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Today's Middle Class Citizens of the U.S. Are Better Off Than Emperor Tiberius, Emperor Napoleon, and Saint Thomas Aquinas



In conversation at the HES meeting in Denver, Pete Boettke mentioned that the opportunity cost of blogging can be very high.

The passage below is from a draft of a key chapter of a long-awaited book authored by Berkeley economist and world-renowned blogger Brad DeLong. (At least in this case, Boettke is right.)


(p. 3) Could the Emperor Tiberius have eaten fresh grapes in January? Could the Emperor Napoleon have crossed the Atlantic in a night, or gotten from Paris to London in two hours? Could Thomas Aquinas have written a 2000-word letter in two hours--and then dispatched it off to 1,000 recipients with the touch of a key, and begun to receive replies within the hour? Computers, automobiles, airplanes, VCR' s, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, telephones, and other technologies--combined with mass production--give middle-class citizens of the United States today degrees of material wealth--control over commodities, and the ability to consume services--that previous generations could barely imagine.



Source:

DeLong, J. Bradford. "Cornucopia: The Pace of Economic Growth in the Twentieth Century." NBER Working Paper, w7602, 2000.





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