The Mexican home has been transformed. In 1990, one in five dwellings had a bare-earth floor. Now only 6% do. Virtually all have electricity, whereas 20 years ago one in ten went without. A tenth still lack sewerage, but this is better than the figure of one in three in 1990.
More interesting still is what Mexicans put in those homes. More houses have televisions (93%) than fridges (82%) or showers (65%). In a hot country with dreadful television this is curious.
I vaguely remember, in my childhood, a pastor reciting a couple of statistics about rural southerners. He said something like, "99% of houses have televisions, and 95% have indoor plumbing. This means that 4% of the population goes to the outhouse during halftime." And now it would seem that about 3% of Mexicans go to the outhouse during commercial breaks.
He was probably talking about the power that television had over our culture. As an economist, I will defend the rights of people to make choices about their own lives. But I still cannot figure out why they make them. Why does television have such a power over the human mind?