March 28, 2007

Freakonomics


So, when I first heard about the book, Freakonomics, I was very skeptical. I thought it would be a guy trying to peddle social issues based on wild correlations. I was wrong.

It's a very practical book regarding the downside of conventional wisdom, and the search for true, causal relationships between events. Frankly, it's about the power of incentive, and how social and economic problems can be looked at through this lens of true incentive to create possible solutions.

One thing that the author has gotten in trouble for mentioning over the past few years was a correlation he found with the Roe vs. Wade decision lowering crime rates in America.

Hold your initial reaction.

With legalized abortion causing less children to be born into poverty, and with crime tending to stem from economic poverty, this DOES make sense. It doesn't claim to make a moral decision, the point is finding the true causes.

And the author does clarify that turning that Roe vs. Wade correlation into a moral decision depends on how much you value the life of a fetus. For example, if a fetus is worth 0 lives, then abortion is a fairly practical solution for helping the fight against poverty. If a fetus is worth 1 life, then the 1.5 million abortions a year are far worse than the crime that these abortions eliminate. If we're trying to figure out the equal tradeoff, we would have to believe that roughly 500 abortions is the moral equivalent of preventing one homicide.

Fascinating stuff. It's making me very interested in the ideas of governing through incentives as a whole.

2 comments:

Steve said...

Interesting, I might have to pick that one up.

Rob Velez said...

I recently learned that men sacrificed their children to worship demonic God's in the Bible. It makes the issue about idolatry and not abortion. Actually much of the social pitfall of america is rooted in pride that manifested itself in moral rebellion, and in our depraved minds we seek to worship ourselves.

Though this is off topic, eric I have to tell you I have been horrified over how false I really have been all this time. The religious spirit in this land is so intense we actually convince ourselves we are ok when we are vile, loveless, and actually have a very weak reality of God living in us that we have fabricated ourselves more than anything. At the end of the day its either real or its not, ya know?

By the way check out my new blog sometime if you click my name it should link you
God Bless bro miss ya