Landsburg on Reinhart on Efficiency

Last week, Professor Finkler posted some preliminary thoughts on Uwe Reinhart’s “Is ‘More Efficient” Always Better?” This week, everybody’s favorite textbook author, Steven Landsburg, chimes in with a nice exposition on why it’s worthwhile for economists to beat the drum for efficiency analysis.

First, emphasizing efficiency forces us to concentrate on the most important problems. Second, emphasizing efficiency forces us to be honest about our goals.

He then runs through some nice examples (that Econ 300 students will be looking at when we get to Chapter 9), and concludes with this:

The advantage of an efficiency analysis (along, say, the lines suggested here) is that it would force Professor Reinhardt’s colleague to be clear about his priorities. Is he, for example, concerned primarily about increasing current output or about redistributing current output? Either might be a worthy goal, but we can’t have a useful debate with someone who won’t tell us what his goals are.

Wow, I’m getting excited just thinking about this.

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