Letter by Sam Halburian
Growth – February 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine
Despite growth, most of us are worse off than we were
Re: Letter from the editors, January 1999.
Your letter on economic “growth” overlooked an important paradox. Namely, that the “richer” we get the less we seem able to afford. When economic numbers increase, why is there not a commensurate increase in our individual or collective wherewithal?
The fact is that despite the bigger numbers, most of us are getting poorer. Nichols is correct in his observation that we must keep running faster just to maintain the status quo.
The villain is creeping, unremitting government sponsored inflation. On an income of $400 per month in 1950, a wage earner could comfortably support a wife, four kids, a house and car payment, and eat out once a week. An equivalent income today would be $2912 and the wage earner would be eligible for food stamps.
When I arrived in Saguache in 1974, there were a lot more services and resources than are available today, despite “economic growth.” At that time there was a pharmacy, a theater, a full-time clinic staffed by physicians and RN’s, a full-time dentist, and the Saguache Hotel was thriving. We even had public transportation — Continental Trailways provided daily service.
None of the foregoing exists today except that Dr. Arnett of Salida operates the clinic on one day a week.
The federal government, which is largely responsible for this money inflation, had the temerity recently to decry its Cost of Living Index claiming that it overstated the rate of inflation by a full percentage point.
The truth is that the calculations are rigged to reflect a lower than actual rate. This is because many costs that most of us must deal with are not factored in. For example, the costs, and therefore the increases, for insurance, tuition, taxes, etc., are excluded from the index.
Sam Halburian, Saguache
P.S.: Good magazine. Keep up the good work!