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  • Culture, Cooperation, and Entrepreneurship

    Posted by David Foster on April 6th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Claire Berlinski is very pleased with the response to the GoFundMe page in support of her new book ($9700 as of this writing) as well as the strong interest in the crowdfunding investment possibility.

    A conversation between Claire and her brother Mischa suggests some grounds for cautious optimism about the future of this country:

     

    Mischa Berlinski: You know, America is really generous. This wouldn’t happen anywhere else.

    Claire Berlinski: I was just thinking that exactly. Exactly. This is really what makes America different from any other country.

    Mischa Berlinski: Although … I have the Italian gofundme site up, and there are lots of well-funded Italian projects too.

    Claire Berlinski: But Italians wouldn’t think to build a site like GoFundMe. Do you realize what a successful company they’ve become because they began with the assumption that it’s just human nature to be giving and generous? They built a whole company around it.

    To which Claire added in her Ricochet post:

    Americans can take pride in having a culture where entrepreneurialism is valued and figuring out new ways to do things is an everyday occurrence. Our generosity and optimism are so taken for granted that a company like GoFundMe can build a thriving business around the idea that people are naturally giving and they naturally like helping each other.

    Can you imagine getting people to invest in a company like GoFundMe in any other country? I can’t. The concept would sound insane to investors anywhere else. Our high level of social trust, the way we love and encourage innovative ideas, our impulse to charitable giving and helping each other — all of that’s American to the core.

    For all its imperfections and challenges, ours is, genuinely, an exceptional country. Does seeing evidence of that make you feel as confirmed in that thought and as hopeful as it does me?

    Well, does it?  What say you?  I’d like comments from all, but particular from those who live or have spent considerable time outside the US.

     

    25 Responses to “Culture, Cooperation, and Entrepreneurship”

    1. Mike K Says:

      Remember that GoFundMe deleted the account for the Oregon bakers that were fined $185,000 for declining to bake a wedding cake for the gay couple who had been customers for years. They had never declined their business only the participation in the gay wedding.

    2. TangoMan Says:

      Americans can take pride in having a culture where entrepreneurialism is valued and figuring out new ways to do things is an everyday occurrence.

      Sorry to be a bore, but once you change the people you change the culture. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but the changes do come.

      Her entire comment seems premised on the idea of magic dirt. What she’s describing is a subculture of America, continuing on from what used to be a core American culture, but which is now being eroded by glorious multiculturalism.

      People really should adjust their priors – she treats American culture like it is unique but she knows full well that America is multicultural and so there is no longer an American culture. Treating the issue as though there is an American culture is an act of willful rejection of reality, clinging to an old reality in the face of a new reality which is slowly erasing the old reality.

    3. TangoMan Says:

      A related phenomenon is that European cultures seem to have more government charity and less individual charity and the reverse is true in America. I haven’t check the numbers since Obama came into office, maybe he ramped up foreign aid, but I did recall a number of European acquaintances of mine complaining about America being stingy while blind to the level of private charity in America.

      I suspect that government “charity” and private charity are, somewhat, inversely correlated. If one is forced to pay high taxes then one can justify to himself that he doesn’t need to give to charity because his high taxes are already taking care of that obligation. Liberals in America tend to see their voting as satisfying their obligation to charity and so tend to give less.

    4. David Foster Says:

      Tango…one doesn’t have to believe in Magic Dirt in order to believe that institutions (including nations) tend to have some continiuity over time, even as the people making them up change:

      1) The people attracted to joining an institution will vary depending on the perceived characteristics of that institution.

      2) Institutional rules, forms of governance, affect behavior

      3) People joining the institution typically take their cue from those already there

      4) Every institution has stories…myths, if you will…that attach particular meaning to certain behaviors and personal attributes

      Unfortunately, just about all of these factors are being systematically undercut in America today, most especially by but not limited to academia and the media

    5. David Foster Says:

      Tocqueville observed a long time ago (1830s) that Americans tend to self-organize to do things which in Europe would wait for top-down action by the government

    6. David Foster Says:

      Also: a population can change greatly over time as a result of individual experiences, even without any immigration or any differential birth rates among people of different ethnicities. People who experienced the Great Depression and WWII as formative influences are likely to be different from people who experienced Vietnam and the Carter era. France in 1940 was very different from France in 1914 in terms of social cohesion and desire to fight, even though there weren’t any major changes in the ethnic makeup of the country.

      See Generations, Politics, and Culture:

      https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/51362.html

    7. Mike K Says:

      I was born in the Depression and my parents were definitely examples of the experience. My children are the children of affluence and we have a hard time communicating.

      Of course, I have been divorced twice and that is devastating for children. No matter how hard you try, you cannot over come the effects.

      Children quickly learn they can play one parent against the other and they resent the disruption of their lives. Again, it does not matter how hard you, the father, tries.

    8. TangoMan Says:

      Unfortunately, just about all of these factors are being systematically undercut in America today, most especially by but not limited to academia and the media

      Why, oh why, did you end with this statement? You just nullified my objection, but I’ll share it anyway.

      How is the institutional culture of sound mortgage underwriting practices holding up in banks which grant mortgages?

      Or this one.

      How is the Disney corporate IT culture holding up now that all the Americans have been replaced with Indian IT people on H1Bs?

      Or this one.

      Culture of free speech on college campuses.

      OK, enough of that. Here’s a new thought, which riffs off of your 4 points.

      Back in the bra-burning days of feminism when the focus was on opening up careers for women, I’ve read that the argument proffered was that admitting women wouldn’t change the culture of the corporations. Women simply wanted to be hired for jobs that they were capable of performing and nothing much would change.

      Everything changed. Slowly at first, but then accelerating. We didn’t start off with sexual harassment law but once that kicked it that was like putting afterburners on the change jet. The interactions which take place in a corporate environment between two men are different than those which take place between a man and a woman. You’d have to be nuts to have a one on one with a women in a closed office because you now expose yourself to some risk, risk which is entirely absent when meeting with a man.

      I recall when one of the big Investment Banks buckled on the long common practice of the bankers taking clients to strip clubs because women bankers complained that a.) this made them uncomfortable, and b.) put them at a competitive disadvantage to their male colleagues. No matter the merits, or lack thereof, of this practice, this was part of the culture and now it’s gone.

      This same process is happening with multiculturalism. No one is telling Pollack jokes at work anymore, never mind Mexican jokes, Jew jokes, etc. My hypothesis is that a rougher, freer, less restrained work environment is a harder charging, higher performing work environment than one where a good portion of one’s brain cycling must be devoted to adhering to multiple rules of conduct, where all relationships must be conducted within certain parameters, etc. Even if this isn’t the case, there is something different in the office workplace and as we aggregate this difference to a societal level, the effect of the change can be seen.

      I saw an economic analysis which tried to model the costs of diversity in the workplace – they pegged it at 5% of GDP and that was before the racial component of diversity was included, which lowered efficiency even more (due to the unstated HBD factors.)

      To end this, I agree with how you structured your comment, there is indeed institutional inertia at work and there is self-selection too, but all 4 of your factors were far more stable when the new entrants to the institutions were drawn from the same broader culture which provided the people who shaped, and maintained, the institutional culture compared to the present when they’re drawn from different cultures. An American programmer coming into Disney IT and joining a bunch of other American programmers can keep alive a Disney IT subculture but that subculture changes when the department is staffed with 500 guys from India. The rest of Disney corporate will influence Disney IT but Disney Corporate will also be accommodating to new cultural quirks arising from Disney IT. This is exactly what is happening in Switzerland today when some Muslim boys refused to shake hands with a female teacher and the school board backed them up and so changed teaching culture, a small bit, in Switzerland. Or how in Norway there are no longer shared hot-tubs because too many Muslims were groping women. Or how Germany is now rolling out Women-only subway cars. These are all new traditions being shaped.

    9. TangoMan Says:

      Also: a population can change greatly over time as a result of individual experiences, even without any immigration or any differential birth rates among people of different ethnicities

      In a high dimensional space the vector of change from traumatic cultural shocks is going to be significantly limited by path dependence. A multicultural shock opens up entire new vectors within that high dimensional space.

      For instance, I’m not sure what kind of cultural shock would inspire Western parents to embrace the practice of Clitoridectomy. Because of cultural path dependence I’m not seeing the steps which lead from revulsion and legal penalty to the outcome of widespread embrace and defense. This addition to our culture has to come from outside and then find a way to spread within a new host culture.

      The shocks that you and Mike talk about are mostly differences in scale of existing practices, not differences in kind.

    10. Jonathan Says:

      …once you change the people you change the culture…

      [. . .]

      …she treats American culture like it is unique but she knows full well that America is multicultural and so there is no longer an American culture

      Yet all kinds of people have come to America over hundreds of years, and there is still a strong and unique American culture.

      I think you are too pessimistic, and that you are too pessimistic because you are extrapolating from current trends. Some of the trends are bad, but there is no way to know how long they will continue, and there is reason to think we are near the limits. For example, much of the social pressure for multiculturalism is being driven by tax-funded institutions, especially in education, and we may be getting close to a point at which govts will not have the money to fund those institutions, and the institutions will privatize and become competitive by necessity. If this happens the transition will probably be painful for everyone, and it will take a generation to begin to reverse the cultural rot, but we will be better off in the long run. Obviously there are other possible outcomes, including bad ones. My point is that bad outcomes are by no means certain and we do ourselves no favors by assuming that they are.

    11. TangoMan Says:

      Yet all kinds of people have come to America over hundreds of years, and there is still a strong and unique American culture.

      All kinds of Europeans have come to America over the hundreds of years and those Europeans built America, they built Canada, they built Australia, they built New Zealand, and last but certainly not least, they built Europe. Now we’re getting people from Somalia whose ancestors built Somalia, we’re getting Yemenis whose ancestors built Yemen.

      Those people who we got came from a common root stock of genetics and culture. Culture is downstream from genetics. The culture of Europe has a root stock going back thousands of years and all the European variation radiates off as branches do on a tree. No matter where a particular distinctiveness in culture is analyzed in Europe the common bonds with other European cultures are strong because of the common roots.

      Middle Easterners have been following a different civilizational trajectory and, of course, have a different genetic signature. Lots of common ground between different tribes in the region but very different cultural practices and beliefs from people in Geneva or Berlin or London.

      An immigrant from Haiti or Somalia or the Congo or Peru is even further removed from genetic and cultural similarities with the people who developed Western Civilization.

      I think you are too pessimistic, and that you are too pessimistic because you are extrapolating from current trends. Some of the trends are bad, but there is no way to know how long they will continue, and there is reason to think we are near the limits

      Perhaps I am too pessimistic. We can’t know until the experiment progresses further.

      For example, much of the social pressure for multiculturalism is being driven by tax-funded institutions, especially in education, and we may be getting close to a point at which govts will not have the money to fund those institutions, and the institutions will privatize and become competitive by necessity.

