Tip/Thought of the Day

Value Is What We Make It

We decide what has worth and what doesn’t. Diamonds and gold do not have intrinsic value. The former was manipulated and incredibly marketed to the point it’s “rarity” and symbol of love raised it above other stones and gold was merely a decorative trinket in some civilizations. Not the riches it represents today.

That yellowing dress with a few buttons missing is priceless because your grandmother wore it on her wedding day. Or the vintage pin that’s been a cherished, passed down heirloom since the 1930’s. My mothers Chanel suit she splurged on as a young woman still has a timeless beauty and class. Art is in the eye of the beholder but its value is defined by a select few. Like a paint splattered canvas signed by Pollack, or Picasso who depicted art in geometric designs and signature breasts that are more cartoonish and graffiti-like than real. Even money became essentially worthless when gold no longer backed its worth.

The U.S. dollar became a fiat currency in 1968, meaning it’s not supported by a physical commodity so the value varies depending on circumstance and trust. That’s why losing the world’s trust when we refuse to pay our bills is catastrophic for U.S. goods and currency.

One friend considers pennies so useless and a pain to carry he never accepts them with his change. Apparently the U.S. government agreed when they decided to stop all production of pennies because it costs double what it’s worth to make, are bad for the environment- due to mining issues- and it’s often thrown in the trash. But that scorned little coin may be costing you in the end if you pay in cash.

I know that sounds like an alien word-cash. Who pays in cash anymore? That brings me to the value of cash. Where once we flipped it out at every interaction, now its rare, even frowned upon with the COVID pandemic, to touch or offer such dirty or potentially bug infested items. Plus, as my daughter frequently reminds me, there’s no benefit to paying in cash, only negatives.

You can’t track it as easily and you don’t get a percentage back. I get that, but it’s also easy to overspend and forget how much it all adds up- that Starbucks coffee, cookie at the food mart, extra coke added to the gas bill. By the month’s end a huge bill often comes due, just as the card manufacturers hoped. And is rounding up or down fair over time? Who among us has ever thought to stringently track our pennies and minutes worked to see if they averaged out every month? I bet the answer is no one. Who actually believes it would be worth the energy to pursue, based on the likely savings? That’s what we do, weigh the value, based on its savings or cost.

Cooking at home may be healthier and cheaper but the time saving benefit of drive thru, delivery or eating out often outweighs any losses. Other items we can’t live without- food water, shelter, clothing are universally appreciated and bartered across all borders. Survival trumps everything.Value is what we say it is. But it only exists when we all agree upon and accept the worth an item is given.

Especially intangibles like truthfulness, character, integrity… they become just a collection of letters if no ones cares whether they are honored. Words are meaningless if there is no power or action behind them. Then, like the penny, they become obsolete. An antiquated time when we required facts to make a persuasive argument, sealed a deal with a handshake or a penny actually had buying power. The values we adhere to are the threads that hold society accountable and creates the magnificent tapestry that binds us together. They become mere words or quaint stories of a bygone past when they are eroded.

Each of us defines what has value. We all make clear what we will or will not tolerate. Knowing those we love, care about, work with and elevate to positions of power believe honor, truth, respect, integrity are intrinsic to a society that prospers and thrives together is paramount. They are only valuable when we give them value.

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