Jesus And Hyper-Meritocracy

Ok, I think I have a problem. I read about a new book and I have to buy it and read it. In this morning’s paper there was a review of Tyler Cowen’s book “Average is Over.” I read the review and needed, not wanted, to read it. Maybe having a Kindle App is not such a good thing; to easy to buy a book. I did and now I am reading it. I am a sick man.

The first paragraph in part 1, Welcome to the Hyper-Meritocracy, describes Cowen’s work. “This book is far from all good news. Being young and having no job remains stubbornly common. Wages for young people fortunate enough to get a job have gone down. Inflation-adjusted wages for young high school graduates were 11% higher in 2000 than they were more than a decade later, and inflation-adjusted wages of young college graduates (four years only) have fallen by more than 5%. Unemployment rates for young college graduates have been running for years now in the neighborhood of 10% and underemployment rates near 20%. The sorry truth is that a lot of young people are facing diminished job opportunities, even several years after the formal end of the recession in 2009, when the economy began to once again expand after a historic contraction.”

Wow, talk about Debbie-downer! This book promises to be a very interesting read, but probably sobering. Cowen’s ultimate conclusion is very similar to Thomas Friedman’s premise in “That Used To Be Us.” Friedman explored the creation of two different types of work, creative-complex and mundane. A small elite part of our society will move into and participate in the benefits of an upper class standing, while many will move down the social scale into a mundane existence. This is similar to Cowen’s conclusion. America is dividing in half. “The 15% of higher achievers, the Tiger Mother kids if you like, whose self-motivation and mastery of technology will allow them to roar away into the future.” Then there is the rest who will accept their subservient role, “slouching into an underfunded future of lower economic expectations.”

Now as I read this though my eyes as a Christian what do I do with this? Do I accept it? Do I fall in line with the other lemmings and go over the cliff, or do I attempt to change this result. What does Jesus require of me? In Acts 4:33-37 Luke writes, “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was on them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the pieces of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostle’s feet : and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating we sell everything we own and give it all away. I don’t think this verse is saying that people who had things sold it all, but those that had did do something to help those that didn’t. I think that is the lesson here.

So, my point is this. If I don’t like the emerging dichotomy then I need to do something about it. When you fly someplace the flight attendants will provide safety training either in video or in person. They tell you how to buckle your seatbelt, and where the exits are. But they also tell you if you are traveling with children and you are required to put an oxygen mask on, place your own on first and then your child’s. I think this is an axiom that may apply here.

To deal with this emerging problem, we do not stop taking initiative by being innovative, and have everyone be paid the same. No we don’t do that. But what we do is stop and help others along the way by providing a path to social mobility. Give those that are going to be a part of this large group of underachievers the opportunity to learn technology and take responsibility for their future. This means we demonstrate the fact that we care about our neighbors who aren’t as fortunate as we have been.

Luke 12:48 states, “To whom much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” Living in a world where systems of opportunity have been skewed to the elite is not a nice place. We need to work to ensure that our systems of opportunity continue to support all who want to grow and improve.

And that is my thought for the day!


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