Charles Murray’s policy proposals

To narrow the class divide, that is.  I am almost completely in disagreement (how about more aid and opportunity, less attempted equalization?), the Op-Ed is here.  In the form of a list:

1. Apply the minimum wage to internships for the young, so privileged children cannot so easily receive this training.

2. Replace the SAT with specific subject tests.

3. Replace ethnic affirmative action with socioeconomic affirmative action.

4. Sue to challenge the constitutionality of a B.A. degree as a job requirement.

He does admit these proposals will not do so much good in absolute terms, but he nonetheless praises them for their symbolic value.


Can you explain why 1. is a bad idea?

Presumably internships are (a) beneficial, and (b) populated with those with an already rich and supportive family. I'm not sure about this. It does seem a strike against freedom, but on the other hand we do have minimum wage laws, and internships are a loophole.

Murray's argument is that the connected get the best internships (Brookings, Cato, etc.), while the disadvantaged intern as the local community organization .

Interships are not really a loophole. Its just that a lot of people break the law and get away with it because the interns are more concerned with their reputation and career prospects than they are about suing for $7/hour.

Oh, a bad idea (waking up). The only anti-arguments are philosophical I think.

Because if there's no value to the institution, raising the cost will simply eliminate internships.

Many years ago, I worked for a top magazine publisher with internships that were highly desired by certain segments of the population (think The Devil Wears Prada). They ALWAYS went to the children of the very wealthy because no one else could afford to work that many hours for free in Manhattan. So, I understand Murray's point here.

As for your point...this publisher had about two dozen magazines that ran anywhere from 4 to 12 issues a year. Each issue could run hundreds of ads, maybe as few as a hundred for a small issue and up to 600 in the biggest. A prime full page ad could sell for about $30,000. Start doing the math and you quickly understand why the guy at the top of that pyramid is worth $6.6 billion and why the most famous editor for one magazine has a net worth around $35 million.

In short, the revenue from just a couple ads could pay for an army of interns making minimum wage.

Note: I fully realize this industry may not be representative of the intern situation in general. But, it is a company famous for being a place where only the children of the wealthy get a chance to intern. And, as a media company in NYC, it's the one many writers have in mind when they write about this problem.

I suspect this qualifies as a candidate for the poster child of not making policy about rare outrages. So far we have concern over NYC and DC, two places where it's pretty obviously difficult to live for free. But will minimum wage make a big dent in that?

Is there any good data on whether unpaid or marginally paid internships are taken more in high prestige jobs or low prestige ones? Or by rich or poor people by socioeconomic status? It seems to me that there are plenty of people who never were or will be in the 1% who take unpaid jobs for awhile to break into a new field, prove themselves, etc.

I see the logic of complaining that many high-prestige fields are hard to get into without an unpaid internship that basically selects for kids who can sponge off their parents for a few more years to get their career started. But it seems like the same logic, but more so, applies to education. Do you know some people spend, like, eight or ten years on their education (*paying* to be educated, though perhaps with some fellowships or something), followed by several years working long hours for very little money in a job that's guaranteed to end in a few years, just to get to the point where they can be offered a shot at a permanent job? Shouldn't all that (PhD programs, postdocs, tenure track positions) be somehow fixed so it's not so financially risky to pursue that career path?

Do kids now have no shame? My parents are rich but I never asked them for a dime once I reached the age of 21. That's a point of pride for me, but I guess I'm old-fashioned.

"My parents are rich but I never asked them for a dime once I reached the age of 21. That’s a point of pride for me, but I guess I’m old-fashioned."

That's just bad estate planning on their part.

no one else could afford to work that many hours for free in Manhattan.

I'm confused. Are you claiming that people who are already unemployed place too high a value on their free time to work a job that pays nothing, or that they cannot afford to commute to Manhattan?

Albatross: I think the problem is, now that it's a firmly entrenched practice in high prestige jobs, it's becoming an entrenched practice in low prestige jobs.

You're now seeing something not akin to academia races to the bottom, except you don't even have the tenure lottery being dangled at the end.

Ray Lopez: There is a stupefying quantity of entry level jobs that one or two generations ago didn't even need university degrees, but for which today require *post-graduate certificates*.

To work for a non-profit!

Outside of specialized industries (certain kinds of engineering), there is this enormous credential inflation that is raising the cost of participation for members of my generation.

@ jmo

Not if they intend to leave much of their estate to charity.

@talldave if you have college debt and an unstable financial situation, making a choice between an unpaid internship and a paid menial job is hardly a choice at all - and that's IF you live near a major city where there even are internships.

On a related note, is it really a surprise that college students gravitate to finance internships? Summer bank internships pay at a rate comparable to a first year hire - more than enough to cover food and housing costs.

A perhaps relevant book:


Oh, okay, so you're arguing they lack long-term planning skills, and are not unemployed.

I once worked at a media startup in Toronto whose entire business model was predicated on being able to hire j-school and poli sci students who wanted to break into media for less than the minimum wage.

The difference between making the 3 thousand dollars stipend they were actually paid, and the 6 thousand dollar minimum wage would've paid would get you rent in a crappy apartment at the very least. Instead, they worked twelve hour days and commuted from the suburbs.

