Hristo Botev wrote: ↑
Thu Feb 25, 2021 11:45 am
I really, really want to push back and say: no I don't! I only have this stupid thing because I'm chained to it through work! But, you're right of course. It's difficult to separate the nostalgia from what's really valuable; as in, I reminisce of days gone by where I could do my job without a computer on my desk or a phone in my pocket, where I could dictate letters, briefs, and memos on a dictaphone for my secretary to type out. And I wouldn't be surprised at all if someone told me they'd done a study and found we lawyers were actually a helluva lot more efficient in the old days than we are now with our ability to dig holes and fill them back up again at a much more "productive" pace.
I also have an iPhone that I enjoy many of the benefits of. In my case, I like listening to macroeconomics podcasts while I'm driving or cooking. This is something that would technically be possible just with a computer or previous generation MP3 player, but nevertheless does provide immense value to my life.
I'm by no means a Luddite, but I am extremely picky with only adopting technology that I feel provides net value in my life. For example, I don't use streaming services or own a TV because I just think the risk of a time sink outweighs the potential benefits of occasional entertainment. I think one useful thing is to think of technology from a tool perspective. Like a tool, every piece of technology serves a purpose. For example, I'm not going to continue to play with a power drill once I've drilled my hole. Now I admit this gets trickier with something like smartphone because it can serve lots of valuable purposes, while at the same time turn into a massive time sink because it is designed to suck you in for long periods. I think Cal Newport has some good writings on using technology productively, while avoiding some of the common pitfalls.
Now in terms of inflation, I am in agreement that CPI is not very effective measuring stick because it leaves out a lot of things and is prone to political manipulation (high inflation is bad for votes, so there is always a huge incentive to downplay it). I also think there's some normalcy and recency bias going on in regards to inflation numbers since the US hasn't seen substantial inflation since the 1970's, so you're seeing a lot of denial (e.g. inflation happens in banana republics and third world countries, but not here!). Also keep in mind that reported inflation numbers always lag behind.
We've already seen widespread price inflation in asset markets (stocks, bonds, real estate) from loose monetary policy, which does have an indirect affect on real-world prices due to the wealth effect. With the commitment to larger fiscal policy starting with COVID19 and moving into the future, it seems logical to think we are going to see even CPI inflation in 2021 and through the foreseeable future. In fact, if you want to be somewhat conspiratorial/cynical, you could argue that the ruling class in the USA recognizes that inflation is the only way to solve the widespread debt issues that plague the government and society today, so it's going to end up being the least bad solution to get our society to some sort of reset. Inflation is another way to transfer wealth from the baby boomers (most prosperous generation ever in combination with over-promised entitlements) to the millennial/Gen Z generation (least prosperous generation who have started demonstrating their discontent through violence).