Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Quotes of the day

Feckless would be one step better than counterproductive.--Greg Mankiw

I have argued that it is time to go beyond the models and see what actually happened rather than repeat the same model forecasting exercise over and over again with the path of government purchases, taxes, and transfers in the stimulus. In fact, many in the press perceive that these repeated forecast simulations are new evidence, even though they are essentially the same evidence provided before the stimulus was passed a year ago.--John Taylor

We have great pitching, we have great defense, and we have good offensive players. I don’t even know what run prevention is. I’m a baseball player. I don’t know how to read very good, I don’t know how to write very good. We just go play, man. That’s it. We’ll be fine.--Dustin Pedroia

So we have 3 buffets but the same menus, no out-of-pocket spending, and no real competition. This is what progressives think of as 'the market'. They convince themselves things will get better if they have even more top-down control (single payer) because then they could implement technological and logistic innovations (cutting out the darn middle man) that will lower costs, all the while keeping health care employment levels and compensation rates the same. One might be tempted to say, it can't get worse than the status quo, but that what the Russians said in 1917, and boy were they wrong.--Eric Falkenstein

As the economist Fischer Black explained, an economy matches a population’s desires to the available resources and production technology. When an economy is operating efficiently, expectations are largely fulfilled; desires, resources, and production technology are well matched; and people are reasonably satisfied with their plans, relations, and contracts. ... If the government could identify how the economy needed to be restructured and provide incentives to move resources more quickly in that direction, a properly designed program could alleviate and shorten the recession. But, if the government could do that, central planning would be a good deal simpler. Moreover, just as a command economy is invariably less efficient at resource allocation and production than a market economy, a general stimulus program will, in all likelihood, lead to highly inefficient allocations, effectively burning resources at a time when they are scarce and particularly vital to restart and re‑align our beleaguered economies. To the extent that it is used to prop up declining industries, the stimulus could even prove harmful by delaying necessary adjustments. Viewed from a matching perspective, there is no failure of “aggregate demand” – whatever that means. Instead, there is a complex misalignment problem – too many autoworkers when too few people want new cars, for example – that results in a decline in overall output. Thus, it is possible that increased government spending – say, to boost car purchases – could exacerbate the misalignment. Given the central role of financial intermediation in the current crisis, the government should instead expedite the restructuring process through bankruptcy law. The key is to accept bad news: losses must be recognized before efficient realignment can occur.--Bradford Cornell

In 1974, the Federal Election Campaign Act limited such contributions to $1,000. If we had had that same law in 1964, almost no one in this room would have ever heard of Eugene McCarthy. It's because of that law that so many Senators have to spend so much of their time dialing for dollars.--David Henderson

The social sciences are much harder than the physical sciences or math, in that our progress has been much slower here than in these areas. An educated man knows a lot more math or physics than a child or hunter-gatherer; he does not know much more about what causes business cycles. Figuring out why Haiti is so poor, or how interest rates affect investment, is really difficult. However, it is easy for someone to articulate an answer to hard social issues that is not obviously wrong, which makes it easy to think one knows the answer. A wrong math or physics answer, is clearly wrong, and if you have worked with people who knows something quantitative you learn quite quickly how ignorant you are in that area. Don't confuse the inability to falsify with having figured something out. It generally means you just don't know what you don't know.--Eric Falkenstein

... if you're gay, your identical twin is usually still straight. Furthermore, family environment clearly affects sexual orientation. The smoking gun: Adoptive brothers of gay men and adoptive sisters of gay women are about six times more likely to be gay that you would expect from chance.[iii] On balance, the evidence that parents make kids gay is a little stronger than evidence that parents make kids well-educated, rich, pious, or chaste. While heredity is the star of the story, upbringing plays a modest supporting role.--Bryan Caplan

If [Ryan] Sorba had merely observed that the results of this study were "inconsistent" and then turned to the broader literature (which confirms a strong genetic component, a mild family environment component, and a lot of randomness), I'd commend him. But instead, he bizarrely picks one hole in one study, then claims complete vindication for environmentalism.--Bryan Caplan

A group calling itself the Women’s Direct Action Collective issued a manifesto in 2007 titled Sluts Against Rape insisting that “a woman should have the right to be sexual in any way she chooses” and that easy availability was “a positive assertion of sexual identity.” In other words, if people call you a whore because you, say, fall into bed with someone whose name you can’t quite remember, that’s their problem. Of course, if a man mistakes a woman being “sexual in any way she chooses” for consent to have sex, it’s still rape. ... [sex columnist and sociology professor Pepper] Schwartz seemed unaware that booze-fueled hooking-up lasts well beyond the frat-party years. Thanks to late marriage, easy divorce, and the well-paying jobs that the feminist revolution has wrought for women, the bars, clubs, sidewalks, and subway straps of nearly every urban center in America overflow every weekend with females, young and not so young, bronzed, blonded, teeth-whitened, and dressed in the maximal cleavage and minimal skirt lengths that used to be associated with streetwalkers but nowadays is standard garb for lawyers and portfolio managers on a girls’ night out. ... Urban life, furthermore, turns out to imitate Sex and the City. A survey reported in the New York Daily News around the time of the film’s release revealed that the typical female resident of Manhattan, who marries later on average than almost every other woman in the country, has 20 sex partners during her lifetime. By way of contrast, the median number of lifetime sex partners for all U.S. women ages 15 to 44 is just 3.3, according to the Census Bureau’s latest statistical abstract. ... Men, eager for replication, are naturally polygamous, while women are naturally monogamous—but only until a man they perceive as of higher status than their current mate comes along. Hypergamy—marrying up, or, in the absence of any constrained linkage between sex and marriage, mating up—is a more accurate description of women’s natural inclinations. Long-term monogamy—one spouse for one person at one time—may be the most desirable condition for ensuring personal happiness, accumulating property, and raising children, but it is an artifact of civilization, Western civilization in particular. ... Take away the offspring, blocked by the Pill and ready abortion, and it’s also a pretty fair description of today’s prolonged singles scene. In other words, we have met the Stone Age, and it is us. ... The whole point of the sexual and feminist revolutions was to obliterate the sexual double standard that supposedly stood in the way of ultimate female freedom. The twin revolutions obliterated much more, but the double standard has reemerged in a harsher, crueler form: wreaking havoc on beta men and on beta women, too, who, as the declining marriage rate indicates, have trouble finding and securing long-term mates in a supply-saturated short-term sexual marketplace.--Charlotte Allen

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