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Wednesday, September 6, 2006

how’s your income?

the detroit free press had a nice labor day piece on median income in michigan and the united states, which included this [pdf] graphic of state-by-state data. since i’m not sure how long that will remain, i present a smaller version here:

dfp_2006medianincome.png

and, for your convenient reference, the 2000 presidential election results:

2000_president_map.png

great disucssion over here on the map. ladies and gentlemen, let the partisan fur fly.

update 2006.09.08: Based on a tip from jane galt via creative destruction, this map needs some help.

one thing that did concern me was the strange threshholds for the colors (that odd -5 to -5.9% gap), but that wasn’t really the point. the point was something more like the big economic picture across the country under this “republican” administration. anyway, since i now know i’m hosting bad data, it’s on me to fix the data, and while tables are great for economists and statisticians, i’ve got two maps on this page already. so here’s your new map (pardon the quick-and-dirtyness of it all):

rojisan_medianincome_1999-2005.png

enjoy.

update 2008.08.04: Salon wanted a 2000 presidential election map, and they picked the one used in this post (despite it being a real hack job). welcome Salon readers. enjoy your visit. feel free to look around…

posted by roj at 4:22 am  

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

hot fuel scandal

i promised i’d address this at some level, so… here we go:

recently, the kansas city star came out with a story about hot fuel. their conclusion:

An investigation by The Kansas City Star has found that at recent prices U.S. consumers are spending about $2.3 billion more for gasoline and diesel this year than they otherwise would if fuel pumps were adjusted to account for expansion of hot fuel.

this story gets some traction, and there are others, like this one from the arizona republic, and follow-ups from the kansas city star here.

of course, this is just physics. things generally expand when they get hot. you’re buying a gallon of gas when you buy a gallon of gas, and not some specific number of joules (like 132,000,000). and all that makes perfect sense back when gasoline turned into the mainstream transportation fuel.

so it’s an engineering legacy that we have to live with, but not indefinitely.

today, it’s the subject of government investigations (see here and here for starters).

so, while everyone is chewing on this multi-billion-dollar heat surcharge collected by the oil industry, i have a couple other concerns to throw into the fire. this little tidbit of government-corporate partnership that brought you a 60-degree standard temperature for gasoline in the united states was established “nearly a century ago” in an era when government was… well, different. more transparent? less? it’s hard for me to judge. but what i do know is that today, the oil industry is not just agreeing to standard temperatures for measuring gallons of gasoline. they’re setting energy policy, behind closed doors, with an administration that won’t even disclose what subjects are being discussed. those investigations have been completely stonewalled.

so, missouri and california may lead us to a path of temperature-compensating fuel pumps, but will we figure out what other little deals and policies have been established in this business? did someone cut a deal to measure hydrogen by volume as opposed to by joule?

posted by roj at 3:48 am  

Thursday, January 13, 2005

costa, go all the way

coffee’s not my thing, but it’s good to try make a difference sometimes, so here’s my 200-character (1/100th of a cent per character?) push at to go all the way with their fair trade commitment.

posted by roj at 5:29 am  

Saturday, January 8, 2005

dollar eclipsed

in that british way, the economist has news on the eclipse of the dollar – unfortunately, it’s a print thing, so i can’t link to it. but i can share the teaser from their “premium content”:

In December, we warned that the dollar’s role as the world’s main currency was under threat if America continued in its profligate ways. Yet the dollar has been dethroned even sooner than we expected. It has been superseded not by the euro, nor by the yen or yuan, but by another increasingly popular global currency: frequent-flyer miles.

fortunately, in this vastly-connected media world, you can catch a re-interpretation of that at the guardian.

