Flight

I had an eye-opening conversation about yellow flight the other day. I bring it up because the main points of the conversation are echoed in Half Sigma prescription for lower materialism:

Half Sigma: Declining population part II: the relative nature of wealth
There may be a lot of educated white people who wouldn’t mind living in a cheap neighborhood if their neighbors were other educated white people with a similar mindset, but the reality is that living in a cheap neighborhood means living with uneducated minorities with anti-social behaviors.

The post also makes me think about gene therapy and gene counseling on the group-level. My previous posts have only emphasized that parents will have the freedom to select the next generation, and that prisoners may one day be cured of their anti-social traits through altering their DNA. However,, it’s also clear that such procedures create positive externalities — public goods — for those around the patients. A student who is brighter and more studious because of genetic counseling has a positive impact on his peers, who are likely to be brighter and more studious in turn. Likewise, a man who no longer is predisposed to crime will likely cause his neighborhood to be less criminal than it otherwise be!

The flipside is also true. Those who are dull and lazy, or those who are violent and criminal, hurt those around them. The importance of fixing broken windows to reduce crime has long been known. Cities will violate landowner’s property rights in order to create an environment that leads to greater economic success and less crime. If gene therapy and gene counseling continue to be legal, to what extent can be extent cities to violate the genetic autonomy of the individual in order to secure peace and economic success?

Our strange fixation on race (where the subject is continually interesting, but most “new dialogs” are actually awful) compounds the problem. If most people in need of such services belong to politically correct minorities, does this make government action less likely (because more such minorities will have their individual rights violated) or more likely (because those minority communities stand the most to gain by improving the population)?

The same questions can be asked on a larger scale, too. As the Responsibility to Protect gains teeth, under what circumstances is the international community entitled to engage on widespread genetic manipulation of a population? What if infecting the pygmie population with a certain retrovirus would raise their IQ 15 points? What if infecting certain Congolese populations with a retrovirus would make pygmie flesh taste awful?

We can ignore these questions, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be answered. The concepts of white flight and yellow flight speak to current examples of changing community equilibria. Our attempts to counteract white flight to the suburbs have backfired, badly. The rise of genetics merely expands these problems and opportunities to new dimensions.