Dubner and Levitt talk about fixing the post office, putting cameras in the classroom, and wearing hats.
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Steve Limit is my free economics friend and co author he's an economist at the University of Chicago one of the most unusual things about love it is. He doesn't really care what anybody else thinks his ideas for better or worse one of the easiest ways to differentiate economist from Anyone else in society he's detest them with repugnant ideas, because economists are premature immune to repugnance. Your wife will love you more. If you go do it, it makes you feel like a proud American, but never should anyone delude themselves into thinking that the vote they cast will cover, decide election muslims lazy I could be investing in the kids. Are I could be
indulging. My own hobby just watch tv. Instead, athletes are now to be on my way back people that have learned man. So what will let me say in this week's instalment of frequently asked I never know where you're going but on the radio I'm here from the w and my see this is free economics, radio, the pot cast that explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your host Stephen governor.
every now and again Steve Levin. I ask you to send us some questions and then we try to answer them in this part guest. It's called frequently asked questions, a celebrity ready to go, have severely for a shared gather. Hold beverage, have a warm one that they firmly that night. Let's start with this levy, here's a question, from somebody met hierarchy. I am curious to know what solutions would emerge if we took a poor performing junior high classroom, perhaps one classified as hopeless and from the inner of some city and put four cameras shooting from each corner and stream. The video over the internet. Would the students get a better education? Would performance improve with the students grow up and contribute positively to society that this could be fundamentally good for the countries,
richer by addressing the problems with public education of children, I'm fastened by this idea. I can't imagine how many lawyers you'd have to talk to you before you can't even one Cameron Room, but I'm curious to know. I mean it brings up the some notion that we ve talked about before, but Vincent just the power of scrutiny and not only on the kids in the classroom but the teachers to so I'm curious to know what you think about this idea in what might happen or takes a different idea like it, because there are so many ideas about what to do about public education, and this is not one that I have heard before and I think scrutiny can affect people's behaviour, and I just being devils advocate I'd, say that if you were to put for streaming cameras into but you said you start with one in a city school, but then let's say you did dork so pretty well, so now you have it in a thousand nor a hundred thousand Missy classrooms. The prom is known. You know why tell me what could be more boring then no wiser,
for someone given thought eighth grade. Civic say something like that. So so I'm not sure There actually would be any scrutiny well, but it might just be like the surveillance cameras, seven eleven, that you only watch when something drastic happens right. So let let's not assume that it needs a real audience but like if somebody tone We blows up or does something amazing. Then there is the possibility that people can say after so there's this idea of deterring something or encouraging people. But I just think that the EC asian or below ups, which occur are not what is fine only getting in the way of the students learning what the reader suggested that somehow it's gonna transform the daily activities in the room, and my hunch is that you could start First, our in everything we know from what people call the Hawthorne effect that when you start watching people, they behave differently, but I think over time, if you knew that nobody was actually watching
and at the video is rolling, but no one ever looked at it. I mean think about the parallel we have, which is reality tv, so people get on this road. Tv shows, and I'm sure, for the first hour too, that the cameras on them they are very stale and I'm serious and stuff, and then you can tell by the very quickly they they act in outrageous ways at you you face, have how could they act that way, knowing it on tv, and I think you just get used to stuff and so I'm even though these people know what they're doing is being put it on national tv. They very quickly just act. The way they normally act in front of the camera- and I think that's what would probably happen. If you put a camera on one, is in a city, classroom, bia! Ok, I I mean look who might disagree with your challenge that, but I also just curious
one thing that happens in a classroom, the dynamic between the students and the teacher in the students themselves, and so I'm I'm just curious to think how that dynamic might be altered just by knowing that it's not just them in the classroom and that, theoretically, I don't know- maybe it's- the teacher is much more affected, maybe to teacher who knows that that video can be accessed by his or her superiors at any point down the road or piers. So look at the very least it would for an experiment to try, wouldn't it with a camera in a classroom to see what the feeling is absolute arrival in favour of any kind of experiment like that it could be good. I'm in some sense it has been done. Just hasn't been done. The setting a lot of day care and nursery schools have streaming video of of the classrooms. I think because
parents at that age are more nervous about what other kids might be treated or how the kids my react, and so you could actually before running this experiment. It might be interesting, look and see whether anything changed in terms of teacher behaviour and in that other setting I mean. Is it we in Dubai format, but maybe the one group that would possum watch would be. Parents amount, would watch my thirteen year olds and see what they do and class in and read them the riot act if they weren't attention north or complain if their teachers, so maybe that's, actually the one audience that could be useful. I certainly believe that the more you get parents involved in schools the better that this there are tons of evidence that we ve talked about, that having good parents is at least as important as having good schools, and so I lay I like the idea. I like the idea.
