So anyway, yesterday I read Freakomics. Suffice it to say, the book fascinated me. I loved the way he didn’t take political sides, just stated facts, which in different cases supported both sides of the aisle.
My question is though, that even if people read and agree with his assumptions, how many of them will change their view of abortion, high stakes testing and gun control?
Despite what people may say of there being logic, facts, and statistics driving politics, they are completely wrong. Emotion is the gas of politics. If people didn’t care (and honestly most of them don’t) then the political scene would look quite different.
If it was really facts and number crunching that really mattered, most social programs would not exist. Gun control, and abortion would not be an issue. If the statistics really were the bottom line, then there would be a lot less debate and more doing on Capitol Hill. (I’m not getting into how the same statistics can be twisted to fit either bill).
Politics, on the private citizens level is speaking up about things that you care about. If you care about something, you have emotions toward it (positive or negative). If you were neutral to the idea of raising public transportation prices, because say, you have a chauffeur, then you wouldn’t speak up on the issue.
Therefore, if someone is speaking up, they obviously have something fueling their speech. In the case of raising public transportation prices, a person voicing their opinion is not concerned with the overall picture, but rather how it affects him/her self. Forget that the system is way over budgeted, forget that price hasn’t been raised in 15 years and inflation is making each fare practically worthless, it’s going to cost a person 300 dollars more a year to get to work. That’s all that counts in the individuals book.
So this person writes a letter to their congressman. Enough letters sent will create a pressure for action. So despite all the numbers screaming at the public transportation system to raise those fares PDQ, they don’t, or only raise it a drop. In this scenario emotion, not logic ruled in the end, as it does with every political decision. (Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the fares to be raised, I can hardly afford them now, but logically I can validate their point.
So from reading Freakonomics, if I cared about crime, I probably should change my view on abortion, but I’m not going too, because…..(three guesses why)…I emotionally can’t handle that (and because of my other “logical” reasons of abortion should not be so widespread…) As a person who has been listening to a million and a half real-estate agent commercials, I should stop believing them when they tell me that I can’t do it (sell my house) alone. (not that I have a house to sell).
So even though logic tell me otherwise, I am more likely to listen to my emotions. This is because I believe emotion is where the conscious lies.