Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Libertarian Supports Purchase of Panmure House

David Farrar writes in his Blog: Freedom and Whisky (‘A libertarian returns to Scotland’) on the continuing debate on Panmure House:

Responding to Alex:

Alex Massie has picked up on the sale of Adam Smith's house:
“They chose the £800,000 bid over a higher offer, on the grounds that the University would make the building more accessible to the public. The University plans to restore the house to promote the study of economics. Hmmm. Wouldn't it have been more appropriate to sell to the highest bidder?”

In one of the comments Gavin Kennedy writes:

The difference in the bid was £150,000, a rather small amount which will be more than covered quickly by the commercial operations of Adam Smith's former home (1788-90) in pursuit of academic excellence in economics.
This is also a public benefit, which was lauded by Adam Smith.
“I'd like to enlarge on that observation with a nod in the direction of the Austrian School of Economics.

Values are subjective. We each have our own unique scale of values and if that weren't so no trade would be possible at all. Let's imagine that I'm in the market for a property. I might be happy to pay £250,000 for a flat in central Edinburgh but another person might well prefer to spend the same amount of money on a sizeable house in rural Fife. And I might be willing to spend a bit extra on a place in Edinburgh simply because it had once been owned by Adam Smith! Others wouldn't. Values aren't limited to monetary considerations.

So I would argue that the City Council hasn't necessarily sold the Smith abode to a low bidder. It all depends on the Council's scale of values and those values can include a keenness for a particular future use of the property. From its point of view the Council has sold to the highest bidder. For once, in this case the Council's scale of values is not unlike mine!”

Some commentators to the various Blogs that have remarked about the sale of Panmure House demonstrate their philistine nature by simply demanding that the City of Edinburgh Council sell to the ‘highest bidder’, or demolish Panmure House and turn it into a MacDonalds, or some such atrocity.

I am pleased to see that a Libertarian takes a more intelligent stance.



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