Recently I had to go to court because of some peeling paint on one of our properties that hadn't been addressed (we never got the original notice before the summons, but that's another matter). At court, the judge talked about having me put in jail or put on probation for this heinous crime of peeling paint. While it probably won't happen, just the idea of throwing someone in prison for peeling paint beggars belief and makes one wonder exactly how free our country actually is. This is especially true when noting that we own hundreds of properties throughout town and the vast majority of ours are better than our neighbors, who presumably, are mostly not in prison.
Furthermore, the only reason I am "facing prison" and not my brother is because despite being partners in our company, my name starts with an A and his starts with a P.
Land of the free everyone!
The worst example of this type of judicial tyranny is the child support system, though. If you don't have enough money to pay your child support, well, off to prison you go. As I noted in an article for Mises a while back,
In South Carolina, where Walter Scott was killed for running away from a cop trying to arrest him for being behind on his child support, a full one-eighth of the inmates were jailed over child support arrearages. Many of these child support judgments are simply absurd. As The New York Times reported that, “A 2007 Urban Institute study of child support debt in nine large states found that 70 percent of the arrears were owed by people who reported less than $10,000 a year in income. They were expected to pay, on average, 83 percent of their income in child support.” Some cases are even more of a farce. One man was ordered to pay $30,000 in child support for a child who wasn’t his and a 15 year old boy was ordered to pay child support to the 34 year old woman who statutorily raped him.
Oh, but they're not being incarcerated for being in arrears on a debt, it's for "civil contempt" or some other stupid euphemism. Here are a few samples of these farces taking place.
Weird how there is virtually no effort in the media to fix what is obliviously a major contributor to over-incarceration in the United States.
So out here in Jackson County, Missouri, we've had a lot of fun with our local government of late. Most notably, they decided to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing by rocketing our property taxes into the stratosphere. Here's one example,
In the northwestern part of that 50 square miles, Alan Young owns several vacant lots where he grows vegetables. One of the lots, at the corner of 39th Street and Wayne Avenue, saw an assessment increase of more than 2,000%.
Normally I would say something like that is too ridiculous to believe without seeing the documents. However, we had one property we've owned since 2011 increase in value from $19,016 to $118,971, an absolutely absurd 525.6%, so I fully believe it.
Indeed, the properties in our portfolio increased by approximately 70%. And the one's that didn't go up nearly that much, all seemed to go up 14.9%. Which is no coincidence, as KCTV5 found in one of their multi-part report, "28% of Jackson County see the same tax increase." Why you ask?
Why such a specific target? Missouri state law requires a physical inspection if any property increases in value above 15%.
One real estate investor found some other embarrassing flaws. For example,
Two vacant lots Pech owns were valued less than $5,000 last year, but now those two lots are valued by the county at around $45,000.
And it just gets worse and worse. A whistleblower says that Jackson County didn't use MLS data but instead relied on a complimentary data feed. Overall, the thing is a giant mess. Now there is a class action lawsuit against the county and a motion has been submitted by Preston Smith (that has been delayed) to cap the increases at 14%.
Hopefully it passes or they just redo this whole mess because right now it would appear Jackson County is dead set on bankrupting as many of its own citizens as possible.
Here is another article from SwiftEconomics I wrote, again on marriage, albeit unlike this one and this one, it's about the decline of marriage in the United States and the sad state of that institution today.
Conservatives baffle me to no end with all the hubbub they make about gay marriage. Honestly, who cares? As Theodore Olson, veteran of the Reagan and Bush administrations, says: “Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation…The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance. Conservatives should celebrate this, rather than lament it.” You’d think that conservatives’ bigger concern would be that “individuals who happen to be gay” seem to be the only folks wanting “to share in this vital social institution” these days.
Everyone knows that divorce rates are sky high, about 50% (although there’s some debate about this). But I don’t think most people realize just how far the institution has fallen. So, let’s present a graphic representation, with thanks to the University of Maryland.
