When it comes to public goods, a little math goes a long way toward appreciating that opinions about public spending are a continuum and that pretending the market is always right (or always wrong) has real consequences.
Too often our political discussion never gets past witty platitudes and applause lines. When we say, “private markets are more efficient,” it’s important to specify, even with a crude estimate, just how much more efficient. Liberals should not pretend that factor is 1, but conservatives should not pretend it’s infinite. And, we should recognize that neither private nor public production is the right solution for all good in all markets. Math matters.