The Wisdom of Ronald Coase

Two great quotes from “Economists and Public Policy,” from Coase’s collection Essays on Economics and Economists:

If we took seriously the argument used by those who advocate price controls and similar measures, we would expect much more extreme, and less sensible, proposals than are actually put forward. Thus, some senators belive that lower prices for gasoline would benefit consumers, so they introduce a measure which would make the gasoline prices of last December [1973] mandatory, not the still lower prices that prevailed in the 1930s.

Which implies that even senators tacitly acknowledge the laws of economics. The quotation below is self-explanatory, and has rightly become famous:

An economist who, by his efforts, is able to postpone by a week a government program which wastes $100 million a year (what I would consider a modest success) has, by his action, earned his salary for the whole of his life.

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