Monday, January 31, 2011

Quotes of the day

We are all creators, but too many reject the God-given right to create and instead become consumers, hiding in the safety of some government, some corporation, some self-help philosophy to take care of us. And so why should we be surprised when we turn around and somebody is sitting in our chair, dictating how our marriage will go, how our career will go, whether or not we can have peace with our neighbors? We shouldn’t be surprised. We handed them our authority. Until we believe we are creators, nothing will change save what some other creator changes for us. We are their servants, the consumers of whatever fate is dictated to us by the bold, be they good or bad.--Don Miller

I liked [Jerry Brown] when he was running for president [in 1992] on the flat tax. . . . A ton of economists, both liberal and conservative, have argued for a flat tax, but nobody's ever had the nerve to do it. . . . It would simplify things, but simplification doesn't seem to be in the human psyche.--Clint Eastwood

Fred Wilpon, the owner of the New York Mets, will be forced to sell the baseball franchise as soon as 2010 after incurring heavy Bernie Madoff-related investment losses.--Erin Arvedlund, in 2009

Your banking system needs a shock.--Gamal Mubarak, son of Hosni, to Senator Joe Lieberman

History entirely removed from the canon provides numerous circumstances where the tiniest adjustment would have changed the course of events. Suppose Britain had not broken the “Enigma” code machines. Would the Battle of Britain, and even World War II, have gone another way? Suppose Hitler had not held back his panzers at Dunkirk, sending in his planes instead. Would 150,000 British soldiers have been captured or killed, once again changing the face of the war? Is it not remarkable that Hitler’s persecution of Jews drove some of the best scientific minds out of Germany and into the United States? Had he not done so, is it not entirely possible that Hitler would have invented an A-bomb before America did? What then would the history of the past fifty years have looked like? Suppose Khrushchev had not blinked at the Cuba missile crisis, and a nuclear exchange had followed. What would be the state of the world today? Suppose the bullet aimed at Kennedy had missed. Suppose the bullet aimed at Martin Luther King had missed. Suppose the bullet that took out the Archduke in Sarajevo had missed.--Don Carson

Every big powerful technology company has met a new technology that has undone their dominance. For Microsoft it was open source and the Internet. For Google, it appears that it may be social. For Facebook, it appears that it may be mobile.--Fred Wilson

... a little thought makes clear that some types of economic inequality have great social value. For example, it would be hard to motivate the vast majority of individuals to exert much effort, including creative effort, if everyone had the same earnings, status, prestige, and other types of rewards. For example, many fewer individuals would engage in the hard work involved in finishing high school and going on to college if they did not expect their additional education to bring higher incomes, better health, more prestige, and better opportunities to marry. On my first trip to China in 1981 I visited several factories in the Beijing area. All the employees in each factory received more or less the same pay, and they could hardly ever be fired for bad work or absenteeism. This was an extreme eqalitarian approach to compensation, and the result was that no one worked hard, even though Chinese workers have traditionally been known for their diligence and energy. The picture was more or less the same in all of the factories I visited, and there was also little difference in pay between factories. Urban China was then highly eqalitarian, but it was also extremely poor because of very low productivity. China’s economic miracle has been in good measure based on allowing much greater inequality in pay and incomes to motivate greater productivity in both urban and rural areas.--Gary Becker

... income inequality that you refer to is apparent in many different places. You see it in athletics; you see it in entertainment; you see it in your industry as well. You take a look at the compensation of C.E.O.’s of major corporations, recognizing that those corporations have become much larger —they do business in many different parts around the world — and it’s very difficult to know how to properly benchmark the compensation. ... I think that there is not a good understanding as to the role of financial intermediaries. For example, without banks it’s hard to see how businesses would get the money they need to grow and to hire new workers. Let’s not lose track of the fact that most people need to borrow in order to buy a home, and if you don’t have banks, that’s not going to happen.--Abby Joseph Cohen

At my school, we pay five teachers to tutor kids after school and on Saturdays. They sit in classrooms waiting for kids who never show up. We don’t want for books—or for any of the cutting-edge gizmos that non–Title I schools can’t afford: computerized whiteboards, Elmo projectors, the works. Our facility is state-of-the-art, thanks to a recent $40 million face-lift, with gleaming new hallways and bathrooms and a fully computerized library. Here’s my prediction: the money, the reforms, the gleaming porcelain, the hopeful rhetoric about saving our children—all of it will have a limited impact, at best, on most city schoolchildren. Urban teachers face an intractable problem, one that we cannot spend or even teach our way out of: teen pregnancy. This year, all of my favorite girls are pregnant, four in all, future unwed mothers every one. There will be no innovation in this quarter, no race to the top. Personal moral accountability is the electrified rail that no politician wants to touch.--Gerry Garibaldi

The moment we are content in this fallen world, the dangers return—not least the danger of over-contentment. Without being contentious, prepare for conflict; without being combative, equip yourself for the “good fight”. It will last at least as long as you live.--Don Carson

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