I’ve been a lifelong television fan, and when I’m not busy ranting about liberty on the internet I even do some work in the television industry. Despite this, several years ago I “cut the chord” and ceased to have cable television flowing into my household. While it seems this trend is catching on a bit, at the time many of friends thought I was crazy.
“How would I keep up with American Idol?”
“How would I watch sports?”
“How would I keep up with THE NEWS???”
The answers, in order: “I could care less”, “sports bars”, and “HAHAHAHAHA – are you serious??”
I noticed that television had become a distraction. Due to the passive nature of the incoming feed, I would often find myself just “zoning out”, letting my mind wander into the abyss of what my Aunt used to casually refer to as “The Idiot Box.” How right she was.
Needless to say I still watch television programs using my trusty Roku, and while there are a few newer shows I find enjoyable, I often get greater satisfaction from re-watching shows from my youth.
Recently while watching one of my all-time favorite shows, The Wonder Years on Netflix I came to an episode titled “The Cost of Living” (Netflix users can watch here). In the opening of this episode Kevin’s father Jack is seen frustratingly going over his bills, as a news cast plays in the background talking vaguely about a stagnating economy. After sorting through – and complaining about – the bills, it comes time for Jack to hand out allowance to his sons, starting with Wayne.
The amount? $4.
Wayne isn’t thrilled, as that’s been his allowance for quite some time, and Wayne complains that $4 can just no longer pay for “gas, girls” and the other essential of teenage life.
This inspires anger in Jack Arnold, as he exclaims that the boys “just don’t understand the value of the dollar!”
But does Jack even understand the value of the dollar? Or for that matter, the decreasing value of the dollar? He is frustrated by the constantly widening gap between his salary and his cost of living, but we aren’t given any sense as to just why this is occurring.
Our next scene features Kevin – who only received a measly $2 in allowance – in the cafeteria eating lunch with his friends. When one of Kevin’s heftier chums sits down with his ice cream cone he remarks “Twenty cents for a Nutty Buddy! I’m barely getting by as it is.”
Clearly the price of Nutty Buddies have gone up since this young man first began eating them. Again, we don’t get a sense of why this is. It is merely shrugged of as a fact of life, an observation with no explanation worth putting much thought into, an act of nature like a strong gust of wind.
At the end of the scene, Kevin’s best friend Paul laments “Five dollars just doesn’t buy what it used to.”
Kevin is appalled – not by the fact of what Paul is saying, but rather by the fact that Paul gets $5 in allowance as opposed to Kevin’s measly $3! Once more, the point of rising prices is taken as a matter of fact, not analyzed in any way.
I don’t typically expect hard-hitting economic analysis from my 80’s sitcoms and I hold The Wonder to no higher of a standard, so I won’t fault the writers of the show for not delving deeper into the issue. I do however find it an interesting parallel as inflation – the devaluing of the dollar through the expansion of the money supply, which results in higher prices across the board – was an accepted fact of life back in the 1960’s when the show took place, as well as the late 1980’s – early 1990’s when the show aired, straight through much of my adult life.
This is finally starting to change. The long term effects of the Federal Reserve’s inflation are no longer a mystery to much of the population. The intellectual revolution sparked by Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 Presidential campaigns is helping to educate people about why prices are always going up.
People are beginning to understand just why every generation finds themselves saying “X dollars just doesn’t buy what it used to anymore.”
As the money supply is expanded, more dollars enter the economy which serve to bid up the price of goods that people desire. Those who save their dollars instead of spending them find themselves stuck in a situation where those savings lose value over time, and no longer “buys what it used to.” Inflation robs the saver of the value of his money.
In other words, inflation is theft.
The Federal Reserve has been stealing your money since 1913…and for the first time in history, people are finally beginning to realize it.
And maybe somewhere out there, some of those “Jack Arnolds” from the 1960’s are beginning to really understand the “value of the dollar.”