Staffan Linder is a Swedish Economist. His book, "The Harried Leisure Class", has the power to change the way you view the world in the same way as "The Selfish Gene". It's one of those life-altering premises, not a major earth-shattering new theory like evolution, but a new way of looking at it. As the selfish gene is to biology, The Harried Leisure class is to economics.
The premise is simple. As we all should know, one of the key inputs in any economic input is labor. Labor itself consists of the time one spends on a job, the expertise that goes into the work, and several other factors. Linder says that as one's wage and productivity rises, the value of one's time consequently rises. This leads one to expect to get more value from all of one's time, including one's free time. The result, according to Linder, is that people spend their leisure time in more and more intense, hurried, "efficient" leisure activities. This explains the decline in popularity of baseball, whittling on the porch, and anything involving hours of practice (i.e. almost anything worth doing). Thus leisure becomes less about relaxing and more about getting relaxing stuff done.
But it doesn't stop there. It answers a question I've long wondered about. Why do people like to buy things that look worn and old? What's so wonderful about jeans with holes in them? Linder's idea explains it all. People are too busy to put the holes in the jeans themselves through good honest mucking about under a car or out in a field, so they buy the jeans pre-worn: