Monday, June 11, 2012

SHAME On Steven D. Levitt (or Freakonomics THIS)

The second edition of The Exiled's new S.H.A.M.E. (Shame the Hacks Who Abuse Media Ethics) project is out, and this time they have their sights set in Freakonomics author Steven D. Levitt:
Steven D. Levitt

Named one of Time magazine's "100 People Who Shape Our World," Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics, is generally assumed to be a harmless, quirky pop economist for trivia nerds. However, Levitt has a history of attacking teachers' unions, advocating for the privatization of prison labor, defending online gambling and occasionally crossing over the fringe-right line by promoting climate change denialism and, some have argued, racial eugenics. A dyed-in-the-wool Milton Friedman neoliberal from the same “Chicago Boys” network that brought you the "shock doctrine," Levitt’s idea of economics Utopia is a world in which "the market" solves all our problems and government is restricted to protecting property rights.
The rest of Levitt's depressing profile is at the link.

Bonus: "Don't tell me about politics when all the problems are economics"


  1. Well that was nauseating. I'm glad that they are doing the SHAME series.

    I got a first hand woo-woo kind of illustration on how much power these shills have even in the trenches. The place I work is obviously in some financial distress because we are currently in the uncomfortable position of having the army of consultants visit.

    I must not be living right because my boss keeps making me talk to them. Just last week I had to talk to a couple of them who were scrutinizing a particular part of the place that I have dealings with. I am firmly in the "who gives a shit" mode, pretty much like the guy in Office Space. I've become desensitized so I'll just chat and gab-maybe that's why my boss makes me go to these things- it turns out benign with little accomplished. All that's missing is Bob and Bob.

    Anyway, I'm just telling tales, jabbering and one of the consultants asks me if I've read "Outliers"....ooh ooh. That sounded familiar and not in a good way. But I said no. Then he told me some story and said...well I'm not sure if that came from "Outliers" but it was by Malcolm Gladwell (the first SHAME recipient). I almost spit out my coffee. I'd never really thought much about the guy until I read that piece just days before. Truly weird to have it come up so soon.

    Long winded point being: these shills influence people and real life decisions are made by people who believe what they say. The corporate guys get a major bang for their buck from these whores.

    1. I'll admit that back before I really started to become aware of what is really going on, I read Freakonomics. And now that I've read this piece, I can clearly see Levitt's biases.

      A coworker gave me a copy of Gladwell's Blink a couple of years ago. I really didn't know who he was at the time, and never got around to reading it. Now that I know more, I'm glad I didn't waste my time.

  2. Anything said or written by anyone associated with U. of Chicago should be carefully scrutinized.