Figuratively Speaking by John MacIntyre

Figuratively Speaking For December 28, 2008

Ranks of Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, George Kaiser, George Soros and William Barron Hilton on the list of BusinessWeek's "The 50 Most Generous Philanthropists": 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Number of years Warren Buffett has topped the list: 3

Amount given by Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, since 2004: $40.655 billion

Amount given by Bill and Melinda Gates, Microsoft's co-founder and his wife, since 2004: $2.625 billion

Source: BusinessWeek

Percentage of Americans who rate the honesty and ethical standards of nurses either "high" or "very high," according to Gallup's annual "Honesty and Ethics in Professions" survey: 84

Number of years in a row that nurses have enjoyed top public accolades: 7

Ranks of pharmacists (70 percent), high school teachers (65 percent), medical doctors (64 percent), police (56 percent) and clergy (56 percent) on the Gallup list: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Percentage of Americans who rate the honesty and ethical standards of congressmen either "high" or "very high": 12

Percentage of Americans who rate the honesty and ethical standards of bankers either "high" or "very high": 23

Source: Gallup

Ranks of cheap airline tickets, used cars and cheap apartments for rent on the list of's "Top Deals and Steals Searches of 2008," according to 1, 2, 3

Ranks of maverick, socialism and economy on the list of's "Top Gainers of 2008": 1, 2, 3

Ranks of "How do I get pregnant?" "How do I lose weight?" and "How do I write a resume?" on the list of's "Top Question Searches of 2008": 1, 2, 3


Ranks of Charles Prince, former CEO of Citigroup, Rick Wagoner, chairman and CEO of General Motors, and John J. Harris, chairman and CEO of Nestle Waters, on the list of the worst corporate "Scrooges" of 2008 -- the CEOs who exhibited the worst kinds of unbridled greed and a lack of compassion or concern for others over the last year, according to Co-op America, in conjunction with its Responsible Shopper program: 1, 2, 3

Source: Co-op America.

Percentage of companies that plan to reduce the size of their executive bonus pool compared with last year, according to a Watson Wyatt survey: 49

Of these companies, percentage that expect a cut of up to 20 percent: 30

Percentage that expect a cut of 20 to 50 percent: 35

Source: Watson Wyatt Worldwide.

Ranks of Hawaii, London, Paris, Aruba and New York City on the list of the top 10 holiday dream escapes, according to TripAdvisor: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Source: TripAdvisor.

Rank of the quote "I can see Russia from my house," delivered by comedian Tina Fey portraying Sarah Palin as the Most Memorable Quote of 2008, according to a survey by SpinVox: 1

Source: SpinVox.

Percentage of business travelers who say they've traveled more or about the same in 2008 as they did a year ago, according to findings of the Orbitz for Business/Business Traveler Magazine Year-End Survey: 71

Percentage of travelers who say they've felt pressure to curb their travel expenses during the course of 2008: 79

Percentage who say they have scaled back but are still traveling: 51

Source: Orbitz.

Ranks of Hurricane Dolly, Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Ike, the flooding in the Midwest and the tornadoes that devastated Indiana, on the list of the top disasters affecting the U.S. in 2008, as announced by The American Red Cross: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Estimated number of shelters set up by the Red Cross to alleviate these disasters: 900

Estimated number of meals and snacks served: 16.5 million

Number of comfort and cleanup kits distributed: 275,000

Source: American Red Cross.

Of the 352 companies cited by the Securities and Exchange Commission for financial statement fraud from 2000 to 2007, percentage that experienced a stock price decline, according to a study from the Deloitte Forensic Center: 70

Of those, percentage that experienced a decline of at least 50 percent: 53

Percentage that experienced securities class action litigation cases: 24

Source: Deloitte Forensic Center.

Average amount spent per person, per trip in the United States by overseas travelers, who stay longer and spend more money than domestic travelers or visitors from Canada and Mexico, according to the Travel Industry Association of America: $4,000

Percentage of U.S. international visitors who are from overseas: 43

Percentage of the $122.3 billion spent by international visitors to the United States in 2007 that is attributed to overseas travelers: 79

Source: Travel Industry Association of America.

Idle thought

"There are two things to aim at in life; first to get what you want, and after that to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second." -- Logan Pearsall Smith

(Readers can contact John MacIntyre at johnmacintyre(at)