September 22, 2016

The Rich do not need genetic enhancement for unfair advantages

Embryonic gene editing holds the promise of dramatically enhancing people by making them healthier and more resistant to disease throughout their lives. It also has the potential to make them much smarter, stronger and faster.

Despite these possible benefits, Americans are wary of editing embryos, even if the focus is on using the technology solely to reduce their children’s risk of serious disease, according to a Pew Research Center survey about the broader field of “human enhancement.”

The poll shows a divided public, with half (50%) saying they would not want to use gene editing to lower their own baby’s chances of developing a major ailment and roughly the same share (48%) saying they would use the new technology in this context.



Will technology leave the poor further behind while the rich become immortal superhumans, focus group participants wondered.

“I just started to think about ‘I, Robot’ and those type of movies where you have people out of control just because they [have] all these superpowers all of a sudden,” a 38-year-old black man in Baltimore told Pew.

There was a Washington Post article Poor kids who do everything right do not do better than rich kids who do everything wrong

Inequality starts in the crib. Rich parents can afford to spend more time and money on their kids, and that gap has only grown the past few decades. Indeed, economists Greg Duncan and Richard Murnane calculate that, between 1972 and 2006, high-income parents increased their spending on "enrichment activities" for their children by 151 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, compared to 57 percent for low-income parents.


The most ambitious study of educational inequality to date, Whither Opportunity? analyzes how social and economic conditions surrounding schools affect school performance and children’s educational achievement. The book shows that from earliest childhood, parental investments in children’s learning affect reading, math, and other attainments later in life. Contributor Meredith Phillip finds that between birth and age six, wealthier children will have spent as many as 1,300 more hours than poor children on child enrichment activities such as music lessons, travel, and summer camp. Greg Duncan, George Farkas, and Katherine Magnuson demonstrate that a child from a poor family is two to four times as likely as a child from an affluent family to have classmates with low skills and behavior problems – attributes which have a negative effect on the learning of their fellow students. As a result of such disparities, contributor Sean Reardon finds that the gap between rich and poor children’s math and reading achievement scores is now much larger than it was fifty years ago

Even poor kids who do everything right don't do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong. Advantages and disadvantages, in other words, tend to perpetuate themselves. A paper from Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill, presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's annual conference explains the research.



Rich kids who can go work for the family business — and, in Canada at least, 70 percent of the sons of the top 1 percent do just that — or inherit the family estate don't need a high school diploma to get ahead. It's an extreme example of what economists call "opportunity hoarding." That includes everything from legacy college admissions to unpaid internships that let affluent parents rig the game a little more in their children's favor.

Qualified Investors

One of the most cited reasons why the rich get richer are all the tax loopholes, and these, indeed, help millionaires and billionaires get richer. But one thing that isn’t talked about a lot is “accredited investor” status.

To be an accredited investor, according to the SEC, must be either a corporation or
  • a natural person who has individual net worth, or joint net worth with the person’s spouse, that exceeds $1 million at the time of the purchase, excluding the value of the primary residence of such person
  • a natural person with income exceeding $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or joint income with a spouse exceeding $300,000 for those years and a reasonable expectation of the same income level in the current year
In other words, accredited investors are the 1%. If you’re not already in the 1%, this rule makes it harder to get there.

Hedge funds, private partnerships that bet both on and against various investments, manage more money than ever, and interest in them remains strong. Over the past 15 years, their returns have beaten the overall stock market, helping drive the boom


Being able to avoid debt and actually having money to invest

The rich are also able to avoid debt and have money to invest. It is wealth escape velocity. Until you have more passive cashflow to pay your expenses then it is like fighting gravity to get into orbit or beyond.

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