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The Half‐​Life of Policy Rationales: How New Technology Affects Old Policy Issues

By Fred E. Foldvary and Daniel B. Klein
About the Book

The appropriateness of policy depends on the state of technology. The Half‐​Life of Policy Rationales argues that the justifications for many public policies are dissolving as technology advances. As new detection and metering technologies are developed for highways, parking, and auto emissions, and as information about quality and safety becomes more accessible and user‐​friendly, these services are better handled by the private sector. As for public utilities, new means of producing and delivering electricity, water, postal, and telephone services dissolve the old natural‐​monopolies rationales for government controls.

This volume includes essays on marine resources, lighthouses, highways, parking, auto emissions, consumer product safety, money and banking, medical licensing, electricity, water delivery, postal service, community governance, and endangered species. The editors, including the Cato Institutes, Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., have mobilized the hands‐​on knowledge of field experts to report on technological advances and develop theories about the policy implications. The Half‐​Life of Policy Rationales will be of interest to readers in public policy, technology, property rights, complexity theory, and economics.

Contributors include Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., Michael De Alessi, Fred E. Foldvary, David Friedman, Rick Geddes, Daniel B. Klein, Alvin Lowi Jr., Spencer Heath MacCallum, Kerry Macintosh, John C. Moorhouse, Peter Samuel, Jane S. Shaw, Donald C. Shoup, Richard L. Stroup, and Shirley V. Svorny.

Press Release: The Half‐​Life of Policy Rationales

About the Editors

Fred E. Foldvary is lecturer in economics at Santa Clara University. He is the author of Public Goods and Private Communities and Dictionary of Free Market Economics.

Daniel B. Klein is associate professor of economics at Santa Clara University. He is co‐​author of Curb Rights: A Foundation for Free Enterprise in Urban Transit, and editor of Reputation: Studies in the Voluntary Elicitation of Good Conduct, and What Do Economists Contribute.

What Others Have Said

“Points out a serious gap in the current theory of economic policy which treats the current state of technology as fixed. New technologies can in fact solve many problems that otherwise appear to be market failures. This volume is one of the freshest and most vital contributions to the public policy debate in years.”
—Tyler Cowen, George Mason University and author of Creative Destruction: How Globalization Is Changing the World’s Cultures

“This thoughtful collection of papers shows that developments and technology will in the future preferentially favor individuals over governments as long as we get the policy framework right.”
—Terence Kealey, author of The Economic Laws of Scientific Research