This morning, I noticed traffic spiking to an August Wonkblog post on Urban planner/artist Neil Freeman's effort to redraw the United States as 50 states with equal population. It's a fun, beautiful thought experiment:
I posted the map on Twitter again. No reason people who weren't reading Wonkblog on Aug. 21 should be deprived. The Washington Examiner's Byron York, however, was not amused:
I lived in Irvine, Calif., for 18 years. I know the ways in and out of the city. I know which streets are residential and which are office parks. I know where the old air force base is, where the best tacos are hidden, and where the university is. I know the quickest ways to Newport Beach and Santa Ana, and the times when the streets are thickest with cars. I know where the dry hills are, and where the big lake sits.
I've written recently about how Americans have been moving locations less and less since the 1970s. But let's put this in an international context. The United States is still one of the most mobile countries in the world:
That comes from this new Gallup survey, which found that 24 percent of Americans reported moving from their city or area in the past five years. That's comparable to New Zealand (26 percent), Finland (23 percent), and Norway (22 percent).
The Census has calculated the Gini coefficients — the standard measure of income inequality — for each state, and the results aren’t necessarily what you’d expect:
The dark purple areas are highly unequal and the light blue ones highly equal. New York is the most unequal state, followed by Connecticut, Louisiana and New Mexico (a motley crew if ever there was one), and Wyoming, Alaska, Utah, Hawaii and Vermont are the most equal. To some extent, this is a rural/urban divide. New York City has both a lot of poor people and a few extravagantly wealthy people, whereas there’s no metropolis in Wyoming full of extremely rich folks. More generally, top earners tend to live in cities, as do the poor, so it makes sense that urban areas would be more unequal.
Phil Galewitz and Matthew Fleming surveyed all 50 states to find out how Medicaid budgets are changing. They found that 13 states had made cuts this year. I put them onto this map, color-coded by the party affiliation of the state’s governors:
It’s hard to find any common thread among these 13 states. Seven have Democratic governors; six are led by Republicans. Three are in the south and an equal number are in New England. Two, California and Connecticut, seem to really like the Medicaid program: They volunteered to start the health law’s Medicaid expansion early, well before it’s required in 2014. Others, like Louisiana and Florida, are not fans at all: They plan to sit out that Obamacare provision.
All told, it’s pretty hard to find any narrative that explains why these states have cut their Medicaid programs, aside from some broad truths: Budgets are still squeezed and Medicaid is eating up a growing chunk of state spending.
Common Cause, the Verified Voting Foundation, and the Rutgers School of Law have a new report out on the readiness of particular states for the election in November. The report focuses on the nuts and bolts of voting: do states have back-up methods in case voting machines break? Do they keep paper records of all votes? Do they conduct audits after the election to make sure the count is correct? It doesn’t touch on more contentious issues like voter ID or the ability of released prisoners and other felons to vote.
Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wisconsin and, interestingly, Ohio were judged the five best prepared states, and Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina the least prepared:
The report found no states had inadequate measures for dealing with broken voting machines, but that sixteen use paperless voting without any paper receipts, meaning that a verifiable vote audit is impossible. You can read the full report here (pdf).
Brad’s graph showing the divergent economic fortunes of North and South Korea is a stark illustration of the damage Kim Jong Il inflicted upon his country. But Donald Rumsfeld had, if anything, a more chilling way of making the same point. “If you look at a picture from the sky of the Korean Peninsula at night,” he said in a December 2002 briefing, “South Korea is filled with lights and energy and vitality and a booming economy; North Korea is dark.”
Here, via Afrikent, is a nighttime shot of the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea outlined:
That, right there, is Kim Jong Il’s legacy. In a world that had long ago found light, he managed to keep 24 million human beings in the dark.