The Social Agenda

Influencing Government Policy from the Ground Up

Easily Accessible For Everyone

What Is the Social Agenda

A marketplace where people can come together to speak out as a collective voice for fairness, transparency, efficiency and sustainability in all Government policies and activities.

Daily News Feeds


23 July 2019

  • WA Libs call for assisted dying moratorium
    23 July 2019
    Putting off Western Australia's proposed voluntary assisted dying legislation will be debated at the Liberal party's state conference next weekend.
  • Labor boosts push to lift dole payments
    23 July 2019
    Instead, it has resolved to land on a final figure closer to the next election, when it better understands the economic circumstances. Labor will oppose a ...
  • Aussies armed with medical fee know-how
    23 July 2019
    Australians can now reference a new guide to become more savvy about medical fees, so they won't be stung with surprising costs. Questions that ...

23 July 2019

Feed not found.

23 July 2019

23 July 2019

23 July 2019

23 July 2019

23 July 2019
  • Mapping Out the 'Filthy Rich' In Each State
    17 July 2019

    The U.S. is a nation of millionaires and billionaires. Among its population of 323 million people, there are 607 billionaires and 11.8 million individuals with a net worth of at least $1 million. This translates to roughly 3.65% of the country. So who has the most money? That’s the topic of our latest visualization, which highlights the richest person by net worth in each state.

    • According to Forbes, the richest individuals in each state have a combined net worth of $875 billion. 
    • The industries represented in this visualization are as varied as finance, technology, consumer goods, real estate, and retail. 
    • Forbes calculated that 60% of the richest individuals in each state earned their own fortunes, 21% inherited their money, and 19% became rich by expanding an existing business.
    • Jeff Bezos is not only the richest person in Washington state; he is also the richest person in the world.  
    • Even though Bezos is the richest man in the world, his family is not the richest one. The Walton family (of Walmart fame) earns that distinction. In the visualization, Jim Walton and Alice Walton are represented as the richest individuals in their respective states. 

    The information in this visualization comes from the most recent Forbes ranking of the richest individuals in each state, as of June 2019. The individuals are ranked by their net worth. The visualization above is shaped like a map of the U.S., with each state represented by a picture of the richest person within that state. The person’s name and net worth are listed below their picture, and the source of their wealth is listed above the picture. In addition, the background for each picture is a shade of green, with the darker shades representing higher net worth and the lighter shades representing lower net worth.

    Top 10 States with the Highest Net-Worth Individuals

    1. Washington: Jeff Bezos & family - $157 billion - Amazon
    2. Nebraska: Warren Buffett - $85 billion - Berkshire Hathaway
    3. California: Mark Zuckerberg - $71 billion - Facebook
    4. New York: Michael Bloomberg - $53.8 billion - Bloomberg LP
    5. Arkansas: Jim Walton - $51.1 billion - Walmart
    6. Texas: Alice Walton - $50.1 billion - Walmart
    7. Kansas: Charles Koch - $42 billion - Koch industries
    8. Nevada: Sheldon Adelson - $35.7 billion - Casinos
    9. Oregon: Phil Knight & family - $35 billion - Nike
    10. Virginia: Jacqueline Mars - $28.1 billion - Candy, pet food

    Interestingly, while certain states like California and New York are home to multiple billionaires, other states like Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Vermont only have centimillionaires (people with a net worth of hundreds of millions). As the wealth gap continues to widen and the average S&P 500 CEO makes 287 times what a typical American worker makes, the unequal distribution of wealth will continue to be a hot-button issue, especially for the upcoming election.

    Did anyone on this list surprise you? Please let us know what you think in the comments!

    Data: Table 1.1

  • This Chart Shows the Rising Cost of Border Security in the U.S.
    16 July 2019

    Border enforcement has become a top political issue in the United States, but what is its current cost and by how much has it risen? To explore this, we look at the American Immigration Council’s fact sheet titled “The Cost of Immigration Enforcement and Border Security.” The data originally comes from the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection webpage

    • The cost of border enforcement has hit record highs for the past five years, with total overall budgets surpassing $20 billion. 
    • The annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol has increased more than tenfold since 1993. 
    • The number of U.S. Border Patrol agents have nearly doubled from 2003 to 2018. 
    • Since its founding in 2003, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spending has grown 103 percent. 

    Our viz shows the annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol since 1990. Each full block represents $200M. A darker shade indicates a higher relative budget for that year. The Border Patrol is part of a larger system of immigration and border enforcement in the U.S., which the Department of Homeland Security has been tasked with since its founding in 2003. This system can mainly be broken into two segments: border security, handled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and interior enforcement, handled by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The U.S. Border Patrol is an arm of CBP. The report includes data on budget and staffing for each of these areas. Because of its relative size, the Border Patrol’s staff is reported separately from CBP’s. 

