In the modern West, where it seems economic discussions are endlessly clouded by the fallacies uttered by cranks of socialistic persuasion, it is a delight to come across material which conveys timelessly truthful concepts in economics reinforcing basic liberty ideals.
And so it was earlier today that I had the great fortune of stumbling across a sixteen-page pamphlet written in 1974 by the American economist Floyd Arthur “Baldy” Harper, providing an introduction to the economic theory of subjective value. I wish to share with readers some telling paragraphs from what is an outstanding short piece of work and, by all means, do bear in mind these passages when considering the efficacy of the numerous policy proposals about to swamp Australian voters over the next few months:
Traders on both sides make a profit in every voluntary exchange, due to the spread between their values and the terms of that exchange.
By the same reasoning, every compulsory or involuntary exchange, where one person confiscates the goods or services of another or dictates the terms of the exchange under force or the threat of force, entails an economic loss for the unwilling participant. Economically as well as morally, all such transactions are the same as outright theft.
It follows that a wholly voluntary economy results in the greatest general welfare to all the persons of that society. In such an economy, every person profits to the maximum, no matter where he plays in the field of economic activity – as employer or employee, buyer or seller, lender or borrower, etc. It likewise follows that in an authoritarian society losses will be the universal experience of everyone except the dictator himself.
(Source: F. A. Harper, 1974, An Introduction to Value Theory, Institute of Humane Studies)
Incidentally, Harper himself left an outstanding legacy for American classical liberals by virtue of his role in founding the Institute of Humane Studies.