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Mike Kimel

Mike Kimel

An economist for a large corporation and author of Presimetrics blog and the book Presimetrics: How Democratic and Republican Administrations Measure Up on the Issues We Care About published August, 2010.

Articles by Mike Kimel

Congratulations to Kim Kardashian

January 9, 2018

From the World Economic Forum:
Kim Kardashian is an unlikely champion of statistics, but a tweet from the reality TV star in January 2017 contained a startling figure that has been named International Statistic of the Year.
She shared a table showing a range of violent or unexpected ways people meet their deaths annually in the United States. Kardashian’s aim was to highlight how many more Americans are killed by fellow citizens with guns, than by terrorists.
The table also revealed that lawnmowers are actually more deadly than terrorists.
According to the table below, first published by the Huffington Post, an average of 69 people are killed every year in accidents involving lawnmowers. By comparison 14 people are killed each year by terrorists. The

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The Pro and the Con of Obamacare

January 7, 2018

I’ve been trying to learn a bit more about PPACA (aka, Obamacare) and its effects. It hasn’t been something that has interested me a great deal until the last week or so, so I am approaching this from a position of ignorance. But I have been reading through as much material as I can find.
Basically, I think the biggest factor in favor of PPACA is the big reduction in the number of uninsured. 14.7% of Americans were uninsured in 2008, the last year before Mr. Obama became President. As shown in the graph below, by 2016, that figure had dropped to 9%. (All figures from table 1.1.b in this CDC report.)

(Click to embiggen)
In terms of actual numbers of people – according table table 1.1.a of the aforementioned report – we went from 43.8 million uninsured

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Changes in Healthcare Costs

January 4, 2018

I had a post the other day trying to make sense of changes in healthcare costs. Based on some of the comments to that post, a bit more thought, some data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the CPI-All Urban Consumers, I think my point distills down to this graph:

(click to embiggen)
The graph shows the annual YoY change in real healthcare costs defined three three ways. The green line shows the annual change in total healthcare expenditures (adjusted for inflation). The blue line shows the annual change in healthcare expenditures (adjusted for inflation) per capita. The red line is the same as the blue line, but looks at the annual change in personal healthcare expenditures (adjusted for inflation) per capita.
Anyway, what the graph

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Healthcare Costs – I Got Confused by Some Graphs

January 2, 2018

I don’t follow healthcare as much as others at this blog. I started playing around with some graphs at FRED and got a bit confused. I don’t mind being confused, but I like to clear up that confusion eventually. So perhaps someone can tell me what’s going on.
First, this graph of healthcare expenditures / GDP which seems to indicate that Obamacare bent the cost curve:

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But looking at the annual change in healthcare expenditures / GDP, things become less clear:

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Here, it looks like the rate of increase in costs declined through the early oughts, went up as the economy tanked (i.e., healthcare costs continued rising but GDP fell), and then stayed more or less constant (through 2014,the last year with this

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Protests in Iran

December 31, 2017

This is well outside anything I can claim to know much about, so I can’t vouch for it other than that it sounds right to me. From an Al Arabiya article entitled All you need to know about the Iran protests in 20 points:
1 On Tuesday, December 19, the Iranian government announced a new austerity plan.
2 The plan imposed a 50% increase in the price of fuel.
3 The government decided to cancel the monetary support of more than 34 million people.
6 In this same austerity plan, the government decided to increase the budget for military armament.
7 Most of the military armament budget goes to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
8 The IRGC operates on foreign lands, supporting the Houthi militia in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Popular Mobilization

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The Upcoming Liberation of Mexico (and Parts of Africa)

December 30, 2017

As many academics and community activists – in fact, anyone woke – will tell you, the US is a racist society steeped in the white supremacy of its majority population. White people are haters who keep ruining things. Which is why reading this story in the LA Times about people from Africa trying to cross from Tijuana into San Diego is so hearbreaking.
The article describes African refugees who have fled their homeland for safety, who have braved all sorts of hazardous conditions just to get where they are, and who are desperately trying to get out of Mexico even if it means ending up in the US.    But we all know the US is going to be awful for them.  The US is  a country where even the Justice system is built to humiliate and oppress black men as

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Changing Energy Costs

December 28, 2017

From a Department of Energy report entitled Revolution… Now; The Future Arrives for Five Clean Energy Technologies – 2016 Update a nifty graph:

(click to embiggen)
If the graph is remotely accurate, these are large cost reductions.
Accompanying the graph is this verbage:
Decades of investments by the federal government and industry in five key clean energy technologies are making
an impact today. The cost of land-based wind power, utility and distributed photovoltaic (PV) solar power, light emitting diodes (LEDs), and electric vehicles (EVs) has fallen by 41% to as high as 94% since 2008. These cost reductions have enabled widespread adoption of these technologies with deployment increasing across the board. Combined, wind, utility-scale and distributed

