18 August 2013
Initially, I was intrigued by the book based on its odd cover, an image of what appears to be a granny smith apple on the outside and an orange on the inside, and I found the contents far more interesting. The “catchphrase” used is “a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything”, and no other phrase could be more accurate. Steven D. Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, proved the various uses for his field that I had never before realized.
The first example of a use for economics that piqued my interest was the very first one in the book: criminology. Before reading this, I had assumed that the subject of economics was involved with nothing more than concepts like the elasticities of prices and interest rates. I was utterly shocked when Steven D. Levitt was able to conclude that the cause of the decrease in the crime rate was attributable to not the increase in gun laws, not the increase in policing, and not the aging population, but the Roe v. Wade case that eventually led to the legalization of abortions. Anyone could easily guess that unwanted children are much more likely to become criminals, but to link that fact to the idea that people could avoid having unwanted children and create a logical and reasonable statement regarding the decrease in crime was absurd yet brilliant.
The second use for economics that caught my eye was the idea of the value of hoarded information. He used the instance of the KKK with the facts regarding real estate astoundingly well to prove a point. Not only were the random bits of facts [such as the mention of Klansmen calling a conversation a “klonversation”] hilarious and entertaining, but they proved an impressive point: withheld information can drastically raise or lower value with ease. I never really pondered upon it before, but upon reading and analyzing this statement, I came to be...
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