Sunday, February 15, 2009

California Congressional Datapoint

Browsing through The Measure of America* I find tables showing the "American Human Development Index," organized by Congressional District. Number 1 of 436--the "most humanly developed," I guess-- is the New York 14th, the silk-stocking Upper East Side of Manhattan, home of Bernie Madoff and a gaggle of unemployed bankers. Number 2 is the Virginia 8th, Arlington-Alexandria, mother church of the military-industrial complex. Numbers 3, 4 and 5 are all California: California 14th, Anna Eshoos' Silicon Valley seat; California 48th, the Irvine Ranch, once host to Chris Cox of SEC fame, and California 30th, entertainment central, Henry Waxman's LA West Side.

But flip over to the other end--who is at the bottom of the list? No, not deep south, not high plains: turns out the lowest HD index in the country belongs to another California district, the 20th, the west side of the Central Valley, where a full 47.4 percent of adults report that they did not finish high school. Only 6.5 percent report at lest a bachelor's degree; only one point six percent report a graduate degree. Education appears to be the real killer here: the California 20th acctually leads the next-to-last finisher (Kentucky Fifth, the Appalachians) in life expectancy at birth (77.1 v. 72.6) and the health index (4.61 v, 2.77--Virginia 8th has 7.05).

The 20th is actually rich, in a sense: rich farmland, abundant crops, and lots of government slosh: cotton price supports and (most of all) cheap water.

The desolation of the 20th is partly an artifact of redistricting butchery: our leaders in their wisdom decided it was a Good Thing to put all these potential Democrats in one place. Per the Almanac of American Politics, Rep. Jim Costa was willing to spend $1.9 million to gain the seat in 2004. The median i eaarnings are $16,767.
*Sara Burd-Sharpes, Kirsten Lewis and Eduardo Borges Martin (2008).

1 comment:

ivan said...

i dont think arlington-alexandria, where i lived for several decades plus, is "home" to big military lobbying operations, although the pentagon is located there. arlington-alexandria is a very liberal voting area, and home to democratic party operations that really work at electing liberal democrats. virginia got its first black gov, doug wilder, years ago, because of the white turnout in arlington-alexandria.