Thursday, November 03, 2011

Quotes of the day

The first Adam was the death-bringer, the second Adam is the death-cheater, and now here are you and me, each of us faced every moment with the choice about which we will be, who we will be. I sped down a country road with these life-bringing, death-cheating boys of mine, and I understood, maybe for the first time ever, that my cup overflows in the valley of the shadow. It’s not an empty promise. Look into your own cup and see. Taste, and see.--Tony Woodlief

America's future depends on others following the example Bill Niskanen set for us.--Gene Healy

I'd like the people teaching my kids to be good enough that they could get a job at the company I work for, making a hundred thousand dollars a year. Why should they work at a school for thirty-five to forty thousand dollars if they could get a job here at a hundred thousand dollars a year? Is that an intelligence test? The problem there of course is the unions. The unions are the worst thing that ever happened to education because it's not a meritocracy. It turns into a bureaucracy, which is exactly what has happened. The teachers can't teach and administrators run the place and nobody can be fired. It's terrible.--Steve Jobs

There are no "rules," and even if there were, you don't get an extra pat on the head for playing by them. Your "Debt Jubilee" will not be a party, unless your idea of a wild time is to eliminate consumer credit as we know it. And if you have any intention of building up a political case for bailing out your bad decisions, you might start with taking even one percent responsibility for them.--Matt Welch

The modern Malthusians were looking very foolish in the 1990s: the price of skilled labour was rising inexorably and the price of most commodities, notably oil, was low. But in recent years there’s been a distinct rise in these prices. Perhaps this is a temporary thing: the rising prices could spur energy-saving innovations. Or perhaps Malthus’s ghost will come back to haunt us, even if not this Halloween. It’s hard to say: population growth is a funny thing. Malthus himself had three children – but no grandchildren.--Tim Harford

Instinctive dislike of markets extends far beyond long-haired dropouts in St Paul’s Churchyard or Zuccotti Park. An intellectual class tends to feel that, if acquiescence in the unpleasantness of market economics is the price to be paid for the comforts of modern life, one must hold one’s nose. The apparent practical success of capitalism is matched only by the failure of its public relations. ... The inventors of social networking sites resemble the occupiers of St Paul’s Churchyard tents more than the occupants of boardrooms. The besuited Winkelvoss twins, lobbying and litigating for a share of Mark Zuckerberg’s business, embody the deformed view of market economics which confuses business interests with free enterprise. Perhaps the “something nicer” which should replace capitalism is a more nuanced – and more accurate – account of capitalism itself.--John Kay

Both the left and the right have been consistently peddling the wrong prescriptions for our economy. Most liberals are focused on the need for additional fiscal stimulus, and dead-set against any premature moves toward what they consider “austerity.” Spending cuts, they say, would weaken the economy. Most conservatives are equally insistent that spending cuts need to begin now—and claim that by reducing expectations of future tax increases these cuts would help the economy. At the same time, they consider monetary policy dangerously inflationary and want the Federal Reserve to tighten it, or at least not loosen it any further. Both sides are mistaken: the right on monetary policy, the left on budget policy, both on the relationship between them. What the economy needs now, contrary to the right, is a permanent monetary expansion. If the Federal Reserve delivers one, the economy, contrary to the left, won’t need new federal spending—and won’t suffer from spending cuts.--David Beckworth and Ramesh Ponnuru

Rivaled only by the ‘get tough on Netanyahu’ fiasco and the Gunwalker scandal, the ‘Green Jobs’ meltdown is the most comprehensive and conspicuous policy failure of the Obama administration to date. What three months ago was widely hailed by the establishment press as a sign of the futurism and forward-thinking of the Obama Administration now, post-Solyndra, is increasingly seen for the bone headed blunder it was. ... A lot of money was spent; precious few jobs were created and the failure damages the Obama brand in three distinct. First, poor jobs growth is the root of all the administration’s other woes. Second, the story undercuts the idea that the stimulus was a good idea and supports the narrative that special interests hijacked it for a porkfest. Third and most deeply, the story reinforces the belief that government planning and industrial policy don’t work. The administration needs to come to grips with this policy failure; when something isn’t working it is time to change course.--Walter Russell Mead

I found that the House Members are routinely less intelligent than the Senate and they were much more kneejerk to their constituencies -- which I found initially quite offensive but came to understand later to be a really good idea. Maybe that's what the framers wanted. They weren't supposed to think too much, they were supposed to represent. The Senators are supposed to think a little more. The Bill passed the House with the largest favorable majority of any tax bill in the history of this country. What happened was it was in during Carter's lame duck session and Bob Dole who was then Speaker of the House killed it. He would not bring it to the floor and we ran out of time. We would have had to have started the process over in the next year and I gave up. However, fortunately something unique happened. California thought this was such a good idea they came to us and said "You don't have to do a thing. We're going to pass a bill that says 'Since you operate in the State of California and pay California Tax, we're going to pass this bill that says that if the federal bill doesn't pass, then you get the tax break in California'. You can do it in California, which is ten thousand schools". So we did. We gave away ten thousand computers in the State of California. We got a whole bunch of the software companies to give away software. We trained teachers for free and monitored this thing over the next few years. It was phenomenal. One of my great experiences and one of my biggest regrets was that really tried to do this on a national level and got so close. I don't think Bob Dole even knew what he was doing but he really unfortunately screwed up here.--Steve Jobs

Memo to Fed: Your job isn't to change your forecast, it's to change your policy in such a way that you don't need to change your forecast.--Scott Sumner

The idea that the space is suffused with unobservable dark matter fixes this problem, but it's a fudge, because it 'appears' only as a solution to this problem. Perhaps gravitation doesn't scale at that dimension.--Eric Falkenstein

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