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That America's natural environment has been degraded and despoiled over the past 25 years is beyond dispute. Nor has there been any shortage of reasons why-short-sighted politicians, a society built on over-consumption, and the dramatic weakening of environmental regulations.
In Retaking Rationality, Richard L. Revesz and Michael A. Livermore argue convincingly that one of the least understood-and most important-causes of our failure to protect the environment has been a misguided rejection of reason. The authors show that environmentalists, labor unions, and other progressive groups have declined to participate in the key governmental proceedings concerning the cost-benefit analysis of federal regulations. As a result of this vacuum, industry groups have captured cost-benefit analysis and used it to further their anti-regulatory ends. Beginning in 1981, the federal Office of Management and Budget and the federal courts have used cost-benefit analysis extensively to determine which environmental, health, and safety regulations are approved and which are sent back to the drawing board. The resulting imbalance in political participation has profoundly affected the nation's regulatory and legal landscape. But Revesz and Livermore contend that economic analysis of regulations is necessary and that it needn't conflict with-and can in fact support-a more compassionate approach to environmental policy. Indeed, they show that we cannot give up on rationality if we truly want to protect our natural environment.
Retaking Rationality makes clear that by embracing and reforming cost-benefit analysis, and by joining reason and compassion, progressive groups can help enact strong environmental and public health regulation.
Prologue: Reason and Compassion 1
Decisions Are Made by Those Who Show Up
The Case for Cost-Benefit Analysis 9
The Walls Go Up 21
Missed Opportunities 31
Winning the Good Fight (Sometimes) 47
Eight Fallacies of Cost-Benefit Analysis
All Unintended Consequences Are Bad 55
Wealth Equals Health 67
Older People Are Less Valuable 77
People Cannot Adapt 85
People Always Want to Put Off Bad Things 95
We Are Worth More than Our Children 107
People Value Only What They Use 119
Industry Cannot Adapt 131
The Sum of All the Fallacies 145
Instituting Regulatory Rationality
Regulatory Hurdles 151
Shaky Foundation 163
Rethinking OIRA 171
Balancing the Scales 185
Epilogue: Self-Fulfilling Prophecies 191
Posted March 26, 2008
This book is nothing short of brilliant. Rivesz and Livermore have sent a wake-up call to advocates and administrators across the country: use reasoned arguments, analysis, and economics -- these tools are on your side. Rivesz and Livermore take the reader step-by-step through the important history of cost-benefit-analysis and then through a set of misconceptions/abuses and proposals on how to advocate for change. This accessible book contains a good deal of humor and riveting stories (with footnotes, of course) to make the reader feel comfortable dealing with a subject that many people think is complicated. It should be considered a guide to making our regulations better, our environment cleaner, and our world more sustainable.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.