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By the Numbers

A Math 101 Guide to the Big Political Issues in California and Beyond


“Number rules the universe,” Pythagoras of Samos famously said. “Number is the ruler of forms and ideas, and the cause of gods and demons.”

With a hat tip to the great Ionian philosopher, mystic, and mathematician, here’s a numerical breakdown of what our own rulers are up to lately:

Rainy-Day Governor

2 • Number of proposals for a new state “rainy-day fund,” earmarked for emergencies and paying off long-term debt, to be debated in this week’s legislative special session.

1,600,000,000 • Number of dollars set aside in Governor Brown’s latest budget plan for a reserve fund to pay for emergencies and reduce debt.

355,000,000,000 • The number of dollars of long-term debt the state has incurred, most of it for state employees’ pension and retirement health benefits.

The University of the World

22,878 • The number of additional tuition dollars paid by non-resident UC students, above the $13,200 charged in-state residents.

24.7 • The one-year percentage increase in the number of students who live outside the U.S. admitted to UC Santa Barbara for fall 2014.

-3.1 • The one-year percentage decrease in the number of students who live in California admitted to UCSB for fall 2014.

The Future Lies Ahead

1 • Percent chance of Democrats winning back control of the House of Representatives in November.

6 • Number of seats, among the 36 at stake in this year’s election, which Republicans need to win to take control of the U.S. Senate.

11 • Number of current Democratic-held Senate seats, which Republicans are given at least a plausible chance of winning.

Oligarchs Arise

11,700,000 • Average salary in dollars of CEOs of America’s top 350 corporations.

35,239 • Average salary in dollars of the average American worker.

11 • Average tax rate paid as a percentage of income paid by the poorest fifth of Americans.

5.6 • Average tax rate paid as a percentage of income paid by the wealthiest fifth of Americans.

To Make All Laws

8 • Percentage of congressional offices that made its member or a senior staffer available to meet about legislation “with constituents” as part of a political-science study.

32 • Percentage of congressional offices that made its member or a senior staffer available to meet about legislation with “active political donors” in the same study.

Bipartisan Partisans

5.7 • Percentage of the electorate who were “ticket splitters,” voting for one party for president and another for congress in 2012.

1904 • The last year the percentage of ticket splitters was as low.

Drought Update

38,000,000 • Number of gallons of drinking water dumped by Oregon officials after a 19-year-old man was seen on a security camera peeing into a reservoir.

24 • Age at which human brainpower begins to decline.

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