Friday, January 29, 2016

IQ and health:  More discomfort for the Left

The Left hate IQ because it conflicts with their crazy "all men are equal" gospel.  So they never give up hope of discrediting the whole concept.  They have tried all sorts of arguments but the phenomenon is so robust and so pervasive that it has easily survived all the assaults aimed at it. It cannot be explained away.

But the unending stream of scientific findings showing how important IQ is to one's life chances has now mostly driven Leftists back to their most basic defence-mechanism:  Denial.  They just refuse to think or talk about it. They act as it doesn't exist -- with results that range from the hilarious to the disastrous.

For those of us who think reality is important, however, the recent report below should be of interest.  The basic finding -- that high IQ people are healthier -- actually dates back to the 1920s but it is nice to see current research coming to the same conclusion.  That's the pesky thing about IQ:  Careful research into it always leads to the same conclusion

The findings below in fact support something I have been saying for a long time:  That high IQ is an index of general biological fitness.  The brain is just one of the body's organs and if it is functioning well, it is likely that the rest of the body is functioning well too.  As a great Rabbi once said:  "To him that hath, more will be given him" (Matthew 13:12).  Jesus was not an egalitarian

Clever people are more likely to be healthier than those with a lower IQ due to a genetic link between how our bodies manage diseases and intelligence.

Researchers from Scotland analysed data from around 100,000 people held in the UK Biobank.

They compared each person's mental test data with their genome and found that traits linked to disease and thinking skills shared the same genetic influences.

In particular, the international team of scientists led by the University of Edinburgh found 'significant negative genetic correlations' between a person's education and verbal-numerical reasoning skills and Alzheimer's disease, coronary artery disease and strokes.

In other words, well-educated people who excel at problem solving are less likely to contract the conditions.

Clever people were also less likely to be overweight.  [I like that one]

The team found there was a negative genetic correlation between body mass index and verbal-numerical reasoning, while a greater risk of high blood pressure was associated with lower education.

The researchers explained: 'Our results provide comprehensive new findings on the overlaps between cognitive ability levels, genetic bases for health-related characteristics such as height and blood pressure, and physical and psychiatric disorders even in mostly healthy, non-diagnosed individuals.

'They make important steps toward understanding the specific patterns of overlap between biological influences on health and their consequences for key cognitive abilities.

'For example, some of the association between educational attainment - often used as a social background indicator - and health appears to have a genetic [cause].'

However, the team added: 'It has not escaped our notice that there are multiple possible interpretations of these genetic correlations.

The results of the latest Edinburgh-based study build on previous research that found 95% of the link between intelligence and life expectancy is genetic.

Using a study on twins, experts from the London School of Economics found brighter twins tend to live longer and noted the pattern was much more pronounced in fraternal - non identical - twins, than identical pairs.

By looking at both fraternal twins - who only share half their twin's DNA - with identical twins, researchers were also able to distinguish between genetic effects and environmental factors, including housing, schooling and childhood nutrition.

'Not only might particular genes contribute both to cognitive and health-related traits, but genetic variants relating to health conditions could have indirect effects on cognitive ability and vice versa, [on] lifestyle choices.'

As an example, poorly educated people may be less likely to make informed choices about what they eat and how much they drink.

The study is not all good news for intelligent people, though.

The team did find that the genetic variants associated with obtaining a degree were also related to a higher genetic risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism.

Edinburgh University Professor Ian Deary, who led the research, said the study could help in understanding some of the links between low levels of cognitive function and poor health.

Psychologist Saskia Hagenaars, who worked on the research, added: 'The study supports an existing theory which says that those with better overall health are likely to have higher levels of intelligence.'

The UK Biobank, launched in 2007, is a major long-term investigation into the respective contributions of genetic predisposition and environmental exposure in the development of disease.

The findings are published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.



A Trump fan

Maybe this tells us more than the polls do


What the economy needs now

Everyone’s blaming the oil price collapse and China’s sliding economy, for the rout of the stock market these first two weeks of 2016. That’s part of the story, but there may also be a policy explanation for the bearish sell-off.

Call it the Bernie Sanders effect. In the Democratic presidential primary debate last week between Hillary and Bernie, the race was on to see which could raise taxes and punish businesses more. While Hillary was touting her income tax surcharge on millionaires that could raise income taxes to near 50 percent (and her capital gains tax hike), Sen. Sanders said that a 90 percent tax rate might be too high, but somewhere approaching that number is the target he’d shoot for. Bernie also talks about breaking up the banks, putting Wall Streeters in jail, a single-payer health care plan to the left of Obamacare, and adding trillions of new government spending.

