The South– again

You’ll never guess which region of the country has the highest level of high school drop-outs.  Via Jordan Weissman in the Atlantic:

Lighter colors– more drop-outs.  That’s the percent of adults 25 or over with HS diploma or equivalent.

I also really like this map of college grads in a county (the more, the bigger the circle):

Wake County, NC (as well as Mecklenburgh– that is, Charlotte) show up loud and clear.  But really, the coasts, Chicago, and Texas’ big cities are really where the action is.

Unemployment benefits work– they are not a hammock

So, I knew NC was screwing our unemployed workers in a relative sense, but I didn’t realize it was this bad:


So, amazingly from the American Enterprise Institute of all places comes a blog post that rebuts the conservative claim for cutting unemployment benefits:

Earlier this year, as The New York Times reported, the North Carolina legislature cut unemployment benefits, reducing (a) the maximum payout by a third and (b) the number of weeks residents can receive jobless aid. As a result, starting in July the state lost its eligibility for the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. (This is the extended benefits program scheduled to expire nationally at year end.)

So how’s that worked out in the Tar Heel State? …

3.) The state’s labor force participation rate tells the story. It plunged from 62.2% in June, before the benefits cut, to 61.4% in October. If that rate had merely stayed steady, the state’s jobless rate would have increased to 9.1% rather than sharply declining.

In other words, it looks like the cut in unemployment benefits moved people out of the labor force rather than into employment. Likewise, the state employment rate — the share of adults with jobs — declined from 56.7% in June to 56.5% in October. Did reducing the number of North Carolina residents eligible for federal extended unemployment benefits boost employment? These data suggest it did not, a reality Washington policymakers might want to consider.

Update: Bloomberg’s Evan Soltas has noticed the same impact. His conclusion: “Cutting unemployment insurance apparently hasn’t encouraged the unemployed to look harder for work: It has caused them to drop out of the labor force altogether.”

Yep.  People don’t want unemployment benefits.  They want jobs.  Sure, there will always be a few freeloaders out there, but they are not what’s driving things.   This strikes me as pretty stark evidence against the conservative case that cutting unemployment benefits will actually get people back to work because they haven’t been looking thanks to their cushy benefits.  Not so much when you look at the data.  Of course, modern conservatives are not exactly known for letting a pesky little thing like data get in the way of ideology.

Photo of the day

Now here’s an awesome theme from In Focus— the year in volcanic activity.  Tough to beat a fiery eruption at night:


Infographic of the day

Love this infographic showing how hard each country’s 2014 World Cup draw is.  Yes, the US did get screwed– but not as bad as the Aussies.


About that “stupid party”

Back in June, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal said that Republicans needed to “stob being the stupid party.”  Yet here’s Jindal pandering to the worse of the stupid:

Few could have predicted that the story lines of the hit A&E reality show “Duck Dynasty” and the 2016 presidential contest would converge.

But that unexpected mash-up played out Thursday as conservative politicians rushed to defend Phil Robertson, the shaggy-bearded, homespun star of the breakout series, who was suspended by the cable network after his published comments about gays stirred a storm of controversy.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), a likely White House contender whose state is home to the show about a family that runs a duck-hunting gear enterprise, called Robertson and his family “great citizens.”

“The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with,” Jindal said in a statementprominently displayed on his official Web site, adding: “I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment.”

God I hope Jindal actually has a better understanding of the first amendment than this.  The article I linked goes on to give plenty of examples of Republicans making simililary ridiculous claims, including Ted Cruz (who I assume Harvard absolutely rues the day ever letting into their law school):

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), another probable 2016 candidate, chimed in on Facebook, writing: “If you believe in free speech or religious liberty, you should be deeply dismayed over the treatment of Phil Robertson.”

As for the 1st amendment, “Congress shall make no law… abridging a freedom of speech.”  I’m pretty sure it doesn’t say anything about TV networks in there.  My favorite comment on the matter, though, comes from DJC’s Facebook page today:

When I was 19, I was dismissed from my job as a waiter at Applebee’s because in a fit of teenage angst, I told my boss to shove it up her apple a**! My outburst forced me to live off noodles for a week. About 4 years later, in my constitutional law class, I learned that my free speech rights only apply to government censorship. These two stories have nothing to do with one another.

And, finally, it is really amazing to me how this country can be so fixated on gay rights to the point that it basically ignored the following from Robertson:

(Notably, his comments about gays — including a graphic description of which body parts are more desirable — have garnered substantially more attention than his contention in the same GQ interview that African Americans were happier in the era of Jim Crow laws in the South, calling them “singing and happy.”)

Ummm, wow.  Surely a guy that represents the best of “real” America that all Republicans should be glad to defend.

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