Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quotes of the day

Dave [Sokol]’s purchases were made before he had discussed Lubrizol with me...--Warren Buffett. WSJ has a timeline here.

At best, Buffett's quote can be translated into "Dave Sokol was talking his book to the max". To their credit, they got out right away to face the music. Sure beats hiding under a rock and facing the firing squad later.--Cav

Knowing today what I know, what I would do differently is I just would never have mentioned it to Warren, and just made my own investment and left it alone. I think that’s a disservice to Berkshire, but if that’s what people want to do in the future, that’s fine. You can’t — or at least I don’t think you can executives to not invest their own family’s capital in a company that Berkshire had no interest, or even knowledge of, and somehow police that. The only thing you can do is just say if you invest your own money, don’t ever mention it to anyone at Berkshire. That doesn’t make sense to me either, but that’s certainly what it sounds like.--David Sokol

I tried to put myself in his shoes and reconstruct his thinking, and I concluded that it was just this simple: What’s the most I can get? I think Bill [Gates] knew that I would balk at a two-to-one split, and that 64 percent was as far as he could go. He might have argued that the numbers reflected our contributions, but they also exposed the differences between the son of a librarian and the son of a lawyer. I’d been taught that a deal was a deal and your word was your bond. Bill was more flexible; he felt free to renegotiate agreements until they were signed and sealed. There’s a degree of elasticity in any business dealing, a range for what might seem fair, and Bill pushed within that range as hard and as far as he could.--Paul Allen

Is it me, or do the Gates/Allen, Jobs/Wozniak, and Zuckerberg/Saverin pairings of Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook rhyme with each other?--Cav

Surely I can’t call the TV, the “boobtube” and then act like the Internet is devoid of that issue?--Jon Acuff
Photo link here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My favorite candidate for the next Fed chair

will not be blogging for the foreseeable future. I hope its a sabbatical thing, timed right before Ben Bernanke vacates the seat.  Photo link here.

It could and should also count as “Ethos of the Blogger”

says Tyler Cowen:
•All research raises as many questions as it answers
•All research is difficult to interpret and to draw clear conclusions from
•Qualitative research may be vital to elaborate experience, suggest narratives for understanding phenomena and generate hypotheses but it can’t be taken to prove anything
•Quantitative research may be able to show hard findings but can rarely (never?) give clear answers to complex questions

And yet, despite all the challenges, it is still worth attempting to encourage an evidence-based approach, since the alternative is to continue to develop practice based only on assumption and belief.
Inspired by Rodney King, I can only add, "Can't we all just get over ourselves?"

Quotes of the day

From an economist’s perspective, it’s right to focus on the core [inflation number over the headline]. Appropriately, the Fed’s goal is headline inflation, but it’s headline inflation in the future, and therefore core is the good predictor.--Vincent Reinhart

Suppose you're driving across a long stretch of desert and notice that your gas tank is nearly empty. A sign says, "Last gas for 100 miles." Unfortunately, the brand of gas is associated with an oil company that you consider to be unethical weasels. You have vowed to boycott their products. On principle, you drive past the gas station, run out of gas, and eventually die in the desert. Question: Were you principled or stupid?--Scott Adams

Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?--Solomon

I also don’t see any reason to believe that if we raised taxes from 28% to 40% of GDP, that revenue would rise anywhere near proportionately, with no change in GDP per capita. The progressive response is that the Laffer Curve idea is far-fetched, and that higher tax rates don’t reduce GDP per capita. Instead they argue that the lower European GDP/person represents mysterious cultural differences, a preference for leisure. Even worse, this cultural trait developed only recently, as during the 1960s (when French tax rates were similar to those in America), they worked just as hard as we did. All this may be true, but progressives can’t point to any European models (except perhaps special cases like Norway and Luxembourg) that raise the sort of revenue they claim the US would raise if we boosted taxes as a share of GDP to European levels. ... Peter Lindert showed that Europeans were able to raise more tax revenue only by having more regressive tax systems than the US, i.e. tax systems that relied more heavily on consumption taxes. This is now pretty much common knowledge in the public finance area. But many American progressives keep insisting that we can get closer to the (egalitarian) European model by making the US tax system more progressive, by having the rich pay more. ... I have a different solution. Recognize that $13,000/person is enough revenue (if used wisely) to provide for a decent society. (Canada spends less.) Stop spending $15,000/person on Medicare in counties like McAllen Texas, where per capita income is only about $15,000. Decentralize everything and level the playing field by giving lump sum grants to counties based on per capita income levels in those counties. Don’t try to raise lots more revenue, try to get much better results with the revenue we already raise. Spend less on the military. Use ideas from Singapore (which provides universal health care at a very low cost to the taxpayer.) ... Progressives believe that the US can raise lots more revenue, that the US tax system is not progressive enough, and that fiscal stimulus can work. Those are all examples of the triumph of faith over reason. Blind faith in government that can only lead to bad outcomes.--Scott Sumner

In the final analysis, it has been Treasury’s broken promises that have turned TARP — which was instrumental in saving the financial system at a relatively modest cost to taxpayers — into a program commonly viewed as little more than a giveaway to Wall Street executives. It wasn’t meant to be that. Indeed, Treasury’s mismanagement of the Troubled Asset Relief Program and its disregard for TARP’s Main Street goals — whether born of incompetence, timidity in the face of a crisis or a mindset too closely aligned with the banks it was supposed to rein in — may have so damaged the credibility of the government as a whole that future policy makers may be politically unable to take the necessary steps to save the system the next time a crisis arises. This avoidable political reality might just be TARP’s most lasting, and unfortunate, legacy.--Neil Barofsky, outgoing special inspector general for TARP

I really like that part [Alan Greenspan says] about “notably rare exceptions.” It reminds me of a defense lawyer arguing that while his client may have committed a few murders on one particular day, his conduct on all the other days of his life had been exemplary.--Floyd Norris

Research is sort of doing your homework ahead of time. Getting the [revenue] number [before official release] is more like cheating on a test ... I knew the answer ahead of time.--Adam Smith, testifying in the Raj Rajaratnam trial

