Gongol.com Archives: August 2004
Brian Gongol

Aviation News (8.24.2004)
Two Russian Airliners Reported Crashed
If it's part of some Islamic fascist terror campaign, it would seem inadvisable to attack the Russians. The more cultures and ideologies you pit against your cause, the more unlikely your chances for ultimate success. Probability runs against the chances of simultaneous accidental crashes of planes departing from the same airport.

The American Way (8.24.2004)
Germany Learns That Progress and Growth Must Come First
Volkswagen is asking its workers to make a choice in a classic trade-off: In order to guarantee job security, they will have to accept a wage freeze. In other words, they're being asked to trade opportunity for security. It's the same tradeoff every worker, investor, and businessperson in the world has to make.

Germany has been insulated from competitive forces for much of the last half-century because German workers were much more productive than their global competitors. Add to that the luster of "German engineering," which really represented something back in the day when high quality drew a premium.

Today, however, quality standards are much higher around the entire world, and German productivity simply doesn't stand out from the rest of the world like it used to. So what's the harm done? Certainly German workers, accustomed to a relatively high standard of living, will need to either adjust to lower expectations, or they can adapt to the prevailing market conditions and become better at what they do. The rest of the world gains, in that consumers either get better-quality products for the same relative cost, or they get products of the same quality at lower relative cost.

If the situation rings familiar for Americans, it's largely because we're already living in that kind of world. While labor unions and others complain about "exporting jobs" as if some nefarious forces are out there trying to put them down, the reality simply is that the rest of the world is adopting better practices and raising the competitive standard.

It doesn't make things any better to start sinking huge amounts of wealth and effort into income redistribution -- which is socialism by another name -- no matter how much some people are certain that reforms are nothing more than exploitation of the poor by the wealthy. Nothing about the "exploitation" arguments can disprove that the average Indian's income has doubled since mid-century, that rice production is nearly triple what it was in 1960, and that technological advancements have today put information into more hands than ever before.

Some people will remain persuaded that there is some dastardly plan out there to ignore human suffering and misery simply to aggrandize wealth for a few, but it simply isn't true. Some pain is certainly felt when new developments emerge and when trade runs its course. But to imagine that anything in all of economics is more important than making the economy grow as a whole. Loose credit and low savings rates simply make the pain sharper for nations riding the waves, but that doesn't mean the tide toward growth and efficiency can or should shift.

We All Need a Little Humor (8.24.2004)
Why North Korean Dictators Drink So Much
"Jaded Major" has one of the sharpest wits I've ever seen put to PhotoShop