Showing posts with label United States. Show all posts
Showing posts with label United States. Show all posts

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Protests and Pandemics: Lessons from History


Watching the developments of the past week were surprising even to me. Were the up swelling of protests over the death of George Floyd and the corona virus pandemic totally unrelated?  Is Trump's generally incompetent leadership a factor?  The mostly peaceful demonstrations have been occurring just as the turbulent restriction from the pandemic are being lifted.  Do people just have more time now to pay attention to the news surrounding Floyd's death?  History may provide some clues.

The late 1910s were a largely forgotten turbulent time in our nation's history.  We had just entered World War I, the battle over women's right to vote was reaching a critical stage, the brutal race riots in Tulsa, OK were happening just as the Ku Klux Klan was becoming a national force, and of course the Spanish Flu epidemic was rampaging globally,  None of these things occurred in a vacuum.  



The Spanish Flu may not have originated in Spain but it was the first country to report on it as the news was censored in the neighboring countries fighting in World War I.  It unknown where the pandemic started but it was first observed in Europe just as U.S. soldiers arrived there in 1918.  Returning soldiers brought it back home with them and it spread quickly.  Worldwide it killed approximately 50 million and in the U.S. the death toll was around 675,000.


While this was going on the suffragettes led by Alice Paul were getting close to the Seneca Falls convention of 1848's goal of achieving votes for women.  Woodrow Wilson eventually was convinced to support the amendment along with the proposed 18th amendment to usher in prohibition.  The suffragettes hoped that prohibiting drinking would curb domestic violence against women. 

Maurice Decaul: Commentary on "Close Ranks" and "Returning Soldiers" by W.E.B. Du Bois from The Gilder Lehrman Institute on Vimeo.


African American's fought in World War I hoping that it would improve their standing in society, it did not.  They came home to the same racism that they had experiences before.  W.E.B. DuBois had supported Wilson but was disappointed when they returned home.  Two years later things exploded when lynchings occurred and the KKK began a resurgence.  Things came to a boiling point when a race riot occurred in 1919 in Chicago and the  deadliest race massacre in U.S. history in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921.  In Johnstown, PA, another racial incident occurred in the Rosedale section when African American and Mexicans were driven out of the city in response to the shooting of police officers.

In addition to these other issues the government was involved in the Palmer raids which were conducted against suspected communists who had just come to power in Russia.  This was a precursor to the McCarthy hearings of the 1950's.  The socialist Presidential candidate Eugene Debs and Alice Paul were briefly imprisoned as a result.

These problems were exacerbated by small economic depression which followed the war.  In response to all of this, Warren G. Harding ran for president where he promised a "return to normalcy" from the turbulence of the last years of Wilson's Presidency.  He won in a landslide with the votes of women who could vote for the first time.  The roaring 20's and the corruption and hypocrisy of prohibition followed.


History does not repeat itself but it does rhyme sometimes.  Many of the same forces at work then are at work now.  Mostly peaceful protests occurred in response to the death of George Floyd as in the video above.  Joe Biden may be successful running as a normalcy president but will he be able to address all of these forces in a way that Trump is unwilling to?

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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Are Mass Shootings Rare in Southwestern Pennsylvania?



In the press conference following the horrific shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue which climed 11 lives, Wendell Hissrich, Pittsburgh's director of public safety, said "these events usually occur in other cities, today the nightmare has hit home in the city of Pittsburgh."  The video clip above details six other mass shooting events (defined as events with three or more fatailities) in and around the city that have occurred sine 2000.  These events include Ronald Taylor and Richard Baumhammers racially motivated shooting sprees, Richard Poplawski's killing of three Pittsburgh Police officers a mile from where I lived in Stanton Heights, George Sodini who killed three women at the LA Fitness Center in the South Hills, a drug related shooting in Wilkinsburg and a car wash shooting in Fayette County.



To test this claim I can compare the number of shootings here in Pittsburgh for time and population to the national rate of mass shootings since 2000 adjusting for population and time.  The Poisson distribution is a probability distribution used to estimate the probability of rare events,  In the above graphic x is the number of events of interest, lambda is the mean # of occurrences say the national rate of shootings and x! (called x factorial) is a shorthand way of writing 5! = 5*4*3*2*1 = 120.

Mother Jones magazine maintains an online database of mass shootings related to mass shooters whose motives were not gang related and did not occur in a home.  They list 75 such incidents in their database since 2000.  The shootings by Baumhammers, Sodini, and Taylor were not included but should have been by their criteria so I will include them in the total number of incidents making it 78.  The shooting by Poplawski is not included because it occurred in his home and the other which happened in Wilkinsburg is also not included because it is drug/gang related.  Dividing by the US population in the 2010 census of 308,745,538.  Population adjusted rate of these mass shootings in 0.25 shootings per million residents for lambda in the above equation.  Entering the 5 incidents into the formula for x gives a probability value approaching zero for observing this rate given the national rate.  

If one adjusts the observed incidents for the population of the three counties in which they occurred (1,557,774 from the 2010 census) we find a rate of 3.19 incidents per million which is considerably higher than the national rate 0.25 incidents/million.  If we enter this number into the formula (rounded down to three to make it an integer) we find a probability value of 0.00203 for having exactly three mass shootings here over the period 2000-2018.  The cumulative probability of observing 3 or more shooting per million given the national rate is 0.00216.


Mother Jones Map for Mass Shootings for 1982-2018. Only two incidents from SW PA were included.
If we consider the number of fatalities in last Saturdays shooting, Hissrich is right that the attacks represent a new level of violence here similar to Parkland, or Columbine.  Looking at the number of past mass shootings in the context of the population it looks as though they are more common here than in other parts of the country (though it is not the only hotspot for them as can be seen in the map above).  If drug/gang and domestic violence related shootings are included the numbers would look more horrific for local and the national map.

