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Don Boudreaux on the stagnating middle class, presented at Cato University on 7/25/2011 Edited Don Boudreaux on the stagnating middle class, presented at Cato University on 7/25/2011 Edited by Hal snarr

The good old days vs. today First, watch Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary under The good old days vs. today First, watch Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary under Clinton (click here), argue that Americans are no better off today than they were before Reagan and “laissez faire” economics. • The nominal average wage for non-supervisory workers in the U. S. in 1975 was $4. 87 per hour In 2011 dollars, that’s $20. 16 per hour • Today’s nominal average wage for nonsupervisory workers in the U. S is $19. 00 per hour

The good old days vs. today An employee works 0. 16 hours (at $4. The good old days vs. today An employee works 0. 16 hours (at $4. 87/hr) to buy a dozen eggs in 1975 (2011 $$s) dozen eggs gallon whole milk pound of ground beef An employee works half as long (. 08 hrs) to buy a dozen eggs today Today $3. 19 0. 16 hrs $1. 58 0. 08 hrs $6. 50 0. 32 hrs $3. 62 0. 19 hrs $3. 38 [1978] 0. 20 hrs $2. 77 0. 15 hrs

The good old days vs. today 1975 (2011 dollars) Today whole chicken/lb $3. 35 The good old days vs. today 1975 (2011 dollars) Today whole chicken/lb $3. 35 [1978] 0. 18 hrs $1. 31 0. 07 hrs butter/lb $4. 54 [1978] 0. 24 hrs $3. 61 0. 19 hrs large tomatoes/lb $1. 67 [1978] 0. 10 hrs 7. 5 ozs. toothpaste $4. 42 [1970] 0. 17 hrs $1. 92 0. 10 hrs $2. 19 0. 12 hrs

The good old days vs. today $151. 03 7. 5 hrs (2011 dollars) $23. The good old days vs. today $151. 03 7. 5 hrs (2011 dollars) $23. 69 1. 2 hrs

The good old days vs. today 32” HD LCD 720 p $3, 103. 97 The good old days vs. today 32” HD LCD 720 p $3, 103. 97 (2011 dollars) 154 hrs $239. 00 12. 6 hrs

The good old days vs. today 21. 6” LCD HD 720 p $1, 220. The good old days vs. today 21. 6” LCD HD 720 p $1, 220. 79 (2011 dollars) 61. 6 hrs $149 7. 8 hrs

The good old days vs. today 13” LCD HD 720 p $322. 63(2011 dollars) The good old days vs. today 13” LCD HD 720 p $322. 63(2011 dollars) 16 hrs $109 5. 7 hrs

The good old days vs. today You don’t need this today because your cell The good old days vs. today You don’t need this today because your cell phone does it X available at Amazon. com $246. 27 (2011 dollars) 12. 2 hrs $11. 00 0. 58 hrs

The good old days vs. today You don’t need this today because your cell The good old days vs. today You don’t need this today because your cell phone does it. X i. Pod Nano 16 GB $179 5 cents per song (holds 4000) 9. 4 hrs $246. 27 (2011 dollars) $17. 60 per song (holds 14) 12. 2 hrs

The good old days vs. today Sony 5 -disc CD player The least-pricey turntable: The good old days vs. today Sony 5 -disc CD player The least-pricey turntable: (2011 dollars) $163. 45 per album 8. 1 hrs $115. 44 $23 per album 6. 1 hrs

The good old days vs. today Mac. Book Air $1, 054. 73 (2011 dollars) The good old days vs. today Mac. Book Air $1, 054. 73 (2011 dollars) 57. 3 hrs $999 52. 6 hrs

The good old days vs. today You don’t need this today because your cell The good old days vs. today You don’t need this today because your cell phone does it X 12. 0 mp $1, 436. 22 (2011 dollars) 71. 3 hrs $92. 00 4. 8 hrs

The good old days vs. today You don’t need this today because your cell The good old days vs. today You don’t need this today because your cell phone does it X Sound camera, projector, & screen $2, 069. 44 (2011 dollars) 102. 7 hrs $42. 90 2. 3 hrs

The good old days vs. today You don’t need this today because your cell The good old days vs. today You don’t need this today because your cell phone does it X least-pricey one at Amazon. com (It’s an Emerson) least-pricey one: (2011 $411. 83 dollars) 20. 4 hrs $17. 53 0. 92 hrs

The good old days vs. today available from Business. Supply. com $860. 70 (2011 The good old days vs. today available from Business. Supply. com $860. 70 (2011 dollars) 42. 7 hrs $207 10. 9 hrs

The good old days vs. today Bridgestone Potenza 165/13 $168. 66 (2011 dollars) 8. The good old days vs. today Bridgestone Potenza 165/13 $168. 66 (2011 dollars) 8. 4 hrs $68. 70 3. 6 hrs

The good old days vs. today 40, 000 BTU, 2 burner $786. 19 (2011 The good old days vs. today 40, 000 BTU, 2 burner $786. 19 (2011 dollars) 38. 4 hrs 62, 000 BTU 5 -burner gas $249 13. 1