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The National Debt Disappeared

December 27, 2017

Other than a small number of fiscal conservatives who are ignored by their own party, it doesn’t seem like anyone really cares about the National Debt any more. That’s a relatively new thing. Doing something about the Debt was one of the platforms of the GW Bush campaign in 2000. Of course, what he actually did to the Debt was the precisely the opposite of what he told us he was going to do. Then came Obama, whose economic policies – certainly with respect to anything that could affect the Debt – could best be described as a continuation of what GW started. Why anyone would look to a disaster as an example to follow, I cannot say, but people who become President tend to be unusual.
At present, it seems that we have entered a period of unholy alliance

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All I Want for Christmas is No Bombing

December 23, 2017

Its almost Christmas.  What seems to be different in the last couple of years is that we now have to contend with the joy of violent Christmas plots of one sort or another.  Just the other day, some $#%& with a scheme to shoot up San Francisco for the holidays was arrested.  Not that the growing terrorism in parts of the West is a seasonal thing, mind you.
Putting up bollards seems to be a growth industry these days. But there has to be a better way than waiting around for the the next group of jihadis to find a better way to slaughter them some infidels. I can think of a few ways cause some real carnage with items most of us have at our disposal provided one is willing to be a $#%&. It is only a matter time before one of those $#%&s stumbles on one of

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Online Shopping

December 18, 2017

A big change that has occurred in my household this year is the amount of shopping we do online – it has gone up a lot. It extends to food – a significant part of my daily calories now get delivered to our house. It isn’t just price driving that change; some of what we order online is very difficult to obtain locally. In fact, it was looking for items I wanted to add to my diet for health reasons that catalyzed this shift to online shopping.
What have been your experiences shopping online? Any thoughts about how it all plays out going forward?

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The Road to Hell is Paved with Screwed Over Black, Hispanic and Native American Kids (and They Deserve Better)

December 11, 2017

Its been my observation that a surprising amount of research education sucks, either focusing on irrelevant trivia or desperately avoiding logic and common sense at all costs. Every so often, though, you come across something well written and cogent. Here are the first two paragraphs of an article that comes close:
Racial-, ethnic-, and language-minority schoolchildren in the United States have repeatedly been reported to be overidentified as disabled and so disproportionately overrepresented in special education (e.g., Artiles, 2003; Dunn, 1968; Harry, Arnaiz, Klinger, & Sturges, 2008; Oswald, Coutinho, Best, & Singh, 1999; Sullivan & Bal, 2013). These findings have led to characterizations of special education as “discriminatory” (Skiba,

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Pakistan Today, Here Tomorrow

December 8, 2017

I cannot speak for the credibility of the Asian Human Rights Commission, nor about this story they published entitled Pakistan: The last nail in the coffin of democracy. However, it does ring true to me based on other material I have read in Western media. To quote liberally, if not to lift wholesale:
The year 2017 in Pakistan has been marked by tussles between state institutions and the army. The chain of events that started with a seemingly whimsical news item about the war of words between the military and civilian top brass, known as the Dawn Leaks, culminated into a sit-in the capital city of Islamabad that lasted for more than 21 days in November, and ended with bloodshed and a surrender document duly signed by the civilian government under the

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Two Stories on Cause and Effect

December 5, 2017

Cause and effect leaves little room for how people want the world to work.  Here are two stories illustrating that.
From Bloomberg:
A Swiss maker of hamburger buns for McDonald’s Corp. said it’s struggling to run a Chicago bakery after it lost a third of its workers in a clampdown on 800 immigrants without sufficient documentation.
About 35 percent of the workers at Cloverhill Bakery had to be replaced, according to Zurich-based Aryzta AG. The company, which makes baked goods for fast-food chains and supermarkets, said the employees were supplied by a job-placement agency that faced federal audits earlier this year.
The piece goes on:
The raid on workers at Cloverhill is one of the biggest U.S. employment headaches reported by a European company so far as

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Healthcare Costs and Waste

November 29, 2017

Propublica has a story on waste in the medical industry:
Experts estimate the U.S. health care system wastes $765 billion annually — about a quarter of all the money that’s spent. Of that, an estimated $210 billion goes to unnecessary or needlessly expensive care, according to a 2012 report by the National Academy of Medicine
Having visited doctors in the past decade or two a few times, I can believe the 25% figure.  The billing structure alone creates massive amounts of waste.  But some see Propublica as overly liberal, so why not check their figures?   followed the links to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine and clicked on

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Not up for Debate in the Debate Over Net Neutrality