Here’s the divorce rate graphically; basically it shot up in the 60’s as the counter-culture began and no-fault divorce became common, then the rate settled in at about double the previous rate:
So there are a lot of divorces, everybody knows this. What most people don’t realize, however, is that a lot fewer people are getting married now than before. In fact marriages are down by about half:
The common thought here might be that women have become more career oriented and have foregone family. That doesn’t appear to be the case however. As the Pew Research Center has shown, marriage is still relatively strong among the affluent, but has utterly collapsed among the working class:
Overall, the percentage of people 18 years and older who were currently married fell from 72% to 52% from 1960 to 2008. Furthermore, another issue that should be concerning is the reduced fertility rate. Japan is going through a decades long demographic nightmare; basically too many old people and not enough kids. A replacement fertility rate, i.e. to keep the population steady with no immigration or emmigration, is 2.1 children per women. Right now, the U.S. is just below that at 2.05:
This could obviously spell a lot of trouble for our entitlement system which is built on unfunded liabilities like a Ponzi scheme, requiring an ever greater population to subsidize the current beneficiaries. Luckily (or unluckily depending on your point of view), much of Europe, and the rest of the modern world is in even worse shape. Not only do they have bigger welfare states, their fertility rates have imploded:
Upside down family trees make welfare states no-worky. Furthermore, while we’re having less children, more and more of the few children we do have are being born to people who aren’t in a good position to take care of them. Out-of-wedlock births have skyrocketed in the last 50 years to over 40%:
By 2000, female-headed households had increased from 6% to 23% and male-headed (single parent) households from 1% to 6%. According to Pew, only 4% of people see this as a good thing (69% as bad). And empirically, the majority of Pew respondents have a point since the vast majority of murderers, suicides, delinquents, rapists, drug addicts, high school dropouts and the like come from broken families. Of course this isn’t a gender thing, after all, gay parents do just as well as straight ones. It’s a math thing: 2 > 1.
The ever so controversial Charles Murray has a book coming out called Coming Apart which argues that this trend is the major force behind class stagnation and class separation and blames cultural shifts and the incentives created by the welfare state. He discusses it here, I think it’s definitely worth your time. Either way, it’s clear that marriage in the United States is collapsing.
Photo Credit: University of Maryland and Pew
Here's another article I wrote for SwiftEconomics before gay marriage was legalized by the Supreme Court which discussed the contradictory view liberals have toward democracy since gay marriage was first legalized in California (and then later countrywide) by judicial fiat rather than democratically. In fact, gay marriage was usually defeated democratically. So if democracy is so vital to the liberal worldview, why is it so often an impediment to their political agenda (immigration and abortion would be two more examples of this).
We’ve written before in favor of gay marriage, so I guess I’m happy to see Prop 8 overturned by a federal judge. Unfortunately, we’ve also written in favor of federalism and I see nothing in the Constitution pertaining to marriage either way. Regardless, I find the progressive “victory” yesterday somewhat ironic.
The reason I find it ironic is because although gay marriage is a cause célèbre for progressives, assuming the federal ruling holds up, the progressive “victory” was won in a completely undemocratic way. Indeed, 52% of California voters voted in favor of the bill, not a strong majority, but a majority nonetheless. This throws a wrench into the ‘everything goes if it happens democratically’ mantra that Democrats seem to hold now that Obama is in office. Nancy Pelosi even had the gall to ask if a man was joking when he asked her where in the Constitution it said that the federal government could mandate people to buy health insurance!
So the rule of law is irrelevant when it comes to healthcare reform, but it’s all well and good with regards to gay marriage? Indeed, leaving aside the issue of states’ rights and the balance of power between the federal government and state governments, the issue of gay marriage is really something that should not be voted on anyways (marriage is a contract, it should be protected by the government, not licensed by the government).
But yet the left goes on and on about democracy. Everything should be voted on. Noam Chomsky discusses how if we had a functioning democracy everything would be dandy and Michael Moore, in his movie decrying the evils of capitalism, calls for nothing other than pure 100% democracy. Every decision, from politics, to the workplace to everything in between should be made democratically. Barack Obama, as well as Bush and every other politician, celebrate democracy at every chance they get (even while undermining it). But here we have a case where the left wins a victory by going around democracy. What do we make of this?
