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Most Americans like to think of their country as a meritocracy, a system that rewards hard work and intelligence over privilege. But if you look at how things actually work, argues, it's clear the U.S. is more of an aristocracy: (1/13)
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AJ+ Jul 8
Replying to @ajplus
Today, the idea of a meritocracy is commonly accepted in America. Merit is typically judged by going to fancy schools. Going to Harvard, in other words, doesn't just mean that you're smart – it qualifies you to rule the world. (2/13)
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AJ+ Jul 8
Replying to @ajplus
Of course, neither of the above is necessarily true. The recent college admissions scandal, in which wealthy parents paid for their kids' admission to elite schools, shows that "merit" can be bought. But gaming the system is usually totally legal. (3/13)
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AJ+ Jul 8
Replying to @ajplus
Because the U.S. relies on standardized tests to measure worth, the rich have various edges. They can pay to prep their children, or just use their connections to secure advantages. Yale Law prof Amy Chua was recently under fire for doing just that. (4/13)
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AJ+ Jul 8
Replying to @valeriestrauss
All this underscores the fact that money still matters more in the U.S. than intellect or ambition. In the Washington Post, highlights a study showing that being born rich is a better predictor of success than being born "smart." (5/13)
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AJ+ Jul 8
Replying to @ajplus
So what -is- meritocracy? The term was invented in 1958 in a satirical book by British sociologist Michael Young. He imagined a world in which standardized testing segmented kids almost from birth, and those people formed a ruling class. (6/13)
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AJ+ Jul 8
Replying to @ajplus
In Young's satire, this ruling class had more legitimacy than the old aristocracy because they had "earned" the privilege of ruling through intelligence and hard work. Their special smarts were thought to make Britain more competitive in the global economy. (7/13)
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AJ+ Jul 8
Replying to @ajplus
This attitude has become reality. Its most notorious representation may be a Time magazine cover from 1999 that hyped the world-changing powers of three top economists. These men weren't just good at economics; they were qualified to save the world. (8/13)
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AJ+ Jul 8
Replying to @ajplus
The 2008 financial crisis dealt this theory of meritocracy a blow when it turned out that (a) financial innovators couldn't control their own products; and (b) maybe these masters of the universe didn't care about the suffering they caused. (9/13)
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AJ+ Jul 8
Replying to @ajplus
Nonetheless, after detonating the financial industry, these people were designated the only ones "smart" enough to lead its reconstruction. (10/13)
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AJ+ Jul 8
Replying to @ajplus
Hillary Clinton may be the best, last political representation of this theory. She was widely considered the most qualified candidate because she was a longstanding member of the ruling elite, yet many rejected her for that reason (among others). (11/13)
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AJ+ Jul 8
Replying to @ajplus
This supposed rule by experts has gone hand in hand with a government that listens only to the rich. Seen in this light, merit seems less like a real measure of worth and more like a moral coverup for getting rich and staying that way. (12/13)
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AJ+ Jul 8
Replying to @ajplus
So perhaps it's no surprise that it has taken a populist moment – a mass movement of people declaring that -no- ruling class is a good one – to shake the idea of meritocracy to its core. (13/13)
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Richard Haggai™ Jul 8
please unroll
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Lin Newsom Jul 8
Replying to @ajplus @djmincey11
That’s how trump and his children got into colleges money!
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Akimoto Manatsu Superfan Jul 8
Replying to @ajplus @sarahrlnrd
Nice thread. So when is the absolute monarchy of Qatar going to step down in favor of a government that represents the 99%?
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