Friday Journal
12:00 am
Sat January 14, 2012

Freakonomics Radio: The Power of the President ... and the Thumb

In their books, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner use the tools of economics to explore real-world behavior. As boring as that may sound, what they really do is tell stories — about cheating schoolteachers, self-dealing real-estate agents, and crack-selling mama's boys. Those Freakonomics stories — and plenty of new ones — are now coming to the radio, with Dubner as host. Just like the books, Freakonomics Radio explores “the hidden side of everything.” It will tell you things you always thought you knew but didn't, and things you never thought you wanted to know, but do.  Information is available at http://www.freakonomics.com/radio/

The Power of the President ... and the Thumb

In this episode we ask a simple, heretical question: How much does the President of the United States really matter? Stephen Dubner talks to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, economists Austan Goolsbee and Justin Wolfers, and constitutional scholar Bernadette Meyler about how the President's actual influence can be measured; and Steve Levitt weighs in on how he thinks the President shapes the nation, and whether he'll be voting in the next election.  Also, we look at another supposed truism: hitchhiking is terribly dangerous. True? The fact is that hitchhiking has practically disappeared in America. But why? Was it really as dangerous as we believed? Even if so, what other factors were at play? Among our guests are data wizard Bill James, who says our risk aversion to hitchhiking makes it more dangerous, and transportation scholar Alan Pisarski, who looks at how hitchhiking can inform future transportation policy.

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