South Park – North Park – Golden Hill

Friday, February 17, 2017

Why Is Everything so Expensive These Days?

Why Is Everything so Expensive These Days?
I'd never heard of "cost disease," but apparently it's a real—and inexplicable—phenomenon. Here's one description:
In the past 50 years, education costs have doubled, college costs have dectupled, health insurance costs have dectupled, subway costs have at least dectupled, and housing costs have increased by about 50 percent. US health care costs about four times as much as equivalent health care in other First World countries; US subways cost about eight times as much as equivalent subways in other First World countries.
I worry that people don't appreciate how weird this is. I didn't appreciate it for a long time. I guess I just figured that Grandpa used to talk about how back in his day movie tickets only cost a nickel; that was just the way of the world. But all of the numbers above are inflation-adjusted. These things have dectupled in cost even after you adjust for movies costing a nickel in Grandpa's day. They have really, genuinely dectupled in cost, no economic trickery involved.
The author then notes that studies show that the quality of all these services has not improved significantly, if at all. He suggests eight or nine possible reasons for all this, only to conclude about the most honest way to talk about this phenomenon (author's caps):
Libertarian-minded people keep talking about how there's too much red tape and the economy is being throttled. And less libertarian-minded people keep interpreting it as not caring about the poor, or not understanding that government has an important role in a civilized society, or as a "dog whistle" for racism, or whatever. I don't know why more people don't just come out and say "LOOK, REALLY OUR MAIN PROBLEM IS THAT ALL THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS COST TEN TIMES AS MUCH AS THEY USED TO FOR NO REASON, PLUS THEY SEEM TO BE GOING DOWN IN QUALITY, AND NOBODY KNOWS WHY, AND WE'RE MOSTLY JUST DESPERATELY FLAILING AROUND LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS HERE."

Deciphering the Trump Vote
I've tried to fulfill my vow not to link to Trump articles every week, but I keep on running across fresh insights—in this case, why exactly eight in ten white evangelicals voted for him. Like most, I had thought the main things were abortion and replacing a Supreme Court justice—more ideological reasons. It turns out, both of these items ranked much lower than the two top (practical!) concerns. See Myths Debunked: Why Did White Evangelical Christians Vote for Trump?
On the same topic, Damon Linker unveils why intellectually serious conservatives rallied for Trump. And he describes the "moral and philosophical rigor" of this brand of conservativism originating with a man named Harry Jaffa.
These two articles give me a fresh window into the motives of two opposing sides of social and political conservativism.
What Love Is—and Isn't
I'm composing this on Valentine's Day, so I'm thinking about love. And this piece does a good job of reminding us of the difference between love as we're apt to conceive it and love as it is at its highest—and most practical.

"Man will always be a miracle and a puzzle to himself. … He will not be of the opinion that he has made even the slightest contribution to [his being pardoned by God]. He will rather confess freely and frankly that his own contribution is only his own great corruption, in which without any co-operation or merit of his own, he is found by the divine pardon—not in his self-judgment but in the judgment of God—reached and converted to God and set on the way to his right and life."

—Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV I, page 576
Grace and peace,
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor in Chief, Christianity Today

No comments: