Nov 30, 2007

Jim Cramer bullish on financial stocks

You want to get in bed with the financials now... We should get huge moves in financials again.

~ Jim Cramer, Mad Money, CNBC November 30, 2007

(Cramer recommended Bank of America (BAC), Wachovia Bank (WB), Citigroup (C), Goldman Sachs (GS), and Annaly Mortgage (NLY).)

Will Rogers on knowledge

Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.

~ Will Rogers, humorist

Moving Picture Institute on the history proficiency of college seniors

A 2000 survey conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) showed that 81% of elite college seniors failed to demonstrate a basic, high school-level command of U.S. history, but 99% are familiar with the MTV characters Beavis and Butthead.

~ Rob Pfaltzgraff, executive director, Moving Picture Institute, October 29, 2007

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Alexis de Tocqueville on slavery

I do not think it is for me, a foreigner, to indicate to the United States the time, the measures, or the men by whom Slavery shall be abolished.

Still, as the persevering enemy of despotism everywhere, and under all its forms, I am pained and astonished by the fact that the freest people in the world is, at the present time, almost the only one among civilized and Christian nations which yet maintains personal servitude; and this while serfdom itself is about disappearing, where it has not already disappeared, from the most degraded nations of Europe.

An old and sincere friend of America, I am uneasy at seeing Slavery retard her progress, tarnish her glory, furnish arms to her detractors, compromise the future career of the Union which is the guaranty of her safety and greatness, and point out beforehand to her, to all her enemies, the spot where they are to strike. As a man, too, I am moved at the spectacle of man's degradation by man, and I hope to see the day when the law will grant equal civil liberty to all the inhabitants of the same empire, as God accords the freedom of the will, without distinction, to the dwellers upon earth.

~ Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835

Nov 29, 2007

Charles Barkley on job security for NBA basketball coach Isiah Thomas

He's about as safe as me in a room full of cookies.

~ Charles Barkley, TNT, commenting in the 4th quarter of a 45-point blowout by the Celtics of the Knicks, coached by Thomas, November 29, 2007

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Jim Michaels on independent thinking

We may not always be right in our stories, but if we can make our readers think, we're on the right track.

~ Jim Michaels, Forbes editor, 1961-1999

Jim Michaels on rebels, upstarts and Michael Milkin

Jim Michaels had a soft spot for rebels and upstarts. In 1961, when he became editor, FORBES was devoted to the doings of big corporations. By the time he left that job we were giving equal time to entrepreneurs and innovators. Upstarts are not universally admired. Software entrepreneurs put a million secretaries out of work. If the stores on Main Street are boarded up, Sam Walton is to blame. MCI's success sent many a phone company worker to the unemployment line.

Michaels had a particular fascination with Michael Milken, and coauthored an epic story in 1992 telling the discredited financier's view of things. Sympathy for the devil? Well, Michaels was scarcely naive about this guy; his magazine was early (in 1984) in explaining Milken's bond-trading shenanigans. But by the time of his jailhouse interview with the junk bond king, Michaels had come to see Milken in a Schumpeterian light. Whether or not Milken had broken the rules of securities trading was far less important than how he had broken the patterns of capital formation. He had staked entrepreneurs, upstarts and predators to capital that they never would have seen from the old Wall Street. By doing so, he financed creative destruction: the shrinking of old industries and the building of new ones. For that, Milken became, in the mainstream media, an enemy of the people.

~ William Baldwin, editor, Forbes, "Iconoclasts," October 29, 2007

John Templeton on preparation

For those properly prepared in advance, a bear market in stocks is not a calamity but an opportunity.

~ Sir John Templeton

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Reagan on hard work

It's true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure why take the chance?

~ Ronald Reagan, The Guardian, March 31, 1987

Psychology

Psychology/Behavioral Finance:

H.L. Mencken on elections

The state -- or, to make matters more concrete, the government -- consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting 'A' to satisfy 'B'. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advanced auction on stolen goods.

