Believing in "meritocracy" makes you act like a dick

The term "meritocracy" was popularized in the UK sociologist Michael Young's 1958 novel, "The Rise of the Meritocracy," in which aristocrats insist that they are the natural rulers of their society based on "objective" measures of worth ("merit" + "aristocracy" = "meritocracy") that are obviously tilted to favor them, a fact that they are conveniently blind to. Read the rest

America's new aristocracy: the 9.9% and their delusion of hereditary meritocracy

It's true that the 1% have accumulated a massive share of America's national wealth; but just as significant is the cohort of professionals -- "well-behaved, flannel-suited crowd of lawyers, doctors, dentists, mid-level investment bankers, M.B.A.s with opaque job titles, and assorted other professionals" -- who style themselves as the "meritocratic middle class" but who actually represent the top decile of American wealth, with net worths from $1.2m to $10m. Read the rest

Stock market gains to the richest 2% of Americans in 2017 could pay for the entire nation's social programs

The wealthiest 2% of Americans got $1.15 trillion richer in 2017, nearly all of it in stock market gains -- more than enough to pay for state and federal Medicaid, and all mandatory and discretionary social welfare programs nationwide. Read the rest

Reputation systems work because people are mostly good

Economist Tim Harford writes about holidaying in prosperous Bavaria, where hotels let you run up bills of €1000+ without a credit-card and all room-keys are stored in a cupboard where any guest can get at them, and asks how this can all work without being destroyed by dishonesty? Read the rest

Highest-paid CEOs generate lowest shareholder returns

In Are CEOs paid for performance? Evaluating the Effectiveness of Equity Incentives, a new study from MSCI, researchers compared the salaries of 800 US CEOs of large and medium-sized companies to the returns to their shareholders during their tenure. Read the rest

Study: Whites favor meritocracy when meritocracy favors whites

Survey participants were asked to assign importance to various criteria, including grades, in university admissions. Merit scored well among white participants. But...

When asked about "leadership" as an admissions criterion, white ranking of the measure went up in importance when respondents were informed of the Asian success in University of California admissions.

"Sociologists have found that whites refer to 'qualifications' and a meritocratic distribution of opportunities and rewards, and the purported failure of blacks to live up to this meritocratic standard, to bolster the belief that racial inequality in the United States has some legitimacy," Samson writes in the paper. "However, the results here suggest that the importance of meritocratic criteria for whites varies depending upon certain circumstances. To wit, white Californians do not hold a principled commitment to a fixed standard of merit."

Read the rest