Singapore is important to any study of government just now, both in the West and in Asia. That is partly because it does some things very well, in much the same way that some Scandinavian countries excel in certain fields. But it is also because there is an emerging theory about a superior Asian model of government, put forward by both despairing Western businesspeople and hubristic Asian chroniclers. Simplified somewhat, it comes in four parts. First, Singapore is good at government (which is largely true). Second, the secret of its success lies in an Asian mixture of authoritarian values and state-directed capitalism (largely myth). Third, China is trying to copy Singapore (certainly true). Last, China’s government is already more efficient than the decadent West (mostly rubbish, see next section). ... It is sometimes argued that an American administration operates strategically for only around six months, at the beginning of its second year—after it has got its staff confirmed by the Senate and before the mid-terms campaign begins. ... For all the talk about Asian values, Singapore is a pretty Western place. Its model, such as it is, combines elements of Victorian self-reliance and American management theory. The West could take in a lot of both without sacrificing any liberty. Why not sack poor teachers or pay good civil servants more? And do Western welfare states have to be quite so buffet-like? By the same token, Singapore’s government could surely relax its grip somewhat without sacrificing efficiency. That might help it find a little more of the entrepreneurial vim it craves.--The Economist

... we have some small degree of success and we add that to our identity. That success becomes our identity. So now, when we try something new, we’re not just afraid to fail, we’re afraid to lose our identity. That’s what’s terrifying. That’s why people are afraid to take risks or try new things. It’s not just failure at stake, we think we’re going to lose our identity and that’s overwhelming.--Daniel

I was considered a right-wing capitalist at Harvard Law School for favoring the hard left side of the Democratic Party.--Jim Cramer, on CNBC

Only a hacker who had trouble with women could have created Facebook.--Cav

If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.--Albert Einstein

Basically, there are just paths. Or maybe there’s just woods, and you have to cut your way through the woods. One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies is from Wonderboys, when Katie Holmes character reminds Professor Tripp that “writers have to make decisions.” What she meant was a book only starts taking shape when a writer decides to go somewhere and then takes action in that direction. Kinda like life, I think. Just decide and move. Just write the thing. Just move.--Don Miller
Photo link here.

A no-fly zone for Scott Adams

He definitely needed one this past week. Photo link here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quotes of the day

The only people who win when the lawyers take over are the lawyers. No one else wins. ... Who is paying this kid who is one of the ten who filed the lawsuit in the antitrust case that has not even been drafted yet? Who's paying his bill? The four quarterbacks can probably pay for their own. But who is paying that player's bill? You think he is paying for his own lawyer? Hell no! So where is the money coming from? It doesn't seem to smell right to me.--Susan Tose Spencer

The Boston Red Sox came close to winning 100 games in six of the last eight seasons. Could this be the year they do it? Their lineup is loaded. Their rotation is strong. Their bullpen is improved. Their health is much better. And the addition of two of baseball's most productive players, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, makes them widely favored to reach the World Series for the third time in eight years.--AP
Photo link here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quotes of the day

Nature goes her own way, and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order.--Goethe

Google’s aim is defensive not offensive. They are not trying to make a profit on Android or Chrome. They want to take any layer that lives between themselves and the consumer and make it free (or even less than free). Because these layers are basically software products with no variable costs, this is a very viable defensive strategy. In essence, they are not just building a moat; Google is also scorching the earth for 250 miles around the outside of the castle to ensure no one can approach it.--Bill Gurley

Yet while employers are subject to anti-trust laws that forbid collusions and other monopolistic practices, unions were exempt from the anti-trust laws by the Clayton Anti-Trust Act of 1914, reinforced by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. This exemption meant that unions had the legal right to organize workers in whole industries or occupations, which would give unions some monopoly control over hiring, and the supply of workers to industries and occupations. Unions exercise this power by threatening to strike and to withhold the labor of their members. The right to bargain collectively should also be available to government workers. Yet since these workers face only limited competition from the private sector and from other governments, they should not have the monopoly power that comes with the right to strike. Regrettably, many government unions do have this option. Strikes give government unions significant monopoly power over the public purse because they can use a strike to shut down transportation services, garbage collection, and other vital public services.--Gary Becker

Last week, the Florida state legislature passed sweeping changes to the state’s law for employing public school teachers. The new regime effectively eliminates tenure for newly hired employees; requires districts to evaluate teachers based in part on student performance on standardized tests; abolishes the rule that seniority determines teacher layoffs; and lets districts establish performance-based salary schedules. ... Not surprisingly, public school teachers in Florida have vigorously opposed the changes, as have teachers’ unions in other states considering similar, if less comprehensive, reforms. The Florida Education Association, the state’s teachers’ union, has already threatened to file a lawsuit to block or overturn the law. The unions’ most frequent objection is that the state’s unilateral imposition of new work rules is disrespectful to teachers. Yet it’s the current system that treats teachers as interchangeable widgets. Under Florida’s current rules, the process for evaluating teachers is essentially a rubber stamp—it is common for 99 percent or more teachers to earn “Satisfactory” or higher ratings. The state’s teachers earn uniform pay based exclusively on two attributes: years of experience and possession of advanced degrees, criteria mostly unrelated to the quality of their teaching, research shows.--Marcus Winters

Dick Parsons is probably a great guy. But consider the fact that Obama, by increasing government intervention in the economy, is making more of these guys, and fewer innovators.--Tim Carney

... it’s a shame that tragically unhappy people don’t know when they’ve run out of useful words.--Joe Posnanski

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.--Chuck Reid

It doesn't suck

In Predictalot.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Countries with more income inequality tend to adopt tax regimes with more progressivity

That is Scott Sumner, commenting on Karl Smith's graph:

Quotes of the day

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.--Samuel Johnson

Quite often that dragon of failure is really chasing you off the wrong road and on to the right one.--Paul Tudor Jones.  Entire speech here.