      Lots of paths forward are possible but I think you’re being too optimistic here in that you’re projecting your favored solution onto a crisis. I don’t believe that degradation and collapse will play out this way. I look around the world and I rarely see this play out as you’ve written it to play out. Instead I see the private sector being squeezed ever more in order to protect government run domains.

      Multiculturalism is holy writ for a lot of deluded liberals. They’re not going to rationally chuck it and adopt a market driven ethos in how they conduct their own lives and especially not in their mission of “making a difference” and “changing the world.”

      If this happens the transition will probably be painful for everyone, and it will take a generation to begin to reverse the cultural rot,

      The cultural rot is driven by reality on the ground. Here’s the general principle in play “If you can’t properly diagnose a problem, then you will never devise a solution which adequately solves the problem.” Here is the specific issue – human population groups differ in mean levels of intelligence, aggressiveness, sociability, future time orientation, etc. These attributes, and more, express themselves in socially relevant ways. If people reject accepting this, and instead come up with excuses for why outcomes vary by race, then they will set out to a.) address what they believe are the causes underlying the deficiencies, and b.) set their goal on creating equal outcomes for all groups. They won’t achieve b.) by attacking a.) because a.) is not the cause of b.)

      The cultural rot is not really cultural rot, it is genetic diversity. The only aspect which does qualify as cultural rot applies to white liberals who are creationist in their views of humanity. Let’s say that time and circumstance can cure these liberals of their creationist views. OK, we’ve salvaged them. We’re still left with unequal outcomes in our diverse society. We’re still left with peoples who are pissed off that they can’t be the equals, in terms of outcomes, with their white American co-citizens. It is a hard pill to swallow to accept that this must be the way it will be. Even if they understand why this is so they will still agitate for measures to produce more equal outcomes and they will have white sympathizers. Once that begins it re-incubates the source of the cultural rot. The trouble here is that the first collapse from rot took a long time to occur because it took time to erode the foundation civilization had built in the pre-multiculturalism era. The 2nd time, after those foundations have been destroyed, will entail building on a ricketly foundation which was left after the collapse and that rickety foundation won’t hold much cultural rot being built upon it before it collapses anew.

      My point is that bad outcomes are by no means certain and we do ourselves no favors by assuming that they are.

      As Adam Smith noted, there is a lot of ruin in a nation, so I don’t believe that we’ll ever be back to a state of nature all across the US, but life will get poorer and more miserable and with less opportunity as the Rube Goldberg society we’ve built requires ever more resources to keep functioning.

      Bad outcomes are certain, just like hastened death is certain when one has cancer. You either remove the cancer and recover or come to terms with your body being ravaged and finally succumbing. What I see going on is really this simple – as whites decline in proportion of the population, and blacks and Hispanics increase their share, they cannot perform to the same level of economic industriousness as whites and this will a.) reduce economic growth and efficiency, and b.) will require more redistributive efforts to engineer equal outcomes. What was manageable for America when there were 9 whites trying to uplift 1 black becomes unmanageable when there are 4 whites trying to uplift 6 blacks and Hispanics. One white person carrying 1/9th the expense of uplifting 1 black is a much lighter load to carry than 1 white person (or Asian) carrying 1.5 black or Hispanic. The uplift overhead is too burdensome but is necessary in order to achieve the goal of equal outcomes where inequality is caused by white people being prejudiced to minorities.

      So long as we demand that a reborn America be built on the current multicultural model, we’re always going to be faced with unsolvable problems. If we chuck the multicultural model, then we can rebuild without having to worry about solving the unsolvable problem. It’s going to take a lot of people a long time of wrestling with this issue and coming to terms with regards to what must be done before a new path forward can be chosen. Indecision simply keeps the status quo operating and the status quo is leading towards decline.

    12. Mike K Says:

      “Let’s say that time and circumstance can cure these liberals of their creationist views.”

      I think you are speaking metaphorically but I think the issue is more a feature of Stephen Jay Gould’s theory of the “blank slate.” That all humans are born with the genes the same and the potential the same. Any variation has to be correctable through (usually leftist) manipulation of the culture.

      This is where “affirmative action” came from. Originally, it was to restore balance but, now that blacks are still filing, it has become a sort of racial “Marshall Plan.” We will give them enough to get them back to some standard they never had. If they can’t make the standard we have used for thousands of years, everyone else (whites) will be pushed down to make everyone equal.

      Some of the same is used with women. Women are no less intelligent than men of the same genetic background but they have other features that evolved to accommodate childbearing and raising.

      “What was manageable for America when there were 9 whites trying to uplift 1 black becomes unmanageable when there are 4 whites trying to uplift 6 blacks and Hispanics.”

      Yes but we are not allowed to mention this.

      “It’s going to take a lot of people a long time of wrestling with this issue and coming to terms with regards to what must be done before a new path forward can be chosen.”

      I don’t think it can be accomplished peacefully. Maybe we will have a civil war or maybe it will be an economic collapse.

    13. Mike K Says:

      Autocorrect got me again.

      “blacks are still failing,…”

    14. TangoMan Says:

      I think you are speaking metaphorically

      I’m speaking literally. There is functional equivalence between a Religious Creationist who believes that God created Adam and Eve 6,000 years ago and beamed them down to earth and that mankind has been created in God’s image and remained true to God’s image since the Garden of Eden era and Liberal Creationism which believes that the life began on Earth 1 billion years ago and evolved from simple organisms up to complex organisms and that mankind is the product of drift, selection and mutation and that this all stopped cold when mankind left Africa and spread around the world 100,000 years ago. The fact that Liberal Creationists don’t get as specific with their faith as do Religious Creationists because they don’t want to dwell on the forcefield which exists above the neck and prevents evolution from working on the human brain doesn’t absolve them of the magical thinking which leads them to conclude that all human population groups are the same in all socially relevant metrics.

