A Cost-Benefit Approach to Public Policy

Dr. Jeffrey Miron at Harvard highlights two different approaches to libertarianism. The first approach, which he refers to as philosophical libertarianism, claims that individuals have rights. These libertarians believe that their rights are often infringed upon by government action, and therefore, are averse to most government action.

The second approach, which Miron spends the bulk of his time discussing, is referred to as cost-benefit libertarianism or consequential libertarianism. This approach attempts to analyze the whole set of effects of a particular policy. In this view, the net consequences of government action that actually occur in the real world are often negative.
Using the example of drug policy, Miron shows that, regardless of your personal views on rights, marijuana prohibition generates a large amount of negative consequences with little or no positive effects.


  1. jjustinwilson

    Only individuals have rights!

  2. Emerson Howard

    Two strong ways to defend the freedom philosophy: natural rights and consequentialism. 

  3. Kevin Burctoolla

    that way we need freedom

  4. Kenny Legge

    You would think politicians would include this type of analysis in prospectus when providing new programs or laws, but sadly it’s all swept under the rug.

  5. taschrant

    Why aren’t these very simple concepts being taught in school?

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