Law and Economics

by Henry on October 18, 2018

I’ve been waiting for this paper to drop, ever since Suresh told me about it last year. It’s groundbreaking. What it does is to take Steve Teles’ qualitative work on the conservative legal movement, and then ask a simple question: if we start with the qualitative evidence about the program’s intentions, then FOIA the hell out of George Mason University to find out which judges attended the Manne seminars, and then apply cutting edge econometrics and natural language processing to their decisions, what are we going to find out?

Some selected quotes (as well as one quote that isn’t in the current version, but will likely be in the next) under the fold, for those who are interested in the headline findings.

we find that, post Manne attendance, judges render conservative verdicts in economics-relevant cases. Further, using the 100% sample of machine-coded circuit cases, we find that Manne attendees subsequently are more likely to rule against regulatory agencies, for example the EPA and NLRB. Next we look at criminal sentencing in the district courts. We find that Manne attendance is associated with harsher prison sentences imposed. We show that the difference in sentencing harshness between Manne and non-Manne judges is highest after the 2005 Booker decision gave more discretion to judges in sentencing.

We find that Manne attendance is associated with disparate sentencing. The results are consistent with judges learning a theories of simple deterrence and the use of stereotypes as being economically efficient … –that discrimination in prices and in punishment can be analyzed in terms of economic efficiency (documented in the Manne program archives). … Exploiting random panel composition, we document extensive spillovers consistent with both peer and learning effects. Having an economics trained judge on the authoring judge’s previous panel impacts the decision. There is no effect in a set of placebo cases … There are spillovers on rulings against regulatory agencies.


Law and economics’ key criticism of regulatory policies is that they have perverse, unintended economic consequences. In the domain of labor regulation, law and economics scholars (and judges) wrote extensively against New Deal labor law and union protections …. In EPA regulation, almost all environmental regulations can be construed as a form of government expropriation that limits how property owners can develop their property. Reliance on economic analysis in antitrust has attained nearly complete consensus.

By the 1960s, the Supreme Court had read into previous statutes a variety of anti-competitive social and political goals, such as protecting small traders from their larger and more efficient rivals as well as curbing inequality in the distribution of income and undue influence of large business. The law-and-economics movement advanced the initially controversial view that the antitrust laws should promote economic efficiency and consumer welfare, rather than shield individuals from competitive market forces or redistribute income across groups of consumers. In the recent time period, judges who attended law-and-economics training were less likely to have their antitrust decisions appealed (Baye and Wright 2011).

A more controversial branch of law and economics is the use of incentives reasoning in criminal law. In Becker’s (1968) analysis of crime and punishment, the notion of “rational criminals” works against the then-prevailing wisdom of crime as a product of mental illness. This change in perspective motivates deterrence (more police, more punishment) rather than rehabilitation (more social services and mental health treatment) as the preferred focus of crime policy.



The influence of economics on legal thought is, in part, due to a controversial economics training program for sitting judges, the Economics Institute for Federal Judges. … The course was founded and organized by Henry Manne, an influential conservative in the early law and economics movement. The institute was the the flagship program of the Law and Economics Center, the first academic research center devoted to law and economics. It was funded mainly by donations from conservative foundations and business interests. …By 1990, forty percent of federal judges had attended this program. … at least in principle, the program was billed as a non-partisan tool to help judges understand their decisions

In terms of the main lessons, the program strove for ideological balance. Both conservative and liberal economic thinkers were invited. Empirical panels could include both Orley Ashenfelter and John Lott, for example. … The instruction may have been more emphatically delivered by the conservative instructors. Manne himself (who taught part of the course) articulated the view that insider trading was economically efficient. Another instructor, Professor Goetz, defended “’Unequal’ Punishment for ’Equal’ Crime,” arguing that discrimination in punishment can be economically efficient.

In more recent years, the annual reports include instructors with known conservative stances on immigration (George Borjas), crime (James Q. Wilson), and family law (Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the anti-LGBT Ruth Institute). … In a Fortune magazine article (May 21, 1979), instructors quotes indicate how normative the economics instructors intended to be. Alchian said, “I’m trying to change your view of the world, to show you that what you thought was bad really may not be.” On damages and deterrence, Demsetz said motivated increase in sanctions as, “[an agent is] not likely to be caught, [so] the threat of simple damages may not be a tough enough deterrent” and the moral hazard associated with damages: “The plaintiffs may wait a long time before they complain, because they want damages to pile up.”

