Guardian stupidity on economics again

Like it or not, real shoppers do not operate like the calculating consumer that economists conjecture; instead they value things subjectively.

You what?

Did The Guardian miss the neo-classical revolution? One of the points of which was that value is in the eye of the beholder, that it is a subjective matter for the consumer.

Are they really 140 years out of date? Blimey.

 

15 comments on “Guardian stupidity on economics again

  1. Virtually everyone is, Tim. The marginalist revolution may have most economists cleaving to subjectivism, at least they claim to, but the majority of everyone else believes in some kind of objectivist theory of value (e.g. Labour Theory).

    And, trying to find somebody who accepts that all values such as moral values are subjective, rather than just economic ones is very hard indeed.

    Anyway, you have to remember that most columnists, “opinion formers”, politicians etc have a profoundly tenuous grasp of economic theory. Must of their “economic” opinions are just feelings they have. They thus have a very cartoonish conceptualisation of economics as a discipline and consequently most everything they write and say is some form of a straw man. If you try to actually discuss marginal utility with such a person, their face will be more blank than a whiteboard. They really have not got a fucking clue.

  2. There’d be no point in branding and advertising if consumers did anything other than make subjective choices.

    It is unsurprising that the Guardian takes that approach though – once you start down the path of subjective value you are walking a long way from value being the mere labour cost. That would never do.

  3. I have to say Tim that your surprize seems a bit fake. While the majority of collectivists would probably deny it, the socialist clap-trap that they spout is pretty much that old.

    The Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei, which was the original version of the ideas of Marx and Engles was published in 1848 and Marx’s masterpiece (if you can call it that) Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie was published in 1867 – 144 years ago.

    Although the socio-political environment has changed and the collectivists have framed themselves within modern arguments (globalization, social justice, wimin’s/yuman rights, redistribution, warble gloaming, etc.) scratch the surface and you will still find a Marxist underneath.

    They may not wear the uniform of the party, but even the watermelons believe in state terror to enforce their modern morality and opinions on the rest of us.

  4. There’d be no point in branding and advertising if consumers did anything other than make subjective choices.

    Not true.

    I advertise my services on Google because people are looking for the sort of services that I provide. It’s a simple text ad.

  5. “trying to find somebody who accepts that all values such as moral values are subjective…is very hard indeed.”

    Lots of people on the left – particularly multi-culturalists – flirt with moral relativism, but then behave inconsistently by giving reasons for what they hold to be morally right and wrong.

  6. I still have conversations with otherwise intelligent people who insist, forcefully, that things have fixed value. And who then say, “Oh, I wouldn’t buy X, because I don’t like X.”

  7. Lots of people on the left – particularly multi-culturalists – flirt with moral relativism, but then behave inconsistently by giving reasons for what they hold to be morally right and wrong.

    I’ve never met a leftist who was morally relativist; it seems to be a myth, or an “informed attribute”, like the claim that they are liberal.

  8. Moral relativism always breaks down the moment that you mention the Ku Klux Klan.

    Try it. It’s amazing how quickly ‘right and wrong’ pop back into the debate.

  9. Tim, there are still people out there who believe the labour theory of value, for instance, or that because certain things are just “givens” of nature, like land, that it is immoral for people to own it outright and profit if its value rises for reasons other than their own actions. Such people, by the way, even have the brass neck to call themselves libertarians.

  10. Well Johnathan, come to that, I’ve even seen Tim approvingly talking of Ricardo’s Iron Law Of Wages where wages are supposed to fall to “subsistence” because the landlords take everything above that. Which is bollocks.

    There is actually a good argument for a one-off land redistribution when a society is moving out of feudalism, but that’s a different thing. There is a basic, and valid, observation that landowners are not producers, in that they bring nothing to market that would not exist if they did not. Nonetheless, Georgists et al then fall into the Smith/Ricardo/Marx trap of considering one group (rentiers) a “class monopoly” and erroneously therefore concluding that said class monopoly can capture all value (in the same way as under Marxism the bourgeois class captures all value).

  11. Grauniad customers don’t use the same unit of currency as everyone else. They use subjective currency.

    The standard unit of subjective currency is ‘The Niggling Guilt’. Ten Niggling Guilts make an Anxious, ten Anxiouses make a Shame, and 100 Shames make a Self-Loathing.

    And if they care to do a little dabbling in the financial markets, they can also try more esoteric items, like the Pretense, the Snub, the Snirtle, etc.

  12. In fact, have you got any scandum to spare Tim? Because I’ve got a two Self-Loathings and some Anxiouses to spare.

  13. IanB, I have a monster book called Capitalism, by George Reisman, and he demolishes that “law” by Ricardo. Now Ricardo was a truly brilliant man in some ways, of course (even Marx had his good points).

    The funny thing is, the idea of marginal value strikes us now as obvious but it was nonetheless a real leap of insight when the likes of Stanley Jevons, Leon Walras and Carl Menger cracked it back in the late 19th Century. (We tend to forget that Jonny Foreigners did come up with many of the better econ. ideas than us supposed more reasonable Brits).

    Glad to see you despise Kevin Carson as much as I do, BTW. I haven’t the faintest idea why certain people think he’s so great. That’s for another thread.

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