Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What's Wrong with Free-Market Capitalism?

What's wrong is that we've abandoned it. Democrats and Republicans, the Crips and Bloods of politics, collude with corrupt anti-capitalist corporatists to stab, rape and murder taxpayers and smaller businesses who can't afford to pay to play.

Charles Murray explains the two problems that afflict our dysfunctional markets:
One is the rise of collusive capitalism. Part of that phenomenon involves crony capitalism, whereby the people on top take care of each other at shareholder expense (search on "golden parachutes").
But the problem of crony capitalism is trivial compared with the collusion engendered by government. In today's world, every business's operations and bottom line are affected by rules set by legislators and bureaucrats. The result has been corruption on a massive scale. 
The other problem is...
... the emergence of great fortunes made quickly in the financial markets. It has always been easy for Americans to applaud people who get rich by creating products and services that people want to buy. That is why Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were American heroes a century ago, and Steve Jobs was one when he died last year.
When great wealth is generated instead by making smart buy and sell decisions in the markets, it smacks of inside knowledge, arcane financial instruments, opportunities that aren't accessible to ordinary people, and hocus-pocus.
He goes on to explain how personal liberty and economic liberty go hand in hand.  Sociologists will tell you that human happiness is hard to quantify.  It's different for each of us, but...
The pursuit of happiness, with happiness defined in the classic sense of justified and lasting satisfaction with life as a whole, depends on economic liberty every bit as much as it depends on other kinds of freedom.
Arthur Brooks, my colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, has usefully labeled such achievements "earned success." Earned success can arise from a successful marriage, children raised well, a valued place as a member of a community, or devotion to a faith. Earned success also arises from achievement in the economic realm, which is where capitalism comes in.
Earning a living for yourself and your family through your own efforts is the most elemental form of earned success. Successfully starting a business, no matter how small, is an act of creating something out of nothing that carries satisfactions far beyond those of the money it brings in. Finding work that not only pays the bills but that you enjoy is a crucially important resource for earned success.
How can we fix it?
What government can do to help is establish the rule of law so that informed and voluntary trades can take place. More formally, government can vigorously enforce laws against the use of force, fraud and criminal collusion, and use tort law to hold people liable for harm they cause others.
Everything else the government does inherently restricts economic freedom to act in pursuit of earned success.

... demand that any new intervention meet this burden of proof: It will accomplish something that tort law and enforcement of basic laws against force, fraud and collusion do not accomplish.

... acknowledge that what has happened incrementally over the past half-century has led to a labyrinthine regulatory system, irrational liability law and a corrupt tax code. Sweeping simplifications and rationalizations of all these systems are possible in ways that even moderate Democrats could accept in a less polarized political environment.
He talks about virtue throughout the article. You can't make someone be virtuous, but taking away perverse incentives to cheat, collude and gamble away other people's money will make market participants virtuous if they want to stay in the game.

Why Capitalism has an Image Problem


FreeThinke said...
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Always On Watch said...

I actually know many honest atheists. They tend to be older as compared to younger.

That said, I know or know of more atheists who are weasels -- and gougers.

Silverfiddle mentioned: the emergence of great fortunes made quickly in the financial markets.

Those who have gotten rich by pushing a pencil and not actually DOING anything or providing an essential service are the most insufferable of all -- well, with the possible exception of bureaucrats who lined their pockets in various ways, including insider trading.

Crony capitalism (The same as collusive capitalism?) is not limited to the Left.

I have a lot more to say, but no time! Work calls!

Jack Whyte said...

I don't know what FT is talking about; apparently, neither does he.

If there is one thing Marx and Engels never understood, it was human nature. Since the Wilson presidency, the socialists and communists in our country seem to have figured it out. They know that self-interest is man’s nature, and that he (or she) is capable of almost any behavior to achieve more for themselves. It therefore behooves government to make corruption possible for the cleverest among us. What we can say for a fact is that the least clever politicians are serving time for violations of the law. We should not feel good about the fact that those numbers are relatively small; it only suggests that we haven’t looked deep enough. If this were not true, then Barney Frank would be in a federal prison right this instant —and a bunch more.

We will not find virtue or justice in a nation where men like Obama and Holder dictate to us how we shall define those terms. Our politics is corrupt because the American people, lacking wisdom, elect people based on ridiculous promises, such as hope and change, and “Yes, we can.” The fools never asked, “Is that all you’ve got?”

Man is naturally corrupt —true, even those who profess to believe in God. The rules, such as “Thou shalt not steal” are important, but any rule that is not enforced isn’t worth the parchment it’s written on.

Excellent post, as usual ...

Z said...

This is so true, SF....I've done many pieces on how capitalism needs people involved who are honest and kind and follow the rules.
One thing the DNC keeps lying about is how the Republicans haven't tried to close loopholes in tax laws, etc......we really must take away incentives to cheat, etc.
Funny, we've had capitalism all these years and suddenly it has an image problem; natural development or coordinated effort to get rid of it?

jez said...

