7 units out in the wild

Starting in a few days, they're going to send an update that will kill the ability of those phones to take a battery charge. Hard to think of a more dramatic move to force people to surrender their exploding devices.

Iowa Midwestern brain drain, measured

For every thousand people (over age 25) living here, about six degree-holders left between 2011 and 2015. That's bad, and it's not just an Iowa problem: Illinois and Nebraska were even worse-off, and every other bordering state (Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, and South Dakota) was also in the red. College degrees aren't the end-all, be-all of a society or an economy, but when you see the same negative thing happening across a broad contiguous area, you can't just turn your back on the phenomenon.