In Praise of Maintenance

Has our culture’s obsession with innovation led us to neglect the fact that things also need to be taken care of?

“If Mayors Ruled the World”

Season 5, Episode 30 This week, Freakonomics Radio expands on an idea from political theorist Benjamin Barber, who wrote If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities. Barber argues that cities are paragons of good governance — compared, at least, to nation-states — and that is largely due to their mayors. Mayors, Barber argues, are can-do people […]

The Perfect Crime

Season 5, Episode 25

This week on Freakonomics Radio, what’s “the perfect crime?" It turns out that if you are driving your car and run over a pedestrian, there’s a good chance — especially if you live in New York — that you’ll barely be punished. Why?

Also, where have all the hitchhikers gone? Thumbing a ride used to be commonplace. Now you're more likely to see it happen in the opening scene of a slasher movie. Maybe that explains it.

Could the Next Brooklyn Be … Las Vegas?! A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “Could the Next Brooklyn Be ... Las Vegas?!" (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.) The gist: Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has a wild vision and the dollars to try to make it real. But it still might be the biggest gamble in town.

The Perfect Crime: A Freakonomics Radio Rebroadcast

This week's Freakonomics Radio episode is a rebroadcast of the episode "The Perfect Crime" (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

But let's be clear: Dubner isn't suggesting that anyone actually try this. In fact, the problem is that too many people are doing it already.

So what's "the perfect crime"? It turns out that if you are driving your car and run over a pedestrian, there's a good chance -- especially if you live in New York -- that you'll barely be punished. Why?

We hear from Lisa Smith, a former prosecutor and now a law professor, who tells us that just 5 percent of the New York drivers who are involved in a fatal crash with a pedestrian are arrested. As it happens, New York has particularly narrow standards for conviction in such cases; there is a lot of variance among states.

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Outsiders by Design: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

What does it mean to pursue something that everyone else think is nuts? And what does it take to succeed? That’s what this week’s episode is about. It's called “Outsiders By Design.”  (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

You'll hear about three radical thinkers whose lives didn’t proceed in a perfectly straight line. In each case, their work was ridiculed or ignored -- but ultimately, they triumphed. This podcast was inspired by the recent death of the economist Gary Becker, whose firm belief in the rational choice model led him to publish works like “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach” and “A Theory on the Allocation of Time."

The Perfect Crime: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

This week's podcast is called "The Perfect Crime": in it, Stephen Dubner describes a way to kill someone without any punishment. (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.) But let's be clear: Dubner isn't suggesting that anyone actually try this. In fact, the problem is that too many people are doing it already.

So what's "the perfect crime"? It turns out that if you are driving your car and run over a pedestrian, there's a good chance -- especially if you live in New York -- that you'll barely be punished. Why?

We hear from Lisa Smith, a former prosecutor and now a law professor, who tells us that just 5 percent of the New York drivers who are involved in a fatal crash with a pedestrian are arrested. As it happens, New York has particularly narrow standards for conviction in such cases; there is a lot of variance among states.

“If Mayors Ruled the World”: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “'If Mayors Ruled the World.'” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

The episode expands on an idea from political theorist Benjamin Barber, whose latest book is called If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities. Barber argues that cities are paragons of good governance – compared at least to nation-states – and that is largely due to their mayors. Mayors, Barber argues, are can-do people who inevitably cut through the inertia and partisanship that can plague state and federal governments. To that end, Barber would like to see a global “Parliament of Mayors,” to help solve the kind of big, borderless problems that national leaders aren't so good at solving.

Why Bad Environmentalism Is Such an Easy Sell: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Sure, we already know it's not easy being green. But how about selling green? Yep, pretty easy. That's according to the Harvard economist Ed Glaeser, the star of this week's podcast, "Why Bad Environmentalism Is Such an Easy Sell."  (You can subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

Glaeser is an interesting scholar and a good conversationalist. You last heard from him in our podcast called "Why Cities Rock," in which he discussed the many upsides of urban life: economic, culinary, intellectual, and environmental. (This was based on his book Triumph of the City.) His latest working paper is called "The Supply of Environmentalism" (abstract; PDF). Glaeser argues that since most of us are eager to do the right thing for the environment, we are vulnerable to marketers and politicians who offer solutions that aren't as green as they seem.

Why Cities Rock

This week's Freakonomics Radio podcast is a bit unusual in that, instead of featuring a variety of guests, it has only one. But I think you'll understand why once you've listened to it. The guest is Ed Glaeser, author of the compelling and provocative (and empirical!) new book Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier.