Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 12, 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.
- Veterans Day
- China buying the world
- The US needs to focus on upmarket opportunities, not downmarket
- Tweetstorm on media bias
- Megabus is ending the Omaha-to-Chicago route that stops in Des Moines. It concludes January 9th.
- Essay notes to self
Make money: The Economy as We Know It
There's a saying among pilots: "Never run out of altitude, airspeed, and ideas at the same time".
We can take that saying and apply it to the economy, if altitude is the set of tools that policy-makers have at their disposal to try to ease the pain of downward cycles, and if airspeed is the growth rate of the economy itself. For the last part, economists need ideas just as much as pilots do.
What worries me about the current economy as we know it is that we don't have a lot of that "altitude" available to us: Interest rates are still basically as low as they've ever been. And interest rates are the key tool available to the Federal Reserve for trying to boost the economy when it gets into trouble.
As for our "airspeed"? Well, the economy may have grown in the last quarter, as it has done for a while. But recessions are inevitable, and it's starting to have been a while since the last one. Nobody seems to sense that this is an especially robust growth period for the country as a while, and there are definitely local recessions (or at least, economic downturns) already in place -- including in the Upper Midwest.
Which means that now is a time for ideas. And I'm not convinced that we're headed in the right direction on that track, either. The President-elect has made it plain that he's likely to favor dramatic moves (including moves that could do enormous damage to the economy, like his proposals for high import taxes and his hostility to immigrant labor), and he's also made it clear that he isn't sufficiently concerned about the value of the dollar.
Watch this space, as they say, in the days ahead. It's a fool's game to try to predict when the economy will have trouble. The timing and triggers that surround recessions are impossible to predict accurately. But we do know that time will bring us another recession, sooner or later, and if we haven't built up the necessary altitude, airspeed, or ideas...well, it could be a rough ride.
Contrary to popular opinion
- The major political parties are extremely weak, and watch out for what seeks to fill the void:
- Who's behind it?
- Who's funding it?
- What is their written statement of belief?
- What's their end game?
- This applies to everything from the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street to Our Revolution to whatever else emerges
- Applies to people protesting over Trump right now
21st Century conservatism
- Yes, I'm disappointed by the election results
- We owe it to each other to be specific in our criticisms
- "Blind trust" issue is a very serious problem
- I'm looking to 2020
Republicans will have control over the White House and both houses of Congress. President Obama had that trifecta at the start of his time in office. President George W. Bush had it for a while, too.
While they have this kind of control, there are three long-term issues we should expect to see addressed:
- Entitlement reform
- Balancing the budget
- Restraining the power and cost of the Federal government
If they don't do those things, they will have betrayed everything that has defined the Republican Party for generations. You don't get to call on the ghost of Ronald Reagan to get elected, then fail to do core Republican things.
Stop the deliberate ignorance
- It is totally fine if you're not satisfied with the Presidential candidates
- Democracy is imperfect; there is no way of satisfying everyone with the outcome
- We could have ranked-choice voting (Maine is voting this year whether to adopt it, and a version of this called instant-runoff voting is in place for some municipal elections)
- We could have cumulative voting, where you can allocate multiple votes among all of the available candidates
- We could have proportional represenation, like Germany and Ireland and many other European countries
- We could have electoral fusion, which is only legal in eight states and is best known in New York
- The point is that no matter what system is implemented, people will find reasons to be dissatisfied with the outcomes
- That doesn't mean the system is "rigged"
- Whatever happens on Tuesday, don't let it turn you against the democratic process
Clean up after yourself
- Why are we not making Social Security reform a DEFCON 1 priority?
Quote of the Week
"The tide flows away from failure. But it will not automatically float us to our desired destination." - Margaret Thatcher