Intelligence. Absolutely nothing new, just an attempt to state simply what is already well known

City, Animal, Vegetable, or Fruit

ИРОЛОКДК

I R O L E O C D C

You can rearrange these eight letters to make a well-known Russian word.  Or nine letters to make an English word. What is it? An animal, vegetable, fruit, or a city?

Thank you for the answer.  Yes that’s right.  Crocodile. This is a sample item from an intelligence test. Intelligence is something that people are scared to talk about anymore, but everybody has it, and everybody certainly knows it exists.

How you answer 20 or 30 questions like this is a pretty good indication of your intelligence.   Intelligence is highly correlated with success in life.  Lawyers have an average IQ of about 120; janitors less than 90.  Very significantly, it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with language.  Questions like the following (called Raven Progressive Matrices , dating from the 1930s) require no knowledge of either language or mathematics, yet performance on the test correlates very highly with performance on tests involving language and math.

Progressive Matrices

Intelligence is heritable. The genes you got from your mother and father are responsible for somewhere up to 80% of your intelligence. Of course the genes they carry represent many generations back, and you may be smarter or dumber than your parents.  People have wished very hard that this was not true.  They have been trying for eighty years to help people improve their IQs.  Nothing works.  A person can be successful by making good use of the IQ they have, but changing IQ itself doesn’t work.

Race and ethnicity are also inherited.  If you have Chinese parents, you will be Chinese.  Putting these facts together, you come to the conclusion that different races and ethnicities might have different average levels of intelligence.  In fact they do.

This is nothing new. The Greeks knew it. The very first statistician, 100 years ago, Spearman, used intelligence to invent the science of statistics. In World War I, the United States Army was regularly using intelligence tests to choose officers. Since the 1960s people have known the average intelligences of the major ethnic groups within the United States. Here on this slide are the average intelligences.  I’ll tell you the groups.  They include us white Americans.  We invented the tests we put ourselves in the middle at 100.  The other groups include African-Americans, European Jews , Chinese and Japanese, American Indians and Hispanics.

Average Intelligences of Major Ethnic Groups in the United States (Wikipedia)

85     90     90   100    105    115

You’ve heard about the famous bell curve of intelligence distribution.  Here is the bell curve for us white people.  Remember, this isn’t something anybody “found out.”  It’s how IQ is defined.Bell Curve

2/3 are in the middle.  1/6 of the white population has intelligence above 115; another 1/6 below 85.  At the extremes there are some really smart people, and some who really aren’t.  The top sixth is as smart as lawyers; these are dumber than the average janitor.

I mentioned that there is one American population with an average IQ of 115.  There are only 1/30 as many of them as us ordinary white people, but they are still very noticeable.  One in six of them have IQs above 130, compared to 2% of us ordinary white people.  Lots of them are doctors, lawyers, and university professors.  At the IQ level of 155 there are about equal numbers of them as ordinary white people.

And, needless to say, they have been the object of jealousy and prejudice throughout history.  Ordinary white people were jealous and pulled them down. That’s why they came to America.

Bell Curve compared

I also mentioned that there are populations with IQs of 85 and 90.  The same thing happens in reverse with them.  In general white people have more education, earn more money, enjoy more prestige – everything – than these subpopulations.  But these folks don’t see it that way.  Human beings seldom blame their problems on themselves, especially not if the problem is just plain lack of brains.  They blame the most convenient target – in this case, the white man.  They want to pull the white man down.  However, you see that the bell curve is quite wide.  I know of people of every race who are smarter than me.

Bell Curve compare down

We cannot afford to be prejudiced against people because of their race or background. It isn’t fair, and we would make mistakes. We, as individuals, must look at the individual.  Thank goodness we generally do.  There have been famous Americans of every ethnicity.  George Washington chose a free black man to survey the nation’s capital.  Thomas Sowell wrote my favorite econ textbook.  There are famous Dutch too – I read a gripping book entitled “Infidel” by and about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch woman born in Somalia.  That is, used to be Dutch.  Unfortunately, she told the truth about Somalis.  The Dutch kicked her out and she’s now an American.

Now comes the second part of the problem.   Governments cannot look at individuals.  They have to apply the same rules everybody.

The Dutch traditionally take care of each other.  They assume their fellow citizens are smart and hard-working people.  Anybody can have bad luck in this life, and the government takes care of people who have bad luck with their jobs and their health.  The assumption is that when they go back to work, they will pay taxes to support other Dutch people in trouble.

This kind of socialism worked fairly well when it was just Dutch in Holland, Swedes in Sweden and Germans in Germany.  But these countries have invited large numbers of immigrants.  This is how it works – one comes, and eventually brings his whole family.  These immigrants are not nearly as smart, on the average, as white people.  Even if they want an education, most can’t handle it.  Even if they want to work, few of them have the skills for high-paying jobs.  They tend to live together, in poor parts of the cities, where they don’t have work.  They could blame themselves for being dim-witted, or blame the evil white man for their situation.  Guess who they choose?  And, they are becoming more numerous.  They bring their families, and they have lots of children.  The native white people, who have more ability to earn money, pay for it.  Any chance they will start to become angry and prejudiced?  They are – nationalist parties are rising in every European nation.