~ H.L. Mencken

Barbara Tuchman on cognitive dissonance

Psychologists call the process of screening out discordant information ‘cognitive dissonance,” an academic disguise for “Don’t confuse me with the facts.” Cognitive dissonance is the tendency “to suppress, gloss over, water down or ‘waffle’ issues which would produce conflict or ‘psychological pain’ within an organization.” It causes alternatives to be “deselected since even thinking about them entails conflicts.” In the relationships of subordinate with superior within the government, its object is the development of policies that upset no one. It assists the ruler in wishful thinking, defined as “an unconscious alteration in the estimate of probabilities.”

~ Barbara W. Tuchman, The March of Folly, Page 303

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Dostoevsky on the power of humble love

At some thoughts one stands perplexed, especially at the sight of men’s sin, and wonders whether one should use force or humble love. Always decide to use humble love. If you resolve on that once for all, you may subdue the whole world. Loving humility is a mighty force, the strongest of all things. There is nothing else like it.

~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

Einstein on human stupidity

Two things are infinite: The universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.

~ Albert Einstein

Nov 28, 2007

Thomas DiLorenzo: "Mises was right and Samuelson was wrong" about central planning

Consider how [Ludwig von] Mises conducted himself compared to "mainstream" economists. I once read through all the back editions of Paul Samuelson's economics textbook for an aticle I wrote for Policy Review in 1987 ("Invasion of the Free Market Textbooks"). Samuelson preached to generations of students that central planning was inevitable, the wave of the future, so that there was no use opposing it. Instead, he advised Americans especially to read his book so that we Americans can become better central planners than the Russians. It all sounded very practical to most people at the time. Just call it "Keyensian fine-tuning" and no one will notice that it is half-assed central planning.

Mises, of course, never budged from his position that rational economic calculation under socialism was an impossibility, and that middle-of-the-road policies would also inevitably lead to socialism. He was right and Samuelson was wrong, even though as late as the 1980s "everyone knew" the opposite was supposedly true.

~ Thomas DiLorenzo, "'Pragmatic' vs. Principled Libertarians," November 12, 2003

Jason Whitlock on the shooting death of NFL football player Sean Taylor

Let's cut through the bull(manure) and deal with reality. Black men are targets of black men. Period. Go check the coroner's office and talk with a police detective. These bullets aren't checking W-2s.

Rather than whine about white folks' insensitivity or reserve a special place of sorrow for rich athletes, we'd be better served mustering the kind of outrage and courage it took in the 1950s and 1960s to stop the white KKK from hanging black men from trees.

But we don't want to deal with ourselves. We take great joy in prescribing medicine to cure the hate in other people's hearts. Meanwhile, our self-hatred, on full display for the world to see, remains untreated, undiagnosed and unrepentant.

Our self-hatred has been set to music and reinforced by a pervasive culture that promotes a crab-in-barrel mentality.

You're damn straight I blame hip hop for playing a role in the genocide of American black men. When your leading causes of death and dysfunction are murder, ignorance and incarceration, there's no reason to give a free pass to a culture that celebrates murder, ignorance and incarceration.

~ Jason Whitlock, "Taylor's death a grim reminder for us all," FOXSports.com, November 28, 2007

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Paul Samuelson on socialism in Eastern Europe (1976)

It's a vulgar mistake to think that most people in Eastern Europe are miserable.

~ Paul Samuelson, Economics, 1976 edition

David Lloyd George on how to succeed at politics

If you want to succeed in politics, you must keep your conscience well under control.

~ David Lloyd George, Source: Lord Riddell Diary [April 23, 1919]

Erasmus on ignorance

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

~ Desiderius Erasmus

Samuel Johnson on mental focus

Nothing focuses the mind like an impending hanging.

