Monthly Archives: March 2016

Against the Elite

It should be fairly obvious to readers that I’m not not a populist nor do I have ‘solidarity’ with populist/collectivist causes, whether it be organized religion, organized labor, political parties, or the ‘middle class’. Individualism within a ‘state‘ and enforcement of ‘rule of law’ (the minarchist approach) is my ‘interpretation’ of ‘Reaction’. Yours may differ.

The response by the ‘alt right’ to Kevin Williamson’s ‘mean’ NRO article read like something from Huffingtonpost, Alternet, or MotherJones. There seems to be a common thread among some on the ‘far right’ between post-structuralism and anarcho-primitivism, in rejecting certain aspects of modernity (the cognitive & financial elite and free market capitalism, for example), the result being a sort of anti-establishment liberalism.

Perhaps Kevin raised some valid points about the need for individuals and communities to bear some responsibility for their blighted economic and social conditions. Even if biology (low IQs , high time preference, etc) impairs the ability of some to improve their lives, it doesn’t mean we have to feel sorry for them – or even concern. In much the same way a wildlife photographer doesn’t mourn a cheetah taking down a gazelle, Social Darwinism shouldn’t make us too ill at ease either.

But on the other hand, the importance community and nation cannot be ignored, but I don’t take the noblesse oblige concept as far as he does. Maybe the hierarchy is like this:

Nation > state > community > family > individual

There is probably some optimal balance between individualism and community, as well as how much of a ‘duty’ the well-off have to help the disadvantaged, which I discuss in further detail in Against Intellectualism.

As I explain in Pencil Pushers these cognitive meanies happen to create the jobs that give these mediocre people livable wages, as going out your ‘own’ is not only much harder, but pays less. This is not even econ 101; it’s common sense.

We can offer advice, as Kevin does, and whether they choose to heed it in their hands or genes.

Scott agrees with Free Northerner, writing:

….Second, a bunch of atheist homosexual polyamorous feminist liberals are doing absolutely fine, and in fact statistically these people do better than traditional religious folk in a lot of ways. Northerner’s post solves both of these in one fell swoop: it theorizes that the genetically gifted have low impulsivity, low time-preference, etc and will succeed (almost) no matter what; these people support liberalism because they don’t need traditional morals and feel like such morals are bogging them down. The genetically unlucky are in great danger of social failure, but traditional values and culture are a guide for them to live their lives in ways that nevertheless let them flourish. For example, an upper-class Ivy Leaguer might be able to practice free love and experiment with drugs without serious consequences; a lower-class hillbilly might try exactly the same thing and end up a teenage single mother addicted to meth. Conservative ideas like chastity and avoiding drugs would be useless baggage tying the upper class down, but vital to the lower class’s continued success. This idea is very appealing in tying a lot of conservatives’ favorite hobby-horses together and making liberals look like the privileged bad guys throwing the lower class under the bus for the sake of the well-off, but thus far people have been content to raise it and let it speak for itself; the next step is for somebody to really start presenting evidence for or against….

The myth cosmopolitan elite vs. the poor, uneducated conservative doesn’t necessarily hold up to scrutiny. Its a very enduring narrative – of the obedient poor being exploited by the perfidious elite, popularized by Thomas Frank’s bestselling What’s the Matter With Kansas, a thesis which has received criticism. The relationship between IQ and political preferences are not clear-cut:

It would seem like the most and least educated tend to lean Democratic.

Nature-defying leftists think they can remodel men and make them all into perfect new socialist men. All men are blank slates that can be molded by education to become perfect. Man is perfectable. Of course, every attempt at perfecting man has failed.

Modern conservatives, having whole-heartedly adopted liberalism, fall into the tabula rasa trap from a different angle. All men are capable of perfecting themselves, they just need to become rugged individualists and pull themselves up by their bootstraps. While personal responsibility and individual effort are important, to think that all men are capable of self-actualization in anomic isolation is just as nonsensical the New Soviet Man.

Agree. Both the ‘pull-yourself-up/better families’ and ‘not enough welfare and education sending/too much racism’ explanations fail to take into account human biology and thus are insufficient. We (the general public and politicians) want to believe that society can ‘perfect’ man, to avid having to confront the more unpleasant reality: that maybe some people are ‘born better’ than others, and hence no amount of blame, hope, government spending, or wishful thinking will ameliorate problems that are inherently biological, not political. And those who speak against perfectibility in favor of biology tend to be punished, as in the case of Larry Summers, Tim Hunt, James Watson, and others.

Scott also asks:

… although it has fun using new genetic discoveries to mock socialist concepts of human malleability, a full biodeterminism would equally negate the conservative insistence on instilling traditional values – if things like conscientiousness and criminality are mostly genetic, why care if people have traditional values or not?

HBD-conservatives may argue that although individuals, due to biology, may not have much control over their actions, they should still not be shielded from the consequences of their actions. Second, HBD-based policy can be used to improve society, rather than current environment-based programs that are costly and largely ineffective.

Free Northerner continues:

Finally, just to make it clear, there is nothing shameful about not being an aristocrat or priest or with being a yeoman, peasant, or even a slave. While our modern status structure prizes the priestly class (ie. the educated, the academic, the high-IQ, the journalist, the bureaucrat, etc.) as having status above all, primarily because the priestly class seized the status hierarchy for themselves through their control of modern mass communications, this is a corrupt and degenerate status hierarchy. (The aristocratic class is all but dead). The denigration of the admirable yeoman or peasant and the loss of the status that used to be given granted to an honest blue-collar family-men is an evil corruption.

Anybody, who knows their proper position in the hierarchy and faithfully renders their duties should receive the proper honour and status. Such is right and noble. The priestly class should and will pay dearly for their destruction of the natural status hierarchy.

This is true. There is a lot of degeneracy among the ‘priestly class’. But in any sufficiently advanced society, ‘status’, if it is to mean anything, is not given or bestowed just for existing or being average, it is earned. Otherwise, you just have participation trophies. Hierarchy by definition means some will have more status than others. Honer seems more equitable though, but even still people on the top of the hierarchy will tend to get more honor, too. Equality under the rule of law is the only equality that is, ultimately, noble and just.

Working-class whites (and blacks, and hispanics) are not able to and can not be expected to function in an inhuman, cutthroat, anomic socio-economic system designed by and for upper-middle class WASPS and Jews.

Yet millions of these people do have jobs and have a relatively good standard of living compared to the poor of the rest of the world, thanks to the ‘elite’who create jobs, just to put things in perspective. If you think America is awful (and I agree there is a lot of room for improvement), just read the newspaper of any non-European country and it’s not uncommon to find headlines about people dying in heinous acts of terrorism and other violence – bus bombings, suicide bombings, real rape (not the fake kind), war, etc.

The Daily View: Economics and Finance Edition

Interesting: Yes, the middle class has been disappearing, but they haven’t fallen into the lower class, they’ve risen into the upper class

The middle class is shrinking because they are earning more money, rising to the ‘upper class’.

