This is a little off-topic from our usual discussion of manufacturing excellence, but I just read an excellent book on the bizarre side of economic analysis. Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt, focuses on how economic factors can affect even the most intimate parts of our lives.
Some of the topics analyzed include the organizational structure of drug gangs (surprisingly similar to that of McDonalds), baby-naming patterns, swimming pool safety, and police effectiveness.
Probably his most controversial assertion is that the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion led to the significant reduction in crime rates we’ve seen two decades later. The presumption is that the abortions pre-empted the existence of some people who would have been born into a life of poverty and hardship, which can be the precursor of a life of crime.
Perhaps a stretch, but that along with the other examples really makes you think about the interdependencies within the world we live in. And more importantly, how the decisions we make can create unexpected effects.