Sunday, November 20, 2011

Who Killed Horatio Alger?: The decline of the meritocratic ideal

Who Killed Horatio Alger?: The decline of the meritocratic ideal

This is a longer read than I would normally suggest but I think that there are a bunch of take homes worth ferreting out. The core argument is that something has changed in the U.S. economy - we've moved to a place where the necessary meritocratic equilibrium for the proper functioning of capitalism is threatened.

"Two powerful forces are threatening to drive America from a meritocratic equilibrium to a nonmeritocratic one. Recall that to survive in a democratic country, a meritocracy must enjoy a welcoming culture and offer large, widespread benefits to citizens. In the United States, both of these factors are being challenged: the first by a spreading belief that markets are a bad method of rewarding the meritorious; the second by a reduction of the benefits that most people derive from those markets."

There is a bit of a chicken/egg going on but if the benefits of capitalism do not spread out to a broad enough portion of the population then people do not trust that there is anyway that they might succeed, creating a vicious cycle downwards.

File under "descriptions of the economic world that young people are coming of age into" which is significantly different than "the way it used to be".

From a new-to-me journal called City Journal.

No comments: