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Ever Decreasing Circles

Musical artist Taylor Swift has been in the news, along with Apple, for making waves in regards to the latter's forthcoming streaming music service. For its first three months, Apple Music is going to let folks try their service for free, and was planning to not pay artists any royalties during this free trial period. After said period, folks would have to pay $10 a month to keep the service and then artists would be paid some royalties. Swift complained and, well, Apple relented. Artists will now receive income during the three month free trial period.

I mention the Apple/Swift debacle because it brings to mind, yet again, an issue that remains all too prevalent in our society -- paying folks very little (or nothing) for their work. And I don't just mean musical artists. We see this everywhere, from fast food workers to folks in China making our phones, from kids in sweatshops making our clothes to people making the music we enjoy listening to. People seem to want something for nothing (or very little), and it has an impact.

Whenever someone praises the "great deal" they got on a cheap smartphone with good specs, or how they shopped at Wal-Mart and "saved a ton of money," or went to an eatery and got "a lot of food for less," my first thoughts are always, 'Wow, how much did the folks behind the scenes make?' When you curate playlists on inexpensive streaming services, how much is the artist making? We need to think about this stuff. For as much talking as people like to do about income equality, the race to the bottom in regards to prices isn't helping matters any.

If the situation of a fast food worker wanting to make as much (or more) as a paramedic rankles you (which is understandable), why not ask why the paramedic makes so little, instead of belittling the fast food worker's efforts? The next time you have a choice between buying something dirt cheap online, or paying a bit more in a locally-owned store, why not ask yourself the reasons in the price differential, and what type of societal arrangement you're contributing to by making the dirt cheap purchase? These are the questions we need to be asking ourselves.

It's a harsh reality that we're singularly focused on our own wallets and purses. That's not so unusual, though it can be detrimental in the long term. The sooner we understand that, by coming together and looking out for one another financially, we can make real waves of change when it comes to income and lifestyle, the sooner our society can start to improve. To deny this would be, I humbly submit, folly of the highest order.


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