January 25, 2014

How to raise equality and quality

It has become a commonplace that a major cause of inequality in America is radical differences in parental resources per child. Affluent two-parent families can afford to send their only child to, say, SAT prep classes, while poor single welfare mothers can't afford such luxuries for their four children. 

Thus, the demand for universal pre-K to have an impact on income inequality by 2076 by helping close the 30-million-word Nurture gap. (Of course, this purported difference of 30 million words heard by rich children over poor children is supposed to occur before age 4, so it's not clear how universal pre-K is supposed to solve that, but don't worry about that, it's heart is in the right place and that's all that counts.)

But, some worry that the affluent will still continue to invest more per capita in their limited number of children even if the government rounds up all the poor children for almost all their waking hours. 

So, here's a suggestion for a national movement to fight inequality effectively: We must try to raise awareness of the idea that it is the moral duty of affluent and well-educated Americans to have more children, which would decrease the amount of resources of money and time these parents can devote to each child. Conversely, we must raise awareness of the need for the poor and the poorly educated to devote more of their limited resources to each child by having fewer children.

Assuming that Nurture 100% controls outcomes, this will lead to less inequality. Or, if you insist upon assuming that Nurture and Nature both influence outcomes, this would lead to somewhat more equality and quality of Americans. All else being equal, future generations would be smarter, harder-working, and less unequal. 


we choose to go to the womb said...

But why, some say, World War Pre-K? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? We're not doing it because it's easy, you know

Whiskey said...

World War Pre-K is merely a way for smart, White UMC women to have a "rewarding" career managing paper reports on babysitting NAM kids as they run around in massive baby sitting warehouses.

canspeccy said...

This is what should be aimed for. It would restore the relationship among the classes that existed before the industrial revolution.

Then, "great mortality," wrote Adam Smith, is everywhere "found chiefly among the children of the common people, who cannot afford to tend them with the same care as those of better station."

What this meant, during a period of limited or zero population growth, was downward mobility of those of "better station" as they made up the reproductive deficit of those of lower station. As a result, a bond of kinship and common outlook was created among the classes.

It was the boom in working class population that occurred as a result of the agricultural and industrial revolutions that led to the division of society into Disraeli's two nations:

"between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets. The rich and the poor."

Noob Saibot said...

Steve, forget the Word Gap. It's a distraction. Heed the words of TN Coates:

"There's never been a single thing wrong with black people that the total destruction of white supremacy would not fix."


I must admit I liked Coates but lost an incredible amount respect for him on account of this *one* line. It's flagrantly, offensively wrong, and he knows it.

...but I suppose it's the clear implication of the rest of his pleonastic output.

Anonymous said...


Beaner than Bieber.

countenance said...

"World War Pre-K"

Bah. It has nothing to do with any of the supposed rationales. It's all to benefit AFSCME, SEIU, NEA, AFT. Unions that just so happen to give big money to the Democrat politicians that propose it.

Anonymous said...

Working hard and trying to provide the best for your children is so 20th century. These affluent parents have to be taught that their affluence is only part of the problem. The bigger issue, of course, is their willingness to take an active role in their children's upbringing. It gives them an unfair advantage. The moral of the story is for everyone to be on welfare and not give a shit.

Parents shouldn't let their kids take any kind of lessons or enjoy themselves.


Foreign Expert said...

Speaking of languages gaps: there is a british version of "This Is Your Life" for Muhammed Ali on youtube. It's interesting in two ways. 1. Many of the black men have trouble speaking in sentences. They are nearly incoherent. 2. Ali's mother (who I had never seen before) is extremely light-skinned--so light-skinned that she could easily pass for white.

bdoran said...

Steve you really need to look up the Duvalier formula. Basically all money above substinence is taken by the state and cronies.

The Term comes from Edward Luttwak's "Coup D'etat" on page 180.

It's a technique to coup proof your state. Absent the US they'd still be in power.

Anonymous said...

Steve, the left's main concern is not the inequality between underclass minorities and two-parent families from the upper middle class. What we care most about is the gap between the tiny sliver of elite plutocrats and everyone else, and ending the corrupt Reaganomic rent seeking that caused it.

