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Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don't Hardcover – June 4, 2007
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From the Inside Flap
How free-market economies really work
(and why they work so well)
Are free market economies really based on fleecing the consumer? Is the U.S. economy truly just a giant free-for-all that encourages duplicity in our everyday transactions? Is everyone from corporate CEOs to your local car salesman really looking to make a buck at your expense?
In Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don't,
economist and bestselling author John R. Lott, Jr., answers these and other common economic questions, bravely confronting the profound distrust of the market that the bestselling book Freakonomics has helped to popularize. Using clear and hard-hitting examples, Lott shows how free markets liberate the best, most creative, and most generous aspects of our society--while efforts to constrain economic liberty, no matter
how well-intentioned, invariably lead to increased poverty and injustice. Extending
its rigorous economic analysis even further to our political and criminal justice
systems, Freedomnomics reveals:
● How the free market creates incentives for people to behave honestly
● How political campaign restrictions keep incumbents in power
● Why legalized abortion leads to family breakdown, which creates more crime
● Why affirmative action in police departments leads to higher crime rates
● How women's suffrage led to a massive increase in the size of government
· Why women become more conservative when they get married and more
liberal when they get divorced
● How secret ballots reduce voter participation
● Why state-owned companies and government agencies are much more likely to engage in unfair predation than are private firms
● Why the controversial assertions made in the trendy book Freakonomics are almost entirely wrong
Entertaining, persuasive, and based on dozens of economic studies spanning decades, Freedomnomics not only shows how free markets really work--but proves that, when it comes to promoting prosperity and economic justice, nothing works better.
About the Author
Economist JOHN R. LOTT, JR., is the author of The Bias Against Guns and More Guns, Less Crime. Having held positions at the University of Chicago , Yale University , Stanford University , UCLA, Wharton Business School , and Rice University , Lott was also the chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission during 1988 and 1989. He has published over ninety articles in academic journals and his opinion pieces have run in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune. During the 2007-08 academic year, Lott will be a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland Foundation . He received his Ph.D. in economics from UCLA in 1984.
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Top Customer Reviews
For example, Levitt and Dubner wrote in Freakonomics that realtors keep their homes on the market a little longer than their customers do, and also make a bit more profit upon selling them. From this, Levitt and Dubner jumped to the conclusion that this meant realtors are systematically scamming their customers. Lott rightly countered with a much simpler and more straightforward explanation: every realtor follows his own sage advice, but not every realtor's customer does. Lott's conclusions regarding the interplay between crime and abortion are a bit more questionable. True, the fact that the U.S. and Canada experienced a similar drop in crime at the same time in the early 1990s, while Canada's version of Roe came a decade too late to fit neatly with Levitt and Dubner's theory, does appear at first blush to be problematic for their theory. However, at second blush it's not clear how how problematic that factor is, given that the very few Canadians live more than a couple hundred miles from the U.S. border, meaning that nearly all could have easily availed themselves of Roe in the interim. Lott is on shakier ground still when he argues that legalized abortion caused an increase in crime, while citing data equally consistent with the view that some other factor, e.g., the sexual revolution, caused both the increase in uncommitted sex (with or without contraception) and the push for legalized abortion. Given the relatively short history between Griswold and Roe, in which Americans enjoyed a "constitutional" right to contraception but not abortion, it's not clear we will ever know which factor caused the other. That said, Lott does appear to have made as strong of a case for the view that abortion causes crime as Levitt did for the view that it prevents it, thereby neutralizing the abortion-as-crime-control argument with which Levitt himself stops short of fully endorsing.
Lott has plenty of books filled with tables, linear regressions, and all that other geeky stuff few of us could understand if we tried. Freedomnomics is not such a book. Rather, it reads as exactly what it purports to be: a conservative reply to Freakonomics. Like Freakonomics, it is written to be accessible to the layman, not to provide the reader with a mountain of data supporting every conclusion. For this reason, I'd urge readers to read both books in much the same way: use both to help you recognize issues you may otherwise not have noticed, but take both books' conclusions on these issues with an appropriately sized grain of salt. And I'm saying this as one who agrees with many of Levitt and Dubner's conclusions, and almost all of Lott's.
Lott takes on very politically incorrect topics that the mainstream media would never touch such as how affirmative action influences police effectiveness and how giving women the right to vote has influenced the size of the government.
The book is very readable and is clearly intended for a general audience. I would strongly recommend it to people who enjoy the writings of columnists such as Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell.
Dr. Lott emphasizes the liberty and justice inherent to capitalism, and debunks numerous arguments about the limitations of the free market along the way. The bottom line here is that capitalism is what has allowed America to become as well-off as we are. In how many other countries is the overeating of poor people a major concern? As far as what positions struck me as being the strongest, I'd have to say that his link between women's suffrage and the swelling of government was ironclad. Further, in but two pages, he gave one of the best explanations that I've heard for why college faculties are ideologically skewed. I also have to admit that the Myth of Double Giving was completely unknown to me before opening this book. I always just accepted the idea that corporations covered their bets by giving to both political parties simultaneously. Upon reading this I discovered that the press reporting of these figures is completely inaccurate. The company net for donations is a total of what private donators, who happen to work for a particular corporation, give. They do not come from the company itself. Nowhere was Dr. Lott stronger than in his examination of the fashionable theory that increased abortion rates decrease crime. He found the opposite to be true and was most persuasive--in fact, the whole book is most persuasive. The whole country would be better off if half of our young people were lucky enough to read the chapter, "Government as Nirvana?"
If you believe in capitalism and the teachings of Milton Erickson then you will love this book. If you believe in something else, well this book will get you all excited. Either way you are in for a treat the book is well written, well argued and does and exceptional job of explaining how economics ties into society. Give one to your kids if they are going away to a left sided college so they will know how to answer professors. You don't have to pick a political side to buy this book, it is still a great book to help understand how economics impacts daily life.