Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lower intelligence means greater support for government intervention into private industry

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill was on the front page of the KC Star yesterday after her heated remarks proposing limits on compensation for investment banking executives:

Sen. Claire McCaskill — steaming mad and not going to take it anymore — on Friday called Wall Street executives “idiots” and proposed limits on some of their salaries.

Her proposal would force companies taking federal bailout money to limit compensation for any employee to what the president of the United States currently earns: $400,000 a year.
My initial reaction was to wonder why Congress critters continue to receive six-figure salaries and generous benefits when the federal budget has been in the red for all but four years since 1970 and the national debt has quadrupled (in real terms) over the same period of time.

My intention here, though, is not to discuss the potential merits of quasi-nationalizing various industries. It is to point out that if (or as) demographic trends depress national average IQ going forward, expect to hear similar calls from elected US officials more frequently in the future.

Latin America provides a few examples of this. In Mexico, the right-leaning PAN party supports industry privatization in opposition to the PRD, which favors more nationalization along the lines of leftist governments in other Latin American countries like Venezuela and Bolivia. As Andrew Gelman demonstrates, in these countries supporters of leftist parties are on average less affluent than supporters of rightist parties are. Thus it is no great leap to conclude that the electorate supporting government control of private business tends to be less intelligent than the electorate opposing such nationalization, at least to our south.

What about in the US? The GSS suggests the same applies stateside. The average IQ, arrived at by converting the mean Wordsum score of whites to an IQ of 100 with a standard deviation of 15, for those who responded in the following ways to the question of what the government's role should be in banking and insurance:

N = 683 IQ
Gov't should own91.2
Gov't should set prices100.2
Gov't should stay out100.8

For Leviathan's role in the steel industry:

N = 685IQ
Gov't should own91.8
Gov't should set prices98.6
Gov't should stay out101.2

Inexplicably, for 1985, the year in which an auto variation of the regulation question was asked, Wordsum scores were not obtained. So average years of education are used instead as a proxy for the government's role in the auto industry:

N = 606Educ
Gov't should own9.71
Gov't should set prices11.67
Gov't should stay out13.44

In each of the three response pools, the percentage of people saying the government should control the respective industry is small, on the order of 3% to 5%. When it comes to financial services, the intelligence gap is minor. For manufacturing industries, it is more distinct. But the trend is consistent--duller people are more likely to favor government intervention into private industry than more intelligent people are.

Libertarians who support open borders need to come to grips with the fact that they are stoking the fires of government intervention into the economy.

GSS variables used: WORDSUM, EDUC, OWNBANKS, OWNSTEEL, OWNAUTOS

14 comments:

The Undiscovered Jew said...

But the trend is consistent--duller people are more likely to favor government intervention into private industry than more intelligent people are.

And yet smarter, high income suburban whites have been trending away from the GOP since Clinton's reelection.

The GOP's fiscal policies clearly favor high IQ income groups, yet, high IQ whites don't vote as solidly for the GOP as low IQ minorities do for the Democrats (This trend is not true in Latin America where the white population overwhelmingly votes in favor of the major conservative/free market/libertarian parties).

Something is holding back many high IQ whites from voting for the GOP over the past two decades.

I can think of two reasons why this is occuring:

1) Taxes are already very low, the market is deregulated, and we are very prosperous. As a result, high IQ whites can afford to flirt with the Democrats on social issues now that fiscal policy has been taken care of (or was taken care of prior the the recession-depression).

2) Social issues are turning off high IQ whites to the GOP.

The higher one's IQ is the less likely you are to be religious, and the highest IQ whites tend to be WASPs in the heavily Democrat Northeast.

Northern WASPs are much less devout than white Catholics and hearltand Protestants. WASPs have been trending Democrat since Clinton's first term. Northern WASPs used to be the core of the GOP coalition until Reagan captured the heartland for the Republicans.

The idea that the Republicans are a socially conservative hearland party is actually very recent. Before, the GOP was the moneyed establishment party while the Democrats were the working man's party.