By the end of 2004, almost 14 trillion frequent flyer miles had been accumulated worldwide, worth between 1p and 6p apiece.

oddly enough, i happen to know someone that can be held personally responsible for the flood of currency.

i bring this up today, for two reasons… one is to remind (or rather, direct your attention to) the idea of donating frequent flier miles to make a difference.

and the second is to raise the question of the impending “bank failures” in this miles-economy as american airlines all fight to drive themselves out of business.

posted by roj at 8:46 am  

Thursday, September 2, 2004

the cost of large-scale terror

two stories crossed the ap wires recently, and being the kinda person that synthesizes stuff all the time, they just begged for a little calculation…

last came the news today about the wealth of bin laden and in that the cost of the september 11 attacks.

the attack’s price tag of just $400,000 to $500,000 over two years.

a couple weeks ago, there was a story about the top insurance companies losses, related to an expected double-whammy hurricane action going on in florida, that included this:

Terrorist attack (New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania), September 2001 – $20.7 billion.

that’s a ($20,700,000,000 / $500,000) = 41,400-fold multiplier.

just a comment now that i have a figure on it… you can’t beat that with an army. bush was closer to the truth than maybe even he realized.

posted by roj at 6:09 am  

Thursday, September 2, 2004

time isn’t money

thumbing their nose at american economist benjamin “time is money” franklin, researchers at the university of washington and the wharton school have published a paper, Spending Time Versus Spending Money [pdf] that seems to contradict the conventional wisdom.

erica okada and stephen hoch prepared the paper back in may of 2003.

Although we agree that an understanding of the opportunity costs of time is important to making good decisions, in this research we find systematic differences in the way that people ex ante spend time versus money and ex post differences in how they evaluate decision outcomes experienced after spending time or money.

translation: people have a pretty solid idea of what money is worth, but we’re a little flexible when it comes to deciding what time is worth.

this, of course, has immediate ramifications when it comes ot the concepts i’ve dragged through this blog in a thread about attention markets and the constraints thereon. you’ll find echoes of this over at barry’s blog as well, as we both bounce around theories and comments on the subjects of falling tv ratings, collapse of the music business, and other such things.

just for the record, because i have a blog, my time is worthless.

posted by roj at 6:00 am  

Monday, August 30, 2004

gdp per athens 2004 summer olympiad medal

first, i want to congratulate all the olympians before i spend a few minutes dissecting their event. so, congratulations olympians, and thank you to greece for hosting.

a while ago, i ran into the australian bureau of statistics’ medal count per population table. they’ve updated it with the final tallies, and it’s an interesting perspective on the olympics. it also gave me a crazy idea to go another direction. i don’t pretend to have the resources of the abs, but i do have a spreadsheet application and a web browser, so what i’ve done is combine the 1999 gross domestic product data (which seems to be the last year for which pretty much every country is represented) with the official medal tally from the 2004 athens summer games. doing that gives me a “gdp per medal” figure that looks something like this:















































































Rank

NOC

NOC Name

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Tot.

