Putting Tomatoes on the "Bathroom Scale"
A few days ago I quoted P.J. O'Rourke: "The free market is not an ideology or a creed or something we're supposed to take on faith, it's a measurement. It's a bathroom scale. I may hate what I see when I step on the bathroom scale, but I can't pass a law saying I weigh 160 pounds."
Steven Landsburg has a related post about how to correctly compare the total cost (including all energy costs) to a New Yorker of a locally-grown tomato from a lavishly heated greenhouse in the Hudson Valley and a tomato transported all the way from California.
"How can we possibly gather enough information to compare the opportunity costs of land, fertilizers, equipment, workers, transportation and energy costs (among many others) and reach a conclusion about which tomato imposes the fewest costs on our neighbors?
Well, it turns out there’s actually a way to do that. You do it by looking at a single number that does an excellent job of reflecting all those costs. That number is known as the price of the tomato."
HT: Don Boudreaux