Secession Oriented States: Full Correlation

Correlation Between Secession Desire and Federal Funding

After writing Secession Oriented States Get More From Feds Than They Give, it bothered me that I didn’t do the analysis of all the regions. So I did them. I still wish I had the numbers for the individual states, but I was able to run a correlation on what I had.

There is a correlation, but it isn’t that strong — about 80% or 1.2 sigma. The problem is the Southeast: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. This is a very big and heterogeneous collection of states. What’s more, there is a slight problem with the Rockies: Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. This area is a lot more anti-government than their low federal benefits would indicate. But there is a reason for this. Colorado is 56% of the economy of this region and it has an extremely low federal benefit level (70%). Without it, the level would be 106%. That would put it right along the line implied by the other regions (without the Southeast).

Regardless, there is a correlation: areas that get more federal government largess are more likely to be in favor of getting rid of the federal government. Just the same, the correlation is weak. But we ought to expect that given the grouping of the states. That will tend to reduce the correlation and that is more true the larger the group is, as in the Southeast.

Secession Oriented States Get More From Feds Than They Give

Secession Reuters Poll

I learned from the Los Angeles Times, Poll: Nearly One in Four in America Would Favor Secession. In one way, this doesn’t matter in the least. It seems that there is always about a third of the American people who are in favor of anything. But this is probably a real thing. Still, the Times is wrong to claim that, “Nearly one out of four Americans is so fed up with Washington that they are prepared to not take it any more and would favor their state breaking away from the rest of the United States.” I doubt that’s true, even if the writer is trying to be cute. What it probably means is that one-quarter of Americans are just crazy.

The data come from a Reuters/Ipsos poll. It also found that men were more in favor of leaving the union as were poor people (probably an indication that they lived in poor states more than that poor people in New York want to leave the union). It is above all an indication that there are a lot of frustrated and angry Americans. A whopping 53% of people who identified with the Tea Party want to leave the United States. This goes along with what I’ve long said: there is a strong tendency towards treason in the conservative movement.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the details of the data. It looks like they just didn’t release it for each state. It is very possible they didn’t have enough data to do a state by state analysis. But going off the regions in the map above, I decided to take a look at just how reasonable dropping out of the union is. As is well documented, the states where the people most complain about the federal government are generally the states that get the most money from the federal government. No one ever said Americans were rational.

I’m sure you’ve seen maps that show how much a particular state gets back from the federal government for each dollar it puts in. The biggest determinant of this is the age of the population. Like Florida gets a whole lot more back because there are so many retired people. Nonetheless, this percentage does tell us a lot about how different states would get along by themselves. But there is a problem: those maps you’ve seen are almost all wrong. That’s because they usually represent a single year. Things change a lot over the years. So what I did was to do the ten year average from the data fro 2004 through 2013. Then, to get the regional values, I did a weighted average based upon how much total money they send in federal taxes.

I only did the calculation for three regions: West, Southwest, and New England. I’m especially interested in the last two because they represent the most and least interested in leaving the country. The return on federal taxes for the regions are as follows:

  • $0.85 West
  • $1.19 Southwest
  • $0.86 New England

In other words: the states are want to leave the union are the ones who depend most upon it. Now some might take exception with the Southwest, because Texas is generally presented as a state that pays more in federal taxes than they get back. While that is true of some years and was true of last year, it hasn’t generally been true. For the last decade, Texas has received $1.02 for every dollar it has sent to the federal government.

But let’s face it: this isn’t about economics. People who want to leave the United States want to do it for cultural reasons. They want to deny same sex couples equal rights. They want to make abortion illegal. And not to put too fine a point on it, but there are a lot more people than you think who want to deny rights to different races and to bring back Jim Crow or worse.

Still, it is interesting to see that economically it doesn’t make sense. And I have little doubt that those who call for secession think that the federal government is screwing them in terms of taxes as well.

The Rich Win Again, This Time in Scotland

Scottish Independence DeniedAs I’ve been clear: I never thought that Scotland would vote to leave the United Kingdom. And I’ve had my problems with the idea. In particular, I think they should have dealt with the monetary issue facing them. They needed to set up their own currency. All they had to do was talk to some people in Spain. Or Italy. Or Ireland, for God’s sake! But overall, I was in favor of Scotland leaving the UK.

