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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Why Dems are so elite

Why are Democrats so often elites in urban areas?  In 1920, people were separated in social classes more radically than today.  John D. Rockefeller died in 1920 with a wealth of about 5% of the country’s GDP.  Today, the entire Forbes 400 doesn’t add up to 5% of GDP.  And in 1920 2% of people got college degrees. ( Today, it’s 35%.)  The result was that only a thin veneer of people, often with higher IQs, had managed to get through colleges.  But beginning in the post WWI era, significantly more began to attend higher education.  By 1940, 8% of 23-yr-olds had a degree.  Since it takes an IQ of about 115 to be able to handle college material and only about 14% of population has 115 or higher, there are many who struggle and colleges have had to water down curricula. 

            In the 1950s, college costs began to soar.  Ivy League educations, a staple on the East coast, became too costly for many families.  And the colleges began to take more students from all across the USA, often based on high SAT scores and sometimes needing scholarship help. This ‘cognitive competition’ spread.  As the number of grads soared, they became a class of workers who held better jobs. To see how this classism works, ask yourself who your ten closest friends are.  Then ask what kind of education they achieved. If you are college-educated, you probably have a lot of college-educated friends. And vice versa. 

            Now some math.  If one out of three people get a degree, what is the  probability of having 6 out of ten friends with a degree too?  Well, from the general population, it is about one chance in 600 of selecting 10 people at random and having 6 with a college degree.  And it is about one in 6000 of having all ten degreed.  Yet 6 out of 10 is the likeliest answer to this question found among college-educated people who answer this question.  In 1920 this would be rare to the point of strange, because college grads were so few.  But today, the cognitive elite hang out together, far more than random probability predicts.  In the 20s you would have a good chance of meeting someone with a third-grade education who was incredibly smart but didn’t have a chance to go to school.  (This example--my grandfather.) But beginning in the 60s secondary education began to steer higher IQ individuals to seek college.

            And where did they land?  Accountants, engineers, architects, professors, dentists, physicians, mathematicians, and scientists are eight professions that account for most of it.  In 1940 only one in twenty people of the upper 10% of intelligence was one of these.  Today, these 8 occupations employ 25% of all the people in the upper 10% of IQ (>120).  We have become a technological world.  And urban areas employ most of these people.  (Well, I know you can find a CPA in a town of 5000, but we are talking worker distributions.)

            They live in the city but don’t rub elbows with the less-educated very much.  Well-paying jobs, prime neighborhoods, good schools.  They are an elite.  Over against this are the less-educated.  Some struggle in the middle class.  Others are in the ghettos.  As middle class working-class jobs disappear, the cities have become increasingly polarized economically.  The only way to do politics in this mélange is to have something for the rich and something for the poor.  Here’s how Dems solve it. The rich get favors from government (special contracts for large companies would be an example) and the poor get benefits. 

            The Democrat playbook stole a page from Europe’s nobilesse oblige.  These were aristocrats who feared for their safety after France’s Revolution.  The idea was to play a public image of being a benefactor, an egalitarian, a guy with the common touch.  In effect, “Don’t guillotine me!  I’m a Good noble.  Do that guy over there who exploits you.”  We call this a limousine liberal nowadays.  Their exaggerated narrative about caring for the poor is almost laughable (given that they don’t touch those people), but it is popular.  Why?  Because all you have to do to become a liberal is think yourself smarter than everyone else.  YOU should be in charge! Be one of the aristocrats! Be kingmaker! And this strokes the ego of many in the cognitive elite.  Indeed, you can be from the other end of the spectrum and still imagine yourself king of the world and be a liberal too.  Or just dream of an Obamaphone.  Thus the Democrats win a majority of not only the lowest income quintile (70-30%) but also the upper quintile (55-45%). Republicans are the party of the 3 middle class quintiles from $21K to $105K taxable. 

So what does this say Republicans should do? First keep stressing liberty as conservatives always have done.  Second, use education choice as a wedge issue in urban areas.  Third, capture the lower middle class vote like Trump has done.  Liberty has to be understood as being free to live your life as you see fit, without government’s heavy hand of Obamacare mandates, enterprise-killing regulations, quenched opportunity.  Education choice is a clever gambit, because of regression to the mean.  If you and your spouse are extremely high IQ, your kids tend to be much more average.  Likewise, mediocre folks sometimes have very gifted children. Think Ben Carson’s mom.  Social stratification in schools is a major problem in large cities and a “way out” is a good solve for the R’s.  Finally, some sort of retraining or incentive to change careers is good for middle America along with better trade deals and the border wall.

Meanwhile it needs to be recognized that the D’s don’t have a lock on the cognitive elites.  Many of the best and brightest want freedom to innovate and be entrepreneurs.  Bread and circuses social policy run by Dems is a loser economically and destroys lives that not just a few low income people notice.  Those D’s who are among the elites have little experience in dealing with the problems of lesser mortals as well.  This means a party of few new ideas, rather like Hillary and Obama.   

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