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January 07, 2018

Comments

Steven Clarke

Presumably you would be happy in a meritocracy for surgeons if you needed an operation, or in car mechanics when you needed a repair.

Yet don't mind if the incompetent succeed in politics and journalism.

In which domains are you happy for meritocracy to operate and which are you happy to be anti-meritocratic? What criteria determine these domains?

Roger McCarthy

The point is not the merit but the -ocracy.

Young the Elder coined that phrase to warn that an elite which could claim however speciously to be on top due to their deserving it would be a far more dangerous thing than being ruled by a collection of Bertie Woosters.

As an expert himself he obviously had no issue at all with the proper exercise of expertise or with it being valued and rewarded by society.

e

Indeed. What more is there to be said? Those who can afford to sit and watch tend to do just that. From my perspective this is The story of, at least, the past two decades as the consequences of a Populist neo-liberalism entangled with a Populist Third Way has unfolded to reach greater and greater numbers. We've reached mass outrage with TY. Well that's something.
So little said when he was being given public money to run with the Tory's free schools policy precisely because of his politically incorrect manners, and his megaphone by way of MSM broadcasting.

Blissex

«The point is not the merit but the -ocracy.»

That's a very, very good point, and usually one that is forgotten.

«an elite which could claim however speciously to be on top due to their deserving it would be a far more dangerous thing than being ruled by a collection of Bertie Woosters»

More dangerous perhaps: after all a competent, efficient, honest tyranny can have far worse effects than a shambolic, cant-get-it-done, corrupt one.

But your "-ocracy" point is the the one that "Young the Elder" was really making: he was contrasting "merit-o-cracy" with "demo-cracy", where power is vested in the people simply because they are the people, being stakeholders in the state, whether competent or not.

As "Dennis" said, “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony”, and the same applies to weirdly robed old tossers distributing credentials to oddly dressed young ones.

Daniel

"And it’s possible that the knowledge that success in politics and the media requires obnoxiousness, self-promotion and a wealthy background and the right backers will deter good people from entering them. Whilst this would degrade public life, it would improve the talent pool available to other occupations and save good people from being disappointed; the embittered old hack is a fate to be avoided. Those of us who are comfortably off can safely tend our gardens and ignore the imbecilities of elite politics."

The problem this is they can cause no amount of damage. A lot of people are not comfortably well off to be able to just tend to their gardens.

D

"There’s a link between Toby Young’s appointment to the Office for Students and the revelation that his staff regard Donald Trump as a child."

This reads like Toby's staff regard Trump as a child.

D

@steve clarke - I don't think you've understood the post

Blissex

«the knowledge that success in politics and the media requires»

A very funny and at the same time terrifying quote from a commenter on another blog as to this:
“Attended a gathering with Ann Widdecombe last night. All only of historic interest but for one comment.
To get on in politics you have to have a political personality and the best way to acquire that according to the ladder climbers is to get on Have I got News for You.. That is the word from Widdicombe.”

Boris is then the perfect politician :-).

«obnoxiousness, self-promotion and a wealthy background and the right backers»

That seems to apply to tories, but in an ideal world does not apply to labour politicians. Attlee, Wilson, Brown, Corbyn...

Blissex

«A lot of people are not comfortably well off to be able to just tend to their gardens.»

And do these "losers", especially if they live in safe seats in the north, actually matter in politics?

chris

@ Steven - I don't want good surgeons or mechanics going into politics. What matters is how much good people can do. The very able politician might not do much net good: many leftists, for example, would rather Thatcher had been less competent. Also, even the very best journalists can usually achieve very little, so it's not obvious that our best people should be journos.
I'm broadening a point here often made about finance - that it attracts too many bright people, leabing too little talent elsewhere.

Daniel

"And do these "losers", especially if they live in safe seats in the north, actually matter in politics?"

They have an interest in having competent leaders who represent them and are able to help them improve their lives.

Steven Clarke

@ Chris - I completely agree with this point.

Presumably, for a given role, we all benefit from having the most competent people in that role.

- Surgeons and mechanics have a well defined role, where merit can be easily measured. Selection into the profession should work well and so should weeding out of incompetence.

- Politics and journalism do not have such well defined roles. In fact, different people will disagree. For every leftist who wished Thatcher was less competent, there will be a rightist who wishes she was more competent.

Presumably you wish that politics and journalism did have a more narrowly defined role and benefit for society, so we could better select for those who could perform it and weed out those who can't.

- Other professions must also attract mediocre people who are better elsewhere. This doesn't rile you as much. Is this because politics, journalism and finance, when done badly, has such bad systemic effects on the rest of us?

- "it's not obvious that our best people should be journos". There is no one scale of goodness in people. The best people for journalism will be different in their goodness than the best people for surgery. It is about finding the best matches.

Bill Posters

Don't mind living in a meritocracy as long as I decide who has merit.

One year nearly done with an idiot as the leader of the free world and it's not made much difference. Hope the US checks and balances work for 3 more years.

The elites have made some very bad decisions over the last 20 years hence there is a lot of anti-elitism about.

For the elites the answer is start making better decisions soon.

Generate some decent economic growth and I'll be very slightly less begruding doffing my cap.

Blissex

«Generate some decent economic growth»

For *you*, cloth-cap wearing, it is probably well true that “The elites have made some very bad decisions over the last 20 years” but for millions of voters (usually older, usually women, usually in the south-east), mostly property and business rentiers, they have been amazingly awesome decisions that have made them a lot of tax-free work-free money.

They consider (Thatcher and) Blair and Osborne economic geniuses, and grateful for how much better their living standards have become thanks to their decisions: property prices have quadrupled or quintupled, rents doubled or tripled, labour costs down 30-50%, lower taxes, much bigger share prices, imports zooming, because of how good the affluent "conservatory building classes" have had it.

You should not believe the false heralds of "austerity": the economy has been doing very well, for a large minority, thanks to upward redistribution from a majority of "losers" whose vote matters a lot less.
I live in a "winner" area, and people here are very comfortable with their big gains, even if of course never content with them.

Bill Posters

Blissex

My contributions here are purely rhetorical. I'm not expecting anyone to read them much less respond.

Having said that I would wager there is more discontent in your south of watford gap area than you make out.

The winners know the only way for their kids to do as well as them is to gift them wealth. The best way to help the kids is give them all your money live seven years then die quickly. They know the systems broken.

A surprisingly bigly number of leave voters in your area could be another sign.

Off to exercise the whippet.

Blissex

«The best way to help the kids is give them all your money live seven years then die quickly. They know the systems broken.»

I suspect that I have less optimistic view of human nature: rationalization drives people to think that if a system made them rich that is the best possible system, and will refuse to consider the case that it is broken.

Anyhow many of the "winners" are delighted that their children depend on them for money and inheritance.

«A surprisingly bigly number of leave voters in your area could be another sign.»

There are two main "Leave" groups, and one of them is affluent southern rentiers, who remember that they used to be TOP DOG in a vast empire, that when they waved their blue passports the natives had to be deferential and obedient.
The feel that EU membership has been a national humiliation, being just EU citizens like any slovenian or portoguese commoner. They seem to think that "Leave" means becoming TOP DOG again thanks to their "buccaneering" culture.

derrida derider

"It’s possible that Trump’s character flaws will prevent him using his presidency to do great irreversible damage... imagine if somebody of ability had his agenda."

Richard Nixon anyone? Margaret Thatcher?

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