On a practical level it is bad because it will reduce the number of internships. On an ethical level it is bad because if someone wants to work for free we should let them.

So, is the American legal loophole only tolerant of unpaid internships or of under-paid internships as well?

What I was wondering is can McDonald's bypass minimum-wage laws by calling burger-flippers culinary interns? Why don't they?

Well there are plenty of people who believe Mcdonald's should be able to pay 20 cents an hour if someone will accept it.

The deeper issue is that the pro-free internship people don't believe that what Murray defines as a problem (ie, that rich people are able to use their money to give a leg up to their kids) is actually a problem. It's a justly earned reward of being rich.

If your reaction to an inequality is "let's bring down those doing well" rather than "let's lift up those doing poorly," it's a bad idea.

I agree with Murray that most of these won't make a big difference, or anytime soon, but they could help.

I am not sure I understand #2. The same way that privilege, money and successful parents help one to do well on the general SATs would, I believe, apply to subject tests as well. It may mean that standardized tests are more practically relevant to what one will study in college, but I don't see how it narrows the gap. On #3, socioeconomic affirmative action makes a lot of sense, and many institutions use it, but there is still an important role for affirmative action that takes ethnicity into account.

I think the argument is that we could have college admissions tests that were harder to study for, to take some of the advantage of test prep sorts of classes away.

Though at some level, you run into hard limits on leveling everyone's opportunities: both genes and environments are different for kids at the top and kids at the bottom. You didn't deserve the genes, random developmental noise, or home environment that left you with a 130 IQ and an effortless grasp of grammatically correct English, a coherent picture of the world around you in terms of science and technology and news and history and law, etc. Neither did the kid with the 70 IQ deserve what he got. There are ways to try to make the kid from the bottom have better opportunities, but no ways to keep the kid from the top from having them that aren't awful and brutal and intrusive.

What's the likelihood that the average " kid with the 70 IQ" can live on whatever wage a well functioning labour market would pay him? That may be more of a problem than fussing about internships. In the Old Days, when one paid for an apprenticeship, I don't suppose many families wasted their money on paying for one for a child as dim as that.

Big +1 re #3. #3 is by far the best of his ideas.

The biggest criticism I have seen of "Coming Apart" is that there are few, if any, policy prescriptions. But why should they? The trends in "Coming Apart" are largely organic, or perhaps unintended consequences of welfare and educational policies that are otherwise popular enough that they are never going to be changed.

Like global warming, I think "Coming Apart"-style problems need to be accommodated, not solved.

I agree with categorizing them as organic, but welfare and education are sideshows. They are organic in the sense that they are genetic. Let's not forget Coming Apart and The Bell Curve are not about politics, they are about effects of genetic inheritability of intelligence.

I forget whether it was Cowen or Yglesias, but there was a blog post a few months back that discussed how in a pure meritocracy, you would end up seeing substantial social stratification due to the genetic bases of intelligence and other desirable traits. The problem is that it's not at all clear whether we are in a pure meritocracy at the moment (or anything even approaching it), or if current social stratification is instead the consequence of other (perverse) factors.

Given my own personal experience mixing with 1-percenters, I'm inclined to guess we are not in a pure meritocracy.

The changes in standards of behavior among people of all IQs has changed much more quickly than I think can be explained by genetic factors. (And if IQ is your explanatory variable, what you're seeing, as I understand it, is that for all IQs divorce and bastardy and such are more common now than in 1970, but the increase is much bigger for lower IQ people.)

Why is replacing ethnic affirmative action with socioeconomic affirmative action a bad idea? Because a major barrier to accessing a college education is cost, Murray's proposal seems pretty reasonable to me.

Socioeconomic AA would be administratively difficult for universities to administer, especially if it would involve factors other than family income. Racial AA is very simple to administer.

Schools already devote a substantial amount of resources in determining socioeconomic status for financial aid purposes, so the marginal cost of socioeconomic affirmative action would not be significant.

What is the incidence of Affirmative Action fraud? If it exists at all. i.e. How hard is it for someone who isn't black to claim he is partly so and get caught?

I disagree - Financial aid is significantly different than "lowering the bar" aka AA.

Don't they already have a good start on this with FAFSA?

1. is a bad idea as it would decrease the number of internships. If we believe that internships bring value through teaching of important skills and/or experiences, reducing the number of internships will reduce total value.

(I'm Swedish, so I have no idea if internships really bring value.)

If they do bring value to the employer why not share some of the gains with the intern?

If you were not swedish would you know more about the value of internships?
I hired interns in Denmark many years ago (they worked amazingly slowly).

My point was that if I was American, I would probably know more about the value of interns for US companies. So my point wasn't that I was Swedish, specifically. My point was that I specifically wasn't living in the US.

Connections and resume building. Very little actual value. Often, if it is a serious internship that develops skills or expertise it is paid, at least something. Unpaid internships are usually favors let to wealthy friends' kids hang around the office and do mindless work while their parents "pay them for being alive."

when you actually get paid for an internship it seems that the people you are working for pay more attention to what you do and expect a certain type of finished product or outcome. Unpaid internships seem to have less input from the people you work with.

