May 30, 2015
Kevin D Williamson corrects the comedy economics of U.S. senator Bernie Sanders:
Prices in markets are not arbitrary — they are reflections of how real people actually value certain goods and services in the real world. Arbitrarily changing the dollar numbers attached to those preferences does not change the underlying reality any more than trimming Cleveland off a map of the United States actually makes Cleveland disappear… Free markets are a reflection of what people actually value at a particular time relative to the other things that they might also value. Real people simply want things that are different from what the planners want them to want, a predicament that can be solved only through violence and the threat of violence…
Markets adapt to political changes, and the hierarchy of values that distinguishes between an hour’s worth of warehouse management, an hour’s worth of composing poetry, an hour’s worth of brain surgery, and an hour’s worth of singing pop songs is not going to change because a politician says so, or because a group of politicians says so, or because 50 percent + 1 of the voters say so, or for any other reason. To think otherwise is the equivalent of flat-earth cosmology. In the long term, people’s needs and desires are what they are; in the short term, you can cause a great deal of chaos in the economy and you can give employers additional reasons to automate rote work. But you cannot make a fry-guy’s labour as valuable as a patent lawyer’s by simply passing a law.
Williams quotes the socialist Mr Sanders objecting to consumers having a wide choice of sports shoes and underarm deodorant, as if such things were a sign of wickedness, which reminded me of another socialist’s encounter with well-stocked shelves, in 1989, quoted here by Tim Blair:
[Russian president, Boris] Yeltsin, then 58, “roamed the aisles of Randall’s supermarket nodding his head in amazement.” He told his fellow Russians in his entourage that if their people, who often must wait in line for most goods, saw the conditions of U.S. supermarkets, “there would be a revolution.” “Even the Politburo doesn’t have this choice. Not even Mr. Gorbachev,” he said.
And here’s a Moscow supermarket circa 1990, filmed by Rick Suddeth. As you can see, the egalitarian retail experience is leaving shoppers happier and more morally elevated:
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