Disagreement: Is the middle class disappearing into the upper class?

First, $75,000 household income is hardly “upper class.” You can’t even buy a house on that income in many areas.

Second, those “constant dollars” are deflated by CPI or some similar measure, which understate inflation due to flat screens, iPads, and computers getting cheaper while the cost of necessities (housing, food, and energy) increases. I am certain that $75,000 “constant dollars” in 1967 bought a lot more house, food, and gasoline than it buys today.

Andy Grove’s Warning to Silicon Valley:

Lost in the lore is Mr. Grove’s critique of Silicon Valley in an essay he wrote in 2010 in Bloomberg Businessweek. According to Mr. Grove, Silicon Valley was squandering its competitive edge in innovation by failing to propel strong job growth in the United States.

Mr. Grove acknowledged that it was cheaper and thus more profitable for companies to hire workers and build factories in Asia than in the United States. But in his view, those lower Asian costs masked the high price of offshoring as measured by lost jobs and lost expertise. Silicon Valley misjudged the severity of those losses, he wrote, because of a “misplaced faith in the power of start-ups to create U.S. jobs.”

The lump of labor fallacy is a pervasive one.

Despite all the fear and hype over outsourcing, the number of Silicon Valley jobs is close to the 2000 highs:

Silicon Valley job growth has pretty much tracked the rest of the nation, but with a much smaller dip in 2008-09:

Job creation and destruction is an inescapable part of a dynamic economy.

IMHO, the the globalization/outsourcing debate will never be settled. I’ve heard compelling arguments for and against it. Related:

STEM, Immigration, H-1B Visas, and Wages

The Free Trade & Globalization Debate

From Unz: The U.S. economy is in the throes of the lousiest recovery since World War 2.

“As you can see, the revisions generally show a more anemic record of post-recession growth than we thought. From 2011 through last year, the U.S. economy, on average, grew just 2% per year, well below its post-war average of roughly 3% growth.” (The post-recession economy is worse than we thought, Fortune)

A few things to keep in mind. GDP is only part of the economy.

A problem is cherry picking – choosing charts that agree with the hypothesis and ignoring the strong data such as consumer spending, credit conditions, the low unemployment rate (which I know excludes people out of the labor force), profits & earnings, and exports.

Even in the strongest of expansions, there will always be some data that is weak. By some measures such as low inflation and strong profits & earnings, the US economy may be better than it was even in the 80′s and 90′s.

Us GDP growth is back to where is was in the early 90′s and early 2000′s. Not that great, but not recession. And higher than Japan and probably all of Europe.

Given how much larger the US economy is, It don’t see it returning to 40′s or 50′s era growth even under the most optimal conditions. Most of the low hanging fruit has been picked. But also, inflation was much higher in the 40′s and 50′s, so real GDP growth isn’t that much higher, as shown below:

Yes and no. You see, the Fed’s policies HAVE created inflation, just not the kind of inflation that revs up activity. What the Fed has created is asset inflation, soaring stock and bond prices that eventually lead to financial instability and painful periods of adjustment. The S&P has more than doubled since 2009, while the Dow Jones has actually tripled. Stock prices have skyrocketed while Wall Street speculators have made an absolute killing. It’s only working slobs who haven’t benefited from the Fed’s policies because none of the money has trickled down to the real economy where it could do some good. Instead, it’s all locked up in the financial system where its inflated one gigantic bubble after another.

Cry me a river. Ordinary (non-elite) people have stocks, too. Millions of people, in the upper and middle class, have made money through rising stock and home prices. Just another example of a whiny liberal pretending to look out for the ‘best interests’ of mainstreet, but in reality advocating policy that would cause massive wealth destruction that would hurt the most productive of society – business owners, innovators, landlords, etc. I know people who have made hundreds of thousands of dollars – even millions – through stocks and real estate since 2009. These aren’t ‘global elite’ or ‘Wall St. speculators’ but otherwise ordinary upper-middle class professionals who ignored doom and gloom losers like Perter Schiff and David Stockman.

It’s not that uncommon to go on Reddit and see stories of people in their 20′s and 30′s with a home and or a lot of money saved up or invested. In contrast to the 40-50% who pay no income tax and are on benefits, these are productive people who are contributing to the economy. It’s not all doom and gloom. Libs like Sanders want to spread wealth. People such as myself want people to keep what they earn, what is rightfully theirs. That’s why I’ve never really understood the Peter Schiff mentality of pretending to care about ‘main street’ but advocating policy that would wreck havoc for many people. Bernie Sanders wants the same, the difference being destroying wealth through excessive taxation and regulation instead of bad monetary policy.

The PE ratio of the Nasdaq and S&P 500 is around 15-19 (depending on the source) – vs. 30-40 in the highs of 2000 tech bubble, so we’re a long way from that.

It’s not a ‘fed conspiracy’ propping up stock prices – rather it’s record high profits and earnings:

That’s just the reality. The credit for the recovery goes to the indefatigable US and global consumer, productive people, effective fed policy, web 2.0, and innovation, with Obama only coincidentally presiding during this expansion.

The QE-is-propping-up-the-market myth is debunked by the fact that the US stock market ROSE another 30% despite the fed announcing the taper in May 2013. If the economy and stock market were entirely dependent on QE, there would have been a deep recession and bear market, which obviously there wasn’t. QE helped a little, but record earnings from companies like Disney, Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc helped more.

And for confusing cause and effect:

Check out this chart I found at David Stockman’s Contra Corner. It helps to illustrate how stocks are rising, not because of strong fundamentals, but because bigshot CEOs have borrowed heavily from the bond market to buyback their own shares. That’s right, corporate bosses have been piling on the debt to goose their stock prices so they can cream hefty profits in the form of executive compensation. It’s blatant manipulation, but it’s all perfectly legal. Check it out:

This is what’s driving the market higher. Not the fake jobs numbers, not the phony housing rebound, and certainly not confidence in Yellen’s lousy recovery. It’s all based on cheap money, financial engineering, and fraud. That’s today’s stock market in a nutshell.

Buybacks are not the cause of the rally, but merely coinciding.

Not surprisingly, during recession, buybacks fall.

Also:

From the second chart, revenue tends to closely track stock prices, but in 2000 prices got way ahead of revenues, indicating a bubble. Right now, the divergence isn’t nearly as great.

From the first chart, the number of shares outstanding has only fallen 3%, much less than would be expected if buybacks were driving the rally entirely.

And from Yahoo Finance: This $10 trillion stat destroys a popular myth about the stock market

“Similarly, the second chart shows that buybacks as a percentage of total market cap has been around 2% per quarter for the past five years, and this is over a period when the S&P 500 tripled (from 666 to 2020 today), again suggesting that there is not much evidence that buybacks have played any significant role in this rally,” Slok continued.

By my estimate, QE and buybacks may be responsible for about 20% of the bull market. That’s not a trivial amount, but it’s certainly not all of it. But it’s hard to beat the S&P 500. An investment in the S&P 500 made in 2006, despite two lousy presidents in succession and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, is still up 80% after factoring in the dividends. The real gain is about 50-60%.

