Monday, January 07, 2008


My mother used to complain about how expensive everything had gotten – and that was in the 1950s. Today’s prices would shock her beyond belief – perhaps even more than they shock my husband (and his sense of price is stuck at about 1962).

I wish I understood about economics; none of it makes a lot of sense to me. In high school I took a course in summer school (no I didn’t fail anything; I needed some extra credits for my very cool and impressive Advanced Academic Diploma). It was a very confusing course – somehow if the government spent more than it had had, things were supposed to work our well and everyone will live happily ever after. Personally, I have tried that approach and found it not to work so well in real life. But maybe it is different for countries.

Actually, I think that whole mindset (even for countries) might have been blown out of the water back in the Reagan years. But then again, seems like that is what the politicians are still doing. They talk a lot about not doing it, but they still do it.

My father said that the problem was that the country got rid of the gold standard. He may have been right! On the personal level -- if everyone had enough money in the bank to pay their credit cards and we merely used them for convenience, then what would happen to interest rates? My guess is they would go down – but then I am not an economist and, as I say, none of it makes any sense to me. And maybe if interest rates were lower, then everything would cost less?

When I was a little kid you could buy a nice house for less than $10,000. When I was a teenager, good houses cost about $25,000. By the time I was in my 30s, they cost at least $50,000 by the time I was in my 50s that number had tripled. Now even in a deflated housing market, the average house is about $250,000 and those of us who had the vision to buy on the water have values well over $1,000,000 (at least in Maryland).

I remember buying a car for $5,500 in 1971 and thinking we were being pretty extravagant. Now I have to replace my 1998 Olds and everything new costs at least $30,000 (or at least so it seems to me for the features I want). Strangely, the “regular” cars and the “luxury” cars end up costing about the same when you get the same features on them. It is not that I want anything all that special really – just leather seats, a split fold-down rear seat, and a CD player.

I paid $26.95 for a small container of crab meat last night. It was Backfin—had I gotten lump it would have been $32.95. Well, the crab cakes were tasty and I did use a bit more cracker meal than usual so I was able to squeeze 13 nice crab cakes out that small container.

About the only thing that hasn’t gotten more expensive is technology. But then again, we didn’t have computers in the 1950s. Yes, we DID pay more than $400 for simple calculator back in about 1974. The same thing would cost about $4 today. As I say, none of this makes any sense to me.