16 April 2008

Graphs, Pie Charts and the Economy

Some random graphs and charts from divergent sources that point to trouble.

The first one, from Business Week magazine, shows that Americans' borrowing has drastically increased since 2000:


The second graph shows total vehicle miles travelled by all Americans. I cannot remember where I found this graph. Is this continual increase sustainable?


So I was thinking, I would like to see a graph that shows the percentage of increasing of Americans' budget that goes to transportation. Well I didn't really find that, but two days ago, the Overhead Wire posts about the Affordability Index. These pie charts show typical household expenses in different types of neighborhoods. They combine housing with transportation which gives a different spin on car dependency. Interesting:


Then finally, I thought I'd throw this graph in for fun. The US budget and where it goes:

Then this shows a close up of that 18%, everything else. Notice how transportation is 2%:

Yesterday I heard Kevin Phillips on NPR in the morning. The summary of his interview would be something like this (not a quote) "America increasingly relies on Wall Street and financial sector to create wealth, in lieu of it's industrial base, all the while spending money we don't have on a bad war in a bad place. And as our infrastructure crumbles, China is furiously building infrastructure and industry for the next century".

Food for thought.


bsherm said...

OK, I am not a big fan of driving, and love that it takes me forever to get to the mileage for my next oil change now that I live in the city, but I find the second graph to be more than a wee bit unhelpful. It only goes back to '82, and has two different scales for the two slopes. I don't think it provides any good information. Seems an excellent source graph for Edward Tufte.

I highly recommend his books, he covers good and bad graphs and graphics. I think he would file this under bad...


Do I think we drive too much? Do I think the suburban model causes us to drive too much? Yes, and yes...

CityKin said...

Yeah, I thought some of the same things. I wonder where I found that one.

Anonymous said...

Two interstates in northern Michigan will have significant work done to them this year.

Both projects are at least 4 hours north of Detroit/SE Michigan, the major population density in the State, in areas that receive significant tourist traffic in the summer.

Jimmy_James said...

I totally agree with all of the pro-transit & anti-automotive data in this post. However, I'd like to point out that while Kevin Phillips complains about defense spending (rightly or wrongly), he doesn't even mention the rest of the colossal waste in federal spending. Granted, the graph immediately above isn't his, but if the data in it is correct, 42+% of budget goes to nanny-state programs like social security and medicare. Only 22% for defense (more than adequate and maybe even a little too much) and a paltry 2% for infrastructure, which are the 2 most important roles of our gov't. I know that people rely on things like social security and medicare, but something has got to give. That's a massive chunk of our budget and our infrastructure is in desperate need of refreshing, especially rail.