Monthly Archives: August 2012

Employment: Socioeconomics vs IQ – The Bell Curve

This post continues the comparison of the impact of the socioeconomic status of individuals and the IQ of those same individuals.  I’m going off the book “The Bell Curve” written by Herrnstein and Murray.  So far I’ve covered the comparison with respect to poverty and education.  This post will deal with employment, keeping it and looking for it.

Back when I started this series, I demonstrated data that spoke to each topic using SES data only.  For example, looking at the probability of being out of the labor force for 1 month or more in 1989 bases on SES, the data showed this:

The data seems counter intuitive.  As the SES status of the family increased, the chance that a young man would drop out of the labor force increased as well.  This may be explained by the fact that wealthier families could afford to have their son’s not work for a time while those from poorer families felt a greater need to earn money.

Next we looked at unemployment.  That is, still in the labor force but not working for a month or more in 1989.  Here is the impact of SES:

There is no impact.  The SES of the individual’s family doesn’t impact the unemployment of the young man.

Let’s compare SES and IQ.

First, go back to labor force participation:

As man with very low IQ had a 4x percent chance of remaining out of the labor force compared to a man with very high IQ. Even moving in one standard deviation, the less intelligent man had more than twice the probability of staying out of the labor force than the more intelligent man.

Those men that are unemployed?


Again, not close.  While SES has non meaningful impact on the probability of unemployment, it’s clear that IQ does.  Mirroring labor force participation rate, the unemployment rate for the least intelligent is nearly 4x that of the most intelligent.

The idea that the SES of an individual or his family influences the fate of that person has significant influence in today’s debate.  And I’m sure that folks with money are more able to offset life’s unexpected challenges.  However, it may be that the intellectual ability of an individual has dramatically more impact on his or her success than the wealth, or lack thereof, of his or her family.

Of Things Legitimate and Illegitimate

How to begin to discuss this guy Todd Akin?

So, I’ve spent about 90 120 minutes trying to find the words for this post.  I can’t.  I can’t find anything that’s been unsaid.

Take these words:

First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

I don’t get it.  I don’t understand how an individual can be so insensitive as to try and suggest that there are cases of “illegitimate rape”, whatever that is, in order to defend his position on abortion.

I suspect that the extreme nature of his position on abortion is indicative of a mindset that explains his totally irresponsible position on defining rape.

Such a mindset might also explain a lack of understanding things like biology too I guess?

I dunno.





Bigger Government – Higher Taxes: A Liberals Charity

For a long time now we’ve know that religious belief, political affiliation and charity correlate.  Certainly correlation isn’t causation but it does provide for interesting conversations.  Which brings me this story:

BOSTON — A new study on the generosity of Americans suggests that states with the least religious residents are also the stingiest about giving money to charity.

Like I said, this is well known and not surprising.  I would like to say that freedom loving individuals intuitively know that we need to care for our neighbors, but that legalized theft is not the way to do it.  However, I don’t think most people think it through like that.

But it would be fin to try and explain this:

The study released Monday by the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that residents in states where religious participation is higher than the rest of the nation, particularly in the South, gave the greatest percentage of their discretionary income to charity.

The Northeast, with lower religious participation, was the least generous to charities, with the six New England states filling the last six slots among the 50 states.

The study also found that patterns of charitable giving are colored in political reds and blues.

Of the 10 least generous states, nine voted for Democrat Barack Obama for president in the last election. By contrast, of the 10 most generous states, eight voted for Republican John McCain.

Whatever the reason, I think it has to do with how the brain works.  For example, there are studies that show people who “be green” are then more likely to be rude or less moral; at least for a time.  Scientist feel that by contributing to the health of their plant, that “need” in their mind has been met and they are now free to act less charitable.

In fact, I’ve always felt that liberals aren’t less generous, they simply feel that government is their charity.  I honestly feel that when a liberal lawmaker is successful in voting for someone else to build a school for the poor with someone elses money, they feel the same sense of accomplishment that someone who volunteers for Habit for Humanity and actually swings the hammer that builds the school, or house.

Not surprisingly I’m often called out for this line of “garbage” and am told that I’m simply looking at it through too simply and too bias a lens.  Perhaps.  Tribalism is tough and resentment is an unattractive date.  Which is why I was surprised to see this:

Alan Wolfe, a political science professor at Boston College, said it’s wrong to link a state’s religious makeup with its generosity. People in less religious states are giving in a different way by being more willing to pay higher taxes so the government can equitably distribute superior benefits, Wolfe said. And the distribution is based purely on need, rather than religious affiliation or other variables, said Wolfe, also head of the college’s Boisi Center for Religion and Public Life.

Wolfe said people in less religious states “view the tax money they’re paying not as something that’s forced upon them, but as a recognition that they belong with everyone else, that they’re citizens in the common good. … I think people here believe that when they pay their taxes, they’re being altruistic.

I’ll differ with the good professor a little bit here.  I don’t think it’s the act of PAYING the taxes that causes democrats to be less charitable than others, I think it’s the act of VOTING for more spending that causes liberals to be less charitable.

No one likes to pay taxes and even democrats avoid it when they can.

Lou Gehrig

I was tending bar at a jazz joint in Seattle that night.  I was a huge sports fan but had a hard and fast rule:

I would not turn the sound up on that crummy little color TV in the corner.

I did this night:

The Iron Horse set the record all those years ago this past weekend.  #8 shattered in that September night in 1995.

