Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - May 18, 2019

Brian Gongol

Podcast: Updated weekly in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning. Subscribe on Stitcher, Spreaker, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or iHeartRadio

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.

Breaking news to watch

Segment 1: (11 min)

BUT FIRST: The opening essay

Seek the biggest gap

The moral of the story:

Segment 2: (8 min)

Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day

Segment 3: (14 min)

Iowa news

Dave Swenson interview

"The most reliable way to deepen the stock of social capital is to allow people to move from low social-capital places to high social-capital places." - Ryan Avent

The moral of the story:

Segment 4: (5 min)

The moral of the story:

Segment 5: (11 min)

Make money

Business and Finance An observation on Uber "telling its story" to the stock market

Anyone who buys a stock and then complains that the price hasn't immediately escalated is just looking for a bigger fool to sell it to. If you really believe that a stock's price is too low, then you shut up and buy more.

Business and Finance Economics in 30 minutes

Everyone in the world should have to take a 30-minute crash course in economics, consisting of 10 minutes on tradeoffs, 10 minutes on unintended consequences, and 10 minutes on sunk costs. And the world would be a better place for it.

Have fun

Aviation News You can have your quaint B&B

The TWA Hotel at JFK is now open, and the pictures are glorious. Eero Saarinen's magnificent building has a new life. The real question is, if so many people can agree that the design aesthetic of the building is such a treasure (and it is), then who's following the same path today, and why aren't there more of them?

Clean up after yourself

Health Iowa makes 44 states to sue over OxyContin

Five states filed suit, joining 39 others that had already done so. Paragraphs 4 and 6 of the introduction to the Iowa filing really hammer the crux of the problem: The state's attorney general alleges that the drug was marketed under false pretenses that set up patients for addiction, including misrepresentation of the duration of expected relief from pain. That's an enormously serious allegation.

Mind your business

Two Iowa Supreme Court decisions on collective bargaining

The moral of the story:

Segment 6: (8 min)

Hot (social) topics

The moral of the story:

Segment 7: (14 min)

Technology Three | The week in technology

Business and Finance Boeing wants a 100% tariff on Airbus planes

Imagine a world in which Boeing faces less competitive pressure to produce a safe, efficient aircraft. As Milton and Rose Friedman wrote, "The great danger to the consumer is monopoly -- whether private or governmental [...] Alternative sources of supply protect the consumer far more effectively than all the Ralph Naders of the world."

Computers and the Internet Big problems for Intel chips

A batch of new vulnerabilities have just been exposed. They are complicated and pervasive -- and somehow, these problems need to be explained to a public that only a decade ago still couldn't get the VCR to stop blinking "12:00".

Computers and the Internet Tech flashback: What you could buy in 1991

We've upgraded from 2400 baud to 5G wireless, only to spend the time saved making faces on Snapchat.

The moral of the story:

Segment 8: (5 min)

Hyperbole is going to kill us all

Threats and Hazards Why does the President hate Toyota?

The White House has issued a truly cockamamie executive order which claims that "domestic conditions of competition must be improved by reducing imports", and that the Secretary of Commerce "concluded that the present quantities and circumstances of automobile and certain automobile parts imports threaten to impair the national security". Toyota and Honda have both very prominently developed massive operations in the United States, as have other "foreign" automotive manufacturers. This idiotic government manhandling of the automotive industry is outrageous, and the crude deference to "domestic" versus "foreign" ownership is a relic of the 19th Century.

The moral of the story: The easiest way to lose an argument is to overstate your case. Arguing that we need to put up with lower-quality, less-innovative cars from a couple of companies with "American" names while kneecapping rival automakers with huge domestic investments in the United States is an overstatement of epic proportions.

Unsorted and leftovers:

This week

Broadcasting Swiss movie theater installs beds

Ew. Just go home and watch Netflix.

Agriculture Japan drops restrictions on American beef

Iowa has huge advantages as an agricultural producer, and free trade lets us capitalize on them. This is great news. Naturally, there are consequences to competition, and some people will zero in on those. But there are consequences of technological change, too. And there are a bunch of other factors that create consequences, too.

News Disagreeing for the right reasons

Sociologist Bradley Campbell notes: "A common error -- if it's error and not dishonesty -- is speaking as if people who oppose what you support oppose it for the same reasons you support it." People may share your desired outcomes, but for the "wrong" reasons. It's useful to examine their reasons to test your own reasoning -- but it's also important not to judge others solely by their allies in a specific cause.

Humor and Good News When file photos bite back

The obsession with putting images into social-media posts results in some odd choices

Threats and Hazards An illiteracy test

Someone actually advocates testing immigrants for their knowledge of "Big Brother" rather than, say, the Constitution.

Humor and Good News Craig Ferguson, interviewed by Kathie Lee Gifford

One would never believe that it works, but it does. Ferguson may well be a quicker wit than anyone else alive today.