November 25, 2017

I think of the debate over net neutrality as a fight over the rules of the game where the game is the delivery of information and entertainment. There are big corporations arguing all sides of the issue. All of them are happy to explain how the position they advocate will benefit the public. But nobody seems interested in discussing issues pertaining to the very bedrock on which the communication industry is based. That bedrock is the right of the way that providers use to place their cable through private and government property, and the right to keep others off specific bands of the public airwaves. I’m not advocating any particular change or position, mind you. I haven’t put any real thought into what is, at best an infinitesimally unlikely

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The Future of Colleges & Universities… And the Present

November 22, 2017

This article looks at the future of colleges and universities:
There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, but Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen says that half are bound for bankruptcy in the next few decades.
Christensen is known for coining the theory of disruptive innovation in his 1997 book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” Since then, he has applied his theory of disruption to a wide range of industries, including education.
In his recent book, “The Innovative University,” Christensen and co-author Henry Eyring analyze the future of traditional universities, and conclude that online education will become a more cost-effective way for students to receive an education, effectively undermining the business models of

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Crack v. Opioids and Violence v. Racism

November 19, 2017

Here’s is a PBS commentary by law professor Ekow Yankah:
That Kroger, the Midwestern grocery chain, has decided to make the heroin overdose drug naloxone available without a prescription is a sign of how ominous the current epidemic has grown.
Faced with a rising wave of addiction, misery, crime and death, our nation has linked arms to save souls. Senators and CEOs, Midwestern pharmacies and even tough-on-crime Republican presidential candidates now speak with moving compassion about the real people crippled by addiction.
It wasn’t always this way. Thirty years ago, America was facing a similar wave of addiction, death and crime, and the response could not have been more different. Television brought us endless images of thin, black, ravaged bodies, always

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An Op Ed on Race Relations in the NY Times

November 17, 2017

The NY Times has an op ed entitled Can My Children Be Friends with White People?. (Dan here …Link corrected) I think this is the most interesting excerpt:
…I will teach my boys to have profound doubts that friendship with white people is possible. When they ask, I will teach my sons that their beautiful hue is a fault line. Spare me the platitudes of how we are all the same on the inside. I first have to keep my boys safe, and so I will teach them before the world shows them this particular brand of rending, violent, often fatal betrayal.
The author, Ekow N. Yankah, according to the Times is a professor at Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. For an expert on criminal law, and one who cares about his sons’ safety, he seems surprisingly

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Baltimore School Test Scores and Baltimore School Spending

November 16, 2017

I’ve noted before I have a bit of an interest in Baltimore because my wife originates from there (despite having convinced herself that she’s from the Los Angeles area). So I noticed this story:
An alarming discovery coming out of City Schools. Project Baltimore analyzed 2017 state testing data and found one-third of High Schools in Baltimore, last year, had zero students proficient in math.
Contrast that with this:
The Baltimore City Public School System spent the fourth most per student during the 2014 fiscal year out of the 100 largest public school districts in the country, according to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The city’s school district, which is the 38th largest elementary and secondary public school district in the country, spent

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England, Employment, Wages and Brexit

November 11, 2017

The Guardian newspaper has a story about wages in England:
A shortage of factory workers is starting to push up pay rates but wage rises in the services sector remain rooted at around 2%, according to the latest feedback from the Bank of England’s regional agents.
The central bank said its agents, which are based in offices across the country, found that shortages this month across the manufacturing sector were leading to a “slight increase in pay growth” that would take average rate of pay rises up by half a percent, from 2-3% this year to 2.5%-3.5% in 2018.
The report appeared to justify Threadneedle Street’s move last week to increase interest rates, which officials at the bank said was needed to dampen the inflationary effects of wage rises.
A survey

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Different but Equal?

November 4, 2017

Here’s a fascinating recent article with the forbidding title of The landscape of sex-differential transcriptome and its consequent selection in human adults.  I’ll provide the abstract, and then a translation into English.  Here’s the abstract:
The prevalence of several human morbid phenotypes is sometimes much higher than intuitively expected. This can directly arise from the presence of two sexes, male and female, in one species. Men and women have almost identical genomes but are distinctly dimorphic, with dissimilar disease susceptibilities. Sexually dimorphic traits mainly result from differential expression of genes present in both sexes. Such genes can be subject to different, and even opposing, selection constraints in the two sexes.

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Not With a Bang, but a Whimper… Democratic Party Edition. An Op Ed.

November 3, 2017

A presidential candidate like Donald Trump should not be viable. Candidates he supports should not be viable. The existence of Donald Trump should be a boon for the Democrats. And, in fact, it has been.
But it hasn’t been enough. Perhaps four (or eight?) years worth of results will tip the balance for Democrats, but it is reasonable to ask: why have Democrats been coming up short against Trump, both in the Presidential election and in special elections since?
The reason is that the Democrats have abandoned their traditional base (i.e., the working class). So why the change?
I would suggest it is because the middle class intelligentsia from which most leaders and volunteers of the Party spring is increasingly reliant on people who have believe in nonsense.

