I once whined to my grandmother who was 90 years old at the time that the cost of feeding my family was escalating faster than our salaries. To this she replied, "Back in the Depression when I was feeding my family you could buy a 10 pound bag of potatoes for a dime. The trouble was, no one had a dime." That shut me up.
But now I am a grandmother and when my children complain about how expensive it is to live, I would be lying if I gave them a similar response. We always had the dime. We even had the dollar. Sadly, our children will need wheelbarrows of money to live the way we did on a comfortable, but not outrageous income. I'm sure they will all be able to own their own homes and eat well, but the cost of leisure activities will be so high, there is a good chance my grandchildren will be culturally deprived.
We babysat for our precious granddaughter last week and spent a day at the zoo. Admission cost us $78. That's because we passed on the carousel, camel and train rides, each of which has its own surcharge. I should have packed a picnic, but ignorant of the admission price, we bought barely edible cold burgers and hot soda for $30. Needless to say, the diversity of the crowd was pitifully low. The zoo used to be a default trip for our family because the son who only loved sports and the son who only loved music and the son who only loved girls, all loved the zoo. Today, there are millions and millions of children who will never see a zebra close up and that makes me sad.
And what about sports? Most young families would have to mortgage their homes or take out home equity loans in order to afford major league tickets. I've seen old film clips of baseball games. The fans didn't all look rich. They looked clean and well-kempt, but not rich. These days you better hope your team sucks so the ticket prices are lower. And that's only baseball. To score football tickets you not only need a vault full of cash, but the connections to help you nab them.
Theater? Fuggedaboutdit. Even half-price tickets to Broadway shows are beyond the means of the middle class.
Rock concerts? In my youth I saw The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Hermit's Hermits (okay, I was 14, give me a break). The cheapest tickets we could score for the Rolling Stones 50th anniversary tour were $300. See ya' Mick!
This week Steven Speilberg and George Lucas predicted movies will cost between $50-$150 dollars in the not-too-distant future. Movies? Are you kidding me? The family outing of choice? We loved taking our kids to the movies. Okay, I wasn't crazy about The Ninja Turtles, but I sat through it without complaint. Is there nothing left for a family to do together?
Perhaps our entertainment moguls might want to reconsider the real cost of excluding a large portion of our population from 90 minutes of escape from reality.
From what I've learned, the price of a ticket is beans compared to the cost in monetary and human terms of revolution.