Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Quotes of the day

If [Keynesians] really don't care what the [stimulus] money is spent on, why not just reduce taxes across the board? It would be far simpler and faster. I suspect because the real objective is redistribution, and lower tax rates across the board is regressive on a dollar basis even if proportionately the same. Too bad, but it highlights that old maxim I learned in my litigation--a dispute is never about what its most zealous disputant says it's about. In this case, the real wish of Keynesians is to redistribute wealth via the government, giving bureaucrats more power over the bourgeois. If it were otherwise it would be too easy to stimulate the economy in short order via their model of the economy.--Eric Falkenstein

Hoover wasn’t able to print gold, but can be blamed for supporting the Fed’s tight money policies. Obama can’t print dollars, but can be blamed for not moving aggressively to put people at the Fed who understand the need for more dollars.--Scott Sumner

OK, I have decided to stop posting updates. I almost regret writing this post, actually. In my attempt to show that Mankiw was sympathetic to the Old Keynesian point of view, I unfortunately seem to have ended up causing some offense (the "hypocrite" thing), which was certainly not my intent. And then I was led to try to parse the totality of Dr. Mankiw's actual views on stimulus, which turned out to be quite difficult (they are indeed nuanced).--Noahpinion

It’s easy for me to dismiss 99.9% of progressives, as I see right through their biases, their lapses in logic, their lack of understanding of economic principles, their shameless misuse of statistics. It’s not so easy to do that with Matt Yglesias. I’d guess many progressives feel that way about Tyler Cowen. If there were no Tyler Cowens we could easily be dismissed as a bunch of moonies. With him, it’s not so easy.--Scott Sumner

Pundits should probably try to stop extrapolating guidelines for economic policy by comparing whichever country happens to be doing worst, with the one that is doing least badly. Germany's consensus based management and export focus was touted as a recession-fighting miracle by liberals, while its relatively modest stimulus was praised by conservatives. But these things may have been incidental rather than central to Germany's relatively mild recession experience. Our experience in the Great Depression seems to indicate that such recessions are long and painful, and that they do not always affect all countries the same way at all times. At any given moment, some country is going to be doing better than the others, while some other country is going to be doing worse. This is not necessarily related to policy. This is obviously a huge problem for the eurozone. Those who think that the euro can muddle through this without losing the periphery have been counting on Germany (and to a lesser extent, France) to deliver a bailout. A recession is going to erode Germany's economic ability to funnel cash into the PIIGS, but more importantly, it is going to make German voters much less patient with the notion. It's probably not so great for the rest of us, either. When the global economy is dealt a blow, we all get bruised.--Megan McArdle

We are a strange lot, the human race. We learn in funny ways. Once you break a taboo it is gone, once you break a boundary it is gone, if you get away with something and you enjoy it, you do it again. When kids attack teachers, (and it happens thousands of times a year) being sent to the cooling off room is pretty much a reward, a fixed term exclusion often makes no odds either. If a social worker tells a teenage mum the word ‘no’ emotionally damages a child, a message goes out. If an adult admonishes a gang of children for littering and gets a police caution a message goes out. If a father is reported to the police for smacking a child a message goes out. If an adult is arrested for grabbing a child who is stealing, or assaulting another child, a message goes out. If knife criminals receive community sentences, a message goes out. If people tell you about your rights as a child, and never about your responsibilities, a message goes out. If teenage girls are given flats for having babies a message goes out. If the police arrest you fifty times and nothing happens a message goes out.  How did it come to this? It is all about the power of ideas. The left wing sales pitch of grievance, victim, blame and excuse has done immense damage to society, as has the rights culture and the sense of entitlement many young people now have. If we look there is clear chain of causality that goes through the decades as other poisonous ideas took hold and turned society on its head: The family is outmoded, children don't need fathers, they should be treated the same as adults, they don't need discipline or boundaries, authority is oppression, everything is society's fault, right and wrong are relative concepts, as is morality, ethics are contextual and no one view is worth more than another. Well-meaning this may be, but no society in the history of the world has taught its children this and survived. Edmund Burke must be turning in his grave.--Simon Marcus

Jim Thome has been a great hitter. Not a good hitter. Not a very good hitter. He has been a slam-dunk, first-ballot, no-doubt Hall of Famer hitter. People have missed this because, well, people have missed a lot about Jim Thome. The man has a .403 lifetime on-base percentage, 25th all-time for players with 7,500 plate appearances, higher than DiMaggio, higher than Wagner, higher than Mays or Yaz or Rose or Ichiro. Many people will never respect on-base percentage the way they should because many people just don't like walks. But walking is an art. And Thome is Picasso. Anyway, his on-base percentage is not all the 1,700-plus walks he's earned. He's a .277 lifetime hitter, which doesn't sound great, but it's better than many of the other big home run hitters -- Ernie Banks, Cal Ripken, Eddie Matthews, Mike Schmidt, Reggie Jackson and Harmon Killebrew among them. Heck, Thome hit .300 three times. He, of course, has struck out more often than any player except Reggie Jackson (and it doesn't look like he will quite catch Reggie). But when he hit baseballs, he hit them hard.--Joe Posnanski

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