I wonder what goes through what passes for his mind

When he says things like this:

And that robotics are going to dramatically change the world of work, and those new (mostly very lowly paid) jobs that are going to be created.

How does this work? Robots raise labour productivity. Wages are determined by labour productivity. So if productivity rises wages do too.

How in buggery do robots create low wage work?

77 thoughts on “I wonder what goes through what passes for his mind”

  1. The Meissen Bison

    This would be the bloke standing next to the robot with the can of 3-in-1 oil. Might even be three shifts there. Same can though.

    Could that be the idea?

  2. Nah – robots are increasingly self maintaining.

    Is there any evidence that Murphy isn’t some sort of experimental program? I know most AI is supposed to learn from its mistakes but maybe it’s just a shit program?

  3. Well only bloated plutocrats own robots, and clearly they’re going to hire peasants at two farthings a day to polish their robot. Because that’s what bloated plutocrats do, when they’re not evading taxes.

  4. To be fair, his opinions on robots were the least extraordinary thing about this little homily. There is the impertinence of hos analysis of Adair Turner. Then there is his claimed humility and austerity because he shops at M&S; this is the man after all who claims to be in a.partnershop engaged in academic work so that he can trouser money from trusts. Then there is his complaint about the renter economy; how much profit does he stand take on the Downham Market property?

  5. well, it’s not impossible you know – and you don’t need robots. take for example a developing country with very low productivity in sectors that employ large shares of the population, and those are not export sectors with highly elastic demand. What happens if there is a large productivity gain? Those sectors shed workers rapidly. The first thing that tends to happen is they find very low wage jobs in informal services sectors. That kind of thing is reasonably well documented, see research on bad structural change, low productivity sectors gaining employment share in response to productivity gains in other sectors.

  6. I thought most people were arguing the opposite – that robot’s would remove all the low paid unskilled jobs as they could generally can be automated?

  7. I thought the usual complaint was that robots do away with low paid jobs, reducing opportunities for the low-skilled. Not that they create more.

  8. I assume he means robots will be more productive than people, job for job, so will drive down wage rates for fleshies if they’re to be as productive as robots

  9. Ironman

    I thought this was the most extraordinary paragraph in the whole thing – he saved the most shocking until last!

    ‘That worries me. Do we really live in a world where it is so hard to answer the question ‘what next?’

    Murphy is positioning himself as a kind of latter-day Oracle of Delphi. ‘Only I can predict a better world, ME, ME, MEEEE!’ – He sounds like Willem Defoe in the ‘Last Temptation of Christ’ FFS….

    I have never thought so, and will continue to write on the basis that thinking another world is possible is the essential first step to building it.’

    Thus the Curajus State – a kind of ‘how do you do it guide’ to building (Let’s be generous – it’s Friday) a reconstruction of the USSR circa 1987 is ‘another world’ – at least he has that right, I suppose.

    ‘I think Adair Turner has bravely changed his mind. But now, like many others, he needs to accept new thinking means we’ll have a very different economy and society in which to live.’

    He agrees with me! He therefore has ‘Curaj’ – may be enough courage to allow people who disagree with him to challenge him on Public platforms? Perhaps to appear on stage with him at events? Maybe even comment on his Twitter feeds? And indeed in his own mind Murphy’s thinking is new – never mind that for him the clock seems to stop at 1978 and he doesn’t seem to have had an original thought since that point – it’s new to him – hence it’s new!

    That could be better or worse than the one we have. The challenge is to imagine a better one’

    We can all create a North Korea! Stay the course, have courage, take joy in 99% tax rates and universal state provision of all services.

    The man is unquestionably the most delusional and self-important commentator I have seen. If you didn’t know he was serious you would have to assume he’s a spoof – extraordinary post even by his standards.

  10. Isn’t it true that robots cost much to make and then program.
    Whereas unskilled labour can make a human and said human can be very pliant in task completion.

  11. If you have raised kids then you will know how much it costs to make and program them. Robots are cheap in comparison.

  12. VP

    I rather suspect I can see in my mind’s eye what happened. Turner somehow cornered so to speak at a dinner table by the sweaty Prof who proceeds to regale him with his Curajus State + Joy of Tax theories and arguments.

