The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio
Brian Gongol

Segment 1 (listen): A friend just posted on Facebook to ask who we (her friends) thought was the definitive James Bond. I got to thinking about it and I think we have to start distinguishing our Cold War-era Bonds from our post-Cold-War 007s. Sean Connery will always be the definitive 007 from the era when the Soviet Menace was our enemy and the rivalry could be taken to an almost comical degree of absurdity. But now that our country faces a wide range of rivals, opponents, and adversaries, I think Daniel Craig's much more complex (some might even say conflicted) Bond is completely suitable to the modern day. We no longer get to look at the Soviet Bloc with a sense of pity and think about how ridiculously drab and depressing their lives are (because, let's face it, nobody seemed to be having a good time behind the Iron Curtain). Today, we have opponents like Hugo Chavez (who "won" re-election today in Venezuela), Iran (which is stomping on its citizens' Internet access while developing nuclear weapons), and China (a "frenemy" if ever there was one). Our differences are more complicated than the old dichotomy of the free world versus Communism.

Segments 2 and 3 (listen): There's a huge amount of debate and discussion taking place (long overdue) about what we need to do about Medicare and Social Security. Neither one is solvent over the long term, at least not the way we've managed them so far. But while it's easy to get bogged down in detailed arguments over whether to raise the retirement age, cut benefits, raise the payroll tax rate, or start means-testing for benefits, we rarely look at the big picture. So, how about this for a thought experiment: Instead of giving senior citizens a monthly payment of up to $2,500 a month, what if we gave every 18-year-old a $500,000 endowment? We end up spending much more than that on many Social Security recipients, so the number itself isn't as outlandish as it may seem at first. But as a thought experiment, it shines a light on a lot of things we don't do very well today. Do we educate our kids well enough that they could handle getting a big pile of money when they turn into adults? If not, why aren't we doing something about that? Because, ultimately, many of them will earn $1 or $2 million (or much more) over their working lives -- so why aren't we preparing them appropriately? And, as a thought experiment, the idea of a huge endowment for newly-minted adults certainly would change a lot of issues we consider obstacles today -- it would certainly level the playing field for a lot of people to get an education or start a business or help out their families. Sometimes it's a good idea to take the things we take for granted (like Social Security) and simply ask ourselves what would happen if we turned them inside-out. It's like learning to draw by looking at the subject upside-down: We often get blinded by what we expect to see and need to have those expectations overturned before we can see the whole situation more clearly.

Segment 4 (listen): Your government fears a Post-It Note monopoly. Really.