Democracy may be good, but I would argue that it is good only to a limited extent. There are certain rights we shouldn’t be able to vote away from each other, for example the freedom of speech. We should also remember that Hitler came to power in a democracy, ancient Athens built an empire under a form of direct democracy, George Bush was re-elected in 2004 and Saddam Hussein got 100% of the popular vote (OK that one’s not really fair). Detractors will surely say that democracy isn’t perfect but it is still good, as Winston Churchill said “democracy is the absolute worst type of government, aside by every other one.”
Sure, but democracy needs limits. Namely it needs a constitution (rule of law) based on natural rights (your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins), separation of powers to limit collusion and a functioning version of federalism to prevent a monopoly of interpretation on said constitution. I personally think the United States is doing pretty bad in all four departments, but that’s for another article. Our discussion here involves democracy. And unbridled democracy alone is simply mob rule, the power of the 51% to take away the rights of the 49%. It’s what Thomas Jefferson referred to as “two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner” while liberty was “a well armed lamb protesting the vote.” James Madison was more explicit:
The prescriptions in favor of liberty, ought to be levelled against the quarter where the greatest danger lies, namely, that which possesses the highest prerogative of power: But this [is] not found in either the executive or legislative departments of government, but in the body of the people, operating by the majority against the minority.
Indeed, the Founders, other than Thomas Paine, were not big fans of democracy. That’s why the United States was actually set up as a constitutional republic. Now, democracy certainly has its place. But on major decisions—such as going to war—something much closer to unanimity should be required. As a matter of efficiency, day in and day out decisions should not be made in an ad populum sort of way. The people with the most expertise and the most at stake should typically make such decisions. And for issues such as gay marriage, issues involving private arrangements that don’t affect anyone else, the government has no place there regardless of whether we’ve voted on it or not.
So gay marriage already became the law of the land by judicial fiat, so this article is quite a bit out-of-date. And given the degeneracy I've seen at these gay pride parades (as well as the even more degenerate "drag queen story hours"), I'm not as enthusiastic for all things pride as I once was (although I still support gay marriage). Anyways, here's my not-so-serious take on the matter back from 2009 at SwiftEconomics.
“I am totally against straight marriage, even though I’m married. I don’t think heterosexual marriage is any of the government’s business. I think you should make any contract you want.” – Penn Jillette (1)
Gay marriage has been a contentious issue in the United States over the last decade. Currently, six states allow for gay marriage and several others allow for civil unions. (2) In other words, people who believe in freedom of contract, (listening free-market conservatives?), have completely succeeded in only 12% of the states. Furthermore, Proposition 8 in California, and similar legislation in other states, has officially outlawed gay marriage. George Bush even proposed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman (whatever happened to federalism, conservatives? Then again, George Bush was no conservative).
Arguments against gay marriage typically fall into three categories: 1) The Bible says it is bad, 2) we have to preserve the “sanctity” of the institution and 3) gay marriage will lead down a slippery slope, where if we allow gay people to marry, soon enough polygamy, or even ‘man and goat’ will become common place.
Let’s start with the Bible. The Bible does say “do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” (3) However, the Bible also says:
“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death.” (4
Good Lord, talk about a vicious non sequitur! Are you going to feel all warm and fuzzy while enforcing that? I think it’s fair to say that regardless of whether or not you believe in God, the Bible was written by fallible human beings about God. Remember, here’s what passed for marriage back in the Old Testament:
“King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter – Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines…” (5)
I think Warren Jeffs might even find this arrangement a bit outlandish. And is it really any mystery why Solomon eventually went off the deep end? Multiply standard spousal nagging by a factor of 1000 and the guy never really had a chance. But I digress, let’s turn to Saint Paul and the New Testament:
“Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (6)
Or in other words, marriage is not an essential covenant of divine importance, but instead, a fail-safe, in case your will power fails and you simply have to get your rocks off.
