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The Myth of American Meritocracy
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GF



Joined: 26 Sep 2012

PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kuros wrote:
Dude, you quote a perfect example where ideology and philosophy trumped ethnicity, and you turn around and state "[Jews] don't deserve this and I don't trust them."


From what I've seen, Titus' argument (or one part of it) has consistently been that the Jews have overreached themselves, and should pull back now in their own self-interest. Notice that he called Unz's writing a "warning" to his co-ethnics. From this point of view, Unz can be categorized as a different expression of the same ethnic self-interest. That is, we could say that the Jews have a "marketplace of ideas" on how best to preserve and advance their group, one of which includes Unz's.

I am somewhat wary of this theoretic framework, since I have witnessed its tendency, in practice, to lead to totalizing, reductive, and fanatical attitudes towards the Jews. I think Unz could also be viewed as an exception to the rule, which neatly enough answers the problem you raised. How many Unzes have you run across, after all, compared to how many "is it good for the Jews" types?
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Privateer



Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Location: Easy Street.

PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
In fact, it seems likely that some of these obvious admissions biases we have noticed may be related to the poor human quality and weak academic credentials of many of the university employees making these momentous decisions. As mentioned above, the job of admissions officer is poorly paid, requires no professional training, and offers few opportunities for career advancement; thus, it is often filled by individuals with haphazard employment records. As one of the “Little Ivies,” Wesleyan is among America’s most prestigious liberal arts colleges, and Steinberg’s description of the career paths of its handful of admissions officers is eye-opening: the interim Director of Admissions had most recently screened food-stamp recipients and run a psychiatric half-way house; another had worked as an animal control officer and managed a camera store; a third unsuccessfully sought a job as a United Airlines flight attendant; others were recent college graduates, whose main college interests had been sports or ethnic studies.100 [110] The vast majority seem to possess minimal academic expertise and few intellectual interests, raising serious questions about their ability to reasonably evaluate their higher-quality applicants.

...snip...

A more explicit statement of this exact problem is found in A for Admission, a very candid 1997 description of the admissions process at elite private universities written by Michele A. Hernandez, who had spent four years as Dartmouth’s Assistant Director of Admissions. Near the beginning of her book, Hernandez explains that over half of Ivy League admissions officers are individuals who had not attended such academically challenging universities, nor probably had the intellectual capability to do so, and were sometimes confused about the relative ranking of SAT scores and other basic academic credentials. She also cautions students to avoid any subtlety in their essays, lest their words be misunderstood by their readers in the admissions office, whose degrees are more likely to have been in education than in any serious academic discipline.102 [112]

It seems quite possible that poorly-paid liberal arts or ethnic-studies majors, probably with few quantitative skills and a vaguely “progressive” ideological focus, could implement highly unfair admissions decisions without even realizing their actions. According to Steinberg, admissions officers seem to assume that an important part of their duty is maximizing non-white enrollment, and this is especially true if they themselves are non-white, while there is no indication that they are actually aware of America’s overall population distribution.


Reminds me of this book: The Fall of the Faculty. One among many things Benjamin Ginsberg lambasts the new admin drones for doing is playing politics with admissions because of a vague idea that the university ought to consist of a certain balance of ethnicities. And another thing is that they're incompetents generally. Here's his talk on the subject: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul6biay7fxo
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Titus



Joined: 19 May 2012

PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kuros wrote:

Dude, you quote a perfect example where ideology and philosophy trumped ethnicity, and you turn around and state "[Jews] don't deserve this and I don't trust them." It seems to me Unz is to be trusted and it has nothing to do, one way or the other, with him being a Jew.


You're in the legal industry, yeah?

http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2012/06/promoting-israel-in-the-world-of-literature-a-tale-of-jewish-ethnic-networking/
Quote:
The liberal on-line magazine Salon published an article by four law professors from less prestigious schools noting that all but one of the 32 tenure-track professors hired while Kagan was dean were White. These professors, two of whom were black, one south Asian, and one with a half-Hispanic hyphenated surname (Luis Fuentes-Rohwer), make seven references to Whites in their 1679-word piece, yet never once use the word “Jew.”

