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Is the United States an example of a meritocracy

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tacomancer

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Do you believe that our social and economic systems are an example of functional meritocracy?
 

The_Patriot

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If there was an Other I would have voted that. Under the current system, no, it's not a meritocracy since it's now corporatist. Before the government got involved in all the things they don't have the delegated power to be in I would say that it was.
 

tacomancer

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If there was an Other I would have voted that. Under the current system, no, it's not a meritocracy since it's now corporatist. Before the government got involved in all the things they don't have the delegated power to be in I would say that it was.

I am referring to today.
 

The Mark

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Yes, but less so than in the past.

As far as I can tell, in past years it was easier to improve yourself, as opposed to current times.
 

Lord Tammerlain

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Generally yes

But not as much as quite a few other countries. A fair degree of a person's success in the US is determined by their parents economic standing. When compared to Canada, continentall europe (especially places like Sweden and Norway) the amount of social mobility from lower economic levels to higher economic levels the US is lower.
 

tacomancer

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Overall, I think it isn't as too many things get in the way, such as unequal starting points in life, unequal opportunities in life, the fact that some get cancer while others do not, etc.

Not that we will ever really be able to fix those problems, but I do think they get in the way and make the playing field uneven.
 

Aunt Spiker

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Do you believe that our social and economic systems are an example of functional meritocracy?

They're trying to become that as far as Washington goes. . .in the mid 1900's deciding to give more creed to merit over other things.

But it's still largely a "who you know" connection network.
 

fredmertz

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It is of course a representative democracy (aka republic) where it legally needs to be. Beyond that - it's cronyism (yeah, I just wikipedia('d) that!).

cronyism:
is partiality to long-standing friends, especially by appointing them to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications. Hence, cronyism is contrary in practice and principle to meritocracy.
 

Harry Guerrilla

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Do you believe that our social and economic systems are an example of functional meritocracy?

Socially- No, you can be a complete dick head and get pretty far.
There seems to be no high standard of manners in this world.

Economically- Sort of, there are times when complete baboons get high up because of connections.
 

fredmertz

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Overall, I think it isn't as too many things get in the way, such as unequal starting points in life, unequal opportunities in life, the fact that some get cancer while others do not, etc.

Not that we will ever really be able to fix those problems, but I do think they get in the way and make the playing field uneven.

Many things make the playing field uneven. And it truly is unfortunate. One of the biggest questions we have to ask is whether or not we should attempt to make the playing field more 'even' by disadvantaging those that were advantaged. Those who are disadvantaged are now disadvantaged still, but less. Those who were 'advantaged' will still be, but feel worse because something had been taken away from them against their will (potentially) - but they definately lost the freedom to choose to help. So again, do two wrongs make a right? (the first wrong being the unfair 'random' disadvantage, the second unfair forcing the 'advantaged' to a lower level of being advantaged)
 

tacomancer

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Many things make the playing field uneven. And it truly is unfortunate. One of the biggest questions we have to ask is whether or not we should attempt to make the playing field more 'even' by disadvantaging those that were advantaged. Those who are disadvantaged are now disadvantaged still, but less. Those who were 'advantaged' will still be, but feel worse because something had been taken away from them against their will (potentially) - but they definately lost the freedom to choose to help. So again, do two wrongs make a right? (the first wrong being the unfair 'random' disadvantage, the second unfair forcing the 'advantaged' to a lower level of being advantaged)

I think in the case of the ideal being that everyone is able to provide for themselves and live a happy life, than yes, it would be a right. If you take something away from someone who has plenty, more often than not, they will continue to have plenty while it might help one or more people who otherwise would not have had that opportunity. Ultimately, I think we need to design our help systems to help those who want it and will work for it and not lazy people, but even if choice is lost for the person with plenty, they will probably still have plenty, so its not really worth worrying about.

Of course, I don't believe in the sanctity of property as many conservatives & libertarians do or that I believe that people are more important than property. I am not sure which really applies best to me.
 

rathi

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In general, the U.S. believes in advancement through merit and we apply those principles with a decent degree of success. There is a lot of variance between fields though. Sports players for example, operate almost purely on merit as performance is very easy to gauge and money can't buy athleticism or talent. Politicians on the other hand get power through a combination of money, backroom deals and talking a good game. Writing good or bad legislation very rarely has anything to do with their chances of getting elected.
 

fredmertz

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I think in the case of the ideal being that everyone is able to provide for themselves and live a happy life, than yes, it would be a right. If you take something away from someone who has plenty, more often than not, they will continue to have plenty while it might help one or more people who otherwise would not have had that opportunity. Ultimately, I think we need to design our help systems to help those who want it and will work for it and not lazy people, but even if choice is lost for the person with plenty, they will probably still have plenty, so its not really worth worrying about.

Of course, I don't believe in the sanctity of property as many conservatives & libertarians do or that I believe that people are more important than property. I am not sure which really applies best to me.

well said as usual. I suppose I'm closest to a libertarian, so allow me to clarify a belief. If you believe people are more important than property, your beliefs are in line with mine. But by people, I also mean their freedoms and letting them choose to protect their own values - including the freedom to choose to be selfish.

When I stop and think about it, sometimes I feel like it's crazy that I support making sure that people have this choice of keeping their property. I fully understand your argument. I mean, is that choice to keep their 'advantage'/property that they may have been born into really worth the cost of them potentially choosing to not give it up? (which in a lot of cases, they DON'T give it up!). That cost could even be people starving! When you're right, they could be just as happy and well-off potentially even if they did give it up. Believe me, there's a hippy inside each of us :).