The market has risen substantially in the two months ending Feb 2016 and has further to go, so I’m glad I ignored the losers who said there would be a crisis. With the exception of 2008 and maybe 2000, these people are almost always wrong.

Related: Evidence That America Is Not In Decline

Against IQ-ism (response to Moldbug post)

Moldgug/Curtis has a new essay Why you should come to LambdaConf anyway

Good essay. Quick and easy to read, which cannot be said for some of the posts on Unqualified Reservations. It almost reads similar to what I wrote 2 days ago, against intellectualism.

No need to try to parse that. All Voegelin is saying is that if you experiment with “thinking from scratch” and the results are positive, you end up living in a different story from everyone else. What I see as reality, you see as a surreal dream world. What you see as reality, I see as a surreal dream world.

This part is especially good and echoes the ethos of ‘rationalism’, as I explain in Intellectual Solvent, Part 2

It is very difficult for high-IQ nerds to realize that a Twitter oligarchy of all the high-IQ nerds is not an effective government, that high-IQ people are not inherently better than low-IQ people, etc, etc. But we’re smart and we could try. The clue is out there, somewhere — maybe even in old books.

But you can fail to believe in HNU, and still not be racist. Why? A much more important reason: being intelligent doesn’t make you a better person.

To be frank, I think it does, if ‘better’ is measured by the ability to acquire skills that society finds economically valuable. Coding jobs pay more than bussing tables. Al else being equal, in an economic sense, the former is ‘better’.

Look at it like this, if IQ were really as meaningless as many wish it were, there would be little to no debate or controversy on the matter, just as there is no debate about the existence or lack thereof of flying toasters in space. But people do get worked-up over it, because this number predicts an awful lot.

Maybe Moldbug trying to recant, or maybe he’s always been kinda ambivalent about IQ.

Our whole society works by picking the kids who do the best on tests, hazing them in high school so they hate jocks and cheerleaders, sending them to college where they learn to be bureaucrats

Colleges, if they aren’t completely watered-down by SJW-nonsense, do more than that – they produce discoveries in literature, physics, math, technology, and so on. Intellectualism , on it’s own or in small clusters, is productive. But maybe when too many high-IQ people congregate they form impersonal, inefficient bureaucracies.

Yes, general intelligence correlates across a wide variety of problem-solving skills. If you have a high SAT score, you are more likely to be a good Go player.

True, and the reality is that the ability to score well on IQ tests (and its proxies like the SAT) is not an isolated skill; studies have shown that high-scorers tend to be more creative as measured by intellectual output as well as other benefits. It’s more than just puzzle-solving ability. The IQ test is one of the great successes of human psychology for its predictive power. While not every genius scorer will be the next Goethe, Kant, or Hegel, his odds are certainty better than someone who only scores 90-110.

Moldbug may be falling for the reductionist ‘we don’t anything about IQ’ trap, when in fact, scientists know quite a bit about genetic properties IQ (pulled from the comments):

Not sure where you’ve been getting your information. The science here is actually pretty clear, though there’s a lot left to learn about the details.

Genetic clustering that matches self-reported race is well-documented. See Risch et al, along with many others. Steve Hsu has a map of human genetic clusters scaled by Fst.

See also Hsu’s paper on the genetic structure of intelligence. As he observes, the trait is highly polygenic (like height), and we simply don’t have samples big enough to tell us much. However, some GWAS hits that look robust have been reported.

Note also that your analysis works just as well for height, skin color (okay, now we can compute the genome->pigment function, but that’s a recent development), skeletal structure, etc.

You’d also find it interesting to try to answer the historical question as to how and why the Western scientific consensus changed from the beliefs of, say, Charles Darwin.

From a recent panel discussion on IQ, here is Steve Hsu talking about how IQ is predictive of success even for very small sample sizes.

Moldbug continues:

It’s true that a high IQ is useful in almost every field, including government. In no field is it sufficient. A much more important qualification is a clue.

For certain fields, it’s more like an insufficient but necessary condition.

Why are sh*t-tier whites voting for Trump, a barbarian who can’t even write a grammatical tweet in fourth-grade English?

It’s hard to sound eloquent with only 140 characters, and Trump is trying to pack as much power into each tweet as possible, at the cost of grammar. It’s a cheap shot and inaccurate. Trump is actually pretty smart and well-informed of the issues.

IQism is the arrogant ideology of a live ruling elite. 50 years ago, the jocks and cheerleaders handed over Detroit to the professors and journalists. How’s that working out for Detroit?

Detroit failed because its economy was dependent on auto manufacturing, most of which went away, and also ‘capital flight’ also hurt. Many reasons.

Just raising this potentially controversial discussion, taking a career risk in the process, is commendable. Academia used to be a forum for ideas, and then political correctness took over, stifling research and discussion on these matters.

The Intellectual Solvent, Part 2

In Solvent, I posit that intellectual similarities are more important than ideological ones. A democrat and republican of equal IQ are more compatible than a conservative of a high IQ and another conservative of a low IQ. Unfortunately, I have no case studies to go by, so it’s mostly a hunch based on some empirical evidence.

Doesn’t the rise of Trump contradict the rise of centrism, a major theme of solvent? No, because centrism also includes the shift of some of the far-left to the middle, as part of the post-2013 SJW backlash.

For example, going through the medium article Trump Supporters Aren’t Stupid, I’m pleasantly surprised by the number of intellectuals on the ‘left’ that are repudiating the immature generalizations and groupthink pandering, even by their ideological cohorts, against Trump. Its intellectually lazy to dismiss your opponents as ‘stupid’, without looking at the big picture. I discuss the rise of Trump, as well as these repudiations, in more detail in In Search of Reset. It pretty much boils down to the fact the people are tired of ‘politics as usual’, and Trump and Sanders, who are opposite sides of the political spectrum, are answering to a shared frustration. And then throw in some populist issues such as immigration and the plight of the ‘working class’.

Notice the phrase ‘shared frustrations’. Free Northerner’s article The High-IQ Homo Economicus about how the ‘cognitive elite’ have created a rigged system against the ‘working poor’, and how ‘high’ and ‘low’ IQ people have different value systems, went viral not just on the ‘alt right’ but was also featured on Slate Star Codex, with commenters who are presumably on the ‘left’ agreeing or empathizing. This is similar to Scott’s How Bad Are Things article going viral and being shared on ‘alt right’ sites and forums. It’s a symbiosis powered by shared narratives. But it’s more than politics: it’s also intellectualism. ‘Free Northerner’ is perceived, rightfully, as being smart, and that allows him to be ingratiated by the opposite ‘tribe’, that also values intellect. The same is also observed with Moldbug, who is has also been ‘ingratiated’ by the ‘rational left’ despite not being a leftist. The common threads are intellect, in rejection of ‘low information’. As an addendum, Moldbug’s Reddit AMA went very well, with all his answers generating a lot of up-votes. People respect Moldbug not because they agree with him, but because he exudes intellectual honesty and authenticity, bridging ideological disagreement.