Aggregate Medal Value

1999 GDP

GDP per Gold

GDP per Aggregate

4

GEO

Georgia

2

2

0

4

10

2.74

1.37

0.27

5

BLR

Belarus

2

6

7

15

25

11.56

5.78

0.46

6

ETH

Ethiopia

2

3

2

7

14

6.54

3.27

0.47

7

AZE

Azerbaijan

1

0

4

5

7

3.77

3.77

0.54

8

UKR

Ukraine

9

5

9

23

46

30.76

3.42

0.67

9

ERI

Eritrea

0

0

1

1

1

0.72

n/a

0.72

10

BUL

Bulgaria

2

1

9

12

17

12.71

6.36

0.75

11

LAT

Latvia

0

4

0

4

8

6.26

n/a

0.78

12

JAM

Jamaica

2

1

2

5

10

7.93

3.97

0.79

13

KEN

Kenya

1

4

2

7

13

10.38

10.38

0.8

14

ROM

Romania

8

5

6

19

40

34.16

4.27

0.85

15

ZIM

Zimbabwe

1

1

1

3

6

5.62

5.62

0.94

16

MGL

Mongolia

0

0

1

1

1

0.97

n/a

0.97

17

RUS

Russia

27

27

38

92

173

184.63

6.84

1.07

18

KAZ

Kazakhstan

1

4

3

8

14

15.62

15.62

1.12

19

BAH

Bahamas

1

0

1

2

4

4.56

4.56

1.14

20

HUN

Hungary

8

6

3

17

39

48.4

6.05

1.24

21

EST

Estonia

0

1

2

3

4

5.14

n/a

1.29

22

LTU

Lithuania

1

2

0

3

7

10.65

10.65

1.52

23

SVK

Slovakia

2

2

2

6

12

18.84

9.42

1.57

24

UZB

Uzbekistan

2

1

2

5

10

16.4

8.2

1.64

25

CRO

Croatia

1

2

2

5

9

20.18

20.18

2.24

26

CMR

Cameroon

1

0

0

1

3

9.19

9.19

3.06

27

GRE

Greece

6

6

4

16

34

125.09

20.85

3.68

28

AUS

Australia

17

16

16

49

99

395

23.24

3.99

29

CZE

Czech Republic

1

3

4

8

13

53.12

53.12

4.09

30

NZL

New Zealand

3

2

0

5

13

53.97

17.99

4.15

31

SLO

Slovenia

0

1

3

4

5

21.72

n/a

4.34

32

MAR

Morocco

2

1

0

3

8

35.01

17.51

4.38

33

DOM

Dominican Rep

1

0

0

1

3

17.04

17.04

5.68

34

PAR

Paraguay

0

1

0

1

2

11.68

n/a

5.84

35

KOR

Korea

9

12

9

30

60

406.94

45.22

6.78

36

TRI

Trinidad/Tobago

0

0

1

1

1

6.87

n/a

6.87

37

CHN

China

32

17

14

63

144

991.07

30.97

6.88

38

IRI

I. R. Iran

2

2

2

6

12

94.94

47.47

7.91

39

THA

Thailand

3

1

4

8

15

123.9

41.3

8.26

40

POL

Poland

3

2

5

10

18

154.15

51.38

8.56

41

NOR

Norway

5

0

1

6

16

152.94

30.59

9.56

42

CHI

Chile

2

0

1

3

7

67.42

33.71

9.63

43

TUR

Turkey

3

3

4

10

19

185.21

61.74

9.75

44

NED

Netherlands

4

9

9

22

39

394.19

98.55

10.11

45

EGY

Egypt

1

1

3

5

8

87.25

87.25

10.91

46

RSA

South Africa

1

3

2

6

11

131.05

131.05

11.91

47

AUT

Austria

2

4

1

7

15

208.05

104.03

13.87

48

DEN

Denmark

2

0

6

8

12

174.28

87.14

14.52

49

SWE

Sweden

4

1

2

7

16

238.68

59.67

14.92

50

ESP

Spain

3

11

5

19

36

596.71

198.9

16.58

51

SYR

Syrian Arab Rep

0

0

1

1

1

16.68

n/a

16.68

52

UAE

U Arab Emirates

1

0

0

1

3

51.89

51.89

17.3

53

NGR

Nigeria

0

0

2

2

2

34.78

n/a

17.39

54

ITA

Italy

10

11

11

32

63

1172.51

117.25

18.61

55

INA

Indonesia

1

1

2

4

7

154.12

154.12

22.02

56

FRA

France

11

9

13

33

64

1437.6

130.69

22.46

57

POR

Portugal

0

2

1

3

5

114.02

n/a

22.8

58

GER

Germany

14

16

18

48

92

2114.78

151.06

22.99

59

ISR

Israel

1

0

1

2

4

98.86

98.86

24.72

60

GBR

Great Britain

9

9

12

30

57

1442.01

160.22

25.3

61

TPE

Chinese Taipei

2

2

1

5

11

282.6

141.3

25.69

62

BRA

Brazil

4

3

3

10

21

542.01

135.5

25.81

63

CAN

Canada

3

6

3

12

24

644.74

214.91

26.86

64

ARG

Argentina

2

0

4

6

10

283.13

141.57

28.31

65

IRL

Ireland

1

0

0

1

3

94.22

94.22

31.41

66

SUI

Switzerland

1

1

3

5

8

259.13

259.13

32.39

67

FIN

Finland

0

2

0

2

4

129.83

n/a

32.46