But at the end of the day, I think the world will be better off if we play the cards we are dealt with and don't force each other to share. The philosophy behind those economics seem more sound to me. I suppose it's just against my nature to force people to help people. I would much prefer it to be voluntary.
 

tacomancer

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well said as usual. I suppose I'm closest to a libertarian, so allow me to clarify a belief. If you believe people are more important than property, your beliefs are in line with mine. But by people, I also mean their freedoms and letting them choose to protect their own values - including the freedom to choose to be selfish.

I think this is where we diverge. Again due to our different concept of freedom.

When I stop and think about it, sometimes I feel like it's crazy that I support making sure that people have this choice of keeping their property. I fully understand your argument. I mean, is that choice to keep their 'advantage'/property that they may have been born into really worth the cost of them potentially choosing to not give it up? (which in a lot of cases, they DON'T give it up!). That cost could even be people starving! When you're right, they could be just as happy and well-off potentially even if they did give it up. Believe me, there's a hippy inside each of us :).

Well said, I think the focus of property as a part of freedom is actually somewhat against human nature when it comes to laws. Its pretty easy to be happy, but you need security more than stuff.

But at the end of the day, I think the world will be better off if we play the cards we are dealt with and don't force each other to share. The philosophy behind those economics seem more sound to me. I suppose it's just against my nature to force people to help people. I would much prefer it to be voluntary.

I would prefer it to be voluntary as well, but history has shown time after time that it does not work. I like the idea of people doing whatever they want with whatever they get, I just don't see how it could ever produce an end result that won't destroy itself. Its a fundamental flaw in humanity I think, but its one we must deal with, even if it means we cannot all be fully free and can only achieve the freedoms that are practical against our self destructive nature.
 

Groucho

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But at the end of the day, I think the world will be better off if we play the cards we are dealt with and don't force each other to share. The philosophy behind those economics seem more sound to me. I suppose it's just against my nature to force people to help people. I would much prefer it to be voluntary.

Understood; but at the same time, many of us believe that spending money on social programs such as health care, education and basic needs is a good investment in our society. An educated and healthy society of citizens who have their basic needs met is a worthy goal, don't you think?
 

fredmertz

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I would prefer it to be voluntary as well, but history has shown time after time that it does not work. I like the idea of people doing whatever they want with whatever they get, I just don't see how it could ever produce an end result that won't destroy itself. Its a fundamental flaw in humanity I think, but its one we must deal with, even if it means we cannot all be fully free and can only achieve the freedoms that are practical against our self destructive nature.

I think I have more faith in humanity than that. Social Security, for example, wasn't enacted until AFTER the depression, when the elderly were found in the street because they had not saved for retirement. Or their pensions went bust. etc.

But if it is human nature to spend what you have on yourself, then there would have been poor planners all throughout history that would end up on the street in their old age.

So why did we not need Social Security before the depression? Partially because people could afford to help people - by their choice. The streets were clean because people made society a clean place. They gave to churches who funded hospitals and 'hospices' (or their form). The depression took away their ability to help. It wasn't that they weren't willing to help. Just that they weren't able.

And so we got the government to help with this new system. We then became dependent. This happened, IMO, in other ways with other entitlement programs. And the more people were paying taxes, the less they had to donate to the church or non-profit. They could no longer support hospitals. So the gov't had to step in there too. People stopped willingly giving money to help. They were forced too.

And so they tried to keep whatever they could for themselves - they got defensive when they were forced to give their money away, even though that's what their nature would have done anyway.

And now we have people running around screaming theft at the taxes that help people that they would have voluntarily helped anyway, IMO, as we had done a century ago.

We asked for help from the gov't. We got it. We became dependent on it and therefore resented it because we couldn't help in the ways we wanted to choose to. Which meant we stopped helping. Which means the gov't steps in more. And we hate it more. And we need it more. It's a viscious cycle. Do we go back to before they helped? Or keep feeding the cycle (that I believe will ulitmately lead to an attempted revolution... one that may fail)?
 

Black Dog

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I think we are. I know to many Blacks like myself that got out of bad low class situations and rose to be very successful. Anecdotal I know, but I am not claiming to be any kind of expert on this, so I can only go with my limited information.
 

Mensch

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When I was young and naïve, I believed that important people took positions based on careful consideration of the options. Now I know better. - Paul Krugman

I had to respond to this Krugman quote. Where does the strongest economic champion of statist solutions come off saying something so brilliant? Milton Friedman said it best when he stated, "One of the greatest mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results."
 

Mensch

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I do have to say that yes, compared to the large majority of other countries, the U.S.A. fares well as a meritocracy. China has a lot of cultural customs and economic policies that might give us a run for our merit. We're still suffering from nepotism and cronyism that, in my mind, is virtually inevitable no matter where you go. Human beings are based on their interconnectedness with other human beings. It defines our species as a distinctly social-oriented one. It's never entirely based on how much you know or the breadth of your talent. You have to actually cooperate with others, form important contacts, and utilize those contacts effectively. To get a real feeling on the necessary criteria that defines meritocracy, read Confucious.
 

Aunt Spiker

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The responses in this thread are interesting.

I didn't even think about this subject beyond government.
 
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