Price controls and value

Carl Menger described value as “a judgment economizing men make about the importance of the goods at their disposal for the maintenance of their lives and well-being.” He went on to say that “[i]t is, therefore, also quite erroneous to call a good that has value to economizing individuals a “value,” or for economists to speak of “values” as of independent real things, and to objectify value in this way. For the entities that exist objectively are al­ways only particular things or quantities of things, and their value is something fundamentally different from the things themselves; it is a judgment made by economizing individuals about the importance their command of the things has for the maintenance of their lives and well-being. Objectification of the value of goods, which is entirely subjective in nature, has nevertheless contributed very greatly to confusion about the basic principles of our science.

Yet talk of objective,”reasonable,” and “fair” prices abound:

The Arkansas Supreme Court has issued a legal kick to the gut of the fee-happy folks at Ticketmaster and Live Nation, confirming that the ticket seller is bound by the same state laws that prevent scalpers from piling on fees and charging exorbitant prices.

Ticketmaster is the subject of a lawsuit brought by an Arkansas man who says the $49 in fees — on top of the $42.75/ticket — he paid for four tickets to a concert by country singer Jason Aldean violated the provision of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act that forbids the sale of tickets above their face value plus reasonable credit card or handling fees.

Menger published Principles of Economics in 1871. One-hundred and forty-one years later, the government still doesn’t get it.

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