More economic thinking about how the ESA has affected our economic system, for better or worse, is a research priority. Economists have not yet estimated the national costs or benefits of the ESA, and no one has even dared to guess, given the complexity of the ESA debate. Furthermore, we need to address a broader question of social order: how we trade secure property rights and protection of endangered species. One person's inalienable right to protect endangered species will need to be balanced against another's inalienable right of self-determination. A better understanding of the economic costs, benefits, trade-offs, and opportunities should fuel a more informative debate over ESA reauthorization.