Milton Friedman helped revive capitalism when he showed that the Great Depression didn’t show capitalism was unstable, but rather that monetary policy had been unstable. Some critics argue he actually was a closet interventionist, as he thought capitalism required active stabilization policy. Perhaps, but one could also argue that he was saying “as long as the government runs our monetary regime, they need to do it well.” Sort of like a libertarian arguing that if governments build our bridges, they should build them so that they don’t collapse. In any case, conservatives later started to drift away from the Friedman/Schwartz view of the Great Depression, and became increasingly disdainful of “demand shock” explanations of the business cycle. This created a huge problem in 2008, as conservatives had great difficulty defending the free market, which seemed to have once again failed us.--Scott Sumner

Economics is most like a science when people do not care about the outcome of the argument.--Tyler Cowen

... the market is inhabited by people, heterogeneous and context-sensitive, who do not live up to the lofty assumptions of mathematical optimization and Aristotelian logic that underlie these approaches – and do not do so for good reasons. The nature of complexity also is different in the economic realm from that in physical systems because it can stem from people gaming, from changing the rules and assumptions of the system. Ironically, "game theory" is not suited to addressing this source of complexity. But military theory is. ... Simply put, a system is complex if you cannot delinate all of its states. You may think you have the system figured it out, and you might have it figured out most of the time, but every now and then something happens that leaves you scratching your head. This is an epistemological interpretation of complexity. It defines complexity as creating limits to our knowledge. Neoclassical economics does not admit such complexity.--Rick Brookstaber

... if [a strategy] works, it is obsolete. Yesterday’s rules won’t work today.--John Boyd

... what separated those with modest but significant predictive ability from the utterly hopeless was their style of thinking. Experts who had one big idea they were certain would reveal what was to come were handily beaten by those who used diverse information and analytical models, were comfortable with complexity and uncertainty and kept their confidence in check.--Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner

... for most people, the best guess for the income you'll need to live on in retirement comfortably is: about the same as the income you need now. ... There are no easy answers. But the real problem is that most people still don't even understand the questions.--Brett Arends

Why didn’t [President Obama] talk to [Christy] Romer? I suspect that Larry Summers blocked access.--Scott Sumner

If a professor is interested in raising his or her citation ranking, he or she should should prefer a journal with open access.--Greg Mankiw

Don't hate the playa, hate the game.--Jennifer Dirmeyer's Public Choice in One Lesson

I've always wondered about Afrika Bambataa emerging only after Aerosmith's "Walk This Way". Allegedly, the first rapper was a white Red Sox fan. It is what it is.--Cav

... just 64.2 percent of adults were either in a job or actively looking for one, representing the lowest participation rate in 25 years. ... The report observes that the participation rate peaked at about 67 percent during the late 1990s and in 2000, since that’s when baby boomers were in their prime working-age years of 25 to 54. Women had also been entering the labor force at a rapid clip. But since then the share of women who choose to work has fallen. In fact, it’s now at the lowest level in nearly 20 years. Meanwhile baby boomers are reaching retirement age and dropping out of the labor force. Additionally, the share of people under age 25 who are working or looking for work has also fallen.--Catherine Rampell

I’m not so sure we would have had the influx of demand for people to make [New York City] their home [if former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and current Mayor Michael Bloomberg hadn’t focused on] the small stuff, like graffiti on the subways, trash and quality of life issues.--Jonathan Miller
Photo link here.

Arthur Laffer for the Nobel prize?

California’s tax collections grew at around half of what the state projected for 2010—indicating that the state’s fiscal situation may be even more dire than previously understood. California’s tax collections grew 3.79 percent last year, according to data released by the US Census Bureau. At the start of 2010,California was projecting revenue growth of 6.5 percent. ... two years of tax hikes have produced far less impressive results than state officials expected. The increased income, sales and car taxes were supposed to be temporary measures to keep California’s state government fiscally healthy until the local economy recovered and the state’s budget deficit could be addressed. The underperformance of the tax increases, however, has thrown a monkey-wrench into the plans.--John Carney
Chart link here.

Voicemail is a seriously time-consuming way to communicate

Thus sayeth John Carney (who I think is one of the best in his business).

Of course, television has some similarities, as I pointed out in the comments of his post:
I'd rather read transcripts of CNBC pieces rather than listening and watching television--even with Amanda Drury and some of the other smarter personae on the channel. But I put up with the "seriously time-consuming way to communicate" because I can multitask (and I'm a horrible multitasker compared with my wife). Perhaps Lloyd and friends have found a way to enhance productivity--listening to voicemail while writing email?
Photo link here.

My favorite representative reminds me of Gwyneth Paltrow's favorite teacher

Which is more important, dealing with a tangled budget or tangoed metrosexual?  A question only for America.  Photo links here and here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Aurora Borealis comes in view

And I ran, I ran so far away.
I just ran, I couldn't get away.--A Flock of Seagulls
Photo link here.

UPDATE:  John Ruskin says:
What nature does generally, is sure to be more or less beautiful; what she does rarely, will either be very beautiful, or absolutely ugly.

Quotes of the day

The government didn’t charge nearly as much as Warren Buffett did.--Lloyd Blankfein

Bank of America said the Fed had vetoed its plans for a modest dividend increase in the second half of 2011.--BEN PROTESS and ERIC DASH

CalPERS, the pension fund in charge of California's $230B portfolio, recently noted they rejected adjusting their expected return over the next 10 years from 7.75% down to 7.5%. That 'saved' them $400MM this year! ... Either someone invents cold fusion, the Mayan alien astronauts bring us all sorts of manna when they return in 2012, or we will monetize our debt to pay for all these off-balance sheet liabilities. I'm betting on the latter.--Eric Falkenstein

The astonishing part was the way that the four-year-olds’ ability to defer gratification was reflected over time in their lives. Those who waited longest [to eat the marshmallow] scored higher in academic tests at school, were much less likely to drop out of university and earned substantially higher incomes than those who gobbled up the sweet straight away. Those who could not wait at all were far more likely, in later life, to have problems with drugs or alcohol.--The Economist

What bothers me is when I see attempts to redistribute wealth from the two marshmallow eaters to the one marshmallow eaters. For instance, by the time I retire in 6 years I will have probably averaged about $80,000/year over my working life, which makes me comfortably upper middle class. Because I am a two marshmallow personality, I’ve probably saved about half of that income. So I’m doing fine. Most Americans with similar incomes are one marshmallow types, and save something closer to 10% of their incomes.--Scott Sumner

[Herman] Husband really was a prophet. He proposed such things anathema to the creditor class as going off the gold standard and managing a slow, deliberate rate of paper depreciation; imposing taxes on wealth and income; making those taxes progressive; and instituting programs for supporting the elderly after they could no longer work. Prefiguring Bretton Woods, the New Deal, and Great Society by nearly two centuries, Husband became known as “the madman of the Alleghenies.”  ... So in judging the relative effectiveness of popular versus elite finance, it’s worth considering some outcomes. The sophisticates [Robert] Morris and [James] Wilson, like many of our best-certified wizards today, persisted in speculating well past the point where rationality would suggest stopping, often in manifestly dubious ventures.  ...  And inevitably, just as today, it all came crashing down. Wilson was serving on the U.S. Supreme Court when his increasingly desperate throwing of good money after bad finally landed the great legal scholar in debtors prison. Our mighty founding financier Robert Morris? He ended up in debtors prison too. In 1800, the first Bankruptcy Act was passed — in large part to get Robert Morris out of jail.--William Hogeland

