How smart are we?


Go lookup any standard distribution chart of IQ for the country (or the world in general). You’ll find the following obvious but alarming results. One half of the human population has an IQ of less than 100.

Just let that sink in.

Additionally, approximately 20% has an IQ of less than 90. In the U.S. (320M) that would mean 1/5 of people, ~64million people have an IQ less than 90. For the world? 1/5 of 7.4B = 1.48B.


One and a half billion people have an IQ of 90 or less. These aren’t magic numbers or fake numbers. These are approximate facts.

I’m not trying to stigmatize anyone here. In fact, intelligence, in my book, doesn’t mean squat. I would posit that there are more happy people at the lower end of the IQ scale than at the upper; ignorance is bliss and with power (intelligence) comes responsibility (and the associated problems). And, to me, happiness is the real gauge of a successful life.

That said, how many people do you know with an IQ less than 90? Yet they exist and can vote and have opinions (although, with a stereotypical bias those opinions might be mal- or un-informed.)

I don’t point this out because I’m an intellectual snob (far from it if you knew my history), only that I would offer that one might use such open and obvious information as the basis for understanding the country’s and the world’s opinions and predispositions.

I know this feels a tad distasteful. As if by discussing this we’re betraying a huge portion of humanity. However I want to continue to stress that this is a reality. It’s not a politifact or fake-news.

The other side of this coin is that just because one possesses a supposedly high IQ does not make one automatically superior in thought or opinion. Bigotry, misogyny, racism live quite well in many of the world’s smart people. Sure a greater intelligence may predispose you to a more open mind — but it does not guarantee it.

When I read or watch the news and see statistics and counts of people doing this or that I’ve tended to think that most people are like me: average intelligence, average beliefs, average faults and ideals. What a chart like this shows, what the knowledge of this disparity of intelligence should tell me, tell us, is that this is not the case. That “average” may actually have little bearing on what truly exists in the world regarding intellectual capability.

What do you think of this distribution of IQ? Does it challenge your assumptions about people?




[Pretty much <90 we’re dealing with people who, in general would have a hard time graduating high school, writing an essay, read and follow instructions for building a model toy, memorize 10 phone numbers. (my interpretation)]

Passive state, active action

In a prior article we examined passive versus active writing with regards to things vs actions or events.

Now I’d like to consider another nuance with regards to passive vs active voice: That of the state of being.

Everything has state. And it is with the irregular verb “to be” that we most often establish state.

  • The sky is grey.
  • The monkey was screaming.
  • The girls were dancing.
  • The bridge was swaying.

To Be has a veritable plethora of variations of past, present, and future tense, and singular and plural and just a whole pile of combinations of those. But regardless of usage or variation, every instance of the verb To Be is used to establish state.

And that’s OK for things that have certain characteristics of being. Sometimes it’s acceptable to use “is” or “was” or “were” or the other variations of To Be when you have to get people, stuff or surroundings into a scene, into a scene and described.

  • “The cliffs were higher than any he’d scaled before.” Here we’re simply trying to establish the state of these geological features of the scene. The cliffs aren’t doing anything aside from just being.
  • “His hands and face were charcoal black from digging through the burned out husk of the cabin.” Again, his hands and face have state — the state of color — and we just want to get that known to the reader.
  • “The car was destroyed. No amount of repair could return it to working order.” The car has an operational state here and it’s not good. It’s bad, destroyed in fact. We just need to let the world know this.

Sure there might be ways to write these descriptive sentences in the active voice, but I’ll say that some usage of passive voice can be allowed when, again, we’re just trying to establish state.

So in addition to the rule previously mentioned: “when we think of people or things in a story don’t think only of their state — think of what they will do, how they will act.” We have another heuristic: “When describing state, it’s okay to use small doses of passive voice to set the stage, primarily with settings or things that normally do not act or have behavior.”

  • The cliffs were higher than any he’d scaled before. The climb to the top left him terrorized, his heart thumping in his chest, his wrists and knees trembling.
  • His hands and face were charcoal black from digging through the burned out husk of the cabin. He’d tried to save it. Pail after pail he swept from the creek and tossed into the blaze. But the rotten roof and worm drilled timbers fed the fire that consumed the cabin.
  • The car was destroyed. No amount of repair could return it to working order. She stared mesmerized as the great claw of the wrecking crane slammed down through the windows squeezing the top in its talon grasp. Up it lifted the car, the first car she’d ever owned. It swung the car over to the clapper where the crane released it in a spasm of mechanical glee. Down it slammed into the pit which then began to methodically crush her orange Ford Pinto into a yard square, iron trinket for the foundry.

Set the stage with state using “is”, “was” and “were”, and then follow it up with action.



Courtesy Space

I LOVE driving in traffic! No really, I do. And here’s why: I leave Courtesy Space in front of me when I’m driving in traffic. What is Courtesy Space? I’m sure you can guess, but formally what this EXTRA gap between my car and the car in front of me is is an area the assholes impatient of the world feel compelled to commandeer. This space is a gap where folks can merge into when we have to zipper (on-ramp merge). And this space is a cushion which I allow to be squeezed as those in front of me come to a halt while I gradually slow down, keeping those behind me moving, until — quite often — the car before me starts moving again and NEITHER I nor ANYONE BEHIND ME had to STOP!

I call this Courtesy Space. Now, don’t get me wrong; without traffic I’ll gladly drive speed limit + 5mph (on average and on the highways, speed limit or lower on side streets). But in traffic, this is how I drive.

If we all gave each other Courtesy Space THERE WOULD BE NO TRAFFIC PROBLEM. Really.

Here’s the evidence:


Now, this is going to hurt a little bit, but I promise, it’ll feel better when I’m done…

  • Let’s take a 1 mile stretch of highway.
  • On that single lane highway we’ll line cars up, end to end.
  • If we estimate a car is 20 feet long (on average: motorcycles, trucks, SUVs,  delivery, etc.) then we can fit 264 vehicles on that 1 mile stretch.
  • Now, let’s pretend this is a traffic situation and we will slowly roll these 264 cars along at 1 mile per hour (We’ve all been there right?)
  • Then, in 1 hour, we will have moved 264 cars 1 mile,
    or: 264 MHVs – Mile Hour Vehicles. (The left most green square above.)
  • This becomes our baseline for comparison.

With me so far? You’re going to feel a slight pinch in this next part.

  • At 1 mph, let’s say this travel mode is “safe” — having a Caution Factor of 1.
  • Caution Factor is simply a multiple of average car length, (in this case 20) minus one car length, that is:
    • CF-1=0 feet
    • CF-2=20 feet
    • CF-3=40 feet
    • CF-10=180 feet, or 9×20.
  • Caution factor can be thought of as Courtesy Space.
  • Now let’s take those same 264 vehicles on our 1 mile stretch and get them moving at 5 mph. Remember — this is traffic and we have drivers driving these cars.
  • At 5mph we *could* get 1320 MHVs, but we can’t possibly allow cars to travel bumper to bumper without problems so the Caution Factor of 1 is red — no good. And, I’m going to figure that even if we increase the factor to 2 (we’ll leave a whole car length in between each car) that is STILL not safe. So 2 Caution Factor is red also — no good.
  • But at a Caution Factor of 3, that is, 3 times the vehicle length (40 feet in front of each car (20 feet for the car remember)) well, THAT is safe. And that’s our second green field with 440 MHVs.
  • We got 440 vehicles to go 1 mile in 1 hour with this configuration (5 mph and 40 feet of Courtesy Space.)
  • That’s a lot more cars and no accidents or road rage.

But we can do better… Let’s skip to the far right.

  • Let’s boost the speed to 60 miles per hour!
  • BUT, let’s boost the Courtesy Space by a factor of 9 (a total Courtesy Space of 160 feet between each car.)
  • 160 feet — that’s TWO TENNIS courts end to end. That’s so much space you could put 8 other cars in there.
  • BUT DON’T! That’s our Courtesy Space — we NEED that space for our buffer zone. So, how many cars can we get to travel 1 mile in 1 hour with this configuration?
  • 1760! That’s more than SIX times as many cars as the 1 mile an hour crawl.
  • BUT, BUT look at all that empty space between cars. LEAVE IT!
  • This is the point. By increasing the space between cars * AT SPEED * we can increase the carrying capacity, the Mile-Hour-Vehicles that a road can carry.

(A minor point: Look at that number right next to that 1760: “29” cars per minute. Think about that: car #1 goes by, one-mississippi two-mississippi, car #2… That’s one car every two seconds. Hmm, could that be the two second driving space rule we heard about way back when we were being taught to drive?)

