Economics @ ITT

Crack Addicts Make Surprisingly Rational Decisions

Posted in economics by ittecon on September 18, 2013

And now for something completely different. File this under Economics of Crime or The Marketing of Poor Social Policy.

“There is a belief, for example, that crack cocaine is so addictive it only took one hit to get hooked, and that it is impossible to use heroin without becoming addicted,” he said. “There was another belief that methamphetamine users are cognitively impaired. All of these are myths that have have been perpetuated primarily by law enforcement, and law enforcement deals with a limited, select group of people—people who are, in many cases, behaving badly.”

Hart’s work to understand addiction and addicts tackles common misconceptions about several forms of drug addiction and addicts. He conducted similar studies around methamphetamine addicts in the past, as the Times article points out, and “found that when he raised the alternative reward to $20, every single addict, of meth and crack alike, chose the cash. They knew they wouldn’t receive it until the experiment ended weeks later, but they were still willing to pass up an immediate high.”

via Crack Addicts Make Surprisingly Rational Decisions, Fascinating Study Reveals | Alternet.

Crime Rates Are Plummeting—And No One Knows Why

Posted in economics, Policy Issues by ittecon on March 21, 2011

Alternet’s piece Crime Rates Are Plummeting—And No One Knows Why poses the question, “Could it be that America is actually turning less violent? Or are we as violent as ever — but have simply found different ways of assuaging our urges?”

It posits that crime is a choice, and when options are limited, the choice becomes crime. Economics is about choices such as this. It also separates Conservative and Progressive worldviews. Conservatives tend to believe that people are inherently bad. Therefore, our criminal justice system is based on punishment and on the Christian concept of penance, hence penitentiary. Progressives tend to believe that people are inherently good. They believe that people react to fairness, and where the deck appears to be stacked against someone, the reaction may be to act out or to commit a crime to take what’s owed them. As animals, humans are opportunistic, so there is more than one motivator; nonetheless, the concept of equity is important.