If social issues are hurting the GOP among high IQ whites, then perhaps they should press for cultural federalism where the state's set their own social policy on issues like abortion, prayer in school, etc.

At the same time the GOP should concentrate on fiscal issues, foreign policy, health care, getting entitlements under control longterm, crime, transportation, infrstructure, etc, in order to win over high IQ and high earning whites back to the party.

Anonymous said...

Cultural federalism doesn't win elections. If someone cares about "progressive" social issues, their sexier choice is always the Democrats who will impose their will upon all states.

Also, as the blogger points out, trying to appeal to fiscally conservative, high IQ Americans is like finding the high ground on the Titanic - not a sound long-term strategy unless things change.

If the high IQ contingent wants to abandon the GOP for the Democrats for no better reason than the fact the GOP has a lot of fundies, they will have to lie in the grave they've dug for themselves.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's because the Clinton administration was widely perceived as competent and the Bush administration as incompetent, especially on the economy. It makes no sense to vote Republican for taxes that are a few % lower if the entire economy is destroyed in the process. All those smart rich people lost more in the stock market/ real estate crash during the Bush administration than they'll ever get back from a small % change in taxes.

Anonymous said...

or a small change in the amount of regulation of the economy

The Undiscovered Jew said...

It makes no sense to vote Republican for taxes that are a few % lower if the entire economy is destroyed i" the process.

But will we be able to maintain our Reagan-Clinton, low tax, free market, bipartisan consensus as low IQ minorities swell the ranks of the Democrat base?

I'm of the opinion that the Democrats will shift further left on economics, causing more moderate, white upper middle class, Democrats to shift to the GOP.

The ugly truth for the Democrats is that Clinton's free market moderation was the exception not the rule of future Democrat politics.

Of course hardcore white social liberals are unlikely to vote GOP.

My strategy of cultural federalism combined with better economic management would be targeted at more center left Democrats and centrist Republicans rather than the diehard Kossack types.

Stopped Clock said...

Let's not forget that Obama ran on a campaign platform which included promising to cut taxes. I personally never believed it, but a lot of people did, and I don't see him getting away with passing a gigantic tax hike and having all his middle and upper class Democratic supporters just say "Eh, I guess we gotta do what we gotta do, thanks to Bush. Sure, I'll be happy to pay an extra $20000 a year in taxes from now on to support a bunch of poor people who don't agree with me on pretty much anything except hating Bush." Taxes in blue states aren't remarkably higher than in red states which leads me to believe there are no longer any great differences between the parties when it comes to economic policies ... small differences, sure, but not like what we had pre-Reagan where the income tax was higher than Canada's and some Dems wanted to go even higher.

Stopped Clock said...

I guess you were really talking about the more distant future. In that case, anything can happen, and I won't say it's unlikely that there will be calls for the restoration of WW2-like emergency tax increases under the guise of pleasant sounding things like children's healthcare coverage.

Another possible path of progress is to start hacking away at Social Security, which funnels money to old white people, and move towards a system like what Japan and Korea have where the government pays nearly nothing and people have to rely on their children to support them.

Audacious Epigone said...

Undiscovered,

I'm not sure to what extent it factors into political choices, but I know firsthand that what HS wrote recently regarding income taxes is pretty accurate: Few six-figure earners pay what a strict reading of the IRC mandates them to pay.

Also, even though the first Gulf War is/was widely regarded to be prudent and successful, I wonder to what extent the interventionism of both Bush Presidents played against northern and West Coast white support. How much did the braying about Axis of Evil, ending tyranny in the world, etc, turn on Southern whites and turn off northern/West Coast whites? In Albion's Seed, Fischer notes that the 'Scot-Irish' South has never opposed a foreign war the US has been involved in, and as Inductivist has shown, these folks are still far more martial in their ways of thinking than more liberal parts of the country, especially the Northeast.