When we need info on meatballs, we know who to call.

@ dnb

One of the universal truths, people value stuff they pay for and devalue what's free.

Your example is a good one. See also how advice is valued when you pay for it from a bigshot consultant vs when some colleague or family member gives you the same advice just chatting with you.

When I want to convince my wife of something, the best approach is to find a book saying the same thing and buy it for her.

You can find a book saying just about anything if you look hard enough.

I personally think there's an opportunity to reinvent the internship as a core part of all degree tracks. There are a lots of companies that could make use of interns but don't have a good process for screening, recruiting and measuring.

At my last company we hired a tenth-grader(!) as an intern to write some code for internal reporting. He did a great job and learned a lot about both programming and business in general.

I could see something similar in non-tech fields. Think of all the events, work schedules, marketing programs, web content updates and so on that could use an intern to help with organization and task management.

1 Yeah, price controls are super: always and everywhere a resounding success.
2 If it's a good idea do it anyway.
3 see 4 below.
4 Wouldn't it be even more reasonable to let employers hire whomsoever they care to, use any damn criterion they like?

I would exclude monopolies from my policy under 4 since they don't have to answer to customers.

Do internship pay matter?

Maybe this is just a STEM/business thing, but all my internships were paid. Same was true for my friends.

I can only really speak for DC, but in the policy sphere it is virtually impossible to get one's foot in the door anywhere without at least a year of indentured servitude under your belt.


I was an unpaid Senate intern for about 4 months before I found something paid. I consider myself very lucky.

Is that really what we are talking about? We need more poor people in the belly of the beast?

Not necessarily; my point was only to demonstrate that there are clearly large sectors of the economy with very high barriers to entry for those unsupported by affluent parents due to an expectation of "paying ones dues" in the form of uncompensated labor; since I grew up and continue to live in the DC area, policy is the only sphere with which I have firsthand experience to fall back on.

I do have some vague knowledge that this is also the case in journalism and filmmaking (some unpaid PA's actually sued a production company a few months ago for back wages), and given the level of attention slowly being turned to the system, I imagine it is even more widespread than that.

Maybe we should focus on parts that don't care much about connections that aren't seated in high cost of living areas. This will sound like a broken record but it's because it's the one I know, engineering. Engineering is a great stepping stone to the middle class. All of my roommates were lower middle class and are now solid middle class with engineering degrees. I could even qualify too because I lived similarly to how they did minus the student loans as my parents are probably considered upper-middle. So, minus a couple tens of thousands of dollars for state school tuition that's 100% of anecdotal data.

Do we need more rich people? Need is a strong word.

As someone who works as an engineer, Andrew', I gotta say - not all of us can be engineers.

You genuinely do need administrators, and policy wonks and whatever else "normals" do.

The question is, why on earth are we barring high prestige jobs from those who do not already come from high socioeconomic backgrounds? Why is there even this labour loophole to begin with? What grounds do we justify it on?

And frankly, large cities are economic hubs for a reason.

Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to replace some of the rich people with those less well-off. Diversity of experience can be useful, can't it?

We should freeze the pay of senators and allocate future increases to interns.

DC seems unique though. Out in the real non-politics world I think internships pay (at least for the qualified applicants).

I did an unpaid internship for the State Department years ago - as far as I know they're still unpaid. It taught me about what kind of environment I didn't want to work in, so I guess it was valuable to me.

Among my friends, the only paid internships were IT, business, or science. Government, arts (or vaguely artistic, like publishing), education, or any non-profit were unpaid.

I had engineering "summer jobs" - small companies don't seem to call them internships. They were paid - less than an entry-level position which would require a B.S. - and they billed my work to the clients.

how does this guy consider himself libertarian?

He doesn't.

He does, but he probably falls into the category of people like Bill Maher who came to their beliefs first, looked around for the closest thing, and has enough of an independent streak to not pick D or R.

Good fucking answer.

Then there's this thing I haven't quite figure out, but with academics you can't just present the standard libertarian answers. I think it's a combination of (a) "oh, he's just parroting that old ideology" and (b) "he doesn't have any of his own original ideas."

@ Micke

No, it's not.

"I am a libertarian, and see a compelling case for returning to the founders' conception of limited government."

Number one is complicated; in the abstract I like it, because I do think that many employers (at least around here in DC) simply use internship programs as an excuse for free labor, without paying much attention to the educational aspects that internships are exempted from minimum wage law to fulfill. This puts the affluent at an obvious advantage, as they get to ingratiate themselves to future employers and develop the relevant skillset while the less well off are stuck working at Starbucks to pay for college (or, in my case, as a lifeguard - not that I'm bitter or anything).

On the other hand, it seems like it wouldn't be too difficult to skirt by just creating "volunteer" programs, especially among the sorts of DC employers with which I am more familiar - Hill offices and nonprofits/think tanks. There is also something of a moral question as to whether it is appropriate for government to be imposing its will upon highly private contracts to this degree.

The third proposal is one I wholeheartedly support, both because I abhor race-based affirmative action, and believe that socioeconomic-based better fulfills most every goal race-based seeks to achieve anyway.

