On average, children whose parents make more than $200,000 a year score about 250 points higher on the SAT than children whose parents make $40,000 to $60,000. Only about one in 200 children from the poorest third of households achieves SAT scores at Yale’s median.
It's almost like there's a big genetic component to intelligence, and intelligent people earn more money.
Hardworking outsiders no longer enjoy genuine opportunity [to join the top 5%].
WTF does this even mean? In his next sentence, he says that 3% of the middle/lower class will join the top 5%. Implying that 3% of the top 5% drops out of it. If there is 60% turnover in the top 5% over some period of time, how can you say genuine opportunity doesn't exist? Am I missing something? But that aside, everyone has the same opportunities to save and invest their money, which he comes back to later:
But it is simply not possible to get rich off your own human capital without exploiting yourself and impoverishing your inner life, and meritocrats who hope to have their cake and eat it too deceive themselves. Building a society in which a good education and good jobs are available to a broader swath of people—so that reaching the very highest rungs of the ladder is simply less important—is the only way to ease the strains that now drive the elite to cling to their status.
I don't see anything disagreeable there. You can get rich quicker with a high-salary than not, of course, but most everyone has the opportunity to eventually become rich in America by saving and investing, if they really want to. Yea, those high paying jobs are probably going to be more difficult and demand more time, but you don't have
to do them. HIS recommendations just make no sense to me.
How can that be done? For one thing, education—whose benefits are concentrated in the extravagantly trained children of rich parents—must become open and inclusive. Private schools and universities should lose their tax-exempt status unless at least half of their students come from families in the bottom two-thirds of the income distribution. And public subsidies should encourage schools to meet this requirement by expanding enrollment.
We already have free, taxpayer funded schools. Community colleges are quite cheap. Punishing private schools and universities like he recommends sounds fucking retarded. Same with subsidizing schools. Too many people go to college as it is, and are weighed down by student loans afterwards. I'd say most jobs don't really require a bachelors degree in the first place, and people who don't want to work in a job where a degree is
required (ex. lawyers, doctors, engineers, researchers) and forego it are thereby escaping the meritocratic trap. He's recommending something contrary to his goal!
A parallel policy agenda must reform work, by favoring goods and services produced by workers who do not have elaborate training or fancy degrees. For example, the health-care system should emphasize public health, preventive care, and other measures that can be overseen primarily by nurse practitioners, rather than high-tech treatments that require specialist doctors. The legal system should deploy “legal technicians”—not all of whom would need to have a J.D.—to manage routine matters, such as real-estate transactions, simple wills, and even uncontested divorces. In finance, regulations that limit exotic financial engineering and favor small local and regional banks can shift jobs to mid-skilled workers. And management should embrace practices that distribute control beyond the C-suite, to empower everyone else in the firm.
Well, that mostly makes sense, and it seems to be where we're heading already. He frames it weirdly; "favoring goods and services produced by [lower skilled] workers" sounds like Marx's Labor Theory Of Value. I say it makes more sense to think of it as not paying a doctor a doctor's wage to do the work that a nurse could do for a nurse's wage. I can't remember where it was from, but I recently heard an interview with someone saying that McKinsey recruits mostly out of the Stanfords/Harvards/Yales because they can charge their clients more if a Yalie is the one stapling some random papers together or taking an office coffee order rather than someone from State U.
So thinking about it that way, his examples for medicine and law are obvious. But since he seems to be thinking along Marxist lines, he goes off the rails with his finance example. If finance people can create financial technologies that are highly valued by their customers, why would we want to regulate that away? It seems to me that if the federal government wasn't seen as standing by to bail them out, the finance industry would autoregulate itself (maybe with Glass-Stegal reinstated?). And the environment that favored small/regional banks was the one that led to people losing their wealth when those banks failed. To make the same line of argument he does for law and medicine, you'd say something like don't have a quant unlocking safe deposit boxes in the vault, let a teller do that. Like I said, we already DO favor goods/services produced by lower skilled people when we can.
His comment about management practices... is pretty vague. He could have something like Continuous Improvement cards in mind, or he could be thinking of aspects of Elizabeth Warren's platform
, some of which seem like a step towards Italian Fascism
(I'd need to do more research on that point).
Whereas aristocrats once considered themselves a leisure class, meritocrats work with unprecedented intensity.
I like this quote. It reminded me of Lacking Ambition posts saying something similar
that stuck with me:
I’ve realized my attitude towards work more closely resembles that of the British upper class of the Edwardian era than it does that of a modern American.
The idea that someone should desire or need a career or profession is distasteful to me. -Something to be done only out of necessity. Education ought to be pursued so that it can help you obtain an understanding of the world, not a job. And work is something to be suffered to your detriment, and does nothing to build your character except to make you better able to suffer through yet more work in the future.
My attitude towards work varies though depending on the motivation for it.
and this one:
The Greeks had a word for people who worked harder than anyone else: slaves.
There's this very disturbing set of studies where about half the articles printed in Science and Nature magazines, the two leading publications, involved experiments that could not be repeated by anybody.
- Peter Thiel