It reminds me of a bit from the film 1776 when Benjamin Franklin is arguing with John Dickinson, “We’ve spawned a new race here, Mr. Dikinson. Rougher, simpler; more violent, more enterprising; less refined. We’re a new nationality. We require a new nation.” That doesn’t perfectly apply to Scotland, but I do think it ought to be its own nation. It isn’t Northern England. It is a distinct group of people and to paraphrase Dr Franklin, “It deserves to be a new nation.”

Most liberals were pretty positive toward Scottish independence. But I find it a bit bothersome that some of my liberal friends are thrilled that Scotland is staying in the United Kingdom. As liberals, we should all know that other than the United States, the UK is the most conservative and therefore messed up country among the advanced economies. It is always one step behind us in stepping on the little guy with powerful and innovated new tools. The Scots are a more liberal people. And not only would it be nice to have another liberal country, the break with the UK would probably have pushed England a bit toward the left itself.

Zack Beauchamp has done great coverage of the Scotland vote for Vox over the past month, and yesterday he provided another interesting article, The Scottish Vote Was a Class War and the Rich Won. It is based upon some preliminary research by Susan Johnston. And she found a shockingly clear correlation between support for staying in the UK and disposable income of the voter. I’ve greatly altered the original graph, which actually makes the correlation look even stronger:

Scotland Independence Vote by Class

There is only thing that bugs me about this graph. This could just be showing an age divide. In general, older people are more wealthy than younger people. But based upon polls before the election, I think we will find that even taking this into account, the Scottish independence vote was very much a class vote. And look at this “10 Reasons for Scottish Independence.” It looks like the Scottish version of Occupy Wall Street:

Scotland Independence Vote by Class

I especially like the last one, “A fairer society that cares for all its people, not just the rich.” Again, now may not be the time for Scottish independence. I would like the whole issue to be taken more seriously because I don’t want the Scottish people to be hurt. But there is no cause for triumphalism about this vote. It is a mixed bag. But as an American liberal, I stand far more with Scotland than I do the United Kingdom or even Ireland.

But all liberals really ought to think hard about celebrating the continued taxation of Scotland for the purpose of supporting one of the largest and most aggressive militaries in the world. It is terrible that a liberal people are forced to support a government that even when nominally liberal gets anemic leaders like Gordon Brown or war criminals like Tony Blair. And otherwise, they get corporate stooges like David Cameron.

So maybe it is for the best that Scotland remain in the United Kingdom. I’m certainly open to that argument. But this is no time for celebration. The vote against independence is what the rich wanted. If it happens to be the right thing, that’s just a coincidence. The rich get what they want. That’s true here in the United States. And it is sadly also true in Scotland.

Image Use in Blog Article Layout

ClutterThere are three ways that one can format a blog post. The way that Frankly Curious does it is by far the best. But before I get to that, let’s discuss the different ways. The most common is what I call, “We don’t need no stinking pictures!” This is what you get from smaller blogs. They are just trying to get their messages out. They don’t have the time or the resources to add imagines to their posts. And there really is no need for the images. That’s especially true for people like Digby who we all read because she’s brilliant.

Three Kinds of Image Layouts

This kind of format is also found on Bloomberg blogs. I assume this is because these posts are going to be reprinted elsewhere. Also Political Animal includes no images. But interestingly, when Washington Month publishes guest posts, they include a small caricature of the writer in the upper left hand corner of the article. I rather like this. One of my complaints about websites generally but blogs especially is the lack of author images. Readers like to have some idea of who they are dealing with. I don’t think I’m in the minority on this one.

The second kind of format is generally done by large publications. In these cases, the article starts with a headline, followed by a large image that has to be scrolled past to get to the content. A typical example of this can be found with New York Magazine. But sadly, this is also how Vox is displayed. This is a huge mistake. First, it requires that the reader click to the page and then scroll down just to figure out if they want to read the article. Second, the idea of images is to break up the page. Having a big image that simply pushes the entire text flow out of the way doesn’t do that. So the images get in the way at the same time that they don’t make the pages more pleasant to look at.

Big Picture: Never, Never Gonna Show You Content...

The Frankly Curious Way

This brings us to the correct way to layout pages: my way. What’s strange is that not more people do it. My standard scheme is to put a single small (150×200 [Now 225×300 -FM] pixel) image in the upper left hand corner of the article. Sometimes it goes on the right. And sometimes I use a large image if I think it is important enough. But that is the exception. There are various things that this accomplishes. First, it shows rather clearly on the main page where the articles start. It also makes the page look nice and not so desperately dull. Think of it as the spice of the article. I also think it makes people more likely read the article because it gives them another reason to be interested in the subject.