Rationalism is more empirical or theoretical than ideological, the latter which tends sometimes to be ‘low information’ and emotive. Paul Krugman, despite being a liberal, may be seen as being too beholden to ideology to appeal to the ‘rational left’. This is similar to how the ‘rational right’ tends to reject the ‘low information’ of mainstream conservatism. The ‘rational right’ and the ‘rational left’ agree in rejecting ‘low information’.

‘Low information’ can include things like preaching to the choir, excessive logical fallacies, failure to anticipate the views of your opponent, gross factual inaccuracies, emotiveness, excessive use of anecdotal evidence instead of literature, wishful thinking, pandering, inauthenticity, politically correct and or oversimplified/superficial explanations for complicated problems (reductionism), regurgitation of talking points, pablum, etc. That’s a lot and we’re probably all guilty of it at some point.

Against Intellectualism

I’ve seen this quote passed around a lot:

I’m quite happy to be an anti-intellectual, actually. It is the modern equivalent of anticlericalism, and it is long overdue. One can oppose specific institutions without opposing thought in general. In fact, sometimes, it is even necessary.

It’s hard to believe it came from Moldbug, being the intellectual he is, but it did.

But maybe being an intellectual is not the same as intellectualism. That’s why I coined the term ‘smartistim‘ to describe a society, such as post-2008 America, where intellect plays a pivotal role in things like socioeconomic outcomes and social status, whether we wish it were that way or not.

In the Dawkins Pwned series, what Moldbug meant was that Richard Dawkins is a ‘secular-Christian’, that ‘clericalism’ has less to do with religiosity and more to do with hubris. Indeed, Dawkins has defended Christianity, and rightfully so, as a force against Islamic extremism.

From Moldbug, in the case of Dawkins, instead of Christianity, it’s ‘Einsteinism’ – a secular type of religiosity that has many of the mannerisms as how some perceive fundamental Christianity – provincialism and narrow-mindedness. Here is the pertinent passage from part 2 of Pwned:

With this adaptive taxonomy, atheism, secularism, laicism, etc, appear as extreme variants of pietism. The urge to tear down all ritual, to worship Reason and Man rather than Church and God, to whitewash the frescoes and melt down the candlesticks, is everpresent in pietism. Professor Dawkins’ entire shtick is perfectly consistent with the pietist niche. No wonder it’s so successful.

In other words, atheism shares many of the qualities of the religious fundamentalism it decries. But replace ‘god’ with ‘reason’.

Perhaps intellectualism is perceived by some as illiberal – not conservative, but rather impersonal, Kafkaesque, Draconian, Orwellian, etc. I had my own experience with the impersonal world of academia, trying to submit content on the Arxiv repository to no avail, which I will discuss in a later post. Although this has more to do with bureaucracy than intellect. Less intelligent people, when they try to organize, form mobs. But smarter people tend to form bureaucracies, which is preferable to disorder.

But also, let’s not forget that, historically, oppressive regimes systematically persecuted intellectuals. In any prison, you’re typical prisoner is not like Hannibal Lecter, but instead more likely to reside on the left side of the Bell Curve.

Ultimately, like many aspects of political economy and society, there is a middle ground between intellectualism (which tends to be impersonal, merit-based, individualistic) and collectivism (community, gregariousness, touchy-feeling stuff). Too much of the former results in atomization and hence no civilization; too much of the latter and you have a mountain of skulls.

From Individuaism vs. Thede

This is similar to the divide on the ‘right’ over libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, and neocons, who tend to favor free markets, defense spending, individualism, and autonomy, versus the religious/traditional right, who are more skeptical of free markets and too much individualism, supporting close-knit communities united by tradition, fraternity, and ethnicity. Paleocons and traditionalists argue that unbridled capitalism – especially free markets – subverts tradition and borders, promotes amorality, and hurts native workers. -

And from Family and Individualism

In any society, there is probably an optimal balance between individualism and collectivism. A society that is 100% atomized, by definition, is not a society. But history also shows that total conformity is no better. Those quirky people on the right side of the Bell Curve, with their idiosyncrasies, are needed for society to advance technologically, while everyone else goes about tending to civilization. If you go through Charles Murray’s database of human accomplishments, you’ll find virtually all accomplishments were made by smart people. Liberals value social justice and equality over quantifiable results. The left wants America to be a nation of takers, not creators.

And again from Moldbug, in a recent Reddit AMA discusses the inequity of biology, which includes intelligence:

It’s hard, especially for smart people, to give up the idea that smart people are better than stupid people. The ancient Greeks lent similar prestige to athletics; they believed a fast runner was spiritually better than a slow runner. They fought a lot of wars, so athletics mattered a lot to them; we write a lot of code, so problem-solving ability matters a lot to us. But one is a muscular talent, the other is a neurological talent. Neither has any mystical significance.

For better or worse, it’s this type of absolutist thinking that makes ordinary people, as well as other intellectuals, resent intellectualism. But Moldbug is right about smarter people being ‘better‘, as I have discussed numerous times on this blog. The fact that some people, upon conception, are ‘better’ than others, not surprisingly, makes many people uncomfortable because we’ve been brought up by culture to believe in the false god of egalitarianism and equality. The truth hurts.

We owe our technology to smart people; mediocre people owe their jobs to smart people, who create the jobs that employ them (these mediocre people).

From Brookings Make elites compete: Why the 1% earn so much and what to do about it:

In his “defense of the one percent,” economist Greg Mankiw argues that elite earnings are based on their higher levels of IQ, skills, and valuable contributions to the economy. The globally-integrated, technologically-powered economy has shifted so that very highly-talented people can generate very high incomes.

When someone like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg (ignoring their politics for a minute), who are members of the cognitive ‘elite’, create companies, they boost standards of living through the technology, and create thousands, even millions of jobs indirectly, in the process.

Once you stop believing in the mystical importance of intelligence, I think it’s very easy to accept that it’s unequally distributed (as athletic talent certainly is). I understand that this is very hard for our society, and especially for people like me who grew up believing that good grades were holy and professors were gods.

Right again. Moldbug mentions athleticism as an example of obvious biological inequality, but based on my own observations (and probably his own, too), people don’t get worked up over that, but people do get worked up over IQ. The declarative statement ‘blacks are better at jumping’ is not nearly as controversial as ‘blacks score lower on IQ tests, and thus may be less intelligent’. So why is this? Probably because of the increasing premium modern society places on intelligence, whereby IQ is a measure of personal worth in an economy that is becoming increasingly automated, which from a Social Darwinist standpoint favors smarter people, whereas a century ago, well-before the information revolution, things were reversed and a greater premium was placed on physical strength. It’s intelligence more so than athleticism which makes us ‘human’, and for someone – or some group – to to be less intelligent is to be ‘less human’, less sentient. Nowadays, people who can code are ‘wired for success‘, whereas 300 years ago those who could work for eight hours in the sun without passing out from exhaustion tending to crops, were at an advantage.

