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The interviewee says that blacks are disproportionately imprisoned in the United States; notes that though blacks only make up 13% of the general population, they make up 40% of the prison population. While it is quite likely that blacks are disproportionately imprisoned, it is what the interviewee didn’t say that begs asking. Why is it that blacks are being disproportionately imprisoned? For the answer to that, first, let’s take a look at some U.S. Department of Justice data on arrests:

Selected from the above linked table: Estimated number of arrests by offense and race, 2019, All ages:

All offenses blacks more than 25% of total

Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter blacks more than 50% of totalotal….

Robbery blacks more than 50% of total


Aggravated assault blacks more than 33% of total


These Justice Department figures tell us that blacks are in fact committing a disproportionate percentage of all crimes being committed. What else do we know in our search for the why?

It is known, or at least believed to be known: That, by far, most black citizens are law abiding. That upper and middle income blacks are exceptionally law abiding. That in modern day populations, males are far more likely to commit crimes than females. That almost all crimes by black Americans are committed by young black males. That nearly half of black Americans live in areas of concentrated poverty. That almost all of the crime committed by black Americans is committed by young black males between the ages of 12 and 34 years of age who live in areas of concentrated poverty (most of their victims live in these same areas).

It would help to know: What percentage of those black Americans who live in areas of concentrated poverty are males between the ages of 12 and 34. What percentage of this group commit criminal acts.

If we estimate 12 to 34 year old black males constitute 12% of the black population in areas of concentrated poverty, and that one-half of them are committing criminal acts; we aren’t looking at 13% of the population committing a disproportionate of all crimes committed. We are looking at (0.5 x 0.12 x 0.13 x 100 ~ 0.9%) less than 1%, of the overall population committing an extremely disproportionate per cent of all crimes committed. More specifically, we are talking about young black males in poor urban black communities committing an extremely disproportionate per cent of all crimes.

Why is it that 12 to 34 year old black males who live in urban areas of concentrated poverty are committing crimes at such a disproportionately high rate? Why is the cause we seek. Living in poor urban areas of concentrated poverty is the where. Why do young black males living in poor urban areas of concentrated poverty more like to commit criminal acts? It is known, or thought to be known, that young males are more likely to commit crimes. There appears to be little, if any evidence, that race alone is a factor. Leaving us with young males living in poor urban areas of concentrated poverty; with good reason to suppose that the lack of adequate housing, food, healthcare, education, hope, … of everything they need, and want, might be the most significant factor, the greater cause. These causes/things: inadequate housing, inadequate food, inadequate healthcare, inadequate education, little reason for hope, …, are things we as a society can do something about. Our doing so would be far better than going forward with the long failed more and more incarceration, imprisonment.

It appears that the most proximate cause of the most disproportionate percentage of young black males being incarcerated was their socioeconomic environs. Suppose that the reason for one group of citizens having a disproportionately high arrest rate was found to be because of their ‘culture’, their biology, their genetics, their upbringing, their psychology, …? Or, some combination of these things? What would an ‘Estimated number of arrests by offense and socioeconomic status’ look like? What would an ‘Estimated number of arrests by offense and culture’ look like? We have learned that there is a strong correlation between whether the child was wanted. What would an ‘Estimated number of arrests by offense and parenting’ look like? What other things do we not know? Asking the right questions and getting the correct answers is all important; is our best hope for finding solutions.

Does fivethirtyeight process the numbers too much ?

Or not enough. Nate Silver has long performed fairly complicated calculations with (lots of) raw data. Even back when he was Poblano at DailyKos this was highly controversial. Now that he leads a huge team at, it is almost necessary just to decide whether to trust them, because it is very time consuming to read their explanations of their algorithms.

In particular, obsessive poll watchers such as your humble correspondent, have noted that Senate ratings by and don’t always move together. Very often the difference between the complicated calculations at and the simple averages at is greater than the change of either from week to week.

One very important (and controversial) aspect of the approach is correcting raw polls

Former Ohio official who accidentally released Social Security numbers is on Trump’s voter fraud panel

Former Ohio official who accidentally released Social Security numbers is on Trump’s voter fraud panel LA TImes reports:

The Republican gubernatorial primary was just weeks away, and then-Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell had his sights set on securing the nomination.

Blackwell had served as mayor of Cincinnati and state treasurer before becoming Ohio’s top elections official, so a bid for governor in 2006 seemed a logical next step in his political career.