    After a while Turner starts to switch off and so responds Murphy’s points with what could be taken to be affirmative grunts:

    “Do you agree we are building a rentier economy?”
    “Uh”

    “Where do you get your suits made and do you like mine – it’s from M+S?”
    “Hrrrm”

    “What’s the solution to the robot problem?”
    Sound of sighing, followed by “I think my taxi’s here. Nice to have met you.”

  13. I think that’s *exactly* what went down.

    He can’t resist a little stroking of the ego, as demonstrated by him still believing R Slicker might have a tiny chance of not being a piss take!

  14. a little off topic I know but I can’t help thinking that if two prominent Conservative politicians were caught up in a racism/Hitler/Jew hating scandal then Facebook and the Twittersphere would be awash will howls of anger from socialists at how this proved that all Tories were evil baby eaters…..but because it’s Labour involved……hush, can you hear anything at all?

  15. I don’t speak for Murphy, but automation is replacing ever more semi-skilled jobs, with the result that if most people continue to work at something it will be providing services. Which, for most people, will be low-paid labour.

    “Between June 1978 and March 2015:

    the proportion of jobs accounted for by the manufacturing and mining and quarrying sectors fell from 26.4% to 8.1%
    the proportion of jobs accounted for by the services sector increased from 63.2% to 83.4%”

  16. AndrewC

    My thoughts exactly – the silence is deafening. Almost as hilarious on my FB Feed is the tergiversations of the various Leftists as they explain ‘This doesn’t mean Labour is anti-semitic’, ‘Anti-semitism isn’t the same as Anti-Israel’ , blah, blah, blah. Standard double standards if you’ll forgive the pun. The intellectual equivalent of a ZIL lane.

  17. In isolation, it’s quite easy to show what Murphy’s saying. I replace a skilled woodworker with a labourer who loads material onto a CNC machine ( a limited intellect robot). Productivity rises at the loss of a skilled job.
    But nothing happens in isolation. I need to buy the time of a guy knows how to program & set up a CNC machine. I need to buy a CNC machine & there’s jobs in making CNC machines.
    At the other end, I’m in competition with other manufacturers who’ve also acquired CNC machines. Thanx to competition, the floor price of CNC made products will be well below that of manually made. (Why I’ve bought the CNC. I’ll be out of business if I don’t) Mostly the beneficiaries will be the customers. Cheaper stuff. They have more money to spend elsewhere. Creating jobs.
    We all get wealthier.
    FFS. We had an industrial revolution. Did he miss noticing?

  18. Andrew C>

    As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, neo-Nazis and so-on are not stupid. They spotted about 15 years ago that as long as they claimed to be of the left, and used not-subtle-at-all codewords, they got a free pass to be as racist as they liked. As a consequence, they made a very deliberate, very successful move, joined the Labour party, and have had rather a lot of success a a result.

    The BNP and so-on never really bothered to hide it – because that was the first test of the method. Nick Griffin openly stated in public meetings what the plan was, and the left just ignored it and lay back with open legs.

  19. As for what goes through Ritchie’s mind here, it’s pretty simple: the Jew overlords won’t adopt robots unless they’re a tool to further screw the poor, honest, hard-working anglo-saxon labourers; consequently, the result of the adoption will be the imposition of serfdom.

    It’s utterly insane, of course, but it does have its own internal logic.

  20. Ironman

    “how much profit does he stand to take on the Downham Market property?”

    Not much, if any, after paying Lord Ashcroft’s legal costs etc. Tee-hee!!

  21. I thought most people were arguing the opposite – that robot’s would remove all the low paid unskilled jobs as they could generally can be automated?

    No, any automatable task, if having a human do it is more expensive than a computer or robot – not just what we think of as “low paid unskilled jobs.” So, if you have kids, encourage them to look at non-automatable jobs, e.g. being a plumber, games developer, salesman, engineer, physical or mental therapist…

  22. Luis Enrique and ken,

    You made the point I was initially going to post.

