The Failure of Austrian Econ-Style Subjective Value Theory in the Quest for NBA MVP


While I find his analysis more or less nonsensical, and am not a basketball fan, those interested in the intersection of previously recondite concerns of libertarian movement obsessives with the "real world" might dig this basketball courtside philosopher's take on various ways to pick the NBA's MVP, with a sideways insult to the failures of pure subjective value theory which he links strictly with the Austrian school (though it is in fact pretty much economic orthodoxy across the board now).

He applies Labor Theory of Value and gets Monta Ellis; intrinsic value theory and gets Kevin Love (nephew of my hero, the Beach Boys' Mike Love); instrumental value theory and gets Chris Paul; and via a curious application of Kantian categorical imperative gets to Tim Duncan of the Spurs for having the least number of fouls.

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  1. “Hegel is arguing that the reality is merely an a priori adjunct of non-naturalistic ethics, Kant via the categorical imperative is holding that ontologically it exists only in the imagination, and Marx is claiming it was offside.”

  2. Given that the Austrian School fails to meet Negative Dunkalectic’s high standards of serious academic research, today we will examine other models for determining value and who those models may offer us as this year’s Most Valuable Player.

    You can’t get more stupid than that.

    1. Wasn’t “Dunkalectic” a George Clinton spin-off band?

    2. The current model for choosing the MVP, allowing a random group of writers to arbitrarily select someone based on their own individual criteria of what is “valuable,” is a perfect example of the Austrian School’s subjective theory of value.

      He invents a strawman and then goes ahead with finding whatever is “wrong” with it.

      The problem derives in his misunderstanding of what MVP means. It’s not a valuation of the player, that’s a misnomer; it’s a ranking. And NO, they’re not necessarily the same thing.

  3. His “proof” that Austrian Economics isn’t rigorous enough is a link to the old Critiques of Libertarianism page. Laughable.

    Also, he fails miserably to understand why Austrian Economics can’t tell us what the MVP is. Austrian Economics’ subjective theory is that individuals decide for themselves the value of certain items, based on whatever criteria they choose (including the philosophical analyses he describes). Each individual has their own opinion of which player is most valuable, but there is no objective MVP.

    1. Unless Hill is willing to argue that there is one true criteria or process for picking the MVP, he is necessarily in agreement with the Austrians.

      1. Leaving 20th century Austrian school economics aside, even if you dispute Mises on the business cycle, or Hayek on what constitutes sound fiscal policy during a down turn, or any of the other more modern matters, if you haven’t processed marginal utility into your thinking, you are not an economist, you are just a fucking joke. That guy is a fucking joke.

      2. Just in case you are reading this, Mr. Hill, I thought I might help you. Since the relation between the subjective theory of value and marginal utility (your formative ‘education’ in economics likely glossed over this) goes over your head, here is a refresher that may be a better fit for your goofy ass.

        1. Post it on his blog.

          1. Okay, I cleaned it up a bit, and just posted it. Hasn’t shown up yet, though.

          2. I hit return after answering the word verification (no submit button popping up underneath to click on), nada.

  4. As an idiot whose self-image as a not-idiot is really fragile, one thing I do when I need to reinforce my delusion is take two disparate subjects that I don’t understand beyond knowing a few big names and key terms (at least as dictionary-defined) from them, list those names and terms in a way other idiots can’t see is arbitrary, and I go, “See?”

    Other idiots really appreciate that kind of thing, and their approval?or their codependent delusion of non-idiocy, I guess it could be??makes me feel safe. We’re really in it together, then, y’know?

    On the rare occasion that someone antisocial type who’s not an idiot sees what I’m up to and goes, “Hey. This is some idiot pretending he’s not, and it’s not convincing at all,” I say I was making a joke they didn’t get, and the other idiots gang up with me against that guy.

    This makes me feel safe, too, for a while. I’m on a team. And I’m the captain.

  5. I hadn’t been to that godawful Critiques of Libertarianism site in a long time. I had forgotten just how shitty it is.

    And the dude who runs it practices Aikido, speaking of shit that doesn’t work.

    1. And the dude who runs it practices Aikido, speaking of shit that doesn’t work.

      +1 for total awesomeness.

    2. Ive tried to read thru it multiple times but dont get very far. The stupidity overwhelms.

      1. Precisely. It’s the Aikido of the internet.

  6. Sports Econ, nap time for undergrad econ students. Why that class even exists in so many universities is beyond me.

    That is my only remotely connected comment on this article and it’s subject material. It’s now time for a poop and round of Angry Birds.

