Friday, October 08, 2010

Quotes of the day

Transparency is a complex phenomenon. Before politicians demand greater “transparency” from hedge funds, they might be well served by reading this paper. It seems that a little transparency can easily be worse than no transparency at all.--aka Alpha Male

If you want to think of the universe as something other than a mathematical object — say, something that is controlled by mathematics, or described by mathematics, as opposed to made of mathematics — then you’re up against the fact that nobody has the slightest idea how to construct a useful physical theory along those lines. It’s not just that science rejects all the alternatives; it’s that no scientist (as far as I know) has even been able to imagine a useful alternative. (Perhaps you can find solace in religion.)--Steve Landsburg

The Kantian idea that you judge everything on good intentions is not absurd, after all it's hard to fault someone for ignorance because in many cases ignorance is not a choice, but rather the effect of circumstance. Yet here, Moore is simply wrong on the facts here. Medical bills did not rise appreciably in 2007-08. The only evidence that medical bills causes foreclosure is that among people who will be interviewed after a foreclosure, if you ask them why, their answers are predictably self serving (every bankrupt company CEO thinks he was 'screwed' by his banker). But still, I imagine many on the left would find that one nice thing about poor places like Gabon and Bangladesh is that there is less economic inequality; if the US were 25% poorer but had no billionaires, it would be preferable. In that case, I guess I just have different preferences than these people.--Eric Falkenstein

As Igor Volsky of ThinkProgress expertly documents -- both by citing to Daschle's book and by interviewing him -- the White House had negotiated away the public option very early in the process (July, 2009), even though Obama and the administration spent months after that assuring their supporters that they were doing everything they could do have a public option in the bill.--Glenn Greenwald

The President uses two aggregate numbers: “about $4 trillion worth of tax cuts” and “more than $700 billion.” In both cases these are 10-year totals. What the President didn’t say is that he and Republicans basically agree on the other $3.1 trillion of “tax cuts,” which I think of as preventing tax increases. If the President thinks that Republicans are irresponsible for proposing $700 B of “tax cuts” that he opposes because of the deficit effect, why is he OK with the other $3.1 trillion of deficit effect?--Keith Hennessey

New data from the I.R.S. and an analysis by the non-partisan Tax Foundation, show the rich are indeed paying a lower share of the nation’s tax burden. But that’s because the rich are losing income. And while their share of the nation’s earnings is falling, their average tax rate is rising.--Robert Frank

The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore.--Fidel Castro

So another way of stating China’s rapid growth recipe would be something like the following: Have a succession of crazy autocrats, political chaos, and war savagely repress one of history’s most inventive peoples, along with not allowing one of the most successful trading diasporas in history to operate in China proper. Then have things calm down a bit and have somewhat less crazy rulers allow more of the people’s energy and creativity to burst out. Presto, the change from EXTREME NEGATIVE to LESS NEGATIVE is called a “growth rate,” and it will be high. Now accept worship from around the world.--William Easterly

I and others argue that government spending in WWII—a giant spike in government spending financed by debt—did not create prosperity and economic recovery. It created hardship because you can’t eat bombs, you can’t wear tanks, and you can’t sweeten your coffee with bullets. And Krugman, who is a trained economist with a Nobel Prize argues that we’re wrong. It wasn’t crowding out or a failure of the Keynesian multiplier. The reason we’re wrong is that the US government forced people to get by with less because of a government program called rationing. He appears to be arguing that if it weren’t for rationing, then we would have seen the Keynesian multiplier in all its glory. What the heck is he talking about? Does he think the rationing is what produced scarcity rather then being a response to scarcity? ... The fact that WWII did not stimulate the private sector does not prove that Keynesianism always fails. Maybe a smaller army and fewer tanks would have done the trick. But it certainly does not prove that it was a success. It was not a success. It did not stimulate the private sector. It did not create an extra 50 cents or two dollars on top of the original expenditure as the recipients of government contracts and their workers had more money to spend. It starved the private sector. It was a failure as an example of Keynesian stimulus.--Russ Roberts

The end of Microsoft's dominance for browsers demonstrates that in the long run, vigorous market competition is almost always the best regulator of all, and the consumer's best friend.--Mark Perry

Consistent with their greater expected propensity for risk taking, younger brothers were 10.6 times more likely to attempt the high-risk activity of base stealing and 3.2 times more likely to steal bases successfully (odds ratios). In addition, younger brothers were significantly superior to older brothers in overall batting success, including two measures associated with risk taking.--Personality and Social Psychology Review, November 2010 vol. 14

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