Have Coase - Will Travel
By David Henderson
Coase’s paper “The Problem of Social Cost” appeared in the October 1960 volume of the Journal of Law and Economics. This brings us, for reasons that we will explain, to the television show Have Gun – Will Travel, which aired from 1957 to 1963. A particular 1958 episode, called “Bitter Wine,”1 is likely the most Coasean episode of television ever made. Every element of the “Problem of Social Cost” makes an appearance in the episode: the reciprocal nature of externalities, how the initial allocation of property rights matters in a world with transaction costs, and how the legal system can overcome transaction costs to allow for an efficient allocation of rights.
This is from Jon Murphy and John Schuler, “Have Coase – Will Travel,” the Econlib Feature Article for May. I highly recommend it, especially for economics professors who want to give their students a short, readable article that helps concretize the much-longer Coase classic.