      Women are no less intelligent than men of the same genetic background but they have other features that evolved to accommodate childbearing and raising.

      Men have a tad higher mean IQ, nothing to really brag about, just a few points higher then women, but men have higher Standard Deviations, which is why we disproportionately find men in remedial classes and in advanced classes. The further out from the mean we look, the higher the proportion of men. Genius and retarded. When we look around the mean, it’s functionally identical.

      Where we really see the difference, observable within a few hours of birth, is female predisposition towards humans and male predisposition towards objects.

      Yes but we are not allowed to mention this.

      Let’s put this in terms relevant to physicians. You’re not allowed to acknowledge cancer when you see it. Now, following this new rule, make some predictions on patient lifespans and comfort.

      In the geopolitical world, inequality BETWEEN nations is much, much easier to acknowledge and to live with than inequality WITHIN a nation, especially when that inequality is highly correlated with race. It’s quite easy for us to not really give a damn that Africa is so poor but when African-Americans are mired in poverty within the US, this becomes unacceptable to a lot of people, of all races. So long as society maintains a multicultural foundation, resources are going to be diverted to less than optimal use in order to remedy the inequalities. Most of us here share an economic way of looking at problems, so it should be clear to us what happens with continued malinvestment in terms of gov’t resources but also in terms of cultural understanding and in terms of human resources. Harvard defines who our nation’s elite will be (in a simple model) and this can work if the selection criteria is focused on merit but what happens when the meritorious are excluded from the elite and the elite is selected to reflect diversity? The people who could create the greatest economic multiplier from their work are handicapped and those with lower economic multipliers arising from their work are given access to greater resources. To paint a very stark picture, what happens to the Manhattan Project when the janitors are put in charge of research and the scientists are put on janitorial details? That’s a very stupid system, but while an extreme example it does speak to what is going on now with our elite selection criteria.

      I don’t think it can be accomplished peacefully. Maybe we will have a civil war or maybe it will be an economic collapse.

      I don’t think it can be resolved peacefully either. Either my analysis above is correct or it’s not. If correct, then there are vast swathes of white society who still reject reality and are heavily invested in perpetuating a flawed system because they mean well and want to do well for others. If some people see the problem and solution clearly but they are blocked by those who don’t see the problem and don’t see the solution, then that issue needs to be resolved before work on the problem can even begin.

      The above though presumes that the problem can be fixed. Lots of times problems are unsolvable. This is why Somalia is the way it is, the problem is baked into the cake. Maybe this is an unsolvable problem, maybe because liberals didn’t respect the precautionary principle and set about changing racially homogeneous societies into racially heterogeneous societies, they broken society so that it can’t be repaired. Ethnic cleansing is dirty business and it’s going to take a whole lot of misery and warfare to set us on that course and the higher the minority population the greater the resistance and misery level.

      Economic collapse will likely be the end game but before we get there we’re going to go the route of socialism and communism – the siren call of equal outcomes can’t be achieved under capitalism. We’re already seeing people dreaming about Bernie’s “democratic socialism” because they’re seeing that inequality is growing and so too is racial inequality. So long as we all live in a democracy, plenty of votes are going to be directed to engineering equal outcomes and as the minority population grows, the cost of those equal outcomes are going to come out of the hides of white people. We know exactly what brought down the USSR – why go to work and work hard when you don’t get rewarded for your hard work and good accomplishments and your pay is equal to the guy who shows up at work drunk and screws up his job but can’t be fired. The USSR went that route to create economic equality but we’re going to get to the same end point by following a route focused on creating racial equality.

      Our kids are facing a long slow decline. Misery awaits at the end of the road.

    15. TangoMan Says:

      I don’t think it can be accomplished peacefully.

      Look at what happened in Germany today:

      Police in Berlin have raided ten apartments because residents may have posted “anti-migrant” views online. . . .

      One of the raids in particular was prompted by a Facebook comment to an article regarding an Afghani migrant who was shot dead at the Bulgarian border. The incident took place in October and according to Bulgarian officials it was an accident as a bullet was meant to be a warning shot but ricochet and hit him.

      The post responded to the article saying that it was unfortunate too few migrants met with a similar fate, as it might scare the rest of them from coming.

      Police announced that the raids show Germans that they are not as safe online as they might think. They say that anyone who says something xenophobic, spreads hate toward migrants, or shares what they consider to be xenophobic music, may be next on the list of apartments to be raided in the future.

      Germany is Germany and America is America and what happens there is not necessarily instructive to what happens here, but there is a broader lesson to learn from this story. The people who SHOULD be your allies are instead your enemies and are working to thwart your efforts. In this case the focus of these commenters was on Germany for Germans. That’s an illegal viewpoint to hold, or if not outright illegal, just sketchy enough to warrant a raid on your home. Their own government, and significant numbers of German citizens, are opposed to keeping Germany for Germans.

      Before you solve the bigger problem you need to deal with the traitors in your midst.

    16. Mike K Says:

      I was threatened with banning by Facebook when I posted comment last year that “Muslims don’t make good immigrants.”

      Facebook is not the place to post anything controversial. I discovered from my daughter-in-law that I acquired a stalker a year ago when I posted a sarcastic comment about a Planned Parenthood suit against the state of Louisiana to the effect that “it would be OK if they just aborted girls.”

      I have no brief for sex selective abortion but I get tired of women pushing abortion politics.

      Today, I discovered that some anonymous woman was sending messages to friends and relatives who were “friends” on Facebook attacking me for such a mean and outrageous post. After mentioning it, I discovered the woman had messaged my daughter (a left winger) and then a cousin’s wife who has mental problems.

      I am so angry about this that I am ready to give up on females altogether. Except my dog who seems immune to PC.

    17. TangoMan Says:

      I was threatened with banning by Facebook when I posted comment last year that “Muslims don’t make good immigrants.”

      You’re in a sinking boat and you’re working frantically to patch a hole in the hull, meanwhile the leftists on board are running around trying to drill holes in the hull. They do this because they believe in a false version of reality. This is a big problem.

      I am so angry about this that I am ready to give up on females altogether.

      This is another problem. In a society like ours where liberty was the cornerstone of society and efforts were expended to keep gov’t from infringing on liberty, it was a disastrously wrong decision to give women the vote in that women, as a group, tend to use their vote to secure provision and protection for themselves and their family and are willing to trample liberty to achieve those aims. A different society where gov’t is designed to provide provision and protection and not protect liberty is a better fit for female voters.

      Gov’t playing social engineer, with the campus rape debacle, with Title IX and sports, with sexual harassment laws, with civil rights laws, with welfare, with abortion funding, none of this was ever supposed to be with the purview of government but all are wildly popular with women voters. Most of those personal wants can be had from a strong husband. The women who do understand limited government, who want to protect liberty are not a problem but in order to give them voice we unleash Mommy Government on everyone due to the power of the female vote and its changing of the contract between citizen and government.

    18. David Foster Says:

      An interesting piece on culture vs ethnicity effects on IQ/academic achievement, here:

      http://www.unz.com/article/the-iq-gap-is-no-longer-a-black-and-white-issue/

      Also—the pathologies of the white British underclass, as described by Theodore Dalrymple and other, seem equal to those of the worst inner-city areas in America.

    19. Jonathan Says:

      TangoMan,

      I agree with you about women’s voting but I would suggest that 1) it’s extremely unlikely that we will return to the status quo ante and 2) the best way to address the problem is probably by improving our educational system so that young people of both sexes once again are taught history, civics, etc. The possibility of a religious revival that spreads traditional moral values among younger people who see at firsthand the damage that’s being caused directly and indirectly by big-govt programs is also possible. So is a return to traditional, if not explicitly religious, sexual mores and marriage habits by younger women who figure out that modern feminism has in many ways hurt rather than helped them. I’m not saying such changes are certain, merely that they are possible, and that we should at least not dismiss them and indeed could even be somewhat optimistic, at least for the long term. The educational system may be particularly ripe for improvement since parents are strongly motivated to look for alternatives to bad schools, and in many cases in this country can flee financially-imploding school districts in search of such alternatives.

      I would suggest too that racial explanations for group disparities in achievement are of limited use in this discussion. If you don’t count the black underclass, black Americans are a successful group in world terms, and as David notes there is reason to think underclass behavioral pathologies are not mainly functions of race. Thomas Sowell often points out that black Americans did well on average until the welfare state became large. As with education, the problems are mostly functions of government involvement. Nor is it obvious to me that we are on some kind of slippery slope such that the problems are likely to be irreversible. I don’t think anyone knows. Call me a restrained optimist.

    20. TangoMan Says:

      I would suggest too that racial explanations for group disparities in achievement are of limited use in this discussion.

      On the contrary, this is the central core from which all of our decline is being driven. Groups differ. All societies have hierarchies. In homogeneous societies the hierarchies are contained within one group but in heterogeneous societies those hierarchies now, roughly, rank order the various groups. In the homogeneous society any measures to “fix” inequality would result in EVERYONE becoming the same and people see this as fantasy (the janitor and the physician earning the same) and so efforts to “fix” inequality don’t take on much urgency. In heterogeneous societies the efforts are directed at erasing group inequality because this doesn’t seem as natural as individual inequality and so the efforts become widespread and intrusive. Here’s your gateway drug to Big Government, not just for this task, but now that Big Government is there, why not use it to “fix” this and to “fix” that.

      If you don’t count the black underclass, black Americans are a successful group in world terms

      Even if you include the black underclass, African Americans have some of the best outcomes of African groups in the world. There is a problem though – much of the success blacks have in America is artificial, a creation of uplift programs. Blacks are over-represented in government jobs and this didn’t happen through neutral hiring criteria being used.

      Take a look at this massive study from academia:

      The researchers looked at about 31,300 doctoral recipients surveyed from 1993 to 2010, examining both their likelihood of obtaining tenure-track positions and their likelihood of obtaining tenure. . . .

      When it came to landing tenure-track jobs in their field, women and members of minority groups considered underrepresented appeared to be at a significant advantage. Black and Hispanic doctorate holders were both quicker and, respectively, 51 percent and 30 percent more likely than their white counterparts to obtain such positions. Asian doctorate holders were slowest to land such positions and 33 percent less likely than whites to obtain them. Women were quicker, and 10 percent more likely than men, to get tenure-track jobs, although the picture varied somewhat by family status, with single men and women who had children under age 6 being at a distinct disadvantage.

      The picture changed markedly when it came to getting tenure, which tenure-track professors, on the whole, were most likely to receive at about the seven-year mark. Non-Asian minority members and women were slower to receive tenure, and black assistant professors were substantially less likely to ever receive it.

      Considering this data regarding the pool from which we draw most of our graduate students, those significant advantages to hiring blacks and Hispanics are not reflective of real-life advantage, they are the outcome of ACTIVE discrimination in favor of blacks and Hispanics, yet when performance counts come the tenure decision point, blacks and Hispanics are vastly out-performed by whites. “OK kid, you’ve got your shot at the title, now go and win.” They’re not winning.

