Guns and Schools: 10 Keys to Prevention

Guns and Schools – Part 2
By: George Noga – January 3, 2013
  
     My previous post corrected much of the pervasive media misinformation and bias about the Newtown tragedy. It also described the real causal factors for mass shootings in schools. This post presents a principled plan to prevent rampage school killings.
  1. Change the culture. We have lowered expectations and standards for personal and civil conduct – the vicious attacks, untruths and extreme negativity of the recent election campaign being a good example. Long established rules, limits and barriers have been destroyed. Daniel Henninger in the WSJ describes it as removing all the guardrails for society. There is a linkage between cultural disarray and personal disarray. When the entire spectrum of acceptable behavior shifts, those at society’s margins go off the tracks. Our intellectual, political, religious, media and cultural elites need to rediscover self control. This will take time and won’t solve 100% of the problem, but it is a needed start.

  2. Reduce the copycat effect. The copycat effect is real and proven. This is where the media need to exercise self restraint. No one advocates legal restrictions on the press, but a voluntary industry wide code of conduct would be a good start. Before this can happen the media must acknowledge its culpability in creating future horrors. Right now the media is too busy flogging the story for all it’s worth and deflecting blame onto the NRA.
  3. Treat and/or institutionalize the violently mentally ill. The statistics are too numerous to list but they all prove most rampage type attacks are perpetrated by the mentally ill. The heart of the problem is the existence of numerous people with severe mental disorders who are not being treated – and under existing law cannot be forced to accept treatment. In the 10 worst mass US killings, the majority were by people with untreated schizophrenia. Instead of changing gun laws, the imperative is to change laws pertaining to mental illness. That will do more than anything else to prevent future tragedies.
  4. Eliminate (fake) gun free zones. A sign proclaiming a gun free zone is a welcome mat for rampage killers. Gun free zones such as at airports are real as they are backed by  metal detectors and a police presence. However, most gun free zones are merely notional and work only to increase the danger to those within the zone. It has been proven ad nauseum that more guns equate to less crime. Numerous mass killings have been stopped (see Part 1) by citizens with legal guns. Over 2,500,000 times each year legal guns prevent or stop crimes. The Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990 needs to be repealed.
  5. Understand that guns are not the issue. As I wrote last week, neither of the two deadliest school attacks in America involved guns. On the very same day as the Newtown tragedy, there was a mass school killing in China where 22 children were stabbed. Other mass school killings have involved dynamite, cars and fire. The sooner we all disabuse ourselves that guns are the culprit, the sooner we can begin to focus on the real causes.
  6. Learn from business. Mass killings in the workplace are down nearly 70% in the past 20 years and without any changes to gun laws. Of 20 mass shootings this year, only 1 involved businesses which have become more adept at understanding personality and risk. Most businesses use the run-hide-fight paradigm; they don’t ignore threats; they have violence prevention programs and they practice deterrence. They change the calculus in a potential killer’s mind that he will be able to control the situation until the SWAT team arrives. And yes, this calculus involves guns; there are few, if any, fake gun free zones in businesses.This approach is proven to work and it is idiotic to ignore it.
  7. Enact universal school choice. School deaths may be caused by individual monsters but they are abetted by a collective monster – government. Families are forced to send their children to specific schools where it is impossible (under existing law) for anyone to defend them. Some countries (Israel included) promote guns in schools and this has saved lives. If every family had choice, they could decide for themselves which school to send their children for the best education and also the best protection. I wonder how many liberals would choose to send their children to so-called gun free schools.
  8. Understand 100% protection is not attainable. Despite the best preventative measures, we cannot eliminate all school murders. Even if all the measures described herein were in place, some incidents would happen. We could use these to learn and to further enhance preventative measures. These should not be occasions for knee-jerk attacks on guns.
  9. Seek real solutions not political solutions. It is abundantly clear that viable solutions exist to vastly reduce school violence. We must resist the urge to adopt quick, feel-good political faux fixes which may satisfy for a short time but will do nothing to solve the problem. Passing a law can be quick and easy but real solutions take time and effort to bear results. We may need to shed some old shibboleths about guns in the process.
  10. Government is part of the problem not the solution. Government doesn’t do anything well except perhaps the military. Theoretically, it may be helpful to tweak gun laws to keep guns from the untreated mentally ill. I don’t advocate this however because government would botch mental illness the same way it botches everything else. Do you really want the same folks as at the DMV in charge of deciding who is too ill for guns? The solution to preventing school violence lies in more liberty and less government.
“It is not possible for any scient person to read this and continue to believe more gun laws are the answer. Yet that is all we are hearing.” 
     It should not be possible for any scient person to read this and continue to believe more gun laws are the answer – or even a tiny part of the answer. Yet that is all we are hearing. That is why I interrupted my holiday torpor to write these posts. We can vastly reduce school violence but only if we first abandon myths about guns and the lust for a quick political solution.
     Finally, I cannot write about guns in America without pointing out that our constitutional right to keep and bear arms is not primarily about hunting, target shooting, sport or even self defense. Our founders considered gun ownership, first and foremost, a political right and it always must be understood in that context.

