Is Meritocracy Good?

By James Kwak

Two years ago I wrote a post arguing that smart, well-educated, hard-working people did not deserve to make more money than other people, at least not as a normative (as opposed to a utilitarian) matter.

Last night I was re-reading A Theory of Justice by John Rawls. This is what he has to say on the matter (§ 12, pp. 73–74):

“[The liberal conception of the second principle of justice] still permits the distribution of wealth and income to be determined by the natural distribution of abilities and talents. Within the limits allowed by the background arrangements, distributive shares are decided by the outcome of the natural lottery; and this outcome is arbitrary from a moral perspective. There is no more reason to permit the distribution of income and wealth to be settled by the distribution of natural assets than by historical and social fortune. . . . Even the willingness to make an effort, to try, and so to be deserving in the ordinary sense is itself dependent upon happy family and social circumstances.”

154 responses to “Is Meritocracy Good?

  1. I agree with this point of Rawls, but only from a subjective, first-person perspective. To the extent I’ve done well, It’s a counsel of modesty and humility. To the extent I’ve done poorly, it’s consoling. This is one of the parts of Theory of Justice that approaches spiritual wisdom. (Another is the metaphor of a symphony for the social union of social unions.)

    I quarrel with overuse of the term “meritocracy.” In Don Peck’s article in The Atlantic on the middle class, he is constantly referring to the “meritocrats” who do so well in today’s society. He often identifies the meritocrats as those who have the most money, conflating merit with its reward. He also offers a more traditional definition of meritocrats as those who’ve done well in school. But, as Pierson and Hacker show, that group is far larger than the top 0.1, 0.01, and 0.001% who’ve really gotten the lion share of gains in the economy (e.g., 2/3 of national income gain from 2002 to 2007 went to the top 1%).

    John Kay of the Financial Times is more realistic. He’s suggested that we must always be careful to assess whether fortunes spring from productivity (a sign of a well-ordered society) or brute power (an indicator of injustice):

    “Two broad economic theories describe the allocation of income and wealth. The power theory states, broadly, that people get what they grab: from the forest, the markets, or the shop window. The distribution of income reflects the distribution of power. . . .The alternative theory is that what people earn reflects their marginal productivity – how much they personally add to the value of goods and services. The marginal productivity theory has many attractions, especially to those who are well paid: if what they receive is a product of their own efforts, their rewards are surely well deserved.”

    Kay worries that, among elites, the “ethic of just reward through effort gave way to the culture of present entitlement from possession.”

  2. There is no moral reason for obese people to have worse health on average than their thin counterparts. State redisribution of fitness would produce a much healthier population then what natural selection, luck and individual initiative offers us today.

  3. @Droid – true – to a point. The issue comes when the compensation of so few is so much more than so many. It becomes an end unto itself. i.e., wall street boys making millions a year on rents has no real utility, either to themselves (not counting ego) or to society as a whole.

  4. There’s a very rich literature on these very questions in political philosophy. You might be particularly interested in checking out Gerald Cohen’s work.

  5. @Ian
    “The issue comes when the compensation of so few is so much more than so many. It becomes an end unto itself.”

    You’re creating a false dichotomy by comparing the wealth of graft with the wealth of production

    @James Kwak
    While I share your deterministic view, none of us have any choice but to operate as though we have free will, so I will continue to pay more for hard work and gravitate towards those who pay top dollar for my contribution.

  6. Have you joined the ranks of the Handicapper General’s office?

  7. To a great extent what drives people to work is respect, authority, and being in a position to make one’s mark on the world. Positions of authority should by all means be distributed according to merit. We want the best people possible to be making the important decisions. But we don’t have to pay them so much more than we pay everyone else. The desirability of the position will be reward enough.

    This is not at all to say that people shouldn’t work. We need people to work. But people will want to work at jobs that are more rewarding — whether or not they get paid more to do them. To the extent that some jobs are more rewarding than others meritocracy should allocate job reward and satisfaction. But it should not allocate money.

  8. Beyond the justice of finders keepers, desert has nothing to do with it. See Hayek 1960 and Kirzner on distributive justice.

  9. I have a problem with the word “Meritocracy” – which suggests that there is “merit” in being smart, well-educated, hard-working. I believe I am smart, well-educated, hard-working but I’m not sure there is “merit” i.e. a moral positive, in these attributes. I got the smart through my genes, and had the well-educated supplied by my folks, along with the “hard work” ethic.

    I suspect that Mr Madoff was smart, well-educated, hard-working.

    How about Caesar Chavez – I dont think folks use the term “meritocracy” when talking aout him but I suspect he was all of those 3 things.

    Seems like “meritocracy” is used to sugar coat “acquisitive – eager to use one’s smarts in the pursuit of money”.

    Am I wrong?

  10. I have been reading posts of James Kwak for about 3 years — get the emails — and generally agree with him. Howver, when he argued that smart, well-educated, hard-working people did not deserve to make more money than other people, he totally lost me. I think, in short, for the progress of human society we must provide proper incentives so that those who contribute most get most rewards. Luck will always be a factor but it should be minimized…

  11. Where does meritocracy exisit? Is it only applicable to males?

    I am smart, educated, and hard working (more so, on all three counts, than most people I’ve encountered). I am not monetarily wealthy, nor can I recall ever having been rewarded for being smart and hardworking. In fact, it usually works against me. I have seen this happen to others as well, particularly women.

    My observation over decades: Those who get ahead in organizations do so primarily because they fit into the culture or because they brown nose adequately.

    I have been told, literally, that I was “too smart, and too strong” to get ahead in an organization (a large Federal bureaucracy).

    Even my mother has commented that I’m too smart.

    Oh well, I guess the good news is that I already fit into the James Kwak compensatory model!

  12. Perhaps what’s natural is what’s fair.

    And meritocracy leading to money does not stop at smart, hard working and educated. It also involves choices and perspective. When I read teachers complain that they are more valuable to society than an NBA star, I despair at the ignorance that their choices have consequences and that they are not in a profession that is structured to readily measure and therefore reward talent.

    As to the point of this blog post, human nature is what powers capitalism to greater societal wealth/advancement than socialism and its cousins. Human nature will not soon change, and pretense otherwise is futile.

  13. Didn’t Russia try this?

  14. You all amazingly appear to ignore the herd of elephants in the room — let me point them out to you: Our major social/economic/educational dynamic is Competition (ritualised conflict, with its resultant structure: Hierarchy and objective: Exploitation). And then you base your ideas of “merit” on being exclusively governed by THAT system and whatever set of situation ethics allows you to “justify” your niche within it.

    Being empathetically and even cognitively undeveloped (to the extent of being psychopathically infantile) is a necessary prerequisite to success in such a competitive dynamic. That means: if I am single-minded; have a narrow mental field; am ruthless, determined and decisively simplistic ( unable and unwilling to consider the collateral damage of the effects of my decisions), and if I am egocentrically opportunistic, amorally cunning and emotionally manipulative (good “leadership” qualities for “motivating” people), these “qualities” make me a winner and good meritocratic material —- (or maybe I am really only about 2 or 3 years old? But then again I still need to have 20 to 60 years of experience and fine tuning in these dark arts to compete and win).

    Given those latter attributes, and the fact that to “get to the top”, I probably don’t possess, and have no need to possess, any creative abilities nor productive skills whatsoever, explains why commercialism, marketing, legalism and “financialism” and the corporations sit like great life-sucking cancers on the creative and productive body of economics. Oh yes, it helps if I can act like (mimic) some vague model of an ethical being and talk in bibliographies, while repackaging and regurgitating second hand knowledge from “accredited” (meritocratically imbued) sources -it’ll get me some street cred with the riff-raff voters, customers and fellow gangsters.

    Competition is driven by the primal fear of lack or “missing out”— and the Meritocratic drive (and “accreditation”) by the primal fear of being rejected by the group. — The invisible hand and the invisible hug?

    Objective Compassion powered by an authentically Cooperative and Creative dynamic anyone? And how about some psychological maturity?

  15. Philip Pilkington

    Meritocracy is meritocracy. It matters little. What really matters is where this goes. Meritocracy tends to gain more of a share of how these things are distributed. I.e. it accumulates more capital.

    Is this good? Is this bad? It can only be one or the other from the point of view of how we distribute. Without that the whole thing is meaningless.

    So, the question is how we distribute. That’s a big question and I’m not willing to answer it here. But if I were to say: distributing in the manner that we are doing is self-destructive — it kills demand and it sends us into a deflationary spiral.

    In saying that, I don’t think the proprietors of this blog actually understand the extent to which this matters. But I guess that’s another day’s discussion.

  16. Capitalism is a pyramid scheme. Those who succeed are not the “best” humanity has to offer, they are the best at capitalism. They ignore sustainability and holistic long term success, focus on short term monetary profits and nothing else, take advantage of any human or earthian resource ruthlessly with no thought towards a long term sustainable operation, and then see oneself as a “success deserving more than others” after profits come in. This is stupid. We need sustainable design and implementation promoting 100 year goals and business operations that value all elements (earthian, animal, human) equally.

    We need to rethink our entire civilization and get capitalism in a cage where it can serve the evolution of humanity on earth. Resource rape and pillage is ignorant. It’s continuance will produce stupid products and services and their consequent depletion of earth, poverty for most humans and a dysfunctional civilization headed for self-destruction.

  17. @ Duncan MacMartin — love your post. James and many of his ilk operate within a box. It is actually rather bizarre: the land of models – devoid from reality. They can’t see outside the box. In fact, they don’t even recognize they are in one. Of course, we all have our stories, but some people don’t get that it IS a story and there are many, many others.

  18. The idea of meritocracy implies that those who found a way to take advantage of the present system do deserve the rewards. As explained in some articles above, that is simply a justification for some kind of theft in those cases especially when rewards are extreme and one sided (no chances of losses) and the sustainability of the economic system becomes questionable due to those actions. If a risk taker earns a lot, I find it ok. If someone in employ finds a way to basically use the system for the purpose of enriching himself without any downside risk (except maybe losing the job), well, that should be considered criminal if that use must be considered abusive in the sense that it will show negative consequences for the general population.

  19. @btraven – Does this all remind you a little of Plato’s cave? Your statement that: “They can’t see outside the box. In fact, they don’t even recognize they are in one.” is so patently true. They believe the illusion that, literally, there is only one game in town!

    The key players in this “game”, by competitive prerequisite, are not equipped to deal with cognitive complexity in the least, nor in any real conceptual depth. For most of them, the way we are discussing this is so alien to them it doesn’t even register! Their system is complicated not complex and their solutions are simplistic not simple! And they have no clue to the difference!

    They are lost in a rat’s nest of their own myopic pseudo-technicalities and beliefs, while these following real issues are cognitively invisible:

    — the universal lack in the “industry” of any form of cognitive/empathetic maturity (which in fact is a real vocational and competitive liability to them);

    — a grossly financially inefficient centralism imposed solely for the purposes of exploitation and control;

    — an often not-so-genteel form of gangsterism (oligarchy) with its loyalties, corruption and protectsia;

    — the amazing anthropomorphising of soulless organisations under law but with an institutionalised absence of responsibility and morality;

    — and lastly, under such centralist inefficiencies, a 20 kilo tail of finance and distribution wagging the 1 kilo dog of creativity and production.

    I am not sure that they (the centralists) are the ones to even discuss much more financially efficient and effective systems of free enterprise, local economies and local decision-making. We need to pour our energies into localised participative responsibility and decision-making (true democracy) and local free enterprise economies while relegating financial investment out of usury into a closely regulated and non-controlling role of providing localised venture capital.

    Ultimately when competition’s top heavy and teetering iceberg rolls over, we will be ready and able to safely surf away on the resultant wave. The greatest illusion of all is that we actually need them!!!! — We are only chained to them and their system by a lack of trust in each other because of competition. — Overcome competition locally as the economic “game”, work on trusting each other, and then cooperation and compassion will spread like the dawn sunshine breaking after a long dark night.

  20. Moses Herzog

    [timid and slow-witted punk raises his hand from the back of the class]

    “Professor Kwak, I felt confused…. Did you attend the same law school as Thomas Travers?? Excuse me, I mean Clarence Thomas???”

  21. Moses Herzog

    More from The Rachel Maddow Show on the “honorable” Justice Thomas Travers….. oh darn!! I mean Clarence Thomas.

  22. @Heisenberg – so wall street isn’t engaged in graft? More or less, that’s what they are doing….

  23. By the way, who gets to determine the rules of re-distribution? How do those folks get picked? Merit? Chance? Are we to trust them? How do they get held accountable? Do they even have the information to tell them if their rules for redistribution are working as they intended?

    The basic problem is this – the implementation of the idea requires a perfect world with leaders who have a pure motive and perfect information, but in reality, this does not exist.

  24. @MacMartin – an alternate interpretation. The key players may be fully able to deal with cognitive complexity. Perhaps you misunderstand their motive. Simply stated it might be “Fxxx you, man – I’m in it for ME!” They may fully understand what you say, and consider it naive and humorous. While these guys are lacking in the sense of community that you have, they are pretty darned smart to have worked the system so well to their advantage. They invented the complicated system and the simplistic solutions for their benefit and as a smoke screen for less determined people.