Mysticism, wishful thinking, and fairy tales are unhelpful rather than just the truth. But some of the ‘mysticism’ arises not from the properties of IQ or the biology of intelligence, but how smarter people may be more valued in a post-labor society, and how the social implications of IQ may be unsettling to some people.

What I learned in an American high school was that intelligence does not make me special or better. I agree that if I thought smarter people were better people, given the fact that no magic process has distributed the smarts equally, I would be a racist in the classic sense. (I also don’t agree that the talent to be a master, or the talent to be a slave, makes a person better or worse.)

High school, fortunately, is only four years of life, and many smart people tend to thrive afterwards, in college, or in technical jobs, or entrepreneurship. Although the data shows that smarter people tend to earn more money and are also more successful in terms of creative output, this may not bring happiness if their close environment doesn’t appreciate their talents, as in the case of high school.

All Roads Lead To What We Have Now

From Streetwise Professor: The Last Shriek in the Retreat: Neocons Threaten to Leave the Republican Party

Since 2008 or so, neoconservatism has become the whipping boy or black sheep of politics, blamed by liberals and conservatives alike for all sorts of problems – recession & banking crisis, war in Iraq quagmire, the deficit, and much more. Nevermind that ‘fair housing’ doctrines under various democratic administrations planted the seeds of the financial problem.

I confess: I’m sympathetic to neoconservatism, mainly because it’s among the most logically consistent of the major ideologies, striking a good equilibrium between freedom and government, by balancing government with individualism, national defense, and property rights. Neoconservatives are also pragmatic and consequentialist to a fault, which is why some neoconservative polices (such as Bush’s deficit spending or the bank bailouts) may run afoul of conservative orthodoxy. Many conservatives, if pressed, hold views that are not too dissimilar from neoconservatism, save for one or two issues.

Free market capitalism? yes (a much better alternative to state-planned economies) [1]

Police and military against threats domestic and abroad? yes

Property rights? yes

‘Rule of law’ and ‘order’? yes

Entitlement spending reform, low taxes, and less regulation? Yes, yes, and yes

Although I support low taxes, I’m skeptical about certain aspects of supply-side. With the exception outliers like Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Bill gates, who created entire new categories and industries, demand typically creates the supply, not the the way around. As any entrepreneur knows, when widgets are on the shelf unsold, producing more widgets will not get any of them sold. Lowering taxes creates demand which is used to buy excess inventory.

(some) Traditional values? Yes, although neoconservatives are bending on issues such as the legalization of marijuana and gay marriage

The differences arise over interventionism and deficit spending, which traditional conservatives tend to vigorously oppose. There is also some overlap with civil libertarians in opposing ‘surveillance’ measures, although traditional conservatives support border and immigration controls more so than neoconservatives and libertarians. Part of the problems is this mistaken belief by by the ‘anti-surveillance’ crowd that terrorists have yet to evolve beyond snail mail for communication, supporting strong borders but opposing any form of surveillance of electronic communication. Border control in conjunction with some surveillance is optimal; one without other is a porous defense system.

Although nation building ‘worked’ for Japan and Germany, it failed in the Middle East. This is a major reason why the legacy of George W. Bush is blemished.

Many on the neocon right are ‘partial libertarians’ – some ‘state’ to hold everything together and enforce laws, defense, and the border, but otherwise low regulation, low taxes, free markets and personal autonomy. Paleocons and traditionalists tend to be skeptical of free markets, arguing that they subvert ethno-nationalist tradition, promote amorality, and hurt native workers.

We have individualism and meritocracy within a caste (economic, IQ, etc), with ‘rule of law’, property rights, and free markets. The cruel twist of fate is that all roads lead what we have now as being the best of all alternatives. What I mean is that is we start with a prototype ‘government’ that is supposed to be different as Moldbug an others have done, but after making modifications, eventually, given enough time (sorta like a cellular automaton), we end up where we are now, albeit with some small gradations that may be hard to define. [2] As the questionnaire above shows, you start with some fundamental assumptions (property rights, law & order, autonomy, etc) and you get something resembling neoconservatism or neoliberalism, even if you don’t call it that. The EU leans more neoliberal; America more neoconservative.

Many criticisms against neoconservatism are wrong or out-dated (inapplicable).

Why? Well, precisely because neoconservatives are antithetical to the classical liberal, small government, and libertarian types who are also called “conservative” in the American political lexicon.

But neocons have never billed themselves as a ‘small government party’. ‘Small government’ is not the solution; better policy is. Large, global threats, for example, like Islamic terrorism, require large, coordinated counter-responses. WW2 is another example. After getting bombed, the USA was finally forced to get involved, requiring a substantial counter strike that a tiny government would likely not have been able to provide. On the other hand, many programs are waste and should be reduced or eliminated, examples being the dept. of education and the EPA.

Entitlement and healthcare spending is out of control, and neoconservatives are aware of this problem. Neoconservatives tend to advocate incrementalist approaches, except for crisis, in which case they support strong, coordinated responses.

Neoconservatives are anti-individualist, and statist. Neoconservatives owe a considerable part of their philosophical foundation to Leo Strauss. Following Strauss, neoconservatives are hostile to individualism, and the natural rights of individuals. Individuals pursuing happiness are merely egotists, and lack virtue. Achieving virtue requires collective projects, carried out through the state, and guided by an elite.

Hmm…not so sure about this. Neoconservatives, perhaps surprisingly to some, are individualistic, with George W. Bush himself coining the term ‘ownership society‘, albeit a lot of this ‘ownership’ was built on a sandbar of bad mortgages. It’s welfare liberals who are collectivist, wanting to overtax the most productive of society to be spread to the least, with state-mandated healthcare (Obamacare) that require the able-bodied to pay in the form of higher premiums for those who would be rejected due to pre-existing conditions.

However, there is some grey area regarding individualism and externalities. Consider the obesity epidemic. Libertarians and conservatives may argue that lifestyle choices are a personal matter, but then you have the economic externaltities that arise from the healthcare burden obese people impose on society.

Neocons are elitist and anti-populist. Again reflecting their Straussian roots, neocons believe that a robust state pursuing grandiose national projects can only be led by an elite. The people are too fickle, too ignorant, and too self-regarding to be trusted to carry out great schemes. But to implement their agenda in a democratic system, neocons have to manipulate public opinion, in part by telling different “truths” to different groups.

It should be. There is a hierarchy (culturally, biologically, economically, etc …plus the concept of individualism within castes stratified by biology and social status), and as Bryan Caplan has shown, the masses are too ignorant on the issues to have a role in deciding policy. Neocons are aware of this, and being pragmatic they know that policy that may be unpopular with the masses may be necessary nonetheless.

