State statistics

Big Steve was kind enough to post this chart on my facebook wall today (click on chart to link to larger version).

Clearly a fun chart, but when you dig deeper, it certainly shows how you can lie with statistics.  The webpage actually provides sources for all the statistics.  In the case of NC’s lowest teacher pay, we see it’s not that simple:

One new indicator in this year’s report: a comparison of teacher salaries to pay in 16 jobs with similar skills/training, such as registered nurses and accountants. In 40 states, teacher pay was less than those other jobs. The worst offender:

North Carolina had the lowest comparable teacher pay, with just 78.8 cents to every dollar earned by other professions.

Interesting, but certainly not how most would define teacher pay.  Hey, we’re 38th!  Also, interesting to note that Utah’s pornography love is based on on-line porn subscriptions.  My theory, the conscientious Mormon porn users feel the need to actually subscribe whereas most on-line porn users probably just free ride without bothering with subscriptions.  As for Washington’s Bestiality.  That’s based on a grand total of four reported cases.  Obviously, it’s hard to make a fair extrapolation based on so few reported cases.  Still, fun stuff.


Voter Photo Identification

Voter fraud is largely a myth.  Its basically Republican hand-waving over a non-issue to try and justify the Democratic-leaning constituencies who are less likely to possess a photo ID.  The pending law in Texas, makes this absurdly clear (via Kevin Drum):

Oddly, though, they’ve decidedthere ought to be an exception in the new law they’re considering:

In 2009, they were talking about requiring photo ID or two forms of non-photo ID; the 2011 bill does not have that non-photo ID option. It does, however, have an exemption from the
photo ID requirement for those who are at least 70 years old at the start of 2012 and who have their voter-registration card when they go to vote.

Hmmm. Why make an exception for old people? The answer, obviously, is that lots of senior citizens don’t have driver’s licenses, and if they have to go to the trouble of getting a state ID card just to vote, they might decide not to bother. In other words, the photo ID requirement would create an artificial obstacle to voting among a group of perfectly law-abiding citizens.

It’s good to see Texas Republicans tacitly admitting that. It’s an excellent point, after all. There are other groups this applies to, though: students, poor people, and minorities, for example. But no exemption for them! I wonder why. What could possibly be the difference between senior citizens and these other groups?

Pretty brazen.  Might as well just exempt the requirement for those with Republican registration– couldn’t be any more nakedly political.  Our new Republican legislature in NC has this law high on their priority list.  Presumably, though, they won’t try and include such exemptions, but maybe they’ll be inspired by Texas.  I’m going to be curious to see how our Democratic governor responds when this comes up here.

SOTU– it doesn’t really matter

So, unlike most years, I might actually watch a little bit of the State of the Union tonight.  I hate all the team clapping– makes the speech take forever.  I am curious to see, though, how the efforts at bipartisan seating affect things.  That said, the speech really doesn’t matter all that much.  When our News Services guy contacted me about getting my name out there today for expert commentary, I demurred (no, I’m actually not a complete media whore).  In truth, Political Science just doesn’t have much to say about presidential speeches.  Maybe in the aggregate, but not any individual speech.  Basically, any individual speech is just not going to matter that much and that is most definitely not what the journalists want to hear.  Ezra Klein has a post providing empirical support for the lack of speeches on public opinion.  I actually did agree to provide a little commentary for my friends over at Slovakian Pravda, but that’s because I can’t resist my name in Slovakian and I think the basic commentary I can offer is more useful in a context where there’s a lot less familiarity with American politics.

My kids are screwed!

Via Kevin Drum:

This isn’t too surprising, but a new study that tracked over a thousand children from the age of 3 to the age of 32 has found that the long-term effects of poor self-control are at least as important as intelligence and social class origin:

Childhood self-control predicted adult health problems….elevated risk for substance dependence….less financially planful….less likely to save and had acquired fewer financial building blocks for the future….struggling financially in adulthood….more money-management difficulties….more credit problems….more likely to be convicted of a criminal offense.

The Greene kids have their strengths.  Sadly, self-control isn’t among them (though, I suppose there’s still hope for Sarah).  \For example, just yesterday, we learned that Evan has been harrassing his pre-school classmates with scissors.  I guess we should start saving up to bail them out of their future money problems.  In all seriousness (seriously, though, I really do wish my kids had better self control– though at least Alex has an excuse), there are policy implications.  Drum:

The policy implications here remain to be worked out, but it’s yet another indication that the benefits of intensive early childhood interventions go far beyond academic achievement. Even if early childhood programs have no lasting effect on school test scores at all, they might still be immensely valuable if they improve levels of self-control. The question is, what’s the best way to do that?

The best way might not be clear, but the status quo of doing nothing sure ain’t it.  This is most definitely an area where I society needs to invest more heavily and it will surely pay huge dividends if we do.


This ad from Tim Pawlenty is so ridiculously over the top, it really strikes me as more like an Onion video parody.  Unreal.

As Seth Masket wrote on facebook, “If stitching together a bunch of positive-valence popular culture clips were easy, everyone would be doing it. Oh, wait.”

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