Review: Freedomnomics

Book by John R. Lott, Jr.

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Freedomnomics

I just finished reading Freedomnomics, a book by John R. Lott, Jr., that is, in part, a response to the popular book Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner. To be honest, I didn’t really read the book; I listened to it as an audio book. Years ago I listened to a 5-million-hour recording of Lord of the Rings during my commute. It was a great way to pass the drive, but I found that I didn’t retain much, a fact made clear when I eventually watched the movie version.

But I doubt there will be a movie version of Freedomnomics, so I thought I would write a review to keep the ideas fresh. Despite having been written by an economics professor, the book turned out to be pretty enjoyable. A big plus for the book is that the author lived for a while in Montana, so the book automatically gets an extra ten points.

The five chapters of Freedomnomics exist to communicate four main ideas.

  • Levitt and Dubner are buffoons.
  • The free market works way better than a government-controlled economy.
  • Abortion did not cause the crime rate to decrease in the 1990s.
  • America’s government largess was caused primarily by women’s suffrage in the early twentieth century.

The last idea is, naturally, the most controversial, and despite the plausible arguments provided by Lott, I’m sure a lot more went into the making of a bloated federal bureaucracy than women showing up at the polls. He did provide a lot of facts and figures to support the claim, but they are a little hard to follow when strolling through a park with headphones on.

Still, I did learn some new things about how the market economy works. I also learned that economists don’t just spend their days counting money or money systems. Lott was constantly saying, “A study by economists…” about studies that had nothing to do with finances. And most of the studies were intriguing.

I recommend Freedomnomics, especially in its audio format. While it didn’t convince me to take classes in economics, it did prompt me to think a little more deeply about the way that I interact with businesses, government, and audiobooks.

NOTE: After I posted the original review, Mr. Lott, the author of Freedomnomics, added a brief comment about my review to his web site. On February 7, 2008, he said of me, “Overall, I thought what he thought was the main point of the book was much too narrow.” I guess he forgot that I gave him ten bonus points for having lived in Montana!

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Tim Patrick is a software architect and developer with more than 30 years of experience in designing and building custom software solutions. He is the author of multiple books on Microsoft technologies, and was selected as a Microsoft MVP for his support to the programming community. Tim earned his degree in computer science from Seattle Pacific University.

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