Bloomberg has an entertaining article about how customized entertainment makes you better off, and why “entertainment goods” should be added to the GDP numbers. Never mind that you can’t pay off your student loan, you have streaming video!
The increase in entertainment variety and convenience represents a challenge to the conventional wisdom that American living standards have stagnated
In Is U.S. Economic Growth Over? , Robert Gordon makes much the same point, but without the rose tint. He writes that productivity gains from the Internet revolution had peaked by 2000. Since then, we have “entertainment and communication devices that are smaller, smarter, and more capable, but do not fundamentally change labor productivity or the standard of living in the way that electric light, motor cars, or indoor plumbing changed it.”
Entertainment [does] not fundamentally change labor productivity or the standard of living
Bloomberg’s view reminds us of the national happiness index, another attempt to excuse failed policy by moving the goalposts. Remember, our trade balance looks like this:
Writing in 2009, Jeremiah predicted that as living standards fell, we would find ways to get used to it. In his vision, an impoverished America turns to yoga and whole grains – not mind numbing gadgets. Huxley’s dystopia is winning.