October 11, 2007

More bang for your buck

Harvard's endowment generated another 23% return on investment in the year ending in June 2007, so, along with new gifts, the university's endowment has reached $34.9 billion, up from about $7 billion just twelve years ago.

In other words, Harvard doesn't need any more money. But, it will keep getting more money, because everybody loves a winner.

Donors should realize that they get a bigger bang for their buck by donating to think tanks -- literally, in the case of the American Enterprise Institute, which was the epicenter of the Iraq Attaq whooping, and is trying to be the same thing for Bomb Bomb Iran.

Here's an excerpt from the American Enterprise Institute's press release on the retirement of their head, Christopher DeMuth:

"AEI grew from a budget of $7.7 million in 1987 to $23.6 million in 2006. AEI has operated at a surplus of revenues over expenses throughout his tenure, with an average annual surplus of more than $1 million. The Institute was $9 million in debt when Mr. DeMuth arrived; today its net asset balance is $76 million, with additional outstanding financial pledges exceeding $60 million."

So, $76 million is just a little over 1/2000th of Harvard's $35 billion. Now Harvard has lots of things that AEI doesn't have, but, let me ask you this: Does it have its own war?

I rest my case.

What would be even more efficient than donating to a think tank, however, would be personalized patronage. For example, how many people in America are rich enough to pay Greg Cochran enough money so he could stop engineering state of the art telescopes for a living and concentrate on his research, scientific and strategic? And maybe enough for him to hire a bright young local lad, such as Thrasymachus, as an assistant?

Similarly, the operating deficit of political magazines and webzines is a drop in the bucket compared to the vast amount flowing to Ivy League colleges, but with much more impact on the world.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

12 comments:

dearieme said...

Some day the Harvards of this world will invite upon themselves another Dissolution of the Monasteries, and not all of us will weep buckets.

SFG said...

Kind of a neat idea.

I think one of the main reasons people donate to Ivies, though, is to improve their kids' chances of getting in.

Fred said...

There was actually an article somewhere recently -- in the WSJ, I think -- about alumni of schools with big endowments deciding to donate their money instead to smaller local schools without such endowments.

Speaking of the AEI though, why don't AmCon types fund their own think tank, one that could hire both you and Cochran (among others) as fellows?

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve,

Let's talk about dogs. These articles might interest you:

http://www.animalbehavioronline.com/dogbehavioralgenetics.html
http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/els/01681591/2002/00000079/00000002/art00134
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/304/5674/1160

Question:
Most dog breeds have existed for fewer than 400 years, and have great cognitive variety. How credible is the claim that lineages of human beings that have diverged for over 10,000 years cannot have cognitive differences?

Anonymous said...

"Most dog breeds have existed for fewer than 400 years, and have great cognitive variety. How credible is the claim that lineages of human beings that have diverged for over 10,000 years cannot have cognitive differences?"

The answer is as plain as the nose on your face. Dog breeds are highly inbred, in fact there is a danger at any time that a breeder will allow dogs that are too closely related to mate and end up with severe genetic flaws which often include sterility. While there may be families within races who have developed substantial cognitive abilities of one form or another, these will not necessarily carry over into the whole race b/c the race might end up so inbred there would be severe genetic consequences. The other reason is that people with high IQs often tend towards neuroticism or even towards Asperger's Syndrome depending on which cognitive abilities are enhanced. Neither trait creates an individual who is attractive to the opposite sex. Therefore, there will always be a certain amount of selecting out of the gene pool for those valuable yet unfortunate members of the race with high IQs.

Bruce G Charlton said...

According to some number crunching I have done recently, Harvard is indeed by far the biggest producer of scientific research - whether measured by number of publications or citatations

www.hedweb.com/bgcharlton/oxmagarts

But for the last 20 years Harvard has declined sharply in its success at winning the major prizes for 'revolutionary' science such as Nobels - and the top university is now certainly MIT, with Stanford, Columbia, Chicago and others outperforming Harvard

medicalhypotheses.blogspot.com/2007/07/nobel-prize-trends-19472006

Harvard seems to be the best place, overall, for graduate schools, and producing high quality but standard science - however it is probably not nowadays the most 'creative' US institution (although it used to be).

dearieme said...

bruce, shouldn't the real test for the science be where it was done, and perhaps also where the chaps who did it were educated, rather than the Uni which happens to employ the prize-winners when the baubles are handed out? (Perhaps you've looked at that: I can't seem to get through to your blog at the moment.)

Mark said...

While there may be families within races who have developed substantial cognitive abilities of one form or another, these will not necessarily carry over into the whole race.

No, they won't necessarily carry over into the whole race - but where are they most likely to first manifest themselves but in the surrounding population?

Whether it's an opposable thumb, lactose tolerance, the ability to speak and acquire language, a better immune system, or anything else, a beneficial mutation which happens first in a single individual is going to manifest itself first amongst the population he belongs to. First him, then his descendants, then his community, then his ethny, then his race, then the population as a whole. But it has to start somewhere. The allele isn't going to suddenly show up everywhere at once, distributed evenly amongst the races.

How else do you think humans ever managed to become smarter than chimps?

Ron Guhname said...

I always say that lotteries are a tax on people who are bad at math, but I'm so desperate to see a well-funded paleo think tank in DC, that I'm going to start buying tickets. Someone out there must have a better plan than mine.

Anonymous said...

Why waste time/money on think tanks? Go direct to the source and buy the US government's top politicians outright.

Look at the returns for lobbying groups like big oil, finance, media, and the like. A lot of relatively small but strategically placed political contributions along with cultivating a caring relationship with key politicos both before and after office holding (Bush Sr, Rumsfeld, Chaney, etc) can result in $10+ return on the penny.

Anonymous said...

"How else do you think humans ever managed to become smarter than chimps?"

I'm not sold on this idea. Sure humans are more complex but are they really smarter?

"Whether it's an opposable thumb, lactose tolerance, the ability to speak and acquire language, a better immune system, or anything else, a beneficial mutation which happens first in a single individual is going to manifest itself first amongst the population he belongs to."

I'm glad you mentioned all those beneficial traits that don't necessarily include IQ. Maybe I don't follow your logic because race is a very inexact category. Take the term "white" to describe race. Do light skinned people really all belong to the same race? Same for "black" as a term to describe race. Maybe if we were more specific then Steve's idea that a race is a partially inbred group would support both of our theories. I'm so multiethnic myself despite turning out very pale I don't think you'd want to generalize from me to the English, the Germans, etc.

Also, I think certain types of intelligence are more adaptive than others. The more specialized a person's intelligence, as Steve has mentioned somewhere, the less likely they are going to be able to adapt to changing circumstances. Though this is a blending of intelligence with adaptive behavior, I've noticed that some type A personalities who are often high achievers are often crap as parents unless their offspring are carbon copies of themselves. I'm not going to hazard a guess as to which types of intelligence are more correlated with this aggressive, driving, exacting personality but you can see how in a society where childrearing is largely left to the biological parents this could have negative consequences.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I don't follow your logic because race is a very inexact category. Take the term "white" to describe race. Do light skinned people really all belong to the same race?

Go to gnxp.com and look around. You'll find answers.