Voter ID Laws: A Critique

Moe provides a critique I can resonate with:

VOTER ID: I have absolutely no problem with voter ID. My problem is with 1) making it difficult, and 2) rushing it. Voter ID? Not a bad idea. The way they’re doing it? That’s suppression.

I’m not sure what of the specific way and manner in which she objects, but I’m encouraged by the acknowledgement that proving you are who you say you are is not scandalous.

Education Reform In America: A Critique I Resonate With

While I don’t think that I’m alone in  my call that America’s educational system is in trouble I do find myself in the minority when it comes to ideas for possible reform.  Included in my list of ideas are:

  1. Reducing the power of teacher’s unions.
  2. Merit pay -merit pay is paying the good teachers more, not offering bonuses for targets-.
  3. Firing poor performing teachers.
  4. Continuing the public funding of education but allow the money to follow the backpack; public or private.

I’d imagine that for those that know me, this list isn’t shocking.  It might be cringe worthy, but not out of line for how I think.  For those that don’t know me, the list reads like the regular right-wing scree seen everywhere.

Whatever you think of the list, in favor or against, that list isn’t the point.  The point is that the traditional view of America’s performance is being taken to task  by Diane Ravitch in her recent CNN article:

It’s time to set the record straight. The only valid measure of academic performance in our schools is the federal test called the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP has been testing American students since the early 1970s.

This is something I didn’t know.  I have always thought that tests like the SAT, ACTs and the Iowa Standard were legitimate tests.  But whatever, I won’t quibble on the testing.

The NAEP test scores of American students are at their highest point in history: for black students, white students, Hispanic students, and Asian students.

They are at their highest point in history in fourth grade and in eighth grade, in reading and math.


To be sure, encouraging news.  Further, news I must admit I didn’t know.

As for the international test scores, which Rhee loves to recite to knock our public schools, she is obviously unaware that our nation has never had high scores on those tests. When the first international test was given in 1964, our students ranked 11th out of 12 nations.  Yet our nation went on to become the most powerful economy in the world.

In the 50 years since then, we have regularly scored in the bottom quartile on the international tests or at best, at the international average. Clearly, the international scores do not predict our future as we are the dominant economy in the world despite the scores.

I can’t resist to mention that things like economic freedom contribute to such things….

Why are our international rankings low? Our test scores are dragged down by poverty.   As the poverty level in the school rises, the scores fall.

Rhee ignores the one statistic where the United States is number one. We have the highest child poverty rate of any advanced nation in the world. Nearly 25% of our children live in poverty.

THAT is the point of this post.

THAT is an argument that I resonate with.  Of course, when comparing scores across nations, it’s important to normalize in some way across the variable that impact performance.  And to Ms. Ravitch, poverty is just such a variable.


On the latest international test, called PISA, our schools with low poverty had scores higher than those of Japan, Finland, and other high-scoring nations. American schools in which as many as 25% of the students are poor had scores equivalent to the top-scoring nations.

When normalized on poverty, the United States performs among the top in the world.

Should this be surprising?  For me, it is.  But then again I’ve bought into the narrative that we suck.  So, taking our performance in new light…maybe it isn’t surprising.

One thing, however, I wonder if Diane Ravitch would be willing to slice the data in equivalent ways when it comes to healthcare?

Somehow I doubt it.


Joe Biden And Chains

I’ve been ignoring the Joe Biden “chain” comments.  It seems silly.  These guys makes speech after speech after speech.

Maybe we can cut ’em a break.

I didn’t know what Biden was trying to say.  I don’t know what he WASN’T trying to say.  I simply didn’t think that the democrats were trying to make the case that the republicans were racists.

Then I happened to hear the comments:

Dood.  Biden slipped into the cadence.  He took a whole new tone and accent.  His arms raised as if he were a preacher.  His pause is reminiscent of a preacher.

He meant chains in the sense that in the past, white people used chains to control black slaves.

He had the tone, the timber, the cadence and the theatrics.

He’s using race to forward his political ends.  And that’s bigotry.

Gender Pay Gap And Middle Class Earnings

Quick thought:

Can you simultaneously object to the fact that women make less than men [they don’t] AND make the argument that one of the reasons the middle class is under attack is because we now have to have two incomes to support a family?

A Jon Stewart Two Fer’

He’s at the top of his game.

But he’s right.  And while I disagree with Chik-Fil-A on this one, I don’t think we should actually ban them from opening.

Jon Stewart On Harry Reid

As is my habit, I record the Daily Show and watch in batch.  Most enjoyable.  Imagine my excitement when I hit on this episode.

When Harry Reid made the claim that Romney hadn’t paid his taxes in 10, years I called shenanigans and claimed that he was in in Birther territory.  I was SO wrong that my main man Jon Stewart agrees with me:–harry-reid–are-terrible?xrs=share_copy

Now, the end of the clip where he mocks Fox?  That’s hilarious.  But the fact remains that by saying, “Romney could end all the speculation by just releasing his tax returns.” is the same argument as, “Obama could end all the speculation by just releasing his birth certificate.”

Now, with that said, I wonder why he isn’t releasing them.  I also wondered why Obama didn’t release his birth certificate.  Maybe, deep inside, I’m hoping for the stand up and cheer moment when a candidate, when asked if he has ever smoked weed, played D&D made a mistake when he was 13 would say, “None of your business.  I’m here to run a country and that isn’t relevant to the conversation.”

However, this is politics, and like it or not, by refusing to release how much money he makes he’s giving the impression that there is something wrong.

But for tonight, I’m happy to listen to Jon Stewart take Harry Reid to task for being a birther.