On environmental law, Alchian stated, “Give me a capsule that will magically clean all the air in Los Angeles … Beg me to crush it. … I won’t crush the capsule. Because, if I do, poor blacks will have to pay $20 a month more for land rental. … the black in Watts, already used to living with bad air, loses his discount for doing that.” On equal opportunity and discrimination, Feldstein said, “you should be asking questions like, `Is it more likely to be this than that ?’ ”, but no empirical skepticism towards antitrust theory was articulated.



The program has a recognized conservative bias, yet the attending judges are effusive in their praise regardless of ideological standpoint. What is the impact on observed judge decisions? …We focus on two agencies the Law and Economics movement specifically criticized: the National Labor Relations Board and the Environmental Protection Agency. .. Manne judges exhibit a sharp and sudden increase in propensity to vote against federal labor and environmental regulatory agencies. … The differences-in-differences analysis … renders a consistent picture that Manne judges become more conservative after the training relative to their colleagues. …

this indicates the Manne program accounts for 28-42% of the rise in judicial conservatism. If peers and precedent also impact the non-Manne judges, then the true Manne impact may … explain an even larger portion of the historical shift. … Judges increase sentence lengths by 7 percent and any sentence by 2 percentage points after Manne attendance. …United States v. Booker loosened the formerly mandatory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and offers a policy experiment to analyze the effects of judicial discretion. … economics trained judges render more severe sentences in the fiscal years after Booker. …the racial disparity in sentencing between black and white defendants is larger for Manne-trained judges than their colleagues. In addition, the gender disparity in sentencing between make and female defendants is larger for Manne-trained judges than their colleagues. …

Manne attendance increases use of economics language for Manne judges across both economics and non-economics cases. … Judges who sit with economics-trained judges start to use more economics language, consistent with a learning effect.

And not in the article – but highly relevant – is this quote from a reminiscence of Henry Manne’s influence:

Finally, Manne paid very careful attention to the content of the conference and to the approaches and positions of the attendees. None of the many Manne conferences that I attended were ideological directly. There was no clear or, to my mind, subterranean agenda. Nevertheless, while Manne, both in terms of content and attendees, provided for balance, he did not provide for too much balance. As befits a clever market-maker, Manne’s balance was ingenious. Commonly, extremely prominent liberal economists would attend—such as Paul Samuelson or Ken Arrow. Though both are irrepressible, their positions were often cabined by topics far from familiar to them. Similarly, Manne would typically invite liberal economists to teach at his Judges’ programs. His faculties uniformly showed political and ideological balance. But again, Manne was in charge of the curriculum. A liberal economist teaching supply and demand is hardly dangerous. A liberal economist becomes dangerous when addressing how to improve the world with unlimited spending of other citizens’ tax monies. That, Henry Manne would never allow.

{ 33 comments }

1

ave 10.18.18 at 6:40 pm

From an old post by Tyler Cowen post here at CT:

“I view the relatively conservative nature of the law and economics movement as a historical accident which is already more or less obsolete. For better or worse, the wave of the future is scholars such as Cass Sunstein, not Henry Manne. The simple lesson is simply that in the long run “mainstream” usually wins out, even if the efforts of Henry Manne shifted or accelerated what later became mainstream trends.”

Wonder if he’d still stand by this.

http://crookedtimber.org/2009/04/28/one-economist%E2%80%99s-perspective-on-the-law-and-economics-movement/

2

Dr. Hilarius 10.18.18 at 7:15 pm

Right-wing economics have been infiltrating the law for a long time. One of my law school professors was Wallace Loh (now president of the University of Maryland). Wallace preached from the book of Becker. He championed breaching contracts when it was economically beneficial for one party. On criminal justice he argued that sending white collar criminals to prison was economically inefficient; they should be fined, perhaps, but allowed to remain free so that they could continue to contribute to the economy!

After nearly 30 years of criminal defense I can say with great confidence that heroin addicts and low-IQ criminals don’t do cost/benefit analysis very well which undercuts the value of harsh punishment as deterrence. White collar criminals, however, do understand cost/benefit relationships. Harsh sentences for economic crimes are much more likely to have deterrent value. Along with upper-class defendants having a much greater fear of prison than all the poor bastards for whom prison is an expected life event. But, for some reason, judges still seem to favor criminals who look like themselves.