But in March of that year, his office caused a stir: The full Social Security numbers of 1.2 million Ohio voters were posted accidentally on the secretary of state’s website.

A month later, in a separate incident, Blackwell’s office inadvertently distributed voter lists with the Social Security numbers of 5.7 million voters. The numbers, by law, are supposed to remain private.

Blackwell, 69, has been tapped to serve on the Trump administration’s bipartisan voter fraud commission, an endeavor election officials nationwide have called a waste of time.

The panel, officially called the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, asked secretaries of state nationwide to provide voters’ personal information, including names, addresses and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. The commission has faced intense pushback from both Democrats and Republicans, while a watchdog group has filed a lawsuit arguing the commission’s request breaches privacy laws.

The ACTUAL Likely Reason That Clinton Won Ohio by 15 Points: Blue-Collar Whites Voted in Large Numbers for Kasich Against Trump. (This matters. Maybe a lot.)

Okay, so Paul Krugman blogged yesterday that the Clinton campaign’s numbers guru, Joel Benenson, claims that Clinton lopsidedly won the Ohio primary because:

Ohioans took a hard look at Senator Sanders’ claims, and rejected them. Despite his attempt to portray Hillary as an ardent free­trader, Hillary voted against the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the only multi­national trade agreement that ever came before her in the U.S. Senate.

Krugman mocks it, saying:

The rules of the game require, of course, both that he be totally positive about his candidate and that he profess a certainty about the meaning of every victory that I’m fairly sure he does not, in fact, possess. The truth is that nobody can be sure exactly why Ohio was so different from Michigan. … I very much doubt that many Ohioans knew about Clinton’s anti­CAFTA vote, or even what CAFTA was.

Clinton voted against CAFTA.  Krugman goes on to say that he was surprised back then when he read it to learn that CAFTA wasn’t a true trade agreement at all in the usual sense; it dealt mostly with intellectual property rights, especially with pharmaceutical companies’ patents. Like TPP.  He concludes by characterizing Clinton as a senator as cautious about trade deals and in selective opposition to them.

Northwest Plan 2012 – Numbers by Request of Commenter BK

I am just beginning an attempt to tranform the Northwest Plan for a Real Social Security Fix into a series of Tables and Figures (and original spreadsheets) that people can review at length. But since the authors were effectively accused of not really having numbers at all here is an advanced peek at some of the future workproduct. This one extracted from Excel and tranformed into a graphic. Click to embiggen.

This is from the 2012 version of NW and shows the first increase in FICA in 2018. Which obviously explains why Revenue stays the same until 2017. Note that Trust Fund balances never decline in nominal dollar terms although the Trust Fund Ratio does. But in this data series never below 1.24 (or 124 in Trustee terms) or 24 points above the 100 level that represents ‘solvency’ as the Trustees define it.

The 2013 version differs in detail as will the 2014 once the Report is released (next week?) and we develop it. But the general outline remains the same, phased in increases in FICA over a 20 year period with adjustments at intervals after.

The Not So Bad PPACA Numbers

After 10 days scurrying around the Shanghai, China area; I am now sitting in Bangkok, Thailand and reading more of the news. Such is the life of a Global Purchasing Manager dealing with automotive and industrial. I have been reading and watching the typical media reporting about the PPACA while drinking my green tea.

Greg Sargent as reported on Crooks and Liars – How the Obamacare numbers actually look pretty good picks up on what the numbers to date mean for the PPACA. So what is the big deal???

numbers-really-tell-us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">“Republicans are gleefully pointing to the numbers as proof Obamacare needs to be scrapped entirely.

That confirms two things we’ve long known to be true: the website is a disaster, and short term enrollment figures are a serious political problem for the White House and Democrats. But to Larry Levitt, a vice president at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, another very telling number is this one: over 975,000 have been determined eligible for a marketplace but haven’t yet chosen a plan.

‘That’s one of the most telling numbers — a million people have been determined eligible,’ Levitt tells me. ‘That means if the website had been working well, and a million people had gotten to the end of the process, we’d be looking at a very different trajectory now. We heard about the surge in traffic when went live. This suggests there is in fact a lot of interest.’”

