May 1, 2010

The Harvard Number

Here's some fun gossip I heard from a fellow about the Harvard Number. He's a reasonably well connected gentleman. On the other hand, he's my only source for this and I don't have the connections to check up on this, so take it for whatever it's worth.

The Harvard Number is the amount of money Harvard would want as a donation for accepting your kid as an undergraduate. It's not the kind of information they post on their website. You have to ask the right people in the right manner.

He said he just found out that the current Harvard Number -- assuming your kid's application was "competitive" (i.e., there's some chance your kid would get in even if you didn't write a check) -- is $5 million.

If your kid's "not competitive," then it is $10 million.

If there are about 1,800 freshmen at Harvard each year, then Harvard could admit, say, 100 competitive applicants whose fathers (typically, hedge fund guys) write the Harvard Number on a check -- without tangibly lowering the quality of the class. That's, theoretically, a half billion per year in virtually free money. How could an institution resist that temptation?

Quid pro quo arrangements aren't supposed to be tax deductible as charity, but how often does the IRS get the goods on this? In practice, a big chunk of the Harvard Number gets refunded by the taxpayers.

128 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you can give that much, do you really need to send your kid to Harvard so he can have a privileged life? Just give the kid the money and send him to a top state school like UCLA,Berkley, Illinois or a slightly less prestigious private school.The kid should be able to get into one of those schools if he can possibly get into Harvard on his own merit.

OneSTDV said...

There's something called the Z-List for kids who have absolutely no right to be at Harvard (or probably even the local state school), but their parents are incredibly wealthy or someone really powerful.

Anonymous said...

Separate issue: do you think elite colleges admit children of powerful politicians as a form of lobbying/bribery?

Pretty sure I know the answer to that one.

Anonymous said...

I have heard $10 million, but that was from someone whose kid was not competitive.

This is definitely true, FYI.

sabril said...

"If you can give that much, do you really need to send your kid to Harvard so he can have a privileged life"

No, but some people really like being able to mention to their friends and co-workers that they are going up to Cambridge to visit their son or daughter in college.

Anyway, I would guess this is part of the reason places like Harvard are so aggressively PC -- to give them a bit of cover for the fact that they are such complete whores.

Anonymous said...

Ya know, didn't Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg graduate from, uh, Harvard? I would think, ya know, that if her name, ya know, was Caroline Smith she would have been considered only borderline competitive. However, ya know, the Kennedy brand name rivals that of Harvard, so ya know I doubt she and others in this category have to, ya know, pay the fee.

Bostonian said...

I've read that Harvard and other selective colleges give preferences to "legacies" -- applicants whose parents attended Harvard. I wonder if these preferences only extend to alumni who have been substantial donors. Suppose, for example, parents gave $1000 a year -- is that worth anything?

Steve Sailer said...

There are legacies and then there are Legacies!

Steve Sailer said...

Somebody who worked on an admissions committee (not at Harvard) once told me they barely paid any attention to who was a legacy. It was mostly an Urban Legend they propagated in order to extract money from alumni hoping to buy their kids a break.

The Bell Curve reports that Harvard legacies at Harvard average 36 SAT points (old style) lower than first generation Harvard students. But no doubt some of those legacies are Harvard Number kids rather than the kids of alums who give $50 bucks per year.

My guess is that if you are a Harvard alum it's easier to get somebody at Harvard to tell you what the Harvard Number is than if you are some interloper. So, you've got that going for you, which is nice.

691 said...

Getting your kid into Harvard isn't about future earnings. It's about status, for him and you.

Anonymous said...

I'd bribe the administrator direct.

I wonder how much they get paid? And if they show signs of, um, very good money management.

bjdouble said...

Do they have an extended payment plan? Even for a HF manager $5 million is a big number. There aren't that many people who can write a $5 million check - certainly not 100 families a year with an 18 year old kid.

Anonymous said...

If property speculators gave me $500 million a year I think I'd keep pretty quiet about immigration and race.

AMac said...

Journalist Daniel Golden wrote "The Price of Admission," partly on the topic Steve discusses here. Link via discussion at TaxProf Blog.

Golden, IIRC, focused on Duke and Brown, and was able to find out quite a lot about what one might call the Duke Number and the Brown Number. Numbers, actually, as specifics mattered--such things as the parents' celebrity (Hollywood or DC), their financial heft, and the kid's academic and sports prospects.

Legacies -- I went to a school that promotes this, and it helped my kid not at all. But we're talking $50/year, thus the decimal place is off by four or five places. But at Duke, it seems to matter, so YMMV.

Noah said...

I have an econ model that deals with exactly this subject.

catperson said...

"Getting your kid into Harvard isn't about future earnings. It's about status, for him and you."

Status means nothing unless you have the money to back it up.

catperson said...

If I'm the kid, I'd rather dad just give me the $10 million so I could skip college all together and spend the rest of my life partying in high style.

Anonymous said...

I have been a senior administrator at a selective college. Not in admssions. At our place admissions was the holiest of holies, hush hush, etc. But I am convinced they did it that way to wall themselves off from pressure from the president, the development office, and trustees.

On the other hand, it was well known to us that many other elite colleges had a defined number of slots open for flexible use, subject of course to standards. A senior guy at an Ivy told me once he was surprised and shocked that I didn't have a permitted number and neither did my president. He had a smallish number and the President had a larger one. Development, too.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that if you send your son to state u he is likely to marry a woman with iq 120 and if you send him to harvard his wife is likely to have a higher iq

Do you want smart grandchildren?

If so, it is a no brainer to get your sons in to a school where they will be socializing with high iq females

B Lode said...

And I suppose Harvard has been dumbing down their curriculum for the past couple of decades to keep from having to flunk these kids? That would explain a lot.

Ronduck said...

If Harvard is pulling half a billion dollars per year in contributions that way it should have its tax-exempt status revoked and be forced to pay corporate income taxes like GE. This is even more true when you consider how big Harvard's endowment is.

Anonymous said...
Do you want smart grandchildren?

If so, it is a no brainer to get your sons in to a school where they will be socializing with high iq females


We don't have a higher education system, we have a giant selective breeding program.

Canadian CIncinnatus said...

I would rather have arrangements like this going on than Harvard relying on the government for the half billion. We need more of this. Perhaps we can wean the universities off government grants altogether.

airtommy said...

From the Daniel Golden link:

"But the Caltech admissions policy, though exemplary in its integrity, is not without problems. In no small part because of its narrowly conventional definition of merit (primarily scores on standardized tests, grades and rank in class), it has been notoriously unsuccessful in enrolling African Americans; in 2004, just one out of 207 Caltech freshmen was black (for purposes of comparison, the black proportions of the undergraduate student body at MIT, Stanford and Harvard -- all of which use a more flexible definition of merit -- were 6, 10 and 8 percent, respectively)."

Kylie said...

catperson said:"Status means nothing unless you have the money to back it up."

Not exactly. Status alone, if it's high enough, will garner you a certain amount of goodies. The rich are great back-scratchers. By the same token, lots of money won't help you climb the social ladder if you are really low status. The latest Missouri Powerball winner just won about $250 million (about $124 million after taxes). He's a convenience store clerk with tattooes, no front teeth and a bleached blonde girlfriend who plans to pay off his bills and take the kids to Disney World. The fact that he's now a multi-millionaire will not open one single door for him among the wealthy who got their money in higher status ways (inheritance, marriage or even career).

http://www.examiner.com/x-31031-Providence-Headlines-Examiner~y2010m4d23-Missouri-Powerball-winner-Chris-Shaw-scores-258M-jackpot-has-Disney-World-plans

And: "If I'm the kid, I'd rather dad just give me the $10 million so I could skip college all together and spend the rest of my life partying in high style."

Then either you wouldn't be planning to live very long or you don't quite know how quickly you can go through $10 million if you really are partying in high style. A decent house alone could easily cost that. Of course, if your idea of partying in high style consists of sleeping in at your trailer and then hitting the truck-stop parking lot to see what's up, then yes, $10 million would go quite a ways.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that readers of this blog would object to selective breeding.

