Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bread & Circuses

Just because you have an IPOD, a computer hooked up to the internet, and an I-Phone does not make you richer than somebody forty years ago who didn't have those things. It's nice to have them. Forty years ago in L.A., a blue collar worker often went to his job with his wife at home, worked his shift, and on the week-ends went with his family to the cabin they owned on Lake Arrowhead.

In 1974, my parents bought the house I grew up in for $23,500. Today, that house has been recently valued at $571,000. It's in LA, which is ridiculous, but the point remains that things such as housing have escalated way beyond wages. Minimum wage hit $2.00 an hour in 1974. This house was 11,750 hours worth of minimum wage work to purchase.

Minimum wage was just raised to $5.85 finally last month. To buy this same house at minimum wage it would take 97,606 hours. Big difference. My father as a blue collar worker in a metal shop could easily afford the house payments. I believe he took home $14,000 that year in salary (including a lot of overtime). The house was less than 2 years worth of his salary. Try doing that today on one blue collar salary.

We didn't have a Xbox 360 though. We had pong.