Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quotes of the day

Autocracy is extremely risky: it could result in high growth, but it could just as well result in a growth collapse – for every Lee Kuan Yew, there is a Jean-Bédel Bokassa.--William Easterly

America is very close to a destructive tipping point. We must change how we conduct our politics and economics...or we will inevitably go the way of all once-great nations and suffer an irreversible decline. We as a nation cannot resolve what have become deep and systemic structural imbalances in our economy simply by throwing more money and more and more regulations and more and more taxes at the problem.--Glenn Hubbard and Peter Navarro

Rep. Barney Frank & Co. are getting set for yet another hearing this week on the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-controlled mortgage lenders. Once again, they're not after the truth -- they're looking to conceal it. The House Financial Services Committee chairman and his brethren on the left want you to believe they're making a good-faith effort to figure out what went wrong with Fannie and Freddie -- what mistakes led to their failure and takeover by the government during the 2008 financial collapse, and how to fix both institutions for the future. In fact, what they'll deliver is more hot air from so-called "housing advocates" obscuring just how much Fannie and Freddie contributed to the housing bubble, the 2008 financial collapse and the Great Recession. It's all meant to give lawmakers an excuse not to do what's necessary and prudent -- namely, kill Fannie and Freddie before they come back to do it all again.--Charlie Gasparino

FBI agents and several supervisors cheated on an exam about new rules for terrorism and criminal investigations and for collecting foreign intelligence, according to a U.S. Justice Department report released on Monday. The report by inspector general Glenn Fine found that some FBI employees improperly consulted with others while taking the exam, and others used or distributed answer sheets or study guides that essentially provided the answers to the test. A few FBI employees, including several supervisors and a legal adviser, exploited a programing flaw to reveal the answers on their computers, according to the investigation into four FBI offices around the country and several individuals. The report found significant abuses and cheating involving at least 22 employees.--Jason Vicini

It’s not enough to murmur that opera is “high culture” or “serious music.” For one thing, opera has a right to be silly, and often is. As it happens, a more effective riposte comes from Wagner himself. Amid his absurd and repulsive pronouncements on all manner of topics, you can find some acute insights into music’s place in society. He did not write for the high and mighty; his music is as much a critique of power as an exercise in it. And at a time when so much cultural expression seems secondhand and retrospective, young artists have much to learn from Wagner’s mad ambition.--Alex Ross

Being an ugly duckling is not a bad thing. Microsoft would have been one, 3 months in, when their product was a Basic interpreter for the Altair. If the equivalent company tried to raise money today, most VCs would reject them because their market seemed too small, though some angels would probably say yes on the grounds that the founders seemed smart and the domain worth exploring.--Paul Graham

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