Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Freedomnomics--A Counter-Argument

John Lott, who is an economist, has published a new book called "Freedomnomics," which demonstrates how statistics can be used (or misused) in public-policy debates.

In general, I am not convinced that arguments from Economics should have much to do with almost anything, as Econ is a social science, not a "hard" science. If you wish to hear silly 'economic' argument, listen to Walter Williams.

But there is at least one very interesting myth which Lott attacks by presenting a counter-argument--the myth that Congressmen vote their contributors, not their conscience.

Lott takes the voting records of 700+ House members, and asks what happened after they announced they were retiring? Contributions of course fell off by 85% -- they're not going to campaign again. But their voting record stayed the same. Even with no need for campaign funds or other support, they voted the same. The contributions didn't create their positions; their positions lead to contributions, is to say the call for "campaign reform" is badly undercut.

Well, it's undercut, for sure. Doesn't change the real question, which is: is the elected official honest?

Arms and the Law mentions a few other parts of Lott's book, which certainly will be an interesting read.

1 comment:

John Lott said...

Well, may be the book will change your mind on how useful this particular social science is!