Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Quotes of the day

The U.S. is the least dirty shirt.--Bill Gross

Basic economics acknowledges that whatever redeeming features a restriction may have, it increases the cost of production and exchange, making goods and services less affordable. There may be exceptions to the general case, but they would be atypical. Therefore, we counted as incorrect responses of "somewhat disagree" and "strongly disagree." This treatment gives leeway for those who think the question is ambiguous or half right and half wrong. They would likely answer "not sure," which we do not count as incorrect. In this case, percentage of conservatives answering incorrectly was 22.3%, very conservatives 17.6% and libertarians 15.7%. But the percentage of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly was 67.6% and liberals 60.1%. The pattern was not an anomaly. ... To be sure, none of the eight questions specifically challenge the political sensibilities of conservatives and libertarians. Still, not all of the eight questions are tied directly to left-wing concerns about inequality and redistribution. In particular, the questions about mandatory licensing, the standard of living, the definition of monopoly, and free trade do not specifically challenge leftist sensibilities. Yet on every question the left did much worse. On the monopoly question, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (31%) was more than twice that of conservatives (13%) and more than four times that of libertarians (7%). On the question about living standards, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (61%) was more than four times that of conservatives (13%) and almost three times that of libertarians (21%). The survey also asked about party affiliation. Those responding Democratic averaged 4.59 incorrect answers. Republicans averaged 1.61 incorrect, and Libertarians 1.26 incorrect.--Daniel Klein

Liberals are confident that they are smarter and better educated than conservatives. That may be the case in some sense. But they are overconfident in their beliefs. They may think of themselves as an elite, but they are just a ruling class.--Arnold Kling

... nominal interest rates have an Achilles heel. They might need to go significantly below zero, but cannot. This means that if rates fall to zero, and the Fed wants them to be lower, and the Fed is incapable of communicating with the public in any way other than interest rate changes, then the Fed becomes literally dumb (in the sense of speechless, although I’d argue that slang for ’stupid’ also applies here.) So the markets look to the Fed for direction, and they have nothing to say. ... If fiscal policy is to work, then it must raise Aggregate Demand (AD), and hence the future expected price level. If the Fed won’t let them do that, then it won’t work. It doesn’t even matter if the short term rate is stuck at zero right now, and there is nothing the Fed can do right now to sabotage fiscal policy. Just the expectation that in the future they will act to prevent the price level from rising as the fiscal authorities hope, is enough to sabotage current fiscal policy. That’s why I started this entire overlong essay with the thought experiment about house prices, to try to convince you that what drives current assets prices, and current AD, is future expected monetary policy.--Scott Sumner

People ask me how it feels to take the side of moral bankruptcy. Answer: Pretty good! Thanks for asking. How's it feel to be a disgruntled victim?--Scott Adams

In case you were tempted to buy the faux Washington outrage at BP and its gulf oil spill in recent days, here's a story that reveals a little-known corporate political connection and the quiet way the inner political circles intersect, protect and care for one another in the nation's capital. And Chicago. We already knew that BP and its folks were significant contributors to the record $750-million war chest of Barack Obama's 2007-08 campaign. Now, we learn the details of a connection of Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago mayoral wannabe, current Obama chief of staff, ex-representative, ex-Clinton money man and ex-Windy City political machine go-fer. Shortly after Obama's happy inaugural, eyebrows rose slightly upon word that, as a House member, Emanuel had lived the last five years rent-free in a D.C. apartment of Democratic colleague Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and her husband, Stanley Greenberg. For an ordinary American, that would likely raise some obvious tax liability questions. But like Emanuel, the guy overseeing the Internal Revenue Service now is another Obama insider, Tim Geithner, who had his own outstanding tax problems but skated through confirmation anyway by the Democratic-controlled Congress. Remember this was all before the letters BP stood for Huge Mess. Even before the Obama administration gave BP a safety award.--Andrew Malcolm

Leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran convened at a security summit meeting in Istanbul on Tuesday in a display of regional power that appeared to be calculated to test the United States ...--Sabrina Tavernise

In 2006 Kevin Lafferty of the University of California, Santa Barbara, published a paper noting a correlation between levels of neuroticism established by national surveys in various countries and the level of Toxoplasma infection recorded in pregnant women (a group who are tested routinely). The places he looked at ranged from phlegmatic Britain, with a neuroticism score of -0.8 and a Toxoplasma infection rate of 6.6%, to hot-blooded France, which scored 1.8 and had an infection rate of 45%. Cross-Channel prejudices, then, may have an unexpected origin. To repeat, correlation is not causation, and a lot more work would need to be done to prove the point. But it is just possible that a parasite’s desire to get eaten by a cat is shaping the cultures of the world.--The Economist

I’m not sure what to make of a world in which a ten year-old can’t find an hour to run and play, but I have a feeling there’s something very wrong with it.--Tony Woodlief

Compared with High School Musical, Romeo and Juliet is a Tarantino spectacular. ... Music is the prow of popular culture, and Hollywood follows as fast as it can. Only four years after the orgy in the New York mud bath, George Lucas gave the next crop of kids American Graffiti, and the youngest once again turned. What else could have followed Woodstock—the total embrace of free love, and everything good and (especially for girls) bad that came with it—other than a full embrace of the supposedly most sexually boring and intellectually repressed time and place of the 20th century, 1950s America? --Caitlin Flanagan

So, on behalf of single men everywhere: Thanks, but no thanks. Please don’t settle for us. Don’t get us wrong; it’s awfully nice of you to let us spend the rest of our lives trying to make you happy despite our obvious deficiencies. We’re honored that you’re willing to consider letting us buy you a diamond ring -- even though our eyes are the wrong color and you’re embarrassed by our lack of wine knowledge. Really, we appreciate it. But the truth is we’re just not comfortable treating marriage like an insurance policy taken out against the prospect of future loneliness -- so, please don’t settle for us.--Andrew Moore

The Duke researchers report that there are still four boys for every girl at the extreme right tail of the scores for the SAT math test. The boy-girl ratio has also remained fairly constant, at about three to one, at the right tail of the ACT tests of both math and science reasoning. Among the 19 students who got a perfect score on the ACT science test in the past two decades, 18 were boys.--John Tierney

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