Epstein on Coase and Environmental Regulation

Getting Environmental Regulation Right
Richard A. Epstein
Defining Ideas
September 10, 2013

The recent death of Ronald Coase has given rise to an outpouring of praise about his contributions to the field of economics and his influence on the complex world of institutional politics. In my interactions with Coase, he was always cautious and diffident about social prescriptions—the very opposite of an ideologue. He never engaged in overt political activity and he had little patience for political opportunists who turned his ideas to ends that his own cautious intellect did not support. He never proselytized like Milton Friedman, but was an understated and consistent critic of big government.

Sadly, in death, Coase is being swept into today’s overheated political vortex, most notably in a graceless column written by John Cassidy of the N