Because [Paul Krugman] never engages in real arguments but rather ad hominem and straw men, his adversaries are unpersuaded, which makes him even angrier. ... It's a strange lack of self awareness to find one's certainty interesting to others, because of course everyone believes he is right, otherwise he wouldn't believe what he believes, but it seems [Brad] DeLong and Krugman simply think everyone else is merely a duplicitous shill or moron. ... As Krugman's dyspeptic disposition highlights, being certain you know better can not only be bad epistemologically, but make you feel bad too.--Eric Falkenstein

As former chairmen and chairwomen of the Council of Economic Advisers, who have served in Republican and Democratic administrations, we urge that the Bowles-Simpson report, “The Moment of Truth,” be the starting point of an active legislative process that involves intense negotiations between both parties. There are many issues on which we don’t agree. Yet we find ourselves in remarkable unanimity about the long-run federal budget deficit: It is a severe threat that calls for serious and prompt attention. ... We know the measures to deal with the long-run deficit are politically difficult. The only way to accomplish them is for members of both parties to accept the political risks together. That is what the Republicans and Democrats on the commission who voted for the bipartisan proposal did. We urge Congress and the president to do the same.--Martin N. Baily, Martin S. Feldstein, R. Glenn Hubbard, Edward P. Lazear ,N. Gregory Mankiw, Christina D. Romer, Harvey S. Rosen, Charles L. Schultze, Laura D. Tyson, Murray L. Weidenbaum

In what may be the nerdiest ripple effect from last year's scandal, Tiger Woods has been excised from the latest edition of Greg Mankiw's popular econ textbook, Principles of Economics. ... The new edition replaces woods with Tom Brady. "I thought all the recent events surrounding Woods' social life might be distracting," Mankiw told the Harvard Crimson.--Jacob Goldstein

... our ideal candidate has also cursed out an editor, had spokespeople hang up on them in anger and threatened to resign at least once because some fool wanted to screw around with their perfect lede.--Matt Doig

I believe there are two categories of media: national and local. The national media is the one most troops dislike. They are the ones who seem to focus on stories that make us look bad or don’t provide complete context. They like to take credit for breaking stories like Abu Ghraib when the reality is that it was a concerned soldier who turned in those sorry excuses for troops. Most people don’t know that, because the national media takes credit for “breaking” the story. They focus on the deaths of our troops instead of the lives of our troops. They focus on the failed missions or the ones that didn’t go as planned instead of the successful ones. On the contrary, the local media seems to have a greater proclivity for telling positive stories about our troops, while not ignoring the negative ones. They seem more balanced because the troops come from their hometowns. They are the sons and daughters of these hometowns while the national media is largely detached.--C.J. Grisham

In 1930, 21.5 percent of the workforce was employed in agriculture and agricultural production representing about 7.7 percent of national GDP. By 1970, 4 percent of the workforce was employed in agriculture and agriculture’s share of GDP had dropped to 2.3 percent. By 2000, the percent of workforce and GDP share had fallen even further to 1.9 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.--Ronald Bailey

The North Korean government turns a country into a prison, starves millions to death, and yet escapees still think "free health care" is worth mentioning? What's wrong with people? To me, this reveals a lot about the world-wide appeal of government-run health care. Socialized medicine is like a love potion. The government can treat you like dirt, but as long as it slips a little of this potion into your drink, you'll probably think "How wonderful - the government loves me so much that it takes care of me whenever I'm sick without asking for a thing in return." And who would be vile enough not to love such a government back? My point: Whatever you think about socialized medicine, it's not that great. It's not remotely enough to, say, redeem North Korea. The fact that anyone would imagine otherwise reveals a strong human tendency to judge socialized medicine like a bad boyfriend - with our hearts instead of our heads. When someone says, "Dump him - he's just not good for you!" we really ought to calm down and listen.--Bryan Caplan

If Kate Middleton were American, she would be from somewhere like Darien, or possibly Westport, or the horsier parts of New Jersey: Bernardsville or Far Hills. She would probably have gone to boarding school—nothing top-tier but probably something with a retro snob appeal that would have made her strive-y parents happy—Miss Porter’s, maybe, or Westover. College would have been something like Trinity—respectable but not so taxing that classes would have kept her from a spring trip to one of the better Caribbean islands. Her job would be in fashion, probably in PR, and it would be understood that her hours would allow ample time for drinks at Brinkley’s. Weekends would be for working out at Equinox and the occasional blowout brunch at Lavo. She would probably date a banker with a similar background. She would live on the Upper East Side, or possibly in Murray Hill, even though she’d have lots of friends who live in the West Village. She would get her hair done at Fekkai, and her clothes would be some combination of Jimmy Choos, Ralph Lauren, and ­Theory—sometimes frugal, forever tasteful. But here is where the stories begin to diverge. William is not your run-of-the-mill hedge-fund bachelor. He’s the future King of England. ... Kate’s real competition, famously not dull at all, is her dead mother-in-law, the Real Housewife of Kensington Palace, England’s first reality-television star.--Will Frears
Photo link here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Intrade adds a "time and sales" feature


One of the finest mathematicians in history

also happens to be a woman. Emmy Noether.

Quotes of the day

... launch early and often. Launching early attracts customer engagement, and it's the customer who's going to tell you what's wrong so you can correct it.--Reid Hoffman

Only after Clinton made up her mind did the handwringing U.S. Hamlet-in-chief make up his.--Margaret Carlson

Senator Joe Biden was quite forceful in insisting that George Bush could not launch a war against Iran without Congressional approval and talked about impeachment as a remedy. Obviously, Vice President Biden can't lead an impeachment effort against his boss. Still, it is fun to see how fluid these libs are.--Tom Maguire

We will not be adding more to the national debt.--President Obama

Under the President’s budget, debt held by the public would increase from $13.5 trillion in 2014, to $14.4 trillion in 2015, to $15.3 trillion in 2016, to $16.3 trillion in 2017, and so on. Measured as a share of the economy, it would increase from 78.3% of GDP in 2014, to 78.9% in 2015, to 79.9% in 2016, to 81.1% in 2017, and so on.--Congressional Budget Office

