I couldn’t sleep last night so I was reading an article in The Atlantic called The Free-Time Paradox in America.
The article is about John Maynard Keynes’ prediction in 1930 that by the 21st century the average work week would be 15 hours. In his essay “Economic Possibility of Our Grandchildren,” Keynes wrote:
For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem: how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well.
Freedom from pressing economic cares. Ha!
The 2nd part of Keynes’ prediction was that the wealthiest in society were going to have all this leisure time while the lower classes would continue to toil in the sweatshops all week.
In fact the opposite has happened:
The richest in America, particularly rich men, report the lowest amounts of leisure time while young, non-college educated, and again particularly men, report the highest amounts of leisure time. Erik Hurst, an economist at the University of Chicago, gave a speech citing his recent research:
In 2015, 22 percent of lower-skilled men [those without a college degree] aged 21 to 30 had not worked at all during the prior twelve months…These younger, lower-skilled men are now less likely to work, less likely to marry, and more likely to live with parents or close relatives.
These are sort of obvious realities to us today. Especially with the recent political climate around the elections highlighting the widespread disenfranchisement among the working classes. But, for me, perhaps the most chilling part of this article is what all this free time is spent doing:
Three quarters of their additional leisure time is spent with video games… And these young men are happy—or, at least, they self-report higher satisfaction…
© Daniel Douglas