It shouldn't be a surprise, but it never fails to grab my attention: a one-hundred year-old menu listing steak for a dollars, scrambled eggs for a quarter, and beer for a dime.
The surprise comes from confusing the value of 1902 dollars with that of 2002 dollars. Thanks to the ravages of inflation, one 2002 dollar is worth one 1902 nickle. Expressed in today's values, the old menu's steak goes for $20, the eggs cost $5, and the beer is two bucks. No surprise there.
We live in a world that has sped up since 1902. A hundred years ago, my great grandfather might spend half an hour writing a letter and half an hour each way carrying it down to the Post Office to mail. These days I dash off an email in a matter of minutes. An hour is worth more to me, at least in business terms, because I can do more with it than in the past.
So, what's the time equivalent of the obsolete prices on my old menu? Is time really more precious now than it used to be?
At this point, all I have is questions.
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Berkeley, California 94708
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