My anecdotal experience is that the kids who did volunteer jobs or unpaid internships didn't develop job skills as well as the people who got "real jobs."

I don't deny that some industries effectively lock out poor people by requiring a massive time investment upfront. It's a concern I also have with education, so I agree with #4.

Why would there be a desire to "narrow the class divide"? Is it all about wealth, knowledge, happiness, or what? Do people without a higher education invariably wake up dissatisfied every morning? Because they don't have a higher education?

Higher education is both an end and a means to and end. To me it comes down to providing opportunities for those that didn't do a good job at picking their parents. If you are born without access to resources such as money, education, etc. and will never be in a position to further yourself to obtain those resources, that seems like a major problem.

So, we want to foster meritocracy, to make sure that the kids who win the genetic lottery even though their parents didn't aren't stuck mopping floors for a living because the well-off have pulled up all the ladders.

But there will always be folks at the bottom, people who aren't all that bright or have rotten health or mental problems or whatever. One big point Murray made in The Bell Curve that I've seldom seen followed up on[1] is that our goal should be a society where just about everybody has a valued place. We've done a passable job of making a society where people on the right end of the IQ distribution, who also are mentally more-or-less stable and have some kind of minimal work ethic and decent health, can be valued members of society. We've done a pretty good job of making sure that bright people born on the bottom have some kind of shot at doing well for themselves, in the Sonia Sotomayor/Clarence Thomas/Bill Clinton sort of pattern. But we aren't doing a very good job of making sure there's a place for the folks that never belonged in college and would have wasted their time going, or even for the folks for whom graduating high school was a barely-achievable goal. It's great that a super smart kid born to poor parents who don't speak much English can end up on the Supreme Court. But we should also care what happens to all the relatively dumb kids born in that situation.

[1] I think, because it doesn't fit a partisan script. On the left, everyone knows Murray is an evil racist bastard who probably wants to bring back eugenics and Jim Crow. On the right, everyone knows that the plight of the poor is only a matter for the state to get involved in when we're locking them up in prison.

" We’ve done a pretty good job of making sure that bright people born on the bottom have some kind of shot at doing well for themselves, in the Sonia Sotomayor/Clarence Thomas/Bill Clinton sort of pattern."

Wow. So that's how we measure success, political ascendancy. Mark me down as a failure. Should I be resentful, never having been considered for the Supreme Court, much less confirmed? Maybe it should be like scoreless soccer, where everybody gets to be an associate justice. As for the bright people from the bottom, how about Joe Biden? Can't wait for the publication of his collected thoughts.

I've found Murray to fit the partisan script quite well. Consider, government involvement and social engineering are bad things when they're supposed to address minority socioeconomic mobility. But when socioeconomic mobility starts to look like it will pinch white folks, who had less to worry about back when minorities were fewer in number, suddenly OMG! Call the government! Things need to change! Even if all we can do is only symbolic. Surely, symbolism has meaningful value, amirite?

I'm not seeing that. Home mortgages underwater, crushing student loan debt, insolvent entitlement programs are all examples of the government "helping" white people.


This is a clever observation but it's not fair to entirely ignore the pragmatics of the situation. Affirmative action represents small transfers (IMO) between groups and because of this it's easier to argue about based on principle, or to just not give a hoot one way or another. It's also plausible that Murray holds principles that do not make race an issue a priori, but would still rule out AA. However, in terms of sheer numbers, there are just a lot more white people making up society. So there is the potential for bigger problems that might require compromise and putting more solutions on the table. Compromising on principles isn't exactly partisan either, and I hope you would agree.

People with extremely low income wake up feeling dissatisfied most mornings. Income correlates with education.

Unattractive women wake up, look in the mirror, and know it's not going to be a good day. Maybe there should be a federal program to subsidize their cosmetic surgery.

Or to ban mirrors?

Agreed. Most interns I knew in Engineering were making quite decent money too.

Its a good no-questions-asked-return period for the employer. It hurts goodwill and morale to fire an underperforming employee quickly after hire. Instead it is cheaper to hire 5 interns and retain only the best 2 after 6 months of a test-run.

I was an interesting case in engineering. I went through the "Co-op" education department to get an intern at company X. They said, "we never work with people seeking interns but will in your case since you want to work for company X and since they don't have a co-op program this might help us get our foot in the door."

I was paid very well considering and had no inside connections. I wonder what percentage of completely unpaid internships we should really care about as being part of the value-added economy. I also wonder why our standard arguments against minimum wage don't apply here. I also wonder how much "who you know" is going on versus just "at least somebody knows you." Can you really live in DC on minimum wage such that that is a showstopper?

I like Charles Murray a lot but agree with Tyler that these policy proposals are weak or bad. I particularly hate the general idea of "this won't help but it'll kick successful people's ass a bit so we'll all feel better." Jealousy reduction without net gain as a matter of policy is twisted.

Good point.

Kick who's ass? The 19 year old who has had everything handed to him just can't stand the idea of flipping burgers in U City over the summer? The 20 year old who gets an internship with a House no-name's office because her dad fundraises or owns a business in the member's district? The 16 year old whose parents required him to take a Princeton Review SAT course every Saturday morning for two months in exchange for the Lexus?

