What to do with stupid people?

Heh-heh…I am one of the few in my circle of family/friends/acquaintances (one friend with a higher-end job than me) who doesn’t have a lower end job (and mine is by no means “high end”). Off the top of my head:

Salvation Army worker (brother)
Blockbuster clerk (friend)
Deli Girl at Jewel (friend)
Forklift driver/warehousing husband
Appliance salesman cousin
Dog-walker cousin
Bartender cousin
Surgical nurse cousin
3 painters
Television producer friend
Maintenance manager (manual labor, but “trade school” educated)
Exceutive Secretary
Home childcare
Limo driver
Insurance executive (dad)
Liquor salesman (uncle)
Hair dresser

Most of these people are married to people equal or near-equal to them in earning power (with a few exceptions). Most are homeowners with children. Most are not intellectually curious (with a few exceptions). Most never went to college, and some didn’t finish high school. Most never had higher aspirations that were somehow dashed; they never imagined themselves in college because they weren’t interested in the things that made me want to go to college. Most didn’t have parents who instilled a sense of curiosity; they were all blue-collar and taught their kids to work hard.

These are all good people, but rocket scientists they are not.

I think these energy industries will be technology and low-end. You need guys to assemble the equipment. We always need billing clerks and ditch diggers and construction site clean-up and receptionists and all those types of workers. These jobs will create low- to mid-level white collar gigs.

I’ve seen a paper from a major electronics manufacturer about the tradeoff between on-shore and off-shore manufacturing. In many cases the wages in places like SE Asia are so low it doesn’t pay to automate some jobs, since the wages are less than the depreciation of the needed machines. In the long run (assuming we can afford the shipping) jobs with lots of manual labor are going to migrate there, and jobs that can be heavily automated will stay here. Of your list, a company with decent volume will be able to automate packaging and inspection.

Maintenance, by the way, especially if it involves some sort of debug, is hardly an unskilled job.

Hand them a clipboard and a bunch of voter registration cards and pay them to “Get Out the Vote!”
…or teach those that are motivated some basic skills in various industries and see what sticks.

My opinion is designer babies will exist (and be acceptable) way before this becomes a problem.

Marie Stropes and Churchill, amongst others, were Eugenicists remember.

Most of what you say I agree with. However, do NOT put “waitresses” in that category. A good waiter or waitress needs to be smart to do well.

Well, remember, if you’re looking at IQ scores, exactly half of the people will be dumber than average. The first standard deviation to the left of 100, that is, 85-100, aren’t too terribly off. And that ties for the largest group, number wise, with the standard deviation to the right - 100-115. Those two groups comprise 68% of the population. This is the B Ark - the people that actually make and do things. These people can all handle the sort of work required for Starbuck’s, the post office or the grocery store up to call centers, tax return-filler-outers, garbage men and plumbing unions. Middle management usually falls here, as well. There’s just not a whole lot of difference, skill wise, between someone with a 95 IQ and someone with a 105 IQ - it just takes the person with the 90 IQ longer to master those skills.

Then there are 15% on the top, who may lack social skills, but find a home here on the Dope. :wink:

So we really only have to concern ourselves with the 15% on the bottom. The first 13% or so (moving right to left down the bell curve) may be able to do repetitive tasks with patient training - think Charlie in Flowers for Algernon. He worked sweeping floors in a bakery, IIRC. This is the group that the nightly news likes to cover in their warm ‘n’ fuzzy segment, working the register at Burger King and going home to their group homes at night. All those high tech factories still need folks to sweep the floors and scrub the toilets.

The very leftmost 2%? Now we’re into uncontrolled drooling and chronic masturbation territory. Unfortunately, with our current technology, there’s not much more we can do for them beyond making them comfortable until they die.
I think what we need to do is to work on removing the social stigma from blue collar and service industry jobs so that people aren’t ashamed to work them. I know too many kids who have been pushed into college because their parents couldn’t bear the idea of their kids working at Borders into adulthood. I think that’s a shame. But the thing that will really have to change for that is this idea that we can all somehow be “middle-class”. That everyone is entitled to cable television and high speed internet and leasing cars for 2 years instead of eking out one more summer with the ol’ beater. Either we move to communism and dole out those things from a central source regardless of income, or we don’t teach our kids they’re entitled to them.

