Sunday, July 24, 2016

Diversity vs. Meritocracy

Some believe that the notion of meritocracy arose in Great Britain at the end of the nineteenth century. Apparently, it was offered as an antidote to aristocratic privilege. Instead of choosing government servants by their breeding, the British decided to use an examination. It was the only way to ensure that the best and the brightest were running the country.

Opponents of meritocracy complain that if it’s all based on an exam it’s based on the ability to master the art of test taking. Being good on tests does not necessarily bespeak good character. Thus, you risk having a bureaucracy filled with technocrats who do not see their jobs in terms of their responsibilities to serve the nation.

One recalls that this version of meritocracy was really invented by the Chinese over a millennium ago. Even today, Chinese students work themselves to the bone—no hooking up for them—in order to do well on the examinations that determine their futures.

On the other hand, the career path of the students who excel at exams might also depend on the prestige accorded to government service. In some places there is more prestige; in other places, less.

As for the moral character argument, we note that when students are required to work all the time to excel on the exams, they will also develop a strong work ethic, a will to persevere and a sense of family honor. After all, no one really does any of it for his own personal gratification. He does it to sustain the honor of his family. If he is not very well paid for government work, he is probably motivated, in part, by the wish to serve the public.

Britain’s sister republic, America, has long since sacrificed mush of its own meritocracy on the bonfire of diversity. Of course, there are still islands of merit, but, for the most part, we are more worried about how diverse we are than about how good we are. Naturally, we keep saying that a diverse school or workplace will be better than one that is less diverse, but anyone who believes that is obviously missing a few little grey cells.

As it happens, in the worlds of commerce and industry, on the battlefield and in the marketplace, you do not get extra credit for diversity.

To measure the absence of meritocracy, we examine one of the few places it still exists. Take the example of the admissions test that get you admitted (or not) to New York City’s better high schools… like Stuyvesant High School. One notes-- as one has occasionally-- that the breakdown of the entering class at Stuyvesant is something like 70% Chinese (or Asian), 20% white, 6% Hispanic, 4% black.

As it happens, the students who go to Stuyvesant normally go on to attend great colleges and universities. And after they do so, they go to work on Wall Street or on Silicon Valley. If you are that smart and that capable why would you go to work in the government?

In America, government bureaucrats do not constitute a special meritocracy. Largely, because the jobs do not bring very much prestige or income. They are not chosen by merit, but for reasons that have more to do with politics and diversity and ideological commitment.

When the Asian graduates of Stuyvesant eventually get jobs, they are attracted to industries where they can be judged on their merits.

And yet, they also suffer. They are the victims of diversity quotas. An Asian student needs to have near perfect test scores and GPA to be admitted to Stanford while a minority student will easily be admitted with SAT scores that are hundreds of points lower (on a 1600 point scale.)

This means that minority students at major schools are seen as not having earned their way. Thus, their presence does not provoke respect. It promotes resentment, especially among those whose friends and family members missed out. When your brother was rejected with much higher test scores and a much higher GPA, you are likely to see students from minority groups as interlopers, as having taken something that they did not earn.

If you do not fall within a class of the underprivileged you will suffer discrimination on the basis of your race or ethnic origin. This applies especially to white males.

People are protesting about our rigged political system. Yet, beyond campaign finance, the diversity mania systematically rigs the system. You cannot have diversity and meritocracy at the same time. But when you overthrow meritocracy in the name of diversity the people who gain their jobs and their careers by reason of diversity do not receive the same respect as do those who have earned their places. And when things go wrong, we cannot comfort ourselves with the notion that the best people are in charge.

Diversity as currently practiced is no longer about fair play, where everyone takes the same test or runs the same race. If the outcomes of competition do not look like America, diversity proponents insist that this is proof that the system is rigged. If some people do better than others because they are wealthier, we are told that we must remedy this disparity by redistributing income.

No one pays too much attention to the fact that the Asian children who excel at competitive tests rarely come from wealthy homes.

Since we have been brainwashed into believing that every group be equally represented at all levels of society, we must rig the system to ensure that it happens.

If women cannot compete with men in the military, we change the rules. If women cannot complete the entrance examination for firefighters, we change the tests. If minority candidates do not measure up, we throw away the measuring rods. If women do not work as hard as men because they choose to spend more time with their children, we invent a specious notion like work/life balance to persuade men to work less. And then we insist that women who work less than men and who have less ambition than men receive the same compensation.

Of course, this can only happen when the diversity bureaucrats take over the labor market. It is no longer a question of who works harder, longer and better but of whether the proportions are politically correct.

If the disparities are clear, the cause must be a culture that shows white and Asian men succeeding more than others.

It’s all about manipulating minds by controlling appearances. We must now  produce television shows where women warriors working just as effectively as men warriors, where women police officers easily subdue male suspects who are twice their size, where the smartest guy in the room is always a minority, where the minority is always unjustly accused, and where nearly every ensemble cast contains one of each ethnic group and gender.

By the lights of the diversity mongers the only reason why we do not have more minority candidates in positions of importance is that we have not seen enough of them in such positions. We can rectify the situation by producing more television shows where the cast fulfills the ideal of diversity.

If you refer to track record, current or historical, you will be denounced as a bigot. Reality does not matter to people who want the world to look like their aesthetic vision.

So, to the feeble minded among us, the fault lies with racism and sexism and whatever other –ism suits you today. Because without these sins, invariably committed by white males, the world would achieve a greater aesthetic balance… which is what matters. Achievement be damned.

Evidently, the American government is not run by people who value merit. Diversity has taken over the government. And it has happened because the American people, with their votes, made it happen. Never think that propaganda never works. Today,And you are not allowed to criticize or critique a black president or his black advisors, lest you be accused of racism.

And diversity has also taken over universities, where scores of people have been hired on the basis of their race and gender, to say nothing of their radical leftist ideological commitments. 

They no longer teach Shakespeare and Chaucer because they do not know enough about them. They prefer indoctrinating students with the ideology of diversity. More than a few academics and public intellectuals owe their careers and their reputations to the fact that they belong to a disadvantaged group.

It has been imposed on the American people by media figures and academics who excel at name-calling, at defamation and at slander. One might suggest that they resort to such recourses because it is the best they can do.

And yet, those who attack Donald Trump for being racist and sexist seem to be failing. One reason might be that the diversity mongers are like the boy who cried wolf. If you spend your time and your mental energy in an endless exercise in name-calling, after a while your slanders will lose their edge. If everyone is racist, then the label no longer means very much. When Nicholas Kristof can do nothing more than denounce Trump for racism, he is not making a cogent point. He is exposing his own feeblemindedness.

In effect, today’s America is increasingly rigged against certain kinds of people. It’s a form of corruption that impacts people as much if not more than the influence of Wall Street money.

The system is not rigged everywhere. There are still islands where merit counts for something. Silicon Valley and Wall Street are high on the list. Politics is not.

People hold jobs as sinecures. If they belong to the right group they do not need to accomplish anything at all. Hillary Clinton would be nowhere without her gender and her husband. And yet, people keep saying, shamelessly, that she is eminently qualified to be president of the United States. It's magical thinking.

It is such a rank piece of stupidity that it takes one’s breath away. And yet, the Republican nominee, however adept he has been at making money and promoting his brand, has no ral qualifications for the office of the presidency.

Surely, Trump is the anti-diversity candidate. Perhaps his candidacy will break up the conspiracy of those who owe their jobs and their careers and their reputations to the accident of birth. In effect, the new diversity is a return to the old aristocracy. For the most part it accords privilege based on race and gender. To that Trump has responded that what really matters and what really qualifies you is: being his child.


Anonymous said...

This is the DNC

Anonymous said...

And this is what's become the focus of our Obama-Clinton-Kerry foreign policy

Shaun F said...

Stuart - Glad to see that you see it and can articulate it as well as you do.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Yep. The essence of what we call "diversity" today is naked, blatant, rank identity politics.

