Minimum Wage at McDonalds

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” The first trick of asking questions is to determine if your question is a good one. Just because a question has never been asked does not make it good” (Levitt and Dubner 79). The book Freakonomics, by Levitt and Dubner, is one that tells its readers that in order to discover something new or to figure out a difficult concept, one has to ask questions. Even if these questions may be perceived as silly or strange, it can still potentially be the question to solve the unknown. Levitt and Dubner show this by providing a strange or never thought of question for every chapter. Not only do the authors ask the odd questions, they also show how everyone has an incentive and that most will do anything to reach his or her goal. Chapters three, four, and six has very interesting topics that are very intriguing and leave the reader wanting to figure out the answer to the questions. They also reveal the incentives that all of human kind has behind everything that he or she does.

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In chapter three, Levitt and Dubner ask the question ‘Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms’ (Levitt and Dubner 79). There is a large amount of information that one does not realize about the world of drugs and gangs. Most would see these types of societies as uneducated and unorganized, but in reality, these societies are very similar to many of the businesses that one knows and loves. An example of a business similar to the drug trade is McDonalds. McDonalds pays their employees minimum wage and as the position increases with power, so does the salary. In J.T.’s branch the foot workers are paid three dollars and thirty cents for every hour that he or she spends on the street. As one grows with power in the branch, the more that individual is respected and receives a larger pay check. Although, a person can hope and dream of making it large in the drug trade industry, it is very unlikely that a foot worker will achieve the status of branch leader, like J.T. The odds of attaining such a powerful position is similar to a small-town kid who desires to be a famous movie star, which is slim to none. So, this answers the question that Levitt and Dunbar ask in this chapter. The reason why drug dealers live with their mother is because they cannot afford to live on their own.

In order to receive such a high status, one has to have the looks, the brains, and the respect of the people. J.T. was practically born for a leadership position. He graduated with a business degree and he knew what it took to make sure that his branch survived. This is a skill that many people in his branch does not possess and that is what makes J.T. special. Since he has this knowledge, J.T. makes a salary of around one hundred thousand dollars per year. J.T. is one a branch leader and his salary is just a drop in the bucket compared to those who are on the board of directors. The board of directors is the highest position in this society and they make around five hundred thousand dollars per year. They also are the ones if the cops were to find out about the organization, they would be the ones in jail.

J.T. and the Black Disciples show one that drug trade is very similar to the hierarchy in the American business world because everyone has incentives and desires to be at the top of whatever organization he or she is a part of. It also shows how slim the chances are of being given the desired position. Even with hard work and dedication, at some point one has to come to the realization that attaining such a large position has its pro’s and con’s. For example, being a foot soldier is very risky and one could even lose their life by going into the streets every day. They also do not get paid enough to be doing what they are doing. The real question is why does one continue to participate in such a dangerous job if he or she is not bringing home a large salary. The answer to this is that the person with the dangerous job has hope that one day he or she will be able to obtain a higher position and have what is considered as the dream job. On the other side, people in higher job positions, like J.T., have different incentives. If one is in the highest position, then one can live comfortably for the rest of his or her life. This position leads to power and respect which is a common desire among all.

Chapter four is one of the most controversial chapters in this book and deals with the sensitive topic of abortion and crime rates. From increasing the police population to the economy, there are many different theories as to why the crime rates have dropped dramatically over the past few decades. Although many would feel more at ease with one of the more basic reasons as to why crime rates have fallen, Levitt and Dubner provide the readers a completely different approach to this unknown decline. They believe that the reason for the decline in crime is due to the legalization of abortions. In order to prove that this theory could potentially be correct is by looking at the states that were the first to legalize abortion. ‘In New York, California, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii, a woman had been able to obtain a legal abortion for at least two years before Roe v. Wade. And indeed, those early-legalizing states saw crime begin to fall…’ (Levitt and Dubner 128).

There are many reasons that point to this theory as one that could potentially be correct. One of those reasons is that before abortion was legal, crime rates did not drop as dramatically. The main reason that the authors state that abortion is the reason for the decrease of crime is because those who have a baby who is unwanted is more likely to fall in the lifestyle of a criminal. Levitt and Dubner also argue that the mother knows best. She knows what type of situation she is in and if she would be able to provide and love the child. Whether the mother is in a financially unstable place or in a place to where she believes that she is unable to take care of the baby due to other reasons, such as drugs or alcohol, a mother does know what is best for her child.