From Max Weber on Rationalisation:

In a dystopian critique of rationalisation, Weber notes that modern society is a product of an individualistic drive of the Reformation, yet at the same time, the society created in this process is less and less welcoming of individualism.[4]

Features of rationalisation include increasing knowledge, growing impersonality and enhanced control of social and material life.[4] Weber was ambivalent towards rationalisation; while admitting it was responsible for many advances, in particular, freeing humans from traditional, restrictive and illogical social guidelines, he also criticised it for dehumanising individuals as “cogs in the machine” and curtailing their freedom, trapping them in the bureaucratic iron cage of rationality and bureaucracy.

Economically, society prizes individualism, and this leads to advances in technology, but success is determined in large part by biology, which means that individuals, whether they wish to or not, must fall into a cognitive ‘caste’, with smarter people having the potential to advance more so than less intelligent ones. This contradiction is why we have a meritocracy that many don’t understand, with free will juxtaposed with cognitive castes. This is similar to compatibilism, to reconcile this apparent logical inconsistency.

Robert Lindsay disagrees:

More nonsense, and I actually feel like banning you. I know quite a few people with IQ’s from 130-150 who make low to average incomes (max $40K) but most make $12-18K. I know many high IQ people who have never made much money in life. It’s a complete lie that high IQ people can automatically make bank, what a stupid joke that is.

We’re talking about the average, not individual cases, which shows that , overall, smarter people earn more. Maybe there is a point of diminishing returns, but the correlation between IQ and income still holds at least to an IQ of 120-140, and many millionaires and billionaires (especially in technology) have even higher IQs.

It’s not the tyranny as in a despot or a bureaucracy, but rather competition and biological limitations. That could explain why happiness surveys show no improvements despite rising living standards.

And finally to wrap this up this already lengthy post:

The neoconservative movement was begun by an assortment of leftists whose political home was the Democratic Party. They ranged from dyed-in-the-wool Trostskyists (or is it Trotskyites?) to New Deal Democrats. The rise of the New Left in the 1960s and 1970s left the soon-to-be-neocons marginalized within the Democratic Party, and they decamped to the Republican Party. Now that they are being marginalized in the Republican Party (such as it is) by a populist uprising, so they are looking to return to their old political home. Not that they will fit in comfortably there, either.

Due to progressive liberalism, after a couple generations, these labels become almost meaningless. Neocons, in their zeal of property rights and ‘rule of law’, are the antithesis of revolutionist, proletarian-minded Trotskyites. Just as pre-Nixon democrats bear no resemblance to post-Clinton democrats, Neocons bear no resemblance to New Deal Democrats.

[1] This invokes the ‘excluded middle’ fallacy : either you have free markets or socialism/communism, ignoring alternatives. As in the case of Venezuela, Communist Russia, and other examples, Anti-Marketism tends result in significant problems – poverty, economic malaise, and possible revolt. Generally, as a simple economic model, you have what is called the Production Possibility Frontier, which gives the optimal production between two choices. In the example of Mao’s Great Leap Forward, in rejecting pareto optimality, resulted in the excess production of substandard steel at the cost of harvest sizes, resulting in famine.

[2] One problem is that NRx, as of late, has almost become too philosophical and or abstract, resisting definition or reification.

From the Reddit Dark Enlightenment sub sidebar, I find myself agreeing with:

Hierarchies are a natural consequence of innate differences and are necessary for societies to function. Stratified outcomes alone are not enough to prove discrimination or a failure of “social justice”. There is no “social justice,” only traditional justice.

Neoreactionaries acknowledge the legitimate flaws inherent to Democracies and are “predisposed, in any case, to perceive the politically awakened masses as a howling irrational mob, it conceives the dynamics of democratization as fundamentally degenerative: systematically consolidating and exacerbating private vices, resentments, and deficiencies until they reach the level of collective criminality and comprehensive social corruption.”

But I don’t think I’m ‘reactionary enough’.

The Fate of Gawker – What Happens Next

Despite all the media attention, there is dearth of professional legal opinions as to the fate of Gawker in light of losing the Florida jury trial, as well as Hogan being awarded an additional $25 million in punitive damages, for a total $140 million against Gawker.

Although I’m not a lawyer, I will try my best to assess the situation.

First, the facts: Gawker earns about $40 million a year, of which $6 million is profit, making it a successful business. As of 2014, Gawker’s valuation is estimated between $200-300 million.

From Aaron Clarey of Captain Capitalism: Gawker’s Financial Statements

Mathematically, yes. Gawker will go away. With revenues of $45 million and a a lawsuit, even when paired down, will wipe them out financially, you can safely say Gawker will die as a financially solvent entity. But there are some problems, and this introduces the world of finance.

However, it may be too soon to celebrate. Although Hogan won the jury trial (which Gawker anticipated it would lose), the case will likely be appealed which may rule rule that Gawker is protected under the First Amendment, being that Hogan is a public figure who has also made his personal life public in the past. Hogan starring in his own racy reality TV show doesn’t help his cause.

From Nick Denton himself, The Hogan Verdict:

A state appeals court and a federal judge have already held repeatedly that the 2012 commentary and short video excerpt, which joined an existing conversation and explored the public’s fascination with celebrity sex tapes, were newsworthy. We have had our day in trial court, and we lost. We will have our day back in appeals court, and we will be vindicated.

From the Bloomberg article:

In the meantime, lower courts apply principles derived from the justices’ opinions in related areas. One is that debate on public issues should be uninhibited. A second, closely linked, is that public figures sacrifice a good deal of their privacy when they when they enter the public sphere. Both can be traced back to New York Times v. Sullivan, the 1964 landmark case in which the court said public officials could only collect damages for libel if the statements against them were made with knowing or reckless disregard for their falsehood.

Taken together, these principles clearly indicate that newsworthy speech about a public figure merits full First Amendment protection. And, unfortunate though it may be, Hulk Hogan is a public figure and his sex life is newsworthy.

A distinction must be made between Trial Courts and Appellate/appeals Courts. Gawker lost the jury trial, but the state appeals court does not involve a jury.

Consider the infamous Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants, in which the jury originally awarded Liebeck $3 million (mostly punitive damages), but was eventually reduced to just $600,000 after arbitration.

A twelve-person jury reached its verdict on August 18, 1994.[16] Applying the principles of comparative negligence, the jury found that McDonald’s was 80% responsible for the incident and Liebeck was 20% at fault. Though there was a warning on the coffee cup, the jury decided that the warning was neither large enough nor sufficient. They awarded Liebeck US$200,000 in compensatory damages, which was then reduced by 20% to $160,000. In addition, they awarded her $2.7 million in punitive damages. The jurors apparently arrived at this figure from Morgan’s suggestion to penalize McDonald’s for one or two days’ worth of coffee revenues, which were about $1.35 million per day.[2] The judge reduced punitive damages to $480,000, three times the compensatory amount, for a total of $640,000. The decision was appealed by both McDonald’s and Liebeck in December 1994, but the parties settled out of court for an undisclosed amount less than $600,000.[18]

In light of the very real possibility of losing in the appeals court, it’s likely there will be a settlement that will result a much small payout – maybe only, say, $15 million, which will be low enough for Gawker to continue its operations mostly unharmed. Or as in the case of Liebeck , the judge will reduce the damages.

