Gaining Girth, Wasting Wealth and Doing Time.
Ok, now I’m taking you into serious supposition territory into the intersection of lifestyle, polititics, biology and this psychology of morality. Does the average American adult have more or less blood sugar in his system than someone of, say, his grandfather’s generation? More, at least in terms of the availability of simple sugars. Do we face more choices? Yes. Do we have to self-regulate more than people did two generations ago? Oh my, yes.
So. We live in a post-industrial world where we make many choices and do a lot of thinking. Good thing, yes? But to keep doing this all day and into the night, we need to boost our blood sugar and so grab what’s on hand. A bag of Skittles from the snack machine or some caramel in your macchiato? Short term fix, but it works.
Trouble is that over time we develop, with all those insulin spikes that accompany those sugar hits, insulin resistance. Got plenty of blood glucose, but can’t get it into the cells to use it including the brain cells. We gain weight and need more sugar to keep self-regulating and eventually are doing so just to get through the day. Long term time preference suffers because you’re being so careful about what you may or may not wear or say at work, for example.
I predict from this that people with long time preferences will also have lower BMI scores (bodybuilders, excepted of course) and thinner waists.
I predict from this that the highest crime and other social pathology (high impulsivity and low self-control) will correlate with populations that are gaining girth.
I predict that our wealthy (people who exhibit long time preference in spending and saving, NOT just high-income people) will be thinner than our poor, except among those poor who not working in a post-industrial “thinking” job or who are not raising families.
I’ll see if I can look up stats on these predictions, but from what sociological research I’ve done, these are slam dunks.
What political implications do you foresee from this? We need more laws when culture fails. Without cultural constraints, most people don’t self-regulate very well. People who can govern their own behavior need little government and those who cannot rule themselves will always find someone willing to do it for them. And we have both voting in the same American polity.
And, yes, the most conservative states are also some of the poorest and fattest. Why do you suppose that is?
Filed under: Commentary |