We here at Freakonomics Radio are connoisseurs of the repugnant idea. When the timid turn away in disgust, we inch closer. Why? Because hidden in the muck of repugnant ideas, sometimes at least, are brilliant solutions (and also, frankly, because we just can’t help ourselves). On the Freakonomics Radio year-end Marketplace segment, Stephen Dubner reports on a few of our favorite repugnant ideas that took root in 2010.
In California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley, the city of Modesto considers using processed wastewater to make apricots and walnuts bloom. In Israel, a doctor introduces a seemingly brutal incentive to raise Israel’s low organ-donor rates.?And Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt explains why economists are particularly well-suited to think about repugnant solutions. “Either by birth or by training,” he says, “economists have their mind open, or skewed in such a way that instead of thinking about something in terms of whether it’s right or wrong, they think about it in terms of whether it’s efficient.” To prove his point, Levitt explains why, if the health-care system were turned into more of a market, and if you’re lucky enough to live into old age, your children will become your own “personal death panel.”