The Lip-Service States, Canadian Morality, Etc.

Apart from the state you now live in, which is the one in which you would most like to reside? In the latest of the Harris Polls that pose this question, California got the most votes—just as it did in the previous three surveys. Harris also asked people which city they’d most like to live in or near, apart from the one they’re in or closest to already. New York City topped this ranking, as it has done in eight of the past nine polls. What’s odd about these results is that California and New York City are conspicuous among the places whose populations have been propped up in recent years by immigrants from overseas. Among people already resident in the U.S., both California and New York City have experienced net outmigration. As brand names, California and New York City evidently retain strong appeal. But that doesn’t necessarily mean people want to live there—even if they claim they do. Florida, ranked No. 3 in the poll’s roster of states, is the real thing—a state whose inmigration significantly exceeds its outmigration. Nevada didn’t score among the top 15 states in the poll, though it has been the recent champion in the ratio of inmigration vs. outmigration. (Maybe everyone who’d like to live in Nevada has already moved there.) On the list of cities, though, Las Vegas did make a strong showing, at No. 5.

What do you do with the cash you have left over once you’ve covered your basic living expenses? An ACNielsen survey (see chart below) finds the greatest number of people use at least some of it to atone for their previous fiscal sins. Alas, it’s a moot question for the 22 percent of Americans who have no spare cash.

Which works better to deter people from using illicit drugs: (a) public-service commercials that target them in their tender teen years or (b) getting older. Looking at a new report from the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it’s hard not to feel that the answer is (b). The incidence of drug abuse rises sharply toward the latter end of the teen years: 17 percent of 16-17-year-olds and 22 percent of 18-20-year-olds reported illicit drug use in the month prior to being surveyed, despite all the anti-drug messages to which they are subjected. But then, people’s drug abuse falls off dramatically as they move through their 20s and into their 30s, even though the anti-drug campaigners have left them largely to their own devices. Nineteen percent of the 21-25-year-olds reported prior-month drug abuse, as did 13 percent of the 26-29s, 10 percent of the 30-34s and 8 percent of the 35-39s. If nothing else, these figures make it hard to accept the notion that kids who dabble in drugs are setting themselves irretrievably on the path toward lifelong addiction. If we’re determined to run public-service advertising on the topic, maybe less of it should aim at teens and more should aim at viewers in their mid-20s, since that seems to be the life stage at which people are ready to kick the bad habits they’d picked up as teens. But then, doing something useful for 26-year-olds has less emotional appeal than trying (and often failing) to do something for 16-year-olds.

A survey on ‘the morals of Canadians’? Yes, I know it sounds like the setup for a joke. But the Movie Network and Movie Central actually commissioned Ipsos Reid to conduct such a poll, and it yielded intriguing results. Ninety-five percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “I live my life morally.” Still, 42 percent agreed that “I would lie to get ahead in life.” What if they knew a loved one had committed a crime? Seventy percent would turn in the miscreant. But they might not turn themselves in: 10 percent subscribed to the statement, “I have committed a crime and got away with it.” Canadians aren’t all bad, any appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. Eighty-nine percent would let the cashier know if mistakenly given a $20 bill rather than a $10 bill; 74 percent would “refuse to do a favor for a friend/family member if I thought it was ethically questionable”; and if they chanced to find a wallet with $100 in it, just 12 percent would keep it.

It’s probably not what Degas had in mind when he created the sculpture (see upper right) of a woman stretching her leg muscles. But the piece serves nicely to illustrate an ad promoting a five-kilometer run/walk (called “The Grape Stomp”) to raise funds for the Milwaukee Art Museum—which, by a happy coincidence, has the sculpture in its collection. One hopes the people participating in the run do as thorough a job of stretching the pertinent muscles before they set out on this philanthropic jaunt. Nelson Schmidt of Milwaukee create the artful ad.

Discussion of whether ‘everything has changed’ since of 9/11 tends to play out in large (and largely vague) metaphysical terms. A Gallup poll looked at the matter in more prosaic ways, yielding smaller but more tangible insights. It finds 30 percent of adults more reluctant to fly than they were pre-9/11, though that’s down from the 43 percent who felt this way right after the attacks. Similarly, there’s been a drop (from 35 percent to 22 percent) in the number who are more wary of going into skyscrapers, as well as a similar decline in the number reluctant to attend public events with big crowds (from 30 percent to 23 percent). Tellingly, there has been almost no change during the past five years in the number of people who are less willing than they were pre-9/11 to travel overseas: 48 percent felt that way immediately after the attacks, and 47 percent feel that way now.

Hoping for a diamond necklace this Christmas? Better adjust your expectations downward. Polling by International Communications Research finds just 15 percent of adults planning to buy jewelry (diamond-encrusted or otherwise) in this year’s holiday shopping season. Among respondents under age 55, 19 percent said they expect to do so. By contrast, a mere 4 percent of those 55-plus said they’d be buying jewelry for someone.