Sunday, October 29, 2006

I was slumming.

I confess. I was out slumming. I picked up and read a copy of The American Conservative published by the lunatic Buchananites. These are conservatives who only get one main issue right, which admittedly is one more than the Bushian Right manages. The Buchananites are antiwar.

But they are so atrocious on everything else. They are borderline racist and I’m being generous. They are protectionists and they don’t favour civil liberties. Free market liberals, those of us who embrace freedom across the board, don’t really have much in common with Buchanan and the nabobs of nonsense who write for his publication.

Buchanan himself never understood economics. In fact his understanding of economics is so atrocious he could be a Democrat. But even Democrats have standards.

They have a fawning review of a book that hates Wal-Mart. No surprise there. Buchananism is often infested with resentment against successful economic enterprises. They are advocates of the status quo in the market. They hate change, they hate it a lot.

But the comment that really surprised me was that even for these people they were surprisingly stupid. Consider this claim from this review. “No factor of production is more cannabalized than that of labor, because it is human labor more than any other factor that creates value.” This sort of nonsense is usually found among unreconstructed Marxists. As the great Austrian economists of the late 1800s noted value is subjective and not determined by labor.

The article hedges the claim slightly but even the hedge is wrong. The only thing that determines value is demand relative to supply. Something produced with no labour or very little can have great value and many of the most laborious projects on the planet have negative values. The amount of labour in a project has no bearing on the value of the project. None.

From this fallacy Marx wandered off into fantasy land and the Buchananites, along with the smattering of fringe cases that associate with them, do the same thing. In fact one could take this review and plop it down in the middle of some Left-wing rag and the readers wouldn’t bat an eye over it. They would assume it was just one of their own.