Today was a typical Thursday. I got up around 6:45 AM,came downstairs and poured myself a cup of freshly ground coffee (thanks to my programmable Cuisinart!). It was chilly downstairs, so I turned on the fireplace, repositioned my humidifier and set it to Puerto Rico, and began my day at one of the several computers I have in my house. I checked my email and read up on Missouri's loss to Texas Tech last night (which I was able to listen to via Yahoo! during breaks in my Managerial Economics class). I fired off an email to my sister (who lives in Colorado), checked the weather report, and then got my kids ready for their day.
I ushered them into the car and threw on a DVD for them to watch on the way to school. Then I came home and, because I didn't have to go into the office today, I worked from home. I finished off a post on college football recruiting and then worked on a paper. The analytical tools and data I'm using are nothing amazing: I'm using STATA to analyze some MLB panel data to see if I can figure out if there is diminishing marginal utility associated with winning.
Around noon, I lifted weights in my home gym. Then I did some more work before picking up the kids from school.
One of my boys went to a classmate's birthday party after school, held at a local bowling alley. I got to witness a dozen or so kindergartners abusing lanes and having a grand time doing so. They had some pizza, played games, and were little hellions, generally. And what's wrong with that? That's what 5 and 6 year old boys are supposed to do. The production function of boy energy is not some linear function of their individual energies. Nor is it geometric. Surely it's exponential. But I digress.
This evening I took my kids to Tae Kwon Do (eldest got his butt kicked - literally and figuratively, along with other body parts - in sparring this evening). Then I drove them to swimming lessons. Now they are in bed in warm rooms.
Why am I telling you about my day? It's because of this excellent post by Warren Meyer on the wealth comparisons between the average citizen today and the wealthy of yesterday.
Here is a man, Mark Hopkins, who was one of the richest and most envied men of his day. He owned a mansion that would dwarf many hotels I have stayed in. He had servants at his beck and call. And I would not even consider trading lives or houses with him. What we sometimes forget is that we are all infinitely more wealthy than even the richest of the "robber barons" of the 19th century. We have longer lives, more leisure time, and more stuff to do in that time. Not only is the sum of wealth not static, but it is expanding so fast that we can't even measure it. Charts like those here measure the explosion of income, but still fall short in measuring things like leisure, life expectancy, and the explosion of possibilities we are all able to comprehend and grasp.
Had I lived 100 years ago, I'd probably be nearing the end of my life and it's quite possible that one or both of my children would have died by now.
I got up. My two children woke up healthy and went to school with full stomachs. I worked from home using data and analytical tools that weren't available even 20 years ago and I played chauffeur for my kids this evening. I don't want to sound Panglossian, but how great is that?