Saturday, April 23, 2005

I'm currently reading...

I'm currently reading Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner.

It's an easy read, with interesting insights. But since I just joined Blogger, I realized that the authors have a blog Huh.

The authors take on such thorny issues as the social benefit derived from Roe v. Wade, viz., a steep decline in crime caused by (that's right "caused by", not just "correlated with") a steep decline in the number of unwanted pregnancies. However, the authors then conclude that unless you de-value the fetus to zero (which a huge swath of the pro-choice crowd does), then the benefit is far outweighed by the costs. Specifically, even someone that believes that the "value" of a viable fetus constitutes only 1/100 the "value" of a full-fledged human, must conclude that the costs of abortion-on-demand (1.5 million aborted fetuses a year) far exceeds any social benefit in decrease in the homicide rate (far less than 15,000 homicides).

The last chapter (which I'm reading now) deals with the Black-White gap in standardized testing, and it's causes. The authors offer some badly-needed objective economic analysis of the gap first noted in the controversial Bell Curve. Causes associated with the socio-economic class of the parents are not the end of the inquiry! Black and White children from comparable socio-economic backgrounds test statistically equally upon entering kindergarten (and, no, headstart has nothing to do with it). However, within two years, the test gap appears even within a socio-economic group. In other words, middle-class blacks fall behind middle-class whites, and working-class black fall behind working-class whites, even though they started at comparable levels. And, as is widely known (and accepted without inquiry for the purposes of affirmative action in college admissions), the gap remains throughout the rest of a child's academic career.

How to close the gap? Well, I'm just getting to that part... I'll let you know. But, the authors thesis is that "it's the schools, stupid!"

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Blogger GrannyGrump said...

Wow! Some provocative thoughts there!

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