Caption: These guys have a lot of social capital because they don't watch too much television.
Back in the summer, Goat Rope ran a series about social capital and the research of sociologist Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone. You can find it in the archives for June 25-29.
Very briefly, social capital can be defined as all the formal and informal relationships and networks that individuals and groups have. Strong and diverse networks of social capital can help in solving many kinds of problems.
Unfortunately, Putnam found that social capital has been declining in the US for the last few decades. He suspected television to be a major culprit.
Some recent evidence backs him up.
According to the Nov. 20th Business Week, when Harvard economist Benjamin Oklen studied TV viewing in the Indonesian island of Java, he found less civic-mindedness in areas with good television reception. Specifically,
Olken found that the availability of one extra channel was linked to a 7% decline in the number of a village's social groups and an 11% decline in the number of school, neighborhood, or savings circle meetings the average adult attended.
The article did not state whether "Baywatch" or "Law and Order" reruns were more to blame...
On a totally different subject, I am still reeling from a recent report that compared alcohol consumption in El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia to other states.
Members of the Mountain State tribe have long come to expect WV to be at or near the top or bottom of any list. This time we rank 49th in the country in--of all things--heavy drinking. Only Utah drinks less...
Dionysus is going to be ticked.
In what can only be interpreted as a blatant attack on Episcopalians, the federal government, dominated no doubt by schismatic temperance advocates, defines heavy drinking as more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women in a given month.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED