The End of Meritocracy?

The main reason why the United States easily outstripped Europe and Asia in economic growth and cultural influence in the 19th and 20th centuries is that we were a meritocracy. Talent and hard work prevailed over privilege of birth and adherence to established ideologies. Sadly, we have lost that advantage. As we have documented many times on this site, the Left’s war on standards has resulted in a dumbing down of our educational system and our culture. None of our competitors has been this stupid, and China, in particular–despite ostensibly being a Communist country!–is a ruthless meritocracy where it counts.

At The American Mind, a Claremont Institute outlet, Joel Kotkin asks whether we have reached “The end of merit.” (Via InstaPundit.) Links omitted:

Over time, our educational deficit with other countries, notably China, particularly in the acquisition of practical skills in mathematics, engineering, medical technology, and management, has grown, threatening our economic and political pre-eminence. Our competitors, whatever their shortcomings, are focused on economic competition and technological supremacy. In math, the OECD’s 2018 Program for International Student Assessment found the United States was outperformed by 36 countries, not only by China, but also Russia, Italy, France, Finland, Poland, and Canada.

Critical Race Theory and its growing chorus of implementers—from the highest reaches of academia down to the grade school level—have little use for such practical skills acquisition and brook little dissent from teachers and researchers who raise objections to the new curriculum of racial grievance. Woke educators, like San Francisco’s School board member Alison Collins, claim that “merit, meritocracy and especially meritocracy based on standardized testing” are essentially “racist systems.” Some among the new racial cadres even denounce habits such as punctuality, rationality, and hard work as reflective of “racism” and “white privilege”.

A society that denigrates hard work and rationality cannot possibly succeed.

This is an interesting point:

Even though the vast majority of corporate executives perceive a growing skills gap, they have failed to stop educators from abandoning skills in favor of ever greater emphasis on ephemera of race and gender.

It is worse than that: corporate America has signed on wholeheartedly to the “woke” agenda, despite the fact that businessmen are acutely aware that they need more welders and CNC programmers, not more untrained and ill-educated race fanatics.

The numbers are grim:

Only 5 percent of American college students major in engineering, compared with 33 percent in China; as of 2016, China graduated 4.7 million STEM students versus 568,000 in the United States, as well as six times as many students with engineering and computer science bachelor’s degrees.
The skills shortage may be even more profound on the factory floor. Due to an aging workforce, as many as 600,000 new manufacturing jobs expected to be generated this decade cannot be filled. The percentage of the skilled manufacturing work force over the age of 55 has doubled in the last 10 years to 20 percent of active workers. And there is no deep bench of talent waiting to replace retirees—50 percent of the active workers are above the age of 45. The current shortage of welders, now 240,000, could grow to 340,000 by 2024.Manufacturing employment is expanding more rapidly than in almost four decades but there are an estimated 500,000 manufacturing jobs unfilled right now.

This is largely the result of the Left’s domination of our education system, I think.

Theoretically, progressives should embrace the idea of restoring a competitive workforce, particularly for people without college degrees, in order to extend opportunities to an increasingly diverse working-class population.

Heh. I don’t think anyone believes that “progressives” care a whit about working-class people. Polls indicate that most people believe working-class Americans are mostly Republicans; election results suggest that they are right.

There is much, much more at the link. For example:

As the concepts of objectivity, debate, and merit decline, even “talent” is now seen as yet another social construct of our corrupt society. This undermines the very notions of upward mobility by which our diverse society accommodated immigrants. Asian parents have to fight off attempts to eliminate merit for admission to elite high schools—often the most affordable option for working class immigrants—in places like San Francisco or New York.

And finally:

The pushback against the war on merit won’t come from the craven masters of Wall Street or Silicon Valley but from the grassroots, operators of small businesses, new and old, and most importantly, from parents. Most American voters—by wide margins—reject the notion of teaching Critical Race Theory in schools, even though the effort is supported by most Democrats, the powerful teachers’ unions, particularly in deep blue cities like Los Angeles, and the White House.

Once again: much more at the link. But the conclusion is obvious. If America is no longer a meritocracy, but rather a cynical left-wing spoils system, we no longer have a meaningful reason for being.

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