Saving Pvt. Journalism: The Wrap Up
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is it fair???

Taps This article was posted this morning by the Associated Press.  Again, I'm leaning toward a huge distrust of the intent of this article.  What say you?

The article can be found at various papers, but I read it here in the Denver Post.

The one thing that the AP and others are very famous for is playing fast and loose with numbers- in this instance, why did they use a ''one in 500,000'' number, rather than the usual one in 100,000 that most demographers use?

What makes me question it is, for example, Wyoming population is just over 493,000 people.  So the sample rate is larger than the population!  Vermont is just a hair over 600,000; again, closer to the sampling rate of 500k. 

I'm sure there are some number-crunchers out there that can explain this better than I...

UPDATE:  There was quite a bit that was left out of that Post article- find the rest of it at this site.   Do you think it changes the tone?

While I should be far better at statistics, I'm not, by any stretch, an actuary.  Far from it.  But, I can tell when something doesn't feel ''right''. 

Last time I worked an issue like this was The Lancet's use of 'funny numbers' when they tried to show the mortality rate in Iraq just weeks before the Nov. '04 elections; it didn't work.  Their math was laughable. 

I've pasted some of the article below with some comments...

Across the nation, small towns are quietly bearing the war's burden. Nearly half of the more than 3,100 U.S. military fatalities in Iraq have come from towns like McKeesport, where fewer than 25,000 people live, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. One in five hailed from hometowns of fewer than 5,000.

The Census Bureau said 56 percent of the population in 2005 lived in towns under 25,000 and in unincorporated areas, but it could not provide the number of people living only in communities of fewer than 25,000. The 2000 census showed 16 percent of the population lived in unincorporated rural areas.

Many hometowns of war dead aren't just small, they're poor. The AP analysis found that nearly three-quarters of those killed in Iraq came from towns where the per-capita income was below the national average. More than half came from towns where the percentage of people living in poverty topped the national average.

I'm guessing, but is there any small town that isn't poor?  That is, ones that are not really bedroom communities of large cities?

On a per-capita basis basis, states with mostly rural populations have suffered the highest casualties in Iraq. Vermont, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Delaware, Montana, Louisiana and Oregon top the list, AP found.

There's a "basic unfairness" about the number of troops dying in Iraq who are from rural areas, said William O'Hare, senior visiting fellow at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute, which examines rural issues.

What 'basic unfairness' are they alluding to?  How about that these people are a bit more patriotic?  Less self-serving?  Less guilt-ridden?  Take a look at the Carsey Institute (Carsey Institute) and you'll see the types of studies they do- in my mind, a blinding look at the obvious.

Death isn't the only burden the war has visited on the nation's small towns. Entrepreneurs in many small communities have lost their businesses after deploying in the National Guard and Reserves, said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. More federal dollars also are needed to ensure that returning troops have easy access to veterans' health centers, he said.

I can tell you, this happened in much larger cities as well- a small business is a small business almost anywhere.  This next quote might set off a few alarms-

While support for the war in rural areas initially was high, there has been a sharp decline in the past three years. AP-Ipsos polls show that those in rural areas who said it was the right decision to go to war dropped from 73 percent in April 2004 to 39 percent now. In urban areas, support declined from 43 percent in 2004 to 30 percent now.

Marty Newell, chief operating officer of the Whitesburg, Ky.- based Center for Rural Strategies, said rural areas supported the war early on because so many of their young men and women were fighting in it.

"The reason that support is dwindling now is the same reason that support would've been strong before, and that is that we know a lot more about it," he said. "We know what the real costs are and we know what the real story is. ... Every day there's another small town that has one of their own come home less than whole, and there are a lot of small towns like that."

I'll let you comment on this.  Mine are not printable here...