My teenage daughter, Faith, loves the Expedia jingle and singing the nasal-sounding phrase at the end of their commercials. A while back we were watching something on television when an Expedia ad came on and she belted out “DOT-COMMMM” in unison with the tv. I looked over at her and said, “Your life is just filled with simple, inexpensive pleasures, isn’t it?”
To which she replied, “You wish.”
I was reminded of this vignette yesterday after reading two apparently unrelated news stories. The first was in the StarTribune’s Business section and described Senator Tom Harkin’s concern over the affect advertising has on children and his proposed legislation to control how food companies flog junk food to kids (Aiming at Kids: Pressure Builds on Foodmakers).
At first glance this seemed like some well-intentioned (isn’t it always?) nannying, especially since he’d like to limit the use of cute cartoon characters to hustle over-sweetened killer calories. (And somewhere right now Joe Camel shakes his head and says, “Dude, been there.”) Sen. Harkin loses me, however, by saying that it takes a law to keep children from being confused by conflicting messages from cartoon characters and their parents.
It’s not that I don’t recognize the influence of television, and that there aren’t a lot of even more insidious messages embedded there that undermine parents, but a little leprechaun is risking his lucky charms if he thinks he’s going to override the way my wife and I raise our kids. Are they going to obey a cartoon or their Daddy? (Yeah, I suppose our authoritarianism is crushing their little spirits, but at least they’re not choking to death on their own suet.)
Somehow our daughters have emerged from our protective cocoon with agile and creative minds and an entreprenuerial spirit – and, dare I say it – faith. Which brings me to the second article, which I read fromCraig Westover’s blog. It was a link to a Washington Post article that appeared in the Pioneer Press about a study by the Pew Research Center. The study suggests that the old political party stereotypes of rich and poor, educated and less-educated no longer hold up as the two major parties now have similar demographics in terms of the distribution in these categories. The primary difference is now along the lines of attitude:
The most striking differences between lower-income Republicans and lower-income Democrats come in their perceptions of the power of the individual. Both Pro-Government Conservatives and Disadvantaged Democrats include a substantial number of people who consider themselves to be struggling financially. Overwhelming majorities in both groups say they often cannot make ends meet.
But where they part company is in their overall sense of optimism, with the Republican group expressing much greater faith in personal empowerment. Three-fourths of the Pro-Government Conservatives agreed that people can get ahead by working hard, and four-fifths agreed that everyone has the power to succeed. Just 14 percent of Disadvantaged Democrats agreed with the first statement, and only 44 percent agreed with the second.
Which group do you think is more likely to try and make things happen and which group is likely to think s*** happens? Or, to harken (or Harkin) back to the first article, which group is more likely to take responsibility for their own lives and which would rather wait for a law to be passed?
Meanwhile, this faith in one’s ability to overcome may be rooted in a greater faith.
For all their similarities on income and education, Enterprisers on the right and Liberals on the left diverge on religious habits and cultural attitudes. For example, almost half of Enterprisers attend religious services at least weekly, while just a fifth of Liberals go to religious services that often. A fifth of Liberals are classified in the Pew study as secular – defined as atheists, agnostics or those who say they have no religious affiliation – compared with about one in 20 of the Enterprisers.
So, the way I put this together is that even though they are about the same in terms of income and education, the group with the more positive view of the future is the one that puts its faith in God and in themselves. The group with the most pessimistic outlook puts its faith in the government.
I suppose the Liberals would say, however, that all faiths are the same. To which my Faith would reply, “You wish.”