Posts Tagged ‘meritocracy’

Trump’s Moral Confusion

February 8, 2017

I’ve delayed my promised wrap-up of the dangers inherent in artificial intelligence till my next rant to explore a topical failure in human intelligence, or at least human values.

 

At a gathering this past week I had a conversation with an acquaintance who appeared to share many of my world views. However, when the subject of Israel and the Middle East came up, we had a spirited discussion about equating loss of innocent lives during military action versus the intentional targeting of non-combatants (an argument I’ve heard before). To me, this was an otherwise reasonable man attempting to assert equivalence between collateral damage and terrorism.

 

Which brings me to President Trump. This past week he took a brief break from tweeting to sit down for an interview with Bill O’Reilly. During that dialog, he was asked if he respected President Putin, and while he acknowledged it remained to be seen if they would get along, he maintained that he respected the Russian leader. When reminded by Mr. O’Reilly that the man was a “killer,” Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”

 

It behooves all of us, especially our president, to get our heads above the moral fog that seems to have enveloped us over the past few decades. No, we are not perfect; as a nation of human beings we never can be. And we should strive to be better. But even with our mistakes and missteps we’ve come the closest to assuring human rights and dignity of any system devised in the history of mankind. The principles upon which this country is based (and which, paradoxically, seem to foster this moral confusion), have created the most powerful meritocracy the world has ever known. If we lose sight of this, and focus more on our shortcomings than on our successes, as our enemies hope, we will become progressively immobilized as a people by the toxic cloud of moral confusion.

 

The slogan of Trump’s campaign has been “America First.” If he continues down this road he can join ex-President Obama on the second “Blame America First” tour.

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THE UNITED STATES OF AMERITOCRACY

April 22, 2013

Our Founding Fathers were almost right. They labored mightily to create a system as far removed from the aristocracy that had blighted their existence and driven them to a new world, and a new world order. Rule of the people. But how do you prevent the people from becoming the tyrant? Nix the democracy and make a democratic republic. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

It worked for over 200 years. They had hoped it would work forever.  They knew, however, that if the fragile underpinnings of morality collapsed, the system couldn’t stand. Slowly, like the tongue of a dying wave lapping at the base of a sand castle, the Judeo-Christian ethic buttressing the political engine began to crumble, and now the republic is morphing into the Mr. Hyde they feared–unbridled democracy. Taxes rising, productivity falling,  and more and more citizens sucking at the teat of the welfare state. The people choosing to vote as the have-nots against the haves. It’s the Hatfields and the McCoys, writ large; the American twist on tribal warfare.

The Sunnis have the Shias to hate. The Pakistanis have the Indians. And they all hate the Jews. In this country we suffer the inconvenience of relative homogeneity, having achieved more than a modicum of a national identity, so we have to vent by means of various shades of racism and classism. True, the former has become a bit more of a struggle as institutionalized racism has dramatically declined  over the past few decades, but there’s enough hatred in people’s hearts, especially in some parts of the land, to provide fuel for the hyperbole that makes many of the minority leaders rich and powerful. And maybe that hyperbole is a good thing. There are few things as ugly as bigotry. Stealing a person’s dignity and robbing them of opportunity simply because of the way they were born, whether it be defined by color or status, is an abomination. It’s a form of rape that differs little in kind from what a dictator like Kim Jung-un does on a mass scale to a whole people (identical ethnicity notwithstanding). The operative word here is opportunity. Equality of opportunity is the cornerstone of a stable nation and a peaceful world. Liberals, in their well-intentioned but muddied thinking have confused this with equality of outcome. It leads to distorted perceptions that attempt to justify perversions such as reverse-racism that takes the form of misguided affirmative action and claims for reparations, rather than seeking true color-blindness based on recognition of merit.

Which brings me to the crux of the matter: What made this country exceptional was never democracy at all–it was meritocracy. The idea that anyone, black, white, red, yellow, or brown, born with privilege or in the streets, with hard work and ingenuity could become a success. Try to achieve that in a country that defines your limits from cradle to grave by, say, the caste you’re born to.

Does the American system always work? Of course not. As long as there are bad people trying to game it, and there always will be, it will from time to time stumble. But it works better here than anywhere else. We need to protect it with our hearts, our minds, and, sadly, at times with our lives. Our Founding Fathers  would have been appalled by the fascination Americans display for the Royal Family, whose claim to wealth and fame is nothing more  than the womb from which they slid, and a womb that represented oppression of the very people it governed.

We don’t need more Democrats or Republicans. Let’s bring on the Ameritocrats.