The image problem did not emerge suddenly, and it isn't undeserved. Capitalism is a good idea, but it isn't implemented cleanly.

-FJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
-FJ said...

Define the "limits' of capitalism, and you will establish it's "form". Currently, they are overwhelming MANY, but ill-defined in that they serve to confer competitive advantage/ disadvantage INSTEAD of a level playing field.

Bunkerville said...

When people such as Corzine fleece others and walk away without a scratch, indeed, an image problem. It has been a grand experiment that sadly appears doomed to fail for the above mentioned reasons. Great post and comments.

Thersites said...

The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws. - Tacitus

Ducky's here said...

Democrats and Republicans, the Crips and Bloods of politics

Not bad.

Ducky's here said...

Want to stop the golden parachutes and the robber barons? Start with much higher marginal tax rates on incomes over a couple million.

Anonymous said...

Ironically, we conservatives contribute to the image problem of capitalism when we use terms like "crony capitalism" of "collusive capitalism. Yhe left loves that we have picked up on these terms. Wouldn't it be better and more accurate to say "crony socialism" or "crony fascism".

Mustang said...

@ Conservatives on Fire ...

B I N G O!

Anonymous said...


Dubai is a Muslim emerate in the UAE. It is *insanely* wealthy, yet Christianity is technically illegal there.

I don't think the problem is our lack of Jesus . . .

Silverfiddle said...

"Murray says (Bell Curve) that blacks are genetically inferior than whites, pure racism.

Wrong, little Stevie.

You've obviously never done more than read the anti-intellectual emotional leftist talking points about the book, and it shows by your ignorant comments.

The authors' observations are beyond dispute, but their conclusions are debatable. I don't expect you to understand that, based upon your demonstrated "thinking" skills, but I'm willing to help you out.

Go read Thomas Sowell's review of the book and you'll gain a correct understanding of the issue.

Silverfiddle said...

So you haven't read it. Thought so.

Call me a racist again and you're gone, little girl.

Ducky's here said...

@Jez -- Capitalism is a good idea, but it isn't implemented cleanly.

We can say that about so many things.

However, the true believers, left or right, are never going to realize we have to retain a spirit of compromise and deal with the inevitable tension between the rightful claims of the individual and the group.

Ducky's here said...

Steve -- whatever my many disagreements with Silverfiddle, he is very tolerant of expression.

Be a little circumspect and realize how far out of line you are to get him to make that demand.

Radical Redneck said...

I couldn't stand to watch the convention, but felt that I owed it to my duty to the world of blogging. So I will admit that I did watch the part when while Michelle was speaking,
And no, she didn't disappoint, she put on the biggest line of horse manure that she was able to muster up. And it was exactly as I expected, a long line of total BS. Strictly for the Kool-aid drinkers to buy.
But nevertheless the audience of dingbats ate it up.
Lets face it she poured it on lies and all like never before so that she won’t have to give up that luxurious life of being the First Lady of the World, living in the White House and Vacationing the globe on our dime. In fact it looked like the First Wookie was fighting to keep her job.
The team of liars Bill and Hill have nothing on the team Barrack and Moochie believe me.
But when you take away all the glitz and glamor of Moochie in her Party Dress, the bottom line is simple, repeat the past 4 years of total absolute failure or a future with a new team with proven business background and a real plan for this nations recovery

And on another note, why did Debbie Wasserman Schultz ( Democratic National Chairman) deliberately take the word “GOD” OUT OF THEIR PLATFORM? Oh you didn’t hear that? This is the story... That pathetic, vile woman who is totally incapable of telling the truth, like all the rest of the Democrats.
In an interview with Piers Morgan last night, Democratic National Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz defended the Democratic platform last night even though the word “God” Was Taken Out. Wasserman Schulz refused to admit that it was a ‘mistake,’ reminding Morgan that “our values are reflected in our policies.” “The thing is, somebody has deliberately taken out the word God because it was in the last one,” Morgan said. “I can assure that no one has deliberately taken God out of our platform.” Wasserman Schultz insisted. “So it was an accident.” Morgan said. Wasserman Schultz refused to answer.
And Dick Dustbin had a panic attack Bret Bair when asked the same question, all he was able to do was change the subject..
Hummm, "God" was in the platform statement and now "God" has been removed. So tell me, how is that not deliberate?

Silverfiddle said...

Thank you, Ducky.

Name-calling little girls just waste our time.

-FJ said...

I read it. Murray makes an argument for G, general intelligence. And if Murray is right vis a vis, G...then the whole idea of social justice should be dropped into the toilet. THAT is why they MUST call Murray a racist... because all the science and statistics are on his side.

And yes, G for Whites is 1.0... and Blacks 0.85 and no non-genetically based solution can ever "close the gap".

Now, is someone who has a 1.0 G genetically "superior" than one with a 0.85? Or is he, as I have argued, simply more "neurotic"? Or would health, strength and/or physical endurance constitute genetic superiority? The answer is... it indicates superiority ONLY in terms of purpose. And if you believe that YOU know what man's purpose on earth is... then you're at least one step closer to being a racist than Murray, because he doesn't have a clue.

jez said...

None of Silver's excerpts are racist so Stevie is irrelevant even if he isn't wrong.

All sorts of people are/were racist, we can't ignore everything they ever said because of it.

I haven't read Bell Curve myself, so my opinion of it is almost as worthless as Stevie's, but I do think it has popularised some imprecise ideas about IQ and heritability. Whether the fault lies with its authors or its readers, I cannot say.

jez said...

FJ: are you familiar with the Flynn effect? Do you expect mean IQ of children to equal mean IQ of parents?

-FJ said...

I'm very familiar with the Flynn effect. Murray devotes a chapter to it. It isn't limited minorities... G goes up for everybody... unless you're going to put everyone else in sensory deprivation tanks and only going to give minority children "enriched" environments. Is THAT what you're suggesting? Why not make black athletes in the NFL and NBA compete wearing backpacks with rocks in them?

You've already "dumbed down" the school system. How much farther will you have to dumb it down for Jews, Asians and Whites so that Hispanics and Africans can catch up via the Flynn effect?

Creating equality may be an interesting academic exercise, but practically, it makes no sense.

-FJ said...

What do you call someone who uses racists material.

Who knew that IQ tests were racist? Are stopwatches "racist" too?

-FJ said...

How about rulers that expose racial average differences in penis lengths? Are they racist materials?

The Panzer Of Doom said...

Steve said...”What do you call someone who uses racists material to define economics, a racist.
What do you call people who call the first (black) Lady the first Wookie, a racist”

I'm sorry, I was reading this blog and I had all intentions of moving on until I read your comment (above) yes, I could've moved on, but then I noticed that YOU chose to drop your turd in the punch bowl. I believe I speak for many of my fellow republicans, and further I suspect your comment was more about chastising other Republicans on this board for something you consider shameful, disrespectful, and/or worthless. It's called the shame game, but it don’t work, not when your side does the something but in spades! As like depicting President Bush as a Chimpanzee. Or Bill “totally unhinged” Maher calling Sarah Palin the “C” word. And even refereeing to Sarah Palin’s YOUNG daughter as screwing A-Rod. Or that Todd Palin, Sarah Palin’s hubby, had sex with Shailey Tripp. Or calling Condoleezza Rice an “Aunt Jemima”! And there’s that Old Reliable, Chris “ tingle down his leg” Matthews, the man who never lets you down when it comes to giving liberals a bad name, who calls ever republican and his Mother a racist. .

-FJ said...

Are American universities and law firms STILL discriminating against African Americans?

How else do you explain the following

According to a 2007 report by the Associated Press, the number of Black lawyers has actually on the rise. However, the article states that only "about 5 percent of law firm partners are black."

A more dated example follows below:

Combined African American and Hispanic representation among lawyers was 7% in 1998. Asians were not reported separately. Today, total minority representation in the profession is about 10%, an increase largely attributable to greater participation and reporting of Asians. Less than 1/4 of 1% of lawyers are American Indians. Overall minority representation in the profession is still significantly lower than in most other professions.

34 years of affirmative action has done nothing to "close the gap". What HAS closed the gap? Lowered legal standards.

They're lowered the BAR.

-FJ said...

Perhaps Jez could explain why every US government entity collects reams of racial data (Census Bureau included) BUT one, the FBI, is actually prohibited by law from collecting ethnic data. It classifies most Hispanic offenders as “white,” thus bloating the non-Hispanic white contribution to crime while completely missing the Hispanic contribution. The second agency, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, does no better. It classifies offenders only as “black,” “white” or “other race.” Again, most Hispanic offenders fall into the white category. Neither agency recognizes “Hispanic” as a classification. Why is that?

jez said...

It's an impossible task, but FJ is going some way to making Stevie's wretched point seem profound.

I don't know what the Bell Curve really says, but if it significantly contributed to FJ's bizarre outpourings it is at best poorly worded.

-FJ said...

What part don't you understand jez? It only seems bizarre to people wearing State imposed "blinders."

-FJ said...

So you think that American Law Schools have been discriminating against African Americans and that THAT explains why, in 1998 only 7% of American lawyers were minorities?

Cuz Barrack and Michelle certainly had no trouble getting into Law Schools.

-FJ said...

Are Medical Schools discriminating, too, or do minorities simply prefer NOT to be racially classified?

Total Physicians by Race/Ethnicity - 2008

(total physicians = 954,224)
Race/Ethnicity Number Percentage
White 519,840 54.5
Black 33,781 3.5
Hispanic 46,507 4.9
Asian 116,412 12.2
American Native/Alaska Native 1,594 .16
Other 13,019 1.3
Unknown 223,071 23.4

-FJ said...

btw - I'm sure that none of the above numbers include Elizabeth Warren's claim NOT to be white, but instead a Native American....

Thersites said...

Keeping a thumb on the scales of justice is a long and proud liberal tradition,

-FJ said...

The NFL, MLB and NBA MUST discriminate too...

How else could you explain that:

NFL Total: 31% W-EUD, 67% B-AFD, 1% H/LD, 1% ASD

MLB Total: 60% W-EUD, 9% B-AFD, 28.5% H/LD, 2.5% ASD

NBA: 76 percent of the player are African American, 20 percent are white, Latino are 3, Asian 1 percent

else all these teams would "look like America"... wouldn't they?

Or perhaps... just "perhaps" there are some genetic (racial and sex) differences that explain these outcomes... which is the ONLY point Murray alludes to... no "judgement" as to any one particular indicator of "superiority".

Silverfiddle said...

@ Ducky: Want to stop the golden parachutes and the robber barons? Start with much higher marginal tax rates on incomes over a couple million.

Ducky And FJ or anyone else:

What do you think about the idea of making the top 5% (or whatever) of corporate leadership liable for losses and malfeasance?

I've seen this idea kicked around at Forbes, I think. This, coupled with no more government bailouts would inject some sanity and responsibility back into financial firms.

Anonymous said...

To the Progress Goddess of Fact Check
National Public Radio, among other mainstream media outlets, whitewashed First Lady Michelle Obama's fib-filled speech to the Democratic National Convention last night. At the end of a roundup of perfunctory attempts to fact-check some of the Democrats' speeches, NPR gave Mrs. Obama a clean bill of health: "As for first lady Moochel Obama's address to the convention, the fact checkers don't seem to have any faults to find."That is because they weren't looking. The basic premise of Moochel Obama's speech--that she and her husband had struggled economically like so many other Americans--is false. Not only did they enjoy many advantages that others do not, but CNS News reports that Barack Obama inherited half a million dollars in stock from his grandmother, a bank vice president who Moochel misleadingly cited as a victim of gender discrimination.

If Barack Obama was an impoverished student, for example, it would certainly have been news to his friends, who included rich Pakistani socialites. He dabbled in recreational drugs such as cocaine--hardly a cheap thrill--and traveled to Indonesia and Pakistan while still at college. Barack Obama is known to have a penchant for exaggeration, having embellished much of his memoir; it seems that tendency is shared by his wife as well.

The mainstream media was so eager to pronounce If Barack Obama was an impoverished student, for example, it would certainly have been news to his friends, who included rich Pakistani socialites. He dabbled in recreational drugs such as cocaine--hardly a cheap thrill--and traveled to Indonesia and Pakistan while still at college. Barack Obama is known to have a penchant for exaggeration, having embellished much of his memoir; it seems that tendency is shared by his wife as well.
The mainstream media was so eager to pronounce Moochel Obama's address a triumph, a "grand slam," gushed Wolf Blitzer of CNN that they did not even bother to check the truth of the stories

Knuckledraggin said...

They also didn't fact-check the cost of the Clown costume she wore, which was once again too tight around her bulging hips!

Ducky's here said...

I think the idea has merit, Silvefiddle and would be just as difficult to implement.

Do we have that kind of power in the legal system? Look at the Supreme Court.

Thersites said...

Don't most "start ups" initially operate at a loss, SF (especially high tech?) Aren't losses a part of a normal start-up business and don't Venture capitalists know that when they invest?

ie - Facebook

And who would start up a business if they were held personally liable for all losses, even those of the venture capitalists? Who would take over a business already loaded with Debt and attempt to turn it around? (ala Bain Capital?)

Who would attempt to save a GM or a Chrysler in a "down" economic cycle?

How about this.

What if no corporation could ever be capitalized for more than $10b (which was more than the annual GDP of Madagascar in 2011) and if it were, it would have to be broken up, excess portions sold, and profits distributed to shareholders? What if individuals had to pay an 100% tax on all assets valued at more than $10b? What if no corporation could legally "live" for more than 40 years... that at the end of the 40 years, all assets had to be sold off and the proceeds distributed to shareholders?

What is there were a "limit" to "how much" and individual could earn, or in what markets they could compete (ie NoFORN)?

...and what if all the numbers previously stated above were then cut to $1b in 2020 and $100m in 2030?

Just sayin'....

Finntann said...

The capitalization cap is an interesting concept.

"What if no corporation could legally "live" for more than 40 years... that at the end of the 40 years, all assets had to be sold off and the proceeds distributed to shareholders?"

