If you’ve not read Steven D. Levitts & Stephen J. Dubner’s Freakonomics then do so…now! Not only does it manage to make economics exciting, it also unpicks some urban myths and presents some excellent new truths; so to entice you to read it I’ll present some of the most intriguing stuff here, for your perusal.
On April 15th 1987 seven million American children disappeared but can any of you remember the mass abductions or homicides? Of course not, that’s because it was all about tax avoidance and that day marked the moment when you had to put the child’s social security number and not just list dependent children. So all the phantom exemptions vanished!
Did you know that US President Woodrow Wilson said of the Ku Klax Klan: “At last there has sprung into existence a great Ku Klax Klan, a veritable empire of the south, to protect the southern country”? Or that President Warren G. Harding was a fully paid up member of the KKK? But more importantly, did you know that the man who destroyed the Klan as a force in America was called Stetson Kennedy and he did it by getting Klan code words, imagery and quasi-religious terms into radio episodes of Superman; thereby demystifying and ridiculing the group and membership plummeted from 8 million down to a few hundred thousand.
I’m sure many of my American readers will remember the crime boom that the country was caught in throughout the 70s and 80s? It reached its peak in 1989 with violent crime alone having increased by 80% and you may also remember its steep decline that left experts nonplussed and foraging for answers and politicians clambering all over one another to gain credit. Do you want to know why crime fell so suddenly in the 90s?
On January 22nd 1973, thanks to Roe vs Wade, abortion was legal across the whole of America and thus women who knew that they couldn’t and didn’t want to raise a child could take matters into their own hands. In brutal terms, poor people could stop producing more poor people and as poor people are more prone to crime the crime rate fell. Thus, the first cohort that would have reached prime crime age in the early 90s simply didn’t exist. And guess what? The states that legalised abortion earlier (New York for example) saw the fall in crime earlier and states that oversaw more abortions saw a greater impact on crime statistics in direct correlation to the number of abortions.
I’ll leave that with you…