The End of History is one of the most discussed and least read books of all time, which is shame. Fukuyama never came close to saying the things that are ascribed to him. He did not say progress will cease. He did not say events (like earthquakes and wars and presidential elections) will stop. No, what he said was that ideological evolution of the state - the core concepts that are the economic and political foundations of the modern state - had reached a terminus. Humanity arrived at an optimum social arrangment: liberal democratic capitalism. I find it hard to disagree. The counter-arguments to this trend are backsliding in some countries, such as say Russia or China or maybe Venezuela. But China seems to be moving very much forward on the Fukuyama trendline: expanding individual economic rights and social freedoms. If you believe that economic freedom precedes political freedom, then China is distinctly ON the trend path. Russia is making progress, to some extent, as well. As for Venezuela, it is hard to believe its current autocrat has a long-term stable position. Oil can make history slip, as it has in most places where it exists in great quantity, but the rights of mankind seem to have greater power over time.--Tim Kane

As much as we love movies about vengeance and violent retaliation—like Denzel Washington’s Man on Fire—the myth of the heroic Western gunslinger is fading. We’re realizing that the West is incapable of saving the world. So we’re seeing a lot of bleak futures. Good movies like No Country for Old Men and The Road, and bad movies like 2012, Battle: Los Angeles and the Transformers films, suggest that we’re all anticipating some kind of apocalypse. Stories about salvation through science are fading too. While we’re still trying to save the world through technology—a world of electric cars is beginning to seem possible—our own stories keep reminding us that technology is more likely to cause problems than solve them. More and more, we look to the big screen for a vision of hope. But we’re reluctant to look beyond our own strength. We’re reluctant to doubt our own misguided impulses and hearts. So we keep falling back on these flimsy movies that tell us to “Just do it” and “Follow your heart at any cost.” But I think we know, on some level, that our own hearts are too messed up for that. As Bob Dylan sings, “You’ve got to serve somebody.” American stories suggest we should serve our own hearts and impulses, but that’s not doing us any good. The films that resonate most powerfully with me are films about saints, not heroes—characters who put aside their personal impulses, live in humble service of something greater, and become conveyors of grace. On some level, we know that’s a step in the right direction. But those films are rare.--Jeffrey Overstreet

Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity. Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores. Getting children out of menial labour and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading. Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water. Many of the world's poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes because of the necessity of cooking over indoor fires that burn twigs and dung. This causes local deforestation and the proliferation of smoke- and parasite-related lung diseases. Anyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the third world should realize the importance of access to cheap electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating stations. After all, that's how the west developed.--Ross McKitrik

About 22% of finance workers were laid off or quit their jobs last year, according to data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.--Kyle Stock

... maybe capitalism arrived [on Mars] ... and finished off the planet.--Hugo Chavez

... despite its near certain invalidity as a literal description of public debt in the economy, Ricardian equivalence holds as a close approximation.--John Seater

... when controlling the effects of wealth and educational variation among states, infectious disease stress was the best predictor of average state IQ.--Intelligence

Line up seven women, and at least one likely has a covert pair of shoes she bought but didn’t tell her significant other about because they cost so much. But oh, shoe shopping certainly makes many women happier. The average American woman owns at least 17 pairs of shoes, though many women have three times that many.--McClatchy Tribune

Even in describing my narcissism I proved my narcissism. It’s a problem. I’m working on it.--Jon Acuff
Photo link here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quotes of the day

Life isn't like a story, it's more like a run-on sentence.--Eric Falkenstein

IN REAL LIFE, MOST OF US ARE A MIX of wise and foolish, prudent and silly, thoughtful and impulsive. Nevertheless it helps us to see what the issues are by setting out the alternatives as a simple choice. That is what Proverbs 9 does for us. It pictures two women, Wisdom and Folly, calling out to people. In some ways, this drive toward a simple choice ... is typical of Wisdom Literature. It is a powerful, evocative way of getting across the fundamental issues in the choices we make. ... There is a sense in which someone who accepts wisdom is already proving wise; the person who rejects wisdom is a mocker or wicked. Hence the powerful contrast of ... “Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.”--Don Carson

We all saw him run that 40. Oh my goodness, that's the slowest 40 I've ever seen in my life.--Rex Ryan, on why Tom Brady dropped to the sixth round of the NFL draft

[Walter Williams'] students learn more about free markets before 9 a.m. than most college kids do all day — or maybe all semester, given the biases of the modern academy.--JOHN J. MILLER

I’m happy to have gotten my education before it became fashionable for white people to like black people.--Walter Williams

When you talk about liberty, you have to smile.--Milton Friedman

I thought one of the strongest arguments for the mandate--and the broad outlines of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act--was people with pre-existing conditions. The new high-risk pools were supposed to be a stop-gap for those people until PPACA kicked in. But so far, just 12,000 have signed up, or about 3% of the expected total. Either pre-existing conditions just aren't the large problem that advocates claimed, or something has gone disastrously wrong with the implementation of these pools. ... thanks to the rules making it illegal to exclude children with pre-existing conditions, insurers have now stopped selling child-only policies in 34 states. Both the government of Massachusetts and the administration are eagerly exploring the option of simply commanding insurance companies to sell policies at the price they would like to pay, a tactic that doesn't really have a great track record in modern industrial economies.--Megan Mcardle

In terms of income, the gap between rich and middle class is growing, but in terms of happiness it is relatively low by broader historical standards. Second, a lot of envy is local. People worry about how they are doing compared to their neighbors, their friends, their relatives, their co-workers, and the people they went to high school with. They don’t compare themselves to Michael Bloomberg, unless of course they are also billionaires. When the guy down the hall gets a bigger raise, perhaps by courting the boss, that’s what really bothers us. In other words, envy and resentment are not going away and they also do not stem fundamentally from the contrast between ordinary lives and the lives of the very wealthy. ... The weight has not swung to the point where there is more unearned wealth than earned wealth and so Americans identify with business and a business ethic, especially compared to attitudes in Europe. Americans know that they have done well by their pro-business and pro-wealth ethic. Should they trade in those views for a bundle of envy and resentment? The case for that switch has not yet been made and fortunately there is still a lot of common sense out there.--Tyler Cowen

Price equals marginal cost. And the marginal cost of accessing a journal article is pretty much zero. The research has been written, the type has been set, and the salaries have already been paid — usually thanks to a university, think tank, or government grant. So the socially optimal price is: free. Every time we charge a price higher than this, we risk pricing out someone who might benefit from the insights of an academic scribbler.--Justin Wolfers