I first heard about this controversy on Democracy Now! during a discussion between Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig and progressive blogger Glenn Greenwald. I immediately searched for a list of the professors to get an idea of the ethnic background. My internet search turned up a mass of discussion of the “race” of the professors, but not a list of names or any other indication as to their ethnic background. It was noted on some sites that the faculty at leading schools like Harvard were largely Jewish, and there was a list of all current law professors at Harvard, but nobody had a list of the 32 professors that Kagan hired. So, using the internet archive service called “the Wayback Machine,” I found a list of Harvard Law School’s tenured or tenure-track professors shortly before Kagan’s appointment and another shortly after her departure. Naturally, it came as no surprise to find that easily half of the list had Jewish-sounding surnames. Of course, surnames are not rock-solid indicators of someone’s ethnicity, so I went down the list one-by-one to see if I could find any reliable sources demonstrating that a professor either was or was not Jewish. Working alphabetically, at first it seemed it would be easy as two of the first professors whose backgrounds I checked were not just Jewish but Israeli. But it then started becoming tedious, as many of the younger recent hires have little biographical data on the internet. My preliminary results thereby are as follows:

Confirmed Jews: 8
Probable Jews: 7
Married to a Jew: 2
Probable non-Jew: 5
Confirmed non-Jew: 3
Uncertain: 7

The eight confirmed Jews are Noah Feldman, Yochai Benkler, Gabriella Blum, Robert H. Sitkoff, Cass R. Sunstein, Mark Tushnet, Jesse M. Fried, and Jed Shugerman. Benkler and Blum are Israelis. The seven probable Jews are I. Glenn Cohen, Jody Freeman, John C.P. Goldberg, William Rubenstein, Michael Klarman, Daryl Levinson, and Benjamin Sachs. In the cases of Klarman and Levinson there were probable indications in addition to their surnames. The two professors married to Jews were Anne Alstott and Jeannie Suk. Alstott was married in a synagogue and her mother’s maiden name was Kincaid, so she also should be considered a probable Jew. Jeannie Suk is Korean (the lone “non-White”) and is married to Noah Feldman. There was quite a lot on the internet regarding this marriage, as Feldman is Orthodox and was lambasted by other Orthodox Jews for having married outside his group. He in turn complained that he and his wife were Photoshopped out of a picture of his Orthodox high school reunion. It is unclear whether Suk has converted to Judaism.

I could not make a determination regarding seven others — D. James Greiner, Adriaan Lanni, Benjamin Roin, Matthew Stephenson, George G. Triantis, Rachel Brewster, and Gerald L. Neuman. Even so, we have at least 16 on the Jewish or probably Jewish list, plus Suk. That means that non-Jewish Whites likely account for less than half of the appointments made by Kagan. However, Non-Jewish Whites make up 70% of the population of the United States. So where is the White privilege? Clearly, non-Jewish Whites were underrepresented among Kagan’s appointments, just as they are underrepresented at Kagan’s new workplace, the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Jews, who make up only 2% of the U.S. population, get at least half of the appointments. In other words, their share of Kagan’s hirings was 25 times their share of the U.S. population. But all we heard in the media was that “all but one of her appointments was White.” This is a good illustration that for many of the most important jobs, fears of Whites being passed over in favor of Blacks benefiting from affirmative action are simply misplaced. It is clearly Jewish privilege that is crowding Whites out of these jobs. It may well be that the biggest harm to Whites caused by affirmative action is to distract Whites with a red herring.


Did you know Kagan was a nobody rescued from obscurity by Summers? She was unemployed and has basically zero publishing history and becomes Dean of Harvard! Then to the Supreme Court! Do you know her positions on free speech? Kuros! You're worried about how I phrase things?

http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/articles/MacDonald-Kagan.html
Quote:
Kagan is a poster girl for Jewish affirmative action. Not only does she have no discernible skills that would warrant her high position as dean of Harvard Law — much less an appointment to the Supreme Court, she is boosted by another Harvard professor (Laurence Tribe) who plagiarized another scholar’s work. (Plagiarism seems to run rampant at Harvard Law. Norman Finkelstein provides a credible case that Alan Dershowitz plagiarized others’ work in writing The Case for Israel. Charles J. Ogletree Jr., an African American, was involved in double plagiarism: foisting off the plagiarized work of his assistants as his own.) And Kagan was appointed dean of Harvard Law by then-Harvard President Lawrence Summers who has massive ethical problems of his own related to shielding another Harvard professor, his friend and protégé Andrei Shleifer. Shleifer was found liable by a federal court in 2004 for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government for his activities during the transition to capitalism in Russia in the 1990s. Summers also accepted $2.7 million in speaking fees from companies that received government bailout money when he later became head of the National Economic Council.


Fast forward a few hundred years and their historians will describe this time as a period of great oppression, wandering through Utah, abuse..

Kuros!
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stilicho25



Joined: 05 Apr 2010

PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You make a good case for the corruption and nepotism of Summers, which honestly, I didn't have much doubts about that before. But why go the extra step and see the whole thing as a conspiracy?

