Wasting Time: Priceless
A technical change can raise well-being yet lower G.D.P. I realized this when I spent time watching and re-watching the Saturday Night Live take-off on the recording session of “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”
For some reason I find this Will Ferrell/Christopher Walken spoof hilarious; and I’ve also “wasted” time watching some of the Mastercard “Priceless” spoofs and other such nonsense on the web.
I love this stuff. No doubt it detracts from my productivity as a researcher and teacher, and thus my contribution to society. The same could be said about people who spend time at work downloading risqué or pornographic materials. Productivity is lowered, but their welfare is higher. As a rich society, we should be pleased about this and view it as yet another benefit of technical change, not condemn it because somehow measured output is reduced.