An elderly man named Ed crowed that exactly 60 years ago that night he had went on a first date with his wife. “Paid ten cents for the ticket and ten cents for us a bucket of popcorn,” he bragged.
AHHH the good ole’ days. Things were tough back then but stuff was cheap…….or maybe not.
I can recall buying my favorite snacks (a Dr. Pepper, Snickers and Doritos) after school during my teen-aged years for 1.50 and a movie ticket on Friday night for $3 …….not quite as cheap as Ed had 40 years earlier.
Through the process of inflation, the upward movement in the average level of prices over time, neither Ed nor I can buy a movie ticket at the same price we did as teenagers. I paid $9.50 for the tic to the last flick I watched.
Money simply loses its purchasing power over time.
Sometimes when we talk with the older generations about the way things used to be and the prices of goods back then, we forget about inflation. Ed’s seemingly bargain ten cent movie ticket and popcorn accounted for a large portion of his hourly wage which was .75 average then. In my personal example, that Dr. Pepper, Snickers and bag of Doritoes seems cheap but my hourly wage was about $4 then. Not that cheap when you consider the wages of the day.
Ever turn the channel over to the Game Show Network for some vintage game show viewing? It seems comical when a contestant wins $500 smackers and is genuinely excited about it. However, you probably would to if that $500 made your house payment for 6 months.
Do you ever wonder what the Beverly Hillbillies could buy in today’s economy and with their oil money adjusted for inflation? They would be well-of but not near as wealthy as they were in that sixties sit-com.
Another example of inflation in effect is in the first Austin Powers movie. Dr. Evil emerges from a decades long hibernation to continue his quest to rule earth through the threat of utter destruction if his demands are not met. “One Million Dollars!” he demands at first until one of his goons informs him that the sum of a million samoleons isn’t what it used to be due to inflation.
Indeed our money today will not buy what it used to buy yesterday, and as a result we are beginning to use numbers that we never had before.
Forbes recently released its Billionaires List for 2011. Twenty years or so ago, there was just a handful of them. Sam Walton and some sheik are two that I recall off the top of my head. But this year? Forbes lists 937 billionaires.
In fact, if you have been watching or listening to any of the debate in our government’s debt crisis grumblings, you rarely hear anyone proposing cuts in the millions of dollars as they seem too minimal to make a dent in our deficit. Actually, our politicians don’t even talk in terms of small billions either because they too are just “drops in a bucket.” After all, when dealing with government budgets or deficits we now speak in terms of trillions!
Over just a few short years, myself and many Americans have become likened to Dr.Evil emerging from his frosty space capsule for decades. We are finding out that a million dollars won’t buy much anymore and, in terms of government debt and budgets, a billion is quickly losing its purchasing power: partly due to inflation and partly due to fiscal negligence and abuse.
Our elected men and women in D.C. are now dealing with numbers in the trillions! I must admit that I didn’t know what came after a billion until I was grown man because one rarely even heard “billion” in terms of dollars. Numbers that big were usually reserved for science when talking about light years.
But inflation will likely continue as long as the world turns and billions, maybe even trillions, will fall the way of Ed’s ten cent movie ticket and popcorn.
BTW, quadrillion comes after trillion.