    They might lack an interest in discussing the solutions to the problems you propose. They might care less if the world dissolves during their grandchildren s day – as long as they are on the “top” today.

    And as regards “ultimately” in fact the ice burg is in fact rolling over as we speak – and the common man sits quietly waiting for someone else to save us. Our children now have more student debt than the total of all credit card debt, and have been conned into paying for an education to enter a non existent economy.

    Stuff happens man, and quiet community centered folks sit by and get crushed as it rolls over.


    and then cooperation and compassion will spread like the dawn sunshine breaking after a long dark night.

    That ain’t how collapse has happened in the past. What evidence do you see that things have changed? The jerks who are wrecking the system benefit if folks believe there is a smooth ending.

  25. The current economic-financial collapse, this breakdown crisis, this denouement of the Ponzi debt-based monetary system, these accumulated massive frauds, all the manifest criminal schemes perped but un-punished, are these not the function of “meritocracy”?

  26. A “Theory of Justice”….?! It’s a shame people have equal access to the utility of *words*….

    There is a SCIENTIFIC, can’t-get-around-it man to land ratio that is sustainable, and get-this, profitable, but with a limit to the profit. You calculate that ratio without any judgement as to the mix of psycho to normal in the local population that will be trying to maintain life based on available *earthian* :-) resources.

    *Theoretically*, a culture/civilization capable of discovering such a P-Chem *fact* (man to land ratio) would be smarter than the tribe trying to survive based on the *merits* of being the most dedicated Grifters on the planet. Grifter’s survival depends on a never-ending war state – it IS Nihilism.

    100 of us, 1000 buffalo….paint-by-number Picassos have cut and deleted HUGE swaths of history, including the fact that there was a Picasso.

    Fast forward to today – Can someone explain the merits of *marketing* the way it is going on now?

    Poll after poll is taken. Then ignored.

    If only 10% of the people who experienced your *beer*, for instance, approved of it, is the producer of that *beer* now going to go back to the workbench to improve the *beer*, or go back to the workbench to invent “isms” to continue to produce a *beer* people spit out because it is so vile?

    If the choice is to invent “isms” to sell the *beer* instead of improve the *beer*, theoretically 90% of the people who hate the *beer* have no say in how many buffalo can be *sacrificed* to produce bad *beer*?

  27. “The world is forever being means-tested?”
    Question – Which would you prefer? The cows milk or the cream that comes to the top?
    A somewhat gifted slow learning child or a quick witted intelligence that seems contemptuous upon excepting his contemporary,… think of a Albert Einstein struggling to read as a youth?
    Opportunity knocks at life’s door several times, but it is not mediocrity that foils its fruition,… rather, pure ignorance in which we are not born with but inherit through are association with unrealistic delusion’s of grandeur, predicated on greed!

    Ref: Joseph Campbell http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/joseph_campbell.html

    Quotes: “No Government can be long secure without a formidable Opposition” – “… the Arch-Mediocrity who presided, rather than ruled, over this Cabinet of Mediocrities” ____’Disraeli’ – {Coningsby – bk.i,ch.1/Ib. [30][31]
    Quotte: “Titles distinguish the mediocre, embarrass the superior, and are disgraced by the inferior”___’Shaw’ – {Man and Superman (1913) “Maxims for Revolutionist’s: Titles’}

    Thankyou James and Simon
    PS. Loved your first read 2009 :-))

  28. Lucy Honeychurch

    Ah, ‘The Education of James Kwak’. Always fun to watch. Now, on to Nozick…

  29. @Ian
    Wall street is engaged in graft. That’s why the mention of their salaries in a discussion of meritocracy is apples and oranges.

  30. How shall we evaluate the meritocratic weighted distribution of rewards as it functions in an immoral system, say the Third Reich or the slave labor of the Confederacy? Those who work hardest to exploit forced or slave labor shall be highly rewarded and the slaves who work hardest die quicker as they expend the greatest energy in a fruitless return on the their labor. Consider that the generations of untouchables and lower caste Indians, or the peasant class anywhere, who aspired to raise their lot in life beyond their station through hard work may well have seen their house burned and a beating administered or even been rewarded with death.

    Meritocratic reward is a shallow intellectual construct adopted by that happy one percent, the haves, to justify their position vis a vis the great sea of have-nots; as a theory of justice or just distribution, it is a fiction. Its source derives from the same stream of thought in which social Darwinists and efficient marketeers dip for their philosophies. As humanity continues its disturbing journey, marked by frequent war and famine, it is as likely that the scum will rise to the top as the cream and not invariably because of their hard work.

    Currently I’m not sure whether a quick survey of global enterprise and governance would characterize the results as trending toward justice or criminality, it is entirely doubtful whether we would find that those most highly remunerated were the most highly deserving.

  31. Ref: “Existentialism” – Dostoyevsky & Kafka
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existentialism#Dostoyevsky_and_Kafka

    Note: Jean Anouilh’s ‘Antigone’ [85]___excerpt “… would rather die than live a mediocre existence”

    Thanks James

  32. Moses Herzog

    Speaking of “merit” (ok I know this is off topic), we must look for merit in our Presidential candidates, yes??? And I’m wondering, if crazy farm Republicans can make a big deal out of President Obama being born in Hawaii some 50+ years ago, what should we make of a Republican contender for Presidential nomination who pounds the table for Christian prayer and family values, and less than 20 years ago invested $5,000–$10,000 in a large porn distributor and seller???
    http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/the-ad-the-religious-right-ran-against-rick-perrys-porn-company/politics/2011/08/19/25585

    http://www.salon.com/news/2012_elections/index.html?story=/politics/war_room/2011/08/19/rick_perry_porn
    Now, even IF you shrug your shoulders at supporting porn, does it show some major hypocrisy or blatant dishonesty that Rick Perry spouts prayer out of his mouth, while never addressing his discretionary income used to invest in porn distribution???
    http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/08/19/2367034/perry-once-invested-in-company.html

    I guess only Republican voters can answer that question. How about it New Hampshire??? Is this what your state wants to stand up and cheer in a leader of your nation???

  33. @Moses

    New Jersey is 47th in size. Link to top 20 Fortune 500 companies located in NJ – and their Revenues in millions of $ – add that up since we’re all playing “Are you smarter than a 6th grader?” :-)

    http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2011/states/NJ.html

    Rethugs are consistent in *character* nationwide, I’ll give you that.

    Christy’s focus on teacher’s salaries in a state with that much big business – wtf?

  34. @ Duncan MacMartin:

    We need to pour our energies into localised participative responsibility and decision-making (true democracy) and local free enterprise economies while relegating financial investment out of usury into a closely regulated and non-controlling role of providing localised venture capital.

    Ultimately when competition’s top heavy and teetering iceberg rolls over, we will be ready and able to safely surf away on the resultant wave. The greatest illusion of all is that we actually need them!!!! — We are only chained to them and their system by a lack of trust in each other because of competition. — Overcome competition locally as the economic “game”, work on trusting each other, and then cooperation and compassion will spread like the dawn sunshine breaking after a long dark night.

    Well said.

    The phantom financial economy lives on only because of agreement and participation. In addition, if we take away this phantom economy, the resources are still here — and a new set of agreements can be laid down for their distribution. As you suggest, we can actually begin this process now. (I am a big proponent of intentional communities and worker-cooperatives.) I also believe decentralization and a focus on local economies and local governments is the best way to maintain a handle on accountability.

  35. I’m not getting why this is even an issue, except for the fact that many people seem to conflate “merit” with “productivity.”

    It seems to me that instead of pointing out the fact that someone else agrees with you on what is, when you think about it, a blindingly obvious conclusion, Mr. Kwak, this post could have been better used to help people pry apart the idea that “smart, well-educated, hard-working” automagically equates to “better performing,” since it appears that some of the people who commented here seem to think that there is a causal relationship, or at least an ironclad correlation.

    The pseudo-Calvinist bent that you mentioned in your original post is alive and well, and that’s what needs addressing. The assumption that those who are better do better, and therefore I can figure out the better people by ranking them in terms of performance rests on so many assumptions that are unlikely to all be true that it’s often possible to gauge someone’s intellect by how rigidly they subscribe to it. (/sarcasm)

    Now, if you wanted to make the case that we shouldn’t offer pay for performance since an individual’s overall ability to do a job well is independent of any factors that ;person has control over, and therefore it’s unfair to penalize the losers in the genetic and social lottery for being unable to keep up with the winners, that’s a controversy worth starting an argument about.

    But the idea that we shouldn’t, as a normative matter, pay more for potential than we do for actual performance? Well, in other news, water is wet.

  36. A Voice in the Wilderness

    It isn’t what you know, it’s who you snow. :)

  37. As several comments have suggested, it’s not a coincidence that finance’s share of GDP and inequality have both risen since 1980. And yes, there are lots of “smart, well-educated, hard-working people” on Wall Street (as well as more stupid, poorly-educated, and lazy ones than is generally recognized) but the main reason they make so much money is that our markets are inefficient and corrupt. As I wrote in 1997, after more than a decade at J.P. Morgan ( http://www.efficientmarkets.com/wallstreet1997.html ):

    “There is growing uneasiness about economic inequality in our country. But even liberals accept the premise that widening pay differentials are largely the result of widening skill differentials. Under this theory, even extremely high salaries are simply the rewards of a ruthless meritocracy, which can be reduced only after-the-fact (by taxation). Anyone who has worked on a trading floor should find this laughable, for the securities business is far closer to a bloodless version of the Gambino family’s operations than to the University of Chicago’s perfect markets. Making Wall Street more efficient and honest will quickly compress the right tail of America’s income distribution.”

    “Why do the employees (and not the shareholders) pocket most of this money, even though the system, not the brilliance or hard work of individuals, is its primary source? Although I am more interested in stanching these revenue flows than in redirecting them to shareholders—because Wall Street’s victims are mostly involuntary (e.g., issuers facing an underwriting cartel, taxpayers, and investors unable to elude front-runners), whereas its shareholders are mostly voluntary—I offer some possible explanations: (1) the employees were the shareholders not too long ago and still consider the firm’s capital their own; (2) the securities business, more than most, allows for crediting revenues to specific individuals; (3) the pie cutters are usually former top producers who want to believe that their successes were the product of talent and hard work, not of a racket, and that the same is therefore true for current producers; (4) people who spend their day getting the better of customers face-to-face and over-the-phone have no trouble designing compensation plans that shortchange faceless and voiceless shareholders; and (5) traders hold implicit call options on their individual results; many are also given explicit calls on their firm’s shares: with unlimited upside, fixed downside (dismissal, with another firm usually ready to offer the same skewed odds), and poor management, it is surprising there are not more trading disasters.”

  38. Lucy Honeychurch

    Bravo Trader! Which is what makes this whole discussion a completely academic exercise in futility …

  39. Bruce E. Woych

    @James Kwak
    The merit / justice polemic pivots from distinctive reference points that diverge and converge towards credits and injustice in the counter-balances. People who gain unfair advantage by gaining the credit for other peoples merits and hard work speaks towards recognition and exploitation in a spectrum that has been “normalized” as fair game not fair play. As these socially “normative” expectations play out in gains and losses (suddcess or failure; winners and losers) an ill defined utilitarian “justification” of sorts, offsets means and resources as a socio-political ration among mutual “cooperative” competitors who accept the “advantage” presented by playing by the same set of rules under the self serving order of their direct and indirect control. In other words, the systemic serves the system which emerges as self preservation and the explanations are teleological while the utility of “justice” becomes tautology. And this pretty much determines what “neighborhood” you will live in, with or without merit as selector or elector of choice.

    In staying with John Rawls (1999:42-43): THE LAW OF PEOPLES: with the idea of public reason revisited>
    paragraph 4.5 : Cooperative Organizations.

    Rawls:

    In addition to agreeing to the principles that define basic equality of all peoples, the parties will formulate guidelines for setting up cooperative organizations and agree to standards of fairness for trade as well as certain provisions for mutual assistance (Rawls1999:42).”

    further:

    “Consider fair trade: suppose that liberal peoples assume that, when suitably regulated by a fair background framework, a free competitive-market trading scheme is to everyone’s mutual advantage, at least in the longer run. A further assumption here is that the larger nations with the wealthier economies will not attempt to monopolize the market, or to conspire to form a cartel, or to act as an oligopoly. Withe these assumptions, and supposing as before that the veil of ignorance holds, so that no people knows whether its economy is large or small, all would agree to fair standards of trade to keep the market free and competitive (when such standards can be specified, followed and enforced). Should these cooperative organizations have unjustified distributive effects between peoples, these would have to be corrected,…(Rawls1999:42-43).”

    But of course this is all an ideal system. We Know that the real world is self correcting for survival and that is not always more than a factional, segmented, stratified and politicized set of contingencies that often fall into the wrong hands…for their own reasons …not ours.

  40. @rmknox “Stuff happens man, and quiet community centred folks sit by and get crushed as it rolls over.”

    “That ain’t how collapse has happened in the past. What evidence do you see that things have changed? The jerks who are wrecking the system benefit if folks believe there is a smooth ending.”

    The key idea in my post, for “community centred folks”, or even the New Economists (wherever the hell they are) , is “Trust” – (a profoundly powerful and subjective relational concept and not a platitudinous throw-away piece of verbiage).

    However, as it currently stands, there is no evidence I can see, that “things have changed” –except maybe for some hint that there is a general stoical whisper among the common folk that nobody is capable or willing or even “smart” enough to save them, particularly not politicians. And there are hints of there not being a belief in “a smooth ending” this time, given the riots and protests around the world

    The competitive paradigm underpinning western and now eastern civilizations with its simplistic and brutish Darwinian economic agenda is finally, after thousands of years, moving from a state of “rotational” inertia to one of hypertrophied entropy.

    Instead of “smart” (read amorally cunning opportunists), “well educated” (read institutionalized and accredited regurgitators of bibliographic formulae and recipes), “hard-working” (read single-minded, ruthlessly driven and emotionally manipulative) people, meriting the spoils of ritualized conflict, what we need are courageous, creative, clear-thinking, psychologically mature, transformative thinkers who can present, catalyse and mentor the growth of a cooperatively based paradigm out of the well-rotted compost of the present competitive one.

  41. Kavin Matthews

    Hello,
    I am Kavin Matthews and I am a member of some financial communities. I just  visited your site (baselinescenario[dot]com). The articles of your site is really worth reading. The quality of your content is excellent. After seeing this, I would like to request you something. I love to write financial articles and I would like to contribute something for your site if you’ll give me the permission. I can give you an original guest post and I assure you that it will be published only in your site. If you want, you can suggest me the topic also and I will write accordingly. Please let me know your thoughts. Waiting for your positive reply. Reach me at: kavin[dot]matthews25[at]gmail[dot]com

    Thanks & Regards,
    Kavin matthews

  42. I’ll pass on that Kavin.

  43. Yes, by all means, let us tear down the tyranny of the selfish gene! Only when we live in forced equality, divorced from biology, logic or physics, shall we truly be free.

    This is liberal thought, brought to its ultimate conclusion – an unworkable, deranged attempt to raise Equality to supplant Liberty as the highest of human goals. Better that we all be perfectly equal slaves, than somewhat-unequal freemen, eh?

  44. @ John

    “every freeman be his own master,… and every slave of equality prostrates to his master?” eh,… ?

    “Nothing in life is unworkable,… it’s just having to keep pace with fleeting time – ageing progressive thoughts dimmed before our sight of realities prove that all is vanity,… as the master works his playwright’s into a frenzied finale – the sequels flash the fast shadows of rail as that of a runaway train in twilight time long ago, yet tomorrow still feels of yesterday?”

  45. @John — you channeling Ayn Rand? As for me I don’t want to take away your right to be a loyal devotee of “the selfish gene” myth (is that the latest justification for sandpit ethics?) nor do I wish to force you to do a darn thing — Except to deny your apparent self awarded entitlement to enslave the great majority of humanity on this planet to serve that psychopathic licentiousness the US chapter of the economic masters of the universe continually masquerade as “Liberty”.

    The foundations of your economy were built on enslaving half of Africa and you’ve been looking for ways of getting subsistence labor ever since emancipation. Instead of slave ships and chains you’ve now got debt and mortgages. And your corpos have learned to mine the poverty of the third world after bribing or assassinating their politicians and ripping off their resources. Your biology is genetically modified, your logic is infantile and your physics creates weapons of mass destruction. and YOU call a modest attempt to promote equality “deranged” — give us a break!

  46. What facinates me is that fact that no one has brought up Michael Young, the British sociologist that coined the term “meritocracy”. he meant is as a critique.

    He wrote a great op-ed in the Guardian in 2001 about the notion of “meritocracy.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2001/jun/29/comment

    to quote just a part:

    “Underpinning my argument was a non-controversial historical analysis of what had been happening to society for more than a century before 1958, and most emphatically since the 1870s, when schooling was made compulsory and competitive entry to the civil service became the rule.

    Until that time status was generally ascribed by birth. But irrespective of people’s birth, status has gradually become more achievable.

    It is good sense to appoint individual people to jobs on their merit. It is the opposite when those who are judged to have merit of a particular kind harden into a new social class without room in it for others.

    Ability of a conventional kind, which used to be distributed between the classes more or less at random, has become much more highly concentrated by the engine of education.

    A social revolution has been accomplished by harnessing schools and universities to the task of sieving people according to education’s narrow band of values.

    With an amazing battery of certificates and degrees at its disposal, education has put its seal of approval on a minority, and its seal of disapproval on the many who fail to shine from the time they are relegated to the bottom streams at the age of seven or before.

    The new class has the means at hand, and largely under its control, by which it reproduces itself.

    The more controversial prediction and the warning followed from the historical analysis. I expected that the poor and the disadvantaged would be done down, and in fact they have been. If branded at school they are more vulnerable for later unemployment.

    They can easily become demoralised by being looked down on so woundingly by people who have done well for themselves.

    It is hard indeed in a society that makes so much of merit to be judged as having none. No underclass has ever been left as morally naked as that.”

  47. Stuff. And. Nonsense.
    It’s all true and it’s still wrong. Why? Because you need an incentive for the smart and talented to apply their talents to making the world better. Plenty of talented people don’t but we need enough incentive for those that art to do so.
    If you don’t have that incentive, the world won’t get better and n one is better off.
    The normal, average, unimaginative, not especially smart people keep the world running… we can’t get by without them, but they don’t make it BETTER. Left to them, nothing would ever change. Most people exist in a state of failed imagination. Their needs to be an incentive to do more and do better.

    Now that I have infuriated most of this site’s readers, I will relent some:
    THE REAL PROBLEM is that beyond a certain point wealth becomes self-perpetuating. Wealthy people lose everything all the time, of course, but the truth is that if you don’t go on a gambling binge, once you have a certain amount of wealth you are good to go and beyond a next level higher, you find you just have more opportunities to get richer and richer.
    That’s where it gets messed up. What’s needed is strong incentives for talented people to use their talents
    but,
    also,
    strong checks again oligopolies. It’s one thing to be smart and be a millionaire. It’s another thing entirely to become Bill Gates. He didn’t deserve all that. He got to a point where he owned the market and he couldn’t help but make more money. Someone was going to win that lottery and he won it. That doesn’t mean he deserved to get THAT rich.

  48. Adam Washington

    I agree with the paragraph from Rawls cited in this post. Some may leap from this moral insight to the Marxian view, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Such a leap is neither necessary nor prudent (consider the track record of communist economies throughout the 20th century). We want to encourage those with the most ability, talent, and energy to be maximally productive; we all benefit from their productivity. Of course we also want those of lesser ability and talent to be maximally productive within their capabilities. The incentives of income and wealth in a free society and free market economy seem to be the most effective way to promote such productivity.

    Next, we redistribute the wealth. But not equally and not punitively; we do not want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. We must balance the degree of wealth redistribution against the need for incentives to maximize the productivity of everyone. We grasshoppers must harness the ants and ride them, not cripple them. We must allow the winners of the natural lottery of ability and talent earn more income and accumulate more wealth than the rest of us. But we don’t have to allow them to keep it all. The task is to discover and apply the most effective means and degree of redistribution.

  49. Yes, there IS merit in working hard and pursuing an education.

    One does not need to believe that hard work and tenacity is everything, and surely good fortune as to birth and native intelligence play an equal role.

    Still, Rawls/Kwak is as extreme a position as that of the most hard core robber barons who believe they’re entitled to every thing they have.

  50. Focusing on what is fair is missing the point. The largest benefit to society of a Meritocricy is that it rewards those with high level attributes, and thus provides those with high level attributes an advantage with regard to reproductive oppoutunites. Absent a Meritocracy of any kind, the charactiistics that would dominate in a society would be beauty, size and strength, and we would be living in some version of the middle ages wizzing in pots and battling plagues. Upon further consideration, that is still a Meritocracy, just a Meritocracy based upon something other than creative thought and hard work. In short, I think a societial model based upon an economic Meritocracy is superior to any natural and un-natural alternative Meritocracies.

  51. @Lucy – “Bravo Trader! Which is what makes this whole discussion a completely academic exercise in futility …”

    And yet, so revealing :-) Deep in the Grifter’s psyche is a FEAR of *hard* work.

    What is *liberty*? Every human being on this planet has the RIGHT to make their LIFE less miserable through honest work.

    HONEST WORK. As noted in this thread by another contributor, they don’t get the difference between *complicated* vs COMPLEX and simplistic vs. simple….

    Some of us are too advanced to expend any *work* on futility – futility being the exercise of increasing MISERY for others – we just don’t get what is in it for ME ME ME to increase misery for others, go figure.

    Also revealing in the choice to parade “isms” instead of making the *beer* better is the fact that they STOLE the *beer* and have absolutely no clue how it was made to begin with….

    From concentration camp to “I own it all” – you do always have to dig two graves when you go for revenge.

  52. @Anonymous – There always will be great inequality. Get used to it.

  53. Charles Wheeler

    To accept meritocracy you would need to assume that a child born to crack addicts in Hackney has the same opportunities as an Old Etonian Oxbridge graduate born into multi-million dollar wealth, who gets his first government job on recommendation from a family friend in the House of Lords.

  54. “Meritocracy” is not really based on merit. It is based on accident (of the right place/right time variety) and larceny. Take Bill Gates (please!). His lousy software was once the only game in town and so its lousiness was irrelevant. But to become Billionaire Gates, he had to be willing to take full advantage of his situation by stealing from his customers over time. Yes, software that was priced correctly given the situation in which it was born was subsequently priced ever higher, when the changing situation should have made the price of it fall. The billions in Bill Gates’s bank account were never earned by him or by his company; they were extorted from customers in a circle-jerk system designed to guarantee massive wealth to a very few. This, of course, is the heart and soul of the capitalist model. Merit is only marginally involved.

  55. 1. The savings of the total population of the world is a large amount.

    2. Much of that amount is administered by those who do not feel able to, or chose not to, or by law are forbidden to make the investment decisions.

    3. These administrators have been taught to expect certain levels of safety and return.

    4. This creates a role for the intermediary who matches them with those in need of investment.

    5. If the intermediaries can take a very small slice of the enormous flow they can make a lot of money.

    6. This creates a role for institutions like Harvard that legitimize the field of “Intermediary” and prepare those who aspire to a slice of this fortune.

    7. There are certain skills and some knowledge needed. Above all, great self assurance and a persuasive manner, along with some knowledge of law or accounting or finance. It is also necessary to sugar coat the process, teaching the aspirants how to present themselves as something more than greedy bright con artists. Thus use of the term “Meritocracy” to identify those who have mastered the curriculum. We all know that a first year student who does well at Harvard Law can expect a $200,000 a year job offer contingent on his graduation.

    8. As a lackey of those more skilled at acquisitiveness, the aspirant must learn to hide his grasping fist of steel in a velvet glove. Meritocracy – mendacity.

    9. But it has always been thus. Look at the history of the kings of England to see a list of acquisitive people masquerading as representatives of God. I’m sure the Russian oligarchs consider themselves a “meritocracy”. For that matter the mafia Dons probably do also.

  56. If *meritocracy” is greater than theoretical abstraction, then a legal matter should be judged on the facts and circumstances of the case, not on political considerations, the power of influence, the wealth of the prospective defendants, or on possibly offending lobby groups, bankers, or anyone, for that matter.

    Dispositive evidence of a federal crime is investigated by appropriate law enforcement agents, later with counsel provided by the appropriate United States Attorney, with possible presentation before a Grand Jury of allegations of criminal conduct. This is what keeps criminal enterprises in check.

    Since Bush and Cheney, particularly, this feature of prosecuting white collar crimes has gone noticeably absent, almost disappeared altogether.

    Where evidence of crimes has been assembled, compiled or stored in a system of records, it has been abandoned, destroyed, or the entire building sent crashing downward at a fast rate of speed. We saw it with our own eyes.

    Americans SENSE vast crimes have been committed, and this is one reason why so many Americans are rightfully so incensed. Who here hasn’t read reports for years of rank criminal conduct by financial institutions and banks, and others entrusted in fiduciary capacity?

    NOW is the time to come forward with indictments, prosecutions, and long-prison terms, upon conviction.
    The prospect of no draconian punishment only gives license to those who would steal, pillage, and plunder with near-perfect impunity.

    We all see MERIT in this standard of accountability.

    Let those people at Main Justice reviewing these crimes against so many Americans renew their solemn Oath to defend the laws of the United States.

    Without this sort of MERIT, we can only see a future of penury, serfdom, and further social disintegrations.

    Outside criminal counsel retained by a large firm, doing god’s work here on planet earth, which is now being spun as standard operating procedure….perhaps.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/44232480

  57. I agree with some of whats been commented on. However in reality the nice guy always finishes last. Smart is smart, but if you don’t have street smarts you will never be highly successful. I was raised catholic, went to catholic school, private Jesuit high school, Boston College. Wall Street. I moved back to the west coast at 26 with millions in a bank account. I saw the internet coming, went back to school, started 3 dotcoms and sold them before the boom even took off. What is so hard about that.Quit complaining and buck up. If you want to make money in this economy, you need to start servicing rich people. By the way I have started a Hedge Fund within the last 2 years, and that is doing well. You guys just complain.

  58. First, I don’t think that the distinction between “normative” and “utilitarian” is very clear. Most people’s concept of “morally right” is to be something similar to “what’s best for the greatest number of people in the long run”. The differences seem to be around what is best, who to include in the “number of people”, and how long is the long run (and whether that includes the afterlife if you believe in one). But the fundamental concept is rather utilitarian.