I think would utterly kill manufacturing and industry. It also solves what problem? What problem would you attribute to longevity in business? Who would you sell Ford off to? It's not like the carriage shop of yore, where any carpenter be he a cabinet maker or house builder can use. Anyone need a fender press?


Rational Nation USA said...

Well Silver, truth be told we begin abandoning free market capitalism oh, about 115 years ago or thereabouts.

The real truth is true free market capitalism, as in laissez -faire capitalism existed only for a veruy brief period in human history.

A more accurate statement is that we have had a mixed economy based on a modicum of free market principles and a ever increasing degree of governmental regulations.

This nation, given it's past and current trajectory logical leads one to conclude that the "free market" will in reality never be free again.

The best we can hope for is to stem the tide of the ever encroaching socialist collectivist mentality for as long as we can.

The majority of people, both rEpublican and dEmocrat simply want Big Brother Government to be there when it is convenient for them with all the benefits it provides.

The truth for many is hard to swallow methinks...

-FJ said...

Immortality. I'd trade it for the market cap. One or the other.

-FJ said...

Individuals are NOT Immortals. In that sense, corporations have a built in advantage over people. They can accumulate and hoard capital for hundreds of years.

Ducky's here said...

Well Farmer, the Facebook IPO is an interesting case.

Did they break the law? No.

Did the investment banks run a scam?
I think so but that kind of scam is an example of what a lot of our financial system has become.

-FJ said...

Caveat emptor, duckman.

KP said...

@Ducky, tip of the hat to you on the early facebook call. You were spot on before the IPO and in the days after.

jez said...

FJ, re-read your comment from 9/5/12 11:14 -- it is bizarre. There were a number of thoughtful responses available to my bringing up the Flynn effect, but you made none of them. I'm genuinely intrigued by the Flynn effect, and what it says about the relationship between IQ and intelligence, and the extent to which IQ is inherited.

Your straw-man arguments are just... bizarre. FYI, I'm not a teacher, nor a minister for education, nor a spokesperson for the FBI. That you address me as though I had something to do with any of those organisations' policy is... bizarre. No better adjective for it.

You're wrong about Flynn applying equally to all groups, a slow down has been measured in some groups.

jez said...

The upper bound to personal wealth is also an interesting idea. Since wealth is largely relative, would it do anything beyond off-setting inflation, and maybe the king effect?

-FJ said...

Are yoy familiar with the concept of a gene-environment correlation? If not, why not?

-FJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
-FJ said...

In 2001, Dickens and Flynn presented a model for resolving several contradictory findings regarding IQ. They argue that the measure "heritability" includes both a direct effect of the genotype on IQ and also indirect effects such that the genotype changes the environment, thereby affecting IQ. That is, those with a greater IQ tend to seek stimulating environments that further increase IQ. These reciprocal effects result in gene environment correlation. The direct effect could initially have been very small but feedback can create large differences of IQ. In their model, an environmental stimulus can have a very great effect on IQ, even for adults, but this effect also decays over time unless the stimulus continues (the model could be adapted to include possible factors, like nutrition during early childhood, that may cause permanent effects). The Flynn effect can be explained by a generally more stimulating environment for all people. The authors suggest that any program designed to increase IQ may produce long-term IQ gains if that program teaches children how to replicate the types of cognitively demanding experiences that produce IQ gains outside the program. To maximize lifetime IQ, the programs should also motivate them to continue searching for cognitively demanding experiences after they have left the program.[22][23]

-FJ said...

And if you don't care to take responsibility for the actions of liberals to obscure the reality of racial differences across the board over the last 50+ years, thats your cross to bear.

jez said...

I take responsibility for no-one but myself & dependents, and I suggest that you do likewise. I do nothing to obscure racial differences, except to note that the concept is easy to abuse. It's helpful to remember that the despite the means it is easy to locate a black or hispanic woman who tests better than you at any discipline.

Silverfiddle said...

The fact that racist organizations and white supremacists have latched onto a gross misinterpretation of Murray and Herrnstein's work does not impugn that work.

Also, it has triggered the hysterical, reactionary left to latch onto gross misinterpretations of their own.

From a wikipedia article on the book and the debate surrounding it:

One part of the controversy concerned the parts of the book which dealt with racial group differences on IQ and the consequences of this.

The authors were reported throughout the popular press as arguing that these IQ differences are genetic, and they did indeed write in chapter 13: "It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences."

The introduction to the chapter more cautiously states, "The debate about whether and how much genes and environment have to do with ethnic differences remains unresolved."

-FJ said...

. I do nothing to obscure racial differences...

Except to encourage those who seek to shut down all discussion of racial differences with hysterical accusations of racism...

It's an impossible task, but FJ is going some way to making Stevie's wretched point seem profound.

Just because you didn't understand the point...


it is easy to locate a black or hispanic woman who tests better than you at any discipline.

Not as easy as you imply. One SD is a pretty big statistical hurdle, to overcome especially if you begin one SDs from "average". ;)

-FJ said...

