Redefining America

I came across a couple of interesting articles that seemed to tie together kind of nicely, so I thought I’d post them both at once.

The first is by Annie Lowry who wrote an article called What if senators represented people by income or race, not by state? which she wrote for the Washington Post. The article talks about trying to bring about a better sense of balance when it comes to the Senate. According to the official Senate historian Donald Ritchie, “Half of the population of the nation lives in 10 states, which have 20 senators. The other half lives in 40 states that have 80 senators.” So what Ms. Lowry suggest is basing the Senate “on statistics rather than state lines.”

For example:

“Imagine a chamber in which senators were elected by different income brackets — with two senators representing the poorest 2 percent of the electorate, two senators representing the richest 2 percent and so on.

Based on Census Bureau data, five senators would represent Americans earning between $100,000 and $1 million individually per year, with a single senator working on behalf of the millionaires (technically, it would be two-tenths of a senator). Eight senators would represent Americans with no income. Sixteen would represent Americans who make less than $10,000 a year, an amount well below the federal poverty line for families. The bulk of the senators would work on behalf of the middle class, with 34 representing Americans making $30,000 to $80,000 per year.”

In essence we would have a body of power that truly represents the make-up of the United States. Originally Senate seats were divided more equally so that larger states couldn’t take advantage of smaller ones. This same thought doesn’t really have the same importance anymore, and breaking out Senate seats into income classes seems like an extremely intelligent way of going about it.

The other article is by Pete Warden,who’s been busy data-mining from Facebook’s 210 million profiles. Based on the data he’s accumulated he’s been able to divide the U.S. into seven major geographic regions; Stayathomia, Dixie, Greater Texas, Mormonia, Nomadic West and Socalistan. While I think the names are a bit silly, the information is rather interesting.

He was able to create these geographic clusters together by using a couple of different criteria. The first is the relation of the user in distance to their friends, and the second is by popularity of fan pages. By aggregating this data he’s found information like the following:

Sorry Bay Area folks, but LA is definitely the center of gravity for this cluster. Almost everywhere in California and Nevada has links to both LA and SF, but LA is usually first. Part of that may be due to the way the cities are split up, but in tribute to the 8 years I spent there, I christened it Socalistan. Californians outside the super-cities tend to be most connected to other Californians, making almost as tight a cluster as Greater Texas.

Keeping up with the stereotypes, God hardly makes an appearance on the fan pages, but sports aren’t that popular either. Michael Jackson is a particular favorite, and San Francisco puts Barack Obama in the top spot.

Though the data isn’t perfect it certainly gives an interesting glimpse into the makeup of the country. Also, Nomadic West sounds awesome, like Mad Max in the U.S.


February 10, 2010