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Dr. Thomas Sowell on Fairness (Plus: First-Born Kids are Smarter)

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: A piece by great and genius Thomas Sowell: "Fallacies About What's Fair." This appeared this past Tuesday at TownHall.com. "If there is ever a contest to pick which word has done the most damage to people's thinking, and to actions to carry out that thinking, my nomination would be the word 'fair.' It is a word thrown around by far more people than have ever bothered to even try to define it. This mushy vagueness may be a big handicap in logic but it is a big advantage in politics. All sorts of people, with very different notions about what is or is not fair, can be mobilized behind this nice-sounding word, in utter disregard of the fact that they mean very different things when they use that word.

"Some years ago, for example, there was a big outcry that various mental tests used for college admissions or for employment were biased and 'unfair' to many individuals or groups. Fortunately there was one voice of sanity -- David Riesman, I believe -- who said: 'The tests are not unfair. LIFE is unfair and the tests measure the results.' If by 'fair' you mean everyone having the same odds for achieving success, then life has never been anywhere close to being fair, anywhere or at any time," and, by the way, this word "fair," he's exactly right about this. We have commented on this before. This word "fair" and the concept of "fairness" is the primary foundational building block used by the left to coerce people into supporting their policies. "It's only fair," or, "It's unfair and we've gotta level the playing field" and blah, blah, blah. It suckers people in because who's against "fairness"? It's like who's against clean water? Who's against clean air? Nobody! Same thing here: Who's against fairness?

"[L]ife has never been anywhere close to being fair, anywhere or at any time, and if you stop and think about it (however old-fashioned that may seem), it is hard even to conceive of how life could possibly be fair in that sense. Even within the same family," and listen to this, folks. My family proves this. "Even within the same family, among children born to the same parents and raised under the same roof, the firstborns on average have higher IQs than their brothers and sisters, and usually achieve more in life." (interruption) You doubt Dr. Sowell, Snerdley? This is research! See, this is the whole point: You can't accept it 'cause it doesn't sound fair. It doesn't sound logical to you. (interruption) Well, I was tweaking David but it's... (laughing) I was tweaking my brother, but read it to you again without my editorial comment that it's even proven in my family. Ahem.

"Even..." (laughing) "Even within the same family, among children..." Stop and think about this, folks. Get my family out of this. Many of you people are firstborn and this will give you the permission to admit that you know you're smarter or maybe your brothers and sisters are dumber than you are, and you've noticed it but you don't want to mention it because it's just not fair. "Even within the same family, among children born to the same parents and raised under the same roof, the firstborns on average have higher IQs than their brothers and sisters, and usually achieve more in life. Unfairness is often blamed on somebody, even if only on 'society.' But whose fault is it if you were not the firstborn? Since some groups have more children than others, a higher percentage of the next generation will be firstborns in groups that have smaller families, so such groups have an advantage over other groups.

"Despite all the sound and fury generated in controversies over whether different groups have different genetic potential, even if they all have identical genetic potential the outcomes can still differ if they have different birth rates," and this doesn't even account for ambition, desire, and all the other. "Twins have average IQs several points lower than children born singly. Whether that is due to having to share resources in the womb or having to share parents' attention after birth, the fact is what it is -- and, it certainly is not fair. Many people fail to see the fundamental difference between saying that a particular thing -- whether a mental test or an institution -- is conveying a difference that already exists or is creating a difference that would not exist otherwise. Creating a difference that would not exist otherwise is discrimination, and something can be done about that. But, in recent times, virtually any disparity in outcomes is almost automatically blamed on discrimination, despite the incredible range of other reasons for disparities between individuals and groups.

"Nature's discrimination completely dwarfs man's discrimination. Geography alone makes equal chances virtually impossible." Geography! "The geographic advantages of Western Europe over Eastern Europe -- in climate and navigable waterways, among other things -- have led to centuries of differences in income levels that were greater than income differences between blacks and whites in America today. Just the fact that the lay of the land is different in different parts of Europe meant that it was easier for the Roman legions to invade Western Europe. This meant that Western Europeans had the advantages of the most advanced civilization in Europe at that time." The Romans. "Moreover, because Roman letters were used in Western Europe, the languages of that region had written versions centuries before the Slavic languages of Eastern Europe did."