This is exactly who I think of when I envision "successful people."

Among others.

Stop hating Jan.

Just sayin'. By my and most reasonable people's definition, the people you think would be hurt by Murray's proposals are clearly not successful. They are people who will have success given to them, even if they may be hardworking and smart all on their own. Leveling the playing field would allow people who come from privilege more fairly earn their success, rather than claim it. For which they will get more props.

Yep, let's build a larger government apparatus to enforce say, minimum wage laws for internships, to make people feel better. I love Charles M., he's a great libertarian, not this time.

Maybe he's trying to kick some peoples' asses into gear. There are a few places in his book where he appeals to the upper class to "to fix" the problems of the lower class lest the "American project" meet its demise. I don't like these ideas and probably a lot of people wouldn't but it might generate a debate.

And what's the "libertarian" thing to do? Assume that markets will fix the problems? Peter Thiel will start giving paid internships to inner city kids?

The scary thing is, economic illiterates like this are running our country.

We wish. As bad as this is, the economic illiterates running the country can only aspire to this level of economic illiteracy.

Last week, it was reported that Detroit was given $11M to help buy interview clothes for employment seekers. A total of 2 people were helped (although, to be fair, I hear they looked fabulous).

I think one of them was Al Sharpton, though I'm not sure ceremonial vestments/a jogging suit* work for an interview.

*Given my name, _of course_ it's a Futurama joke.

I'm on board with #2. The SAT is silly. Subject-matter tests, if they're designed well, are less easily "gamed".

Subject matter tests take time/effort to design well. If that time is taken, this freezes the subject matter to common wisdom as of a generation ago.

Let's have computer scientists who are really good at Fortran 4, perhaps running on a DEC.

I just don't like the idea that everyone has to take the SAT and then we backfill with diversity programs and affirmative action. Maybe we'd save money and get a better result by doing neither the normative filter and then the diversity remediation.

^^ AP test are a great example of this phenomena

The opposite is the case actually. It doesn't matter much since both are IQ proxies. The ACT is a subject test but ACT states don't seem noticeably more SES-egalitarian than other states when taking into account geographic differences.

A friend of mine from Canada told me they don't use standardized tests for admissions there at all. Blew my mind. She got into college and grad school based solely on her grades and, presumably, extra-curriculars.

Can you explain what you mean by "more aid and opportunity"?

"It is absurd, in 2012, to give the son of a black lawyer an advantage in college admissions but not do the same for the son of a white plumber. "

Just nitpicking the example but a plumber could very easily be more wealthy than an attorney.


... is one of the major points of "Spend 'Til the End" by Burns and Kotlikoff.

If you want "blue collar" mixing with "white collar" then fine... but looking at the actual numbers, the plumber's son may be significantly better off.

Murray made argument #2 when he released a previous book, "Real Education". Seemed sensible enough to me. #3 also makes sense. But I agree that pushing policies for their symbolic value is a groan-inducer. One of the things I liked about Murray is that he would use trend-line tests to see if well-intentioned policies were actually having a detectable effect.

WRT #3, wasn't that the idea behind performance scholarships? If the only thing keeping you from attending is cash rather than meeting academic requirements then a little financial help will allow you to get the training that you are mentally capable of using.

Of course there are a lot of assumptions about education built into that that I'd rather we worked on first.

Would a subject-matter lag matter much if we were testing K-12 Physics, Math etc?

This is getting to the root. We have to strike a balance between the fact that you can't trust primary and secondary schools to teach specialties but too general and standardized and you just teach to the test. So, the intersection is test the hardest general stuff to see if the kid can learn anything and hope that some of it sticks. If anyone really figures out a way to test potential let me know.

I get the feeling that the NYT editors called him at 3 am and asked him to dictate these ideas in 15 minutes. I just finished Coming Apart and the biggest problem was not that the top 20% was doing so well, but that the bottom 20% was doing so poorly due to bad behavior. I don't see how these prescriptions attack that problem.

Maybe we should just require that aspirin contraceptives be distributed in the bottom 20 high schools.

Also, challenging the "constitutionality" of B.A. requirements would get laughed out of Court. The constitution basically only restricts government, not private action. Prior ruling restricting the use of things like aptitude tests were based the Civil Rights Act and similar legislation, not "the constitution."

Just in case anyone wants more fodder for making fun of Murray.

"2. Replace the SAT with specific subject tests."

I don't understand why that would be more fair. Wasn't the SAT introduced as a general IQ test to allow kids from bad schools a chance to show how smart they were?

Also, it is my understanding is that SAT prep is wildly oversold by test prep companies and is, in reality, not very effective at all.

Are high SAT scores equally well correlated with later aptitude in various majors? i.e. Would a 4.0 GPA B.A.-History be as likely to have a high SAT score as a potential 4.0 GPA B.S.-CompSci?

Is SAT predictably subject-aptitude agnostic?

Current situation: Firms have informal relationships with colleges that allow them to recruit interns who are costly to train and choose the best candidates for jobs.

