Let us pay

It's not entirely clear to me how our economy works these days. Recorded music is, to all intents and purposes, free to listen to and, similarly, series and films can be watched for such a paltry sum that the cost is barely noticeable to most people. How is this viable?

Newspapers have a big problem too. For reasons I find impossible to fathom, vast swathes of the population think it's a fine idea to read their news on an electronic device and, it seems, they expect this service to be provided for free. Only recently a well-known publication not a million miles from here, decided to implement a very reasonable monthly charge for those wanting to read their work online. The vitriol in their comments section the same day was quite something to behold.

"How dare you pretend to charge me 20 cents a day! Don't you know who I am?! I've got a tattoo! We deserve to enjoy your labours for free! For free I tell you!" Well, something like that except with a lot more swearing.

Actually, quite the opposite is true - people who read their news on a mobile phone deserve to be charged at least 20 euros per second such is the level of their folly. Any sentient soul knows that sitting with a cup of coffee and a light breakfast (morning) or five pints of best and a cheese and pickle sandwich (evening) and flicking idly through a newspaper in physical form is one if the greatest pleasures known to man, second only perhaps to watching Manchester United miss yet another penalty.

This expectation we have for getting everything for the minimum possible cost - or none at all - in return for as little effort as possible, surely isn't sustainable. It's not surprising that the word in the corridors of power and finance is that we're in for another recession any minute now. (I've never been present the the corridors of power and finance, you understand, but I did read about what's going on in a newspaper. Which I paid for. Excellent cheese and pickle sandwich to boot.)

The trouble is, we're too used to it all. Ask anyone under thirty to pay ten euros for a CD and they believe their human rights have been contravened (actually, if it's by Ed Sheeran, they probably have).

It's clear that we need to cough up more readily for what we consume. To this end, I suggest a small annual surcharge for fans of this weekly column of, let's say, ten euros.

That'll give me thirty euros for the Christmas party.