Tim Worstall takes a look at what sort of thoughts rattle around inside the head of the man likely to be Britain’s next finance minster, George Osborne. He does not like what he sees, and in the process, makes this vital point:
“What in buggery are “intrinsic values”? If we’re all the way back to Thomas Aquinas and “true value” then we’re about to march off a very steep cliff. For there isn’t and aren’t any such things. The value of something depends upon the value of everything else: we cannot say that 1 kg of gold is worth $12,000, or x tonnes of wheat, or y tonnes of fresh water or z numbers of smiling babies, without having some idea of the relative values of fresh water and smiling babies. Which in turn depend upon the state of knowledge (medical knowledge tells us what our forefathers did not know, that unfresh water leads to definitely not smiling and in fact dead babies) and the state of technology (how much effort do we have to put into freshening water to get smiling babies?) and indeed where we are at any one time (less effort if we’re by a clear mountain stream, more if we’re on a boat out in the ocean). Values are thus relative, always, all the time, not intrinsic.”
Or as PJ O’Rourke once put it when taking Marxist economics (surely a contradiction in terms, Ed) apart, the problem with the left, in general, is that they cannot accept that the value of anything in a market is ultimately no more or less than what a person wants to pay for it. That makes such leftists angry. Well, that’s life.