Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - May 8, 2016
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.
Counterfeit products get some Senate attention
Lots of copying disincentivizes innovation
Federal Reserve independence at risk
The chief of the Kansas City bank worries that the political climate is ripe for bad policy
Speaker Paul Ryan steps up his defense of Republican principles
Withholding endorsement of Donald Trump
Why California could be the place to start a non-Trump campaign for exiled GOP members
A state that really isn't going to be in play for anyone but the Democratic Party may be a very good place for someone to run up an alternative gambit
Doddering old man recycles unfounded conspiracy theories from supermarket tabloids
Regrettably, that crazy person is running for President
Americans seem not to really want the self-driving car
That's why it won't happen wholesale -- the self-driving car will arrive one piece at a time. But it will arrive eventually.
A self-serving argument from California for abolishing the Electoral College
An academic suggests that it would mean fewer TV campaign ads. Equally self-serving is the argument on behalf of small states that the Electoral College should stay in order to keep us from being steamrolled by the bigger states. But then again, that's exactly why the college takes the form it does.
If the endowment gets bigger, why don't tuition rates get smaller?
Warren Buffett obliquely criticizes Grinnell College for its endowment largesse (largely a result of his own work as a trustee) but its failure to make college more affordable with that wealth. The core problem in college costs isn't necessarily funding -- it's the management and administration of higher education. What other industry could behave with such disregard for efficiency?
A strong argument against funding the financial industry
Productivity grew during the Great Recession
That doesn't usually happen, apparently
Mark Zuckerberg enlarges his domain over Facebook
Investors who care about voting control might need to pay attention
Carnival-affiliated cruise ship docks in Cuba
At some point, Castro Communism has to fall. Will accelerating tourism and economic exposure help hasten that downfall? On a related note, the cruise is being conducted by a Carnival-owned startup cruise line promising that people can take a seven-day cruise and "transform lives". Seems like a stretch.
Nebraska tourism commission paid speaker $44,000 for 90-minute talk
Some quick math: $44,000 for 90 minutes is a rate of $29,333 an hour. At 40 hours a week times 50 weeks per year, that's an annualized rate of just a little shy of $60 million a year. There aren't a lot of people whose time is legitimately valued at that rate, nor is it easy to stomach the idea that a mere speaker could deliver that rate of value to a tourism conference. Seems like a case of spending other people's money on yourself, which Milton Friedman warned usually doesn't result in restraint.
It hasn't necessarily caught a lot of attention, but there is a skyscraper under construction in Los Angeles that will soon be the tallest building on the West Coast. The Wilshire Grand Center is interesting from an architectural standpoint, to be certain, but the even more interesting story is how it's being funded.
The Wilshire Grand is owned by Korean Air. The owners point out in their fact sheet that "For 40 years, Korean Air has been a partner to Los Angeles" and that the tower "will infuse more than $1 billion into the Los Angeles economy".
What investment really tells us, though, is just how much more attractive the United States remains as an investment than the rest of the world. Assuming that Korean Air is run at least somewhat rationally, the managers and owners must have decided that a new tower in Los Angeles represented the most attractive potential return on a $1 billion investment that they could find anywhere in the world. That's a very tall order, if you'll pardon the pun.
Tin Foil Hat Award / Capitalist Solution of the Week
Johnson County (Iowa) raises its minimum wage
Iowa's most left-wing county will provide a small-scale experiment for the rest of the state to watch
Big hikes in the minimum wage are no sure thing for the working poor
Warren Buffett reiterates his argument that the minimum wage is a bad instrument by which to really improve the lives of the working poor. It's not a philosophical argument; it's a practical one. In practice, a higher minimum wage may make a marginal difference to the lives of some adult workers who earn it. But about half of people at minimum wage (48%) are under age 25. Raising the wage by too much will reduce the number of entry-level working opportunities available to them -- which reduces their ability to acquire things like the soft skills and job experience that put them on the ladder to future, higher-quality jobs. Raising the minimum wage to track inflation -- or even just a modest boost -- aren't bad ideas, necessarily, but they aren't real systemic fixes for the deeper issues. Targeted assistance like the Earned Income Tax Credit is probably more efficient at helping the true breadwinners who are at low wages, and ultimately the broader solution is a matter of job training and education. Of all people at or below minimum wage, only 16% have at least an associate's degree. In the long run, we need to fix the training and educational system so that workers have higher market value that places them well above the minimum wage as a market-clearing rate.
Yay Capitalism Prize
They're going to finish in sections so battery production can begin before the building is complete
Quote of the Week
"Pardoning the bad, is injuring the good." - Benjamin Franklin
- When I was young, I thought I was an Irish Catholic Democrat
- The Republican Party won me over in the late 1990s -- they were right on both philosophy and performance
- If you were trying to assemble a "false flag" operation to kill the party, you could come up with no better virus than Donald Trump
- He brings neither performance nor philosophy to the table
- Trumpism isn't capitalism -- it's gambling plus massive intervention plus a whole bunch of lies
- I rejected Trump's style in 2005 -- and style is all it is; there is no substance
- And when I declared my thought process about selecting a candidate prior to the Iowa Caucuses, I meant every word I said
- If the wrong power structure takes over an organization, then that institution is either dead or in exile
- For the time being, I believe that the Republican Party is in exile. My plan right now -- subject to change -- is to vote for the closest thing to a ticket that meets my caucus pre-test conditions. Right now, that means a write-in ticket. That is subject to revision if it appears we are at imminent risk of falling into a complete disaster.
- Podcast of this episode - segment 1 (A sign that, despite it all, the United States is still the best place for investment in the entire world)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 2 (Johnson County is raising its minimum wage, creating a small lab experiment for Iowa)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 3 (The problem with big increases to the minimum wage isn't really a philosophical one -- the problem is that raising the wage itself doesn't solve the underlying problems)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 4 (No reason to trust Donald Trump on either performance or philosophy)
- Official station page for this episode (forthcoming)