Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Quotes of the day

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.--Richard Feynman

An egalitarian who defers to the law, does cost-benefit policy analysis, and refuses to go above and beyond the call of duty has become everything he hates.--Bryan Caplan

... perhaps what is most objectionable about this walkout is that students should not be opposed to being exposed to ideas that might conflict with their prior held beliefs. Indeed, this is largely the point of a liberal arts education, and if you go through college and never change your mind about anything, I would question how much you got out of your college education to begin with. But the very best courses are not merely ones that change our minds on specific issues; they are ones that change our understanding of the world and cause us to approach problems in novel ways. I am fortunate enough to have experienced many such classes at Harvard, and Ec 10 was certainly one of them. Remarkably, these protesters have managed to connect their complaints of the pedagogy of Ec 10 with the Occupy movement and “the increasing economic inequality in America.” Because the protesters do not explicitly state their complaints, it is impossible to reconstruct their argument for this bizarre claim, so I can do little to refute it. Suffice it to say, one major criticism of the Occupy movement is that protesters do not generally seem to be well-informed on the economic issues they care so strongly about. Walking out of an economics lecture will do little to quell this stereotype.--Jeremy Patashnik

Perhaps the most disheartening aspect of this whole debacle, though, is the degree to which the protesters exhibited intellectual laziness. The students wrote in their open letter: “as your class does not include primary sources and rarely features articles from academic journals, we have very little access to alternative approaches to economics.” Harvard University has the largest academic library system in the world. How could these students not have access to alternative approaches to economics? In no way can Professor Mankiw, or anyone else for that matter, prevent students from engaging with any alternative approach to economics. Whether students choose to do so is, of course, a choice that is all their own, but blaming a professor for limiting one’s ability to explore alternative academic perspectives is as fallacious as it is petty. That this is the sort of shoddy thinking that passes for “intellectualism” and critical engagement at America’s top university should give us all pause. On one count, though, the protesters have a point: “If Harvard fails to equip its students with a broad and critical understanding of economics, their actions are likely to harm the global financial system.” Self-aggrandizing though that statement may be, there’s probably some truth to it, which is why the students should get back to class.--Nathaniel Rosen

America’s universities, which combine the high costs and low productivity of guild structures among the faculty and the hypertrophic bloat of government fed bureaucracy on the administrative side, cling to time-consuming and expensive practices which often come at the expense of efficiency, flexibility and effectiveness. The bill is passed on to parents and students, to the tune of a $1 trillion in student loans.--Walter Russell Mead

... under the right circumstances, conservatives and libertarians were as likely as anyone on the left to give wrong answers to economic questions. ... we planned a second survey that would balance the first one by including questions that would challenge conservative and/or libertarian positions.
Here’s what we came up with, again with the incorrect response in parentheses: a dollar means more to a poor person than it does to a rich person (disagree); making abortion illegal would increase the number of black-market abortions (disagree); legalizing drugs would give more wealth and power to street gangs and organized crime (agree); drug prohibition fails to reduce people’s access to drugs (agree); gun-control laws fail to reduce people’s access to guns (agree); by participating in the marketplace in the United States, immigrants reduce the economic well-being of American citizens (agree); when a country goes to war, its citizens experience an improvement in economic well-being (agree); when two people complete a voluntary transaction, they both necessarily come away better off (agree); when two people complete a voluntary transaction, it is necessarily the case that everyone else is unaffected by their transaction (agree).
Buturovic began putting all 17 questions to a new group of respondents last December. I eagerly awaited the results, hoping that the conservatives and especially the libertarians (my side!) would exhibit less myside bias. Buturovic was more detached. She e-mailed me the results, and commented that conservatives and libertarians did not do well on the new questions. After a hard look, I realized that they had bombed on the questions that challenged their position. A full tabulation of all 17 questions showed that no group clearly out-stupids the others. They appear about equally stupid when faced with proper challenges to their position.
the fact that a college education showed almost no effect—at least for those inclined to take such a survey—strongly suggests that the classroom is no great corrective for myside bias. At least when it comes to public-policy issues, the corrective value of professional academic experience might be doubted as well. --Daniel Klein

...the French think a troubled economy can best “reform” by becoming more like the United States. I’ve always thought that the French have a fine model–but it only seems to work in France.--Scott Sumner

Papandreou was desperate to get out. He could not see how he could continue to play a confrontational role with the Greek people. He was losing his ability to maintain civil order. He did not want to govern a country that was going to become either a police state, or fall into a state of revolution. An interim government may pass new laws and make promises to the EU and IMF. Most in the government want to stay in the EU and stick with the Euro. It’s in their best interests to do so. That’s what the EU is pushing them day and night to do. It’s way to late for this type of orderly transition. It will end badly for Greece.--A Greek, working in the shipping business