    Dave,

    I am in an ongoing conversation with someone about grocers. No matter how many different points about business structure and technology changes he ends up understanding he still insists that all job loses in grocers are due to minimum wage increases. There have been a couple times I’ve wondered if I’m talking to Murphyloon.

  23. ukliberty,

    “So, if you have kids, encourage them to look at non-automatable jobs, e.g. being a plumber, games developer, salesman, engineer, physical or mental therapist…”

    Not games development. Fiercely competitive, high-risk and not half as glamorous as people think. There’s a lot more money and less hours in commercial code.

  24. Well only bloated plutocrats own robots, and clearly they’re going to hire peasants at two farthings a day to polish their robot.

    We use orphan child labor for that.

    They brush my top hats, too.

  25. Certainly mechanisation can result in jobs being shed. The CAP means landowners all over Europe have gained, but especially so where agriculture was least efficient in the East. Many of those who might otherwise have taken agricultural jobs have sought higher paid jobs in Germany and the UK, who ironically provide the biggest contribution.
    Conclusion – subsidising foreign means foreign people want to leave foreign, and come to the country that does the subsidising.

  26. So Much For Subtlety

    Dave – “As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, neo-Nazis and so-on are not stupid. …. As a consequence, they made a very deliberate, very successful move, joined the Labour party, and have had rather a lot of success a a result.”

    All experience to the contrary. Could you please name a single member of the Labour Party who used to be a neo-Nazi?

    Dave – “As for what goes through Ritchie’s mind here, it’s pretty simple: the Jew overlords won’t adopt robots unless they’re a tool to further screw the poor, honest, hard-working anglo-saxon labourers; consequently, the result of the adoption will be the imposition of serfdom.”

    Uh huh. Dave, you have no idea what goes on in that tiny space we call Ritchie’s brain, but we can be sure of one thing – you are the only person who makes him look smart and sensible. Ritchie is not talking about Jews. He is talking about robots.

  27. Luis, not disagreeing with your post, but I do have some niggles – and without references or details they’re necessarily very general – but here goes: the nature of the product in which output has increased will surely have a large bearing on any effects – whether it’s for export or domestic consumption, the degree to which the economy’s closed or open, whether it’s a luxury or staple good, etc. For example, if productivity doubles in a domestic staple good, you might see some reduction in labour, but you might also see a price reduction, leading to increased demand and all the low-paid being a bit less low-paid for the same absolute money value. But you want Cowperthwaiting if you think you can control it; far better to have a motivated and flexible population who are able to take advantage of said economic growth. I was tempted to say ‘educated’, but that seems to have the opposite effect to motivated and flexible, at least in Western experience.

  28. Matthew L: “Well only bloated plutocrats own robots, and clearly they’re going to hire peasants at two farthings a day to polish their robot.”
    Apparently, at first they paid them one ha’penny a day, but the peasants said that wasn’t enough, so they changed it to two farthings a day and everyone was happy!

  29. “Not games development. Fiercely competitive, high-risk and not half as glamorous as people think. There’s a lot more money and less hours in commercial code.”

    And also, like journalism, it seems every young graduate wants to do it. Hence, shit money.

  30. Interestingly, for the first time ever, I got outbid for a developer by a games company a couple of years ago.

    Seems all that lowering of wages by sending all those banking IT jobs to India may have had an effect, the gamers could finally compete.

    I ended up hiring him six months later because the gamer job was incredibly tedious.

    Trying to persuade my kids to stay out of IT because there’s no fun or money in it any more. Failing with the older one though…

  31. Luis Enrique and SJW are right: TW wrong, as usual.
    Anybody with any knowledge of British political history will know that the first half of the twentieth century was convulsed by Major Douglas and Social Credit which envisaged totally mechanised production and National Dividends ,or an unearned income for all, to top up aggregate wages which could never equate with the value of total production. This has all passed TW by :in an educational process so right wing that it consists almost entirely of subjects such as Maths and the Sciences that try to exclude anything with any political or social relevance.
    The bone-headed fallacy that TW laboriously subscribes to is that, if a robot factory has twenty workers and produces £1million worth of goods a week ,you simply have to pay each of them £50,000 a week , so very likely, not.( And then if the goods are priced at £10 a pop , £9,999,800 worth of them will probably go unsold).
    A good education in the Humanities might have supplied the necessary historical perspective: Orwell’s “1984” depicts a world that is doing everything possible to ignore the Douglasite solution.