I think Summers is the equivalent of an Italian wiseguy. recruiting banksters from within his community, but like the Gambinos, you can't paint too broad a brush and say all Italians are a risk.

On the last note, yeah I would totally like to see more wasps in leadership positions, as a large part of the country is wasp. No to ways about it, they are underrepresented.
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Titus



Joined: 19 May 2012

PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

stilicho25 wrote:
But why go the extra step and see the whole thing as a conspiracy?


I did not use the word conspire.

I will use the work conspire.

That is what ethnic nepotism is - conspiring.
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Late, Great American WASP

Quote:
Much can be—and has been—written about the shortcomings of the WASPocracy. As a class, it was exclusionary and hence tolerant of social prejudice, if not often downright snobbish. Tradition-minded, it tended to be dead to innovation and social change. Imagination wasn't high on its list of admired qualities.

Yet the WASP elite had dignity and an impressive sense of social responsibility. In a 1990 book called "The Way of the Wasp," Richard Brookhiser held that the chief WASP qualities were "success depending on industry; use giving industry its task; civic-mindedness placing obligations on success, and antisensuality setting limits to the enjoyment of it; conscience watching over everything."

Under WASP hegemony, corruption, scandal and incompetence in high places weren't, as now, regular features of public life. Under WASP rule, stability, solidity, gravity and a certain weight and aura of seriousness suffused public life. As a ruling class, today's new meritocracy has failed to provide the positive qualities that older generations of WASPs provided.

Meritocracy is leadership thought to be based on men and women who have earned their way not through the privileges of birth but by merit. La carrière ouverte aux les talents: Careers open to the talented, is what Napoleon Bonaparte promised, and it is what any meritocratic system is supposed to provide.

The U.S. now fancies itself under a meritocratic system, through which the highest jobs are open to the most talented people, no matter their lineage or social background. And so it might seem, when one considers that our 42nd president, Bill Clinton, came from a broken home in a backwater in Arkansas, while our 44th, Barack Obama, was himself also from a broken home and biracial into the bargain. Sen. Ted Cruz, the man who leads the tea party, is the son of a Cuban émigré.

Meritocracy in America starts (and often ends) in what are thought to be the best colleges and universities. On the meritocratic climb, one's mettle is first tested by getting into these institutions—no easy task in the contemporary overcrowded scramble for admission. Then, of course, one must do well within them. In England, it was once said that Waterloo and the empire were built on the playing fields of Eton. The current American imperium appears to have been built at the offices of the Educational Testing Service, which administers the SATs.

Whether Republican or Democrat, left or right, the leading figures in U.S. public life today were good at school. Bill Clinton had Georgetown, Oxford (as a Rhodes scholar) and Yale Law School on his résumé; Barack Obama had Columbia and Harvard Law School. Their wives, respectively, had Wellesley and Yale Law School and Princeton and Harvard Law School. Cruz went to Princeton and thence to Harvard Law School. Players all—high rollers in the great American game of meritocracy. Their merit resides, presumably, in having been superior students.

But is the merit in our meritocracy genuine?


Interestingly, the WASP aristocracy left the field open to politicians, and there was actually a meaningful distinction between the Federal government and the scions of industry. Today, the plutocrats regularly pass through the revolving door between the Executive and Legislative branches and Wall Street, as the Supreme Court steadfastly sides with the Chamber of Commerce.
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Titus



Joined: 19 May 2012

PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting that Kuros. This is the proper thread.

I read that this morning and it completely ruined my Sunday coffee time. I have an 11 hour flight now and will stew on it and post detailed reactionary thoughts later in the week.

Did you see this that I posted on another thread? Kuros-bait:

http://handleshaus.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/review-of-the-rise-of-china-vs-the-logic-of-strategy-by-edward-luttwak/
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Leon



Joined: 31 May 2010

PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The idea that corruption is a new thing in American politics is laughable. As someone who (somewhat) fits the mold of the meritocrats they disparage in the article I don't buy the idea that the WASPs truly have this great character. I know several true blue WASPs, and I know several of the strivers and neither have shown more inclination to greed and selfishness than the other. I am contemplating taking a class at Harvard Law or Harvard Business next semester, maybe it can be a field study into this issue.
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Titus, I will respond to the Chinese article when I have more time. I posted this partly in gratitude for bringing that article to my attention.

Leon wrote:
The idea that corruption is a new thing in American politics is laughable. As someone who (somewhat) fits the mold of the meritocrats they disparage in the article I don't buy the idea that the WASPs truly have this great character.


