Several pieces of information on this posting.
Billy Mills Running Strong Foundation
As I've said several times recently, this blog often writes itself. Many things we write come from the suggestions passed on by our readers.
First suggestion to come in this Father's Day, was from Susan Ruiz Abuasba former Kettering Striders runner and racewalker now living in Kuwait. About 1980 Susan competed for the US as a racewalker in the world Junior Track and Field Championships in Sudbury, Canada. Susan brought to our attention the project Running Strong sponsored by Billy Mills. You can of course make a donation, but perhaps more importantly, you can send a message of support through Dream Starters directly to a youth living in challenging conditions. A few minutes of your time to send encouraging words to a child living on a First Nations (Canadian term) or Native American reserve can make a difference. These kids could use your moral support as they grow to become responsible adults. Most of us can look back and find someone who had a positive influence on us somewhere in those days when we could have gone in a multitude of directions. Most likely you have already been a role model. Here's a good chance to do it once again. I'm struck by the thought that verbal support is often more important than any other form of guidance. I recall reading something by Jack Daniels saying that despite all his scientific research and documentation, the best coaching he ever did was just encouraging runners and telling them they were looking great, especially when they were having a bad day. Another instance of good verbal support is a passage in the novel 'Cutting for Stone', by Abraham Verghese, In it a mentor is asking a medical student what is he best medicine that can be administered through the ear. The answer: "Words of comfort." If you are interested in such an action, click on the link below.
Cost of Running Shoes Then and Now
I've been wondering how much we spent in today's dollars on running shoes back in the 1970s. I'm not an economist, but I know there is a lot of moaning and groaning about the cost of running shoes these days, especially from the guys who were running forty years ago. Some top model shoes are now over $200. So I looked at ad and shoe evaluations in the October, 1976 Runner's World 2nd annual Shoe Report. Of the top 20 shoes evaluated by RW, the cheapest were $19.95 the Brooks Villanova to $34.95 for the Lydiard R.R. In today's dollars that runs the gamut from about $82 to $222. Sounds a bit like today's price range.
real price of that commodity is $82.90
labor value of that commodity is $77.10 (using the unskilled wage) or $89.80 (using production worker compensation)
income value of that commodity is $126.00
real price $145
labor value $135
income value $222
"What are these different values?" you must be asking yourself. Again I'm not an economist, but here are the definitions given by Measuring Worth.
Real Price is measured using the relative cost (fixed over time) of a bundle of goods and services such as food, shelter, clothing (running shoes), etc. This bundle does not change over time. The measure uses the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Labor Value is measured using the relative wages a worker would use to buy the commodity. This measure uses one of the wage indexes.
Income Value is measured using the relative average income that would be used to buy a commodity. This measure uses the GDP per capita.
My view is that the Income Value is what we should use to compare prices back in 1976 to compare to 2014 upon which this number is derived. My scientific reasoning: Because it makes the cost look the highest. "Sorry, George, C+ for your reasoning. Give more evidence". Prof. Keynes
So without comparing today's actual prices (this would give me a D at best on an econ paper) for today's top of the line shoes, I would 'guess' that costs of shoes are roughly the same. What I can't determine in a short period of time for this posting is how much relative profit is being taken now by those companies. If we consider that in 1976, New Balance, Nike, Brooks, Spotbilt, Pony,and Etonic were being produced in the US (Brooks in Puerto Rico), Pony in Canada, Reebok in England, Adidas, Puma, and Lydiard in Germany (some but not all Nike in Asia) at a relatively high labor cost per shoe than today's manufacturing in Asia, it is understandable that profits could be higher by taking the production outside of the US. So we would also have to ask, "If the shoes were still made in the US with current US labor costs, how much would these shoes be retailing for? However Adidas, Puma, and Lydiard, were being made in Germany in 1976, and one would also have to look at German labor costs to see how they were making their shoes competitive in the American market. Germany at this time was importing cheaper labor from Italy, Turkey, and North Africa with their gastarbiter/guest worker policy.
So are shoe prices really more than in 1976, are they holding steady, or are they lower? I feel they are holding steady, but the profit margin may be much higher, as I don't see Asian wages today being anywhere near the equivalent of American wages in 1976. Could a running shoe still be put on your foot at a significantly lower price and still give the manufacturer a profit? Mind you I did not say 'reasonable profit', I'm not sure anyone can agree as to what is reasonable profit. Even with shipping the shoes half way around the world, it seems to be worth doing it that way if you are running a shoe company. Capitalism is driven by profit, not necessarily providing a product at a reasonable price just at a price that the market will bear.
I would suspect that Research and Development are higher costs now in the shoe business. Companies are putting a lot of time and effort into trying to develop new products. Better products, I'm not sure about. In 1976 a company probably came out with about 2 new shoe models each year in their trainers, racing flats, and spikes. Now it seems that every month there is something new to convince runners to try something else that will make them faster or look cooler. Plus the shoe companies are into every other sport on the planet, not just running and soccer as well as shoes for women and youth. Each one of these new models is being developed by a product team, which is an additional cost.
I hope some of you Economics majors can provide more insight to this post. Tear it to shreds, add more info if you so choose. I only consider it a starting point. For two other aspects to running look below the shoe evaluations.
|1976 ad in Runners World|
|From my workbench 2015|
With a few modern words of caution and bilingual for Canadian market.
Still made in the good ole USA by Eclectic Products, Inc. on Dixie Mae Dr., Pineville, Louisiana
I paid $6.00 for Shoe Goo last Fall in US dollar terms. When I applied the same formula from Measuring Value to the 1976 Shoe Goo price ($2.95) and compared with 2014 values I got the following:
You bought your shoes, now let's go to the races.
Ok, let me look in the cracks of the couch and find $3.00 to send in, so I can run the Island Marathon down there in Portland, OR, this Fall. Whaaaaa!!!!! Three freaking dollars? Are they kidding? If I apply the formula again to those 1976 dollars, I come up with
Real price $12.40
Labor price $11.50
Income value $18.80