In these times of penny-pinching, belt-tightening and hatch batten-downing we’re all suddenly obsessed with the price of things. Moreover, we’re turning into a population of individual price comparison services and I fear the day when we’re all Pseudo-Russian rodents may soon be upon us. My wife will automatically quote, and compare, the price of diesel at every petrol station we drive by like she’s got oil-based Tourette’s.

Eventually we all end up drawing the same conclusion- it’s too much. We state, categorically, that everything is too much like we’re some kind of global procurement guru. It’s not worth that much! We say as we roll everything from a chocolate orange to a mobile phone around in our searching little grasp.

My father-in-law just happens to be a global procurement guru. Now retired, he was the global head of procurement for some of the biggest companies in the world as well as our very own treasury. He’s had to establish the actual worth of everything from office-sized mining machines to tiny electrical components so that when he signed off on a couple of million quids worth, he knew he was getting value for money.

His view on ‘value’ is the same as mine, which was forged from a lifetime of selling shit to anyone that will stand still for ten seconds: Something is worth whatever somebody is willing to pay for it.

That iPad you just bought. Do you care that it cost a few pence to manufacture? No. It’s cost you several hundred pounds because somebody else was willing to pay that much for it. If they weren’t… it wouldn’t.

Our professional footballers are always in for a world of grief because they get paid more in a week than I get paid in… my own dreams. The loudest and most agreed-upon chant from the terraces is always, “he’s not worth twenty million!”, or, “He’s not worth two hundred grand a week!” Well he is, because that’s what somebody is paying him. If he wasn’t… they wouldn’t.

Here’s the biggie: Damien Hirst spent fifty grand putting a shark in a tank and sold it for eight million dollars. His diamond-encrusted platinum skull had fifteen million pounds worth of diamonds on it and went on the market for fifty million. It was titled, “for the love of God” and it is, to my mind, the most aptly named piece of art since “bowl of fruit with wine glass.”

Hopefully, by now, you’re not shouting, “How can a shark in a tank be worth eight million?” because you’ve got my point. If there’s someone out there willing to pay that much for it, then that’s how much it’s worth.

People with a lot of money aren’t in the business of throwing it away and those paying footballers’ wages, organizing parking spaces for dead sharks and even, dare I say it, buying iPads are doing it because, for them, it’s worth the money. It’s their money and they will almost always get more out than they spend, either in direct profits or the benefits of use.

The problem comes when it’s not their money they’re spending. It gets even worse when it’s your money- our money.

For me it becomes about as painful as space-hopper hemorrhoids when the decisions to spend the money you were about to fork out on that iPad or, say, a new school, is thrown at two weeks of spot-light sports partying and it costs seven and a quarter BILLION pounds.

This isn’t the folly of some mega-rich Oligarch and it’s certainly not good business sense. Anybody spending their own money or that of the company they worked for wouldn’t entertain such a suggestion longer than the time it would take to guffaw loudly and call security.

The public money being spent on the Olympics will NOT make a profit in any real sense even though the money being spent on it is as real as it gets, regardless of projections of associated benefits to business and local economy. In 2006 Ken Livingstone predicted that the games would make a profit, after ten years, and that they would cost less than five billion and that the resale of the land would generate seven hundred million back. Well the games has come in at fifty percent more than that, the price of land has plummeted, and we don’t have ten prosperous years to frolic in, waiting for pay day.

As for the sheer benefits of use? How many speed cyclists do you think will be paying to hurtle round that Velodrome once the dust has settled? Enough to cover the cost of building it?  There’s one in Manchester they built for the Commonwealth games and it’s just a big, empty, curvy-topped warehouse most of the time.

Like I said, something is worth whatever somebody is willing to pay for it and, in spite of the inevitable feel-good factor that 17 days of international attention will give us, the Olympics will never be worth seven and a quarter billion pounds to me. Simples!