I post my answer to Tom Friedman’s piece in this cross-post. Many environmental policies seek to increase the quantity of a non-market good such as “clean air” or “clean water”. To measure the benefits of such a policy, we need to estimate two separate parameters. 1. How much will environmental quality improve because of the regulation? 2. How much do people value this improvement in environmental quality? A large number of environmental economists seek to answer these two questions. If I could poll Republicans, I would like to ask them to answer these two questions. Do those who oppose regulation view government as ineffective at achieving a specific goal or do they reject the importance of the stated goal? Or, do they view regulation as part of a cumulative process such that an unintended consequence of successful regulation is that this will lead to more regulation and a larger government that displaces free market interactions?
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