What astounds me is not that someone could amass $35,000 in student loans pursuing a dream of puppetry, everyone has their dreams and I do not fault Joe for his. What astounds me is that Richard Kim, the executive editor of The Nation and the author of this article, thinks that the failure of a puppeteer to find a job he loves is a good way to illustrate the “national nightmare” of the job market. Even in a wealthy society it’s a privilege to have the kind of job that Kim thinks are the entitlement of the middle class.--Alex Tabarrok

Coffee cart owner Linda Jenson and hot dog cart operators Letty and Pete Soto said they initially provided free food and drink to [Occupy] demonstrators, but when they stopped, the protesters became violent. And according to one city councilman, bodily fluids were used in the attacks.--Tom Reopelle

Alleged sexual assaults at Occupy Wall Street camps have raised concerns about security in a handful of cities, including reports of rape and groping in tents at New York's Zuccotti Park and a sex offender in Dallas having sex with an underage runaway.--ALYSSA NEWCOMB

Occupy DC Protesters assaulted conservatives as they exited an Americans For Prosperity “Tribute to Ronald Reagan” dinner. This elderly woman, 78 years old, rode 11 hrs on a bus from Detroit to attend the dinner. After the attack she was taken to hospital with multiple injuries, a bloody nose which developed after the fall, and a large knot on her head. After x-rays and a CAT scan, she was released the following morning with cuts and large bruises.--FOX

I would not quite say that progressives are “against such an ethos [of initiative, hard work, and individual responsibility],” but where does it stand in their pecking order? Look at fiction, such as famous left-wing or progressive novels, or for that matter famous left-wing and progressive movies. How many of them celebrate “an ethos of initiative, hard work, and individual responsibility”? Is there one? Maybe as part of a broader struggle against a corrupt system or against “The Man,” but that tripartite of values is not celebrated in its own right. Do any of these novels and films have business heroes? To be sure, hard work from labor is celebrated, provided the workers are tough, exploited, but nonetheless hearty and worthy of respect. I have no problem with praising these novels and movies for their celebrations of social justice, solidarity, or for their unveiling of corruption, but still it is a stretch to those values cited above.--Tyler Cowen

We were indoctrinated into being good team members, to work well in groups, to collaborate. Leadership was shunned for fear that it would promote certain students and lower the self esteem of others. On sports teams everyone was given equal playing time, because once again, we didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Our parents and teachers attempted to build bubbles of fairness, equality, and an “effort is what counts the most” environment. And most important, we were taught to follow the rules, to work within the system. Our lives were scheduled with activities back to back to back. School, homework, 5 different clubs, 3 varsity sports, 2 community service commitments, not a minute was left free.
The system was meant to lead us towards one thing, getting into a great college. I don’t blame my parents, teachers, and coaches for having this view. Many of them were the first in their families to go to college, and that was a major accomplishment back then when a college degree meant a lot. I don’t blame them for coddling us from the real world, for trying to institute a sense of fairness, for teaching us to work with each other. It’s not their fault. But it really screwed us.
My generation, more than any other generation before it, was raised in such a way as to be completely ill equip for the real world, especially the real world we find ourselves in today. We were raised in systems meant to be “fair” when the world is anything but. We were given instructions on how to succeed as children and told not to deviate from them when the real world comes with no instructions and requires you to figure out how to succeed on your own. We were taught to work together at all times, that no one is a leader or a follower, when in reality everyone is out for their own good. We were taught that everyone was equal and equally smart in their own way when the reality is that there are dumb people in this world. We were taught that effort is what matters, when in fact results are what matter.--Leigh Drogen

Do Mr. Krugman and his “Progressive” comrades not realize that politicians have no more prospect of being politics-free than holiday hams have of being kosher?--Don Boudreaux

Bastiat could have gone all Krugman on us had he lived and been a part of the French Assembly.--Karl Smith

David Henderson asks about the balanced budget multiplier being one. Why would workers produce more for no increase in after tax income? Isn’t the Keynesian answer that workers have no say in how much they work?--Scott Sumner

Increasing upward absolute mobility — for all, but with a particular focus on those who start out at the bottom — should be the primary goal of policymakers. The first political party that commits itself to putting upward mobility first and that credibly takes on the challenge will be ascendant.--Scott Winship

I went through ROTC, was commissioned, and then worked in the systems analysis office of the Pentagon. It changed me in some ways, made me more conservative. I came to understand more clearly the limitations of government actions. It was a learning experience. My conclusions came from seeing the whole decision-making process by which the US got into the war: how we evaluated the situation, how we processed the data from the war, how we understood our options, what we saw as the resources and costs in Southeast Asia, and what we thought was the likely outcome. We didn't do a very good job. There was an incredible volume of inefficient and bad decisions, which one must take into account when devising institutions for making policy.--Thomas Sargent

No comments:

Post a Comment