Guns and Schools: Plain Truths

Guns and Schools – Part 1
By: George Noga – December 27, 2012
  
        The staccato drumbeat of claptrap and counterfactual blathering by the brain-dead state sycophant media and their progressive camp followers roused me from my holiday torpor. It impelled me to write this unplanned 2-part posting. First, an elegiac:  my thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all the victims and their families and friends. Although predictable, it nevertheless saddens me that so many are so quick to politicize every gun related tragedy by advancing their anti gun political agenda.
“The two worst school mass murders in America didn’t involve guns.”
     This first of two postings is a presentation of facts and perspective which thus far has been largely absent from the pubic debate. In part 2 (next week) I advance a principled approach for the future to address guns and schools including measures for prevention.
Correcting Media Errors and Bias
       It is falsely asserted Sandy Hook was the worst school killing in America, or at least second to the Virginia Tech tragedy. Agitprops for gun control conveniently forget about the deadliest school mass murder in 1927 Bath, Michigan in which 44 were killed. They forget because guns were nowhere present; the perpetrator used dynamite. Moreover, 500 pounds was found unexploded; had it detonated, the death toll would have been far, far worse.
       Nor does anyone mention what arguably is the second worst school related mass murder in America, i.e. the Janet Reno approved attack by agents of the federal government in Waco, Texas in 1993. In that attack (spearheaded by tanks for crying out loud) 28 school children and 55 adults were killed. Again, guns did not play a role as the casualties resulted from fire.
“The guns used in Newtown were not assault rifles.”
      The litany of media misinformation continues. For starters, there is no such thing as an“assault rifle“; that term was created from whole cloth in the 1990s by gun control advocates to frighten the low information crowd. Connecticut has an assault rifle ban and the guns used in Newtown were legal and would have been so even if the federal ban were still in place.
       Firearms are used 2,500,000 times a year in the USA to prevent or to stop crimes; this fact is never reported because the number of lives saved often is indeterminable. Many mass murders have been prevented by citizens with legal guns; these include Shoney’s in Anniston, Alabama 1991, Pearl, Mississippi High School 1997, Edinboro, Pennsylvania school 1998, New Life Church in Colorado 2007 and just a few weeks ago at the Clackamas Mall in Oregon.
       The most disgraceful media coverage was the 2002 shootings at Appalachian State in which 3 students retrieved legal guns from their cars to stop the killer. Over 400 media outlets covered the story, all knowing the role guns played in stopping the tragedy. Yet 99% failed to mention  that guns stopped the killing; instead, they used terms such astackled and subdued.
The Real Causal Factors
      Undeniably there is a copycat effect that is caused or exacerbated by the media; the very same folks who want you to believe the cause is guns are themselves an integral part of the chain of causation. This is well documented and explained in the 2004 book “How the Media and Popular Culture Trigger the Mayhem in Tomorrow’s Headlines“. Media coverage  is much more pervasive today than in the past because of the ubiquitous, 24/7 in-your-face news cycle. And don’t expect any mea culpas from the media; they are too busy flogging the story.
      Another real casual factor is the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill – including those who are violent. Recall this was a liberal shibboleth from the 1960s and 1970s. In earlier times the violently mentally ill would have been in a state institution. The New York Times(ugh) did a study that found 47% of “rampage murderers” were mentally ill. Pursuant to the liberal diktat to release all the mentally ill, hospital beds for mental patients have plunged to the level of 1850 – over 160 years ago. Don’t waste your time waiting for regrets from liberals; they are too busy deflecting the blame from their failed policies; it’s not their fault; they meant well.
“If your home had a ‘gun free’ sign, would you be more or less safe?”
      Yet another real cause is ersatz gun-free zones; it is no coincidence that most of the recent mass killings have taken place in schools, movie theaters and shopping malls, all make-believe gun free zones. A sign proclaiming a gun free zone is like a welcome mat for perpetrators. If you put a “Gun Free Home” sign outside your house, do you believe you would be more safe or less safe? Memo to progressives: This is not a trick question. People who engage in mass killings are not hardened criminals, they are weaklings and cowards who dissemble when an armed citizen materializes. At the Clackamas Mall, the killer, who just had begun his rampage, was confronted by a citizen carrying a legal handgun; His next shot was to kill himself.
       Surprise! Government is a cause, the same government that gives families no choices about where to send their children to school and then dictates gun free zones making it impossible for anyone to defend them. John Lott in his books “More Guns, Less Crime” and “The Bias Against Guns” proves to any reasonable reader the efficacy of an armed population. States that adopted right-to-carry laws experienced a 78% drop in deaths from rampage attacks.
      Finally, the intellectual climate is to blame including university professors, journalists and politicians who evangelize a new culture where the long established rules of civil conduct no longer apply. We have drastically lowered the barriers on acceptable political and personal conduct. The most vulnerable and marginalized among us lose all self restraint. If we truly want society to have no restraints then we must be prepared to reap the whirlwind.
“Workplace shootings are down 70%; prevention is possible.”
       Next week in Part 2 I present a fact-based and principled plan to prevent future mass shootings at schools. Preview: workplace shootings are down by about 70% in the past 20 years and without any added gun regulations. This occurred because businesses implemented real world solutions instead of phony political solutions. Stay tuned.

You Didn’t Build That

Prehistoric Barbarians and Bandits Knew Better

By: George Noga – December 8, 2012

       The very instant I heard Obama’s infamous “You didn’t build that” statement I knew it was not only wrong but bass ackward. Economic literati understand viscerally that economic activity must precede political activity. However, it took Tom Palmer in “The Origins of State and Government” to provide much of the necessary historical and logical underpinnings to juxtapose economic activity (business) and government.

“Economic means must always precede political means. Nomads and hunter-gatherers never have a government.”

      Palmer’s axiom is that the economic means always must precede the political means. That explains why there never are governments among primitive societies; they have leaders but never a state. Hunter-gatherers and nomads don’t generate enough of an economic surplus to support a permanent predator class. Nevertheless, such societies were victimized by roving bandits (precursors of government) who moved on once they plundered what little was available. There was no reason for them to stay once they pillaged all the meager supplies available. Also, the nomads and hunters were not stationary and not easy targets for predators.

      Everything changed once people settled permanently and established agriculture. Now they generated a constant economic surplus and remained vulnerable in one location. Once again, roving bandits came, pillaged and plundered. However, the bandits were not stupid. They quickly understood and grasped the opportunity. Now there was a reason for them to stay inasmuch as the farmers couldn’t migrate and they could pillage permanently. Hence, roving bandits morphed into stationary bandits who, through sheer force (subjugating the people and keeping out other roving bandits), acquired a monopoly on sanctioned physical violence within a given territory and, viola, government was created.

“Once agriculture was established, roving bandits became stationary bandits enforcing a monopoly on physical violence in a given territory and, viola, government was created.”

     The evolution and causation is clear enough. An economic surplus is an a priori condition for the existence of a state. Indeed, government cannot exist without the entrepreneur class; they have to build it before government can plunder it. Without those who invest, take risks and build businesses (despite hindrance by the state), government wouldn’t have any resources and would not exist. Even the earliest farmers had to invest (plant seeds, tend the crops) and take risks (drought, pestilence, etc.) while the now-permanent bandits did nothing productive.