Oh, but the sanctity of marriage must be maintained. It is an institution of historical consistency and importance. Well, if marriage must remain consistent, perhaps we should adjust the modern institution to return it to what it used to be. We should go back to the days of polygamy and concubines. We should bring back arranged marriages. We should reinstate dowries and have the bride-to-be’s family pay the groom-to-be’s family for the “privilege” to marry him. Interracial marriage should be banned again in southern states. India should reinstate suttee (where a widow is expected to commit suicide), China should bring back foot binding and many Islamic countries should just hold onto their Sharia Law. Sharia Law is after all, quite reasonable. Say my hypothetical wife cheats on me; she should be stoned to death. And if I cheat on my hypothetical wife; she should be stoned to death, for sleeping with an adulter (namely me). I think that’s fair.*
As far as the slippery slope argument goes, polygamy already exists, especially among some fundamental elements of the Mormon Church. Currently, in some cases there is a scam where every wife, except the first, applies for welfare claiming to be a single mother. Is much going to change even if we fall all the way down this slope? That scam would at least come to light. Regardless though, people are still going to do what they do, and some crazy person would likely try and marry a goat. The thing is, he’s probably already de facto done it. If we bring him out into the open, it would make it that much easier to laugh at him (and laughter is good for your health). Still, if it’s that big of a deal, change the law to state that marriage is between two people, regardless of gender. Although, I’d personally prefer to just remove government from the institution of marriage entirely.
Regardless of the slippery slope, it’s needless to say that the sometimes racist, frequently misogynistic and often completely ridiculous history behind the institution of marriage warrants little to sanctify. Of course, that’s not to say marriage and the family are not important. I certainly wouldn’t want the state to take over raising children in some sort of dystopian tyranny reminiscent of George Orwell or Aldous Huxley. It’s simply to say that the institution itself is irrelevant. What it means to you, individually, is all that really matters.
So far, gay marriage activists have focused on winning votes and pressuring supreme courts to legalize gay marriage. However, democracy at its best, is painfully slow; democracy at its worst is, as Thomas Jefferson put it, “two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner.” Sometimes, with these sorts of things, (consensual arrangements that don’t affect other people), you’ve just got to slip it through the back door.
The first thing to figure out is the definition of “marriage.” I was at a wedding recently where the pastor said, “marriage is not a contract, but a covenant.” Well that’s fine, as I’ve already said, marriage can mean whatever you’d like it to and a covenant sounds good to me. However, legally speaking, marriage is just a contract. So couldn’t any other contract represent something more than what it is legally speaking, like say, a covenant?
For example, let’s say John Johnson owns a successful business that he keeps in an LLC (Limited Liability Company). He is also an overweight alcoholic with a bleeding ulcer and intermittent bouts of explosive diarrhea. He lives in a loveless marriage with his chronically-depressed, pill popping, philandering wife, Joanne. His daughter is a tramp, his first son has been in and out of the penal system since he was 15 and his second son just came out of the closet and is now a gay marriage activist, despite John’s bitterly held homophobia. Basically, John’s life sucks. He does, however, have a successful business. He defines himself with it, keeps himself sane with it and derives any self-esteem he can muster from it. This LLC is more than a legal entity to John; it is the embodiment of John Johnson. Yet technically, his business is nothing more than a legal entity created for tax and accounting purposes.
Marriage may be a covenant, but legally speaking, it is nothing more than a contract. Thus, since any entity or contract can contain more meaning to the people involved than the actual contractual arrangement written up and filed at the local courthouse, anything that gets the job done can do. Perhaps the very institution of marriage should be opened up to a little bit of healthy market competition from other contractual arrangements.
Most other legal entities are business entities: they include LLC’s, trusts, S-corporations, C-corporations, non-profits and partnerships. So let’s say Lisa Smith and Meagan Fischer want to get married. They should just go open Lisa and Meagan Smith-Fischer LLC and voila, they’re as good as married. And you can still have a boring ceremony and then get blitzed at the reception afterward. Hell, you could do that without signing any contract.
