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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fleeing the Heat

Gotta get out of town. Temps above 100 are making me crazy. Been a week or more here, losing track.
We're going to pack up (along with the grandsons & their Mom) and head over to the Gulf Coast. Spend a couple of days on the beach at Galveston. (Probably wouldn't have picked that destination, but they need the economic help after IKE.)
We'll come home in time to celebrate the nation's birthday.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Can Census Accuracy be Bought?

So, we've previously seen how and why some Texans might not be as committed to an accurate Census count has they claim. What's the other side of the coin? Why and how are inducements applied to encourage Texans as well as other states to count every possible inhabitant/resident?
As stated earlier but repeated here for emphasis:
  1. Full, accurate Census counts ensure that a state is allocated its fair share of seats in the U S House of Representatives. Since the total number of those seats is limited (435), the allocation means that for one state (like Texas) to gain House seats that some other state must lose those same seats. In recent decades this has meant that New York and Pennsylvania as well as some other "Rust Belt" states have given up seats to the growth areas, including Texas and the rest of the South and West.
  2. The return of federal tax money to states for agreed upon social and societal reasons (such as Medicare/Medicaid) is based upon data that comes from the dicennial Census counts. Thus the greater the reported population both in total and demographically (# of children) affects the formulae used to allocate federal money.

And, of course, this federal money flows more to help lower income citizens than the wealthy. Thus, it is in the vested interest of many of the same people who are the subject of stated efforts to include all of them in the Census count. But they still avoid being counted and identified. Why?

People in these socio-economic demographic groups fail or refuse to see the vested interest in voting in as great numbers as the more affluent do. They also apparently don't grasp "what's in it for them" if they do or don't get included in the Census counts. Or if they do "get it" they are still not motivated to participate. What are they afraid of? One does not get their drivers license or green card stamped when they successfully participate in the Census. They can still seek the available assistance that flows through unemployment benefits and Medicaid assistance. It apparently doesn't hit home that the total pool of monies available to applicants in the state is partly determined by how many were or were not counted in the Census. This much has been widely reported and discussed.

What doesn't get much attention is consideration of what would happen if states like Texas did solve their internal issues and found ways to count virtually all their residents. Would other states (through their Congressional representatives) readily agree to give up federal dollars to the "growing" states at their own expense? Or would the allocation formulae be subject to modification?

I tire. More later.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Coming Census Count

Today's local newspaper has an opinion piece masquerading as a news story. (But then seems like all local newspapers do some of that these days.) The gist of the piece was that Texas needs to figure out how to "count" more of its residents in next year's census. We should do this to avoid "losing" one billion or more dollars in federal largesse and entitlements over the course of the following decade. The article mostly addressed two aspects of the issue. It quoted various "experts" who assert that Hispanics and presumably some other minorities are undercounted by the census. There was some discussion of why this occurs even though full counting would ostensibly benefit those who are undercounted, lavishing them with federal dollars for various public service purposes, including healthcare and other federal aid. The article also mentioned in passing that apportionment of U S House seats is based on the dicennial census and that Texas can expect to gain seats in a couple of years.
This article, however, failed to explore indepth the reasons for the undercounting. It also totally ignored some realworld realities. If the main purpose of the census, besides getting a reasonably accurate estimate of total number of inhabitants of the country at a specific point in time, is to decide how to divide up the "pie", well that has no impact on the size of the pie or whether or not it grows. Whether Texas "gets" 10% or 11% of all available federal dollars ends up being great for Texas. But it doesn't change the potential size of the available pool of federal dollars.
I think I will quit with this introduction. Future posts will look at the two separate issues: Why and how we historically haven't had good census counts in Texas (if that is in fact true); and the bigger picture if Texas were magically able to count all its inhabitants next time - (Does this assume other states are not similarly attempting the same thing? If they are successful, then we don't gain percentage share, do we?)