What is great value for money?

Ashim D’Silva

We often judge a fair price for something based on the lowest we could pay for it. Anything above that is premium and must come with justification. It’s the core of bargaining: if something can be cheaper, it should.

The industrial revolution made mass manufacture an everyday concept and so dramatically dropped the price of most of our world, that everything else was either confined to a luxury or forced to play catch up. But manufacture and delivery is only part of the cost.

In art, the value of a painting is not defined by the work the artist put in, but the amount a buyer is willing to pay. The painting is valueless to the painter once it is complete; it only fills his plate when it is sold. So the less the buyer pays, the lower the chance the painter will be able to paint a second.

When the price of something drops, the cost to produce it needs to drop as well and the first things to go are often the most important: quality materials, research and innovation, people. When you buy a product, you’re not paying for just the peice; you are aiding the development of the next one. And that is real value. Because this product will break, and when you replace it, you’ll want to new one to be better.

We’re doing it with our products, our environment and our homes, even our governments and cities. Don’t buy a product, invest in the survival of its creator. The future is coming and we will have to live in it, probably as early as next week.

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