Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - January 7, 2017
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: 21st Century conservatism
President Obama and the soggy egg roll
Segment 2: Have a little empathy
Intro with story about looking for the right charities
The Acumen model for putting donations to work in developing economies is a great one -- based on the idea that markets work, even in poor places. They just sometimes require patient investment.
Segment 3A: Clean up after yourself
Introduce with story about pump station startup this week
America needs lots of infrastructure investment, but...
Not if it's intended as a labor stimulus (the unemployment rate is already low). Not if it's just the visible stuff like highways and bridges (to the detriment of lots of critical work that is rarely visible to the public and doesn't make for good press coverage). Not if it's pure deficit spending (the Federal debt is already grotesque in size). Not if it's just for playing pork-barrel political games (the needs are independent of political connectedness).
Segment 3B: Make money
Many high-growth jobs are in occupations dominated by women
Which means that men who are looking for new jobs may need to re-think their attachment to sterotypes about what "women's" jobs are
Segment 3C: Tin Foil Hat Award 2
Technology's massive impact on the labor market could lead to the rise of a real Luddite
And that ought to be cause for serious concern. It's been bad enough to see the political backlash against the straw-man of foreign trade and immigrant workers. What happens when people turn their hostility against technology at large?
Technology lightens the load of rote work in hospitals
The less time that is spent by skilled people on low-skill work, the better off we all are. Skilled people should do skilled work.
Segment 4: Capitalist solution of the week
Of course people on food stamps should be able to order groceries online
If government can cut down on the high cost of being poor, it's making good use of taxpayer money. Proper custodianship should be applauded.
Segment 5: Tin Foil Hat Award 1
Assume the worst about Trump's business-related tweets
When he attacks companies like Toyota, it should be assumed that he is short-selling for himself or otherwise tipping off members of his inner circle to do so. Absent legitimate, authentic, and verifiable declarations of his finances or the adoption of a bona fide blind trust, it must be assumed that he is abusing his position. This is not a partisan issue: It is a matter of good government.
Political risk to the economy is at a high point not seen in a very long time
The President-elect is taking glee in bullying individual companies to suit his own agenda. That is one of the most corrupt forms of crony capitalism -- which is the kind of thing that the truly free market abhors. When companies like Ford then turn to giving credit to the bully-in-chief for their decisions, their flattery is a weak capitulation to the kind of environment that will eventually be their downfall. Good financial advisors tell their clients not to make decisions based on the tax consequences; decisions should be made on the basis of the soundness of the investment itself. It is cowardly and sniveling for a business leader to suck up to a politician in the hope of getting favorable treatment (in taxes or otherwise).
Segment 6: The week in technology
Intro with speculation about a Meredith/Time merger
Medium struggles to find its sweet spot
Writes the CEO: "[I]t's clear that the broken system is ad-driven media on the internet. It simply doesn't serve people." And in the process of seeking a publishing model that will profit, the company is laying off dozens of staff members.
Segment 7A: What do you do if you're Norway?
Introduce with story about getting hooked on "Occupied"
Finland is testing a universal basic income
The UBI is worthy of examination -- it possesses novelties that appeal to both the left and the right, which makes it sound a lot like apocryphal $20 bill on the street -- bypassed by the rational economist who assumes that if it were real, someone else would have taken it already.
The Nordic countries are working on a common brand
They're going to need to bind themselves together more than in the past, and a little bit of branding is a good step.
Segment 7B: No surrender
This is the wrong time for classical liberals (not leftists) to back down. Now is the time to step up.
Segment 8: Mind your business: A warning to anyone with savings
Intro with comment on hyperactive attention to "Dow 20,000"
Markets are under-pricing the political risks to the economy ahead
So concludes Larry Summers, and he's quite likely right. The magnitude of political risk to the world economy today is extraordinary. The costs of a correction will be large and painful.
Stop the deliberate ignorance
Vice President Joe Biden on the PEOTUS and his fight with the intelligence agencies: "Grow up Donald, grow up, time to be an adult"
New rules! Now small children are supposed to eat peanut butter.
National Institutes of Health decides that the evidence favors exposure to peanuts early in order to resist allergies: "Clinical trial results reported in February 2015 showed that regular peanut consumption begun in infancy and continued until 5 years of age led to an 81 percent reduction in development of peanut allergy in infants deemed at high risk"
Today's asset-light business world means "your" building can go bankrupt without you
OfficeMax used to have a headquarters in suburban Chicago. After merging with Office Depot, OfficeMax no longer needed a headquarters of its own. Now, the building itself is likely to go into default. The choice many (if not most) businesses have made to reduce their direct ownership of real estate leads to some weird circumstances -- like the (former) Sears Tower no longer containing any Sears offices, and "OfficeMax headquarters" going bankrupt after OfficeMax ceased to exist as its own company.
Sears sells the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker
Reasonable people might begin to wonder whether the "lifetime" warranty that went with the tools will remain in force
Indonesia withdraws from military cooperation with Australia
The suspension of cooperation can't be taken as a good sign. Indonesia is the world's 4th-largest country (by population), and Australia is the essential anchor for the protection of values in its corner of the Pacific Rim. If the two countries aren't on the same page, it's a bad turn of events.
- Podcast of this episode - segment 1 (President Obama and the egg roll)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 2 (Dignity over dependence)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 3 (Infrastructure spending is no magic bullet)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 4 (Online ordering with food stamps is a way to lower the cost of being poor)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 5 (If Trump is tweeting, assume he could be trading, too)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 6 (Even digital publishers struggle to profit)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 7 (What do you do if you're Norway?)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 8 (Reason to worry about Dow 20,000)