Part Two of the 99 Percent Plan – A Critique of Meritocracy

I want to bring to your attention part two of The 99 Percent Plan, a joint Roosevelt Institute and Salon series that explores how progressives can shape a new vision for the economy.  Curated by my colleague Sabeel Rahman, he has assembled a great group of writers to lay out a progressive approach to political economy.  New essays will appear every weekend for the next few weeks at Salon’s site.

This week’s essay is a critique of the meritocracy – America’s failed promise of equal opportunity – by Alex Gourevitch and Aziz Rana.  “To achieve a truly fair society, we need to look to Lincoln, not Jefferson.”  It’s very thought-provoking and I hope you check it out.

Alex Gourevitch is one of the people behind The Current Moment, a blog that is in my “must read” rss bucket and one we interact with frequently here.  Back in September 2008, Aziz Rana wrote a piece about meritocracy called Obama and the Closing of the American Dream.  I’m a big fan of that essay – I believe I sent around to everyone with a “read this!!1!1!!” style subject line – and their 99 Percent Plan essay build on that piece.

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2 Responses to Part Two of the 99 Percent Plan – A Critique of Meritocracy

  1. Bob Roddis says:

    Speaking of funny things said in the olden days by famous people and as we look to Abe Lincoln for solutions to our current problems, let us be reminded of Abe’s support for the proposed Corwin Amendment to the constitution during his first inaugural speech:

    I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution—which amendment, however, I have not seen—has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service*. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.

    By all means, let’s amend the Constitution so that slavery is enshrined forever. Thanks, Abe.

    For the record, I do suggest that there was an avowed sinister motive expressed here.

    http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres31.html

    *aka “slaves”

  2. ZeroInMyOnes says:

    Thanks for the link to the Aziz Rana essay detailing the current plight of those who would seek the American Dream through a non-professional life.

    It seems to be a basic human reality that there are among us individuals who as a result of their emotional constitution, cognitive style, or disability, would be able to find their most constructive engagement in our national democracy through simple work. We have destroyed many simple jobs, or vastly lowered the pay, and we have fetishized ‘professional’ work, and the college attendance that underpins it, in its place, but this goes against human nature. There will always be a certain percentage of people among us who prefer, or even require, simple work. If we do not create an economy which offers an appropriate number of simple jobs, or these jobs do not pay enough for a worker to take care of himself and securely raise a family, then we are showing a lack of respect for the people who need those jobs. And in doing this, we weaken our economy and therefore our democracy.

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