Seth Caleb Weeks

Value and Government

Jul 9, 2021

We tend to think that value is an intrinsic property of something. However, the value of anything is worth exactly what some person is willing to pay for it. We attribute value to something based on our needs and desires (hopefully in that order). When two people make a trade, each person perceives the value of the items they received as higher than of those they gave away. Let's say I am a butcher and I want to trade some beef for some eggs from a farmer. The beef may have some value to me, but I probably have so much that I couldn't consume myself, so it isn't worth all that much. The egg farmer is in the same predicament. He has plenty of eggs to spare. When we exchange two dozen eggs for a pound of beef, we both gain something that is more valuable than what we gave away. That's the cool thing about economics: collective value seems to be created from nothing. The intricacies of economics become slightly more complicated when you add an intermediary currency system, trade time for money, and tack on macro concerns such as incentives, levies, and access to resources, but the basic principle remains the same. Governments are an interesting economic structure where a group of people collectively choose to give up some portion of their income in exchange for shared resources and an ordered society. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees about which resources should be shared or how order should be kept. An ideal government (short of everyone agreeing about everything) will make very few decisions at the top level and delegate particulars to smaller communities where people are more likely to reach a consensus.