68

USA

United States

35

39

29

103

212

9299.15

265.69

43.86

69

BEL

Belgium

1

0

2

3

5

248.73

248.73

49.75

70

VEN

Venezuela

0

0

2

2

2

102.23

n/a

51.12

71

JPN

Japan

16

9

12

37

78

4346.93

271.68

55.73

72

MEX

Mexico

0

3

1

4

7

483.53

n/a

69.08

73

HKG

Hong Kong

0

1

0

1

2

158.61

n/a

79.31

74

COL

Colombia

0

0

1

1

1

86.41

n/a

86.41

75

IND

India

0

1

0

1

2

438.4

n/a

219.2

for this table, aggregate medal value is computed as “gold * 3 + silver * 2 + bronze” based on this data. gdp data is sourced from the international monetary fund here. gdp data for cuba, north korea and serbia/montenegro was not available from the same source and is omitted.








Rank

NOC

NOC Name

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Tot.

Aggregate Medal Value

1999 GDP

GDP per Gold

GDP per Aggregate

1

SCG

Serbia/Monteneg

0

2

0

2

4

0

n/a

0

2

PRK

DPR Korea

0

4

1

5

9

0

n/a

0

3

CUB

Cuba

9

7

11

27

52

0

0

0

there’s some data for people to play with when they want to figure out how efficiently economic productivity is converted into olympic medals. now you have one answer to the question, “what is an olympic medal worth?”

posted by roj at 9:11 am  

Thursday, August 26, 2004

35.9 million americans in poverty

just a little while ago, the census bureau released their annual data on poverty. this “strong” economy has done this:

* The number of people below the official poverty thresholds numbered 35.9 million in 2003, or 1.3 million more than in 2002, for a 2003 poverty rate of 12.5 percent. Although up from 2002, this rate is below the average of the 1980s and 1990s.
* The poverty rate and number of families in poverty increased from 9.6 percent and 7.2 million in 2002 to 10.0 percent and 7.6 million in 2003. The corresponding numbers for unrelated individuals in poverty in 2003 were 20.4 percent and 9.7 million (not different from 2002).
* As defined by the Office of Management and Budget and updated for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, the average poverty threshold for a family of four in 2003 was $18,810; for a family of three, $14,680; for a family of two, $12,015; and for unrelated individuals, $9,393

that’s 12.2% of the population (using the current “population clock” of 294.1 million americans). it’s also more than the total population of canada (32.5 million).

as a note, $9393 a year for an individual, working 2000 (50 * 40) hours a year works out to $4.69, which is just a wee bit below the federal minimum wage.

posted by roj at 11:23 am  

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

data on the income gap

Income Gap Up Over Two Decades, Data Show [ap via abc news, august 17, 2004]

The wealthiest 20 percent of households in 1973 accounted for 44 percent of total U.S. income, according to the Census Bureau. Their share jumped to 50 percent in 2002, while everyone else’s fell. For the bottom fifth, the share dropped from 4.2 percent to 3.5 percent.

just a little data point to add to the thread.

posted by roj at 1:59 pm  

Friday, August 13, 2004

benefit and burden of the bush tax cuts

with data from a reuters story about a to-be-released-today (and hence not yet linkable) congressional budget office report, i thought i’d take a moment to put some numbers together… the various reports give us some benchmarks… but no real comperable data. since i barely touch this economics stuff (i have friends to do the heavy lifting on this subject), i just want to make some quick observations and see what develops.

