Follow The Money Trail


You often hear the advice in television dramas to ” follow the money trail “…it will lead you through the plot twists to find the real motives and real culprits.

Whether there really are culprits or not, the real motive is ALWAYS money – on television or in normal life. It is at the core of any business venture, most art production, and a good many social movements. Very few people want to disburse it…most want to collect it.

And who can say them nay? A product or service costs money to make and money needs to return to the maker in a greater quantity to justify that production. There will be diversions of part of it all along the way to buy off governments and workers and in the end a good deal of it must go to the source. But I must say I am puzzled as to how much money can be asked for a product that is unnecessary. Unnecessary in the sense that it is not food, clothing, shelter, or medicine. Say something like a high-end digital rangefinder camera…

When a device costs $ 10,000 to $ 20,000 to purchase you need to ask yourself some questions – and not just the ones about where will you find the money for it and what colour will you get. Try these:

a.  How much money did it cost the retailer to buy the product for from the wholesaler?

b.   How much money did the wholesaler pay the factory for it?

c.   How much money did the it actually cost to make?

After these, you can add the following:

d.   How much money will an equivalent device cost? Be honest with yourself, even if the advertising department tries to suggest tradition, prestige, or mysticism as a justification for the higher price.

e.   Will you get any plausible or tangible benefit from the extremely expensive purchase?

You can generally tell when you are being hoodwinked by a manufacturer or sales organisation by watching the lips of the sales personnel – they will be moving. But you are in greater danger of conning yourself as you can think without actually making a sound. And you hang around yourself all of the time – you can catch yourself unawares and put one over you easily.

If you say money is no object, you are really doing a good job of lying to yourself. Quite what you will say when asked to justify the $ 20,000 toy on any practical basis is a moot point. I’m willing to bet, however, that you will employ a number of the advertising phrases that the maker of the camera provides in their literature and you will repeat them to yourself until you are satisfied that it has quieted your conscience. Your spouse will need a different approach, particularly if they have access to your credit card records – and the knife drawer in the kitchen – and your neck.

Remember that, in the end, the money you spend is largely lost. Oh, you can point to the rise in prices of some commemorative cameras that are designed to appeal to the acquisitive technical miser. You may be one of them – hence buying the camera…but what are your chances of finding someone in the future when you need the money back who is as gullible as you are right now? If the sales person has managed to roll you over and crowbar your wallet out to the tune of $ 20,000, doesn’t that tell you what sort of sales person you are likely to be?

Shall I wrap up one or two for you, Sir?


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