Value and income
This paper argues that income is a flow of value to society; therefore, an economic modeler's choice of a concept of value imposes a concept of income. The argument is used to distinguish three concepts of national income. (1) In a discounted-utilitarian model, which is usually the basis for theoretic discussions of net national income, the formulation of value imposes a concept of income that is not observable and hence does not provide income statistics. (2) In a perfectly competitive economy, national income is, in principle, observable. Study of the competitive model provides a theoretic foundation for national accounting, with extensions to distorted economies. However, two unobservable components of ideal income, consumers' surplus and capital gains, are perforce neglected. (3) A maximin program is the mathematical representation of another value, sustaining an economy. It employs a method of intertemporal valuation that does not involve discounting. Income is sustained value. Since a maximin program is not expressed for a distorted economy, there is no observable indicator of whether an economy is being sustained.
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