We’ve got an obsession with cheap prices, and it’s so ingrained in, we seem to hardly even be aware of it. But Walmart is an perfect example of this – where the whole premise is (supposed to be) cheap prices. I say supposed to be, because not all the prices are cheap, other items that we might not notice, are hiked up to essentially make up for the difference of the other products which are cheaper.
In this article about the ‘google glass’, 'Could Google Glass revive the high street? One third of Britons say they would use it to hunt for bargains (but admit they'd be embarrassed to wear it)', individuals said they would mostly use it to compare prices while shopping. To see if the product they’re looking to buy isn’t available cheaper somewhere else. Which is interesting that it’s never questioned – but how is it possible? To have the exact same product be different prices? What changed?
And this article about Amazon.com, 'Amazon accused of bullying small firms and inflating prices - the truth about the world's biggest retailer' exposes that Amazon’s prices aren’t always the cheapest, and showing the price wars that have occurred where companies will adopt price matching policies. Which again it’s not questioned why aren’t prices made the same in the first place? Stores were implementing these price matching or even undercutting methods, in order to get more customers to buy from their stores rather than just using their store as essentially a showroom to test out what they’ll buy for cheaper online.
Basically, we’ve accepted the idea that ‘we want cheap prices’. And this seems to make sense because, for the majority of us, we have low wages. Wages that don’t afford us to be able to buy all the things that make life livable and comfortable and worthwhile. And therefore, we think we need to find everything as cheap as we possibly can.
However, we haven’t been looking at the big picture – what does all these low prices mean? Can we have low prices but have quality products as well? These products being sold for so cheap – how much do the workers that supply the labor get paid? Do they get paid less if the prices are marked down?
The thing is – by always seeking the cheap prices, we put companies in a position where they have to continuously compete to have the cheapest prices, and what this means is the sacrifice of the quality of the product, and also a cheapening of the labor, which means workers having to do more for less, and if you’ll notice, that is exactly what is going on at large, where jobs are paying less and less, despite inflation going up. Even though many wages have simply remained stagnant, you can actually say they have lowered, because there are less higher paying jobs available and more lower paying jobs, so overall you can say the wages have in fact lowered. And that is just here in the U.S. This is the same also abroad in many countries that have don’t even have the very limited protection of the labor laws that exists currently in the U.S, (which really don't afford much and are mostly to protect the interest of employers anyway).
What you see happening in the most abundant jobs which is for example retail and food service jobs that make up a high percentage of the bulk of jobs in the U.S., is that they are purposely understaffed as much as possible, which means that the employees that are there must work even harder, though this does not mean any increase in their remuneration.
the end those with the money will have actually spent less, than those who must buy the cheaper inferior products and replace them over and over.
So you can see the vicious cycle that is in play – the more we want cheaper products, the more our wages and the value of our labor goes down, and therefore, the less we can afford to buy, and products have to get even cheaper, and even more degraded, which then devalues our labor even more, so – when would this end? Obviously you could see that it does not end. Until that is, when we reach the point that the products would become so inferior and we would be so poor that we would not bother to buy them, and then businesses will collapse, there’ll really be no jobs, and essentially the economy would have tanked.
Boy, who wants to live in that reality? Many already do today in countries whose economies have crashed, and those of us who have paid attention and noticed that and read the news stories to see what that would be like, know – we do not want to go down that road.
So, we’ve got to realize the ‘bigger-picture’, in the consequence we’re causing for ourselves by so extensively sticking to this ‘cheaper is better’ idea, because it is not actually so. Our quality of life goes down, the quality of the products we can buy goes down, and it’s a viscous cycle down and down.
The way to get ourself out of this cycle is to have pricing required to be structured in such a way that all points of a products creation, as the labor that has gone into making it in all aspects of production, is properly accounted for, meaning that it is sufficient to cover costs and provide all labor involved adequate compensation enough to be able to afford a dignified and proper living, which means being able to afford quality products. To ensure effective pricing, the pricing should be disclosed as to what exactly is included in the price and how much, so that it is transparent and therefore easy for all to see exactly what we're paying for, and that effective remuneration is happening.
And this would lead to the result of all products being of the best quality, rather than of cheaper and cheaper quality, because we’ll be able to afford better quality, so we won’t put pressure on companies to be the cheapest, we can instead focus on the quality of products, and therefore the quality of our lives.
For a quality living with quality products and to stop the cheapening of our lives support the Living Income Guaranteed at http://basicincome.me