Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The World is Getting Better

Here is some evidence that the world is, in fact, getting better, and not just for the super-rich.

In Oliver Stone's 1987 movie Wall Street, Michael Douglas played the role of Gordon Gecko, a ruthless corporate raider whose character became iconic with its "Greed is good" speech.

Stone spared no effort in creating the impression of a character who lived life at the top of the economic food chain: expensive cars, expensive paintings, expensive hobbies, even more expensive girlfriends, a private jet, and a mobile phone.

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X used in the scene above was introduced in 1984. It sold for $3,995, and local calls went for $0.50 per minute.

In inflation adjusted terms, the DynaTAC cost the equivalent of $8,215 in 2007, and local calls cost more than $1 per minute.

Compare that with what mobile communication actually costs today. One carrier offers a free phone with unlimited minutes, unlimited long distance, unlimited text, and unlimited data for less than $100 per month, or just $49.99 in 1984 dollars. Teenagers, and even pre-teens, carry around mobile phones that are more powerful and less expensive than Gordon Gecko's brick.

When products get less expensive and more powerful, it must be called progress. Now if someone could just do something about that private jet.

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