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In 1900, the Bureau of Labor Statistics counted three categories as necessities: housing, food, and apparel. We are all subtle victims of the expectations that 100 years of wealth have bought.

The Atlantic's Money Report -- a look at the history of U. work and spending -- wraps up this week, sadly, but there are a few cool nuggets I want to share before we're back to our regularly scheduled programming around here. The agriculture sector is a marvel of economic efficiency.

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Government spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid has quadrupled since the 1950s in the most meaningful measurement, which is share of GDP.

In short, health care costs are squeezing Americans. We are squeezed by rising health care costs and scarcity of affordable housing in productive cities. A century ago, we spent more than half our money on food and clothes.

The CPI in the infographic is a relative indicator of a country's living costs compared to New York. GDI, or gross domestic income, tells us how much money we make.

So, for instance, if a country has a CPI of 70, on average it enjoys 30% cheaper living costs compared to New York. But these numbers don't tell us what the economy looks like from the viewpoint of a typical household.

Inspired by the new book 'Chasing the American Dream,' about the cost of the financial crisis, housing bubble, and Great Recession, reporters at USA Today calculated the cost of all those elements that make up the American Dream. Fortunately, we have something that's very close to an aggregate receipt for the American family going back more than a century: "100 Years of U. Consumer Spending", a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are however massive variables depending on where one lives, with cities like Indianapolis and Tulsa being far more affordable than New York or San Francisco when you take taxes and housing costs into account. This is our story today: It is a story about how spending on food and clothing went from half the family budget in 1900 to less than a fifth in 2000. One-twelfth of households have gas or electric lights, one-twentieth have telephones, one-in-ninety own a car, and nobody owns a television.

But the details of this squeeze elude the color-wheel above. Even higher ed is a necessity for today's middle class. Today, we spend more than half of our money on housing and transportation.

We are paying for health care with taxes, borrowing, and compensation that goes to health benefits, rather than wages. Historical context shouldn't cheapen middle class suffering. Our ambitions turned from bread and shirts to ownership and highways.

The big story is that spending on food and clothes has fallen massively while spending on housing and services has gone up. Meanwhile, the "making-stuff" economy is at its apex.

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