09 July 2013

Day 239: Sustainable Pricing with Living Income Guaranteed

sales-marketing-pricing-planning When we have a look at how prices have been determined throughout history, we can see that that for most throughout time (up to until the last 50-100 years), prices were set in the interest of the owner of the product / service, whereby those who labored on the products were given miniscule wages. Back in the day, we had so many people living in absolute poverty and hardship that any wage – even if it was next to nothing – was ‘good enough’ for them to take the job.

When people would start getting tired of their ridiculous wages and crappy working conditions, the business owners could always just fire them and replace them with people who were worse off and thus wouldn’t ‘complain as much’. With our tendency within society towards division and discrimination, there was always some form of group lower on the ladder, whether they were from a different race, newly emigrated, different gender, lower class,… -- there’s was always some chap in a more horrible condition that would take the job – and so never any real change came about in terms of everyone together standing for a living wage. Much of this same scenario is still taking place in the world – where it is taking place ‘out of sight’ and thus ‘out of mind’. Where slaves and minorities have now been replaced with alienated workforces abroad. As long as it’s ‘not us’ and ‘not in our face’ – we don’t seem to care.

If we have a look at the minimum wage concept, this is a fairly new concept when placing it into context of our entire history. Not so long ago, the idea of a minimum wage was even ruled to have been ‘unconstitutional’ In the United States, because it limits the scope of ‘freedom’ within contracts. So the freedom involving someone entering a contract, was deemed more important than the freedom to one’s Life, to the freedom of earn a living wage whereby you can sustain yourself.

So even though we now have certain protection points in place like the Declaration of Human Rights, and all sorts of Bills that are supposed to safeguard and protect our dignity and well-being – we still seem to shift in our ‘old way’ of doing things, where we care more about the freedom of contract, the freedom of the business environment than we do about the freedom of our own Human Rights. After all these years of so called ‘progression’, we have still failed to see and understand the simplistic connection that exists between prices and wages.

Many of us who do earn some kind of wage, still have to be careful about our spending. Because our wages are not secured, and very likely to be lower than what we’d like – we are picky with our spending and will look for the ‘cheap stuff’. The more cheap stuff we buy, the more stuff we can get for our money. It seems like a rational decision, following that ‘since I have so little money, I better buy things that cost little money, so that I can at least ‘maximize’ my purchases with the little I have’. Because we are purchasing and buying from a starting point of fear, a starting point of lack – we look for what is cheap. Yet, we fail to see that things can only be ‘cheap’, if somewhere down the production line, other things were made ‘cheap’ – which in most cases would be = the wages. So because we have cheap wages we buy cheap stuff and maintain our cheap wages because that is what we are supporting through buying cheap things. It’s a cycle that feeds itself.

When we do our shopping and purchases, we only look at prices in relation to our own pocket. We forget that there is another party involved as those who participated in its creation process, whose wages are to be paid and included within the price of goods and services. We only care about ‘getting the best deal’ where we are happy when we got something very cheap, and then feel cheated if we find out we paid more for something, where we could have paid less. We don’t get that for us to have our happy/winning experience when getting a ‘good deal’, someone else has to be cheated on --- where they are now being paid less than their actual value as a living, breathing, laboring, contributing human being.

In modern society, most of us are both the consumers and the workers. We are the ones feeling like we’re winning when we can buy cheap things and we are the ones feeling like we’re losing / being cheated on when we get our paycheck.

The only way for us to have a healthy relationship towards consumption and our own dignity as a human being as being intricately involved in the creation of products for consumption – is by directly connecting prices to sustainable living wages. Prices should not be set first, where only afterwards we give the ‘leftovers’ and ‘scraps’ to the workforce. Living wages should come first, and not be up for negotiation when setting and calculating prices. It should become downright illegal to price any product or service in a way that diminishes the wage level of an individual to lower than that of a sustainable / minimum living wage – because this would be a direct infringement on someone’s Right to Life.

As part of the implementation of a Living Income Guaranteed, Prices should thus firstly serve to sustain living wages and should only secondarily (if at all) be used towards the purpose of furthering competition in the name of business. If everyone lives on a Living Income or at least a Minimum Wage, everyone can afford this form of sustainable pricing (unlike in the current system, where for many households ‘fair trade’ products simply exceed one’s budget) and we can have system where we support others’ labor as a contribution to society the way we would like to be valued and
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