After those in the Civil Rights movement chanted, marched and bled to break down institutional subjugation based on immutable characteristics, our Ruling Class now holds each minority group's immutable characteristic as the eminent qualification. It's identity politics turned upside down: immutable characteristics as the solution, not the problem.

The Left tells us everything is complex, until we get to topics like guns, abortion and diversity. Then it's all very simple. They don't think there should be litmus tests, save their own. No, the Left's answer to what makes America great comes on a sheet of paper with carefully-chosen checkboxes designed to ignore the content of one's character. It's not even a formula or an algorithm that considers multiple factors. It doesn't, and it doesn't have to. That's the idea.

Meritocracy? My, how foolish... we don't have time for that! One's value comes from binary selections down a government-approved checklist. The jackpot is you're not a man, you're not white, you're not Christian, you're not conservative, you're not straight. this confers merit based on "underrepresented" melanin, genitalia, ancestry, faith or sexual attraction. These criteria -- which one has no control over -- make you important.

Diversity is a standard where qualification or promotion is fundamentally based on immutable characteristics. Ironically, the legal standerd is that barring someone or hampering their career because of immutable characteristics is impermissible.

How about let's be honest? Let's say BOTH are wicked, mean and horrible. Is that a bridge too far?

Perhaps yes, as Democrats wouldn't have identity politics to fall back on. They claim to desire a population on the convention floor that "looks like America." Isn't that interesting? I thought we were trying to move toward becoming a nation where it didn't matter what you looked like!

If immutable characteristics are the source of Democrat power, it's all they're going to talk about. Especially when being a certain former president's wife is the only reason you're being considered in the first place! So having a vagina and marrying well are your chief qualifications. You've come a long way, baby! "I am woman, hear my last name... ring a bell?"

What else would they have to talk about? Racism is why America sucks, but diversity is why America is great. Nonsense. America is great because people can work hard, be enterprising and be innovative in their pursuit of happiness. Traditional American values reward personal industry, risk and creativity. We won't hear any of that this week at the Democrat National Convention.

After all, the achieving kids go to Stuyvesant High School. In the Democrat mind, everything of value is a zero-sum game. Those (mostly Asian) kids are stealing a seat that should go to someone more worthy. And how otherwise do the Democrats suggest we will evaluate their worthiness? It's obvious, isn't it? It's because of their race, gender, religion, national origin, class or sexual orientation... or expanding their bathroom choices.

Everyone knows this. It's not a secret. It's an incongruent racket based on a paradox that threatens our core values as Americans. But what would one expect of people who also believe in Santa Claus government? After all, measuring bureaucratic productivity is based on input (time), not output (results). And if all we're going to measure is the time people put in, their immutable characteristics become valid criteria. A plumber who is a Zoroastrian lesbian Eskimo from Tanzania can be a podiatrist... after all, we need more diversity in podiatry! All so we can confidently check that box. Who are we forgetting? Oh yeah, the person who needs expert help with their feet. Collateral damage.

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: If they belong to the right group they do not need to accomplish anything at all. Hillary Clinton would be nowhere without her gender and her husband. And yet, people keep saying, shamelessly, that she is eminently qualified to be president of the United States. It's magical thinking.

I see this is the "credentialism" vs "meritocracy" argument, but in Hillary's case, its not her schooling but her VIP husband and her feminism club card.

I wonder which is more magical thinking - expecting someone with 8 years as wife of a Governor, 8 years as wife of a president, been U.S. Senator for 6 years, and Secretary of State for 4 years has some experience with government, or someone who inherited money and invested it and earned less than an average index fund return on it, and never been in any position of power where he couldn't fire anyone who stood up to him?

What is this Magical thinking people keep talking about? I'd call Trump's acceptance speech full of magical thinking, believing apparently that people need certainty, so he would promise all problems can be solved by him alone, and we believe that because he said it. What was C.S. Lewis' Trilemma - Trump is either a mad man, or the devil, or is who he says he is - the almighty God incarnate. W claimed to get personal messages from God, but Trump's grandiosity is so much higher. And he must be for real - look at his billions of dollars.
According to anthropologist Dr. Phillips Stevens Jr., magical thinking involves several elements, including a belief in the interconnectedness of all things through forces and powers that transcend both physical and spiritual connections. Magical thinking invests special powers and forces in many things that are seen as symbols. According to Stevens, "the vast majority of the world's peoples ... believe that there are real connections between the symbol and its referent, and that some real and potentially measurable power flows between them."