3

David J Zimny 10.18.18 at 7:30 pm

“On environmental law, Alchian stated, ‘Give me a capsule that will magically clean all the air in Los Angeles … Beg me to crush it. … I won’t crush the capsule. Because, if I do, poor blacks will have to pay $20 a month more for land rental. …'”

If Alchian is going to apply some bastardized version of cost-benefit analysis, he should certainly realize that the long-range health benefits to smog-free air are worth far more than $20 a month — at least for those who can afford to pay for a lifetime of clean air.

4

Matt 10.18.18 at 7:53 pm

If Alchian is going to apply some bastardized version of cost-benefit analysis, he should certainly realize that the long-range health benefits to smog-free air are worth far more than $20 a month — at least for those who can afford to pay for a lifetime of clean air.

His reasoning makes sense if you imagine that pollution is unpleasant to the senses but physiologically harmless, like living near a house painted in garish colors. (I mean, “it makes sense if you imagine something stupid,” but bear with me for a minute.) Once you start imagining this, other stupid deductions follow naturally: there’s no such thing as environmental racism, there’s just a mutually beneficial arrangement of giving minority communities a discount on housing prices in exchange for living near pollution sources. Replacing combustion-powered electricity generation with wind power is a lateral move or even regressive, because turbines ruin “viewsheds,” and looking-at-stuff-you-don’t-like is equivalent to inhaling combustion products.

5

LizardBreath 10.18.18 at 8:38 pm

“On environmental law, Alchian stated, ‘Give me a capsule that will magically clean all the air in Los Angeles … Beg me to crush it. … I won’t crush the capsule. Because, if I do, poor blacks will have to pay $20 a month more for land rental. …’”

I vividly remember being taught this (put more gracefully, but recognizably the same sentiment) in first year Property at NYU Law, and finding it baffling that any human being would say that. And being genuinely baffled — turning it over and over again to see if I could figure out any way to make it make sense.

6

Michael Singer 10.18.18 at 11:17 pm

Nice piece, but I must point out that the first-paragraph query “if we start with the qualitative evidence about the program’s intentions, then FOIA the hell out of George Mason University to find out which judges attended the Manne seminars, and then apply cutting edge econometrics and natural language processing to their decisions, what are we going to find out?” is nobody’s idea of a “simple question.”

7

J-D 10.19.18 at 5:31 am

In a Fortune magazine article (May 21, 1979), instructors quotes indicate how normative the economics instructors intended to be. Alchian said, “I’m trying to change your view of the world, to show you that what you thought was bad really may not be.”

I suppose it’s possible that what I think is bad really may not be; I suppose it’s possible that’s true for other people too. What if the people who think economic inefficiency is bad are mistaken and it really isn’t? If it turns out that after all it’s economic efficiency which is bad (and not economic inefficiency), wouldn’t that immediately reverse a lot of conclusions?

8

bad Jim 10.19.18 at 5:51 am

Kevin Drum links to this with graphs.

In my junior year at Berkeley, I had just dropped what proved to be a moderate dose of LSD when one of my roommates handed me her copy of Samuelson’s freshman economics text. I found it endlessly entertaining, so much so that when the course catalog offered “micro- and macro- economics for mathematically sophisticated non-majors” I took it as a sign from God.

I suspect my modest wealth derives more from the math and science side of my education and my extensive experience in manufacturing, but my nodding acquaintance with the academic side of economics is at the very least handy when reading the news or dealing with financial advisors.

There is a stereotype of lawyers as smart people who are bad at math. As a math major, I’m not the best judge of others’ deficiencies, and my legal dealings have mostly dealt with patents, and lawyers in that field tend to turn into engineers even if they didn’t start out that way. With that exception noted, having engaged legal counsel on various other matters, I’m inclined to nod along with the stereotype.

It’s not at all surprising that experts so narrowly and expensively educated and otherwise ignorant could be easily shifted from a default to a partisan approach. This isn’t rocket surgery; the patient doesn’t explode on the launch pad if the judge denies a motion.

9

jrkrideau 10.19.18 at 1:19 pm

What if the people who think economic inefficiency is bad are mistaken and it really isn’t?

They are probably correct some times. It depends on the end result desired.

10

Thomas P 10.19.18 at 1:34 pm

David, I doubt this would even work. Landlords squeeze out what they can. If there were no pollution the poor black would be no richer and the landlords would be unable to charge more than they already to.

