Gordon Fitch gcf at panix.com
Sat Apr 22 11:23:11 PDT 2000

JKSCHW at aol.com:
> ...
> Doug D and others empahsized that some of what counts as waste in capitalsim
> might a benefit in socialism, for example more leisurely work conditions.
> True, but Hayek's point is more abstract and deeper than that. He contends
> taht the problems with planning lead to waste by socialism's criteria. People
> produce stuff that no one wants because no one has found out accurately what
> people do want. They have wasted their own time and the resources that they
> used making the stuff. Surely we would want more leisure. But that would call
> for more efficient production with less waste, less necessary worktime, so
> instead of goofing off at hated jobs, we could work less time at jobs we
> liked and have more real free time. But this requires accurate information
> about wants, costs, and resources. This is why Gorden's point that the
> problem with efficiency is that it doesn't say anything about what's coming
> out the end is quite misguided. Efficiency does not tell us what to choose.
> It allows us to choose intelligfently according to our other values. If we do
> not know about costs and waste our resources, we cannot effectively promote
> the values we care about.
> ...

That wasn't the point I intended. Measures of efficiency _do_ tell us what to choose, because they're measured along some existing spectrum of values -- the most efficient process being the one which costs least and returns most. It is only according to some pre-existing notion of value in which cost and return can be cast; there can be no such thing as value- free efficiency. If parties affected by a market event or process have differing values, some of them are likely to view the output of the process as inefficient with respect to its inputs. For instance -- to pick a small, regular, carefully delimited area of life where one might think assumptions about efficiency would work -- I regard the market process which gave Microsoft a monopoly position in the software industry, thereby ultimately forcing me to debug other people's programs written in an abomination called VB, as rather inefficient. But obviously many other people found comfort and joy in whatever Microsoft offers, so they are glad of its success, and they think the market is efficient, which it is, _for_them_.

This seems obvious. Am I missing something?

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