The slice of the pie going to CEOs and Wall Street is the only inequality story that matters. And it can't be explained by intelligence or conscientiousness distributed on the Bell Curve, where no one is more than a few standard deviations from the mean.

"If you actually want to develop a general theory of success, one that applies not to the outliers but to the 2nd through 98th percentiles, well, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics has been tracking the lives of 12,866 Americans since 1979 in its National Longitudinal Study of Youth."
- Steve Sailer

"We are the 99%."
- Occupy Wall Street

Jeff W. said...

Universal Pre-K is nothing but a pork project. They use it to create jobs and contracts to reward their friends. The politicians who argue that universal Pre-K will bring about racial equality do not care in the least if that claim is true.

The stuff about racial equality is equivalent to the low-pitched grunting noises that gorillas make when they don't want other gorillas messing with their food.

"Don't mess with my pork or I'll call you a racist and bounce you out of your job," is a good translation from politician-speak into English.

Anonymous said...

The socialist government in France plans to ban schools from issuing homework to students.
The grounds for this ban are that children from educated families receive help and encouragement with their homework from their parents whilst children with ill-educated and disinterested parens, (ie immigrants), don't recieve any help or encouragemnet, thus perpetuating that perennial bugbear of the left 'inequality'.

These damn fools simply do not understand how stupid they are. All that will happen is that cultured and educated parents will still give their kids after hours instruction whilst the children of he uncultured will get absolutely nothing at all.

Torn and Frayed said...

As an expat, I live in a country with free pre-K education and the reality is a little different than that projected by either side of the discussion. Where I live, almost everyone places their children in “école maternelle”, from the Royal family on down. Only the most backwards immigrants from North Africa keep their kids out of pre-school. School, from 9:00 to 15:30 is free but there are some charges if you bring your kid in early (it opens at 7:00) or leave them in the afterschool section (up to but not past 18:00).

First off free pre-K is hardly likely to have much of an impact on inequality. Although it is a small sample size, at my children’s local (free) elite Catholic school, the few black children there almost always repeat second grade. And these kids tend to come from well educated families. On the other hand the preschool system does help immigrants (more than half the children have at least one immigrant parent) assimilate. Many kids end up being trilingual if their parents speak different languages. For example my children speak English and Norwegian at home and so going to preschool helped them to acquire a good enough level of French so that they were able to compete in first grade with the locals. In fact at our school the immigrants are almost always very highly educated workers for the various international organizations so their children quite often out-perform the locals (who are typically from pretty solid bourgeois stock themselves). What is interesting is how culturally similar bourgeois folk from Poland, France, Italy, Spain, the US, England, Sweden, Portugal, Vietnam, and Germany actually are. And no, the Anglophones around here never got together and tried to demand bilingual education in English at our school (although the locals probably wouldn't mind since they often pay for private courses in English for their kids).

One of the most striking things about our school is the fact that almost every upper middle class family has four children (we are considered slackers for only having three). And quite often the mothers are extremely accomplished; we have a number of doctors and lawyers among the mamans. They typically start having kids around thirty and take a decade off work in order to assure their children’s success in their early years. But even though these women are at home they place their kids in the preschools to lighten the load of dealing with their up and coming small ones. Once these women hit forty and their youngest kid is in primary school they slowly start working again. Although here you have to pay for the first 2 ½ years of childcare (these upper middle class parents typically don’t place their kids in these crèches) the rest is free. But it doesn't stop there, the elite secondary schools are also free, as are universities. My friends from a similar social class in the US, if they have any kids at all, typically have only one, and rarely a second. Where I live the upper classes have four kids, the middle classes two kids; but the poor Muslim immigrants unfortunately often do have five kids, even though they don't use the preschool system as much.

So free preschool, if universally implemented -- and of course for this to happen it would need to be as much as possible segregated by social class -- could serve to help pave the way for middle class and above parents to have more children. The other thing that would need to happen is getting good secondary schools and universities to be free as well, which is not going to be easy in the US.

I have to say in many ways the middle and upper middle classes have it much worse in the States than they do in Europe.

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid at 7:15 PM said: What we care most about is the gap between the tiny sliver of elite plutocrats and everyone else, and ending the corrupt Reaganomic rent seeking that caused it.

