Meritocracy is at the heart of how many view the American Dream.
1. rule by persons chosen not because of birth or wealth, but for their superior talents or intellect
2. the persons constituting such a group
3. a social system formed on such a basis
What is meant by the American dream? One definition by James Truslow Adams in The Epic of America
“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
~James Truslow Adams circa 1931
This could be regarded as the foundation of why we could be an exceptional nation rather than just waffling on about our exceptionalism without actually having to bother trying.
This returns us back to income inequality and just how this has undermined any hope of the American dream, the accumulation of wealth has undermined our deeply held hopes of an equal and free society. Income inequality has not only made any concept of a meritocracy moot, but is undermining democracy itself.
How do you lay the foundations of a meritocracy?
1] No discrimination based upon race, gender, sexuality, and wealth.
2] Equal eduction opportunities for all independent of means.
3] Equal pay for equal work.
4] Prevention of the accumulation of inherited wealth and power. Estate taxes, capital gains taxes etc.
To prevent the accumulation of wealth and power a real change in how wealth is perceived needs to take place, possibly all wealth needs to be regarded as the wealth of the nation, and this means redistribution. What we have seen in our capitalist society is that the accumulation of wealth and power whether earned or not [capital gains] is its natural outcome. There is a shift that inherited wealth is now outgrowing generated wealth and has lead to the development of a new plutocracy/oligarchy.
The Foundations of the FDR's revolution remains unfinished/unrealized, its long past time we returned to its fundamental principles.
Roosevelt thus proposed "a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all." Which rights should be recognized? The president ticked off a list: a right to work, a decent home, adequate medical care, a good education, a wage sufficient enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation, free trade and protection from monopolies, and protection from the threat of destitution that accompanied misfortunes such as sickness, accident, and unemployment.
Lyndon B Johnson continued the theme
Liberty was the second article of our covenant. It was self-government. It was our Bill of Rights. But it was more. America would be a place where each man could be proud to be himself: stretching his talents, rejoicing in his work, important in the life of his neighbors and his nation.
This has become more difficult in a world where change and growth seem to tower beyond the control and even the judgment of men. We must work to provide the knowledge and the surroundings which can enlarge the possibilities of every citizen.
Followed up by one of the greatest speeches of all time
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We must return to this dream where the be all and end all was not the accumulation of individual wealth but the wealth of our nation is the right of all.
I still have hope, I still dream and so do many others, it is time to inspire and not for our politicians to wallow in the mires of sloth, greed and pride. Fight back and let the people flourish.
Removes soap box, I'm done [for now]