Today’s Poor Live Like Kings Compared to the Poor Just 100 Years Ago

As part of the Democratic Party’s inexorable march to the hard left, more elected Democrats are openly espousing Marxist socialism and criticizing free-market capitalism as a preferred economic system for our nation.
Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even went so far recently as to declare that capitalism was “irredeemable” and should be done away with.
One of the more prominent critiques from folks like her is that, under capitalism, the rich in America have seen their wealth expand exponentially while the poor continue to remain poor. But while it is true that the rich have indeed become richer and there are still impoverished people among us, that critique doesn’t quite tell the whole story of how the poor have also benefited exponentially from capitalism as well.
Marian L. Tupy, senior political analyst for the Cato Institute and editor for HumanProgress, wrote an Op-Ed in March that sought to reveal how much the poor working-class in this nation have benefitted from capitalism over the past 100 years, simply by focusing on how much basic food items cost back then as compared to now in terms of price per hours labored.
Tupy and fellow researchers began with a Bureau of Labor Statistics report from 1921 that included retail prices for common goods between 1913-1919. They chose 42 common food items that everyone typically buys at a grocery store and created a chart that showed what the nominal prices of those items were in Detroit in 1919.
Researchers further determined the nominal price of labor for unskilled workers at that time by studying an index of labor wages from 1774-2016, settling on $0.25 per hour as the nominal hourly wage in 1919 for poor working-class laborers. That wage was then used to determine how many hours of labor were necessary to buy the particular itemized goods, such as a pound of sirloin steak, a dozen eggs and a quart of milk or a dozen oranges, among other staples.
For example, a dozen oranges cost roughly $0.54 in 1919, meaning a worker earning $0.25 per hour would need to work a little more than two hours just to afford the oranges.
The researchers then determined the current price of those same items at Walmart, a store often frequented by the poor working-class, as well as the current nominal wage for unskilled laborers, which they set at $12.70 per hour. That information was similarly entered into the chart, and from there it was easy to see that those same basic food items have become exponentially more affordable over the past century in terms of item price per hours worked.
Using those same dozen oranges as an example of the remarkable change brought about by capitalism, while the price of the oranges grew from $0.54 to $10.56, the cost per hours worked fell dramatically, from 2.12 hours of labor to only 0.83 hours of labor, a reduction in time of 60.7 percent.An even better example of the wonders of capitalism is the cost of a dozen eggs. In 1919, a dozen eggs cost $0.61 at the store and needed 2.45 hours of labor from the average worker to be afforded. That same worker today only needs to work 0.10 hours to afford a dozen eggs that now cost $1.28, a reduction in time price of about 96 percent.
All told, it was revealed that the time price to afford all 42 items — which in 1919 totaled 47 hours of work — has been reduced over the years to a mere 10 hours of work necessary to afford those same items in the same quantities, a reduction of almost 80 percent. In other words, for the same amount of time it would take the average poor working-class laborer to afford one grocery basket of the 42 staple items, that same worker today could buy roughly 7.6 grocery baskets worth of the same items.
Making that particular statistic more remarkable is the fact that the average unskilled worker today labors under less dangerous conditions and exerts less physical energy than their counterparts in 1919. That means capitalism has not only made basic food items far more affordable than they used to be while simultaneously making labor less dangerous and physically taxing.
The left can gripe and complain that the poor working-class people don’t earn as much money as the rich. But short of abolishing the idea of wealth accumulation, that will always be the case no matter what — even under a socialist system, where there is typically a sharper divide between a small wealthy elite that lords itself over the impoverished masses.
The real point that should be focused on is the affordability of goods that are mass-produced under capitalism, such as basic grocery items — in terms of money earned through labor — and how many poor unskilled workers of today, relatively speaking, live like kings compared to their counterparts from 100 years ago.
Yes, the affluent have become wealthier under capitalism, but so have the poor in relative terms, as “a rising tide lifts all boats” and the floor for what is now considered “extreme poverty” in America has been raised substantially. It has reached the point where those who could be considered as being impoverished nevertheless live exponentially better lifestyles than the vast majority of humanity at any time in history.
Tupy summed it all up nicely: “Far from being irredeemable, therefore, a market that’s allowed to function relatively freely and competitively has delivered and can continue to deliver enormous benefits to all people, especially those at the bottom of the income ladder.”
Today’s Poor Live Like Kings Compared to the Poor Just 100 Years Ago Today’s Poor Live Like Kings Compared to the Poor Just 100 Years Ago Reviewed by Your Destination on May 03, 2019 Rating: 5

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