The report said the top 1 percent, with incomes averaging $1.2 million per year, will receive an average $78,460 tax cut this year, and have seen their share of the total tax burden fall roughly 2 percentage points to 20.1 percent, according to The New York Times.

In contrast, households in the middle 20 percent, with incomes averaging $57,000 per year, will receive an average cut of only $1,090, the newspaper said, citing the CBO report.

Taxpayers whose incomes range from $51,500 to around $75,600, saw their share of federal tax payments increase, according to CBO figures cited by The Washington Post.

The newspapers, citing the CBO report, said about two-thirds of the benefits from the cuts went to households in the top 20 percent, with an average income of $203,740.

People in the lowest 20 percent of earnings, which averaged $16,620, saw their effective tax rate fall to 5.2 percent from 6.7 percent, though their average tax cut was only $250.

the republican spin on this, predictably enough, is that we’re all better off now:

Report Finds Tax Cuts Heavily Favor the Wealthy [new york times, august 13, 2004]

“It doesn’t matter who you are, the report shows that you are better off now than you were before the tax cuts,” said a House Republican aide. “It’s showing that everybody’s tax burden has gone down as a result of the tax cuts.”

unless, of course, you fall into that $51,500-$75,600 band (but that’s nit-picking). there’s a bigger picture here (and that’s barry’s cue). most things in economics only really matter in relative terms – it’s not about how much a loaf of bread costs in dollars-and-cents, it’s about how much a loaf of bread costs compared to how much you earn. it’s not about how much you earn, it’s about how much you earn relative to how much it costs to keep that job. so i want to hook up two “bigger picture” thoughts to these tax-cut figures: debt and poverty.

one thing that’s not included is the other side of the coin (so to speak) – the national debt, which, by my rough calculations ($7,330,000,000,000.00 / 294,000,000), is just a little less than $25,000 per person. now that i’ve got that benchmark number, i’m going to play fast and lose with the data, because it seems that everyone else is anyway. the first thing i’m going to do is multiply the $25,000 individual debt figure by 2.5 average individuals per household to come up with a $62,500 national-debt-per-household figure so i can compare it to income per household.

$62,500 is just a wee bit more ($5,500 more) than the average income of the middle quintile of american households. so, if you just give back your tax cuts, for the middle quintile’s tax cut of $1090, they’re only $61,410 behind on their “share” of the national debt. the bottom quintile’s $250 tax break puts them only $62,250 behind on their “share.”

so, for you low-to-middle-income households, enjoy your tax cuts, because you need to work extra hard to get us back into the black. if you’re in the bottom quintile, you need to work about 45 months to earn enough money to pay off your chunk of the debt. if you’re in the middle quintile, it’s just a little more than 13 months. oh. and no eating or cable tv while you’re at it.

the other issue i’d like to weave into this cloth is something i’ve mentioned here a couple times – the maldistribution of wealth. and today, i’m going to go with the poverty spin. according to the census bureau, the federal poverty level for a single, working-age adult is $9,573 (in 2003), which works out to just a little less than the federal minimum wage for a full-time employee ($5.15/hr * 40 hours/week * 50 weeks/year = $10,300).

i could be wrong here, and i guess everyone knows i’ve been wrong before, but it seems to me that you can do more for the economy (which is to say, positively affect more people) at the low end of the income spectrum than you can at the high end. we can keep expanding the size of the picture to include issue after issue, but i kinda wonder what the overall economic effect might be if the bottom quintile of households could afford, for example, a new 50mpg car. i suppose there is the problem of what to do with all the old cars, but it’s just a thought really. what happens when the next 5 or 10 million americans get themselves up to the point where they can afford new durable goods?

i’d be interested in finding out, but that’s not the direction we’re headed right now – or so it seems to me.

posted by roj at 5:08 am  
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