NPR's Planet Money explains the history of the sales tax in the United States by tracing what kinds of sandwiches get taxed and why: How the Burrito Became a Sandwich. Bonus: In-N-Out Burger history in the podcast.
On July 1, 1913, a group of automobile enthusiasts and industry officials established the Lincoln Highway Association "to procure the establishment of a continuous improved highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific, open to lawful traffic of all description without toll charges," and to be a lasting memorial to Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Highway efforts started about three years before the first federal road act would provide funding to states to improve the broad network of roads. Never officially finished, the first transcontinental highway eventually became renumbered as various interstate and US routes. To celebrate its centennial, there was a cross-country tour in June. [more inside]
Dan Grover and Mike Belfrage have mapped transit inequality in the Bay Area after reading a New Yorker piece on the New York City subway (previously). The ways in which a widening income gap are changing the demography of San Francisco have been widely reported of late (previously, previously). The project's code is available if you'd like to try mapping your own city.
The [US] National Trust for Historic Preservation has released its 21st annual list of the nation's Most Endangered Historic Places. Among them: Sumner Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas, (where Linda Brown tried to register for school, resulting in Brown vs. Board of Education); New York City's Lower East Side; California's State Parks; Philadelphia's Boyd Theatre, and several others. The previous 20 years of Most Endangered Historic Places can be found in the Archive. [more inside]
How We Got Homeland Security Wrong -- If all the federal homeland-security grants from last year are added together, Wyoming received $61 a person while California got just $14, according to data gathered at TIME's request by the Public Policy Institute of California, an independent, nonprofit research organization. Alaska received an impressive $58 a resident, while New York got less than $25. On and on goes the upside-down math of the new homeland-security funding. The TIME article uses AIR Worldwide Corp.'s Terrorism Loss Estimation Model.
22 year old schizophrenic Farrah Russell was rebuilding her life. But when the plug was pulled on the state program that allowed her to subsist, she took her life. Her heartbreaking story is a cautionary tale of the dark consequences of state budget cuts. While politicians argue over tax stimulus proposals that benefit the wealthy, while wild numbers are applied to war budgets, the States have been forced to cut social programs in order to survive. Whether it's California teachers, Connecticut and New York residents dreading tax hikes, Pennsylvania public transportation, or Texas prescription drug coverage for the poor, the States, supposedly United, have been left out to dry. While the States have been forced to cut their programs, groping for survival, Washington remains silent in its mission. It does not remember history. Why do we turn a blind eye to the hidden costs? What can be done about this? And how do we make it stop?