Meritocracy And Altruism

I just got done watching the State of the Union and Marco Rubio’s response. In both cases it reminded me that words are not as important as action. Many good ideas from both sides, but now we need to figure out how to get it done. How do we encourage innovation and ability, in other words meritocracy, while providing a system fair enough that people can climb the ladder to middle class? I agree with Rubio when he emphasized that the ability to improve one’s lot in life is what has made this country great. However, the economic system is unfair, with people are locked in execrable situations.

In 1958 Michael Young wrote a book entitled “The Rise of Meritocracy.” He painted a picture of how a hierarchy of talent had replaced a class-based elite. Aristocracy had forfeited its privilege due to debauchery. The talented have become the elite in our modern society, while today’s Horatio Algiers has become more limited than ever before. “Clever children were syphoned into special schools and showered with resources. The demoralized talentless masses eventually revolted.” The Economist points out the world is starting to look like this, and the new talented leaders are the business-school educated elite that are becoming entrenched.

This elite has developed a skill for taking advantage of privilege. The Economist calls this a virtuous meritocracy, where the educated elite becomes entrenched while the untalented masses refuse to marry and have children out of wedlock, creating a generation of young that have no hope.  I believe in rewarding talent and hard work, but I also believe in providing opportunity for all.

The gap between those that can afford education and those that cannot is getting wider. The time is to stop talking about this and do something about it. Both President Obama and Senator Marco Rubio recognize that economic growth is the key to being able to afford what we need to do to maintain a system of social mobility.

The only problem with just focusing on economic growth and altruism is how misses the fact that this is an issue that needs to be dealt with as a system. The system encompasses spiritual, economic, political, and social dimensions. Each of these need to be attacked together by the church, business, and government. All three need to work together to provide opportunity without undermining innovation and incentive.

And that is my thought for the day!


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