What's fair about that? "The difference between literacy and illiteracy is a huge difference, and it remained huge for centuries. Was it the Slavs' fault that the Romans did not want to climb over so many mountains to get to them" and conquer them? The Romans said to hell with the Slavs; we don't want to go to the trouble of getting there. They went the easy route. They took to Western Europe, conquered them, and, voila! Written language and advanced civilization hits Western Europe long before Eastern Europe. "To those living in Western Europe in the days of the Roman Empire, the idea of being conquered, and many slaughtered, by the Romans probably had no great appeal." I wouldn't want to be conquered and slaughtered. "But their descendants would benefit from their bad luck. And that doesn't seem fair either." The point is, folks, there's no such thing as fairness. It is impossible. It's just like... The whole concept of "equality" is much the same thing. It's not humanly possible. No two people are equal. Not even twins! There are differences, as we have noted in their IQs. You can have equality before the law, you can have equality of opportunity, but you cannot have equality of outcome. You cannot have equality of result based on "fairness" or anything else. Yet this is the primary impetus the left uses to solicit support for their agenda. Don't fall for it anymore. You've been warned.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Someday... Someday! I'm patient. It's been 20-1/2 years behind the Golden EIB Microphone, yet someday, you are going to learn not to doubt me. I checked the e-mail during the break. "Come on, Rush! You didn't even cite any proof for this stupid survey that says the firstborn are smarter than everybody. You can't prove that. Just because Sowell says it, you believe it? You didn't cite anything. It's silly." All right. All right, all right, all right. You know, it's a good thing -- it's a good thing -- that I love myself. It's a good thing I have a lot of confidence, otherwise you people would have beat me down 18 years ago. June 22nd, 2007, from CBS News: "Birth order may modestly affect IQ scores, favoring firstborn children, according to a new study. The study, published in the journal Science, shows about a two-point gap in average IQ scores among firstborn men and men with living older siblings.

"The study included nearly 244,000 teenage men in Norway," and this is just one of them. (interruption) The cite for it is the journal Science, which I will admit has also bought along publishing a bunch of gunk on global warming. I'll admit that, but I think this is something that our audience can prove it to themselves. (interruption) Logically? You can't say it's logically possible. That's the point, Snerdley: Logic and science don't go hand in hand. Science says it's possible. Research, not logic. If you want to apply this test to your own family, try it. Are you not the firstborn? Is that what this is all about? (interruption) You're the second born. A-ha! (laughing) We need a president, by the way, folks, Obama's failing us in so many ways.

Climate fairness. You know, really, is it fair, all the snow happened on the East Coast twice? We need somebody to redistribute the snow over a wider area so there will be less snowfall, aggregate total. Hell, Safeway trucks are just now getting back into gear in Maryland to restock the grocery stores there. What's fair about that? That's not fair, especially since this is where Obama lives. What we need is a president who would press for redistribution of temperatures. That's the only fair thing to do. I didn't choose the climate I live in. Why should I have to sit here and put up with it? It was forced on me, forced on me! One might say that the people in Hawaii, for an example, have an unnatural, unjust advantage because their climate's better than mine. It's pretty all the time. Can you imagine? Where would you rather be: Yugoslavia, Serbia, or Hawaii? What's fair about that?

RUSH: To the phones. It's Open Line Friday. This is Melanie in Toledo, Ohio. Hi, Melanie, welcome to the EIB Network. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Rush. It's great to talk to you today.

RUSH: Thank you very much.

CALLER: In the past you've always talked about when you were young how you always wanted to be older because you knew your life would get better the older you got.

RUSH: That's true.

CALLER: Well, my question for you is: Have you (or do you ever think that you will) reach a point where you can say to yourself, "I have everything I've ever dreamed of and more; life cannot possibly get any better than this"?

RUSH: I don't look at it that way. I would never say, "Well, this is maxed out. To hell with it, and I'm going to go check in and have the doctors turn off life support -- or put on life support so they can turn it off." You're very right. When I was 10, I wanted to be 16 and drive. When I was 16, I wanted to be 21. When I was 21, I wanted to be 30. When I was 34 and scrounging together enough of a down payment to buy my first little shack that was called a house, the guy who sold it to me said, "Don't sweat it. Nobody's going to let you make any money 'til you're 40. That's just the way it works in this country." Now, that's not so much true any more, because, you know, a lot of bright guys on the Internet have changed all that. But it did used to be that way. The way to express it now is that I still look forward to each new day, because each new day is better than the day before. Every day presents -- if you look for it and if you're open to it -- new opportunities. Whether you want to access them or not, they're still there. So no. I haven't gotten to the point yet where, "Gee, I wish I was younger."

CALLER: (giggles)

RUSH: I might. I'll let you know when it happens, but it hasn't happened yet.

CALLER: Well, that's what everybody loves about you is your optimistic outlook.

RUSH: Well, I'd be foolish not to be one. I mean, look. My life is blessed. My parents wouldn't understand my life. They would not believe it. My father would not believe it's possible, primarily because I didn't go to college. But even beyond that, he thought that you had to inherit money in order to have that kind of success. That's just their experience. They grew up in the Great Depression, and World War I and World War II. Thanks for calling, Melanie.

END TRANSCRIPT

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