Sentences of Enduring Value

The more time I spend here in Japan; I am surprised to see my ideas on Japan are changing. In a nutshell, it’s easy to label behaviors as Japanese or American. But when it comes down to it, everything has it’s own uniqueness and beauty which makes it hard to talk about Japanese people in general.


Sentences of Enduring Value

Two for the price of one:

A key point that I have not seen made elsewhere: since the whole point of financial regulation is to counteract market failures in financial markets, it makes no sense to base regulation on the prices that those same markets generate (as is done when we use mark-to-market accounting or rely on market prices of risk in risk models).

Dani Rodrik

Mr Bivens seems to see growing inequality as the trouble with trade; I see it as a failure of American economic mobility. Given that trade does produce net benefits for the nation, it seems to proper course of action is to liberalise trade and focus on fixing immobility produced by slowing educational attainment.

The Economist

Should policy address rigidities or should it take them as constraints? ((See the footnote on this post. Yes, this is a footnote referencing a footnote. My progress in the dark arts of academia is proceeding apace.)) Neither type of policy gets us to the first-best world, but both can improve efficiency. In other words, taking the Rodrik line about this being a second-best world doesn’t imply we should take rigidities as constraints. A second-best world doesn’t require second-best policy.

This issue can be addressed with the usual marginal analysis. How much does each type of policy cost and what would be the benefits. The optimal type of policy would be that which provides the most efficiency gains for the least cost. Maybe reducing labor market frictions is more expensive than just increasing trade restrictions. This seems plausible in the static case, but the dynamic case?

Does one type of policy have more severe unintended consequences than the other?

But there may be a moral case to focus policy on removing rigidities rather than working around those rigidities. In the trade/education example, the moral case is obvious. Improving labor markets, increasing educational opportunities, increases freedom while closing borders reduces it. Can a general case be made against Rodrik-style policy?

Sentences of Enduring Value

It is better to know than to believe. It is better to understand why rather than just accept the what. Much of the time (though certainly not all the time), the things that we think are obviously and clearly “reality” are actually not. Even when our intuitions are right, we gain much from understanding why they are right. So curious thoughts about why our assumptions are right — and whether they are right — are indeed precisely what people (especially professors) should be thinking and expressing.

Prof. Volokh

What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it. And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow. A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few; as we have learned to our sorrow.

What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the mind of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned but never quite forgotten; that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest.

Learned Hand via VC

Sentences of Enduring Value

[Name calling] is the lowest form of disagreement, and probably also the most common. We’ve all seen comments like this:

u r a fag!!!!!!!!!!

But it’s important to realize that more articulate name-calling has just as little weight. A comment like

The author is a self-important dilettante.

is really nothing more than a pretentious version of “u r a fag.”

Paul Graham

Sentence of Enduring Value

Yes, one sentence of enduring value:

Those who view mathematical science, not merely as a vast body of abstract and immutable truths, whose intrinsic beauty, symmetry and logical completeness, when regarded in their connexion together as a whole, entitle them to a prominent place in the interest of all profound and logical minds, but as possessing a yet deeper interest for the human race, when it is remembered that this science constitutes the language through which alone we can adequately express the great facts of the natural world, and those unceasing changes of mutual relationship which, visibly or invisibly, consciously or unconsciously to our immediate physical perceptions, are interminably going on in the agencies of the creation we live amidst: those who thus think on mathematical truth as the instrument through which the weak mind of man can most effectually read his Creator’s works, will regard with especial interest all that can tend to facilitate the translation of its principles into explicit practical forms.

The Right Honourable Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace

Sentences of Enduring Value: Appeal to Authority edition

All else equal, we may each prefer to do what is right, but when all else is not equal we often allow other considerations to weigh against morality. After all, morality is only one of the many ends we pursue. Yes we want to be moral, but we also want other things, and we each choose as if we often care about those other things more than morality.

Robin Hanson (uber-economist)

Sounds familiar, no?