March 31, 2017

The Next Evolution

Bill Frey at the Brookings Institute released a county-based analysis of the national election results based on the newly released 2016 U.S. Census data.  The report is a good skim and provides a distinctive frame on political geography.  A couple of highlights:

  • One hundred seventy-seven million people live in counties carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016. 146 million people live in counties won by Donald Trump.  In 2012, 180 million people lived in “Obama counties,” while 134 million people lived in “Romney counties.”
  • In every election since 1992, including the Bush v. Gore election in 2000, more citizens lived in counties carried by the winning candidate than the losing candidates. In 2000, 149 million people lived in “Bush counties,” compared to 133 million in “Gore counties.”

In the Weeds

Two recent articles examine different perspectives on the public pension and retirement debates.  The first, published by the Haas Institute at UC Berkeley, examines the accounting structure and funding goals for public pensions. Policy positions in the public pension space can be among the most diametrically opposed in government. This article does a nice job giving an accessible, technical overview of position points made by the more optimistic side.

A piece by  of the American Enterprise Institute examines the recent trend in some states to establish state-sponsored Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Congress is evaluating whether to allow these programs, which were supported by the Obama Administration, and, if allowed, how to regulate them. The article provides an overview of the issue and ultimately suggests that they should be allowed but regulated as private, rather than public, retirement plans.

For Your Consideration

Bloomberg’s Megan McCardle wrote an interesting piece on how Utah has achieved relatively high levels of social mobility. In it, she digs into the characteristics that make Utah unique: cultural homogeneity, pervasive religious presence, and a distinctive social safety net. The article ends by considering whether Utah’s successes can be exported elsewhere and concludes that it might and that it would look something like George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism.

Of note, North Carolina gets a shoutout: “The wide gulf between Utah and, say, North Carolina implies that we do, in fact, have a real problem on our hands. A child born in the bottom quintile of incomes in Charlotte has only a 4 percent chance of making it into the top quintile. A child in Salt Lake City, on the other hand, has more than a 10.8 percent chance — achingly close to the 11.7 percent found in Denmark and well on the way to the 20 percent chance you would expect in a perfectly just world.”


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