Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The search for talent

The latest issue of The Economist came with a special report on "The battle for brainpower". Though authoritative as always, it is easy to see that the authors had a hard time hiding their fascination with the emerging global meritocracy, those cosmocrats who live "in a social-cultural bubble full of other super-achievers like themselves". Still, the report brings up many important questions about what kind of society that we want to have in the future.

I must say that I was happy to see references to Michael Young’s classic science-fiction novel The Rise of the Meritocracy, 1870-2033: An Essay on Education and Equality. It is a great book and thanks to Alibris I will soon own a copy for just $2.95. Anyway, the book made me think about to what an extent poor people living in the US today tend to accept their misfortunes. Unlikely Europeans, they have somehow come to individualize and internalize their collective problems; convinced that they deserve any failure and that it is their own fault that they do not get rich from their McJobs. In Europe on the other hand, some may say that we are keen on turning individual problems into collective ones.

In university cities, like Cambridge, we are now seeing how inequality is rapidly increasing with the talented elite at the top, service workers at the bottom and nothing much in between. This creates a polarized society with minimal social and economic circulation. Often these inequalities have a strong ethnical component.

Progressive taxation should be the appropriate response. But, as we are seeing especially in the US, the opposite is currently happening with massive tax breaks for the rich. Depressing as this may be I am still optimistic about the future. As egalitarian liberals we hold the better arguments. For those searching for ammunition in this ongoing battle of ideas I can only recommend Brian Barry’s excellent new study Why Social Justice Matters.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi brother now I have read your blogg so maybe I should read your booktips for further english trainig....

7:10 pm  
Blogger Gabriel said...

"[T]alented elite at the top, service workers at the bottom and nothing much in between. This creates a polarized society with minimal social and economic circulation. Often these inequalities have a strong ethnical component."

Yes, maybe this perspective is just what we need among the accounts of the brave new latte world...

12:18 am  

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