11

Jerry Vinokurov 10.19.18 at 1:38 pm

I know, I know, I sound like a broken record, but maybe this research will finally, finally motivate legal academia to take stock of the extent to which it has been thoroughly bamboozled by the fake conservative intellectual projects that it took seriously. That’s probably too much to hope for, given how invested the top layers of the liberal legal academy are in a demeanor of affected disinterest in such base things as politics, but maybe with the help of data a few people can be roused from their dogmatic slumber.

12

LizardBreath 10.19.18 at 2:30 pm

There is a stereotype of lawyers as smart people who are bad at math. As a math major, I’m not the best judge of others’ deficiencies, and my legal dealings have mostly dealt with patents, and lawyers in that field tend to turn into engineers even if they didn’t start out that way. With that exception noted, having engaged legal counsel on various other matters, I’m inclined to nod along with the stereotype.

As a lawyer myself, the stereotype is richly deserved. I have the reputation among other lawyers I work with as a go-to person on technical stuff, and it’s because I have an easy facility with basic arithmetic, like percentages. You can buffalo a whole lot of lawyers really easily with an argument claiming to be irrefutably based in mathematical truths.

13

Kenny Easwaran 10.19.18 at 5:31 pm

“I won’t crush the capsule. Because, if I do, poor blacks will have to pay $20 a month more for land rental.”

It’s striking to me how similar this idea is to those of some left-wing anti-gentrification activists, who appear to oppose certain infrastructure investments because of the way they will raise prices and drive out low-income residents.

14

Nick 10.19.18 at 5:51 pm

“His reasoning makes sense if you imagine that pollution is unpleasant to the senses but physiologically harmless”

I think you’re still being too kind. Even if we accept his stupid premises, the reasoning (such as it is) seems to be running on some kind of revealed preferences logic wherein we’re supposed to imagine that poor black people in LA were given a choice between living in Watts and some less-polluted version of Watts for a $20/month premium and they chose the former.

But…no.

15

Sebastian H 10.19.18 at 6:19 pm

“we find that, post Manne attendance, judges render conservative verdicts in economics-relevant cases. Further, using the 100% sample of machine-coded circuit cases, we find that Manne attendees subsequently are more likely to rule against regulatory agencies, for example the EPA and NLRB.”

Ok… but is that a good thing or a bad thing? Where the precepts are correct, that would be a good thing right? If there were a new HIV drug that had substantially fewer side effects and we found that doctors who attended a conference exposing them to that information then event about their business and prescribed it more, that would be great!

So judges who attend the meetings find at least some of the discussion convincing. Unless they are wrong to do so, the finding is something akin to “law and economics is convincing to judges when they hear about it”. It only sounds naughty because you’re choosing to code it as “conservative” which is to be translated in academic circles as “bad”. But if even liberal judges end up changing their rulings when they hear about it, maybe it is just being seen by them as “correct”. Which you can certainly contest, but that takes a lot of the breathlessness out of the reporting.

16

Bernard Yomtov 10.19.18 at 7:29 pm

@Sebastian,

I think the argument is more complex.

The first little bit of economics is, in fact, “conservative,” in that it develops simple models that, if they actually described something real, would strongly suggest that conservative policies – deregulation, etc. were wise.

The trouble is that they don’t describe that much, and you typically don’t find out about the flaws until you are a little further into the material – much further than I imagine a two-week course aimed at those who know little economics to begin with, and are not comfortable with the type of analytical reasoning used, will go.

Of course it’s all charming, leads to easy conclusions, and so on, so it’s a con, really.

17

Sebastian H 10.19.18 at 9:14 pm

Bernard, I agree that economists sometimes use ridiculously simple models inappropriately. Probably the most damaging one was the idea that since globalism helps GDP on average, it helps the average person. Which was a mistake made across the board for about 20 years, and has had ugly political consequences in all sorts of spheres.

My problem with the discussions about this study, is that a lot of work is being done with the coding of “conservative” decisions. The seminars are on certain topics and about thinking through things in ways they might not have before. Ok great. The judges attend and start thinking things through that way, and it influences their decision. Ok. So we’ve established that the seminars are presenting ideas in a convincing way.

That’s great, but what we really want to know is whether or not the is whether or not the ideas are useful. This doesn’t tell us because we are just coding it as “conservative”. Which I know in academic circles is supposed to clue you into “wrong” for tribal reasons, but it doesn’t actually mean “wrong”.

