Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - June 8, 2015
Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.
Who wants to be the competent one?
Bourree Lam has a worthwhile article in the Atlantic entitled "Being a Go-Getter is No Fun".
- The crux of the story: A recent academic paper says that people with "high self-control" pay a price for that self-control: They end up doing more than their fair share of the work
- It's a problem both at work and at home -- they found its effects in the workplace as well as between romantic partners
- Self-control is a good thing, of course. But who wants to end up doing more of the work at home or on the job, just because other people have lower expectations?
- How do you fix it? Lam's article quotes the lead author of the study as saying employers need to give the best opportunities to the hard workers and assign some of the "lower-quality work" to others who can use it to fill their time productively and keep it off the plates of the "go-getters".
- This gets to a core principle in economics: You maybe good at lots of things, but you'll be rewarded the best by doing more of the things that you do much better than others. LeBron James might be the greatest mower of lawns in all human history, but he's better off spending his time practicing basketball and paying someone else to do the landscaping. He has a huge comparative advantage at one skill that pays extremely well, so he should leave the other things to other people where there isn't so much of a skill gap. (How much better than any other lawn-mower on the planet can one person really be?)
- By the way, this is what makes free trade work out. Trying to do everything domestically is a huge waste -- trade lets high-skill countries make money at high-skill activities, and lets others focus on the "busy work". But it also imposes a cost on the less-skilled people in high-skill countries, which means we need to address it socially: With job training and educational opportunities at very low cost and very easy access.
On agreeing with Bernie Sanders
It's often hard to agree with Bernie Sanders, the Socialist in the Senate who's now running for the Democratic nomination for President. But on one subject, he's right. Sanders said today that youth unemployment is a "national tragedy". He's dead right about that.
- Youth unemployment is a problem for two big reasons: First, in the immediate case, it leads to crime. There's no way around it: Young people need something useful and productive to do with their free time. That might be playing team sports or participating in extracurricular activities. It might mean volunteering or taking on an internship. Or it might be working. But in general, there's very little that's more destabilizing than lots of young people with nothing to do. That's when crime spikes.
- In the longer term, youth unemployment is a problem when it keeps teenagers from gaining the "soft skills" that lead to future success in the job market. Entry-level jobs may not teach you sophisticated skills that apply much in real career-track work, but neither does school, most of the time. Soft skills -- wearing appropriate work dress, following instructions even when it's not pleasant, and finishing the job in time -- are learned on the job. If there aren't jobs, there isn't learning.
- Where I depart from Senator Sanders is in the remedy. He wants to spend $5.5 billion on a make-work program for young people. Literally, it's make-work: $4 billion to employ the young workers, and $1.5 billion to train them.
- I don't care for make-work programs because I'm a government minimalist. I simply don't think that the government will transfer the same quantity and quality of soft skills to the people in the program as real private-sector jobs will.
- Job training, though? Absolutely. As much as we can fathom. It's worthwhile investment, from both an economic standpoint and from a public-safety perspective.
In the news today: The G7 gets together
The G7 countries have agreed to try to limit global warming to 2°C (or about 4°F)
In the news today: A new Cyclone coach
Iowa State has already announced their new head men's basketball coach: Steve Prohm (pronounced like "Rome").
- Prohm has been coaching at Murray State for four seasons
- His record there: 104-29
- The official announcement is tomorrow
- He's been a college coach for 17 years and is 40 years old