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Miles Kimball

Miles Kimball

Miles Kimball is Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan. Politically, Miles is an independent who grew up in an apolitical family. He holds many strong opinions—open to revision in response to cogent arguments—that do not line up neatly with either the Republican or Democratic Party.

Articles by Miles Kimball

The Federalist Papers #5: Unless United, the States Will Be at Each Others’ Throats

3 days ago

In the Federalist Papers #5, John Jay has one point: if the 13 states were divided up into several different nations (“confederacies”), those nations would soon be at odds with one another and tearing one another down. Later events backed up his claim on two occasions. First, the Civil war followed swiftly upon the secession of the Confederacy from the Union. Those same states, despite their different views, conducted their rivalry in elections and in legislative votes while they were all still part of the union. (Of course, there were some wars within states over slavery—and over religion in the case of Missouri’s Mormon War—prior to the

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Lawrence McQuillan—How to Restore the California Dream: Removing Obstacles to Fast and Affordable Housing Development

4 days ago


27 pages, 10.9 MB

This report’s findings are summarized in the Executive Summary, Solving California’s Housing Affordability Crisis: Summary of Findings and Recommendations from the California Golden Fleece® Award.


California has become the national poster child for high housing costs and homelessness. Although no single lawmaker or regulator is to blame for California’s housing crisis, a complex array of regulatory obstacles enacted by politicians at various levels of government and pushed by special interests over decades have made California ill-equipped to accommodate the state’s

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Molly Turner on the Value of Civic Involvement

5 days ago

A growing number of startups are pitching technologies to “solve” urban problems. So it matters when they can’t even name their own local representatives.January 17, 2020Don’t let the WeWork, Uber, and Lyft implosions fool you. Hundreds of urban tech startups are thriving right now—and billions of dollars are still being invested in them. Venture capitalists and the entrepreneurs they invest in are more excited than ever about building new tech startups to improve urban life and governance. Richard Florida recently estimated in CityLab that between 2016 and 2018, urban tech investment totaled more than $75 billion, representing roughly 17 percent of all global venture-capital investment.

I encounter these urban tech entrepreneurs and their investors regularly: I’ve interviewed them on

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Michael Lind: College-Educated vs. Not is the New Class War

6 days ago

Michael Lind’s teaser for his new book The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite makes a basic point about our current political and cultural situation: the big political and cultural divide in the United States and other advanced countries is now between those who have gone to college and those who haven’t. As Michael writes:The deepest cleavage in Western democracies yawns between college-educated managers and professionals—a third of the population, at most—and the majority who lack college educations.More precisely, he writes that recent populist insurgencies in the US, UK and France are: … the revolt of alienated,

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Hope in Returning to the Road Not Taken in Psychiatry

8 days ago

I have just begun listening to Peter Attia’s podcasts in his podcast series “The Drive.” So far, they seem very much in the same spirit as what I have been writing in my diet and health posts. I first listened to Peter’s interview of Matthew Walker. That makes me look forward to reading Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep. The basic message is: “Respect sleep. If you don’t, you will pay.”Peter’s very first podcast interviewing Tim Ferris is also powerful. Therapy using psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, MDMA (a pure form of “ecstasy”) and mescaline shows great promise. Two reasons psychedelics can help is (1) they can loosen the hold of longstanding top-level

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Respect Intuition

10 days ago

Most of you, my loyal readers, are very articulate. Having things articulated clearly is a huge help to intellectual work. It not only allows us to communicate with others, but also to understand things better ourselves. But I have learned an important lesson in my career and in my life: there is great value in respecting intuitions and feelings that have not yet been clearly articulated. There can be genuine insight that arrives in an inarticulate form. I have learned to respect intuition that cannot yet be fully articulated both when it is my own intuition and when it the intuition of another. In both cases, the one with the intuition

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10 of Albert Einstein’s Best Quotes

11 days ago

Father of modern physics. Nobel Prize winner. Moustache-touting deep thinker. Albert Einstein was many things.

The German-born theoretical physicist is probably the world’s most recognised scientist. His formula expressing the relationship between mass and energy – E = mc2 – is well-known, if not widely understood.

Now, over a century on from the publication of his iconic theory of general relativity, it is back in the news. Scientists looking at black hole gravity believe the theory is “beginning to fray at the edges” in the most comprehensive test of Einstein’s thinking to date.

