I think that the author of the linked article (a kind reader reports that the link doesn't work - here's the URL: (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/22/AR2010102202873.html?hpid=opinionsbox1&sid=ST2010102204725) hasn’t read the extreme end result of his posit: Atlas Shrugged. He says that there is something wrong with smart people, achieving people hanging with each other, marrying each other and raising yet a new generation of even more of the same. That’s what this article seems to be saying; and, I‘ve read it couple of times.
“The more efficiently a society identifies the most able young people of both sexes, sends them to the best colleges, unleashes them into an economy that is tailor-made for people with their abilities and lets proximity take its course, the sooner a New Elite -- the "cognitive elite" that Herrnstein and I described -- becomes a class unto itself. It is by no means a closed club, as Barack Obama's example proves. But the credentials for admission are increasingly held by the children of those who are already members. An elite that passes only money to the next generation is evanescent ("Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations," as the adage has it). An elite that also passes on ability is more tenacious, and the chasm between it and the rest of society widens.
“The bubble that encases the New Elite crosses ideological lines and includes far too many of the people who have influence, great or small, on the course of the nation. They are not defective in their patriotism or lacking a generous spirit toward their fellow citizens. They are merely isolated and ignorant. The members of the New Elite may love America, but, increasingly, they are not of it.”
So, must the country’s elite not achieve? Must we engage in affirmative action for the intellectually challenged? What is the societal result of either or both paths? The author seems to be arguing for the ascendency of Beck’s and Palin’s America.
I’m past my prime. But before I hit it, I thought there was an aspiration on the part of my parents and relatives that the next generation would do a bit more than they had been able to do, in whatever way “a bit more” turned out.
I think that’s changing as evidenced by articles like this that attack people that don’t hang on Oprah’s every word, think that knowing who is a NASCAR star is not all that important, or have not had the obvious benefit of having read a romance novel. Don’t trust the “elites;” though, do take the benefits of what they’ve given our society, the author seems to say.
America seems to be reveling in xenophobic populists, momma grizzlies and pundits that can cry on cue, a national downward aspiration if you will.
In a way it’s understandable. Reagan said all those homey, warm things and for a while, rampant capitalism lifted all boats. The second Bush had promise for underachieving America, “he’s one of us,” until he and his GOP buddies spent like they were trying to gain admission to the left wing of the Democratic Party in an uninformed, desperate attempt to rein in what Reagan had started. Obama? Wrong place, wrong time, same failed gifting of money to the people with money in hopes that it would trickle down to “the people,” keeping the boat afloat.
So what do Reagan (though he’s been gone for long enough to not be castigated), Bush and Obama have in common? They’re elites, insulated from “Real America.” We’ve had enough of smart achievers! We’re for the O’Donnells, Palins, Becks of the world. They understand us, and they’re against “them.”
People are good and bad, rich and poor, tall and short, and so on. When did it become a bad idea to learn and achieve, whatever your other characteristics are?