SOTU Viewership 1993 to 2018: Trump Beats Obama, 2008 Baffles the Erudite

On January 30, 2018, President Donald J. Trump delivers his first State of the Union Address

Trump’s detractors want to present his SOTU viewership statistics in a way that deflates his influence. Trump’s enthusiasts want to present the numbers in a way that aggrandizes his influence. Alvarism just wants to know the truth in order to best advise our office holders. No other analyst to our knowledge adjusted for population growth or added digital viewers. The result of our analysis shows that nothing much has changed in nearly 30 years except for how viewers choose to watch the speech. When digital viewer projections are added to the numbers, Trump has beaten Obama’s equivalently-phased viewership by about 11% in 2017 and 2018:

The implication? Whether you love or hate Trump, curb your enthusiasm – the trend shows nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps the most alarming thing about this chart is that the Islamist terror attacks of 9/11, dot-com bust, and Iraq War gave crescendo to Bush’s 2003 record engagement, but the housing bust didn’t bump viewership in 2008 to the highest point on this chart. In fact, 2008 was the lowest viewership except for Clinton’s last year in office. It seems as though the long-term and egregious impact of the housing bust was never appreciated and remains obfuscated.

The point about the housing bust is critical. People are apt to tune in when they are either concerned or enthused; therefore, using SOTU viewership as a gauge of Presidential approval is fairly banal. The amount of grand concern over the housing bust should have shot 2008 viewership through the ceiling. Meanwhile some claim Obama’s 2009 reception was “historic” when in fact, it doesn’t even rise to the engagement in 2003 because of the Iraq War, and when Trump has exceeded him by eleven percent.

I’m personally not a fan of modern political speeches, even delivered by politicians that I favor. Carefully constructed emotive content, exploitation of poster children, propaganda techniques, fallacies, and fact-challenged assertions combine into an onslaught of insults against our intelligence and virtues. There’s not some grand conspiracy, it’s just that these techniques have proven to be effective, so all parties hire speechwriters who use them. This modern reality seems to turn Edward Bernays’ Propaganda, Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion, and Bertrand Russell’s The Impact of Science on Society into prophecy.

On the other hand, what I am incredibly interested in, is how effective political teams are at constructing public relations (PR), including speeches. Business PR is not so different from political PR. Businesses are responding to market demands, and engaging buyers. Politicians are responding to civic demands, and engaging voters. The market of American civics is massively diverse. There are so many caucuses, nonprofits, third-parties, and thousands of lobbyists moving policy and ideology in the USA, that party-line devotees to the Democrats or Republicans are often disillusioned by legislation and agency actions that don’t seem “pure” to the party-line. If one politician could achieve everything they intend within our system of checks-and-balances, then our government might look more like a pantheon of warring pagan gods than a Republic with compromise and deference.

The current state of the union tradition was created for mass media broadcast over radio and terrestrial television. For most of our history, it was simply a written report. In the information age, the Constitution’s intent should be fulfilled with modern tools. A stream of well-curated reports and data should be given to congress from the President on a quarterly basis. The President should open his engagement to formal exchanges between party and caucus leaders, and the American public should tune in to those proceedings, rather than emotive speeches decorated by a circus environment of phrase-by-phrase congressional adulation-clapping and protestation-sitting. The Constitutional intent was to create understanding and synergy between the Executive and Legislative branches of our government. It remains unclear how that goal is achieved by foisting 20th century mass media artifacts, mass psychology tactics, and emotive manipulation upon the electorate.

If this widespread distortion of the SOTU historical ratings are indicative – very few Americans are aware of the facts and concepts presented here.

Some sources used in this analysis:

Nielsen ratings: www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2018/viewers-watch-president-trump-s-state-of-the-union-2018.html

Age demographics: https://www.marketingcharts.com/featured-30401

Streaming TV Trends: https://www.emarketer.com/Article/First-Time-More-Than-Half-of-Americans-Will-Watch-Streaming-TV/1013543

Streaming TV and Age Demographics: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/13/about-6-in-10-young-adults-in-u-s-primarily-use-online-streaming-to-watch-tv/

Traditional TV Trends: https://www.marketingcharts.com/featured-24817

A Eulogy for Gregory Tong

His pen was an extension of his zealous and insatiable mind, that never stopped scrawling. That’s how I’ll remember my dear friend Gregory Tong. He had many passions in life, but it was his passion for civics that brought us together. We met at one of my public briefings on the Alvarian Cultural Framework. He attended three in total, and we spent many months exchanging thoughts on these deep topics. I was enamored by his perceptive insights and serene persona. He was constantly enthused, with a joyous smile that was never overstated, but never seemed to leave his face.

