I ponder that question often, and in many contexts. (Perhaps because I’ve been writing a book in which “cheap” features so prominently? Maybe? I don’t know. I just thought of that connection.)
Anyway, I’m one of those dinosaurs who believes there is no free lunch, and on that note, here’s a blog post worth reading. It comes from a site devoted to “scholarly publishing” (something else in which I’m interested for a number of reasons, many of them only tangentially related to the “publishing” part). Here the author is thinking about “social costs” and “social good” but doing so in a broad context. Worth reading.
Two money quotes:
Cheapness has consequences in the long run. We all end up paying for it somehow. And cheapness has a funny way of being expensive.
You can save yourself poor as a business or an industry.
Ain’t that the truth. (Hey! When else will I have an excuse to use a Zappa album cover?)