More Choice, Better Selection, Much Lower Prices
Cost of a Sears Washer in 1949: $104.95 or 83.3 hours of work (10.5 days or 2.1 weeks) at the average hourly manufacturing wage of $1.26.
Cost of a Sears washer in 2009: $322.99 or 17.9 hours of work (2.2 days) at the average hourly manufacturing wage of $18.03.
Bottom Line: If we paid the same price today as in 1949 (83.3 hours at the average hourly wage of $18.03), the 2009 Sears washer above would cost us $1,502.
Several commenters on this CD post about toasters suggested that the 1949 toaster is of better quality than today's toasters. Maybe. I don't think anybody would make the same claim about the 1949 washer. Would anybody really trade their current washer for the one pictured above from 1949 that requires manual wringing?
And for many, many items (like washers or refrigerators) today's basic model was yesteryear's deluxe model, and in many, many cases today's basic model is far better than yesteryear's deluxe model (washing machines).