Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio
Brian Gongol

Segment 1: Venezuela's experiment with a command economy isn't leading to a workers''s leading to food shortages. That's a double indictment of the system, because they're rich in oil there's no excuse to turn that wealth into poverty. When you're given a great natural resource endowment (like oil), you have a couple of choices -- and if your leaders are even moderately enlightened, they'll choose to divert some (not all, but some) of the public gains from that natural resource into investments that will keep paying off after the natural resource boom runs out. That's the premise of the Alaska Permanent Fund, and I remember it being one of the key plot points in the movie Syriana (wherein reference was made to how the Middle East has blown through much of its oil wealth without ever really investing in durable economic growth.

Segment 2: Speaking of government mismanagement of resources, our neighbors in Minnesota are discovering that their pension programs for public-sector workers don't have enough money. Minnesota is definitely not alone...and this is going to be a major issue all over the country in the years to come. Under-funding of public-sector pension programs has been going on for a long time, and the fixes are going to be costly to taxpayers and unpleasant for the retirees.

Segment 3: What a wonderfully warm start to the year so far.

Segment 4: Target is going to match online prices if you can show them in the store that you could have gone online instead to buy something cheaper. Once again, the Internet proves to be great for the consumer, but terrible for many sellers.

A quick reminder: Anyone who tells you that Washington doesn't have a spending problem is either willfully ignorant, lying, or just plain stupid. You can't make up a spending gap that's a full 7% of the economy just by raising taxes on somebody else (i.e., "the rich"). It's just not possible.