The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio
Brian Gongol

If you haven't filed your income taxes yet, it's time to get serious. Just hours remain before the dreaded April 15th deadline. There are several options for free tax prep available at the IRS's website, for which you may be eligible.

Even though it may sound funny to say, "Paying taxes is against my religion," don't try to get away with that for real. The Department of Justice has a detailed explanation of why that's not a valid defense. Object to taxes all you want, but the income tax is part of Amendment 16, and once it's an amendment, it's part of the Constitution. And that makes it the supreme law of the land. You can also forget trying to play amendments against each other to get away without paying income taxes.

Brian Dean and I need to form our own version of Kramerica so we can get interns to work for free and help us publish our planned textbook on the basics of personal finance. We really should put together such a book -- and make sure that people don't graduate from high school without understanding the basics of budgeting, borrowing, and saving.

Food prices worldwide have shot up at astonishing rates lately, and if we don't pay attention, it's going to cause lots of pain for America. We're already seeing rising food prices here at home, but that's hardly the full extent of the situation...what we really have to be aware of is how the rest of the world is going to perceive our role in those rising prices. If rising food costs drive people to rebel against free trade and free markets, it's going to mean nothing but bad news for us. Remember the Carter grain embargo? It was a huge factor in the 1980s farm crisis.

Things could take a positive turn, though, with a little ingenuity: A man named Hernando de Soto has been pushing hard to fix the laws and regulations in many poor countries that keep people from being able to claim their property rights. That's important, because without those property rights, it's difficult (if not impossible) to borrow or prove creditworthiness, which in turn forces people to keep their farms and businesses on a small scale. But if rising food prices cause lots of people to leave rural areas and head for the cities in search of work (which has happened countless times in history), then farmers in poor areas will need to be able to mechanize their operations, just like American farmers started to do a century ago. That mechanization improves yields and makes more food available with less effort. But in order to buy that equipment, farmers in poor countries will need to be able to borrow money -- which, as it turns out, could provide a tremendous investment opportunity for Americans. It could be a win-win situation for all. More food for the world...better profits for farmers in poor countries...and better investments for Americans.

Don't forget to back up your computer files, especially during tax time -- when you're probably running your computer especially hard, which increases the chance that it could have problems.

The ways in which China's leaders have been threatening the people of Tibet are pretty authoritarian. Not that it's a surprise...but it's a reminder of how easy it can be for us to take free speech for granted. Imagine Governor Culver threatening to deal "severely" with anyone who protests against his policies.

Is technology letting us get as much out of 24 hours today as we would've gotten out of 31 hours just ten years ago?

It's best not to ignore the obvious: If you're in a business that's clearly overheating, perhaps it's not a good idea to do the same things that you see other people getting into trouble for doing.

Gas prices, at current trends, will certainly be in the $4.00 per gallon range within two years. Are you ready?

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