Simple Economic Ideas About Choice

Source: EconLog
by Pierre Lemieux

“Coercively preventing an individual from choosing what he considers his best alternative harms him, even if he would describe it as his least bad one. (One’s best alternative is always anyway less bad than something else that is not accessible.) The only way to avoid this conclusion is to assume that you are better placed than Tom to know what is best among his available options. This paternalistic assumption can conceivably be true in some cases but it is not the recipe for a free society of equals. This reflection leads to another simple idea in economics: the distinction between economics as a positive science, and the value judgments that underlie most if not all authoritarian interventions in the economy.” (03/25/24)