Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Quotes of the day

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.--Will Durant

[Unlike the Torah, most religious texts lack] the power, the ability to give it multiple readings, and to read it again and again and again and be lead to develop more sophisticated questions about the stories that are taking place and to find subtleties and interconnections across the different parts of the Hebrew Bible I really find quite astonishing.--Tyler Cowen

... the more muscular a man is, the more sexual partners he has. So why haven’t skinny, fat, or average men been wiped out of the gene pool? One reason, according to [William] Lassek, is that men with bigger muscles have to eat more to sustain themselves and have weaker immune systems. Advantage, skinny!--Steven Levitt

Maybe she’s noble — but exactly the same behavior can be adequately explained by painting it as a power grab.--Felix Salmon

I try not to celebrate Father's Day; it's my wife who insists on doing it. If she can ratchet up Father's Day, it means Mother's Day is that much bigger. That's the only reason it gets celebrated. It's a phony holiday. ... There is no question that it is easier to outrage people by celebrating one's bad motherhood than celebrating one's bad fatherhood. People cut men more slack. Ayelet [Waldman] is writing a much more controversial book than I ever could unless I said something like, "I intend to kill my children."--Michael Lewis

It does seem to be the case that many people think that without a governor in charge, our lives would be in chaos. But ask yourself. How often through the day or even through the year do you consult the governor before taking action? You could argue that without the governor around, certain big spending or regulatory decisions would not be made. And that's necessarily bad?--David Henderson

If we are growing at a robust rate, then we can pay for the government that we need without having to raise taxes.--President Obama

Obama and his team seem sharply opposed to the view that creative destruction is a valuable economic force. They seem happy with what might be called destructive destruction -- the obliteration of value and wealth without any resulting positive change.--Kevin Hassett

... we react inappropriately to future extrapolations, because we project them onto our own situations--we ignore the fact that the changes in income shares devoted to a given product arise from economic growth. It is true that I cannot afford to spend 40% of my income on healthcare. It was equally true that my great-great grandparents could not afford to spend a third of their income on housing, and another half on clothing, manufactured good, transportation, and services--Land o' Mercy, everyone in the future is going to starve to death!!!--Megan McArdle

When the secretary informed me that, "Insurance doesn't cover this treatment," I was positively delighted. Why, you ask? It's not envy - I don't mind if other people have better insurance than I do. The reason for my delight: As soon as she said that no insurance companies covered this treatment, I knew it would be reasonably priced!--Bryan Caplan

It’s far from obvious that the point of health care should be to extend life or raise average lifespans. It’s not even clear that extending lifespans following the diagnosis of a serious disease should be the primary goal of health care. There’s a long tradition, in fact, that argues that it is the quality of life rather than the length of it that should be the true measure. ... Unfortunately, much of the health care debate seems to be built around either the idea that extending lifespans is the primary goal of health care or an good proxy for its effectiveness. With this bad measuring stick, we’re sure to wind up building a bad health care policy.--John Carney

[Paul] Krugman's comments above clearly suggest that he is in favor of letting people, even people on Medicare, pay for medical care if they value it enough. I guess we can look forward, then, to a New York Times column, or at least a blog post, by Krugman in which he advocates:
1. Letting people out of Medicare who want out.
2. Letting people pay doctors and hospitals more than the Medicare-set rates. (It's now illegal for doctors and hospitals to bill Medicare beneficiaries even a penny more than the rates set by Medicare.)--David Henderson

Everyone knows there were bad bets in the housing and mortgage markets. But this question of whether on top of those bad bets there was a co-ordination failure is a really, really fundamental issue. If there was no co-ordination failure, then all the talk about "shadow banking" and the need for a "systemic risk regulator" is beside the point.--Arnold Kling

If more of us had acted on the feelings we had, which he did, things could have been different, things could have changed. We didn’t, and for that our generation, the generation we played in now defined as the “Steroid Era”, got it’s name. That’s on us, the owners, and the Commissioner, but it sure as hell isn’t on Don Fehr.--Curt Schilling

If Stanford Financial was in fact a Ponzi scheme, it was strikingly similar to Bernie Madoff’s. As with Madoff’s operation, only a handful of people appear to have known what was going on. Stanford’s auditor, like Madoff’s, was tiny, in this case a 14-person accounting firm in Antigua; its owner has recently died. Stanford’s seven-member board was composed entirely of insiders, including Stanford’s father and one of his elderly chums, disabled by a stroke. That such a scheme could grow so enormous, and last for so many years, is a devastating indictment of worldwide banking regulation. It took Alex Dalmady maybe two hours on the Internet to glean the amazing truth. It’s not clear anyone in Washington ever seriously tried.--Bryan Burrough

Let’s not pretend that the street revolt in Iran — is it too early to call it a revolution? — is occurring in a vacuum. It isn’t. Something approaching secular democracy is working for millions of Muslims, most of them Shiites, in Iraq.--Stephen Green

It was OK for the New York Times and the rest to endanger every person in America by revealing the secrets of an anti-terrorist program, but they were all in league to protect one reporter for the New York Times.--Don Surber

We may reflexively regard him as slower, dumber, less handsome than the hero he shadows, but in practice the sidekick may be the smarter, funnier, faster, better-looking or more practical one. Less bound by convention or expectation, flexible rather than stiff-necked, he is free in ways forbidden the hero. His life is simpler, his soul less troubled. Ed Norton may be a dimwit, but he isn't tormented, like Ralph Kramden, by desperation and desire. Spock is cooler than Kirk. It seems like the better job. ... An uncharitable or undiscerning critic might say [Ed] McMahon had an easy job: Laugh at the boss' jokes, read a few cue cards, sell a little dog food, cheerfully absorb whatever cracks are made at his expense, slide further down the couch as the evening's guests arrive. ... There is a kind of genius in knowing how to live with a genius. Did anyone want to grow up to be Ed McMahon? Maybe not.--Robert Lloyd

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