What possible argument is there for having your sons marry beautiful but average iq women from average iq families when you instead have the opportunity to have your sons marry plain looking brilliant women from brilliant families?

I can't believe that seeking high iq grandchildren and great grandchildren is only embraced by my family and not by the other men on this blog.

Anonymous said...

"Suppose, for example, parents gave $1000 a year -- is that worth anything?"

At Harvard? Uh, NO. Needs at least a couple more zeroes.

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...

"Do you want smart grandchildren?

If so, it is a no brainer to get your sons in to a school where they will be socializing with high iq females"

Maybe, maybe not.

The higher the IQ she has, the more likely it is she'll never have kids.

So while your smart son may get to find a smart wife at Harvard, getting smart grandchildren is not a foregone conclusion.

You quite possibly may end up with no grandchildren at all.

Better he go to State U and find a woman studying to be an RN.
Women who choose nursing do it because they're feminine nurturers, so wanting kids is likely. And make no mistake about it. She CHOSE nursing, because it, especially at the BSN level, is a cognitively challenging occupation. These women likely COULD have gotten into a top-tier school but wanted NOTHING to do with the wymmyn.

So, get a nurse. You get high IQ genes, an intact mothering instinct and a free Dr. Mom thrown in as a bonus to reduce your healthcare costs.

Gene Berman said...

As you say, Steve, a fair portion of the "contribution" is passed through to the taxpayer via the charitable deduction allowance.

This situation, in itself, goes a long way to account for the wide-spread tendency (among the very wealthy) to favor higher taxes (as opposed to their lowering) for two reasons. The first, just mentioned, is political. Much of the contributions are funneled, if not to Harvard (and similar educational institutions tending toward the inculcation of "liberal" values but also to charitable foundations with very similar goals. Think Warren Buffet and his oft-stated opposition to lowering of tax rates and his huge contribution to Gate's foundation.

The other impetus is more specifically economic (or, properly, anti-economic). The most significant threat posed to dominance of established wealth comes from that posed by the competition of upstarts. High taxes and the cost of compliance with the regulatory regime are the principle obstacles facing newer arrivals, no matter what the industry, making it nearly impossible for such outfits to become self-financing through their own retained earnings or the savings of their principal entrepreneur(s).

catperson said...

"Not exactly. Status alone, if it's high enough, will garner you a certain amount of goodies."

Example?

"The fact that he's now a multi-millionaire will not open one single door for him among the wealthy who got their money in higher status ways (inheritance, marriage or even career)."

What kind of doors are not open to him? He can buy almost anything he wants, go anywhere he wants, and send his kids to any school he wants. What does he need more status for?

Difference Maker said...

Status is ultimately about genetic quality, not money.

More money is always better of course.


"I can't believe that seeking high iq grandchildren and great grandchildren is only embraced by my family and not by the other men on this blog."


This truly is a dilemma. I despise those with high iq and weak physiques.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

A decent house alone could easily cost that [ten million simoleons].

Wow. iSteve readers sure have high tastes.

Gene Berman said...

Steve:

"My guess is that if you are a Harvard alum it's easier to get somebody at Harvard to tell you what the Harvard Number is than if you are some interloper. So, you've got that going for you, which is nice."

My guess is only very slightly different. Assuming there really is a "Harvard Number," I'd believe that there's not the faintest chance that one in a position (or near it) to make such a contribution is EVER going to be left in ignorance as to its height (including that, for some, it's "somewhat negotiable"--you know how some folks love to bargain!).

SFG said...

"I can't believe that seeking high iq grandchildren and great grandchildren is only embraced by my family and not by the other men on this blog."

Take that too far and you start producing lots of Aspergers who can't make money in our personality-based economy. Pretty girls can always get by by marrying a rich guy.

Really, high intelligence isn't that useful. It sucks to have a low IQ because you can't go to college, but having a high one isn't that helpful. The only guys who actually like smart chicks are nerds who think they'll overlook their other negative qualities.

And, honestly, men have been after pretty women since there were men and women. The appeal of the lower head is a strong one.

"And I suppose Harvard has been dumbing down their curriculum for the past couple of decades to keep from having to flunk these kids? That would explain a lot."
Naaah, it's grade inflation. At Harvard the average grade is an A-. Sure it's different in the sciences, but I don't think W or Ted Kennedy majored in anything hard. ;)

Don Rumsfeld said...

Here's the latest action on one small plank of the Harvard Plan for the Working Man: Elect a New People!

Ariz.'s largest paper: Pols failed on immigration

May 2, 10:59 AM (ET)

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona's largest newspaper criticized U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl and a host of other elected officials in a rare front-page editorial on Sunday, saying the politicians have failed to find solutions to illegal immigration.

"The federal government is abdicating its duty on the border. Arizona politicians are pandering to public fear," the Arizona Republic said in a full-page editorial. "The result is a state law that intimidates Latinos while doing nothing to curb illegal immigration."

The editorial appeared one day after thousands marched against the law in Phoenix and Tucson, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, among other cities.


Too bad our globalist elites are not all powerful yet. Too bad things went so poorly last week and at the marches yesterday. Too bad the boycott against Arizona is blowing up in their faces. It's like the global warming fiasco all over again...but they won't ever stop.

Guys like Al Gore, Larry Summers (lost billions of Harvard endowment, directed Obama's failed econ policy to date) and Dominique Strauss-Kahn (failed French pol now IMF/World Bank honcho) just keep getting promoted higher and higher within the Circle of Trust.

These genius elites just keep failing upward into the stratosphere of our so-called Meritocracy...after bursting forth from brain farms like Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Oxford etc.

John Seiler said...

The Harvard guys RUN the IRS:

President: Barack Obama, Harvard Law.

Previous President: George W. Bush, Harvard M.B.A.

Commissioner of Internal Revenue: Douglas Shulman, Harvard's JFK School.

Recent Secretary of the Teasury: Henry Paulson, Harvard M.B.A.

Anonymous said...

What would be good for my grandchildren is not necessarily what would be good for society as a whole. It would be good for society if the genes for high intelligence were as widely distributed in the population as possible. Unfortunately this goes against the natural tendency of societies to organize themselves into social classes differentiated by IQ. I don't know the answer to this. Perhaps technology will provide one--genius sperm banks with prices that are subsidized for the poor, for example. Or confiscatory inheritance taxes to increase downward mobility from our ruling classes. Or a large tax exemption for dependent children which would chiefly benefit those who were earning enough money that they were paying some income tax etc.

Needless to say, no practical eugenics policy is possible under the prevailing system of taboos.

Gene Berman said...

Canadian Cincinnatus:

You're wrong about that. Got it backwards, as a matter of fact.

Corruption precedes the acceptance of money. Further, it's a two-way street--both sides "play" the other to attain their ends. And, not infrequently, you'd find the same players now on one side of the game and, later, on the other.
There are probably entire departments within colleges and colleges within universities whose main function is to serve as conduits and covers for such horsetrading.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

the black proportions of the undergraduate student body at MIT, Stanford and Harvard -- all of which use a more flexible definition of merit -- were 6, 10 and 8 percent, respectively)."

If those numbers are accurate it means that blacks are probably better represented at those schools, relative to their share of the population, than non-Jewish whites.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been reading too much about the Stephanie Grace fiasco (but could people please post more pictures of her? she's smart, politically incorrect, and HOT!)

But anyway...has anyone mentioned how a flap like this, occurring as it does at Harvard Law, raises even higher the concerns of people that too many (i.e., ALL) of our current Supreme Court justices are either Harvard or Yale law grads?

Anonymous said...

I suspect that Harvard is dying - a victim of the Internet. I don't know just how this will come about but it seems likely.

Who would have predicted in 1990 that the New York Times would fail or that movie theaters would fail? Both of those processes are currently underway. What is remarkable is that in 1990 both of these institutions were not only considered to be robust but beneficial and appropriate.

