Monday, August 15, 2011

Quotes of the day

On August 15th, 1971, the dollar's final gold tether was severed, allowing it to sail away into uncharted seas.--John Carney

When markets are bullishly priced,
A hedge fund seems cooler than ice.
But when markets fall,
Some hit a brick wall.
Hope Greenwich soup kitchens are nice.--Kevin Roose

Independent Study – Each student is encouraged to develop an individually tailored program, in conjunction with a faculty advisor and registered therapist, which is designed to counteract psychological, intellectual, and emotional shortcomings which will prove to be deleterious to his or her productive insertion into society post graduation. Popular programs of study include How Not to Be a Hubristic Ass, How to Respect the Opinions and Choices of Others, and How Not to Bite the Hand that Feeds You. In the case of Mr. Lohse, the faculty would like to draw special attention to a newly-offered course, No-one Wants to Hear My Poorly-Thought-Out, Half-Assed Opinions Over a Beer at the Student Union on Saturday Night. It has been recommended for him by a number of his classmates and peers.--TED

I’ve had many opportunities to experience the “pleasant” Chinese living standards. The Chinese people seem to spend their money much more wisely than the Chinese government. China is poorer than Mexico. China is growing fast, as you’d expect of a country filled with 1.3 billion people whose culture reveres education, hard work, and entrepreneurship, and who has been moving away from the madness and starvation of Maoism. I have no doubt that if the US moved some of its vast spending on social programs to highway construction we too could have big new smooth roads. Taxes normally grow as a share of GDP as countries get more developed, and easier to tax. The East Asian countries that actually are pretty rich (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan) tend to have tax rates that are well below the average of western countries. Despite taxes that are much lower than in the US, Singapore has lots of nice roads and new infrastructure. If we want to find an East Asian model to emulate, I’d suggest looking to low tax, rich, efficient Singapore, not poor and inefficient China.--Scott Sumner

Texas has 10,135 megawatts of installed wind-generation capacity. That’s nearly three times as much as any other state. But during three sweltering days last week, when the state set new records for electricity demand, the state’s vast herd of turbines proved incapable of producing any serious amount of power. Consider the afternoon of August 2, when electricity demand hit 67,929 megawatts. Although electricity demand and prices were peaking, output from the state’s wind turbines was just 1,500 megawatts, or about 15 percent of their total nameplate capacity. Put another way, wind energy was able to provide only about 2.2 percent of the total power demand even though the installed capacity of Texas’s wind turbines theoretically equals nearly 15 percent of peak demand. This was no anomaly. On four days in August 2010, when electricity demand set records, wind energy was able to contribute just 1, 2, 1, and 1 percent, respectively, of total demand.--Robert Bryce

More than half of Americans would rather give up chocolate, alcohol and caffeine for a week before parting temporarily with their phones, according to a recent survey by technology firm TeleNav.  One-third would give up sex, 22% would give up their toothbrushes (versus 40% of iPhone users, who evidently love their phone more than clean teeth) and 21% would rather go shoeless before separating from a mobile phone.--Shan Li

Like it or not, it’s the gatekeeper for every new drug and device marketed in the U.S., and it’s a big reason why it takes over a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars to bring a single new drug to market. Getting innovative new products through the FDA’s development and approval process faster and less expensively would improve public health and help lower health-care costs.--Paul Howard

Rioters are mainly younger men, particularly those who are unemployed and have lots of time on their hands. The high unemployment rates of young French Muslim males who were not integrated into the French economy were a major factor behind the 2005 rioting there. The likelihood that many rioters will be apprehended and punished affects the willingness of many to participate in riots, especially individuals with much to lose from being arrested and punished. Police crowd control techniques and police efforts to address grievances in minority neighborhoods are also important in preventing some riots, or at least ending them more quickly once they have begun.--Gary Becker

But while the rioters have been maintained in a condition of near-permanent unemployment by government subvention augmented by criminal activity, Britain was importing labor to man its service industries. You can travel up and down the country and you can be sure that all the decent hotels and restaurants will be manned overwhelmingly by young foreigners; not a young Briton in sight (thank God). The reason for this is clear: The young unemployed Britons not only have the wrong attitude to work, for example regarding fixed hours as a form of oppression, but they are also dramatically badly educated. Within six months of arrival in the country, the average young Pole speaks better, more cultivated English than they do.--Theodore Dalrymple

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