The Cost of Money

I was on a bus in Cornwall today, and compared ticket prices with some of my fellow passengers. It was interesting how little extra it cost to go double the distance. £4 for an hour. £4.50 for two hours. One poor chap had to get back on the same bus because his connecting bus wasn’t running, so he ended up paying £8 for the same journey as me, and I paid £4.50.

What this tells me is that taking up a seat for about an hour on a Cornish bus costs only 50p! To get on and off the bus, and interact with the driver to buy your ticket costs a whopping £3.50. There are some possible explanations for this.

I have often wondered how much it costs bus companies to have those computerised ticket machines for a start. From time to time they upgrade the equipment on every bus. From time to time, they reprogram them all with new prices. Big companies have people whose job is devoted to pricing structure. Sometimes there is even a whole department allocated for it. This all costs money and has to be funded somehow.

Then there is the time taken for getting on and off the bus, which slows down the journey a bit. But what really slows things down is the buying of the tickets. Noone knows the price, not even the driver sometimes, partly because it keeps changing, partly because there are often so many special deals. Which is the same reason people don’t have the money ready or the right change. Sometimes it takes a while for the driver to work out where the passenger wants to go before he can determine the price. So a lot of the day, the bus is stopped at a stop and not actually moving people from A to B. A bus not moving is a bus not earning money. This loss has to be funded somehow.

It is as if the actual transaction itself has become the main cost. And this happens outside of the bus world too. Take a can of beans for example. A large can is twice the number of beans, but only costs a few pence more. Which means that the beans themselves cost very very little, a few pence per small can. What you are mostly paying for is something else, the transaction itself, the packaging, the handling, and the marketing. Each product is individually packed, tracked, and stacked, and that costs far more than the actual stuff inside the packaging which is what you really want.

And when the supermarkets offer you 2 for 1, it is not that generous really. It costs them very little extra to give you two. Any wholesale purchase is significantly cheaper, which shows how much markup is due to other things that are nothing to do with the product itself.

Suppose buses were free for everyone? They would be much much cheaper to run, because you wouldn’t have the cost of running the ticket and pricing systems. And they would be faster because they wouldn’t stop for so long. No ticket machines, no pricing departments, no threatening notices about going to prison for not having a valid ticket. Probably wouldn’t cost the government any more than reimbursing the bus companies for free tickets for pensioners.

(See earlier post: The Gift Economy)

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4 Responses to The Cost of Money

  1. george silver says:

    Government = Parasite.
    Free for You = Someone else pays = Parasitic dependence.
    Try to get rid of your parasites and parasitic way of thinking.
    Be responsible for yourself and your actions.
    Be self-reliant. Buy a bicycle. Be independent.
    You’ll be happier and healthier.

  2. suliwebster says:

    The biggest parasites are those at the top of the pyramid who suck up the wealth and energy from the rest of us. It suits those at the top to get us to believe otherwise. To believe that the real parasites are scroungers and spongers on benefits or immigrants or whatever the media’s latest scapegoat is, but generally it is the people near the bottom of he pyramid labelled parasites.
    I do not have a problem with taking things for free when freely given. There are already state provided things that are free at the point of use, such as the NHS, education, and the roads you cycle your bike on or drive your car on, and free buses for old people. We pay money for this in another way through taxes. Nature also provides things for free, such as sun, and hedgerow food. And other people help us out and give us things, as we do for others. These are all gifts.
    We have all been well indoctrinated to be ashamed of receiving things “for free”. We are trained to think we are only valid worthy people if we work or contribute 100 times more than we need for our basic needs. Then we are respected and liked. This is the Slave mentality which works very well for those at the top of the pyramid.
    I think you can take something from one source and give something else to another. I don’t see an exchange as necessary for life, though this is how much of our society works. In fact the exchange nullifies the joy of a gift, either as giver or receiver.
    Possibly the biggest gift of all is that of life, which we have all received from our mothers. I was born to my mother and nurtured by her. For free. I don’t see that giving freely to someone is the same as paying the price for that gift. As a mother myself, I have given freely to my own children, who I do not consider parasites, and I do not think they owe me anything.

  3. george silver says:

    Your assessment has merit but has one fatal flaw. The state operates like a Mafia. The state confiscates at the point of a gun and gives it to others (free).

    If dealings with the state were voluntary then your argument would have wings. There is no such thing as “free” under our present system. Someone always pays. Not the very rich because they have the power to avoid the government Mafia. Not the poor because they are happy to receive “free” hand-outs. The rest of the working population carry the burden more and more.

    Imagine you have an allotment where you provide fresh food for your children. I and the rest of the neighbours who can’t be bothered hard work in an allotment vote that the majority should confiscate half of your produce for the common good. We then decide half is not enough we need more until you only get to keep 10 per cent. You would probably then give up the allotment and join with us and demand that someone else provide your children with fresh food.

    FREE is only FREE if it’s given voluntarily. Otherwise it’s stealing.

  4. suliwebster says:

    I agree FREE means given voluntarily. The word has got distorted, because it is now associated with money. I think buying things is probably usually stealing, if money is just a manipulation tool, which I think it is. I often feel when I buy something that it is not a fair exchange, when I think of what went into making it, and who made it.

    I see free gifts around me every day, but this has nothing to do with the state, and the gift is not necessarily a thing, it can be an action, or just a smile, I think. I often give away my allotment produce when I have plenty. The rhubarb is a good one, because the original crown was given to me as a gift, split from a neighbour’s crown, so there is a perpetual gifting going on! No money, no stealing.

    Yes I agree that free buses is not a complete solution, nothing I write is. I am not sure there are any final answers, only stages or stepping stones towards something better. What it does offer is a different concept, a new possibility that challenges the accepted status quo. If you can look at a new idea in your imagination, your mind starts to break free from fixed thinking, and expand to further possibilities. Which I think is good. The idea of free buses is really nice. It doesnt have to happen for real. It could happen for real, and it might be a better system than the one we’ve got. It might be surprising what knock on effects such a change would have.

    Another analogy I know for majority rule is that you need individual rights taken into account. You can’t have 6 wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for dinner!

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