Hunsdon said: By today's standards you are a very unusual leftist.

Anonymous said...

to paraphrase eddie stanky - i have a donkey on my farm & you could say 140 billion words to it before age 4 & it still ain't gonna make it any smarter. -- panjoomby

Jon said...

They'll never go for it because having clients is more important to them than "equality" which they only pay lip service to. If the problems they complain about were to go away, their raison d'etre would disappear along with them.

Jon said...

"Don't mess with my pork or I'll call you a racist and bounce you out of your job," is a good translation from politician-speak into English."

If tomorrow, everybody suddenly stopped using illicit drugs, those who react with the deepest dismay to that development would not be drugs cartel members.

BritRob said...

30 million words in 3 years

= 1,141 words/hour, 24 hours per day.

Anonymous said...

Very Funny. OT. If Republicans finally get tired of being the Outer Party to the Democrats Inner Party they might try this. Copy Newt and write a proposed Contract with America to run on:

1. End the NSA. Totally disband it, CIA does foreign spying and FBI does domestic law enforcement. If you think secret courts, secret searches and someone listening to your every phone call makes you safer and is the proper way for your government to treat you vote for the other guy.

2. America for Americans. We love Americans of every ethnic group, but you got to be American for me to represent you.

3. Nothing is too big to fail. no bail outs, no taxpayer money to Wall Street. Bankruptcy law adequately deals with failed enterprises. Any other story is just an excuse to reach into your pockets.

4. Lower taxes, smaller government, less borrowing. This will heal the rift with the Tea Party.

Andrada C said...

Dear Steve,

I really appreciate your posts; I like your ideas and the wealth of information that comes with everything you have to say.
However, I recently came across a post that talks about “How to raise equality and quality”.
You said that “We must try to raise awareness of the idea that it is the moral duty of affluent and well-educated Americans to have more children, which would decrease the amount of resources of money and time these parents can devote to each child. Conversely, we must raise awareness of the need for the poor and the poorly educated to devote more of their limited resources to each child by having fewer children.””

Do you really believe in this?!! In other words, are you serious about it?! Your suggestion doesn’t seem moral at all, but purely economically driven. Moreover, what you are saying it’s utopian!

First, maybe the Affluent families could be better in shaping their children vocabulary and language but who says that they can also provide them with the love and nurture …….and latter on with the confidence that they will need to become successful in their life journeys? So, having more children in affluent families and less in poor and less educated family doesn’t necessarily means that would increase the quality of people.
(I live in Orange county, in an affluent area. I have small children and consequently I am around and I am part of the affluent families with small children. I know what I am talking about).

Second, we are not in China- and without reinforcement you cannot control or influence how many children each family would have. I know that media is all mighty, but do you really think such an idea could be disseminated and absorbed by the public? ( I myself, think this suggestion sounds a little……ARIAN- not to use another word).

Third, I am sure you are aware than in America, the middle class is shrinking:


How many children the affluent families should have and how many the poor ones, until there will be a balance?:)

Anonymous said...

To the extent that intelligence has a genetic basis, there is another route to greater social equality, and that is to encourage unintelligent women (whatever their race) to have procreative sex with smart men. Perhaps instead of mandating funding for birth control, the Federal Government should provide these women with vouchers for use at sperm banks specializing in collecting semen from brilliant men. Then every smart wanker in America would be able to say "I did my part" in resolving some of America's great social problems. Of course, the volunteers would have to be encouraged, with tax breaks and subsidies and iron-clad legal protection against having to pay child support. But this expense would be tiny in relation to what our present social welfare policies are costing us.

pat said...

In common marketing analysis one often tries to get a handle on what's important with step wise multiple regression. You round up a bunch of independent variables and you run them through the mill to see which ones do the best job in explaining the variance in the dependent variable.

When we did that in stat class at Berkeley we would be happy if we could 'explain' say 30% of the variance for one particular variable. The software presents the independent variables in rank order of declining R squared. The typical result would show one independent variable having a lot of influence on the dependent variable - say 30% and a few others with much less. Typically most of the variance could not be explained. In a normal study you take the top variables as your result and ignore everything else.

