What I'm Reading

Freakonomics

As I’m taking Economics this spring, I thought I might read the New York Times bestseller Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. Indeed, as authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner point out, everything can been seen from a different perspective. Not all conventional wisdom is actually true; much is often generated by advertising hype. Everyone, from criminals to real-estate agents, works on incentives and has a personal bias, no matter how open-minded one tries to be.

“If morality represents the real world, then economics represents the actual world.”

We have a biblical moral standard, but to live as a human in a fallen world sometimes requires a slightly different take on life. For instance, we should not isolate views simply because they contain controversial positions.

Levitt links the legalization of abortion in Roe v. Wade as a possible reason for the drastic decrease in crime in the early 2000s. He reasons that since most abortions are obtained by women who feel that they cannot raise their children well, those children, if born, will generally tend towards criminal activity. The legalizing of abortion thus eliminated all these lives and potential criminals and crimes. Yet this is not to say that abortion is right; it is merely Levitt’s observation of the data. We should not treat abortion as a means of decreasing crime, but realize why many opt to have an abortion and help them to live and raise their children according to God’s ways. This would be the ultimate way to getting rid of crime in a perfect world. As it is, however, we live in a fallen world where crime will always be with us. We can only try to lessen it.

The most interesting development of the book is Levitt’s and Dubner’s analysis of how much parents really influence their children. Certainly parents tend to set the general environment of their children’s upbringing and usually determine their children’s personalities through genetics. Parents choose their children’s names and provide resources for their children’s development.

But as shown by the stunning example of two Harvard students from completely different backgrounds, it’s ultimately  a heart issue – and the grace of God. Each person must work to succeed in life.

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