Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cause and Effect?

Census data released yesterday provided very little that was surprising. The US is growing, but growth is slowing. That's a result of our reduced fecundity. We don't have large families like we used to.

We already knew that there would be shifts in population between the states. That's the whole purpose of the census; to apportion representation in the legislature. Initially, the House of Representatives awarded a seat to roughly 17,500 persons in a state. As states grew in numbers and populations grew, so did the size of the legislature. When it reached more than 500 members a limit was set. That limit is NOT in the Constitution. It is currently at 435 and just like the unspecified membership of the Supreme Court, is not likely to be changed without an incredible battle. Those 435 seats are apportioned between the states based on their population, but no state can have less than one representative. There are still a small group that applies to such as Rhode Island, Delaware, Wyoming and Alaska. Currently it takes about 900,000 population to get a representative.

Patterns of movement are logical and expected. Aging, corrupt, rust-belt states of the north and east have lost population. Growing, business-friendly, low tax, low cost-of-living states to the south and west have gained. Might this be a factor:

States With No State Income Tax Grow Faster

That hardly seems like rocket science to make that connection. Don't conclude that no income tax means exceptionally low state and local tax burden. It may not. Local government services still have costs and they must be paid. Sales tax, property tax, licensing and regulatory fees will make up the difference. The critical factor, however, is that those alternative tax forms are not progressive. They don't penalize hard work, entrepreneurial risk and personal effort.

Among the winners in the representation divvy is Texas. Most estimates predicted we would gain two or three Congressional seats. We actually got FOUR!

Now, we've got the pending redistricting. How do you take 32 congressional districts and make them into 36? Each must have approximately the same population. Incumbents will want to keep their seats. Parties will want to increase their power. Legislatures will be concerned with future majorities. Presidential electoral votes will be considered.

The posturing was already evident in the morning Fishwrap. Hispanic caucus, LULAC, and NAACP spokescritters are already predicting the districts to benefit their groups.

We'll Gain...NO! We'll Gain

Will the courts mandate majority-minority consideration in redistricting? Will prior mandates apply? Can you carve out Latino districts without unintended consequences of also reducing Latino influence in existing districts? It isn't always that clear. And, if you draw a district to capture a Hispanic majority based on ethnic identification will it actually have legal citizens? Will they be registered to vote? Will they actually vote?

As for increased black representation, that seems unlikely in Texas. We currently have four African-American representatives. The black percentage of the population in the nation hovers near 16-18%. In Texas, African-Americans comprise roughly 12% and that percentage has been constant, unlike the Latino community which is growing rapidly. The number crunch would indicate that we won't see more black reps from Texas.

Prediction? Four new seats = three Republican and one Democrat.


immagikman said...

One thing about No INCOME tax in a state is that the people have more control over what happens, it is in the hands of the people to not spend on taxed items if they arent necessities, where as if you just take from a persons income he has no power at all.

Dweezil Dwarftosser said...

It was on the local news yesterday (lamestream media affiliate - so there's no telling if it is accurate, or just wishful liberal thinking) - but my state's growth slowed considerably from 2000: we picked up only 1.5 million newcomers.
That was about 15,000 too few to pick up another seat.

It would have meant very much - because for the first time in 120 years. the Dimocrats are NOT in control of the state legislature.

Six said...

Utah gained one seat (from three to four) and already the republicans are fighting over whether to throw in the towel and just carve out a democratic district covering SLC and Provo or whether to try and draw them so that all four could be republican controlled. I've weighed in. Don't give them an inch.

nzgarry said...

You are dead right, and also the math works in ones favor.
By way of example, back in 1985 we had a 10% sales tax introduced offset by a 10% income tax cut.
$100 income taxed at 10% leaves $90
Receiving $100 net and spending $90with sales tax of 10% makes the bill $99.
Pedantic perhaps and not much ammo or beer in $1 down here, but still..