Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quotes of the day

Although I knew Buffett was always talking his book when he wrote the bullish on America Op-Ed during the midst of the crisis, I had no idea he was pulling the strings behind the scenes to create new policies that would bail out and profit his investments.--Kid Dynamite

... just how obscene are those [insurance industry] profits? Economist Mark J. Perry, at the Carpe Diem blog listing of Profit Margins by Industry, shows the Health Care Plan Industry ranks #86 by profit margin (profits/revenue) at 3.3 percent and the hospital industry ranks #77 at 3.6 percent — much lower than the 25.6 percent profit margin for beer brewers. Yet the administration is not beating the drums to hold down brewery profits or to take over the industry to create Government Beer.--Rome-Sentinel Editorial Board

Public apologies to people who are not owed any apology have become one of the many signs of the mushy thinking of our times. So are apologies for things that somebody else did.--Thomas Sowell

As I'm a big fan of Friederich Hayek, the application of his seminal insight about how the market effectively decentralizes decision making was really enjoyable. That is, Sowell notes that intellectuals don't know the essential information of parochial time and place that is so essential. It is easy to dismiss this knowledge because it tends to be pedestrian, not elegant or sophisticated. Yet there are so many different essential facts, the sum of this simple knowledge adds up to 100 times whatever is known by intellectuals like Paul Krugman or Ezra Klein, who pontificate on their industrial policies as if such details don't matter. Intellectuals have a tendency to dismiss this because they have often been the smartest person in the room growing up, and naturally assume this greater knowledge is also present when considering health care or energy policy, but it's just one of those insights that isn't obvious because they have always gotten an A+ on their term papers, which never actually were implemented.--Eric Falkenstein

I argue that a right of exit is important in order to limit government power. I sometimes think that what kept the U.S. government small in the early 19th century was not so much the Constitution as the fact that people kept leaving the then-current United States for adjacent territories. The option to exit would have made it quite difficult for government to grow large and intrusive. But is there such a thing as too much right to exit?--Arnold Kling

When [Rep. Mark] Souder pointed out that the minimum existed in order to minimize speed differentials, [Transportation Secretary Ray] LaHood proclaimed, "I don't buy your argument, Mr. Souder". Secretary LaHood seems to be arguing that the laws of the United States override the laws of physics. I spend a fair amount of time hanging around isolationists who take a pretty hardline stance on US sovereignty, but even for me, this was novel.--Megan McArdle

One of the talking points that the Republicans seem to have settled on is that NHTSA may be understaffed; they are asking him if they can't appropriate more money for engineers and other personnel. As a loyal member of the Obama administration, LaHood is being forced to argue that he doesn't need any more staff than the 66 new positions requested in the administration's proposed budgets.--Megan McArdle

I find it a little odd that we're going to have a Congressional hearing to look at those [annualized Toyota accelerator] two deaths out of 40,000... you have to look at death rates in safety terms rationally.--David Champion

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