Friday, September 13, 2002

A whole new value system

For many years I have conformed to the conventions of commerce, Product A has value equalling monetary value X – the value is determined by “The Market”. I’ve always accepted that The Market was always better at determining value than myself. I am therefore happy to spend £12.99 on a CD and £250 on car repairs even if the former gives me overwhelmingly more pleasure than the latter. It doesn’t seem right, but it’s the way I’ve always accepted.

On Wednesday Emma was on a training course, meaning for me another walk to the station, on the way whilst staring blankly at the pavement I happened upon a crisp £10. There was not a soul in sight, what with it being 7.30 in the morning so I thought for a second about picking it up. I didn’t… partly fearing I would find it nailed to the ground and then bundled to the floor by Johnny Knoxville or Dom Jolly, but mostly because I didn’t think it was right to benefit from some others’ misfortune. I was tempted, but I walked on by. I felt a bit stupid, because the next person along would whip it into their pocket and blow it all on fizzy pop and sweeties. But I did feel, slightly, spiritually and morally enriched, pleased that my moral value exceeded £10.

On the way home, as the train pulled into the station, I stuffed my copy of Tony Hawks’ slightly inferior One Hit Wonderland – disappointing after Around Ireland with a Fridge and Playing the Moldovans at Tennis - into my rucksack. When I looked up there was a copy of this week’s Heat Magazine left on the seat. Spying it I actually held back and let everyone get off the train before scooping it up and stuffing it into my rucksack.

I am therefore happy to forego a free £10 note but not a free copy of Heat magazine, so if we lived in an economic environment whereby product value = pleasurable utility, a copy of Heat magazine, to me, is valued greater than £10. This troubles me.


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