2018-10-10 / Opinions & Letters

Value spotting

Midwest Memo
by Alan Shultz

For the longest time I’ve been hauling around a bag of money in my car. Having admitted this, I would caution against using “old money bags” to describe me. First, it’s just one bag of money - a medium size ziplock bag. Second, it’s money, I’m certain of that, but I’m not sure if it has much value.

The money bag was left in the kitchen drawer of an apartment I brokered. The seller was Canadian and quite the world traveler. Nomi, the client, told me on her final way out-of-town that she’d left me a “tip” for my services. She snickered when she said it.

So I have this bag of coins representing pocket change from all over the world, and I don’t know if it’s worth much of anything, nor do I know how to dispose of it.

You can’t throw money away - right?

There’s both danger and uncertainty not knowing whether or not something has value.

I just sold the in-town apartment of friends of mine. On the dining room far wall there is a painted mural that runs the entire span of the wall – floorto ceiling and side-to-side. In my opinion, and in a one word description, the mural of water and boats and mountains is….. hideous.

My clients commissioned the mural from a local artist. They paid $7,000 for the work of art that is on canvas so that it can be removed from the apartment. Hearing that the mural could potentially be removed, the buyers of this apartment insisted during contract negotiations that the mural be left hanging - because… they love it.

Go figure.

Often times, value is in the eye of the beholder. Art is a good example of that. Other times value is best left to those educated on the subject. High priced watches don’t make any sense to me - I’m uneducated on the subject, thus no judge of value.

There are common objects that can mostly function the same and yet command very different values. Take stoves for instance. Our most recent stove purchase was our most expensive. We paid over $700 to get a small 24-inch stove to fit (stylishly) into a vacation home we’ve since sold. Twenty-five years ago we paid $200 for the beige electric stove that sits in our kitchen still today. Each functioned about the same in that they heated our food.

At one time an agent in my office listed an expensive house for sale - a house where the owners had done way too much extravagant remodeling. When the agent told potential purchasers that the kitchen stove from England cost $85,000, folks reacted poorly. Eventually the agent quit boasting about the expensive kitchen stove that the public perceived to have been a foolish waste of money. That 85K stove looks cheap in comparison to the Kongo x LaCornue 2018 model stove which retails for $300,000 and which cooks the same as the electric Roper I bought at an auction at the Delphi Armory years ago for……..$1. The dollar Roper heated up just fine and we used it in my in-laws summer kitchen for years.

Danger lurks when we forget or ignore the value of something fundamental that is somehow taken for granted.

I’ve always thought that the two party political system is something of tremendous value to the U.S. democracy.

Over two centuries and counting, our two party political system has afforded space for the debate of ideas, a mechanism to generate compromise solutions and a framework for ideology to develop

Neither political party in these United States is right nor wrong all the time on all the issues. And because of that, our two-party political system is of enormous value.

I place great value on that fact.

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