October 3, 2007

Sheer weirdness in the Journal

I know I sometimes sound cranky about the Ithaca Journal, especially their (lack of) Dryden coverage, but I have way too many moments where I have to look at the paper and wonder whether they really printed something. The section just above the Classified is frequently the worst offender, and today they hit a bizarre home run on page 4C:

It's OK, be positive

There is no reason to be a downer in these times. The large ideological crevasse between those here in America who see themselves as "haves" and those who are "have nots" is narrowing. About 34 percent of those surveyed place themselves firmly on the "have not" side - up from 17 percent nine years ago. And over on the "haves" side, the number of people feeling pretty good about life has dropped from 59 percent in 1988 to 45 percent today.

Ah, to be young - those in the 18- to 29-year-old age group were more likely to be optimistic. And women are pretty hard on themselves, with 37 percent considering themselves to be a "have not". That's in comparison to men, weighing in on the "have not" category at 30 percent.

Want to make yourself feel better? Buy some stuff. We've got lots here to choose from.

It's hard to begin explaining just where this goes off the rails, since I don't think it ever actually gets on the rails:

  • Wouldn't an "ideological crevasse" have something to do with differences in ideology between "haves" and "have nots"? They never get to the ideology. Instead...

  • It's supposed to be a good thing that the number of people who think of themselves as "have nots" doubled from one 17% to 34% of the population in the last nine years? And...

  • It's supposed to be a good thing that even among the "haves", the "the number of people feeling pretty good about life" fell substantially from 59% in 1988 to 45% now? How is that good? And then...

  • They dangle the idea that the 18-29 age group feels brighter, but offer no data on how much.

  • But hey, it's not like gender could have any possible effect on what a person's material well-being, which usually contributes to the whole "haves" and "have nots" thing. It's just that "women are pretty hard on themselves." Right.

  • And then the final joke: the answer to making yourself feel better, presumably to feel like a "have", is to "buy some stuff". Never mind if you can, say, afford it, or if you need it.

Maybe there's something worthwhile in the underlying study, but this is laughable. Does anyone read this stuff before they print it?

Update: I guess I'm not the only one asking.

Posted by simon at October 3, 2007 5:10 PM in
Note on photos