Although his explanation still holds for now, the researchers believe it doesn’t fully explain gravity inside a black hole. The monstrous example at the centre of the Milky Way doesn’t

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Berk Özler: Better Conduct at Seminars

12 days ago

Last year around this time, I wrote a blog post titled “Men at Work: Shhh!” Mostly forgot about it until I was having dinner with some friends at the ASSA meetings in San Diego last weekend, when one of them said Özler (2019) was cited a couple of times at the session she was a part of. As we are in different fields of economics, I was surprised until she told me that the reference was to this blog post, which was cited as an example of tracking behavior at seminars. So, you can apparently do research by writing “MMmMMmMMFMMMMMM” on the back of a napkin, counting them diligently, and having the audacity to write a blog post about them the next day…

As the recruitment season is upon us again and we have seminars every day in the upcoming weeks, it is important to revisit the advice on how

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How to Create Successful Fake News—And How Not To Be One of the People Snookered by It

13 days ago

The underlying scientific results should be taken with a grain of salt because of the reproducibility crisis in psychology, Gary Marcus’s and Annie Duke’s Wall Street Journal article “The Problem with Believing What We’re Told” are otherwise a fascinating rundown of indications that people are often quite sloppy about deciding whether something is true or false.On that grain of salt, as I discuss in “Let’s Set Half a Percent as the Standard for Statistical Significance," the article "Redefine Statistical Significance" on Psyarchive notes that—of results in psychology that according to the author’s statements, supposedly had only between

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BJ Fogg’s Tips for New Year’s Resolutions

15 days ago

Last January, I posted “3 Achievable Resolutions for Weight Loss.” So I was interested to read the Wall Street Journal op-ed BJ Fogg wrote to promote his new book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything. (I haven’t read the book itself.) I have some hope that his approach may help you in implementing some of the things I have recommended in my diet and health posts—such as going off sugar. (On that, also see “Letting Go of Sugar.”)Here is the claim BJ Fogg makes for his approach: It isn’t primarily repetition over a long period that creates habits; it’s the emotion that you attach to them from the start. Data from the most

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Bill Dudley on the Fed’s New Floor System for Establishing Its Target Nominal Interest Rate

16 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]This should be taken seriously; Bill Dudley was the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (a position in the Federal Reserve System second in importance only to the Chair of the Federal Reserve Board) from 2009–2018). Note: To explain the new and old approaches to establishing an interest rate, I wrote this post for my students:Supply and Demand for the Monetary Base: How the Fed Currently Determines Interest RatesPermalink

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The Federalist Papers #4 B: National Defense Will Be Stronger if the States are United

17 days ago

In the first half of The Federalist Papers #4 John Jay argues that the states must be prepared to defend themselves from other nations. (See “The Federalist Papers #4 A: The States Must Be Prepared to Defend against Aggression by Other Nations.”) In the second half he argues that they will be better able to defend themselves if they are united. His main arguments are these:A larger nation has more military leaders to choose from, and so can typically get better leaders. Coordinated preparations are valuable.A united front allows for the internalization of externalities between the states in thinking through war aims (as reflected

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Molly Graham on the Psychology of Being in a Startup

18 days ago

In September 2015, Molly Graham shared a new article with her Twitter followers, writing that it contained “All the things I know about scaling and how to try to do it well.” As it turned out, this collection of lessons from her experiences building teams at Google, Facebook, and Quip would strike a chord in the startup world. Her mandate charging readers to give away their Legos is still one of the Review’s most widely read articles — and it’s become a timeless, oft-cited metaphor for how to thrive inside of a rapidly scaling company.The message seemed to hit a nerve because it gave voice to the emotional realities of startup life that often go undiscussed. “You go to cocktail parties and people ask you how it’s going, and you have to fake it. You say that everything is great even though

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Jennifer Ouellette on Science Applied to Everything

19 days ago

Sometimes I get to review film and TV too: Terry Gilliam’s "Don Quixote" film finally hits the big screen after 25 years. Jonathan Pryce and Adam Driver star in this visually stunning, often incoherent film.… (14/n)

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2019’s Most Popular Posts

20 days ago

The "Key Posts" link in navigation at the top of my blog lists all important posts through the end of 2016. Along with "2017’s Most Popular Posts" and “2018’s Most Popular Posts,” this is intended as a complement to that list. (Also, my most popular storified Twitter discussions are here, and you can see other recent posts by clicking on the Archive link at the top of my blog.) Continuing this tradition, I give links to the most popular posts from the first half of 2019 below into six groups: popular new posts in 2019 on diet and health, popular new posts in 2019 on political philosophy, popular new posts in 2019 on other topics, and

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Maria Popova: Walt Whitman on What Makes Life Worth Living

24 days ago

In 2019, the 13th year of Brain Pickings, I poured tremendous time, thought, and resources in keeping this labor of love going and keeping it free (and ad-free). It takes me hundreds of hours a month to research and compose, and thousands of dollars to sustain. If you find any joy and value in what I do, please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good lunch. Your support really matters.


