Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Fellow Americans . . .

On Friday, having not enough to do, I posted a comment on TGGP's Entitled to an Opinion. It concerned the extent to which the now near-mythical "Joe the Plumber" represented the real, actual, average American.

Intrigued with the question, I set out to do some research. In a project of this type, you can to some degree make up the rules as you go along. Average income, for example. The average American has some post-secondary education -- "college" of course can mean almost anything -- but no four-year degree. If you are determined to create a composite image of the "average American," do you then look at the average income for someone with that level of education, or simply the average income for the population a a whole? The two will differ.

Anyway, for some unknown reason I got into this demographic challenge, and I thought I would expand upon, and briefly explain (in italics), my reasoning in creating a portrait of THE AVERAGE AMERICAN:

She (50.7% of the population) is a white (80% of population, non Hispanic white, 66.4%), 37 year old who lives in a three person household in Olathe, Kansas (pop. 118,000), a suburb of Kansas City.

Olathe is near the geographical center of the continental US; the positions of Alaska and Hawaii distort the US center too much. Olathe is an urban area, but not an enormous one, near to Kansas City, with a metropolitan population of 2.2 million. I've never visited Olathe, but I have visited Kansas City, and if there was ever a city that felt like the average American city . . . .

She has a high school diploma and some post-secondary education, but no Bachelors degree. She works in an office. A Protestant who believes in God, she nevertheless doesn’t attend church on a weekly basis. She will have nine sex partners over the course of her life, and will at some point in her life be divorced.

She “owns” a home worth . . . well, it used to be worth around $120,000, on which she has a monthly mortgage payment of around $1,000. Her annual household income is $55,000 per year

The average between the US average [$48,000] and the average for Olathe [$61,111]. Household income can be deceptive, since only 42% of American households include more than one income earner. If our Average American is living with a husband or boyfriend and child, her income would be in the $60s. If she is divorced -- and she probably will be at some point in her life -- her income would presumably be lower, although according to one source, "Five years after the split, the average divorcee's new household income often surpasses her original household's."

Her home looks something like this.

Ugly as shite, but functional. Yes, the listed price for this monstrosity is higher than $120,000, but one the other hand, the average American resides in a 1,700 sq, ft. home, and this one is only 1346. I'm balancing out the various averages as best I can. Again, a lot of it depends on whether she's living with another income earner and a child, or no other income earner and two children. Anyway, this house intuitively feels like a reasonable representation to me.

Her household has two cars, two to three TVs (depends on the source you look at), and at least one computer with internet access.

She will someday find her way to this blog, read this comment, realize that she is the anointed one, and reveal herself to a waiting world as the Ultimate Average American. She will then run for national office, lose, and host her own TV show.

Interested parties can learn more about the average American here. I now feel better about myself.


Dennis Dale said...

Yes, the guys at Fox are probably debating which hour-slot to give Palin at this very moment.

Anonymous said...

Hitler was right - Americans live in cheap, badly constructed homes.

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