Has anyone read the classic dystopia tale, The Rise of the Meritocracy? I haven’t. But I did read this article which is somewhat about it, so I now consider myself knowlegedable enough to write something about it.
The gist of the article is on the interesting connection between 2 questions: Are people rewarded in society today in propotion to their merit? AND Why is inequality tolerated?
The thought in this piece are essentially that people tolerare inquality as long as they have a rough sense that we live in a meritocracy, where people are rewarded based on their own smarts plus their hard work. But, of course, the author is critical. The meritocracy is an illusion, he says, because the truth is that IQ + Effort is not the formual actually used to reward in our society.
This caught my eye, because is the same topic as Malcolm Gladwell’s widely publized new release Outliers. The book is one my winter reading list, but I’ve alread read a few chapers in the bookstore. While seeming a little more tame, the idea behind Outliers is the same: Outside factors beyond IQ + Effort play huge role’s in determining the successful among us. He offers ways to make IQ and Effort more important in the weeding out process.
Anyway, I find it fascinating. The gist from the article…
Writing in the 1960s, the sociologist WG Runciman, author of Relative Deprivation and Social Justice, argued that ordinary people tolerate high levels of inequality because they don’t compare themselves with those at the top, but with people like themselves. By that measure, they are far better off than they were 50 years ago, even if their incomes have grown by a smaller percentage than the top earners.
However, this argument doesn’t seem plausible any longer. Mark Pearson, the head of the OECD’s social policy division, has identified something he calls the “Hello! magazine effect” whereby people now compare themselves with the most successful members of society, thereby increasing their insecurity and sense of deprivation.