Sunday, April 24, 2016

Worth and Work

A Roman writer wrote a very long time ago: "Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it."

These days this truism has been bent a little: "Everything is worth what you can get away with forcing a purchaser to pay for it." Which is, of course, why market control, or dominance, is so prized. Free market competition is supposed to be the natural curb to this control and in some instances it does actually work. Sometimes competition can work far too well in fact; as in a world gone so mad with price competition, without any control on profits, or review of investment efficacies (as in abstracted paper instruments that sell only collected promises to pay in other contexts), that all aspects of costs, except as already mentioned, must be ruthlessly diminished. And as wages are one of those costs the search for where to get the lowest gets ever more desperate. The same can also be said for the costs of social and environmental equity.

We are then left with fewer and fewer people who can afford to buy anything, as well as a host of problems nobody seems able, or willing, to pay for.

Getting back to the valuation of things, however, is inevitably to ask how the aspect of need enters the equation. After all, you can't have much hope of forcing anybody to do anything unless you have first established a firm perception of need. And in this do we see the fundamental aspect of power; starting with the point of a spear, or the edge of a blade, and what these can deprive you of, and evolving to gun barrels or munitions from the air.

Having workers left over to work, let alone stability enough to lessen investor uncertainties, however, requires more subtle means of establishing need. And so now we have media, the control of public narrative, as well as the hard sell. And we have marketers, not to mention propagandists, who will stop at nothing in the use of all of your fears, and/or any other base instincts, to sell you on the current reality of convenience. With that kind of power "needs" become as fungible as money itself.

I am always reminded of these things with I read articles like the one linked below; articles that try to delve into the deficiencies of a market economy without ever coming to question its core viability in the first place. In these it is always only a matter of the right set of reforms that will save the day; not understanding that to reform it enough to do away with all of what makes it so undesirable would inevitably make it unworkable; especially if you were trying to do it without also transforming all other market economies at the same time.


Why Garbagemen Should Earn More Than Bankers

How more people are making money without contributing anything of value