Cost-benefit analysis is part of our everyday existence. Should I buy this car with great gas mileage or a different one that might prove safer in an accident? Do I borrow a lot of money to go to a top-tier college or do I attend a local university where I can graduate debt-free? Each decision requires us to consider many different factors. Only then can we make the wisest choice. The same rule holds true for government regulation.
Enacting regulation without considering cost can have truly frightening results. An example is an early attempt at complying with the Clean Air Act when EPA proposed banning the sale of gasoline in the Los Angeles area and severely restricting it in several other California counties. The air quality may well have improved, but there would have been an avalanche of emerging consequences for individual residents, workers, the public transit system and the larger economy.