View Full Version : A skewering of the 'Meritocracy'

George Jung
08-31-2009, 07:06 PM
Check out this piece from the NYTimes - lambasting the nepotism so notable these days. It starts with a review of Jenna Bushs' rapid ascent (it was all based on merit. Honest), then travels on to a whos' who among the connected.


They should convene a panel for the next “Meet the Press” with Jenna Bush Hager, Luke Russert, Liz Cheney, Megan McCain and Jonah Goldberg, and they should have Chris Wallace moderate it. They can all bash affirmative action and talk about how vitally important it is that the U.S. remain a Great Meritocracy because it’s really unfair for anything other than merit to determine position and employment. They can interview Lisa Murkowski, Evan Bayh, Jeb Bush, Bob Casey, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Dan Lipinksi, and Harold Ford, Jr. about personal responsibility and the virtues of self-sufficiency. Bill Kristol, Tucker Carlson and John Podhoretz can provide moving commentary on how America is so special because all that matters is merit, not who you know or where you come from. There’s a virtually endless list of politically well-placed guests equally qualified to talk on such matters. . . .

By contrast, Sonia Sotomayor — who grew up in a Puerto Rican family in Bronx housing projects; whose father had a third-grade education, did not speak English and died when she was 9; whose mother worked as a telephone operator and a nurse; and who then became valedictorian of her high school, summa cum laude at Princeton, a graduate of Yale Law School, and ultimately a Supreme Court Justice — is someone who had a whole litany of unfair advantages handed to her and is the poster child for un-American, merit-less advancement.

Nepotism is part of the problem; media corruption is also part; the total uselessness of the Democratic party and the nihilism of the Republicans doesn’t help. But something is rotten in America at this moment in time; and those of us who supported Obama to try and change this decay and decline should use this fall to get off our butts and fight for change.

The 'comments' section is pretty good, as well. I'll be interested in the responses (if any) - this isn't too partisan, so perhaps this will even be civil! ;)

Ian McColgin
09-01-2009, 07:36 AM
Participation is essential to our representative democracy. With practice, that participation can even become informed.

Keith Wilson
09-01-2009, 08:51 AM
Oh, ouch! Sometimes the irony is just too much.

09-01-2009, 08:55 AM
I was reading a good piece where the author made a case for abandoning elections for congress and instead instituting a system of 2 year conscription for service. If congress went back to the part time body it once was it could work and I bet in short order the graft and corruption would fall to well managed levels.

Keith Wilson
09-01-2009, 09:10 AM
I certainly see your point. Sometimes I think that the only people qualified to hold office are those who would have to be dragged in kicking and screaming.

OTOH, making laws is a complicated job. It's not something that most people can do well with just common sense; there are specialized skills needed, particularly to avoid nasty unintended consequences. I'm not sure sending legislators home as soon as they figure out how to do the job reasonably well is a good idea either.

Dave Gray
09-01-2009, 12:10 PM
The only solution is constant reform as any organization becomes institutionalized. This is a constant tension. I apologize for stating a truism.

I would argue that term limits are an extremely bad idea. Oregon experimented with this. We ended up having legislators with no idea how government worked passing bills written by lobbyists. You can say that is how things work now on a national scale but at least some legislators have a clue.

Bruce Hooke
09-01-2009, 12:20 PM
The problem with so called citizen legislators (part-time legislators) is that their other job frequently introduces all sorts of conflicts of interest. If you think the conflict of interest problem is bad now in Washington, just imagine what it would be like if a Senator's other job was in the field of corporate law, with various big-business clients.

In my opinion, the way to really clean up Washington is not term limits but mandatory public financing of election campaigns. Everyone who meets the necessary qualifications gets the same amount of money to campaign with and that is the only money they can spend.