An American Editor

January 31, 2011

A Few Interesting Statistics

Filed under: Miscellaneous Opinion — americaneditor @ 8:39 am
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The past few years have brought significant change to the United States –some good, some bad. Here are some of the changes, according to the current issue of The Atlantic:

  • Daily consumer spending has dropped from $91 (2008) to $62 (2010)
  • Book sales declined $1.1 billion between 2007 and 2009
  • The U.S. Treasury collected $164,856,000 more in tax from the sale of firearms and ammunition since the election of Barack Obama as president
  • During this same time, 9% more people thought it was more important to protect gun owners’ rights than to control guns
  • In 2007, teenagers (15-19 years old) spent an average of 16 minutes each weekend day reading; by 2009 that had dropped to 5 minutes per weekend day
  • In contrast, the average time teenagers spent using the computer for leisure increased from 46.8 to 61.2 minutes per weekend day
  • The number of people living in poverty increased by 6.3 million from 2007 to 2009.
  • In 2007, only Wisconsin faced a budget shortfall; in 2010, only North Dakota and Wyoming are not facing a budget shortfall — 48 states are
  • Between 2000 and 2007, 27 banks failed; since 2008, more than 314 have failed
  • Since the election of Barack Obama, the number of active militias has risen from 43 to 127 (as of 2009)
  • The number of violent crimes per 100,000 people dropped from 472 (2007) to 429.4 (2009) 
  • The percentage of Americans who think Barack Obama is a Muslim has increased from 12% in 2008 to 18% in 2010
  • Those with a favorable view of Sarah Palin dropped by 18% (from 40% to 22%) between 2008 and 2010

6 Comments »

  1. * Daily consumer spending has dropped from $91 (2008) to $62 (2010)

    According to what source(s)?

    * Book sales declined $1.1 billion between 2007 and 2009
    Does this include all books, or only print books? New books only, or all books (new, used, privately traded)

    * The U.S. Treasury collected $164,856,000 more in tax from the sale of firearms and ammunition since the election of Barack Obama as president
    So? How much did it rake in from increased taxes for other goods? Everything covered by the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) has been zapped by the current administration. And since the cost of many consumer goods has also risen, along with sales and property taxes and fees, etc., in many states for many things, how meaningful is this number pertaining to firearms and ammunition?

    * During this same time, 9% more people thought it was more important to protect gun owners’ rights than to control guns
    What organization ran the poll that collected this information? I live in a liberal gun state and am a gun owner. Nobody has talked to me or any of the hunters and sport shooters of my acquaintance, and nothing has been covered in regional news sources of which I’m aware. So who are these 9% more?

    * In 2007, teenagers (15-19 years old) spent an average of 16 minutes each weekend day reading; by 2009 that had dropped to 5 minutes per weekend day
    Reading books only, or does this include online? Many teens actually read more by way of their computers.

    * In contrast, the average time teenagers spent using the computer for leisure increased from 46.8 to 61.2 minutes per weekend day
    So what? The computer is a viable alternative for books, television, education, recreation, travel, and socializing. Where’s the surprise that people in general, especially young people, spend more leisure time with their devices?

    * The number of people living in poverty increased by 6.3 million from 2007 to 2009.
    Source of this statistic? What is today’s definition of poverty?

    * In 2007, only Wisconsin faced a budget shortfall; in 2010, only North Dakota and Wyoming are not facing a budget shortfall — 48 states are
    Source? And how big a shortfall? $100 or crippling to the point of disaster?

    * Between 2000 and 2007, 27 banks failed; since 2008, more than 314 have failed
    Source? And is this all banks or investment banks? How do these numbers compare to trends prior to 2000, and rate of failure each year since 2008? Is the trend accelerating or decelerating/

    * Since the election of Barack Obama, the number of active militias has risen from 43 to 127 (as of 2009)
    Where? What source?

    * The number of violent crimes per 100,000 people dropped from 472 (2007) to 429.4 (2009)
    Well, that’s a bit of nice news. Again, what source?

    * The percentage of Americans who think Barack Obama is a Muslim has increased from 12% in 2008 to 18% in 2010
    Has every single American been polled? Nobody has called or stopped by or written anyone in our neighborhood!

    * Those with a favorable view of Sarah Palin dropped by 18% (from 40% to 22%) between 2008 and 2010
    Ditto. Who collected this information, from whom?

    Like

    Comment by Carolyn — January 31, 2011 @ 8:59 am | Reply

  2. I, too, am interested in the print book / ebook question. I assume the drop was in print, because ebooks continue to rise.

    Like

    Comment by Kris Tualla — January 31, 2011 @ 11:35 am | Reply

    • Kris and Carolyn — The source for the statistics is the current issue of The Atlantic. No matter the statistic, it is questionable on some basis. The ultimate source for some of the information are polls taken by the NRA, Gallup and Pew polls, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Department of the Treasury.

      Carolyn — that you weren’t polled about guns or that the people you know weren’t polled has little to do with whether the statistics are correct or not. I also haven’t been polled on whether guns should be banned, Sarah Palin is human, John Boehner looks pasty, Barack Obama is American born, or myriad other things. And the results often do not mirror my beliefs or preferences. However, that doesn’t make the poll results unreliable or inaccurate. It just means I wasn’t asked.

      Like

      Comment by americaneditor — January 31, 2011 @ 2:41 pm | Reply

  3. Daily consumer spending has dropped from $91 (2008) to $62 (2010). Since 2008 was the beginning of the current ‘recession’ and holiday sales were the most dismal that year, it’s hard to grasp that things are now 2/3 of THAT low number. What is the source of this statistic?

    Like

    Comment by Buckminster Weatherby — January 31, 2011 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

    • The source is the current issue of The Atlantic. Actually it makes sense as spending was higher as the recession began and the lower number reflects the effects of the recession on spending.

      Like

      Comment by americaneditor — January 31, 2011 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  4. “…that you weren’t polled about guns or that the people you know weren’t polled has little to do with whether the statistics are correct or not. I also haven’t been polled on whether guns should be banned, Sarah Palin is human, John Boehner looks pasty, Barack Obama is American born, or myriad other things. And the results often do not mirror my beliefs or preferences. However, that doesn’t make the poll results unreliable or inaccurate. It just means I wasn’t asked.”

    That is the very reason why I question polls. Who has been asked? Not you, not me, not most if not all of the people we know, which adds up to a fairly large number with very diverse opinions, I bet. Who, then, was asked? And how many poll results tell us? The official report might define the sampling group and response rate, but reporting media often skip that little detail and just announce the result like gospel truth.

    With the exception of massive national data-gathering efforts like the U.S. Census, which itself is limited by participation and logistics, polls are by nature a sampling of a small population. I believe that population is always too small to rely on their representing the whole mixed-up melting pot of us (or any other country).

    I therefore don’t accept polls as accurate, especially when they are used as authoritative guides on what We As A Nation are thinking or feeling. Yet opinion poll numbers are frequently tossed around as accurate and meaningful, or are presented out of context, or otherwise used as manipulated statistics. Way too often poll questions are posed as either/or, yes/no type questions that don’t allow a qualified response, on issues that are complex and generate mixed opinions within one person. How do you get accurate information out of polarized simplicity?

    Nope. Me don’t trust no stinkin’ polls!

    Like

    Comment by Carolyn — January 31, 2011 @ 3:29 pm | Reply


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