- It's hard to overstate the importance of making sure there's a job path for workers under age 25. Public policy that makes the labor market tougher to enter has painful long-term consequences. Yet elected officials make the labor market "stickier" (harder to enter and harder to change) all the time, mainly under the guise of good intentions. But there's a difference between thinking that you're doing good and actually doing good: Unintended consequences follow every action, and good intentions don't necessarily make up for the unintended consequences. By doing things that make it harder for young people to enter the labor force (like raising the minimum wage or repealing right-to-work laws), we unintentionally make it harder for those young people to advance their careers and earn more over the course of a working lifetime. And as recently as just two years ago, it was a meaningful part of the public debate that workers who were unemployed were more likely to stay unemployed the longer they remained unemployed. It was a negative-feedback loop. We can do a lot better as a society. If we want to make families better-off, we can start by breaking the stranglehold that the "priesthood" of higher-level academia has over higher-level education. Collegiate-level education should be inexpensive and easily-accessible. But for a wide variety of reasons, college is very expensive and still far too often anchored to being in a physical place at a specific time. If you want to make families better-off, make it impossibly easy for them to add skills and knowledge...not costly and at the end of a long series of hoops through which to jump. In other words, if you really want to make things better for workers, you stay out of the way of getting the youngest ones into the work force, and focus on aiding older ones in expanding, refining, or growing their skills at an affordable price with ease.
- Should old buildings (like the old Younkers store in downtown Des Moines) be rebuilt with the aid of public cash? At what point do we need to simply acknowledge the fine American tradition of blowing up the old to make way for the new? Sclerosis isn't a good thing.
- How's the economy doing? In a word, meh. There's still a lot better we should be doing.
- Natural gas is cheap in America today. Ridiculously so. And that could spell the possible end of the "Made in China" phenomenon. The natural-gas bonanza right now could be both a path to a much greater manufacturing economy and a bridge to a post-fossil-fuel world.
- The terrible pileup on Interstate 77 in Virginia today -- along with the awful road conditions in Iowa last weekend -- are examples of why we just can't get self-driving cars fast enough. Human beings over-estimate our ability to see and control the road; computers (when properly programmed) don't. They don't have egos and don't tell themselves they can see through fog when they can't, and pay 100% undivided, undistracted attention to the task for which they are programmed. That means they'll save lives. Lots of them.