  32. Perhaps the reason I don’t sign on to the Douglasite idiocy is because I actually understand my economics.

    All of GDP is an income to someone. What doesn’t go in labour income goes off into capital income. And, amazingly, capitalists do consume stuff. So, their income gets spent too. It therefore isn’t necessary to make sure that wages alone can purchase all production. It’s idiocy to think that they do.

  33. @TW is getting on his Economics high horse. Only problem is he wrote on 19.vi.15 “As I repeatedly point out , I am not an economist .On the simple grounds that I don’t have the qualifications to be one”. This would have been after showing himself up on the fairly basic question of where money comes from :TW “No banks don’t create money” 14.vii.12; TW ” The short explanation is that banks do indeed just create money out of thin air.” 19.iii.14 (ie soon after the publication of BoE’s “Money Creation in the Modern Economy” which starts “….the majority of money in the modern economy is created by commercial banks making loans”- which Douglas pointed out nearly a century previously, while seeking to return money creation to the State to provide his National Dividends).
    With typical lack of sophistication, he suggests that if a robot factory somehow manages to sell £1 million worth of goods and distribute colossal profits in dividends , the limited number of private sector dividend holders will buy up all the available widgets produced even though they only want one each . Karl Marx had something to say about this. The Social Crediters wanted to distribute dividends nationally , by the exact amount needed to see all robot-produced goods sold; to equate demand with supply.
    Stop peddling this corrupt Establishment crap! Ordinary people are on the receiving end of State violence from an Austerity regime in the midst of a recession, just as they were when Thicky Thatcher had her Monetarism episode (which the people of Liverpool resisted at the ultimate cost of 96 lives )

  34. “The bone-headed fallacy that TW laboriously subscribes to is that, if a robot factory has twenty workers and produces £1million worth of goods a week ,you simply have to pay each of them £50,000 a week , so very likely, not.”

    No, initially you build more factories – eventually you reduce the price.

    You’ve got 20 workers. They’re doing a skilled but not especially rare job, so you pay them say £500 a week. Your wage bill is £10k a week and your income is £1m. That’s lots of profit. That signals to the rest of the market that supply is too low for the demand. So you and everyone else in the business starts building robot factories (funded by the money you’re making from the first one) to build a hundred robot factories. Now all of a sudden the goods produced are not worth £1m, because they’re no longer rare. Everyone is making them, and they compete on price. So the price drops until you’re only making, say, £50k worth of goods a week per factory (same amount of stuff, lower price), almost all of which goes to pay the costs – staff, materials, rent, taxes, etc.

    And with the price of goods in the shops coming down by a factor of 20, the workers are all effectively 20 times richer, even though they get the same pay.

  35. DBC,
    “when Thicky Thatcher had her Monetarism episode (which the people of Liverpool resisted at the ultimate cost of 96 lives )”

    What does this mean??

  36. Fucking hell. Is Reed suggesting that Thatcher offed 96 Scousers at Hillsborough pour encourager les autres in some way? Hee hee hee. I’ve always said the bloke is nuts but I didn’t realise he was that nuts.

    Mind you it’s plausible. Send a dozen SAS/14 Int guys in to Sheffield to work undercover as pub landlords on the day. Round up reluctant Liverpool fans and force them to drink beer at ludicrously low prices. March them to the stadium, herd them to the gate, and cause them to stampede forwards by means of lobbing 10p pieces, trainers and back pocket combs ahead of them.

    Having already spent the last twenty years forcing them to act like wild animals in order to prepare the ground for fencing etc.

    Fiendish.

  37. In my experience of the people of Liverpool the thing they most resisted, then and now, was work.

  38. The main problem with DBC is that he runs in, drops his Money Creation bomb, and then runs away.

    Once again DBC:

    1) Money creation by banks is not some New Discovery. I was taught it in A Level economics 35 years ago and it wasn’t shocking then.

