Monday, June 20, 2011

Quotes of the day

Farmers have been the wisest investors, especially in the collar counties [of Chicago].  They were smart enough to hang on to their money and reinvest it in the land. It's like any other business. Invest in what you know.--Mark Goodwin

I loathe nothing more than laboring for profane achievements.
Who has ever seen mountains of gold and silver
last through 10,000 generations?--Wang Gonquan

Wife-sale auctions identified “suitors” – men who valued unhappy wives more than their current husbands, who unhappy wives valued more than their current husbands, and who had the property rights required to buy unhappy wives’ right to exit marriage from their husbands. These suitors enabled spouses in inefficient marriages to dissolve their marriages where direct Coasean divorce bargains between them were impossible. Wife sales were an efficiency-enhancing institutional response to the unusual constellation of property rights that Industrial Revolution-era English law created. They made husbands, suitors, and wives better off.--Peter Leeson, Peter Boettke, and Jayme Lemke

The economic structure of the media business is not fundamentally different from that of business in general. The most-prevalent sources of industrial strength are the mutually reinforcing competitive advantages of scale and customer captivity. Content creation simply does not lend itself to either, while aggregation is amenable to both.--Jonathan Knee

... most of [Gary Kasparov's] world-class expertise comes from how he sees and looks at the chess board, not from his calculation ability. The traditional picture of the chess master as a calculating prodigy is bogus.--Sanjoy Mahajan

Try this test: see if you can read [Paul] Krugman's blog and NY Times column for two weeks and not find him, at least once, attributing motives to those economists he disagrees with that you are pretty sure are not their real motives.--David Henderson

So now we have a politician justifying petty corruption by arguing that since every American cop is in fact corrupt, we can’t call it corruption. Fixing tickets isn’t wrong. It’s just a perk that comes with a badge. Unfortunately, this entitlement mindset – the notion that my individual or group interests are special and more deserving than the interests of others – is deeply embedded in our society.  Why do so many homeowners who face foreclosure flip out when losing their homes? They’ve convinced themselves that it’s unjust…that they’re somehow entitled to a home they bought with a 2% or 3% downpayment.  The entitlement mindset is most destructive when it comes to Medicare and Social Security, the programs that are bankrupting our nation.  Unlike fixing traffic tickets, Social Security and Medicare are offered to all Americans of a certain age. And because these entitlement programs are so universal, most Americans think that they must be “fair.”  Of course, they’re not “fair.” As currently configured, Medicare and Social Security are transfer payments from younger and future generations of Americans to their elders.  Worst of all, the economics of these programs simply don’t work.Too little money going in and too much money going out. Even the AARP has finally figured this out.  ... Entitlements corrupt, and Medicare and Social Security corrupt absolutely.--Evan Newmark

Some of the slow-down in the American economy is undoubtedly due to problems in the world economy: the excessive Greece debt and other serious economic problems facing a slowly growing European Community, the nuclear disaster in Japan and the sluggishness of the Japanese economy, and the possible slowing of the rapid growth in both the Chinese and Indian economies. Another part is explained by the policies that slowed the early stages of the recovery, perhaps especially uncertainty about the effects of the financial reform act, and lack of clarity about the cost implications to business of the health care act. I am persuaded that an important third part is due to concerns that the US will be unable to control its fiscal situation. The ratio of federal government spending to GDP grew from about 21% in 2007 to 25% in 2011, a very rapid change compared to the relative stability of this ratio during the prior 25 years. Unfortunately, there is not yet a strong enough will in Congress and by the president to lower this ratio during the coming decade. Indeed, with the looming enormous growth in entitlement spending, especially Medicare, the spending to GDP ratio could well increase sharply in the coming decade, along with the fiscal deficit and the federal debt.--Gary Becker

Nothing in American life today seems as archaic, ubiquitous and immovable as the Republican and Democratic parties. The two 19th-century political groupings divide up the spoils of a combined $6.4 trillion that is extracted each year from taxpayers at the federal, state, county and municipal levels. Though rhetorically and theoretically at odds with one another, the two parties have managed to create a mostly unbroken set of policies and governance structures that benefit well-connected groups at the expense of the individual. Americans have watched, with a growing sense of alarm and alienation, as first a Republican administration and then its Democratic successor have flouted public opinion by bailing out banks, nationalizing the auto industry, expanding war in Central Asia, throwing yet more good money after bad to keep housing prices artificially high, and prosecuting a drug war that no one outside the federal government pretends is comprehensible, let alone winnable.--Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch

If you "screwed up," as in the case of the New York Congressperson Anthony Weiner, you're a dead duck from second one. Nobody but his godfather and mentor Chuck Schumer has ever liked this guy. I'm disappointed to say he is the rep from my old neighborhood, Brighton beach/Coney Island. He is a loudmouth liar who was unable to "hear" the President, Nancy Pelosi, and 433 of his remaining colleagues. He received the support of Charlie Rangel, which, of course, needs to be a vignette in the Tracy Morgan film and tour. Weiner and King James both suffer from ESPN (Extraordinary Sanctimonious Pompous Narcissistic) Syndrome. The halls of Congress are in a way quite similar to an NBA locker room: An outsider can actually feel that everybody else exists to serve the "special people," be they elected or signed via free agency. Once you get there, you ain't leaving so quickly. And, with press people, appointment secretaries, personal assistants, business managers, lawyers, and "Spolestras" to serve your every whim, it's easy to buy into the illusion — there is a monarchy in America.--Dan Klores
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