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The Big Answer


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America The Open

an article in Newsweek by Robert J. Samuelson

(our site's article review)

He says that "If the founding fathers ever envisioned an ideal social order, it was surely a meritocracy: a system under which people succeed mainly on the basis of ability and effort. We are probably closer to that ideal now than ever before." But he bemoans the assault from new class theorists that we are creating a caste society which is unfairly dominated by upscale snobs. These new class theorists say of these privileged that they are wealthier than other less privileged Americans and increasingly insulated from popular beliefs and tastes, and they perpetuate their position by sending their children to elite private universities that are gateways to the best jobs. In a book a few years ago, The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich called the new upper tier "symbolic analysts."

Privileged Americans perpetuate their position by sending their children to elite private universities
Privileged Americans perpetuate their position by sending their children to elite private universities"

Samuelson says America is more open than ever: "But whatever its defects, the meritocracy is a huge advance over the preceding barriers of race, sex, religion and ethnicity. Life is unfair, John Kennedy once said. It always will be—but it is not rigged, at least not in America." Of course, a heck of a lot of things are rigged now: