In his novel Men at Arms, Terry Pratchett detailed the “Sam Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socio-economic unfairness,” which crisply explained how expensive it is to be poor. In short, “A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time,” Pratchett wrote, “while a 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.”
Now, the Pratchett estate has given Jack Monroe, a writer in the UK, permission to use Vimes’ name for the Vimes Boots Index, a price index that will track the “insidiously creeping prices of the most basic versions of essential items at the supermarket.”
Monroe has been documenting the rising prices of basics for over a decade, and wrote in The Guardian about the launch of this new index. In a recent Twitter thread, she gave countless examples of the drastic price changes for staple foods:
Woke up this morning to the radio talking about the cost of living rising a further 5%. It infuriates me the index that they use for this calculation, which grossly underestimates the real cost of inflation as it happens to people with the least. Allow me to briefly explain.
— Jack Monroe (@BootstrapCook) January 19, 2022
Terry Pratchett’s daughter, Rhianna, told The Guardian: “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 any more, we do have Jack and Dad would be proud to see his work used in such a way.”
Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness. https://t.co/tx2DEXrshG
— Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob) January 25, 2022