Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quote of the Day

Winston Churchill ( via Instapundit):

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
Of course, "socialism"/central planning in the real world generally translates into the worst of both.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Nathan Myhrvold: Cooking as never seen before

Pretty darn cool via

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ben Pieratt: Why graphic designers (and more broadly, just about anyone) should work for a Startup

Ben Pieratt via Swissmiss:

The internet, at this time in history, is the greatest client assignment of all time. The Western world is porting itself over to the web in mind and deed and is looking to make itself comfortable and productive. It’s every person in the world, connected to every other person in the world, and no one fully understands how to make best use of this new reality because no one has seen anything like it before. The internet wants to hire you to build stuff for it because its trying to figure out what it can do. It’s offering you a blank check and asking you to come up with something fascinating and useful that it can embrace en masse, to the benefit of everyone.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Gell-Mann Amnesia effect

Michael Crichton (via Paul Kedrosky):

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Tim Worstall on Trade

In his Forbes column, I think Worstall makes two important points in rejecting some of the arguments for encroaching protectionism:

1. "There are, for example, only 30 production jobs inside the US associated with the iPod manufacture. [...] the majority of the wages paid as a result of the iPod are inside the US. Even while a minority of the jobs aren’t the US, the majority of the wages are: meaning that whatever is being done in the US is obviously and clearly higher paid than the manufacturing which isn’t being done in the US. It is true that in the past manufacturing jobs in the US were highly paid. But now manufacturing jobs are low paid, as we can see from these figures. So the call to bring back those “high wage manufacturing jobs” to the US doesn’t work: there aren’t any high wage manufacturing jobs to take anywhere."

2. "We shouldn’t be worrying about the jobs of the producers, their wages nor profits, in fact, anything else about the producers at all. We’re talking economics here, the allocation of scarce resources so as to satisfy the maximum amount possible of human desires and wants. Which means attending to the consumer, the ability of the consumer to consume, nothing else."
More on the debate here (Economist).

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Are Not For Profits More Virtuous? No.

In many ways, quite the opposite. From Arnold Kling (via Beata):

I think that profit-seeking enterprises serve the community, also. In fact, they do it in a way that is more sustainable and more accountable. It is more sustainable, in that the value of what they produce is greater than the cost of the resources (including labor) that they use. Otherwise, they would not make a profit. However, a non-profit can very well use more resources than the value of what it produces. A profit-seeking enterprise is more accountable, in that a profit-seeking business must satisfy consumers or else go out of business. Hence, it must provide something of value to its customers. On the other hand, if a non-profit fails to provide any benefit to its customers, it still might be able to obtain grants from the government or from donors.
More here (Arnold Kling).