Question from a reader:”Dear Kim Greenblatt, I am still working but I am on the look for another better paying job. Isn’t capitalism all about paying for what something is worth? I know that there is a market demand for my services. I do think though that there are some things that I won’t pay a lot of money for and I always try to bargain people down (like attorney fees, tax prep fees and any kind of travel plans). I generally get my way.”
My answer is a question for you. Are you bragging, confused or a combination of both? You have one question and that basically isn’t what capitalism is about. Capitalism is where people form a market and by all of them attaching a value on something, the person offering the goods or services decides to sell the selfsame goods or services to the individuals or group of people for the amount of money that he thinks he can get or was bid for it. Or at least that definition of mine is a little closer to the mark I hope then what you started asking about.
I applaud the fact that you are in a career that is hot and in demand and thank you for sharing because that proves that there is work and there are jobs out there however there is a touch of a very common philosophy in your voice that I want to address. I call it the “You Are Free But You Pay Me Philosophy”.
I have no problem with people trying to bargain and try and get the best price they can but when your bargaining goes outside of the capitalism system and gets into free or heavily selfish motives disguised as socialism or free market I am calling you out. People who are making good money – and by that I mean $100,000 a year and up sometimes are trying to devalue other people’s services to save money and they are the same ones who cry the loudest when they get salary cuts or nobody wants to pay their going rate any more.
And there is a lot of that going around internationally these days.
Capitalism is about charging and receiving what the market will bear. Let me put it to you this way since you brought up tax preparation fees. If you have any people near you who will do a corporate tax return, an individual tax return, a state tax return, the complete worksheets and supporting Schedules A, possibly D for stock transactions, and child tax worksheets for $200 I would say you are either in a very low income market, have found a very very inexpensive preparer or are fibbing. In America, at this point in time and in even in this economic market and especially post tax season you aren’t going to find a person to do it for that price. I’ve talked about that before and this super cheap underbidding has come back to bite people in the face and butt in terms of companies laying off people because they cost too much. Not so happy about that are you now?
How about doctors? Do you go to the doctor with your appendix ready to burst and say, “I can’t pay you more than $1000 to have my appendix taken out and I don’t have insurance. You have to help me. The doctor down the street said he would do it for $500.”
We all know what you would say as a doctor, right? “Well, I think you should get your appendix infected butt to the other doctor and save yourself $500 before you black out from the pain, don’t you?”
I wish you well in your job hunting but caution that pride really does come before the fall and without getting into too many proverbs etc I would seriously remind you and any readers to be mindful of the Golden Rule – Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.
If everybody wants to get everything for free from everybody else, we need to rethink our monetary system and governing system and frankly, we are already in a modified capitalistic system. I think we need to have some clearer, more detailed plans at a local level, our leaders actually getting more into the practical parts of getting wealth into our hands by developing business, getting people back to work. If everybody is trying to get everything free while themselves looking to get paid, that is the ultimate in being selfish and stupid. We need to be wisely selfish in thinking about our future, health, family etc and that means being able to function in society without having our neighbors come after us with pitchforks and flames.
Being wisely selfish reminds me of one of my favorite money making slogans that I will repeat here:
Everybody knows that pigs get fat, but hogs get slaughtered.
Practice and teach fair business practices and deal well with people. I am not teaching you to deal blindly or stupidly in the least. I am asking you to deal with people fairly and in turn expect to be treated fairly in return.
April 23, 2009
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Kim Isaac Greenblatt
You Are Free But Me Pay Me Philosophy