Things really do cost more, don't they?
September 7, 2011 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a certain Newsweek chart and other articles about the same topic (cost of living in the US).

My conservative older friend thinks that if I just only worked harder like he did, * I could make more money and live well. I'm trying to convince him that things ACTUALLY COST MORE THAN THEY USED TO, so I'd have to make even more money than he did to afford the same things.

In the next-to-last incarnation of Newsweek magazine, they had a chart at the end of each issue about various topics, and one of them showed, in a graphic, how little things cost more than they used to (groceries? housing? transportation? can't remember). Can you help me locate this graphic?

I'd also be interested in articles, mainstream or otherwise, that support this idea. Bonus points if they come from respected conservative publications that he might read; also bonus points that point out how it's more expensive to be single than married (he is married, I am not). I found this article, more like it would be a bonus.

Thank you!

* I tried pointing out to him that his wealth was somewhat a matter of luck, in that he bought real estate in the 60s for very little that is now worth a fortune. His reply was that it wasn't luck, but rather creativity that brought him to where he is today; he saw opportunities where no one else did, thought outside the box, etc. I'm trying to point out to him while he's not wrong, I could have all the creativity in the world, but it won't matter as much because things actually cost more than they used to.
posted by Melismata to Work & Money (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not going to answer your question. I am going to try to dissuade you from even getting into this debate with your friend. Rush Limbaugh could come down off the mountain to personally tell your friend that life is way more expensive today, and it would not make one whit of difference.

Very few successful people will ever admit that their success is mostly luck, or in a lot of cases, inherited. They have spent a lifetime convincing themselves otherwise. You can't win this debate, all you will do is end up even more frustrated.

Anyway, the real problem is not the rise in the cost of living, which really hasn't been that bad over the last 30 years. It's the fact that wages, when adjusted for inflation, are essentially flat over that same period for a large percentage of the population. But if you point that out to him, you'll just hear how you need to be more creative, work harder, blah blah blah to get yourself into that 20% that have prospered over the last 30 years.

A few graphs here
that illustrate the wage stagflation issue.

But really, don't waste your time trying to convince him. I've gotten to the point with most of my conservative friends that the only way we stay friends is by not discussing politics.
posted by COD at 9:33 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

During what decade was he your age?
posted by dgeiser13 at 11:50 AM on September 7, 2011


You're right COD, I don't expect to actually win this argument, but I would still like articles and graphs, and hopefully the Newsweek graph, to support my position.
posted by Melismata at 7:49 AM on September 8, 2011

The charts COD points to show every American doing better today than 30 years ago (but the bottom 90% doing less better than the top 10%).

Elizabeth Warren's works might have some good data, as this passage from her wikipedia page:

"Warren is also the co-author (with Tyagi) of The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke (Basic, 2003) (ISBN 978-0-465-09090-7). Warren and Tyagi point out that a fully employed worker today earns less inflation-adjusted income than a fully employed worker did 30 years ago. To increase their income, families have sent a second parent into the workforce. Although families spend less today on clothing, appliances, and other consumption, the costs of core expenses like mortgages, health care, transportation, child care, and taxes have increased dramatically. "
posted by at at 3:32 PM on October 5, 2011

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