This isn’t blossoming investor confidence. Was it just coincidence that polls that show Bernie surging into a widening lead against Hillary in New Hampshire and even beating several Republicans in a head-to-head competition were released the same day the stock market took another nose dive.

But for the umpteenth time: Where is the Republican growth message? The economy is sputtering clearly with corporate profits and business investment weakening and consumer spending slowing down as well. The GOP runs the House and Senate, but still no sign of a growth package to offer up a contrasting vision from the Bernie and Hillary show. Too many in the GOP have bought into the Chamber of Commerce unwise idea that funding the Export-Import Bank is a stimulus.

If the economy does sink into negative territory this year, the Democrats will surely demand more infrastructure spending, unemployment assistance, job training and a panoply of “stimulus” budget busters that didn’t work in 2009 and won’t work now. The Republican response to this nonsense should be short and sweet: been there. Done that.

What could be done right now to stimulate growth, investment and investor confidence almost immediately? The answer is a business tax rate reduction. Pass a rate cut to 15 percent, with full capital expensing and a 5 percent voluntary repatriation tax on the $2 trillion owned by U.S. multinational firms that is parked abroad to avoid the high corporate tax.

This won’t cost the Treasury much in lost revenues, and who knows? It may raise money over five years through the money and businesses repatriated back to America. Apple and GE might bring back tens of billions of dollars for assembly plants and research centers on these shores.

The current U.S. rate of 35 percent (federal) is the highest of all the nations we compete with. The rest of the world is at a rate closer to 25 percent with some nations like Ireland as low as 12.5 percent. Let’s go from the highest rate in the world to one of the lowest and see what happens to capital flows.

We know the 35 percent rate is an economic Get Out of Town and Do Not Stop at Go card. We have seen companies like Burger King, Medtronics. Pfizer, and dozens more leave the United States. In search of lower tax rates. More companies will scamper out if this isn’t fixed — and they take jobs with them.

Liberals like to pretend that the U.S. tax rates aren’t chasing out businesses and jobs, but then why are all the nations we compete with slashing their rates. The international average has come down from almost 40 percent in 1990 to 25 percent today. For two and a half decades the U.S. rates haven’t budged, while the rest of the world keeps chopping. We’re like a 6th grader who stops growing and then goes out and tries to play competitive basketball with 20 year olds over six feet tall.

Study after study tells us that the corporate tax at 35 percent is a loser. The American Enterprise Institute has found that wages rise much slower, if at all, in nations with high corporate tax rates. This happens because of less investment in the high tax nations, which means lower paying jobs. In other words, it’s not rich fat cat shareholders, but working class Americans who suffer the most.

Even President Obama’s own tax reform commission, headed by former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker found “deep flaws” in the corporate tax. It concluded that the corporate tax “acts to reduce the productivity of American businesses and American workers, increase the likelihood and cost of financial distress, and drain resources away from more valuable uses.”

As for the stimulus value of our proposed business tax cut, the Tax Foundation finds that immediate expensing and cutting the business tax rate are the best short-term strategy for generating more growth. Here is how the Foundation put it: “A cut in the corporate tax rate would have large effects on GDP, but minimal effects on federal revenue in the long run.” Nothing else has this kind of big bang for the buck payoff. By the way, for those Keynesians out there stuck on the demand side, tax rebates and credits, produce almost no positive feedback.

Republicans are preparing their budget plan this week. They should use a process that President Reagan used called Reconciliation to make room for a corporate tax cut jobs stimulus. This means the Republicans in the Senate will need only 51 votes to pass it once the House does so by a wide margin. We can imagine several Democrats in red states joining the GOP for this growth stimulus.

If Mr. Obama vetoes such a bill, austerity Democrats will pay a high price in November.



Wages Lead to Trouble in Walmart-Land

Walmart has announced that it’s closing 154 stores, most of them the company’s Express stores operating in small communities. After moving into rural communities, and often choking out independent small businesses, Walmart is tweaking its business model. The reason? The rising cost of wages has overtaken the profit margins of those stores.

On one hand, Walmart raised wages to keep workers, but it also announced the move in response to political pressure to raise the minimum wage. $15 an hour, anyone?

The company also backed out of establishing stores in the District of Columbia, making the city’s liberal politicians “blood mad.” After all, the stores would have created jobs in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, while providing options for residents to buy groceries and goods.

This led the editors at Investor’s Business Daily to write, “Sorry, but forcing employers of unskilled, largely untrained labor to pay higher prices for their labor is a recipe for automation, layoffs and no job creation. It punishes the poor, unskilled and uneducated most of all. The leftist demagogues who push this nonsense should be ashamed.”

And liberal politicians wonder where the jobs have gone.



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