Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - July 21, 2013
Brian Gongol

China's economy is still growing, but at a slower rate
And whether that turns into something significant depends upon whether the drop (from an average of 9% to the recent 7.5% annual rate of growth) stabilizes, turns around, or falls even more. It's impossible for China to grow at 9% forever, but it's such a large economy already that major changes will have ripple effects throughout the world. One writer argues that China's been using inefficient investments by state-owned enterprises for a while to prop up the economy when things slow down -- and that they'll have to stop doing that (investing inefficiently) if they want to have any hope of growing in the long run. It's been noted that China's state-owned companies are the worst performers in the country, and that companies in China are having trouble locating workers at the right price. Considering that China has been using its low-cost labor as a competitive advantage in world trade, worker shortages will mean higher wages and thus an erosion of the advantage.

Detroit declares bankruptcy
And pension promises won't be held sacred. Every retirement-savings system comes caveat emptor -- even pensions.

DC's labor laws turn good intentions into very bad economics
They're chasing out businesses like Walmart by trying to force them to pay above-market wages. It's not enough to want companies to do things; if a government creates the wrong environment for growth, the companies won't grow.

CEO pay: A matter of fairness or a matter of efficiency?
It's widely argued that when the average CEO of a top-200 US corporation gets 200 times the yearly compensation of an average employee, there's a problem of fairness involved. That may or may not be true; fairness is a difficult thing to measure correctly (even if something does smell a little rotten about it). But from a capitalist perspective, it's well worth asking whether that kind of pay imbalance is efficient -- that is, whether it's likely to deliver the right set of results to the shareholders of the company. Since shareholders are the owners of the business, they should be acutely interested in how compensation is doled out. And if the CEO is getting 200 times the pay of an average employee, it's worth asking: Is that CEO delivering better ideas than a cadre of 200 smart employees would? There's a very, very good chance that the answer to that is a resounding "No" -- which tells us that many executives are more skilled at extracting really high salaries and bonuses than they are at making their shareholders wealthier.

Four Iowa cities have much-coveted AAA credit ratings
West Des Moines, Ames, Iowa City, and Cedar Rapids. It is well worth noting that West Des Moines, Ames, and Iowa City are very similar in size (59,000, 60,000, and 70,000 people, respectively), and Cedar Rapids is slightly larger at 128,000. There's a good chance that if one were to really drill down into the data, they'd find that the 50,000 to 75,000 population range is a sweet spot for municipal success and stability -- large enough to develop a good, sustainable commercial tax base, but not so large that government agencies are too big to manage.

Statistician Nate Silver is leaving the New York Times for ESPN
He applied solid research on data to the 2012 elections and had a good grasp on the outcome well before Election Day. Now, he's apparently going back to crunching numbers for sports. Having revealed (or created) significant demand for statistical analysis of election data, one wonders whether Silver will have successors at the Times and elsewhere.

Iowa's incredibly equal voter-registration figures
36.31% of voters are independents, 31.86% are Democrats, and 31.83% are Republicans. The Democrat/Republican split is so small, the difference wouldn't even fill a quarter of the Civic Center in Des Moines.

2013 Emmy nominations includes lots of appearances for Netflix
This is probably the very best signal that the era of conventional television programming dominance by networks, cable, and satellite systems is at the beginning of the end

Bill Gates on using computing power to improve the world
(Video) It's part of the Microsoft Virtual Faculty Summit

Microsoft cuts the price of Surface tablets

40% of US electrical generation added in 2012 was wind power
Coal-powered plants are being retired and nobody seems to want to build much nuclear. So expect to see a lot of wind generation and natural-gas power plants in the future. What we really need are energy-storage breakthroughs so that the inconsistency of wind and other renewable power sources can be wrangled under control to meet demand at the time it's needed.

Survey says unethical behavior is widely found on Wall Street

Deer Trail (Colorado) issues drone-hunting licenses

A hunch is all that DHS needs
And the policy has been that way for years.

More Big-Brother behavior

Verizon is spinning up a no-contract cellphone plan

Tribune Co. goes on a TV buying spree
And seeks to sell the newspapers

"PC World" is done with publishing a print edition
It will remain a digital publication, but the market no longer sustains a printed edition

Pro tip: If your life's mantra is "Chive On", don't expect to get hired by a sensible employer
A lot of people bristle at the thought of sanitizing their Facebook and other social-media profiles in pursuit of employment. But there are a lot of people who also see fit to advertise that their objective is to skirt by with as little effort as possible in the workplace -- and if they're advertising that by wearing shirts and repeating slogans that mock actual labor and enthuse about wasting time on an entertainment site, then their potential (and actual) employers would be stupid to ignore that.