Worth ≠ Cost
If you understand the underpinnings of Slow Food, you might just forgive me for my rant.
We are a nation swimming in a sea of worthless junk that costs unfathomably more than its combined purchase price. We believe that as long as we fund our retirements and our funerals, our children will not be burdened by us. Some of us whose “hearts are in the right place” simply say that we cannot afford to be green, or that we work hard to earn what we have. We also assume that, with the exception of sentimental items and garage sale steals that make it onto the Antiques Road Show, a thing is worth as much as or less than it costs, and that it costs as much as the price-tag says it costs. If the price tag says $5 (and we buy it, validating the seller’s claim that it is worth $5 – “fair market value” in action), then it actually costs $5 or less. That is how much it costs, and that is how much it is worth. The blinkered life is grand.
In many ways, we are skipping happily along, like children who are too young to understand the cost of living and the value of money. Our kids assume that food, shelter, and toilet paper are free and are rudely awakened when they fledge. We “grown-ups” assume that our grocery bags are free (they don’t cost anything), or that we pay for them through the elevated price of the bags’ contents. We also assume that the $10.00
I was listening to NPR this-morning, hearing about how this and that group want to make
No-one ever really talks about his individual responsibility for preserving resources for the next generation. Even with city grants and loans, solar energy for our oak-shaded houses is not an economical option for most of us, even if we we cut down the trees(?!). If someone tells us to eat better quality and less food (instead of eating more and buying “functional foods,” diet pills and surgeries to trim our bodily excesses), we are personally offended. If someone suggests that we re-use our grocery bags, we wonder what good it would do to sacrifice such tiny, “free” things that are so convenient. If someone tells us to not buy the SUV that we actually don’t need and can’t afford anyway when our children are born, we wonder how we could possibly manage because everyone else has one, and that proves that SUVs are a necessity of modern life.
When I tell friends that I’m trying to transition as much as possible to organically grown produce and meat that comes from a humanely and sustainably farmed livestock, they tell me that these things are expensive and imply that I’m indulging in unnecessary extravagances.
Some individuals who are convinced that we should have fewer children are the same ones whose habits and homes cost more money and resources than entire extended families use in other parts of the world.
The fact is, worth (fair market value) does not equal cost. If we buy it for less at Walmart, lucky dogs, we may never consider the cost – the human cost (cheap labor, poor working conditions, unimaginable living conditions), the cost in natural resources (petrochemicals for making and transporting), the cost to the environment (for example China, where we’ve forked out most of our production, is the most polluting country in the world because of us).
And in case you think I’m picking on you, allow me to indict myself. I’ve got miles to go, and the more I learn the more indicted I become. But I’m making one tiny change at a time, all the while hoping that my child will not see the spoils of my existence in his lifetime.