Universities on the other hand are widely considered to be faulty and inefficient. How can Harvard possibly continue when alternatives emerge?

In 1990 the only way to have access to advanced cultural information - like knowledge of the English Civil War - was to attend an institution like Harvard for four years. A week ago I met someone on a hiking trail and we discussed the English Civil War (my dog is a Cavalier King Charles). She pulled out her cell phone and looked it up on Wikipedia.

Harvard and all such academic institutions were built when knowledge was rare and difficult to acquire. Today everyone can know everything anywhere. That new reality has to impact institutions like Harvard.

Some will no doubt object that it is not just facts but ability - specifically IQ. A Harvard degree is a proxy for an IQ test score now that we are no longer allowed to test IQ. But that too is changing.

IQ testing is itself a proxy for a blood test or cerebrospinal fluid test. There is a physical biological mechanism that is expressed phenotypically as an IQ test score. We have been able to measure IQ (general mental ability) with paper and pencil tests for nearly a century. Any day now we will be able to measure the underlying physical reality.

There are over a dozen genes already identified as being relevant to IQ. Most of these are however only relevant in the way that iodine is important - if you don't have enough you are stupid.

There is another as yet undiscovered gene that probably works additively. That is to say that if you have ten copies you are smart but if you have twelve copies you are smarter yet. We can expect a blood or fluid test for this soon.

When there is an IQ blood test, industry will be in a better position to hire talented people, the racial debate will get more rational, and Harvard will be obsolete.

Anonymous said...

Somebody who worked on an admissions committee (not at Harvard) once told me they barely paid any attention to who was a legacy.
true especially for wasp legacies - there is definitely ethnic nepotism going on though.

ricpic said...

...it is a no brainer to get your sons in to a school where they will be socializing with high iq females.

Ever try to live with a super bright woman? Downright sadistic to make that likely for your son.

Anonymous said...

I don't doubt that there are wealthy grateful alums who donate a few mil hoping to grease the wheels of the admissions process for their talented kids at places like Exeter or Northfield Mt Hermon. But if The Harvard Number really exists, why then did Harvard discourage John-John Kennedy from applying? (He ended up at Brown, which hovers slightly above University of Pennsylvania in prestige). No doubt Jackie O. could have arranged for a contribution of at least 10 million 1978 dollars.

Udolpho.com said...

Trying to breed "high iq grandchildren and great grandchildren" seems to be the source of many of our problems. That is to say, it is the cognitive elite who have been instrumental in engineering many of the worst social policies and enforcing the most rigid intellectual conformity seen in the last few centuries.

I think there is an excellent case to be made that we have too many high IQ people, not too few. And they are making life hell for people of average intelligence.

dfadfasfsdfa said...

"If you can give that much, do you really need to send your kid to Harvard so he can have a privileged life? Just give the kid the money and send him to a top state school like UCLA,Berkley, Illinois or a slightly less prestigious private school.The kid should be able to get into one of those schools if he can possibly get into Harvard on his own merit."

You got it all wrong. If you can donate $10 million, that means that amount is peanuts for ya. It's boring. It is what $10 is to us. If you can dish out $10 million, you can only be satisfied by 100s of millions or billions. And since your prolly got 10 million for yearly allowance, he'll need much more than that. If he goes to Harvard, he's likely to meet friends and connections to make billions in the future.

Now, what about the grades. Suppose a kid gets in through parental bribes but does bad in schoolwork. Is there pressure on the profs to give him good grades?

Anonymous said...

Steve,

The legacy thing is real. I can vouch as a recent Harvard grad who benefited from legacy status.

It gives you a boost in admissions even if your parents aren't wealthy and can't afford the "Harvard number."

B Lode said...

As regards selective breeding, are we sure Harvard women have as many children as state U. women? I mean, aren't there going to be more Harvard women opting out of having children entirely?

I don't have any stats, but I think that that is at least worth considering....

Anonymous said...

Intelligence is critically important and the politics and science are fascinating. But after a while the discussion becomes so soulless, and even depressing. Not that I believe in souls or anything...but still.

Twig Tree Branch said...

I've read that Harvard and other selective colleges give preferences to "legacies" -- applicants whose parents attended Harvard.

Sure. So a century ago Harvard was about 95% WASP but today it's less than 10% WASP and only 15% Northern European white gentile at the most. Legacy preferences in action!

Around the web the Harvard class stats have been discussed. The breakdown is about 1/3 Jewish 1/3 Asian 1/6 white and 1/6 affirmative action black & Hispanic.

And the 1/6 white cohort also includes all sorts of Caucasians who don't identify as "white" in the American sense such as Armenians, Persians, Arabs, Desis etc.

Anonymous said...

A "decent" house costs $10 million??

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Keep in mind that if you send your son to state u he is likely to marry a woman with iq 120 and if you send him to harvard his wife is likely to have a higher iq.

She is also more likely to be a narcissistic bitch who will delay childbirth, insist on a ruinously high lifestyle, vote for people like Barney Frank, and, after $100K in fertility treatments, bear him a single Aspbergy/autistic trophy child just before her ovaries shut down.

And that will be it for your grand patrimony.

mnuez said...

What with everybody pulling all the stops on their harvard connections these past few days, I'll share one. I have a need to be vague about the thing but the basic story is that I met a harvard man, a lawyer actually, who subsequently joined a cult in a foreign land. I'm partially to blame for this as he considered me the smartest kid he ever met and he mistakenly believed that I was a member of the cult. In subsequent conversations as I took him to task for his credulity in being able to believe the most insane claims of the cult he took to despising my existence with a vengeance. My disbelief in what came to be the central tenets of his existence - despite my knowing them better than he did - drove him to such madness that he wouldn't look at me, talk to me, or stand within 20 feet of me (even when we engaged in our final conversation from across a room).

So there's my connection with the best and the brightest.

Anonymous said...

This happens at state schools also.

20 years ago, my wife was denied admission to UNC Chapel Hill. She had a black female friend with lower grades & lower SATs but was accepted.

Shortly afterward, my father-in-law, an alumnus, received a fundraising call. Instead of donating, he complained. A few days later, an admissions rep called, said the application had been reviewed, and she was accepted.

Father-in-law is still a liberal. Someone please explain!

Anonymous said...

"I am surprised that readers of this blog would object to selective breeding.

What possible argument is there for having your sons marry beautiful but average iq women from average iq families when you instead have the opportunity to have your sons marry plain looking brilliant women from brilliant families?

I can't believe that seeking high iq grandchildren and great grandchildren is only embraced by my family and not by the other men on this blog."

You don't have to go to school with a high IQ woman to marry her. How many people meet there wife at college nowadays. If you are rich, you can find a high IQ women without her going to college with you. Also there are many high IQ people at the elite state schools.

Anonymous said...

Politicians often get something.

Jim Clyburn is a congressman from South Carolina and the number 3 man in the US House.

In the all important SC Democratic primary, he refused to endorse a candidate -- Hillary. (Remember at that time, BHO was virtually unknown; Hillary was the front-runner.)

Jim's daughter, Mignon, now is an FCC commissioner.

OhioStater said...

I'd say that's too high since a typical "capital campaign" is at most $1 or $2 billion. If Harvard could sell spots for $10 million there'd be no need for a capital campaign.

That said, I think $5 million or $10 million could be a "lifetime" target such as giving $250,000 per year on average, for an extended period of time.

My experience is they want you to increase your giving each year and giving too much too early only shoots yourself in the foot since they expect you can give more.

Kylie said...

Anonymous said: "A 'decent' house costs $10 million??"

It certainly can, for the people who can afford to give $5 or $10 million to Harvard or directly to their kid.

My comment should be taken in context, as a reply to catperson's comment: "If I'm the kid, I'd rather dad just give me the $10 million so I could skip college all together and spend the rest of my life partying in high style."