Should Gawker be forced to pay a much larger sum – $50-140 million – it may still be able to continue, mainly by making it nearly impossible for the plaintiff to collect. As any attorney will attest to, wining a lawsuit is just half the battle – collecting is just as hard, if not harder. Gawker may immediately file bankruptcy, delaying the collection process (automatic stay) and allowing the site to continue as if nothing happened. A trustee will be appointed to oversee the process of liquidation, which will take years to complete – if it ever does.

Using its profitability and valuation as collateral, Gawker may also take out a loan to pay the judgment in small installments – sorta like the conservatorship Fannie and Freddie are in, which allows the business to function but forfeits its profit. The terms of this loan would probably be unfavorable given Gawker’s small size and presumably low credit worthiness.

Although Gawker does have insurance, the cap is likely already exceeded. From the Atlantic: In First Round With Gawker, Hulk Hogan Prevails

. The New York Times reported last year that the site had to pay its legal fees in the Hogan case out of hand after exceeding its insurance cap. Denton also told the Times that there was a one-in-ten chance he would have to sell a controlling interest to keep the company solvent.

The full verdict will exceed the insurance cpa, in which Gawker may sue its insurance company Nautilus, creating more complications.

From the NYT: Jury Tacks On $25 Million to Gawker’s Bill in Hulk Hogan Case

The England-born, Oxford-educated Mr. Denton is well off, with most of his $121 million net worth held as stock in Gawker’s parent company, the Gawker Media Group, which runs multiple websites. The company is worth $276 million, the judge said, with revenue last year of $49 million.

Mr. Denton’s personal wealth includes $3.6 million in equity in a New York City condominium.

Under an unfavorable revolving credit facility, Denton’s equity in Gawker media may be destroyed or reduced substantially, although Gawker will still function. The fact Gawker is profitable should help it secure financing. This is similar to the fate of the currency broker FXCM, which sustained a very large one-time loss of $225 million on short positions against the Swiss Francs after the currency peg was rescinded and the broker was bailed out by Leucadia National Corp at a cost of 90% of FXCM’s equity.

If Gawker is sold, the bankruptcy trustee or the creditor will get the proceeds, with whatever is leftover going to shareholders.

So I doubt Gawker will go away even if they lose the full verdict, although Mr Denton may be much poorer due to loss of equity.

NRx vs. HRx

Been meaning to post this for awhile.

HRx Takes Its Exit

It speaks volumes that Land, the defacto leader of tech-com, chooses to reside in the autocratic PRC even though he hails Capitalism as saviour,

Not sure why some think Land supports ‘tech com’, just because he occasionally links to technology and science articles? He advocates collapse and reset, which would be very detrimental to the progress of technology and capitalism. Don’t really see this ‘HRx’ thing catching on either. NRx is already small enough that it doesn’t need to be further partitioned.

The pertinent question is, how much control should the ‘state’ have over commerce? For Libertarians and anarcho-capitalists, it’s very little. For traditionalists, it probably much more. Also, how much intervention (bank bailouts, crony capitalism, technology funding, etc)? It doesn’t have to be black or white (anarcho-capitalism or statism). For example, I support free markets with some intervention, from a consequentialist perspective, as a way of optimally allocating resources, which is similar to the system we have now.

Perhaps, HRx (and most NRx) is about the ‘Great Man theory‘, as exemplified by the excitement over Trump. But others are more incredulous . Government ‘waste’ and inefficiently is in and of itself a byproduct of politics and won’t be fixed by more politics. Also, man is fallible, prone to biases and irrationality, versus algorithms. Although if algorithms are created by man, wouldn’t that make algorithms fallible too?

i guess it was inevitable that the trichotomy would become a dichotomy. and a fairly stale one at that.
(and it should surprise no one that things split along precisely these lines — even marxism has been perpetually divided down the middle between “anti-humanists” and romantic anti-capitalists (cf., althusser v. thompson)).
[reply]

Yup, the trichotomy has become a dichotomy, as I wrote back in 2015. The establishment of the Hestia Society in early 2015 seems to have put the kibosh on the techno-faction. But also geopolitical events are playing a role, too, such as Trump, immigration, rape-fugees, and Islamic terrorism in France and California, putting race and nationalism on the forefront and pushing capitalism and commercialism to the periphery, whereas in 2013-2014 NRx was more focused on techno-monarchist secession, not immigration and nationalism. In fact, many of the earliest NRx thinkers were involved in the Silicon Valley techno-subculture, and since immigration plays an important role Silicon Valley tech economy, it’s expected that as the tides turn against immigration, techno-commercialism fall out of favor. Maybe the ‘old’ NRx was too self-centered, too enamored with technology and wealth and not about community.

I also don’t understand how techno-commercialism is compatible with ‘collapse’ and eschatological variants of NRx. Collapse would slow the progress of technology. It’s my understanding that techno-commercialists are more optimistic about technology, with the possibility of succession or a technocracy to replace our current inefficient system of government.

Maybe the breakkdwn is as follows:

HRx – heroic reaction

TRx = techno/commercialism reaction

ERx = esoteric/philosophical reaction (less about policy and bread n’ butter issues and more about the philosophical elements of ‘power’ ‘sovereignty’ ‘order’ etc)

NRx = elements of all of the above

Explaining America’s Economic and Social Stability

Fred Reed ponders the ‘endgame ‘ for America.

Things do not look good. The country is disintegrating. The borders are open, against the will of much of the population. Our universities are in sharp decline, the students a rebellious unschooled rabble portending a peasant future. The economy gutters and standards of living fall. Jobs are few and becoming fewer. Racial animosity is high and rising, with blacks out of control and looting at will.

It is hard to see how this can continue without Something Happening. Yet no sign exists that the tide will abate—that standards and discipline will be reimiposed in academe, that grade schools will cease being indoctrination camps, that immigration will be stopped, that blacks will become calm and content, that some new form of economic order will halt the slide into semi-impoverishment.

He mentions moral decay, economic malaise, and civil unrest as reasons for some sort of cataclysmic change.

I tend to resist doom and gloom predictions about the United States because the economic data doesn’t support it and such predictions have a long track record of being wrong. The ‘something happening’ will likely only be a continuation of the the way things are, but more so. The best prediction of tomorrow or next week is today or last week.

The universities, despite the media attention they get, are only a small part of the US economy, which is mostly consumer and intellectual-property driven. If people keep buying stuff, exporters keep exporting, and high-IQ people keep innovating and creating companies, the economy will likely keep chugging along in spite of the moral decay, as I’ve written about here. Or at least that’s the way it’s been for the past 200 or so years of American history. In the 60′s you had the Vietnam protests and Nixon’s ‘silent majority’ against social changes, yet the economy and stock market not only preserved, it boomed. Racial strife goes back to the inception of the United States – it’s nothing new and it’s not going to improve. That’s not to say I condone this social change, but it’s not going to influence my economic or investing outlooks.

