2008-11-04

Cost of items

It would be easier if I had a copy of the Stat. Ab. handy, or just did some research, but when I hear Mom mentioning how expensive things are my fingers twitch and I want to drag out real-number comparisons.

When Mom was first driving, back when she was 17, that would be 1625+17= 1642, no, wait, 1925+17=1942, she recollects paying 17¢ per gallon for gasoline. I recollect, back in the day of three gas stations at the corner of wherever-it-was, three blocks from Bush Elementary in Salem, OR, 4th grade, would be around 1969, gasoline at 25¢ per gallon. And I think it was still well under $1.00/gallon back when I started driving in 1987; yes, I got my driver's license when I was 26, ya got a problem with that?

Anyway, comparative buying power, what things cost in relation to each other at different times.

1969, 25¢/gallon for gas, Frank Herbert's Dune, one of the largest SF novels published to that time, was selling for either 75¢ or 95¢ in paperback, my memory isn't precise on that and my copy is in storage.

Currently, as in yesterday, I saw a gallon of regular for $2.53, a price I never expected to see again. Last I purchased one new, comparably sized paperback SF was selling for $7.99.

3 x 25¢ = 75¢
3 x $2.53 = $7.59
95/25=3.8
2.53 x 3.8 = 9.61

So, if the price in 1969 for Dune was 75¢, then the price of gasoline today is lower than it was in 1969 in real dollars, as the gasoline costs less, in relation to the cost of paperback SF, now than then.

1942 15¢/gallon, Mom thinks her Piano teacher was making maybe 50¢ per lesson, I suspect that's a bit high for 1942. 15/50= 0.3
2008 $2.53/gallon, my sister makes something like $35.00/lesson, I think. 2.53/35= .07

If the initial numbers are correct, by this calculation gasoline costs a fraction of what it did in 1942; it would be more reliable if I was comparing the cost of milk or apples in season or things like that, non-luxury items... except that in 1942 an automobile was a luxury item, Mom doesn't realize just how privileged she was to be driving a car at that time. There was a reason that the various stores in downtown Portland would deliver purchases for no charge, that the various grocers did the same; people didn't have the means of carrying very much when shopping, the merchants had deliverymen running regular routes as a matter of course. And then after the war, when the Interstate freeway system was built, as a military expense, and the GI Bill created a greatly enlarged educated workforce, changing the economic picture, the Suburbs came into existence, strip malls and shopping centers with monster parking lots began to compete with lower prices as they weren't providing free delivery as a matter of course, the whole economic structure of our society changed.

It's impossible to make comparisons between pre-WWII and post-WWII pricing which have any validity unless you somehow factor in the change in economic structure produced by the military subsidy of the interstate automotive infrastructure; pre-war the railroads ruled, post-war there was a paradigm shift to the interstates due to Federal subsidies, and the impact that had on everything. And it is still with us. There is no rational economic system which would make it more economical to utilize trucks over railroads for long-haul transportation of goods. It requires an artificial subsidy, and every time the market tries to correct this we interfere. The very people who rant and rave about government interference in the marketplace prosper only because of government interference in the marketplace.

OK, I'm not going down this path any further, we're talking Ph.D. Thesis work to document just how various changes in the legal code have influenced corporate business practice as well as the impact of government subsidy of the Automotive transportation network upon the marketplace, etc., etc., etc.

All I know is that if I ever sat down and got the research done, no one would like what I had to say about our current economic and social structure in relation to a true market environment.

I have a far darker vision than Marx & Engels; I do not see Communism, I see Fascism as the result of unregulated Capitalism, either that or a collapse via anarchy to a new feudalism, with a die-off of at least 50% of the population.

Right, said I wasn't going down that path any further, then went even further down the path to post economic collapse prophetics.

Gah.

Post this Puppy

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