Friday, November 04, 2011

Quotes of the day

Unemployment represents a crisis of imagination, a failure to figure out how to make potential workers productive in the modern economy. The people who make creative leaps to solve that problem are entrepreneurs. If we want to bring America’s jobs back, our governments—federal, state, and local—need to tear down barriers to entrepreneurship, create a fertile field for start-up businesses, and unleash the risk-taking innovators who have always been at the heart of our economic growth.--Edward Glaeser

Yeats was right from the beginning: Everything does fall apart. Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money. The Greeks have followed that aphorism to its logical terminus, but we ourselves have not, not yet. The Grecian formula could be instructive to the Occupy Wall Street loons, whose policy preferences, to the degree that they can be discerned at all, are to reject the qualities which once made this nation great in favor of those which are tearing Greece apart. A good lesson indeed, if only they had the wit to attend. They don’t, of course. Which is why the grown-ups will have to do the thinking for them, while there is still time.--Neptunus Lex

... it's time that Americans who lament the loss of that which wasn't so great see what the prevailing wage - once again provided by investors - is for manufacturing. Considering average income in the rising country itself, that works out to $2,000/year (as of 2007), according to The Elephant and the Dragon author Robyn Meredith. Even the poorest of the working poor in the U.S. don't earn so little. And what about factory wages in China? According to Meredith "Chinese factory workers, whether making light bulbs, talking toys, or tennis shoes, earn each day about what Americans pay for a latte at Starbucks." These are the kinds of jobs we want to lure back to the U.S.? The simple and happy truth is that there are no jobs without investment, and factory worker pay in China reveals, investors have no interest in paying anywhere near the wages Americans have grown accustomed to. So assuming we resumed manufacturing light bulbs and tennis shoes stateside thanks to some benevolent investor, the wages that support this activity are so low that no Americans would apply for the work. Extremely low pay in China supports the positive pronouncement that we long ago left low value factory work in the rearview mirror, and with good reason. One can't get by on one Starbucks latte per day. In The Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton warned his readers about falling for the "deceitful dream of a golden age." Manufacturing is just that. Once the employer of many at high wages, those days are long past, so to dream of a manufacturing future for the United States is to pine for excruciating poverty.--John Tamny

... the percent of Americans’ personal consumption expenditures used to buy Chinese-made goods and services in 2010 was 2.7 percent. And if we exclude expenditures on food and energy, the percent of our 2010 personal consumption expenditures spent on goods and services from China rises to only 3.1 percent. In contrast, the percent of Americans’ personal consumption expenditures spent on goods and services made in America in 2010 was 88.5 (and 88.0 percent if we look at personal consumption expenditures excluding those on food and energy).--Don Boudreaux

Who was in charge of regulating MF Global? Everybody and nobody, it seems. In the days since that midsize brokerage company filed for bankruptcy, officials at many regulatory agencies have defended their actions, all the while explaining that they had narrow, limited roles. At MF Global, there were at least six different agencies and industry groups minding separate parts of the store.--LOUISE STORY and ERIC DASH

Illinois is like the Bears after Walter Payton, the Bulls after Michael Jordan. Except that it's been even longer since the state could claim it had a championship season. As Josh Barro showed in a City Journal article earlier this year, the state has long tried to deliver services without having the revenues to pay for them. It essentially wanted to be a low-tax (or at least a moderate-tax) state with high services and rich employee pensions. One result has been that the state hasn't really balanced its budget for a long time. Instead, even during the national good times earlier this decade, Illinois used borrowing and gimmicks to create the appearance of fiscal propriety, though few people were fooled. As Indiana's Gov. Mitch Daniels likes to say whenever he talks about his own state, it's easy to look good when you have Illinois for a neighbor. But late last year it seemed as if Illinois had finally reached the limit of its shenanigans. Investors balked at buying the state's bonds except at a significant premium over what other states had to pay investors.--Steven Malanga

... the thing that will always be most unfathomable about [Kareem Abdul Jabbar aka Lew] Alcindor was his very first game, played when he was an ineligible freshman: UCLA was coming off back-to-back national championships. As an exhibition, the Bruin varsity — ranked no. 1 in the nation — opened the season by scrimmaging the freshmen team. Alcindor had 31 points, 21 boards, and eight blocks. The freshmen hammered the varsity by 15 points; the no. 1 team in the country could not beat a player who could not yet play. As an ineligible 18-year-old, Alcindor was (at worst) the fourth or fifth-best basketball player in the world. So I guess talent does matter, sometimes.--Chuck Klosterman

Participants were more likely to make memory errors after they'd passed through a doorway than after they'd travelled the same distance in a single room. Another interpretation of the findings is that they have nothing to do with the boundary effect of a doorway, but more to do with the memory enhancing effect of context (the basic idea being that we find it easier to recall memories in the context that we first stored them). By this account, memory is superior when participants remain in the same room because that room is the same place that their memory for the objects was first encoded.--Radvansky, G., Krawietz, S., and Tamplin, A.

No matter how stable you think your time machine is, your first jump should always be into the future. It’s a mistake to visit President Lincoln on your maiden voyage. The past is loud, smelly and dangerous. And without at least one pit stop in the future, the road backwards is a million times more difficult.--Jim Behrle

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