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Old 01-30-2015, 11:15 AM   #1
A.T. Hagan
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Default America’s new aristocracy

As the importance of intellectual capital grows, privilege has become increasingly heritable
Jan 24th 2015


WHEN the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination line up on stage for their first debate in August, there may be three contenders whose fathers also ran for president. Whoever wins may face the wife of a former president next year. It is odd that a country founded on the principle of hostility to inherited status should be so tolerant of dynasties. Because America never had kings or lords, it sometimes seems less inclined to worry about signs that its elite is calcifying.

Thomas Jefferson drew a distinction between a natural aristocracy of the virtuous and talented, which was a blessing to a nation, and an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, which would slowly strangle it. Jefferson himself was a hybrid of these two types—a brilliant lawyer who inherited 11,000 acres and 135 slaves from his father-in-law—but the distinction proved durable. When the robber barons accumulated fortunes that made European princes envious, the combination of their own philanthropy, their children’s extravagance and federal trust-busting meant that Americans never discovered what it would be like to live in a country where the elite could reliably reproduce themselves.

Now they are beginning to find out, (see article), because today’s rich increasingly pass on to their children an asset that cannot be frittered away in a few nights at a casino. It is far more useful than wealth, and invulnerable to inheritance tax. It is brains.
Read the rest on the Economist site.

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An hereditary meritocracy

The children of the rich and powerful are increasingly well suited to earning wealth and power themselves. That’s a problem
Jan 24th 2015

“MY BIG fear,” says Paul Ryan, an influential Republican congressman from Wisconsin, is that America is losing sight of the notion that “the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life.” “Opportunity,” according to Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, “is slipping away.” Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, thinks that “each element” of the sequence that leads to success “is eroding in our country.” “Of course you have to work hard, of course you have to take responsibility,” says Hillary Clinton, a former first lady, senator and secretary of state, “but we are making it so difficult for people who do those things to feel that they are going to achieve the American dream.” When discussing the chances of ordinary Americans rising to the top, politicians who agree about little else sound remarkably similar.

Before the word meritocracy was coined by Michael Young, a British sociologist and institutional entrepreneur, in the 1950s there was a different name for the notion that power, success and wealth should be distributed according to talent and diligence, rather than by accident of birth: American. For sure, America has always had rich and powerful families, from the floor of the Senate to the boardrooms of the steel industry. But it has also held more fervently than any other country the belief that all comers can penetrate that elite as long as they have talent, perseverance and gumption. At times when that has not been the case Americans have responded with authentic outrage, surmising that the people at the top are, as Nick Carraway said, “a rotten crowd”, with bootlegging Gatsby better than the whole damn bunch put together.

Today’s elite is a long way from the rotten lot of West Egg. Compared to those of days past it is by and large more talented, better schooled, harder working (and more fabulously remunerated) and more diligent in its parental duties. It is not a place where one easily gets by on birth or connections alone. At the same time it is widely seen as increasingly hard to get into.

Some self-perpetuation by elites is unavoidable; the children of America’s top dogs benefit from nepotism just as those in all other societies do. But something else is now afoot. More than ever before, America’s elite is producing children who not only get ahead, but deserve to do so: they meet the standards of meritocracy better than their peers, and are thus worthy of the status they inherit.
Read the rest on the Economist site.

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I am convinced that bright kids occur *everywhere*.

But they are too often not recognized for what they are and far too often discouraged by those around them - particularly their peers.

Is it any wonder that where they are recognized and encouraged they tend to do well?

Poor rural schools have bright kids too. I see them often as my family lives in poor, rural county. They can succeed just like the kids in the more affluent schools if given the encouragement and resources they need.

If the school system cannot supply all of that then the parents will have to go the extra mile to find these resources for them. The problem lies in persuading them that they first should then encouraging them to actually do so.
Chance favors the prepared mind.
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Old 02-05-2015, 01:40 PM   #2
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Money makes some idiots more idiotic.

Conrad Hilton, the brother of the well known very superior idiot Paris, is in deep trouble after disrupting a flight on british Air. Eventually he was handcuffed to a seat. He called the passengers peasants, and said he would get the flight attendents fired. That his father paid 300,000 in another incident. Blah blah, blah blah after a time smoking some substance in the rest room.

Sounds like a self important rich idiot.

Says he is a model

Never heard of him before last nite. Now he could have a long career in the public eye, like his notorious sister and her screwed up escapades.
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Old 02-05-2015, 01:59 PM   #3
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He did threaten the flight attendants and the co pilot, that he would kill them for siding with the peasants,. punched near one flight attendants face.

Sounds like a nitemare flight, children terrified and screaming, Conrad completly out of control.

His lawyer Robert Shapero claims it was the sleeping pill he took, that it causes such behavior. LOL.

actually he will get off, though it does carry a 20 sentence for a peasant.

The new aristocrats. Celebrities like the Kardashians, the Hiltons, OJ.
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Old 02-05-2015, 04:50 PM   #4
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We hear of the few who make the press for the wrong reasons - outrageous escapades & all manner of 'attention whore' behaviour. The majority of children of first or second generation meritocracy probably, (I'll have to find out where to check), go to the schools & do the jobs needed to run their share of whatever business was built up by their parents or grandparents.

And for those who are too much of a train wreck to learn life's lessons, to show the self-discipline necessary to handle Big Money - that's what trust funds are for. As well as a good tax strategy at higher economic levels, they prevent fiscal meltdowns.
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Old 02-05-2015, 06:06 PM   #5
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Unfortunately, I think it is much worse than the article suggests. Yes, intelligence is inherited. So, that means that the next generation is more likely to be successful themselves. But what I see increasingly is that the next generation is wealthy and successful regardless of their own talent. The middle class is rapidly disappearing and the very rich entrench themselves behind gates and within the confines of elite universities and board rooms. It is only going to get worse because automation improves constantly and there will be less good jobs to go around. As George Carlin said, "It's a big club and you ain't in it." The Ivy League and other elite schools have plenty of candidates with excellent grades to pick from. But, somehow the connected ones get in. The untalented rich either get in as so-called "Z List" students, or they go to what are effectively expensive finishing schools to prepare for a stint at one of their relative's or a family friend's private companies. Then onward into the elite ranks.

I am reading the whole "Game of Thrones" Series again, which I think is a pretty good rundown on the politics and power structures in the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, I think that is about where we are headed.

Last edited by Sysiphus; 02-05-2015 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 02-09-2015, 06:10 AM   #6
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he calls other peasants and yet can not afford a private jet
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Old 02-12-2015, 11:34 AM   #7
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I have matching jets, in complimentary colors. It's hell keeping them gassed up though.
"Now, mark my words. So long as we are a young and virtuous people, this instrument will bind us together in mutual interests, mutual welfare, and mutual happiness. But when we become old and corrupt, it will bind us no longer" - Alexander Hamilton about the US Constitution.
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Old 02-12-2015, 11:39 AM   #8
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I know peasants who own small planes, and some a bit higher on the scale who own helicopters. Also hot air baloons.
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Old 02-12-2015, 11:40 AM   #9
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My neighbor has a nice pair of balloons, if you catch my drift.
"Now, mark my words. So long as we are a young and virtuous people, this instrument will bind us together in mutual interests, mutual welfare, and mutual happiness. But when we become old and corrupt, it will bind us no longer" - Alexander Hamilton about the US Constitution.
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america’s, aristocracy

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