Ok, here's the next one Joseph Bogan rights as a resident of the Buffalo, Bulgaria recently saw and read an article about a local drug traffickers. As result, I was wondering what the hidden costs of the war on drugs may be as wondering. If team for economics has ever done a study report on this or if they be interested, I think it poses a lot of interesting legal and moral questions. So Levitt do we ve talked, and even I guess, written about in the past. Drugs is a big topic. Why don't you start when you think of drug legalization, start to frame that argument your head, so I have thought a lot about the war on drugs and in its it's a great question to philosophize on. I think, because most people approach it from a more moral or philosophical point of view of should drugs below
the goal is a libertarian perspective says: maybe drugs just be legal people should be able do whatever they want. That's what Milton Friedman thought other people think it's him more. Oh there's something wrong with drugs, but you know that's not the free economic sway, the for economics ways I should look at the data and- and I do have a paper with Roland Friar and a former stood near my Paul Heaton, Kevin Murphy and we set out to look at the crack epidemic in the costs of the crack epidemic. From a purely practical perspective, how bad was it did the places we had? A lot of crack did really bad thing. Captain Aaron and Why- and it was really interesting- is really one of the most surprising results, because almost all of the big cost that we saw had to do not with the consumption of crack itself. Consumption crack had some negative effects, but they weren't great. The really big sofa cost had to do with the prohibition of the legality of crack, and so it was the case that the greatest cost we saw that were the violence related to
fighting for property rights, hand, the imprisonment of people and em you. It was interesting because it doesn't say that legalization is necessarily a good thing. That's a big jumped to have, but said in a regime where drugs are highly illegal hard drugs. I cocaine in the U S the real costs that we feel then are the costs of the prohibition of the costs of the use, because a prohibition is reasonably effective at lowering the years now. What we got rid of the prohibition and that anybody in everybody's crack cocaine. I think that wouldn't be a great. How come either, and you say that, because the nature of crack is destructive, more southern that say marijuana we absolutely soviet crack. Cocaine is a really devils drug, because it gives you such an intense high for such a short period of time that your desire is just to get her. Over and over and over its highly addictive, and it's really hard to function when you're a crack at it. But what it makes me think is at this.
Experimentation were doing now with policy towards the drugs like marijuana, and potentially it would be expanded over time is a good idea because I think when it comes to marijuana, their social costs of the prohibition of marijuana I just really low very few people he needs. It are being build over marijuana the game. They're, not making their money off Marijuana mere one in some very real scent is too cheap. It's too easy grow yourself, and so it isn't the source of all of the ills that come with prohibition, and so so the gains of mare of legalizing marijuana for society much more than the gains would be to legalizing cocaine if you could control how the outcome can. So let me ask you this: whenever I hear a policeman parliament or some organization representing law enforcement. Talk against legalizing marijuana, this sceptical He says, oh well, that's because process
Shooting and pursuing marijuana is a big part of police work and if it were decriminalize, then the police would get. Unfunded is at a ridiculous thought to have knowledge. Now. We must think about incentives in, and certainly if one of the incentives that happily Starman as is to be busy, I mean we know there are a lot more police officers in places where there is a lot more crime. So if there is no crime to deal with, there would be many police after sending you a fire fighters. Putting yourself and out of a job, I mean Journey fires anyway. I know what firefighters to our dammit have been pretty good. I think it figured out how to do things other than go put our fires, but you could imagine that if all the crime went away, the police would end up looking a lot more like firefighters and they would like police officers, and we just wouldn't need that many of them around. So I think that that sensible, but I also think that its deeper than that in that there is, a mindset among the police, which is that the law says
that marijuana is illegal and it's my job to uphold the law and, for a marijuana is terrible Levitt limit ask you one more thing before we move on about marijuana in particular, so gallop poles, which are pretty consists in overtime, show that about forty years ago, twelve percent of Americans favoured marijuana legalization and that numbers up to fifty eight now so almost five times as many so what do you think that represents everything dramatic or we just seeing one of those gradual lines, shifting that happens in society? Nothing more than that. I think it's! It's a reaction to the fact that marijuana, just hasn't proven to be the damage that then alot of people smoke marijuana and doesn't run their lives and they go on be regular folks who no longer smug marijuana. It's just out of it comes down to how much weight you put on the utility of the user right. If you really think that that the people who are smoking