For example a bunch of recent EPA rulings which get coded as “conservative” are based around the idea that if restrict someone’s land use all the way to “you can’t do anything with it at all in order to protect wildlife” that counts as a “taking” so the government pays for the land of it wants to do that (it doesn’t stop the government from doing it at all). I would not be at all surprised to find a few more judges who took the seminar agreeing with that idea, but it’s also probably correct. So in that instance they are getting the more correct answer.

Now if we want to say that it is influencing them too simplistically, and therefore causing incorrect answers, that’s fine. But then we have to get into an actual discussion of political judgements about how to do things. What I object to in the discussions I’m seeing is that all of that is smuggled into the coding of certain decisions as “conservative” and then removed from the discussion as if it is all about scary “influence”. But you can’t discuss whether seminar type influence is good or bad without discussing whether the ideas in the seminar are good or bad, or at the very least whether the ideas as implemented are good or bad. (For example pomo ideas may be defensible in highly specialized academic environs but horrible when thrown around in practice outside).

If the only question is “was this seminar series influential”? Great. But it’s being used as [creepy music] influential, in discussion.

18

Collin Street 10.19.18 at 10:24 pm

His reasoning makes sense if you imagine that pollution is unpleasant to the senses but physiologically harmless, like living near a house painted in garish colors.

That’s not the way the reasoning works, though: the underlying idea is that your continued good health is a capital asset that society should allow you to cash in on if you so desire, because allowing you to act as you find beneficial is what society is set up to do.

The first little bit of economics is, in fact, “conservative,” in that it develops simple models that, if they actually described something real, would strongly suggest that conservative policies – deregulation, etc. were wise.

It’s more than that: the entire purpose of this branch of economics is to reduce complex and messy social situations to simple and clean maths, so that people — economists — can reduce actually talking to people and understanding their expressed desires but simply run a few equations.

Which… yeah.

19

Crane 10.20.18 at 12:52 am

Not all that surprising to those of us who read law & econ in law school. There is an implicit bias in the models (which, as noted by @Bernard Yomtov, do not explain much). The allure is rather in bringing a seemingly rigorous heuristic to the exercise of examining facts and applying the law to those facts–which is quite hard and involves a lot of, um, judgment! It’s like Scalia’s textualism, a ladder that presents an easy way out of hard problems while absolving the decision maker of responsibility for the decision. After all, it was just the model, or the dictionary, that made any other conclusion inconceivable.

20

bad Jim 10.20.18 at 5:34 am

As a math student, I found the precision of microeconomics entrancing. As someone with a wider acquaintance with science, I noted its lack of empirical grounding. The punchline about the physicist consultant is “Consider a spherical cow”, but the conclusion that wages are set by a worker’s marginal productivity is more laughable than that.

Theory demonstrates that setting a minimum wage increases unemployment, a contention which is not supported by experiment. In a real science such a result would be fatal, or at least the conclusion would be hedged by warnings that it was based on unrealistic assumptions, with consideration given to confounding factors like friction. Instead, at least in some quarters, the immaculate predictions are taken as immutable laws.

21

ccc 10.20.18 at 7:49 am

Most excellent paper!

The right wing operations at GMU are staggering.

Another example is the recent row over Bernie’s medicare for all proposal. GMU is linked to the privately funded (guess who!), right-wing think-tank/propaganda outfit Mercatus Center, which put out a paper that inadvertently provided an argument *for* Bernie’s plan.

Background on that row here
https://jacobinmag.com/2018/07/medicare-for-all-mercatus-center-report
https://www.peoplespolicyproject.org/2018/08/13/the-mercatus-medicare-for-all-report-in-one-graph/
https://theintercept.com/2018/07/30/medicare-for-all-cost-health-care-wages/

The Mercatus people went on a dishonest, propagandist spin spree to try mitigate, which duped a few would be fact-checkers.

Journalists requesting information to examine the Mercatus people’s media spinning were held up by the “innovative” relation between GMU and Mercatus.
https://theintercept.com/2018/09/19/the-mercatus-center-is-a-part-of-george-mason-university-until-its-not/

Mercatus’ dishonest media spinning is unfitting for a proper research institution and honest researchers of course. But that is ok since they’re more of a propaganda central.

Who is chairman and general director of Mercatus, the propaganda central?
Answer: Tyler Cowen.

22

J-D 10.20.18 at 8:36 am

jrkrideau

What if the people who think economic inefficiency is bad are mistaken and it really isn’t?

They are probably correct some times. It depends on the end result desired.

If we are told that something is economically efficient (for example: insider trading; or discrimination in punishment; or abolition of regulatory bodies), and:–

–we have the premise that economic efficiency is good, then we conclude that those things are good;
–we have the premise that economic efficiency is bad, then we conclude that those things are bad;
–we have the premise that economic efficiency can be either good or bad, we respond: ‘So what? Even supposing that’s true, why are you bringing it up?’

23

Mitchell Freedman 10.20.18 at 11:33 am

Now put this together with Nancy MacLean’s points about the influence of James Buchanan, Jane Meyer’s points about the Koch Bros., and I think we are onto something. Maybe all that noise against MacLean ought to be toned down a bit.

24

Thomas P 10.20.18 at 4:34 pm

I wonder what the response would be to a similar proposition:
Assume the air in Los Angeles is initially clean. You have a capsule containing all kind of pollutants that will make large areas of the city less desirable thus lowering rents by $20/month. Would you crush it?

25

stevelaudig 10.20.18 at 7:11 pm

In totalitarian Leninist Communist Han China, judges go to political party schools also to receive political [or political economic] “education”. It’s an attempt to influence courts/judges. An improper influencing. The black robes should be at work not taking “instruction/propaganda”. it is ex parte communication at an industrial scale and, assuming the lunches are free, a bit of petty bribery.

26

J-D 10.20.18 at 8:52 pm

People who pay for medical treatment to mitigate physiological harm done by pollution incur financial costs; but people who don’t, perhaps because they can’t afford to, do not incur those financial costs.

What use should we make of a system of valuation which takes into account only financial costs and benefits?

27

Feckless 10.21.18 at 2:00 pm

Start off with a demographic heavily skewed to white upper class men, and its not too far of a nudge to allign with outright fascism.
Its not just SCOTUS thats full of kavanaughs.

28

Ed 10.21.18 at 3:03 pm

“At the end of a century that has seen the evils of communism, Nazism and other modern tyrannies, the impulse to centralize power remains amazingly persistent.” ~ Joseph Sobran

29

Bernard Yomtov 10.21.18 at 9:36 pm

“At the end of a century that has seen the evils of communism, Nazism and other modern tyrannies, the impulse to centralize power remains amazingly persistent.”

Local and regional governments can be just as tyrannical as central governments. They lack the power to do evil on the same scale, of course, but there are many more of them. How the totals compare I don’t know, but I don’t know why we should assume that a randomly chosen regional government is somehow automatically less tyrannical than a randomly chosen national one.

30

Ebenezer Scrooge 10.21.18 at 10:39 pm

Freshman economics in the hands of an otherwise-untrained judge is like a sharp knife in the hands of a two-year-old. Except that the two-year-old is only likely to hurt themself. Of course, this is also true for freshman economics in anybody’s hands.

That being said, I was a math-oriented law student. I found the lawn economics easy and sometimes pretty, but couldn’t take it very seriously. It was a language that was designed to yield certain results, but it could be manipulated against itself to do anything you liked. In other words, I couldn’t quite sing “The Internationale” in lawn economics, but could translate it fairly precisely–if woodenly–into my new tongue. (This is 1980’s vintage lawn economics–the modern stuff is different.)

To the credit of my professors (mostly economic conservatives), they seemed to enjoy subversive students. As a result, the Olin Foundation generously funded me to spit on their beliefs. Their indoctrination had some limited success. I took their money without any qualms. Information asymmetry, after all, is necessary to incent the creation of more information. Or something like that.

31

Matt 10.22.18 at 11:22 am

Probably it’s clear to most people, but in case not, I want to note that it’s important to distinguish “law and economics” the ideological movement (the topic of this post) and “law and economics”, the application of economics to legal questions. The later can be done better or worse, of course, but has no inherent ideological direction and is just as reasonable and useful as, say, law and sociology or law and psychology or law and philosophy. Many of the best practitioners of law and economics in the later sense are liberals, in the US sense, and think that the ideological work is bad.

32

Ogden Wernstrom 10.22.18 at 8:50 pm

The USofA has been so good at letting business shed externalities, we were compelled to apply similar standards to our judicial system – stop punishing business for creating externalities in the name of profit, and ignore the impacts of externalities on the population.

33

Ogden Wernstrom 10.22.18 at 8:56 pm

I neglected to mention that there are some first-year economics concepts that probably do not make it into the 2-week curriculum of the Manne seminars – for examples, the concept of externalities and the need to regulate monopolies, including natural monopolies.

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