Western Europe is in a fix.  They can’t send immigrants home, they can’t make them any smarter,  and even job training programs don’t work.  Official Europe works very hard to simply ignore the situation.  Crime reports don’t mention Muslim names.  National government stop keeping statistics.  People who tell the truth – Ayann Hirsi Ali and me in this article – are accused of hate crimes and lose their jobs and citizenship.  Everybody please, just shut up!

I’m saying this to you Ukrainians.  Every country has a right to decide how many, and what kind of immigrants they will accept.  Right now Ukraine doesn’t want any.  Europe wants to press you to become like them and open the doors.  It is poison.  Nobody will blame you if you do like the Japanese, the Chinese and the Baltic states and keep immigrants out.  If you let them in you will experience the same problems as Europe and the USA.  They will become prejudiced against you for being white.  So – avoid prejudice, avoid immigrants.  Stay out of Europe.

Some thoughts on language, a major issue and to some extent false issue here in Ukraine

There are 6000 languages in the world. However, half the world’s population speaks in one of the top four, natively or as a second language.  Three quarters speak one of the top ten.

Linguists are going crazy because languages are going out of use. They run around with recorders capturing the last words of the last speaker of this or that language. We notice that most of these last speakers of a language of course, talk to the anthropologist in some other language which he understands.

So why do we really need all those languages? What’s language good for?

  1. We need to talk with people at home and with acquaintances – our immediate circle.
  2. Languages and dialects distinguish ethnic groups – who you can trust
  3. We need to stay informed through media we can understand: newspapers, television and radio.
  4. We need to learn, to access the world’s store of knowledge.
  5. International businesses, and government, need to communicate for business and to exchange information.
  6. Academic knowledge and the Internet are worldwide resources – they should be available to everybody.

The Indian dialects of Kayapo and Yahi are not written: they are only useful for the first two of the above named purposes: talking among themselves and group identification.

The minor languages of Europe, such as Basque, Irish, Gaelic and Sami, are at least written.  It is a matter of intense pride for Scots to speak Gaelic and for Basques, sandwiched between Spain and France to speak their Euskara Basque language. It boosts national pride.  It creates solidarity among themselves and their communities.

However, when they want to do business, even buying groceries or cars, they need an adequate knowledge of the major language in their home country.  As for staying  informed?  The very nature of minor languages means the information is usually meager and biased.

As the number of speakers of a language increases, there is more and more information available.  About 80,000  titles were published last year in each of German, Spanish and French.  There were more in Russian, an eighth of a million.  In Chinese – a quarter million, and in English– more than a half million titles.  The English books are generally more widely distributed.

The bestselling books in Ireland, Scotland and among the Basques are Harry Potter and Stephen King.  In Ukraine, add a couple of Russians – but no Ukrainians.  If you want to become well-known, write in a language with lots of readers.   Metcalf’s law of networks applies to languages: the value of the language is proportional to the square of the number of users.

English is truly the world language, the only one that fully satisfies all six objectives of language.  Without English a person is cut off from a great deal of academic work, a fair percentage of popular literature, and some portion of news coverage.  The Internet runs on English.  Even speakers of major European languages like German and Spanish make a point of teaching their children English.

Chinese and Russian are distant seconds as world languages.  Several countries speak Chinese natively, and there are overseas Chinese everywhere.  Russian was the language of the world’s most extensive empire.  A lot of international trade is conducted in both languages.  Nonetheless, the elites in both countries make a point of learning English.

Whereas students in a monolingual society like China, Japan or the United States can spend more time learning things that will improve technical skills like computer programming or engineering, a kid growing up in Basque country has to spend countless hours learning at least one other language natively, and then on top of that learn an international language like English.

Forcing the teaching of Basque (or Irish, or Gaelic) is a boon for politicians. They get a lot of mileage out of inflaming the fears of the common people that Spain and France are taking advantage of them.  People make money teaching, translating and publishing.  But – the languages are no more than expensive hobbies.

I think you see a pattern here if you want to deal in the worlds of commerce, diplomacy and academics, you cannot do it in a minor language. You are much better off speaking English than anything else; otherwise Chinese or maybe Russian.

Don’t let politicians convince you which languages ought to be spoken.  As always, they have their own interests at heart, not yours.  Don’t let them waste your time, don’t let them create false divisions.  Make your own decision, and focus on the language or languages that will be most useful.  Unless you are a politician, it isn’t Basque.

Once we realize that government isn’t the solution

Introduction

The West appears headed for disaster.  In every developed nation the generation coming of age is encountering the same problem: they simply are not needed.  Not for jobs, not to serve their societies, not as parents.  Even were they needed, they are woefully unprepared. 

At the same time, every Western country finds itself sinking deeper into debt as a result of redistributive social policies.  Almost all have run significant budget deficits for years, and most are well past every historical estimate of unstainable debt to GDP ratios.  They survive by printing money.  Through their willingness to support each other’s lies, and the gullibility of their citizenry, they have so far gotten away with it.

