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The Things Only Government Can Do

The Economics of “Market Failure”

Much of this book to this point has been a caution against—some might say a tirade against—excessive reliance on government to make sound decisions when resources are scarce, people pursue their self-interest, and information is costly. But as noted previously, government is among the oldest human institutions, and human institutions do not persevere so long—since the dawn of settled agriculture, perhaps 7,000 years ago—unless they bring some benefits. And although much of what government can do, as we have seen, is inimical to human achievement precisely because prices ordinarily ...

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