"High style" for those who can afford that type of gesture is not what the rest of us think of as "high style" nor is "decent" housing.

catperson said...

"Take that too far and you start producing lots of Aspergers who can't make money in our personality-based economy."

How would breeding for high IQ grandkids produces aspergers? I don't understand.

catperson said...

"If he goes to Harvard, he's likely to meet friends and connections to make billions in the future."

There was a study that found that there was no practical advantage at all to going to Harvard. Yes people who go to Harvard tend to become rich, but that's only because Harvard selects people with the brains, drive & family connections to become really wealthy, not because going to Harvard gives you an advantage in life. Despite their above average IQ's, students who go to Harvard are being ripped-off because they don't understand that correlation does not equal causation.

Svigor said...

Gene Berman on taxes:

Yep. Everybody assumes rich people all want to pay lower taxes, but this isn't a safe assumption. People have been paying big money to sit at the king's table forever.

Your point about cost of compliance is a good one too. There I think the ideal situation for the wealthy who simply want to keep their money would be a high fixed cost, rather than high percentages. A fee is like a regressive tax.

Funny, I was just reading an article at Mises suggesting exactly that, a tax system based on a flat, universal fee. The author also whined about exemptions or cut-offs for low income. Libertarians, friends to the little guy.

Svigor said...

Example?

The classic example is the daughter of the wealthy upstart married to the son of bankrupt old money.

catperson said...

"20 years ago, my wife was denied admission to UNC Chapel Hill. She had a black female friend with lower grades & lower SATs but was accepted."

There are lots of black women in the last 40 years who were forced to attend state colleges because they simply could not afford to go to a top college. Even black women with great grades, leadership credentials and stratospheric SAT scores could not attend simply because they didn't have the money. Going to somewhere like Harvard or Wellesley is very expensive. Even Obama who did not grow up poor did not attend Harvard until much later in his academic career.

Svigor said...

The only guys who actually like smart chicks are nerds who think they'll overlook their other negative qualities.

Yeah cuz, actually being able to relate on an intellectual level is so nerdy. WTF?

Svigor said...

I suspect that Harvard is dying - a victim of the Internet. I don't know just how this will come about but it seems likely.

It's going to be fun to watch the gate-keepers get their throats cut by economies of scale (or whatever you want to call it) in information. Sure, they'll still have an edge in prestige (perfect word for it), but in actual education? Nope.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of folks.

Nanonymous said...

you don't quite know how quickly you can go through $10 million

Don't be ridiculous. Even when put into simplest savings account at a mere 1% annual, $10M gives one 100K/year. That's better than the 95th percentile income in the country. That's easily more than 50% of tenured professors in the country make. 100K/year may not make one rich but it guarantees perfectly comfortable life - a bit luxurious even if only for one person. It's a great privilege to get that kind of money for nothing and one has to be out of this world stupid to go broke with it.

catperson said...

"100K/year may not make one rich but it guarantees perfectly comfortable life"

$100 million a year is comfortable. $100 K per year is hardly surviving.

Anonymous said...

It's a great privilege to get that kind of money [$10 million] for nothing and one has to be out of this world stupid to go broke with it.

And yet people do. All the time, actually. Athletes and entertainers especially. But then you already said that.

Janus said...

Catperson,
I can't say about 40 years ago, but for at least the last 25 years or so, no highly qualified, poor, black woman would have had to pay much, if anything, to go to a top flight university. Currently at Harvard, students whose parents make under $60,000 a year aren't expected to pay anything at all.

Gene Berman said...

Svigor:

Yes. I've been studying Mises for so long now (almost 40 years) and have internalized so much that, if an original thought were ever to come into my head, I'm not even sure I'd recognize it (just kidding!).

dearieme said...

"Jim's daughter, Mignon": ah, that'll be the filly Mignon?

Anonymous said...

I just feel like an offtopic fisking of the fellow who said $10 mil would yield 100K per year guaranteeing a comfortable, if not moderatly luxurious, lifestyle.

It is obvious that you never had such an income.

I have lived as a federal government employee at about 48K in todays dollars (gueess). As a jr associate in a NYC law firm (100K to 200K todays dollars), and as a business owner (not willing to reveal).

You have no appreciation for how tha tail of the kite keeps jumping just beyond your reach. If you have a child entering college, and you are worth 10 mil you must pay list price for tuition, plus deductions phase out, surtaxes apply, parts of the code you never imagined existed kick, losses will be disallowed, carryforwards will be quashed for no more reason than your income level. There will not be a single concern in the media or the alternate media or anywhere for your actual situation.

I speak from experience. You would suspect a higher earner would complain about progressive taxation even as they experienced an expanding lifestyle; what I am saying is the tail really jumps out of your reach, just as much as when you are a wage slave and get a raise, through say $700K, today in the Northeast - after that you finally get to a slightly different experience.

I will bet you thought that an end to your money concerns and a life of luxury started at $ 125,000 did'n you? The tax system does not tax the wealthy, it taxes upward mobility hardest.

Dahlia said...

Difference Maker said,

"Status is ultimately about genetic quality, not money.

More money is always better of course."

I agree with this. What makes Harvard students better than many of the other high I.Q. students is that they have better verbal abilities and are more outgoing. In other words they are very well-rounded; they are less likely to have Asperger's or any personality deficiencies. Harvard is grooming future world leaders and big business owners.

I have two cousins who graduated from Harvard and they are smart, but not geniuses. Their father is recently descended from nobility while their mother, my aunt, was extremely popular as well as beautiful and smart in high school. She is the type to have been voted "Best all-around" and was just that amongst her siblings. A couple tied her for looks and intelligence, she was middling really for the group, but she was the only one completely lacking in personality quirks: not shy, paranoid, cheap, eccentric, etc. She was comely and people loved her.

One of my cousins' spouses, whom he met at Harvard, has a degree that could have been attained at any large community college. But unlike others in her profession, she has one book under her belt and she married into a similar family to her own guaranteeing regression to a higher mean than most.

BTW, my uncle sees us as so quaint and provincial and loves it. He loves, to the chagrin of my other cousins, to introduce us as "from the farm". I get a kick out of him personally and don't see it as intended snobbery; he can't help it.

Anonymous said...

> Yes people who go to Harvard tend to become rich, but that's only because Harvard selects people with the brains, drive & family connections to become really wealthy, not because going to Harvard gives you an advantage in life.

It's not a money thing. The point is, it gets you:

- status, which are programmed to crave

- a better mate

- and, yes, many people may falsely believe that it will get them more money. But that's not the sole cause of their wanting to attend Harvard.

Harry Baldwin said...

Steve, are you sure you aren't mixing reality up with the Simpsons episode on which Mr. Burns is trying to get his long-lost son Larry (Rodney Dangerfield) admitted to Yale?

>>
Mr. Burns: OK, OK. How were his test scores?

Female Admissions Officer: Let me put it this way. Larry spelled Yale with a 6.

Mr. Burns [opening his checkbook]: Oh, I almost forgot, it is time for your annual contribution. How much should I give?

Male Admissions Officer: Let us see. A score of 400 would require new football uniforms. A score of 300 would require a new dormitory.

Mr. Burns: And in Larry's case?

Male Admissions Officer: A new international airport.

Female Admissions Officer: Yale could use an international airport, Mr. Burns.

Anonymous said...

> I'd say that's too high since a typical "capital campaign" is at most $1 or $2 billion. If Harvard could sell spots for $10 million there'd be no need for a capital campaign.

I believe you are assuming that they can sell all of the spots. They certainly can't do that, so the supply is very small and the price high.

Here we are talking about them selling spots. I'm guessing it's probably true, more likely than not. But, since it's probably fairly few spots, few people are going to care too much and probably nothing will happen. But if they sold all the spots, or half of them, there would be a giant furor about it and they would be toast.

Harry Baldwin said...

Anonymous said... I haven't been reading too much about the Stephanie Grace fiasco (but could people please post more pictures of her? she's smart, politically incorrect, and HOT!)