Well, by that definition, Trusting some 26 years intimately connected with government function doesn't qualify as magical thinking. However Trump's belief that he and he alone can fix the problem of our country by the force of his will, no work needed, that seems closer to the definition.

Like you can take the book he didn't write, The Art of the Deal for example of his thinking:
The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.

I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.

It sounds like a rational tactic to manipulate people, but he needs people's magical thinking for it to work.

Think Robert Preston in The Music Man. But we did learn from that musical that hucksters have a heart too, and sometimes they fall for their stories, and decide to actually follow through in their promises. Or would believing that also be magical thinking?

AesopFan said...

"In effect, the new diversity is a return to the old aristocracy. For the most part it accords privilege based on race and gender."

The aristocracy added a stricter qualification of family antecedents, but that included race and sex by default (none of this gender stuff in the old days).
I was just thinking the other day that no society can ever be free of aristocracy, especially if you define that as "the people who run the country regardless of who is formally selected to run the country" - even in monarchies the two groups are never totally identical. Different ideologies just change the outward qualifications.
Even (especially?) socialist countries have aristocracies (Orwell nailed that one.
Anyone remember how fast the Occupy protesters erected their own hierarchies of privilege?

AesopFan said...

Ares Olympus said..."Think Robert Preston in The Music Man. But we did learn from that musical that hucksters have a heart too, and sometimes they fall for their stories, and decide to actually follow through in their promises. Or would believing that also be magical thinking?"

You are speaking of my all-time favorite musical, and of course you are correct. A true conman would never let the girly-girl get to him that way, but would play her along just like all the others.

However, as a morality play, magical thinking leads us to hope that real life should work that way, and might persuade a conman wannabe to take the high road sometime.

It's the essence of stories ranging from "The Little Engine That Could" to "Horton Hatches the Egg" -- they are supposed to teach civilized behavior, not model cruel reality.

Malcolm said...

Clinton's cash

Malcolm said...

Must see movie

Clinton cash

Anonymous said...

The Libertarian Book of TRUMP

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Speaking of diversity vs. meritocracy...

We are coming to find with all these WikiLeaks emails and in the actions of prominent officials that Democrats have placed a lot of women in leadership positions within their own party structure. Okay, fine, that's their prerogative. Still, I'm not sure they're being responsible for the fallout and what's possible ahead. The tone of the emails and the whole Debbie Wasserman-Schultz primary rigging against Bernie Sanders seems more like middle school election tactics than national politics. The amount of rigging and influence-peddling that was necessary to get the "inevitable" candidate elected was quite embarrassing.

Then you have this "unity" parade going on in Philadelohia. Day 1 was a chaotic farce. I'm a bit perplexed how the Democrts were stupid enough to chide Reoublican disunity in Cleveland when they should've known this Hillary-Bernie thing is highly combustible, even without the giant email release, some of which I suspect were truncated and saved for a more "appropriate time" later in the election cycle (I'm thinking of the emails related to the Clinton Foundation). This kind of thing is also where Hillary exposes herself to blackmail, and it's not being discussed seriously.

Anyway, Wasserman-Schultz was replaced as.Convention Chairwoman by Marcia Fudge, who became frustrated with the Hillary-Bernie chantfest and said, "We’re Democrats, and we need to act like it,"

To my ear, this sounds like grandma scolding children. I think this is a huge problem for the Democrats over the remainder of this convention and in campaign season. Hillary sounds like a scolding, hectoring grandmother every time she raises her voice. And she's being counseled to do so regularly to bring "energy" to her style and campaign. This will backfire. She sounds like an idiot.

Besides, they ARE acting like Democrats. Angry, bitter victimized malcontents.