100 Years of "Progress"

by Kevin Kerr

This will boggle your mind. I know it did mine.

According to a post on OneScience.com, below are some statistics for the United States in the year 1905:

-The average life expectancy was 47.

-Only 14% of homes had a bathtub — gross! Only 8% of homes had a telephone.

-A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11.

-There were only 8,000 cars in the United States and only 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

-Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million people, California was only the 21st most populous state in the union.

-The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

-The average U.S. wage was 22 cents per hour. The average U.S. worker made between $200-400 per year. A competent accountant could expect to earn $2,000 per year. A dentist, $2,500, a veterinarian, $1,500-4,000. A mechanical engineer made about $5,000 per year. (A commodities newsletter writer? Priceless – some things never change.)

-More than 95% of all births in the United States took place at home.

-Ninety percent of all doctors had no college education. Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned by the press and the government as “substandard.”

-Commodities traders, listen up… Sugar cost 4 cents a pound. Eggs were 14 cents a dozen. Coffee was 15 cents a pound.

-Most women washed their hair only once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo. Again, gross!

-In Canada, a law prohibited poor people from entering the country for any reason.

-The five leading causes of death in the United States were pneumonia and influenza, tuberculosis, diarrhea, heart disease and stroke.

-The American flag had only 45 stars. Why? Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska hadn’t yet been admitted to the union.

-The population of Las Vegas was only 30!

-Crossword puzzles, canned beer and iced tea hadn’t been invented yet, nor had Jerry Springer, Fluffernutters or mobile homes (well, you can’t have everything).

-There was no Mother’s or Father’s Day.

-Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write. Only 6% of all Americans had graduated from high school.

-Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstore (now they’re just available on the “corner,” period). One promotion said, “Heroin clears the complexion; gives buoyancy to the mind; regulates the stomach and bowels; and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.” (Always trust your government warnings, ladies and gentlemen.)

-Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic helper.

-There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire country.”

And just think, I am typing this to you now and will send it in a matter of seconds. I will send about 150-200 e-mails today, and trade on markets all around the globe, places I have never even been to. I will transfer money, order a birthday cake, make travel arrangements and weekend plans, all from my desk and computer. It’s amazing and impossible to imagine where we will be in another 100 years.

The Daily Reckoning