The value of value

Noticed this in Soho a few weeks ago. I admit the first thing that made me look was the Woolworth’s font. Except that it said ‘Worthless’…..which is not too far from the truth, though I was mildly interested to know that they’ve relaunched as an online store following their closing down a few months ago. Anyway, this group, called the Pollocks Group is ostensibly a network of young rebels that in this instance offered to transform any old piece of junk you brought in into a piece of art, and in return only asked that you pay what you thought the finished item was worth. It was a week-long event (I saw the poster only after the event), but it got me thinking about this sentiment of pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth that seems to be going around. This particular event was also ‘inspired by the recession’ and came about because the group was ‘compelled to create something positive’. 

In the end, the financial meltdown can be summarised as having happened because of greedy banks and non-creditworthy people entering into deals they shouldn’t have. (That word ‘worth’ comes in here too). Models like pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth are like a fresh start in some ways. The key thing is to ensure that this value that we place on things doesn’t get inflated to the point that people get greedy again, and even more crucially, that banks aren’t allowed by regulatory bodies to act on that greed even if they do get greedy. 
People definitely want to create a new world, one that is positive rather than negative and gloomy. I think it’s time we all move towards that. It’s up to the financial institutions to analyse how exactly to prevent a financial meltdown of the scale we have witnessed (recommended reading: some of Umair Haque’s thoughts on this), but the rest of us should try to move on.  

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