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10.06.2005

Ethics and IQ, Bryan Caplan

Think of it this way: Why does IQ research make leftists so angry? Well, the strongest argument for redistributing Olympic medals is that the winners cheated, and aren't really better athletes than the losers. Similarly, the strongest argument for redistributing wealth is that the winners cheated, and aren't really more economically productive than the losers. It isn't impossible to defend redistribution after you admit that people are rich because they are smart. But it is a lot harder.
Read all of it, including the past post and reply.

4 Comments:

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Miguel said...

Actually, I beliece redistribution is a good idea irrespective of causes. I think there's some argument to be made that amazing inequality can be an incentive for growth in society, but I also think it can be an incentive for violent revolution. The comment thread on your linked article makes a point about a meritocratic pyramid not being much of an equilibrium, and I think it's true.

Also, I think one funny feature of American taxation is that it redistributes up in practice just as much as it redistributes down on paper - we favor high-IQ taxpayers with a complicated and white-collar labor intensive system.

 
At 2:07 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

The Forbes flat-tax has a very generous deductible. The poor would pay negative taxes. It is also very simple.

My only point is to show that you can get the same effective benefit without labor intensive, complicated rules.

Avoiding rioters isn't a very good reason to punish successful people. Advocates of violent revolution are treasonous.

Also, I think that line of thinking is anachronistic in a post-industrial economy. The working conditions in the low-skilled service jobs are nothing like the conditions in low-skill industrial jobs of 150 years ago.

 
At 3:42 PM, Blogger Miguel said...

As I understand it, the case against any redistribution of wealth is that is distorts incentives for women and men - making them less inclined to engage in money-seeking activities which incidentally enrich society. It's a good case.

The case for redistribution as presented by Caplan above is that the rich don't deserve their wealth - because all people are equal, all people should have the same stuff.

I don't believe that and thought I should say so. I just think the well off are well off.

Federal tax brackets:

Income from $1 to $7,300, tax bracket is 10%
Income from $7,301 to $29,700, tax bracket is 15%
Income from $29,701 to $71,950, tax bracket is 25%
Income from $71,951 to $150,150, tax bracket is 28%
Income from $150,151 to $326,450, tax bracket is 33%
Income $326,451 and above, tax bracket is 35%

I sympathize with the idea that people making lots of money should keep it because they're good at generating wealth, but this just doesn't look so horrible to me. I think the slightly higher standard of living this affords the middle & lower classes is a decision a rich society can choose to make. (We might call it an investment insamuch as people can afford more niceties and education for their children this way, too.)

As you probably noticed the last time IQ came up, I think lobbying on behalf of treating the smart and wealthy better than we do now as more than a little silly.

 
At 6:02 PM, Blogger hexod.us said...

it is pretty silly to lobby on behallf of the high IQ. just use your high IQ to make more money. done.

 

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