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Altrincham isn’t the best place to live

Summary:
The Sunday Times tells us that Altrincham is the best place to live on our sceptered isle. This is clearly, obviously, not true. One of us dealt with this last year when Orkney was claimed as the spot.We know of those who would reject that near Manchester contention out of hand for it’s north of Watford Gap. Even one, to our knowledge, who would do so because it’s north of the Marylebone Road. Which is ridiculous, of course, but also the point.There are many of this “this is the best place to live” sortings. Just as there are many “this is the best way to live” rankings out there. Those various alternatives to GDP that are constantly touted for example. The problem with them all being that they are subjective. They are, that is, how those compiling the list, or determining that good life,

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The Sunday Times tells us that Altrincham is the best place to live on our sceptered isle. This is clearly, obviously, not true. One of us dealt with this last year when Orkney was claimed as the spot.

We know of those who would reject that near Manchester contention out of hand for it’s north of Watford Gap. Even one, to our knowledge, who would do so because it’s north of the Marylebone Road. Which is ridiculous, of course, but also the point.

There are many of this “this is the best place to live” sortings. Just as there are many “this is the best way to live” rankings out there. Those various alternatives to GDP that are constantly touted for example. The problem with them all being that they are subjective.

They are, that is, how those compiling the list, or determining that good life, define what is that good place or good life. And a very basic piece of economic reasoning is that utility is personal. We all enjoy different things and it is the duty of the liberal - like us - to keep insisting that the good life is the one that meets those personal definitions of what one is. The liberal polity being the one that enforces the ability to chacun a son gout.

That we don’t all flock to Altrincham - or last year to Orkney - to live shows that it isn’t that place for us. That we don’t all value equality of income, or a pristine environment, or one that’s tobacco free - just to mention three of the measures that are in various GDP alternatives - is exactly why they’re not good measures of the quality of existence.

GDP itself has problems, certainly, but it is at least objective - the value being added in the economy. Given that it’s at market prices it’s also the value added according to those entirely personal measures of utility. That is, it’s a better measure of how we’re doing at creating the liberal world order than any of the purported replacements.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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