   It is no different today. Permanent bandits, who now sanctimoniously  go by titles such as  kings, emperors, presidents and prime ministers, plunder billions  through their enforced monopoly on violence. It continues in kleptocracies across the globe; witness Putin and the ill-gotten wealth of Chinese leaders on full display during the sordid Bo Xilai affair. Witness most of Latin and South America, the Caribbean, most of Africa, all of Arabia and all the countries ending in stan. Don’t forget the narcostate of Mexico and significant pockets of Southeast Asia.

“Even authentic bandits in ancient times sometimes understood that pillaging less today enabled them to pillage even more tomorrow – thus benefiting both the pillagers and pillagees.”

   Is America really any different just because our rulers may govern with the pro forma consent of the governed? They may call themselves mayor, governor, congressman or president but they continue to behave like bandits. They enrich themselves in many illicit ways including money, perquisites, preferments, legal exemptions and power. They plunder from the rest of us in reliance on a legal monopoly on violence largely to ensure their reelection and thereby continued membership in the predator class.  And now the chief bandit in all the land has the sheer chutzpah to proclaim that government is the font of all economic success – a notion that even the barbarians of yesteryear would have found absurd. Even they, lacking any education, understood that the plunderers did not help the plundered create their businesses.

     We may be better off with authentic bandits of ancient times, like those in the Capital One commercials.  At least sometimes they got sated and left us alone. And some of them even understood that pillaging less today caused the economy to grow faster such that they could pillage even more tomorrow, thus  benefiting both the pillagers and the pillagees. Were it so in America today. Our current crop of bandits never gets sated and is less enlightened than some of their counterparts who swept into the west from the steppes of Central Asia.

The 1787 Constitution is Pure Genius

Return to Government We Revolted Against in 1776

By: George Noga – November 23, 2012
        America’s problems and peril are in direct proportion to its deviation from the framework and principles of the 1787 Constitution which created a constitutional republic and not a democracy. The original constitution was and still is pure genius – the best blueprint for governing a free people that ever existed and that may ever exist on our planet. America achieved its ne plus ultra throughout its first 150 years during the time it generally was governed well within the confines of its constitutional box.
         Under the 1787 Constitution, individuals casting votes in a federal election, as in the one just-concluded, were not the sine qua non. We now have come to overvalue our vote (in federal elections) due to the original denial of votes to, inter alia, women and blacks. As regrettable as that was, it was ineluctable given the zeitgeist. As Edward Crane of CATO propounds, the subsequent struggles for suffrage led these formerly disenfranchised groups to vastly overvalue the vote; the notion glommed on them that with the vote they could do all kinds of things. But this was a chimera and never part of the grand constitutional architecture. Under the gestalt of  a constitutional republic, the vote at the federal level never was intended to be vital.
“Direct election of senators destroyed the basis of federalism.”
          In 1913 the 16th (income tax) and 17th (direct election of senators) amendments passed. The income tax eventually led to the ability to finance a government of a size and scope never contemplated by the founders. Perhaps the greater evil was the direct election of senators which utterly destroyed the basis of federalism. Until 1917 senators were elected by state legislatures for the explicit constitutional purpose of representing the states and to vouchsafe their rights from the federal government. Absent the 17th amendment, it is inconceivable Obamacare could have passed or that our republic could be on the verge of bankruptcy.
        Congress, as originally designed, was intended to take active responsibility for all laws including rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto. Instead Congress has morphed into a body  that oversees (and loosely at that) a gaggle of bureaucrats and rule makers and takes no responsibility for their output. It has erected a multitude of new offices and sent hither swarms of regulators to harass our people and to eat out their substance. If that sounds familiar, it is. That was one of the reasons cited in the Declaration of Independence for our revolution.
       The judiciary also has transmogrified in ways never intended. This has occurred not only because of judicial activism beginning with the Slaughterhouse cases but due to longevity – which never was contemplated in 1787. Again, a senate composed of members beholden to the states would be loath to ratify appointments to the Supreme Court to judicial activists.
“The House of Representatives should be chosen by lottery.”
       The problems are clear enough, but what about solutions? I kinda like Leonard Read’s suggestion that the House of Representatives should be chosen by lottery every two years. Regarding the Senate, why not go back to the original Constitution and have the states select them. William Howard Taft, who served both as 27th President and 10th Chief Justice, was fond of saying every town with 5,000 people contains a Supreme Court Justice. I am fond of a different solution. Justices should serve staggered 18 year non-renewable terms. There would be a vacancy every 2 years and each president would predictably get 2 appointments per term.
        There was an enchanted time when ordinary Americans  read, understood and cherished the Constitution. Davey Crockett once was campaigning for reelection to Congress when he came upon a man (Horatio Bunce) plowing his field. Crockett timed his arrival for when the farmer would be near him at the end of the row. Crockett introduced himself whereupon Bunce promptly said: “I know who you are Colonel Crockett, but I shan’t be voting for you.” When Crockett pressed for an explanation, the farmer told him he once had voted contrary to the Constitution. Upon Bunce’s explanation, Crockett agreed and vowed never again to breech it.
“We are technological titans but political and economic cretins.”
        We now may be technological titans but we are political and economic cretins. We have gone full circle and become the very type of petty and intrusive government we revolted against in 1776; only this time it was not imposed by a foreign power; we did it to ourselves. We have destroyed the best form of self government devised since man walked upright and we will reap the whirlwind. Reprising Kipling’s words:
As surely as water will wet us and fire will burn, the Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!”

Racism in America

Racism: Discrimination or prejudice based on the belief a particular race is superior to another in character or ability.

By: George Noga – September 24, 2012

      In my three score and ten years I have witnessed both overt racism and the sea change in the hearts and minds of my countrymen that has taken place in the past half century. I experienced Jim Crow firsthand growing up in rural Florida and Georgia in the 1940s and 1950s and understand the ugliness of racism. I also witnessed the transformation in attitudes and race relations in America that began in the 1960s. So, where are we today?

       In any country of 310 million souls one can find some of everything. Certainly there are some among us who are racist. We cannot therefore aver that racism does not exist in America nor, in all likelihood, will we ever reach that exalted state. Opining about how much racism exists in today’s America requires a Clintonian construction, i.e. it depends on what the meaning of racism is. Let’s begin by understanding four things that are NOT racism.

