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America in Crisis?

In 1984, Americans spent about 0.6% of their after-tax incomes on “reading.” Today, the BLS reports that Americans spend less than 0.2% of their after-tax income on “reading.” Oh, I know the explanation. We must be reading 67% less! I have a great idea. Let’s ban anything that might distract us from reading books that we pay for! I have an even better idea: let’s require that all Americans spend at least 0.6% of their after-tax income on “reading” else they pay a penalty for doing it. It’s for their own good. It’s for OUR good. Right?

2 Responses to “America in Crisis?”

  1. Harry says:

    What a hot policy proposal!

    The IRS will develop rules for giving people credit (like carbon credits that might be worth $53.75 apiece) per book read at the local free library. If I were dictator, I would give credit for online subscriptions to the WSJ, but would subtract time reading Krugman in the NYT, assuming I had any interest in being Dictator.

  2. It would be hard to measure how much I spent reading the original post and the first reply. For many people (not us), the Internet is bundled with cable-TV and/or telephone. (With us now, Internt is stand-alone. We have cell phones but no television.) In fact, with iPhone how would you separate “reading” from “telephone”? Texting, tweeting, blogging… it seems to me that we have become a nation of readers and writers.

    Lately, I have been wondering deeply about the validity of government statistics. The Statistical Abstract of the United States is no longer published in book form, so whatever numbers are offered are not permanent. How do we validate the statistics for the year 1948 or 1984? More deeply, though, can the government measure what really constitutes spending on reading or education or healthcare? Polling us implies that we have clear ideas on this. When you ask about “healthcare” do you get an answer about hospitals and doctors … or about yoga?

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