At What Cost?

At What Cost?

New or Used… Or even Free… Everything has a cost.

I woke early this morning, spent a few minutes into my morning routine, and this thought crept in as I read the article about a billionaire who makes more money in 5 days than most of us make in a lifetime. Yep. I support this guy by buying into his system. He’s rich because of his ability to do things differently, and many of us like what he’s doing and how his business keeps us buying things at a better cost.

But the bottom line is, without support from people like you and I, he would not have the business model he enjoys today.

Then I thought about all those companies, ideologies, countries and all the workers who produce the things we buy and it made me think even more about all the things we support by our buying habits. We support the root of everything around us with our buying, shopping or pillaging habits. We support ideologies, religion, and culture by picking up things that are made in far off places. We support moral and immoral people and systems because we do not take into account that the cost of everything we buy is not simply the cash out of our pocket!

There was a time when I was content picking up treasures at yard sales, and not giving one thought about where the product came from. I have a portable manual typewriter by a doctor whose kids were selling out his stuff after he no longer needed it, I think… Antique! Special! Worth lugging it around? Maybe. But like those cigarette lighters of old I used to collect, there will come a day when I’ll sell it at my own yard sale. Hopefully, it will bring in more than the years of storage has cost me!

As I aged, shopping time became a premium, so I quit looking at yard sales and simply went to a regular store to by what I would regularly need and quit buying for the sake of the bargain price from my neighbor next door. Then eBay and Amazon type places entered the picture. Technology replaces the shopping and yard sale mentality by changing my shopping and buying habit. In just minutes I can compare prices, read reviews, make a decision and have it shipped to my front door, mostly for free!

And never leave the house! Or, do it on my mobile platform as I race down the highway of life!

But this has consequences as more of us change the way we do things, the local store gets swallowed up by the online competition and before long they whittle away to nothing. Poof! They’re gone. Malls and major chains are struggling with their existence. Mom and Pop stores that were wiped out by these large businesses may just make a come-back as more of us need something quickly, and we need it right now! So we fire up ol’ Bessie and dash to the store for that emergency pound of sugar.

As life changes, I find that there are more changes like this than I like to see happen. The cycle of marketplace changes more rapidly than we like and all the more I realize that everything has a cost and the way we change to fit the new model has a huge cost.

Take medical insurance as an example. We have grown used to spending ungodly amounts of money on extreme measures to keep the body alive for just a little bit longer. This affects the bottom line for all of us. It changes the way we have to pay for getting a simple pill prescribed for a simple ache. A simple visit costs more than a day’s wages for the laborer making minimum wage. If you have insurance then the costs are shriveled down to a co-pay, however, your premium’s will keep going up as the costs go up. Ensure more people with life-threatening illnesses, then the cost of doing business skyrockets and is shared by the pool of subscribers.

Where I live a popular city north of me raised the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. It affects all business differently, depending on size, but it affects everyone who buys products and services. The cost is passed down to every purchaser. Without considering the larger picture the city is satisfied that they have cured the common poverty rate. Yes. This city now states that half of its wage earners cannot live on minimum wage because rent is skyrocketing, so they work on rent-control, and a host of other taxes to care for the workers and the homeless. Eventually, the small business model fails and large businesses move to a tax-friendlier location…and the city and state suffer the loss because of poorly considered changes.

Everything we do has an associated cost. If you are willing to progress, you must pay the cost. If you are happy with status quo then you probably need to find another place to live. If you want to digress, well, I’m not sure what to tell you. But as I age and consider the shrinking value of my worth by the shrinking of my pay and rising costs all around, I worry about what life will look like when I reach my parents’ age. It makes me focus on staying busy working for that extra buck that will ease me into retirement and determine how to live on a fixed income for 20-30 years.

Gasoline may disappear someday as battery and self-driving cars replace our commuting picture, but I remember getting gas for 11 cents per gallon and have paid as high as $5.15 for diesel in this country (much higher elsewhere). Before you think this a good thing, the costs associated with the future have not really been calculated to my satisfaction. For example, no longer will we need striped roads (paint, equipment, and workers gone), and really, do we need all the street lights? How about street signs? Will we need personal car insurance? Too many variables! I bet we will need more satellites and technology to support the future!  What will the power grid look like? What will we need in replacement? Whatever it is I’m sure it will not be inexpensive!

Like I said, everything has a cost. And everyone has to pay. Some pay more than their fair share because someone else needs more from others just to stay in the game.



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