Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - August 27, 2016

Brian Gongol


The Brian Gongol Show can be heard on WHO Radio in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040 AM or streaming online at WHORadio.com. The show airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Central Time on Saturday afternoons. Podcasts of show highlights are also available.


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.

Segment 1: Symbols and meanings

News University of Chicago takes a stand on free speech

And a rather firm one at that: It basically tells incoming freshmen that they're probably going to be offended by something along the way.

Segment 2: The week in technology

Computers and the Internet Facebook categorizes your politics

Your behavior tips off the site to what it thinks your political alignments might be, and its ads respond accordingly

Computers and the Internet Facebook to integrate WhatsApp

Anyone using both ought to think before permitting the full integration of the two accounts, on the basis of privacy concerns alone

Segment 3: Follow the money

Business and Finance China's real-estate bubble...in downtown Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Times notes that Chinese companies are developing at least half a dozen large real-estate projects in the city. By the time something like this makes it into the newspaper as a "trend" piece, it's almost always at the full-strength bubble stage. Capital is incredibly cheap, and that's the root cause of all this. But it's also highly speculative, as all real-estate development tends to be. Always contrast investment in categories like real estate with those made in directly productive things like heavy equipment or labor-force training and development. Those latter categories have been sluggish, and that's a bad sign.

Business and Finance 700 years of inherited money in Europe

More important than sending money downstream to your heirs is sending some wisdom their way. Without that, they'll only keep the money through luck. With it, they don't necessarily need the money.

Business and Finance Brokerage firm says passive investing is "worse than Marxism"

They are both right and wrong. Passive investing is far better than active investing for people who won't spend the time doing research as thoughtful investors. And that's the vast majority. But active, direct investing is much better for a healthy, functioning capitalist economy. So the problem starts with investor unwillingness to care or participate in the process.

Threats and Hazards Chinese chemical factory explosion left a giant crater

Bad things can happen under any economic system, of course, but in the long run, nothing affords better worker protection than a prosperous market economy with political freedom. Those two things together create a virtuous feedback loop for things like health and safety.

Business and Finance Important data: Where household incomes have been falling

Lots of states have seen meaningful, double-digit decreases in real median household income since 1999

Business and Finance The myth of the "return" of manufacturing jobs

Old-format manufacturing jobs are gone forever. The new ones are much more sophisticated than the simple wrench-turning gigs that a lot of people seem to think have been stolen by trade. ("Easy" manufacturing jobs have been rendered extinct more by technology than by trade, but the jobs are gone anyway.) Production methods have changed, and so must our process for preparing people for new jobs (inside and outside the manufacturing sector) and for helping people to adjust to new conditions. As Geoff Colvin puts it in his commentary: "[T]he leader's job is to embrace the new reality, explaining how it can bring a better future, not a worse one." We ought to give serious thought to making ongoing education compulsory for adults.

Iowa John Deere to lay off 115 employees in Waterloo

Plus 35 in Davenport. Low commodity prices are having a ripple effect in the rest of the Midwestern economy.

Segment 4: Technology isn't perfect -- and change isn't always quick

Aviation News Giant hybrid aircraft experiences "hard landing"

It's intended as a low-cost cargo carrier as an economical and environmentally-friendly alternative to ground- and sea-based shipping. The incident happened on its second test flight.

Business and Finance Uber loses $1.2 billion in the first half of the year

Wonder no more about why they're pushing so hard to get to the model of self-driving car service

News High schools are ending the age of the gang shower

Individual stalls are becoming more commonplace, and that's a long-overdue change. Nobody expects people to use open toilet stalls, so why do we expect awkward teenagers (or adults, for that matter) to use wide-open showers? It's stupid.

Segment 5: Election 2016 -- Oh, what fresh hell is this?

Business and Finance Wall Street Journal can't find any former White House economists that support Donald Trump

It's no surprise: He has embraced outrageously high barriers to trade, makes promises with no regard to their consequences, and has talked about making our entitlement programs even more insolvent than they are already. Plenty of economists may decline to endorse anyone, but they'd be mad to let their names get tied to an economic goulash like the one Trump (seemingly without any self-awareness) has proposed.

News This Presidential campaign is killing the GOP with Millennial voters

Not an insignificant matter for the future of the party, since Millennials outnumber Baby Boomers, 83 to 75 million. And 44% are racial or ethnic minorities, too. If the party can't escape the devastating label of the "old white people's party", it might as well close up shop and disband now. The Baby Boomers owe America a huge apology for getting our political climate into this condition in the first place.

Segment 6: Your money around here

Business and Finance Polk County (Iowa) task force endorses higher minimum wage

The Board of Supervisors will consider it next. If approved, it would hit the upper $10 range by 2019. The minimum wage probably should track inflation, but changing the numbers doesn't solve the underlying problem. It should trouble voters if people are stuck in low-wage occupations because they aren't developing more valuable skills on their own. It should bother people if employers don't value their employees enough to invest in helping them develop higher-value skills. It should bother all of us if there aren't pathways available to make education and skill development accessible and affordable to people who are willing to invest their own efforts in the process.

Business and Finance Cigarette stores turning to fresh produce

A company executive at Kwik Trip/Kwik Star says "Tobacco products are not part of the future". And capitalism rolls on, evolving to meet changes in consumer demand. Kwik Star runs some excellent stores in northeastern Iowa, and their entry into the Des Moines market will make some already fierce convenience-store competition something to really behold.

Segment 7: Also this week

Business and Finance Just one Howard Johnson's restaurant left

Yet another example of a business that once was dominant and today is a rump of its former self

News White Sox to play at "Guaranteed Rate Field"

What was once known as Comiskey and later undertook the name "US Cellular Field" (which ceased to make sense after US Cellular left the Chicago market three years ago) will now have a truly clunky-sounding name. But naming rights don't change hands unless the buyer thinks it's getting value for the money.

Segment 8A: Stay safe out there

Health Family saved by CO detector that was installed two days before

Carbon monoxide is a terrible killer -- and carbon-monoxide detectors are relatively cheap. They are an indispensable tool for safety in any home that contains appliances running on natural gas.

Segment 8B: Inbox zero

Self-driving cars

From John: On your show today you were enthusiastic about self driving vehicles. Most of your points were valid. I did not agree with you sending off kids by themselves in cars. There is a lot of opportunity between home and the destination for harm, especially between the car and the destination when they reach it.

My response: You make a great point. I do consider that the kind of problem that will take some thinking, but I see it as highly solvable.

Just for instance, we've figured out that the best way to let kids walk to and from school often involves stationing crossing guards at street intersections. It's a reasonable accommodation to make to help ensure that kids can be both semi-independent *and* safe at the same time.

Similarly, I think we can figure out ways to ensure that kids only get in and out of cars at safe locations. We'll have to figure out things like what the minimum age should be for a kid to ride without an adult, but again, I think that's a highly solvable problem.

I think back to when I was 16 and it makes me break into a cold sweat to remember what it was like to ride along with some of my friends who had just earned their licenses. They were idiots and were a danger to everyone in the car and on the road. Probably to those on the sidewalk, too. So the cost of keeping idiot teenagers from creating a danger to others is that we have to figure out some new laws and cultural rules to permit unaccompanied minors to ride in self-driving cars, then I'm willing to go down that road.

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