Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Shopping for a VCR/DVD: 1981 vs. 2009

Cost of a Sears VCR in 1981: $1389.88, or 187.3 hours of work (23.4 days or 4.7 weeks) at the average hourly wage of $7.42 (total private industries).

Cost of a Sears VCR/DVD combo in 2009:
$74.99 or 4hours of work at the current average hourly wage of $18.74.

Bottom Line: If we paid the same price ("time cost") today for a VCR as in 1981 (187.3 hours at the average hourly wage of $18.74), a VCR today would cost $3,510. Or equivalently, consumers in 1981 actually paid the equivalent of $3,510 in today's dollars. Alternatively, the typical consumer today would earn enough money on a single day before lunch (4 hours) to purchase a brand new VCR/DVD player, and the typical consumer in 1981 had to work full-time for almost five weeks to earn enough money to purchase a VCR then.

This is the best holiday season ever,
see Reason.tv video.

16 Comments:

At 12/19/2009 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Instead of comparing the costs of digital media players, can you do a comparison of the costs of executives over time. It would be interesting to see how compensation levels have changed, controlling for inflation and size of corporation.

I would like to outsource executives and replace overpaid executives with someone from India, or even Europe.

 
At 12/19/2009 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be even more interesting to see what was availiable to the average worker in socialist countries at the same time. Let's really rub their leftist noses in it.

 
At 12/19/2009 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget this Reason.tv video.

 
At 12/19/2009 12:18 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

The problem is that the old one is more likely to be working now than the new one is to be working in the next two weeks.


I would like to outsource executives and replace overpaid executives with someone from India, or even Europe.

The problem is that Carly Fiorina would recognize that there are some jobs that have a divine right to exist in the US. The only problem is that they're the ones that offshore the other jobs.

 
At 12/19/2009 1:00 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Note that the 1981 unit is video tape only as DVD was a gleam in an engineers eye. So its really like paying $40 for the tape player as a DVD at Wal-Mart can be had for 35 or less. (Plain old dvd player only the sky is the limit on the top end).If one wanted to compare the power of a PC today with the 1981 pc you would see a factor of 5-10 cost difference, before factoring in the greater storage capacity, GB vs kb a color screen etc. For Electronics it is the best of times.

 
At 12/19/2009 1:13 PM, Blogger Michael Thomas said...

Sethstorm said that the 1981 one would still be working and the current one would not. Maybe this is not all there is to the story, the 1981 one was so expensive that I bet it is likely to be treated much more carefully than the one purchased for a song now. Maybe the kids are more likely to treat the current one like a toy. ... Anyway, holding everything else constant this is cool. Plus you are still saving money even if you have to replace this VCR every year, for more than a decade.

 
At 12/19/2009 2:09 PM, Anonymous Benny "Tell It LIke It Is Man" Cole said...

Given the radical reduction in the cost of many electronics and manufactured goods, why does the US military becomes more and more expensive every year?

Do none of the wonderful innovations of the private sector ever benefit our military?

Or does ossified fat, patronage, corruption and waste eat up productivity gains?

Food cost less, cars cost less, TVs cost less--but military goods and services skyrocket to the moon.

 
At 12/19/2009 2:54 PM, Blogger W.E. Heasley said...

Benny:

Military Costs Rise, due in large part, to maintaining an All Volunteer Force. No more free lunch via the draft. Also, the All Volunteer Force has been around for a long time now and benefits such as college tuition and retirement are accumulating.

Your point about cost reductions in Defense due to private sector innovations: those cost reductions are embedded. However, innovation in Defense, the cutting edge research, comes with a price tag. If we are going to put a pin point missile down your chimney, there is a price to such technology. If we are going to blow you up with an unmanned drone, the technology doesn’t come cheap.

 
At 12/19/2009 5:40 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Instead of comparing the costs of digital media players, can you do a comparison of the costs of executives over time. It would be interesting to see how compensation levels have changed, controlling for inflation and size of corporation"...

Hmmm, sounds like a perfect project for you anon....

"The problem is that Carly Fiorina would recognize that there are some jobs that have a divine right to exist in the US. The only problem is that they're the ones that offshore the other jobs"...

Hmmm, unlike you Fiorina knows the costs you socialists have imposed on business in this country by who you voted for sethstorm...

While lower labor costs are the most obvious reason for relocating manufacturing, other factors are at play as well. Restrictive and counter-productive government regulations, particularly in the area of environmental compliance, encourage many companies to look outside the U.S....

 
At 12/19/2009 5:49 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Consider the change in prices in just nine years...

From the Business Insider: 10 Obsolete Gadgets That Made Great Gifts Back In 2000

 
At 12/19/2009 10:03 PM, Anonymous Benny "Tell It LIke It Is Man" Cole said...

W.E. Beasley-
I concur that an all-mercenary army is expensive.
Maybe universal conscription is the answer. Or bona fide volunteers, as wanted by founding father George Mason.
But I am mystified that regular fantastic breakthroughs in electronics and manufactured goods never seem to bring down the cost of military equipment.
I suspect private purveyors outsmart the federal bureaucrats, and expensive weapons systems become the norm--since Uncle Sam is paying.
Every once in a while, you will read a story about Israelis building a missile or drone--but for about a nickel on the dollar to the American version.
We now have a military that cannot put a soldier on the ground for less than $1 million a year in marginal costs. I am afraid to compute the total costs.
How can we ever prevail in a long war? It will bankrupt us--in fact Iraqistan already is.

 
At 12/20/2009 12:13 AM, Anonymous Steve said...

I have seen the Blue-Ray DVDs come down to around $100 which is a pretty decent price.

 
At 12/20/2009 8:01 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"I concur that an all-mercenary army is expensive.
Maybe universal conscription is the answer. Or bona fide volunteers, as wanted by founding father George Mason
"...

Hey pseudo benny, do you do stand-up comedy somewhere?

 
At 12/20/2009 2:41 PM, Anonymous Benny "Tell It LIke It Is Man" Cole said...

Juandos-
I guess a bona fide all-volunteer military or universal conscription is funny to you. I prefer either method to a mercenary force for moral, political and economic reasons.
BTW, what is with the toy-gun avatar?

 
At 12/20/2009 4:57 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Benney, the main reason its a million a year is the goal of 2 years in the US for one on station. That means we need 3 people for one slot. The current crisis got it down to 1.5 years off for one on, and is said to have overstressed the military.
Actually the fastest way to stop the wars, is to bring back a lottery based draft of both men and women. (The military opposes this). The college campuses would light up worse than 1970, and the war would be over because the troops would be needed to maintain domestic tranquility. (imagine dozens of Kent States at once, beyond the capability of the National Guard to manage)
This would of course help Canada out because a lot of students would seek asylum there.

 
At 12/20/2009 8:04 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"I guess a bona fide all-volunteer military or universal conscription is funny to you"...

No pseudo benny, YOU are...

"BTW, what is with the toy-gun avatar?"...

Now avatars are worrying you?!?! LOL!

"Maybe universal conscription is the answer"...

Reaching into your socialist trick bag again, pseudo benny?

"Every once in a while, you will read a story about Israelis building a missile or drone--but for about a nickel on the dollar to the American version"...

Do you have a credible story like that pseudo benny, something that can be linked to?

 

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