Battlepanda: Beware of libertarians bearing charts


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Beware of libertarians bearing charts

Alex Taborrok reported that Henrico County, VA, sold off their used apple laptops at giveaway prices, resulting in some sort of crazed melee as people hustled to get one of the limited number of computers. Now, if Alex made it a "government actions have unintended consequences" post, I would have been fine with it. But no. He had to haul out his chart-making software and draw a graph showing that all the extra consumer surplus generated by offering the computers at a lower than market price is precisely eroded by the doller value of the time people spent queuing for the computers.

You see, the market, it's destiny. The price/quantity horizon is inviolable. You see, people are always completely rational when it comes to how they spend their time. That is why people line up around the block to save a few pennies on gas. In fact, people are always rational when it comes to money, which is why they buy lottery tickets. Give me some time and I'll come up with a graph where I demonstrate how the lower yield of the lottery tickets is precisely made up by the psychic satisfaction generated by purchasing said ticket and scratching off the foil.

As long as I'm in a libertarian-bashing mood, I'm going to link to this post by John at Dymaxion world, in which he calls out Wired magazine for the kind of smug and facile free-market cheerleading that has put me off the magazine.