Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don’t

So not long after my blog post regarding the book Freakonomics, a friend of mine lent me his copy of Freedomnomics, a self-proclaimed rebuttal of Freakonomics. I don’t believe this combative attitude was necessary; I read and agreed with most the items in both books. I’m guessing the author of Freedomnomics positioned it in this way to get wider recognition, but honestly it stands on its own as a great book. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  • Why most university professors and public school teachers tend to support big government: “Academics often find the amount of their funding directly tied to the size of government…They have an abiding, personal interest in perpetuating the growth of government, which is the source of their own livelihood.”
  • “The market isn’t perfect, of course. But the government is usually much further from perfection. Even when the state intervenes in the economy with the best intentions, it frequently only succeeds in making things worse.”
  • “By raising prices before the hurricane hits, oil companies keep the post-hurricane price hike much lower…Rising prices in the short term actually help reduce prices in the long term by increasing supply…The senators who conducted hearings about ga prices seemed more interested in finding a politically-attractive scapegoat than evaluating the complex factors involved.”
  • Part of the problem with our public education system: The author of Freedomnomics, John Lott, has a Ph.D. in economics from UCLA, and has taught a several major universities, yet he is “banned from getting a full-time job teaching in public high schools because I have not taken the required number of years of ‘teacher training’ courses.”
  • “Multiple studies have shown that legalized abortion, by raising the rate of unprotected premarital sex, increases the number of unplanned births, even outweighing the reduction in unplanned births due to abortion.”
  • Contrary to the theory postulated in Freakonomics, that abortion removes future criminals before they are born and thus lowers crime rates, “work done by two economists, Christopher Foote and Christopher Goetz, found that abortion actually increases violent crime.” John Lott did his own study and found that “legalizing abortion raised the murder rate, on average, by about 7 percent.”
  • Regarding the death penalty: “In 1976, Isaac Ehrlich conducted path-breaking research showing that each execution deterred as many as 20 to 24 murderers.” Studies conducted since then have confirmed that finding and after the reinstatement of the death penalty, “the rise in executions during the 1990s accounts for about 12 to 14 percent of the overall drop in murders.”
  • And in conclusion: “So long as people have the freedom to act on their own incentives, the economy will continue to embody the best, most creative and the most honest aspects of our society.”
  • 2 replies
    1. jigs
      jigs says:

      I think the main reason he calls it a rebuttal of Freakonomics is because he sued Steve Leavitt (a co-author of Freakonomics) for libel based on Leavitts mention of Lott in Freakonomics.

      If I’m not mistaken, the case was thrown out of court.


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