With few exceptions, risk-taking, being smart, hard-work, and creativity is a path to prosperity in today’s super-competitive economy and unbridled plutolatry, more so than any prior decade. Stocks will keep going up and people will keep getting richer than ever even if many, on a personal level, are unable to participate in the economic recovery. There are record valuations for 2-3 year old tech companies, record high S&P 500, and record foodstamp rolls.
The question that inevitably arises when discussing the trend low labor force participation and the welfare of our economy ,is what fate will befall the millions that are permanently left behind, unable to thrive in the smartist era? But perhaps a more pragmatic question is, what should we do to solve the underlying problem, besides to keep throwing money at it? There exist substantial welfare programs for these underachievers in the form of medicare, free emergency room treatment, social security, disability and food stamps – to name a few, but is it fair to foist upon the productive members of society the burden of those who don’t contribute, especially as entitlement spending is obviously out of control? At some point, enough is enough.
To account for population growth, we see the proportion of citizens on benefits is rising:
By 2050, U.S. population is expected to swell to 500 million. Extrapolating future trends from the past, that could mean 200-300 million Americans will be on some sort of federal welfare, possibly more as jobs become increasingly technical and ordinary Americans are unable to meet the cognitive demands of employment.
The typical liberal solution is to enlarge the welfare state. Other solutions include more spending on education and job training, but then we run into the IQ gap; as technology keeps advancing and lower-skilled work becomes automated, the minium intelligence required to perform entry level work will keep rising.
There’s a positive correlation between SAT and IQ scores and income; thus, differences in economic outcomes can be attributable to IQ, which numerous studies suggest is herretible. From Wikipedia:
Various studies have found the heritability of IQ to be between 0.7 and 0.8 in adults and 0.45 in childhood in the United States. It may seem reasonable to expect that genetic influences on traits like IQ should become less important as one gains experiences with age. However, that the opposite occurs is well documented. Heritability measures in infancy are as low as 0.2, around 0.4 in middle childhood, and as high as 0.8 in adulthood. One proposed explanation is that people with different genes tend to seek out different environments that reinforce the effects of those genes.
A 1994 review in Behavior Genetics based on identical/fraternal twin studies found that heritability is as high as 0.80 in general cognitive ability but it also varies based on the trait, with .60 for verbal tests, .50 for spatial and speed-of-processing tests, and only .40 for memory tests.
In 2006, The New York Times Magazine listed about three quarters as a figure held by the majority of studies, while a 2004 meta-analysis of reports in Current Directions in Psychological Science gave an overall estimate of around .85 for 18-year-olds and older.
The liberal approach of throwing money at the problem is wrong for a couple reason: it doesn’t address the growing population of welfare recipients; in fact, it encourages more people to go on welfare; secondly, it fails to address the role of IQ in the acquisition of skills. No amount of money spend on education, training, and job programs will help if those whom it is intended for are not smart enough to benefit. Furthermore, welfare spending has only continued to grow, despite efforts such as 1964 War on Poverty, Reagan’s 1981 attempts to slash welfare, and Clinton’s 1996 welfare reform:
This means our current approach to poverty is ineffective. Steven Pinker eloquently summaries the flaws of the ‘blank slate’ approach to wealth inequality and poverty:
“By far the dominant cultural syndrome is that children are blank slates and that culture and parenting inscribe it,” and he noted that concept’s own acceptance in the cultural mainstream. “You’ll read hundreds of articles on economic inequality in the Times, the New Yorker, and so on, and never will there be even a mention of the possibility that smarter, more ambitious, or more disciplined people might be more successful.”
Due to the heritability of IQ and possibly other traits such as ambition and discipline, perhaps eugenics could reduce future poverty and future entitlement spending through the promotion of higher reproduction of people with desired a high-IQ (positive eugenics), and reduced reproduction of people with a lower-IQ (negative eugenics).
Unfortunately among academics and the media, the discussion of race and IQ has been relegated to the fringe, let alone any discussion of policy that incorporates elements of biological/genetic determinism. As quoted by Andrew Sullivan:
It’s been strangled by p.c. egalitarianism. The reason is the resilience of racial differences in IQ in the data, perhaps most definitively proven by UC Berkeley psychologist Arthur Jensen:…
The right response to unsettling data is to probe, experiment and attempt to disprove them – not to run away in racial panic. But the deeper problem is that the racial aspects of IQ have prevented non-racial research into intelligence, and how best to encourage, study and understand it.
Denial of biological determinism and IQ has stultified research that could help solve the very economic problems the left insists are urgent.