Thursday, January 20, 2011

Quotes of the day

Real eyes
Real lies.--Anonymous

... the insatiable love of riches is a desire that brings far more torment to the soul than their enjoyment brings refreshment.--Bernard of Clairvaux

If you think health care is saving your life, then it doesn't seeem outrageous for it to cost as much as your rent, or your car payment. But because the cost is disguised for so many people--hidden in employer accounts or taxes--people don't understand that it actually is quite costly. Especially in the individual market, where both adverse selection and very high administrative costs take their toll. So it may be that the people who we expected to be covered by the high risk pools either can't afford it, or won't afford it--simply won't pay what they think are outrageous prices. And yet neither of these explanations is very satisfying. People with disabling chronic conditions are indeed often too poor to afford health insurance, but they're also disproportionately likely to end up on disability and thus Medicaid. Certainly, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that uptake had been depressed by the pricetag of insurance in the individual market. But I don't think this explains why 98% of the potentially insurable population is missing.--Megan McArdle

How, then, does the Affordable Care Act magically convert $1 trillion in new spending into painless deficit reduction? It's all about budget gimmicks, deceptive accounting, and implausible assumptions used to create the false impression of fiscal discipline.--Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Joseph Antos and James Capretta

... most Americans don’t actually disagree strongly about whether we should have a stronger safety net or a more limited government. They think, in a vague and none-too-consistent fashion, that we should have both at once — low taxes and expensive entitlements, subsidies for me but not for thee, a go-go free market when G.D.P. is rising but a protective government ready to save us from our foolishness when the economy goes bad, and so on. ... The shouters are sincere, but they’re also strategic: Framing the choice in stark, apocalyptic terms can feel like the only way to persuade the vast American middle to sit up and pay attention.--Ross Douthat

I liken being a conservative at the NY Times to being chief rabbi at Mecca.--David Brooks

I am not sure how much the portraits of researchers are intended as positive, but overall I take away from [A History of Autism: Conversations with the Pioneers] the message that many of them are arrogant and also partially incompetent.--Tyler Cowen

The New England Journal of Medicine and 13 other research publications may force scientists who submit studies to disclose payments from hedge funds in the wake of insider-trading probes involving a drugmaker and technology companies.--Alex Nussbaum

... lawyers themselves prevent bankers from saying anything. Bankers' public disclosure documents and courtroom testimony read like Vogon VCR manuals for the simple reason that all substance, spirit, and fact has been thoroughly and religiously bleached out of them prior to their release by an army of lawyers: bankers' in-house lawyers, client counsel, and even attorneys on the other side of the deal. ... If the world were not populated with flesh-eating securities litigators chomping at the bit to prove malfeasance because a banker was caught on record alleging the sun is hot, we bankers wouldn't have to wrap our every public utterance in 50 pounds of cotton wool. Physician, heal thyself.--Epicurean Dealmaker

The reason Hu Jintao decided to visit the U.S. this month is that the Chinese leader wants to know when the U.S. economy and its currency will be stable and strong again. It’s good the Chinese are known for patience because Hu may have to wait a while. At least that’s the view according to John Taylor, a Stanford University economist who has influenced Federal Reserve policies in the past. Fed officials often refer to the Taylor Rule, a formula devised by Taylor that shows how a central bank should manage interest rates in response to inflation and other data. At a recent joint lunch of the American Economics Association and the American Finance Association, Taylor, a Treasury undersecretary in President George W. Bush’s administration, delivered a second, equally interesting, rule. Taylor Rule II doesn’t have math. And it doesn’t say what the Fed should do. It predicts what the central bank will do. Taylor says a period of less Fed intervention and stable strong growth will come, along with a strengthening dollar. But by the time this happens, Hu, now 68, might be approaching 80.--Amity Shlaes

There has been a recent upswing in conservative articles discussing the idea of going back to some sort of gold standard. I don’t think people realize how dangerous this idea is. You can’t just “give it a shot” and see how it works out. It’s like marrying the daughter of a Mafia chieftain–you need to be very sure you are willing to commit. A true gold standard (not Bretton Woods) allows Americans to buy or sell gold. If you are not 100% committed to staying on gold, but instead hint you might devalue the dollar at some point, people will dump dollars and buy gold. The increase in demand for gold will raise its value, or purchasing power. This is deflationary under a gold standard, where the nominal price of gold is fixed.--Scott Sumner

The Wilders trial has also inflamed feeling everywhere in Europe about the place of Islam in European society. In France, the burqa has been banned; in Switzerland, the prohibition of new minarets was passed by referendum; in Sweden, the results of the elections last September were called a “catastrophe” by Muslim leaders because of the gains of the Swedish Democrats, an anti-Islamic party; in Germany, a party officially “inspired” by Wilders’s Freedom Party has been organized. Almost certainly, then, the Wilders trial backfired, and not just in Holland. Yet this may only be the beginning. Now that new trial judges will be appointed, it is possible that new witnesses—such as Mohamed Bouyeri, the murderer of van Gogh—will testify, verifying Wilders’s claim that Islam is a fascist political ideology rather than a religion. Not only Wilders but Islam itself may thus stand trial in Holland. Opponents of Islamism have long said that the trial should never have been held in the first place; but apologists for Islamism may come to regret that they ever pressed for it.--Thierry Baudet

... a student who entered college in the 50th percentile of students in his or her cohort would move up to the 68th percentile four years later -- but that's the 68th percentile of a new group of freshmen who haven't experienced any college learning.--Scott Jaschik

I started a garden last summer. It went to weeds, and then the weeds grew parched under the relentless Kansas sun, and then they withered and died. I traveled more than I’d anticipated, and when I was home other things competed for my time, if only fatigue. I think on that garden and I fear it will be my fatherhood — ground broken with good intentions, but scorched and barren all the same. All we parents begin with dreams of what our lives will mean. We dream that our children will be healthy and safe, that they will learn good things from us, that our God will be their God. We dream that when they are older they will be people we like, and that they will in turn want to be near us. Lately I have wrestled with bouts of panic. I fear I am too far behind, already, in this father’s race.--Tony Woodlief

... find the simplest title not yet taken for your papers. One word titles are the best. Second, before you get started on a paper, think about the title. If you can’t come up with a short title for it then its probably not worth writing.--Jeff Ely

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