Ross Gittins Fails to Comprehend Subjectivity of Value

Gittins says, “New principle of balancing public and private interests is needed.” He never defines the terms “public” and “private”. If he had tried to, he would have seen just how arbitrary any limitation on the market is. Everything could be considered public, if you have enough time on your hands, university professors to employ or think tanks to commission. Gittins fails to understand that government is just a group of people with no justifiable claim to anything beyond their capacities as private citizens. As Murray Rothbard said, “[T]here is no entity called ‘government’; there are only people forming themselves into groups called ‘governments’ and acting in a ‘governmental’ manner. All property is therefore always ‘private’; the only and critical question is whether it should reside in the hands of criminals or of the proper and legitimate owners.”

That Gittins fails to comprehend the subjectivity of value is clear from his use of the concept of positional goods. He says, “When, rather than buying a perfectly satisfactory locally made Toyota for $30,000, for instance, we prefer to buy an imported BMW for $100,000, we’re spending $30,000 on a car and $70,000 on a positional good.” It could be argued that every single good is a positional good, or at least that a component of their psychic value is. Surely, Gittins’ recommended $30,000 Toyota could also be called a positional good, since most car owners could get around easily enough with no car, by relying on public transport, walking, etc, but they decide not to do so because it would then appear to their friends, family and colleagues that they are not doing so well. On what criteria would Gittins deny that all cars are positional goods? And how about schooling?

Gittins, in the aforementioned article, is using the argument to suggest limitations on government interference, but a bad argument is a bad argument. Moreover, it provides a confusing and misleading argument for already existing government interference, and it can also easily be used to argue for expansion of government into everything that could be argued to be non-positional and much further.

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