Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Naughtful Naughties

Since year-end statistics about a variety of things will be coming out soon, I thought I'd put up a quick post to let you all know that I'm kicking off a new feature for this year, occasional posts that will review statistics from the last decade. I expect to concentrate on financial and economic issues, but I'm sure I'll touch on some social, political, and other issues as I go along.

Like a lot of folks, it feels to me that the U.S. went pretty far off the tracks over the last ten years. Some of those trends were new, but a lot of them have been building for some time. What I hope to accomplish is better understand where we've been lately, and where we're going. And by posting some facts and my thoughts about them here, perhaps some of you can also add to our understanding.

Look for three categories of posts:

  • The Naughtful Naughties: What Went Wrong
  • The Naughtful Naughties: What Went Right
  • The Naughtful Naughties: What I Flat-Out Don't Understand

I don't have a big pile of data for today's post, but I do have a homework assignment for all of you. It's the little bit of web surfing that started me down this path.

I was thinking about the stagnation of income over the past decade, and feeling pretty fortunate that I made a better salary now than I did ten years ago. Then I went to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Inflation Calculator. It uses the Consumer Price Index to calculate what a current dollar would have been worth in past years. Not surprisingly, I found that the vast majority of my income increase over the last ten years had been eaten up by inflation. I'd always been aware of that at some level, but it was a bit of a kick in the pants to see it in black and white.

So that's your homework assignment, if you care to take it. Go to the Inflation Calculator, enter your 2000 income, and see what it would have been in 2009. Or try the reverse, enter your 2009 income and see what it would have been in 2000. How do you feel about it?

I feel stagnant. And I don't feel good about it.


  1. One of the primary functions of the Federal Reserve is to maintain prices. They have completely failed at this and are responsible for the destruction of the value of the dollar and the stagnation of the incomes of Americans by their unregulated, uncontrolled and infationary printing of dollars with nothing to back them.

    Since the Fed was established in 1913, the dollar has lost over 95% of its value.

    The truly evil part of the printing of money by the Federal Reserve is that it is a hidden transfer of wealth from the poor and the middle class to the rich. When the Fed prints money it then transfers the dollars to banks where they have the value of the current dollars when the banks use them, but as the dollars enter circulation, the increase in the monetary supply dilutes and devalues the dollars that everyone else has.

    In essence the banks get to use money at a higher value, and pay them back at a lower value, and the difference is made up by the decrease in value of everyone else's money.

  2. A rather depressing bit of homework, indeed!

    I definitely lost ground, which certainly didn't help make our joint income look any roser. But then I knew that based on current dollars alone and didn't really need the inflation calculator to provide me with the constant dollar values. Sigh.

    Keep the stats coming.

  3. I don't want to look and see that I'm actually poorer than I already think I am. I've got kids to care for and can't do that when curled up in a fetal position under the desk, rocking and crying.