Friday, July 09, 2010

Quotes of the day

I like problems. Where there are problems there are opportunities. I don't think it can work any other way. No one wishes for problems, but when a bus goes into a ravine, the undertaker gets more business. That's just the way the world is wired. I credit the problems I had in the corporate world for my cartooning career. Had my path been smoother I wouldn't have tried something new. And I wouldn't have had so much fodder to work with.--Scott Adams

You can measure total employment, which includes the military, people doing census surveys, diversity outreach PowerPoints, environmental impact studies. Having people in jobs that are the best fit for them, in the context of what others really appreciate and what they enjoy doing, isn't in any aggregate data.--Eric Falkenstein

When I asked to use a single line by songwriter Joe Henry, for example, his record label's parent company demanded $150 for every 7,500 copies of my book. Assuming I sell enough books to earn back my modest advance, this amounts to roughly 1.5% of my earnings, all for quoting eight words from one of Mr. Henry's songs. I love Joe Henry, but the price was too high. I replaced him with Shakespeare, whose work (depending on which edition you use) is in the public domain. Mr. Henry's record label may differ, but it's not clear that his interests —or theirs—are being served here. Were they concerned that readers might have their thirst for Mr. Henry's music sated by that single lyric? Isn't it more likely that his lyric would have enticed customers who otherwise wouldn't have heard of him?--Tony Woodlief

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier. This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.--Dan Gilbert

... to [Gary] Brown, a veteran of multiple Washington-Wall Street investigations dating back to Enron, the failure of stronger financial reform is the result of partisan politics. Too many lawmakers are worried more about scoring political points than creating meaningful law. The Democrats just want to get it passed. The Republicans, knowing it will be passed, want to disown it and cripple it. It shouldn't have to be said, but Mr. Brown did. When it comes to making good laws: "You have to divorce yourself, whether you're a Democrat or Republican." Good Republican? Good Democrat? How about being a good lawmaker?--David Weidner

Reading Russ [Robert’s] paper makes me realize just how much our system is biased toward debt. And by the way, it isn’t just moral hazard; our tax system is also biased toward debt and against equity. People talk about Americans borrowing too much, but given all these distortions it’s surprising that we don’t have even more debt. Why didn’t I take out some mortgages and buy Florida condos? I’d like to think it was civic virtue, but I suppose it was just laziness. This also made me realize the importance of Lehman’s failure. It wasn’t just an isolated bankruptcy; it was a regime change that made enormous quantities of debt appear to be far riskier than just a few days earlier. And the change was made just as the US was entering a severe recession. I’m all for cracking down on moral hazard—but September 2008 was not the best time to do so. ... When you read Russ’s paper you begin to wonder if much of the US economy is just a giant Ponzi scheme. ... A few weeks ago I was kind of shocked to see respected bloggers speak well of the financial reform package. I can’t see how it addressed ANY of the major causes of the 2008 fiasco. But easily the most inexcusable aspect of the bill was that it didn’t even address Fannie and Freddie.--Scott Sumner

We might as well save taxpayers the money by eliminating the interest on reserves. From a Keynesian point of view, it would be better to use the money now being paid out as interest on reserves to cut taxes or increase spending, rather than to let it sit at banks doing nothing.--Arnold Kling

So when Democrats are in power and stimulus is mostly spending, liberals think that the stimulus is an issue of fierce moral urgency stymied by venal greed and rank idiocy, while conservatives develop deep qualms about budget deficits. When Republicans are in power, and stimulus consists mostly of tax cuts, Democrats get all vaporish about deficits and the income deficit, while Republicans suddenly realize that the normal rules don't apply in an emergency. When out of power, both sides will grudgingly concede that some small amount of highly temporary stimulus might be all right, but note (correctly) that the other side seems to be trying to make permanent as much of this "stimulus" as possible. For me, then, this mostly ends up as a proxy war over the level of government spending, a war I'd rather fight honestly on value grounds rather than attempting to disguise my preferences with a shoddy veneer of "scientific" logic. --Megan McArdle

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