Polls both by USA Today and Gallup have shown support for the moon landing has increased the farther we’ve gotten away from it. 77 percent of people in 1989 thought the moon landing was worth it; only 47 percent felt that way in 1979.
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon, a process began that has all but eradicated any reference to the substantial opposition by scientists, scholars, and regular old people to spending money on sending humans to the moon. Part jobs program, part science cash cow, the American space program in the 1960s placed the funding halo of military action on the heads of civilians. It bent the whole research apparatus of the United States to a symbolic goal in the Cold War[…]
Given this outlay during the 1960s, a time of great social unrest, you can bet people protested spending this much money on a moon landing. Many more quietly opposed the missions.
What if Millennials’ aversion to car-buying isn’t a temporary side effect of the recession, but part of a permanent generational shift in tastes and spending habits? It’s a question that applies not only to cars, but to several other traditional categories of big spending—most notably, housing. And its answer has large implications for the future shape of the economy—and for the speed of recovery.
Read more. [Image: Kagan McLeod]
It’s safe to say that a decent number of Tumblr users are a part of the Millennial generation. So, tell us: Do you own a car or house? If not, why?
[Image: Forbes; NYTimes]
1) Generally speaking, richer countries are happier countries (see above). But since many of these rich countries share other traits — they’re mostly democracies with strong property rights traditions, for example — some studies suggest that it’s our institutions that are making us happy, not just the wealth. More on that in a second.
2) Generally speaking, richer people are happier people. But young people and the elderly appear less influenced by having more money.
3) But money has diminishing returns — like just about everything else. Satisfaction rises with income until about $75,000 (or perhaps as high as $120,000). After that, researchers have had trouble proving that more money makes that much of a difference. Other factors — like marriage quality and health — become more relatively important than money.
Read the rest. [Image: new economics foundation]
Is your wallet soon to be a collector’s item? In a report published this morning, Pew surveyed a selection of academics, authors, and other experts, asking them questions about the future of money. Their conclusion: The future of money is digital. And that future might not be, actually, entirely about money. […]
That finding doesn’t just mean bad news for the coin-minters and wallet-makers of the world. It could also mean new possibilities when it comes to financial transactions themselves. A cashless (or, more realistically, a nearly cashless) default of economic exchange could encourage, among us walletless wanderers, a broader conception of what “exchange” means in the first place. Because cash — and, really, money itself — is not merely a vehicle of financial transaction; it is also a cross-cultural paradigm. It has shaped the way we think about exchange as a basic economic proposition: not X for Y, but X for $Y. (Or, you know, for ¥Y or £Y or €Y.)
Money, in other words, has conditioned us to believe that money is pretty much the only legitimate medium of transaction. Through its durability — and, especially, through its universality — the currency paradigm has made it easy to forget what a cultural contingency currency actually is. There are, after all, many other forms of exchange out there, many sophisticated forms of barter and quid pro quo; it’s just that money — cash and currency — has been, for ages, the superior facilitator of those forms. We live in currency-normative culture, if you will, for a reason: Money, as a technology, has acquitted itself wonderfully. It’s efficient, it’s intuitive, it’s relatively user-friendly. And, most importantly, it’s standardized.
Read more. [Image: Shutterstock]
Zenaide Muneton is a nanny in New York City. Last year, she made more than $200,000, Planet Money reports. Yes, with five zeros.
How in the world can Manhattan nannies be worth $200,000 a year? One answer is that they’re more talented than your typical babysitter. The highest-paid nannies can cook four-course macrobiotic meals and know their way around a Zamboni (those are actual examples of nanny skills). But the number-one reason why nannies in Manhattan can get paid $200,000 is very simple. Rich families can afford it. And in the market for locally-delivered services, like caring for a child, prices rise as high as the clientele can afford to pay.
Six-figure nannies don’t rule the world, but they help explain the world of prices. On a global scale, the price of locally-delivered services, such as nannies and barbers, fluctuate wildly from country to country. A simple haircut in Uzbekistan is much, much cheaper than a simple haircut in Beverly Hills. But lots of goods can be bought and enjoyed thousands of miles away from where they’re made, like automobiles and paintings. If you’re in the market for an original Picasso, it won’t matter whether you buy the painting in China or in the United States. It will cost the same price anywhere, because the painting can be “consumed” anywhere.
So, some prices vary wildly from country to country, and some prices don’t. What’s the difference?
Over the next month, we’re putting together a special report, the Money Report, about how and why we spend what we do. Economics is so often the economist-eye view of the world. We’re out to recreate the consumer-eye view of the world. We’re interested in what things cost, why they cost that much, and why they’re getting more expensive and less expensive. If you’ve got awesome and surprising stories about prices, costs and the flow of money, leave us a tip in the comment section.
To kick things off, we’d like to very briefly introduce one of the themes of the Money Report: Prices are people. […]
Across the 20th century, the labor force has shifted from farmers and foresters to manufacturers and then to professional and service workers. In 1900, we spent much of our manpower growing food and feeding ourselves. By 1950, the major economic industries were manufacturing and construction. But today’s labor economy revolves around services, not products.
In the April issue of The Atlantic: How Ben Bernanke saved the global economy (and wound up the villain of Washington), Rahm Emanuel takes on Chicago, complexities and conundrums of Philip Roth, the man who broke Atlantic City, and more.