In the days after this quake, intellectuals were divided between the impulse to hold fast with the government at a time of crisis and the urge to point out failures in leadership. I frequently heard comparisons of Japan’s nuclear lobby to the American entanglement with defense contractors.--Evan Osnos

So really, the question isn't how will we feed 9 billion by 2050? The question is how many people will we really have and what will they be eating? Poverty of course plays a big role in both these issues because, as Juergen Voegele, director, agriculture and rural development, the World Bank, pointed out to Revkin: "We already have close to one billion people who go hungry today, not because there is not enough food in the world but because they cannot afford to buy it." Raising incomes, or course, is a difficult nut -- one that doesn't succumb to a solution hatched in a lab. But more income means better-educated families, and even declining population growth. The flip side, though, is that rising incomes are also associated with higher meat consumption, which can get us closer to option five on Smil's lifestyle if we are not careful. So the best case: to raise incomes and to incentivize less resource-intensive food consumption.--Samuel Fromartz

I don't buy individual Chinese stocks.
I don't buy stocks with market caps under $500 million (and usually not under $1 billion).
I don't invest in one-drug biotech companies.
I don't do private placements.
I don't buy closed-end fund IPOs.
I don't trade naked options.--Joshua Brown

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.--Barack Obama, in 2007

When Jackie Robinson broke into baseball, he had to be the best. There was no alternative. Today, black athletes can show up and fail and nobody will say blacks can’t play. We can afford incompetent athletes, but we can’t afford an incompetent president. The first black president needed to be better than Jimmy Carter.--Walter Williams

I ... suggest that the legitimacy of a war is established not by how it is organized, but by whether its aims are both morally and strategically sound. The Iraq War was a mistake, in this sense, not because Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder opposed it, but because it involved serious strategic miscalculations on the part of the American government: An overestimation of the danger that Saddam Hussein posed to the United States, and an underestimation of the difficulty of occupying Iraq and transforming it for the better. ... There is no perfect way to fight a war: Every approach to military action comes with distinctive dangers as well as with advantages. Which is why discretion in warmaking really is the better part of valor. Some conflicts are better approached as multilaterally as possible. Some are better fought under explicit American leadership, or by America alone. But many, in Iraq and now in Libya, are better left unfought entirely.--Ross Douthat

No clear national or even humanitarian interest for military intervention. Intervening well past the point where our intervention can have a decisive effect. And finally, intervening under circumstances in which the reviled autocrat seems to hold the strategic initiative against us. This all strikes me as a very bad footing to go in on. And this doesn't even get us to this being the third concurrent war in a Muslim nation and the second in an Arab one. Or the fact that the controversial baggage from those two wars we carry into this one, taking ownership of it, introducing a layer of 'The West versus lands of Islam' drama to this basically domestic situation and giving Qaddafi himself or perhaps one of his sons the ability to actually start mobilization some public or international opinion against us. I can imagine many of the criticisms of the points I've made. And listening to them I think I'd find myself agreeing in general with a lot of it. But it strikes me as a mess, poorly conceived, ginned up by folks with their own weird agendas, carried out at a point well past the point that it was going to accomplish anything. Just all really bad.--Josh Marshall

Until Apple introduced its highly popular touchscreen device [the iPhone] in 2007, which went on to become the world’s leading smartphone, Deutsche Telekom had been generating decent sales from its American operation, with growth in some years surpassing that achieved in Germany.  But after the iPhone went on sale, sold exclusively at first by AT&T in the United States, T-Mobile USA began to lose its most lucrative customers, those on fixed monthly plans, who defected to its larger American rivals — AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which began selling the iPhone in February.--KEVIN J. O'BRIEN
Photo link here.

Increasing the supply of medicine and vaccines to a preindustrial society will cause living standards to fall

I did not realize that. From Karl Smith's Fourteen Non-Obvious Points From Economics.

Photo link here.

UPDATE:  Jim Manzi contests, writing:
What about Europe from before to after the Industrial Revolution? The supply of medicine and vaccines was increased, and living standards subsequently rose enormously. Same problem again: The rule simply assumes “cause,” and this precludes falsification.

Intrade contract pricing predicts a leadership change in Yemen

Source here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The U.S. has the most

progressive income tax system among industrialized nations. Via Greg Mankiw.

Your statements are false

NFL players respond to Commissioner Goodell.  Photo link here.

Quotes of the day

Idleness is not inertness, for example. Inertness is immobile, inattentive, somehow lacking potential. Neither is idleness quite laziness, for it does not convey disinclination. It is not torpor, or acedia—the so-called Demon of Noontide—nor is it any form of passive resistance, for these require an engagement of the will, and idleness is manifestly not about that. Gandhi was not promulgating idleness, nor was Bartleby the scrivener exhibiting it when he owned that he would “prefer not to.” Nor are we talking about the purged consciousness that Zen would aspire to, or any spiritually influenced condition: idleness is not prayer, meditation, or contemplation, though it may carry tonal shadings of some of these states. It is the soul’s first habitat, the original self ambushed—cross-sectioned—in its state of nature, before it has been stirred to make a plan, to direct itself toward something.--Sven Birkerts

Pause for Sabbath for 24 hr. each week (Stop, rest, delight, contemplate).--Pete Scazzero

... an emerging body of research is suggesting that spending time alone, if done right, can be good for us — that certain tasks and thought processes are best carried out without anyone else around, and that even the most socially motivated among us should regularly be taking time to ourselves if we want to have fully developed personalities, and be capable of focus and creative thinking. There is even research to suggest that blocking off enough alone time is an important component of a well-functioning social life — that if we want to get the most out of the time we spend with people, we should make sure we’re spending enough of it away from them. Just as regular exercise and healthy eating make our minds and bodies work better, solitude experts say, so can being alone.--Leon Neyfakh

... is Mark Zuckerberg really the center of The Social Network? This audacious super-student who wanted to get into elite clubs makes quite a subject. But the film is also about Zuckerberg’s business partner, Eduardo Saverin. Saverin gets caught up in the rush of Facebook’s juggernaut success, only to realize that success is sucking the life out of his friendship with Zuckerberg. It’s also leading him into a world of business in which words like “loyalty” and “ethics” are fantasies. If the audience sympathizes with anybody in this movie, it’s probably Saverin. And Andrew Garfield’s performance anchors Saverin as the film’s true, broken heart. He’s the one who wants to believe that good business can be done without sacrificing conscience.--Jeffrey Overstreet

For when [Alexander the Great] had asked the [pirate] what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, "What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor."--St. Augustine

