Tuesday, March 24, 2015

An unjust price

The concept of a "just price," and by contrast of an unjust price, have sometimes been harshly criticized by libertarians. But it is really not too hard a concept to grasp, and I think even the critics know, in their heart-of-hearts, that it is possible for "voluntary" exchange to be unjust.

To offer an example: last night, while falling asleep watching Perry Mason, I caught an add for "pure gold" Buffalo "coins." There were charts about the price of gold, and history about the American Buffalo shooting up to $3000 in price. (I cannot see they ever actually were that high, but...)

Then, quickly mumbled, was a bit about the good for offer not being the American Buffalo, but a non-monetary copy. Louder again about the gold being 99.99% pure, and then something real quick about the actual amount of gold in these "coins," which turned out to be 14... milligrams! That is about 5/10000 of an ounce, or about 70 cents worth of gold.

And these curios were being sold off at the bargain basement price of... $9.95.

That, my friends, is an unjust price.


  1. Suppose that the ad had been very clear that the value of the gold in the coin was only about 60 cents, and that it wasn't a real American Buffalo coin but only a replica. If someone still wants to buy the coin for $9.95 is that an unjust price?

  2. What were your beliefs about the notion of a just/unjust price when you were a libertarian? Did you think the idea possibly had some merit or did you think it was empty?


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