Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Quotes of the day

The incentive system at A.I.G. F.P., created in the mid-1990s, wasn’t the short-term-oriented racket that helped doom the Wall Street investment bank as we knew it. It was the very system that U.S. Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, among others, had proposed as a solution to the problem of Wall Street pay.--Michael Lewis

I can do this and probably not make an ass of myself. But I can do nothing and not make an ass of myself. I’ll stick with that.--Jake DeSantis

If unpredictability, incalculable details, and unintended consequences threaten to make a mess of interventions abroad, surely the same stubborn aspects of reality threaten to make a mess of centralized, genius-planned interventions on the home front such as those that aim to supply universal health care and to create a "green economy."--Don Boudreaux

Palin is known for hunting moose. McNamara is known as the architect of the Vietnam War. The op-ed writers generally take a more respectful tone toward McNamara. ... I worry that today's equivalent of Robert McNamara is Peter Orszag, who I fear is poised to do for our health care system what McNamara did for Vietnam.--Arnold Kling

Rather, smart socialists thought that they could overcome these [incentive] problems with a combination of status competitions (Hero of the Soviet Union, Second Class) and massive efficiencies gained by wringing all that fragmented, wasteful competition out of the system. Economists who would be ashamed to make these sorts of arguments about Proctor and Gamble or the used car market suddenly start parroting these things as if they hadn't been thoroughly discredited by the last seventy years.--Megan McArdle

Expressing administrative costs as a percentage of total costs makes Medicare's administrative costs appear lower not because Medicare is necessarily more efficient but merely because its administrative costs are spread over a larger base of actual health care costs.--Robert Book

Rather, private insurers have costs that Medicare doesn't have within the agency. Private insurers bill. Medicare does too, but the IRS has its own budget--hell, its own courts--which don't show up on Medicare's balance sheet. Private insurers negotiate with suppliers. Medicare does too, but most of the negotiation takes place between lobbyists and Congressmen who again, do not show up on Medicare's balance sheet. The Federal government has all sorts of these little items which relieve government agencies of reporting certain costs. But the costs remain.--Megan McArdle

When I've heard [President Obama] talk about economic issues--with the exception of NAFTA, where I just hope he doesn't believe what he says--he seems intelligent and serious. I wouldn't say I'm bowled over by the brilliance of anything I've heard, but everything has a kind of thoughtfulness to it that's sort of impressive.--Larry Summers

If Summers put these sentences into a letter of recommendation for a job market candidate, he probably couldn't get an interview, much less a job.--Bryan Caplan

I can see why the left would not want me to be able to experiment with a non-statist society. From their point of view, it would be immoral for me to secede from their utopia.--Arnold Kling

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