2021, Paper; "The American administrative state has become a cost-benefit state, at least in the sense that prevailing executive orders require agencies to proceed only if the benefits justify the costs. Some people celebrate this development; others abhor it. For defenders of the cost-benefit state, the antonym of their ideal is, alternately, regu lation based on dogmas, intuitions, pure expressivism, political preferences, or interestgroup power. Seen most sympathetically, the focus on costs and benefits is a neo-Benthamite effort to attend to the real-world consequences of regulations, and it casts a pragmatic, skeptical light on modern objections to the administrative state, invoking public-choice theory and the supposedly self-serving decisions of unelected bureaucrats. The focus on costs and benefits is also a valuable effort to go beyond coarse arguments, from both the right and the left, that tend to ask this unhelpful question: “Which side are you on?” In the future, however, there will be much better ways, which we might consider neo-Millian, to identify those consequences: 1) by relying less on speculative ex ante projections and more on actual evaluations; 2) by focusing directly on welfare and not relying on imperfect proxies; and 3) by attending closely to distributional considerations–on who is helped and who is hurt."

HKS Author - Cass Sunstein