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Quick, what television shows do the Big Three (or four?) networks air on Friday and Saturday nights? Tick tock, tick tock. Other than being aware that ABC and Fox televise college football in the Fall, it would be difficult to name a single prime time show.

How things have changed. In the 1970s and 1980s, the networks reserved some of their most popular entertainment for Friday and Saturday. Why are weekend evenings now a television desert? There’s surely an economic story within the question, and the guess here is that soaring disposable income has enabled much more outside-the-home activities that have replaced the costless act of watching TV.

The why behind changing viewer habits came to mind while reading Emily Langer’s obituary for David Jacobs in the Washington Post. Jacobs rated a prominent obit because his writing for shows, including ratings behemoth Dallas, once kept people glued to the TV on Friday nights. What’s important for the purposes of this write-up is that Jacobs lived at a time when television writing was an actual career aspiration. That wasn’t true when Jacobs was born in 1939. Televisions were rarer than rare.

So, while Jacobs eventually got to do something he couldn’t get enough of, his father wasn’t so lucky. Langer reports that Jacobs looked back on his father’s life with sorrow, and “reflected sadly on how much he despised the jobs – driving a cab, selling insurance, laboring in a lamp factory – that he held down to support the family.” How things change once again.

Factory jobs for the most part no longer exist. While hapless politicians and pundits romanticize them, people like Jacobs’s father plainly felt differently. He wasn’t alone, clearly. Once prosperous factory towns like Flint, MI are largely depopulated now. “Good job” in a dynamic economy such as ours has ephemeral qualities. What was a magnet for human capital in the first half of the 20th century was a human repellent by century’s end.

The simple truth is that the people who comprise what we call an “economy” don’t want to do the work of the past. Which means the locales that cling to the past are writing obituaries for those locales.

In Jacobs’s case, he told himself that “I’m never going to go to work hating what I do.’” Jacobs’s father would have likely told him, or perhaps did, that it wasn’t his intention to do what he hated either. The problem was that when he became a father, the range of jobs available was limited.

Even if Jacobs’s father had possessed his son’s fecund writing mind, a conspicuous lack of televisions meant that television writers’ rooms were a thing of the future. Put another way, the mass production of televisions by individuals who became wealth unequal for mass producing them surely made it possible for David Jacobs to aspire to a different life, and reach for a different, more fulfilling career.

Considering the growing ubiquity of television that made Jacobs’s career possible, it’s no reach to say that the rise of the television left all manner of work in the proverbial dustbin. While politicians fib about “creating jobs,” the greater, happier truth is that job creation is realistically a mirror of job destruction as the past is put in the past.

Progress in a free society relentlessly replaces the past, only to expand the range of ways that individuals can showcase their unique skills and intelligence in the workplace. David Jacobs’s father hated his work, but were he alive today the bet is that he would be working much more happily thanks to an advancing U.S. economy relentlessly destroying the work of old.

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, President of the Parkview Institute, a senior fellow at the Market Institute, and a senior economic adviser to Applied Finance Advisors (www.appliedfinance.com). His latest book is The Money Confusion: How Illiteracy About Currencies and Inflation Sets the Stage For the Crypto Revolution.

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