Thursday, July 17, 2014

Maybe You Really Don't Have It So Good (Despite What the BLS Says)

By Amity Shlaes

A lot of people who watched Rick Santelli blow upon CNBC the other day thought the same thing: "That guy needs a vacation -- and so do I. The world just doesn't make sense to him, or maybe me, either." So you head up to the cabin. Maybe it's the same cabin you rented back in 2000, before your kids. You just want a quiet reality check, a chance to think it all through. You swear you'll turn off your phone. You and your family need time to remind yourselves how good you have it.
But there's one nuisance that can interrupt your seven-day idyll just as surely as a blackfly or a mosquito. That nuisance is the price zap.
The first zap comes even before you get in the car. Your daughter wants a haircut so she can feel the sun on her neck. Great. But then she reports she needs $45 for the cut. What? A haircut used to be $20. You fork out, hiding your irritation. You expected haircuts to be high, but not this high.
The next zap comes on the road. A gallon of gas is $4.00, when it was $1.30 back in 2000. You expected gas to be high. But not this high.
The cottage you rented is nice, but the rent is more than you expected. It's hot in the cabin, and your other daughter wants to see The Fault in Our Stars one more time. So you head over to the theater. The ticket is $10.00, not $5.00, like it was when you went to see Gladiator back in 2000. Your spouse asks you to pick up some coffee. A pound is $5.20, not $3.40, like back in the old days. You expected movies and coffee to be high, but not this high.
Maybe you have a child in camp. They still write real postal letters, so you stop at the post office to send her some stamps. Stamps are 49 cents each, rather than 33 cents, as in the old days. You hope that your daughter can save her stamps and use them next year. You tell the lady you'll take the "Forevers."
The lake is blue. You go for a swim with a buddy. You two went to the same state school. You believe in public education, and are wondering if your kids will also go to State. His son is starting as a freshman in your old dorm in just four weeks. Celebrate! But then he lets you know that the cost all in is going to be $38,000 and change. Back in 2000, it was $18,400. And when you went, in 1995, tuition and board were only $16,000. And that's a state school. You knew the price would be high. But not this high. Private school for your kids? Time to forget about it.
About three days in, you do just what you wanted not to. You snap at your daughter. You take a call from a client. Suddenly those little mosquito bites have you itching all over. You feel like maybe you have to get back to the city.
In other words, you're beginning to realize that maybe you don't have it so good.

No comments:

Post a Comment