    Second, this post is repeating a very common mistake in our culture: dividing the reasons for any behaviour between genetics, environment and pure random chance, and leaving nothing else to any other factor. This ignores the elephant in the room: effort. No, effort cannot be explained through the other three variables, it’s an independent one. In the current jargon, it seems to be mostly determined by “nonshared environmental factors”, which is what they say when neither genes nor the environment shared usually by siblings explain a lot of the variability.

  59. Since the beginning of civilized society some thirteen millennium ago, give or take a couple millennium, mankind was mediocre to the extreme (better to live as a wool giving sheep than provide the mutton for dinner thinking outside the box?) except for the wanting of the satanist ruthless leaders, that ravaged societies with unjust wars and the ethnic cleansing of whole continents! Guess what? Nothing has changed, except for advancing weaponry of mass destruction, which has evolved after every mass slaughter, (innovator’s, overachievers, alchemist, sorcerer’s, and ye-ole scribes, etc.,etc., come sit at the table of Satan?) until we reach total annihilation, where we happen to be at present. In the last two hundred years mediocrity has ruled overwhelmingly. Why? Simply because we live in a self-denial world of proclamation hatred, based upon our hardwired-Darwinism/Satan xenophobic bible of living the seven deadly sins as an act of contrition? Think – as for all our fellow neighbors and brotherhood, there have been a few well-timed freak’s-of-nature – mental anomalies – Darwin unmentionables, and thusly unexplainable mutated cast-outs of the genetic soup of mediocrities unnatural selection. The “Unknown Gene” [?] to be quite frank and honest! These fantastic minds that cared not for power, wealth or fame, but just their science in which their raw knowledge has been used by the everlasting ruthless satanist leaders of today. Nothing has changed with mediocrity other than sitting back and belonging to the right side, or lucky enough to be on the fringe of the winning side. From the aboriginal cave-master’s onto the chiefdom’s of the forest, onward to emperor’s old and new,… through king’s, followed by their president’s, and grand minister’s, to czars who in all haven’t changed one iota since mediocrity capitulated to a passive and humbled lexical altruistic word called prostration to maintain ones’ life preservation. Granted the term mediocrity has been held hostage for millenniums, but nepotism, cronyism, partisanism, favoritism, or just pure unadulterated discrimination has always been the enabling font for going along with the flow. It’s called staying alive! Unfortunately for all of us living in today’s time, especially with the past two centuries having evolved a-wee-bit to fast, has become terribly “Nostradamus” bizarre for fantastically futuristic advanced discoveries (flight/ space travel, nuclear-family?) not to take into account that the freaks (this word is the only way to explain the minds that thought one-two hundred years ago, things/ concepts, we’ve yet to figure out) that gave us these scientific discoveries used by the ruthless satanist leaders, that ironically are now capable to post-date the history books for our lowly sole surviving ant-colonial-life that surely follows our “Mass Destruction”, which is inevitable. If they develop (which I certainly believe they will?) thought they surely will muse over our ignorance while feasting on our carrion-fossil-fuel – living in solemn mediocrity. Think about it,.. a dozen or so individuals have culminated are final days by their hard work – but as fate or destiny would have it,… used for mass accumulation destruction by the imaginative ruthless satanist ruler’s, we call today the privileged? (JMHO?)

  60. Hmmm! I feel that this discussion isn’t getting anywhere near deep enough, though a few are trying to. I think we need to get back to the elephant-in-the-room, flat-earth type supposition that COMPETITION is the only possible human dynamic in town and that as those who wish to continue to exploit the status quo (I guess that’s why they are called “conservatives” Doh!) would have us believe: – if we get too close to the edge we will fall over into some State-micromanaged, mediocre Marxist oblivion.

    Then from the same implicit flat earth perspective we have the electively blind and deaf legalists and would be technocrats sifting the gnats of the rules of the game just like they were baseball stats and being just as useful.

    The reality is that the whole concept of Merit is almost overwhelmingly SUBJECTIVE (because its a value system) which can change radically depending on the prevailing psycho-social paradigm. So, to the protagonists and apologists of the Competitive paradigm, Merit simplistically focuses around the objectivized empirical measure of the plunder one seizes based on some form of peer recognition of one’s exploitative skills or one’s privileged status in the hierarchy.

    No matter how one would like to disguise them as seeming less brutish or change their names, Competition, Hierarchy and Exploitation are seamlessly integrated as both a system and paradigm to overwhelmingly serve the least empathetically (and cognitively) developed of humanity. And now that those political systems, evolved to protect the bulk of the community from the uncontrolled excesses of these 2 year old tyrants in Caraceni suits, have been largely infiltrated and corrupted by they and their lackeys, we are on the brink of something new and potentially nastier than it’s ever been —that’s if we do nothing!

    And it would be a serious mistake to fight and set up tighter and more comprehensive regulation that’s competing and it just feeds them! –it’s a much better deal to put one’s efforts into creating and catalysing a new decentralized free enterprise economic system based on trust, mutuality, creativity and productivity and then design it so that those 4 things are the basis of Merit!! And don’t forget to consciously inoculate and disinfect your own minds and hearts and relationships against the Competitive mind-virus instead of feeding sport and competition to your kids with their breast milk! And for crying out loud! gut it out of the education system before it turns all the kids of the world into precocious and preening knowledge-regurgitating morons.

    As for “strong incentives for talented people” if one tries to understand the psychology and unique self-rewarding nature of true creativity (as opposed to cunning opportunism) and to a large extent that of mutually beneficial productivity then what can be seen here as “talented” comes to actually mean ruthless, single-minded, amorally cunning, simplistically decisive and emotionally (even psychopathically) manipulative as well as being egocentrically opportunistic.

    Ok, where out there, is there a resource-rich individual or group who have recently had an epiphany and a change of heart and have the courage and willingness to betray competition and help kick start a new civilization before your wealth becomes absolutely worthless anyway? Actually it probably isn’t needed, all this can be done locally with individually available resources —- but it could seriously accelerate the process –think of the Merit in that!

  61. My reactions

    1)@woop – but all the attorneys who could prosecute have come to understand that there are big jobs waiting for them in private practrice if they do their meritocratic part.

    2) Maybe we could find a valley in the mountains and all go there and invent a technology that hides us from all those Ayn Rand followers.

    3) Maybe a congressional committee “Are you now or have you ever been a follower of Ayn Rand”. Banish them to an old Japanese/American internment camp in the desert.

    4) My favorite, start the Madame Defarge Society. Raise money to buy a piece of land close to Wall Street and erect a large guillotine there. Start selling tickets for admission for “the initial event”. Maybe that way we could get the attention of those in charge. Let the professors at the Universities that train these sociopaths know that we hold them accountable for the misdeeds of their students. Maybe they would quit and get honest jobs.

    5) I just watched the video documentary “Casino Jack” – right on topic here.

  62. @Mike: “….the nice guy always finishes last.”

    Congratulations on your hard work and success. You clearly won’t be finishing last. So, what exactly have you done that hasn’t been “nice”?

  63. @ earle de Florida,

    You proclaimed with fire and brimstone:

    “Guess what? Nothing has changed, except for advancing weaponry of mass destruction, which has evolved after every mass slaughter, (innovator’s, overachievers, alchemist, sorcerer’s, and ye-ole scribes, etc.,etc., come sit at the table of Satan?) until we reach total annihilation, where we happen to be at present. In the last two hundred years mediocrity has ruled overwhelmingly. Why? Simply because we live in a self-denial world of proclamation hatred, based upon our hardwired-Darwinism/Satan xenophobic bible of living the seven deadly sins as an act of contrition? Think – as for all our fellow neighbors and brotherhood, there have been a few well-timed freak’s-of-nature – mental anomalies – Darwin unmentionables, and thusly unexplainable mutated cast-outs of the genetic soup of mediocrities unnatural selection. The “Unknown Gene” [?] to be quite frank and honest!”

    Now that’s the earle I’ve come to love and read aloud at dinner parties! Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo! I’ve missed you so!

    You’re more entertaining by far than Harold Camping. (Are you Harold?) You’re even more entertaining than the misguided James Kwak.

    LOL, I’m almost crying with bliss. Oh, I hope you write more of this stuff. It is *that* good. Mangled thoughts in sentences that are no, not run-on, they are *crash-on*. Hold your ears for the big bang!!! Delicious!

  64. @rmknox Geez you have a really wicked sense of humour! I can still hardly wipe the schadenfreude off my face.

    But there is an equally humorous reality to this and it goes like this: At the pointy end of the competitive pyramid (probably the floating one with the all-seeing eye on it :-)) these drones are so specialized in exploitation and therefore being so empathetically disabled (which, trust me, also effectively retards them cognitively) they almost completely lack the ability for creativity and any useful work activities. By simply ignoring their emotional button-pressing, in an ironical Randian Atlas Shrugged type double cross, and leaving them to do their own dirty work, you render them unable to wash, dress, and feed themselves and at a complete loss to do anything business-wise. Why is it do you thing that the very rich are classically portrayed having every little thing done for them by servants? It’s actually because their development is halted by privilege at that eternal 2 year old scenario where momsy did everything for them –including wiping their over-privileged butts.

  65. SCARE 20.12.2012
    (Stop Corruption and Repression Effective 20.12.2012)
    Banks were given a very important privilege to create more in the form of extending credit. This function requires diligence and careful consideration in regard to individual credit risks as well as to overall credit levels in the system. The financial crisis revealed that the banks were operating at too high a leverage and with too much risk. They were used to be saved by the Central Banks and certain that in times of difficulties the Central Banks were there to save them. They were like trained dogs and their master Greenspan or Bernanke would always be there to rescue them when unforeseen difficulties arose.
    That may be true but that does not absolve them from their obligation to monitor overall debt levels in the system as well as being diligent in evaluating the debtors ability to not only service a debt but to be able to repay it over time. The banks clearly failed in this function that is the core function of banking but focused mainly on their compensation packages. The way these bankers enriched themselves in the process of driving the financial system into a wall was appalling and the average income earner was never able to comprehend their schemes but preferred to simply ignore them. Of course, the bankers explained their outrages income levels with free market principles of supply and demand, where the best simply could be hired with those kinds of benefits only. In hindsight those superior managers seem to have missed their mark considerably. The most interesting aspect of all of this is the fact that, after we have been more than 3 years in this financial crisis, the bankers continue to loot the system as if nothing ever happened.
    True to form the Central Banks “saved” the financial system by saving those great financial institutions without whom the system would have collapsed, as was argued. Hardly were we out of the danger of collapse, the banks immediately went back to their old ways and were certain that this was a problem that would occur just once in a lifetime and now all was clear again. The real problem, however, had not been addressed but had simply been muddied.
    In actuality, the losses produced of extending unsustainable levels of credit by the banks have been transferred to the public. Different ways were chosen to achieve this task in the form of free money for the banks, injection of government funds into some institutions, increase of basic money supply and so on.
    The threat of system collapse would have been labelled blackmail if it would have occurred in another setting. However the bankers were able to influence the media, the legislators and regulators in their favour with all the financial resources available to them. Nobody was made to take any responsibility and no one was taken to account.
    This represents a serious violation of the spirit of the Rule of Law that is the basis of western society. It seems that now the new rule is Might is Right. This changes many parameters in the compass of the social system within the western world. No one can be sure on what level and when one will be subjected to the financial abuse of those elites. Presently, the people in charge are trying to enhance financial repression of which one form is to keep interest rates below the level of inflation which affects mainly those that lived within their means over the past many years; another clear violation of the spirit of the Rule of Law as it transfers losses from bad investments to the innocent and decent part of the population. In addition, the increased level of government debt puts in doubt all those benefits promised by governments the world over.
    It is interesting how the banks were able to confuse the public that they are unable to grasp the actual situation. But considering their great financial resources, it seems not that much of a miracle to influence the media and the legislator and having politicians do their bidding. The question is what the heck can WE, THE PEOPLE do about it.
    Usually, we could address such things on a political level as we are a democracy, right? But it seems that the system has been corrupted by all the money sloshing around and it is extremely difficult to find any electable person that will act against those powerful interests. In addition, it will take many years until sufficient numbers of persons with the new thinking and with integrity not to be corrupted by those lobbying efforts will be elected to office that will implement the changes needed. So, what should we do? Start a revolution?
    Well, the blackmail used by the banks may be the only way to address the injustices that have occurred over the past few years. They showed us how to leverage one’s limited resources to achieve one’s goal. Therefore the following proposal to start the movement “SCARE 20.12.2012” should be seen in this context. The idea is that if by that time (20.12.2012) some serious injustices have been removed from the system, people start to withdraw their money from all financial institutions driving them into default. And it might work, because those who hesitate to support this threat may be left with no money as the banks will have to close down before all has been paid out.
    Now, what demands are made if that scenario is to be avoided.
    1. Bankers and past Bankers (all those working in the financial industry that earned in excess of $500k plus annually for more than 2 years during the past 15 years and this without any downside risk i.e. risk of financial losses, except the possibility of losing their job) have to be made personally accountable for their past activities and be removed from any such position that might directly or indirectly have influence on the money creation and lending aspects of the economy (this includes regulating agencies and politics) before 20.12.2012.
    2. Present and past regulators have to be made personally accountable for their past activities and be removed from any such position that might directly or indirectly have influence on the money creation and lending aspects of the economy (this includes financial institutions and politics) before 20.12.2012.
    3. Politicians that accept any financial support from institutions that are involved in the money creation and lending aspects of the economy will have to face a jail term of no less than 2 years without the possibility of parole.
    When these 3 points are implemented before 20.12.2012, we the public will not destroy the financial system but support the way to find back to the RULE OF LAW and away from the idea of MIGHT IS RIGHT.