Else there would be black/ hispanic women in the NBA and not just black men.

jez said...

SF: Granted, the misinterpretations you note occurred, obviously. But I'm slightly curious about whether FJ gets it right when he claims 'no non-genetically based solution can ever "close the gap" '

As far as I remember, rapid group IQ drifts of that kind of magnitude have been measured, the various populations of Jews in their recent migrations are a notorious example. So I don't expect FJ's claim is true, but that doesn't mean that book didn't say it.

-FJ said...

Do you know what the correlation coefficient of IQ - heritability is?

The Bell Curve offered a range of possible answers based upon identical and fraternal twin studies. It was pretty high (and remains there).

jez said...

"hysterical accusations of racism..."

It wasn't hysterical, and it wasn't an accusation of racism. I've already explained why your remarks qualified as bizarre.

I'm talking about you, not the NBA. If you are that exceptional it is a different matter, but I'm guessing you aren't.

"One SD is a pretty big statistical hurdle,"

Another way of expressing those 15 points is about 50 years of drift at about 3 points per decade due to the Flynn effect. Do you agree with my intuition that g has not changed significant since our grandfathers' generation?

"Do you know what the correlation coefficient of IQ - heritability is?"

You can't correlate IQ with heritability. I know some correlations of IQ scores between twins, siblings, cousins etc., and I know some estimates for the broad-sense heritability of IQ, I guess you mean one of those. Also be aware that "heritability" might not mean what you think it does: it captures the variance not the raw intelligence, ie genetic differences which affect the variance but not the mean are included in the figure. (an example of such genetics would be the male Y-chromosome. While gender is not inherited I expect other genes could have a similar statistical effect.)

-FJ said...

While gender is not inherited I expect other genes could have a similar statistical effect

You mean like the fact that sex, IS inherited? Much correlation between gender and sex, do ya think?

Do you agree with my intuition that g has not changed significant since our grandfathers' generation?

The crystalized (as opposed to fluid) components of g certainly have changed (as measured by modern psychometricians and the Flynn Effect). And the corresponding myelination of neurons that likely builds that "crystalized" foundation is almost certainly volumetrically limited by the shape and size of the human skull. And as myelination is very likely required to "crystalize" g, I suspect that you either have the volume for "white matter", or you don't. And once those neural pathways are established, well, I'm afraid that so are most of your so-called "habits" which control how you subsequently interact with your "environment" later in life.

And as for "fluidity" of 'g, I'd agree, THAT hasn't changed much. they say that neurons are a "use or lose" proposition. So either you exercise the neurons you have, or your chances of linking and myelinating them later in life are greatly diminished.

But then why should the brain be considered so different from any other muscle? They have to work within the limits of the "structures" they attach to. And no matter how hard they may train, if the "proportions" aren't "just right", the pygmy will never beat the East African in a long distance foot race.

Another way of expressing those 15 points is about 50 years of drift at about 3 points per decade due to the Flynn effect.

Unfortunately, one race's "Flynn Effect" doesn't stand still and allow the others to "catch up". What men need to know in order to be considered "more intelligent" will likely constantly be changing. Call it a built in "cultural bias".

Silverfiddle said...

Jez: I was not leveling that charge at you, but at a hysterical person who commented here earlier.

I am also not standing up for FJ. You both are already way over my head on this subject. I posted the wiki link for informational purposes only.

You are a very reasoned man. I would never accuse you of hysterical anything. :)

I apologize for the confusion.

-FJ said...

And I said that you defend those who make hysterical allegations... not thatyou made them.

Finntann said...

Point one: One can argue that a person does not inherit an IQ, they inherit a potential IQ range, environment and personal responsibility dictate where that person will fall within the inherited potential range.

Point two: IQ tests do not test intelligence. Correlation between IQ and achievement is only about .7, as is the correlation between IQs between identical twins.

The use of IQ as a predictor of job performance in various studies has resulted in correlation numbers from a low of .2 to a high of .6.

At the extreme edges of the bell curve IQ has been a fairly reliable predictor of performance and/or capability. Trying to use it as a predictor of anything, say when comparing two individuals one at 90 and one at 110, has generally been an epic failure.

The scientific question "what are we actually measuring", has never been adequately answered.

Compared to an Australian Bushman... if I drop you in the middle of the outback with no food or water, the majority of us would qualify as imbeciles and die within a few days.

Put it in perspective folks.


Thersites said...

Counterpoint 2

The New York-based College Board, which owns the test, released the study today showing that the current SAT rated 0.53 on a measure of predictive ability, compared with 0.52 for the previous version. A result of 1 would mean the test perfectly predicts college performance. Revising the SAT ``did not substantially change'' its capacity to foretell first-year college grades, the research found.

Q- If its such a bad predictor... why use it? A - It's better than nothing.

