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Dylan Matthews loves to make charts.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2010; 10:59 AM ET
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I would like to know how big the government has grown over time. Could you show a graph of the number of government workers as a percent of total workers? I would also like to see a separate graph with the military personnel separated out.


Posted by: cummije5 | July 23, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I think those outside the Beltway/NYC super-secret club would be interested in the following graphs. So, could you create multiple graphs to show: 1) the number of members of Journolist and the number of their postings over time vs. the number of negative articles and blog entries regarding Republicans, conservatives, independents, Tea Parties, etc. in major newspapers and channels that employ/employed Journolist members (I'm guessing it's a very high positive correlation); 2) declining readership in major newspapers (choose any, I'll leave it to The Washington Post to choose) over time vs. membership numbers in Journolist (I think it might be a high inverse correlation); 3) the number of viewers of channels that express conservative/non-liberal ideas vs. the number of readers of The Washington Post over time (I'm guessing high inverse correlation).

Posted by: frankensundae | July 23, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I'd like so see some comparative income figures from the states with the Dems wanting to perpetuate Bush's tax cuts for the rich (Arkansas, Nebraska, Indiana) versus, say, CA, NY and the NE including ME. Just how many of their constituents are these folks protecting?

Posted by: Mimikatz | July 23, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Everyone is familiar with the classical question asked by a traveler standing at a fork in the road surrounded by one who always tells the truth and one who always lies: by asking a single question, the traveler is able to evince a response which guides him to his intended destination.

Now suppose the traveler is at a more realistic fork, where he is surrounded by many who sometimes tell lies and many others who sometimes tell the truth. What question(s) should the traveler ask and, more importantly, which path of the fork should the traveler take?

Posted by: rmgregory | July 23, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I would love to see some statistics on the growth of the prison industrial complex. The Economist recently did a little piece on Crime and Punishment in America (, but it said very little about the economics that support our prison system. Maybe a graph comparing percentage of GDP devoted to the prison system vs. per capita incarceration rate. Obviously, that graph alone would be unable to suggest causality - but maybe comparing changes in incarceration rates from state to state could shed some light on the matter?

Basically, I'm just trying to wrap my head around WHY, "The rate of incarceration is a fifth of America’s level in Britain, a ninth in Germany and a twelfth in Japan. " and "America’s incarceration rate has quadrupled since 1970."

Posted by: Will_W | July 23, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

This is more of an Ezra question. But...

I'm wondering about the health care exchanges introduced in the ACA. The exchanges are going to be organized by state or by pools or states right? Won't the insurance companies that would/could join these exchanges be the ones that already have provider networks in the state? Why would the insurers want to join the exchange? Will they?

I live in New Hampshire. Anthem BCBS has a near-monopoly on health insurance here. Are the exchanges likely to bring competition? Or is Anthem likely to be the only player in the exchange as well?

I know it's probably too early to know. But I'm curious if there are early indications on how this will play out.

Posted by: bswainbank | July 23, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

What program do you use to make charts?

Posted by: madjoy | July 23, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Are there any studies of the effectiveness of participating in the military as a means of social mobility? It seems to me that one of the few positive results of our enormous defense budget might be that it allows large groups of young women and men with relatively few options to acquire more skills and greater job prospects. Is this actually true?

Posted by: jacobh | July 23, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Is there a correlation between unemployment rate and turnout? As we know, for some dumb reason election day is still a weekday that most people have to work which reduces turnout, so if there are a lot of people without jobs can we expect them to vote in greater numbers (leaving aside how much they'd favor one party or the other.)

Posted by: _SP_ | July 23, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I'd be interested in any info you could pull together on how much effect the trade liberalization of the 1990's and 2000's has had on the speed of this recovery (if it's had any effect at all). Particularly estimates on net job growth/losses in the US vs. our major import suppliers. There's been a persistent argument that one reason for slow re-employment in the US is that it's more efficient to invest abroad, and it would be nice to get some data behind that.

I'd also be interested in just comparing the tax cut proposals in the stimulus. I remember a while back the Dems proposed a job creation tax credit but it was almost widely criticized for being "too small" to make a difference. It would be interesting to see the magnitude & stimulating effect of the Democratic tax cuts alone vs. the Bush cut (and other Republican cuts).

Posted by: NS12345 | July 23, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

" What question(s) should the traveler ask and, more importantly, which path of the fork should the traveler take?"


you find your highest angels, and you follow them.
the road ahead, lies within.
that is the truth.

the truth is,
no-one can answer "your" question, or determine "your" direction.
each person has to do that for themselves.

at a difficult fork in the road, the questions you ask, are the ones you ask to yourself,
not to others.
every human being has a compass.
that compass is your direction.
not the advice or path of others.
the road you follow, is ultimately your own.
and of your own choosing.

if your conscience is clear,
and you have done the best you can, you are surely on your right path.

Posted by: jkaren | July 23, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee announced this morning that she'll be laying off 302 of DC's 4000 teachers this year -

By my calculations, this is about 7.5% of DC's teaching force. How does this compare to other sectors, both public and private?

Posted by: chasenordengren | July 23, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I was hearing on Bloomberg that the value of AIG's US assistance was about $23bn versus the initial $28bn. Anchors commented about how far off the original that is. But it got me thinking about what kind of returns the US has gotten from all it's "bailouts." Perhaps we need a new line about the great investment strategists in the White House.

Posted by: bonkboo | July 23, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of charts, one that I’ve never seen but would love, is one showing the interplay (over time) between the top marginal tax rates and the level at which that kicks in. So much the better if you can include all of the brackets and even better if it is possible to represent those in the context of the revenues from those rates

Posted by: thelemonboy | July 23, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Does a question time, ala , have any support in Congress?

Posted by: roublen | July 23, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

The Sunlight Foundation released figures showing Congress spent $1B on itself from June 2009 to March 2010. Could you look further into this and see what congressional spending has been in the last 10 years or so and, if possible, broken down into broad categories?

Posted by: jpeg | July 23, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Do any of the recent polls of President Obama's approval/disapproval differentiate disapproval of progressives from that of the right?

Conservative friends of mine seem to think the disapproval numbers are solely from Republicans who weren't going to vote Democratic in the next election anyway.

Posted by: rlrausch | July 23, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Uh, is anyone else seeing the Bank of America ad in Latin? WTH?

Posted by: Klug | July 23, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

i'd love to see a comparison of what Medicare pays doctors vs what several private insurers pay them.

Posted by: visionbrkr | July 23, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Where do pharmaceutical companies earn their money? What percentage of R&D expenses are recouped in the US versus the rest of the world?

Posted by: zosima | July 23, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

What can you tell us about the small business owners who'll be affected if the top individual income tax brackets rise? How many are there? Is there any estimate of how many people they employ? Would they pay less if they filed as regular corporations? If so, why don't they do that?

Posted by: KathrynBaer1 | July 25, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

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