In western societies, higher IQ people make considerably more than people with lower IQs- apparently it’s something like 400$ more per year per IQ point. And, a recent study showed that people with 120 IQs have an average net worth of about $128,000, while people with 100 IQs had an average worth of about $58,000–i.e., those 20 IQ points translates into a net worth of more than double. And we might go further, and note that people with 80 IQs are worth considerably less than $58,000–there seems no reason to doubt this. And we certainly know that most of the self-made mega rich are quite intelligent: Gates and Jobs, and Trump and their ilk, are clearly 160+ ers.
So, in general, we can conclude that in a meritocracy like we have in democratic (capitalist) economies, the smart will on average drift to the top of the income scale, while the less smart will drift towards the bottom. This is not always true, of course: many people who are merely shrewd will tend to accumulate a lot of wealth: money-gathering doesn’t really require intelligence, or education, so much as shrewdness–meaning that it’s perfectly possible for the merely shrewd to become very much richer than very educated people. But, in general, more intelligent people will gain the higher paying jobs, including management, and other positions of responsibility, while dimmer people will tend to stay in the lower levels of our economic system. And I’m not saying that I disagree with meritocracy: it’s definately the best type of economy which has ever been tried. But, it can be drastically improved, if we work on the ‘intelligence gap’.
Because in short, the less intelligent in our economy work for the more intelligent. One could be less kind, and say that the less smart are in essence the economic slaves of the smart, and that the smart exploit the less smart for their labour, and make them do all of the shit jobs, while the intelligent position themselves as managers, and get to do ‘cushier’ jobs, which require less menial labour, and have much better working conditions, while the less intelligent have little choice but to toil away at whatever jobs the smarter people leave to them.
This is the reality. How can we make this better, i.e., more egalitarian–which we must do as part of our project of ‘enlightening the economy?’
1) We’d have to reduce the hierarchical nature of the economy–that’s an issue that we have to tackle in another post. There’s been a lot written on it. It seems very difficult for an economy to work, for a business to work, on something other than hierarchical principles. So that might be a very difficult task. But again, it’s worth talking about, because there are probably better ways to do hierarchy then we do them at present–there have to be, given the number of horror stories that I have heard from decent, hardworking folks about the hardships and stress that they encounter every day of their adult lives as a result of sadistic bosses and/or nasty policies implimented by corporate higher ups.
2) Another option, and one which will have to be pursued eventually if we want a true solution to the problem of human inequality, is to slowly create a society in which there are narrower intelligence gaps. Right now, thanks to the blind hand of evolution, we have woken up as a species to find that we have huge vagaries in intelligence: people with 160 IQs are so much more capable of controlling their environment than someone who is mentally retarded with a 70 IQ — the difference is so dramatic, that it’s practically as if these people (think Steve Jobs) are literally of a different species than the 70 IQ janitor. One person can run a global corporation, and the other person, standing next to them, is barely able to remember which room they just mopped. This is not to be cruel—not at all. It’s merely to point out something that we have been taught to overlook: that huge gaps in intelligence create a very highly unequal playing field for human beings. And the result is, that the more intelligent, quite naturally, end up exploiting the less intelligent in the workplace. Or if we dont call it exploitation, it certainly works out that way.
And of equal importance, from our point of view, is what we’ve already talked about in the last post, which is how intelligence gaps lead to all sorts of difficulties for the intelligent–those who would live dignified lives, find that they are enmeshed in a society which is mostly created by people who are literally incapable of imagining and creating dignified lives for themselves, because they lack the biological hard working to imagine a dignified life, or at least, to understand all the implications of how to create one. (Though at least, I would argue that most people, due to our platonic senses, do know what good and evil is, and justice and injustice, and dignity and lack of dignity: it doesn’t take much above an 80 IQ to recognize these basic factors. That’s not what I’m arguing. What I am arguing is that people with higher IQs will not only recognize this, but be able to figure out all of the tangential factors which lead them to be able to create a dignified life for themselves, whereas people with 80 IQs have largely to accept whatever life parameters are given to them). In short, the majority of banality of the world exists because it is created around the wills and desires of the stupid.