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Season's Shootings



Monday, February 12, 2018

Has Poverty Prevention Worked in California?

Trends in Poverty in the US, CA, MS, NH, and PA
Recently I did a post on The Hill Talk on how a writer for the National Review falsely claimed that California had the highest poverty rate in the US.  The data from the Census Bureau for the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) showed that California was ranked 20th in its poverty rate which was only slightly ahead of the national rate.  For this post, I decided to look at the past trends in the poverty rates for the US as a whole, for California which the article also claims have had failed anti poverty policies, for Mississippi which has the highest poverty rate, Pennsylvania my home state, and New Hampshire which had the lowest poverty rate of any state plus DC.  


The graph above shows that four states considered have mirrored the national rate since 2013.  California and the other states did see a spike in their poverty rates in 2012 when the US poverty rate peaked at 15.9% in 2011.  California's peaked at 17%, Mississippi's at 23.8% (it rose to 23.9% in 2013 but that was within the 90% confidence interval), 13.7% in Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire's peaked at 9.7%.For all four states there was a one year lag in the decrease in the poverty rate from the decrease in the national rate.



Of course in every state there is considerable variability in the poverty level at the county level.  In the graph above there were 30 counties with poverty rates higher than the state rate in 2013 of 16.8% and 32 above the national rate of 15.8%.

As for the effect of the anti poverty programs in California, they had the second largest percentage drop of the four states considered in the rate from 2012-2016.  Mississippi had the largest decrease in the rate at 2.8% followed by California and then New Hampshire at 2.1% but there is greater uncertainty in their rates as shown by the width in the confidence interval.  This is due to Mississippi's and New Hampshire's smaller populations.  It seems clear that Pennsylvania had the smallest decrease in poverty at 0.8% of the frour states considered.  The US poverty rate decreased by 1.9% over this period.


State  Year All Ages SAIPE Poverty Universe All Ages in Poverty Percent 90% Confidence Interval (All Ages in Poverty Percent) Decrease in the rate 2012-2016
United States 2016 315,165,470 14 13.9 to 14.1 1.9
2012 306,086,063 15.9 15.8 to 16.0
California 2016 38,513,333 14.4 14.3 to 14.5 2.6
2012 37,303,312 17 16.9 to 17.1
Mississippi 2016 2,892,926 21 20.5 to 21.5 2.8
2012 2,890,915 23.8 23.3 to 24.3
New Hampshire 2016 1,292,241 7.6 7.2 to 8.0 2.1
2012 1,280,031 9.7 9.2 to 10.2
Pennsylvania 2016 12,368,248 12.9 12.7 to 13.1 0.8
2012 12,353,852 13.7 13.5 to 13.9
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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Post Paris Politics, Fear of Refugees, and Medicaid

The horrific attacks in Paris have sent a wave of fear around the world.  As of this writing, 28 governors in the US have said that they will not accept refugees from the civil war in Syria for fear that ISIS members will sneak into their states.  26 of these 28 governors (84%) are Republican.  10 out of the 18 Democratic governors (55%) have said that they will accept these refugees.  This difference is significant according to Fisher's exact test (p < 0.001).  The full numbers are displayed in the table below and the political affiliation of each states' governor is displayed below that.



Accepting Syrian 
Refugees     
Governor Political Party (% of Party)
D
I
R
Total
  no        
2 (11%)
0
26 (84%)
28
  undecided    
6 (33%)
1 (100%)
5 (16%)
12
  yes      
10 (55%)
0
0
10
Total
18
1
31
50

I have written extensively about which states have been willing to expand medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  Below is a current map of the states expanding Medicaid.  Currently none of the 17 states which are refusing or considering to expand medicaid are accepting refugees. 10 states (all with Democratic governors) which are implementing some form of Medicaid expansion. are accepting refugees.  This difference is not as sharp as that for states with Republican Governors (p=0.003).

Accepting Syrian Refugees     
Expanding Medicaid (% of Column)
considering
no
yes
Total
  no        
1 (20%)
14 (82%)
13 (46%)
28
  undecided    
4 (80%)
3 (18%)
5 (18%)
12
  yes      
0
0
10 (36%)
10
Total
5
17
28
50
 

  Where the States Stand
Via: The Advisory Board Company

The relationship between the party affiliation of governors and medicaid expansion is similar to that of accepting refugees and medicaid expansion (p=0.004).  16 out of 31 republican governors (52%) are either expanding or considering to expand Medicaid.  It could be that the party that controls the governor's mansion changed in the last election in states that are expanding.  Kentucky just elected a new republican governor who is promising to reverse expansion but other republican governors such as Chris Christie (NJ) and John Kasich (Oh) have implemented expansion and have not suffered adverse political consequences (but may have in their Presidential Campaigns). 



Political Party of Governor     
Expanding Medicaid (% of Column)
considering
no
yes
Total
  D
1 (20%)
2 (12%)
15 (54%)
18
  I   
1 (20%)
0
0
1
  R      
3 (60%)
15 (88%)
13 (46%)
31
Total
5
17
28
50


This analysis shows that there is high probability of a partisan component to the governors not wanting Syrian refugees in their state.  This shift in medicaid expansion among republican governors could similarly happen with the right public pressure for the Syrian refugees (even Jeb Bush who is advocating that only Syrian Christians be allowed in the US)Below is a discussion of the the true nature of the refugees from Syria.

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The Affordable Care Act Having an Impact in Some States but not Pennsylvania

Immigration: An International Issue

 

The World Wars and Today's Wars