Can we get her to run for president instead of Sarah Palin? I was listening to Fox News today when they suddenly cut from an Obama speech to one by Sarah Palin. At first I thought some hysterical female heckler was screeching at him from the audience. Can't she do something about her speaking voice? It's like fingernails on a chalkboard.

If she's it, we're doomed.

Anonymous said...

For many undergraduate alumni, the benefit associated with attending Harvard really is largely about getting to hang out with the people you get to hang out with there for four years--not only during your four years as a student, but for the rest of your life. Not only do you get to hang out with the people you actually spent time with as an undergraduate, but as the post-collegiate years drag on you also get to hang out with their friends, friends-of-friends et al., ad infinitum. So I do understand the lure of paying for the privilege, even though I'm not sure the opportunity exists in the stark terms outlined here.

Regarding the assortative mating business: I don't know whether or not anyone actually thinks about that in weighing the Harvard option, but it is a real phenomenon. I should know, having graduated from Harvard College and married not one but two alumnae: bad move in the first instance, great one in the second. Why did those two marriages happen? I met both through people I knew as an undergraduate.

Anonymous said...

High IQ correlates somewhat with intellectual paranoia. That is the leadership conundrum.

Stupid people use chainsaws, ladders and crosswalks without a thought toward the risks. While intelligent people are more aware of the risks of their own behaviors, and hyper intelligent people frequently exhibit paranoia about everyday issues like germs on a door knob.

I don't think it's a coincidence that Japan was the first society to become totally paranoid about germs.

Anyway I am thankful that throughout America's history the Ivy League grads have been counter-balanced by people from outside that sphere. The Ivy League if left to its own devices would have destroyed this country a long time ago.

We want intelligent leadership for society but we don't want paranoids installing supercomputer biochips, bodyscanners and surveillance cameras everywhere.

The Ivy League Commissars are behind most of this modern police state push in America.

Truth said...

"So a century ago Harvard was about 95% WASP but today it's less than 10% WASP and only 15% Northern European white gentile at the most. Legacy preferences in action!"

When I read your stat, tree branch, I noticed a strange smell coming out of my Imac, I checked the wires, behind my desk and everywhere, and I just could not discern the source of the foul odor. A little more investigation however led me to believe that it is probably because you pulled it out of your ass.

Alticor said...

If Harvard is pulling half a billion dollars per year in contributions that way it should have its tax-exempt status revoked and be forced to pay corporate income taxes like GE

That's the problem-GE doesn't pay taxes. A huge conglomerate of disparate businesses, it always loses enough somewhere that the whole entity pays little tax.

Plus, most of its products suck and/or cost stupendous amounts of money.

GE should be broken up into many small pieces.

Whiskey said...

Obama went to Columbia. Which is not cheap. Who paid for his tuition? His grades by his own admission at Occidental were not good.

Regardless, a couple of things about Harvard. First, it is a place that "retains value" by virtue of exclusivity and power of its alumni. If Harvard let in anyone, and those "anyones" became merely middle level managers, instead of say Masters of the Universe in Politics, Wall Street, Media, and such, what would be its value?

Thus Harvard bets on future Masters of the Universe. It is telling that WB drama "Gilmore Girls" had the "fairy princess" character want to go to Harvard and "settle" for Yale. Tina Fey of course went to UVA. All the top schools operate on the same principle of only admitting future movers and shakers as much as possible -- hence the derision of Sarah Palin who went to Univ. of Idaho. Harvard and other top school alumns like to think of themselves as smarter. Rather than the truth of being more connected.

The few Harvard folks I knew were Hispanic. The mayor of Baldwin Park, a few others. Fairly hard-left politicos. Viva La Raza and all that. Which suits Harvard just fine, the whole point of Harvard is to be anti-populist, to exclude Joe Average. Even or particularly smart Joe Averages. Harvard really is the school the powerful and connected go to on the East Coast. Stanford its West Coast counterpart.

That being said, how long can Harvard continue? It has a lot of money. An exclusive social network. No opportunity for bright kids from the White middle/working class to attend. It is the school for ambitious young Black/Hispanic kids who want to be racial/ethnic politics movers and shakers, and the rich hereditary and new arrival elites.

It, and its big funds, and networks, are perfect targets. For Populist pols who promise to "democratize" private schools the way Obama promises to do so for Wall Street (which amounts to more connected goodies for the powerful). Nevertheless a real populist could and would pick a fight with Harvard (and other schools like it) because its so juicy. Like the Bank of the United States, so wealthy and privileged, what if Harvard were simply taken over, as "too big to fail" and made to admit EVERYONE, in massive expansion? Or simply shut down and its funds and buildings given to state Universities? Either would destroy the social network, the future exclusivity, which Harvard depends on.

asfadfadsfa said...

"Sure. So a century ago Harvard was about 95% WASP but today it's less than 10% WASP and only 15% Northern European white gentile at the most. Legacy preferences in action!"

Numbers soon to rise this november with the arrival of undocumented students and admission amnesty.

Anonymous said...

> Regarding the assortative mating business: I don't know whether or not anyone actually thinks about that in weighing the Harvard option, but it is a real phenomenon.

Good point. We should be taking more care to explicitly separate what we think drives people, from what benefits we think they actually receive. Else we will argue in circles.

Anonymous said...

I just feel like an offtopic fisking of the fellow who said $10 mil would yield 100K per year guaranteeing a comfortable, if not moderatly luxurious, lifestyle. It is obvious that you never had such an income.

Yes but, realistically, $10 million will generally yield far more than 100k a year. 200-300k is an easy assumption, and since $10 million is wealth, not income, you're paying taxes only on the increase - an increase calculated as a capital gain (max rate: 15%), not as regular income, so the top rate is significantly lower and not subject to payroll tax, either.

And I guess really all of your assumptions depend on how you define a comfortable lifestyle and, especially, where you plan on living it. In most of flyover country $250k a year (before taxes) is nirvana.

stari_momak said...

Let's try this is a no-names, impersonal way, as a question. That is, is Steve spiking comments out of gallantry? Good on him in that case, and I can't believe its anything else. So...

Could having a name like, I dunno, Rachel Silverman actually improve your admissions chances? This would be the opposite, of course, of the bad old days when the evil WASPS tried to maintain control of institutions they built? I mean, I know all about the 107-113 IQ for Ashkenazi Jews, but does that really work out to 2% of the population getting 1/3 of Harvard admissions?

Richard Hoste said...

Women who choose nursing do it because they're feminine nurturers, so wanting kids is likely. And make no mistake about it. She CHOSE nursing, because it, especially at the BSN level, is a cognitively challenging occupation. These women likely COULD have gotten into a top-tier school but wanted NOTHING to do with the wymmyn.

One of the last nurses I had was a dumb black woman getting yelled at by her Hindu doctor, so I figured the profession isn't that difficult. I don't know what the "BSN level" means, but what evidence do you have that it takes the brainpower of getting into an Ivy LEague college?

Anonymous said...

Apropos to this discussion, from Steve Hsu (a Caltech grad who was later a Harvard Fellow and Yale professor of physics):

How Harvard admissions evolved:
http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2009/11/defining-merit.html

A nice analysis of the elite:
http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2009/08/creators-and-rulers.html

Anonymous said...

Bottom line, if you send your children to an ultra high IQ university chances are good they will be hanging out with ultra high IQ people for most of their young adulthood.

There is a real correlation between the place you send your kids and the IQ of your grandchildren. Simple as that.

The most important thing you do as a parent is influence who your children marry. Donald Trump and Bill Clinton both went out of their way to make sure their daughters married in to high IQ families in order to get high IQ grandchildren

James Kabala said...

Anonymous who believes Harvard is dying:

Maybe it is, but I think you exaggerate the impact of the Internet (or rather exaggerate the difficulty of obtaining knowledge before the Internet). A would-be autodidact who lived near a good public library could easily have obtained knowledge of the English Civil War just as good (or likely better) as what Wikipedia now provides.