Some levels of maintenance are fairly unskilled. I know some of it is very highly skilled, but not all, based on what my husband’s buddy tells us.

My husband works at the #1 or #2 company in the industry, and they do all their manufacturing in the US (the company was bought out by one in the US, but they still maintain the same plants they did prior to the buyout). It’s not a small operation, and it is all done here. I think it depends on what you’re making.

I guess the stupid people will have to become banditoes, then.

I thought we were discussing the educational requirements for these types of jobs. You don’t need a high school or college education at all to wait tables. Basic reading and math skills will get you by. You may be required to present yourself differently in higher class restaurants, and may have a more complicated menu to memorize, but I don’t think I’d use the word “smart”, at least not in comparison to the kind of smarts it takes to get a degree, in this case.

Can’t we just continue to do what we do now and stash them south of the Mason-Dixon line?

I can’t agree enough with this. I was brought up to believe that honest work is expected of us, and you do what you need to do to make your life work. I was taught that we don’t do things like buy a house we can’t afford just because all our friends own their own homes. There were rites of passage, and working an unsatisfying job on the way to getting a better one was something we all did at one point or another. And it’s ok if you’re satisfied with a job that someone else doesn’t want to do. Work is work.

Blue collar jobs are what made it possible for so many of us to go to college. There’s nothing shameful about it.

Murray’s argument is that once you get below the top 30% or so, people lack certain intellectual tools, which limits their academic potential - and probably their vocational potential as well. Murray thinks NCLB a waste, because the kids below 100 simply aren’t capable of the academic achievement of those above 100, no matter how much you try. For example, the majority of folks simply will never understand calculus.

So often folks complain about crappy service. I wonder if part of it is because people are being put in “service” jobs that they simply lack the skills to do well in. It takes a far different set of skills to work at Starbucks or the post office, than to push a broom or turn a wrench on an assembly line.

I’m not sure that you aren’t underestimating the tools needed to perform all of these jobs well. I have often thought it would be interesting to be able to meet and interact with people of varying intelligence. For example, would a person with a 90 IQ impress you as being less smart than one with 110? If so, how much, and in what ways?

Also, I’d be interested in seeing job stats as far as the number of jobs with various intellectual requirements. My gut feeling is that the trend has seen a reduction in the number/percentage of jobs with the lowest intellectual requirement. And undoubtedly a reduction in the pay for such jobs as well.

My wife found this book extremely depressing. She teaches business law at a community college, and has long been troubled at her students’ apparent inability to grasp the concepts of her course. If Murray is to be believed, a good number of kids attending community college really shouldn’t be there, and lack the tools to handle sophisticated material such as business law. Makes here feel her job is rather futile …

Murray has a funny bit early on in the book, where he says it is safe to say a majority of his readers have little experience with what it means to be below average in academic activity - simply by the fact that they have reached the 2d chapter of a nonfiction book on a public policy issue! :stuck_out_tongue:

From what you say, I agree with him wholeheartedly on the academic viewpoint. I just think he/you are underestimating the vast droves of blue collar and service industry jobs which don’t require calculus. These days, they don’t even require arithmetic, as the cash register tells you not only how much change to give out, but how many of each bill and coin to hand to the customer. Not only do you not have to know how to make change, you don’t have to know that $3.85 requires 3 singles, 3 quarters and a dime.

I don’t think so. Having been there fairly recently, there really wasn’t anything the dumbest CSR I had couldn’t figure out with lots of patience and repetition. The reason they’re surly is 'cause they get treated like shit, paid like shit and are terribly aware that their jobs hold no status at all, in fact their jobs are an embarrassment to them. They’ve been convinced that they could do better, or they’re going to do better and this is just a temporary thing, so why bother to do it well?