    Border Patrol Spending Since 2010

    2010: $2.96B
    2011: $3.55B
    2012: $3.53B
    2013: $3.47B
    2014: $3.64B
    2015: $3.8B
    2016: $3.8B
    2017: $4.29B
    2018: $4.46B
    2019: $4.7B

    Customs and Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Spending Since 2010

    2010 - CBP: $11.5B, ICE: $5.7B
    2011 - CBP: $11.2B, ICE: $5.8B
    2012 - CBP: $11.8B, ICE: $6B
    2013 - CBP: $11.9B, ICE: $5.9B
    2014 - CBP: $12.5B, ICE: $5.9B
    2015 - CBP: $12.8B, ICE: $5.3B
    2016 - CBP: $13.2B, ICE: $6.1B
    2017 - CBP: $14.4B, ICE: $6.2B
    2018 - CBP: $14.4B, ICE: $6.2B
    2019 - CBP: $14.7B, ICE: $7.6B

    Since 1990, two significant changes in immigration policy have occurred. First, in 1993, the U.S. began its current strategy of concentrated border enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border. Then, in 2003, the Department of Homeland Security was established, along with ICE. 

    Each change in policy has resulted in significant budget increases. Since 1993, the annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol has increased to more than $4.7 billion from $363 million. Since 2003, ICE spending has grown to $6.7 billion from $3.3 billion. 

    One drawback to evaluating these agencies based on their budget history is that these figures are not adjusted for inflation. However, we can also look at the overall staffing of each agency as a proxy for its overall size. These numbers tell a similar story to the budget. 

    Since 1993, the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents has grown from 4,139 to 19,555. Of these agents, 16,608 were deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border, with the remainder deployed to the U.S.-Canada border and coastal border sectors. The number of ICE agents devoted to enforcement and removal operations increased from 2,710 in 2003 to nearly 8,000 in 2018. From the perspective of both budget and personnel, the costs of border enforcement continue to rise. 

    Take a look at the data and the viz -- it’s great to be well-informed here, as it’s likely to be the most influential topic of the 2020 presidential election. What did you find surprising about this information? Do you believe these trends will continue? What would have to change for these cost increases to stop? Let us know in the comments. 

    Data: Table 1.1


  • Visualizing Americans' Debt Problem
    15 July 2019

    It’s no secret that millions of Americans are struggling with debt, but the numbers might still surprise you. While the economy doesn’t seem to be slowing down quite yet, U.S. debt is reaching worrying heights.

    To see how extreme this debt crisis is, let’s take a look at each U.S. state’s debt per capita.

    • The District of Columbia has the highest total debt per capita at $86,730
    • Mortgages are the primary source of each state’s total debt per capita
    • The total debt per capita across the United States is $50,090
    • West Virginia has the lowest total debt per capita at $29,430
    • Federal debt is rising at alarming rates and is expected to reach 92% of the GDP by 2029

    U.S. consumer debt is continuing to increase with the main causes being auto loans, credit card debt, student loans, and mortgages. Using data from Credit Karma and the New York Federal Reserve, we can see how consumer debt is affecting consumers across the nation. But consumer debt isn’t the only concern. Federal debt is increasing at unprecedented rates. To make matters worse, the federal government faces debt default by early September due to lower than expected tax revenues. Though the U.S. economy doesn’t seem to be in immediate danger of slowing down, the current debt crisis presents some cause for concern.

    States With the Highest Total Debt per Capita

    1. District of Columbia:  $86,730
    2. Hawaii:  $72,590
    3. California:  $71,860
    4. Colorado:  $71,340
    5. Maryland:  $71,120

    States With the Lowest Total Debt per Capita

    1. West Virginia:  $29,430
    2. Mississippi:  $32,100
    3. Arkansas:  $32,790
    4. Kentucky:  $34,010
    5. Oklahoma:  $34,370

    The visualization used above shows us each state’s debt per capita, but that doesn’t necessarily paint the entire picture. It’s also important to look at where this debt is coming from. In all states, mortgage loans make up the largest percentage of total debt per capita, but mortgages are often considered good debt as they are used to purchase assets which can appreciate over time.

    Revolving debt, on the other hand, is more troubling. While credit card debt and auto loans make up a lower percentage of total debt, are typically considered bad debt. Meaning, states with lower total debt per capita but higher credit card, auto loan, and student loan debt balances aren’t necessarily in better shape. By examining each state’s total debt per capita as well as the sources of this debt, we can get a better idea of the current state of consumer debt in the United States.

    Total debt per capita, as well as federal debt, are continuing to increase at rapid rates. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Debt is relative. If you owe $20 and earn $100,000, that’s nothing. However, if you owe $20 and only make $100, that’s a big deal.

    Small amounts of debt can often stimulate economic growth. Additionally, debt you take out for an investment yields positive results. Student loan debt becomes an investment when it increases your earnings potential over the cost of the debt. Debt for business equipment that increases production works the same way. Debt turns bad when you use it to purchase things that quickly lose their value. Taking out debt for things like clothes shopping beyond basic needs is bad debt. Putting a gaming system on your credit card is bad debt.

    While the U.S. economy is still going strong, it’s important to be aware of the severity of the current debt crisis so that we can work to improve the situation.

    Are you one of the millions of Americans struggling with consumer debt? Are you worried about the rising federal debt? Let us know in the comments below. We love to hear feedback from our readers. 

    Data: Table 1.1