I'm going to relate this little DAILY incident so we can reflect on what this means for the way we are doing business.
Blithely surfing through amazon.com (no that is not an advertisement), looking at the publications of one of the U.S.'s great intellects, the philosopher Mortimer Adler, I noted with interest that he had written a book about linguistics.
"Cool", I said to myself. I respect Mortimer Adler, and would like to read what he has to say on the subject (even if the book is old, well, the Bible, and Goethe are old too, so on subjects like these, I don't feel a pressing need for what has just jumped off the presses. Very often it can be.. LESS interesting than what our ancestors wrote and thought, by the way.)
The book is out of print.
So I checked out amazon's sellers.
The difference in price for this book ranged from... $600 to $1.67...
Are you in shock ?
OR IS THIS PARR FOR THE COURSE FOR YOU ?
Is this price range NORMAL for presumably identical copies of the same book ?
Na. Not in the least.
I think that this example shoots a big hole into any misconceptions that we might have that the markets are... "free" in these days of zero REGULATION. Think about it. It takes more than 0 regulation to make a FREE market. I should say, it takes something DIFFERENT from 0 regulation to make a free market, because I'm not sure yet just how regulation makes the market virtuous.
(Hey, look, that word "free" is there. A light bulb just lit up in my brain connecting to my favorite Smithsonian zoo lions in the cage story. Hmmm. Will have to think a little more about the implications of this.)
Now, my local farmer's market is a FREE market.
When people are selling TOGETHER, and COMPETING TOGETHER WITHIN A COMMUNITY, I think that there is a pressure for prices to come together. With slight variations, of course.
But, in my opinion, something else is happening in order for such enormous variations in prices to exist, as per my example.
Could it be that...
We have bottomed out so much the idea of money in our minds that it really has no meaning for us any more or that...
Our individualism has reached such proportions that we have managed to bottom out EVEN the RELATION of competition ??
Think about it. You have to have a minimum of identification, a minimum of sense of community to even engage in competition. Like apples don't compete with oranges, for example. Keeping up with the Joneses, for example presupposes that you recognize that the Joneses are OTHER PEOPLE. People... LIKE YOU. More or less.
That's a paradox, granted, but it seems true to me.
So... could those prices be an indication of the end of the road towards INDIVIDUALISM ?
Like... the Joneses are no longer even OTHER PEOPLE for us ??
Just a question.
I welcome my reader's comments.