Wealth, Intellectualism, and Individualism, Part 13

The low/average-IQ people who lost their jobs in the 2007-2009 recession are often the least intellectually capable of being successful on their own. Its not like people of middling intelligence can suddenly become coders, nor can everyone be an Uber driver (and the pay is not that great). This ties in to the post-scarcity/basic income/automation debate that is raging online, of how societies and governments should respond to the potential crisis of millions of workers who may be permanently displaced by technology and unable to adapt to a hyper-competitive economic environment that prizes efficiency above all.

In addition, there is also the concept of the ‘meritocracy stratified by IQ’, which means although the meritocracy exists, there is not a single meritocracy but rather multiple ones separated by IQ. Low and average-IQ people generally have meritocracies limited to the low-paying service sector, whereas smarter people have meritocracies in better-paying, more prestigious areas such as STEM, venture capital, finance, and academia. But even advanced degree holders are struggling, although not as badly as college and high school dropouts, who tend to have the worst prospects of all. Those who are smart enough to get advanced degrees can often adapt by quickly acquiring new, in-demand skills (skills transference), whereas the less intelligent tend to struggle at acquiring new skills.

Indeed, in more ways than one, The Bell Curve is not just a science book, but a prophetic glimpse into our more unequal and stratified future.

And from David Brooks Revolt of the Masses:

Part of this pain arises from deindustrialization. Good jobs are hard to find. But hardship is not exactly new to these places. Life in, say, a coal valley was never a bouquet of roses.


What’s also been lost are the social institutions and cultural values that made it possible to have self-respect amid hardship — to say, “I may not make a lot of money, but people can count on me. I’m loyal, tough, hard-working, resilient and part of a good community.”

Although high-IQ people succeed on their own, the less intelligent tend to be dependent on others, whether it’s community, family, or government. In an economy that rewards cunning and smarts, hard work and loyalty may not be good enough.

But isn’t the record-low employment rate evidence of a rosier picture? Yes and no. Although the low unemployment rates bodes well for the incumbent, Trump, it masks the large number of permanently unemployed, who have dropped out of the labor force completely and are not counted in the official unemployment rolls, often going on disability or social security. The problem is, for many job positions, there are vastly more applicants than jobs available. So the result is a low unemployment rate but at the same time a lot of people who want to work but have been unemployed for 6 months or longer, but due to age, lack of education, or lack of skills (the last two related to IQ), can’t get hired.

However, good intentions to try to militate this problem can backfire. The paternalistic tendency of elites–be it politicians, wonks, or policy makers–to try to impose their solutions and values can be seen as patronizing. This ‘revolt of the masses’, from the rise of Trump to ‘Brexit’, could be interpreted as backlash against elites, and it would be foolish for the left to ignore it.