    2) Of course, we need to distinguish between “money” and “value”. Money has to be backed by something to have value.

    3) Creating money for mortgages via fractional reserve banking seems to me to be a Good Thing for all concerned. (Risks, such as stoking up house prices, or banks lending like drunken sailors, don’t change this. They’re a result of bad management elsewhere).

    So, what specifically does DBC want banks to stop doing, and governments to start doing?

  39. ““….the majority of money in the modern economy is created by commercial banks making loans”

    The assumption here is that this is a Bad Thing, and that we ought to be shocked in some way. (Neither are we allowed to count this as manufacturing, which no longer exists in the UK following the Thicky Thatcher Tyranny).

    My own mortgage rate is somewhere below 1%, meaning a few hundred pounds a years on what’s left. It’s not far off being free.

    I have to assume that I’m benefiting from low costs derived from thin air money creation. If I had to rent, the cost would be more than double (and I would have had to rent if I couldn’t get a mortgage).

    I’m also certain that no Liverpool supporters have been harmed as a result of my housing arrangements.

    What am I supposed to be angry about?

  40. DBC Reed

    You really dont understand any economics. While Luis and SJW points are valid, they are minor exceptions to the general point made by TW.

    Imagine there are three workers in the economy. At the beginning of the model, two work in manufacturing and one works in services. All can do either job. All manufacturing and service production is consumed by the workers. All three receive the same wages and consume the same amounts.

    A new technology is produced that drives up productivity in the manufacturing sector and it now only requires one worker. The surplus worker enters the service sector. All three continue to be paid the same, but now all are better off as production of the manufactured good requires less labour and the worker who left manufacturing is now producing a service. Note also that the price of the manufactured good would fall. This btw is what has happened to the west since the industrial revolution. Viva capitalism.

    The exception pointed out by Luis is about the skills of the workers.

  41. “And with the price of goods in the shops coming down by a factor of 20, the workers are all effectively 20 times richer, even though they get the same pay.”

    The problem is that in the real world that isn’t happening. The price I pay for most comparable physical goods has gone up faster than stated inflation while for most wages have been stagnant.

  42. Because the economics of robot production was the designated subject, I was explaining that a method was devised nearly a hundred years ago for having robot factories with their output at full capacity consumed via the distribution of money created by the Government as National Dividends. Nothing too difficult about that surely, especially as most sentient people with an interest in Economics e.g JC know that banks don’t lend on savers’ money, don’t lend, but make it all up. So the State can more properly and efficiently do the same (JC finds the fact that people half kill themselves paying off the interest on phoney “loans” a bit of a bore. Alright for some!) But the political system he is enraptured by does harm people living in L’pool because it consists on the one hand of a favoured majority group of homeowners bribed to vote Corrupt Establishment , because it guarantees them unearned untaxed capital gains in house (really land) values, and on the other hand a scapegoated class who rely to a greater extent on wages with the banks pushing fuck all money into industry . This dichotomy is basically fascist and the Establishment is visiting State violence on the scapegoats because they are electorally powerless and ceaselessly slandered by the media.

  43. “Stop peddling this corrupt Establishment crap! Ordinary people are on the receiving end of State violence from an Austerity regime in the midst of a recession, just as they were when Thicky Thatcher had her Monetarism episode (which the people of Liverpool resisted at the ultimate cost of 96 lives”

    Well, fuck me.

    You have to try fucking hard to be the biggest loony in a thread including a statement about “Jew overlords” and robots but you swept past that in triumph.

  44. DBC, as a Liverpool supporter I utterly despise your ignorant, stupid comment – though it’s no more than I’d expect from you. If you want an example of the state killing Scousers – and others – you need only look as far as the NHS: the woefully-misnamed Liverpool Care Pathway; refusing food and drink to those deemed to be dieing. And if they weren’t really dieing the LCP soon took care of it. With a cash incentive to the hospital to make it so.

  45. And I can assure you I’ve never heard ANY Scouser complain about “unearned untaxed capital gains in house values” (ye wot?) but John Prescott being allowed to take a wrecking ball to the city to save him doing the same to his own party is still remembered by some.