The good old days vs. today 0. 9 cu ft. , 900 watts 0. The good old days vs. today 0. 9 cu ft. , 900 watts 0. 9 cu. ft. , 600 watts $1, 820. 93 (2011 dollars) 90. 3 hrs $58 3. 1 hrs

The good old days vs. today Home Depot’s least-pricey standard-sized washer $827. 58 (2011 The good old days vs. today Home Depot’s least-pricey standard-sized washer $827. 58 (2011 dollars) 41. 1 hrs $349 18. 4 hrs

The good old days vs. today Sears*Best 22. 1 cu. ft & no ice The good old days vs. today Sears*Best 22. 1 cu. ft & no ice dispenser $2, 814. 28 (2011 dollars) 139. 6 hrs 21. 9 cu. ft. , G. E. at Home Depot $1, 124. 10 59. 2 hrs

The good old days vs. today 5. 78 cu. ft. $765. 50 (2011 dollars) The good old days vs. today 5. 78 cu. ft. $765. 50 (2011 dollars) 38 hrs 5. 1 cu. ft. , Magic Chef $299 15. 7 hrs

The good old days vs. today 10’ x 18’ 10’ x 14’ $661. 82 The good old days vs. today 10’ x 18’ 10’ x 14’ $661. 82 (2011 dollars) $97 32. 9 hrs 5. 1 hrs

The good old days vs. today $140. 68 (2011 dollars) $49. 99 7 hrs The good old days vs. today $140. 68 (2011 dollars) $49. 99 7 hrs 2. 6 hrs

The good old days vs. today $2, 069. 27 (2011 dollars) Home Depot $698 The good old days vs. today $2, 069. 27 (2011 dollars) Home Depot $698 102. 7 hrs 36. 7 hrs

The good old days vs. today Eureka $682. 72 (2011 dollars) $65. 99 33. The good old days vs. today Eureka $682. 72 (2011 dollars) $65. 99 33. 9 hrs 3. 5 hrs

The good old days vs. today You don’t need this today because your cell The good old days vs. today You don’t need this today because your cell phone does it $94. 58 (2011 dollars) 4. 7 hrs X $4. 50 at Amazon. com 0. 24 hrs

The good old days vs. today $70. 32 (2011 dollars) 3. 5 hrs $29. The good old days vs. today $70. 32 (2011 dollars) 3. 5 hrs $29. 99 at Ikea 1. 6 hrs

The good old days vs. today Home Depot’s priciest $972. 45 (2011 dollars) $899 The good old days vs. today Home Depot’s priciest $972. 45 (2011 dollars) $899 68. 8 hrs 47. 3 hrs

The good old days vs. today At Home Depot $868. 97 (2011 dollars) 43. The good old days vs. today At Home Depot $868. 97 (2011 dollars) 43. 1 hrs $199 10. 5 hrs

The good old days vs. today $248. 30 (2011 dollars) (the bottom one) 12. The good old days vs. today $248. 30 (2011 dollars) (the bottom one) 12. 3 hrs $67 3. 5 hrs

The good old days vs. today polyester/rayon at Target $41. 35 (2011 dollars) 2. The good old days vs. today polyester/rayon at Target $41. 35 (2011 dollars) 2. 1 hrs $29. 99 1. 6 hrs

The good old days vs. today Apple II 1 MHz, 4 KB of RAM The good old days vs. today Apple II 1 MHz, 4 KB of RAM (1977) external floppy drive, 1 floppy disk (228 KB), 2 D graphics, NO mouse Mac Pro Quad-Core 2. 8 GHz, 3 GB of RAM, 1 TB Hard Drive, Super. Drive, 3 D graphics, mouse, keyboard $6955. 20 (2011 dollars) $2499 $1738. 80 per KB of RAM $6955. 20 per MHz $30. 51 per storage KB (floppy drive) ≈ 345 hrs $0. 0025 per KB of RAM $ 0. 22 per MHz $0. 0000025 per storage KB (HD & SD) 132 hrs

The good old days vs. today Is a non-supervisory worker better off making 4. The good old days vs. today Is a non-supervisory worker better off making 4. 87 per hour in 1975 or making $19 an hour in 2011? • Suppose you are right of high school, working in a non-supervisory position. • You have an empty apartment, and need one of each of the durable goods listed above with the exception of 4 tires, 4 chairs, and 10 pants

The good old days vs. today • You also need to stock up on The good old days vs. today • You also need to stock up on groceries (for the year). Assume you consume the following quantities a year: dozen eggs gallons of milk lbs of beef lbs of chicken lbs of butter tomatoes toothpaste Quantity 21 23 65 40 5 10 10

The good old days vs. today The total cost of the lower quality 1975 The good old days vs. today The total cost of the lower quality 1975 products in 2011 dollars is $33, 019. 01 1667 hours of work The total cost of higher quality 2011 products is $9598. 91 505 hours of work Is Robert Reich correct? Was it better in the good old days?