Younger readers of your paper may not have appreciated the subtleties in the political cartoon by Rick McKee ( on Page D3 of the July 31 Telegram. With a current inflation rate of 9.1 percent, the cartoon character asked: “Will prices ever drop?” The answer was: “That’s a $69,985.25 question.”

James Egan, 40, left, and his brother William, 43, both from Hartford, Conn., listen to a question asked by master of ceremonies Hal March, right, during their Feb. 21, 1956, appearance on “The $64,000 Question” in New York City. A recently published editorial cartoon evoked the TV quiz show. Hans Von Nolde/Associated Press, File

Older readers like myself easily figured out that $69,985.25 is $64,000 times 9.1 percent. In the 1950s, there was a quiz show called “The $64,000 Question.” Contestants answered a series of increasing difficult questions, culminating in the hardest question and the top prize of $64,000. Back then, $64,000 was big money and the tension increased as contestants moved closer to the top prize.

The phrase “That’s a $64,000 question” is a metaphor that has become part of the American vernacular meaning “that’s a tough question.” Yes, knowing when inflation will peak is a tough question. Thank you, Mr. McKee, for bring the issue to our attention in a clever cartoon.

Tom McClain

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