Donations Welcome (Will Jam for Food)

The concept of donations has practically disappeared from Western society. Nowadays the only business models supported by the idea of allowing the consumer to decide a product’s worth involves helping homeless people, museums or charities.

Unless it’s something we can pity, why pay if you can get it for free? Do we act this way because most things aren’t worth their price tags? Or is society, as a whole, simply too greedy to estimate a fair value of personal worth for the products they want?

Radiohead is hoping it’s not the latter. The band’s new album, In Rainbows, will be available directly though the band’s website Oct. 10 and in stores next year. Because the group has no label of which to pledge its allegiance, they can do such “whacky” things like allowing the consumer to decide what price he or she wants to pay. If you go to InRainbows.com, you can pre-order the digital version of the record, setting whatever price you think it’s worth. Whatever little amount you decide is more than they’ll make if you download the torrent.

Donation is the perfect barter system in theory. If a student on a tight budget is willing to sacrifice a meal and pay $5 for the new Radiohead album, and then John Kerry decides it’s worth $200 to him (roughly half the price of a haircut), then doesn’t it all balance out?

Maybe I’m just naive. Or maybe the 2004 presidential candidate really does rock out to Thom Yorke & Co… In an ideal world.

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