But in IQ research set up in the classic 'Nature vs. Nurture' format they seem to measure genetics against everything else and dump all the unexplained variance into Nurture. If you did these studies in the more common step wise fashion you would find that genetics - usually from some twin study - was the only thing that was important enough to measure.

Having the same genome as someone else - your twin - is a single variable but the rubric 'Nurture' encompasses a myriad of factors including the error term.

For example nutrition obviously effects IQ as does schooling. So we should measure things like meat consumption and the educational attainment of the teachers. Some of those studies have been done and their contribution is found to be negligible.

So it seems to me the correct interpretation of typical IQ studies ought not be - Nature accounts for 70% of the variance and Nurture 30%. But rather - Nature (genetics) accounts for 70% of the variance and nothing else has any measurable effect.

IQ seems to be treated differently from other measurable characteristics. I had a great English teacher in high school and my mother always fed me vegetables but their effect on my subsequent SAT scores - if they could be measured at all - would be tiny.

I could be wrong about all this but it looks like 'reasoned discourse' has gotten off on the wrong track. Conceiving of the issue as one of 'Nature vs. Nurture' is to ask the wrong question.

A girl in my Existentialism class said in passing to me - 'Philosophy progresses by learning not to ask bad questions'. It seems to me that Galton did us no favor when he coined this phrase.


Jonathan Silber said...

Why wait, in the case of the children of single black mothers, until the Pre-K years, when, apparently, it's too late to make up for lost time?

Rather, as a kind of Pre-Pre-K Head Start, swaddle black newborns in little orange jumpsuits and set them, right there in the nursery, to pumping iron, in preparation for the career path so many of them will pursue with success.

And to those who show themselves prodigies at dribbling a basketball or knocking down a forward pass, the name of a good bankruptcy attorney.

Jonathan Silber said...

"There's never been a single thing wrong with black people that the total destruction of white supremacy would not fix."

Equality may perhaps be a right, but no power on earth can ever turn it into a fact. -- Honore De Balzac

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't work. When dumb women get pregnant they think the baby will keep the man around (not even for support, they know that comes from the government, but simply as validation of their desirability.) When it doesn't work, they keep trying the same strategy with a string of new guys; thus all the different baby daddies. Besides what kind of smart person wants their offspring reared by these dumb immoral women. What happens when the smart wanker sperm donor discovers that the mom is allowing her boyfriends to beat his kid or she's pimping out his child for drugs?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the perfect plan for creating evil geniuses

Andrada C said...

Finally, a sane response, thank you Albertosaurus ( pat)

I agree that conceiving the question as “nature vs nurture” it’ s completely wrong.
“Equality and quality” in a society should not encompass a discussion about controlling birth rates on social class, race or ethnicity.
What happened with questions such as: How can we provide access and quality education for disadvantaged children? How can we create opportunities to help unprivileged children and families succeed?

I know that greed and the feeling of superiority can drive the brain blind, but I prefer to believe that we live in a sane society that doesn’t not equate the quality of an individual with some kind of an “Aryan” ancestry!

Moreover, besides the fact that brain power is brain power (for richer or for poor), I like to think that we live in a society where kindness and compassion still exist.

You bring up some interesting points though, in the discussion nature vs nurture. I do not know how studies of IQ were done in the past (I have experience with statistics and R squared and all that comes with it- I would be interested to know which variables were used )but recent research says that both the chromosomal dance of our parent’s gametes as well as the environment are important in developing one’s IQ (I’m sure there is much more to be learned and discovered- we are just scraping the surface in the present time).

Anonymous said...

Did you even read Albertosaurus?
"So it seems to me the correct interpretation of typical IQ studies ought not be - Nature accounts for 70% of the variance and Nurture 30%. But rather - Nature (genetics) accounts for 70% of the variance and nothing else has any measurable effect."
Regarding the "discussion about controlling birth rates on social class, race or ethnicity", why don't we change it to a discussion of birth rates among the prudent and the imprudent. Our environment sends us plenty of messages about what our birth rates should be (cost of housing in a safe neighborhood, quality of neighborhood schools etc.) The difference is the prudent listen to those messages and decide their family size. The imprudent don't. Many of the prudent would love to have larger families, but they know it would be imprudent to do so given their circumstances.I'll let you decide who the prudent and imprudent are.