The COVID-19 pandemic shows the difficulty of applying seemingly mundane cost-benefit analysis to real life and hard facts. What are the true benefits of a stay-at-home regulatory order to avoid “excess” or premature deaths from the virus versus the true costs of lost jobs, shuttered small businesses, and massive federal deficits? What are the ancillary benefits or co-benefits of keeping many Americans from driving polluting automobiles on busy freeways? What are the ancillary costs to mental health and human psyche from being cooped up inside a tiny Manhattan apartment without even the Guggenheim Museum to visit? Should one even calculate such ancillary costs or benefits?
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