The dope arguer have a lot of fun with it. Then then, probably you Tipp the capitalist or let them smoke it. Otherwise, if you think that's that's wrong kind find, you shouldn't count that, then you think it shouldn't be legal, but I a lot of ways. I think it comes down to that Temple issue and Leavitt. Just for the record when's. The last time you smoked dope man, it's been a long time. I think it's been numb. I think it's been. It's been night at least probably close to twenty. If Marijuana were totally entirely decriminalize in Illinois and you could go to a nice at all Delhi right outside the you see there and by some. What would you do it tomorrow or the next week? I would occasionally smoke, but I wouldn't be away life. I don't think you would you like to. Say, try to play golf wollstone. Would that be a thrill for you haven't her? I take my Gulf Pierre.
More and more coming up the Unfrequent radio, not one but two listeners- have ideas to help out the United States Postal Service and what to do when a company is dying. Doubtless, apart of human exist and maybe death is part of a company's exists in the same way, we should celebrate it and hasten it rather than spend Alex prolonging the last few years, good luck,. Economics, radio sponsored by wonder is business movers podcast when cocoa Allah changed their recipe to what they called new Coke in nineteen
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Oh how important it is to have a healthy cashflow. That's why we, take payments with square either in person or online. You get your money fast access, it Instantly vs, where card a free business debit card or transfer it to your bank, account on you reschedule see all the ways Square can health at square dot com slash, go slash! Freak though nonsense. From W and Y see, this is for economics, radio. Here's your host Stephen Governor, welcome back too frequently asked questions were Steve level and I do our best to sort out. What's on your mind, let's get back to it. Ok, question from Renee Vair beak. He writes when I send a letter from New York to fair banks, Alaska, the money
spend on the service is as high as sending the same letter from New York to Boston. You'd expect that the post office would ask more money for services to and from rural areas and less reserves is too in from urban areas, or I would add, in just four further away than closer way. You, you pay forty six cents these days for a first class stamp anywhere, and he S. Why is it that postal services have these flat rates and not appraise proportional to the cost of the actual provided service? I think that's a great question Levitt, any obvious answer to that: evolution and randomness? I think it's complicated right. The problem is that when you're sending something that on average, only cost zero dollars and forty six cents to try to customize whether it should be zero dollars and forty one cents or sixty nonsense is really costly, because you know how you gonna figure, they do it in adding even just historically idea of the stamp and the value of the stamp makes it more complicated. But when you said be complicated, I mean look. There are trends,
services. It do that right, so New York doesn't New York. If I buy a subway one pass on a subway train, its amount, whether it's a short rider long at a lot of cities. However, you pay different for different zones. So let's say it's not one. Praise for New York to Boston first stamp Another praise from New York to Charlotte non La Non, but say, their zones, three zones, five zones with that really be so complicated, and I guess what I'm really asking is: would the? U S p s not be in such bad shape if they actually been properly pricing there, Sir So long I mean that's a good question. You're talking merely technical condoms, they D. Never tell me, are you really know you'd show out he's coming of age. I mean I, I think it's not clear
the real problem the processors has is. The point of a letter has gotten a lot less important over time, because there are much better substitutes than ever existed before and I you know between me start with faxes and then you go to to electronic mound and you gotta texting, and you know it wouldn't be at all surprising. If you just took a bunch of business, It is indeed the case that, instead of you of your business, was delivered letters. What would happen if a lot better dusk came out, I think, for sure to telephone wasn't great. The telegraph no stuff was good for the postal service, so thought enough. I want a pin the financial difficulties of the postal service that assist a bulky way of trying to do business. But that aside, when I think about business now doing, I think experimentation is always a good idea, and this is a great case where you my table: try an experiment, trying experiment where, for one city of United States, the postal service does divide the costs into
