Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quotes of the day

... football by its nature is animalistic, raw, a bloody piece of meat. That’s what fans want, as close to the bygone days of the Roman Coliseum as we can position ourselves. It also sells.--Buzz Bissinger

If teacher salaries reflect the will of the people, then why does the union have to engage in political activity at all?--Arnold Kling

The brain benefits from being used, so that, in a neat circle, resistance training may both demand and create additional brain circuitry. Imagine what someone like Einstein might have accomplished if he had occasionally gone to the gym.--Gretchen Reynolds

A more reliable gauge of the banks’ health, then, would be not the bottom line of the income statement but rather the top-line revenue, which is not affected by rainy-day reserves. Here, the picture is less rosy. Industrywide, revenues are off 17 percent from their peak in 2007, and the latest figures are flat or declining.--Eric Dash

... Goldman’s decision is likely to step up the scrutiny of nonpublic markets for common stock. The fact that Goldman was unwilling to sell these [Facebook] shares to domestic investors but give the opportunity to foreign ones will raise some outcry to liberalize the rules for offering stock on these markets. This outcry will be countered by claims that the Facebook media fury is unique. These markets should not exist unless the kind of information made available for a public company is made available for private companies or only investors who can truly assess the risks should be allowed to participate. This is a real debate and should spur a rethinking of how we want these markets to be regulated.--Steven Davidoff

... if you listen to the rhetoric very carefully and press them particularly on what I'm describing—the Secretary of the Treasury speaks not to defaulting on our outside creditors, he speaks not about being able to pay our outside obligations and so when people talk about a default, what they are really talking about is defaulting on our outside creditors—the people holding our debt. That's how it would affect our bond ratings in the financial markets for the most part. And what I'm telling you is if we force the Treasury to pay those obligations first through the legislation I'm advocating for that default would not occur. And that scare tacit they are using would be off the table. We need to address the more meaningful reforms like the obligations the government owes within itself between various accounts. That's the heart of the matter here. The crisis is not paying the outside creditors. Its about whether we can pay all the operating costs of the federal government- that's the real crisis.--Tim Pawlenty

The reason why it was so easy to sell securities rated triple-A -- like the higher tranches of the now notorious collateralized debt obligations -- was not that every potential buyer was a true believer in the theory of efficient markets. It was because financial regulators insisted a triple-A rating was necessary for many of the investments made by pension and mutual funds, which the regulators would never have done had they been convinced that the market would take care of these investment decisions by itself. If the market is always right, why insist that investors choose highly rated assets? So the problem was not that market failure was thought to be impossible, but the much more sinister belief that someone else was going to take care of it when it happened.--Paul Seabright

Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls. Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group — these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale. Yet mastering these arduous skills is at the very essence of achievement. Most people work in groups. We do this because groups are much more efficient at solving problems than individuals (swimmers are often motivated to have their best times as part of relay teams, not in individual events). Moreover, the performance of a group does not correlate well with the average I.Q. of the group or even with the I.Q.’s of the smartest members. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon have found that groups have a high collective intelligence when members of a group are good at reading each others’ emotions — when they take turns speaking, when the inputs from each member are managed fluidly, when they detect each others’ inclinations and strengths. Participating in a well-functioning group is really hard. It requires the ability to trust people outside your kinship circle, read intonations and moods, understand how the psychological pieces each person brings to the room can and cannot fit together.--David Brooks

The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I felt that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college but is a university with something definite to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a “Harvard man” is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.--John F. Kennedy

... creating a 21st-century regulatory system is about more than which rules to add and which rules to subtract. As the executive order I am signing makes clear, we are seeking more affordable, less intrusive means to achieve the same ends—giving careful consideration to benefits and costs. This means writing rules with more input from experts, businesses and ordinary citizens. It means using disclosure as a tool to inform consumers of their choices, rather than restricting those choices. And it means making sure the government does more of its work online, just like companies are doing. We're also getting rid of absurd and unnecessary paperwork requirements that waste time and money. We're looking at the system as a whole to make sure we avoid excessive, inconsistent and redundant regulation. And finally, today I am directing federal agencies to do more to account for—and reduce—the burdens regulations may place on small businesses. Small firms drive growth and create most new jobs in this country. We need to make sure nothing stands in their way. ... This is the lesson of our history: Our economy is not a zero-sum game. Regulations do have costs; often, as a country, we have to make tough decisions about whether those costs are necessary. But what is clear is that we can strike the right balance. We can make our economy stronger and more competitive, while meeting our fundamental responsibilities to one another.--President Obama

It really is not conceivable that a shift of power from technocrats to legislators would help. Instead, I think that the only solution is to shift power to smaller units of government, and to make it as easy as possible for people to choose the manner they are governed using exit, rather than voice.--Arnold Kling

And to prove that his admiration of capitalism has nothing to do with naked political expediency, Obama signed an executive order that will "root out regulations that conflict, that are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb." Sounds rather subjective, though, don't you think? How do we gauge excessive regulation in the Age of Obama? I can't recall a single federal program, legislation or proposal in the past two years that was initiated to ease the burden on consumers or businesses. (If you know of any, please send specifics to Obama doesn't have to look far, if he's serious. Nor does he need an executive order. Right now the EPA is drafting carbon rules to force on states, even though a similarly torturous 2,000 pages on a cap-and-trade scheme intending to make power more expensive was rejected. Maybe there's something in that pile of paper to mine? Right now, the FCC is shoving net neutrality in the pipeline — again, bypassing Congress — so government can regulate the Internet for the first time in history, though the commissioners themselves admit that, as of now, any need for rules are based on the what-ifs of their imaginations. There exists no legislation more burdensome and expensive than the "job-crushing" (not "job-killing," because, naturally, we can't stand for that kind of imagery) "Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act," formerly known as Obamacare and presently being symbolically repealed by House Republicans.--David Harsanyi

We are seeing fewer jobs where there is the external discipline of the time clock and the assembly line. The human robot that was once needed to lift and pound in a factory continues to be replaced by non-human robots. Instead, we are seeing more jobs where internal discipline is required. I suspect that this explains some of the wage differential that shows up for college graduates. Graduating high school shows that you can submit to external discipline. Graduating college shows that you can operate under internal discipline. In the 1920's, the boom (or bubble) in stocks helped raise perceived wealth. This maintained demand for agricultural products, which allowed some Jeffersonian agriculture to persist longer than it would have otherwise. The 1930's forced a rapid transition. Similarly, the housing boom earlier in this decade helped to raise perceived wealth and maintained demand in many sectors. This allowed many nine-to-five jobs modeled on the industrial form of organization to persist longer than they would have otherwise. The crash forced a rapid transition.--Arnold Kling

How else could anyone paint immigrants as "intruders" when their landlords, employers, and grocers are delighted to see them? You might think that it would be easy to persuade conservatives to reject the Overlord Argument. It's basically a single-issue rationalization. And it's a slippery slope to most of the policies conservatives abhor: If your employer can require health insurance as a condition of employment, why can't your government require health insurance as a condition of citizenship? Alas, doublethink is no monopoly of the left.--Bryan Caplan

Krugman’s moral stance is not only incoherent but it isn’t even a moral stance.--Tibor Machan

I’d stop following myself [on Twitter]. In fact I have.--Don Miller

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