I am implying that if the average IQ was somehow 140, that there would be far fewer vulgar and frustrating things in the world, like Wal-Marts, and that what we now consider to be ‘upscale’ would be the norm in terms of architecture, and other infrastructure: because on average, people with 140 IQs tend to become upper-middle class, and they have enough sense of how to demand control over their surroundings, that they demand that they live in houses which are physically appealing, are in safe neighbourhoods, and are surrounded by greenery–and they tend to favour ‘upscale’ shops not only because they have more money, but because, the higher your IQ, the more aware you are of your surroundings (on average, of course), and thus the more likely you are to demand that your shopping areas are not horrendous monstrosities, like the average big box store. These people also demand to raise their children in nurturing environments, and will intentionally move to nice areas, as part of their strategy for self-improvement. This is why when you go to posh neighbourhoods, you tend to notice that the average IQ is much higher than the average of 100. And when you go to very poor neighbourhoods, the average IQ is often noticeably less than 100 (though of course education plays some role here–but it’s arguably the less dominant factor by quite a bit). In short, if everyone had a 140 IQ, the world would be a far more beautiful and harmonious place. Also, popular politics would be much less banal, since people with 140 IQs are much more likely to see through the silly demagoguery and sloganism of the sort that, say, W tried to push when attempting to convince us to invade Iraq. I daresay that almost everyone of this IQ level knew fully well that the reasons were BS–but intelligent conservatives thought it necessary to use BS to convince the ‘sheepish masses’ to do what they wanted. In short, if the species were smarter, we’d on average have a dramatically much more rational, calm, and measured approach to politics and to life in general.
But to return to the main point, a primary way to ensure that there is less inequality in the world, and that there are less economic gaps, and thus less of a class gap, is to ensure, in the long run, that the average IQ of the species is high–say about 140 on average. Then, everyone will have the equipment to realize not only that they are being exploited, but to demand better for themselves. Then, managers will have to come up with better ways to do things then to have all sorts of shit and demeaning jobs: people with 140 IQs will simply not stand for being a toilet washer all of their waking hours. Machines will be invented to do this (or robots), and/or poeple’s days will be broken up, so that toilet washing will only be a small part of what they do, etc.
In order to have a truly egalitarian society, then, we need to improve on nature, and use our future medical technology to help us increase the general IQ. As stated in the previous post, I’m entirely opposed to any sort of selective breeding or whatever other nineteenth century ideas that this may conjure. But, with people being able to select their baby’s characteristics, we should be able to, by simply pointing out that smarter people make more money, encourage parents to choose chilren with higher IQs. If you ask a parent: would you prefer your baby to have a 160 IQ, and potentially be the next Steve Jobs, or to have an 80 IQ, which effectively limits you to being a janitor, or a McDonald’s line employee (with no hope of achieving managment), I think that most people would choose option A. Education can also help people to make the most of their innate talents, and will hasten our progress towards equality.
The intelligence gap seems to be one of the major stumbling blocks left in the human road towards equality. So, why don’t we do something about it? It’s perfectly within our ability to choose to implement policies which will encourage this. We simply need to realize that it’s in all of our best interest to do so, and overlook some of our misplaced feelings of political correctness, and our fears that this sort of thing can only be done in some type of Nazi-esque context. That’s hogwarsh. Smoothing the intelligence gap is so important, so clearly in our species’ long term interest, i.e., in the interest of human equality, and the elimination of exploitation, that eventually we will have to confront these issues, and deal with them in the most humane and positive way possible. But the sooner we recognize this as a desirable goal, the sooner we can begin to move in a positive direction.
And, for the sake of completeness, we have to end by addressing the obvious ethical issues here: why don’t people talk about this issue? Of course, it’s because many of the worst regimes in history, viz the Nazis, and other totalitarianists and other monstrous people during the 20th century, advocated ‘cleaning up the race,’ : it was a response to the new theories of darwin, and social darwinism, but of course, it was monstrously applied, and it was based on nineteenth-century racism, and basically all of the worst strains in human thought that have ever been invented. So it’s unusual for a person who calls themselves a definate liberal in most issues to be addressing something like ‘intelligence farming.’ or some other type of ‘social engineering.’ Well, here’s why I feel that I can get away with this, and still be entirely humanist, moral, egalitarian, empathetic, and not a secret nasty person:
Because, my goal in addressing the intelligence gap is a) to reduce inequality amongst humans. And it seems like this is, in reality, one of the most obvious long-term ways to address the mess that biology has left us with. I mean, we are attempting to lengthen our lifespans: all I’m saying is that just as we make our bodies stronger, faster, etc., we should also aim to increase our intelligence as a species. My second goal is to b) make the world better for everyone, since I believe it is highly proveable that democracies would function much better if the average IQ was higher. (Again, with an obvious nod to the need for good education. But ceteribus paribus, the higher IQ democracy would still be a much better place, in many obvious and subtle ways).