these five different provisions, like you, said, or make it per mile or whether its urban rural- and I thank you. Begin to understand how people react it will. Let me run this pass you another listener, name, Nathan, Conroy Rights, to say the term. Every day, when I open my mailbox, he read some continually puzzle that the concept of the failing: U S, Post office at a time when we receive a hideous amount of junk mail every single day. How can the company, behind the delivery of this madness b, on the brink of fiscal collapse again and again, and again So he goes on to say that you know, as we discussed email
Other technological advances have been slowly killing off the post office. He writes my question is this when faced with such a vicious, predator, meaning mostly email? Why didn't they? U S PS, jump on the electronic highway and he proposes a digital world in which you might receive a quote? U s p a certified email from your bank employer children school the certified email would let you know that the centre is legitimate, that no viruses have been will be attached and that you are not being fished. Had you know this? It's simple prior to sending the email, the sender would have to one verify identity, to provide credentials and, most importantly, three pay ten cents. Twenty four
since fifty cents. So that's an interesting idea. I'm curious what you think of that as an idea that the U S, PS, might should have embraced. But more broadly, you know, you wrote a blog posts a few years back about good to greet the companies they were featured in that book, good too great by Jim Collins and how the companies that went from good degree often ended up going to crap years after the book came out, and I just wanted to ask you Jim, about how hard it is for a company with its the? U S, p s general, electric or general motors to survive and thrive over time- and there are companies, especially big companies, are inherently may be bad at changing with the times. I think for sure. Big companies are bad at making massive changes fronting for two reasons. One is that I think company
that a successful and falling under the illusion of thinking that the good at everything and dead, because their good at area in a: why should they have to change hand, I am really hurts company said- have success at even if their good it s most. Companies that make a ton of money often make it because their little bit lucky them one good idea there really good at one particular thing: I glamour Distraint task at low districts are gay unknown to ever been able to catch up to them and then that a huge advantage mean that doesn't mean that Walmart graded figure out what products? To put MR, it's maybe they're great at that too, but I mean the post office of all possible companies to try to make radical changes, a radical change it completely. The invents, what they do it? It's just, I think impossible, because I mean you and I have talked to lie with businesses over the last ten years and in more or less, I think, most people in the business. If
It truly tell you what they want is they want to do the same thing today that they did yesterday and they don't wanna, have to rethink everything and they don't wanna bet the entire future of the company on some crazy new fangled email thing with that nobody has back in ninety. Ninety even when they would have had to have started thinking, not this magic. Our readers point is a really interesting when it's really innovative in and crime good idea, and I think it's a kind of thing that could really work now. Will that ever be the post offices, big business? Probably not, should the post office be thinking about creative ways to use their brand name to try to be expanding and other things. I think for sure I mean certainly after Federal Express, came and saw the post office change were there
to do to try and do crazy things to get your packets there in one day, just the way Federal Express will do that, and that was not something they offered before in and they react to it. But that's easier to react to, I think than the email thanks. But I've got a couple of entrepreneurs who's out there, trying to do at our readers suggest, which is to create different classes of email, which perhaps some of which cost in which carry different levels of torrent significance. I think that's great. It's exactly what you want to do window to service out there, that's completely free and which is absolutely and holy abused because of it is to create a close substitute that actually cost money and to potentially then get what we economists call separating eleven where the people who are willing to pay five cents to reach out and touch you than email can signal to that they really are willing to pay to talk to you where, as you know, the Nigerians
members are not willing to pay zero dollars and five cents per person, and so they would be separated. But it's kind of painful little bit to watch big older companies that used to be phenomenally successful, try to change, but from the outside of the obvious that they're going to fail. I guess I'm thinking right now. The line of big old department stores, Sears and Jason opinion. I don't know one or two of them may kind of lumber into the next. You know economic cycle, but it seems like they're all more like dinosaurs that are lumbering off to the graveyard niches, gonna, take a long time for them to finally laid down their heads and and die. So I mean that's the way. Capitalism works and we love a lot of things about it and the dynamism in the creative destruction and all that, but is there some better model to think about? If you are that big company, or one of the thousands of employees, of that big company who kind of seas at its obsolete,
since its around the corner, but can't run from it, I think that's the magic of a business later right. So when you're one of these companies, you are faced with a challenge to either die the slow death you're talking about or the radically reinvent herself in turn yourself into something great and people try. I mean TAC penny. Did TIM radical experiments with pricing that didn't work very well, but apple, look apple was terrible for awhile right people thought I was gonna die. Reinvented itself IBM, is an amazing success story for reinvention going. Making all big computers at nothing. HANS anymore to I'm running a services, business and consulting firm yeah. So I think there are examples of great successes, but it's hard and it takes someone vision and it takes people organization willing to change and, I think a lot of times it is easy to start from scratch because you fight so much inertia. I do this
the business consulting now in the inertia, and these big firms is just amazing how hard it is to turn those big old boats and then every once in a while. We work with the US mall or newer, firm and everything just happens quickly and it may just be. I mean death is a part of human existence and maybe death is part of the company's existence the same way and we should celebrate it and hasten it rather than spend our time prolonging the last few years I'm fine! Just like we do with humans, it should be a reallocation of resources towards generation, rather than them in maintenance, eleven? Let me ask you this: a reader listening, Ryan Harris Rights. Why dont people, where hats anymore movies tv, tell us even the house, without a hat and the previous centuries, would be like meaning that a cellphone today, what happened Reinhardt, slept every thoughts. I would say that
We should let the question on his head and we it ask why the hell did people everywhere hands? Well, I think we do know a little bit about that here. Covering, has gone hand in hand with religious observance, fur millennia rate, but then there is the whole thing about by us and in all throughout Europe. You know the hats had signal of a different class and how you doffed your hat when some more senior came in contact, so you know that was all kinds of religious in class. Knowing so there were lots of reasons. Is it may be just that as we ve become? I mean our cultures become much less religious. Do you think that's contributed to? TAT wearing Rowena hide. These are questions the way above my pay great, but I mean above all, let's blow love God, I mean to figure out. Big social phenomena are hard. I mean fashions
immeasurably, and I think of a hats is mostly about fashion by term. That's a good question. We got a lot of questions from the ministry the lead at. What would it take? How much would have to pay you to that say where a fedora for solid we a lot I mean I don't even where I'm the only only offers you does not we're never seen. I've had everything over any kind of I only where
we're hats in winter to stay, warmed by the age, don't wear had are a good job. Leather integrate high collar. I thought I d better at I had my name, but I only knew lever now you deliver. You didn't integrate as good. Ok thanks a bunch of calculating the caring about. That's it for this addition of frequently asked questions. If you keep sending in your questions to radio at for economics outcome, we will keep answering them next week. Show we revisit a favorite episode which looks at how your behavior changes when you put on a mass middle aged lady, Canada, poor just not towards us. I'm so sorry for the Moscow I found something very rude. I was going to close the performers even touch one on one point, I'm so sorry we go behind this means of sleep. No more a fantastically interesting piece of immersive theater. I got a little room with Paypal out
however, I would not have usually blindly gone into dark corridors as I'm using scared of everything We also hear from the man who created the infamous Stanford prison experiment. That's a next time and for economic, three economics. Radio is produced by W and Y see and debonair productions. Our staff includes David comment: Gregory Zawoiski credit cone break. Lamb, Susie Lichtenberg and Chris Bannon, with engineering help from Jim Brakes, if you are Fr Economics, radio? You can subscribe to our podcast on Itunes or go to free economic stock com, we'll find lots of radio, a blog, the books and more.
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Transcript generated on 2021-03-13.