The Meritocracy Is Under Siege

Thomas B. Edsall in the New York Times:

The debate over meritocracy has been intensifying. Is it a good thing? A bad thing? Do we want it or don’t we?

The worldwide demand for talent and the accelerated use of standardized testing (and cognitive ability testing in particular) are driving this debate. Who gets to decide who has merit? And even more fundamentally, what is merit?

One thing is clear: The dispute is splitting the ranks of both the political left and the political right.

From a positive vantage point, meritocracy is “a political system in which economic goods and/or political power are vested in individual people on the basis of talent, effort and achievement.”

Viewed negatively, such a system discriminates against the less highly educated and those who perform less well on ability tests. At the same time, meritocracy privileges an arrogant, complacent and entrenched elite — largely white, increasingly Asian — with the money, resources and connections to jump to the head of the line.

More here.