Indifference is better

John Derbyshire writes on The Bell Curve and the cognitive elite:

While egalitarianism and the fear of racism fueled most of the Left’s hostility to TBC, I don’t think it is much of a stretch to assume that self-interest played a part, too. There is a psychological cost to be paid for belonging to an elite that has taken over the commanding heights of a society. That cost is guilt, and the “cognitive elites” who have taken over U.S. society in recent decades are addled with it. Looking down from their lofty heights at the struggling, cognitively non-gifted masses far below them, they cannot help but feel that they have won a sort of lottery. This morphs into guilt, followed by a desire to improve the lives of the non-elite masses via social engineering — sentimental kind-heartedness mixing with cold prudence to produce a heady brew. Imbibing that brew brings on left-orthodox opinions of a traditional kind; and the cognitive elites are, in fact, overwhelmingly left in their political orientation.

But how to improve those lives? Since being cognitively gifted does not necessarily mean you have any advanced powers of imagination (the correlation is, in my experience, actually negative), most of the elites can imagine nothing better than to improve the educational opportunities of the masses so they can all go to law school, just as the elites themselves did. Problem solved! If you now say: “But there are many people who are simply not bookish, aren’t very interested in being educated, and don’t want to go to law school,” you have jabbed a large pin in the elite’s bubble, and this makes them angry. Herrnstein and Murray dared to say this, and backed it up with numbers drawn from decades of research. This made the elites very angry indeed.

Perhaps it’s easier to be a libertarian if you care, but not that much. I couldn’t care less if people go to college or not, as I’ve never seen the point in trying to make physically mature quasi-adults learn if they don’t want to. It would be easier on everyone if we’d just require parents to fork over $500,000 or whatever the going rate is for an Ivy League diploma and the kid would get his ticket punched for jobs at investment banks, newspapers and law schools, saving him four years and allowing those who actually want an extended education to receive one.

I’m not a blue-collar guy by birth, education or inclination but I’ve never seen anything inherently wrong with a career in fixing cars or whatever. My uncle has an MBA and a small fleet of Jaguars; he may not be a blue-collar guy but he sure seems to wish he was, considering that he spends all his free time underneath leaky old British cars.

In my ideal world, there would be a test for an inclination to tell other people what to do. Those who test positive would be sent to Antarctica, where they could spend their lives trying to run each others’ lives, leaving the rest of us in peace for a change.