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My First Challenge January 8, 2011

Posted by jaboak in jaboak.

This is challenge going to be easy right, we don’t buy a lot of stuff anyways…. Or will it be so easy?

Yesterday while traveling I heard a really cool song, quickly I grabbed my smartphone (which somehow seems to go against the spirit of our challenge… but we love those things) and I was able to use an app to determine the title and artist (what a world we live in! We could seriously start  a discussion about the horizons of technology, and technology for technologies sake)

I love the song and I knew my wife would too.  I felt that the radio was speaking to me, that the challenge was coming out over the airwaves.

I resolved right then and there to buy it when I returned home from work!

That the last statement was in stark contradiction with our challenge never even occurred to me.

I didn’t take long for my dear wife to dash the excitement I felt welling from within (I get pretty pumped about collecting new albums) over the harsh reality of the challenge.

To be fair I can get the album within the rules of the challenge, but I have to find some means other than my regular income to raise the funds to purchase the music.

My wife graciously offered to buy the album for me with money she had garnered from some cloth diapers she had recently sold, and the proceeds from dish cloths she had crocheted.  That didn’t fly with me, my wife doesn’t use her money by me things!!  (I can see this leading to deeper exploration of my relationship with my wife and our roles in the family.  I’m desperately going to need her to buy me things this year unless I can come up with a way, outside of my 9-5, to get some cash.)

I am the first person I ever met that used Napster, and I continued to get my music for free some quite some time after I downloaded my first song.  However,  I guess as the challenge had been building in us over the last few years I had decided that entertainment has real value to me. And although I don’t think that money is the best way to measure value in most situations,  capitalism has pervaded our modern world. And assigning dollar values to things is capitalism’s essence. So a few years back I decided that I was going to pay for music and get some of my dollars through to support the artist.

Boy do I ever regret that decision today!  It was actually a friend who had suggested that if we aren’t going to buy things I could just go and “napster” my music.  But I cannot deny the value of an artist’s work. And as yet I haven’t started bartering for anything, let alone with artist for their crafts.  (I’m going to try that this year!!!!   Maybe my burgeoning marketing skills can be of some use to an artist starting out somewhere.)

I suppose their is two things that come out of this post.  1)  This is going to harder than I thought.  Though we have been discussing this challenge for sometime and I thought I had steeled myself to it, it’s going to be a challenge to live by the rules we’ve set forth.

2)  I’m not saying we would be better off as communists when I poke at capitalism (and in reality socialism prevails) but we do need to examine the dollar value vs. the real value of things.  We need to look at how things are “commodified”. How real things like a persons time, or the environmental impacts of producing and using things are so rarely included in the dollar value of things that companies assign, markets bear, and hence we pay.

My wife crocheted 6 dish cloths in about 3 hours to sell for $15.00 CAD.  My wife’s time is worth much more than $5.00 per hour (and that doesn’t even include input costs!)  Yet a cloth made with virtually no electricity, no large scale manufacturing facilities, virtually no transportation costs etc. is likely worth about $2.50 in reality.

What do you think the real value is of the cloths you get for less than a dollar?


P.S.  For now youtube will suffice as my music collection.  Enjoy Simone White, and her song The great imperialist state



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