Monday, November 15, 2010

Quotes of the day

People on all levels of income are better off than they were in 1979. The hon. Gentleman [Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)] is saying that he would rather that the poor were poorer, provided that the rich were less rich. That way one will never create the wealth for better social services, as we have. What a policy. Yes, he would rather have the poor poorer, provided that the rich were less rich. That is the Liberal policy.--Margaret Thatcher

There’s a colossal irony here: the very people who currently enjoy the benefits of a subsidized, government-run insurance system are intent on keeping others from getting the same treatment. In part, this is because seniors think of Medicare as an “entitlement”—something that they have a right to because they paid for it, via Medicare taxes—and decry the new bill as a giveaway. This is a myth: seniors today get far more out of Medicare than they ever put in, which means that their medical care is paid for by current taxpayers.--James Suroweicki

Someone who begins a sentence with “Confidentially” is nearly always betraying a confidence; someone who starts out “Frankly,” or “Honestly,” “To be (completely) honest with you,” or “Let me give it to you straight” brings to mind Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quip: “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”--Erin McKean

The right question to ask of the Bowles-Simpson plan is not whether the chairmen’s advice will be followed in full. It would be good if it were, but it will not be. The right question is what Mr Obama does next. Will he see the plan as a way for him to take charge and make the US think hard about ends and means – which he, the rest of the political class and the country as a whole have avoided up to now? Or will he see the plan, for which he himself asked, as political poison and hide? If it is the latter, as seems likely, we can conclude that the US has become ungovernable. The Bowles-Simpson plan matters not just for its merits but even more for what it says about the government’s capacity to act. The stakes are that high.  ... That vast empty space in the middle [between the extreme partisan divide of Congress] is the one [Obama] promised to bridge in 2008. I recall, in addition, a good deal of talk about confronting hard questions and leading the country from partisan paralysis to workable solutions. The talk has continued and there has been action as well: nobody could call this an idle administration. But the hardest questions have been shirked and Mr Obama has failed, abjectly, to lead. Mr President, here is your chance. You appointed two excellent chairman to lead your commission. Here is their advice. Accept it. Take ownership of it. Infuriate the zealots on Capitol Hill and, for heaven’s sake, do something with it.--Clive Crook

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it, “simply unacceptable.” Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO thinks it is a death sentence for “working Americans.” The conservative Americans for Tax Reform said it was “merely an excuse to raise net taxes on the American people.” And yesterday on TV, Senator Kent Conrad described the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson deficit cutting commission as “shock therapy.” Please. There’s nothing radical or earth shattering about the Bowles-Simpson proposals. You want something shocking? Try this. One generation of a once-great nation borrows $14 trillion from future generations so that it can fund a lifestyle it can’t afford – and then refuses to entertain reasonable proposals to curtail its lifestyle. Now, that’s shocking. So selfish. But predictably so. After decades of handouts, of LBJ’s Great Society, George Dubya’s Medicare D and now Obama’s “healthcare for all”, we have a fully entitled nation. And it’s much worse than “me, me, me.” American society is “me, me, me – and make sure you use other people’s money.”--Evan Newmark

Fed Chairman Bernanke wrote in an article in the Washington Post on November 4th that "The Federal Reserve cannot solve all the economy's problems on its own." The slowdown in the recovery of the American economy is not the result of Fed policy, and cannot be cured by yet another bout of open market operations. This is why the Fed should curtail, and better yet, eliminate its plans for QE2.--Gary Becker

[Dubya] Bush, please don’t use the Ivy League, a group to which you clearly belong, as cannon fodder to shape your presidential legacy.--Constance Boozer

Today you give away your privacy for nothing, in dribs and drabs. Your credit card company knows some things about you, your phone company knows others, and FaceBook knows a lot. One thing that all of those companies have in common is that the private information they possess involves mostly your past, and not so much your future. When you post pictures on FaceBook, it is a record of where you were, not a prediction of where you will be. Likewise, your credit card company and the phone company have records of what you did, as opposed to what you plan to do next. Privacy about your past is so cheap that you literally give it away. Privacy about your future plans is another matter. That has real value.--Scott Adams

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