  1. Racism is NOT disparate outcomes. Those who assert America is a racist nation use self-fulfilling criteria. Race mongers use false and convoluted concepts such as disparate outcomes to claim racism exists where there is none. In the recent Countrywide case, the DOJ used disparate outcome theory to assert Countrywide discriminated because 40% of minorities paid higher mortgage rates than the average of all whites. Duh – 50% of whites also paid a higher rate than the average of all whites. Countrywide paid $335 million to DOJ to be distributed to minorities (but not to whites) who paid above average mortgage rates. Folks, I can’t make this stuff up.
  2. Racism is NOT based on statistical legerdemain. In New York City crime rates have plummeted because of tougher policing policies; yet liberals employ statistical prestidigitation to allege the policies are racist because a disproportionate share of blacks is stopped. They fail to mention 75% of all violent crime in NYC is committed by blacks compared to less than 5% by whites. The NYC police policies target behaviors and not race. Meanwhile, the victims which are 62% black, support the tougher police policies that have made their neighborhoods much safer.
  3. Racism is NOT disagreeing with liberal shibboleths. The last refuge for race baiters is to tar everyone who doesn’t agree 100% with their politics as racist. This is liberals’ go-to method of avoiding arguments they can’t win on the merits. I started the first private school voucher program in Florida in 1995 and was a leader of the school choice movement. I raised a large amount of private money to pay for non-government schools for hundreds of children from low income families attending failing public schools. Even though 90% of the beneficiaries were minorities, in every public forum where I spoke, I unfailingly was publicly branded a racist because school choice was against liberal dogma. We often used to guess how soon into the program I would be called racist for the first time; the over and under was 5 minutes!
  4. Racism is NOT being opposed to black politicians. Racially tailored electoral districts serve to make black politicians more extreme because they never run in multiracial districts or have to appeal to multicultural voters. The predictable result is that only blacks run for office; the turnout is low; and those who play the race card best and are furthest to the left win and then retain the seat for life. Black voter turnout is suppressed by racial gerrymandering and lack of competition – not by voter ID laws.   Keeping blacks in inner city ghettos therefore becomes indispensable to black politicians because if ghettos didn’t exist, there would be few safe black seats as is the case for Hispanics, Asians and Indians who are not residentially clustered enough to create safe seats. Thus, residential integration is not in the interest of black politicians and the end result is much greater racial strife than otherwise would exist.

           It is clear enough that if one imputes racism based on disparate outcomes, statistical prestidigitation and any utterance inconsistent with liberal dogma or opposed by black politicians, there will be legions of racists in America. If none of these is racism, then what is?

Real Racism and its Prevalence in America

         To determine if someone is a racist is uber-simple and straightforward; he/she must conform to the commonly accepted definition of racism given supra; to wit: be prejudiced or discriminate against people of another race because of a belief they are inferior in character or ability. The only way to know if this definition applies is by a person’s direct words or actions. Calling someone racist is so serious and ugly it can only be justified by such direct and unambiguous words or actions. Furthermore, anyone who blithely charges someone with racism without such a standard is hardly better than a racist.

         The same standard for determining racism also applies to organizations and racism cannot be imputed by the racial makeup of its membership. However, even if an organization is not racist, it should not tolerate racist behavior on the part of any member and must actively police itself to purge any such speech or behavior. No group does this better than the Tea Party which has been called racist solely for its stance against liberal orthodoxy.

         How many racists do you know? I know a great many people and I don’t know even one who conforms to the accepted definition. From my perspective genuine racism in America is well along the path to extinction. We have come a long way in the past 50 years; however, we should never rest until the scourge of racism is reduced to its irreducible minimum.

         The greater danger today is race mongering, i.e. creating or exacerbating racial differences for political or economic reasons. It is far past time also to end that scourge. Leaks from the secret liberal media JournoList are revealing. One blogger urged fellow journalists to call Obama’s critics racists; he wrote: “Call them racists to raise the cost on the right of going after the left . . . to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear.”

        Sadly, but paradoxically, the left’s chronic misuse and overuse of racism has caused that charge to lose much of its erstwhile moral power just as overuse of the ef word has diminished its once potent shock value. It’s long overdue for liberals to give up name calling and try to win arguments the old fashioned way – based on the facts and logic. America is not a racist nation despite concerted efforts by liberal race mongers to portray it as such for rank political benefit.

