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wants and needs, pricing, making a living

updated thu 16 aug 01


David Hendley on wed 15 aug 01

Wants and Needs
Several people have emphasized that we as potters sell wants, not needs,
somehow implying that this will forever keep us in the economic
This is utter hogwash.
There are very, very few real needs in 21st century America.
In fact, the most highly paid members of our society fill wants, not needs.
No one needs to see Tom Cruise act like someone else or Tiger Woods
hit a little ball.
No one 'needs' 4 radios, 3 TVs, 2 cars, and a cell phone, but almost
every home has this and more. And the manufacturers and sellers of
these items do quite well, while encouraging us to buy even more.
The truth is, even such basics as food and clothing are now 99% wants,
and 1% needs. One can survive just fine eating beans, rice, and pasta,
with occasional extras. We are so awash in clothing that used, but still
good, clothes have basically no value, and can be bought for pennies
on the dollar.

Whatever you think is a reasonable markup and payment for your time
is probably not enough. Do you have any idea how much the stuff you
buy really cost to make?
Here are some estimates
Toothpaste: materials 8 cents, packaging 10 cents, selling price $2.39
Nikes: materials $1.50, direct labor 20 cents, transportation from China 20
cents, selling price $89.99
DVD of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: 6 cents, packaging 6 cents,
selling price $24.99
I know, I know, I'm not including overhead (including the bloated salaries
of layer upon layer of managers and executives), but you get the idea.
Price your work like you are the executive, not the cheap labor in China.

Making a Living
It's like the old stock market mantra: 'Buy low, sell high'.
The idea is to sell what you make for a good price (sell high), while
living your life with minimal expenses (buy low).
Like it or not, your life is a 'business'. (Of course there's much more
to life than that, I mean when speaking about economics).
It does no good to make a big salary if you have even higher expenses.
Let everyone else have the 'wants'. Don't be fooled by the constant
advertising and pressures to consume.

To repeat Elizabeth Pritty's excellent advice:
> a few people discussing making a living recently
> indicated that they need two incomes to live and that
> they can't pot full time and do all they need to do.
> it is about priorities. If it is important to you,
> you can do it. Your kids don't need designer clothes
> and you don't each need a separate tube of toothpaste.

> But stop deluding yourself that you NEED an suv, new
> car, new clothes, or those frozen dinners and chips
> and cookies. Maybe what you NEED is a life worth
> living, one that you choose to live, rather than one
> where you "have to" work two jobs just get by.

You also don't NEED to pay for your children to go to college.
I can hear the gasps now. Too many kids go to college
because they are expected to, or because there's nothing else
to do. Sure, it's great if you can help them, but don't use college
as a reason for why you can't be a potter.
If they really want college, they will find a way.
Also, DON'T take your banker out to lunch. Don't 'have' a
banker unless you are a depositor and he is paying you.

Please don't take my comments as criticism or as rules. These
are personal matters and everyone needs to formulate their own
ideals and plans of action.

David Hendley
Maydelle, Texas