Saturday, October 01, 2005

Political Correctness Hits Bennett

Best Of The Web:

Is Political Correctness Finished?-I
The latest Bill Bennett kerfuffle leads us to think that the culture of political correctness that surrounds race in America may be in its final throes. Bennett and a caller to his radio show the other day were discussing a hypothesis in Steven Levitt's book "Freakonomics" (available from the OpinionJournal bookstore): that the explosion of abortion after Roe v. Wade depleted the number of potential criminals and thus helped reduce the crime rate. Bennett rejected such utilitarian pro-abortion arguments:

It's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could--if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky. More from James Taranto

Freakonomics:

Bill Bennett and Freakonomics
Bill Bennett and I have a fair amount in common. We've both written about crime (his "superpredator" theory gets a quick discussion in Freakonomics), we have both thought a lot about illegal drugs and education (he was the original "drug czar" and is a former Secretary of Education), and we both love to gamble (although it seems I do it for much lower stakes and perhaps with greater success).

Now we also share the fact that we have made controversial statements about the link between abortion and crime. More @ Freakonomics



Statement By Bill Bennett, Sep. 30, 2005


"On Wednesday, a caller to my radio show proposed the idea that one good argument for the pro-life position would be that if we didn't have abortions, Social Security would be solvent. I stated my doubts about such a thesis, as well as my opposition to such a form of argument (the audio of the call is available at my Website: bennettmornings.com).

"I then stated that such extrapolations of this argument can cut both ways, and cited the current bestseller, Freakonomics, which discusses the authors' thesis that abortion reduces crime.

"Then, putting my philosophy professor's hat on, I went on to reveal the limitations of such arguments by showing the absurdity in another such argument, along the same lines. I entertained what law school professors call 'the Socratic method' and what I would hope good social science professors still use in their seminars. In so doing, I suggested a hypothetical analogy while at the same time saying the proposition I was using about blacks and abortion was 'impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible,' just to ensure those who would have any doubt about what they were hearing, or for those who tuned in to the middle of the conversation.

"The issues of crime and race have been on many people's minds, and tongues, for the past month or so--in light of the situation in New Orleans; and the issues of race, crime, and abortion are well aired and ventilated in articles, the academy, the think tank community, and public policy. Indeed the whole issue of crime and race is not new in social science, nor popular literature. One of the authors of Freakonomics, himself, had an extended exchange on the discussion of these issues on the Internet some years back--which was also much debated in the think tank community in Washington. More from Bill Bennett

1 Comments:

Blogger John McAdams said...

Freakonomics Author Tries to Cover Butt in Wake of Bennett Comments

In fact, the authors of Freakonomics made explicitly racial arguments in economics journal articles. They said nothing remotely racist, but they did stress the empirical connection between race and abortion and crime.

9:43 PM  

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