NPR has an interesting poll going on: Would you rather:
A. Live in 1900 and make $70,000 a year.
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."
An economist tells NPR that when he asks that question people answer B two-thirds of the time. The economist, Tim Taylor, says: "The force of economic growth over time has given middle class people in America today things that would have been regarded as miracles a century ago. And having access to those miracles is worth an enormous amount."