Ask and ye shall receive: more on where the stimulus money will go

posted in: Good Examples | 0

Two days ago, I wrote:

I’m hoping that someone at ProPublica will soon update [a treemap of the House’s stimulus bill], including a treemap of the bill’s Senate version and providing graphics that compare 1) the proposed dollar amounts, 2) sector spending and 3) the timetables.

Apparently I’m not the only one who thought this would be a good idea, because now Shovelwatch.org presents a treemap of the Senate bill — and, even better, a bar chart comparing the two versions. ProPublica has a brief text item on the contrasts, but the chart is a far superior means of expressing them. Here’s why:

  • It’s interactive, so you can choose exactly what you which aspects of the data you want to see and exactly how you want to see them (by average, by total, by whose bill they come from). Sometimes interactivity is like lipstick on a pig (ahem) — a last-ditch gimmick to save a bad chart — but here it’s appropriate and meaningful.
  • You can choose what you want on the X axis: allocation of monies by general category (e.g. aid to states, tax cuts, energy) or by individual program (e.g. railroads, Medicaid, highways, school construction).
  • You can view aggregates charted by categories’ total costs or average per-program cost.
  • Those X-axis items can be sorted alphabetically (and reverse-alphabetically!) and in order of magnitude.
  • You can see columns for House provisions only, Senate provisions only, or both simultaneously for instant contrast.
  • Hovering your cursor over each bar on the chart triggers a pop-up box telling you what the category is, whose plan it comes from, how many programs comprise that category and either the category total or average per-program cost.

Bravo, Shovelwatch, and thank you. Exemplary work.

Next up, I hope (are you listening out there, viz whizzes?): a visualization of the final version soon to be signed by the President. Then we can all start griping knowledgeably and in earnest.

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