      The University of Texas feels it necessary to extend Affirmative Action to upper class blacks and Hispanics who are out-competed on measures of merit by poor white and Asian students. Think about that, the child of privilege, born to a black judge and a black physician, needs favoritism against the child born to a white waitress and a white janitor.

      In court on Wednesday, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. attacked the political underbelly of this system. The University of Texas argued that diversity within racial groups was also important, citing “the African-American or Hispanic child of successful professionals in Dallas.” Skeptically, Justice Alito asked the university’s lawyer, “They deserve a leg up against, let’s say, an Asian or a white applicant whose parents are absolutely average?”

      Compare the black applicant from a family with >$200,000 annual income to the white applicant from a family with <$20,000 annual income.
      http://i.imgur.com/aGJJALL.gif

      Compare the black student with two college educated parents and not qualified for subsidized lunch with the white student with two high school drop-out parents and who is qualified for subsidized lunch.
      http://i.imgur.com/ZHPbAs3.jpg

      A lot of black success is artificial, a creation of AA type efforts and this extends through the entire economy and culture. When a society does this it takes on direct costs and the opportunity costs associated with sub-optimal choices also come with costs, of foregone benefits.

      The problem here is that these uplift costs are becoming more difficult to bear. When the costs of uplifting 1 black where placed on 9 whites, it was a small tax on society, but when the future entails 5 whites uplifting 5 blacks and Hispanics, then we've increased the burden from 1:9 to 1:1 and now that is a big tax on society which homogeneous societies don't have to pay. Add in the deadweight costs associated with such taxes on top of the direct redistributive costs and you're looking at a significant drag on society.

      as David notes there is reason to think underclass behavioral pathologies are not mainly functions of race.

      The UK benefits from selective immigration, so they get a better class of blacks. Good for them. Bad for the societies which are sending their best and brightest away. What that blogger has discovered is the talented tenth in blacks and the untalented tenth in whites. Combined with the actively hostile measures the UK government has imposed on its own white underclass, favoring minorities over whites on all sorts of metrics, like blacks jumping queues for council housing, like job favoritism for blacks. When you have crazy liberals intent on creating a racially egalitarian society they are willing to actively discriminate in favor of blacks, and other minorities, at the expense of whites, that’s going to have some effect, but do note that the case the blogger is making is focused principally on the Gypsies and Irish Travelers in the UK, both groups which have criminal subcultures.

      http://www.unzcloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Chisala-4.png

      Thomas Sowell often points out that black Americans did well on average until the welfare state became large. As with education, the problems are mostly functions of government involvement.

      Thomas Sowell has a thesis he wants to advance. He’s a functional creationist. If he doesn’t look at genetics, then he can’t account for genetics, and so his 100% sociological explanation doesn’t really intersect with reality. He’s no different from all other social theorists in this regard and when their prescriptions are implemented they always fail, so I’m willing to bet that Sowell’s 100% sociological prescription will also fail.

      Here’s the thing, white kids are also subjected to government-run schools, so why do black upper class kids experience some sociological depressor that white underclass kids don’t experience? Sowell has no answer for that.

      the best way to address the problem is probably by improving our educational system so that young people of both sexes once again are taught history, civics, etc.

      The best experiment for your hypothesis is the one which took place when women were given the vote. They had come from an environment where they were taught what you suggest and they actually lived in a society which wasn’t as Nannyish and they set about creating the type of government that appealed to them. Education and experience are not powerful enough factors to override what women want from government. The horizons for women are expanded if they’re less dependent on an individual man and can instead count of government to extract the resources of all men and redirect those resources to individual women. Women marrying Mr. Big Government allows them to roar about how independent they are. This is great for them. Their benefit though comes at the expense of liberty for all.

      The possibility of a religious revival that spreads traditional moral values among younger people who see at firsthand the damage that’s being caused directly and indirectly by big-govt programs is also possible.

      Religion in the West is now too cucked to be useful for that purpose. The sermons and values preached have actually been co-opted by leftist values on multiculturalism, tolerance, diversity, inclusion, etc. The principal agents for resettling refugees in America are church agencies and they’re hooked on big government subsidies to keep them in perpetual operation. In this way they’re no different than a corporation dependent on a single military contract. Off the top of my head I think only Orthodox Jews put a focus on religious and racial homogeneity in their community, every other group has rejected cultural, religious and racial homogeneity and preach diversity and tolerance and inclusion. The Mormon Church went so far as to modify their “God-Given” instruction on blacks within the Church. Put aside religious skepticism for a moment and ponder how can can put himself in place of God and change the commandments that God has given Man so that they cause less social embarrassment for Mormons in late 20th Century America. What happened there, blatantly so, has happened to all of religion in more numerous, but individually minor ways. Look at Pope Francis telling Europe that they must become multicultural and accept Islamic refugees and accommodate them. There’s no way that that message would have come out of the mouth of a Pope 200 years ago. If the teachings of the Catholic Church are timeless then there is a disconnect here. Western religion has been cucked.

      The educational system may be particularly ripe for improvement since parents are strongly motivated to look for alternatives to bad schools, and in many cases in this country can flee financially-imploding school districts in search of such alternatives.

      The educational system is a hot mess because it is filled to the brim with leftist ideology which is infecting pedagogy and there is a lot of room for improvement. That said, that same infection has taken root all over the world. Developing nations are working to create Western educational infrastructure and are adopting Western educational practices. Look at this graph and notice that when everyone is infected with idiocy, the US does pretty well for itself.

      http://i.imgur.com/W7r8JgO.png

      We don’t compete against hypothetical standards of excellence, we compete against other people who are suffering from the same handicaps imposed on us. The types of reforms that you might have in mind would improve our performance, certainly, but don’t believe that we’re actually doing all that poorly from a uniquely idiotic leftist-dominated education system because we’re not.