~ Samuel Johnson

Alexis de Tocqueville on propaganda

Generally speaking, only simple conceptions can grip the mind of a nation. An idea that is clear and precise even though false will always have greater power in the world than an idea that is true but complex.

~ Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835-1840)

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Ludwig von Mises on war versus capitalism

What the incompatibility of war and capitalism really means is that war and high civilization are incompatible. If the efficiency of capitalism is directed by governments toward the output of instruments of destruction, the ingenuity of private business turns out weapons which are powerful enough to destroy everything. What makes war and capitalism incompatible with one another is precisely the unparalleled efficiency of the capitalist mode of production.

~ Ludwig von Mises, Human Action (1949)

Patrick Henry on the Constitution

The Constitution is not an instrument for government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government — lest it come to dominate our lives and our interests.

~ Patrick Henry

Lord Acton on federation and democracy

Of all the checks on democracy, federation has been the most efficacious and the most congenial . . . . . The federal system limits and restrains the sovereign power by dividing it and assigning to Government only certain defined rights. It is the only method of curbing not only the majority but the power of the whole people.

~ Lord Acton

Milton on freedom and the tyranny of the majority

Is it just or reasonable, that most voices against the main end of government should enslave the less number that would be free? More just it is, doubtless, if it come to force, that a less number compel a greater to retain, which can be no wrong to them, their liberty, than that a greater number, for the pleasure of their baseness, compel a less most injuriously to be their fellow slaves. They who seek nothing but their own just liberty, have always the right to win it, whenever they have the power, be the voices never so numerous that oppose it.

~ John Milton

E. H. Carr on mind control and socialism

It is significant that the nationalization of thought has proceeded everywhere pari passu with the nationalization of industry.

~ E. H. Carr

Charles W. Johnson on entitlement

No one has a right to food, water, shelter, money, or love if he must obtain it at the expense of the owner. Medical care is no more a right than these. Man rightfully obtains goods and services by producing them from nature or by voluntary exchange with others. Man may exchange goods, services, and emotional values, but he must trade to obtain them. Otherwise he is a thief acting against human existence.

~ Charles W. Johnson

Chalmers Johnson on war and imperialism

Wars and imperialism are Siamese twins joined at the hip. Each thrives off the other. They cannot be separated.

~ Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire [2004]

William Graham Sumner on power

All history is only one long story to this effect: men have struggled for power over their fellowmen in order that they might win the joys of earth at the expense of others, and might shift the burden of life from their own shoulders upon those of others.

~ William Graham Sumner, American academic and advocate of free markets, 1840-1910

Trotsky on equality

In a country where the sole employer is the State, opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.

~ Leon Trotsky

Lenin on security and freedom

The whole of society will have become a single office and a single factory with equality of work and equality of pay.

~ Vladimir Lenin

Lord Acton on equality

The finest opportunity ever given to the world was thrown away because the passion for equality made vain the hope for freedom.

~ Lord Acton

Hilaire Belloc on controlling the means of production

The control of production of wealth is the control of human life itself.

~ Hilaire Belloc

Adam Smith on the hubris of planning

The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be entrusted to no council and senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.

~ Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

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Mussolini on the inevitability of planning

We were the first to assert that the more complicated the forms assumed by civilization, the more restricted the freedom of the individual must become.

~ Benito Mussolini

Elie Halevy on socialism

The socialists believe in two things which are absolutely different and perhaps contradictory: freedom and organization.

~ Elie Halevy

Hoelderlin on utopianism

What has always made the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven.

~ Friedrich Hoelderlin

Robert E. Lee on war

What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.

~ Robert E. Lee, Letter to his wife, December 25, 1862

Franklin D. Roosevelt on free enterprise

A program whose basic thesis is, not that the system of free enterprise for profit has failed in this generation, but that it has not yet been tried.

~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Lord Acton on the source of ideas

Few discoveries are more irritating than those which expose the pedigree of ideas.

~ Lord Acton

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