Awesome Question: Would You Rather Be Middle Class Now or Rich in 1900?

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Either way, you’d be making roughly $70K a year.

The question is being asked right now over an NPR survey, and the results will be included in a podcast next week. Here are your choices, with some of the pros and cons of each:

Would you rather:
A. Live in 1900 and make $70,000 a year.
or
B. Live today and make $70,000 a year.

If you choose A., you get to be super rich; your income is roughly equal to $700,000 today. You get a mansion, servants, the whole deal.

Choice B. means you aren’t rich, but you’re not poor — and you don’t have to worry about being crippled by polio, or killed when a cut on your foot gets infected. You also get cable TV and air conditioning.

When this question has been posed to econ students, two-thirds choose B. So far, about two-thirds of folks are also clicking B at the NPR online survey.

When I think about how I would answer, and when I think about how most people do answer, there’s an obvious, uplifting takeaway: Modern life is pretty darn good, all things considered (sorry for the NPR overload).

The truth is that most Americans today have everything they need—and then some.

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