Sunday, August 16, 2015

Your genes WON'T make you wealthy: Becoming rich is more about nurture than nature, study finds (?)

I add some skeptical comments at the foot of the report below.  The usual finding is that high IQ people tend disproportionately to be high income earners.  And IQ is of course highly hereditary

If your parents are rich, then you’re more likely to be wealthy too.

Scientists have long debated whether this is down to genetics or the culture in which children are raised.  Now, a new study claims to have finally settled the debate; nurture, it says, is far more important that nature when it comes to amassing wealth.

‘Innate biology is only a small factor in wealth’, Kaveh Majlesi, a professor of economics at Lund University in Sweden and co-author of the study told

Previous studies have attempting to find a ‘rich gene’ which might explain how genetic characteristics that cause people to be wealthy are passed down.

The latest research, however, found that the wealth of an adopted child – before receiving an inheritance – is similar to that of their adoptive parents, rather than their biological ones.

The study included data from 2,519 Swedish children who were adopted between 1950 and 1970.

The researchers then compared this to data on adults’ overall wealth in Sweden between 1999 and 2007. This allowed scientists to compare the wealth of the adult adoptees to the wealth of potential biological and adoptive parents.

The biological parents were tended to be younger, poorer and less-educated than the adoptive parents.

Researchers found the adoptive parents had 1.7 to 2.4 times more of an effect than the biological parents did on the adopted child’s adult wealth.


I hate to rubbish a very carefully and laboriously done study but it is important to note that this is a study of WEALTH, not income. It is derived from data collected by the Swedish government for the purposes of its wealth tax.

I have read the whole original study ("Poor Little Rich Kids? The Determinants of the Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth") and note that it showed great statistical care.

It does not show much knowledge of people however.  It covers gifts in the form of bequests but otherwise omits the issue of gifts altogether.  The authors seem quite unaware that well-off people tend to give their kids money on various occasions and for various reasons.  My son, for instance, does well every birthday.

And since the adoptive parents in the study above were richer than the natural parents, it is almost certain that the adopted kids got more gifts -- thus accounting entirely for the finding that those kids had more wealth.  The study therefore tells us nothing about any biological effect -- including the influence of genes.

I might add the general point that wealth taxes of any kind are quite like other taxes in that they provoke avoidance (legal)  and evasion (illegal).  And the standard way of avoiding wealth taxes is to transfer funds to later generations in the form of gifts.  Gift taxes hinder but do not prevent that. So the fact that the data originate from official Swedish wealth tax statistics is rather unfortunate for this study.  It guarantees that a LOT of intergenerational giving did go on.  So the findings in this study would seem to be largely an artifact of Swedish law.

The data of the study is therefore not capable of supporting the conclusions of the study.  I can't say I am surprised by social scientists who know nothing about people.  I had a lot of fun pointing out the follies of my fellow social scientists during my own 20-year research career.  But I guess I shouldn't laugh!


The Extreme Party

During last Thursday night's inaugural 2016 Republican presidential debate, Fox News' Megyn Kelly got into a spat with Donald Trump over his history of vulgar comments about women. Trump followed up that tiff by dropping a thinly veiled reference to Kelly's menstruation in the media. Those comments prompted Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton to praise Kelly — a woman with whom she would never deign to do an interview — bash Trump, and then lash out at Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., whom she perceives as the most serious threat to her presidential aspirations.

"Yes, I know [Trump] makes great TV," said Clinton. "I think the guy went way overboard - offensive, outrageous, pick your adjective. But what Marco Rubio said has as much of an impact in terms of where the Republican Party is today as anybody else on that stage."

What, pray tell, was Rubio's great sin? He said that he believed the Constitution protects the unborn: "What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of development is worthy of protection. In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States."

According to Clinton and her allies in the media, this makes Rubio — and any Republican who agrees with him — too extreme for the general public. And it's not just abortion. Polls show that 52 percent of Americans say that the Republican Party is more "extreme" in its positions than the Democratic Party; just 35 percent say the reverse.

But is that true?

On abortion, for example, the Republican Party platform states that the Constitution warrants protections for the unborn; the Democratic Party position states that taxpayers should foot the bill for the killing of unborn children at every stage of pregnancy, including partial-birth abortion, a gruesome procedure in which children are pulled feet-first out of their mother's wombs, their skulls pried open and brains sucked out. Then the Democrats want to fund Planned Parenthood to carve up those babies for organ sale.

Which position is more extreme?

On same-sex marriage, the Republican Party wants to pass a Constitutional amendment to enshrine traditional marriage as the only governmentally rewarded form of marriage; until such time, Republicans acknowledge that same-sex marriage is legally a state's rights issue. The Democratic Party wants to force religious Americans to participate in homosexual weddings without recourse to the Constitution. Which is more extreme?

On health care, Republicans want Americans to be able to choose the healthcare they receive and pay for; Democrats want to force Americans to pay into a system from which they receive less than they would if they expended their dollars privately. Extremism, anyone?

The list goes on and on. Democrats want no major changes to the educational system, except for spending more money on corrupt teachers' unions; they also want to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize students majoring in useless subjects at second-tier colleges. Republicans want to allow Americans to keep more of their own money, and they want American parents to be able to spend that money as they see fit on the education of their children. Democrats want to dramatically increase taxes; Republicans want to decrease them. Democrats want no meaningful enforcement of America's immigration system; supposedly, Republicans want to enforce immigration laws.

