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Greater Social Benefits From our National Forests

Economists are not doing their job if they merely act like auditors and snoops. We are actually more dangerous than that. We become aware that there are gross perceptual biases in popular awareness of different kinds of waste. A poor congressman can get ruined for hiring a steno with a fast track record, but quietly waste billions of the taxpayers’ dollars on invisible capital costs in the name of some worthy cause like conservation and no one lay a glove on him. The economist’s job is to put traceable dyes on the invisible costs to make them as visible as any other. In this new age of limits wasting land and wasting capital are coming under heavier scrutiny, and in wasting these resources the Forest Service has few peers.
An Address by Mason Gaffney to the Western Timber Association Meeting in San Francisco, March 4, 1977
Reproduced by the Western Timber Association, 1977, pp. 1-20.

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