[Dixielandjazz] Preacher Rollo
Edgerton, Paul A
Tue, 24 Sep 2002 19:37:09 -0400
"Proof: to clean and press a man's suit is exactly the same unit of labor
that it was in 1935; but my father was charging 25 cents in 1935, and I'm
paying 6.50 to 8.00 depending on where I take the suit.
You divide it out. How many quarters are there in 6.50? Makes things a
trifle clearer, I think."
While it may be true that dry cleaning represents exactly the same "unit of
labor" that it did in Paul Whiteman's heyday, there is a flaw in your
A man's salary wouldn't be used exclusively for dry cleaning, then or now.
He would spend it on housing, food, clothing, transportation, entertainment,
healthcare and all such things. To make a valid comparison of the buying
power of a pre-crash salary versus one from 1940 -- or from today -- one
would have to factor in all of things people typically bought.
Many of the things that were common in the twenties are uncommon today or
have been replaced by things that couldn't be bought for any price because
they didn't yet exist, like television, or have changed significantly in
usefulness, like cars.
The original point that sidemen in Whitman's band made huge salaries by
today's standards is indisputable, as is the observation that that
post-depression salaries rarely reached such comparatively high levels.
Paul (sorry for the long reply, not enough time for a short one) Edgerton