Anonymous said...

Stari Momak, Jews have to compete with whites at 1450 SAT instead of Chinese and Indians at 1600 SAT

Jews compete against lower IQ whites than higher IQ asians

It is non-PC to say too many jews, whereas it is ok to say too many asians

If jews had to compete against Indians and Chinese, the jewish % would drop to about 15%

Anonymous said...

Current Harvard student here:

1) The ethnic breakdown Twig Tree Branch provided is more or less accurate. There really aren't very many Anglo students here - and the ones who end up attending are generally elite-sports recruits (lacrosse, squash, tennis, etc) from wealthy families who attended private schools. They tend to be Government majors, earn middling grades, and end up working somewhere in the financial-industrial complex.

2) Most blacks here are the sons & daughters of African/Caribbean immigrants. Not very many bona fide descendants of slaves.

3) The Z-list isn't just used for wealthy/connected students - its used primarily as a way to game the US News rankings to boost Harvard's yield (the percentage of students accepted to Harvard that decide to enroll). Z-listers aren't counted as "admittances" in the following year's statistics (when they enroll), but they count as enrolled students - resulting in the yield boost.

4) Undergraduate life here, if you are a white or Asian male from a non-elite background, is pretty terrible. You're locked out of much of the social life on campus (Final Clubs are essentially restricted to wealthy whites, Jews, and token blacks), most of the lucrative job opportunities (the wealthy/connected whites & Jews, and then the affirmative-action receiving blacks/hispanics come in line before you for jobs at investment banks), and you generally don't possess the experiences necessary to fit in socially (significant foreign travel, etc.)

Steve Sailer said...

I have now been told, fourth hand, of somebody who is said to have paid exactly $5 million to get his kid off the waiting list and into Harvard.

So, if that isn't proof, I don't know what is.

Steve Sailer said...

Also, I suspect that if you try to get somebody at Harvard to meet you in a parking garage at midnight to accept a suitcase with $5 million in cash in it, that probably won't help your kid get into Harvard.

Presumably, there are "appropriate" ways to go about this transaction, and if you can't find out or figure out what they are, then, they don't want your kid.

Richard Hoste said...

Many of you all exaggerate how unfair life is. The 25th percentile at Harvard is the 98th percentile of the SAT, including NAMs, athletes, legacies, etc. This means that at least 75 percent of Harvard students and probably more are Mensa quality.

Anonymous said...

Steve, let's bring this discussion back to things that are relevant for those of us that live in your neighborhood. How much do I have to donate to get my kid in to Harvard Westlake? How much for the Brentwood school? What are their numbers?

Steve Sailer said...

They're definitely out of my league, so I wouldn't know.

I once had dinner with a fellow who is on the Harvard-Westlake board of directors. He mostly told anecdotes about his fellow board member, Charlie Munger (the brains of the Warren Buffett operation).

hadley said...

Speaking of assortative mating at Harvard, I can't help but recall that ultra-arch-fundamentalist (haredi) Jewish great-granny in Israel who celebrated something like her 90th birthday a few months ago. She had over 1100 descendants. The fundamentalist Jews keep their women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen, squirting out 8-10 sprogs each, living off of welfare scams (the sterile JAP taxpaying secular Jews just hate 'em in Israel!) and political influence wherever possible.

God love 'em! The greedy Milkens and Bernankes and Greenspans marry spoiled JAPs who have the obligatory one, maybe two sprogs, spend beaucoup bucks training them to act like rich Episcopalians with the horsey Harvard set, and then die out through mongrelization with the goyim in a few generations (aka "the Second Holocaust" to the Jews).

And here is this elderly Jewish lady, devout, race loyal, with more descendants IN HER LIFETIME than those pasty-faced Jewish Harvard boys will see in 200-300 years.

Now for you secular neo-Christians (as Rabbi Tendler calls you) tell me, who is the winner in the Jewish Evolutionary Sweepstakes? Who is the winner in G-d's eyes? Mr. Harvard Law Review? Or that old Jewish Granny?

Liberal Harvard Jews are going extinct for the same reason the Christians they have been aping for the last 100 years are going extinct: their women won't breed. And no amount of PhDs will solve that problem.

catperson said...

"This means that at least 75 percent of Harvard students and probably more are Mensa quality."

That's if you use the SAT as a measure of intelligence, however as I explained before, SATs are a statistically biased measure of Harvard IQ because students are SELECTED based on SAT scores, which means that for many students, the SAT is likely the highest test score they ever took. When you sit Harvard students down to take a random IQ test (i.e. one that was not used to select them), the average IQ is about 130 (i.e. 50% score Mensa or beyond):

http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2003/10.23/01-creativity.html

Calvin said...

The most important thing you do as a parent is influence who your children marry. Donald Trump and Bill Clinton both went out of their way to make sure their daughters married in to high IQ families in order to get high IQ grandchildren

I don't know why you described them as "high IQ families" when "criminal" or "fraudster" or "morally suspect" or "morally deficient" families would've sufficed.

Chelsea Clinton's fiance, Marc Mezvinsky, is the son of Edward Mezvinsky, a former Congressman. From Wikipedia: "Mezvinsky was also involved in a series of business transactions that ultimately became his downfall. Prosecutors later would call him a one-man crime wave. In 2000, after examining his business deals since 1980, prosecutors said that they uncovered elements of fraud in nearly every one. In March 2001, Mezvinsky was indicted and later pleaded guilty to 31 of 69 charges of bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Nearly $10 million was involved in the crimes."

Ivanka Trump married Jared Kushner, the son of Charles Kushner, who according to Wikipedia "was convicted of witness tampering, tax evasion and making illegal campaign contributions and was sentenced to two years in prison."

Truth said...

"Many of you all exaggerate how unfair life is..."

Richard, is that you, or did somebody jack your login?

Anonymous said...

I don't know why you described them as "high IQ families" when "criminal" or "fraudster" or "morally suspect" or "morally deficient" families would've sufficed.

John "Silky Pony" Edwards's baby mama's father, James Druck, was the real-life inspiration for Season 4, Episode 9 of The Sopranos, which left us with this immortal image.

Richard Hoste said...

That's if you use the SAT as a measure of intelligence, however as I explained before, SATs are a statistically biased measure of Harvard IQ because students are SELECTED based on SAT scores, which means that for many students, the SAT is likely the highest test score they ever took. When you sit Harvard students down to take a random IQ test (i.e. one that was not used to select them), the average IQ is about 130 (i.e. 50% score Mensa or beyond):

I understand all that, but it doesn't change the general point. If the average IQ is Harvard is 130, the 98th percentile of the population, and that includes NAMs, legacies, athletes, etc., things are overall pretty meritocratic and not designed to hold smart Joes back, as Whiskey believes.

Anonymous said...

"Do you want smart grandchildren?

If so, it is a no brainer to get your sons in to a school where they will be socializing with high iq females"

Do you want granchildren at all? If so, its a no-brainer to get your son in to a school where he will not be socializing with high IQ females.

Anonymous said...

He mostly told anecdotes about his fellow board member, Charlie Munger (the brains of the Warren Buffett operation).

Are you seriously inferring that Buffett is not the brains?

Buffett built Berkshire into a behemoth long before he took Munger on board.

Percival said...

I mean, I know all about the 107-113 IQ for Ashkenazi Jews, but does that really work out to 2% of the population getting 1/3 of Harvard admissions?

Of course it doesn't. Do the math. This issue has been discussed at this site and other places around the web.

The greatest taboo in our culture today is the aggressive Ingroup-Outgroup strategies of certain minorities. And the strategy is not pursued simply along racial or ethnic lines. Ingroups form around race, ethnicity, political bias, language, sexuality, gender, geography, nationality etc.

This stuff is never discussed even though the hiring (clustering) of ingroup members within an institution is basic human behavior.