This exalted view of [government's] scope, character, powers and autonomy is fundamentally false.  A government at bottom is nothing more than a group of men, and as a practical matter most of them are inferior men….  Yet these nonentities, by the intellectual laziness of men in general, have come to a degree of puissance in the world that is unchallenged by that of any other group.  Their fiats, however preposterous, are generally obeyed as a matter of duty, they are assumed to have a  kind of wisdom that is superior to ordinary wisdom, and the lives of multitudes are willingly sacrificed in their interest.--H.L. Mencken

Even if some government program is proved effective, that is not a good enough reason to protect it. Is it more effective than other uses of the money, including leaving it in taxpayers' pockets? We are still a rich country and can afford to finance a high school essay contest on peace, or any other luxury — if we're willing to pay for it.--Michael Kinsley

The funding for outsized government health benefits and pensions just magically appears, rather than being stripped from private investment.   So why not then put everyone on a government job and solve all our economic woes?--Heather MacDonald

Maybe you could make a case that spending on interest is mandatory. But spending on Social Security and Medicare is not. Congress could vote to end them. If Congress can vote to end them, they are not mandatory; they are discretionary. The spending does occur automatically unless Congress votes not to spend. So most of what is called mandatory spending should be called automatic discretionary spending. What about entitlement spending? The term is a non-starter because you shouldn't start by using value-laden terms. If someone is entitled, then he's entitled. And don't underestimate the hold such terms have on the public, most of whom think about these things way less than the usual blog reader. I would bet that many people think Congress should not cut entitlement spending because people are entitled.--David Henderson

To think that Barry Bonds took steroids, but not knowingly, seems ridiculous, absurd on its face, and it seems an insult to the question and the people asking it. For seven years now the U.S. government has been trying to nail him for this unconvincing bit of nonsense. So, on the one hand you have someone who is probably lying — and obviously we should not stand for people lying to grand juries. On the other, you have what seems an extreme use of government power and money and shaky methods to nail him for this lie.--Joe Posnanski

... as I read about the Obama administration’s evolution in support of military action against Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, I couldn’t help but notice an important distinction in the line up of senior officials. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, and White House chief of staff William Daley all argued against a no-fly zone in Libya. ... it was senior women in the administration who pushed the process toward military intervention. That included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and National Security Council senior aide Samantha Power ...--Brad Knickerbocker

Tokyo Electric Power Co. was reluctant to use seawater because it worried about hurting its long-term investment in the complex, say people involved with the efforts. ... "This disaster is 60% man-made," said one government official. "They failed in their initial response. It's like Tepco dropped and lost a 100 yen coin while trying to pick up a 10 yen coin."--NORIHIKO SHIROUZU, PHRED DVORAK, YUKA HAYASHI and ANDREW MORSE

... while the fear is understandable, this may turn out to have been an overreaction: history suggests that, despite the terrifying destruction and the horrific human toll, the long-term impact of the quake on the Japanese economy could be surprisingly small. That may seem hard to reconcile with the scale and the scope of the devastation. But, as the economists Eduardo Cavallo and Ilan Noy have recently suggested, in developed countries even major disasters “are unlikely to affect economic growth in the long run.” Modern economies, it turns out, are adept at rebuilding and are often startlingly resilient. The quintessential example comes from Japan itself: in 1995, an earthquake levelled the port city of Kobe, which at the time was a manufacturing hub and the world’s sixth-largest trading port.--James Suroweicki

When Anne Hathaway makes headlines, the stock for Warren Buffett's Berkshire-Hathaway goes up.--Dan Mirvish
Photo link here.

Upset at the upset

Pitt let me down; had them winning the whole shebang in one of my brackets (currently 43rd out of 70 in that pool).

I've got a chance in the other pool of 71, as my picking Richmond to win 2 games has positioned me well.  But I'll need the 3 remaining #1 seeds to make the Final Four.

Photo link here.

Chart of the day: Pre-election year not trading well for stock market

Source here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

You think your checking and savings accounts are paying you nothing now?

Just wait until Dodd-Frank is fully implemented.

They will be paying you negatively, i.e. charging you for services such as ATMs, tellers, and FDIC insurance.

These costs are currently covered by the banks who are able to invest a portion of its deposits to earn returns. Dodd-Frank will constrain these investments, and thus reduce returns; hence, the costs will be shifted to account holders.

Thanks, Chris-Barney. Photo link here.


Man creates a financial storm. Man assures the world the storm is not coming.

Man wants those who weathered the storm to pay for the damage (photo source).

My American dream is turning into my children's nightmare.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Saint Paddy's Day

Don Miller imagines:
Saint Patricks day is the day in which the most alcohol is consumed by Americans. You can just see Saint Patrick now, can’t you, wandering into an American bar well after midnight, laying down on the floor next to a passed out college student, pointing at the paper shamrocks stapled to the ceiling, and explaining how much the Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father, and how the Holy Ghost is with us always, even on the floor of a pub.
Reading this helped me brace myself for navigating through Manhattan's revelers to a parent-teacher conference.  Grabbing lunch a block away was tough enough; the evening commute will probably be worse.  Photo link here.

Upset of the day: Morehead State defeats Louisville

No one picked this one in my standard scoring pool (of 70). But one person did in my seed-weighted pool (of 71). And it's a girl!

I'm tied for first and second in these pools, after 3 games.  Photo link here.

Quotes of the day

So while the Austrian puzzle observers nod approvingly as the dismantling and reconstruction continues slowly but effective onward as puzzle makers learn from the beeps, along comes their friend the Keynesian. The Keynesian bemoans the fact that there are so many puzzle pieces sitting “in waiting.” He says “wouldn’t things be better if we just starting putting those pieces into the puzzle in any old way? Even if we don’t get a meaningful pattern, at least we’d use up all the pieces. After all, isn’t that how you know you’ve reached the goal of a finished puzzle?” The Austrians respond by saying “No, the point isn’t to just use all the pieces. That’s easy to do, but it’s not the challenge of this kind of jigsaw puzzle. The challenge here is to produce a meaningful pattern without having a picture on the box, and which might not require all of the pieces to be used, because the meaningfulness of that pattern derives from the way in which the organization of the pieces matches what puzzle demanders want in a picture even though they cannot articulate it ahead of time.”--Steven Horwitz