  66. I agree with your sentiment. There’s an important argument to be won, especially against libertarians, that market rule (previously known as laissez faire) is violence by token. If the economy is a system that forbids violence but allows the winner to take all and leaves the loser with nothing, and there is no redistributive mitigation after this, then the loser, after their orderly and civilized defeat within the system, is thrown out to the violence of nature – to starve, die of the elements etc. This is not a theory, this happens today.

    My thoughts about corporations and meritocracy here: http://wp.me/pnytn-6l Briefly I think some meritocracy and competition is good, but unfettered power is bad.

  67. There is a EU bond problem right now and well into the future, that will not go good. So people are investing in gold ETF”s. Don’t do it people, ETF’s hold no physcial anything, they are a simple claim on their product, one that can be easily disputed and reversed. Gvts are desperately holding people hostage with corrupt [on the wrong side of nature] laws and methods with the intention of confiscating the claim they are so deeply, desperately invested in. And which has lead to the massive money creation upon the simple hopes that claim will be had to ensure the full faith and credit of the USA and eu? Hopes are fading fast each and every day, a new civil war in Lybia, does the extent of his reach cover the globe, or is he caving right in front of himself as he moves forward. No one truely knows.

  68. @There’s an important argument to be won, especially against libertarians,

    This can be proved wrong, and has been published.

  69. Let’s make it simple. The “takers” are at the top. Period.

  70. @ Title52

    As I recall (correct me if I’m wrong) Obama was elected as a change-agent, predicated upon hope and diplomacy. A (mediocre?) constitutional law professor with this ultra passive bias towards uniting all the “Free World Global Players as a whole. Seems however that our law orientated president has taken-up the carrot-less baton from the Bushies (just holding my breath for Jeb?) and has morphed into a “War President”? I’d say officially that President Obama is now the pre-ordained absolute, “Supreme General & Commander in Chief! *(but please let us not forget our fallen brethren China and Russia, shall we?)
    What happened to the “Axis of Evil”? Nothing. Take a good look at the goings on in Libya that will be at Civil War in less than a year from now. Look at the Iraqi’s,… that will destroy each other if America pulls out in civil war. As for Afghanistan, it only destroys empire’s, but has a strategic geography too war for? But let’s not stop there,… line em up baby – Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and now Syria. Indeed, now that Libya is on the back burner it’s time to move on,… yes, Syria is now about to take-up and taste American democracy! But wait, after “Fifty-Plus Years” of Dictators put in place, and armed by us [? puppet regimes ?] ,… who will lead, or better said, who do we have slotted to pleasure our mediocre appellate?
    Finally, onto the grand finale, shall we? Lebanon is a pyre-tinderbox, with the “Gaza Death-Camps” the pyromaniac’s beneficiaries quest, as we all know, but, those pesky Israelite’s would love no more than blame Iran for tooling-up Syria via Lebanon to lob a few nukes for America’s sake, and that my friend is a mediocre democracy (to die for mediocrity or not, that is the question,…eh?)!
    Remember – if there’s a war no matter how small, the military is exempt from discretionary spending cuts, therefore the entitlements will take the hit. This must please you and your lot,…

    PS. Finnished with you #52 , and hope no rogue drone happens your way :-))

  71. @linus Huber – “This represents a serious violation of the spirit of the Rule of Law that is the basis of western society. It seems that now the new rule is Might is Right. This changes many parameters in the compass of the social system within the western world. No one can be sure on what level and when one will be subjected to the financial abuse of those elites. Presently, the people in charge are trying to enhance financial repression of which one form is to keep interest rates below the level of inflation which affects mainly those that lived within their means over the past many years; another clear violation of the spirit of the Rule of Law as it transfers losses from bad investments to the innocent and decent part of the population. In addition, the increased level of government debt puts in doubt all those benefits promised by governments the world over.”

    The Prime Directive *theory* of our fictional literature (Star Trek) is worth bringing up in any analysis of what went wrong in *western society*. Hillary thinks she can get the guns back….

    Are you are suggesting that USA is now Saudi Arabia when it comes to the operational *social system*?

    BY LAW, we are supposed to be having a Constitutional Convention – the built in re-set button.

  72. @ rmknox, LOVE your stuff, and welcome aboard Baseline! :)

  73. @ Earle, I see Title 52 is still pursuing your calf, for what purpose, I haven’t a clue….:)

  74. Merit isn’t the problem. The problem is the attitude towards money. If everyone used their talents to help others in addition to making their money, then things would balance out. It is the selfish use of merit alone that makes rewarding people on merit useless.

    In the real world, merit isn’t always rewarded, but a certain brand of ruthlessness often is.

  75. Singing Around the Campfire

    @ JoeBill, good one!

    headline today: Ex-Analyst Chiesi Says She’s Ready to Go to Jail

    http://www.bloomberg.com/video/72775410/

    In the spirit of civil-mindedness, I offer my private home in lieu of jail, (as kind of house detention), to Ms. Chiesi…..I will make an exception for her prior criminal conduct. LOL

  76. @ earle of Florida,

    You wrote (coherently and succinctly):

    “the military is exempt from discretionary spending cuts, therefore the entitlements will take the hit. This must please you and your lot,…”

    Au contraire, mon freres! I absolutely detest that we’ve spent much more than any other country put together on the military.

    Now that we’re in agreement, maybe I’ll have to go after Woop instead.

  77. @ Title 52, I’m laughing, you’re such a lame troll :)

  78. “O.M. PERSONAL merit? No. A brave man does not CREATE his bravery. He is entitled to no personal credit for possessing it. It is born to him. A baby born with a billion dollars—where is the personal merit in that? A baby born with nothing—where is the personal demerit in that? The one is fawned upon, admired, worshiped, by sycophants, the other is neglected and despised—where is the sense in it?”

    – Mark Twain in the guise of Old Man (O.M.) in “What is Man and Other Essays”

  79. Fun article on the first page of Biz section of todays NYT – Controversy over Lowell MIlkens donation of $10million to UCLA. You may recall that MIchael and Lowell were so meritocratic that they both were barred from the securities industry by the SEC and Michael paid $600 million for the privaledge of staying 22 months at a government owned resort for folks with who do naughty things.

    Only one professor at UCLA has a problem with taking their money. The article ends with a quote from a prof who was ok with the gift to the effect “well he did his time and paid his debt to society so now its ok”.

    This has so many dimensions that my head spins just trying to sort them out.

    Anyway – they were so meritocratic that they have made tons of money – and after all that’s all that matters – right?

  80. @MacMartin & @Woop – thanks

  81. Most people in the United States actually really believe that successful and wealthy people have been rewarded based on a just and fair system. By their ‘vote,’ the present form of meritocracy is good. They also mostly believe that the United States exemplifies a true democratic system of government. How else to explain anything?

    “The reality is that in their crusade to manufacture extraordinary personal wealth, Wall Street insiders have engineered volatility into the capital markets. This change is permanent.”

    “Indeed, the same dangerous volatility that destabilizes markets creates innumerable trading opportunities for Wall Street’s proprietary traders. These traders feed off each other and off their banking-industry clients.”

    “The game is simple: Wall Street creates market volatility, some of which leads to panic.”

    “And Wall Street rakes in the profits – not just from their market-crushing trades, but from the investment fees they charge individual investors, companies and nations.”

    “It’s similar to how the mafia might trash your business and then offer to “sell” you their protection services.”

    http://moneymorning.com/2011/08/19/new-abnormal-permanently-engineered-market-volatility/

  82. well, wasn’t this psychobabble chatter productive?

    everyone can go off now and “make” $$$ – not the old-fashioned way….

  83. The moneymorning link is suddenly down. Here’s an alternate link to the article:

    http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article29988.html

  84. @Duncan MacMartin:

    “Competition is driven by the primal fear of lack or “missing out”— and the Meritocratic drive (and “accreditation”) by the primal fear of being rejected by the group. — The invisible hand and the invisible hug?

    Objective Compassion powered by an authentically Cooperative and Creative dynamic anyone? And how about some psychological maturity?”

    Thank you.

    Yep, what we’ve had since who knows when as the driver of civilization…is reptilian brain stuff (primal fear of “survival”), with a touch of that paleomammalian boogie (clan/group need).

    Homo sapiens are at a crossroads. Will this species remain stuck – and as a result, quite probably blow the world up, figuratively, literally, metaphorically all – or will it dare evolve out of its dualistic, survivalist, fear-based, ancient brain ways?

    P.S. And Mr. Kwak, I wholeheartedly agree with your premise. As someone with a strong and successful (honors) academic background – four year master’s degree, and some post-master’s under my belt, nonprofit founder and director, yada yada yada… I know any contribution I make to society is no more important than the contribution of the superb nursing aides, garbage collectors, street sweepers of the world.

    Simply, I realize: My life wouldn’t be possible without them. (Nor would Donald Trump’s.) Translate: We truly are…all in this together.

  85. P.S. Insightful quote by John Rawls. Incredibly insightful.

  86. P.P.S. I have also learned first-hand: A good number of nursing aides, garbage collectors, street sweepers of the world…can match any intellectual “brilliance” supposedly offered by any CEO on Wall Street. (And then some.)

  87. @Barbyrah, “Simply, I realize: My life wouldn’t be possible without them. (Nor would Donald Trump’s.) Translate: We truly are…all in this together.”

    You haven’t made any SCIENTIFIC case that the nursing aides, garbage collectors or street sweepers have a better life because you set yourself ABOVE them (at least introduce yourself as a different species if you are not a homo sapien) with an OPINION that:

    “Homo sapiens are at a crossroads. Will this species remain stuck – and as a result, quite probably blow the world up, figuratively, literally, metaphorically all – or will it dare evolve out of its dualistic, survivalist, fear-based, ancient brain ways?”

    When the RULE OF LAW permits predatory *economics* for a SELF-PROCLAIMED elite, how dare you call MORAL and ETHICAL resistance to that type of overt sadism “dualistic, survivalist, fear-based, ancient brain ways”?!

    The PREDATOR – the liar the thief the murderer the BANKSTER – is the degenerate gene pool!

    Paying a LIVING wage for HONEST WORK to the NORMAL-minded Homo Sapien is NOT a way to social engineer the direction away from Nihilism!!??

  88. Part of the issue is most people believe in the fantasy of “free will”, which makes it far easier to justify inequity. Granted I personally indulge it because the truth seems depressing, however the fact is people are a built, directed, and continually redirected simply by a series of collected outside influences. Much is the initial genetic programming, which obviously no one has control over. Then it’s followed by where you grow up and who you grow up with (also not in your control), the events in your life (most not in your control in any sense of the word), and then often things as simple as the weather on a given day (and how it interacts with all that prior programming).

    Even if you believe in the “soul”, well hell, you didn’t get to choose, so obviously you can’t be blamed. And if you did get to choose, what made you choose? There is an paradoxical infinite loop with “choosing to choose”. In the end it all comes around to programming from the outside. And even if you could choose, would anyone choose to have a “soul” that is lazy or stupid in a world that punishes such so greatly?.

    But the point is, as Twain expounds in “What is Man”, we are really just the sum of our inputs prior and current. One should in theory be no more proud of being Galt than being Taggart. Neither “choose” to be who they are, they were just lucky or unlucky enough to be born with the inclinations and influences that make them who they are.

    In that sense “meritocracy” is a joke. We are rewarding people for being lucky enough to be who they are, and punishing others for being unlucky enough to be who they are.

    The only benefit of this system is to encourage those who are capable to better themselves. The problem is the ones who cannot better themselves lose out big time. Certainly that includes someone with a lower IQ – they can’t make themselves smarter through magic. However, that includes even people who are lazy and seemingly incapable of surmounting it. If they were wired to surmount their laziness, given the significant systematic rewards/punishments, certainly they would. But they don’t so, they are effectively, well, “disabled” emotionally (ok, maybe they find a way to make laziness work for them – scam the system as it were. Even then, one can argue that outcome is based on prior programming).

    On the other hand, I am one of the lucky ones who benefits from his seemingly fated abilities. Being honest, it’s hard for me to want change, plus it smacks of “communism” which we all know is more evil than cluster bombing newborns. Still, the truth is it should probably be otherwise.

    Finally, what comes around goes around, so while we shouldn’t punish those who are incapable, in theory we also shouldn’t punish those who intolerant of the incapable. That is, the “antagonists” of this story are equally at the whims of their prior input. They too are stuck riding out what in the end appears to be a 3d smell-o/pain-o/pleasure-o-rama of prerecorded life, waiting to see where the universe (grand director?) plans to take us.

  89. @Carl Weetabix – hows this for a compromise

    We all benefit from the results of certain efforts. Lets let the market decide what the benefit is worth.

