I was born into a poor family. However, I had the added benefit of a dad as a pastor, so this meant we "had to" go to a parochial school. And in sending me and my siblings to a parochial school, this had the following skewed consequences or results:
1. We spent even more money we didn't have on tuition for a private school
2. Which resulted in less disposable income for toys and other such fun things
3. Which resulted in me and my siblings being brainwashed into thinking "KFC" was for rich people and just about blew our tops when our Grandpa would show up with a bucket of it
4. Pepsi was also for rich people
5. We thought our step-dad was rich when we found out he had a color TV and a house with TWO STORIES!
6. In going to a private school, we were constantly reminded of how poor we were as all the kids there hailed from reasonably successful families and
7. They had the coolest toys and got to do the coolest stuff (like go to national parks for vacation or FLY somewhere - I didn't fly anywhere until I was 21 and on my own dime).
Naturally, these experiences and observations formed some of my economic theories as well as formed my goals in life - namely, I HATED being poor and swore I would have fun.
To this day you can see that come to fruition. Though not rich, I opt for leisure and do whatever I can to maximize my fun. I do the fossil hunting, the mountain climbing, the motorcycle riding, the video gaming and the Rumpleminzing. I have no kids so I can maximize my disposable income on me as well as spend all my time on me and my friends.
However, as I've aged and seen my generation go from the subsidy of better-off parents to having to duke it out in the real world, the tides are turning and now I am having a lot more fun than my average Gen X counterpart. This is not a "ha ha, I've finally had my revenge" sort of thing, just an observation and truthful fact. I'm not rubbing it in peoples faces, but when you have kids and get married and get divorced, yeah, not as fun as it was back in 1989 with the daddy-bought VW convertible Cabriolet is it?
Regardless, this observation and my obsession with having fun and living life made me wonder if people in general are indeed having more fun. In theory technology and the economy should advance over time to provide us more leisure time and money, making it so we can all have more fun. And so to measure this I came up with the "Fun Index."
This index basically takes all the personal consumption expenditures from the NIPA accounts that can be deemed "fun" or "recreational" and divides it by total personal consumption expenditures. The result?
Oddly, not a whole heck of a lot of fun. On average we spend about 15% of our income on "fun." And it has remained relatively stable over time. It also shoots my theory to pot that this number should be generally increasing (though I knew it wouldn't in that I knew government has been growing exponentially over this time, crowding out "fun" as we pay for other people's mistakes).
The good news though is that spending money on "fun" isn't necessarily the best way to measure how much "fun" the country is having. Leisure is certainly a way to have fun, but there is no spending or labor associated with leisure so it won't show up in the "Fun Index.: You could make a compelling argument to somehow incorporate the declining labor force participation rate and include that in the "fun," but it would have to be those who decided to Go Galt and not the hopey changey college kids forced out of the labor force by socialism.
Regardless, do what the Captain does by pursuing "fun:"
Enjoy the decline!