I perhaps have a different outlook on the web than a lot of people. I set up one of the first websites in the world. And at that time, one of the very few things you could do was to include images on pages. So I’ve always seen it as a publishing platform. But it isn’t like a book. It is like a magazine. And it should appeal like a magazine. Just the same, I don’t claim to be any kind of a layout artist. And that’s kind of the point: if this stuff is obvious to me, what the hell is going on with professionals at popular sites?

Layout for Ads, Not Content

Well, I think I know, actually. I think they are far more interested in maximizing the number of people who click on the ads they liter their pages with than they are with the content they are providing. Washington Monthly, for example, is more ads than content. Because of that site alone, I’ve turned off flash content on my pages. And the site still annoys me.

There are many other problems with the way that webpages are displayed. Many of them have been eliminated by blogging software. For example, you just don’t see blog themes that have virtually unreadable text scrolling all the way across the screen. Just the same, the blogs have also created a great deal of monotony. Right now on Frankly Curious, I’m rather unhappy with the excessive amount of white space. This is something that seems especially typical of WordPress. And every time I look at this blog, I think, “That’s so 2009!” Just the same, it isn’t terrible. But I don’t want to be saying that in 2019.

Blog Images Take Time

What I think goes on with most blogs is that people don’t have all that much time to devote to them. What’s more, they aren’t that technically savvy and so once they get something that doesn’t totally suck, they stick with it. Also, the blogs really do limit you. I’ve only been using my current theme for a month or two, but I know that I can never upgrade it. I’ve gone in and hacked the code to make it do things it was never meant to do. So I don’t blame people for playing it safe. And I never complain that a lone blogger isn’t dazzling me with graphics. But the professionals really are to blame for not only leaving me flat with their designs, but getting in the way of my consuming their content.

The Great Poet Stevie Smith

Stevie SmithOn this day in 1902, the great poet Stevie Smith was born. I could easily have used today to talk about Jay Ward, the producer of such important works of my childhood such as Rocky & Bullwinkle. But I think I have written enough about him over the years. He even shows up in my first novel. And my second novel is still unfinished, so he may end up in that one too. But the thing is that there is a very good reason for highlighting Stevie Smith today, which I will get to soon enough.

Smith published three novels and nine books of poetry during her life. Her work epitomizes what I refer to as “idiosyncratic art.” But most such art is not very good in a purely technical sense. That was not true of Smith’s work. I’ve never read any of her novels, but I plan to rectify that situation by next year. I’m especially interested in reading her first novel, Novel on Yellow Paper. For one thing, I have a special fondness for writer’s first novels. There is something special about reading them while they are still finding a voice. But also, the novel was published in 1936, and deals with antisemitism and involves a trip the main character takes to Nazi Germany at that time. That just sounds too fascinating not to read.

But the special reason for discussing Stevie Smith today is that in 1978, there was a film about her named Stevie starring one of my many childhood crushes, Glenda Jackson. As is typical of great and unique films, it is not available on DVD. In fact, I can’t even find it of VHS. It may never have been released. I only ever remember seeing the film when it played at the great old Plaza Theater in Petaluma when I was a teen. The Plaza was one of those theaters that played a different double feature every night. There really is nothing our culture has produced since to make up for the absence of those theaters.

Anyway, someone did us the great favor of putting all of Stevie on YouTube in 11 parts. And it is well done, not just cut randomly by YouTube. I’ve put it into a playlist for ease of watching. You really should take the time to watch it because it may be taken down at any time. I’m always interested in that: copyright holders who don’t care enough to make a work available for sale, but still don’t want anyone watching it for free. I’m not saying that will happen here, but it does happen all the time so you are best to watch now just to be safe.

The film is based upon the play Stevie by Hugh Whitemore. And the film definitely has a play feel to it. But it is somehow vibrant. I know that film lovers tend to disregard these kinds of films because they aren’t “cinematic.” But I think the use of film to tell a story well is always worth the effort. I think the film works beautifully. It succeeds completely on its own terms. Just accept it and follow where it takes you. It is very much like Stevie Smith’s work: charming, funny, smart, dark, heartbreaking. It is a loving and fitting tribute to a great artist.

Happy birthday Stevie Smith!