Leisure 2

Mar. 20th, 2009 | 12:32 pm

"Long before the advent of personal computing and the so called information age, scientists worried about the impact computers would have on human society. A fourteen-page memorandum sent by leading scientists to President Lyndon B. Johnson declared that computerization was likely to create massive unemployment. "Cybernation," which the authors argued resulted from "the conmbination of the computer and automated self-regulating machine," was "already reorganizing the economic and social system to meet its own needs" -- in 1964, no less. Others, who put a more optimistic spin on the work-saving impact of automation (and later computers), worried about what Americans would do with all their new leisure time. John Maynard Keynes famously fretted in a 1930 essay, "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren," over how humans would spend their time in a meaningful way when work was no longer necessary.

And it was true - at least at first: Over the course of the 1950s and 1960s, average work hours decreased as Americans became more productive and the economy grew at a good clip. But, as history actually played out, these worries about how to fill the hours of the day with something more important than spectator sports, bridge, bingo, or backgammon were a tad premature. First, it turns out that we spend slightly more time doing unpaid labor (housework and the like) than we did even in 1900. Second, much of the other time we aren`t formally working we are spending in school."

.."It is the plethora of economic opportunities created by technology that creates a dogging sense of loss, of needing to be elsewhere, doing something different."

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Mar. 13th, 2009 | 04:46 pm

..."Americans used to work themselves to the bone for material necessities and to rise up out of constant struggle so their children wouldn`t have to. Leisure was somethong you attained when you reached a certain income level. Today, a differenct dynamic has taken shape: For the first time in history, the more we are paid, the more hours we work. Paradoxically, perhaps, we do this now because among the luckiest of us the rewards for working are so great, they make the "oppurtunity cost" of not working all the greater. the rich are working harder than ever. (Even those born to great wealth now feel the pressure to work for work`s sake.) Rather, leisure is something for the poor. This seemingly arcane economic measure - the income elasticity of leisure - represents a fundamental change in how many of us live; and obviously, this change has affected not just we work, but also how we play, how we love, how we raise our children - how we live."

Dalton Conley "Elsewhere, U.S.A"

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