23 November 2011

Donate a coat

Here's one of the stupidest statistics you'll ever read:
Recent research shows that more than 1.2 million people over 60 in the UK agree that having a warm coat is a good thing during winter.
Let's think how they got that figure.There's around 12 million people over 60 in the UK. So either they asked 1.2 million people the same stupid question before they got bored with getting the same stupid answer, or they asked a sample, and scaled up the response. That would mean that 1 in 10 over sixties agreed with the value of a warm coat. And the rest didn't?

Anyway, the unreferenced and meaningless research is connected to ITV's "Donate a coat" campaign. The idea is that people with too many coats donate one of them, so that the Salvation Army can give it to someone who needs it. Sounds fair enough but hang on a minute ...

So far, they've collected around 2,500 coats. Presumably there's a target of, say, 50,000. That means they're estimating there are 50,000 people in the UK - a relatively rich and relatively cold country - who can't afford a warm coat. That's a national disgrace. If they really believe it, shouldn't they be doing something to change it? "But they're not allowed to be political." But they're being political: making a statement that 50,000 people are living below the most basic standard, but that's OK. Here, have a coat in exchange for a little dignity. You're old and/or poor: how do you expect to actually buy a coat of  your own?

As an illlustration of how charity can be demeaning and reactionary, it could hardly be bettered.

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