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Jack Kelly: Habits Of Mentally Strong People, And How They Can Help You Succeed

25 days ago

Getty Images

In my continual efforts to improve myself, I avidly devour books and listen attentively to podcasts about successful people to learn how they have achieved their success. Surprisingly, the vast majority of stories are filled with failures, setbacks, bad breaks, getting cheated, backstabbing and terrible misfortunes. The common denominator is that these mentally strong people pursued their visions in the face of all overwhelming obstacles. They didn’t let challenges stand in their way or diminish their drive and dedication. Many failed for years before realizing any small measure of success. The biggest lesson I have learned is that their mental habits were crucial to their success.
The first productive thing that mentally tough people do is wake up

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Matthew Bandyk on the Dramatic Fall in Battery Prices

26 days ago

Dive Brief:
Average market prices for battery packs have plunged from $1,100/kWh in 2010 to $156/kWh in 2019, an 87% fall in real terms, according to a report released Tuesday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
Prices are projected to fall to around $100/kWh by 2023, driving electrification across the global economy, according to BNEF’s forecast.
Customers purchasing batteries at a commercial scale for electric vehicles and energy storage, as well as using high energy density cathodes to store energy more efficiently in battery packs, are all spurring the price decline.

Dive Insight:
BNEF’s latest forecast, from its 2019 Battery Price Survey, is an example of how advancements in battery technology have driven down costs at rates faster than previously

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The ECB’s Monetary Policy at 20—Massimo Rostagno, Carlo Altavilla, Giacomo Carboni, Wolfgang Lemke, Roberto Motto, Arthur Saint Guilhem and Jonathan Yiangou Defend Negative Rate Policy

27 days ago

The Central Bank of Sweden, the Riskbank, may be raising its rates prematurely because of an overeagerness to exit negative rates. But key players within the European Central Bank have reaffirmed their belief in the virtues of negative rates in a new European Central Bank Working Paper. The Riksbank’s explanation was scant, but the ECB Working Paper “A Tale of two decades: the ECB’s monetary policy at 20” great detail about the authors’ thinking. In this post, I’ll only give Wall Street Journal author James Mackintosh’s comments on the ECB Working Paper. Here is his precis of the working paper:… a group of the most senior monetary-policy

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An Agnostic Prayer for a New Beginning

28 days ago

At this new beginning, may we look forward to a deeper inkling of the God or Gods Who May Be, and work to strengthen their hand in the world. May we also face the inevitable endings that will come with grace and fortitude. Amen.For more agnostic prayers, see my post “The Book of Uncommon Prayer”

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In Praise of Flavored Sparkling Water

29 days ago

Some people have the intuition that any food or drink that is pleasurable must be bad for health. I would emphasize instead that it is important to find types of food and drink that are pleasurable enough relative to less healthy alternatives that they can help one stay away from the worst foods in the long run. In the area of food, I continue to think that—even if saturated fat is less healthy than mono-unsaturated fat like that in avocados, olives, or almonds—sugar is much, much, worse for health than saturated fat. Hence, if adding cream or coconut milk into ones diet helps one stay away from sugar, that seems like a good deal. See what

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Matthew Yglesias on NIMBY-YIMBY Politics and Democratic-Republican Realignment

December 30, 2019

Ibraheem Samirah, a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates who represents portions of DC suburbs in Fairfax and Loudon Counties, has an idea: legalize “duplex” houses on all residential land throughout the state.
The proposal, intended to ameliorate housing shortages, is similar to ideas recently adopted by several West Coast states. And it has provoked an immediate backlash — driven less by economic analysis than by defensiveness about the sense that suburban lifestyles are under attack.
Though the proposal is striking in its breadth, applying without exemption to all communities in Virginia, it’s actually modest in its practical implications when you peer under the hood. And again, it’s not the first of its kind: Oregon adopted a measure this past summer that eliminated

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The Federalist Papers #4 A: The States Must Be Prepared to Defend against Aggression by Other Nations

December 29, 2019

In The Federalist Papers #3, John Jay argues that, united, the states are less likely to start or give just cause for a war. (See The Federalist Papers #3: United, the 13 States are Less Likely to Stumble into War.) In The Federalist Papers #4, John Jay argues that, united, the states will be better able to fend off unjust aggression. The first half argues that unjust aggression is a genuine danger:“… it need not be observed that there are PRETENDED as well as just causes of war. … nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it; …”The relevance of this observation is backed up by these

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Samuel Mehr, Manvir Singh and Luke Glowacki on the Universality of Music

December 28, 2019

Music appears in every society observed.
“As a graduate student, I was working on studies of infant music perception, and I started to see all these studies that made claims about music being universal,” Mehr said. “How is it that every paper on music starts out with this big claim, but there’s never a citation backing that up … Now we can back that up.”
They looked at every society for which there was ethnographic information in a large online database, 315 in all, and found mention of music in all of them. For the discography, they collected 118 songs from a total of 86 cultures, covering 30 geographic regions. And they added the ethnographic material they’d collected.
“I started to see all these studies that made claims about music being universal. How is it that every paper on music

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