As much as some like to talk about a free market being a meritocracy that is simply not true. In a meritocracy the best and brightest should do the best yet that is not the case. Why? Because many of us are forced to incur massive amounts of debt in order to make a living. Anymore a college degree is required for most jobs that are decent. Meanwhile the price of higher education has skyrocketed. On top of that, those that have to work their way through college end up with more debt frequently. It takes longer to finish a degree when you need to work full-time to put food on the table. But tuition in many cases is not based purely on credit hours. Rather it is based on full or part time status with a specific tuition regardless of the exact number of credit. Those that have to work may still be full-time students but they are unable to take a heavy load of courses unlike those who don’t have to work in school. When finished with school those that incurred debt are held back by that debt. While those that did not need to incur debt for education can move forward and build their assets. This gives a very distinct advantage to anybody who starts off a bit better. Also the primary education in this country is far from a meritocracy. If your parents are poor you will most likely end up at a poor performing public school. If you parents are wealthy you can acquire a quality education that prepares you for the future.
Simply put, we do not all have the same opportunities in life even if we are born with the same innate abilities and capacities. Some are better positioned to actualize their potential while other have to struggle against the odds to reach the same place even if both were initially equal.
In our contemporary society, we seem to have reached a broadly based framework where one who is climbing the ladder has to kiss the butt of the one above him on the ladder. We have now arrived at a stage where group-think is rampant and no one can think for themselves, despite a college degree that was supposed to equip one for critical thinking. The truly earth shaking ideas no longer emerge and those who hold them have jumped off the ladder long ago.
Yep, that is very much along the lines I was thinking. The haves and have nots are already established which makes mobility difficult.
I too believe that group think is rampant, though I don’t really know if that is a change or not. It seems like it has been that way for my whole life. Also college degrees are not what they used to be. They used to be a true advancement. Now they are more of an extension of your high school diploma. Anymore a degree is a formality to get a job.
Finally your comment about jumping off the ladder sounds very Ayn Randian. If that was intentional you might consider checking out my Ayn Rand post I did the other day.
Unfortunately sound byte politics dominates America. It is easy for the media to get out and it is easy for uninvolved public to latch on to. Most people don’t care to think about complex issues and the solutions to them so they grab a hold of ideology or sound bytes or platitudes for their solutions.
For me the big question is how would you get the information out to the public if you wanted a in-depth discussion of the real issues we face? I doubt the people would want to pay attention to something like that which makes it difficult for politics to do that.
In fact part of my goal in my blog is not only to express ideas and solutions to problems. But also I am trying to learn how to express some of them concisely so that they have a better potential of spreading.
I am sure there is a middle way, the question is whether the conditions at the time allow it. At some point all the pent up frustration will be released. If the catalyst for this is negative it will likely spiral out of control very quickly. If the catalyst is positive then it could fundamentally change the country for the better.
It is difficult to change things with electoral politics because both parties have set up the system in their favor. They make it difficult for anybody to break into politics and have convinced the public that a 3rd vote is a wasted vote. This helps prevent a 3rd party from gaining traction.
Yet 3rd party could break in if done correctly. Voter participation in 2012 was 57%. That means there is more than 40% that could be potentially tapped. Furthermore approximately 40% of the population identify themselves as independents. Put those together and you have some potential for electoral politics to actually fix the situation.
Though if it doesn’t get better at some point people are going to do something about it. If electoral politics is not seen as an option to the public then they will use extra-institutional politics. They might start protesting in massive numbers. We have seen the possible early stages of that with the tea party and occupy movement. Or it might get ugly with actual violence.
Lets hope that it doesn’t come to the worst and that the frustrations of the country can be harnessed to improve the country not destroy it.