Monday, August 31, 2009

Meritocraty for the Ruling Class

More on class mobility in the US, from someone in the trenches. Precis: If you're born into the upper classes, 'meritocracy' means your parent's friends getting you really totally groovy jobs. Fer reals. Those of us that don't have prominent parents, it's obviously our own fault.

I remember back in the late '90s when Ira Katznelson, an eminent political scientist at Columbia, came to deliver a guest lecture to an economic philosophy class I was taking. It was a great lecture, made more so by the fact that the class was only about ten or twelve students and we got got ask all kinds of questions and got a lot of great, provocative answers. Anyhow, Prof. Katznelson described a lunch he had with Irving Kristol back either during the first Bush administration. The talk turned to William Kristol, then Dan Quayle's chief of staff, and how he got his start in politics. Irving recalled how he talked to his friend Harvey Mansfield at Harvard, who secured William a place there as both an undergrad and graduate student; how he talked to Pat Moynihan, then Nixon's domestic policy adviser, and got William an internship at The White House; how he talked to friends at the RNC and secured a job for William after he got his Harvard Ph.D.; and how he arranged with still more friends for William to teach at UPenn and the Kennedy School of Government. With that, Prof. Katznelson recalled, he then asked Irving what he thought of affirmative action. "I oppose it", Irving replied. "It subverts meritocracy."

I found this here, after being sent by Glenn Greenwalds's commenter macgupta, here.

You see? In America, land of the free and home of the brave, it's not about how hard you work or how smart you are, it's just about who your daddy was. But as a bonus, you then get to pretend that, yes, work and smarts matter. But we know the truth.

1 comment:

Allie said...

This just made me really sad.