Lies, Damned Lies, and Wall Street StatisticsBy DAVE KIFFER
May 11, 2018
Considering the fact that, by any reasonable stretch of the imagination, Ketchikan is NOT the poorest town in Alaska, this question comes up surprisingly frequently. It seems that there is a website that offers any random clickers a list of the "poorest towns in each state."
And it seems like every couple of weeks, the USA Today website spits out this bit of stale news and everyone sops it up like it is a new story.
Apparently the numbers - which of course never lie - have determined that Ketchikan is the poorest town in Alaska.
The median household income in Ketchikan is $53, 937. The median in the state is $74,444 and, voila, Ketchikan is the "poorest" town in the state.
Bet you had no idea that "voila" is not spelled with a w! Autocorrect has a problem with the word as well and keeps trying to change it to "viola." Shouting "viola" instead of "voila" is somehow not the same.
But I digress.
Anyway, 24/7 Wall Street is the site that has determined that Ketchikan is the Appalachia of Alaska.
According to its website, 24/7 Wall Street offers "Insightful Analysis and Commentary for U.S. and Global Equity Investors."
Wel, isn't that special.
Frankly, 24/7 Wall Street can go kiss my bonded indebtedness.
We all know that while numbers can't lie, they sure can be used to obfuscate things.
For example: Lies, damned lies and statistics.
That phrase is often attributed to Mark Twain, who himself attributed it 19th Century British leader Benjamin Disraeli (better known for playing rhythm guitar on the 1967 Cream album "Disraeli Gears").
Unfortunately, there is no known example of Disraeli ever using that phrase.
Fortunately, dear readers, I stop at nothing to track down the truth and I found an instance of Roman Emperor Nero (he of the burning fiddle) being recorded as saying " mendacium, mendacium, et mutant condemnabitur." Which I think translates to "Lies, damned lies, and statistics" or perhaps Nero was just complaining about all the mutant apocalypse programming showing at the Coliseum that week.
But I digress, again.
Unlike 24/7 Wall Street, I can actually see Alaska from my house.
I've even visited just about every settled corner of it. I have seen just about every town of significant size. I am not going to run down any of our sister cities because that would be unkind. But there are a few towns in Alaska in which the entire real property assessment totals less than $53, 937. They know who they are.
Okay, perhaps this specific median household income "number" does not favor Our Fair Salmon City. I am not here to pretend that we as well-heeled as some communities in Alaska.
For example, according to 24/7 Wall Street, Valdez with a median household income of $99,973 is the "richest" town in Alaska. Apparently It helps to have a zillion gallons of pipeline oil coursing through your town. It also helps to only have 107 year round residents. Seriously would you spend the winter in a town that gets 106 feet of snow? Before Labor Day?
Valdezians need every one of the those 99,973 dollar bills for fire starter to keep the woodstoves going.
Of course it could be worse. At least 24/7 has not determined that Ketchikan is the "worst" place in Alaska to live based on a variety of things beyond the simple calculation of household income.
24/7 Wall Street, which apparently only physically exists in a New York City post office box, is a Delaware corporation. Presumably, it does not inhabit either New York's "poorest" town (Bronx) or Delaware's (Kent). So I am not sure it would even know how to determine what is the worst place to live
And what is the "worst" place to live in Alaska, according to 24/7 Wall Street?
I bet our good friends in the Queen City of the YK are prepping a jar of fermented whitefish heads for the folks at 24/7 Wall Street right now.
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Contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Kiffer is a freelance
writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.