Politicians and most journalists focus on what can be done about any given problem.  They don’t deal well with problems that have no solutions.  Yet, the problems that beset the developed world are clearly in that category.  Government cannot solve them.  Government intervention postpones, but ultimately exacerbates them.  When governments fail, it will be up to us as individuals to cope with them.  Moreover, if our grandchildren are to be anything like us, we will somehow have to live through the problems as families and societies, whether or not the present geopolitical superstructures under which we live remain in place.

The mildest prognostications assume that present governmental systems and social arrangements will endure.  All they need is help getting over the current rough patch.  Our leaders advocate Band-Aid solutions like Quantitative Easing, in the (stated, if not believed) expectation that all will soon again be right, and that the citizenry can be mollified at least until the present generation of politicians leaves office.

Stronger prognostications call ever more loudly for measures such as secession from the United States, a return to the gold standard, and abolition of the European Union and the Euro.  Their advocates assume that the populations are viable, but greatly in need of shedding excessive and burdensome government, and returning to fundamentals.

The problems nobody wants even to voice, because they have no solutions, are numerous.  One is demographic.  Western nations have experienced, invited even, a staggering ethnic diversity that will be impossible to undo.  They have endorsed many decades of dysgenic  policies, resulting in fewer people, especially fewer highly capable people, in each successive generation.  Industrialization and computerization has fundamentally changed the workplace, reducing the job opportunities, even eliminating the need for labor contributions from the growing percentage of unexceptional individuals.

Tensions are building through the profound disconnects among:

  • The value of different individuals’ contributions to society,
  • The shrinking ratio of highly productive to less productive members of society
  • The fraction of productivity available to support government and the unproductive
  • The debt that is being accrued to paper over these differences.   

The chances of an explosive release of that tension seem relatively high, and assumptions we might make with regard to the continuity of governments and social arrangements after such a release are probably optimistic.  We are thinking in the wrong frame of reference, government.  The real question is, how will we survive as individuals, families, and communities?

The history of the problem, beginning with the Agricultural Revolution

Hunter gatherers have always lived close to the edge. There are no stores of excess wealth in tribal society. Without agriculture, there is not much mechanism for creating wealth. Nonetheless, some hunter gatherers can achieve quite an advanced age.   They live fairly healthy lives in their forests where the biggest foes they have to fight are carnivores, disease, and the greatest threat of all, their fellow man.

With the advent of agriculture we started to live in towns and cities and we started to accumulate stored wealth. Agriculture is a more efficient way of amassing the calories to feed ourselves. Soon we were building houses and warehousing excess grain.

There had always been leaders in tribal society. Somebody needed to make the decisions and lead the efforts of war and defense. Now, with stored wealth, the leaders had some material to work with. The king could appropriate wealth from one set of members of society and use it to pay other members to serve as warriors, or builders, or whatever purpose he wanted to put the labor. We see that leaders of some very ancient societies such as the Babylonians and the Egyptians found enough excess labor in their civilizations to build huge monuments to themselves.

The upshot was that while the average man may not have lived much better, he was more productive. Government managed to sweep away the bulk of the fruits of that excess productivity, and spend it to the glory of the governing class. This established a pattern which has remained unbroken through the history of civilization.  Despite all, the common man’s lot has slowly improved.

Roman citizens, if not their slaves, had quite nice material surroundings. When one visits Roman ruins anywhere, such as the distant outposts in Germany, one finds the floor plans of the houses look like they would be livable by today’s standards. Sanitation and baths were not at all bad. Better than a child’s summer camp of today.

Material well-being has improved gradually and unevenly through the ages. Houses became larger, diets became more varied and trade brought more goods to the common man. And kings were always able to appropriate some of the surplus from society either to their own use, building grand castles and living in a sumptuous style, and/or expanding their kingdoms through warfare. The amount of wealth that was available to support armies was quite impressive.

The Industrial Revolution

Since the Industrial Revolution, our excess productivity has so far outstripped our needs that we were able to expand our populations at a rapid pace. This explosive population growth ended in the 20th century in Western Europe and North America.   In Latin America it has slowed rapidly over the last two decades, and it appears to be slowing even in Africa and in the Middle East.  The innovativeness of European and North Asian peoples allowed all world populations to expand and to improve their material lot.

There have been several accelerating trends since the dawn of the industrial age: productivity, the size of government, and the erosion of individual self-sufficiency.

Productivity allowed per capita consumption to rise, even if the average person doesn’t do the consuming. This was true with the harnessing of chemical energy in the 19th century, and it is especially true with the automated application of algorithms through the programmed computer in the 20th, to automate repetitive jobs.

Marx described the dehumanizing effect of 19th century capitalism on workers.  The capitalist first invests in plant and equipment.  It takes entrepreneurial skill to organize the capital and the skills required to build a factory.  It takes skilled planners and craftsmen to construct the buildings, the machine tools, the transportation and communications connections.  Once complete, this capitalized labor repays itself many times over in increased productivity.

The newly productive worker less often has to plan or to deal with exceptions.  Even though the factory’s overall productivity was many times that of an equal number of craftsmen, working in a factory demanded fewer skills of the individual. The premium for intelligence was diminished… no special wit was required to succeed on a factory floor.  Pay relative to other strata of society diminished accordingly, although productivity has facilitated a significant increase in absolute pay, that is, buying power.

Capitalists and workers both benefited from increases in productivity.  The biggest beneficiary of all, however, was government.  It quickly learned to appropriate the excess wealth.  They armed and fought wars, as always.  Moreover, the bureaucrats expanded their purviews by finding hitherto unrecognized needs for government services.  

Government education grew dramatically around the turn of the 20th century.  Income tax was introduced in the USA in 1913.  In the first part of the twentieth century government began to interest itself in public health, retirement income, healthcare, unemployment insurance and support of the disabled.  Progressives trumpeted a “social gospel” to the effect that society was productive enough that none of its members should be left in poverty.   As they attained some of their objectives, progressives added others.  They decreed that there should be a minimum level of support for pensioners, and there should be universal medical insurance.   Nobody, however little they contribute to the common weal, should have to die or be forced into penury because of their medical problems. 

All advanced democracies expanded the level of economic security they offered their citizens.  It was good politics, an idea whose time had come.  In democracies, the beneficiaries usually constituted a voting majority.  Socialist regimes, democratic or not, purported that they represented the interests of the common man.

In the West social programs were financed through taxes on business and individuals.  Under communism the state assumed the role of the capitalist, on the assumption that surplus wealth generated through superior organization of resources belonged to all the people.  In all Western societies there was some mix of public and private ownership.  Communications and transportation, natural monopolies, tended to be public, and factories private.

At the dawn of the computer age, the last third of the twentieth century, the populations of Western Europe, North America and North Asia were far more prosperous than at any time in their history.  Taxes generally amounted to somewhere between 30% and 60% of middle class income, yet what was left after taxes was adequate for an enviable lifestyle.  Tax monies nourished flourishing bureaucracies.

It is the nature of bureaucracy to expand to consume the resources available.  Individuals in government have a constant desire to increase the size of their fiefdoms and thereby acquire more power and income.  The process feeds on itself.  People outside government have few tools to curtail its growth.  Every program finds a constituency in the private sector which is enthusiastic about seeing their sector of government grow.   Farmers benefit from food giveaways.  Defense contractors benefit from wars.  Poor people benefit from increased social programs.  Technology companies benefit from the war on cancer, war on AIDS, and the war on drugs.  Whatever merit such “wars” have, they benefit careers inside government and investors in companies doing business with government.

The computer revolution

On the productivity front, computers have ushered in a second revolution. The Industrial Revolution had created a workplace which generally required no special skills or intelligence. The bulk of the thinking had been done by the people who designed the factory in the first place.   Management handled the rest, with the intent that the factory hand would not have to call on his own judgment very often. A century-old Navy expression captures the idea clearly: “Designed by geniuses for execution by idiots.” Today, computers are advancing that concept with a vengeance.

In printing, the Linotype operators for newspapers had to be highly skilled. Each key they pressed resulted in a metal die falling into a tray, these trays to be manually arranged into an entire newspaper page. A mistake setting a line of type was quite expensive to fix.

Reporters had adopted typewriters around the turn of the 20th century. Every article wound up being typed several times: by the reporter, the editor, and again by the Linotype operator. But in the 1960s computers eliminated the duplicate effort.  They could store the story as typed by the reporter, after which the editor could merely change what was stored in the computer.   The last step was to create a punched paper tape version of the article to drive the Linotype machine, quickly and without errors. The revolution eventually eliminated the jobs of highly paid, highly unionized workers. It didn’t just make their work mindless, it made it unnecessary.  In the decades since the whole process has become seamlessly integrated, and the paper medium itself has become obsolete.

Computer automation is having similar effects in most spheres of business. Retail groceries use automated cash registers to control inventory. Computers send a message automatically when the shelves need to be restocked. The computers tell the suppliers automatically when to send groceries to the store. The groceries are picked automatically within a warehouse and assembled by machines to be loaded on trucks. Computers tell the truck driver what route to take, when and where to buy fuel.   The numbers and skills of people involved continue to fall dramatically.  Self checkout , eliminating checkers, is one of the latest innovations.

Computers are making a strong push into areas which were thought to be immune to automation, such as medicine and education. A doctor can dictate medical notes just as I am dictating this article. His notes become part of an electronic medical record, and may also be used to form prescriptions for a patient and to drive patient billing. Artificial intelligence, exemplified by IBM’s Watson, is being used to help doctors make diagnoses. Computers are being used to perform surgical operations. Even the most highly paid specialists, if they perform the same skilled operation over and over, are in danger of being replaced by machines. The only people who appear indispensable are the people who instruct the machines how to do things in the first place. This is capital investment in the 21st century: telling machines via computer code how to perform repetitive processes, however complex.

Automation has totally eliminated a number of jobs. Not just dumbed them down, but gotten rid of them. Middle-class citizens with no special education or skills, and nothing exceptional in the way of intelligence, find that there are fewer and fewer jobs that are suited to them. Eighty percent of Americans work in the service sector, many for low wages as clerks, cooks, and drivers. Computers are applying relentless pressure even in these sectors.

The problems are permanent

People have lost the skills their ancestors possessed. Most cannot work the land, build houses, fix their own cars, or do the other things that would be required to sustain themselves without the support of the advanced civilization around them. Their labor is redundant, superfluous in the society as it is structured, and they do not know how to go back in time.  Less developed societies retain an advantage.  In the backwoods of Honduras or Ukraine the common man still knows how to build a house, dig a well, and raise food.  They may not be highly productive, but they have the self-esteem that comes with the ability to perform needed work.

