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Since 1946, the time price of a basic drill has fallen 94.6 percent.

Drills on Sale: Buy One, Get 17 Free

By Gale Pooley @gpooley

Black & Decker was founded in 1910. They have been selling the one-person drill since 1914. Their inspiration was a Colt pistol with a handgrip and trigger. In 1946, they introduced the first 1/4 -inch home utility drill. It sold for $16.95.

In 1961, they launched their first cordless drill. “It was a great advance,” Mr. Decker said, “but people weren’t prepared to pay $100 for it.” Spending a lot of money was not a problem for the U.S. government, however. In 1971, NASA’s Apollo 15 mission drilled core samples on the moon with a Black and Decker cordless drill.

Today you can pick up a Black and Decker cordless drill at Home Depot or Amazon for $26.51.

We buy things with money, but we pay for them with our time. That means it’s better to analyze the cost of drills using time prices. To calculate the time price, we divide the nominal price by the nominal hourly wage. That will give us the hours of work required to earn enough money to buy a drill. We can then compare the time prices over time to see if abundance has increased or decreased. If hourly compensation increases faster than the money price, the time price decreases.

According to Measuringworth.com, blue-collar hourly compensation (wages and benefits) increased from $1.13 in 1946 to $32.54 in 2021. While the money price of the drill increased by 56.4 percent, hourly compensation increased by 2,779.6 percent. Buying a drill went from requiring 15 hours of work to just 49 minutes. In other words, the time price has dropped by 94.6 percent.

The time required to earn enough to purchase one drill in 1946 would get you 18.41 drills in 2021. Drills, the holes they can create, and the screws they can install, have become 1,741.2 percent more abundant.

Maybe a member of your family would like to receive a drill this Christmas. You can thank Black and Decker and the other drill innovators and entrepreneurs who have made these handy tools so affordable.

Professor Gale L. Pooley teaches economics at Brigham Young University, Hawaii. He is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute and a board member of HumanProgress.org


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