  7. I’m sorry, I didn’t read that all the way through. I think you started to lose me when you announced you were “not a basketball fan”, which as far as I’m concerned is like announcing yourself as a child molester.

    1. If that’s true call me the STEVE SMITH of the playground.

    2. Basketball is fucking awful. I would rather watch 10,000 lifetimes of golf than one second of an NBA game.

      1. College basketball, and just one team.

        What I can’t understand is baseball. I mean, free feel to enjoy it yourself, but I can’t fathom it.

        1. I went to an Indians game last year because I got a free luxury box ticket. It was fucking awesome – I got all the free food I wanted, including chocolate-covered Twinkies, and the game was over in less than two hours. Not that I paid any attention to what was happening on the field.

          1. An American League game over in less than 2 hours? You sure you didn’t black out for part of it or something?

            1. It was sort of raining, so everyone involved halfassed it as quickly as possible. The score was 1-0.

              1. More importantly, who would give you a luxury-box ticket to anything other than a human sacrifice?

                1. Human sacrifice is backstage pass or GFTO.

                  1. *GTFO* I need to pee.

                    1. I googled GFTO one time. ‘Girls Fighting Their Oppression’ was one of the answers that came back as the first answer. It still feels like a tumor of the soul when I see it so I thought I’d mention that and ruin it for everyone else too.

                    2. I googled GFTO one time. ‘Girls Fighting Their Oppression’ was one of the answers that came back as the first answer.

                      Apologies. That sentence was horribly constructed. The mediocrity inherent to the collectivist school of feminism was eating away at me. Still is.

                    3. Do not Google “I need to pee”. Unless you are into that sort of thing.

                    4. Top result:

                      Have You Need To Pee? Join friendly people sharing 165 true stories in the I Need to Pee group. Find forums, advice and chat with groups who share this life …

        2. I played it in high school because I’m lazy and because I was pretty good at it.

      2. I find the continual running back and forth to be quite relaxing and sedative.

  8. If you know very little about basketball, then you don’t know economic theory cannot be applied to it when it comes to awards like MVP. There are simply too many unquantifiable factors that go into what a player’s “worth” is. Does he keep the opposing team’s best offensive player from scoring his average? Does he provide leadership? Does he commit smart fouls or stupid ones? The list goes on.

    For b-ball fans, btw. I set up a NCAA pool for H&R. The link is:
    and the password is: jacket

    C’mon and have some fun. It don’t cost nothin’ and it’s rectal-free.

    1. A lot of people judge the MVP to not be the absolute best player but the player whose individual contribution was most valuble to his team’s relative success, which makes it dependent on how successful the team is and whether or not there are other big stars.

  9. Isn’t the most valuable player the one who has been able to negotiate the highest pay package? That gives us a lower limit for that player’s expected value.

    1. So, Joe Johnson = MVP?

  10. The Austrians would have picked Derrick Rose, who will be the actual (and deserving) MVP. If team success were not a factor, though, I agree Kevin Love would be most valuable in the sense of his single-handedly keeping his team from going winless all season.

  11. I think Dirk could be a good one.

    1. I think the only three choices are Dirk, Rose or Dwight Howard. All three are absolutely critical to their teams’ respective successes (without their stars, Dallas, Chicago and Orlando would be lucky to even make the playoffs). San Antonio, Boston, Miami, Atlanta and OKC all had two or more all-stars. Superstars on teams with other superstars shouldn’t really qualify.

      1. …forgot the LA Lakers in that list too.

      2. One player I forgot who is also deserving of consideration: LaMarcus Alridge. No chance of happening but he’s emerged as an superstar while singlehandedly keeping his team in playoff contention in the face of injuries to stars that would have killed any other team.

  12. I assume the Dunkaholic is parodying himself. Anyone who tries to make a ranking of value for a whole industry, and not accepting how markets do it – money paid – is engaging in a non-scientific enterprise.

    Two other thoughts:

    I express my subjective value by not caring one little hoot for who values what player most. Basketball, like all pro sports, sucks – away your mind.

    No mention of marginal productivity. Thread fail.

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  14. Inflationists, deflationists, monetarists, goldbugs, Keynesians, Friedmanites, Austrians, freshwaterists, saltwaterists, Grid Epsilon Irregulars and others are urged to listen in.

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