We can establish the PPACA website which was more or less designed as a backup to expected state run exchanges and did not function as expected. We can also safely say > half of the states who were supposed to have systems in place declined to implement state exchanges much less pass the PPACA. My experience as a part of multiple MRPII/ERP implementations where businesses decided to either change source code or make other extensive changes has always resulted in system issues. this leaves me to say, the crowing about commercial enterprises being far more successful in system implementations is just plain nonsense. Even so, the federal exchange was never meant to handle the traffic which showed up at its doorstep due to obstinate political and moneyed interests (such as in Michigan) who are more interested in seeing a President in failure than helping their constituents. 20 years since Hillarycare and little has happened to help the uninsured or stem the rising cost of healthcare (sans insurance).

Looking at the chart, Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Foundation points to the “975,000 being determined eligible in the marketplace but not having yet chosen a plan.

if the website had been working well, and a million people had gotten to the end of the process, we’d be looking at a very different trajectory now. We heard about the surge in traffic when went live. This suggests there is in fact a lot of interest.” A lot of interest in having some type of healthcare insurance

Because we have issues with the PPACA software; the proposal by Republicans, tea-baggers, and those who simply dislike the president is to scrap the PPACA this decade and wait for another decade or two to implement another version? Hmmmmmmmmmm, nope! There is no way another bill would get past the Republican held House in this decade. I have not participated with a commercial interest yet which has shut down when there have been software issues and we should not be so willing to back away from the PPACA. The companies worked through the issues and went onward for the most part. When the TSA was blowing $200 million a year (since 2007) trying to read your personality in conversations while you were getting x-rayed and patted down, no one was calling for an immediate halt to it. 6 years later, > $1.2 billion spent, and the TSA finally determined their Vulcan mind-meld methodology did not work. Even so, we do need to move forward much faster with a PPACA website fix.

”’Assuming the website gets fixed, I would assume a surge of enrollment in December, and another surge in March,’ KFF’s Levitt explains.”

But what about the lowly numbers (100,000) who did get insured through the state and federal exchanges? This is an extremely low number when compared to expectations for the individual market place; but, the critics and pols conveniently side step the 400,000 who were made eligible for Medicaid in states which embraced the expansion. Isn’t this about insuring more people whether through the individual exchanges or through Medicaid?

”‘In total that’s over 500,000 people who signed up for insurance in the midst of a tumultuous launch,’ Levitt says. ‘People make a distinction between the marketplace and Medicaid, but those are both elements of the Affordable Care Act — both are mechanisms to get people insured.’” 500,000 in one month?

The argument put forth by the Obama foes have been about people experiencing negative impact (as if the Republicans actually cared for their constituents as opposed to the moneyed interests) from the PPACA website failures, purposeful insurance company cancellations, and higher rates due to broader coverage. All of this is occurring in the individual market as opposed to the much larger group market. The cancellations have been made by companies, the increased costs have mostly been disproven, and the website is being worked on feverishly. Going forward, the answer to today’s issues and the success of the PPACA will be determined by the numbers who benefit from coverage. As a result, the outlook is still unsettled but positive when the entire numbers are reviewed as shown. The PPACA is moving forward albeit slower than expected. It is accomplishing at a less than spectacular rate on the exchanges what it is supposed to do . . . cover people. Given time, it will succeed.

What the Obamacare enrollment numbers really tell us,” Greg Sargent, numbers-really-tell-us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Washington Post November 13, 2013

Guest post: Under Obamacare, Will You Receive a Subsidy…We Now Have Real Numbers

 by Maggie Mahar

numbers-that-will-let-you-calculate-how-much-you-will-receive/">Under Obamacare, Will You Receive a Subsidy to Help You Buy Your Own Insurance? We Now Have Real Numbers That Will Let You Calculate How Much You Will Receive

Note to Readers: A longer version of this post appeared yesterday on

Up until now, when Obamacare’s supporters and reform’s opponents squabbled over what insurance will cost in 2014, they had to rely on estimates and national averages. But now we have real numbers.

Eleven states have announced the rates that insurers will be charging in their Exchanges-marketplaces where individuals who don’t have employer-sponsored coverage can shop for their own insurance.

Subsidies Will Be Based On the Cost Of A Silver Plan Where You Live,

Middle-income as well as low-income people buying coverage in the Exchanges will be eligible for government subsidies that will come in the form of tax credits. Anyone earning between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) (now $11,490 to $45,960 for a single person, and up to $126, 360 for a family of six) will qualify.

