Friday, January 21, 2011

Quotes of the day

Let’s try for the fancy [academic peer-reviewed] journal.--Eight year old Anna Ayres

If you (highly) discount future rewards, you’re less likely to be willing to invest in human capital; why give up leisure/consumption today for something in the future about which you don’t care very much? Of course, if your discount rate is too low, you will sacrifice most of today’s pleasures for the prospect of even modestly greater rewards in the future. I want my kids’ discount rate to be low, but I don’t want it to be zero. I don’t want them to sacrifice all of today’s pleasures for some future pie in the sky. ... If you had to choose your child’s discount rate, what number would you choose, and why? How much pleasure would you want them to sacrifice now in exchange for more pleasure in the future? How low would you go?--Ian Ayres

America is on a path to bankruptcy. It's easy to get bogged down arguing about lots of small cuts, but we'll only make progress by abolishing whole departments and entire missions. I hope the public understands it has to be done.--John Stossel

... the current talk about municipal bankruptcies is designed to fix the past problems - obligations we've already rung up - but doesn't address the underlying problem which, uncorrected, will guarantee that we have this discussion again in 15, 30 or 50 years. That problem is defined benefit pension plans which are based on overly aggressive underlying return assumptions.--Kid Dynamite

Although my mandate was to cut back, I spent more time fighting new proposals than getting rid of old ones. The staffs wanted more, not less. Whenever I met acquaintances from other agencies the invariable comment was "You won't believe what they want to do now." ("They" were the permanent staffs.) The current regulatory agencies are not going to hire or promote people like me. Without managers with a strong interest in deregulation and with the backing of senior administrators, there will be no serious power to buck the staffs. The current executive order seems to impose cost-benefit analysis, but it has enough loopholes ("equity, human dignity, fairness") so that agencies will be able to do whatever they want. Deregulation was hard even under Reagan. I am afraid it will be impossible under Mr. Obama.--Paul Rubin

I have a plan to reduce the budget deficit. The essence of the plan is the federal government writing me a check for $1 billion. The plan will be financed by $3 billion of tax increases. According to my back-of-the envelope calculations, giving me that $1 billion will reduce the budget deficit by $2 billion. ... The healthcare reform bill passed last year increased government spending to cover the uninsured, but it also reduced the budget deficit by increasing various taxes as well. Because of this bill, the advocates say, the federal government is on a sounder fiscal footing. Repealing it, they say, would make the budget deficit worse. So, by that logic, giving me $1 billion is fiscal reform as well.--Greg Mankiw

Suppose someone - say, the president of United States - proposed the following: We are drowning in debt. More than $14 trillion right now. I've got a great idea for deficit reduction. It will yield a savings of $230 billion over the next 10 years: We increase spending by $540 billion while we increase taxes by $770 billion. He'd be laughed out of town. And yet, this is precisely what the Democrats are claiming as a virtue of Obamacare. During the debate over Republican attempts to repeal it, one of the Democrats' major talking points has been that Obamacare reduces the deficit - and therefore repeal raises it - by $230 billion.--Charles Krauthammer

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of Government.--Ronald Reagan

After all, what ultimately ails the world is its inherent imperfectability — its fallen character, if you’re a Christian; its irreducible complexity and tendency toward entropy and dissolution, if you’re a strict materialist. This is true on all the great issues of the day. No matter how many lives may be saved or lost because of health care policy, no lives will be saved forever, and every gain will be an infinitely modest hedge against the wasting power of disease and death. No matter the wisdom of our politicians or the sagacity of their economic advisors, no policy course can guarantee universal wealth or permanent economic growth. And no matter the temperature of our discourse, the state of our gun laws, or the quality of our mental health care, nothing human beings do can prevent the occasional madman from shooting up a crowded parking lot.--Ross Douthat

Perhaps one strong outside indicator that a contrarian view is right is when the media goes out of its way to say that it is opposed by a “scientific consensus”!--Robin Hanson

I think it’s so unfair of people to be against Jack because he is a Catholic. He’s such a poor Catholic.--Jackie Kennedy

... although extraverted leadership enhances group performance when employees are passive, this effect reverses when employees are proactive, because extraverted leaders are less receptive to proactivity.--Academy of Management Journal

I once heard a senior European official remark that the trouble with democracy was that George W. Bush was its cheerleader. He had a point. Iraq had recently descended into bloody chaos. As long as the then US president was proselytizer-in-chief, democracy was a pretty tough sell. Western values have been out of fashion ever since. First came the post-Iraq realization that it is not that easy to impose them at the point of a cruise missile. Then it dawned on neoconservatives and liberal internationalists that there is more to all this than a ballot box. There are small matters such as the rule of law, an independent judiciary and robust institutions. All these have to fit the cultural circumstances. The lesson from Afghanistan is that the west lacks the stomach for nation-building. ... One of the striking things about today’s world is that it is full of despots pretending to be democrats. Even regimes that disdain anything that smacks of a western model want to claim the legitimacy conferred by democratic choices. --Philip Stephens

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