Yet the media portray Republicans as the extremists. That rhetorical trick has its desired effect: Republicans are seen as nasty and unpleasant, even while Democrats move so far to the left that an open socialist is now their second leading contender for the presidency. Republicans counter by insisting that they are kind and generous, wonderfully moderate. This strategy is destined to fail. But Republicans have no idea how to fight extremists, even as the left portrays them consistently as America's most extreme political party.



The F35 debacle

The F35 is a political compromise.  Different services wanted different things in a new jet.  To keep them all happy, the F35 was designed to do everything -- resulting in it doing nothing well.

The reliance on stealth is truly tragic. Stealth has basically had its day.  Both China and Russia have demonstrated stealth nullification via radar improvements and other means.  They've had a long time to work on it and they have succeeded.

The only consolation is that Russia won't have many T-50s.  But they may not need many against the F35. And what if Russia sells the T-50 to China and China devotes its huge industrial base to building them?

I predict that if ever the F35 flies into a real combat situation, the airforce will soon realize the uselessness of its stealth attempts and will abandon them.  That will free the planes armorers to equip it with a full external weapons load  -- which would certainly make the plane more survivable and may even enable it to do some damage to the enemy

CAN the F35 beat this? Possibly not. Video footage of Russia’s new T-50 stealth fighter shows the extreme manoeuvrability the F-35 is up against.  Earlier this year a damning report from an F-35 test pilot revealed the troubled $400 billion dollar single-seat stealth fighter was easily outmanoeuvred by a two-seat 1980s vintage F-16D combat jet.

As recently as last week, the success of modern Russian designs appear to have won some vindication when Indian Russian-made Su-30 combat jets went toe-to-toe with British Typhoon fighters in a competitive training exercise: It was a 12-0 clean-sweep victory, in favour of the Indians.

The T-50 is the latest incarnation of Russian combat jet doctrine.  It purports to blend stealth with extreme manoeuvrability, and an extensive suite of sensors and weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes to have the jets operational by 2020, though an initial order for 50 of the aircraft has since been cut back to just 12.

The Tu-50 is just one of several new fighter types the F-35 Lightning may eventually face.

Despite its advanced sensors and avionics, the fighter’s single engine simply isn’t powerful enough to push the bulky and overweight airframe through the air all that fast — or accelerate it away from danger.

The F-35’s supporters argued that dogfighting was not what the next-generation stealth fighter was built for:  “The F-35’s technology is designed to engage, shoot and kill its enemy from long distances, not necessarily in visual ‘dogfighting’ situations,” a Lockheed Martin statement reads.

“The challenge, chivalry and thrill of ‘guns-only’ dogfighting is clearly of a bygone era,” a 2007 US Air Force article reads.
Detractors, however, point out we’ve heard that argument before — with near disastrous results.

US Navy jets went into Vietnam without cannons, such was the confidence they had in their ultra-advanced new missiles. Every jet designed and built since then has had them included due to the lessons learnt at the hands of the Russian-built jets the US came up against.

Detractors also argue F-35s long-range, stealth fighting style is also suspect.

To survive against a T-50, the F-35 must be stealthy. To be stealthy, the F-35 cannot carry any weapons or fuel under its wings. This reduces its capabilities and flexibility considerably.

Even if the F-35 is able to evade new visual and heat-seeking sensors developed specifically in the past decade to find it, it is totally reliant upon the success of its two air-to-air missiles. These must find — and then hit — targets which are capable of both hiding through stealth and countermeasures while using extreme manoeuvrability to dodge.

Once those two missiles are fired, the comparatively slow and sluggish F-35 is entirely dependent on its stealth capability to slink away from the battlefield to refuel and rearm.

And it’s not all that stealthy from behind. If it’s spotted, the questions remain: Can it run? Can it turn? Can it fight?



Court Strikes Down the FDA's Speech Regulations

The FDA is preventing you from learning about medical treatments that could save your life

They say that knowledge is power, that knowing is half the battle; and the explosion of knowledge that has emerged in the information age has undoubtedly made the world and its citizens far, far richer. Knowledge saves lives and elevates people from rags to riches. You would think that government would then be interested in promoting the spread of knowledge to as many people as possible, to maximize well-being among its citizens. You would think wrong.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) exercises strict controls over what information drug companies are allowed to publicize, and in many cases, these limitations result in needless deaths.

This was the issue in a recent court case in which a New York district judge ruled that some of these limitations violate the right to freedom of speech. The restrictions in question limit what is known as “off label marketing.” What this means is that a drug company can only market its products for uses approved by the FDA, even if it turns out that the drugs have other benefits as well.

For example, suppose a company had gone through the rigorous approval process to get the FDA to sign off on a new drug for, let’s say, insomnia. The FDA agrees that the pill helps people sleep, and allows the company to market it for that purpose. Suppose then that further research emerges showing that the sleeping pill can shrink cancerous tumors as well. Current law forbids drug companies from publicizing this information to consumers, to doctors, or to anyone else who might find it useful. Cancer treatment is an “off label” use for the drug, and therefore forbidden.

The problem with these laws is obvious. There may exist many effective treatments for life threatening diseases, but we would have no way of knowing it, since that fact is not allowed to be advertised. It’s impossible to estimate the number of needless deaths resulting from such suppression of knowledge, but it is sure to be significant.

The court’s decision is an important victory, not only for our constitutional rights, but also as a first step in removing some of the regulatory barriers that are making health care less available and more expensive. The FDA’s regulations have consistently held back innovation and kept prices higher than they need to be. If we really care about improving health care in America, permitting more freedom in the market would be a good place to start.



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1 comment:

Wireless.Phil said...

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