The elite really are different from the rest of us:
(source: THE BELL CURVE AND COGNITIVE ELITES)
The typical elite-school grad has an IQ of around 138. That is around a 1-100 rarity. By comparison, the cutoff for Mensa is 132, which is approx. 1-50 rarity.
As Dr. Peterson says, society is stratified by ‘hierarchies of competence,’ and my take is, this sorting effect is stronger than than ever as of 2009, which is when the economy and stock market began its accent from the ashes and ruin of the 2008 recession, that continues uninterrupted nearly a decade. The people who are making the most money in post-2009 recovery–as manifested by rising stock prices, Web 2.0 valuations, inflation-adjusted wages, and real estate (such as Bay Area real estate)–tend to be at the top of such hierarchies. It’s also a hierarchy stratified by IQ, as IQ is highly correlated with wages, job performance, personal wealth, educational attainment, and other quantifiable markers of individual socioeconomic success.
One could liken society to a ‘revenge of the nerds’ in overdrive. Recent economic and social conditions favor people with nerd-like attributes and mannerisms. Millennials and gen-Z who may have been nerds growing up, are making tons of money and gaining status through social media, writing, coding, and other intellectual endeavors, while those who may have been popular in high school are stuck with low-status, low-paying jobs that don’t keep up with inflation. High-IQ people who earn a lot of money through coding, finance, and other intellectual work, are able to buy a home early in life, accumulating wealth and financial freedom through investing, whereas the less intelligent not only have lower wages but are unable to invest because all of their money goes to rent and other expenses that exceed inflation. This possibly over many generations exacerbates wealth inequality because the wealthy are able to pass on their assets and other investments to their children, whereas the lower classes are stuck in a perpetual rut of never being able to invest and accumulate compounded wealth. The result is a sort of hereditary caste.
The post-2009 bull market in stocks is the longest ever, and same for the post-2009 recovery in the housing market, and it’s not uncommon on popular Reddit subs such as /r/financialindependence/, /r/investing, and /r/personalfinance to read stories of high-IQ 30-somethings who have a home paid for and or a stock account with hundreds of thousands of dollars, all while paying off student loans and earning a solid six-figures in STEM. Others have a lot of rental property and are making a ton of money from both the rent and the appreciation of the homes. That goes against the media narrative of how all young people are poor and indebted…maybe the low-IQ ones are, but many smart millennials are doing very well.
These people in the highest of echelons of this hierarchy are what some call elites. of course, some elites are incompetent (such as in the political sector), but ‘elite’ need not imply a plutocrat-levels of wealth, but anyone in the top 1% or so of wealth and influence. This includes STEM workers, social media inflencers/marketers (such as Tim Ferris), college presidents and deans, high-level professors, editors for large publications, successful authors and publishers, CEOs, high-tech entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, etc., all of whom as a bare necessity have IQs 1-3 standard deviations above average. The reason why high-IQ people make more money is the have important, sought-after skills that only a small percentage of the population is capable of attaining (such as coding or surgery).
A common objection is that not everyone can do manual labor, and therefore manual laborers should be paid more. A distinction should be made between specialized labor and general labor. Elevator repair or die making is specialized. But many low-paying jobs–such as fast-food, mopping floors, and cleaning bathrooms–are not specialized. These are jobs almost anyone can do (or at least with an IQ of 83)–and in spite of the unpleasantness and low wages–there is still a lot of demand for those jobs, and the low pay reflects that. Low skill plus high demand equals low pay. It may not seem fair, but that is how economics works. The purportedly poor working conditions of Amazon warehouses gets a lot of media coverage, and you would think after reading such stories “who in their right mind would ever want to work there,” but demand is huge. A google search reveals that in spite of all the negative press, many people want an Amazon warehouse job. College-educated elites (who write these negative articles about Amazon) have a cognitive blind spot, in that just because they cannot imagine themselves doing such a job, it’s only rational that others share their same view.