DX4 Topic 4 - Do you get what you pay for in life?

Saturday 15 August 2020, 3pm - 5pm

Venue: - Cafe Brunelli, 187 Rundle St Adelaide

About Focus Questions: a) Please read them before you come to the meetup. Think about them so you have more than "instant opinions" to offer. b) Feel free to add more focus questions. c) THE FOCUS QUESTIONS ARE JUST A MENU TO CHOOSE FROM. From this menu we can discuss whatever seems interesting. d) Focus questions are not intended to push one viewpoint! You can adopt any position you wish. We actually like friendly disagreement - it can lead to deeper understanding

Focus Questions

1. What are people actually paying for when they ... invest money / buy a car / pay a subscription / buy clothes / pay a doctor above bulk billing / do a educational course / choose an Apple phone over a cheaper Android / go to a swish restaurant .... etc

2. Does frugality make sense? For whom? Is frugality a rational decision or a personality trait?

3. What is a government actually paying for when it invests enormous funds in the military but neglects infrastructure or social welfare?

4. Before WW11 Japan had a reputation for exporting cheap, shoddy gadgets. After WW!! it invested in premium quality at a higher price. Now that story belongs to China. What are some premium quality products from China? What has the United States produced at a higher price but inferior quality? What do these transitions tell us about getting what you pay for?

5. Do you have some personal recollections of not getting what you thought you were paying for?

6. In personal relationships, when are you likely to get a 'return' on your emotional and material investments? When will it be time and money down the drain?

7. Some transactions are pretty quick and simple. You get/don't get what you thought you paid for, and can usually accept the return or write off the loss briskly. Some undertakings need you to invest years of time and money, with no guarantee of a return. The 'sunk costs' (not least in life lost) become enormous. At what point do you just cut your losses and walk away? [e.g. think of a marriage, a career promise, a research project like a PhD .... ; a wish to be an Olympic athlete or a concert violinist ... )

8. Do superannuation schemes work? Millions of Americans have had their working life investments in K401 superannuation wiped out by rogue bankers on the stock market. On the other hand, Australia's superannuation scheme is hated by a large part of the conservative political establishment because the Industry Superannuation Funds, controlled by trade unions, have come to exert great financial power and are inclined to 'ethical investment'.

9. How often do people not really know what they are paying for, just following a set of personal assumptions rather than doing due diligence? Can this ever be changed? How many will pay an expert (e.g. a building inspector) to do a professional evaluation before committing large sums of money?

10. The traditional political equation in countries like Australia has been that conservative governments spend money frugally and are generally better money managers, while progressive governments increase taxes and spend money wastefully. How well does history bear out this assumption. Do voters typically 'get what they pay for/ don't pay for with governments?


Extra Reading & Comments

Idioms: 1. Penny wise, pound foolish / You have to spend a sprat to catch a mackerel /

BBC (n.d.) "The myth of "getting what you pay for"". BBC @ https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20140514-get-what-you-pay-for-hardly

Alice Laplante (January 18, 2006) "Study brings new meaning to adage, 'You get what you paid for'" Stanford Report @ https://news.stanford.edu/news/2006/january18/shiv-011806.html

Stephanie (September 14, 2015) "Why would you pay for something when you could get it free?" Six Figures Under website @ https://www.sixfiguresunder.com/why-would-you-pay-for-something-when-you-could-get-it-free/

Chuck Carnevale (Dec. 4, 2019 ) "Principles Of Valuation Part 2: Price Is What You Pay, Value Is What You Get". Seeking Alpha website @ https://seekingalpha.com/article/4310581-principles-of-valuation-part-2-price-is-what-you-pay-value-is-what-you-get

Jane Norman (30 July 2020) "More than half a million drain superannuation accounts - The Treasury says 560,000 Australians are estimated to have "completely cleaned out" their superannuation savings during the COVID-19 crisis, and it predicts workers will withdraw a total of $42 billion under the early-access scheme". ABC News @ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-30/early-access-superannuation-estimate-double-coronavirus-payment/12505984

=> ian beutler - under the disguise of merely economic considerations, Thor, - herein you pose some of the most excruciating questions in this life... and, as far as i can see, for a quite scintillating panel, to this stage !

