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Author Topic: Meritocracy  (Read 2366 times)

uni-brow

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Meritocracy
« on: December 01, 2004, 08:42:15 PM »
Would someone please explain to me what meritocracy is exactly? I've received some conflicting information.

hampnettles

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Re: Meritocracy
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2004, 08:59:21 PM »
Would someone please explain to me what meritocracy is exactly? I've received some conflicting information.

A system of control (government, management within a company, etc) in which rewards and power (and presumably punishments and subugation) are based objectively on performance and ability (and presumably, with no accounting for the underlying factors which might influence ones performance or ability).

The point of the parentheticals is to illustrate that a meritocracy isn't so much defined by what it is (a system where performance = reward), but by what it isn't (rewards are not adjusted based on the particulars of each person's situation).

Performance bonuses -> meritocracy
Affirmative action -> not meritocracy
"Best man for the job" -> meritocracy
Nepotism -> not meritocracy




vagrant

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Re: Meritocracy
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2004, 09:04:54 PM »
Liberals (and Conservatives with powerful dads) really hate this system.

headlesschicken

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Re: Meritocracy
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2004, 09:31:26 PM »
For a fantastic examination of the efforts (and failure) of many American university officials in the mid-20th Century to build an American "meritocracy," you should read Nicolas Lemann's "The Big Test." It's ostensibly a history of the SAT, but it's also an examiniation of American social hierarchies and the ways in which they have been shaped by and reflected in higher education. It's great.

I believe Lemann argues in the book that the closest thing you'll find now to a functioning meritocracy is the French system in which almost all students go to public school, then are shuttled to various secondary and post-secondary schools based on abilities, after which they are shuttled into professions suited to their abilities and skills (the smartest become professors, the next smartest become policy makers, the next smartest become professionals, etc.)

As a sometimes liberal (on those days when I don't consider myself a progressive, a radical, or a social democrat) I think I can say that liberals strive for a true meritocracy rather than hating it. however, we think that society will not be meritocratic until we have actually overcome certain historical inequities tied to race/class/etc that significantly hamper the ability of certain people to compete with others. Hence, the need for non-meritocratic institutions like affirmative action.
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vagrant

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Re: Meritocracy
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2004, 09:44:17 PM »
For a fantastic examination of the efforts (and failure) of many American university officials in the mid-20th Century to build an American "meritocracy," you should read Nicolas Lemann's "The Big Test." It's ostensibly a history of the SAT, but it's also an examiniation of American social hierarchies and the ways in which they have been shaped by and reflected in higher education. It's great.

I believe Lemann argues in the book that the closest thing you'll find now to a functioning meritocracy is the French system in which almost all students go to public school, then are shuttled to various secondary and post-secondary schools based on abilities, after which they are shuttled into professions suited to their abilities and skills (the smartest become professors, the next smartest become policy makers, the next smartest become professionals, etc.)

As a sometimes liberal (on those days when I don't consider myself a progressive, a radical, or a social democrat) I think I can say that liberals strive for a true meritocracy rather than hating it. however, we think that society will not be meritocratic until we have actually overcome certain historical inequities tied to race/class/etc that significantly hamper the ability of certain people to compete with others. Hence, the need for non-meritocratic institutions like affirmative action.

and the need to just throw money at people on welfare?  I was aiming more at some of the disfunctional social welfare programs advocated by many liberals.  I wasn't going after AA and don't want to go into it (it stirs far too much hatred).

Mrs Malaprop

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Re: Meritocracy
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2004, 12:39:32 AM »
and the need to just throw money at people on welfare?  I was aiming more at some of the disfunctional social welfare programs advocated by many liberals (progressives?  what a BS euphemism for a liberal!).  I wasn't going after AA and don't want to go into it (it stirs far too much hatred).

"Just throwing money at people" is not a liberal ideal, at least not in my world. Making sure everyone has the basic necessities to live, as well as the chance to work toward a better life is, however. So is making sure that the motivated get every opportunity (education, training, etc.) to obtain the skills they need to make it on their own, regardless of their starting point in life. I also believe that we should be creating and fostering motivation in people wherever possible. Not to mention ensuring that people who are already out there earning their living have a real shot at making a decent life for themselves and their families, and aren't getting screwed over by those with the REAL money and power.

Hence progressive policies that reward the kind of behavior that benfits society - such as tax breaks on mortgage interest to encourage home ownership, tax credits and gov't loans to assist with the cost of education, child tax credits, etc.

vagrant

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Re: Meritocracy
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2004, 12:41:38 AM »

Hence progressive policies that reward the kind of behavior that benfits society - such as tax breaks on mortgage interest to encourage home ownership, tax credits and gov't loans to assist with the cost of education, child tax credits, etc.


Didn't you just make a glowing argument for exactly what the current administration has done and is planning to do?


Mrs Malaprop

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Re: Meritocracy
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2004, 01:05:04 AM »

Hence progressive policies that reward the kind of behavior that benfits society - such as tax breaks on mortgage interest to encourage home ownership, tax credits and gov't loans to assist with the cost of education, child tax credits, etc.


Didn't you just make a glowing argument for exactly what the current administration has done and is planning to do?

Tax credits are rather more Clinton-ish. That man never met a tax credit he didn't like.

Credits are different than sweeping tax cuts - which don't require that you give something to get something back. The current administration believes that the cuts will stimulate the economy by allowing all taxpayers to keep a little more of their earned money, which they will then hopefully spend. (The cuts did help high earners more - my household's six-figure income got a nice big tax cut, my parents' working-class income recieved a barely perceptible tax cut. Yet I was opposed to the cuts, and they were pro. Go figure.) Credits and deductions are designed to get people to spend their money and time in particular ways by making certain things (education, housing, charitable contributions) more affordable and/or attractive choices.

writter

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Re: Meritocracy
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2004, 01:33:22 AM »
meritocracy = rule by the people who are most competent to rule.  A lot of people confuse comptence to rule with SAT scores.  In fact, they are inversely correlated.

vagrant

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Re: Meritocracy
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2004, 02:03:09 AM »
meritocracy = rule by the people who are most competent to rule.  A lot of people confuse comptence to rule with SAT scores.  In fact, they are inversely correlated.

I can go with the first half of that, but the "inversely correlated" portion is just a bit over the top into "bitter-land"