Friday, November 12, 2010

Quotes of the day

In short [the federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program, i.e. TARP] may have been the most successful United States program ever. Moreover, it was bipartisan in the sense that both the Republican Administration that created it and the Democratic Administration that fostered it were unified in their beliefs as to what should have been done—and they did it. ... [The media and politicians] continue to excoriate the program as having been harmful to ‘main street’ America. ... The program was never understood by … either group and they acted on their misperceptions by selling the American people an enormous set of falsehoods concerning what was being done and the effect of these programs.--Dick Bove

I don’t want to be too hard on [Jim] Webb: Health care isn’t his bailiwick, he’s a freshman Senator, and his work on prison reform is a model of the kind of task that lawmakers should be willing to take up. But in this case, he’s yet another exhibit in the case against the Senate’s bloc of centrists, center-right and center-left alike. There was a period of months where Webb basically wielded a kind of veto power over a bill that he apparently viewed as a political disaster in the making. And by his own account, he let that power go to waste.--Ross Douthat

You can get as angry as you want, but you cannot assume away the half of the political spectrum that does not want a massive increase in government spending and income redistribution. If you do, the voters will . . . well, do what they just did, and elect more of those people. ... A top tax rate of 28% on a much broader base is not a giveaway to the rich; it's more than double what Theresa and John Kerry paid in 2003.--Megan McArdle

If you accept Chait’s vision of a close-minded, Ayn Randian right and a pragmatic, non-ideological left, you would expect conservatives to be furious over the means-testing and loophole-closing, and liberals to be delighted to have a more redistributionist welfare state. Yet conservative reaction has been muted and respectful (with a notable exception, admittedly) while liberals have been flatly dismissive. Which suggests that maybe, just maybe, American liberalism has more of an ideological commitment to ever-rising government spending than Chait wants to admit.--Ross Douthat

I don't find it surprising that people who are not self-supporting would disproportionately break in favor of higher taxes to support a paternalistic program. But the proportion in the general population which supports tax increases is well under 50%, and unsurprisingly, is lowest among the age groups that are going to pay most of the taxes. ... Like a struggling company, we have a big budget gap, and a limited reservoir of tax increases and spending cuts that we can "spend" on fixing it. Every time we raise taxes or cut spending to fund one program, we leave less that can be used for other programs. Taxes cannot go to 100%. Spending will not go to zero. The question, then, is not simply, "Should we raise taxes or the retirement age to fix Social Security?" The question is, "What are the best spending cuts and tax increases to bring our budget into balance?" ... People in polls are lunatics on the budget; they consistently oppose tax increases, oppose spending cuts, and strongly support balancing the budget.--Megan McArdle

Shouldn’t we struggle against Facebook? Everything in it is reduced to the size of its founder. Blue, because it turns out Zuckerberg is red-green color-blind. “Blue is the richest color for me—I can see all of blue.” Poking, because that’s what shy boys do to girls they are scared to talk to. Preoccupied with personal trivia, because Mark Zuckerberg thinks the exchange of personal trivia is what “friendship” is. A Mark Zuckerberg Production indeed! We were going to live online. It was going to be extraordinary. Yet what kind of living is this? Step back from your Facebook Wall for a moment: Doesn’t it, suddenly, look a little ridiculous? Your life in this format?--Zadie Smith

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