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Answering Objections to Eugenics

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Whenever I tell people I favor eugenics they tell me that the state shouldn’t have such power. One thing that’s overlooked is that it already does. As Herrnstein and Murray wrote in The Bell Curve:

we are as apprehensive as most other people about what might happen when a government decides to social-engineer who has babies and who doesn’t. We can imagine no recommendation for using the government to manipulate fertility that does not have dangers. But this highlights the problem: The United States already has policies that inadvertently social-engineer who has babies, and it is encouraging the wrong women. If the United States did as much to encourage high-IQ women to have babies as it now does to encourage low-IQ women, it would rightly be described as engaging in aggressive manipulation of fertility. The technically precise description of America’s fertility policy is that it subsidizes births among poor women, who are also disproportionately at the low end of the intelligence distribution.

I don’t like government, but one thing it’s proven that it can do for certain is administer objective standardized tests that heavily correlate with g. It would be hard to abuse a law that forcibly sterilized everybody with an IQ under 90 provided that the person scored that low on an objective test blindly graded. Somebody who wants to argue that he had a bad day would have the right to an appeal, which would consist of another IQ test.

If a libertarian wants to propose that even somebody with an IQ of 90 has rights, they would have to oppose government having the power to lock people up in mental institutions. We already let the state decide that some people aren’t fit to participate in society even if they’ve yet to do anything wrong. This is a system open to abuse, but still a necessary evil. Letting unintelligent breed is as surely damaging to society as letting schizophrenics run loose. My plan is less likely than the mental health profession to catch someone unfairly as an IQ test is a more certain measure of intelligence than a psychiatrist’s diagnosis is of a mental disorder worthy of institutionalization. Some doctors have been known to disagree over whether someone needs to be locked up, but no two IQ tests ever differ much about how intelligent someone is.

The libertarian belief that whenever government acts it violates people’s rights and so it should be kept as small and powerless as possible is for the most part correct. We should abide by this maxim, except in cases where doing nothing means a libertarian society can’t continue to exist: for example, allowing low IQ groups to settle in the country or the unintelligent to keep breeding.

There is another modification I’d like to make of the classical theory. Some groups such as children and the insane aren’t considered capable of entering into contracts or being responsible for their actions and are thus not fully entitled to the rights government grants to competent adults. IQ realism forces us to expand the circle of those that need protection (and from whom we need to protect ourselves). It makes no sense to say that someone with an IQ of 65 is ill and one with an IQ of 75 is a responsible, rational actor. Wherever you draw the line between the free citizen and the unfree is going to be to a certain extent arbitrary, as the definition of retarded at 70 and below is. I’m simply convinced that it should be higher. Whatever we classify as the new retarded, and I think it should be at least IQ 80 and probably 90 and below, we need to make sure that there are less of these people so that a free society can continue to exist.

Ideally it wouldn’t be government that ran the eugenics program but private organizations. But that’s a different post.

From HBD Books