I’m tired of listening to complaints about how things cost less in the past — especially gas prices. And where are the experts who should be pointing out what I’m going to try to do in 300 words?

In 1940, I could buy a candy bar for a nickel. The “nickel candy bar” now costs around a dollar. Sure, we pay more, but it’s really the same cost as in 1940 based upon buying power and income then and today.

Gasoline cost about 25 cents per gallon or a bit less. If that’s about right, then today we should be paying $4 or $5 per gallon to have the same proportional demand made upon our resources as back then. And that’s indeed how it is.

Consider this: When I was a kid in public schools in the 1940s we had a measure for being rich: “I’ve heard his father earns ten thousand a year!”

Using my comparison, today’s measure of wealth would thereby be “his father earns $200,000 a year.” Sounds like wealth to me.

So why do so many feel strapped? Data put the average Maine household income at around $50,000. Using the 1940 measure, we arrive at an equivalent 1940 income of $2,500.

But $50,000 can’t support a family today as $2,500 might have (barely) in 1940. Why?

Today’s overall expenses are higher than in the past not because things cost more, but because we need, or think we need, to buy more. More things, services, appliances. Expenses that never existed in the past. We use more energy and drive farther. And no one fixes anything anymore; we just buy a new one. This has become our way. Any suggestions?

 

Abbott Meader

Oakland

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