Looking carefully at that which is unseen.

Daily Archives: December 14, 2011

Thinking about: Collectivist versus individualist valuation

One of the basic differences between collectivists and individualists – socialism versus the market – is how the different subspecies of H. Sapiens view value. An individualist values an item based on its worth to him. The most expensive and finely crafted .40S&W handgun is of little value to me in its own right, as I do not have any .40S&W ammunition, nor do I intend to acquire any. As such, it has value only for potential resale or retrade to someone else who did value it more highly. This is not to say it has no value, or that I wouldn’t give value for it, if I thought I could receive an increase in the resale or retrade. This is, of course, the only realistic means of establishing value – the price of an item as exchanged between willing buyer and willing seller at the time of the exchange.

Collectivists, however, are not comfortable with individual choice not duly approved by the herd, however, and will find other means to value items. The concept is ridiculous on its face – what is the value of a gallon of water? In the desert? In my kitchen? Trying to set a “single” value for that gallon of water is impossible, and so a collectivist is forced to begin adding all sorts of adjectives such as time, place, etc. to the valuation … in other words, moving closer and closer to the same system used by individualists.

One of the common measurements beloved of collectivists is “amount of time invested.” Time can certainly add value to an item – aged wines, custom crafted items, slow-cooked BBQ – but time, by itself, is irrelevant as a measurement without knowing what exactly that time is being used for. We are told, for instance, that Italy Works 20% More Than Germany, as though that means something. Absent a definition of “work,” it’s about as useless a factoid as might be imagined. A typical defendant in a landlord/tenant matter may well work 100% – 500% – 10,000% more than I do on a case, due to his inexperience and lack of education and training – but that does not mean that his product (a winning verdict) is going to be better than mine. The time value of labor is one of those lovely feel-good Marxist theories that, in real life, turns out to be nothing more than wishful thinking equivalent to most of the childlike theories advanced by Mr. Marx in regard to economics.