Complaint 1: Rail against the fact most internships are going to the privileged. Provide no data supporting your analysis.
Policy 1: Put minimum wage law on internships.
Result 1a: Get fewer internships.
Result 1b: The few internships that exist will go to those with the better "connections".
Complaint 2: Rail about the fact that all of the internships are going to the privileged. Provide no data, even though you are probably now right.
Policy 2: Require that firm provide detailed information about the socio-economic background of all internship. Allow firms to be sue by "community activists" to make sure they are being "fair" .
Result 2a: Nearly all firms eliminate internships.
Result 2b: Firms form formal internship programs with colleges that allow them to recruit interns who are costly to train and choose the best candidates for jobs. This is now much more expensive because there's lots of government oversight.
Result 2c: More "privileged" students go to better school and pay for training for themselves that makes them the best candidates. Most of the fewer internships that are left go to the "privileged".
Result 2d: Government official declare "victory".

How about punishing the use of race in admission for any reason whatsoever? How about doing what most elite schools do elsewhere in the world -- that is, admit people based on blindly graded test scores. If the latter were the case, I'm sure a lot more effort would go into making an appropriate test and there would be no close calls to be made by admissions committees?

It's startling that this would be viewed as radical in the US when most elite schools worldwide have no difficulty with such a rule. And please, let's not hear any nonsense about how much better the "holistic" US undergrad system is. Let's see some evidence for that view. Absent the access to top grad programs and the perks that come with US letters of recommendation, I'd rather my child did his BA at Oxford or the Natl University of Singapore than most American schools.

All of these proposals work to undermine one of the things the market system does very well: promote effective parenting. If I know that intelligence counts, I might marry an intelligent spouse rather than a beautiful, sexy idiot. I'll want to model hard work and perseverance rather than a drug-and-alcohol-hazed slovenliness. I'll want to invest for college expenses rather than fritter my money away at casinos or the aforementioned drugs and alcohol. I'll help my kids with their homework and promote school attendance. I'll network with successful people (not necessarily super-weathy, just successful), so that they'll know me and maybe give my kid a shot. My reward? People screaming that "It's not fair! Your child has unfair advantages!" Then I watch as my child is passed over in favor of a preferred level of melanin in the skin. I'll have taxes extracted from me to undo all the damage done by parents who soak themselves in chemicals. I'll watch college entrance requirements dumbed down, and grades inflated. And I'll watch dysfunctional parents be rewarded with tax credits, food stamps, "socio-economic affirmative action," and on and on. You want a meritocracy? Then just let the market work, and stop undermining responsible parenting.


Your first incorrect assumption is that intelligence 'counts' more than attractiveness. You may be better off marrying the beautiful sexy idiot.

Your second is that using your connections to the best of your ability to get junior a job is not particularly meritocratic and is precisely what Murray thinks needs 'fixing.'

"All of these proposals work to undermine one of the things the market system does very well: promote effective parenting. If I know that intelligence counts, I might marry an intelligent spouse rather than a beautiful, sexy idiot."

I think society would benefit the most if the people who are good parents have an extra child. Rather than smart, hard-working, organized parents tiger mothering one or two children in an ultra-competitive winner-take-all environment, I'd rather see these people who have the time and energy instead have two or three children.

As long as some people are far more motivated to produce than others, unequal outcomes will result, in a system of free exchange.

You can force the more productive to be less productive, and/or seize the fruits of their "excessive" efforts, but you cannot force the less productive to become more productive.

... without whips

#2 The SAT was already modified a great deal to turn it into more of an achievement test.

Tyler's endorsement of the Yglesias proposal to give money to poor kids is a political non-starter. Better solution for sure, but take money from the rich and mail checks to kids? (That is what he literally suggests.) Why does Tyler and Yglesias believe this is feasible?

Murray's solutions may not be perfect, but they are certainly "small steps toward a much better world."

I'm left-leaning politically speaking and I'm not sure that I'd be on board with any of them.

I think someone should do a Straussian interpretation of Charles Murray. It shouldn't take that long. Something along the lines of:

"Lower-class whites are falling behind because they are mostly dumb and lazy and will have dumb children. Upper-class whites continue to do well because they are mostly bright and hard-working and will have bright children. There isn't much to do about this under the economic policies I am personally in favor of but I am going to offer some half-hearted policy prescriptions anyway to enhance my wonk street cred. Also, that bit about latte-sipping elites should get me quoted in the Republican primaries and juice my book sales a bit."

That's not exactly what Strauss had in mind is it?

I'm being satirical in referring to the search for esoteric meaning within Murray's public statements (see the "Straussian" interpretation of Tabarrok's book). But I actually don't think I'm that far off. Murray admitted in an online forum that the book is really about IQ -- he just toned down some of his views to make them more palatable for the masses and to get his views in wider circulation. In his own words, he didn't want liberals to "throw the book against the wall" after reading it.

It is to some extent more on target than the anti-modern tyrant or Neo-con mastermind lines you all keep sticking me with.

I agree with almost all of the proposals although, as Murray says, it won't have as big of an impact. But doing something is better than doing nothing.

Interested in how #4 would play out though.

How about we make suggestions that might *actually* work.

