I’m not the first one to notice this, it’s really nothing new. There are some recent books covering it if you want more details. I’m not sure what got me thinking about it in the first place. Possibly the book I’m reading by Howard Buffet, son of billionaires Warren and Susan Buffet. His father made sure he got a regular job first, he’s now a farmer, but his parents also funded his non-profits. On top of all that, he volunteers as a local deputy and at local food related charities.
What are we doing?
The average amount of time spent watching television in
America is 4.8
hours every day. That puts us firmly in first place in the world. For me,
that’s all of my free time on a week day. Which means I’m bringing the average
down and someone out there is doing virtually nothing but channel surfing. I
bring up my average a bit during football season but generally I don’t lay
around watching TV on weekends. Also on average, I sleep an hour more, and I’ll
bet that hour less of sleep is spent watching TV for many. Only on occasion do I
watch TV while eating, so there’s another hour or so that could be affecting
But the question is, what else are we doing? “Social networking”, a nice name for watching cat videos is up to around 3 hours per day. Again, either people are laying awake doing this, or multi-tasking.
We read 19 minutes per day. Those who are in monthly book clubs, think about how many non-readers it takes to bring that average down.
I couldn’t easily find numbers although they are out there, but I suspect physical activity and attending civic events is also quite low.
Karl Marx had a theory that capitalism is designed to keep some people in poverty. It provides a pool of labor to draw from when needed and keeps lower income people afraid of slipping into that group, so they work hard and put up with bad management. If he were alive today he would see a relatively stronger and healthier work force but he would also note that once people get far enough away from that feeling of slipping into poverty, they quickly forget about it and do nothing to work on changing the system.
It was easier then to rally the proletariat to action because they could see the benefit and understood their solidarity. I joined a union a few years ago, and most of the work of organizing is convincing people that have a common cause with people in basically the same situation but slightly different job function.
The good news of this is we now have a pool of volunteers to draw from like never before. I don’t like fear tactics, but as more people slip from middle class into poverty, more will understand that it’s time to turn off the TV and take control of the world they created.