Agitators and politicians lead us to believe our stagnation is due to some sinister plot by bankers, plutocrats and the other political party.  Jobs are being sent offshore, financiers are ripping off the common man.  This is unlikely a conscious plot, but simply the confluence of a number of trends:

  • The two-century-old trend towards industrialization
  • The half century old wave of computerizing repetitive operations
  • The dysgenic secular trend in intelligence.  Within all races and ethnicities, the less intelligent are having the most children.  Among ethnicities, the more intelligent are having the fewest children overall.  Herbert Spencer’s prophesy of a century and a half ago has been fulfilled: “The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.” 
  • The diminishing quality of education, the result of less capable students, less capable teachers, and diminished classroom discipline resulting from changes in the norms of society.

The net is that a shrinking percentage of the population is needed to do, or even capable of doing, things that their fellow man needs done.   Productivity has made human labor increasingly unnecessary.  The superfluous people are smart enough, however, to recognize that they are not needed.  Their vain attempts to invest their lives with meaning through drugs, alcohol and violence and other antisocial behavior, announcing their presence rather than passively whiling away their lives in front of the boob tube, is part of the problem.  If we were honest with ourselves, we could offer them some form of Huxley’s soma rather than a war on drugs.

A related question is, what needs to be done?  What does a person really need in order to survive? Taking into account the great increases that have been realized in productivity, how much labor does it take to meet a human being’s needs?

Our most fundamental need is housing. A $200,000 house is certainly adequate for the average American family. The house will last 50 years or more. The capital cost, in present dollars, would then be about 200,000/50 = $4,000 per year.  If labor costs $20 an hour, it would take 10,000 hours’ capital investment to house a family (manufacture all the materials and build it), or 200 hours of labor per year.

Agriculture has become vastly productive. Crop yields have increased and machinery has greatly reduced the number of people required to feed the entire population. The American farm population has fallen to about one percent, and yet they produce enough to feed ourselves and export a good deal as well. By the simplest arithmetic, if one person works 2,000 hours per year, and one percent of the population is able to feed everybody else, then the per capita labor expended to grow food is about 20 hours per year. The labor expended processing and distributing that food may be several times greater, but all in all it probably takes no more than 100 hours of labor per year to feed a person.

The same kinds of arguments can be made for transportation and communications. Due to the vast economies of scale of modern enterprise, it does not take that much labor to provide a single person with everything he needs in life.

Taken altogether, by virtue of our collective productivity we should be able to live adequately working quarter-time and lead comfortable lives indeed if we were to work full time.  However, strong countertrends appear to have prevented that outcome in most parts of the world, and reversed or at least stalled them in the industrial democracies.

One countertrend is that we have maintained the rough equation between labor and rewards.  The Industrial Revolution served to reduce labor from the level of skilled crafts to repetitive factory operations.  The computer revolution accelerated that trend, and eliminated the need altogether in many cases.  Modern societies have more labor than they need.  A significant function of modern governments is to attempt to arrange income streams for people whose labor is not in demand.  In the United States they do this by providing loans to students, food stamps to the poor, medical care to the indigent, unemployment payments, outright welfare, and disability.  For all that, however, the truly productive minority continues to receive a disproportionate share of society’s income.

A second countertrend is consumption-related debt.  Very few individuals are free to manage their own lives, having encumbered the proceeds of their future labor to feed current desires for consumption.  Most people do not have financial freedom.  This is a significant shift from a half century ago, before the advent of revolving credit, when most debt was in the form of home mortgages and auto loans.  The debt was generally to local banks, which held the notes, handled their own collections and were liable for defaults.  Government was not generally involved in initiating or guaranteeing such loans, and especially not in dictating loan policy to banks.  Fifty years ago debt was in the form of private contracts between what was assumed to be two rational parties.  People didn’t generally contract for or receive debt they could not support.  Government has since stepped in to question the motives and mental capacity of both borrower and lender, and almost forced the majority of citizens to become debt slaves.

A third countertrend is the growing appetite of government and private sector entities that depend on government.  A large fraction of society’s production is confiscated through taxation and reallocated to serve the supposed public good.  The reallocation is almost invariably inefficient.  The bureaucrats are numerous, well paid and not very effective.  The private sector companies contracted to carry out government programs are likewise inefficient.   Their incentive is not to satisfy their ultimate clients, the taxpayers, but the government agents who oversee them.  Government oversight is generally weak.  The civil service system is not designed to select on the basis of specific talents, the incentives for doing outstanding work are weak, and pleasing the politicians serves them better than serving the beneficiaries.  Most sectors of the economy have coopted government to some degree.  Those in which the government is most heavily entwined – banks and medicine, for example – are manifestly inefficient.  Other sectors such as education and defense are for the most part creatures of the government in the first place. 

