Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio
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.
BUT FIRST: Roads, bridges, and people
Every so often, we end up in the middle of a big frenzy about infrastructure in this country. The conversation usually ends up drifting back to roads and bridges, because that's what everybody sees and it's really easy for politicians to take credit for them.
But infrastructure goes way beyond just roads and bridges, and includes a lot of things we rarely or never see -- even though they're critical. Levees, dams and locks, the electrical grid, water and sewer systems, and airports and rail lines are all integral parts of what makes the economy go.
Two separate airport incidents happened this week of heavy holiday travel -- a fire at Atlanta Hartsfield and a smoke-related evacuation at Dallas Love Field -- both highlighting just how sensitive our finely-tuned modern economy is. Small disruptions to very specific systems ended up having effects on the entire national transportation system.
There was another incident at an airport this week, too -- when concession workers at O'Hare went on a very short strike. And what that story tells us is that infrastructure isn't just about steel and concrete. It depends on people, too. As our economy becomes ever more sophisticated, it will become ever more sensitive to breakdowns -- of machines and people alike.
Segment 2: (8 min)
Segment 3: Tariffs, taxes, and takeoffs
It's no small matter that the Federal government has imposed a nearly 300% tax on airplanes imported from Canada. The new extreme tax may be called a tariff, but it's effectively a tax on everyone who flies commercial aviation.
And as with most taxes, there are unintended consequences playing out. One is that the tax set in motion a partial merger between Bombardier (the Canadian airplane manufacturer targeted by the import tax) and Airbus, the European airplane manufacturer that already has facilities in the United States. That merger will help them get around the tax.
But that merger is also frightening Boeing into a what could be a brand-new merger with Embraer, a Brazilian airplane manufacturer. You see, the whole tax was Boeing's idea -- even though it never made airplanes to compete with Bombardier in the first place! The resulting Bombardier-Airbus merger has apparently frightened Boeing so much that they went chasing after Embraer.
The sad part to all this is that a bunch of manufacturers are trying to build new regional jets right now -- the very kinds of airplanes you're quite likely to fly if you go in and out of Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, or Omaha. That competition includes a very promising new plane from Japan, built by Mitsubishi.
But if Boeing and Airbus are just going to gobble up smaller aircraft makers, that ultimately means less competition among manufacturers -- and that's almost never good for the final customers...passengers like you and me. And it's all because of a silly and pointless attempt to shut down imports from Canada, our closest ally, biggest trading partner, and most extensive neighbor.
When governments start trade wars, it's the customers who usually pay the most. Maybe this will all turn out for the best, but that would be contrary to most historical precedents.
Segment 4: (5 min)
Segment 5: (11 min)
Segment 6: (8 min)
Segment 7: (14 min)
Segment 8: (5 min)
Unsorted and leftovers:
By the numbers
Clean up after yourself
Mind your business
Quote of the Week
The week in technology
Your role in cyberwar
Contrary to popular opinion
Hyperbole is going to kill us all
21st Century conservatism
Curiosity, competence, and humility
Have a little empathy
Stop the deliberate ignorance
Tin Foil Hat Award
Yay Capitalism Prize
Capitalist solution of the week