There is one problem though: marriage comes with tax benefits. Can you receive tax benefits without actually operating a business? In an interview with an accountant, who’s also a good friend of mine, he described the feasibility of such an undertaking as follows:
“Andrew, this is probably the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. Whatever drugs you’re currently taking, well, you desperately need to stop! I seriously start to worry about your sanity when you spew out ridiculous crap like this. And why the hell are you calling me about this? Do you not think I’m busy? Do you really think I don’t have anything better to do? I’m a Goddamn accountant! I mean, honestly, what the hell is wrong with you? But, to answer your question, yeah, you could open up a partnership or LLC without a business. However, to accrue any tax benefits, you would have to prove that there were actual business profits and expenses."
What’s key to note here, is the tax advantages akin to those of a traditional marriage contract could be accrued through other legal entities, despite the original function of such entities having been initially designed to solely facilitate the undertaking of entrepreneurial endeavors. What we need is to discover a method in which normal expenses can be justified as business expenses, even if both partners are not actually running a business.
Here’s an option: one gay couple, looking to get married, need only find another gay couple looking to do the same. Both open an LLC or partnership. Then they simply sell stuff back and forth to each other in a way that will equalize the original income each couple receives from their jobs. It would be a bit of a hassle, but you would get many of the tax benefits of marriage, plus a few more (you can write off gas mileage for instance). This very well may be flirting with fraud, but if there are actual profits and expenses, what does the intent matter? Hopefully, it would all just go under the radar anyways. Regardless, what right does the government have to tell you who you can and can’t marry (or who you can and can’t sell and buy stuff from for whatever reasons)? The government is the one committing fraud here.
If nothing else, it’s something to think about. In my humble opinion, to legalize gay marriage we may just have to give a reach around to the legal system.
Note: I am not offering legal advice. [Ed. Not that it matters anymore] If you are interested in opening an LLC, see here. But talk to an attorney if you actually want to try this.
*This is technically not true, Sharia Law’s Draconian penalties are supposed to apply to married men who commit adultery as well. (7) Although, the Qur’an states both men and women should ‘only’ receive 100 lashes:
PICKTHAL: The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge ye each one of them (with) a hundred stripes. And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of believers witness their punishment. (8)
The death penalty is what appears to be used much of the time, though. And in practice, it doesn’t seem be administered in an equal way. The allusion I’m making is to “honor killings,” where a woman who is raped (or “steps out of line” in some other way) is often killed by her husband or father in some insane attempt to save her “honor.” I don’t believe Sharia Law sanctions this, but the practice is tolerated in many Muslim countries. (9)
(1) Penn Jillette, “Glenn Beck Clips 05-19-09 Magician Penn Jillette Get Glenn To Say Gays OK,” Glenn Beck Program, Fox News, retrieved August 29, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3RdQyd8YJc
(2) “Same-sex marriage in the United States,” Wikipedia.org, retrieved August 29, 2009, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States
(3) The New Students Bible: New International Version, Leviticus 18:22, The Zondervan Corporation, Copyright 1992
(4) The New Students Bible: New International Version, Deuteronomy 21:18-21, The Zondervan Corporation, Copyright 1992
(5) The New Students Bible: New International Version, 1 Kings, 11:1-3, The Zondervan Corporation, Copyright 1992
(6) The New Students Bible: New International Version, 1 Corinthians, 7: 8-10, Zondervan Corporation, Copyright 1992
(7) See Sahih Bukhari, Book 82, 815, Cited from University of Southern California Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement, http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/hadith/bukhari/082.sbt.html#008.082.815
(8) Qur’an, Surah 24 verse 2, Cited from University of Southern Califonia Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement, http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/024.qmt.html#024.002
(9) See Terri Judd, “Barbaric ‘honour killings’ become the weapon to subjugate women in Iraq,” The Independent, April 28, 2008, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/barbaric-honour-killings-become-the-weapon-to-subjugate-women-in-iraq-816649.html
Here is another rather controversial article I wrote for SwiftEconomics some time back (and wrote a similar article for Mises too). Check it out.
