Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quotes of the day

Public-sector unions and other interest groups wrap their causes in the rhetoric of equality. Often, what they’re really protecting are privileges that raise the cost of public services to everyone else — including citizens who earn a lot less than civil servants. Yes, Wall Street’s bonuses are stratospheric. But the New York Times recently reported that Medicaid was paying nine executives $500,000 or more per year to operate nonprofit homes for the mentally disabled. Okun’s message is that equality is a public good, whose benefits — social cohesion, political stability and the like — are worth paying for. The trick is not to overpay.--Charles Lane

I spent hours upon hours toiling away at a register, scanning, bagging, and dealing with questionable clientele. These were all expected parts of the job, and I was okay with it. What I didn’t expect to be part of my job at Wal-Mart was to witness massive amounts of welfare fraud and abuse.
I understand that sometimes, people are destitute. They need help, and they accept help from the state in order to feed their families. This is fine. It happens. I’m not against temporary aid helping those who truly need it. What I saw at Wal-Mart, however, was not temporary aid. I witnessed generations of families all relying on the state to buy food and other items. I literally witnessed small children asking their mothers if they could borrow their EBT cards. I once had a man show me his welfare card for an ID to buy alcohol. The man was from Massachusetts. Governor Michael Dukakis’ signature was on his welfare card. Dukakis’ last gubernatorial term ended in January of 1991. I was born in June of 1991. The man had been on welfare my entire life. That’s not how welfare was intended, but sadly, it is what it has become.
Other things witnessed while working as a cashier included people ignoring me on their iPhones while the state paid for their food. (For those of you keeping score at home, an iPhone is at least $200, and requires a data package of at least $25 a month. If a person can spend $25+ a month so they can watch YouTube 24/7, I don’t see why they can’t spend that money on food.)--Christine Rousselle

At 25 I made the naïve mistake of getting an MFA in Creative Writing at a private college in New York City.
I hadn’t done any research on schools with funding or really given it much thought at all. I thought when I graduated I’d just sell my novel and pay my student loans with the book advance. Needless to say that didn’t happen and when I graduated in 2005, I had $37,000 to pay back. Not only that but the MFA program was super unsupportive—both the faculty and students. Despite doing well in the program and really trying to connect with people I finished feeling no better off than when I’d started. A few years later when applying to residencies and then PHD programs I couldn’t even get letters of recommendation from most of my former teachers.
I felt like the school had taken advantage of my naiveté by charging all this money for essentially a useless degree.
I started to realize the least common denominator in all of my problems was me and my thinking. I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself for all the things life wasn’t giving me and start being grateful for what I had. As for my job I was clearly in this dog walking profession for a reason and maybe instead of thinking it was beneath me, I’d just try to do the best at it I could. I finally grew up and accepted life on life’s terms and decided to go out there and do the best I could with what I had. This is when things really started to change for me.
When I’d have fear about money I’d pay more on my loans, or give an employee a raise, or contribute a little to a charity. I call this daring God to financially take care of me—faith in action. I wanted proof that I’d be taken care of. Initially, I’d do it and sort of cover my eyes afterwards waiting for the ceiling to fall in. It never did. Inevitably, I’d get a new client or business would pick up with training or pet sitting.--Susie DeFord

Occupy, are you listening to this?--Cav

Christopher Hitchens and I were friends for 40 years, plus another five when we were enemies. He took ideas so seriously that if he disagreed with you on a matter that he deemed important, he’d literally throw you in a ditch. It was 1972, the height of our mutual virility. He and I went to a pub to celebrate his most recent intellectual victory over the establishment press. I intimated that sometimes women could be funny on purpose. Even back then, the thought enraged him. Hitchens threw a drink in my face, pressed a lit cigarette into my neck, and hit me over the head with a barstool. The next thing I knew, it was two days later and I was lying hogtied and naked beside the M5. Hitch had already severely damaged my reputation in a vicious essay in the Guardian. But that’s how he operated, and that’s why we loved him.--Neal Pollack

Washington state’s creation of the ferry monopoly is what governments have increasingly done since courts misconstrued the Constitution in a way that licenses governments to dispense particular economic favors by restricting general economic liberty. It is now routine for government to have transactions with rent-seekers — private interests who want public power used to confer advantages on them, or disadvantages on competitors.--George Will

Even though the average congressperson might have more information than the average taxpayer...the cumulative information held by 150 million taxpayers far exceeds the cumulative information held by 538 congresspeople. When it comes to the efficient allocation of public goods...we need to consider sums...not averages. It's interesting to consider though just how many average taxpayers it would take to equal the amount of information held by the average congressperson.--Xerographica

In a market -- one of your beloved markets -- an entrepreneur who presents the same product over and over, deriding customers for not buying it, would be the real fool. You'd laugh at such a fellow and tell him he deserves what he gets -- bankruptcy. Yet, you never view your political program that way, do you?--David Brin

Behind Door #1 are people of extraordinary ability: scientists, artists, educators, business people and athletes. Behind Door #2 stand a random assortment of people. Which door should the United States open? In 2010, the United States more often chose Door #2, setting aside about 40,000 visas for people of extraordinary ability and 55,000 for people randomly chosen by lottery. It's just one small example of our bizarre U.S. policy toward high-skill immigrants.--Alex Tabarrok

We talk about the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to assembly. The right to rise doesn't seem like something we should have to protect. But we do. We have to make it easier for people to do the things that allow them to rise. We have to let them compete. We need to let people fight for business. We need to let people take risks. We need to let people fail. We need to let people suffer the consequences of bad decisions. And we need to let people enjoy the fruits of good decisions, even good luck.
That is what economic freedom looks like. Freedom to succeed as well as to fail, freedom to do something or nothing. People understand this. Freedom of speech, for example, means that we put up with a lot of verbal and visual garbage in order to make sure that individuals have the right to say what needs to be said, even when it is inconvenient or unpopular. We forgive the sacrifices of free speech because we value its blessings. But when it comes to economic freedom, we are less forgiving of the cycles of growth and loss, of trial and error, and of failure and success that are part of the realities of the marketplace and life itself.--Jeb Bush

Evaluate ideas by their consequences (consequentialism)
Be aware that your ideas may be wrong and may fail (fallibilism)
Don’t be hypercritical (anti-skepticism)
Try out, debate, and evaluate alternatives (experimentalism).--Elmar Wolfstetter

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