Data on America’s reliance on government benefits…Suspensions of young students in local schools criticized…Prince George’s to get help from HUD [News, 2/13.12]

According to data compiled by the New York Times, government benefits – including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security – now account for an average of 17.6% of Americans’ personal income. That percentage has more than doubled over the last forty years.

The Times has created a detailed map of statistics about benefits. In our region, every county and the District receive a lower-than-average percentage of total benefits. For individual categories, our region is lower-than-average in all but two areas:

- Medicaid accounts for an average of 4.05% of personal income in the District, compared to 3.1% nationally.

- Prince George’s, Charles, and Prince William counties are slightly above the 0.4% average for veterans benefits.

There’s a lot to digest, so take a few minutes to interact with the map. The good news is that our region has remained below the average for the last four decades. (NYTimes, 2/11)

Related: Here are accompanying infographics about our country’s increasing reliance on the safety net. (NYTimes, 2/11)

EDUCATION | The Post takes a look at our region’s school districts and finds that more than 6,000 students from pre-kindergarten to grade 5 were suspended last year. Education advocates are critical of the disciplinary practice – which they say young children comprehend no differently than a snow day – and of many of the reasons for imposing it.

The Children’s Law Center’s Judith Sandalow says that suspensions for young children miss the point: “It is a sign they are experiencing something in their lives, and they should be helped.” (WaPo, 2/13)

HOUSING | Prince George’s County’s housing department is getting some help. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development is dispatching specialists to help the county “do a better job of managing housing programs and other community revitalization efforts.” (WaPo, 2/13) Hopefully not this dud of a “specialist”!

- Here’s a recap of Mayor Gray’s One City Summit, which gave citizens an opportunity to vote on city priorities. (WaPo, 2/13)

- Obama Budget Includes Language on D.C. Budget Autonomy (DCist, 2/13)

IDENTITY | WAMU takes a look at the conversation around the terms “black” and “African American” as racial identifiers – and the complications that arise for groups like Black Latinos that are stuck having to identify (on paper) as one group or another. (WAMU, 2/13)

I didn’t catch much of the Grammy Awards last night, but I did see the Beach Boys reunion performance with Brian Wilson. It was awesome. But the best part was when the camera cut to Lady Gaga in the audience, who looked really uncomfortable trying to dance to real music.

Along the same lines, here’s a truly embarrassing commentary on pop culture today – the Twitterspehere’s reaction to Paul McCartney’s performance. Who?


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