The other day, talking to a hosiery manufacturer, I mentioned reports that suggested the return of production to the United States.  He stopped me cold.  “The Chinese are killing me.  I can’t compete with their prices.  His comment was a reminder that generalizations often don’t apply in specific circumstances.  There are always exceptions, plenty of them, sometimes enough to call a particular generalization into question (or at least to encourage further consideration).  Here are some generalizations currently about that become less persuasive once subjected to closer scrutiny.

  • Police are more educated, better trained and professional.  Then you encounter news stories about police brutality, killings of unarmed suspects, citizens arrested for minor drug offenses and systemic corruption within entire departments.
  • Women are making progress on virtually all fronts.  But then you hear stories from women who’ve been passed over for promotion, excluded from all-male cliques at their workplaces and sexually harassed by their bosses.
  • How often do we hear that the federal government can’t do anything right.  But then we read about dedicated researchers at the FDA, Forest Rangers who enhance the experience at our National Parks, weather forecasters who warn us well in advance of severe weather patterns, and Coast Guard personnel who prevent mayhem among boaters along our coastal waters.
  • We’re told that inflation is tame, under control, no cause for concern.  But then people tell you how upset they are about rising gasoline and heating oil process, the increased cost of meat, fruit and vegetables, as well as their health insurance premiums.
  • Crime is down, so the statistics tell us.  And then you meet a friend whose home was burglarized while they were away on vacation, or a store owner who laments the fact that pilferage keeps increasing and informs you of a night time robbery in which the cash register was looted.
  • Doctors are better educated than ever, have access to an impressive array of designated tools.  A friend then mentions he’s been to doctor after doctor and no one can figure out what ails him.  You hear of other physicians who’ve made the wrong diagnosis or missed symptoms that held the key to the problem.
  • Automobiles are built better than ever.  But someone you know has had repeated problems with his.  And, of course, the millions of recalled cars tell you that all is not well in the industry.
  • The U.S. economy has been generating over 200,00 New jobs for many months now.  But everyone knows people who can’t find work, or are working part time, or, unable to find positions, have become “consultants” or “free lancers.”

So, take a generalizations seriously, but be careful.  It may be revealing but usually is not the whole story.  Check out the headlines, but don’t overlook the rest of the report.

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