Relatedly, to the second anon's point, I wonder how much of the slide away from the GOP since the Clinton years has been a Bush effect that an 'up and comer' whose approach and style are more along the lines of Newt Gingrich in the mid-nineties will be able to regain.

Re: federalism (and I, personally, would love for the GOP to adopt this as part of its national platform) for social issues--I'd love the GSS to give us insight into primary voters for the 2008 election cycle. I doubt it'll happen, because of sample size issues, but Ron Paul pushed federalism on some hotbutton issues like abortion. Anon is probably correct about committed social progressives still favoring the nationwide liberal aims of the Democratic party, but it seems plausible to me that most minimal regulations, low taxation, little-wealth-redistribution affluent types in blue states who are generally socially liberal but not strongly so could be enticed by the idea that where they live social liberalism would prevail without getting to bent out of shape about restrictions on abortion or time for intelligent design in schools down in Texas.

SC,

Yes, Obama's ability to captivate whiterpeople, blacks, and bandwagon moderates without giving many details at all as to what he plans to do or how he plans to do it definitely was an asset he leveraged.

Re: social security, the sooner we start hacking away at it, the better. Politically, it's only going to become more and more difficult to do so.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

AE,

Taxes are more or less as low as they can get without somehow curtailing entitlement programs (my preferred solution to Social Security is means testing).

Re: federalism (and I, personally, would love for the GOP to adopt this as part of its national platform)

Federalism sort if is the Republican's social policy platform.

For example, during the primary debates I remember mainstream candidates like Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney saying they wanted abortion to be thrown back to the states. Ron Paul wasn't the only candidate arguing abortion should be regulated by the states.

The problem is the GOP does not do a good job of explaining their social policy (or any policy, frankly).

In the future, they need to make it clear their problem with social liberalism is liberalism is being enforced from DC on down instead of giving the impression that Republicans want to force social cosnervatism nation wide.

al fin said...

What proportion of voters actually understand the issues, as opposed to the people who get their ideas from a TV comic or MTV? It is a lightweight culture out there. The uneducated are the mainstream.

Throw in the dysgenics component of immigration and differential birthrates and the increasingly populist politics in the US grows less constitutional every year.

The US Constitution is now considered an obstacle to good governance inside the beltway and in most state houses and legislatures.

Audacious Epigone said...

Undiscovered,

McCain and Huckabee both supported constitutional amendments restricting access to abortion. It probably hurt Romney among Huckabee's supporters (who were already predisposed against him for his Mormonism) for advocating states to deal with it in their own ways.

Ron in L.A. said...

Audacious one,

I've followed your earlier posts explaining how proximity to the North Pole corresponds with high intelligence as the harsh winters work with evolution to encourage high-IQ survivors. How do you account for the lack of support for market economics among the ethnically homogenous nations bordering the Arctic ocean? I'm thinking of Russia, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, and Canada.

Stopped Clock said...

I suspect your question contains its answer: ethnically homogeneous nations are more apt to support government assistance to the poor, and from there comes support for a more socialistic economy in general.

Although I think that to some extent we also have to account for historical accident. After all, those nations you named are all Western nations, and they all influenced each other in various ways, positively or negatively. Socialism started in Germany and the ideas radiated outward from there, so in a way there is really only one event here, not multiple socialist movements arising independently in each nation. America was less affected by socialism than most Western nations, but I wouldn't say it's necessarily due to the fact that America is further south or has more dark-skinned people in it ... more likely the largest factor is simply that we felt more threatened by Communist imperial ambitions than most Western European nations did.

Audacious Epigone said...

Ron,

For the most part, I'll defer to SC's response. Also, though, keep in mind the differences, both in average estimated IQ and the level of economic freedom, between the US and Denmark or Finland are pretty small. Those northern European countries are still more market-oriented than most of the rest of the world. I suspect the trend in support is similar in those countries, too, with the more intelligent tending to favor less government intervention Russia is a historically special case, but there are people far more qualified than myself who've detailed that.