Friday, March 04, 2005

I participated in a marketing research focus group for The Wall Street Journal last night. There were 4 of us: myself, a dopey laundromat owner, an amputee law student, and a snooty school administrator / amateur photographer. The group facilitator asked us which newspapers or magazines we subscribe to, and which ones we read regularly in print or online, etc. Dopey said he just read whatever people left behind in the laundromat, which was usually the Arizona Republic or USA Today. Fair enough. On the other hand, Stumpy and Snooty both proudly heralded their subscriptions to The New York Times and Mother Jones, and lavished praise upon NPR, though radio news preferences were not solicited by the facilitator. The Arizona Republic is too right-wing for their tastes (huh?), and USA Today is, frankly, beneath them and insults their intelligence. Right off the bat, Stumpy and Snooty marked their territory: we’re liberal, we’re proud of it, and we’re smarter than you, so there!

I’m a political person by nature. I’ve had a passion for all things politics since childhood. I have unambiguous conservative, free market convictions. If you posed a direct question on the subject of political preference, I would tell you where I stand. However, if you asked my friends, acquaintances and co-workers where I stood on the political spectrum, I’d say only about half of them could answer with certainty. I don’t wear my politics on my sleeve because I believe the idiom that “politics and religion aren’t discussed in polite company”. I’ll be politically involved, I’ll work on campaigns, I’ll write my thoughts on this blog, I’ll have conversations with people on salient issues when warranted. What I won’t do is behave like a sanctimonious political proselytizer, forcing my views upon others in an inappropriate and uncouth manner.

Stumpy and Snooty were liberal proselytizers masquerading badly as objective consumers of business news. I’m not sure how they even managed to pass the screening for the focus group. They really didn’t have anything constructive to offer with regard to the Wall Street Journal, other than to say they have occasionally gleaned a copy, but would never subscribe to it.

After two hours of answering a host of questions and doing word association exercises, we were dismissed. As the receptionist handed us our $100 checks, it occurred to me why Stumpy and Snooty were there. I guess deep down they might be capitalists after all. They just won’t read up on it.


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