It is commonly said that history repeats itself, and it proves to be true. If a teen mom were to have a baby girl, it is more likely that that child will follow in her mother’s footsteps and have a child at a young age. If more women are having babies at a young age, then this adds to the population of children with unsteady homes. When abortion became legal, a majority of those baby girls were never born and therefore the cycle is going to decrease. If the cycle decreases, then so does the percentage of children who were highly likely to become criminals.

After analyzing this chapter and going through all of the data that proves that this theory is legitimate and could potentially be a reason why the crime rates have fallen so quickly, I believe that this could be a factor to the reason. I agree with the fact that a mother knows what is best for her child and if she is in a difficult time in her life then adding a child to her already complicated life would not be the best idea. Abortion is such a sensitive topic that It makes it very difficult to see that it could be a good thing. I dislike the idea of taking a human life in order to save many more, especially when the child has not even been born. I feel as though this study is slightly inaccurate because the child has not been given the chance to prove them wrong. The child has the right to choose if he or she wants to live the criminal lifestyle and could instead be a good citizen who does not follow in his or her parent’s footsteps. Therefore, even with the data proving that this is the reason for the decline in criminal activity, I believe that this theory is not completely correct because one is unable to determine what the unborn would do. Even though the child is highly likely to follow in the footsteps of its parents, he or she could surprise us all and prove that he or she is an innocent adolescent. Also, just because a child grows up in a single parent home does not mean that that child will not be successful. If that child is shown love and is given a sense of purpose, then the child would not necessarily feel the need to lash out and desert to criminal activities.

Naming a child can be very difficult and it is the name that he or she has to live with for the rest of his or her life. The final chapter in this book shares the motives and reasons why a parent provides the names that they give their children. In order to provide statistics, the authors used the California birth records to show how a person’s name is related to how successful he or she is in life. One cycle that one will notice from these birth records is once a high-income name has become popular, people who receive a low-income will start to name their children that same name in hopes that their children will have the same outcome as the higher-income children. An example of this is the name Brittany. Many people believed that this name became popular because of the popstar, but in reality, it was the trendy name at the time because that is what the high-end families were naming their children. The reason for parents duplicating higher-income names is because people like the idea of success, and desire for their adolescents to have the best outcomes as possible.

When one is picking a name, not only if it sounds successful a factor, but also if it is ‘easy to pronounce, pretty, peppy, and suitably flexible’ (Levitt and Dubner 186). The parent of the adolescent could also desire to name the child after a name that sounds smart. The authors prove with data that because Benjamin was first on the high-income that it does not mean that it is the smartest name. The data includes the years of school next to the name and it proves that just because a name is high on the list does not mean it is a smarter name. There are different motives as to why a child is given a certain name besides if it sounds pretty and if it is considered smart. It could be because it was passed down in the family or because that specific name is the trendy name at that time. Wherever or however the name is produced, the parents of the child are providing a statement. In conclusion, the parents desire for their baby to meet their expectations, not societies expectations. This theory states that it is overall just a name and it does not matter as to how successful that the name is on the list, it matters about the people who gave child the name. If they believe that their child will be successful, then odds are they will be successful.

I agree with the authors’ theory because one can clearly see the trend of names throughout the years and that eventually the name will be passed down from those who were more successful to those who were not as successful. I also agree with the concept that parents do not name their children after what society expects from their children, but for how successful they believe their children will be. Even if this is not something that comes to mind while naming the baby, it is still an idea that is almost embedded in the brain. One concept that I disagree with is that a name is just a name and a child can still be successful. If an adolescent is given a name that could potentially be harmful for his or her self-confidence, then how is he or she supposed to believe in him or herself. It definitely helps to have your parents support you in what you do but if one is not confident in oneself, how can one expect to push oneself outside of one’s comfort zone?

Overall, this book had many different theories that opened up my mind to many different concepts and ideas that I would have never of thought to consider. It also allowed me to further my thinking skills and develop an idea on difficult topics and state where I stand on them. Levitt and Dubner showed one major theme in this book, and that was that everyone has incentives and will do what it takes in order to achieve his or her goal. They do this by not just showing data or by telling the readers what the peoples’ incentives are, but by showing them with the stories that are told in each chapter.

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Minimum Wage at McDonalds. (2022, Jan 31). Retrieved July 2, 2022 , from
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