Further to the ‘outcry of the common man’ as covered in my previous article, ‘Who Controls Our Country’s Economy? – An Outcry From the Common Man’, I decided to display the difference between the cost of living in 1974 to that of 2020 as experienced in my own life.
Every day one hears complaints about the terrible rise in the cost of living and the shortfall in salary and wage increases, and the continuous lack of jobs. And ne’er the twain shall meet, right? Yes indeed, this is one of the postmodern truths, especially over the past fifty years. Increases in salaries will never catch up with the increase in the cost of living. Not in terms of time, nor in magnitude.
Take the example of the increase in the price of fuel, which happens almost every month. The prices of almost everything else rises simultaneously and, when on rare occasion the fuel price drops slightly, no other prices are reduced. This is a no-win situation for consumers and society at large.
In the general scheme of things regarding economics, there are sellers and buyers – consumers and retailers/service providers. If the price is too high, the buyer has the option to not buy from the seller. At most of the supermarkets though, the prices of almost all the goods are remarkably similar except for when they offer specials. But even then, one would have to drive around extensively to collect all the specials, which increases the traveling cost, often only to find that one has hardly saved any money. This is because most supermarket stores/chains of stores are owned by the same people – or groups of people or companies.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, in South Africa, an underwriter clerk, which I was, at an insurance company, earned a monthly salary of around R180.00. A comparisons between the 1970s prices and salaries to today’s prices and salaries follows.
In 1974 in South Africa, a brand-new Fiat 128 Rally motor vehicle cost me R2,050.00. Today’s equivalent car’s price is R220,000.00. This is an increase of 10,633% – ten thousand six hundred and thirty three percent. Shiver me timbers!
It is clear that the salary for the same job has increased by 7,122% – seven thousand one hundred and twenty two percent – while the cost of living, on average, has increased by around 46,000% – forty six thousand percent – rounded according to volume.
In the early nineteen seventies in South Africa one GB Pound cost Two Rand SA (R2.00), and One US Dollar cost Seventy Cents SA (-70c). Today the GB Pound costs around Twenty Rands SA (R20.00), and one US Dollar costs around Fifteen Rands SA (R15.00). In terms of foreign exchange devaluation, we are twenty times poorer than in the seventies.
In the early to mid-nineteen seventies there was no such thing as a personal computer, nor any computer for that matter, except for the first giant mainframe computer, no Internet, no cellular networks or cell phones, there was no television in South Africa, there were almost no advanced or computerized production machinery. Life was simple, and almost everybody had a job. Contented and secure.
This perspective might change your view on the vast changes our world has gone through. It’s clear how the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep becoming poorer. How does the consumer/buyer, the everyday person, change this horrifying and worsening trend? Is this still the post-modern age or have we progressed into the New World Order? This is certainly worse than life in the seventies and prior, even though technology has advanced greatly.
What we may consider as the great technological advances since the 1960s, is an abomination, a human rights violation. Normal people simply cannot afford to live in our world anymore.
Disclaimer: This article is purely the opinion of the author and not that of SAFREA in any way.