Many people predicted that the Reagan deficits would produce soaring interest rates. The deficits appeared, but the 10-year interest rate peaked before the Reagan tax cuts took effect and plummeted in the latter half of 1982, in spite of then-record deficits. (see graph) Would [Paul] Krugman say that this proves that we were in a liquidity trap in 1982? I assume he would say "No, of course not," but he has become such a Johnny one-note on the subject of liquidity traps that I really cannot be sure.--Arnold Kling

Obamacare is “a problem,” as are many of the policies from 1963-73. In the long run they may be more important than the business cycle. But let’s not confuse policies that reduce the efficiency of the economy, with those that create business cycles.--Scott Sumner

The only way to achieve true fiscal discipline: Learn arithmetic.--Jeff Frankel

Congressional Republicans appear remarkably unified, reinforced by a surprising show of House-Senate unity in yesterday’s Senate floor votes. I cannot remember a time in the past sixteen years when House and Senate Republican leaders worked as well together as they have over the past few months. This is led by Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell, but applied to both leadership teams. In contrast, Democrats are all over the map. Minority Leader Pelosi voted against the short-term CR while Minority Whip Hoyer voted for it. Nine Senate Democrats have loudly positioned themselves to the right of the President and their party leaders, voting against their party’s proposal yesterday. Senate Majority Leader Reid gave an impassioned defense of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada as an example of an important federally-funded priority that should not be cut. Team Obama overreached last week when they tried and failed to anchor negotiations at the President’s request spending level with their bogus “We’ve come halfway” claim. When CBS News calls the President’s budget message “the White House’s fuzzy math” and the Washington Post gives the Administration “three Pinocchios,” you know this tactic has failed.--Keith Hennessey

Republicans have so far largely ignored the Schumer Maneuver. I suggest they publicly address his suggestion by saying, “Senator Schumer is right – we need to reduce entitlement spending. We should not, however, cut one part of the budget so that we can spend more in another. We need to cut spending throughout the budget. We’re going to continue cutting appropriations now. We’ll get to entitlements next.” And then they need to follow through.--Keith Hennessey

Students are dubious or indifferent about most things. Because of our digitized world, they are predisposed to think that documents are faked (think of Dan Rather's manufactured Texas Air National Guard memos), pictures are Photoshopped, memories are unreliable, testimony is coerced, and so on.--David Clemens

More and more I understand why my mother would hide from my brothers and me, lock herself in the bathroom, and quietly eat a candy bar.--Tony Woodlief

Great men are almost always bad men.--Lord Acton
Photo link here.

Putting words in the mouths of Sumner and Taylor

This oughta be good.

The quality of comments for this post is unequaled.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Quotes of the day

We need a better explanation than greedier rich people, or stupider politicians.--Megan McArdle

Preschools seem to work best when they are ”one big playroom.” That’s because unstructured play turns out to be one of the most important aspects of Pre-K education. A 2007 study published in Science, for instance, compared the cognitive development of 4- and 5-year-olds enrolled in a preschool that emphasized unstructured play – they were using Vygotsky’s “Tools of the Mind” approach – with those in a more typical preschool. After two years, the students in the play-based school scored better on cognitive flexibility, self-control, and working memory, all of which have been consistently linked to academic and real-world achievement. According to the researchers, the advantage of play is that it’s often deeply serious – the best way to get kids to focus, to exercise those attentional circuits, is to let them have fun.--Jonah Lehrer

U.S. life expectancy has hit another all-time high, rising to about 78 years and 2 months. ... More good news: The infant mortality rate hit a record low of 6.42 deaths per 1,000 live births, a drop of nearly 3 percent from 2008.--Associated Press

... hedge funds are often beneficial to investors, providing an important check on ineffective management. The small reporting change being proposed [by Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz to the SEC] could significantly chill hedge fund activism and further entrench management.--STEVEN M. DAVIDOFF

I trust a greedy hedge fund manager more than the SEC, who sat on Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme for a decade.--Cav

... our most important talent is having a talent for working hard, for practicing even when practice isn’t fun. It’s about putting in the hours when we’d rather be watching TV, or drilling ourselves with notecards filled with obscure words instead of getting quizzed by a friend. Success is never easy. That’s why talent requires grit.--Jonah Lehrer

Keynesians-in-the-street sense that the dominant economic problem is super-abundance (and its attendant problem, excess capacity), while non-Keynesians understand that the dominant economic problem is, and will always be, the ubiquity of scarcity.--Don Boudreaux

The United States is not the government of North Africa, and Barack Obama is not the president of Libya. We have obligations in the region, certainly — treaty obligations, strategic obligations, and yes, moral obligations as well. But America’s leaders are not directly responsible for governing any country besides their own, which means that almost by definition, they/we bear less responsibility for tragedies that result from our staying out of foreign conflicts than for tragedies that flow from our attempts at intervention. By involving ourselves militarily in a given nation’s internal affairs, we effectively claim a kind of political responsibility for the nation or region or question — a small share in the case of a no-fly zone, the lion’s share in the case of an invasion or occupation — that we didn’t have before. We would become part of the government of Libya, in a sense, if we engage our forces in that country’s civil war. And thus our obligations to Libyans would increase, and so would our share of the guilt if things turns out badly.--Ross Douthat

... whites who cast their ’08 vote to get us to a post-racial America may feel as though Obama’s election did just that. Moreover, they may unconsciously see themselves as having “done their part” in making post-racialism a reality. Accordingly, they might not be as generous with their vote for Obama the next time around.--Gregory S. Parks & Matthew W. Hughey

If you left late, you're going to get there late.--Megan's driving instructor

Photo link here.

Hey Hey, Ho Ho

Unions like this one* have got to go!  Via Megan McArdle

 *Civil Service Employees Association, which, as Linda Richman might opine, "is neither civil, a service, nor an association".  Photo link here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The difference between hitting .302 and .296 is 4 hits over a season

If someone gets 184 hits in 622 at-bats, he hits .296. If someone gets 188 hits in 622 at-bats, he hits .302. The difference is four hits over a WHOLE SEASON. That’s fewer than one hit a month. You simply could not notice that unless you were charting it. By charting it, you get those batting averages which tell you, decisively, which guy got more hits. But the more you chart, the more you take a little bit more myth out of baseball. Charting baseball basically proves that the tiny things that have become part of the mythology of baseball, well, they might exist, maybe, but only as tiny things. Thomas Edison said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. It’s a good quote, but he was pretty wildly overestimating. It’s probably closer to .0001% inspiration.--Joe Posnanski
Photo link here.  Previous BS installment here.
Statistics are like a bikini. What they present is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.--Aaron Levenstein