60% in market: Gallup

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Tue Nov 2 07:02:38 PST 1999

Steve Grube wrote:

> I've been listening to this stat since it hit the news. It gives
> the impression that wealth is being broadly distributed.
> And this is where polls and journalists lie, not statistics: it never
> says anywhere what percentage this stock mkt participation
> is of each groups personal economy. It doesn't divulge that
> a large chunk of those stock owners are marginal participants
> and won't be making much from their investment: they own too
> few shares, they own one or two stocks and don't manage
> them well, they don't add to their investment significantly, etc.
> My biggest gripe is that media-types can get away with quoting
> one statistic and they don't seem to be req'd to fill out the
> context for that statistic. I heard Michael Moore say once:
> "a statistic is an information fragment without context."

I think you're right on the ideological subtext, but you should also never underestimate the ignorance and laziness of most mainstream journalists, or the ingrained habits of their profession. It would never occur to them that a stat like that needs a context. And given the imperatives of objectivity and all that, they see their duty as just reporting the fact that's been released to them; history, theory, and context are squishy and subjective and therefore deeply suspect.


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