Anyway Harvard Admissions Dept is screening for more than one type of red flag. They are obviously screening out non-liberals and boosting students with liberal credentials. Duh.

Question Time said...

Re harvard demography: the issue might be that many people consider all sorts of whites to be wasps when they definitely are not wasps. Whites of polish, russian, swedish, italian descent etc are not wasps. Whites of german descent are not "anglo" either.

"Harvard ... today less than 10% WASP and only 15% Northern European white gentile at the most."

Truth said... A little more investigation however led me to believe that it is probably because you pulled it out of your ass

I would like to here about your investigation Truth. What aspect of harvard student demography are you actually disputing?

The rough breakdowns are known though each of the categories has fuzzy edges.

30-35% asian
30-35% jewish
7-12% aa

That leaves ~20-30% white students. But white is a broad category which includes catholics and other caucasian non-protestants. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that white anglo saxon protestants aka wasps are currently a very small subset of the harvard student body. And we do understand from history that once upon a time wasps were nearly the entire student body.

So what is the argument?

rob said...

Could having a name like, I dunno, Rachel Silverman actually improve your admissions chances

Hey, wanna do an awesome sociology experiment! Remember the resumes with black names vs. white names and who got called? Do that to Ivy league schools with Jewish and Christian names.

I'd rather know who gives money to Harvard than to political campaigns. It's more important.

I suspect that Harvard is dying - a victim of the Internet. I don't know just how this will come about but it seems likely.

I don't see how it could. It isn't a company that can distribute it's assets to shareholders. They've got like a quadrillionplex dollars. Who'd get the money?

Anonymous said...

Every year, about 3 million kids or so graduate from high school. 12000 of these kids will have an IQ over 140. Probably a majority of these kids will apply to Harvard, and the majority of Harvard acceptances will come from this group -- 20% of Harvard undergrads are National Merit Scholars who usually have IQs higher than 140 so an average IQ of 130 suggests 20% of Harvard's student body have an IQ below 120 which seems kind of implausible given the highly self selecting applicant pool.

Unless -- the IQ distribution of Harvard students in bimodal. When you average the Diversity/Legacy lump with academically gifted lump you might get 130. (Shrug).

For instance, I could believe that in the physical sciences or math undergrad programs that the average IQ is 145. And many science and math majors do go on to HLS or the business school, subsequently finding their way into the financial, legal, and public sectors on their own merit.

On the other hand, the average IQ of students in ethnic studies, Folklore and Mythology, Psychology, Architecture, and General Studies is probably 115 or less. These are the Pinch Sulzberger and Michelle Robinson Obama types.

My impression is that the Harvard median IQ is more like 138.

crawfurdmuir said...

The importance of university education in general generally is exaggerated because employers can't rely on other criteria of ability to qualify candidates for employment. It is given even more than usual significance when choosing people to be groomed for top positions.

As a bank director, I see this in the criteria we use when hiring people. Typically, for example, a person applying for a teller's or clerk's position needs only a high school diploma, while to be considered for a lending officer's position, a bachelor's degree is required. Postgraduate degrees are strongly desired for vice-presidential level posts. Why? There is virtually nothing in the typical BA curriculum that prepares the holder of the degree to be a lending officer, and very little in the typical MBA's content that is realistic preparation for executive responsibility. The degree is not sought by the employer as an evidence of vocational training for the position, but rather as an assurance that the candidate has the native intelligence and drive that make him likely to succeed in it. Such requirements shut out many people who might do just as well or better. I have made this point to my board, but all they can seem to do is shake their heads and say, too bad for them.

It would make much more sense if we could administer an examination designed to sort for the traits and skills we wanted for each position offered, but it is very difficult to do that without running into trouble with anti-discrimination laws. One doesn't run into that trouble by using university degrees as hiring criteria. Because of this, young people who wish to make respectable livings are driven to acquire the needed credentials through a costly, time-consuming, and if truth be told, highly inefficient process - while the universities collect 'economic rents' in consequence of their rôles as gatekeepers to white-collar employment.

As for the rarefied expense of Harvard and a few other universities - it seems to me to be akin to the pricing of some other luxury goods. At the top margin, the marginal improvement in the quality of such products may be very small even though the marginal difference in price is great. Why, for example, is the price of a bottle of Château Lafite so much more than that of respectable and perfectly good second growths like Châteaux Rausan-Segla or Gruaud-Larose? And why is Petrus even more expensive than Lafite? I've drunk Petrus and Lafite, and while they are very good clarets, they are not that much better than those ranked just below them.

The explanation is that the prices are what the market will bear - and the market will bear high prices for goods in such limited supply, as long as there are even a few people willing to pay them. This is true no matter what the luxury article in question be - Harvard degree or Bordeaux grand cru.

I have known several Harvard graduates whose native intelligence seemed no greater to me than my own, and who enjoyed less success in business, less money, and less happiness in life than I have, even though I attended a small private university of distinctly second-tier status.

Blind tastings of wine often demonstrate that we are mistakenly disposed to expect great things of a bottle's contents because of the label pasted on its outside. It's unfortunate that there is nothing like a blind tasting to help us evaluate holders of university degrees.

Anonymous said...

"It's unfortunate that there is nothing like a blind tasting to help us evaluate holders of university degrees."

There is: speed-dating.

Anonymous said...

"Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that white anglo saxon protestants aka wasps are currently a very small subset of the harvard student body. And we do understand from history that once upon a time wasps were nearly the entire student body. "

Irony alert: While true WASPs now make up only a sliver of Harvard demographics, every minority grad adopts a bow tie or Channel suit along with a pair of horn rim glasses and affects a Brahman accent once released into the corporate or legal world. So while the prole immigrants and minorities want to babble in their mother tongue, the upwardly mobile affirmative action types assimilate to WASP norms.

B Lode said...

The importance of university education in general generally is exaggerated because employers can't rely on other criteria of ability to qualify candidates for employment.

Thank Nixon & Burger for that one. Note that IQ is quite heavily related to job performance - apparently it is just so heavily related to everything else that Burger & Co. apparently felt like they weren't cricket for hiring.

Luke Lea said...

Kylie said, "lots of money won't help you climb the social ladder if you are really low status. The latest Missouri Powerball winner just won about $250 million (about $124 million after taxes). He's a convenience store clerk with tattooes, no front teeth and a bleached blonde girlfriend who plans to pay off his bills and take the kids to Disney World."

Great premise for a Hollywood comedy. Who gets the copyright?

David said...

This post made me roar with laughter. Good one, Steve.

Luke Lea said...

If Harvard depends on tax-free donations, which are in effect subsidies by the tax-paying public, and what it recruits is essentially the pool from which tommorow's governing national elite is drawn, isn't there a case for legally forcing them to practice "affirmative action for all"? I mean a student body that reflects the cultural, ethnic, and geographical diversity of America (including rural/urban split)? How about a bill in Congress? Which committee controls the tax laws?

Anonymous said...

"The legacy thing is real. I can vouch as a recent Harvard grad who benefited from legacy status."

Well, I hope so but I'm prepping my daughter in elementary school for the SAT, anyway. You can do whatever you like.

adfafdadsf said...

"This means that at least 75 percent of Harvard students and probably more are Mensa quality."

That's if you use the SAT as a measure of intelligence, however as I explained before, SATs are a statistically biased measure of Harvard IQ because students are SELECTED based on SAT scores, which means that for many students, the SAT is likely the highest test score they ever took. When you sit Harvard students down to take a random IQ test (i.e. one that was not used to select them), the average IQ is about 130 (i.e. 50% score Mensa or beyond):

http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2003/10.23/01-creativity.html


Whichever figure happens to be true, they seem to be MENSALLY retarded.

Mosiah Templeworthy said...

And: "If I'm the kid, I'd rather dad just give me the $10 million so I could skip college all together and spend the rest of my life partying in high style."

