Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

Richard A. Epstein, interviewed for Reason TV

Richard A. Epstein, interviewed by Nick Gillespie of Reason TV on Obama Itself, a practical flaw at the heart of the regulatory regime, and ObamaCare in particular. ~12 1/2 min.

Excerpts from a relatively long Description; then, below the URL, one of the Comments.


Uploaded on Nov 22, 2010

Few legal scholars have blown as many minds and had the tangible impact that Richard Epstein has managed. His 1985 volume, Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain is a case in point. Epstein made the hugely controversial argument that regulations and other government actions such as environmental regulations that substantially limit the use of or decrease the value of property should be thought of as a form of eminent domain and thus strictly limited by the Constitution. The immediate result was a firestorm of outrage followed by an acknowledgment that the guy was onto something.

As Epstein told Reason in a 1995 interview, “I took some pride in the fact that [Sen.] Joe Biden (D-Del.) held a copy of Takings up to a hapless Clarence Thomas back in 1991 and said that anyone who believes what’s in this book is certifiably unqualified to sit in on the Supreme Court. That’s a compliment of sorts…. But I took even more pride in the fact that, during the Breyer hearings [in 199X], there were no such theatrics, even as the nominee was constantly questioned on whether he agreed with the Epstein position on deregulation as if that position could not be held by responsible people.”

. . .

Reason’s Nick Gillespie interviewed Epstein at NYU’s law building in October. The conversation was wide-ranging and high-energy–another Epsteinian virtue. They talked about legal challenges to ObamaCare, the effects of stimulus spending and TARP bailouts, and a former University of Chicago adjunct faculty member by the name of Barack Obama, with whom Epstein regularly interacted in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“He passed through Chicago without absorbing much of the internal culture,” says Epstein of the president. “He’s amazingly good at playing intellectual poker. But that’s a disadvantage, because if you don’t put your ideas out there to be shot down, you’re never gonna figure out what kind of revision you want.”

I think Prof. Epstein is inherently a Nice Guy, and that although in some respects he had the Sith’s number all along (“No!  He has a good mind for some things, but it’s not a first-class intellectual mind”–paraphrased from, some comment he made somewhere), even as of this interview I think he was too inclined to believe the “ignorance” as opposed to the “willful, planned destruction” interpretation of Its ruinous “presidency.”


SB87JB 2 months ago [i.e. ~ 12/1/12 –J.]

. . . Yeah sure it’s embarrassing that [pre-Obamacare] people will die from no health insurance, but now people will die from no health insurance after being forced to pay a fee to have no health insurance because they can not afford the “cheap” universal coverage, which only offers 60% coverage for the lower class. It honestly makes our old corrupt corporate healthcare system look utopian.


  1. Mr Ed says:

    Epstein for President in 2016 would be good. The view count for this is depressing though, perhaps if a baby panda sneezed in the background, the message would get out further.

  2. Paul Marks says:

    Everything is twisted Mr Ed.

    The culture (the people) are degraded.

  3. Julie near Chicago says:

    Unfortunately, while Prof. Epstein would be a far better pick for President than anything we’re likely to see in the present century (as it looks unlikely that someone like Rep. Michele Bachmann will make it through the nominating process, let alone go to the top), he is merely another nice (and highly intelligent) Jewish boy and not the Messiah.

    For one thing, he is too much the Utilitarian–and his native tendency toward intellectual rigor has pushed him rather unwillingly into that stance, I think. (And as a matter of fact, even “the seen vs. the unseen” and “the greatest good for the greatest number” do meet in the Utilitarian question; for even when we consider the unseen as well as the seen, it is usually not even meaningful to talk about “the greatest good” of even a smallish number, such as ONE, let alone the good of “the greatest number.” That question can only be meaningful in a very restricted realm of inquiry, such as whether it’s better for the group as a whole– which must mean, “for the other individuals in the group, given that they need the group to continue to exist”–whether it’s better for the group if they throw one member overboard, or not. That question might, in some circumstances, have a clear-cut answer. Or not, of course.)

    And part of the trouble is that his economics is too much “Chicago School” (he has a lovely short video tribute to Milton Friedman, by the way, on YouTube) rather than Austrian school, although he certainly sees problems both economical and (I think) Constitutional with such shenanigans as the bailouts.

    Also…alas…he has called the Supreme Court’s Opinion in Heller vs. District of Columbia–in which the Court held that D.C. could not ban gun ownership–“an intellectual mess,” as I heard him say (on YouTube) myself, though I haven’t been able to track down the video again. However, it is reported at, the so-called “libertarian” legal-commentary website, that he holds that the Second Amendment pertains only to the individual States’ rights to maintain militias in their own defense, so that there is no right accorded to the individual to “keep and bear arms” in his personal defense nor, presumably, for any other reason.

    I just wish he’d come back home where he belongs. ….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *