Gongol.com Archives: 2018 Weekly Archives

Brian Gongol


June 16, 2018

Broadcasting Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - June 16, 2018

Broadcasting live at 2:00 pm

News Are we in a "prewar" moment, a "postwar" decline, or something else?

Nobody is offering a grand vision of aspiration at the national level. In its absence, we get petty animosity and small ideas amplified to 11. We can and should be better, but we need narratives selling why and how.



June 15, 2018

News "The Trump Doctrine is winning and the world is losing"

Stellar opinion writing by Kori Schake. The world order isn't an all-you-can-eat buffet where our allies stuff themselves and the US foots the bill. It's like a buying club where, by pooling our resources, we all ultimately pay less. A Costco for Peace, if you will.

News Refugees are people, too

During WWII, when the United States had less than half the population we do today, we managed to humanely accommodate 400,000 POWs from the Axis countries -- on American soil. With leadership and imagination, we can find humane ways to accommodate refugees today.

Agriculture How much erosion from the latest rains?

It turns out, quite a bit. Soil, once lost, is really hard to replace. Really, really hard.

News An unfortunate counterbalance

After the "MPR raccoon" story, an unfortunate counter: Police in Bismarck are investigating a report of a hamster being thrown from a building. It may sound trivial, but anyone who demonstrates unrepentant cruelty to animals might very well have the same depth of cruelty with other humans.

Humor and Good News That's one place to put a lawn chair

The Platte River in Nebraska is so wide and shallow that people wander out to the middle of it and plant their chairs on sandbars



June 13, 2018

Threats and Hazards A disgrace

When asked by the Voice of America what message he would send to the North Korean people, President Trump responded with praise for Kim Jong Un and a self-adoring diversion about what great chemistry he felt with the dictator. His answer is a disgrace. He should have heeded the words of Dwight Eisenhower: "We believe individual liberty, rooted in human dignity, is man's greatest treasure. We believe that men, given free expression of their will, prefer freedom and self-dependence to dictatorship and collectivism."

Business and Finance The Federal Reserve's crystal ball: The economy will cool down, but we're pretty hazy on when

Big picture: No one is really quite sure why the economy is in the condition it's in. That makes it pretty hard -- even for the Federal Reserve -- to say how long it'll stay that way, especially with big structural risks lying in the weeds. What happens if oil prices keep rising? What happens if we get into a circular firing squad of tariffs? What happens if POTUS hints at defaulting on Federal debt? What happens if China moves against Taiwan? And what happens if our titanic Federal debt (and underfunded obligations) isn't reined in?

Threats and Hazards May our divisions cease

A ballot proposal (called "CA-3") would divide California into three states. Until American politics cool off a bit, efforts like this should be treated as if they were foreign influence campaigns designed to stir up division and create strife...because there is a very real, non-zero chance that's what's going on. Anyone with a marginal familiarity with history ought to recognize the maxim "divide et impera" -- divide and rule.

News A vignette about separating children from their parents

We face a public-policy choice right now about the treatment of foreign children. That bears serious scrutiny. We need to remember the regret we as a country should feel over our similar policy choices circa 1938. The violence in places like El Salvador may not be state-run, but it is on a huge scale, and the kids who flee from it are true refugees. They deserve humane treatment as such. During WWI, Herbert Hoover led a US program to deliver food aid to people in occupied Belgium so they could avoid a famine. We helped because it was the right thing to do, regardless of the legal circumstances surrounding the German occupation. Americans don't have to wait for perfect law and order before choosing to do what is right, just, and compassionate. If the extraordinarily daunting nature of the journey is not itself enough of a deterrent to keep people from trying, then what good comes of us applying cruelty on top of it? In a quest to be a "great" country, we shouldn't torch the values and practices that make us good.

Threats and Hazards This "enemy of the people" nonsense must stop

The President's antipathy towards the free press looks especially nefarious in contrast to his fawning over North Korea's dictator



June 12, 2018

News A paper was signed in Singapore -- but what?

Americans will, sooner or later, be privy to what was signed. But you can be sure the North Korean people will be fed a line of propaganda about "forcing the imperialists to acknowledge the indomitable might of the Juche Ideal" or somesuch. That's a win for Kim Jong Un -- at US expense.

Health Would you take a longer life (with high quality) if it required working longer?

There's no telling what's in store, but odds are good that the year 2100 will be amazing. Do people hate work? Over-discount extra quality years of life? Not really care that much about living? Attitudes on this will have a big impact on important policies -- like how we fund retirement programs and health care.

News Women discover -- at age 72 -- that they were switched at birth

One of their mothers is still alive

News 40 floors of fire escape

A missed opportunity, perhaps, to demonstrate the Coriolis effect

Computers and the Internet Don't accept USBs from strangers

USB giveaways at the summit: Mating American weakness for free stuff to a super-convenient vector for putting really bad things on computers.


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June 11, 2018

Humor and Good News The Federalist Lottery

A modest proposal: Every state names one of its own to be President, and we drawn the winner at random. New York serves a penalty suspension of four score and seven years for what it served up in 2016.

Business and Finance Chinese factory workers are drifting into the service sector

Oft-overlooked fact: Doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, and IT managers are all in the service sector. Whether a person's work produces a thing that fits in a box is a really arbitrary way to judge its value.

The United States of America Are we victims of the G7? No way.

We're not the first generation to face economic challenges -- but we're among the first to have the choice to face them in cooperation with allies who share our values. That's a strategic advantage, not a weakness.

Threats and Hazards Insulting allies, sucking up to adversaries

Is this really why we pay taxes?