    But we as a society don’t get a benefit when the rewards to any individual are far more than the wages of the common man. This talk of incentive makes no sense when the individual is already wealthy. So tax the hell out of returns – capital, earned, whatever – that are more then 100 times the average, and wealth that is more than 1000 times the average.

    This is how it was when I got out of University and it worked great. 90 percent marginal tax over $200k and the economy boomed.

    Their is great mischief in allowing anyone to become very wealthy since then there incentives go against the interests of the common man and thus against the interests of society as a whole. I personally know substantially wealth people who have absolutely no idea how they would support themselves without the income from their inheritance. As a result they hire – or their trust is forced to hire – smooth talking sociopaths to manage their investments i.e. “Investment Managers”. These smooth talkers do things that are hurtful of the common interest and yet the wealth holder is insulated from the process and can claim innocence and indignation. The last few years have dramatically demonstrated what can happen.

    Bring this all to a halt by heavily taxing all wealth above some amount.

    So – if average man makes 50,000 – tax the bejezes out of earnings over 5,000,000

    If average family has 40,000 in wealth – tax the heck out of any one and/or any estate with wealth in excess of 40,000,000.

    And we all know – as Buffet said the other day in the NYT – that no sane man should pass on an investment just because the return is taxed.

    And if he does, the Government will collect the money and has worthwhile projects to fund.

  90. typo above – there s/b their

  91. and their s/b there – oh well!

  92. A progressive rate structure is something that would bring more revenue in, and re-distribute wealth for the betterment of the commonwealth. This idea is anathema to the rich, and so we have a completely co-opted and captured national legislature, incapable of giving the idea any serious consideration.

    Ronald Reagan flattened out the rates with the enactment of TRA ‘ 86, by substituting graduated rates with a modified flat tax. And the rich thank him every single day.

    Meanwhile, everything is in imbalance, and the wealth gap continues to widen.

  93. @Carl

    Fortunately, there is a physical and material limit to how much damage one person can do to the planet when that person only has his body and hands as *weapons*. That is the experiential wisdom behind the Rule of Law. Limit the damage one psychopath can do. I still can’t understand how monkey brain’s imaginary *isms* overcame common sense and gave rise to Western Civilization’s Parade of Psychos in the 20th century…seriously, what the hell was THAT all about? A drugged population…? Probably…only thing that makes sense, actually….but of course, THAT was only done in China with opium….

    Carl, you have no SCIENTIFIC proof that *free will* is a fiction. I actually laughed at the puerile sophistry of that *idea*- teacher putting big red F on that paper.

    Theoretically, “Free Will” is not something that man is capable of granting another man because man is not the creator of free will. So having free will is not a free will choice – agreed on that :-)

    Today’s Wall Street Grifters would never CHOOSE to use their math skills to construct an atmosphere that allows the perfect amount of sunlight for sustaining life to reach the earth – what’s in it for them if everyone is happy and healthy? Nothing, right?

    Should we *punish* (execute, fine, torture, wha’ever) Grifters for not being “capable” or for not being *interested* in constructing a PERFECT, sustainable planetary atmosphere that makes health possible for all life forms on earth?

    A person who is not capable of doing something magnificent like using math to create perfect atmospheres would also not have the brain power to be interested in doing something like that.

    But why insist that Wall Street’s current ABUSE of the theory of something like Law and Order (self-proclaimed *elite* Semites practicing Phariseeism ala COMMUNIST Russia) is SUPERIOR to anything that has ever ruled the earth because it punishes the freak who DOES try to recreate a perfect atmosphere for life without a Patent? Is it because that freak’s behavior has hinted at the presence of *free will*, not THEIR will?

    Should we tolerate Grifters creating imaginary $$$ to blow everything up to prove their Black Hole theory?

    Only in a *safe* institution where no one else has to intersect with them OR LET THEM actually do it BY LAW.

    My quote du jour on the stage du jour – “….Evolutionary man finds it difficult fully to comprehend the significance and to grasp the meanings of evil, error, sin, and iniquity. Man is slow to perceive that the contrastive perfection and imperfection produce potential evil; that conflicting truth and falsehood create confusing error; that the divine endowment of freewill choice eventuates in the divergent realms of sin and righteousness….”

  94. Now, as things are, the profession of the politician is the only profession which needs no qualification. Even if you want to be a plumber, some kind of qualification will be needed, some training in plumbing, some certificate.

    But if you want to be the president of America, no certificate is needed. It seems strange: plumbing is more important than the presidency of America!

    If you want to be a senator, no qualification is needed. If you want to be a teacher in a kindergarten school, qualifications are needed.

    You are giving so much power to power-hungry people; with your own hands you are helping them to hang you! In the name of democracy these people have been exploiting the masses.

    Democracy means government by the people, of the people, for the people — but it is only in words.

    They have to delegate the power to somebody.

    So it is not the people who rule, but the people who are chosen by them.

    What are your grounds for choosing? How do you manage to choose? And are you capable of choosing the right people? Have you been trained, educated for a democratic life? No, nothing has been done.

    The ignorant masses can be exploited very easily by very insignificant things. For example, Nixon lost his election against Kennedy and the only reason was that Kennedy looked better on television than Nixon; this is the analysis of the psychoanalysts.

    Nixon improved. When he discovered this, before the next election, he improved; he learned how to stand, how to walk, how to talk, how to dress.

    All this can be changed by people of genius coming to the top.

    And the simple way is, make categories so universities become your centers of power, not governments; universities create your governors, your presidents, your vice-presidents, your senators.

    Then the politician can be prevented from ruining the human societies of the world if he is prevented from directly controlling the government and the administration of the state.

    And what power do politicians have? All the power that they have we have given to them. We can take it back. It is not their power, it is our power. We just have to find a way to take it back – because giving is very easy, taking is a little difficult.

    Up to now, whatever has happened has been accidental. Our history up to now is nothing but a history of accidents.

    We have to stop this. Now we have to decide that the future is not going to be accidental. It will be created by us.

    Once we move the power from the mob into the hands of intelligent people, people who know what they are doing, we can create something beautiful.

    meritocracy2012.wordpress.com

    meritocracy.org.uk

  95. SCARE 20.12.2012

    (Stop Corruption And Repression Effective 20.12.2012)

    Banks were given a very important privilege to create money in the form of extending credit. This function requires diligence and careful consideration in regard to individual credit risks as well as to overall credit levels in the system. The financial crisis revealed that the banks were operating at too high a leverage and with too much risk. They were used to be saved by the Central Banks and certain that in times of difficulties the Central Banks were there to save them. They were like trained dogs and their master Greenspan or Bernanke would always be there to rescue them when unforeseen difficulties arose.

    That may be true but that does not absolve them from their obligation to monitor overall debt levels in the system as well as being diligent in evaluating the debtors ability to not only service a debt but to be able to repay it over time. The banks clearly failed in this function that is the core function of banking but focused mainly on their compensation packages. The way these bankers enriched themselves in the process of driving the financial system into a wall was appalling and the average income earner was never able to comprehend their schemes but preferred to simply ignore them. Of course, the bankers explained their outrages income levels with free market principles of supply and demand, where the best simply could be hired with those kinds of benefits only. In hindsight those superior managers seem to have missed their mark considerably. The most interesting aspect of all of this is the fact that, after we have been more than 3 years in this financial crisis, the bankers continue to loot the system as if nothing ever happened.

    True to form the Central Banks “saved” the financial system by saving those great financial institutions without whom the system would have collapsed, as was argued. Hardly were we out of the danger of collapse, the banks immediately went back to their old ways and were certain that this was a problem that would occur just once in a lifetime and now all was clear again. The real problem, however, had not been addressed but had simply been muddied.

    In actuality, the losses produced of extending unsustainable levels of credit by the banks have been transferred to the public. Different ways were chosen to achieve this task in the form of free money for the banks, injection of government funds into some institutions, increase of basic money supply and so on.

    The threat of system collapse would have been labelled blackmail if it would have occurred in another setting. However the bankers were able to influence the media, the legislators and regulators in their favour with all the financial resources available to them. Nobody was made to take any responsibility and no one was taken to account.

    This represents a serious violation of the spirit of the Rule of Law that is the basis of western society. It seems that now the new rule is Might is Right. This changes many parameters in the compass of the social system within the western world. No one can be sure on what level and when one will be subjected to the financial abuse of those elites. Presently, the people in charge are trying to enhance financial repression of which one form is to keep interest rates below the level of inflation which affects mainly those that lived within their means over the past many years; another clear violation of the spirit of the Rule of Law as it transfers losses from bad investments to the innocent and decent part of the population. In addition, the increased level of government debt puts in doubt all those benefits promised by governments the world over.

    It is interesting how the banks were able to confuse the public who was/is unable to grasp the actual situation. But considering the banker’s great financial resources, it seems not that much of a miracle to influence the media and the legislator and having politicians do their bidding. The question is what the heck can WE, THE PEOPLE do about it.

    Usually, we could address such things on a political level as we are a democracy, right? But it seems that the system has been corrupted by all the money sloshing around and it is extremely difficult to find any electable person that will act against those powerful interests. In addition, it will take many years until sufficient numbers of persons with the new thinking and with integrity not to be corrupted by those lobbying efforts will be elected to office that will implement the changes needed. So, what should we do? Start a revolution?

    Well, the blackmail used by the banks may be the only way to address the injustices that have occurred over the past few years. They showed us how to leverage one’s limited resources to achieve one’s goal. Therefore the following proposal to start the movement “SCARE 20.12.2012” should be seen in this context. The idea is that if by that time (20.12.2012) some serious injustices have not been removed from the system, people will start to withdraw their money from all financial institutions driving them into default. And it might work, because those who hesitate to support this threat may be left with no money as the banks will have to close down before all has been paid out.

    Now, what demands are made if that scenario is to be avoided.

    1. Bankers and past Bankers (all those working in the financial industry that earned in excess of $500k plus annually for more than 2 years during the past 15 years and this without any downside risk i.e. risk of financial losses, except the possibility of losing their job) have to be made personally accountable for their past activities and be removed from any such position that might directly or indirectly have influence on the money creation and lending aspects of the economy (this includes regulating agencies and politics) before 20.12.2012.

    2. Present and past regulators have to be made personally accountable for their past activities and be removed from any such position that might directly or indirectly have influence on the money creation and lending aspects of the economy (this includes financial institutions and politics) before 20.12.2012.

    3. Politicians that accept any financial support from institutions that are involved in the money creation and lending aspects of the economy will have to face a jail term of no less than 2 years without the possibility of parole.

    When these 3 points are implemented before 20.12.2012, we the public will not destroy the financial system but support the way to find back to the RULE OF LAW and away from the idea of MIGHT IS RIGHT.

  96. ***Off Topic*** Warren Buffett and “Berkshire Hathaway” are so..so`oh over-leveraged, that if I was a shareholder, I’d sell this ancient in a quantum-clink! Note: Obama confers with the “Oracle from Bildeberg” yesterday, and wallah,… Bernanke is about face, up and on-stand-by, ready to fly fully loaded, doing his QE III trick tomorrow – thus we have the ultimate-mediocre collusion scale on a never before seen downward roll,… spooling-up garbage leftovers from the 2008’s debacle for 2013’s QE IV, V, VI and beyond, setting the “Buffet Table” for the ilk like Warren and Lloyd’s GoldSachMan` ,…?
    The Big Banks are selling their leased gold from the Fed and making billions as they held it long, and now will short the free-fall base-metal to ~ $1,500+/+ and re-lease another couple tons of the alchemist electrons for another run-up – just like the classic lemonade stand :-) JMHO

    Thanks James and Simon

  97. @meritocracy 2012 – I suspect you have not had much contact up close with Universities, and that you haven’t lived very long. Quiz: who is the nephew of Samuelson and what did he do for a living before he became Obamas top financial adviser? Did you see the article in yesterdays NYT telling that the professors at UCLA were ok with the Millkin brothers Lowell and Michael donating money to the school? Who are the MIllkin brothers? Why should the professors have a problem with that? Whose names are on buildings and why?

  98. Markopolos and the new documentary “Chasing Madeoff” – in debt from student loans up the whazoo and it still boils down to “no one knew how to do their job”

    so banksters win again – a degree in a–kissing just means you’ll be thrown under the bus at a certain stage in the *process*

    oh, and the *revelation* about Cohen and Sanchez and the non-traditional activities of NYPD yesterday – boy, follow da money on that one – can you say Ponzi Scheme to pay yourself to be a self-appointed spook?

    2.5 million among 5 girls – we want our SAVINGS back.

    Predators, griftors, scum bags ALL

    gold standard? bs

    OIL $$$ is based on a weapons standard – no longer *FIAT* is it….?

    IDIOTS sell their weapons.

  99. “Bernie, show me how you get these returns”?

    Bernie would not have been able to, because a lie can not be proven. Harry dumped it to the SEC….nothing.

    Harry feared for his life. Rightly so. Bernie is just one of thousands scamming, conniving, stealing, and intentionally bringing around a severe contraction, because assets get sold for pennies on the dollar.
    How many are in jail, serving long sentences?

    Try clipping a $100 sweater from Macy’s, and see what happens.

    Scumbags, yes, of course. Bad karma awaits.

    Your stinking drones don’t scare anyone.

