Ralph Josephsohn: A penny for your thoughts – Longmont Times-Call

2022-09-24 03:53:59 By : Mr. Amy Chen

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Someone recently engaged me with the cliché “a penny for your thoughts.” Value encompasses many interrelated factors. A car sputtering Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and belching black smoke chugs into a garage. A mechanic looks under the hood and straightaway replaces a frayed wire. The engine then purrs like a contented kitten. He charges $150 for the fix. The owner’s hair bristles on end. He hisses, fumes and spits outrage. The mechanic explains that the wire costs $10. The remainder pays for the mechanic’s Auto Technician Certification, expertise, and many years of experience. Value is calibrated by supply and demand. Two Buck Chuck might fill a wine glass, Motel 6 a seat in the lobby. Eggs aren’t cheaper by the dozen if there’s only enough bread to buy two.

People depend on goods and services furnished by many others. Barter and exchange occurs through the medium of moolah. Value is adjusted by changing conditions, priorities and scarcity. “Added on” expenses roll down the conveyor belt of production and distribution. The ultimate consumer pays the accumulated price of logistics, labor, materials, production, and profits, as the risks of damage or loss.

“America’s Got Talent” is a fitting platform to help us better appreciate the dynamics of value. Acrobats, knife throwers, sword swallowers, solo and choral vocalists, comedians, dancers, daredevils, magicians, mentalists, and ventriloquists initially audition their acts in front of AGT panelists. The finalists then hawk their talents in the bazaar of national television. The winner gets a million greenbacks and a gig in Las Vegas. Valuing widely disparate talents having no unifying performance nexus and guidelines is akin to luring the viewing audience with the external spin of glitter, not the substantive talent within.

Americans spend whopping sums of money on entertainment. Its value is derived by diverting attention from the monotonous doldrums of humdrum daily life, the grating malaise of social and political turmoil, as the shockwaves of uncertainty buffeting the economy. In the arena of professional sports, super star baseball, basketball, football, golf, and hockey players reap heaps of green cabbage. From the athletic fields to the silver screen, Top Guns fly off the chart of the earnings carrier. Well heeled wingmen strut their stuff on deck before a throng of ticket scalped fans gone Gaga.

Compare the thick dough commanded by entertainers in comparison to the relatively thin payday crust handed the nation’s top leaders. Consider money paid scientists having attained the highest levels of academia, who tirelessly engage in cutting edge research. Consider those who strive to overcome the many formidable and perilous conditions triggered in a nuclear age. Consider those who advocate radical reforms in order to mitigate progressively ominously approaching climatic, environmental and ecological disasters. Consider physicians who wield a surgical scalpel, or provide the hope of cure and recovery to the hopelessly afflicted. Consider biochemists formulating new vaccines to stem pandemics, who explore genetic treatments to conquer cancer and autoimmune diseases. Consider teachers who educate the youth, soldiers who secure freedom and independence, police officers and firefighters who serve and protect public safety. Consider those who till the soil and harvest a bountiful cornucopia of food filling the nation’s larders to the brim. The money paid for these essential services is not commensurate with that provided by entertainers by a long shot. They are more valuable than a chucked puck, flung football, plunked putt, homer hit or hoop swished. They dazzle the spin and twirl of the lures entertainment celebrities cast on stage under distracting flood lights.

Value understood to constitute money and material possessions rolling down the assembly line of social privilege and status is greatly inflated. If not principally motivated by benefiting others, value is diluted, sometimes adulterated. Value must not be measured by money alone. Wealth is best earned in conjunction with touching others to make their lives purr like contented kittens. No vault is large enough to contain a treasure trove of well earned personal satisfaction. The value of leaving a legacy benefiting the lives of others is immeasurable.

This missive is a penny’s worth of my thoughts. Don’t bristle from the root follicles of outrage, hiss, fume and spit, if you think you’ve been grossly overcharged. Caveat emptor!

Ralph Josephsohn is a longtime resident of Longmont and a semiretired attorney.

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