Intelligence (IQ) and Public Policy

Mokita – Something we all Know but Won’t Discuss

IQ – Intelligence Part 2

By: George Noga – June 23, 2012
  
        This is the second of two posts dealing with IQ; the first is on our website www.mllg.us; it revealed the radically transformed role of IQ in our private lives. This post undauntedly goes where few have gone before, the role of IQ in public policy. In Papua New Guinea their Kivila language has a word, Mokita, which describes a truth we all know but agree not to talk about. So it is with IQ.
“A mokita is a truth we all know but agree not to talk about.”
     So why does MLLG go there now; why not leave well enough alone? The US public policy debate has become atrophied and twisted by myth and political correctness. Many of our biggest social and economic problems (education, poverty, homelessness, et seq.) are much more accurately defined and explained by IQ than by any other cause. Before we can begin to solve such problems, we must understand them and be willing to look for solutions where the data lead. What follows is a fact-based and principled look at IQ and public policy in America.
Psychometrics of IQ in America
     We are a nation of 310 million; that means about 2.5%, or 8 million of us, have IQ below 70 which is two standard deviations (“SD”) below the norm. Another 30 million have IQ between 70 and 80. An IQ below 70 means significant limitations in two or more areas and de facto retardation. IQ between 70 and 80 means trouble with everyday demands such as filling out routine forms; such people have borderline retardation and limited trainability. Those 40 million Americans with IQ of 80 or less are the focus of public policy questions in this post.
The Role of IQ in Public Policy
     Jumping straightaway to the ineluctable point, IQ should inform our public policies where applicable. Today we not only ignore IQ, we are loath even to talk about it and quick to castigate the few intrepid souls who dare raise the issue. Every measure of social pathology is strongly correlated with low IQ. Poverty, unemployment, welfare, poor parenting, crime, injury, delinquency, drug abuse, illegitimacy, child neglect and even incivility are inexorably and directly linked. The converse is true of those with high IQ; they manifest virtually no social pathologies including every one of the aforementioned listedsupra. Let’s touch briefly on just three areas where policy should be informed by IQ: poverty, education and homelessness. Of course, criminal justice, the drug war and many other areas of public policy also are impacted.
“Poverty, unemployment, welfare, bad parenting, homelessness, crime, injury, delinquency, drug abuse, illegitimacy, child neglect, incivility and all other social pathologies are strongly correlated with low IQ.”
     Poverty: The true level of poverty in America, as defined by those who experience material hardship, i.e. lack the resources to meet basic needs for healthy living including food, shelter, clothing and medical care, is only 2% to 3% of the population. Of the people government classifies as being in poverty, two-thirds (67%) by their own reports suffer no material hardships; in addition, another 17% are illegal aliens. When we subtract those two cohorts, the computed result is eight million people living legally in America who suffer material hardships. These eight million people who experience material hardships are substantially the same eight million cohort with IQ below 70. It seems clear enough; poverty at its root is not primarily an economic or social problem, it is one of low IQ that demands entirely different solutions.
     Education: What if the vast majority of children in the very worst schools had sub 70 (or sub 80) IQ? There is  no amount of spending that could make a difference. Contrary to public perception, Head Start is a failure; it achieves only short-term gains, all of which disappear by third grade. What is bien entendu is no way ever has been demonstrated permanently to raise IQ. Programs like Head Start only raise performance up to the level of a student’s inherent capability as circumscribed by IQ. Throwing unlimited money at schools with low IQ students is ineffective. Remember, these are kids who are either retarded or have difficulty filling out a form. If we honestly recognized the situation, we could craft better approaches. We are not doing justice to the very kids we are trying to help and all because we find truth uncomfortable.
     Homelessness: This is open and shut; today no one in America is homeless absent social pathologies. That explains why the media go into a frenzy whenever they think they find a mainstream family in that circumstance. Because both homelessness and low IQ involve pathologies, it seems clear enough that homelessness results from low IQ; government agencies now understand this but aren’t willing to extend this knowledge to poverty and education.
Implications and Solutions – Private and Public
     Let’s distinguish between private and public behavior. Individuals (liberal and conservative) readily understand the increasing role of IQ in achieving success. People want smart kids and make their marriage and parenting decisions accordingly. The market value of IQ is soaring and differences between elites and others are turning into a chasm. Something must be done about this cavernous cognitive and cultural divide before we soon inhabit a brave new world in which vastly outnumbered Alphas become isolated in communities surrounded by razor wire to protect against the Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons bent on their destruction. It already is happening in much of the world and the trend is well underway in the USA.
“We must not shirk from the truth even when it is radioactive.”
    In the public sphere, we must change the culture to value truth above all else and not to shirk when it is uncomfortable – even radioactive. None of our worst problems will be solved with myths and political correctness. We must craft approaches and solutions to real problems based on real causes. We can improve failing schools, poverty and other problems only if and when we are honest. Failure to bridge this cognitive/cultural chasm will come at a steep price indeed.
“Everyone needs a valued place in society and to live on a human scale in a community without complex rules in a culture emphasizing virtue.”
    There are other things government and society can do to shrink the cognitive-cultural divide and to permit everyone a valued place in America; these actions include:
  1. Restore and emphasize local neighborhoods and communities;
  2. Vastly reduce and simplify laws, rules and regulations to make it easy for people to live;
  3. Make it easier to earn a living;
  4. Facilitate living a virtuous life including restoration of marriage and, above all;
  5. Everyone, regardless of cognitive ability, should have a valued place in society.
    Mokita harms those who practice it because they fundamentally are dishonest; the greatest toll however is on those we purport to shield via vapid political correctness. Of course, all the while we engage in mokita publicly, we privately practice selective marriage and breeding. After all, we certainly don’t want political correctness to interfere with our own family, do we?
Credits and source notes: Charles Murray’s books “The Bell Curve” and “Coming Apart” were the source of ideas and data about the role of intelligence as was “The Global Bell Curve” by Richard Lynn. In addition, I read numerous scholarly journal articles in 2008-09 while researching a chapter about IQ for a book on family history.

Brave New World Arrives 500 Years Early

The Astonishing Role of IQ in 21st Century America

IQ – Intelligence Part 1
By: George Noga – June 15, 2012

     This is the first of two posts about the shocking role of intelligence (as in IQ) in contemporary life; this installment deals with its transformational effect on our private lives; the second part addresses a radioactive issue: IQ and public policy. A sea change, mostly over the past half century, has taken place off all radar screens. It already exerts a profound effect on our lives and, when it reaches its culmination later this century, will forever change life on Earth as we know it.

“O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.”

     Brave New World was taken from Shakespeare; in The Tempest when Miranda, who was raised on an isolated island, saw other people for the first time, she exclaimed the above words. Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel is set in the year 2540; what he warned about is happening 500 years early. The difference is instead of the World State controlling children’s IQs in Hatcheries and Conditioning Centres, we are doing it voluntarily but every bit as thoroughly.

Six Fundamental Truths About IQ

     We have allowed myth and political correctness to creep into our views about IQ, mainly because the truth makes many uncomfortable. Liberals in particular get apoplectic whenever hereditary differences are highlighted, such as when they learn little girls really do like to play with dolls and little boys with guns. The following axioms are accepted virtually unanimously by professionals and academics who study such things, albeit a few won’t say so publicly.

  1. There is such a thing as general level of intelligence on which human beings differ;
  2. All academic and achievement standardized tests measure this factor to some extent; tests expressly designed to measure cognitive ability (IQ) do it most accurately;
  3. IQ scores match what people mean when they use terms like smart and intelligent;
  4. Scores that measure IQ are stable throughout life although not perfectly so;
  5. Properly designed and administered IQ tests are not biased against any group; and,
  6. Cognitive ability is substantially heritable, no less than 40% and no more than 80%.

Psychometrics in the Twenty-First Century

     Around the middle of the last century the sea change began to be wrought. In earlier times high intelligence was nearly randomly and broadly distributed throughout society. A laborer, farmer or plumber was just as likely to have high IQ as anyone. Moreover, IQ rarely entered into the calculus of marriage. Everything changed beginning circa 1950; to wit:

  • High IQ students attending college soared from a low percentage to about 90% today of those who are in the top quartile. Among the top few centiles, the share is nearly 100%.
  • Elite colleges were transformed. In 1950 Harvard was easy to get into; by 1960 the average 1952 freshman would be in the bottom 10%. Today they wouldn’t even apply.
  • Bright kids from every place and background were identified and sorted. Today, any high performing kid could go to college and, if needed, without having to pay.
  • The entire non college population has been drained of the brightest kids and now has a markedly lower IQ than mere decades ago.