But, oh yeah, its NOT an aptitude or intelligence test, it's an "achievement" test... ;)

Thersites said...

with a persistent 1 SD black-white "achievement" gap. ;)

Finntann said...

What you fail to realize or even acknowledge is that there are other factors at play in intelligence testing other than intelligence.

So your counterpoint about SAT testing is what? It sucks worse than IQ testing? Your point is irrelevant.

I also did not say not to use it, but it is only one tool. My point is that it is only one factor among many.

Seriously, who would you hire to do your books? A CPA with an IQ of 90 or a carpenter with an IQ of 145? And yes, there are tradesmen with high IQs and Doctors with low ones.

My other point is that the .3 correlation gap in IQ testing puts racial variations well within the margins of error. Meaning the results are meaningless. The racial variations can be accounted for by factors other than intelligence such as environment, language, education, and the like.

The Flynn effect has been mentioned... have you heard of the Mozart effect in regards to IQ testing. Apparently you can raise your IQ score by 10 points by listening to Mozart prior to testing. The odd thing is, it effects spatial ability in the testing.

My Bushman comment was, perhaps obtusely, meant to illustrate the cultural bias found within the various tests. Cultural bias has been demonstrated to effect differences of about twenty points in test results, meaning you would score roughly 20 points lower on a translated Chinese IQ test than you do on the standard test, specifically in the areas related to visiospatial intelligence.

If racial genetics had an impact on IQ testing, there should be a correlation between percentage of ancestry and IQ scores. This theorem has been disproven.

The other glaring flaw in intelligence testing and genetics is the .3 correlation gap between identical twins, it certainly cannot be argued to be genetic.


jez said...

Thanks SF & FJ, I only thought that FJ was accusing me of hysteria but thanks both for clarifying.

I certainly didn't intend to encourage Stevie, I called his point wretched and described dignifying it as an impossible task.

FJ: Gender is not inherited. You cannot predict predict the gender of my offspring by looking at me or my wife.

"The crystalized (as opposed to fluid) components of g certainly have changed (as measured by modern psychometricians and the Flynn Effect)."

The point of my question was for you to entertain the possibility of flaws in the measurement of g. It looks like you haven't done that.

"the pygmy will never beat the East African in a long distance foot race."

Pygmies are a too-convenient example because they are defined by a trait (height) which has a direct impact on running ability. Most races aren't defined by traits at all, still less by traits which directly impact intelligence.

Great comments.

"At the extreme edges of the bell curve IQ has been a fairly reliable predictor of performance and/or capability. Trying to use it as a predictor of anything, say when comparing two individuals one at 90 and one at 110, has generally been an epic failure."

True but a shift in mean would remain significant, because the extremes would shift too. Should be noted that the same sources that report lower mean IQs for blacks also report lower variance, ie fewer blacks at the extremes.

"If racial genetics had an impact on IQ testing, there should be a correlation between percentage of ancestry and IQ scores."

Not sure I buy that, my intuition leads me to expect chaotic interaction between the many genes that influence intelligence. My tentative prediction would be for some positive correlation between variance in IQ and ancestral diversity.

-FJ said...

inherited. You cannot predict predict the gender of my offspring by looking at me or my wife.

Show me your amydala and I most definitely can.

jez said...

Explain how please. (Do you mean Amygdala?)

-FJ said...

How it "connects" to the hypothalmus makes all the difference in one's sexual orientation and behavior.

jez said...

And how does that affect the genders of my offspring?

-FJ said...

In terms of probabilities or certainties?

When your child is born, the sex will likely be 100% determined, and once your child reaches puberty, those inherited genes in combination with environmental factors will have "expressed" themselves in the brain's myelinated pathways.

And when I dissect their brains, I'll tell you what there "genders" were.

More on "how".

-FJ said...

...for if you build it, they (gender) will come. ;)

-FJ said...

In other words, it takes a few years for their "intelligences" to "crystalize" out of pure "fluid" g. And there are no "certainties" as to how they will "express" themselves, there are merely "probabilities".

-FJ said...

...and by looking at you and your wife's genetic expressions and analyses of your predispositions, there's a pretty good chance that your children's environmentally induced expressions will be similar.

And the probabilities will be "high", not "certain". For "gender", unlike the "sex" determined immediately upon combination of male/female DNA cannot be expressed and crystallized by your child until AFTER it has been in an "environment" long enough for all the developing axons to myelinate.

-FJ said...

...especially those that make the journey from the amygdala to septal nuclei and back to hypothalmus. Those (associated with "disgust" and "discrimination") are among the last pathways to myelinate.

-FJ said...

They form a kind of "emotional control loop" that counterbalance direct amygdalic neural connections to the hypothalmus.

-FJ said...

...and of course, without a genetically determined "sex" there can be no presence or absence of testosterone to cross the brain-blood barrier and help sexually differentiate the structures of the limbic system that slowly EVOLVE into a "gender" determination.

jez said...


