Discussion questions on Robert Frank, "Why is Cost Benefit Analysis so Controversial?

1. Frank presents a long list of objections to cost-benefit analysis, most of which he finds unpersuasive or easily satisfied by tweaking cost-benefit analysis. What do you think about his answers? Are the objections that he takes not to be serious as minor as he suggests?

2. Those who are rich will be willing to pay more for policies they prefer than those who are poor. So the results of cost-benefit analysis will be biased toward what the rich want. Why does Frank deny that this is a serious objection to the use of cost-benefit analysis?

3. What objections to cost-benefit analysis are, in Frank's view, most serious? How does he propose to respond to them?

4. What does the table depicting Gary's and Sherwin's choices (on p. 259) teach us? How widespread and serious are the problems that it reveals? Why couldn't we just ask Gary and Sherwin how much safety is worth to them?