Implied Dissent

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Alex Tabarrok poses a thought experiment and some questions on regulation of apartment rentals. Atrios misinterprets him, but raises some decent points. The people in his comments section then proceed to misinterpret Tabarrok even more and make some really stupid statements. Here's my take:
First, I'd bet less than half of the commenters even read the post. Second, Tabarrok never says requiring hot water to be provided is bad. We can't say a priori that it either is or isn't. When looking at regulations of this sort, we need to consider costs and benefits to all parties (leaving aside whether or not the government has the right to require these things, which some do dispute). In some circumstances it's good, in some it's bad, in some it doesn't matter much. For example, requiring it in 1800 Boston would be a very bad idea, the costs would far, far exceed the benefits. We simply weren't rich enough to make it wise. On the other hand, if economic progress proceeds, in the year 2100 it won't matter at all, the costs of provision will be tiny and information flow will be great enough that assymetric info won't be a problem. Determining the wisdom of these sorts of laws isn't just a matter of them sounding like nice things.


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