We're talking about biological gender, not the social construct. I'd hoped the context had survived from when I introduced the term with explicit reference to the Y-chromosome.

Biological gender is not an inherited characteristic.

-FJ said...

...the entire mathematic field of "statistics" was invented by Francis Galton (an IQ researcher) back in the 19th century... to PREDICT probabilistically things "like" the "gender" (a twentieth century invention) or "intelligence" of one's off-spring.

Of course, Stevie will just yell the words "Racist!" at Galton's work and then run away.

-FJ said...


Is that like the difference between the words "justice" and its' currently fadish opposite, "social-justice"?

Perhaps my use of the word "sex" confuses you?

-FJ said...

Because it doesn't confuse me.

-FJ said...

The process I've discussed above of "crystalized g" IS the "biological" expression of gender.

jez said...

Does my completely unambiguous context confuse you?


a : sex
b : the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex

Both terms (gender and sex) are polysemic, welcome to speaking English. You're gonna have to learn to keep an eye out for context. I'm assuming you're not trolling.

-FJ said...

Who's trolling?

Click the link of my 9:41 am post.

Thersites said...

Plato, "Cratylus"

SOCRATES: Nor can we reasonably say, Cratylus, that there is knowledge at all, if everything is in a state of transition and there is nothing abiding; for knowledge too cannot continue to be knowledge unless continuing always to abide and exist. But if the very nature of knowledge changes, at the time when the change occurs there will be no knowledge; and if the transition is always going on, there will always be no knowledge, and, according to this view, there will be no one to know and nothing to be known: but if that which knows and that which is known exists ever, and the beautiful and the good and every other thing also exist, then I do not think that they can resemble a process or flux, as we were just now supposing. Whether there is this eternal nature in things, or whether the truth is what Heracleitus and his followers and many others say, is a question hard to determine; and no man of sense will like to put himself or the education of his mind in the power of names: neither will he so far trust names or the givers of names as to be confident in any knowledge which condemns himself and other existences to an unhealthy state of unreality; he will not believe that all things leak like a pot, or imagine that the world is a man who has a running at the nose. This may be true, Cratylus, but is also very likely to be untrue; and therefore I would not have you be too easily persuaded of it. Reflect well and like a man, and do not easily accept such a doctrine; for you are young and of an age to learn. And when you have found the truth, come and tell me.

CRATYLUS: I will do as you say, though I can assure you, Socrates, that I have been considering the matter already, and the result of a great deal of trouble and consideration is that I incline to Heracleitus.

SOCRATES: Then, another day, my friend, when you come back, you shall give me a lesson; but at present, go into the country, as you are intending, and Hermogenes shall set you on your way.

CRATYLUS: Very good, Socrates; I hope, however, that you will continue to think about these things yourself.

-FJ said...

You aren't now possibly suggesting that we revisit the mistakes of the Fabians to influence the non-heritable social outcomes related to race, are you?

Maybe we could label it "Head" Start. ;)

Thersites said...

More hate from the very racist Charles Murray... ;)

jez said...

The last court of appeal is the dictionary, not wikipedia. Check your Webster's. There's no shame in an error, but there is in compounding that error once it has been pointed out. I hope you are not a troll, but this is what one would do.

Thersites said...

Sorry, but the sex-gender distonction quoted is the position taken by pofessional psychometricians. If you want to invoke a "lay definition" on a profession, you might as well argue that "flat earth" be adopted by professional navigators.

Thersites said...

Maybe this will help ypu.

jez said...

I understand the distinction fine. I wasn't using the word that way, and my intended meaning was completely clear.

A few points before I never speak to you again.

1) The context from the outset was gender as chromosomal sex. Any confusion is either inept or disingenuous. Can't be the former, cos you are not sufficiently humble.

2) We are not professional psychometricians, and if you are you should be aware that this is not a symposium. Lay definitions are quite appropriate in the comments section of a non-specialist blog.

3) Even if this were an academic or professional forum, you might very well hear the term gender used to refer to biological sex.

"Since then [1950s], the use of gender has tended to expand to encompass the biological, and the sex/gender distinction is now only fitfully observed."

from the abstract of

4) Not only is it obvious that you are wrong about this in every important way, this point is really incredibly boring. Why are you pursuing it? Assuming you aren't trolling, we had a misunderstanding; fine. Now that it's cleared up, why keep on being a dick about it?

5) Therefore, you are a troll.

Please produce a list of your pseudonyms so that I may know which ones to ignore.

(I am assuming that Thersites and FJ [and speedy?] are one person).

The Absolute Marxist said...

Don't forget me! ;P

Now lighten up, jizzy.

Thersites said...

...anf fyi, I'm NOT a troll. I'm a troll's troll. I've got a feelin' that we're going to become verry, VERY close. |)