The Value of Value

While trying not to knock the ashtray filled with stubbed out Gauloises off the pile of terrifically thick books by Foucault, Sartre and Derrida that is stacked (perhaps metaphorically) on my desk, I shall now attempt to state a value for the concept of Value in a commercial society.

And here it is:

Value is a desired quality that cannot be separated from an object and which therefore gives rise to an intrinsic commercial gravity the weight of which can only be expressed as “cost”. Commercial gravity behaves exactly as does natural gravity, expressing itself as a specific ability to attract objects towards its mass.

The Purveyor of Value is always hoping to expand the mass of the valued object, either by manipulating perception of it towards a higher indication of commercial gravity or claiming its value to exist only in aggregate rather than as an array of individual objects.

The Seeker of Value is always hoping to diminish the mass of the valued object, either by denying or downwardly manipulating perception of it towards a lower indication of commercial gravity or by insisting it has no additional value in aggregate.

It is important to note that the essence of “Branding” as a commercial discipline consists entirely of the effort of the Purveyor of Value as described above.

It is equally important to note that the essence of “Employment” or “Purchasing” as a commercial discipline consists entirely of the effort of the Seeker of Value as described above.

It should also be of some interest to individuals that the more they partake of themselves as a “commercial value proposition”, and the more they see themselves as the purveyor of such, their value in the commercial equation will rise in an amount equal to their apprehension of this fact.

It should also be noted that everything and every one (e.g every viable entity) in a commercial society possesses a “brand” suitable for purveyance.

The “Branding” proposition goes something like this:

“We the Purveyors (the “Brand”) have pooled vast resources in order to develop desirable objects that cannot be had from any other source. These objects are not mere assemblages of individual units of value but a conglomeration of interlocking value items that create an overall value many times in excess of the value that each related item might have on its own. Moreover, this brand is equal to a promise made to the desiring party that the quest for value shall be satisfied upon payment of the price extracted for use and/or possession of the branded object.”

To which the answer goes something like:

“We the Seekers (the Consumer or Purchaser) are unconvinced we require the object on which you have spent your resources in a manner unknown and unimportant to us. You have presented us with an object devoid of value except as it suits our perceived requirement; moreover, you have failed to account for all the similarly presented objects available to us, which may or may not fulfill the need we have in a manner more suited to us than the object you have offered. Finally, you offer no basis on which to trust your brand-promise that we’d be satisfied with the exchange should we transmit value to you in the form of payment.”

Between these two opposite forces lies the vast, all-consuming universe of activities called The Market, in which the push and pull of the multitudinous Value Objects are exerted upon one another, and in which the value of each is either aggregated or broken down, and in which, finally, after the above two opposing arguments are exhausted to a point of diminishing return of value upon effort, a price for Value is agreed upon.

I personally believe these forces are deeply embedded in all human endeavor and can be proven to exist at every conceivable level of human interaction.

I believe that successful individuals–and successful companies–are those that have apprehended and internalized these tendencies as if they were natural law, and who have exploited the abovementioned principles to best advantage.

Unsuccessful individuals–and unsuccessful companies–are those that have not been sufficiently aware of the primacy of the abovementioned principles, or, having become aware, remain unable to convince enough Seekers of the value of their Value.

From the Seeker or Purchaser side, lack of success stems from an inability to pierce the Brand’s “resource allocation” statement and its “value in aggregate” facade; to be gulled overmuch by its Value claims; and by an overwillingness to buy (literally) into the promise offered by the Brand.

Lack of success in this endeavor is commonly referred to as “overpaying” and often exerts a ruinous effect on the Seeker. In fact, failure on the Seeker’s part leaves the Seeker more often prone to immediate catastrophe than failure on the Purveyor’s part, which often enough plays out over a longer period of diminishing Value.

If the forces so described above (eg. the value of Value) were in some manner to cease acting, the world of humans would rapidly be rid of such contrivances as nations, corporations, religions, families and any other associations that rely on organizational principles any much more complex than those present in, say, an association of baboons on the veldt.

And it remains to be seen whether the veldt baboons do not partake of the inherent value of Value in some way as well.

The Saints, Snowmageddon and Climate Change

The New Orleans Saints won the Superbowl in order to prove that serious climate change is challenging humanity.

Or what I really meant to say was that, by bringing attention to the City of New Orleans just as the Nation’s Capital was getting buried in an epic snow, the Who Dat Saints also brought attention to the fact that the Big Easy has still not recovered from the Big Flood engineered by the Army Corp of same after their ill-constructed levees broke during a visit from a nasty tourist named Katrina.

Or what I really meant to say was that, despite the shallow (or on-purpose cynical) misunderstanding of the nature and implications of climate change by those who are quite certain it has nothing to do with billions of tons of carbon being pumped into the atmosphere to support our air-conditioned style of Modern Living, the confluence of both overheated tropical storming and overcooled, overmoistened northern storming simply suggests that yes: much as the scientific models have predicted, we are now subject to a pattern of weather extremes that rather strongly suggest a period of climate flux.

Or what I am really getting at is, I am not quite convinced myself that the matter of weather patterns parting from their historical norms is due more to pollution than to over-attention (or new attention, anyway) much as, say “autism” is a diagnosis based on perception and new attention rather than a sudden huge increase in sickly children. Does anybody recall there were always those kids in class who were somehow just “different” or unfortunately “weird” or oddly “quiet”? Now they’re victims of “autism spectrum syndrome”. Fine. But they’re still the same kinds of kids, and probably showing up in the same amounts.

Or what I am really saying is, even though I am not convinced that humans are the cause of global climate change, I think it more or less stands to reason we may have a role in it. And in a way, the whole “global warming” debate obscures the real action item for the industrialized carbon-based beings swarming the planet these days (eg. us), and that is: we really should be taking better care of the place.

For instance, does the threat of global warning make it any less shameful that we chop down forests to make pasture for cows we turn into BK Broilers, destroy delicate habitats to line our floors with “beautiful, durable hardwood” slats, dump plastic in the ocean in such quantities that we have created poison-leeching mini-continents drifting in the mid-Pacific, belch enough smoke into the air such that Beijing is a massive cancer-ward while East L.A. reeks half the year in filthy smog, reduce the habitats of brave and beautiful animals like the Siberian Tiger to the point where as a species they are hanging on by a claw?

It does not.

For the sake of the Tiger and the Vu Quong Ox and for those who must breathe filthy air and for the sake of the cruelly torn jungles and forests, can we please take a step back and ask how we might stop the wantonness of our destruction? Does it really matter if we are responsible for Katrina, or Snowmaggedon, or the shrinking of the ice-caps?

It does not.

We just have to stop killing and burning and smoking it up on the massive scale we have become accustomed to, not because we know it’s going to cause a climate problem, but because it’s ugly and stupid and in the end, immoral.

Climate change? Maybe. Throw a little love to the tigers? Yes.

And by the way: Who Dat?