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James Surowiecki Quotes
Tough times have always lent themselves to nativist sentiments and closed-door policies. But in the case of highly skilled immigrants, these policies are a recipe for stagnation.
Unlike fuel-economy standards, the most common method of reducing demand for oil over the past thirty years, a gas tax doesn't tell people what kind of car to drive. It simply raises the price of gasoline and lets people adjust their behavior accordingly.
Unlike most government programs, Social Security and, in part, Medicare are funded by payroll taxes dedicated specifically to them. Some of the tax revenue pays for current benefits; anything that's left over goes into trust funds for the future. The programs were designed this way for political reasons.
Until the nineteen-seventies, Western countries paid little attention to corruption overseas, and bribery was seen as an unpleasant but necessary part of doing business there. In some European countries, businesses were even allowed to deduct bribes as an expense.
What an economy really wants, after all, is not more investment per se but better investment. It wants capital to flow to companies that will create value - not in the form of a rising stock price but in the form of more goods for less cost, more jobs, and rising wages - by enhancing productivity.
What corporations fear is the phenomenon now known, rather inelegantly, as 'commoditization.' What the term means is simply the conversion of the market for a given product into a commodity market, which is characterized by declining prices and profit margins, increasing competition, and lowered barriers to entry.
When all is said and done, cheap gas is an illusion, because our reliance on gas creates a whole series of costs that aren't factored in to the pump price - among them congestion, pollution, and increased risk of accidents.
When Americans are asked to rank professions in terms of honesty and ethics, insurance agents routinely end up near the bottom of the list - somewhere between politicians and car salesmen. Generally, insurers are seen as clever hucksters who prey on insecurity and ignorance to sell people what they don't need at prices they shouldn't have to pay.
When Americans think of college these days, the first word that often comes to mind is 'debt.' And from 'debt' it's just a short hop to other unpleasant words, like 'payola,' 'kickback,' and 'bribery.'
Workers who come to the U.S. see their wages and their standard of living boosted sharply simply by crossing the border. That's a good thing, and one of the best arguments for immigration reform, even if you'll rarely hear a politician make it.
You might think of consumption as a fairly passive activity, but buying new products and services is actually pretty risky, at least if you value your time and money.
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