If an Internet argument endures long enough someone will be called Hitler and someone else will state that correlation is not causation! And while former may be literally true, the latter isn’t literally precise. In actuality, correlation is not necessarily causation. Often enough, it is. Well, I want to talk about an instance where it is not.
This was inspired by a recent article in the LA Times, which is still being published in English for some reason. There’s no need to quote any passages, as the point being made is that the retirement age for social security should not be raised as that would benefit the rich, who live longer.
That’s true, the rich do live longer than average. And NBA basketball players listen to more rap than average. Is that because they play basketball? Is rapping the legacy of Naismith?
In reality, that being what occurs outside LA Times opinion pieces, it is not the rich who enjoy the benefits of longevity, but the comparatively wise. Having low time preference, discipline, the ability to suppress harmful appetites, and a capacity for prudent risk analysis are actually what produce a long healthy life. These traits having the secondary effect of producing above average wealth accumulation. Thus, opines the simpleton, wealth means life.
Now obviously where wealth can purchase medical services unavailable to the poor, this correlation actually becomes causation. But saying that would require an examination of how many people die in America because they were denied key healthcare available to those able to pay for it. I don’t know the metrics on this subset, but suspect they are quite modest.
In many ways wealth serves as the blanket bete-noir for the liberal worldview. People whose group pathologies are most conspicuous suffer not the results of their own agency, but strictly from want. And white people are guilty of perpetually under-providing. But who provides for whites? Why privilege, naturally: the dark matter of social sciences.
I actually think that rappers and NBA performers provide useful group laboratories for the wealth effect on lifetime health and longevity. Do these cohorts live longer than average, with the benefit of fabulous earnings? Has anyone ever bothered to ask? I don’t know the answer, so maybe they do.
I also don’t know what life would be like in Liberia a decade later if every citizen there were handed a million dollars today. But I think it would look very much as it does right now…with a lot more rusted Bentleys.