  100. Dear Annie,

    Uhh…wow.

    First: I have no idea what you were attempting to communicate in your response to my posts. Seriously. I truly couldn’t figure out what point you were trying to make. Except…by the “How dare you” thing and A DOZEN WORDS/PHRASES IN CAPS…I could tell you were angry.

    Didn’t take it personally, however. (And noticed your penchant for calling people “predators,” “scum bags,” “grifters,” along with referencing “bs,” a-kissers,” and noting to someone, “I actually laughed at the puerile sophistry of that *idea*- teacher putting big red F on that paper.”)

    Translate: Quite a bit of rage whirling within you. And some high-handed judgment.

    Kindly note: If you wish to be listened to, it might help to soften your Heart a little. No doubt you have valuable things to contribute. Which might be heard more convincingly…if, before writing, you took a deep breath, and calmed yourself internally.

    I know sometimes it can be challenging to do so…noted from personal experience.
    But I trust we both want the world to change in a way that values everyone in equal measure, and that respects the planet and all who inhabit.

    Warm regards.

  101. as if we could forever
    pursuing tomorrow
    never knowing what to cherish
    never closing the circle
    from which pours
    all that life promises
    _________

    moi, my first poem sent to baseline scenario, v.2
    ____________

    too busy to read all the posts, but an important discussion
    why does a meritocracy deserve the “lion’s share”?
    liberal democrats and libertarians differ in their answer

    meritocracy 101 hah !

  102. oops, the first line should read:

    as if we could live forever

  103. @babushka busybody barbyrah

    you are a liar – with all those psychobable degrees, you are pretending you do not know what POINT I was making….your glory Mrs. Maddow setting social rules days are OVER….

    funny how you J-women never take the men to task for getting *angry*

    I will never work with you on anything. Certainly that should not stop YOU from proving yourself to us you contribute something besides bs….

    there most certainly ARE predators, scum bags, grifters, psychos, etc. on the planet – aren’t there? If there are not such *dangerous* types crawling over all of our heads every day through our bank accounts, then why the multi-BILLION $$$$$ investments in weaponry….you need an A-Bomb to take me out?

    “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me….” but that’s not something YOU would teach a kid, is it….?

  104. Speaking of meritocracy, justice, and the greater good, here we have a glaring instance of the deepest pockets implicating all three, apparently.

    “Obama Goes All Out For Dirty Banker Deal”

    “A power play is underway in the foreclosure arena, according to the New York Times.”

    “On the one side is Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, who is conducting his own investigation into the era of securitizations – the practice of chopping up assets like mortgages and converting them into saleable securities – that led up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.”

    “On the other side is the Obama administration, the banks, and all the other state attorneys general.”

    “Why? My theory is that the Obama administration is trying to secure its 2012 campaign war chest with this settlement deal. If Barry can make this foreclosure thing go away for the banks, you can bet he’ll win the contributions battle against the Republicans next summer.”

    “Which is good for him, I guess. But it seems to me that it might be time to wonder if is this the most disappointing president we’ve ever had.”

    http://www.readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/429-foreclosure/7168-obama-sides-with-dirty-bankers

  105. I have long pondered this issue.
    We Americans have long made a mis-attribution that wealth is the product of hard-work.
    For some this correlation holds true but for many wealth comes from many attributes other than work at all much less hard and for the many hard work never culminates in wealth.

    A recent news account about a small mid-western town whose population had been receiving significant payouts for the gas and mineral rights. These folk simply were in the right place at the right time. Those how marry or are born to a person of wealth who decides to bequeath or is required by law to bequeath a share of wealth account for a large portion of those who have wealth but not via hard work.

    But of those who work hard (and I wonder how Rawls would establish a determining criteria) I can only wonder what percentage of those have received wealth in return.

  106. @ Culp, my guess would be a relatively small percentage, and one that is likely sinking as opportunities become thinner and competition from USA external boundaries heightens.

    I ride the train, and my surmise is technical support (IT) personnel come here on B-1 Visas, and are paid substantially less than American workers would be, similarly situated.

    There are rich people who enjoy working, and are motivated by more than a desire to grow their wealth, in some cases.

    You don’t get rich working in a factory, unless you own the factory, but so much industrial input has gone away.

    When was the last time you heard of a rich person in an affluent place winning the mega lotto? LOL

    Love and work, isn’t that what some shrink with a funny accent said life is about, decades ago?

    Good night, IRENE! :)

  107. @ Tippy, the poem is good either way, just sayin’ :)

  108. @ Earle in Florida, whaddya think Buffet sees the rest of us don’t, in that sinking-stinking pile of dung he just invested in?

  109. @ Anonymous, thanks for that Taibbi link. I read it, then i started to clean out my desk at work, and an old article from 2008 penned by Ralph Nader, said much the same thing.

    The public STILL owns the “Airwaves”, yes, as part of the FCC act of 1930-something, so *broadcasters” in my perfect world need to be compelled to grant free access time for airing political ads, and all the corporate money goes out of politics, including the PACS, lobbies, bundling for dollars, and all the other sly things….because all of it amounts to PUBLIC BRIBERY of our political class.

    Strict rules of ethics guide conduct of CAREER public servants, but not so ELECTED servants….completely different ballgame when it comes to $$$$$.

    I suppose that ain’t gonna happen to soon, not with the FASCIST SUPREMES, and the dopes in the Congress…..so more of the same crud for years to come, or until sufficient momentum exists whereby precepts found in the Declaration of Independence become exercised on the streets.

    That too is unlikely, with all the stupid, fat, lazy, dumbed-down, chemtrailed-out, SSRI-intoxicated bozos sucking down beer and attuned to incessant propaganda and lies.

  110. @ Annie, they need 400 to take *YOU* out, along with whomever else their psychotic delirium says is the enemy…which is practically everyone else. :)

    Keep on truckin’, girl!

  111. Mixed reviews on whether a society based on a meritocracy serves the best interest of society.

    The main point, perhaps, is that a meritocracy should not widen the income gap. Rather, ideally, it should support and broaden the middle class and its aspirations for a decent life, narrow the gap between the rich and poor.

    JMHO

  112. Simplistic thinking – “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

    It took a lot of *honest work* from a variety of applied sciences – INFRASTRUCTURE – to develop a lemon meringue pie.

    Someone’s Grandma should have patented it :-)

    There is MUCH MORE to the “middle class” than this ludicrous thread and monkey brain *philosophy* about meritocracy was able to acknowledge as a REALITY.

    Constitutional Convention to forge an *ENERGY* policy.

    Burn the Patriot Act.

  113. While I think everyone is worth something and many people are rewarded beyond their contribution to genral welfare I still think that results and effort to obtain these results should be rewarded. The problem is chooseing the desired results and scale. Wealth means power and power corrupts yada yada ( yes I know it is a cliche but it is so for a reason) and therefore the system is distorted: Therefore the results/goals chosen are not those that are the best for society.

    A doctor is more important to society’s well being than a Wall Steet Banker but is not as well paid , nor is a teacher who is in charge of the developement of our greatest resource, our children. No we are not all equal but I do not belive that we should be rewarded equally. That does not mean that the “undeserving” should be deprived of the means to make a contribution that is meaningful or be deprived of medical care.

    Again, I beleive that effort should be rewarded. Oh! Buy the way banking and the stock market are necessay to the modern economey but have grown beyond being symbiotic to becoming parasitical ( I could continue but I would be mixing my methaphors) the result of power.

    Mike

  114. The math geniuses and all the other “quants” outsmarted themselves, and left the financial world as well as the real world pretty much in ruins. European ZOMBIE banks are teetering some more, and the calendar approaches Sept and Oct, an historic time of big shocks in financial markets.

    The math wiz was a sought after prize by the bankers, and was compensated according to “merit”, that is, skill in obtaining a higher rake-off than hitherto thought likely. So much for basing a system on greed and *intellect*.

    If hurricane Irene doesn’t get ya, maybe the coming weeks….will, let’s hope not. :)

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8721151/Market-crash-could-hit-within-weeks-warn-bankers.html

    Cracks appearing in the Washington monument, as Roman field generals understood, are a bad omen.

    An angel also dislocated from the spire of the National Cathedral and crash to earth.

  115. echoes from the *minds* of young baby boomers, now targeted by Obama’s Gen X gas guzzling cheerfully hedonistic sociopathic liars thieves and murderers (the self-proclaimed *elite* intellectuals)

    modern history of USA post WWII – assassinate your moral and ethical natural born LEADERS

    there is no PLAN for beating the swords back into ploughshares when the USA Prez says “not everyone DESERVES to have a home”

    Too bad no Prophet ever observed how much effort *God* put into architecture, huh?

  116. Dateline: In the Path of Irene: Several hundred-year old WEEPING WILLOW tree, about 1/2 DOWN, with a HUGE chunk of it BARELY missing my major transportation device….by inches.

    Transformers blowing and exploding in sparks, tree limb on fire, now smoldering.

    The sound of dualing chain saws….not waiting for FEMA….LOL.

    Is there *MERIT* in being a good human being?

    A call to all the GOOD ANGELS to rally.

  117. @Woop

    She WILL take it back :-)

    Her love rains down on me easy as the breeze
    I listen to her breathing it sounds like the waves on the sea
    I was thinking all about her, burning with rage and desire
    We were spinning into darkness; the earth was on fire

    She could take it back, she might take it back someday

    So I spy on her, I lie to her, I make promises I cannot keep
    Then I hear her laughter rising, rising from the deep
    And I make her prove her love for me, I take all that I can take
    And I push her to the limit to see if she will break

    She might take it back, she could take it back some day

    Now I have seen the warnings, screaming from all sides
    It’s easy to ignore them and G-d knows I’ve tried
    All this temptation, it turned my faith to lies
    Until I couldn’t see the danger or hear the rising tide

    She can take it back, she will take it back some day
    She can take it back, she will take it back some day
    She can take it back, she will take it back some day

    Good time to survey where the flood zones are…

    The sun’s out, the air is fragrant on the clean wind – a moment in time before the machines start to fume it all up….of fro a walk – will pitch in wherever needed….

  118. I’m a tad superstitious. Mother Earth may be sending America a message. But will the oligarchs listen?

    Millions without electricity, billions in damages after Irene hits New York

    Tropical Storm Irene unleashed furious wind and rain on New York on Sunday and sent seawater surging into the Manhattan streets. But the city appeared to escape the worst fears of urban disaster — vast power outages, hurricane-shattered skyscraper windows and severe flooding.

    —- Globe and Mail

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/americas/millions-without-electricity-billions-in-damages-after-irene-hits-new-york/article2144810/

  119. @woop

    Thanks for your kind words about my poetic musings :)

  120. america’s got talent : jackie evancho (child prodigy)

    another nomination 4 requiem for the oligarchs : time to day good bye

    ummm … maybe you guys and gals could dismantle your banks voluntarily

    hah! tgp on sunday afternoon: who said I was anti-american :)

  121. Bruce E. Woych

    @J. Kwak: I think these discussions impress the fact that your topic belongs outside of flavor of the day hype and political-economic media propaganda. “The University without Borders” is for free thinkers and the issues are foundation to the real liberty of thought. There are no rules only tools. There are no schools only fools; you get to choose truth or falsehood every day. What is merit and what is pay?

    @ Baseline Consortium of contributors:
    Fascinating stream of intelligent (for the most part) contributions. It seems to have many different entry ports and perspectives on translating “merit” and its place in distributive justice (or not). Nevertheless, when you place these in social history and the business matrix of conditioning responses, it unfortunately results in the real world of exploitation and behavior modification. Ultimately the interpretation and direction of what gains “merit” is a subjective one that serves the primary objective (monetary reward) which serves evil as much as goodness in society.

    Consider the “merit” system different in kind rather than simply degree:

    Pete Seeger
    http://search.aol.com/aol/search?s_it=webmail-hawaii1-ac&q=pete%20seeger%20biography

    I don’t see how that his merits and rewards can even be compared to the likes of a master of greed such as Michael Milken mixed with the Economics of Milton Friedman and the generation of monetary power and devil worship that followed these into a labyrinth of slash & burn down, scavenger economics in the world and what was once the United States average American standard of living.

    So what is Merit. Earned credit or Debt traps INC.

  122. Bruce E. Woych

    In Rawl’s terms we would truthfully be comparing the rationale for distributive justice to the business justification and subsequent legitimation of distributive “injustice” as systems.

    Control over these systems are both institutional and traditional in sustaining economic relations that modify or completely dominate social ranking and allocation (outright access or denial of access in many cases) of resources and their potential import to social, economic and political advantage or (distinctively) private privilege.

    Merit and the organizational principle of a meritocracy would upset a status quo, and laissez-faire has always sustained this status quo. Therefore, your “meritocracy” is theoretically flawed since history has demonstrated over again that the merit system is just another way of limiting success to services that “re-enforce” the structures of power and dominating controls that are in place. The promise that capital might be a rogue tool of defiance at large is not demonstrated by the long runs in history since even a wealthy Mick Jagger lusted for “knighthood” and membership in the ancient royal regime ( as a radical example). Meanwhile the promise for an the avante garde of “technocracy” inevitably is falling into line with a class merit force of consolidated elitism (monetary colonialism?) for special purposes (captured markets and consumer dependencies) under concentrated ownership interests.

