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A Lesson on Inflation from "The Wonder Years"

I’ve been a lifelong television fan, and when I’m not busy ranting about liberty on the internet I even do some work in the television industry. Despite this, several years ago I “cut the chord” and ceased to have cable television flowing into my household. While it seems this trend is catching on a bit, at the time many of friends thought I was crazy.

“How would I keep up with American Idol?”

“How would I watch sports?”

“How would I keep up with THE NEWS???”

The answers, in order: “I could care less”, “sports bars”, and “HAHAHAHAHA – are you serious??”

I noticed that television had become a distraction. Due to the passive nature of the incoming feed, I would often find myself just “zoning out”, letting my mind wander into the abyss of what my Aunt used to casually refer to as “The Idiot Box.” How right she was.

Needless to say I still watch television programs using my trusty Roku, and while there are a few newer shows I find enjoyable, I often get greater satisfaction from re-watching shows from my youth.

Recently while watching one of my all-time favorite shows, The Wonder Years on Netflix I came to an episode titled “The Cost of Living” (Netflix users can watch here). In the opening of this episode Kevin’s father Jack is seen frustratingly going over his bills, as a news cast plays in the background talking vaguely about a stagnating economy. After sorting through – and complaining about – the bills, it comes time for Jack to hand out allowance to his sons, starting with Wayne.

The amount? $4.

Wayne isn’t thrilled, as that’s been his allowance for quite some time, and Wayne complains that $4 can just no longer pay for “gas, girls” and the other essential of teenage life.

This inspires anger in Jack Arnold, as he exclaims that the boys “just don’t understand the value of the dollar!”


But does Jack even understand the value of the dollar? Or for that matter, the decreasing value of the dollar? He is frustrated by the constantly widening gap between his salary and his cost of living, but we aren’t given any sense as to just why this is occurring.

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Excellent use of popular culture to introduce sheep to the evils of inflation.


"Secret Taxation Years"