=> Bryn Williams - Thor, I'm doing a very quick brain dump because I don't think I can post as non attendee. I love this because it brings up so many considerations which centre on the whole concept of 'value' , like knowledge very different to a Kalihari bushman and a Western Phd. For example at a materialistic viewpoint my greatest value for money purchase in the last few years has been a hydraulic log splitter. I have spent half my life on properties etc cutting up trees , sawing to logs and splitting firewood. I doubt I could swing an axe these days by my beautiful splitters tears apart logs I can barely lift. I have nominated the inventor of this for the Nobel Prize. Secondly my Maton guitar bought in 1992 at what was then a considerable sum which has provided me with so much pleasure and experiences and as any great instrument simply gets better with age. It is now a highly valued collectable model that is not the point of course. 3 My first computer, no Windows and primitive but opened up a world to me. 4 At 60 with minimum secondary education taking on Uni studies. I invested everything into making this productive, enjoyable and the experience I had only dreamt of most of my life. I walked with 2 Chancellors Awards, not ever seeking that return ( had never heard of them) but a great demonstration you can get what you pay for. However by far above anything else, has been seeing 6 children grow to be the most amazing, individual, successful human beings. Most importantly they are loving, compassionate and contributors to society and if I've 'invested' in any part of that then I've been paid back in full.

=> Thor May - A poor path I've trodden next to yours Bryn. In money I've mostly paid little, and had little money to pay, usually choosing creative time and discovery over money and all that comes with it (including wives). Yet it hasn't been such a bad life and has had a bonus of good health earned from experiment and persistence. That counts for a lot. (Ah, computers, yes, they've been a window to much discovery. My first one, a Tandy 100 laptop, cost an outrageous $1100 in 1982, and had a memory of 32 kb holding 15 A4 pages of typing).

=> Bryn Williams - Well you're journey has never been boring Thor and I think the range of experiences and places you have travelled is time and effort very well spent. Totally relate to your Tandy. When I first came to Adelaide in 82 I worked at the Tandy computer centre for 3 months, they had a dedicated store. We were flogging monstrous great desktops with green screens and floppy disc storage for outrageous prices. The very first hard drives appeared as stand alone units for over $3000 and wouldn't have had the capacity of a mobile phone!

=> ian beutler - what a wonderful interim inventory check, Bryn ! ! ! I'll Look forward to many more ! ! ! &We may all make our respective contributions.
A Garden may have its many paths,
- And a Family have its baby baths;
The garden has it's blossoming bowers,-
& The town may have it's learned towers.
While, all in all, the homes bespeak their powers,
& The land enjoys the peace of unlimited hours.

Elizabeth Farrelly (31 May 2020) "The decline of universities, where students are customers and academics itinerant workers" Brisbane Times @ https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/the-decline-of-universities-where-students-are-customers-and-academics-itinerant-workers-20200528-p54xbd.html

Cars Guide (n.d.) "New Vs Used" @ https://www.carsguide.com.au/car-advice/new-vs-used-29485  [Thor, comment: A new car loses about 40% of its value in the first 3 years. To me, that is an insane investment, but obviously lots of people don't agree with me. Note: new car dealers make their real money out of so-called 'servicing' and their service quality generally sucks. Dealers hate the emerging electric cars with auxiliary petrol engines (for charging) and pure electrics because they rarely break down. e.g. Nissan Leaf]

Thor May - People who smoke in Australia pay insane prices for their cigarettes through taxation. The drug addiction apparently drives them. As a group, later in life they will cost the public health system a great deal more than people who don't smoke. Is the high taxation on cigarettes justified by the increased medical costs of caring for smokers?

Thor May - Hearing aids: Well, you can test your hearing for nothing with an online or phone app. Of course, to check the nature of a medical problem with hearing you need an ENT specialist (make sure he has a binocular otoscope - vastly superior to the common monocular otoscopes). But when it comes to actually buying a hearing aid there are eye watering differences between purchasing from your super friendly eye clinic, even at Australian 'saver' prices (e.g. https://eardeals.com.au/p/hearing-aids/), or just going online to eBay, channel for your friendly Chinese gadgets : (
https://www.ebay.com.au/sch/i.html?_nkw=hearing%20aids&norover=1&mkevt=1&mkrid=705-188178-27959-0&mkcid=2&keyword=hearing%20aids&crlp=_&MT_ID=&geo_id=&rlsatarget=kwd-81982487321241:loc-9&adpos=&device=c&mktype=&loc=123660&poi=&abcId=&cmpgn=) . It's a difference between $1000 to $8,000 and $20 to $400, really for the same products. Of course, that huge part of the population which is intimidated by anything with a whiff of technology about it will go the Australian retailer route and feel 'safe'. Me, I'd go for $20 and work up if it was junk. C'est la vie.

