02 October, 2005

On Bennett's Big Foot

Well, for those that haven't been paying much attention to the news over the last few days, everyone's favorite target is Bill Bennett, also known as the former Secretary of Education. And he said something that got just about everyone ticked. Including the White House.
Bennett, on his radio show, "Morning in America," was answering a caller's question when he took issue with the hypothesis put forth in a recent book that one reason crime is down is that abortion is up.

"But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down," said Bennett, author of "The Book of Virtues."

He went on to call that "an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky."

Responding later to criticism, Bennett said his comments had been mischaracterized and that his point was that the idea of supporting abortion to reduce crime was "morally reprehensible."

Okay, maybe not everyone is bothered by what Bennett said. But there's not anything about it on Little Green Footballs. Or Hugh Hewitt. So I can't say for certain that someone isn't bothered by it.

But a little time on Goggle brought me to this blog called Cut On The Bias. And what Susanna had to say was, to put it lightly, illuminating.
From reading the article on the controversy, I think I get his point: The caller was saying that abortion had removed people paying into Social Security so that's why it's in trouble. Bennett was saying, yes, but an economic calculus is not the reason to decide for or against abortion, because the segment of society more likely to get abortions is the same segment of society that is disproportionately arrested and incarcerated for crime. So if you use an economic calculus as your standard, you would be for abortion as a means to reduce crime. The cost-benefit analysis from an economic standpoint is actually in favor of abortion if you consider only the effects on crime and social programs - because the segment of society that uses social programs the most heavily is also the segment of society most likely to get abortions. However, such a cost-benefit analysis is truly morally reprehensible, because people are not spreadsheets and the value of their lives should not be assessed based on whether they will give more to society economically than they take away.
Actually, I think that was just Bennett's point: Cost-benefit analysis using just economic considerations is wrong. His example was... stupid. I don't think the FCC should kick him off the air, but I do think someone should put him on time delay just for his own benefit.
Now, I know what some of you are saying. "That's just someone spinning!" Actually, no. That's someone putting logical thought and analysis into what Bennett was saying. By now, you should know that I leave the shrillness to certain members of the Society of the Shrill.

Namely the Kossacks (especially Armando), Atrios, and (ugh) Amanda. But to Amanda's credit (can't believe I'm writing this), she hasn't even commented on this one.

So what's my verdict? It's simple. Open mouth disease struck the good Doctor and established a magnetic resonance with his foot. Said foot travelled directly to his mouth, where it is stuck for the next two news cycles. After that, few people will remember this ever happened.

Those that hate Bennett will continue to do so. Those that love him will continue to do so. And those that couldn't care less about him will go back to caring less.

And now, time for me to go back to caring less about Bennett.

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