Video of the day

Via Kottke, this is awesome– 5 hours of landings compressed into 30 seconds (as always with Vimeo, you can watch a larger HD version at the link):

Religion in America

Presumably you are already aware that America is a much more religious nation than most all other modern Democracies.  Here’s a nice summary from Gallup on some of the key correlates of religiosity:

  • Religiousness increases with age, albeit not in a smooth path but rather in stages. Americans are least religious at age 23 and most religious at age 80.
  • Women are significantly more religious than men, at all ages and within all race and ethnic groups. This is not an American anomaly; women are more religious than men in all but a small number of the more than 100 countries around the world in which Gallup has measured religion.
  • Blacks are more religious than any other race or ethnic group in America.
  • Mormons are the most religious of any specific religious group in America; Jews are the least.
  • Religiousness is highest in Southern states, including Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.
  • Religiousness is lowest in states located in the two northern corners of the country, including Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.
  • Upscale Americans are less religious than those with lower levels of education and income, but better-off Americans attend religious services just as often.
  • There are substantial political differences in religiousness. Republicans are significantly more likely to say that religion is important in their daily lives and more likely to attend religious services regularly than either independents or Democrats.
  • Blacks are a major exception to the significant correlation between religiousness and Republicanism. They are at the same time the most religious and the most Democratic race and ethnic group in America.

I find the age one interesting.  So, you get away from your parents and decide that religion is not so great.  You get more religious when you have kids, presumably, and then when death seems not far away, that’s really the time for God.  I’d also love to know more about the universal gender gap in religiosity– what’s going on there?  The political one– that’s well-trod territory.

Infographic of the day

I had no idea Europeans hated peanut butter.  It’s so good!  Via Planet Money:

Peanut Butter consumption in Europe

Why the Republicans need to compromise on the fiscal cliff

The latest Washington Post poll finds that Republicans will be disproportionately blamed (as they should) if we should go over the “fiscal cliff.”  I think some of the underlying data in the latest Gallup on the matter is quite telling.

Ratings of Government Leaders' Handling of Fiscal Cliff Negotiations, December 2012

Democrats overwhelmingly support Obama 86-9.  Republicans only support their leaders in Congress by a 56-39 margin.  Wow. Huge advantage Obama.  And although Republican rank-and-file is typically much less prone towards compromise than Democrats that’s not a much the case here:

Preferences for Government Leaders' Action on Fiscal Cliff, December 2012

Short version: pretty much all the political pressure to give in is on the Republicans.  Doesn’t mean they will, but you’d sure want to have Obama’s hand in these negotiations.

Photo of the day

A pretty cool series of photos of inside an Amazon.com warehouse.  That’s where most of the Christmas gifts I give are going to originate:

Raising the Medicare age– a horrible idea

So, one area where the Democrats might give in on the “fiscal cliff” negotiations would be a raising the Medicare age from 65 to 67 or so.  This would save the federal government almost $6 billion dollars.  Alas, it would cost the American public an additional $11.4 billion in health spending.  Here’s the key chart:

Yes, it certainly is more reasonable now that 65 and 66 year olds could get insurance thanks to the ACA, but the truth is that Medicare is way more efficient at delivering quality health care and this would lead to a substantial increase in overall health care spending.  There’s just no serious argument that that’s a good thing.  As the CBPP people put it:

The fundamental purpose of deficit reduction is to strengthen the economy over the long term.  The relentless rise in health care costs is the key driver of projected long-term deficits that policy­makers must address.  But reducing federalhealth care costs by raising state and private-sector health care costs even more makes little sense, as it only increases the burden that health care costs place on the economy as a whole.  The goal should be to slow the growth of health care costs system-wide, while extending coverage to all Americans.  This proposal does just the opposite on both fronts — raising costs system-wide and increasing the ranks of the uninsured.

Sarah Kliff has a nice summary of why exactly this is so bad at Wonkblog.

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