These numbers don’t add up

by David Zetland, a series of posts highlighting major points over time. The paper must be downloaded to read.  Wageningen UR – Environmental Economics and Natural Resources Group; PERC – Property and Environment Research Center
Economists Owe Ecology an Apology
March 9, 2013

Part 2 Nature Bats Last

Pare 3  These numbers don’t add up

These numbers don’t add up

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was invented during the Great Depression for politicians who wanted to know if their policies were working. GDP as a measure of production has several flaws. First, it only counts payments for goods and services. It does not reflect our work—and pleasure—in the home. A home-cooked meal contributes less to GDP than Happy Meals from McDonalds. Second, its measures are based on prices, not values. An innovation that lowers the price of phone calls, for example, appears to reduce the benefit from calls—and totally misses the greater value of calls on Mother’s Day. Third, GDP ignores the benefits of functional ecosystems and grows when unpriced environmental inputs become priced outputs—when water moves from rivers to irrigated fields, for example. Economists know about these measurement problems (Stiglitz et al., 2009), but they cannot prevent the widespread abuse of GDP statistics.

Goddert’s Law states that “a measure that becomes a target ceases to be a good measure,” and that’s what happened with GDP. Politicians claim they will increase GDP—and thus prosperity, happiness and national pride—while their opponents will destroy it. Those claims lead to policy. Why protect an unpriced wetlands when you can convert it into a housing subdivision and boost the economy?  Why promote walking to work in 20 minutes when people can buy cars and use gasoline to drive for an hour on highways whose construction costs boost local GDP?  There is no GDP value in the unpriced time people spend commuting or the air pollution that results, but there’s plenty of GDP value in the (priced) resources burned on the way.

Economists’ attempts to improve GDP (adding up the negative impact of excessive congestion delays, for example) failed to clarify costs or improve understanding because those adjustments to GDP—a measure of the flow of goods and services—did not account for the capital depletion of burned fuel that might be valuable in the future, the negative impact of pollution on the capital stock of local and global air quality, and the socially and psychologically relevant fact that an hour spent in congestion free traffic is still an hour lost from either work or leisure. Reasonable people know that the flow of our economic activities is bound to affect stocks—it’s not possible to live (or enjoy life) without taking water from streams, cutting a few trees or taking fish from the sea—but there’s a difference between reasonable and excessive taking. We may disagree on the appropriate flow of these takings, but we can’t discuss “appropriate” without an accurate measure of their level, and GDP doesn’t include levels. GDP doesn’t help us understand where we are or where we’re going—it sows confusion and scrambles priorities.

Guns, Murders, and the Rule of Law: Running the Numbers

When I was eighteen years old, I went down to the government office in Olympia, Washington with my friend Steve (no, not that Steve) and signed as the character witness on his application for a concealed carry permit for his handgun. I was probably stoned at the time; I often was back then. (FYI, I grew up with guns in my house — stored in the gun locker up in the attic, but we took them out and shot targets now and then, cleaned them, took care of them. I went hunting several times as a kid.)

Steve and I are still buds, and he still carries. He even stays at my place sometimes when he’s working up here in Seattle, but he leaves the heat in his car. I guess he doesn’t feel the need to scare off the dangerous girl gangs that are forever threatening to invade my houseboat and have their way with us. (Yeah: wildest dreams.)

You won’t be surprised to hear that Steve and I have been going at it on Facebook since the Newtown horror (cordially, if you can believe that). I point to the numbers — less guns, less murders — and he points to countries like Mexico, which have gun control laws but still have high levels of gun homicide. I point out: those countries don’t have strong rule of law; corruption and criminal intimidation is rampant in the police, the judiciary, and the legislatures.

Those countries’ problem is not that they don’t (try to) control guns. It’s that they can’t control guns.

Curious as always, this led me to wonder: in countries like ours that do have a strong, well-institutionalized rule of law — countries that can control guns if they choose to — do less guns mean less gun killings?

Short answer, Yes:

firearms 3

CL is Chile. MK is Macedonia. FI is Finland. You know what US stands for.

The WJP index looked like a good measure among those I found on the web; you can choose others if you wish. I used .55 as the cutoff because it’s the line above which all European countries are included, and the resulting list seemed to consist of countries that (at least in aggregate) are fairly comparable to ours. Here’s the list:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay.

The firearms and homicide data is from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, but it’s laid out in a conveniently sortable table with a linked Google spreadsheet at this Guardian page.

