That's the CPI inflation factor compared with 1965.
Are we truly better off today as a nation than we were in 1965? Remember, back then we were just getting involved in the Vietnam conflict. We had the Cold War with the Soviet Union. We had a space race going on. And we were a net exporter of manufactured products.
- The minimum wage was $1.25; today it is $5.15........... increased 4.12 times
- Community college cost $9.00 per tuition hour (1966); in 2003 it was $60.00 ........... increased 6.66 times
- University tuition was $440 per semester (1972); today it is $4,440........... increased 10 times
- A 3-bedroom ranch home cost $25,000 in 1965; today it is $250,000 ........... increased 10 times
- My wife bought a new, full-sized Ford Galaxie 500 with all options for $3,000 in 1965; today a comparable full-sized Ford costs $28,000........ increased 9.3 times
- National health care costs were $73 billion in 1970; in 2003 it was $1,679 billion........ an increase of 23 times
Wealth has increased... apparent wealth. Inflation adjusted debt has increased from about $35,000 per person in 1965 to $140,000 today ......... 4 times in real terms.
So let's boil it down to the essence:
- Starting wages are not keeping up with general inflation... if you are poor, you are likely to be poorer than your 1965 counterpart
- The cost of education is outstripping our ability to pay for it... but our strategy is to increase our national wealth by having an "intellectual industry"
- The cost of major products are increasing in real terms
- Health care is too costly for the working poor
- Our national debt seems to be our growth product for the future
- Families must have two wage earners to survive; the one-income household is an anachronism
- Economic stratification will intensify; fewer well-paying blue-collar jobs will be available and the opportunity to move to the "intellectual industry" will be reduced
- The illusion of national prosperity will be harder to sustain; as pensions plans disappear over time, the economic boost from the retired sector will diminish overall consumer spending... retirement savings will not be enough for many given the level of debt most families have