We don’t need more highways? We don’t need road-rage management. What we need is to realize that highways are not parking lots — we don’t add capacity for standing cars. We need to measure traffic by the metric Mile-Hour-Vehicles, that is, how many cars can we get moving as quickly and as safely as possible. Using this measurement we can see that the best way to cure our traffic ills is through Courtesy Space.

Thanks for your time. Here’s a band-aid and a lollipop.



Secure Society Tax

The wealthy are different

The rich don’t earn their income through work. They don’t get “paid”. Therefore they pay no payroll tax. And that’s what the Social Security tax is. Instead the wealthy earn their wealth through:

  • Dividend income
  • Bond income
  • Rental income
  • Venture debt income
  • Private equity income
  • Real estate income
  • P2P (peer to peer) income
  • CD interest income
  • Capital gains

All of which are taxed differently (or not taxed at all if you can finagle it.)

So, altering the Social Security taxation model is going to miss one HELLUVA LOT OF WEALTH. It would still work, to some degree. And the corporate inequality tax would contribute substantially. But probably not enough. How do we squeeze these filthy rich people of the funds that they’ve earned as capitalists climbing their wealth ladder made from the backs and bodies of us the worker?

Consumption tax? Not nearly enough. The rich don’t wear more sox, eat more food, drink more beer. And the expensive consuming they do do, maybe 2x to 10x of what the average cost to you and I would be, would contribute practically nothing in tax revenue for our SSI. Expensive cars, boats, homes, condos, planes? Eh, a drop in the bucket compared to what we need.

(We need to raise, oh let’s say $500billion per year to fund SSI. But that’s just a ass-pulled number. I’ll sit down here soon and determine just what we would need to fund this program.)

Still the problem exists — the rich don’t pay their share of their wealth — wealth built from the hard work of EVERY AMERICAN throughout the decades.

As funding sources for SSI here’s what we have:

  • Payroll taxes (SS and Medicare tax)
  • Corporate inequality tax
  • Paltry wealth-income taxes

What else could we tap?

  • Stock Market trading transaction tax?
  • Luxury consumption tax?
  • Luxury property tax?
  • Luxury travel tax?
  • ???

Our security has value

For the most part, in the United States, we live in security. We are secure from invasion. Secure from civil unrest. Secure from property seizure. We have systems in place to assist us in times of natural disaster and financial disaster. Fiduciary, physical and civil insurance infrastructures help protect our investments, our savings, our towns and cities. We have federal, state and local systems to protect us against fire and attack. We have transportation systems secured for safe travel and commerce.

Bottom line: we live in a pretty secure system, for which we all are grateful. If you own a car, rent a home, have a job and a kid or two — you should be thankful. And I bet you are.

But what if you own a building or ten of them? A couple of mansions, a yacht, a jet, a fleet of private vehicles. What if you have millions of dollars of investment in industry, technology, the trading markets? Are these not also protected by the country’s vast and comprehensive security system?

What if you are worth $500 million dollars. How much of that “worth” is actually tied up in the country’s protective infrastructure?

  • Need consistent and uninterrupted electricity?
  • Need pure water and a sewage system?
  • Need roads, bridges, traffic signals, emergency services?
  • Need airports, shipping ports?
  • Need a continuously operating communication system?
  • Need a fast and responsive medical system?
  • Need an education system for yourself, your kids and your employees?
  • Need a full featured legal system?

What if your entire wealth basis depended on every one of these (which it no doubt does)? How much would you have to pay to build all of this yourself in order to be worth that $500M?

As the country’s workers, we pay income tax. We pay sales and property tax. And we ARE the protection system. We ARE the cops, the firemen, the insurance adjusters, the nurses and doctors, the teachers, the soldiers. We ARE the country’s security network. And because we ARE this system — you, the wealthy of the nation, of the world, you need to pay up!

What we need is a Secure Society Tax. You like living in a secure society? Well, that security comes at a cost. The more you own, the more you have, the more you gather — ALL OF THAT NEEDS PROTECTION!

You can’t just live here and benefit from all of this amazing security systems that are the United States of America without coming to the realization that if it were NOT for US, the We the People, you would NOT be wealthy. So, pay up!

Secure Society Tax: 1% of net worth paid per year.

You don’t like paying for the great service and security you receive in the United States? Well then — move.

SSN – Social Security Net

Does it not seem obvious that when it comes to examining a UBI (universal basic income) that we already have a system for distribution of socially sourced funds?

