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Open Features: Economical Comments

"If we search our hearts, most of us would not change places with any of the people who are in need of the money the various charities raise,'' writes Shirley Stow.

I was completely bewildered about the technique of selling at a fair price, having just served at a church table top sale. Fair to whom? If the buyer seemed too pleased, it made me think I should have asked for more!

When I watch the various programmes on TV, such as Bargain Hunt or Antiques Road Trip, the competition between well known auctioneers, I realise a product is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it. If more than one person wants something, then the bids can soar sky high. But what saddens me is that a bidder will pay millions of pounds for a contemporary painting of squiggles or an odd looking sculpture of bits and pieces, when millions of people are starving.

Obviously I am wrong in thinking this way, because on what a person spends his money is his own decision.

When I was a young employee my wage was reviewed each year and I received an annual increase of ten shillings a week. I think it then went up to an extra £1 per week. I always looked forward to this review as I was sure I would be able to save the extra money for holidays or clothes. Inevitably the money was spent on some treat I didn’t usually buy. So instead of saving for special things, I seemed to be at the same standard in spite of my increase.

A new practice of giving percentage salary increases was later adopted, which meant those with small wages received smaller increases in their pay packets than those earning larger salaries. With this percentage increase across the board, companies found that products were costing relatively more to produce and so prices were increased accordingly. This created another struggle to save.

I would not like to be in charge of the country’s economy. Whatever is decided usually disadvantages one section of the community or the other. In an ideal world everyone would be equal but as George Orwell illustrates in ‘Animal Farm’, some are more equal than others. This can be through power and strength, or through their ability to strictly manage their affairs, or maybe barter skills, or in the case of an entrepreneur, take risks with varying results. However, there are those, who through no fault of their own do not have a level playing field so somehow we need to alter the equation to make both sides equal.

The news today is filled with cutbacks and shortfalls which affect all of us in some way. There is the anxiety of obtaining a mortgage, or in securing a good pension. There is also stress when funding is withdrawn by the National Health Service from patients and carers.

More and more, it seems, we are relying on our charity giving to supplement the needs of our community. In a way this could be a good thing for all of us. If we search our hearts, most of us would not change places with any of the people who are in need of the money the various charities raise. We may grumble from time to time, but if we are able to give something to benefit others in less fortunate circumstances, we feel a humble satisfaction in doing so.


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