Over at Knuckledraggin My Life Away, the host posted the above hospital bill, without comment other than the post title "Inflation", from Feb. 1933, which tallies to $120.30, if I didn't muck up the math in my head.
You can read the site comments for the range of replies, but what strikes me most is nostalgia for a time that, frankly, sucked poop, by people who - none of them, to a near certainty - actually lived through it. Someone alive in 1933 would be 85 today. Anyone who remembered it at all would thus be 90+.
So Sherman, let's set the Wayback Machine for 1933, and see what we find about how it really was.
1933 was the height of the Great Depression. The Dustbowl was about to kick in.
Al Capone was a free man. The mobs ran speakeasies.
And you couldn't get a legal drink anywhere in the U.S. in February.
Prohibition wasn't repealed until December that year.
|Depression breadline, NYFC. Two blocks long, five guys wide.|
Two cops for order, and everybody dressed like gentlemen.
Unemployment was 25%.
(Unless you're from Trashcanistan or Shitholia, you've never seen 25% unemployment nationwide. Pray you never do.) Breadlines and soup kitchens to keep people from starving outright were a daily reality, had been for 3 years, and would be for another 7. Because many lacked the 7¢ necessary to buy a loaf of bread on their own, or the 10¢ price of a can of Campbell's Soup, and didn't have a pot to cook it in.
And that bill? $120.30.
Purely from an inflation standpoint, that would be about $7000 today, if we use gold.
(That's why your current $1 bill is worth about 1.7¢ compared to a buck from 1932.)
If we used gasoline, it'd be 1203 gallons. Which averages to $3600, give or take.
Kind of stiff, actually.
About 6 weeks' salary in 1933.
Or 7 months' average rent, for a two week stay.
1/4 of the price for either an average house, or a new car.
If you were lucky enough to have a job at all, anywhere in the world.
And after a decade of battles in the streets in Germany between national socialists and international socialists, including armed coup attempts, the Germans had put Hitler in power. That would pay dividends to the world right up through today.
And this was when a hospital, for the most part, was simply a motel, with round-the-clock maid service. There wasn't a helluva lot of medical practice going on for having a baby at that point in history, in any sense.
Medicine has made just a bit of improvement since 1933. (Starting with the fact that we're not your maid service and room service. There are hotels for that.)
Infant mortality in the U.S. in 1933 was 57.1 (deaths per 1000 live births). One in 20.
Now, it's 5.8. One in 200.
Flu, TB, and diphtheria were huuuuge killers, worse than cars and guns combined.
Everybody got measles by age 15, and it killed 6000 kids/year, year in and year out, for another thirty years.
Smallpox and polio were still a thing too.
The treatment for extremity infection, unchanged since the Civil War, let alone medieval times, was amputation, made only slightly less horrifying by surgical anesthesia. But as penicillin was only accidentally discovered in 1928, and its medical significance unrecognized for over another decade, it was not even an option in 1933.
Systemic infections, like an ordinary urinary or kidney infection, were another top killer.
Imagine dying from an ordinary UTI as one of top ten killers.
Or paying 1/4th the price of your house to have a baby.
Inflation? Not really.
Nostalgia? For suckers. Things are pretty nice right now, thanks.
Learn to appreciate what you've got.
But if you've still got a hankering for the Great Depression, even odds are you're going to get a first-hand experience one of these days.
Because the world's economies are living on a monstrous bubble.
And bubbles pop. Always.
Best see about a plan for that.