Mark Dolliver’s Takes: Mixed Blessings

Work is the curse of the vacation-marketing class. The trouble is that American workers have become chronically bad about taking the vacation time they’ve earned. A Rasmussen Reports poll finds that 56 percent of workers who get vacation time don’t use all of it. That includes the 30 percent who use less than half of it. Twenty percent will make do this year with long weekends instead of a full-fledged vacation. While today’s stressful workplace likely makes people eager to get away from it all, many remain tethered to the job even when not there. Thirty-four percent of managers are expected to be “accessible” while on vacation; 35 percent check in with the office “frequently, often daily” when vacationing. This helps explain why 27 percent of managers said they “return to the office more stressed than they were when they left.”

Sycophancy stimulates the economy. A poll by WorkPlace Media finds 57 percent of working Americans plan to buy their boss a birthday gift this year. Nearly one-fourth of these well-wishers will spend at least $50, including the 3 percent who’ll spend $100-plus.

They haven’t as many rooms to decorate as the owner of a McMansion—just as well, since they haven’t a vast budget, either. But apartment renters do spend a decent amount of money to decorate their abodes. According to polling by, 90 percent of renters redecorate when they move to a new place, mostly within three months of taking up residence. Sixty-five percent spend $500 or less, but 18 percent lay out between $500 and $1,000. “Staying within a budget” is the chief obstacle for 38 percent of renters, topping the number who identified the top challenge as “not having enough space” (23 percent), “need help with organization” (12 percent) or “unsure of what colors to use” (12 percent).

You might expect a surge in support for gun control after the Virginia Tech massacre. Polling shows there hasn’t been one, though. “Basic attitudes on gun control have not moved significantly after previous notorious gun crimes, and the same holds true now,” says an ABC News analysis of a survey it did last week. Sixty-one percent of adults now favor stricter gun control, “identical to its level last fall, and almost exactly its average in polls since 1989.” Meanwhile, no tragedy these days is complete without an effort to assign blame for it. As you can gather from the chart above, many adults regard pop culture as a significantly guilty party. Will this make advertisers more circumspect about linking themselves to violent and otherwise objectionable content? Oh, sure.