A reflection on Mike’s piece below:
In computing economic growth and changes in the cost of living, it’s necessary to adjust for changes in product quality. Most of the changes actually incorporated into those measures tend to be product improvements. As far as I know, the sheer screaming frustration of being put in voice-mail jail rather than dealing with a live human being about a service problem has never been treated as a negative quality change. That tends to over-estimate standard-of-living gains and make cost-of-living adjustments too small.