No, corruption is not new, but corporations and Wall Street completely and utterly dominate the Federal government in a way not seen since the Gilded Age.

The WASPs were certainly a less avaricious, less miserly, and less ambitious elite than the Jamie Dimons and Barack Obamas of the modern agae. Another point for the WASPs: they moved aside and without perhaps fully embracing openness they declined to meaningfully resist it. The final and only point in favor of the WASPs: they cooperated with the lower- and middle-classes to bring the broadest prosperity America has ever seen; and the systemic denial of wealth and privilege to African-Americans and other marginalized groups which existed in their time continues today (with the notable exception of the opportunity for women). The only difference is the Civil Right Act and little else besides lip service.

Lest some overeager reader come along and chide me for nostalgia, I am not eager to restore the WASPs to power, and neither is the essayist, who rightly calls WASP dominance "dead." The analysis, however broad, is meant to provoke the reader and challenge the current ruling class of sycophants and pigs. It does well on this. Perhaps progressives prefer Chris Hayes's critique in his book, but the message of each does amount to the same thing: this current so-called meritocracy is anything but.
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Leon



Joined: 31 May 2010

PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kuros wrote:
Titus, I will respond to the Chinese article when I have more time. I posted this partly in gratitude for bringing that article to my attention.

Leon wrote:
The idea that corruption is a new thing in American politics is laughable. As someone who (somewhat) fits the mold of the meritocrats they disparage in the article I don't buy the idea that the WASPs truly have this great character.


No, corruption is not new, but corporations and Wall Street completely and utterly dominate the Federal government in a way not seen since the Gilded Age.

The WASPs were certainly a less avaricious, less miserly, and less ambitious elite than the Jamie Dimons and Barack Obamas of the modern agae. Another point for the WASPs: they moved aside and without perhaps fully embracing openness they declined to meaningfully resist it. The final and only point in favor of the WASPs: they cooperated with the lower- and middle-classes to bring the broadest prosperity America has ever seen; and the systemic denial of wealth and privilege to African-Americans and other marginalized groups which existed in their time continues today (with the notable exception of the opportunity for women). The only difference is the Civil Right Act and little else besides lip service.

Lest some overeager reader come along and chide me for nostalgia, I am not eager to restore the WASPs to power, and neither is the essayist, who rightly calls WASP dominance "dead." The analysis, however broad, is meant to provoke the reader and challenge the current ruling class of sycophants and pigs. It does well on this. Perhaps progressives prefer Chris Hayes's critique in his book, but the message of each does amount to the same thing: this current so-called meritocracy is anything but.


I agree with your critique of the new elites, but there was a lot going on in the world that affected the prosperity of that time period that wasn't the doing of Americans. Also, similarly, a lot of the misery in the current economy is based on manufacturing and other similar jobs disappearing in America, which would have happened no matter who was in power or the elites in America. Perhaps there is too much benefit being given to past leaders for situations they didn't create and too much blame being given to current leaders for situations they didn't create, although I do believe that current elites deserve plenty of blame for a wide range of things.
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Ya-ta Boy



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I enjoyed reading the article. It was not too surprising in this day of growing debate about inequality to read a nostalgic article about the good old days. It gave me a flash-back to when I was reading William Dean Howells' "The Rise of Silas Lapham" (1885) and Booth Tarkington's "The Magnificent Ambersons" (published 1918, Pulitzer 1919). In both there was serious resentment from the traditional WASP elite of the rising new middle class.The nouveau riche were looked down upon by the old money families, but that didn't stop them from marrying their daughters, much as Jenny Jerome married Lord Randolph Churchill. [I recommend both books, although there is a serious lack of explicit sex, drugs, and violence.]

I felt Mr. Epstein (good WASP name!) was too forgiving of the WASP elite's shortcomings; rigid oppression of children, women, immigrants, religious minorities, the working class, and ethnic groups aren't to be minimized unless you are not one of them. He reminded me of historians who sentimentalize the Greeks and Romans by ignoring that their societies were based on slavery.

Epstein did make a good point; the elites have failed us in recent decades. His comment about 'greedy pigs' was rather courageous to be in the WSJ. I would posit that the bed rock corrupting influence is, like Pope Francis says, the idolatry of money.
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ya-ta Boy wrote:
He reminded me of historians who sentimentalize the Greeks and Romans by ignoring that their societies were based on slavery.


Or of historians who complain of Cortez's conquest while brushing aside the blood sacrifices of the Aztecs?
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