Regular readers of EconLog know that I, like Bryan Caplan, try to follow Rolf Dobelli’s advice and Avoid News.

Here’s one reason why. Scan the headlines and look for claims about programs that are Obviously Good Ideas, according to Some Source. Too often, articles like these quote a member of a special interest group claiming that (surprise!) his interest is special–not out of any selfish motive, of course, but because funding this interest will produce spillover benefits for everyone else in the city/state/region/country/world.

A lot of special pleading is incomplete, and therefore, it’s very seductive. How often have you seen a claim that reduces to “We Would All Be Better Off If This Were a a Free Lunch and We Accepted It”? The solution, of course, is to ask the rare questions: At What Price? Who Pays?