Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Partridge in a Pear Tree Index - 2007

Once again, PNC Wealth Management has published their annual Twelve-Days-of-Christmas index.

Once again - although for far fewer "once agains" that PNC has been putting together their index - Pink Slip is blogging on it. (Here's last year's link.)

This year, the cost of all the goods and services mentioned in The Twelve Days of Christmas will run you $19,507, up 3.1% over last year's amount.

Given all the luxury spending out there - personal submarines, McMansions, etc. - forking over less than $20K for the whole kit and caboodle seems like chump change. And it's not just an absolute bargain, it's a relative bargain. Last year's U.S. Consumer Price Index rose 3.5%, so the rise in cost of the Twelve Days package is trailing general inflation.

Rising commodity prices and an increase in the minimum wage are behind the increases.

Those five golden rings will set you back 21.5% more than last year.

The geese a laying went up 20% over last year, indicative of rising food prices, no doubt fueled by all those transport costs to haul cleaned, trussed, frozen no longer laying geese to market. Most other birds in the index - those that are not generally put on the table - didn't experience any cost increases, although calling birds - which are canaries (at least by proxy in the PNC index) - scooted up 25% in cost due to increased demand. (With our busy schedules, even cats must be getting to seem too high maintenance. Now a nice little canary....No, it can't cuddle up with you or lick your hand, but it's pretty darn near care-free.)

The 13.6% increase in the minimum wage is reflected in the cost of those eight maids a milking.  The maids a milking - the only unskilled workers in the index - would now make a whopping $5.85 an hour, which - based on a 40 hour work week - would compute to $234.

I don't know about you, but it seems to me that milking a cow is actually pretty darned skilled work. Either your hooking a cow up to a milking contraption, or you're pulling on a cow's teats while sitting on a stool trying to avoid a cow swishing at you with her tail, and while trying to avoid repetitive stress injury.

Not to mention it's pretty darned unpleasant work: cold, smelly, and boring.

Shouldn't that come with a premium?

If you want to make minimum wage, surely it would be cleaner, warmer, calmer, and brighter to don some Wal-Mart vest apparel and be a greeter. And I'm guessing that most places that have cows to milk also have a Wal-Mart within squirting distance.

Fortunately, the maids a milking are due for additional minimum wage hikes in 2008 and 2009.

(Meanwhile, they'd be better off moving to Massachusetts, where the minimum wage is $7.50. And where there are still a few - although not as many as there used to be - cows.)

Skilled workers - drummers drumming, pipers piping, lords a leaping - experienced increases of 3-4%. Wages stayed put for ladies dancing.

And not that women can't be drumming drummers or piping pipers, but doesn't the wage flatness for the dancing ladies suggest that irksome gender wage gap that doesn't seem to go away?

If the gifts are repeated to reflect how many times they're mentioned in the song -  12 partridges in a pear tree, 22 turtle doves, 30 french hens, 36 calling birds, 35 golden rings, etc. - the cost is $78,100.

Again, not all that much by super-luxe consumption standards, but, I'm guessing, nothing that PNC Wealth Management would advise its clients to spend on.

So, if you haven't yet figured out what to get for that True Love in your life, and you've got $19.5 (or $78.1) lying around, you might want to spring for the 12 Days of Christmas special.

But be warned, since you've left it go this long, and the weather outside is frightful in most of the country, you may need to order online. If that's the case, you'll have to spend a little extra for shipping and handling.

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