    In the end it is not a moral “baseline scenario” but a crude and brutal bottom line routine.

  123. Bruce E. Woych

    http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2011/08/austerity-rigour-and-why-do-rich-people.html
    Friday, August 26, 2011
    Austerity, Rigour… And Why Do Rich People Always Just Get Greedier When They Get Richer?

    White House Jobs Plan Might Let Businesses Train Unemployed Without Having To Pay Them:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/24/white-house-jobs-plan-unemployed_n_935228.html

    and MERIT???? (FROM WHOM????):

    Must See New, Just-Released, Elizabeth Warren Interview Part 1

  124. Bruce E. Woych

    Meta-Ethics (MORALITY, ETHICS & PHILOSOPHY SERIES)

  125. Bruce E. Woych


    GRITtv: Robert Scheer: Faux Meritocracy

  126. Bruce E. Woych

  127. @Annie

    You should probably be glad I don’t believe in “free will” otherwise I would have to assume you are not a nice person by choice.

  128. Bruce E. Woych

    Who gains merit in the new National Security State?

    Aug 24, 8:05 PM EDT

    With CIA help, NYPD moves covertly in Muslim areas

    By MATT APUZZO and ADAM GOLDMAN
    Associated Press

    FULL ARTICLE:
    http://customwire.ap.org/dynamic/stories/B/BC_US_SEPT_11_NYPD_INTELLIGENCE_ABRIDGED?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

    (EXCERPT OF INTRODUCTION):

    “The day that `changed everything’

    10 years after 9/11, 1 family fights on in court

    Mexican soap opera takes close look at 9/11

    Scientists man bioterror front lines post-9/11

    Buy AP Photo Reprints

    NEW YORK (AP) — Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the New York Police Department has become one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, targeting ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government, an Associated Press investigation has found.

    The operations have benefited from unprecedented help from the CIA, a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying.

    The department has dispatched undercover officers, known as “rakers,” into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program.”

    Finance a program and you start a merit system; the best of which will become your “meritocracy”

  129. James, Simon, we need a new posting from you right away. Like Star Trek’s Scotty, “we canna hold ‘er together much longer”.

  130. @ Oregano, LMAO. :)

  131. @ Annie, thanks for that Pink Floyd song-poem…….”you done told my story”. :)

  132. @Carl

    and you deciding to hope to change perceptions by saying with self-proclaimed authority, “Annie is not a nice person” was, wha’? Monkey brain knee-jerk reaction to being caught in a logical fallacy being morphed into mechanistic philosophy?

    You did nothing to *create* any reality – mental, physical, metaphysical – that human beings *experience*.

    Assuming something you did not create operates by rules you IMAGINE, well, that’s probably low IQ.

    In case you haven’t divined it (low IQ), I do NOT care what you think about anything.

    We want our 2.5 Million in savings back in our accounts. Your *idea* is that free-will had nothing to do with anything….how freekin’ INSULTING.

  133. @Woych

    Google the map of the Middle East….it’s 1000000000000000000% delusional what people *BELIEVE*

    All these doom and gloom comments about how USA is going under for the next 20 years is a psychological projection from the ME inhabitants….USA is NOT Israel or Switzerland, or any other *Mouse that Roared* country….

    It was a wicked idea from the day it was *imagined* – set up to FAIL.

    This is a USA guns vs butter issue in a way that is NOT being discussed with any HONESTY about the facts on the ground.

    Constitutional Convention to put in place an energy policy.

    Burn the Patriot Act.

    That’s just for starters….

  134. @ Oregano

    Perhaps Michael Hudson might be invited to write a guest post, as he has done for Naked Capitalism? He appears to have a lot of fans on Baseline.

  135. Poverty, I mean, property sucks. Just ask any hurricane.

  136. oops

  137. Bruce E. Woych

    Annie: People believe anything when they can’t feed their families:

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/29-6#comments

  138. @ CommonDreams article, and Hi Bruce….

    Start by MAKING the FED have available a sum of $ 1 Trillion, the first tranche, for state infrastructure projects, with the same low or non-existent rate provided to its’ best buddies in the INSOLVENT BIG BANK UNIVERSE. This first installment, as well as those following, is due over 50 years.

    It CAN be done, if Obama had the nerve and backbone of a person such as FDR. The FED is neither federal nor a reserve, and IT (this monster) can be undone, and also should be nationalized. It is the source of our deepest misery, and the catalyst for wars all over the globe.

  139. @Woych

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37560195/#44318889

    In order to avoid the CRIMES against humanity and the fraud, corruption, and craven avarice – the spin meisters are veering the conversation and analysis into ever more enraging channels.

    The *GOVERNMENT* was “entrepreneurial” – genuflect at my use of sacred word – when it decided to shoot for the moon….that’s just a starter to the rebuttal that pin head AEI President should get slapped on the side of his DELUSIONAL head’s re-write of USA history.

    Savers were robbed and continue to be robbed. “…and then they came for me…”

    Critical mass HAS been reached, and the link I provided PROVES that what still works is getting everybody to gaze at their own navel to examine whether my navel or yours is WHY a gang of psychopaths and their sociopath sycophant’s LIES, THEFT, and MURDER were hurled at us in the dead of the night – like a hurricane before any weather channel expertise.

    From “The Who” – “…I don’t need to fight to prove I’m right, I don’t need to be forgiven….”

    Drag out the AEI’s delphi oracle pronouncements since they got permission from the FED to self-appointed themselves *globalist* propagandanistas and you’ll see that they are always thinking ONLY about targeting any and all pockets of economic stability and cultural harmony AROUND THE PLANET simply for the taking of the fruits from those pockets of LIFE where people gave each other the RIGHT to make their lives less miserable through HONEST work.

    I’m with *woop* – they gotta go…THIS is where the age of “isms” must END once and for all….

  140. @ Annie, Mr. Brooks of the AEI: his “Basic minimum safety net” *idea* is responding with the Reeks and Wrecks by immediately carting off the recently expired corpse(s) prone in the gutter, so it doesn’t begin to stink out the day for the residual slaves trudging to work. He won’t say that, though. He’ll make it sound as if the only sticking point is a *matter of degree*, but this isn’t really where his head is at, because the corporations who infuse the AEI with their operating budget and the salaries of these overpaid hacks, isn’t really where THEIR head is at.

    Conservative economic *doctrine* as expressed by people like “Brooks” is a total crock, because the only true measurement and worth of its’ *philosophy* is the upward redistribution of wealth, out from… as you say… those doing HONEST LABOR, into the coffers of those extolling in the virtues of ripoffs and blatant theft.

    If PSYCHOTIC GREED doesn’t define the major personality attribute of such individuals, then what DOES?

  141. Christine Lagarde advocating for MORE DIGITAL *MONEY* NOT WORTH THE PAPER ITS NOT PRINTED ON, into the BIG BLACK HOLE of the INSOLVENT BANK UNIVERSE……to what end? We know a ZOMBIE when we see one, and no matter the palliative, the walking crud never comes to again.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/08/27/new-imf-chief-says-urgent-action-needed-to-protect-recovery/

    At least the GERMANS don’t have their collective head buried in an unpleasant cavity, it seems to me.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8728628/Euro-bail-out-in-doubt-as-hysteria-sweeps-Germany.html

    Hold the line, German people.

  142. Human Beings DO have the right to make their lives less miserable through HONEST work.

    That’s the TRUTH.

    Yes, we are not all *equal* in how we go about becoming less miserable :-) – but so what? A different way of looking at it is that there are a number of innovative ways to go about building a *civilization*. Being without city water since Saturday, I can tell you it’s necessary to get creative and make up *distribution* channels of available water (the pool) to maintain basic hygiene (flush solid waste). Question is this – are there people employed by the city’s water works (it’s been *privatized*) who know how to fix the problem? They don’t even know where to go look – all they know is what was on their computer screen and when that went dark – they’re done – INCOMPETENT to physically go see the *REALITY* and FIX IT…so now back to the computer (much easier to restore electricity) to search the unemployment database to find the COMPETENT people – but whoopsie, *we* deleted their names (baby boomers) from the database to keep the unemployment #s at 9%…

    Inherent in the basic HUMAN RIGHT, is the RIGHT to *contain* the psychos who find JOY and Happiness in taking away the RIGHT of human beings to do HONEST work AND to ENJOY THE FRUITS OF THEIR HONEST LABOR.

    We were robbed and continue to be robbed of our RIGHT to honest work.

    All the *merits* of 10,000 years of *civilization* (Greece as an example) are being sucked up to the FIAT accounts of PSYCHOS, aren’t they? And to call it what it is means you are not a *nice* person???!!!

    Anyone wanting to change the conversation away from this GUNS vs BUTTER situation is definitely part of the LIE.

    But of course, let’s find out what people REALLY believe about their own *secret* mission and how DELUSIONAL they have been over CENTURIES – psycho-analyze this:

    http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/proof.htm

  143. 42. You know to what they have been brought by this carelessness, to what pitch of financial disorder they have arrived, notwithstanding the astonishing industry of their peoples ….

    it’s too extreme now, their tactics – look at Columbia and the assassinations of *labor* leaders…

  144. The elites in high-tech seem particularly prone to this notion that goodies accrue to those who deserve them. Witness Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, telling the graduating class at Barnard that it is their choice to rise in the system. Young women should “lean in” — that is enough. No mention of potential mitigating social factors. Sheer determination and smarts are enough. A lot of our technology is shot through with these meritocratic values, creating an even stronger support for it in the culture. Some examples here: http://goo.gl/8KGht

  145. Agree to the extent that merit has some of the same element of lottery (talent part of it) as does family background. However, one part of merit is also the work one put in to build on one’s God endowed talent. But I again agree that mere Education (especially when even that Education is unaffordable expensive for many) does not create a normative case for higher earning by itself, unless you can demonstrate it’s utility in the marketplace.

    But it would be a societal mistake to scuttle merit. Any other kind of lottery gives sub optimal results for society. Having a system in which those in power take in new people and promote them as they assess best eventually rots, because it does not receive the best from meritorious people as the mediocres are more open to sucking/managing their way up than are meritorious people. Worse, if they actually get pushed into the illegal-immoral pathways to get their merit their due, the society is even worser off.

    A system of merit . Progressive taxation is perhaps the best. With it’s progressive tax haul, the Gov provides for equality for opportunity, not outcomes, and not suppression of merit’s achievement- for oneself and for making society better off.

  146. agree that mere Education (especially when even that Education is unaffordably expensive for many) does not create a normative case for higher earning by itself, unless you can demonstrate it’s utility in an untinkered, un authority-manipulated marketplace:

    http://www.nolanchart.com/article6125_RiskSterilization_of_PinStriped_Market_Careers__Its_Consequences.html

  147. What a total crock! This and the previous post from 2 years ago are utter nonsense. I stumbled upon this blog because I am a student of Professor Johnson’s at MIT. To think that I had nothing to do with getting into School such as London Business School, MIT/Sloan, etc. and that it was all “pre-determined” based upon the genetic gifts from my parents is a total joke (and quite an insult).

    Kwak’s viewpoint strikes me as that of a spoiled kid who had everything he wanted or needed. And instead of actually having to work hard (i.e. force himself to put in that extra effort when he wanted to call it quits), he likely was able to cruise due to his parents connections or finances. Boy, wish I was that lucky. But alas, I had to push myself. To teach myself not to quit when I wanted or when others did. All of this extra hard work did not come naturally – I guess I was not blessed with those genetics. I had to train myself to accept and embrace the tradeoffs and to an extent cherish them. But according to Kwak, that can’t be. It is all luck! I call BS!!

    If you believe in total redistribution (i.e. the post from 2 yrs previous), fine. But have the guts to simply say that. Have the intellectual integrity to plainly state that you feel that incomes should be distributed evenly – no matter what value you create or capture. And think back to all of the clients you over charged while at McKinsey. I am sure you felt horribly guilty about your salary from those days. Right?

    As someone who has worked extensively in Scandanavia, I have seen first hand some of the negative effects of removing incentives for people to “work hard” and achieve the pinnacle of the profession (e.g. try finding surgeons with challenging specializations in Finland). I understand it is easy to stare out off the ivory tower and wax poetically, but do yourself a favor. Every now and then, please realize that you are nothing but a bag of useless hot air.

  148. @ CMK011,

    The act of the Corporations, investment firms, and their ultimate Brahmins like McKinsey, has been to create the ‘process oriented enterprise’ – where the process runs and achieves everything, not a meritorious worker. The latter are, as such, not needed. Such an organization keeps the ones already in, glued to their seats. You want to get ahead, promoted,….well, make these entrenchmentcratcs ‘happy’, else stagnate in your “career”. And these companies have been able to run things that way because they have successfully sold us that the Gov is responsible for their Toplines and bottomlines.

    It’s no surprise that these quotes are coming from McKinseycrats. They go around saying “We are a corporate meritocracy” yet their entire play is quite the opposite.

  149. Read: And these companies have been able to run things that way because they have successfully sold us that the Gov is responsible for their Toplines and Bottomlines. The Gov handouts, in the form of purchases and tax holes, gives them the growth, not process, not merit.

  150. Ivy Tower, as in ivy-covered wall. Not Ivory Tower, unless you are talking about elephant-based construction material.