Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Fortune magazine quarterly survey, January 1937

It's from the issue with all the champagne coupes on the cover, and I highly recommend it for the collection of ads inside. Also, in the "Off The Record" pages, there's an anecdote about an advertising executive who composes what he's sure is a winning idea, only to discover there was no ribbon in his typewriter. Ah! Hate it when that happens!

But as the magazine's quarterly feature reveals, 25.5% of people surveyed thought the depression was over and 31.9% thought it was not. That's the word they use too—depression. With a small d.

When asked "John D. Rockefeller Jr. is quoted as agreeing with the statement that thirty years will see the end of great American fortunes. Do you agree with him?" 27.6% agreed. 44.5% disagreed. But there's a follow-up question: "And if wealth goes, will the people benefit?" 57.4% said yes. Seems odd. The editors note that "of the people who believe that dissipation of wealth would be beneficial, 68.9 per cent of those definite on politics declared they intended to vote for Roosevelt; of those who think fewer fortunes would mean less general prosperity, 61.0 per cent voted for Landon. These latter were most heavily grouped in rural districts and small towns, the backbone of American conservatism."

Respondents also worried that big chain retailers had an unfair advantage over independent stores and favored a tax to level the playing field. And while lots of people loved the idea of having an "automobile trailer" so they could travel anywhere, some worried this "mushrooming industry" would bring on "an alarming case of vagabondia."

Vagabondia. I'm determined to work that word into more and more of my daily conversations.

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