“The market value of IQ is soaring and the income/wealth gap
between the elite and others is widening at an alarming rate.”

  • Educational partitioning has been followed by occupational selection. High performers are concentrated in certain occupations specifically screened for that purpose. High IQ professions now take 5 times more of the elite than 20 years ago.
  • Cognitive ability and job ability are conjoined. The market value of IQ is soaring and the income/wealth gap between high performers and others is widening at an alarming rate.
  • Now we see physical segregation in addition to that in academia and the workplace.
  • The final step, selective marriage based on IQ, already is well established. Marriage and breeding between elites and others is rare even today as with Huxley’s Alphas and others. To put it bluntly, people want smart kids who can thrive in the world of the future.
  • This is happening all over the world and the trend is accelerating rapidly.

What Does This Mean For Our Future?

     Brave New World is arriving 500 years early. What kind of dystopian world will our children and grandchildren inhabit? Cognitive elites already matriculate in different schools, work in different jobs and workplaces, earn vastly more income, worship differently, shop differently, live in different cities and neighborhoods and send their kids to different schools. They intermarry and have kids who are even more elite. Now we are getting third generation elites for whom even their grandparents can’t supply them with insights into the life of ordinary Americans. But wait; it gets even worse.

“The greatest source of inequality in America today
is not economic – it is cognitive and cultural.”

   Elites don’t go to the same movies, watch the same TV shows, eat at the same restaurants, buy the same automobiles and vacation in the same places. They don’t look the same due to different notions about diet, exercise, body fat, cosmetic surgery, tattoos and piercings. They even have longer life spans. They raise their children differently, are indifferent to professional sports teams, eschew the military, disdain hunting and fishing, have different politics and well, you get the idea. Most will go through their entire life without ever talking with an Evangelical Christian, having a friend without a college degree or even knowing someone with a below average IQ. For crying out loud, they even eat breakfast (yogurt and muesli) differently.

     I don’t pretend to know how all this will end, except that it cannot be good. We are nearing the point where today’s cognitive elite Alpha pluses and Alphas are about as different from today’s Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons as in Huxley’s Brave New World. The main take away point for readers is to understand the radically transformed role IQ plays in the modern world and that the trend will become more and more pronounced over time. It explains a great many things no one likes to talk about and should influence our future public policies.

Next up: The role of IQ in public policy. Danger: Radioactive!

Credits and source notes: Charles Murray’s books “The Bell Curve” and “Coming Apart” were the source of ideas and data about the role of intelligence as was “The Global Bell Curve” by Richard Lynn. In addition, I read numerous scholarly journal articles in 2008-09 in connection with writing a chapter about IQ for a family history.

$4 Million a Year Meter Readers

Today’s College Degrees are Worth Much Less Than Before

By: George Noga – March 10, 2012
  
       If you want an example that encapsulates the pervasive extortion by public sector unions, look no further than paying $4 million per year for a meter reader. That is just so much bushwa, you may be thinking; surely that could never happen in America. Think again. I take you step-by-step to demonstrate how it  costs local governments $4 million for only one active meter reader position.
“You don’t believe a $4 million per year meter reader is possible in your city; think again!”
        A ubiquitous feature of public pension plans is for employees to receive 3% of their final year’s pay for each year worked. In this case I assumed the final year salary was $78,000 –  not an unreasonable assumption for a public sector union employee after 30 years of government work including merit raises, promotions and cost-of-living adjustments. Of course, overtime is included in computing the pension.   If our unionized meter reader begins work immediately after high school and works for 30 years, he receives 90% (30 years at 3%) of his pay for his life and also, in many cases, for the life of his spouse.
       Moreover, his pension is indexed for inflation and often includes retiree medical benefits. Thus, our meter reader retires at age 48 and collects his public pension until age 91 inasmuch as the joint life expectancy of him and his spouse at age 48 is 43 more years. And then there is the disability. The system is rigged to permit a large number (in some cases, 90%) of workers to qualify for disability, which adds 30% to the cost of the pension.
       Okay – our enterprising meter reader graduated high school at age 18, got married and had a child at 20, retired at 48 and (jointly) lived to 91. His patriarchal family was traditional and they knew a good thing when they saw it. Therefore, the meter reader’s son, grandson, and great-grandson followed in his footsteps – doing everything he did at exactly the same ages.
       Each, in turn, maximized overtime during his final year on the job, a practice with which everyone was complicit; it even has a name – spiking. I assumed they spiked only 60% of their base salary although frequently spiking can be well over 100% with even 300% being possible. They also qualified for disability; like spiking, this is a fraud in which all are complicit. I assumed inflation was 3.75%, a reasonable long-term average. All the numbers used herein are on an Excel worksheet and I will email it upon request. The numbers are breathtaking.
“For each active employee, government must pay four people – three retirees and one on-the-job worker.” 
       There comes a time when the original meter reader and his son and grandson all are retired and collecting pensions; the great-grandson is still active reading meters. Therefore, for one active employee who is performing one job, the city must pay four people – three retirees and one worker. The total cost using the assumptions disclosed herein is $3 million. The number approaches $4 million if retiree (and, of course, spousal) medical benefits are included and/or the employees spike at a rate significantly higher than 60%.
       This bears repeating. The government’s cost for one active meter reader position is $3-$4 million per year depending on the level of spiking and whether or not there are medical benefits. In our story, four generation of the same family can make $4 million a year for doing one job. Now you know how corrupt unions (oxymoron) game the system at our expense.
“Instead of $4 million annually in the out years for unionized public sector employees, the comparable amount for a private sector company would under $300,000 – this is 93% less!”
     Let’s compare the $4 million government union price tag to comparable non-union private sector employees. There are humongous (highly technical economic term) differences.
  1. Private sector employees have defined contribution pension plans (which they mostly pay for) like 401(k)s rather than costly defined benefit plans.
  2. Once private sector employees retire, the employer has no ongoing pension obligation.
  3. Private sector employees retire at age 65 not 48.
  4. It is rare for private sector employees to qualify for disability.
  5. Defined contribution plans are not indexed for inflation nor based on joint lives.
  6. Seldom do private companies provide retiree health benefits.
     Instead of  $4 million for someone employed in a unionized government job, the comparable cost  for a private sector job is less than $300,000, or a staggering 93% less.
College Degrees Have Become Vastly Overvalued
     A basic college degree no longer conveys intellect or knowledge now that government has decreed everyone should have one. Since successful folks tend to have college degrees, the way to raise people up is for them to have a degree; right? But college degrees aren’t causes of success; they’re simply markers or societal totems for possessing the traits and skills needed for success, i.e. mental acuity, discipline and deferred gratification. Having the traits always must precede obtaining the markers. Getting the markers doesn’t produce the traits any more than a designer suit makes a gentleman of a Neanderthal.
“Having the traits must precede obtaining the markers.” 
     Note: Another common marker for middle class success is home ownership. Government therefore assumes that if people who can’t afford homes are given homes through government programs (Freddie, Fannie, etc.) they will rise into a higher economic class. Just as with college degrees, government confuses markers with traits and causes. Giving a home to someone who can’t save for a down payment, make the monthly payment, pay taxes, insurance and utilities or even maintain the home will not improve their economic position. Habitat for Humanity learned this lesson long ago. Despite Habitat’s generous terms, rigorous screening and education of putative homeowners and insistence on investment of considerable sweat equity, they still have failures. Again, the traits needed for home ownership must precede the marker.
“Getting markers doesn’t produce the traits any more than a designer suit makes a gentleman of a Neanderthal. . . . Most motivation comes from Bluto rather than Plato.” 
     Moreover, college frequently is a bad deal. Forty percent don’t graduate. Many that do, obtain degrees that are of no market value. Graduates are saddled with debt that lasts decades. Much of college is pursuit of a totem and results in no increase in human capital. Nor are graduates well-rounded. Instead of being inspired by Plato, most motivation comes from Bluto. College actually discourages freedom of thought; instead, it initiates young people for life into an emotional, unthinking tribe of liberal orthodoxy from which precious few ever escape.