Say you’re walking home on the wrong side of the tracks late at night and you see a young, black man walking toward you. Do you become nervous? If so, does that make you a racist?
What if it is a black woman walking toward you? If you’re less scared than under the previous scenario, does that make you a sexist?
What if it is an old black man? Again, if you’re less scared, does that make you an ageist?
What if it is a young black man, but he is well kempt, wearing a suit and holding a briefcase while speaking with Oxfordian-like grammar on an iPhone 4? If you’re less nervous, does this make you classist (someone who discriminates on class, I don’t know what the term is)?
As Thomas Sowell has pointed out many times, progressives believe that groups being equal in the aggregate is what is “normal” when that is seen no where at no time in the history of the world. And often these differences are massive. And furthermore, often the minority is doing better than the majority. For example, Asians in the United States make more than whites (why doesn’t Jesse Jackson throw any protests about this?). Furthermore, the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka does better than the Sinhalese majority, the Chinese in Malaysia do better than native Malays, the Germans do better in most South American countries than the local populations as do the Lebanese in West Africa (Thomas Sowell discusses all this here).
In the United States, atheists are generally not trusted (to say the least). They also make more money than Christians. Hell, taller people make more money than shorter people. Can you simply infer discrimination from this?
What about men and women? Currently, men make up 97.6% of the Fortune 500 CEO’s (488 out of 500). This is sometimes cited as evidence in and of itself for discrimination against women. OK fine, but on the other side, 91.5% of the prison population is male. Is that not also discrimination? Shouldn’t both be 50/50? Instead, the majority of politicians, Nobel prize winners, top academics, business leaders, inventors and scientists have been and are men. But then again, most criminals, psychopaths, drug addicts, high school dropouts and the homeless (not to mention warmongering or oppressive politicians) are also men. Indeed, variance is probably one of the biggest differences between men and women, that is if one is to accept that we’re not all blank slates and evolution actually does exist.
Let’s make this real obvious; the following chart shows average income based on age for men in 2005. As you can see, when people get older, until about 50 at least, they start making more money. Is anyone stupid enough to believe that this gap is simply because employers discriminate against younger people? (I should note that as of 2000, the median age of blacks in the United States was 30 and the median age of whites was 39, which might be just a little bit relevant here.)
Now, many of the differences we see are likely environmental and much has to do with cultural or economic factors. The high rate of crime among black males, in my judgement, is mostly due to their poor economic status coming out of slavery and Jim Crow, the black markets caused by the War on Drugs, the disintegration of the black family incentivized by the welfare state, the miserable state of our monoplozied, public schools and a gangster culture that has unfortunately developed among some parts of the black underclass.
This is all conjecture, educated conjecture, but conjecture nonetheless. Surely though, environment and other factors play major roles. But even if genes were completely irrelevant, other things can explain differences in one’s environment than discrimination or even a general state of being “disadvantaged.” Walter Williams pointed out many years ago that African Americans with advanced degrees were more likely to become professors than go into other fields such as engineering. Well, so what? Maybe that’s what these individuals found the most rewarding. It’s not like professors are paid badly just because they make less than engineers. But they are going to make less on the aggregate than groups, such as Asians, who are more likely to enter these higher paying fields.
Discrimination certainly could be why, or part of the reason why, there are more blacks in prison than whites as well as more men in prison than women. It certainly could play a part in every difference I’ve stated and the countless numbers I’ve left absent from this piece. However, it’s important to remember, especially with all the racial tension circling around the media circus of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case, that differences, in and of themselves, do not necessarily mean discrimination.
Photos from http://backyardskeptics.com/, chegg.com and http://creoleindc.typepad.com
Liberals Are Smarter Than Conservatives, But Liberals Are Stupid at Economics and Libertarians Are Smarter Than Both of Them
Another article from SwiftEconomics I wrote on the liberal conceit studies show they are smarter than conservatives. Yeah, sort of...
