Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Quotes of the day

The fact that there’s a moral order out there doesn’t mean there’s a God. On the other hand, it’s evidence in favor of the God hypothesis and evidence against [Nobel laureate Steven] Weinberg’s worldview [who wrote "The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless. ... It’s not a moral order out there. It’s something we impose.] In the great divide of current thought—between those, including the Abrahamics, who see a higher purpose, a transcendent source of meaning, and those, like Weinberg, who don’t—the manifest existence of a moral order comes down clearly on one side.--Robert Wright

If it's wrong to make people sick on purpose, is it also wrong to forcibly withhold medical care from them that they're willing to pay for? If so, then much about Canadian health care is wrong; ditto for the Food and Drug Administration, which forcibly withholds drugs from residents of the United States.--David Henderson

The Cuban government recently began handing out idle state land to private farmers across the island in an effort to boost food production. Cuba is hoping that private farmers can literally plow the island out of a huge $11 billion trade deficit this year caused by rising food import costs and falling exports. The policy marks a major shift away from inefficient state farms that once occupied the lion's share of the island's agricultural land.--David Adams

When I was a socialist believer, I too found it hard to imagine that decent human beings could support free markets. I went to graduate school at the University of Chicago in order to discover how the Chicago economists, who claimed to be scientists, could believe in something so self-evidently evil. And, upon learning economics at Chicago, I gradually discovered that common academic perspectives on capitalism were empirically false.--Michael Strong

Sociology is the most leftist of all the academic disciplines; it was (and is) the worst department of all for anyone who is pro-market, less alone a black Randian libertarian woman [like Anne Wortham].--Michael Strong

Almost a third of Republicans, according to a recent poll, believe the unsupported story that Mr Obama was not born in the US (in which case he would be disqualified from serving as president). But remember that more than a third of Democrats subscribe to the even more outlandish theory that the Bush administration knew about the attacks of September 2001 in advance.--Clive Crook

And many Progressives (not all, as [Elizabeth] Warren illustrates) seem to want to side with [Hank] Paulson, and especially with Ben Bernanke, in deciding to save the dinosaurs. I wish we could have a clean, nonideological way of answering that question.--Arnold Kling

The fallacy embedded in the Efficient Market Hypothesis Wealth Corollary can be hard for financial journalists to grok, because we have such a high financial-sophistication-to-wealth ratio. ... The American Dream is fundamentally meritocratic: if you’re smart and work hard, you can be massively successful. But the reality is different: some people are massively successful, and some non-negligible proportion of those people is not smart at all, especially not when it comes to finances. Having lots of money, sometimes, just makes it that much easier not to ever worry or think about matters financial. And that, in turn, makes it much more likely that you’ll end up being taken advantage of.--Felix Salmon

As for getting an MBA ... it’s not what you learn at business school that matters, it’s the screening function. Top business schools screen for the attributes that certain types of companies, including consulting firms and investment banks, value – above-average intelligence, ambition, presentability, ability to get along with others, willingness to follow orders, and a strong streak of conformism.--James Kwak

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