Inflation- and How People Don’t Talk About It

by Courtney C Horne @FireezDragon

Let’s talk about inflation.  Not the economic policies around it.  Or how it relates to politics. Instead lets talk about how frustrating it is when people don’t talk about it.

Now this can be a big problem when it makes data massively misleading. Seeing a chart about some fact about wages or prices or a number of other monetary sums over time that isn’t adjusted for inflation is flat out infuriating.  Always, always, always adjust for inflation. Ignoring it is at best idiotic and at worst maliciously deceptive.

But it isn’t just that big problem.  It is also a thousand tiny problems. When people quote how much gas used to be in 1963 amount they don’t tend to mention that 30 cents a gallon is equivalent to $2.28 in today’s dollars. There is still an expanding gas price even once you make that adjustment but not acknowledging inflation changes the perception of the difference.

What got me thinking about this was actually one of the thousand tiny problems that happens to really bother me. I was watching an antiques roadshow episode and I suddenly noticed a distressing trend. Someone would mention a decades old appraisal and the appraiser would quote the modern price with enthusiasm that the item had “grown in value” or was “worth so much more.” Now the thing is, in some of these cases the dollar value of the item had barely kept up with inflation.  The item certainly hadn’t increased in value in any practical way. Antiques roadshow is an educational program and I expect better. Maybe go with “oh wow that was a lot of money back then. It is worth a lot of money now too” or something similar if you don’t want to get into the inflation rate.

Or maybe just talk about it and educate people. Things only get easier to remember to consider if you talk and hear about them more.