Keeping up with the FITs, No. 25
Michael Lind on universities; Noah Smith on Carter and Reagan; Scott Alexander on genes and outcomes
The contemporary American university is an enormous Kafkaesque bureaucracy teetering on top of a small Dickensian sweatshop. If we don’t count the sports teams and the research institutes, the university consists of preindustrial artisans, the instructors, divided between a small and shrinking group of elite tenured artisans and a huge and growing number of impoverished apprentices with no hope of decent jobs—with all of the artisans, affluent and poor, crushed beneath the weight of thickening layers of middle managers.
…Rather than keep it alive on a morphine drip of student and taxpayer money, we should let it pass away and be replaced by institutions which, in truly innovative ways, use technology and teamwork to lower prices, raise wages, and keep the number of managers to a minimum.
Why would parents appeal to a law meant to combat critical race theory to censor deeply troubling but wholly uncontroversial books? Because the law allows them to do just that. It bans any “concept” that “promot[es] division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people.”
This extraordinarily subjective standard permits parents to object whenever their children express anger or discomfort.
His point is that although Critical Race Theory’s excesses are worth fighting, excesses in the other direction are also a danger.
But when it comes to actual deregulatory policies implemented, Carter did substantially more than Reagan. He deregulated airlines, energy, trucking, railways, telecommunications, finance, and more.
Unfortunately for Democrats,
Much of Carter’s deregulation came toward the very end of his presidency, so Americans didn’t really feel the effects til Reagan was in office.
Today, the left uses “neoliberalism” as an epithet. But Jimmy Carter was the first neoliberal. And neoliberalism worked. If only he had embraced it sooner, history would have turned out quite differently.
The Big 5 personality factors are yet more evidence for stereotype accuracy: the intelligent people are more introverted, more disagreeable, and less conscientious; the people who do well for reasons other than intelligence are more likely to be extraverted, agreeable, and diligent. Both cognitive and non-cognitive skills are correlated with neuroticism, which I guess makes sense - that’s probably what makes you do your homework on time.
That is one of his take-aways from this study. I have difficulty wrapping my arms around the method. Alexander describes it thusly:
At some point, some geneticists just did the hard thing and found some actual genes for actual intelligence, separate from educational attainment. And if you have both the educational attainment genes and the intelligence genes, you can subtract the one from the other to find the non-intelligence-related genes that affect educational attainment in other ways.
I can’t help thinking that the “genes” for educational attainment, after you control for the genes for intelligence, might not be causal factors. I worry about culture as a confounding factor. For example, suppose that Asian parents successfully encourage their children to do well in school, and this accounts for all of the educational attainment of Asians over and above what you would expect based on their intelligence. Then you would find that genes that are associated with Asian-ness help to “explain” school attainment, even though the causal factor is actually cultural. (Note that if you are one of those people who insists that IQ itself is culturally determined, then this would lead you to question the interpretation of polygenic scores for IQ. I myself am willing to believe that psychometricians have figured out a way to measure IQ so that it picks up genetic causes rather than cultural causes. But I really don’t believe that one can do that with educational attainment or with income.)
But maybe I am misunderstanding something about how this research is done.
while the gender gap in college attendance exists across the socioeconomic ladder, it is widest among the poor. In other words, among kids raised in rich families, girls are slightly more likely to attend college. But among children raised in poor families, girls are much more likely to attend college.
The employment pattern is reversed for children raised in intact families. Among children raised by poor, married parents, boys are slightly less likely than girls to grow up to be unemployed. In other words: Single parenthood appears to be especially detrimental for boys, while having married parents is particularly advantageous.
As with all of the links in this series, I recommend the whole essay.