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Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy by Christopher L. Hayes
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Twilight of the Elites Quotes (showing 1-30 of 52)
“This is the cycle of a dynamic society. Equality is never a final state, democracy never a stable equilibrium: they are processes, they are struggles. Our task is now to recognize that that struggle is ours.”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“At its most basic, the logic of 'meritocracy' is ironclad: putting the most qualified, best equipped people into the positions of greates responsibility and import...But my central contention is that our near-religious fidelity to the meritocratic model comes with huge costs. We overestimate the advantages of meritocracy and underappreciate its costs, because we don't think hard enough about the consequences of the inequality it produces. As Americans, we take it as a given that unequal levels of achievement are natural, even desirable. Sociologist Jermole Karabel, whose work looks at elite formation, once said he 'didnt think any advanced democracy is as obsessed with equality of opportunity or as relatively unconcerned with equality of condition' as the United States. This is our central problem. And my proposed solution for correcting the excesses of our extreme version of meritocracy is quite simple: make America more equal”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“We now operate in a world in which we can assume neither competence nor good faith from the authorities, and the consequences of this simple, devastating realization is the defining feature of American life at the end of this low, dishonest decade.”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“We cannot have a just society that applies the principle of accountability to the powerless in the principle of forgiveness to the powerful.”
Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“The first commendment of hte post 1970s meritocracy can be sumed up as follows: "Thou shall provide equality of opportunity to all, regardless of race, gender, or sexual oritentation, but worry not about equality of outcomes." But what we've seen time and time again is that the two aren't so neatly separated. If you don't concern yourself at all with equality fo outcomes, you will, over time, produce a system with horrendous inequality of opportunity. This is the paradox of meritocracy: It can only truly come to flower in a society that starts out with a relatively high degree of equality. So if you want meritocracy, work for equality. Because it is only in a society which values equality of actual outcomes, one that promotes the commonweal and social solidarity, that equal opportunity and earned mobility can flourish.”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“As inequality has grown, as its negative consequences have become harder and harder to ignore, our response has been to put more and more weight on the educational system, to look to school reform as the means of closing the 'achievement gap' and of guaranteeing the increasingly illusory promise of equal opportunity. We ask the education system to expiate the sins of the rest of the society and then condemn it as hopelessly broken when it doesn't prove up to the task.”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“We can have a just society whose guiding ethos is accountability and punishment, where both black kids dealing weed in Harlem and investment bankers peddling fraudulent securities on Wall Street are forced to pay for their crimes, or we can have a just society whose guiding ethos is forgiveness and second chances, one in which both Wall Street banks and foreclosed households are bailed out, in which both inside traders and street felons are allowed to rejoin polite society with the full privileges of citizenship intact. But we cannot have a just society that applies the principle of accountability to the powerless and the principle of forgiveness to the powerful. This is the America in which we currently reside.”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“Where the establishment emphasized humility, prudence, lineage, meritocracy celebrates ambition, achievement, brains&self-betterment”
Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“Progress is dependent upon a productive and dynamic tension between institutionalism and insurrectionism. Insurrectionists keep our institutions honest. Insurrection us are stewards of our collective public life.”
Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“So even as the meritocracy produces failing, distrusted institutions, massive inequality, and an increasingly detached elite, it also produces a set of very powerful and influential leaders who hold it in high regard.”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“1 in every 28 children in the United States—more than 3.6 percent—now has a parent in jail or prison. Just 25 years ago, the figure was only 1 in 125. For black children, incarceration is an especially common family circumstance. More than 1 in 9 black children have a parent in prison or jail, a rate that has more than quadrupled in the past 25 years.”57 Not”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“Mills surveyed a postwar landscape in which Mass Man had been successfully alienated from the actual levers of power in the society. As institutions grew larger, and war and governance more complex, a subclass of men that Mills dubbed the “Power Elite” exerted more and more control over the nation’s pillar institutions. “Insofar”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“Each exposure of previously secret misdeeds—steroid use, Ponzi schemes, rigged intelligence—produces an acute and debilitating psychological effect.”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“Because revelations of systemic deception erode our most basic, default expectation of good faith, they play an outsize role in producing a crisis of authority. Each exposure of previously secret misdeeds—steroid use, Ponzi schemes, rigged intelligence—produces an acute and debilitating psychological effect. Vertigo sets in, similar to that experienced by a spouse who, after decades of what he thought was a happy, loyal marriage, discovers his wife has been cheating all along. Suddenly we realize we live in a world entirely more depraved than the one we thought we inhabited.”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“We can never be sure just which other business cards are in the pocket of pundit, politician, or professor. We can’t be sure, in short, just who our elites are working for. But we suspect it is not us.”