I think I posted once about the lab class I ran for my Chemistry class last semester. Community college Chem101. There were indeed stupid people in that class. I’m talking people who tried to tell me their 2 inch clay crucible weighed 26.5 kilograms. People who honestly didn’t understand how I knew their numbers were wrong when their salt filled crucibles weighed *less *than the empty ones on their lab reports. Stupid, stupid people who had no business being in even a community college class, IMHO. But most of them were employed. All of them wanted better employment, and so were trying to get into the Nursing program (gods help us!), but none of them were so stupid they couldn’t get any job. Just too stupid for Chemistry 101.

We’re just talking about people who are dumb right? Not people who have actual mental disabilities?

I’m not sure what exactly we are supposed to do with stupid people. There are a finite number of jobs and the more a job tends to pay more, or is particularly interesting, satisfying or specialized, the greater the competition for that job. That means in the array of thousands of jobs in our society, the dumber and less skilled you are, the more likely you are going to get stuck with the jobs that no one wants to do yet still need to get done. It sucks, but not everyone is cut out to be a doctor, lawyer or hedge fund analyst.

Since we’re talking about how clever people are, it’s actually the MEDIAN, not the AVERAGE exactly half of the people are smarter than. :smack:

A median is one of the averages. The others are mode and mean. In a normal distribution, of which IQ is one, they are all the same number; in this case: 100. That means that 100 is in the middle of scores (median), it’s the most common score (mode), and it’s the score you get if you add up all the scores and divide by the number of scores (mean).

It’s that way because it’s designed to be that way: if we all of us get smarter, 100 “moves up” to remain the median, mode and mean. It’s entirely possible for a person with an IQ of 100 in one era to be a much smarter or stupider person than a person with an IQ of 100 from another era. The IQ score is based on one’s relation to one’s peer group, more or less. (I’m not sure how often they recalibrate the score, to be honest.)

Your answer impresses me as perhaps a tad simplistic - as well as lacking the degree of compassion I suggest is desireable in a civilized society.

In times of ever-increasing mechanization and efficiency, and the off-shoring of more and more production and low-level service jobs, are you confident that our economy contains sufficient low-skilled jobs paying any wage? As I see it, many of the previous “middle” semi-skilled group have lost their jobs and are now competing with those at the “lower” unskilled end.

Another broader concern involves what we consider to be a desirable and attainable standard of living for the average citizen. I think public policy can affect such things in many ways. In your purely economic system, where more and more workers compete for a finite number of jobs paying less and less, what ought they aspire to? At present, I think a number of societal problems are related to unrealistic expectations. Folks see a certain standard of living on TV and think they are entitled to it.

And it is inadequate to simply urge lower achievers to work harder if they lack the tools needed to achieve at a higher level.

How do we determine for instance if someone is a Brahmin (Alpha) or an Untouchable (Delta)?

Dinsdale My experience from internet message boards has taught me that many people with above average IQs are rank imbeciles who think they are far more intelligent than they actually are. How do we figure out what to do with them?

In the future ?

In the relatively short term, I see them being treated worse and worse, getting jobs that pay worse and worse and are more and more unpleasant and dangerous, because they will be competing with machines. One reason that automation didn’t take off as much as the old futurists thought it would is because humans are still cheaper and more expendable, at least to the people doing the hiring ( THEY don’t have to pay to raise the guy, or pay extra to replace him; they do have to pay for a machine, or it’s replacement if they break it ).

In the middle term, I expect that automation will become cheap and ubiquitous enough that there simply won’t be enough jobs to go around; and not just limited to the stupid people either. And no; despite the religiouslike fervor with which Americans seem to hold to the idea, there’s no physical law that holds that at least as many new jobs must be created as are lost. At that point, the more technologically advanced societies will have the choice of either going more socialist and accepting a large, permanent welfare class that is jobless for no fault of it’s own; or kicking them collectively to the side and letting them starve ( or worse ). Americans being the rabid ideological capitalists that they are, I expect them to go the latter Social Darwinist route for a long time, until it gets so bad you have some major upheaval on the order of the Civil Rights Movement.

And in the long run, thanks to genetic engineering hopefully there won’t BE any stupid people. Since the likely alternatives would probably be either a collapse of civilization and the loss of technology, or a society that deliberately chooses to produce stupid people, probably for some unpleasant purpose ( like sex slaves or forced organ donors that are too dumb to rebel successfully ), I certainly hope so.