Politics and Social Movements

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US Household Income by Census Tract

I'm working on a project to create open map layers for the United States for race and income at a high resolution. I want to create a system that encourages people who have limited to zero GIS (Geographical Information Systems) experience to create maps for their community!

So I've been messing around with TileMill, PostGIS, and the Census data. TileMill is an amazing program that makes it easy to make a map. They've got nice styling, great support, and you can publish it online for free (if you have limited traffic).

This is a map of household income in the US by census tract. There are 70,000 census tracts in the US.

Legend: red is below average income, and blue is above. I divided the data into ten quartiles.

Going Beyond a Carbon Tax

I think it is fairly inevitable that the United States and most other industrialized countries will implement carbon taxes within the next ten to twenty years.

A carbon tax can make wind, solar, geothermal, and energy efficiency even more competitive than they are now. It could transform our economy and, if done properly, stop climate change. It would reward today's green pioneers with money which would encourage them and impress their friends.

While a carbon tax is better than a cap and trade system, it has numerous short-comings.

Turkey Protest Movement on Live Stream

I strongly recommend following the #OccupyGezi Turkish protest movement on live stream (live video). Here are three sources:

Tim Pool
Global Revolution
Revolt Instanbul
Russia Today - great feed of Taksim Square

Philadelphia Property Tax: Biased Against the Poor

The City of Philadelphia Controller's Office just released a report that trashes the city's efforts to accurately re-assess the value of its property.

The AVI's values are widely inaccurate and three times worse than industry standards for accuracy.

Philadelphia AVI Property Tax Analyzer

I've written a web application that lets you analyze the impact of various Philadelphia property tax rates. You can choose the rate, a homestead exemption, and select a number of property value categories. You can analyze residential and other property types (commercial, industrial, stores with dwellings, etc).

It shows who gains/loses from property tax reform by property value as well as the overall shift of taxation from commercial to residential (and to stores with dwellings).

Philadelphia Property Tax - Industrial Analysis

Industrial properties are the fourth largest segment of the Philadelphia property market. Industrial properties have the lowest valuation increase, probably due to deindustrialization. There may be lower demand for industrial properties as people aren't starting new industrial businesses and converting them into residential or commercial properties is a big job.

Philadelphia Property Tax Reform - A Progressive Alternative

Note: this is a work in progress. I'm adding data as I find it.

Philadelphia has not revised its property valuations for a very long time. As a result, on average the properties are valued at a third or fourth of their market price. Some properties are valued and taxed at a tenth of the market price.

Recently Philadelphia revalued its properties and is planning to impose this tax reform in 2014.

Mayor Michael Nutter is proposing a 1.32% tax rate with a $15,000 homeowner exemption. The exemption would exclude the first $15,000 of property value from taxation.

Nationalize the Federal Reserve Bank - Who's $2.9 trillion?

During the recession the Federal Reserve Bank essentially printed a large amount of money to buy up mortgage assets (some toxic, some not) and government debt.

They bought the debt on the secondary market to assuage the guilt of politicians and economists who don't like the idea of the government printing money. Regardless of that, the Federal Reserve Bank now has $2.9 trillion dollars of assets. Fortunately the Federal Reserve Bank is essentially owned by the federal government and it pays its profit to the US treasury.

Capitalists against Climate Change

I've been wondering what it will take for the world to get serious about climate change.

What is the closest example of a large multinational effort to tackle a problem?

Progressive Voting Guide - US President 2012

One of the advantages of not being an official nonprofit organization is that I can explicitly endorse candidates. Official nonprofits are limited to doing biased voting guides. Like this one =)

This is a small sampling.

US War on Iraq
Romney - For
Obama - Against, but for the occupation
Stein (Green Party) - Against

US War on Afghanistan
Romney - For
Obama - For. Increased number of US troops.
Stein - Against

US Military Spending
Romney - increase

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