The Social Security program was designed and implemented in 1935 (Roosevelt). It depends on payroll taxes collected through the FICA and SICA and deposited into two trust funds.

(See rejoinders to this theory here)

One of the curious aspects of the law is this: “All income over said amount is not taxed. In 2017, the maximum amount of taxable earnings was $127,200“.

Hmm, so the millionaires and billionaires who rake in the earnings through capitalism’s primary engine — the corporation populated stock market — don’t have to cough up more than any one “human” might be expected to contribute, year over year.

Whaaaaat? Not only don’t the wealthy of the world have to pay appropriately scaled income tax (to support the country as a whole), they don’t have to pay *proportionately* into the Social Safety Net that is there to provide for all the workers, that is, the wealthy’s wage-enslaved workers.  The workers on whom they built their multi-billion dollar empires. THAT doesn’t smell right!

If a society could rein in such income sources, I wonder if the Social Security System might not be the basic income platform the US, at least, could use to begin to create a UBI styled social safety net.

Imagine if instead of upping the age at which Social Security was endowed, we lowered it! What would happen if we lowered the age to get benefits to 50? Provided we could enforce expanded payments by the 1-5%’rs of the world. Could Social Security be lowered to 40 years of age? Might it need to be lowered to such an age in the coming automation onslaught?

I could see that those between the age of 20-40 could be the most active, the most productive, and energetic regarding productive forms of work that society would install a safety-net above that age. By the time anyone reached the age of forty — now you needed serious financial assistance to combat the robots taking your jobs.

I’ve only just started examining Social Security as THE form of a social safety network. But, stepping back and tilting one’s head to the side, Social Security sure as hell looks like the right system to hijack with regards to creating a basic income for all.

Social Security Income SSI

Imagine if the United States had the following policy in place RIGHT NOW.
Assumptions for SSI:

  • Humans live to 100 years of age (with adjustments over the generations).
  • Humans *can* begin receiving Social Security benefits at the age of 40.
  • The monthly income will be a factor of age and financial and economic data constructing a dynamic algorithm which will automatically adjust for inflation, population, and longevity. The point here is to build the algorithm such that Social Security Income determines how the system should work — NOT politicians.
  • The algorithm will scale from a minimum payment at age 40 to a maximum payment at age 100 or Average Longevity (AL).
  • Early benefit election will increase the SS and Medicare tax rate they must pay on actual income earned.

Impact of policy:

  • Some people will opt to begin receiving payment at the earliest possible – 40 years old.
  • This will tend to pull these people from the work force — FREEING UP jobs for the younger generation (20 – 40 years of age). This is how we combat the loss of jobs through automation.
  • Those that continue to work AND receive benefit can then support their dependents, children and grand children, who are not eligible, with their benefits. That is, at age 50, a parent could use the SSI to pay for higher education for their children.
  • Some people will opt to delay their SSI benefits out to whatever age they care to. When they begin to receive their payment, the algorithm will adjust their personal payments based on the age at which they began SSI benefits. This will provide the incentive to delay benefits as long as possible.
  • The end income for a working, benefit enabled 40 year old will still be greater than had they not elected for SSI benefits. But, the greater tax will help offset the extra outlay of the system such that it will behoove workers to still delay benefits for as long as possible.

Steps to accomplish this:

  • Use the EXISTING Social Security system to manage individual collection, accrual, and payment. No new system need be created. The Social Security system already has all the infrastructure, data (SSNs) and investment system to handle this.
  • Raise the ceiling limit for income to be taxed by Social Security. Instead of $127k, lift it to infinity, but scale it. 15.3% (12.4 Social Security, 2.9 Medicare) to $200k/year. Then half that to $500k/year. Then half of that, to $1m/yr. And so on and so forth
Income SS % Medicare % Total %
$0 – $200k 12.40% 2.90% 15.30%
$200k – $500k 6.20% 1.45% 7.65%
$500k – $1M 3.10% 0.73% 3.83%
$1M – $2M 1.55% 0.38% 1.93%
$2M-$10M 0.78% 0.19% 0.96%
$10M+ 0.39% 0.09% 0.48%
  • Include the Employee Inequality Tax the proceeds of which will join the Social Security Funds. This taxes corporations on the level of worker pay inequality.
  • Enact this policy as a gradual shift in Social Security behavior. Break down the changes, the tax increases, the lowering of the benefits eligibility age, over one to two generations.


