The Public Interest

Economic reasoning and the ethics of policy

Thomas C. Schelling

Spring 1981

POLICY judgments are easier to come by, the farther we are from our goals. If there are only two directions and we know which is forward, and there are limits to how fast we can go, no fine discrimination is needed. If aid to the poor is far too little, highway traffic far too fast, building codes far too lax, teacherssalaries far too low, or the rights of defendants far too little observed, we know what we need to know to get moving. We can worry about how much is enough when we get close, if we ever do. Meanwhile we can push on.

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