How does one best explain simple economics? Well, the best way to do it is to use something simple, practical which affects the listener’s life. I remember a Marxist friend once asked me about why can jewellery be charged at such a high price when the amount of work being put into the production is low (this is another misconception). Why, it was quite simple, the answer was that people simply hold different values for different items. If one is to give a man an expensive lingerie as a present, I seriously doubt that he would appreciate the value of said present. But if you give him a newly released video game, he would most definitely know the value.
A simple analogy to destroy the idea that equal work/cost means equal value is to look at films. For instance, the universally panned computer animated film, Foodfight! (2012) had a production value of 65 millions USD, yet it was considered as one of the worst films ever made. Low budget films like the Blair Witch Project (1999) only spent 22K to become the foremother of all mockumentary films. There are many polarised films which developed cult-following, an idea that people become passionately dedicated to the film that repeated watching and subcultures were evolved around the film. The famous example is the Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) which had people acting out the movie live on the stage as the film is played. Another example is Mean Girls (2004) which is still being referenced all the time by the pop culture.
What about music? I consider pop music to be awful and completely distasteful, but my (and many people’s) disdain of pop music simply does not stop young people from consuming the music. The elaborate production of songs and their music videos are completely meaningless to me, they can spend billions on a Beyoncé song and I would still think it’s worthless. Yet a good singer-songwriter can make my heart swoon with joy, even if all he has is their guitar and their voice. Consider this, Ayn Rand really did not enjoy Elvis’ music (or Rock n’ Roll in general) but she wrote this:
“Why should Elvis Presley make more money than Einstein?” The answer is: Because men work in order to support and enjoy their own lives—and if many men find value in Elvis Presley, they are entitled to spend their money on their own pleasure. Presley’s fortune is not taken from those who do not care for his work (I among of them) nor from Einstein—nor does he stand in Einstein’s way—nor does Einstein lack proper recognition and support in a free society, on an appropriate intellectual level.”Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
What about food? Some people choose to spend a fortune on free ranged meat for example, despite tasting exactly the same with the same nutrient. They do it out of their false ideal that free ranged meat is somehow better than efficiently farmed meat, but they are perfectly entitled to it. The market simply provides, although I would never choose this option unless there are no other options on the menu. What about picky eaters? If a person who does not enjoy tomatoes, do you think the person’s judgement of a tomato’s market value would be the same as a person who enjoys tomatoes? No, he simply would not.
The false idea that because you work hard, you will always achieve greatness is simply not true. But this is ingrained in us as an ideal. Yes, in most cases hard work pays off, but sometimes life is unfair. Two people create similar products for the consumers but one person’s product is favoured despite having the same production value, this is life. But life does not stop the losing man from continuously improving his products to become better. I implore you to think of analogies consisting of something the collectivists value and force them to confront their own contradictions.