Just Who is Debbie Bosanke – And Why Has She Become the Poster Lady for Obama?

 


Just Who is Debbie Bosanke – And Why Has She Become the Poster Lady for Obama?


By: George Noga – February 21, 2012

Dear Readers:

 

For only the second time ever, I eschew the standard format to write more personally and directly. I have invested many hours researching this posting; if you stick with me to the end, you will be rewarded with an inimitable analysis and perspective.

 

Debbie Bosanke, for those of you not exposed to the White House and media spin machine, is Warren Buffet’s secretary, she who putatively pays a lower tax rate than her famous boss. President Obama is using her as an unwitting shill in his neutron bomb class warfare strategy to raise taxes to fund his hell-on-earth social welfare state. Never have I seen any issue so grotesquely demagogued, distorted, dishonest and deceptive. Consider the naked facts.

 

Buffet asserts he paid 17.4% in federal income tax. Although that isolated datum may be true, it is meant to dupe and hoodwink. Following is a fair and accurate calculation of Buffet’s real tax rate computed using the lingua franca of taxes by tracing a tranche of Buffet’s income through a complete tax cycle involving the following five stages.

  1. Before Buffet can invest, he must earn income. At the start of the cycle he earns $1 million on which he pays federal income tax of 39.6%, social security of 6.2%, Medicare of 2.9% and Nebraska tax of 6.84%. He pays $483,000 in total tax which is an effective rate of 48.3% after allowing for the deductibility of state tax.
  2. Buffet now takes $500,000 after tax which he uses to buy stock in a corporation. His investment is successful and the company earns 16% pretax profit for each of the next ten years. His share of the company’s income is $80,000 per year on which he (through the company) pays 35% federal tax and 7.81% Nebraska tax. The effective rate is 40.1% and Buffet pays $320,800 over the ten years.
  3. The company pays a 5% dividend annually; on Buffet’s share, this is $4,000. The dividend is taxed at 15% federal and 6.68% state. Over 10 years he pays $8,280.
  4. A decade has passed and Buffet decides to sell. Based on the aforementioned earnings and taxes paid, he nets a gain of $340,000. This is subject to a capital gains tax of 15% federal and 6.68% Nebraska. His total tax bill is $70,380.
  5. When Warren dies, he will be subject to federal estate tax of 35% and Nebraska inheritance tax which ranges from 1% to 18% – I have assumed 9% herein; this amounts to $379,600 based solely on the data for this tranche of income.

    Buffet’s True Tax Rate is 70% in 2012 – Increasing to 80% in 2013

    Buffet’s true tax rate is over 70% on this tranche of income over the entire cycle of earning, investing and leaving an estate. During the 10-year period Buffet had $1 million in individual earnings and $800,000 via his share of corporate income resulting in total income of $1.8 million; on that amount, he paid taxes of $1,262,100 – or 70.1% and not the 17.4% alleged. His reported 17.4% tax rate was based solely on step 4 of the above 5 steps, i.e. only on a single part of the cycle. His real tax rate is over four times (400%) higher than he claimed.

 

All this is based on current tax law for 2012. I also computed Buffet’s tax rate based on current law for 2013 and it is over 80% due to the statutory rise in estate taxes and the new 3.8% ObamaCare tax. I excluded federal and state unemployment tax, property tax, sales tax and over 20 other taxes Buffet would have paid. Moreover, if Buffet would have lost money on his stock, it would have be deductible only up to $3,000 per year.

 

And let’s not forget Debbie Bosanke. She shamelessly is being used as a surrogate for  secretaries everywhere – the kind that works in your office and earns say $20,000 and pays little or no taxes. Bosanke hardly fits that bill. Based on the limited tax data she released, her income is at least $200,000 and could be as high as $500,000,  anywhere from 10 to 25 times the earnings of a typical secretary. Bosanke’s income is inferred based on published IRS data on tax rates by adjusted gross income. Neither Buffet nor Bosanke has released their tax returns.

 

An Ignoble, Sordid and Squalid Spectacle

 

I can’t recall anything in my lifetime approaching the sheer chutzpah of the Obama-Buffet-Bosanke spectacle. It transcends political spin and crosses into a netherworld of intentional lie and deception; it froths with contempt for the American people.

