Lead, crime, science, and policy

Kevin Drum responds to comments: the evidence is solid, but we need more science and a real benefit-cost analysis.

Kevin Drum, whose article in the current Mother Jones seems to have put lead back on the policy agenda, responds to comments. Short version: the evidence is solid, but yes, we need more science and a real benefit-cost analysis. (I’m pretty sure that a thorough analysis would show huge net benefits, but that analysis hasn’t been done yet.)

Kevin, having done much more work on the issue than the typical advocate, is much less dogmatic about his conclusions. Too bad cloning is illegal: with about a dozen Kevin Drums, we could move this country forward.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

6 thoughts on “Lead, crime, science, and policy”

  1. I find the argument pretty convincing.

    It may just be weak google-fu on my part, but I had a hard time finding any charities that work on lead abatement. If you know of any, would you post links? Thanks.

    1. Oh, and I’m hoping specifically for a focus on soils, rather than lead paint, though I’ll settle for paint. 🙂

  2. Several of Kevin’s posts through the years should be near the top of a “Blog Gems” site. He’s a great thinker, and one of our top explainers. Maybe the clearest explainer we’ve got.

  3. I agree about Kevin Drum. He’s great about doing the work, but then saying clearly “This is just preliminary. I’m not the real expert here. Others can, and hopefully will, shine more light than I can as a blogger for Mother Jones. But these may be thoughts to consider.”

  4. with about a dozen Kevin Drums, we could move this country forward.

    Yes. This.

    A nation with a dozen Kevin Drums would have something to be proud of.

  5. Here’s a suggestion: if we’re going to do some high-quality studies, some of them should be prospective analyses of large-scale remediation. It’s going to take long enough to get this kind of stuff in motion, but if you had a few medium-size cities showing results after 5 years or so the impetus could be much stronger.

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