    21. David Foster Says:

      Here’s a Stanford geneticist who thinks the human race as a whole has been getting dumber for a long, long time:

      “I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues. Furthermore, I would guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues. I would also make this wager for the ancient inhabitants of Africa, Asia, India or the Americas, of perhaps 2000–6000 years ago. The basis for my wager comes from new developments in genetics, anthropology, and neurobiology that make a clear prediction that our intellectual and emotional abilities are genetically surprisingly fragile.”

      https://www.rt.com/usa/intelligence-stanford-years-fragile-531/

      But…

      “That doesn’t mean it’s all downhill, though. Dr. Crabtree says, “although our genomes are fragile, our society is robust almost entirely by virtue of education, which allow strengths to be rapidly distributed to all members.”

      ie, the hardware is deteriorating but better software is making up for it…

    22. Mike K Says:

      “better software is making up for it…”

      Not lately.

    23. claire berlinski Says:

      Many thanks for mentioning the project. I pretty much write all day, all the time, about trends in the US that make me despair, so this moment of optimism was atypical, but I think it is legitimate grounds for optimism. Some of the exceptional aspects of our culture are still pretty damned exceptional. Anyway, to more depressing subjects, those who want to read a piece about Brussels I just published can find it here: http://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2016-04-25-0100/belgium-isis-attacl-response-russia-gain. And of course, I’d be grateful for your support with the book: https://www.gofundme.com/braveoldworld. (If you’re unfamiliar with my work generally, you can have a look at my portfolio here: http://claireberlinski.pressfolios.com/.

      Thanks again for mentioning the book project, David, and for the interesting discussion about that post in the comments.

    24. Jonathan Says:

      TangoMan,

      I agree that racial preferences are destructive. However, Sowell’s point was that black Americans’ incomes were catching up to white Americans’ incomes at a higher rate before affirmative action and indeed when there was still significant govt-sponsored and private discrimination against blacks. IOW the Great Society and subsequent welfare-state programs have impeded rather than helped black progress, and the black people who are most dependent on welfare-state programs are the most impeded. People who impute most or all of the group differences to genetics are overlooking these points.

      Similarly, while modern affirmative-action programs certainly benefit blacks, especially middle-class blacks who know how to work the system, black Americans’ preference for govt employment existed long before such programs. There was a time when some govts discriminated less against blacks than did many private employers. However, American blacks’ preference for govt employment seems to me likely to be based mostly on some mixture of culture and personal preferences, paralleling the employment preferences of other groups: Jewish professionals (now) and small-business owners (before Jews could get into professional schools), gay hairdressers, Scots-Irish military officers, German dairy farmers and craftsmen, etc. There are also obvious differences in group outcomes based on class and national origin among American blacks.

      None of this means that there aren’t substantial differences in innate ability between individuals and on average between groups. What I think it means is that almost all of the social pathologies and negative trends that concern us are mostly direct or indirect functions of big govt and are most effectively addressed by reducing the size and scope of govt. I think it’s doable, though it will be difficult.

      WRT religion, I am more optimistic than you are, because it’s obvious from observation that the most dynamic religious groups are the ones that emphasize traditional values. I mean Evangelical Protestants vs. the Episcopal and Presbyterian establishments, orthodox vs. reformed Jews, etc. Members of the traditional groups have more children (e.g., at current trends orthodox Jews will outnumber other Jews in this country within a generation or two, which is astonishing). The situation isn’t ideal, since some religious institutions have been feminized or otherwise attempted to pander to minorities in ways that weaken those institutions, the Pope is a leftist (perhaps luck of the draw, as Benedict was quite good on cultural and political issues), and so on. But overall there appears to be a reaction towards tradition.

      Larry Kudlow often says that one shouldn’t bet against the USA. I think that’s essentially the right position to take, even though there may be hard times ahead.

    25. TangoMan Says:

      However, Sowell’s point was that black Americans’ incomes were catching up to white Americans’ incomes at a higher rate before affirmative action and indeed when there was still significant govt-sponsored and private discrimination against blacks.

      He’s correct in the analysis of the data. Here’s a table on the B-W wage differential.

      http://i.imgur.com/jTqgEv1.jpg

      IOW the Great Society and subsequent welfare-state programs have impeded rather than helped black progress, and the black people who are most dependent on welfare-state programs are the most impeded. People who impute most or all of the group differences to genetics are overlooking these points.

      It’s been a long time since I read his analysis so I can’t remember whether he accounted for labor market conditions. I do remember my reaction which took the form of the question – “Well, the white population also had access, so what happened there?” I was, and still am, cognizant of immigration’s effect on labor supply and when Sowell is pointing to black wage gains relative to whites he’s pointing to an era when immigration was restricted and the middle class was rising and income inequality was falling. The saying “A rising tide lifts all boats” applies here – labor shortages resulted in employers hiring blacks even though they really didn’t like blacks.

      http://i.imgur.com/WzixerW.jpg

      The late 60s saw quite a few changes. 1.) Women in the labor market began to rise markedly. 2.) The borders were thrown open and immigrants were being added to the labor market. 3.) The Great Society programs and Civil Rights laws were in effect.

