Derek Thompson: Why America’s Essentials Are Getting More Expensive While Its Toys Are Getting Cheap: “Here’s a fascinating snapshot….
You occasionally hear conservatives say that poor people aren’t really poor because, you know, they have refrigerators and TVs, don’t they? Yes, they do…. But the power to alter the temperature of your food and watch FOX is not quite the same as being rich…. Why does it seem like the least important things in life—TVs, toys, and DVD players—are getting cheap while the most important parts of the economy are getting more expensive?….
- On poverty: Jordan Weissmann nails it: “Prices are rising on the very things that are essential for climbing out of poverty”… college… sick[ness]… daycare…. Just as the benefits of wealth create a virtuous cycle of behavior, the challenges of poverty start a vicious circle that continues to spin down through multiple generations.
- On productivity: When you look at the items in red with falling prices, they largely reflect industries whose jobs are easily off-shored and automated…. Now consider education, health, and childcare, the blue sectors above where prices are rising considerably faster than average. These are service industries that employ local workers. They are not, to use the economic term, “tradable”… are mostly gaining jobs, not shedding them…. Health care, education, and childcare have entirely different products than a television or iPod. Their product is people: healthy people, educated people, and safe baby-people…