Gongol.com Archives: March 2021

Brian Gongol

March 8, 2021

The United States of America "The price we pay for democracy, which is worth it"

George Will's summary of the minimum wage is a satisfying way to describe quite a number of things that might also be called our "social-cohesion taxes". Sometimes we accept policies which we don't think work very well, because we have been unsuccessful at persuading others and we know that the underpinnings of democracy are more important than individual policy victories.

Humor and Good News "Know your self worth and then add tax"

Great advice from Anna Gifty

Business and Finance The latest bubble: SPACs

Special-Purpose Acquisition Companies: Shell companies formed for the purpose of buying other companies. There's nothing immoral about them, but once you hear that something's a "hot trend" in investing, there's an excellent chance it's already way too overheated to be a value-investing opportunity. But given the simultaneous booms in SPACs, nostalgia programming, and streaming media, it's only a matter of time before Netflixx rolls out "Return of Laverne and Shirley". Follow their zany antics as the girls revive Hasenpfeffer Incorporated as a SPAC while chasing love in the Covid Era and trying to stay one step ahead of the SEC.

News One-paragraph book review: "The Moment of Lift" by Melinda Gates

Verdict: A vital topic explored with humility

Business and Finance Great questions in demographics and geography

"What's the country with the biggest drop-off in population between its first city and its second city?" It would be interesting to see this graphed for a large number of countries. There's a power law to the size of cities in many or most places, to be sure. But it would be worthwhile to investigate whether the countries with flatter relationships between their 1st- and 2nd-tier cities perform better, economically, than places where all the action is found in one place. ■ From a development standpoint, this is a really important question: Can more be gained by putting all of a country's eggs in one basket and leaving some places behind? Or is that such a morally unacceptable choice that no country should choose to do it, even if that comes with a net deadweight loss to society as a whole. And the same questions that make sense for a country make sense for a state, too -- should a state like Iowa just put everything into making Des Moines and Cedar Rapids grow as much as possible? Or would the returns be higher to invest in growth in Jefferson and Oskaloosa and Clinton, too?

News Small-r republican fairy tales are much harder to script

It would be nice, though, if from time to time kids could learn stories that don't involve kings, queens, princes, and princesses. Enough already with all of that monarchist garbage.

Humor and Good News The high-credential version of screaming, "I'm an influencer!"

A lawyer is proud that he was once described by opposing counsel as an uncontrollable publicity hound

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