Friday, May 31, 2024

The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good?

If my success is my own doing, their failure must be their fault.
Michael J. Sandel


For why do the successful owe anything to the less-advantaged members of society? The answer to this question depends on recognizing that, for all our striving, we are not self-made and self-sufficient; finding ourselves in a society that prizes our talents is our good fortune, not our due. A lively sense of the contingency of our lot can inspire a certain humility: "There, but for the grace of God, or the accident of birth, or the mystery of fate, go I." Such humility is the beginning of the way back from the harsh ethic of success that drives us apart. It points beyond the tyranny of merit toward a less rancorous, more generous public life.

Michael J. Sandel

Taxation is not only a way of raising revenue; it is also a way of expressing a society's judgement about what counts as a valuable contribution to the common good

Michael Joseph Sandel is an American political philosopher

It's truly amazing to have people identifying these social inequality contraints... having an open mind approach in asserting civic education more firmly in social education. Though the real question and inevitable cocern is information access safety and individual privacy security, the two important pillars of our current and future digital evolution economy still not set by legal regulators or international policymakers in building our third pillar of the digital evolution markets that is digital finance, end to end encryption and exchange stability. Either, governments are blind, deaf or muted to continue playing bets in market roulette in a gambling earnings of public taxes.

In March 2019, as high school students awaited the results of their college applications, federal prosecutors made a stunning announcement. They charged 33 wealthy parents with engaging in an elaborate cheating scheme to get their children admitted to elite universities including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, and the University of Southern California.

At the heart of the scam was an unscrupulous consultant named William Singer, who ran a business that catered to anxious, affluent parents. Singer’s company specialized in gaming the intensely competitive college admissions system that had in recent decades become the primary gateway to prosperity and prestige. For students lacking the stellar academic credentials top colleges required, Singer devised corrupt workarounds.

For instance, the chairman of a prestigious law firm paid $75,000 for his daughter to take a college entrance exam at a test center supervised by a proctor paid by Singer to ensure the student received the score she needed. Television actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, paid Singer $500,000 to get their two daughters admitted to USC as bogus recruits to the crew team. Another celebrity, the actress Felicity Huffman, known for her role in the television series “Desperate Housewives,” somehow got a bargain rate; for only $15,000, Singer put in the fix for her daughter’s SAT. In all, Singer took in $25 million over eight years.

This book covers an often untouched yet vital construct in society: meritocracy. It shares a detailed overview of the problem and logically breaks down the ideas surrounding it. In places, it is repetitive and hard to follow but overall the ideas are impactful and profound. This deeply opened my eyes up to a whole new layer underneath society that most of us are simply blind or unaware of that shapes our attitudes toward pretty much everything we do.

  1. Our society is underpinned by meritocratic views - where the winners believe they earn their success through their own talent and hard work.

  2. But the idea you can 'make it if you try' denigrates losers in their own eyes. They feel their failure is their own doing, that they simply lack talent and a drive to succeed.

  3. Therefore, this way of thinking is creating a political and societal divide, loosening social bonds and warping the idea of common good.

Michael Sandel: ‘The populist backlash has been a revolt against the tyranny of merit’

The philosopher believes the liberal left’s pursuit of meritocracy has betrayed the working classes. His new book argues for a politics centred on dignity

Michael Sandel was 18 years old when he received his first significant lesson in the art of politics. The future philosopher was president of the student body at Palisades high school, California, at a time when Ronald Reagan, then governor of the state, lived in the same town. Never short of confidence, in 1971 Sandel challenged him to a debate in front of 2,400 left-leaning teenagers. 

It was the height of the Vietnam war, which had radicalised a generation, and student campuses of any description were hostile territory for a conservative. Somewhat to Sandel’s surprise, Reagan took up the gauntlet that had been thrown down, arriving at the school in style in a black limousine. The subsequent encounter confounded the expectations of his youthful interlocutor.

“I had prepared a long list of what I thought were very tough questions,” recalls Sandel, now 67, via video-link from his study in Boston. “On Vietnam, on the right of 18-year-olds to vote – which Reagan opposed – on the United Nations, on social security. I thought I would make short work of him in front of that audience. He responded genially, amiably and respectfully. After an hour I realised I had not prevailed in this debate, I had lost. He had won us over without persuading us with his arguments. Nine years later he would get elected to the White House in the same way.

Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do? Episode 01 "THE MORAL SIDE OF MURDER