Sunday, September 03, 2006


The Census issues periodic reports on income distributions and, like clockwork, stern commentators emerge to comment how much worse-off the median earner is today -- than 5, 10, 20, 30, whatever, years ago.

This is silly for two reasons. One, of course, is that very few of us spend a lifetime as median earners. The median earner today is very likely to move up as he gets older. Second, Don Boudreaux suggests a useful but simple mental experiment: think seriously about life as it was in 1986, 1976, etc., and what it is that you now take for granted that you did not have available to you: ATM's, wi-fi, broadband, Google, cell phones everywhere, almost anything you find at Best Buy, etc.

Not a gadget person? OK, how about today's medical science?