Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quotes of the day

What was driving unemployment was clearly deficient aggregate demand. [Larry Summers and I] wondered where [President Obama's misplaced belief that high unemployment was caused by productivity gains] could be coming from. We both tried to convince him otherwise. He wouldn’t budge.--Christina Romer

[McCain] didn't have a clue about the economy. I just assumed the guy [Obama] could do it. I thought he was going to be more Clinton-like in his economics and politics. I was caught by surprise by how far left the guy is and how much he's hung onto it and, I would say, at considerable cost to his own standing. ... The president keeps focusing on transitory things. He grudgingly says, 'OK, we'll keep the Bush tax cuts on for a couple years.' That's just the wrong thing to say. What I care about is what's the tax rate going to be when my project begins to bear fruit?--Robert Lucas

Scale matters--you can't take billion-dollar fliers on too many ideas. Appropriateness matters--retirees shouldn't put their living expenses in tech stocks. And the potential payoff matters--we should not invest billions to develop a slightly better form of white-out, or into experiments that have a 1-in-a-trillion chance of developing a low-cost way to turn lead into gold. I think Solyndra flunks on all three counts.--Megan McArdle

As of this moment, which do you think is more likely — that neutrinos can travel faster than light, or that the South won the Civil War?--Steve Landsburg

Our existence today requires that the North won the Civil War, therefore it’s unthinkable they actually lost. Likewise, our atomic existence today requires that neutrinos do not surpass the speed of light, therefore it’s unthinkable they somehow went faster. It’s just that most people comprehend the former and not the latter, and thus don’t see how absurd the latter is.--Sean

Many people, when the pressure is on as hard as it's been, decide that the first thing they have to do is try to hang on to their job. Anything interesting and risky can wait until after the mortgage payment has cleared and the tuition checks have been written. The behaviors most associated with "Don't get laid off" are not the ones that are best associated with "Keep the company going", much less "Discover something new". That last set of behaviors, in fact, might be one of the first to go, along with the people who exemplify them.--Derek Lowe

Here's what the 1936 government pamphlet on Social Security said: "After the first 3 years -- that is to say, beginning in 1940 -- you will pay, and your employer will pay, 1.5 cents for each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year. ... Beginning in 1943, you will pay 2 cents, and so will your employer, for every dollar you earn for the next 3 years. ... And finally, beginning in 1949, twelve years from now, you and your employer will each pay 3 cents on each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year." Here's Congress' lying promise: "That is the most you will ever pay."--Walter Williams

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner may be working at cross purposes as one buys Treasury bonds and the other sells them.  The Fed plans to purchase $400 billion of longer-dated Treasuries in a bid to reduce yields. At the same time, the Treasury Department is selling more long-term securities to decrease its reliance on short-term borrowing. That strategy puts upward pressure on interest rates by adding to market supply.--Rich Miller

... it is clear that the Palestinian Authority now governing the West Bank cannot “deliver” a united Palestine: it cannot sign a treaty that Hamas will pledge to honor. Hamas won the last Palestinian elections; does Israel have any guarantee whatever that, after the Israelis have dismantled settlements and turned over strategic territory to the Palestinians, the Palestinian government will continue to abide by a treaty that Hamas doesn’t accept? The answer is no. Until the answer is yes it is very unlikely that Israel will make large sacrifices for what is likely to be a bogus, temporary peace. The core problem with the land for peace concept at the basis of both the Oslo Accords and every effort since to revive the moribund peace process is, simply, this: the process doesn’t offer enough land to the Palestinians or enough peace to the Israelis to be satisfactory to either side. ... It’s doubtful at this point if the President can get much done before the 2012 election. Palestinians don’t much like negotiating during US election years as they believe that Israel’s political popularity in the US makes itself felt most strongly then. (One reason President Clinton’s peace blitz was ill-timed in 2000: his wife was running for the Senate in New York and Palestinians believed he would not force Israel to make difficult concessions while his wife was running in a state where the Jewish vote is so important and while his vice president Al Gore was in a tough race against George W. Bush. After the election, Clinton was a lame duck and the Palestinians had little confidence that he could deliver on any promises he made.)--Walter Russell Mead

I think that the best way to get rid of the worst teachers(short of full-on vouchers with no government-run schools) would be to de-consolidate school districts, which would shift the balance of power toward parents and away from school administrators and teachers' unions. In my opinion, the large school district is one of the most anti-libertarian institutions in the United States today.--Arnold Kling

In general, despite extensive government subsidies, hyperprocessed food remains more expensive than food cooked at home. You can serve a roasted chicken with vegetables along with a simple salad and milk for about $14, and feed four or even six people. If that’s too much money, substitute a meal of rice and canned beans with bacon, green peppers and onions; it’s easily enough for four people and costs about $9. (Omitting the bacon, using dried beans, which are also lower in sodium, or substituting carrots for the peppers reduces the price further, of course.) Another argument runs that junk food is cheaper when measured by the calorie, and that this makes fast food essential for the poor because they need cheap calories. But given that half of the people in this country (and a higher percentage of poor people) consume too many calories rather than too few, measuring food’s value by the calorie makes as much sense as measuring a drink’s value by its alcohol content. (Why not drink 95 percent neutral grain spirit, the cheapest way to get drunk?)--Mark Bittman

Forget the Crimson Tide. It's the Crimson who's rolling.--Chris Berman

Bill Belichick went to Wesleyan. Safety school.--Cav

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