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January 21, 2012

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Couldn't one argue that the preference of free speech and regulated markets is not some analytical hierarchy on the part of liberals, but because they recognize that the market of speech has limited externalities? Television has greater externalities because it is difficult for consumer to obtain perfect information about he product (tv) before it airs. Especially in the case of live TV. Where as most books and articles are not going to offended you without warning.

It seems to me that in the end free speech represents analytical egalitarianism, which is necessary for development. However, unlike ideas, industry can be proven to be detrimental to society.

Hi Kyle,

You may well be right that industry produces more negative externalities, but ideas can also do damage to third parties (e.g., malicious gossip).

I think Coase’s point is a larger one, that people tend to like to have freer rein in the areas in which they themselves work, and are more likely to be willing to impinge on the freedom of others.

In short, “Don’t tell me what to do, but I’d be happy to tell you what to do.” That is probably a hefty dose of Coase’s common sense. Best, JW

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