Coyne: Other countries can learn from Alberta’s oilsands revenue example

The two most dangerous words in economics are “we need.” Taken together, they indicate the speaker has put aside the careful weighing of costs and benefits that is the ordinary stuff of economics, in favour of sweeping, absolutist prescriptions of what is self-evidently good for all: of what we need. They imply not only an impressive certainty about matters that are by their nature vastly uncertain, but an unexamined conviction that one’s own preferences — I might almost say tastes — in economic activity may be taken for everyone else’s.

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