    And then we could talk about Degsy and his despicable teen trots sending out redundancy notices by taxi just to stick two fingers up at That Woman, and now he’s bringing down capitalism from within via property development in Cyprus and various crappy media gigs.

    Are you noticing a theme here?

  46. DBBC

    know that banks don’t lend on savers’ money, don’t lend, but make it all up.

    In which he proves that desire (attempting to understand BoE articles) is no substitute for basic intelligence.

  47. I build automation in a niche industry. We can do the same things now with a team of 3 people that we did with a team of 100 in 2010 (not exaggerating).

    I’m fairly well looked after for my labour input, but it requires a lot of hours – the complexity is growing to the point that it takes an age to train someone up to support it. That’s even if they can be trained up – a lot of people simply don’t get it (cough* there’s a bit of a bell curve in human capability *cough). So I need to support, and I need to meet deadlines (we’ve got cutthroat competition), and I need to make sure the code is very good – or else I’ll get bastarding phone calls at 4am from some dev ops guy who doesn’t know where to begin figuring out why it isn’t doing what it should.

    While I’ve obviously got some cognitive bias (like everyone else), believing that I’m fucking wonderfully unique, I do get slightly bemused by some of these Leftist notions that all they have to do is seize the robots to work for them – and the world will be full of milk and honey.

    No you stupid cunts, you need people capable of building and maintaining the technology – technology that can provide for every need and want for 7 billion people.

    While you may pluck a few academic ‘don’t give a fuck about money’ types out of the ether I very much doubt they could fill all of our current niches, never mind our future ones. I know I certainly wouldn’t be as enthusiastic about my job if it was at gun point, rather than paying for my kids better-than-state-provided education.

  48. The price I pay for most comparable physical goods has gone up faster than stated inflation while for most wages have been stagnant.

    I’ve just looked up the Consumer Price Index by item in NZ and it shows that you are wrong if you live in NZ. Physical items have not gone up in relative price (although plenty of service items have).

    State your place of origin please, so we can see if you allegation actually holds true.

  49. Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

    I am going off of what I actually buy and not official numbers. The official numbers have comparables that don’t make sense to me yet. I don’t understand how a product that lasts 1/4 as long is factored in.

  50. Funny how he is happy to use Amazon (including Kindle) to flog his books, and the internet for his blog, and Twitter for his other shit.

    It’s as if he is happy with automation and modern technology when he has a selfish reason to do so, but that thought would be unworthy.

  51. Rob

    The post on ‘sweeping past in triumph’ is sheer genius – actually reduced me to tears it was so on the money

  52. I didn’t say that the State killed scousers: the Warrington jury did. The verdict was Unlawful Killing. Well who was ultimately responsible for them being killed ?

  53. “Well who was ultimately responsible for them being killed ?”

    If an asteroid slammed into Liverpool tomorrow wiping out 100,000 people they’d be asking for an inquiry into who was responsible.

  54. “If an asteroid slammed into Liverpool tomorrow wiping out 100,000 people they’d be asking for an inquiry into who was responsible.”

    Fatcher of course. For ‘Tory cuts’ to scientific research that would otherwise have predicted and prevented said catastrophe.

    Having been to Liverpool, an asteroid impact might actually improve quite a lot of it.

  55. Know how you can tell there was no Scousers on the Titanic? It was the 104th anniversary last month and there wasn’t a fucking murmur.

  56. “I didn’t say that the State killed scousers: the Warrington jury did. The verdict was Unlawful Killing. Well who was ultimately responsible for them being killed ?”

    You dug a hole for yourself so deep you took this long to climb back out, and then promptly fell back in again.

  57. ken,

    Thanks for the links. I still don’t understand how the official numbers are set up for an item like a TV* but this might put me on the right track.

    *I bought my first 19″ in 1995 for $89+ tax. It currently is sitting as a backup for when the ~5 year old replacement breaks again. Currently a TV with the same vertical dimension, the most important measurement, made by a manufacturer with the same quality rankings, is ~$160.

