This Great Graphic was posted by Sarah Cliff on the Wonk Blog of the Washington Post. The obvious point it makes is that it takes a little more than 58 days of work on average to secure one's health care spending in the United States. This a four-fold increase over the past 50-years.
On another level, the graph offers a metric that few use, but we find illuminating (discussed as well in Making Sense of the Dollar: Exposing Dangerous Myths about Trade and Foreign Exchange). The gold bugs argue that the yellow metal is a constant and therefore a valid metric and basis for a stable monetary order. We disagree for numerous reasons well beyond the scope of this short post.
Yet they are right that money is illusory especially when comparing it over time and space. An alternative metric is an hour of work. It sidesteps the problems using money per se and the abstractions of economics by putting people back at the center. Admittedly, it does have a short-coming. It cannot capture the time cost of new technologies, so the reference in the chart of the iPod seems out of place.
A comprehensive survey of the of the time cost of goods and services would show that the majority have indeed fallen. That is, after all, what productivity means. Those items whose time costs have increased, like health care and college tuition, are the exception that prove the rule. They invite closer examination.