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Ross Douthat Mar 12
People pointing out that an Ivy League degree doesn't necessarily affect lifetime earnings for the children of, say, a successful TV star misunderstand the real function of meritocracy, which is not the facilitation of upward mobility but the legitimation of a ruling class.
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Ross Douthat
In the old days, for someone "in trade" to marry a titled aristocrat was not a means to economic ascent but an attempt to claim legitimacy via the (fading) way in which legitimacy was traditionally granted.
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Ross Douthat Mar 12
Replying to @DouthatNYT
Now legitimacy attaches to (a particular form of) intelligence and (a particular kind of) resume, with Ivy admittances as the social register of Talent. So the rich parent who buys their child admittance is buying a form of legitimation whose worth isn't calculable in $.
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Ross Douthat Mar 12
Replying to @DouthatNYT
This is not proof that meritocracy is somehow "broken." Quite the reverse: It shows that the desire to claim some measured "merit" to legitimize success extends to parents who by merely financial measures don't need the Ivy stamp to ensure their kids' success.
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Ross Douthat Mar 12
Replying to @DouthatNYT
Like "James Gatz" becoming "Jay Gatsby" in the Main Line/social-register dispensation, a CEO or TV star buying an Ivy admission and even a fake test score for their lackluster scion is the homage that mere money plays to the gods of the resume and the SAT.
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