The trend lines are coming close to crossing

For several decades already the productive subset of the citizenry of every western country has been under increased pressure.  They are declining in numbers: Sarrazin says that in Germany there are roughly half as many grandchildren as grandparents among ethnic Germans.  The brightest of those who might be productive have been drawn into unproductive sectors of the economy such as government, banking, and finance.  Although increases in productivity have allowed the economy to grow despite their loss, inflation-adjusted average income and per capita GDP are relatively stagnant as an increasingly lower fraction of the workforce is doing the actual production.

An increasing number of people are coming of age who will never play a productive role in society.  In many countries their numbers are augmented by unskilled, often illegal immigrants.  They suffer greater lacks of education and even basic intellect than prior generations, at a time when the overall number of job openings in the productive sector is shrinking, and those that remain demand increasing levels of both intellect and education.  Politicians in Europe and America deplore this “lost generation” as if it is something government policy could fix.  It appears, however, to be for the most part an unavoidable result of demographics on one hand and technical advances on the other.

Politicians, journalists, and all who influence policy are obliged to be optimistic.  They do not talk about problems that cannot be solved.  They steadfastly ignore the wisdom of their grandparents, substantiated by a century of intelligence research, that different ethnic groups differ significantly in average intelligence.  They refuse to believe that the workplace changes brought by industrialization and computerization are permanent and irreversible.  However, as Philip Dick wrote, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, does not go away.”  We appear to be on a collision course with a few awkward realities, chief among which is that the majority of the population in advanced democracies is economically either superfluous or parasitic.  When push comes to shove, and it becomes widely recognized that society does not generate enough excess wealth to support everybody, some will be left out.  It will be painful.

Government policy has so far not remedied any of the above-named problems.  Government is aggressively expanding, in the belief that it can attract smart and selfless civil servants who can reorder society and put things right again.  Their refusal to acknowledge insoluble problems, and formulation of policy as if they could be solved, has only made matters worse.  Immigration policy imagines that the unassimilable can be assimilated.  Education policy assumes that the unintelligent can be educated.  Labor policy assumes that the jobs which have been taken over by automation can somehow be recovered or replaced, stimulating a renewed need for human labor.  None of that will happen.  What then?

When empires collapse

It is impossible to predict what will happen when an old order – ironically, in this case, the “New World Order” – collapses.  Predictions about the collapse of the Soviet Union, post-Soviet society and the post-Soviet world order were all dramatically wrong.  Most predictions are constrained by the obstinate refusal to abandon cherished principles.  A prognosticator loses his audience once he puts aside the belief in democracy, the equality of ability among human populations, the belief that most humans are capable of performing useful labor within some productive sector of society, the belief that most humans are smart enough to manage their own affairs, and the expectation that there will be no revolutionary change, that future governments and social orders will evolve smoothly from the present.  Yet those scenarios seem, upon reflection, among the more probable.

Predictions that violate these expectations will simply not be read.  However, we as individuals need to be prepared to survive in any eventuality.  Those who accept the credo of the Abrahamic religions, that our purpose on earth is to “be fruitful and multiply”, need to prepare their children and grandchildren to prosper in what may be a very different world.  When it becomes impossible to envision any way to preserve the present order, it is necessary to project disorder.  The challenge is not to fix the present system, but to survive whatever succeeds it. 

The advantages of living in a lesser “democracy”

Modern democracies intrude into citizens’ lives far more than monarchs ever dared. That’s the view of writers such as Alain de Benoist and Trenton Fervor. The major concern of the typical monarch was hanging onto his crown. He had to placate and hold off nobles who might aspire to usurp it and keep the peasantry satisfied enough not to switch allegiances, and sufficiently healthy that they could serve as soldiers. It was wise to leave them alone otherwise.

Modern bureaucratic states have little to fear from usurpers or invaders. In the popular imagination politicians have only to fear being voted out of office – but even that is a chimera. They may experience defeat, but they do not suffer from defeat. They mark their time selling access as lobbyist or corporate executives, acquiring healthy bankrolls along the way, until they can return to office. Bureaucrats enjoy lifelong sinecures.

All of the best respected so-called democracies are run by entrenched elites. However corrosive their words for each other, their conduct demonstrates an elaborate professional courtesy, a live-and-let-live approach. They almost never, for instance, send each other to jail for even the most egregious offenses. Jail is for common people. Why, you might get raped there! There is also a mutual understanding as to how fortunes are acquired in politics, and a willingness not to question each other’s sources of wealth.

Governments propagandize their citizenry from grade school on up about the benefits of democracy. Children learn that they are ruled with the “consent of the governed.” Not that anybody offers them a consent form to sign. They later learn that paying taxes, performing military service, observing extensive and often nonsensical rules about where a person is allowed to be, what he is allowed to ingest, and how he is allowed to drive are also “by consent.” Lastly, they learn that there are many things they are certainly not allowed to say, and wise not even to think. Many observations that were no more than everyday knowledge to their grandparents’ generation are now called “hate speech.” Do you question the number given for victims of the Holocaust, six million? Do you question the wisdom of gay marriage? Do you wonder how many rapes are actually committed on campus, and even worse, who commits them? Better shut up before they lock you up.

