In a delightful bit of Econ and Fantasy Nerdery writer Jack Monroe came up with what she coined The Vimes Boots Poverty Index something that will “document the disappearance of the budget lines and the insidiously creeping prices of the most basic versions of essential items at the supermarket.” As a big Discworld fan, this caught my attention immediately as Sam Vimes is probably my second favorite main protagonist in the Discworld series (The best is Tiffany Aching.) The Index is a sort of real-world version of Vime’s own “theory of socio-economic unfairness” To quote Men At Arms:
“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
The Index in short zeroes in on the price increases on the most budget of food items as those prices almost always rise faster and higher than products on the fancier side of things.
Rhianna Pratchett daughter of Terry Pratchett the creator of Vimes and Discworld as a whole was delighted by the name and gave it her blessing in a tweet where she said:
“Vimes’s musing on how expensive it is to be poor via the cost of boots was a razor-sharp evaluation of socio-economic unfairness. And one that’s all too pertinent today, where our most vulnerable so often bear the brunt of austerity measures and are cast adrift from protection and empathy. Whilst we don’t have Vimes anymore, we do have Jack, and Dad would be proud to see his work used in such a way.”
That’s the overview on the Vimes Boots Index one of the coolest things to happen in a while and hopefully a seachange on how inflation is researched and reported on!
Today’s Song is the delightful song That’s Death from Discworld 2!