If you’re looking for a few minutes of deeply nerdy fun and insight, you can’t do better than to browse through Wonkblog’s graphs of the year. This year’s graphs are particularly diverse and interesting (I’ve got one in there too, on–you guessed it–full employment and the lack thereof), but there’s a meta-level of analysis here that I found particularly revealing: linking the graph with the person who chose it.
–Hillary Clinton’s policy interests are so broad that it’s easy to forget her concerns about the disadvantages facing lower-income kids at the starting gate. I’ve also thought those studies on how many words kids from different income classes hear at home are indicative of something important.
–Peter Orszag, with whom I worked back in the day, always suspected that common sense changes to uniquely wasteful incentives in the US health care delivery system could bend the health-case cost curve. Though this is a dynamic process that continues to evolve, I think he was right.
–I liked Sen. Patty Murray’s graph showing that non-defense discretionary spending–which includes programs like Head Start, worker training, housing subsidies, college assistance–is not what’s driving future budget deficits, and not just because it’s true and I point I make here all the time. I liked it because she’s the chair of the Senate Budget Committee and has the negotiating skills to do something about it. (CBO chief Doug Elmendorf’s graph made a similar point re all non-interest, discretionary spending.)
–Bill Gates’ graph is worth a look too, not just because it’s about such an important topic–causes of untimely deaths–but because it doesn’t really show what he says it does (he asserts, and I believe him, that the number of those dying from communicable diseases is coming down, but how do you get that from this graph?) and it’s really complicated and hard to figure out, kinda like Windows (note all those little blocks you can’t really read, plus a bunch of blocks that don’t appear to have any writing on them at all).