When I was born 80 years ago, prices, wages and other costs were a fraction of what they are today. A booklet reviewing 1939 gives the following average estimates — salaries, $2,000 a year; new cars, $700; new houses, $4,000; and bread, 8 cents a loaf.

Those numbers would have to be multiplied by 30 to come near current figures.

Obviously money has no constant value. That fact affects more of us than the misers or spendthrifts. It gives us all a lesson in relativity, a need to reflect on what things are worth, a warning about savings, and an insight into history.

The same booklet states that average life expectancy was 60 years. The second world war was beginning in Europe. The jet plane, nylon and DDT were invented. World population was about 2 billion (current estimate is almost 8 billion).

Today’s world is not the one into which I was born. I have kept up financially and I am enjoying a long lifespan. But other things have expanded that are less to my liking. Many developments have have yielded mixed benefits. Jet and car travel are both helpful and disastrous, for example.

Learning from this history encourages investment in things that should grow as they change. Breadth of mind and heart should expand. That’s not an easy task but the alternative is stagnation as the world passes by.

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