Monday, June 15, 2009

Quotes of the day

To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.--G. K. Chesterton

For whatever reason, the Patriots place a higher monetary value on guys who play closer to the ball. That’s why players like Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, Tom Brady and Matt Light have been able to walk away from the bargaining table satisfied with their contracts. For the most part, New England has considered receivers and defensive backs to be fungible commodities, interchangeable parts that can be added and subtracted. It hasn’t always worked (they are still working to replace Samuel), but it’s their business model, and there’s been no indication they’re not sticking to it going forward.--Christopher Price

... home runs are distributed just about as unequally as income - the top 5% earn a disproportionate share of income, about 36%; and the top 5% of baseball players hit a disproportionate amount of home runs, about 36%.--Mark Perry

I think that politically, if not intellectually, the success of smoking bans is a heavy blow to libertarian credibility.--Megan McArdle

For costless and near-costless actions, small beneficial correlations are enough to justify changing your behavior. If you find a lottery ticket for a free lunch, you might as well hang on to it. But you shouldn't count on finding such lottery tickets with any frequency. In the real world, beneficial changes usually have a steep price, and a lot of "free lunches" are just scams.--Bryan Caplan

... the fact is that the Federal Reserve, which regulates most of the nation's largest banks, had enough power to prevent bank failures with better capital regulations. Preventing failure at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae also did not require a systemic risk regulator—what was needed was tighter supervision by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, which regulates those institutions. That in turn would have required support from Congress, which generally was instead more prone to tampering with the regulator than with the housing enterprises it was supposed to regulate.--Arnold Kling

Obama has more reason to be mad at Johnson and FDR for bequeathing him intractable legacy costs than at Bush: they will substantially reduce the scope of the things that Obama can do. But I don't expect to hear him explain that he has to run a budget deficit because he inherited a legacy of unsustainable spending by his Democratic predecessors. The fact remains that Bush actually left him very little legacy of permanent spending to be drivng his future deficits.--Megan McArdle

MEDICARE expenditures threaten to crush the federal budget, yet the Obama administration is proposing that we start by spending more now so we can spend less later. This runs the risk of becoming the new voodoo economics. If we can’t realize significant savings in health care costs now, don’t expect savings in the future, either.--Tyler Cowen

As people get richer and consumption rises, the marginal utility of consumption falls rapidly. Spending on health to extend life allows individuals to purchase additional periods of utility. The marginal utility of life extension does not decline. As a result, the optimal composition of total spending shifts toward health, and the health share grows along with income. In projections based on the quantitative analysis of our model, the optimal health share of spending seems likely to exceed 30 percent by the middle of the century.--Robert Hall and Chad Jones

How did Obama manage to spend all his political capital so quickly? Did it all go on the stimulus bill? Wasn’t the whole point of bringing Rahm in as chief of staff that he could work constructively with Congress to pass an ambitious agenda? And isn’t Obama himself the first president since JFK to have entered the White House from the Senate? I’m not sure when everything went wrong here, but I fear that the damage is now irreparable — and that Obama’s agenda is going to be severely scaled back as a result.--Felix Salmon

[Donald] Rumsfeld is in many respects an honorable man, deeply patriotic, a good friend to many and unfailingly loyal to those he has served and to a number who have served him. He is smart, cunning and capable of great geniality, all highly desirable qualities in a leader with such power. And the challenges he faced as secretary were considerable. But in the end, Rumsfeld's biggest failings were personal -- the result of the man himself, not simply of the circumstances he confronted. While he was unwilling to profess regrets to me, it is unlikely that he doesn't have some. Nor do I expect him simply to fade away. That has never been his style. Withdrawal is not on his list of Rumsfeld's Rules.--Bradley Graham

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