1. Alex Tabarrok's suggestion of moving toward a German-style tiered education system with more vocational training might help.
2. How about we end license restrictions! (This is a big one). This is a type of protectionism for the more cognitively-capable. There are a lot of medical area tasks someone with vocational training could do (as opposed to university education with lots of "theory" and difficult general education requirements).
3. End Affirmative Action, and more importantly "Disparate Impact". These systems mandate discrimination against whites, but the government accepts the "you must have a B.A." work-around. So higher-end jobs, in the end,allow more disparate impact than low end jobs. This leads employers who fear Disparate Impact lawsuits to require B.A.s for more and more jobs, which again hurts lower-class people.

Note that the last 2 things are not any kind of "big-government" program, but just a removal of big-government protectionism for the wealthy and government-mandated employment discrimination. As for number 1, there is no real reason why it should cost the government more than the status quo in the long run.

Maybe the reason why internships are valuable prerequisites for future employment is because poor are less able to do them. It allows society to sort by class and pretend to be sorting by merit. A lot of college is the same story.

Again, many internships in the business world are, in fact, paid. Prestigious non-profits, media companies and other such outfits sometimes have unpaid internships but that's because they probably get 100 qualified applicants for every vacant position -- why pay when the market-clearing wage is $0? If push came to shove, some people would probably pay the company just to take them on.

Having worked for a financial services company that hired summer interns, I can tell you exactly how Recruiting justified the program. They admitted interns add almost no value to the company during their short assignments but what they do provide is a way to closely observe someone for 12 weeks and see how well they work with others and how quickly they can learn new things.

You don't get to do that in a one-hour interview and by the time you make someone a real full-time offer, you not only have to train the person but also pay them real money even if they don't work out. For interns, you spend about the same amount of resources training them but don't have to worry about paying someone a real salary if they turn out to be a bad fit. The ones who are good simply get fast-tracked when they graduate and are looking for full-time jobs -- the company doesn't have to worry about whether the person will work out or not because they've already had the chance to observe him or her in the company's work environment for three months.

As far as #1 is concerned, it's a bit strange to be so fixated on the wage paid by an internship. $7.25 per hour at 40 hours per week for 12 weeks is $3,480. If someone instead worked for free, that's certainly a non-trivial amount of money for someone not from an upper-class background but it's really not that much in terms of tuition or wages forgone by being a full-time student.

Of course, some people choose to work full-time and attend college part-time -- but then, these aren't the people who really need internships since they are already getting years of work experience.

The bottom line is that anyone who can afford to study can probably afford to work a summer for free if that's what it takes to get your foot in the door somewhere. In any case, most corporate internships seem to pay at least something. It's only if you want an internship at a place like the New York Times that you are looking at a $0 salary and the bigger impediment in any case is lack of connections to landing such a prestigious internship. After my first year in college, pretty much all my classmates who landed internships (some paid) did so because they had relatives or friends at the employer.

Charles knows better than to mention LEGAL immigration and all the visas that bring 3rd World workers in to take American White folks jobs, but that is getting through to the White folks.
What bout this Tyler?
Robert Reich and Charles Rangel CONSPIRING in the House Ways and Means Committee to bar White men from Stimulus jobs.
Testimony of Obama economic adviser Robert Reich, the evil dwarf of the Clinton era, before Representative Charles Rangel’s Ways and Means Committee on January 7th 2009

Or maybe something like this?
Wall Street Journal
TECHNOLOGY Updated March 6, 2012, 11:59 a.m. ET
Tech Titans Fund Undocumented Students

Or this?
Bill Gates Millenium Scholarships
"Students are eligible to be considered for a GMS scholarship if they: • Are African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian and Pacific Islander American, or Hispanic American;"

"The goal of GMS is to promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential by:

Reducing financial barriers for African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American and Hispanic American students with high academic and leadership promise who have significant financial need;"

How about this?
The “Hispanic Scholarship Fund” (HSF) says that it “aims to put a degree in every Latino household by 2025”
Funding for the HSF comes from a large number of corporations, which, according to that organization’s website, include the FedEx Corporation; the Mazda Foundation; KLASS Time; GMAC Financial Services; Lowe’s; the McNamara Family Foundation, Inc.; Goldman Sachs; Procter & Gamble; Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.; the Verizon Foundation; McDonald’s; Target; the Morgan Stanley Foundation; Nissan North America, Inc.; the Sallie Mae Fund; Wells Fargo; the Draper Family Foundation; the Shell Oil Company; the Wachovia Foundation and the UPS Foundation, and many others.

The HSF says specifically that it is only for “Latinos” and those of Hispanic descent.

It obviously does not concern these corporations in the slightest that their money is used specifically to exclude white Americans from support.

On the HSF’s website, under their “Frequently Asked Questions” section, the policy is spelled out in no uncertain terms:
“Do I have to be Hispanic/Latino to apply?” is the question the website asks.

Yeah. It sucks so hard to be white in this country.

so therefore we should stick it to whitey as much as humanly possible. right?

No but whitey should stop fucking whining about it so much.

damn, that MLK jr sure whined a lot, didn't he?

ps your anti-white bigotry is duly noted.

And your Klan membership is too.