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Terrorism, UK Today, France Yesterday

October 31, 2017

From a story in Daily Mail:
Terror suspects including jihadis returning from fighting in Syria are to be offered taxpayer-funded homes, counselling and help finding jobs to stop them carrying out attacks in Britain.
The top-secret Government strategy, codenamed Operation Constrain, could even allow fanatics to jump to the top of council house waiting lists.
Official documents seen by The Mail on Sunday reveal that up to 20,000 extremists previously investigated by MI5 will be targeted with what critics last night described as ‘bribes’ aimed at turning them away from extremism.
The highly contentious nationwide programme is due to start next year, with police and cash-strapped councils hoping the Home Office will pay for it out of its £900 million

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Genetics as an Omitted Variable in Psychology and Social Science

October 26, 2017

Here’s the abstract of an article by Frank Schmidt in the Archives of Scientific Psychology:
Governments often base social intervention programs on studies done by psychologists and other social scientists.Often these studies fail to mention other research suggesting that such interventions may have a limited chance of actually working. The omitted research that is not mentioned often shows that the behaviors and performances targeted for improvement by the environmental intervention programs are mostly caused by genetic differences between people and for that reason may be more difficult to change than implied in these studies. This is particularly true when the goal is to greatly reduce or eliminate differences between people in such domains as school

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When People will not be Judged by the Color of their Skin, But On Where Their Ancestors Were Judged by the Color of their Skin

October 24, 2017

The Wall Street Journal had a piece that made reference to this story in the Cornell Daily Sun:
Martha E. Pollack, nearing the six-month mark of her presidency, is facing her first major test at Cornell after hundreds of black students, responding to the arrest of a student who may be charged with a hate crime, marched into her office last week and hand-delivered a series of demands.
The most interesting of the demand is:
We demand that Cornell Admissions to come up with a plan to actively increase the presence of underrepresented Black students on this campus. We define underrepresented Black students as Black Americans who have several generations (more than two) in this country.  The Black student population at Cornell disproportionately represents

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The Sharing Economy – Including the @$$holes

October 22, 2017

A friend of mine who has made it into his sixth decade without ever sullying himself with gainful employment is now doing deliveries, shared-economy style. (Packages, not people via Uber or Lyft.) I thought he was going to rail against the system when he described what is new in his life, but his attitude surprised me. Transcribed, to the best my of my recollection, his comments were:
So I went down for orientation. There were a bunch of people just like me. Basically, @$$holes who don’t deal well with people. @$$holes who don’t want a job, and couldn’t keep a job if they could get one. What I love about the shared economy is that it allows @$$holes like me to participate. I work when I want, and I’m getting somewhat regular income for the first

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On the Effect of the Gender Composition of the Editorial Boards for Top Economics Journals

October 20, 2017

Here’s the abstract of a discussion paper from the IZA Institute of Labor Economics by Felix Bransch and Michael Kvasnicka:
Using data on articles published in the top-five economic journals in the period 1991 to 2010, we explore whether the gender composition of editorial boards is related to the publishing success of female authors and to the quality of articles that get published. Our results show that female editors reduce, rather than increase, the share of articles that are (co-)authored by females. We also find evidence that female editors benefit article quality at low levels of representation on editorial boards, but harm article quality at higher levels. Several robustness checks corroborate these findings. Our results are broadly consistent with

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Race is a Social Construct

October 18, 2017

Back to back on my to read list were two articles that made an odd juxtaposition. First up was Race Is a Social Construct, Scientists Argue in the once great Scientific American. Here’s a representative blurb:
More than 100 years ago, American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois was concerned that race was being used as a biological explanation for what he understood to be social and cultural differences between different populations of people. He spoke out against the idea of “white” and “black” as discrete groups, claiming that these distinctions ignored the scope of human diversity.
Science would favor Du Bois. Today, the mainstream belief among scientists is that race is a social construct without biological meaning. And yet, you might still open a study on

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CRISPR Critters

October 11, 2017

The first applications of gene editing are (will be?) to fix deleterious mutations. Nobody, or almost nobody, will complain when previously horrible diseases get fixed before a child is born. But the practice won’t stop there. There will be a progression of editing services from muscular dystrophy to hairlip to more ahtleticism, and eventually, more hair or a more attractive nose. The last two may take a while.
But what will be really interesting will be the tweaking of genes that fix cognitive issues. Again, its a matter of progression. Nobody – OK, almost nobody – will complain in a decade or three when Downs’ Syndrome is edited out of a fetus. From there, bringing a mildly retarded child to normal is a barely an ethical step at all. After that, well,

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