Arnold Kling

Efficient Security

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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Should the government build a database on its citizens? I argue that this might be less intrusive than the alternatives.

Of course, a surveillance database will not work perfectly. However, neither does any other security measure. The criteria for evaluating a security measure should be its costs and benefits. The calculus is bound to be imprecise, but in a world of imperfect alternatives it is irrational to reject one particular approach just because it is imperfect.

Discussion Question. Is cost-benefit analysis an appropriate tool for dealing with issues such as terrorism and individual rights?

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