Steve also pointed me toward a blog that includes, among other things, a time-series analysis of gun violence and gun restrictions in the UK. I’ll simply say: if you live in the U.S. instead of the U.K., you are 43 times as likely to die of a gunshot.

So are your children.

Cross-posted at Asymptosis.

The Numbers Behind Newt’s Plan to Balance the Budget

by Mike Kimel

The Numbers Behind Newt’s Plan to Balance the Budget

Newt Gingrich’s website provides information on The Gingrich Jobs and Prosperity Plan. It starts with this:

America only works when Americans are working. Newt has a pro-growth strategy similar to the proven policies used when he was Speaker to balance the budget, pay down the debt, and create jobs.

Excellent. That statement should be enough to get an idea of what the program will look like. I want to focus on the first piece: balancing the budget. (You can’t pay down the debt unless you run a surplus, so balancing the budget also deals with that issue.)

Here’s what the surplus / GDP looks like for the years from 1988 to 2004. The gray bar covers the years from 1995 (the Republican Revolution took office, and Newt Gingrich became speaker in 1995) to 1998 (Gingrich resigned as speaker in November 1998.)

(Incidentally – the surplus is simply Total Federal Receipts less Total Federal Expenditures, which come from lines 37 and 40 of the BEA’s National Income and Product Accounts Table 3.2. GDP comes also comes from the BEA.)

Figure 1

As you can see, the deficit did indeed turn into a surplus when Gingrich was in office. However, the chart makes it clear the trend began before Newt took office and continued after Newt left office. In fact, it seems that the deficit started falling in 1993. The surplus, on the other hand, peaked in the year 2000, fell, and the budget returned to a deficit. So what defined the years from 1993-2000? Oh yeah, they were the years Clinton was President. So Newt is basically saying he would support the policies that produced success in the Clinton years.

That is wonderful… those were years of great prosperity. You have to go back to the JFK & LBJ years to find presidents who oversaw faster growth rates in real GDP. But let’s stay focused on the deficit and surplus issue. In fact, let’s deconstruct the number into its constituent parts. Figure 2 shows Total Federal Receipts / GDP and Total Federal Expenditures / GDP.

Figure 2.

As is evident from Figure 2, Total Federal Receipts / GDP hit a low point in 1992 and started to rise in 1993, eventually peaking in the year 2000 and then falling. Total Federal Expenditures / GDP hit a high point in 1992, then began falling in 1993, eventually hitting a local nadir in 2000 and then starting to rise again. The trend during the Newt Gingrich years looks like the rest of Clinton years… well, except for a slight slowing in the rate at which expenditures were dropping.

Now, you might be thinking that Newt’s comments about deficit reduction speak more to his views on expenditures than on taxes. After all, few Republicans talk about increasing the tax burden these days and it would take a lot of guts for Newt to break with his party on this one. But looking once more at the numbers its obvious Newt really does want Americans to pay more.

Consider… in 1995, Gingrich’s first year as speaker, federal expenditures were 22% of GDP.In 1998, they were 20% of GDP. But… revenues in 1995 were 19.2% of GDP. That is to say, had revenues remained at the 1995 level, they would have been less than expenditures and the budget would have still been deficit Newt’s last year in office (and in fact, in 1999 as well). But Newt takes credit for balancing the budget.

Thus… by necessity he is taking credit for raising the tax burden on the American people. Granted, there were no hikes in the marginal rate while he was speaker, but the increase in the tax burden came about with increased enforcement and regulation. This is a man with political courage! This is a man who puts doing the right thing above any thoughts of personal gain!

Now, I’d like to put the tax hikes that Newt seems to be advocating in context. For this, I’m going to steal a graph from Presimetrics, the book I coauthored with Michael Kanell. In it, we used a slightly different version of the tax burden: instead of Federal Revenues / GDP, we looked at the percentage of people’s income that went to taxes. We looked at the annualized rate of change of this version of the tax burden for each Congressional administration from 1952 to 2008.

Here’s what we found:

Figure 3.

As Figure 3 shows, the Republican Revolution (which granted, extended a few years beyond Newt) oversaw the largest (by far!!!) annualized increase in the tax burden of any Congress in several decades! Because taxes aren’t that popular with Republicans these days, Newt is downplaying the issue, but he seems to be dogwhistling it for those of with some familiarity with the numbers. The only alternatives are that he is ignorant of the numbers, or that he is will to obfuscate the facts, but hopefully we can expect more than that from someone running for the highest office in the land.