Texans Living Apart

The Pew Research Center has done some research (“The Rise of Residential Segregation by Income“) that reveals how Americans of different income levels are living apart and moving away from each other. In fact, Texas claimed the top three spots for cities in which people lived segregated by income.

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Where new Texans come from, where old Texans go

Governing magazine has a story (“See Where Residents in Your State Are Moving To, From“) with an interactive graphic that shows how people move from state to state.

Texas saw about 515,000 new residents in 2011 while about 405,000 moved out of the state. The biggest number of new arrivals was from California. California was also the biggest destination for departing Texans. Of course, California has the biggest population so it shouldn’t be any surprise that they’re number one in both categories.

Immigration-state

More surprising is the large number of Texans leaving for Oklahoma. We saw about 31,595 Texans leave for Oklahoma while only 19,126 Oklahomans moved to Texas. Texas isn’t a net loser to that many states and the defection to Oklahoma is hard to explain.  You can check out other states using their interactive database.

State by State Crime

You can look at a state by state map of crime (“Crime In The U.S.A.“) and see the differences in crime rates and incarceration.

Crime in Texas

Most of the numbers reported are the raw numbers and do not allow for difference in population. However, the chance of being a victim for a violent crime is the number highlighted for each state and it does allow for population differences between states.

Reframing the debate on illegal immigration

A few years ago when we put together the first edition of the textbook, about the only thing that got dropped from the first draft because of political controversy was some of my comments about immigration. I suggested that modern Texas was founded by illegal immigrants. I thought it was ironic that today’s Texas is the political creation resulting in part from Americans who illegally entered Mexico.

Geronimo--Show Me Your Papers

A little art from cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz.

Now, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is making the same case. In a story on the Texas Tribune website (“State Records Shed Light on Texas’ Early ‘Illegals’“) Patterson said, “We have a long tradition of immigration and illegal immigration, and the first illegals were folks who look a lot more like me than they did some native Tejano.” Exactly who first snuck into whose territory is an ongoing debate. However, it should be pretty clear to today’s Anglo Texans that they were neither the first nor the last.

From my own experience I can tell the Land Commissioner that this is not what people want to hear. I don’t know how much Patterson cares. He’s an honest and blunt politician. His comments on the immigration status of early Anglo Texans may not help him win the Lt. Governor’s office but he is pointing us toward a more constructive understanding of immigration. People want to view immigration in very simple terms. In reality, the issue is immensely complicated and we need to have a serious discussion to make sure that the next round of immigration reform doesn’t create more problems than it creates.

Austin…

Doonesbury 12-14-12

Who shouldn’t we test for drugs?

Recently Governor Rick Perry and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst announced their support for drug testing for people who receive government assistance for the poor. Under the proposed law, applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TAFN) in Texas would be required to pass a drug test.

One of the motives behind this legislation is efficiency. Texans don’t want to see their tax dollars going to pay for illegal drugs. However, based on Florida’s experience with a similar program Texas would likely spending more to administer than it would save in denied benefits. As the Miami Herald reported, only 108 of the 4,086 (2.6%) people who took the test failed.  Florida came out at least $45,780 behind because drug testing there averaged $35 per test. That doesn’t include other costs of the program and the court costs required to defend the law in courts.

The response of some Florida legislators and their allies in Texas is that this is really about stopping illegal drugs. As David Dewhurst commented, “It is a legitimate function of government to help people who are not able to help themselves.” Of course, if this is really the motive of the law it need not be limited to TAFN recipients. Further,if we’re really interested in helping those Texans not able to make their own decisions we should expand testing to include alcohol and prescription drug abuse.   Finally, it’s ironic that Texas would be cracking down on all drug use just as other states are moving toward decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana.

120509_The_Drug_Test_t618

The risk to privacy may be the biggest issue. If accepting TAFN or other government benefits gives the government the right to regulate your private life, the same could be said about college students accepting grants, government employment, contracts with the state, Social Security, and other possibilities.

The idea of making recipients take drug tests is an appealing idea. After all, it only intrudes into a the private lives of only a few people who are unlikely to raise an objection. On the other hand, I wonder what the limits are once the government has decided it the right to know these kinds of things about any of its citizens.

What level of interaction with the government require surrendering personal liberties? Should we start by drug testing our least fortunate citizens or our highest elected officials?