In 1916, here is what your wealth could have gotten you.
- Travel to the west coast was in an un-airconditioned train.
- Communication was slow and inconvenient.
- No radio or TV.
- Ordering Thai curry, chicken vindaloo or Vietnamese pho was impossible. You never heard of it and it wasn’t in restaurants.
- Depression, bipolar disorder, a sexually transmitted disease or innumerable other ailments are un-treatable.
- Life expectancy at birth was 54.5 years
- 75 percent of women working in factories had left school before eighth grade.
- Less than one-third of homes had electric lights.
And the list goes on and on. We have a great life and we have so very much to be thankful for.
Having bestowed the presidency on a candidate who described their country as a “hellhole” besieged by multitudes trying to get into it, Americans need an antidote for social hypochondria. Fortunately, one has arrived from Don Boudreaux, an economist at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center and proprietor of the indispensable blog Cafe Hayek.
He has good news: You are as rich as John D. Rockefeller. Richer, actually.
Some historians estimate that on Sept. 29, 1916, a surge in the price of Rockefeller’s shares of the Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey made him America’s first billionaire. Others say he never reached this milestone and that Henry Ford was the first. Never mind. If Rockefeller was the first, his billion was worth $23 billion in today’s dollars. Boudreaux asks if you would accept this bargain: You can be as rich as Rockefeller was in 1916 if you consent to live in 1916.