Gongol.com Archives: August 2019

Brian Gongol

August 15, 2019

News Freedom of travel for members of Congress

Diplomacy is inevitably an art full of compromises, but it ought to be at least mildly concerning that the American ambassador to Israel spoke up in favor of prohibiting members of Congress from visiting the country. Israel has a right to determine who visits their country, but that doesn't mean American diplomats need to speak about it in partisan fashion. In Federalist Paper No. 75, Alexander Hamilton wrote, "The essence of the legislative authority is to enact laws, or, in other words, to prescribe rules for the regulation of the society; while the execution of the laws, and the employment of the common strength, either for this purpose or for the common defense, seem to comprise all the functions of the executive magistrate. The power of making treaties is, plainly, neither the one nor the other." The Executive Branch must tread extremely lightly on Congressional freedom of travel because diplomacy is expressly a joint responsibility.

Iowa A beautiful new venue

The new amphitheater at Water Works Park in Des Moines is getting a good series of inaugural-season concerts

Iowa Des Moines should consider commuting by Sky Glider

A giant Sky Glider obviously isn't the ticket (certainly not without enclosed, climate-controlled cars), but we should probably start taking a look at some novel ideas before we find ourselves irreversibly gridlocked.

The United States of America It's unfortunate that John Hickenlooper dropped out

The Presidency shouldn't be about what the candidates want to do in their first 100 days. It should be about whether they're ready to be the chief executive...and that takes practice.

Business and Finance The inverted yield curve (for dummies)

Why financial types get the cold sweats when it's cheaper to borrow money for the long term than for the short term. One real worry to bear in mind right now is that the Federal Reserve has much less ammunition to deploy to smooth out an economic downturn than it did last time.

Computers and the Internet Always enable two-factor authentication where possible

It isn't as easy to do as good security practice would make it, but everyone should at least enable 2FA on Facebook, Google, Twitter, and any email services they use.

Business and Finance Jobs for all? Which jobs?

"Every community has a duty to prepare its young people to enter the 21st Century economy with skills that are appropriate to their talents, interests, and abilities" is a fully defensible position. But the misty nostalgia for a UAW job building '52 Oldsmobiles in Flint -- a sentiment shared and expressed by elements of both the left and right -- is toxic. Margaret Thatcher, speaking 40 years ago at a time of economic stagnation in Britain, warned that "We still live under the continuing and undoubted influence of the first industrial revolution. In negative terms, concern with tradition has led to great efforts to preserve, regardless of cost, some of the industries created in the past. That course reads the wrong lessons from history and if pursued would lead to an industrial museum." That was a non-trivial warning in 1979, and it rings true today as well. A dynamic economy is the only way to grow -- but dynamism does lead to some displacement along the way. Accommodating that displacement humanely is a necessary step, but there is no excuse for trying to stop progress out of hazy nostalgia.