Contented But Looking, Rich vs. Richer, Etc.

Seeking a new job so you can escape your boss? Maybe that ogre will take a job elsewhere and save you the trouble. In a poll last month by Rasmussen Reports, 28 percent of all employees and 24 percent of managers said they’re looking for another job. It’s not that they’re necessarily fed up where they are: “21 percent of those happy with their current jobs are in the market for a new position.” In fact, while job satisfaction is more the rule than the exception, “60 percent of U.S. workers would seriously consider changing positions, given the opportunity.” But opportunities don’t abound these days, so 86 percent of the respondents said it’s somewhat or very likely they’ll still be at the same company a year from now. And worse things could happen: Conducted for the Hudson Employment Index (Hudson is a big professional-staffing firm), the survey also found 20 percent of all workers and 17 percent of managers remain worried about losing their jobs due to layoffs.

What does a nation of couch potatoes need? Couches! In a survey by Scarborough Research, 19 percent of the respondents said their household plans to buy furniture this year. Ten percent anticipate buying a major appliance. Consumers are a bit more worried about vermin than about burglars, judging by the fact that 2 percent plan to buy a home-security system and 3 percent expect to invest in pest-control services.

What good is anti-SUV sentiment if some enterprising marketer can’t put it to use? That’s the spirit animating an ad for ZAP Electric Vehicles, which sells various sorts of Earth-friendly motor vehicles. Another ad in the series shows a flock of pigeons fouling a bunch of SUVs but leaving the ZAP electric car unscathed. The campaign was created by the San Francisco-based freelance duo of David Swope and Neil Levy.

We tend to view illicit drug use as a young person’s avocation, which is the way it’s typically presented in public-service ads. However, a study by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research reminds us there’s no shortage of grownup stoners. Among 35-year-olds, nearly 13 percent of men and 7 percent of women said they’d used marijuana in the month before being queried. Seven percent of men and 8 percent of women said they’d abused prescription drugs in the previous year. Contrary to what one might suppose, adult marijuana use isn’t a mostly downscale habit. “Nearly 10 percent of the 35-year-old males with professional jobs report having used marijuana in the past month, for example.” Marriage is more of a dividing line than class. Married men and women are “much less likely to smoke, drink heavily, use marijuana or other illicit drugs or to misuse prescription drugs than those who are single, divorced or separated.”

You know you’re in rarefied territory when one purpose of a survey is to measure “the variances, if any, between the spending of the super rich and the merely rich.” (Ah, yes—those poor “merely rich.”) Anyhow, that’s the mission of a study by Elite Traveler magazine and Prince and Associates. And it turns out that folks with net worth exceeding $10 million (aka the “Elite Affluent”) are different not only from us but from people whose worth is in the $1 million-$5 million bracket (the “Upper Affluent”). For instance, the Elites are more likely than the Uppers to buy the newest luxury SUVs and cars when they come onto the market (64 percent vs. 13 percent). The Elites are also more likely than the Uppers (40 percent vs. 13 percent) to buy “the latest in technology” (such as plasma TVs). As for home decor, the super rich make the merely rich look like pikers: 34 percent of the former, vs. 1 percent of the latter, plan to spend “at least $50,000 on home furnishings in the next 12 months.” While 45 percent of Elites buy wine by the case, 11 percent of Uppers do so. Perhaps Elites are less worried about spilling some: 75 percent of them have a full-time housekeeper, vs. 7 percent of Uppers.

The idea that we live in a high-tech society is usually taken to refer to computers and the like. What’s perhaps more striking about the high-techization of life, though, is the way it touches all sorts of old-fangled activities. The ad for a Quantum fishing reel illustrates the point. Reading the copy, one finds allusions to such wonders as “a proprietary vacuum deposition coating that bonds titanium molecules to the base metal for an extremely hard surface.” The target audience won’t be surprised that such technological sophistication has been applied to their pastime. Indeed, they expect no less. Gabriel deGrood Bendt of Minneapolis created the ad.

When people fail to take a drug that’s been prescribed, is it because they cannot afford it? Or because they’ve forgotten to take it? While neither circumstance is uncommon, a study by the Boston Consulting Group notes another factor: Many people are “actively choosing to disregard their doctors’ orders.” Among people who reported not taking a medicine as prescribed (often by reducing the dose or stopping before the prescription had run its course), 20 percent did so because they found the side effects “undesirable or debilitating.” Fourteen percent went AWOL from a prescription because they didn’t think they needed the drug. Twenty-four percent said they’ve forgotten to take a drug as often as prescribed; 17 percent have avoided or curtailed a drug because they found it too costly. Time will tell whether these numbers shift as the government’s new prescription-drug benefit for old folks goes into effect.

We know that women living on their own are less prosperous than people in other sorts of households. Analyzing statistics from the Federal Reserve, a report by the Consumer Federation of America and Visa USA spotlights a telling consequence of this disparity: Female householders typically have a shorter “financial planning horizon” than do households in general. “Thirty-eight percent of women on their own, but only 30 percent of all households, have a financial planning horizon of ‘the next few months’ or ‘next year.’ By comparison, only 31 percent of these women, but 41 percent of all households, have a planning horizon of at least five years.”