Thor May - Dental costs: Huge numbers of Australians have bad teeth, and there's a reason for that: costs. It's a racket. e.g. The average wholesale price of a dental crown from China is US$45 (I've researched this), and 80% of American dentists use Chinese crowns. Australia would be similar. I'm told a dental crown in Australia will set you back about $1200 (there are different material kinds of course). Another example, Three years ago I had a double molar implant done in Chennai, India. The workmanship was excellent. The airfare + accommodation + dentistry cost me AU$1200 with a zirconium crown (the best). The same implant in Australia would cost $5000. Value for money?

Nassim Khadem (7 August 2020) "IDP Education CEO Andrew Barkla tops ACSI's list of highest-paid bosses in 2019 [with $37.7 million for the year]". ABC News @ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-07/idp-education-ceo-andrew-barkla-tops-acsi-list-of-highest-paid/12531862 [Quote: "10 highest-paid CEOs in FY19:

1.Andrew Barkla, IDP Education, $37,761,322
2.Paul Perreault, CSL, $30,526,634
3.Philippe Wolgen, Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals, $20,624,450
4.Michael Clarke, Treasury Wine Estates, $19,853,177
5.John Guscic, Webjet, $16,498,937*
6.Greg Goodman, Goodman Group, $14,967,391
7.Robert Kelly, Steadfast Group, $14,419,677
8.Alan Joyce, Qantas Airways, $12,217,400
9.Colin Goldschmidt, Sonic Healthcare, $11,912,450
10.JS Jacques, Rio Tinto, $10,323,975]

[Comment, Thor: Are these people actually worth it? Certainly they contribute more to a company than an average worker, not least in strategy. But what they are paid is not about equity, it is about leverage and cultural fashion. Barkla in IDP especially stands out as a gravy train beneficiary. IDP (market value about $15 billion) has a profit guaranteed by Australian government immigration legislation since immigrants face an expensive IELTS English language test]

=> Thor May - Sigh, dunno about life in general but I've been learning that pretty often you don't get what you pay for online. One eBay vendor in China asked for more money after accepting the order - said he'd made a mistake (no, I didn't pay). The latest scam surfaced through a Facebook advertisement for "Power Socks" made from the kind of stuff they use in bullet proof vests. The idea is that you can do "barefoot running" in them. Hmm, ordered a month ago, no reply from the vendor. Then I checked the 600 Facebook comments. Scam. One poor bugger waited a year, and was finally sent a pair of synthetic hospital socks ... Yeah, an American company sourcing from .. da da .. China. Life lesson: don't buy off Facebook.

=> ian beutler
ian beutler - this greatbeaste does not want you dead.
oh, no, -s)he just wants you in bed.
-whether you're name is freda or fred,
so dont interpret me literally,
4anything i've said...

Wikipedia (2020) "The History of Weapons" @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_weapons  [Thor, comment: Hmm, sort of the history of misanthropic folly, willingly paid in blood. And we're still at it, so it must be satisfying somehow]

Ross Gittins (22 December 2016) "Knowledge, not resources, driving economic growth". Brisbane Times @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/knowledge-not-resources-driving-economic-growth-20161222-gth08r.html  [Thor, comment: Knowledge is weightless, and if you look in the right places, usually free. Energy is going the same way. Yet knowledge harnessing energy, then the digital universe and automated activity, has way more power than anything our ancestors had to pay dearly for. We've been getting a lot of free lunches]



Index of past discussion topics & questions: http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/DiscussionTopics/DiscussionIndex.htm

Convenor : Thor May thormay@yahoo.com Personal website (legacy) http://thormay.net
Articles http://independent.academia.edu/thormay  (.. about 147 articles by Thor)


Do you get what you pay for in life? (c) Thor May 2020 

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