Citizen Rights and the Cost of Law Enforcement
There is an inherent tension between the idea that individuals have certain inalienable (natural) rights and the economist's postulate that the rate if utilization of anything whose production requires scarce resources must be limited by considerations of opportunity cost. Remarks about rights to life, liberty, health, justice and the like are readily inserted into political pronouncements, legislative preambles and court decisions, but they (should) cause economists to raise questions about costs and quantities. Unfortunately, neither in ordinary language nor in the jargon of moral philosophy can such ultimate desiderata as liberty and justice be related to costs or quantities. Hence in the first section we sketch a model of social choice in which the necessary relationships can be defined. In section II, we give instances where, despite protestations to the contrary, the Law Enforcement System (LES) has made de facto reductions of citizen rights (liberties) in order to increase the efficiency if law enforcement. The final section considers some of the normative implications suggested by the positive arguments of section II.
|Date of creation:||Oct 1973|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972.
"Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-95, December.
- Armen A. Alchian & Harold Demsetz, 1971. "Production, Information Costs and Economic Organizations," UCLA Economics Working Papers 10A, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Harris, John R, 1970. "On the Economics of Law and Order," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 165-74, Jan.-Feb..
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0012. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.