  58. LY

    There are several forms of improvement. There is the fact that 20 years ago most people did not have mobile phones and these mobile phones are now lighter, run for longer and include a multitude of functions (address book, internet device, TV, radio, camera etc). Along the way they wiped out ipods and walkmen and satnavs.

    19″ TVs probably have not improved much – in 1995 CRT, today probably LCD. Maybe internet connectivitity. But, the mega 50″ TVs are now $431. In 2002, I’d guess they would have been $4000.

  59. Bloke in Costa Rica

    It wouldn’t be hard to whip up a recursive grammar bot à la Postmodernism Generator to produce content that was indistinguishable from Murphy’s dunderpated fascist verbal diarrhoea. A case could be made that this has, in fact, already happened.

  60. I am looking specifically at functionality and durability. The variables that BLS provides don’t seem to include durability and appear, to me, to overvalue trivial items like the remote.

    Perhaps a better item to look at is brake rotors. I don’t remember the exact prices but when I first bought brake parts in 1994 I spent less than $100 for everything. The rotors lasted until I finally got rid of the truck in 2005. My current car has had 2 sets of rotors in the last 4 years and the cheapest option was still over $100 for a pair.

    I have seen a similar pattern in washing machines and dryers. When I moved into this house in 2009 I spent money on a new set to replace the ones given to me by my parents, purchased in in 1985. I’ve spent almost as much in parts to keep the machines running as I paid for them. I can’t compare prices since I was a kid when my parents purchased the set I wish I still owned.

    Perhaps I’ve just had really bad luck but from what I see on trash day I’m not the only one.

  61. I bought my first 19″ in 1995 for $89+ tax. …Currently a TV with the same vertical dimension… is ~$160.

    First, the vertical dimension isn’t the most important dimension, especially since TVs have generally changed aspect ratio from 4:3 to 16:9 in that period – the important dimension is total screen area, but diagonal measure isn’t a bad proxy. Second, that’s an average annual price increase of 2.7% – I can’t be arsed to get the BLS figures, but that can’t be very much higher than inflation measured by CPI. Finally, while you may consider a remote to be trivial (and on a 19″ screen, it may be, given viewing distances), the market in general obviously doesn’t, given that they have become ubiquitous.

  62. “First, the vertical dimension isn’t the most important dimension”

    I don’t see how anyone could logically argue that. TVs are not the best example of what consumers actually prefer due to the fact that they are fixed. A better item to look at is a cell phone or tablet screen. The majority of users that I see in the real world assign the longer length to vertical unless the media dictates otherwise.

    Personally my biggest reason for finally ‘upgrading’ my TV was the change in media formats to 16:9. The total viewable area on the 4:3 screen was reduced by black bars on the top and bottom of the screen requiring a larger screen size for the same vertical component. The government mandated change in broadcast formats from analog to digital is another major factor in deciding to replace a perfectly good monitor.

    A 2.7% increase isn’t very much. The problem I have is that we are still comparing apples and oranges. The 1995 TV still functions perfectly with no repairs. The TV I purchased to replace it in 2009 required power supply repairs after only 4 years. Therefore we need to depreciate the initial purchase price differently. I don’t yet understand depreciation but I can’t see how this doesn’t at least double the percent increase you calculated.

  63. Forgot about the remote.

    No one I know actually uses the remote that comes with the TV regularly. The primary remote used is the one that comes with the media provider’s box. The TV remote is normally relegated to a drawer just in case it is needed to access a menu function the primary remote can’t. I’d have to say that in the real world a universal remote that comes with a TV adds close to zero value.

  64. LY

    The issue with economic statistics of any sort is that they only measure along some dimensions. For example the durability of goods is not a common dimension – so the ruggedness of old style Land Rovers from the 1960s would not be seen as an advantage over say less durable cars of today. But for most people TV life spans of say 5 years might work pretty well.

  65. It’s just the way I was raised. My dad still has a black and white set from the 60s in his workshop. It is surprisingly sawdust friendly. I hold onto a CRT from 1996 for when a modern monitor dies. That is why I judge the value of current TVs to be much lower than is claimed. But then I also feel the best vehicle I’ve ever owned was my base model 1985 Ford Ranger.

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