Sunday, March 04, 2007
1957 was quite a year. Eisenhower was President, Nixon was VP. The Milwaukee Braves won the World Series, the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup. The average American's income was $4494, a stamp was three cents and a loaf of bread was nineteen cents.
Fifty years ago, I was in the second semester of my seventh grade of school. I had a newspaper route and a car (a 1950 Chevy, which I couldn't yet drive on the street, but which I enjoyed wrenchin' on and driving it up and down the driveway). I was in love with a very lovely girl who was a lot smarter than I.
In Grand Forks at that time, anyone--boy or girl, man or woman--could walk down any street, any time of day or night, without fear of being accosted by either thug or police. I occasionally went for late-night walks to think and enjoy the peace.
It was a wonderful year, and a wonderful time.
Thinking about 1957 caused me to develop what I call "The Ten Times Rule." Everything costs about ten times today what it cost in 1957. I made up that rule about ten years ago, when I realized that a nickel candy bar then cost fifty cents and a loaded 1957 Chevy Bel Air hardtop that cost about $2500 whereas a 1997 Chevy Impala was priced at over $20,000 and a Camaro Z28 could cost over $30,000. A bottle of Coke cost a nickel; a can of Coke in 1997 cost around fifty cents.
Gasoline sold for 20 to 30 cents a gallon, depending 'pon in what state 'twas purchased, and in recent times tends to hover just below $3.00. A Colt 1911A1 pistol cost around $100 in 1957, in 1997 it could be had for around $500 or so; somewhat an exception to the "Rule."
One has to be pretty careful about applying the "Rule" as products have changed a lot over the intervening decades. In addition, this isn't 1997 any more. I'd have to call it "The Twelve Times Rule now. In fact, perhaps I will. It'll require slightly more difficult mental calculation, but I'll try to measure up to the task.
There are a lot of factors causing these increases. There've been major changes in manufacturing methods and materials and business practices. There has been great technological advancement. These differences, one might argue (convincingly) would tend to keep prices low.
Well, one might ask, then why are prices twelve times higher than they were in 1957? Well, dear friends, here comes the not-too-surprising answer: There are three primary reasons why prices have increased punishingly in the past fifty years. They are 1) government, 2) government and 3) government.
1) Draconian and confiscatory increases in taxes 'pon individuals and business--which, of course, end up being paid by individuals. My dad told me, years ago, that his total taxes, federal, state and local, totalled around ten percent of his income. My current tax load is over fifty percent of my income--not including a lot of hidden taxes that are not known to me.
2) Mindless and unneeded regulations 'pon individuals and business. Government regulation is so much a spaghetti bowl of tangled and undecipherable, not to mention often contradictory hodge-podge of safety, accounting and "moral" rules that the only way any of us can function is to ignore most of them and hope we're not noticed. Even after that, these regulations cost each of us an incalculable amount of time and money.
3) Government manipulation of the money supply. Prior to the formation of the evil and manipulative Federal Reserve, American money was gold and silver. While, even then, government wrongfully pegged the "value" of these commodities in dollars, our money was very stable and could be predicted from year to year. Since that time the Fed, acting 'pon government orders, adjusts the money supply to suit government purposes. In bad times, the value of our money decreases three percent or so annually. In worse times, money value has decreased at rates up to ten or twelve percent per year, and more. In the worst times, money is simply revalued by a factor. Devaluing is always a surprise and instantly robs the money holdings of individuals and corporations instantly and severely.
Intelligent estimates are that, in the absence of the above, each hour of the productive work of each individual would be worth six to eight times what it is, under the handicap of the hobbles forced 'pon us by government.
Why do we put up with them, the parasites that so severely and deliberately place limits 'pon our ability to function? 'Twas a frog-in-the-kettle sort of story. Had government tossed a frog into a kettle of hot water, it would've jumped out quickly to escape the pain. Government has tossed us into a kettle of cool water, and is very gradually turning up the heat, and we're complacently enjoying the warming water--not yet noticing that it's becoming uncomfortably hot on the way to boiling us to death.
How long are we going to put up with it?
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!