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Steven Landsburg in this book tries in the most beautiful way to make economics not only fun but also fascinating. He uses an unusual wit but razor sharp analysis of the many ways that we as individuals, the rational decisions we make can combine to yield truly weird results. Not only does he look into every aspect of life but he also proposes some hilarious but serious ways to fix almost everything. He offers profoundly funny solutions to the various aspects’ of our modern life that are unfair or inefficient but these solutions can be only described as jaw dropping and maddeningly defensible. In this book one finds that economics is not just a study of money but a study of values, a realistic study of everything. He explains in a most hilarious way how economics can be used to change even the basics of your daily life.
One of the major points to be noted in this book is on the power of incentives. This is why economics can be largely defined by the words “people respond to incentives” (Steven, 2007). Generally economists take principles and the power of incentives can be taken as a general principle. However, there is evidence that there is always significant response by people to incentives even in instances and situations where their behavior is not imagined to be rational. He says” engineers figure out how to harness the power of the forces of nature while economists figure out how to harness the power of incentives” (Steven, 2007) When wage rates go up, people work harder -- unless their incomes are already very high, in which case they choose to enjoy more leisure. This is how people rationalize their incomes and spending habits. People take risks if the incentive seems to have positive results for their only good but do not generally care if others they interact with are affected either negatively or positively. Taking into consideration this economic principle Landsburg then tries to offer solutions almost to everything in a hilarious manner. More sex is safer sex, his way of rationalizing this common economic problem that is present in the modern life seeks out to teach people that as long as one has got all the right incentives then he makes all the right decisions as long as his economic problem is solve without the consideration of the other people. people should not be afraid to make decisions as long as they satisfy the right economic need they had. This is the way it might be working in the modern life but its seems contrary to the conventional wisdom. Thus it is referred to as the unconventional wisdom of economics. He is positing multiple solutions to very interesting and profound problems of life, problems and situations that readers find themselves in on a day to day basis but at the same time he forces the reader to confront some uncomfortable positions like in the title of the book, urging otherwise chaste citizens to take the risk of getting laid around and thereby diluting the group of potential sex partners with AIDS.
Landsburg gives commonsense solutions to the rational decisions we make in our daily life. “Economics is mainly concerns and studies the surprising and sometimes tragic consequences of rational behavior” he says (Steven, 2007). People do the things they do from exquisite (and entirely rational) concern for their own interests and none for the harm that spills over onto their neighbors. This might sound so obvious and simple though it has the power to undermine the great wealth of conventional wisdom. It explains the peoples actions have costs and benefits, that people should feel free to do whatever they like but if their actions affect the social order lets say I negative way they are to be responsible for the damage. Conversely if one does what is right they are entitled to the benefit arising from the good deed they do. This is the small point we should note in the book. He truly acknowledges that the main aim of the book is to assault the reader’s common sense with the weapons of logic and evidence, especially the logic of economics. This he pulls the reader to the world of economic logic which we are familiar with in freakonomics where everything in our lives is studied as an economic value. It is quite important to note the importance of this small point, that this value is only of economic importance to the mind making these calculations, not for the good of all; it is also very antagonistic to conventional wisdom.
Conventional wisdom is carried through the ages and carries with it morality and ideologies thus help in keeping the social fabric together. It is common to the culture society amid people familiar to it. Thus individuals in the society act with a kind of reference or regard to this, not a mere sense of gratification of a desire just because it has an economic benefit to the individual but may carry with it harmful results for the many. Landsburg calls this the sin of self restraint. “What you're about to read is a celebration of all that is counter, original, spare, and strange”. I mean every word seriously and every word in fun.” (Steven, 2007). Giving people multiple solutions to solve problems in their daily life on an economic platform kind of poses a threat to morality, principles, virtue, law, and even life. The fun and amusement he emphasizes while he gives these solutions to these very fundamental and crucial problems that are generally a mystery to the common man, does not offer solid foundation to problem solving solutions, instead they penetrate the social fabric at angle that would arouse more danger than solve the problems. Imagine chaste people driven by the rationality that if they abstain from sex they increase the chances of AIDS spread rather they should free themselves and society from this menace by increasing their sex partners in order to purify that group of potential sex partners. This would be taking a dive into danger especially where the risk is not openly visible like a disease. It is true common sense is the basis of solving problems and challenges for an individual but this common sense is to be laid on a foundation of a truth. A truth that is fully satisfying.
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