Over the past couple of centuries the economic freedom afforded by modern democracies (and fossil fuels) allowed business to realize extraordinary increases in productivity. Democratic societies created vast wealth. While much of it flowed to the entrepreneurs, a great deal remained with the working, merchant and professional classes as well. It began to appear that freedom from want and from fear of catastrophe could be made available to everybody. In any case, politicians observed that promising as much would get them elected. It was simply a matter of skimming from society’s wealth, those with money to spare, in order to provide for victims of bad breaks.

Unfortunately, assessing bad breaks involves considerable moral hazard. It is hard to say no to a supplicant, even when the problem is manifestly his own fault. Saying “yes” actually benefits the people charged with saying “no.” The government, in its role as middleman, has had to hire an army of bureaucrats to handle the redistribution. Their very jobs depend on the problems, and there is no way they intend to see any of them solved. More and more learned to take rather than provide for themselves, and the skimming has become painful for productive members of society. Margaret Thatcher quipped “the problem with socialism is that you quickly run out of other people’s money.”

The justifications given for this plunder have resulted in some of the worst abuses of freedom. It is not enough for government to simply say that it is redistributing from citizens with the ability to make money to those who lack it. Productive people might have complained that it was unfair – which it was. Government was therefore obliged to make excuses, concoct a rationale, a reason why the unproductive people are that way. In cases where there are obvious reasons, such as a physical handicap, they exploit them to the fullest. Otherwise, they contend that the unproductive are somehow the victims of the more productive.

Thus, blacks and Hispanics have become presumed victims. The most obvious abuses, such as slavery, are in the distant past and not at all unique to the putative victims. They were certainly not universally suffered by the supposed victims or their distant ancestors, and many other ethnicities also suffered slavery and discrimination. Nonetheless, government blames these minorities’ failure today on these events of yesterday. They also go out of their way to invent offenses that they assert are taking place today, such as the “invisible knapsack” of “white privilege.”

Government makes same types of claim on behalf of women, gays, and any other class of people whom it benefits the bureaucrats to identify as victims. The homely and the obese are seeing their day come as well. The hierarchy of talent and respect that stood for centuries has been upended. The Jews, however, the perpetual outsiders, who seem to have had a hand in all this upheaval, appear untouched. They remain in the seats of power. A deeper look at their inability to reproduce their people and their culture, however, shows that they are the greatest victims of all of their own success, if such success can be accurately attributed to them. Jewish identity is dissolving through intermarriage and their bloodline is thinning through homosexuality, adoption, and a simple aversion to having children.

Blaming the productive members of society – white men are the archetype – certainly makes them less productive. They cannot hire whom they want to get their business done, choose to live among similar people, or choose private social arrangements among themselves. They can lose their jobs and even be imprisoned for the imagined crimes of racism, sexism and anti-Semitism, thought crimes against which nobody could mount a defense. They cannot impart their knowledge of how the world really works to their children, lest the children carelessly let slip some forbidden truth which brings upon them the wrath of the authorities and the scorn of their “better informed,” that is, more highly indoctrinated peers. Public schools and universities do not serve their children well. The curriculum is paced according to the ability level of the disadvantaged, out of the forlorn, eternal hope that they may someday catch up. College admissions discriminate against them for the same reasons.

Of course, granting perpetual government favor to those not favored by God or nature is expensive. They breed – the normal disincentives to bearing children have been removed. These populations become more and more dependent on government. Government, in turn, continues to invent new ways to buy their votes. Poor people are invited to immigrate (and vote for the leftist parties). People too young to work are perpetuated in their adolescence, paid to attend institutions of supposedly higher education (and vote for the leftist parties). The catalog of identified disabilities continues to grow, giving people who are unwilling to work an excuse not even to try (and vote for the leftist parties).

It has long been impossible to balance the budget and at the same time buy off these constituencies. Almost every rich democracy is running an unsustainable budget deficit. The United States, through heroic efforts, has brought the ratio of expenses to revenues down from 4:3 to 5:4. To paper over the difference, all governments create money out of thin air – and claim that there is no way it will lead to inflation. Per capita debt in most rich countries is far greater than per capita annual income. Righting their budgets is a mathematical impossibility, eventual collapse a certainty. The politicians’ game is to milk the system as long as they can, and pray that somebody else takes the blame when it all collapses.

Everywhere, those who can do so dip their hands into the public till. Plunder is subtle in rich countries. Obama awards the Obamacare computer contract to a friend and major campaign contributor; an acquaintance of Hillary Clinton “advises” her to buy an option which results in a several thousand percent overnight profit; George W. Bush was persuaded by campaign contributors to revoke Glass-Steagall, which curbed banking abuses. However, international surveys such as those by Transparency International and the World Bank show that despite all it remains considerably easier to do business in the big democracies.

There are a few benighted corners of the world in which the despots are content, just like royalty of old, simply to hang onto their crowns. As every nation must, they call themselves democracies, but the leaders of the “true” democracies sneer at the very pretense. These lesser “democracies” show no subtlety at all in their rapacious theft. Businesses are nationalized, and then privatized to the privileged at the drop of a hat. Tax police may investigate a company relentlessly, until the owner finds it in his best interest to sell out, for a song, to a crony of the president.