Learning to drive

There are three parts to learning to drive:

  1. The Law!
  2. Situational awareness.
  3. Physical interaction and muscle memory.

As I considered these (more on them later), in my endeavor to teach my children how to drive, I thought about that number — three.

And how curious it is and how it might represent a balance between so many aspects of life.

Jessie posted an article on argumentative discourse where there were three factor that comprise a good discussion 1) episteme, 2) eunoia, 3) parrhesia.

There’s the three branches of government: executive, legislative, judicial.

Three parts to the Holy Trinity.

A three legged stool is the most stable of simple structures.

We’ve got, beginning-middle-end, birth-life-death, three-wishes, the troika, and the three languages on the Rosetta Stone. Just dozens and dozens of references to the balance of ideals, concepts, strengths, forces all done so through the juxtaposition and interaction of three.

What three lobed thing, in your life, your universe, means something to you?

But back to driving…

First, we must learn the law. Knowledge of what is legal, or not; how to treat the road signs, the road-lines, the signals and public alerts and indications — the rules of the road — all of this must be learned and memorized so that you can know how the other two factors should be situated.

Second we have situational awareness. Within the framework of the law, we have what is going on around you *right now*. Are there cars, people, animals around you. Are you driving on a curvy, straight, slick, gravelly road? Are you going too fast? Too slow? How’s the light? Are you getting tired? Everything that makes up the environment of your driving experience.

Thirdly there is the actual interaction with the vehicle. Some people rarely think this is a thing to learn — or at least to spend much time on. But in my mind this must be the very first thing you should learn. The car becomes an extension of your body. When it accelerates or screeches to a halt, you feel it in your body. When you go too fast around a curve, the centripetal force alerts you to the danger. When your wheels start to slide on ice or snow or hydro-plane, you feel that instant queasy, fair-ride feeling of lost control. How hard can you slam on the breaks? How does it feel to power-slide? What does it feel like to hit a deep pothole or get lifted off your seat during a gravity escaping leap over a country hill? Such things must be learned by your mind-body. These are not conscious parts of driving. These must be subconscious reactions that your body takes over when your mind is freewheeling in chaos.

Three parts to driving. Three parts to conversation. Three parts to government, and a good milking stool. “Three shall be the number. And the number shall be three…”

Influence, impact, effect

A time ago, don’t ask me when, we, Martina, Jessie and I, were talking about UBI – Universal Basic Income (okay, we weren’t specifically discussing UBI, but near enough), and Jessie mentioned that she thought the struggle of the classes was power based. I, offhandedly, read through her comment not really having any reply at the moment (not that I didn’t reply, mind you).

However, on retrospect, I circled back to that theory: empowering all of us, giving each of us agency to affect our own lives, enough such that we can witness and claim responsibility for the changes, this would be a good thing. And that’s noble and admirable and, if it could be done (like in the Scandinavian countries) then maybe that’s the answer.

What prompted this latest doffing of words was thinking about myself as the curmudgeon that I’ve become. Yes, I’m a self-professed stick-in-the-mud, the proverbial “get off my lawn” old man with suspenders and a cane (well, maybe not the cane, um, or the suspenders). But I’ve grown less and less tolerant of fools over the years. And here’s the thing; Martina talks about criticism (here) and I wonder:  perhaps there’s simply some aspect of influence here. A “hey, he looked!” type behavior humans crave. More generally, we humans want to know we’ve impacted our world, left a mark, had an affect, effected others — in some way.

With criticism, that affect is negative (generally). With a curmudgeon like me, just seeing the teenagers flinch, that’s a kick in the pants, now isn’t it? (I don’t really do this, but I know you know someone who does.) The thing is, we crave influence. We yearn for self induced change in the world. Poke this thing and it cringes. “Hmm, I feel a little better (although it may not).”

All of social media is focused on this. You post a woodgiewoodgie (whatever to wherever) and what do you expect? A response of course. Trolls post the most foul and incendiary tripe. Why? For impact, for a response: “They — anybody — replied, responded, grimaced, smiled, screamed, cursed, cried, cheered!”

Do we crave power? Or influence?

And, to bring this back full circle, (circles in circles), is there a means to alter the economics of countries such that we provide for expanded influence, agency in how we govern and direct our own lives? Maybe, however a UBI’esque effort comes to be, if we provide every human the ability to change their lives –however they care to — maybe that will be enough.