Friday, August 28, 2009

Quotes of the day

One martini is just right. Two martinis are too many. Three martinis are never enough.--M. F. K. Fisher

Placebos are getting more effective.--Steve Silberman

In their rages, both [political] sides have forgotten that America has a Congress. --Justin Miller

And since I'm rambling and have the floor, every man needs a daughter. ALL of my male friends who had children were changed for the better by having at least one daughter. It is not a wife who socializes a husband, it is a daughter.--anonymous

If you wanted to convince me of a private school which is acting charitably, not profit-maximising, then you’d have to describe a system where pupils take the entrance exam - and then the *low*-scoring poor children are offered bursaries. That’s a school which is gambling on its ability to raise standards among disadvantaged kids. But no private school does that, and with excellent reason: the cost could be lower league table results for the school - and as you say, private schools are in competition.--Pockets

Taken together the average fuel economy of vehicles traded in [under Cash For Clunkers] was 15.8 miles per gallon, while the average for the clunker replacements was 24.9 miles per gallon. And according to Ford Motor Company, this kind of fuel-economy improvement translates to a reduction of five to ten million barrels of oil consumed over the next five years. (The nation currently consumes nine million barrels a day.) This will be oil that some other people can enjoy.--Bruce Yandle

Perhaps [disappointed liberals] thought that when Obama was elected President that the United States would suddenly morph into France. But do they want the government to build 100s of nuclear power plants? Do they want the government to be able to ram double-tracked high speed rail lines through beautiful, pastoral suburbs and exurbs and small towns of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland, with environmentalists powerless to stop it in the courts? Do they want us to send troops to prop up corrupt African governments without UN approval? I suppose progressives would respond that they want the high quality French public services. But America was settled by the Brits, the French went to Quebec. If we tried to emulate France we’d end up with big government and lousy public services, like the British. --Scott Sumner

But expediency tends to defeat principle in political discourse, because of the focus on direct and immediate effects whereas principle tends to focus on indirect and long-run effects. Was it expedient to pursue the bailout? Of course. But was it a policy move that followed a working principle of public policy? Of course not. And once we include those indirect and long-run negative consequences the assessment of the effectivenss of the bailout on averting disaster is not as easy as Tyler [Cowen] suggests.--Peter Boettke

Money supply is always, in some sense, a proxy for functioning credit markets. If a third of the banks fail, trying to put the lost money back into the system by open market operations makes little sense. Randomly distributed cash will not restore the confidence lost when perhaps a quarter of the country sees its savings wiped out.--Megan McArdle

If the government tries to double taxes on people like me, it's in real political trouble. If it doesn't try to double taxes on people like me, it's in real solvency trouble. It looks like we may have a problem here.--James Hamilton

You might think that no one would be more inclined to sexual abuse than criminals in unisex confinement. But if you give authority to relatively normal people who can leave the prison anytime they like, they're worse.--Bryan Caplan

... I argued that economists as a group almost never blamed the Fed for recessions, at the time and place, because the Fed was reflecting the consensus views of those same [elite] macroeconomists. (Exceptions are 1921 and 1982, when recessions were viewed as acceptable costs for containing inflation.) Thus with each recession we hear the refrain "Recessions are normally due to inadequate AD, caused by insufficiently expansionary money policy. But this time it's different." There is always some factor (financial instability, supply shocks, tech bubble) that exonerates the Fed. And how could it be otherwise? People don't want to blame themselves. Only with the perspective of time or distance (Japan 1990s, US 1930s), do we blame the central bank.--Scott Sumner

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