Some time back, the always controversial Satoshi Kanazawa made the claim that liberals were smarter than conservatives stating:
Liberals usually support such social welfare programs and higher taxes to finance them, and conservatives usually oppose them. Defined as such, liberalism is evolutionarily novel. Humans (like other species) are evolutionarily designed to be altruistic toward their genetic kin, their friends and allies, and members of their deme (a group of intermarrying individuals) or ethnic group. They are not designed to be altruistic toward an indefinite number of complete strangers whom they are not likely ever to meet or interact with. This is largely because our ancestors lived in a small band of 50-150 genetically related individuals, and large cities and nations with thousands and millions of people are themselves evolutionarily novel.
Studies then show that those who call themselves “very liberal” have an IQ of 106.4 and very conservative have an IQ of only 94.8. Obviously, liberals repeated the study ad-nauseum (I wonder if Steven Jay Gould rolled over in his grave).
Others have even gone so for as to pathologize conservatism. A study for the University of California Berkeley (gee, I wonder where this is going) stated that “conservatism is pathological or that conservative beliefs are necessarily false, irrational, or unprincipled.”
Now everything about both these IQ tests and the Berkeley “study” are questionable. Does a college student voting for tax increases upon other people to finance his or her own education count as “altruistic?” What about a public employee supporting public unions which will increase his own wages? What about some activist group asking for money to finance their own operation (and salaries)? Indeed, what does the government have to do with personal altruism. After all, studies have repeatedly shown that conservatives donate more money to charity, give more time to charity and donate more blood than their liberal counterparts. Apparently, they even hug their kids more. Sorry to say, but voting for tax increases does not in itself make you a good person.
And since, as Noel Sheppard points out, the definitions used for liberal and conservative really come down to unselfish vs selfish, if that assumption is wrong (which it appears to be), the whole study is bunk. And even if it it isn’t, correlation doesn’t equal causation (liberal universities indoctrinating the typically smarter individuals who go to college may have something to do with this).
All that being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if your average latte-drinking-pot-smoking-yuppie-urbanite liberal is a bit smarter than your average gun-toting-tobacco-chewing-flag-waving-backwater conservative. But there does appear to be one area that liberals are just utterly stupid in: economics.
As Daniel Klein notes:
Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents’ (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian.
This is truly sad. Just guessing would get you a 4, which means both liberals and progressives are worse at economics than your average monkey. Good thing such questions aren’t on the Stanford-Binet ehh Satoshi? I mean honestly, what would a restriction on housing do other than raise the prices?
I’m surprised and a bit saddened that the ultra conservatives beat out libertarians. I thought they were more interested in proving that rabbit fossils could be found in the Cambrian age than in learning basic economics.
Oh well, after all, the blog Half Sigma, has looked at the Wordsum test to see which scores correlated with which political beliefs. Libertarians dominate.
He looks at government spending, welfare, regulation, price controls, housing and the environment. With each one, other than the environment (smart people apparently like mother nature and don’t trust property rights with her) the better the score on Wordsum, the more libertarian the position. For example, on price controls, people who scored between an 8-10 (10 is the best, 6 is average), 18.6% were strongly against while only 3.2% were strongly in favor. 54.8% were against price controls while only 22.6% were for them.
Another spurious correlation? Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s just that smart people like freedom the most.
Photo Credit: Tbeckett and Complex Search
If you thought politics was messed up now, it could get a whole lot worse. Deep fakes, which I posted about here before, are getting more and more real. Here's one that inserts Jim Carrey into The Shining. Politics could (even more) messed up real soon...
Recently I was on the 180 Cast podcast with Georgi Boorman to talk about my cord-cutting philosophy that I discussed in this article for BiggerPockets. We had a great discussion about setting up your life in such a way that you are productive and fulfilled instead of just passively absorbing it as it comes. Enjoy:
"Every day is a new life to the wise man."
The Righteous Mind
Star Slate Codex
Consulting by RPM