Mickey Kaus Has Reduced Michael Hiltzik to a Puddle of Shrillness
Reserve Diversification

Ben Domenech One Last Time (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?)

Ben Domenech's Parthian shot at RedAmerica was an attack on Steve Levitt and Steve Dubner:

Red America: In regards to another old post where I referenced something written by Father Richard John Neuhaus regarding the book "Freakonomics", I suggest that people actually take the time to read what is said. Neuhaus is setting up in blunt terms the logical consequences of the argument made in "Freakonomics" that hey, abortion may be icky, but at least it deters crime by eliminating people who may become criminals -- in this case, minority children in urban areas.

Is that what Levitt and Dubner argued? No. Let's roll the tape, starting on page 137 of Freakonomics:

By 1970 five states had made abortion entirely legal and broadly available.... On January 22, 1973, legalized abortion was suddenly extended to the entire country with... Roe v. Wade.... The Supreme Court gave voice to what the mothers in Romania and Scandinavia--and elsewhere--had lone known: when a woman does not want to have a child, she usually has good reason.... For any of a hundred reasons, she may feel that she cannot provide a home environment that is conducive to raising a healthy and productive child....

What sort of woman was most likely to take advantage of Roe v. Wade? Very often she was unmarried or in her teens or poor, and sometimes all three.... Childhood poverty and a single-parent household... are among the strongest predictors that a child will have a criminal future....

In the early 1990s, just as the first cohort of children born after Roe v. Wade was hitting its late teen years... the rate of crime began to fall.... And the crime rate continued to fall as an entire generation came of age minus the children whose mothers had not wanted to bring a child into the world. Legalized abortion led to less unwantedness; unwantedness leads to high crime; legalized abortion, therefore, led to less crime.

This theory is bound to provoke a variety of reactions, ranging from disbelief to revulsion.... The likeliest first objection is the most straightforward one: is the theory true?...

[E]arly legalizing states saw crime begin to fall earlier than the other[s].... [T]he states with the highest abortion rates in the 1970s experienced the greatest crime drops in the 1990s.... (New York City had high abortion rates and lay within an early-legalizing state, a pair of facts that further dampen the claim that innovative policing caused the crim drop.)...

To discover that abortion was one of the greatest crime-lowering factors in American history is... jarring. It... calls to mind a long ago dart attributed to G.K. Chesterton: when there aren't enough hats to go around, the problem is not solved by lopping off heads.... [O]ne need not oppose abortion... to feel shaken by the notion of a private sadness being converted into a public good....

[W]hat are we to make of the trade-off of more abortion for less crime?... For a person who is either resolutely pro-life or resolutely pro-choice, this is simple.... But let's consider a third person... [who] does not believe that a fetus is the 1:1 equivalent of a newborn... [but] for the sake of argument... decides that 1 newborn is worth 100 fetuses. There are roughly 1.5 million abortions in the United States every year... the equivalent [for this third person] of a loss of 15,000... the same number of people who die in homicides... and far more than the number of homicides eliminated... due to legalized abortion.... [E]ven for someone who considers a fetus... only one-hundredth of a human being, the trade-off between higher abortion and lower crime is, by an economist's reasoning, terribly inefficient.

Is that argument of Levitt and Dubner's fairly summarized by Domenech's "hey, abortion may be icky, but at least it deters crime by eliminating people who may become criminals -- in this case, minority children in urban areas"? No, it is not. Levitt and Dubner make it very clear that they think that abortion-on-demand is a big loser as an anti-crime policy.

Were I a trier of fact on this issue, I would conclude that Domenech's claims about the argument of Freakonomics are not only false but knowingly false, and made with deliberate and conscious malice.

Why do Domenech (and Richard John Neuhaus) falsely and maliciously misrepresent what Levitt and Dubner say? The only answer I have come up with is this: for the same reason that male dogs lick their testicles--because they can. Lying is simply what Domenech (and Neuhaus) do.

Why doesn't the Washington Post append a correction, stating that Domenech (and Neuhaus) have misrepresented the argument of Freakonomics, and regretting the error? Once again everybody: why do male dogs lick their testicles?

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