      If employers don’t like black employees in the post-CRA era, they now have women and immigrants that they can hire instead of blacks. Labor scarcity did wonders for black income growth because a worker is a worker is a worker when beggars can’t be choosers. Any drastic wage disparity for blacks would result in black employees leaving an unfair employer and being hired by a more fair employer. This is exactly what one would expect to see when employees have enhanced bargaining power vis a vis the employer. We also saw something like this in the job boom of the late 90s.

      IIRC, Sowell didn’t focus on the labor scarcity turning into labor surplus situation. Until the effects of increased labor supply are accounted for, I’m very skeptical that CRA and Great Society welfare programs are the cause of black employment dynamics.

      People who impute most or all of the group differences to genetics are overlooking these points.

      Point One. I would argue that you have your assessment backwards. It’s not that critics like myself put most, or all, group differences at the feet of genetics, it’s that every other analyst is a functional creationist and believes that genetics has absolutely no influence on socially relevant metrics, nada, zilch, not worth even thinking about. I’m not the extremist here, I’m the moderate who is arguing for a genetics/environment effect, and it is the mainstream analysts who are the extremists due to their adoption of a creationist mindset which believes that environment explains everything.

      Point Two: Look at what falls out when we analyze black-white wage differentials with a new control added to the analysis:

      The analyses of the General Social Survey data from 1974 to 2000 replicate earlier findings from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth that racial disparity in earnings disappears once cognitive ability is controlled for. The results are robust across many alternative specifications, and further show that blacks receive significantly greater returns to their cognitive ability than nonblacks. The trend data show that there was no sign of racial discrimination in the United States as early as 1970s. The analyses call into question the necessity of and justification for preferential treatment of ethnic minorities

      This finding speaks to some of the issues I raised in earlier comments. In a homogeneous society there would be nothing like this going on. Low IQ people would be in lower wage jobs, mid-IQ people would be in middle-wage jobs, and high IQ people would be in higher wage jobs. IQ doesn’t have to correlate perfectly with income for this effect to be observable. This hierarchy shouldn’t really surprise anyone. Now look at a heterogeneous society and you still get this IQ stacking effect but now one population, which has a lower mean IQ, is disproportionately stuck at the bottom. That group is not at the bottom because there is active discrimination practiced to keep them there, they’re at the bottom because they have more low IQ people in their population.

      A black guy with 80 IQ earns the same income as a white guy with an 80 IQ. What’s the problem here? The problem is that the black mean IQ is 85 and the white mean IQ is 100.

      Genetics explains what we’re seeing. The extremist Environment-Only creationist viewpoint does not explain the reality before our eyes.

      What I think it means is that almost all of the social pathologies and negative trends that concern us are mostly direct or indirect functions of big govt and are most effectively addressed by reducing the size and scope of govt. I think it’s doable, though it will be difficult.

      I’m not disagreeing with your argument that government is creating a distorting effect on employment and personal values and on behavior. What I am saying is that you, and I, and probably most people who read this blog, are firmly on the Equal Opportunity side of how society should be structured, we want to remove active impediments to merit being the vehicle which gives rise to individual success and we are OK with unequal outcomes which result from some people being smarter, harder workers, bigger risk takers and thus putting the less intelligent, the lazier workers, and the risk-averse lower on the income/wealth hierarchy. In other words, competition creates winners and losers and so long as there is a level playing field where everyone can get in the game, having losers arise is just fine.

      Not everyone thinks like us. There are people who want an Equal Outcome Society. Look at Bernie supporters for one, look at the majority of the black and Hispanic populations for another. In an earlier comment I highlighted the Fisher v. UTexas AA case where UT is defending its practice of giving AA to the children of minority professionals at the expense of the better qualified white underclass. That Hispanic judge or that black physician is not going to like a society where their child can’t get into university because lower class whites are more qualified. Their kids had equal opportunity galore, raised in upper class households, both parents college educated, going to good schools, etc and they couldn’t convert the benefits of that equal opportunity environment into individual success. Those parents, and their kids, want equal outcomes.

      And here’s my point. You and I want smaller government, but that black physician who wants equal outcomes for his kids wants Big Government as the enforcer of an Equal Outcomes society. His vote cancels your vote. The larger a proportion of society minorities represent, the weaker becomes your faction fighting for small government.

      There is a lesson here which focuses on two countervailing forces. One force is that Western Society has seen the disaster that Socialism/Communism creates for society. The second force is that minorities want engineered means to bring about Equal Outcomes. If America had never embarked on this cancerous multiculturalism experiment, then our white population of liberals would steadily be losing voter support for bringing about their Communist dream-state because most people see the disaster that awaits when we go down that path. Your argument would win the day, government would be reduced. Heck, Canada did just that in the 90s. Balanced budgets, gov’t representing a smaller share of GDP, retrenchment of social welfare programs, lower corporate tax rates. All good stuff. In a heterogeneous society though all that good stuff is less important than creating Equal Outcomes and Big Government is the mechanism for achieving this and so support for More Government is very strong among minorities. Go back to the wage discrimination study I linked. Most blacks find no solace in the finding that racial wage discrimination disappeared back in the 1970s, they don’t believe it, just like women believe that they are suffering from wage discrimination. They want equal outcomes irrespective of factors like IQ, hard work, risk taking, family choices, etc.

      We no longer have the votes to bring about the society you favor.

      Larry Kudlow often says that one shouldn’t bet against the USA.

      Whenever I see statements like this, which brings us back full circle to Claire Berlinski’s statement, I wonder if they’re acknowledging the changing nature of the US? I wouldn’t bet against the US of the 1950s, but I would bet against a US of 2050 in which 30% of the population is Somalian-American, another 30% is Mestizo-American. We don’t have magic dirt here.