Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Faux-Elite

David Foster has a quite interesting post at Chicago Boyz musing on why Americans so vocally are rejecting the traditional elite.  This is only one of many reasons that he posits, although it may be the best:
8)There is concern that those providing direction to institutions increasingly bear little of the burden for their own failures. This is especially true of government–particularly the legislature and the courts, where a bad decision will generally have no negative consequences whatsoever for the individuals making it and of those who run the K-12 government schools–but also to a disturbing extent in the business world, especially with regard to those corporations with close ties with government and those in the financial sector.
I would add that they often seem to have a reckless disregard for the results of their efforts, making the whole system open-loop (as opposed to closed-loop).  Feedbacks are what make systems robust, and it seems that the needed feedback for a true technocratic elite system are entirely broken.  The Organs of the State do not self correct.

But read the whole thing, which is good food for thought.  The comments, too, bring Teh Smart, for example:
Michael Kennedy Says:
In the Codevilla essay, he makes clear that the “ruling class” are self appointed and the credentials they use to separate themselves from the rest are increasingly suspect. I submit that I would be very proud of a child of mine who was accepted to Harvard or Yale. I would be more proud of one accepted to MIT or Cal Tech but that is another topic.

I would also be aware that my child would have many classmates who did not get there the way he or she did. What were Obama’s grades at Columbia ? There have been surveys of the knowledge held by seniors at Harvard and even some comparing freshmen and seniors. There has been some discussion over the year about grade inflation at schools like Harvard and some, like Vann Jones, gave the game away by saying how pleased he was to be accepted by Yale Law School because there were no grades.

The credentials of the ruling class are questionable. We see examples of startling gaps in knowledge. Do Austrians speak Austrian ? How do you pronounce corpsman ? Did FDR go on TV in 1929 to reassure the people after the stock market crash ?

Some of this is funny but where did these people get the idea that they are qualified to rule ?
In other words, the system is being gamed to a large extent.  And so, how can you call it an elite?  The situation brings to mind the (likely apocryphal) quote from Gandhi who, when asked what he thought of Western Civilization is said to have replied that would be very nice.


Ken said...

The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.

--Lord Acton to Mary Gladstone, 1881

WV: amenner "This is even more true than usual."

TOTWTYTR said...

Ivy League education seems to be more and more a matter of becoming credentialed and not educated.

Or as we say, "You can always tell a Harvard Man. You just can't tell him much."

kx59 said...

I've had ivy league graduates come to work for me. Harvard and Yale degrees are no longer a plus in my experience. they are highly impressed with themselves. I, on the other hand, am not.