As others have mentioned, the labor market will continue to change, with more ‘gig’ jobs and fewer salaried ones. Technology will make certain things cheaper (food, clothes, electronics), but some services may still remain expensive (college, healthcare, rent, insurance, daycare, phone bill).

Somewhat counter-intuitively, America’s diversity and geographic size may be behind its long-term resiliency, as other countries have suffered from upheaval, civil war, and revolution. It’s this apparent ‘disorder’ and heterogeneity that engenders stability whereas homogeneity may give rise to either nationalism or mutiny. Similar to how prisons try to separate groups to prevent communication and hence upheaval, this system works on a greater scale in America, but automatically. Revolution is more likely when everyone has the same language, same shared interests and is crowded, than if everyone is different and spaced far apart. Geographically, America is a huge country with stark cultural differences between various regions that are spaced thousands of miles apart. Manhattanites and Deep-Southerners for example diametric opposites.

The success of capitalism, markets, and trade is also a major reason for America’s stability, providing enough for everyone of all socioeconomic levels, whereas countries that fail to provide these bare minimums tend to fall under disarray. Also, the reserve currency status of the US dollar allows cheap borrowing to fund social programs to help the underclass, paid for by bond holders.

Related: The Second ‘Great Experiment

Abortion and Crime Revisited

The left wishes this weren’t so: Abortion: History’s Greatest Crime Fighting Tool

Still not convinced? Don’t worry. There is more. The states with the highest abortion rates in the 1970s saw the greatest decline in crime in the 1990s, while states with low abortion rates experienced smaller crime drops. Furthermore, studies of Canada, Romania, and Australia have also proved a similar link between abortion and crime. In 1966, when Romania outlawed abortion and enforced the ban with “menstrual” police, the crime rate nearly doubled in the upcoming twenty-five years.

The left wants to believe (like Gladwell) that non-biological factors such as more government funding and civil rights caused the post-1990 decline in crime. As subscribers of the ‘blank slate’ view of humanity, the welfare left categorically rejects the idea that some people, perhaps more so than others, are predisposed to crime. The left wants to believe that it’s white people who are ‘keeping the disadvantaged down’, not maladaptive genes.

On the other hand, it’s possible that the the reduction of crime and the legalization of abortion is merely coincidental or one of many factors.

As expected, there was a backlash to the findings of Levitt and Donohue:

That such an idea, put like this, would raise the hackles of an extraordinary range of people should have surprised no one. Levitt and Donohue had stepped into the vicious ethical and political minefield of the American abortion debate–as well as the treacherous terrain of race politics, since African Americans have abortions at a higher rate than whites. But the authors, economists rather than ethicists, were unprepared for the response and initially seemed almost too stunned to prepare counterarguments. “What’s odd about our study,” Levitt now reflects as he prepares for publication of the work and, presumably, renewed assaults on its authors, “is it manages to offend just about everybody. [But] our worldview is an economic worldview–that people respond to incentives. I view it as being apolitical.”

Of course, if the implication were that aborting rich white and Asian babies reduced crime, I guarantee not a peep of outrage from the left over these studies. The left supports abortion not to make the world a better place by reducing crime and entitlement spending, but as a form of ‘female empowerment’.

Liberals, who are ‘pro choice’, took offense, mainly because they believe in ‘reverse-Darwinism’: ‘life’ for the least fittest and ‘choice’ for the most ‘fit’:

“We’ve been stunned by the angry response, particularly from the left,” Levitt said Monday. “Our intention was solely to understand this puzzling drop in crime, and it was really only after we’d begun working on the paper that these other politicized issues came to the forefront. This isn’t a paper about class or race. This is a paper about being unwanted.”

Source: Crime-Abortion Study Draws Criticism

And from Liberalism and the Perfectibility of Man:

The belief in perfectibility of man motivates liberals to support useless social programs that run headlong into the limitations imposed by biology. Similarly, this ties into the delusion that practice can make can make an imperfect man perfect (the 10,000 hour rule). It would seem antithetical to rationality to believe this superstition.

Instead of HBD-based solutions that are cheaper and more effective, the left would rather fritter taxpayer dollars on social programs that are less effective, in their futile quest to ‘perfect’ man.

But the in this write-up, the ‘right’ will not spared, either. Too many conservatives are caught up in the fuzzy, ambiguous concept off the ‘sanctity of life‘, ignoring that the death penalty and war contradict this supposed sanctity. I don’t necessarily oppose war or the death penalty, but let’s be logically consistent. The common argument is that the death penalty targets guilty people whereas abortion doesn’t. But then you invoke the utilitarian/consequentialist argument that sending innocent, young men off to war for a ‘greater good’ (peace, stability, etc) is a worthwhile trade-off. Logical consistency is more important than unwavering allegiance to a specific political party or sparing feelings.

Birth control would be ideal, but abortion, as disgusting as it is, can reduce problems such as suffering, entitlement spending, crime, and healthcare costs, maybe it’s time to get over the beleif that all life is sacred. Some say it’s ‘liberal Sanger eugenics’ but libs of today want nothing to do with HBD unless it’s homosexuality, which the left insists it’s biological, but much less so for education, socioeconomic outcomes or crime, all which are environmental and must be solved with ineffective social programs at great cost to taxpayers.

Conservatives preach the virtues of ‘strong families’ and ‘community’ as a solution to social problems and underachievement; however, dysfunctional families and bad communities are byproducts of bad genetics, with poverty and dysfunction having a hereditary component.

If environment does play some sort of role in crime and poverty, it’s reasonable to assume that abortion and birth control for at-risk populations could reduce these problems.

Another problem are people who are a drain on the system in terms of medical expenses, costing more in care than they return in economic value. The abortion plan and other posts address this problem, arguing that medical care, like any public good, is a finite resource and hence, from a utilitarian-standpoint, should be allocated optimally, which is also why euthanasia could also be advocated as a way of reducing medical costs, which are already spiraling out of control primarily due to ‘end of life’ care as well as costly treatments for rare diseases.

If scientists can locate genes that produce offspring that are at heightened risk of crime [1], low IQs , and welfare dependence, would it not be prudent from a fiscally conservative standpoint (and from a conservative tough-on-crime standpoint) to encourage or even mandate abstinence as a prophylactic? A right-wing argument can be made for birth control including even sterilization to control entitlement spending and crime. The social benefit to reduced crime as a result of abortion may be on the order of $30 billion annually. Likewise, if prenatal screening finds markers for high-IQ, abortion should be proscribed, even for at-risk households.

To those who argue that the abortion-crime link has been debunked, not so fast: A Formal Response to the Foote and Goetz Criticism of the Abortion Paper. Even if the the link between abortion and crime isn’t airtight, that doesn’t prove a biological link wont be found in the future.

[1] In addition to the elevated risk of crime from at-risk households, there are genetic markers for crime, as shown here, here, and here.