Canadian Debt

Canada, along with Australia, was one of the few Western, industrialised economies to weather the global recession of 2008 fairly well. However in recent years, despite the economic boom in the energy-rich western provinces, many of Canada’s provinces have been accumulating substantial—though not yet crippling—levels of debt. Toronto’s National Post explores the federal and provincial situation using small (or perhaps medium-sized) multiples.

Canada's debt
Canada's debt

Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson.

Palestine

With Palestine admitted to the United Nations as a non-member observer state, the Middle East tensions between Israel and Palestine have reached a new level. Regardless, Palestine may now have access to international institutions and is closer to being a recognised, sovereign state. Toronto’s National Post published a large infographic looking at the state of Palestine and how the two non-contiguous territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip compare to each other.

An infographic looking at Palestine
An infographic looking at Palestine

Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson.

Taxes

Let’s face it, governments need money to function. If you want a large military, you have to fund it. If you want pension system, you have to fund it. If you want medical care for the old, the sick, and the poor, you have to fund it. If you want to give everyone unicorns made of rainbow beams, you have to fund it. And…well…nevermind.

The point is taxes. After an election that focused so heavily on them, we’re still debating them. But here are some facts about them from the New York Times. The designers, Mike Bostock, Matthew Ericson, and Robert Gebeloff used small multiples of line charts—and lots of them—to look at who pays taxes by income band and how they pay different types of taxes. I found particularly interesting the points made near the bottom of the piece about how the progressive tax system is increasingly less so.

How the American tax system is becoming less progressive
How the American tax system is becoming less progressive

But how do these taxes compare to spending? In a separate graphic for the same article, a stacked bar chart compares revenue to expenditure. With the exception of the balanced budget during President Clinton’s administration, we have been outspending our revenue since 1980. While statements to the effect of the US national budget needs to be managed like a US household budget are both overly simplistic and naive, there is a truth in a long-term mismatch between revenue and expenditure might cause problems. That is why many see the deficit and our debt as a medium-term problem facing the United States.

Spending versus revenue
Spending versus revenue

Credit for the first piece goes to Mike Bostock, Matthew Ericson, and Robert Gebeloff.

Maps Are Not Silver Bullets

I make a lot of maps in my line of work. Often times, they are not particularly interesting. Mostly because they follow similar patterns to this. More stuff is bought and sold where there are more people. More stuff is bought and sold where more people have more money. Et cetera, et cetera.

Maps are not always helpful
Maps are not always helpful

Maps are sometimes very useful. But I have a saying when people ask for a map of some kind of data tied to geographies: Maps are not silver bullets. That is to say, just because you throw data about countries, states, or counties onto a map does not mean you are going to see anything worthwhile let alone new or unexpected.

Credit for the XKCD piece goes to Randall Munroe

Playing in the Swing States

The 2012 elections are now less than two weeks away and so let the sporting analogies begin. We’re in the home stretch now. Homeruns, field goals, and running out the clock. Et cetera et cetera ad nauseam.

But over at the New York Times we have an interactive piece that looks at what they call the state of play of the swing states in terms of the latest tracking polls at a state level along with campaign stops and commentary from the paper. It’s a concise way to look at those few states that will largely determine the outcome of the election.

Swing states
Swing states

The Red Sox Were Truly Awful in 2012

The Boston Red Sox hired John Farrell this weekend to be their manager just one season after hiring Bobby Valentine for the role. There is a lot to be said about just who is to blame about the Red Sox’ awful season. But it was pretty awful. How awful? The Boston Globe shows us in this interactive piece.

It’s a series of small multiples of line charts. However, one of the big problems with the infographic is that the labels are entirely absent. As best I can tell the line is the number of games over .500, i.e. an even split between wins and losses. But, it could be more clearly called out if not in the legend or on the axes than in the title.

But over all it does put this past season into a sober perspective.

How Bad is Bad? Awful, it Turns Out.
How Bad is Bad? Awful, it Turns Out.

Credit for the piece goes to Daigo Fujiwara.

Average Household Spending

This tree map from the Wall Street Journal looks at an interesting subject: average household spending. How much are we spending on housing, on food, on transportation, &c.?

Household spending
Household spending

But I’m not so sure that the main visualisation is necessary. I appreciate the big colour and splashiness, but the space use seems inefficient. Perhaps if the colours had been tied, as is commonly seen, to another variable, the tree map would be more useful. Imagine if the chart looked at the spending value and the average growth over the last ten years, with the year-by-year value still plotted below.

 

Economic Freedom

Canada, our neighbour to the north, is sometimes taken to task for being too socialist or too liberal with their healthcare system and regulatory oversight of industries, including finance. But what data increasingly shows us is that we cannot say their more socialist economy is weaker than ours. Rather in several metrics now, the Canadian economy is stronger than ours. The National Post looked at just that a little while back.

A Comparison
A Comparison

Credit for the piece goes to Jonathon Rivait.

Life Expectancy Decline for Under-educated Whites

The New York Times published a chart looking at the decline in life expectancy for under-educated whites, i.e. whites who have not finished high school. The life expectancies of blacks and Hispanics offer a stark contrast, for while starting at a lower base, their respective expectancies are increasing.

Decline
Decline

How Has the Democratic Party Changed

This past weekend the Washington Post published an infographic looking at how the Democratic Party has demographically changed over time and compared those changes to those in the Republican Party. The piece is large, but shows some interesting trends particularly with the racial diversification of the political parties—or lack thereof. It is an important trend when considering the white population is growing at much slower pace than minority groups.

Democratic Party trends
Democratic Party trends