The new leisure class


Pre-industrialized aristocrats  took a stroll on paved streets, attended theaters and stoked the fireplace.

Now, the top billion thumb their smart phones, while driving  . The opportunity costs are too high for them to attend PTA meetings or volunteer at a Patch Adams free clinic. Leisure or sabbatical year  use to belong to tenure professors, or European back packers (more of the later category from Greece, Portugal and Spain in our austerity era).

While America‘s manufacturing infrastructure are endangered species, manufacturing mindset and work habit haven’t changed a bit. The deregulation of the telecom industry brought us telecommuting and offshoring, but it has affected mostly knowledge workers who are supposed to be on call 24/7. That leaves the laid-off  workers to watch CNN and other cable news during day time.

To feed the ever inquisitive eye balls, cable news need to supply content, between ads, that is.

So, we have shooters and shouters, comment and continue “right after this”.

We watch scheduled shows and side-shows. Even when the President was observing a moment of silence,

CNN camera crew “would be  irresponsible not to ” cover the mock-up Coast Guard exercise nearby.

You see, Light, Camera, Action. Not “contemplation” which makes  boring visual.

To focus not only on scheduled show, but also side-show, one must be out of work, which makes the new leisure class.

With Broadband for rural, they can be found just about anywhere, from Indiana to Idaho, from Vermont to Vancouver.

As of this writing, NBC News made a comment that the Stock market ended at the same level as it was 8 years ago, the day before Sept 11th .

If anything, we have survived and frustrated enemies’ efforts to disrupt and destroy the American way of life (where R&D efforts stay in University labs while real manufacturing works get shipped overseas.)

The new leisure class have time to shop for value and if needed, stand in long customer-service line for return or exchange.

America’s new leisure class take their time at the local libraries and hospitals, where forms are to be filled out. Do you have a pre-existing condition? Are you double-covered, and if so, by what insurance?

But by definition, they have two commodities in abundance: time and attention.  Since they don’t have to stoke the fireplace, or water the lawn. The industrial age took care of all that. Now, we are operating at the height of the information age, we are on the verge of taking the Native American places, relying on the slot machines for “hunting and gathering ” .

Sorry, I got to go on to Facebook to “comment” on my friends’ recent posts. All sorts of invitation: to plant a virtual garden, to engage in Mafia wars, and even to meet a virtual friend (Avatar). I am a member of this new leisure class.

And I am very mindful of the opportunity that costs me. I can’t afford and don’t want this new leisure life style.

Stuff like digital finger prints and digital will, video CVs and E-consent. It’s bad enough to play Solitaire with a real card deck.  When I retire, I will sort out family pictures currently in the shoe box. Maybe then, I will have them digitized and posted online. For now, friends will have to stare at my out-dated photo.

Reading, hand-written letters or a stroll down the street belong to the old economy.

Tech proponents hope that everyone will own a I-robot to alleviate them of daily chores. But then, they will have to work to earn the money to pay for broadband, smart phones, I-pad,  Kindle and apps downloads. Not to mention flat screen TV, computer and I-robot itself. The new leisure class might have to return to work after all, to stimulate the digital economy.

 

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