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“In addition to the authoritarian threat, there is another insidious possibility: that endemic elite failure will prompt the populace to retreat into denialism. As distrust spreads from institution to institution like a contagion, it can render the entire social structure of publicly accessible knowledge unusable. If the experts as a whole are discredited, we are faced with an inexhaustible supply of quackery. To”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“it is very often the case in large metro areas that the geographic locations of desirable housing with good school districts are far from the place where there are the best job opportunities. Meanwhile, lack of access to a car is one of the most debilitating aspects of modern poverty, particularly for those in places where public transportation is scarce and unsteady. According to the 2000 census, 8 percent of Americans resided in a household without access to a car, but that number varies widely depending on class and location. Among the poor nationwide, 20 percent live in households that don’t have access to a car, and”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“We have increased total defense expenditures by 83 percent from 2000 to 2010, and our war in Afghanistan is now longer than World War II. In”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“Barack Obama seemed to suggest he was on the side of those who favored radical overhaul, but he has governed as a man who believes in reform at the margins. This is the heart of why his presidency has been so frustrating for so many: He campaigned as an insurrectionist and has governed as an institutionalist. And how could he do anything but? He is, after all, a product of the very institutions that are now in such manifest crisis. The central tragic irony of the presidency of Barack Obama is that his election marked the crowning achievement of the post-1960s meritocracy, just at the moment that the system was imploding on itself. Like all ruling orders, the meritocracy tends to cultivate within its most privileged members an abiding devotion. Many of the figures who feature most prominently in this era’s chronicle of woe, are, like Obama himself, products of the process of elite formation we call the meritocracy, the interlocking institutions that purport to select the brightest, most industrious, and most ambitious members of the society and cultivate them into leaders:”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“The cost of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and inside Pakistan total more than a trillion dollars over the past decade, which would be enough money to pay the inflation-adjusted cost of Roosevelt’s New Deal twice over—or ten times the amount of the Marshall Plan.29 But more brutal are the human costs: more than 6,000 Americans have been killed in action, and another 2,000 have taken their own lives while serving or after completing service. More than 47,000 troops have been wounded, and 1,400 have had a limb amputated.30 Even”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“the 1 percent now lay claim to nearly a quarter of the total economic pie. The last time their share was this high was on the eve of the 1929 stock market crash. In”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“During the Vietnam War, servicemen were typically deployed once, for an average of six months. During the Gulf War, service members were also typically deployed only once, for an average of 153 days.31 Today, average deployments last thirteen months, and more than one-third of service members are deployed more than once.”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“People with insecure high self-esteem tend to be insensitive to others and to show an excessive preoccupation with themselves, with success, and with their image and appearance in the eyes of others. This unhealthy high self-esteem is often called “threatened egotism,” “insecure high self-esteem,” or narcissism.44 At its most extreme, the constant”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“A 2008 survey of 3,400 officers reported that 88 percent believed Iraq had “stretched the U.S. military dangerously thin” while nearly half thought Iraq had “broken” the military.33”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“In 2007, according to the IRS, the richest four hundred taxpayers had an average income of more than ten thousand times the average income of the bottom 90 percent of taxpayers. Hedge fund billionaire John Paulson made $2.4 million per hour in the year 2010. That’s as much as a worker making $50,000 a year would make over the course of her entire forty-seven-year working career.10”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“In her 2008 paper “Who Joins the Military?: A Look at Race, Class, and Immigration Status” Amy Lutz concluded that “as family income increases, the likelihood of having ever served in the military decreases.” Further, she found “low representation of the children of the very rich” within the armed forces and that “the highest income quartile was significantly less likely to have served than the lowest.” She concludes that “the economic elite are very unlikely to serve in the military” and that the “all-volunteer force continues to see over-representation of the working and middle classes, with fewer incentives for upper class participation.”36 It”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“In 1982, the top 1 percent of pop stars, in terms of pay, raked in 26 percent of concert ticket revenue. In 2003, that top 1 percent—names like Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, or 50 Cent—took 56 percent of the concert pie.12”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“Between the 1970s and early 2000, the ratio of the pay of the top 10 percent of CEOs to those in the middle doubled from two to four.14 Not only that, but CEOs even pulled away from their own deputies. A 2006 study found that the ratio of CEO pay to the average of the next two most highly compensated employees of the firm also almost doubled during the period between 1980 and 2005.15 In”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“one of the best ways to predict a student’s SAT score is to look at his parents’ income: the more money they make, the higher the score is likely to be.13”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
“with the exception of England, every other industrialized democracy has higher levels of income equality than the United States. Data from the OECD shows one consistent, general principle: The higher the taxes in a given country, the less inequality. This makes obvious and intuitive sense. Taxation is the primary method for redistribution, and as a general rule, the more taxation, the more redistribution; the more redistribution, the more equality. The United States collects a far smaller share of the national income in taxes than nearly every other industrialized democracy, and in recent years that rate has been dropping. Total tax revenue as percentage of GDP in the United States is at 24.8 percent, down from 29.5 percent in 2000. You can compare that to Denmark, which has the highest level of tax revenue as a percentage of GDP (48.2 percent) and the most equality out of any OECD country.15 Over the last thirty years or so we’ve seen rising inequality in pre-tax income, which means that before the government even starts its taxing, spending, and redistribution, there has been a profound and accelerating gap between high income earners and everyone else. The rich are earning more, while the non-rich’s earnings stagnate or decline. But these pre-tax earnings are run through the redistributive mechanisms of the state. And during the same time that pre-tax inequality has been growing, our tax system has grown less redistributive, further amplifying inequality rather than mitigating it. This”
Christopher L. Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy

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