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
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