Saturday, September 30, 2017

Peter Schiff, The Brady Bunch, and 1984

One thing about people that is impressive is resilience. People have an incredible ability to adapt to different situations. It almost gets to the point where, given enough time, a changed situation will begin to feel normal. It will feel so normal that it is easy to forget what life was like before. It is just like in 1984 when Winston walks into a pub to find old people to talk to and ask them if life was truly better before Big Brother took control over everything.

This is why I'm glad we have so much media to consume. We have so many records to get a glimpse of what life used to be like before 2013. A few years back, the actress that played Alice on The Brady Bunch passed away. Around 2014, there were some articles floating around speculating what a live in maid would make in 2014 dollars. Around that same time, there were articles discussing if the lifestyle portrayed in the Brady Bunch was financially accurate.

Peter Schiff discussed this topic on a few podcasts.

I used to watch reruns of The Brady Bunch during the early 2000s on Nickelodeon. From what I remembered, the show took place in the 1970s. The father worked as an architecture and supported a wife, 6 children, and a live in maid on just his salary. They lived in a two story house in the suburbs of  Los Angeles. I think the family even had 2 cars. The wife didn't work from what I could recall.

While it is just a tv show, media does try to keep itself somewhat reasonable. Nowadays, owning a 2 story house in the suburbs of California would cost at least half a million dollars. Far more expensive than the cost of a new house in America (almost $300,000).

As for having 6 children, I think I head my boss had to pay at least $20,000 to get a baby delivered. I'm getting old enough to see my peer group start to get married and have some children. Typically, they marry in the mid to late 20s and have no more than 2 children.

Even buying a house isn't all that common among my peer group. Most people I know either rent or still live with their parents. I was watching an episode of King of the Hill the other day and heard the term "Starter Home". I thought to myself when was the last time I heard the term starter home? Nowadays, if you buy a house, you are staying in that location.

Sometimes I lament about what could be. I'm even starting to see it in my life over the last 7 years. Health care wasn't as insane. A foot long at Subway only cost $5. And back before 2011, you could actually get 3% to 5% rates of returns on a certificate of deposit at a bank.

That last thing hurt so much.

Slow changes will lead to slow adaptations.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

For the love of the world

This happened to me a few months back.

I was commuting from work, and to break up the commute time, I decided to stop at the McDonald's on the way to my house. Tired and sweating, I hopped out, walked inside and ordered a coffee with 2 cheeseburgers.

I ate my burger and sat there drinking my coffee.

There was a family in the booth in front of me with some children eating there meal. There was nothing out the ordinary in the least.

While thinking about the previous 7 years, my gut feeling was complete utter struggle every step of the way. However, in that moment, something felt different.

I sat there in the air conditioned restaurant drinking my coffee. And I thought to myself.

This coffee only cost me one dollar, but just imagine all the steps it took to get in my hands. These beans had to be grown in South America where farmers had to tend the crops and eventually harvest them. Afterwards, those beans would have had to been processed, packaged, and stored on a ship. That ship had to be driven and floated all the way to America where the cargo would be unloaded and probably held in some warehouse before being again loaded on a truck. After several stops, that truck would unload the cargo and the beans would go to a processing plant where they would be ground up and packaged in the McDonald's packaging.

At that point, the packaged coffee would be put on a different truck and then that truck would go make the rounds and unload the coffee at every local McDonald's. From that point, the employees would unbox the coffee, sort it out at the beginning of the day, then wait for a customer to order it. The employee would then open the coffee and put it in the machine to brew, put it in a cup and hand it to me after I gave them one dollar.

Due to economies of scale, supply chain management, logistics, accountants, managers, and every man that was willing to work to make a dollar... I was able to enjoy that coffee.

I looked around me while drinking that coffee. As I felt the cool air conditioning, everything looked beautiful in that moment. Everything was just wonderful. Whatever problem or conundrum that came my way, life was still very good. It was still so beautiful.

In that moment, I thought that I would want to do what I could to preserve this way of life for future generations.