American Values???

I rarely bother to read ‘public opinion’ polls or surveys … but yesterday a Wall Street Journal/NORC survey caught my eye and so I delved a bit deeper.  The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and I have a contentious relationship and they wouldn’t let me read more than a couple of paragraphs, so I had to search elsewhere and found a fairly comprehensive analysis of the survey on the New York Post who at least didn’t insist I sign my life savings over to them simply to read the article.

The survey analyzes the values such as religion, community involvement, patriotism, raising children, tolerance for others, etc., that the people in the U.S. consider to be most important to them.  The first thing that caught my eye was that while many of these values were no longer as important to people as they were a couple of decades ago, one thing had increased in value in their eyes:  money.  Yep, folks, the almighty dollar has surpassed education, family, community, country, and humanity in value for the far too many who call themselves ‘Americans.’

A few of the results:

  • Compared to a 1998 survey (25 years ago), only 39% of Americans say that religion is important to them, as compared to 62% in 1998.
  • Just 38% of Americans say patriotism is “very important” to them, down from 70% who said the same in 1998. This, I can very easily understand, for as one respondent noted, “For me, patriotism has turned into right-wing nationalism.’’  I would agree.
  • The share of Americans who valued involvement in their community as “very important” fell to 27% — down from a high of 62% in 2019, the last time the question was polled.
  • The percentage of Americans who said raising children was “very important” fell to 30% in the new poll, down from 59% in 1998. Again, not too surprising given the state of the world today.

The single ‘value’, if it can be said to be a value, that increased in the survey was money, with 43% calling it “very important” compared to 31% who said the same in 1998.  Okay, so 43% isn’t a majority, isn’t a huge number, but it’s still jaw-dropping.  In this day, when we’ve seen so much pain and suffering largely as a result of corporate greed and wealth inequality, to hear that more people value money over humanitarian values is discouraging for the future of humans.

But the one item that really raised my hackles and left me spluttering curses was this:

  • A plurality of Americans (43%) say society has “gone too far” in accepting transgender people, compared to 33% who say society hasn’t gone far enough and 23% who say the US has been “about right.”

Time for a few deep breaths before I implode.

It seems to me that the people of this country have been so spoiled for so long that they have lost track of what really matters.  There is a portion of the population who refer to themselves as “pro-life”, but it seems to me that they have a very narrow definition of what ‘life’ is.  Life … all life, not only human life … is the axis upon which the planet rotates.  Money?  The day will come when money, such as we know it, is valueless and then the 43% of fools who drooled over the almighty dollar will be left scratching their heads and begging for a morsel of food just like the rest of us.  Homogeneity?  Why should anyone give a damn about skin colour or sexual orientation???  It’s not anyone’s business!!!  Who would want to live in a world where everyone looked, acted and thought the exact same?  We could never grow, never learn new things, but would be stuck in a boring, same ol’ same ol’ world.

I realize this is but one poll and may or may not be representative of the larger whole, but it still speaks volumes about the values, or lack thereof, of at least some people in this nation.

17 thoughts on “American Values???

  1. They are afraid of so many things – the media supporst those fears, I would even say invent many of them – and seem to see money as the only solution for the problems. We need more cooperation, compassion and courage. Wow, three C’s, could be a slogan for a better world.

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  2. I saw that article as well, and the analysis was less than satisfying. There was also an article on “the war of the sexes” and changes in culture is South Korea last week that in some ways parallels these findings. Think of the changing role of women and the placement of career ahead of having children. I’m not making any judgmental statement, but that change alone would explain the decline in emphasis on family and the modest increase on emphasis on money, wouldn’t it? Frankly, with more people in financial stress now than 25 years ago, the increased emphasis on money is less a change in value than a change in necessity. In fact, I’m surprise the emphasis on money isn’t higher than the survey indicated. And that may be a positive statement on the ability of many Americans to retain other values in the face of hardship.


  3. Your remark about Americans drooling over the almighty dollar? Rather than seeing the response as it being more important than so many other things … perhaps it’s that there’s not enough of it going around which, understandably, would make its importance rise above many other things. Yes?

    I think we all agree that the few dollars we do have nowadays are being eaten up by higher and higher prices — most of it going into the pockets of corporate executives.

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    • Even when I could barely afford to feed my family back in the day, even when for a brief period my children and I were homeless back in the day, never once did I value money more than human rights. Yes, too many people have far too little, and that is a problem caused by the greedy, arrogant 1% and the members of Congress who aid and abet them, but I would be willing to bet that it isn’t the average Joe or the poor who value money as much as the upper-middle class and above.

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  4. That’s gloomy:
    Disillusionment (religion) – Leaving the area open for the fundamentalist intolerants
    Apathy (involvement) – Leaving the ‘community’ open to intolerance pedlars who want to ‘defend’ a way of life
    Intolerance (plurality)- Speaks for itself that one.
    Money ( Insecurity) – Folk looking to ensure they have ‘enough’ (which is never enough).

    When you line up the evidence Jill it’s no surprise the MAGA cancer still remains untreated.

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