  • They assert Buffet’s tax rate is 17.4% when they know it is over 70% and rising to over 80% next year. They know Bosanke’s income is 10-25 times that of  a typical secretary. They extract datum from only one part of the five-part tax cycle. All this is done with malice aforethought and intended to deceive and divide America.
  • The President of the United States and one of the richest men on the planet jointly propagated this massive fraud and deception knowing they could count on the state sycophant media not to expose them.
  • And just when you thought they couldn’t get any more scumlike, the bottom-feeding state sycophant media are flogging this deceit for all it’s worth. Even if they wished, they couldn’t get this story right because they graduate in the bottom deciles and their IQs are at least one standard deviation to the left of the norm.
  • Was this hoax the price of Buffet’s recently awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom? Buffet should be shamed into returning the medal and his otherwise good reputation has been forever sullied. Also, shame on him for dragging Debbie Bosanke into this squalid affair and for using her as an unwitting political pawn.
  • Perhaps the most sordid part of all this is that Obama is cynically banking on the ignorance and class envy of the American people due in part to the complexity of the tax code and his incendiary class warfare rhetoric. He is a divider, not a uniter.

The only antidote I know is to shine the spotlight of truth on this ignoble affair. In that regard, please be assured the tax data presented herein are accurate and fair as is the entire analysis. Please help me by forwarding this to as many as possible. Thank you.

 

Labor Day – Remembering Forgotten Heroes

Ruminations about Labor, Unions, Capitalists and Entrepreneurs

By: George Noga – September 5, 2011

         It is not far fetched to assert entrepreneurs are responsible for the rise of humanity from isolated hunter-gatherers up to and including modern man. There is one dark side to this: seeing the prosperity created by early traders and entrepreneurs, politicians created taxation. The pattern was thus established: entrepreneurs create wealth; governments destroys it. 

“Entrepreneurs create wealth; governments destroy it.”

      Entrepreneurs, creators and innovators have spawned enormous wealth, reduced poverty and increased life expectancy more in the past 100 years than in the preceding 100,000 years. Are they forgotten heroes of the world? Who did the most to benefit the common man – Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Steve Jobs or John Kennedy, George W. Bush and Barack Obama?

      I once took a graduate course in the history of economic analysis based on the teaching of Joseph Schumpeter who wrote about entrepreneurs: “First, there is the dream and the will to found a private kingdom . . . then there is the will to conquer; the impulse to fight; to prove oneself superior to others; to succeed for the sake, not of the fruits of success but, of the success itself. . . Finally there is the joy of creating, of getting things done, or simply of exercising one’s energy and ingenuity.”

The Legacy of the Peddler

        America owes much to peddlers; in many ways they built America. A budding peddler (entrepreneur) began by taking all the modest money he had and buying all he could fit into his backpack. He ventured into the hinterlands, sold everything and then did it all over again. He lived frugally and saved for bigger backpacks and more merchandise. When he could afford a horse and wagon, he ventured deeper into sparsely settled areas with more goods. Eventually he found a place that could support a resident peddler; he built a shack, filled it with things people wanted and lived simply in the back. Later he took a wife and started a family; they helped in the business and shared his hardscrabble life.

“Luxuries a short time ago are selling at Wal-Mart and Costco for ridiculously low prices. Government created none of this.”

        As the town grew around him, he expanded his store and eventually moved into a separate house. Most department stores and industries in America began that way. The peddler was the backbone of the American economy and society. A peddler had to have initiative, self-reliance and, above all, integrity. He paid his debts and taxes, attended church, contributed to charity and participated in civic affairs. There were no written contracts; his word was his bond. His life was orderly and scandal free. He had the dream and the will as described by Schumpeter. Are peddlers forgotten heroes?

Heroes of the World

        Do you doubt entrepreneurs are the heroes of the world? Look around you; ponder with amazement the monuments they have bestowed on the world. Gape in awe at the medical breakthroughs, technology and the cornucopia of everyday marvels. Average folks live better today than monarchs mere decades ago. World poverty has been halved in the past generation. Luxuries a short time ago are now selling  at Wal-Mart or Costco for ridiculously low prices. None of this was created by government. Is government heroic?

        Not uncoincidentally, entrepreneurs are the antithesis of socialistic and collectivistic schemes; without them we would be just like the former Soviet Union, Cuba and all the other places that elevate the state over people. Indeed, the greatest measure of the progress of a civilization is the rate at which it creates new millionaires. Creation of new wealth means society is innovating, spawning jobs, efficiently allocating its resources and serving its people’s needs.

       Are entrepreneurs truly the heroes of the world? You make the call.

Labor Unions Today – Are They Heroic?

      Labor Day was established to honor all labor not just organized labor. As conceived by President Cleveland and Congress, Labor Day was intended to serve as a reminder that work was an ennobling experience. It was placed at the end of summer to symbolize the end of seasonal indulgence and a return to work. Labor unions however have long sought to co-opt the Labor Day holiday for the minuscule segment of private industry that is unionized.

“Only in the fetid parallel universe of government is unionization growing; it extracts uncompensated value through politics that it cannot obtain on the merits.”

        Today less than 7% of private-sector workers are unionized and that percentage continues to plummet. Unionization of private workers is in free-fall for one, and only one, reason: workers independently conclude that the costs of belonging to a union are not worth the putative benefits. Only in the fetid parallel universe of government is unionization growing; it extracts politically what it cannot win on the merits.

        In economic terms unions are “rent seekers”, i.e. they accrue economic benefits via manipulation and/or exploiting the political environment rather than through the production of added value. In short, they extort uncompensated value from others – you and me; is this heroic?

Labor Day should Honor Entrepreneurs and Capitalists along with Labor

    Labor Day should honor all work as a noble experience. Let’s expand it to honor entrepreneurs and capitalists. America is the planet’s quintessential capitalist country. Let’s therefore honor capitalists who make labor more productive via investment in plant, equipment, tools and – well, capital. Finally, let’s honor entrepreneurs, those with a dream and a will to create; they are the sine qua non that leverage labor and capital, create synergies and thereby produce unbounded prosperity for all.

   The veritable horn-of-plenty that is America results from entrepreneurs, capital and the virtue of work. Let’s honor them all!