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This page catalogs some insights I have found to be useful, but that some others often lack. I think about these insights in two broad categories: general insights that would be true in any time in history– almost like mathematical axioms; and more specific insights linked to the present, e.g. how much inequality is now present in America.

In some cases links to blog posts on these subjects may come later!

General Insights

Incentives matter.

It hard to make money trying to “extend a monopoly” unless the source of the monopoly is the state.

People are never as brave as they imagine they will be.

Never underestimate the human capacity for self-deception.

Correlation does not mean causation.

Be on the lookout for selection bias in statistics that are cited.

Never change your mind based on a single or even just a few studies.

A good society accords higher status to people who make everyone better off.

Social equality is generally more important that wealth or income inequality. (Corollary: you will never get rid of competition for ordinal status, which need not be linked to material resources.)

For most tasks, there is little reason the government will do a better job that other institutions.

Politics is not about policy.

Stories are more persuasive than data

Often we do not understand what the statistics we use are really measuring. US manufacturing productivity growth has really been driven by quality adjustments in measuring semiconductor manufacturing output.

More to come…

Specifc Insights

US income and wealth inequality have not changed that much.

Real wages have not declined for the poor or middle class in the US.

The way we make more affordable housing is to make more expensive housing, which means that older (previously more expensive housing) becomes available as more affordable housing.

Homelessness is not caused by a lack of housing.

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