Cheap Drives Out Quality

When the mariner was sixteen, he finished his high school education at night. He took an economics class that provided him several insights into the motives of society and individuals. He was fortunate to have an instructor that was willing to talk cultural ramifications as well as economic ones. One of the insights he gained from that economics class is that there is an unbreakable rule that cheap value will displace quality value in every case.
A simple example is the toy fire engine. In the mariner’s childhood, the fire engine was made of steel with realistic features, rubber tires, and paint that included firehouse logo, four small painted firemen and other finely traced detail. His children did not have a steel fire engine; they had a plastic, mold-stamped one with little attention to the aura of a real fire engine. There were no finely painted firemen. Plastic drove out steel. It was less expensive – at the cost of quality, detail, permanence, and material.
Reducing cost through new inventions, materials and processes is, largely, a good thing. Even in its best light, however, quality is minimized. One may say that new technology can produce better results. For example, an mp3 song is better than a 78 record – both in quality of sound and in production. The price paid for this efficient production is not in the quality of the sound but in the value of the recording as a significant, endearing purchase. At 99¢ per song, it is easily discarded or lost in thousands of other songs collected because collecting is easy and inexpensive. Even a 45 rpm collection is more durable and more revered – if one still has a 45 turntable.
Turning to more important examples, the mariner wonders if the tea party is a cheaper version of the republican party. Intellectually, it is easy to replace complex, multifaceted issues with visceral, overly simplified but “feel good” reactions. The republican party has an ideological premise based on conservative, capitalistic ideals. Under Representative Boehner, the tea party has captured the republican party and drawn it away from legitimate dialogue with democrats into a paranoid and extremist advocacy which will not stand up against an organized, middle-of-the-road campaign by the democrats. True, gerrymandering and republican governors will offer resistance but the attendance at Bernie Sanders’s events plus the low key campaign of Clinton suggest that the tea party brings a poison pill to the republicans for the 2016 election.
The phenomenon of sixteen candidates in the republican presidential campaign also suggests that the republican party has lost its rudder, its sails and its compass. That a destructive candidate like Trump can turn the useless media into a circus rather than covering serious issues is more evidence that the republican principles have been replaced by a cheap sideshow. Turning a valued election process over to the Fox network is the final nail. Cheap has driven out quality.
Ancient Mariner

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