The collusion of the idle

I used ‘idle’ in the headline, because it cognates with the German word ‘eitel’ which means ‘vain’, and both words describe the people I mean. The idle are two groups in the population which couldn’t be more different if you look at them. The one group is a very small part of every country, the heirs, those who inherit huge assets from their parents. I’m not talking about the average guy who may inherit an old house, a used car and maybe some rather worthless family jewelry. I’m talking about people who inherit fortunes, whole companies, huge estates with mansions, golf clubs or castles. One of their forebears must have been an extraordinarily smart and lucky bastard who founded this family dynasty. I say bastards not because I don’t like them or to imply that they have been born out of wedlock, but because after reading the family histories of the rich and wealthy, you quite often find a bit of criminal energy in the founder of the dynasty or in the people surrounding him.

It has been proven that the heritability of intelligence is between 0.7 and 0.8, nearly as much as the heritability of height (0.8). If social scholars try to argue forever that environmental conditions (school, parents,…) play a much higher role, you have to question their motives. Twin studies have proven that, excluding severe negligence or abuse, IQ remains highly inheritable, no matter what. You would expect that kids of smart dynasty founders are highly intelligent, and they typically are. But there’s an effect, “regression to the mean”, that results in offspring of super smart people being less smart. For example, an IQ 160 father may have kids who have an IQ of 130-140, still smart, but not as extreme as the father. There’s also a 20-30% chance that he produces just regular IQ 100 or even dumber kids. This must have been unconscious popular knowledge for thousands of years. Once a people had elected a smart guy as a king or ruler, they often let his son inherit the throne in the hope that he’s just as smart as the former king. When he wasn’t smart enough, bloodshed ensued; either the people were killed or the dumb new king.

I stand in awe of guys like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and other super smart people like them. These are some of the few smart and lucky bastards of our generations. Their kids will most likely be dumber, their grandchildren will probably be of just average intelligence. Gates and Zuckerberg amassed fortunes, their kids may be smart enough to maintain it, their grandchildren will probably waste it all. No wonder these two guys (and a number of others) have decided to not let their heirs commit a vast plunder of what their fathers have achieved, but have created huge charities and only small trust funds for the kid(s). As much as a smart kid in a third world slum is burdened by the lack of opportunity, the rich heirs are burdened by lack of intelligence and drive to make it as big as their fathers. The yellow press is most concerned with the escapades of the dumb rich heirs, who mainly party, use drugs and don’t do one day of honest work in their lives. But even if they have not yet regressed below the means, they are a dangerous species.

The rich and dumber heirs are of course interested in having their monthly check in the mail from their investment banker. If the amount on that check decreases, they will ask questions and want to intervene. Since they are not as smart as their parents, they cannot turn around the inherited company and set it onto a new profitable path. So they look for easily corruptible allies, which they quickly find in the government. Then they sick their expensive lawyers with their special interest groups on the politicians with the only goal to ensure that their investment banker can send them an ever increasing monthly check. The heir can be as dumb as a rock, as long as he has access to smart lawyers who make money by muddling in politics for him, he’s fine.

Now you may already know that most of the products we buy every day have not improved for decades and need no improvement. If you believe that the newly packaged washing powder washes whiter than ever before, duh, stop reading this article, it looks like your IQ is on the wrong side of the bell curve. Your toilet paper is also just fine, whatever they print on it, and an apple is an apple and was an apple for hundreds of years, no change. That means the only way to maintain a profit for these old inherited companies is to maintain and enlarge their customer base; basic economic growth is needed. The heir’s factory/farm needs consumers who have enough money to buy their products, and the heir doesn’t care how the dumb consumer gets his spending money. Their consumer model doesn’t work if the majority of the population has only enough money for a shack, a bowl of rice and a few sardines. Rich heirs don’t want to work and/or receive less profits/dividends, politicians don’t want to loose their rich donors. That’s why suggestions for taxing the rich more are usually not even discussed in politics. The taxes and social security are paid largely by the people who are smart enough for today’s workplaces (typically on the right side of the bell curve).

That leads us to the other part of the idle people who unwittingly collude with the idle heirs. I used idle in the headline instead of lazy for another reason as well. I can call the rich heirs lazy – no problem there, but the allusion of idle to vain fits perfectly. Half the population who’s just not smart enough to fill a productive job nowadays is not necessarily lazy. They are idle because there’s just no job they could do which would benefit the economy. At first automation and later the transfer of productive jobs into low wage countries has left them with no employment prospects. They typically also don’t have the smarts to start a small business of their own. Even if they get cut off from welfare and food stamps, there wouldn’t be enough menial jobs as burger flippers, petrol station or 7/11 cashiers, gardeners or office cleaners in order to push them to income levels around/above welfare checks.

Let’s look at the political proposals on the table in the USA presidential election.

Bernie Sanders really believes that he can tax the rich and use this money to pay for free education and healthcare. Even if he could achieve this (which is very unlikely) this would benefit mainly the kids of the working class families (free college) and a small part of the unemployed ‘underclass’ (right to healthcare). The working class parents know mostly and had this experience all their life, that ‘free anything’ will come out of their wages. They suspect (and rightly so) that the ‘free shit’ part of his program might be implemented quickly, but the ‘paid by taxes from the rich’ part will utterly fail.

Clinton and the remaining candidates of the Republicans (exception Trump) are safely in the pockets of the heir generation to whose call they have to answer. With any of them status quo will be upheld, no matter what, if anything, they will dupe and squeeze the working class even harder – there’s just no other option.

Trump’s concept however is to stop immigration into the menial jobs and to bring productive work (mainly factories) back to the USA. Yes, he truly cares for the ‘poorly educated’, even if left wing comedians mock him about that. His strategy will bring back and open up jobs for the people on the wrong side of the IQ bell curve, so that they don’t have to beg for welfare, but can at least have lowly paid menial work and may have a chance to improve their life. Of course there will remain a minority who’d rather stick to welfare, no matter what job is offered to them, but they are professional socialists. Trump’s concept takes away two degrees of freedom to which the wealthy elites became accustomed to for some decades. One is to skew the labor market in their favor with unlimited immigration. The other is their freedom to transfer manufacturing jobs into third world countries. These are the two degrees of freedom which squeezed the working class the most; it lowered wages through oversupply of cheap labor and took away employment prospects. If his plan works – even only in parts – it will reduce welfare payments and increases the tax base as well as social security contributions. If Trump won’t squander it all on the military this will result in a net profit for the country.

In my view, Trump is the only candidate who can make a positive contribution to the USA. Sanders will definitely increase the rate of decline, the others will do nothing and thereby maintain the rate of decline. My hope of course is (since I’m not a US citizen), that when Trump can implement his concepts and it becomes obvious how successful it is, that socialist Europe will wake up and demand similar steps. My second hope is that people wake up to that inherited wealth problem and demand politically that that what the ‘nouveau riche’ do voluntarily will become the law. Funny enough, I’m arguing against myself here. I’m part of the 1% (or maybe the 2% or even only the 5%), although at the very bottom of the barrel. My son will inherit enough to buy a house and maybe a car as I’ll hopefully squander the rest before I’m 6ft under. I hope he’s smart enough and can work his way up and become wealthier than me; may he become one of these lucky bastards.

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