My Chakrabortty has forgotten who decides upon value

In a market economy, innovations should benefit both the seller and the buyer if they are to take off. It is easier to see how much the customer gains from Gordon\’s earlier innovations than a Wii Fit, let alone Angry Birds.

That Mr. Chakrabortty cannot see the value to the consumer of WiFi or Angry Birds is irrelevant.

It is the consumer who decides for themselves what the value is to them of WiFi or Angry Birds.

At least, this is so in a market economy and it is also the reason that market economies work. People purchase what they perceive provides them with greater gains than whatever it is that they give up to obtain it.

Rather than, say, whatever value an historian scribbling for The Guardian thinks they should place upon such things.

You know, democratic valuations rather than Stalinist ones.

15 thoughts on “My Chakrabortty has forgotten who decides upon value”

  1. WiFi and Wii Fit are not the same thing. One encourages fit, active people to become couch potatoes. The other enables couch potatoes to give the impression of being fit, active people.

  2. What benefit is cheese to anyone? There are loads of nice food stuffs. I don’t eat cheese. I hate the stuff. Can’t see the point. It makes me sick to think of it. When I’m in charge of planning I’ll stop cheese production straight away and divert the resources into something into yogurt.

    I like yogurt.

    If Mr Chakraborty likes cheese, and values it highly, then it’s tough luck I’m afraid. I and my planners – who all hate cheese BTW – have decided that we don’t need it.

  3. jeebus, what a hair-shirted kill joy – his examples things we don’t “gain” from are games and toys.

    what do we gain from sanctimonious newspaper columnists?

  4. All very reminiscent of the discussion about oranges and bananas between Shift and Puzzle at the beginning of The Last Battle.

  5. It’s a straight advocacy of a Communist system – and anyone familiar with The concept of ‘Ostalgie’ in Germany can get themselves a Trabant to celebrate the system Chakrabortty is lauding! I don’t recall pharmacists in the USSR or GDR discovering a cure for hookworm, either, although that might be ‘capitalist revisionism’ at work!

  6. Wii Fit? One of my neighbours has one, because she worked out that spending £70 on one was cheaper than 2 month’s gym membership. Plus, she doesn’t have to wait for her husband to be around to look after the kids, or to spend half an hour driving.

    So, not very rich people get richer owning one. Women get more liberty as the result of one. Gaia gets a night off from her Golf pumping out CO2.

    Isn’t that all the things that Guardian writers like?

  7. We have a Wii fit. Great for disabled people to do gentle exercise on days when not wanting to risk going out.
    One of the better purchases we’ve made, and entirely our choice!

  8. Never studied PPEand don’t know anyone who did.

    But I’m guessing that somewhere in the syllabus, you arrive at a point where the lecturer points to the board and says, “After this is when you can tell them what to do.”

  9. Pingback: According to liberal socialists, computers don’t contribute much to economic growth | motorcitytimes.com

  10. Agree on the hairshirted killjoyness – toys and games obviously enhance quality of life, hence why they’ve existed since the dawn of civilisation if not before.

    His example of the ‘use of the market system for drug development’ is more relevant though. If 25% of the effort currently put into developing barely-more-effective-and-just-about-patentable drugs to prolong obese rich people’s lives were instead put into diseases with no cure that kill poor people, then it’s hard to deny that would improve overall human happiness.

    JM: no, there’s isn’t. That happens when you join the world of wanktankery. It just so happens that if you want to go and work for a wanktank, then PPE is a good route in.

  11. ….If 25% of the effort currently put into developing barely-more-effective-and-just-about-patentable drugs to prolong obese rich people’s lives were instead put into diseases with no cure that kill poor people, then it’s hard to deny that would improve overall human happiness…..

    This is true, but unfortunately the drugs which were designed to treat HIV were deemed too important to be sold at a decent profit to poor countries (despite the fact that said countries should be spending their extremely low resources on prevention – ten thousand times cheaper – not wasting it on expensive treatment) thus setting a precedent, which will warn off drug companies from a market they were not too interested in anyway.

  12. Yes. The interests of public health trumped the interests of the free market. Hence, compulsorily redirecting 25% of healthcare R&D into drugs that poor countries require, to be provided at marginal cost, would be a Good Thing.

  13. The free market isn’t a god, it’s a tool for getting stuff we want. If the free market in pharmaceuticals isn’t providing the drugs the world needs then of course we should try something else.

    However, it’s not really the market that’s the problem, it’s the granting of monopolies through the patent system. We need a better way of encouraging the market to create the most useful drugs and distribute them to the people most in need.

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