Gongol.com Archives: May 2020

Brian Gongol

May 13, 2020

Business and Finance What if it's a depression?

The US labor force distribution in 1930 was approximately 23% in agriculture, 31% in manufacturing, and 46% in services. Today we're overwhelmingly employed in services. Does that make it easier to pick up and restart from a depression or not?

Humor and Good News What were people thinking in the 1970s?

An ad for "Congoleum" flooring basically promises the look of Louis XIV with the bounce of an elementary-school gymnasium!

Business and Finance To return or not to return your PPP loan?

The ever-shifting rules make it look like a game of Calvinball, as John Lettieri puts it. Complexity is a subsidy to those with the capacity to navigate it. For everyone else, it's just deadweight loss. ■ There may be fine reasons for the government to provide support so that the economy can survive an extraordinary period in lockdown. But the simpler the approach, the better. That's why things should have started with $2,000 monthly checks to everyone with a pulse and a Social Security number -- not as a trial run for a universal basic income, but as a low-friction way to ensure that people could make the necessary choice to stay home and (especially) to quarantine themselves if they showed symptoms of Covid-19. ■ Should there be support as well directly offered to businesses? Quite possibly, especially if your theory of the firm assumes that the existence and structure of a business itself has a purpose that cannot be quickly replaced by something else. A lot of people play buzzword bingo around the word "disruption" and its many offshoots, but the fact is that a complex economy contains many tightly-integrated elements, and the consequences of letting businesses fail through no fault of their own could have dreadful consequences not just for the business owners, but also for employees, suppliers, customers, and even competitors. The market tends to be very good at creative destruction when a new and better idea comes along, but the pandemic-triggered shutdown had nothing to do with a better idea. It was merely a catastrophe that struck most market participants (people and firms alike) quite out of the blue. But had we not done it, the consequences could have been even more unspeakable than they already have been. ■ In the midst of a panic, it serves no productive use to make it hard for people (or firms) to navigate whether they qualify for assistance or not. Simplicity is the only just way.

Humor and Good News What a little soft lighting will do

It's pretty amazing that more members of the Instagram Generation haven't figured out what black-and-white photos can do with the help of nothing more than a little soft lighting.

Computers and the Internet Put the agitprop on mute

Social media has too many participants who are sources of agitprop. They need to be preemptively muted by the rest of us so that they don't extract a mental tax they didn't earn.

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