Then either you wouldn't be planning to live very long or you don't quite know how quickly you can go through $10 million if you really are partying in high style. A decent house alone could easily cost that. Of course, if your idea of partying in high style consists of sleeping in at your trailer and then hitting the truck-stop parking lot to see what's up, then yes, $10 million would go quite a ways.


If you intend to earn ten million dollars, outside the sports or entertainment casino roulette wheel or dealing drugs, you are not going to be partying in high style, at least not for many years. You'll be working.

A better plan is to agree to pay for some foreign travel, at least one demanding skill acquisitiion (learning to fly at the ATP rating level, commercial diving school, etc.) process and then a decent education at a reasonable midwestern, southern or north-western (not Northwestern, that's Chicago-I mean in Washington State, Oregon or somewhere like that) school. That's a couple hundred grand maybe. Then if the kid starts a business, finance it-incrementally as he shows smarts, ambition and drive. Otherwise buy a company for him to run and hire someone to oversee him do it.

ATBOTL said...

"Hey, wanna do an awesome sociology experiment! Remember the resumes with black names vs. white names and who got called? Do that to Ivy league schools with Jewish and Christian names."

Don't forget to do that for jobs in Hollywood and Wall Street.

ben tillman willard ireson savage said...

I know all about the 107-113 IQ for Ashkenazi Jews, but does that really work out to 2% of the population getting 1/3 of Harvard admissions?

I have the 1927 "Harvard Freshman Red Book" in my lap right now, and Jews already constituted 15-20% of the freshman class at that time, before ethnic nepotism was a possibility. The problem is not so much Jewish overrepresentation (if we judge by academic credentials) as it is White underrepresentation.

Whites' academic qualifications qualify them for 65% of the places at Harvard -- a proportion about equal to their percentage of the population. Because Whites are discriminated against in admissions and financial aid, all the affirmative action slots end up taking the places of Whites.

Crawfurdmuir said...

On the point of what income could be expected from an invested net worth of $10 million - anyone for whom this yields an annual revenue of $100K should not just talk to, but SCREAM at, his broker or trust officer.

$10 million, invested in a properly-laddered portfolio of BAA or better rated municipal bonds, should provide about $300K exempt from both federal and state income taxes. It may be difficult to find taxable investments that will yield an equivalent after-tax income in interest or dividends, but this may be compensated for by occasionally realizing capital gains, which are taxable at lower rates.

$300K in investment income net of tax may not put one on the same plane as a Goldman Sachs partner, but it will provide a modicum of domestic comfort, even in New York City.

On to the subject of education - it probably should be noted that if a parent should give his child $10 million, the current federal gift tax would amount to $3,150,000 (35% of $9 million - the first $1 million of the gift is exempt). There might also be a state gift tax depending upon where the giver lives. This considerably reduces the bang the giver gets for his bucks. On the other hand, if the parent gives his $10 million to Harvard, he gets a charitable deduction from his federal and state taxable income.

Furthermore, if the gift is given in appreciated securities, the giver's deduction is still for the current value even though the basis in it may be much smaller. Even in the present market, it is possible to have acquired any number of stocks 10 years ago at a small fraction of their present prices. If the $10 million in securities cost $2 million when they were bought, the economics of such a gift are much different than they might at first appear. The recipient university, being tax-exempt, invariably will sell the securities at once to realize the gains, so it really nets the whole $10 million for its portfolio managers to reinvest. Neither are they required to spend any percentage of their net worths on their stated charitable purposes - a point that distinguishes universities from some other types of tax exempt foundations. There is good reason why the endowments of institutions like Harvard or Yale are so large.

Finally, tuition and living expenses at university are not considered taxable gifts to one's wee bairns, whereas any gift over $13,000 annually either counts against the giver's $1 million lifetime exemption or is subject to gift tax.

The preference for supposedly 'charitable' gifts to universities, and for parents to pay exorbitant tuition for their children, is as much the product of the tax code's distortion of the economy as the real estate bubble was. I wonder what might be done to prick the education bubble.

Anonymous said...

"Not only do you get to hang out with the people you actually spent time with as an undergraduate, but as the post-collegiate years drag on you also get to hang out with their friends, friends-of-friends et al., ad infinitum. "

Ah, yes. All those sparkling cash bar mixers at some Harvard Club event where you get to meet people like the drunken has-been poet with long white hair growing out of his nose, droning on about his latest internet novel; the venture capitalist who is investing in really dumb green technology that only Al Gore would buy; the pathetic middle age divorcee with the large bosom spilling out of her cocktail dress trying to make time with you because you didn't bring your wife; the earnest bank manager with halitosis trying to explain what life is all about; or the intense software engineer who turns into a frothing at the mouth anti-Semite when you tell him maybe Jordan really is Palestinian homeland.

Thrilling.

I usually have more fun at the local bowling alley during happy hour.

Richard Hoste said...

or the intense software engineer who turns into a frothing at the mouth anti-Semite when you tell him maybe Jordan really is Palestinian homeland.

Lol, yeah, that's what software engineers at Harvard are into.

David said...

>I don't know why you described them as "high IQ families" when "criminal" or "fraudster" or "morally suspect" or "morally deficient" families would've sufficed.<

The Schiffs had no hand in helping to fund the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution (which led to the destruction of millions of lives). Al Gore's daughter joined the dynasty about 12 years ago in an unrelated love match.

"Perhaps the most high-profile reception at a Washington residence—albeit an official one—was Karenna Gore's wedding [...]. She wed Andrew Schiff, a doctor, at the National Cathedral, then danced the night away with 300 guests at the Vice President's residence.

"Guests included President Clinton—who missed the ceremony but arrived at the reception by helicopter—Yo-Yo Ma, Aretha Franklin, and Vera Wang, who designed Karenna's satin gown.

"The Gores raised a tent by the pool for cocktails—candles floated in the water—and another in the sprawling yard. White ribbons and lights were woven into the tent's ceiling. Celebrity photographer Denis Reggie, who shot John Kennedy Jr.'s wedding, documented the evening.

"Aretha Franklin sang 'I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You' for the couple's first dance. Then Grammy-winning fiddler Mark O'Connor played 'The Tennessee Waltz' while the bride danced with her father.

"As the band started to play and everyone migrated toward the dinner tent, it gave you the feeling that you were in The Great Gatsby,' says planner Linda Garner of Rockville’s Gala Events."

http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/weddingguide/6689.html

David said...

>the drunken has-been poet with long white hair growing out of his nose, droning on about his latest internet novel; the venture capitalist who is investing in really dumb green technology that only Al Gore would buy; the pathetic middle age divorcee with the large bosom spilling out of her cocktail dress trying to make time with you because you didn't bring your wife; the earnest bank manager with halitosis trying to explain what life is all about; or the intense software engineer who turns into a frothing at the mouth anti-Semite when you tell him maybe Jordan really is Palestinian homeland<

Don't conflate the denizens of your local community college and the brilliant and vital graduates of Harvard University, sir!

Anonymous said...

"The most important thing you do as a parent is influence who your children marry. Donald Trump and Bill Clinton both went out of their way to make sure their daughters married in to high IQ families in order to get high IQ grandchildren"

What about regression to the mean that I hear about? If you had 2 people with a 130 IQ, isn't it likely the kid may have only a 105 or 110?

Anonymous said...

"When there is an IQ blood test, industry will be in a better position to hire talented people, the racial debate will get more rational, and Harvard will be obsolete."

Business wants society to pay for their workers. Business saves a lot of money this way. Why pay to train engineers and scientists,accountants when you can make them pay for it themselves? GM or GE could hire high school graduates with top 1% SAT's and grade point averages and train them, but they don't.

Ronduck said...

GM or GE could hire high school graduates with top 1% SAT's and grade point averages and train them, but they don't.

GM used to have its own proprietary engineering college known as General Motors Institute. GMI at one time provided a large percentage of GM's engineers, but now it has been spun off and operates under the name Sloan-Kettering University.

Businesses don't want to invest tens of thousands of dollars in a person only to have that person walk away once their free education is over.