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View Diary: The bias that we fight... (134 comments)

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  •  In principle, I agree (1+ / 0-)
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    jlb1972

    Our government--and society--should be a meritocracy. In practice, though, it all too often isn't, especially in recent years. We're going through a decadent phase in our history, where second and third-rate charlatans are living off the nearly all-consumed fat that their predecessors stored up over the years, and have started to eat into the muscle and bone. The meritocracy that both Hamilton and Jefferson hoped for (in their own very different ways) has only occasionally surfaced. Far too often, though, it's been an aristocracy of nth generation idiots and self-interested posers.

    To a Republican, marriage is between a man and the woman he cheats on.

    by kovie on Fri Jul 31, 2009 at 03:08:22 AM PDT

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    •  The point I'd make is that this is nothing (3+ / 0-)
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      jlb1972, Matt Z, Neon Mama

      new.  The practitioners of inherent and inherited authority have been with us since the beginning of white men taking up residence.  Even in colonial times, the land was worked by servants and slaves and managed by people who, many times, gave orders to get done what they had no talent to do themselves.  Fact is that the first experiment in industrial agriculture failed because the plantations were acquired with borrowed money and the "owners" took out more than the plantations could produce.  Slaves were expensive, not just to acquire but to maintain.  Even though the North American population, finding the climate apparently conducive to high productivity, managed to reproduce and increase prodigiously, it was expensive to keep children out of the work force before age seven and out of the fields before age eleven, to guarantee health care, a plot for a kitchen garden for each family unit, support for the aged and those unable to work because of injury.  The slaves even managed to negotiate an annual measure of cloth, which initially had to be imported from abroad.
      Indeed, when you consider what slaves negotiated for themselves, it was not very different from what labor is still aiming for today.  And the tensions are the same because the owners of "capital" still want to make a profit for nothing and prefer labor to be as close to free as possible.  That's why I refer to them as freeloaders.

      The freeloaders aren't selfish and they're certainly not self-directed or self-sustaining.  They're lazy.

      How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

      by hannah on Fri Jul 31, 2009 at 03:43:20 AM PDT

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      •  Obviously (2+ / 0-)
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        jlb1972, Neon Mama

        most people who claim "inherent" authority and privilege invent it in order to justify their selfishness and laziness (I think it's both, myself). So it's not a matter of serious argument that their BS is just that, BS. The real issue is how to end this, or at least decrease it over time. How do we make it more possible for people of genuine talent, drive and decency to succeed, and less possible for people lacking all of these to stand in their way, let alone steal their rightful place? That, I think, is one of the ultimate goals of progressivism, if not the goal: a true meritocracy (that at the same time does not abandon the less talented, driven and decent entirely).

        Of course, Obama recently provided at least part of the answer: be smarter and better and harder working than everyone else, and don't ever give up. But he's an obviously exceptional person. The question is how to translate such merit-based success into the lives of everyday people, such that the playing field is more level.

        To a Republican, marriage is between a man and the woman he cheats on.

        by kovie on Fri Jul 31, 2009 at 04:08:49 AM PDT

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        •  A true meritocracy would require both (0+ / 0-)

          the Rule of Law and Freedom of Information. The synergism of the three would naturally flatten wealth distribution, in a world with twice as many people as when I was young, a depleting crucial resource, and other nations claiming their share of global wealth. In 1947 when George F. Kennan was famously writing as "X" on foreign policy, he noted that the US in 1945 had inherited possession of fully half the world's wealth and that the situation could not be maintained but that the American elite would be pressured to do so anyway. Add to that the post-1973 move of the bipartisan elite itself to re-concentrate domestic wealth in the upper ranks and you have the situation in a nutshell. Merit can still be rewarded in bodyguards.

          Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

          by jlb1972 on Fri Jul 31, 2009 at 04:44:08 AM PDT

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        •  It will probably have to be solved on a (2+ / 0-)
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          Matt Z, Neon Mama

          generational basis.  The Sesame Street generation isn't growing up with the same biases--perhaps one of the positive consequences of not counting on an inheritance.  Dubya was both an exemplar and an anachronism.  Behaviors that Reagan and Bush One got away with looked ludicrous on Dubya and his courtiers never understood why.  Why was the Dauphin not accorded the same respect as the king?  Was he not more constant?  Was he not more diligent?  Why was he not able to bask in the glory of the nation?

          The problem with monarchy or any kind of dictatorship isn't that the ruler's power is absolute; it's that the affairs of state can't handled by one person.  So, the unitary executive is perforce a "front" and those who operate in his shadow are unaccountable.  They exercise absolute power in the name of the king and wreck havoc on the kingdom.

          How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

          by hannah on Fri Jul 31, 2009 at 04:52:26 AM PDT

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