Sober leaders of the Western powers, people like that paragon of fiscal personal virtues Dominique Strauss-Kahn, constantly lecture leaders of the lesser democracies on the error of their ways. Moreover, they don’t lend them much money. The supposedly smart leaders of Western institutions prefer to loan to the crypto crooks in charge of Western democracies rather than the conspicuously crooked leaders of second-class nations. This has the happy effect of forcing the latter to live within their means, more or less. Argentina has renounced its foreign debt, several times. The citizenry is not on the hook to pay anything back. Ukraine’s national debt is only about $2,000 per capita – less than 1% of that of many Western European nations.

When the day of reckoning comes, when it becomes too patently obvious to all concerned that the sovereign powers can never repay their debts, all countries will be stuck with the two historically inevitable alternatives: renounce their debt, or inflate it away. Either the bondholders – that would be pension trust funds, by and large – suffer a default, or inflation dissolves the pensioners’ purchasing power. Either way they lose, along with Medicare, food stamp and other government beneficiaries. Meanwhile, those benighted lands with small debts, mostly to the West, should be able to shed even those obligations amidst the general chaos. They will certainly face disruptions as world trade falls, but their currencies and economies, already rock-bottom, may perversely, hold up better than their more elaborately structured, and hence more fragile, counterparts in the more developed countries.

Moreover, these sham democracies leave the people alone! Argentina is in many ways a very free country. The government is so busy making a complete mess of the economy that people are free to do as they will outside of the political realm. The same is true of Ukraine. As long as you don’t make the mistake of getting between the pigs and the trough, you have few problems.

In Ukraine we can talk on just about any topic without fear of jeopardizing friendships or losing jobs. Do the races differ in average intelligence? Do Jewish interests have an outsized impact on politics and foreign policy? Is it wise to persuade women to excel in the workforce rather than raise children? Should the advocacy of homosexuality be allowed in schools? I am pleased to say that one can have a conversation on any of these topics in Kiev without being peremptorily shouted down.

The level of medicine here is quite good – especially if you pay for it. Socialized medicine is such a sham that even ordinary people bribe the doctors to get ordinary service. If you are willing to pay a hundred dollars a visit out of your own pocket you get outstanding service. An English friend with osteoporosis needed several steel pins to fix her broken leg here. The Pakistani and even English doctors at National Health were impressed at the quality of the work. Kiev is a medical tourism destination for dentistry, fertility and transplant services.

This erstwhile worker’s paradise isn’t unionized. Bus drivers drive, waiters wait, and builders build for market wages, and they don’t strike. Buses, trains, trolleys and taxis are old, but they are well maintained. The metro costs 25¢ per ride. They plan to raise it; 40¢ seems to be the most people will pay. The ridership is middle class. If a rider smells of urine, or acts rowdy, he will hear about it. There aren’t any minorities permitted to live outside the norms of civilized behavior.

Kids here grow up more or less normal. Schools do not infuse them with propaganda. Nobody tells them that “white privilege” accounts for where their parents have arrived in life. Materially, they are much less well off than Blacks in America or Western Europe. Spiritually, however, they do all right. They are mostly members of supportive communities of people like themselves. Most have loving parents, and grandparents to fill any gaps in the love department. They grow up healthy and hetero. The high level of overt heterosexuality here must be an affront to gay-prideniks everywhere.

Two opposite forces are bringing the populations of rich countries down. Meaningless jobs, for those who have them, create a vast amount of stress. Conversely, the increasing fraction of the populace that has no job finds life all the more meaningless, an endless cycle of watching TV and cashing welfare checks. The society is becoming sour and cantankerous. The young people don’t trust their own skills. They depend on government, but don’t really trust it. They seek escapes from this uncomfortable reality in drugs, alcohol, video games, television, and sex divorced from any notion of procreation. Unhappy with themselves, uncertain about their security, they avoid the responsibility of family.

For every four Americans of working age who work, there are three who do not. One in four of those who work are part time. 80% of all US jobs are in the service sector, and many of them require no special skills and pay abysmally. 20% of workers do not make enough money to pay taxes.

The West has been persuaded to conflate material well-being with physical and spiritual health. It doesn’t work that way. The centuries-long increase in lifespans, especially for women, appears to be coming to an end in America. We are becoming obese. With obesity comes less activity, and with that comes a decrease in physical well-being and self-esteem. Meanwhile, in backwaters with traditional diets and some combination of folk cures and old-fashioned medicine, people seem healthier. They walk a lot. Many have physically demanding jobs. They spend much of their free time working in their vegetable gardens. Although Latin America and Eastern Europe are infected with television, fast food and video games like the rest of the world, remnants of their traditional culture keep them more slender and more socially cohesive than the richer countries.

The enlightenment dream that a well-chosen government could make its citizens happy has turned into a nightmare. Governments everywhere operate in the best interests of the governing class. The average citizen is better off adopting the cynical wisdom of the ages. Take care of yourself and your family. Don’t expect anything from government – avoid contact with it as much as possible. And, given that everybody must live under some government or another, choose one that is too inept to curtail the liberties that matter, such as your freedom of thought and speech, and freedom to raise your children as you choose. Choose despots smart enough not to press the citizenry so hard as to foment a rebellion, tolerate their plunder, and be content with what they leave you. We humans are a productive and resourceful lot, and it doesn’t take much to survive.