The Wonder of Economic Growth Yet Again

At my cottage in Minaki, Ontario, Canada this last weekend, I came across a November 1956 edition of National Geographic. What I found most interesting was not the articles but the ads.

I’ll highlight two.

The first is in the picture above. This Copyflex machine makes up to 300 copies per hour. That’s 5 per minute. And the price is “only” $498.50. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $5,430.55 today. Need I say more?

The second is an ad for long distance phone calls across the Atlantic. The fine print states that “The daytime rate for the first three minutes from anywhere in the United States is $12, not including the 10% federal excise tax.” $12 then would be $130.73 today.

There was one ad that did make me miss the good old days. It was for a beautiful Lincoln. I’m sure it was a substantial worse car than today, so my general point in the title holds. But car companies cannot legally make cars with the graceful lines of the 1957 Lincoln or, if they do, they would have to pay a huge CAFE fine. The regulators are more involved in dictating many aspects of cars than they were then. Without that regulation, our cars would be better than in 1957 and, in many ways, better than the 2022 cars, and there would be much more variety in car shapes.