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December 12, 2009

Do you ever wonder what our nation’s founding fathers, as they’re warmly called, would think of of the current state of their country?

“Rolling over in their graves” is the common summation we hear on what our ancestors would think about the present-day. But this might be an understatement…

If you’ve come across this blog post, you may be familiar with the monthly Harper’s magazine (my personal favorite of all U.S. rags) and its infamous one-page Harper’s Index. There you will find a page full of flabbergasting, yet understated statistics on U.S. culture, economy, and politics – a string, connected down the page by whimsical yet sharply serious themes.

Harper’s Index for January 2010 has the usual mix of simultaneously asinine and disturbing figures reminiscent of the satirical newspaper The Onion:

The 10th statistic in January’s Index reads, “Amount that a Florida attorney spent in 2008 on the cake for Governor Charlie Crist’s birthday party: $52,000.

Then a stat on the number of fundraisers President Obama has attended since taking office [“(26)”].

The 14th on the page reads, “Date on which a Goldman Sachs vice president of ‘business intelligence’ became the head of enforcement at the SEC: 10/13/09”

And so, what would the likes of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, or George Washington think if they rode a time warp and caught a glimpse of the Harper’s Index? They might think they were reading about a society of aliens from another galaxy?

Wait! here’s one more from the January Index, close to the bottom of the page:
“Date on which the fifty-millionth man-made chemical was registered: 9/7/09”

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