- LATIN AMERICA
- MIDDLE EAST
- United Kingdom
- United States
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- iHaveNet.com: Politics
by Jonah Goldberg
Head to the local big-box electronics store and buy yourself: a Panasonic home theater system
This is not an endorsement of any of these products. I don't own any of them (though if the manufacturers are keen to find out my opinion, they can send me some non-returnable demos). But you can fill your shopping cart with these items for less than
In 1964, however, the average American worker could buy one pricey stereo from
What's the point? Well, there's a big one. We are constantly told that the American working man is so much worse off than he used to be. And if you measure income one way, you can make that case.
The wealth of nations, according to Adam Smith, the founding father of the market economy, is not measured in GDP or cash reserves. Rather, it "consists in the cheapness of provision and all other necessaries and conveniences of life."
By that standard, American wealth in general, and the wealth of poor Americans, has skyrocketed in the last half-century, and the government had relatively little -- though certainly not nothing -- to do with it. And it's not just that consumer items are cheaper than ever, they're also better than ever. An iPhone today isn't just better than yesterday's phones, it's better than yesterday's cameras, calculators, portable stereos and computers. Many of the standard features on a 2010 Honda Accord were considered luxury items 10 years ago and almost unimaginable 20 years ago.
Now, you might argue that while, say,
Well, food has gotten steadily cheaper -- for everybody -- over the last century. For instance, Perry calculates that eggs cost about one-tenth as much as they did at the beginning of the century. Moreover, Americans, with their allegedly stingy government, pay about half as much for food as Europeans do.
So, what has gotten more expensive? According to
For example, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., underwent Lasik eye surgery in 2000. He paid cash, and it cost
No, but it is protected from them.
Even so, the costs of housing, food and clothing combined have dropped over the last century from about 75 percent of the average family's expenditures to around 35 percent, largely thanks to the ability of the market to democratize innovation and decrease the cost of necessities and conveniences.
None of this is to say that the middle class and the poor aren't facing tough times, or that our government policies are perfectly suited to their needs.
But ever since the dawn of the Obama presidency millennia ago, the air has been thick with claims that government needs to get much more deeply involved in the private sector. According to
Maybe he should get his hearing checked by the same guy who did Ryan's eyes.
Available at Amazon.com:
The Democrats' Economic Vision Problem | Politics
© Tribune Media Services