Thursday, September 18, 2014

Imagine working 4 weeks just to buy a DVD player...

I moved out of my folks' place at the tender age of 19. My roommate---my older and then wealthier brother Dan---splurged for a brand new VHS player. I vividly recall the price tag---it was a ton of money---$549.99.

My wife is visiting an elderly friend tomorrow. Their plan was to watch one of her dear friend's favorite old movies. While confirming their date my wife asked if she has a DVD player. She does not.

Judy just returned from our neighborhood department store toting a brand new stylishly sleek Sony DVD player. She says to me "guess how much it cost?" I say "three bucks" (gripes her when I do that). After socking me on the shoulder she says "twenty nine dollars!".

Some---politicians and narrow-thinking, and/or politically-inspired, economists---would have you and I believe that non-rich folks have seen virtually no real increase in their wages over the past few decades. I guess it depends on how you measure such things. If you measure wages in terms of what they'll buy, well... think in terms of hours worked:

A person making only the California minimum wage ($3.35) in 1981 had to work 164 hours (about 4 40-hr weeks)---not counting withholdings---saving every dime, to buy (not counting sales tax) him/herself a bulky grey movie player. In other words, very few 1981 minimum wage earners enjoyed in-home major motion pictures. Today, a California minimum wage ($9) earner gets a sleek black Sony, with a wireless remote (my brother's had a wire), in less than 4 hours! In other words, very few, if any, 2014 minimum wage earners do not enjoy in-home major motion pictures.

Don Boudreaux tells this story beautifully in several blog posts. Here's one...

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