Yeah, the situation of whites is definitely comparable to that of blacks in the civil rights era...

Oh, and white students win a highly disproportionate amount of merit based aid. ($1.22 goes to white students for every $1 going to all students.)

Life is so tough for those white kids.

"And your Klan membership is too."

there's more evidence of your anti-white bigotry than there is of my presumed klan membership.

"GiT: Yeah, the situation of whites is definitely comparable to that of blacks in the civil rights era…"

at what level of stack decking does justifiable anger turn to whining? or is it that it's just whining when it offends your biases?

"Oh, and white students win a highly disproportionate amount of merit based aid. ($1.22 goes to white students for every $1 going to all students.)"

IQ matters, and thus your tacit privilege argument falls apart before it even gets off the ground.. btw, what % of those whites receiving merit based aid are jewish? gentile?

"Life is so tough for those white kids."

you wouldn't have it any other way.

"there’s more evidence of your anti-white bigotry than there is of my presumed klan membership."

Except for that pointy hat you're wearing.

Also, do you hunt feminists with a bow or a gun? Just curious.

What percent are Jewish? Whatever percent of the population of white students is Jewish.

But hey, I'll pretend to give credence to your racialist thinking for a second. Asian students receive 78 cents for every dollar of merit based aid. How does that square with your racism, given that Asian students out perform white students on testing metrics/IQ?

You better hope whites do well in this country, because nobody else is going to pay near the level of taxes required for our current level of gimmiedats. And when that particular bubble bursts, this artificial country is going to shred its social contract faster than you can say blood is thicker than water.

You are a sad, angry man A-G

You don't know anything about me beyond my Internet postings. And you have no facts or ideas, so now you have to vent your feelings. And I'll do some long-distance psychologizing of my own: the variance between the propaganda drummed into your head since pre-school and the reality you see every day is getting too great, and the cognitive disconnect is manifesting in angry outbursts and a growing sense of frustration and nameless dread.

Take the red pill, son.

LOL. Outstanding.

But it's true I only know your postings. I'll amend to 'you post like a sad, angry man A-G'.

I like the idea of applying the minimum wage to internships. It frustrated me to no end when I was younger that all the career-oriented internships and opportunities that most interested my were unpaid, and full time enough that other work was not possible ... meaning that I never bothered to apply because I couldn`t afford to take unpaid work.

Things seem to be working out just fine, but it would be nice for youth to have better access to these career building opportunities.

I simply don't understand #1. Putting a mininum wage on internships only prices the poor further out of these positions.

Nor do I really understand the efficacy of # 2. Eliminating the SAT and replacing it subject tests isn't going to decrease the advantage Murray sees the well-off having under the present regime since, surely, the advantage they have is better education and better test preparation (which will just change it's focus to subject tests).

On #3, I certainly agree, but this is going to gore a lot of sacred bulls of the affirmative action crowd, and will mean giving more aid to poor Republican voters and their children.

The problem with all of these ideas is that they are grounded in Murray's spurious idea that there is some concentration of upper-middle class, coastal elites whose tastes have some sort of tyrannical reign over all the other everyday, normal 'murkins. As has been pointed out in this thread, there are any number of fancy degree holders who, between college debt and expensive urban consumption patterns, have very little wealth. And there are any number of tradesman who, through entrepreneurship and frugal living, have accumulated a healthy amount of wealth and influence withing their communities. College grads definitely earn more than non-college grads, but those numbers are being driven by people like doctors, engineers, finance and insurance professionals (ie people who are pretty evenly split across America's cultural divide) and not screenwriters, college professors and other latte-sipping elites.

By the way, with the complete takeover of Starbucks and other coffee chains, is there anybody who doesn't sip lattes?

Real Americans CHUG lattes.

How is #4 even coherent?

Unpaid internships as the entry way to middle and upper middle class careers have a major disparate impact on Hispanic youths, who absolutely hate the idea of working for free. This is one, among many reasonswhy the 50,000,000 Latinos in the country have had so little representation in elite fields. The most extreme example is Hollywood, where the 5,000,000 Latinos in Los Angeles County form a negligible portion of employees in film and television, including blue collar jobs. It would be amusing if the Obama Administration were to file a massive lawsuit against Hollywood for disparate impact, but, somehow, I don't think that's going to happen.

#1: My sister is pleased that her son got a good internship for PT -- but it's 600+ hours, unpaid, in a large city 700 miles from home and his state college. Parents are a union machinist and an accountant. Unpaid internships are one more way of piling debt on the young and/or favoring those with at least some money.

The goal is not equality but a society where people can find their own level. We are doing two things destructive of this end: we reward poor life choices with welfare, and we backstop the rich in their leveraged ventures. It's Sailer's war of the High and the Low against the Middle.

This thread may be one of the sickest and most disgusting in the history of semi-conductors.

Can't wait for the year 2049 to stick it to all you cognitive elitists.

"Replace ethnic affirmative action with socioeconomic affirmative action"

By far the simplest means of socioeconomic affirmative action is to create a guaranteed minimum income. I guess Murray can't actually say that, as he works for the American Enterprise Institute, and socialist ideas have to be cloaked in code words if you want to keep your job there.

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