Thus, I believe that this issue of making us smarter as a species can be addressed in a true spirit of humanism: i.e., without any secret desire to promote one’s own ‘self group’ over others. THis can be done without regard to race, in other words, or nationality, but with the goal of raising the IQs of everyone: the humanist says: it matters little who you are, so long as you have the apparatus to strategically plan for, and thus have a good chance of creating, a sophisticated and beautiful life.
So my point is: we have to get over our suspicion of our fellow man: we have to trust that we can be trusted to increase our species’ IQ, in such a long-term and harmless way (again, with tax incentives, or whatever, tied to future medical abilities to increase IQ, say, prior to fertilization), that no one is hard done by. We have to look past the monstrous totalitarian ideas of the early 20th century, but constantly have them focus, so that we are continually aware of the pitfalls that, i.e., someone who is actively trying to create an IQ enhancing policy will secretly build in motives which bias things towards their own ‘in-group’ however defined. We have to trust that we can build a system with proper checks and balances so that is not a concern.
Besides, the idea from a democratic point of view is, I think, obvious: and one which democrats have been addressing since the c18th: how to create an equal society when people’s mental apparatuses are so incredibly divergent in terms of capability. The c18th-20th had plenty of other problems to address first. But in the 21st century onward, the sooner we focus on this goal, and raise awareness of it, the sooner we can look forward to a society in which everyone can meet each other on relatively equal grounds, where the majority of the population, in other words, won’t have to naturally feel deferent to ‘those smart people’ who always seem to run the businesses, and to have the cushy jobs; those ‘geniuses’ whom most people grow up learning that they are inferior to.
As a final note: let’s think about what happens in every school in this country. We are pooled together with hundreds of other kids our age, and almost from the outset, we learn who are the ‘super smart’ kids, and many of us are taught, and/or realize, that we are dumb. No matter how much pretending the teachers do, we soon realize that we are not neraly as capable as many other kids at doing various tasks. In middle school, we get streamlined into A, B, and C tracks , and by high school, we are told that we will either be vocational people, if we are in the C track, or else middling people with some college education, if in the B track, or else, we are taught that we are smart, and will therefore be going to college.
How can you run a democracy, in a society which is so hierarchically arranged, from the very beginning? At least the less intelligent people can rest assured that they have the same civil rights, the same right to vote, and that their vote counts just as much. But they are smart enough to know that they are not bright, and that a brilliant career is out of the picture for them, unless they happen to be a very gifted athlete. So many people sign up for sports, and attempt to excel there, because we all want to feel as if we are special. But for many of us, school is just one frustration after another, because we are continually told we are dumb. And in a meritocracy, it cannot be any other way.
But imagine a society where everyone was basically the same intelligence, and we were all smart. There would always be some poeple who are much better at some subjects than us, better athletes than us, and this is good. But every one of us could rest assured that we knew how to strategically plan, to read, to self-improve, and to take charge of our lives, and to ensure that we chose good friends, and a good job, and a good neighbourhood, and we would demand that our experience is a dignified one, becasue one of the main characteristics of people over 130 IQ is that they have a strong sense of justice (below this level, one’s abstract reasoning powers are simply not enough to clearly realize, much of the time, when more subtle forms of injustice are going on, and /or we tend simply to ‘accept things’ much more realidy, without taking a stand–this is well-documented in the psychology literature).
In this sort of society, where everyone could feel their own dignity, and is not continually told, for their entire childhood, that they are inferior, it is much more conducive to a true democracy, in which we can debate and reason with our fellow peers in the solid understanding that we are all, as much as we would ever want to be and maintain the freshness of diversity, equals. That is the ideal. That is the ultimate goal, if we want to maximize human happiness. And low population is one pillar of this goal (as we’ve said in another post–it ensures that we can all have access to cheap and abundant land and natural spaces), as are numerous other things written about on this site. Closing the IQ gap, then, is another way to help us to reach our full potential as a species.