News What's Joe-mentum mean?

All other factors notwithstanding, Americans got 8 years of practice in picturing Joe Biden hanging around the Oval Office. America already took a test drive in the Joe-Mobile. All the other candidates, for better or worse, are still trying to get you to visit the dealership. Getting the "customer" to envision the end-state is really one of the most important tools in all of sales.

Weather and Disasters Think what you want about climate change, but...

It's hard to argue with the actions of real people on the ground. Louisianans are quite literally moving to higher ground. It's a pure example of revealed preferences: With real consequences and real money on the line, watch what people do instead of what they say.

News Attention to the finer details

A dive into the nature of callout lines -- those little lines that let people add more information to maps when the space is already too densely filled

News Letters of complaint to John Glenn

Matthew 6 has a thing or two to say about the criticism that he spent too little time publicly thanking God for his safety.

Science and Technology What's infrastructure?

Much of what really constitutes "infrastructure" is concealed from view. You see roads and bridges, which is why politicians try to make hay from them. But the remainder of the spectrum is enormously important, and it's society's cost of doing business.

News NYC used to be Nieuw Amsterdam...

...but now it's Las Vegas that wants to be the new Amsterdam, letting visitors purchase and use marijuana.

Threats and Hazards Trump lawyers claim Congress has no authority to investigate him

The entire legal team behind this argument ought to be put in stocks on the front lawn of Montpelier and flogged with a hardbound edition of the Federalist Papers. The Constitution explicitly grants Congress the authority to fire the President (Art. II, Sec. 4), the authority to require reports from the President (Art. II, Sec. 3), and (of course) the authority "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof" (Art. I, Sec. 8). There's no ambiguity here: Congress is the boss, and the President is the employee. Whatsoever they find necessary and proper to investigate regarding the conduct of the government and the execution of the law, they have the power to do. Period.

News Perpetrator in Mall of America attack gets 19-year prison sentence

The victim, a 5-year-old boy, is recovering from the attempted homicide. There's really no question the perpetrator should be kept away from the public. He's clearly a danger. But his public defender is probably right to be frustrated that there isn't a good place to send him.

Health Not enough care

Per NBC News: "A study of more than 45,000 women found more than half only visit their OB/GYN. Less than 6% visited a primary care physician."

News We need better words than "liberal" and "conservative"

The best alternative to the shifting definitions of words like "liberal" and "conservative" would be to identify with individual leaders (Thatcherite, Churchillian, Reaganite...) -- but those leaders evolved personally over time, and so have the facts, so even those definitions would be ambiguous at best.

The United States of America Montana Gov. Steve Bullock enters the Presidential race

Send in the governors!

21st Century conservatism

The United States of America Good for Sen. Mitt Romney

It's not a revolution, but it is a vote against a judicial nominee who "had called [President] Obama an 'un-American imposter'" in public. Words have consequences.

The United States of America More providential moralism in our public buildings, please!

On the side of an Art Deco-inspired courthouse in Nashville, Tennessee: "The first duty of society is justice" (a line courtesy of abolitionist Wendell Phillips).

Tin Foil Hat Award

Threats and Hazards Unions circulating the "Marxist" definition of business ought to reconsider

As with most forms of human organization, labor unions are neither inherently good nor inherently bad. The form doesn't determine their goodness, but rather the motivations and the things they actually do. Labor unions have done some great things (Solidarity, for instance, led a Communist-toppling revolution in Poland). But they've also conducted some terrible abuses, and the abuses have their roots in bad philosophy -- like Marxism.



Listen to the full episode from May 18, 2019 here

It's graduation season, so while everyone else is out giving their commencement speeches and personal advice to graduates ("Plastics!"), here's mine: Don't do what you love, hoping that the money will follow. That's a recipe for disaster. Instead, seek the biggest gap -- between how you're compensated (in all of its forms, from your paycheck to your sense of fulfillment) and what you must give up in order to do it.

Listen to segment 1

How does the "Game of Thrones" finale make you feel? I find it a lot like the World Cup: Lots of other people care a whole lot, and that doesn't bug me -- but I can't muster even the slightest bit of interest.

Listen to segment 2

③ and ④ How are small towns in Iowa (and all over the country) going to survive? Dave Swenson is an economist at Iowa State, where he studies this very question, and he's come up with a serious warning: "Most of America's Rural Areas are Doomed to Decline". If there are even five topics more important for Iowa to be addressing, I'd like to know what they are.

Listen to segments 3 and 4

Economics in 30 minutes, Iowa sues the makers of OxyContin, and a far-out new hotel.

Listen to segment 5

Opioid painkillers vs. plain old aspirin: A listener argues we're overdoing the hard stuff.

Listen to segment 6

Competition makes for better technology. Boeing and Intel both give us examples to consider in this week's Technology Three.

Listen to segment 7

What does the President of the United States have against Toyota?

Listen to segment 8