Roy Exum: Our Morals By The Numbers

Monday, June 2, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

A Gallup Poll – just released – showed that 74 percent of Americans believe our nation’s moral values are getting worse and a full six percent of us believe that is our country’s biggest problem. As we begin a new month, let’s look at the last one based solely on Gallup’s research in the month of May because what you may believe to be a huge problem isn’t exactly what you’ll find on a sampling the poll just revealed.

In last month’s study, jobs/unemployment was still at the top of our worry list with a full 20 percent making it the choice. Another 19 percent picked dissatisfaction-with-government in this, an election year, while the economy in general was third at 17 percent. Poor health care, just before our Veterans Administration blow-up, was at 11 percent and the federal budget rounded out the Top Five at eight percent.

Ethics and moral decline/dishonesty followed at six percent, poor education at five percent, while poverty and foreign aid were tied at four percent. The gap between rich and poor, immigration issues, environmental/pollution, and race relations/racism rounded out the list at three percent each.

I know, numbers can numb you but let’s hone in on “moral acceptability” because, Toto, I don’t believe we are in Kansas anymore. Our values have changed and the Gallup folks presented their findings in five ranges.

“Highly acceptable” is birth control, with a whopping 90 percent of those contacted believing it is acceptable. That is a record high.

In the “Largely Acceptable” class we find divorce at 69 percent (a record), sex between an unmarried man and woman at 66 percent, medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos 65 percent (a record), gambling 62 percent, the death penalty 61 percent, wearing clothing made of animal fur 58 percent, having a baby outside of marriage 58 percent (a record) gay or lesbian relations 58 percent (a record) and medical testing on animals 57 percent.

There were two “Contentious” topics and both are record highs. Just over half of us now approve Doctor-assisted suicide (52 percent) while 42 percent of Americans approve abortion. Remember, these are generalities.

“Largely unacceptable” are animal cloning at 34 percent (a record) pornography at 33 percent and sex between teenagers at 30 percent.

“Highly unacceptable” are suicide at 19 (a record), Polygamy, where a married person has more than one spouse at the same time, at 14 percent (a record), cloning humans at 13 percent (a record) and – the lowest rating – married men and women having an affair at 7 percent.

According to the Gallup website, President Barack Obama has a 44 percent approval rate and a 52 percent disapproval rate. There are 53 percent in our nation who are thriving, 43 percent who are struggling, and 4 percent who are suffering. The happiness meter is 43 percent and the stress meter is 10 percent.

Politically the percentage of Democrats who say an issue is morally acceptable has increased in 10 issues while Independents have moved a little slower. Republican views, it was noted, have changed little.

In doctor-assisted suicide, for example, 63 percent of the Democrats say it is acceptable, compared to 54 percent of Independents and 40 percent of Republicans. The party lines for abortion revealed a 59 percent approval by Democrats, 41 percent by Independents and 28 percent by Republicans. Divorce? Democrats at 78 percent, Independents at 69 percent and Republicans at 60 percent.

For the record, these results were based on telephone polling at 1,028 adults living in all 50 states and Washington D.C. The margin of error, according to Gallup’s standards, is four percent and the confidence level is 95 percent.

So there you have it. That’s the way our nation was thinking May 8-11, 2014.

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