Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Freakonomics Roe v. Wade Crime and Abortion

What happens when The Book of Virtues collides with FREAKONOMICS. By now you've heard former Secretary of Education, William Bennett’s comments about Freakonomics’ proposition that the reason our crime rate has fallen so dramatically is because a lot of would-be criminals, the criminals of the future, were aborted, thanks to Roe v. Wade, 1973.

Bennett is quoted as having said we could reduce crime if we “aborted every black baby in this country.” He then added, "That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down." He was, he said, only “putting forward a hypothetical proposition.”

INTELLECTUAL ARGUMENT/EMOTIONAL REPONSE

In order to make a point about SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION and the power of the search engines to my Coach Certification students, I told them to go to www.google.com, enter “failure,” and click “I feel lucky.” (Do it.)

Now, if you’re Bush a fan, or a person who can’t stay focused on “a point”, i.e., “search engines,” you may have a strong emotional reaction. I, personally am not (at this time) interested in the political ramifications as much as the concepts re: search engines. (Be sure and read google's explanation - go back to search, enter "failure" and click "search.” It’s on the right.

Can you tease these two variables apart? That’s emotional intelligence. i,e., we aren’t discussing Bush and politics now, we are discussing search engines. I am asking you to do something difficult, if you’re a Bush fan, and that’s what I do as an EQ coach. Hold the emotions and stay focused on the original issue. We are required to do this all the time.

So for now, my friends, set aside the abortion issue, and let’s examine the crime issue.

Steven Levitt, U of Chicago economist, and co-author of FREAKONOMICS with Stephen J. Dubner applies his statistics to many things in this interesting book. In the case of the falling crime rate, Levitt decided it wasn't the good economy of the 90s, nor the proliferation of the gun-control laws, but the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade.

That’s not the first thing that occurred to me, how about you? My first thought was to doubt the statistic that the crime rate had dropped. I know politicians. I know those reports. I’ve been asked to manipulate the data in my time. What city wants to be known for its high crime rate? Mine doesn’t. It would drive away the tourists, and that’s our #1 industry.

WHAT THE NUMBERS SAY

Just in time I received yesterday another round of the email called “brain cramps.” Here is #3: "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country." - Mayor Marion Barry, Washington, D. C.

Has the crime rate fallen? What do our intuition and common sense tell us? We need to ask ourselves these questions:

First, how is your life feeling these days in terms of crime, especially compared to the 70s and 80s, if you were around then.

Secondly, How "safe" do you feel personally, and what do you hear from your friends?

And lastly, If there’s a lower crime rate, how come everyone’s on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs?

To me, the crime rate has been up-leveled or needs a new name. I have not checked statistics. My sense is there’s been one of those societal shifts. Thos “old” physical crimes have decreased, and been replaced by bigger, better, more lucrative and more cerebral ways to beat us, steal from us and kill us.

I asked Clarice, a client, and here’s what she said:

I don't feel in danger from that kind of crime, because I can’t afford to go downtown any more where the violent crime is, to see a play or eat out. I don’t have time either. We both work 70 hour weeks. The thieves don’t come to my neighborhood because there are bigger and better houses up the road. I have been robbed of income, possessions, and time.

I lost the money I had in the stock market. That same year I had to pay $10k for an operation that my Gyn could’ve prevented and my marginal insurance company weaseled out of. I took the Gyn to court and lost some more money. I have been the victim of “professional” crime and more than “white collar.” We need a new name for it.

Burglars also don’t come here because there’s too much commotion. All my neighbors have their grown kids living with them. There are cars all over the street. They’re building an apt. complex behind us, and it's shaken the ground. My neighbor and I both had our cracked foundations repaired 5 years ago, and were given “lifetime warranties”. We are victims of the insurance company and the foundation repair company, both of whom found loopholes.


I asked what crimes Clarice worried about and here's what she said:

Identity theft on the Internet. It’s a nightmare, and the money isn’t half of it.

Being raped by politicians. Taking away Medicare, suddenly taxing our 401ks, 50%. Down here in Tx we've got Kinky Friedman running for governor, and it’s odd to hear someone who doesn’t assault us with lies and spin-doctoring.

That cover-ups will continue to rob me of my lifestyle. When my friend's husband was studying pollution back in the 70s, for the Public Health service, he was just a kid, just out of med school, and he was told to bury the data. The city didn’t want the people to know what the lungs of the dogs he was cutting up looked like.

Having the insurance companies hold us at gunpoint.

Forget about the guy in the back alley. We have no back alleys. That's guy's selling drugs, that's where the money is, or on them and dying a slow death. We can’t get house insurance in Texas. They tried to cut my friend off of chemo after 3 months, saying it was “too expensive.” If my medical insurance covers something, to get care takes a day, not an hour. The primary care physician who lives across the street from me makes less than I do, after paying $100k for malpractice, and has to book 8-10 patients an hour. I’m afraid I’ll be murdered by some physician who was too busy and too tired from all the paperwork.

My neighbor Norma has been robbed, beaten and raped in the new crime wave. Her husband left her for a 30 y.o. shortly after moving all their money to Montsarat. The corporation she’d invested her retirement in was investigated by the SEC and she lost 90% of her life’s savings. Her employer fired her after 20 years because her diabetes was too expensive for their group plan. She has no health insurance. Someone rear-ended her and her car insurance premium went up x10. Someone who owed her $50k put all his money in his house and then declared bankruptcy. He then sold his million-dollar home and is traveling around the world, while Norma can’t afford to go see her grand-children.

But yeah, sure, she feels safe to walk around the neighborhood. She doesn't have anything anyone would want to steal. She can't afford to drive or travel with the price of gasoline what it is.

Think about it!
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