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Planet Money

NPR

Business, News & Politics

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Top 200 22

The economy, explained, with stories and surprises. Imagine you could call up a friend and say, "Meet me at the bar and tell me what's going on with the economy." Now imagine that's actually a fun evening. That's what we're going for at <em>Planet Money</em>. People seem to like it.

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#227: Lighthouses, Autopsies And The Federal Budget

February 15th, 2012

Episode 450 of 910 episodes

What should the government pay for?On today's Planet Money, we pose that question to Charlie Wheelan, author of the bookNaked Economics, and one-time Congressional candidate. (He lost).He gives us the econ 101 answer: The government should definitely pay for something if it's a public good, which Charlie defines as "something that we all need that will make our lives better, but the market will not and cannot provide."The textbook example is a lighthouse.Other examples of public goods include national defense and autopsies. Everyone benefits from the medical knowledge autopsies provide, but it's not really in any individual's interest to pay for an autopsy.Somehow, this fact leads us to call 1-800-AUTOPSY.Note: Today's podcast originally aired in 2010.

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