100 years ago only the very richest people had servants – today even the poor have servants – 5

I have discussed Russell Roberts’ book, The Price of Everything, here, here, and here. At one point in the book, he suggests that today even poor people have servants.

As a way of measuring increasing standard of living in the last hundred years, the main character in his book compares a rich guy served dinner at a restaurant by a waiter today to a rich guy 100 years ago served dinner by a servant.

As a starting point, consider one of Prof. Roberts’ comparisons: the rich guy back then had an expensive, fancy watch while the servant had no watch. Today, the rich guy has an exquisitely expensive, fancy watch, while the waiter has an inexpensive digital watch.

Which do you suppose keeps better time and requires less maintenance?


I’ll be treated as I deserve – you can have that in capitalism combined with democracy

Recently watched one of my favorite movies again.  Gettysburg tells some of the story of that famous battle.

I like one monologue in particular, one between Col. Chamberlain and Sgt. Kilrain.  There is a beautiful illustration of the freedom to accomplish what you can.

The scene:



Have things gotten better in the last 100 years? Hint: there’s no better time to be alive than today. – 4

This is a continuing review and commentary on The Price of Everything (introduced here and here). At one point the characters discuss how much better off we are today than 100 years ago. The main character, Prof. Ruth Lieber, makes a guess on the improvement in overall standard of living:

A good guess is that we’re somewhere between five and 15 times better off in terms of material well-being than we were 100 years ago. Maybe more.

A good point estimate is that our standard of living has increased tenfold in the last century. Not 50% better. Not 100% better. But perhaps something range of 1,000% better.

The characters argue about whether we are really better off or not. The professor’s monologue, with a few of my comments: (more…)

Crony capitalism is not Capitalism

Rigging the system in favor of your business is not capitalism. It seems like the same and sounds alike, but it isn’t. Here is a better description of crony capitalism:    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aO9tA5DWJM&feature=player_embedded]   Capitalism is when you get the rewards from your effort and drive, not take rewards from others Read more…

What are the underlying drivers of economic development? Freedom. – 3

I’ve previously mentioned that freer countries are richer countries. See

What does freedom have to do with countries getting richer?

Russell Roberts offers a partial explanation in his book The Price of Everything – A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity

The main character in the book makes a lot of great points in a monologue discussing why rich countries are rich. A few of the comments and my thoughts:


Improvements in our standard of living and ‘The Price of Everything’ – 1

I previously discussed a book that describes the power and beauty of the pricing mechanism on my other blog.

I’m going to bring that discussion to this blog. The discussions will be slightly revised.

The focus is on the radical improvement in the standard of living we have seen over the last 100 years. Why are things so incredibly better now? If we can grapple with that question we have a good shot at sustaining that improvement.