That grace is an uncommon feature in today’s society. We were kindred spirits in that regard, sharing the same virtues and values, so connection was very easy. He was not fond of television. He did not even own one until he was married, and he got rid of it when his beloved spouse passed on from cancer in 2008. He said that it brought mind-poison into his home – another sentiment that we shared. No wonder life was so magical to him, shielded from the cultural cacophony of nutty Californian scriptwriters. But not everything in California was anathema to Greg. He attended a magnet school for the gifted, and proceeded to Carnegie-Mellon at the beginning of his path in life as a polymath.

He housed those varied talents and skills within a five-foot-eight, thin Cantonese frame. His jet black hair never dangled passed his slightly-too-large wire rimmed glasses. He looked like a blend between Ho Chi Minh and Chiang Kai-shek, but his valorous and deep Christian goodness set him on the other side of the universe from those men in every other way. Greg ate heartily, loved herbal tea, but never drank alcohol or coffee. He tended to blend in, with a natural eccentricity in his persona that was only perceptible face-to-face. Indifferent to fashion, he wore the same blue or white plain long sleeve shirts with left side breast pockets housing two mechanical pencils. He wore black or navy casual pants, black Florsheim-type shoes, and a stainless steel wrist watch. His car was frugal as well, a grey Toyota commuter sedan. With such a vivid mind, there was no need for frivolous embellishments. He knew much about the Bible, Christianity, history, political science, education, business management, engineering, land use, water purification, food production, software systems, and nature.

Versatile knowledge and civics were not Greg’s only passion. Mayuree Tong, also known as “honeybun,” was the love of his life, and wife of twenty years. He talked about her every time we met, with joy and love leaping from his face whenever he spoke her name, and how they would someday be reunited in God’s presence. They lost their first child to a miscarriage, and Mayuree couldn’t have kids thereafter. They felt as if God had designed each for the other, and they grew closer to God through each other.

I know that Greg was an amazing husband, and a pleasure to live with, because he had mastered the seven virtues. People with his moral goodness are rare, and it certainly came out during a few intellectual arguments. As a doubting-Thomas, true to my namesake, seeing is believing. Contrarily, Greg thought about grand events and tectonic shifts in humankind. His ideas were fascinating, and despite our differences, his civility and virtue in every exchange was inspiring.

His congregation at McLean Bible Church described him as mild-mannered, quiet, thoughtful, and studious, with a Godly heart. Rob Thomson’s church group was a blessing to Greg after he lost Mayuree in 2008. The Wallwork family – Carol, Jim, Claire, and Molly – were dear to Greg and we shared some fond memories in their home. Any family would be proud to call him son, brother, or nephew. There was not an ounce of pettiness in his spirit, and much nobility.

When I see a person scrawling notes in the front row of a briefing, I’ll think of Greg, although I don’t think I’ll ever find his type of grace and zeal in that note-taking intellectual. Greg showed me the endurance of America’s forefathers across cultures, with his living example of Benjamin Franklin’s Way to Wealth, and embodiment of traditional American and Christian culture. I will miss the rare combination of gentleness, confidence, and zeal in his voice, which reminded me of my grandfather. He did great things for America with his talents, and humanity has lost one of its precious gifts this year, but heaven and Mayuree are much richer. I’m happy for them, and I’m grateful to have known Greg.

Don’t Miss the Income Inequality Myth Video

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A new animated video by Alvarism explains the complex topic of income distribution with simple terms in less than seven minutes.  This knowledge is incredibly important because falsehoods about income distribution are currently driving deleterious tax policies.  Even worse, some of the most powerful and influential people in the world believe the income inequality myth. The video corresponds to section 3.2 of the book Economic Sovereignty: Prosperity in a Free Society, and a public briefing on the topic delivered by Alvarism in the U.S. Senate on May 4th, 2015.

Happy viewing!

In the video:

  1. The five statistical errors that fooled people into believing the income inequality myth:
    1. Cost of living and purchase power parity
    2. Part-time labor and full-time equivalents
    3. Counting all taxes
    4. Counting all welfare
    5. Households vs. Earners
  2. Common misconceptions:
    1. Income is not wealth.  Wealth is surplus.  Income is the only pathway to wealth a poor person has.
    2. Income distribution statistics only capture yearly snapshots of lifelong careers.  Most people will earn high income for a few years at some point in their careers.
  3. Good inequality:
    1. Matches income to age, experience, and productivity
    2. Matches income to industrial and career value for its free-market worth to society

Cast of Characters in Economic Sovereignty

All of the people or entities quoted in Economic Sovereignty are depicted below, in loose order of their historically notable events or births. Can you identify all of them by memory? Is there anyone you can’t quite put your finger on? Ask about specific people and let us know how many you can identify in the comments below!


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