Kathy links to Megan Macardle’s article on the homogenization of America’s (and, realistically, Canada’s) ruling elite. Being the son or daughter of Harvard grads and a Harvard grad yourself is now, apparently, the ticket to alpha jobs in politics, law, the academy, journalism and finance. Which is a) likely more true than not, b) hardly surprising given the entrance requirements act as a ferocious cognitive screen, c) of less and less importance.
It is becoming less important because big government, the academy, big law, huge finance and big media are dying. Not quickly but they are on their way. Why? Because the mandarinate has not done much productive in forty years. And, in fact, the elite activities of governance, anti-trust litigation, climate action, tax law, derivatives and queered gender studies have largely left any possible reality. Spending a trillion dollars a year you do not have is a flight from reality, explaining why such spending is a good idea is financial surrealism, but actually financing the spending is an error that only a really well trained, Ivy League kinda of a guy could make. The rest of us are simply not cognitively capable of ignoring reality at that level.
As many people are starting to notice, the wheels are falling off the more cherished social tropes of the mandarinate. Cost benefit analysis of a black studies degree from Yale is being performed, legal analysis is being out sourced to India, banks are being bailed out to postpone the day when all those derivatives are going to come back and bite. Climate action is being quietly under bussed by smart politicians.
Smart parents are looking for ways to prepare their children for both the alpha cognitive world and the world where things are actually made and services performed. A trade makes a lot more sense than an internship at the end of a 200K debt financed “education”.
As with the end of the catastrophic global warming scam, the political elites will be the last to know because they are advised by mandarins.
It is instructive to look at what happened when the Chinese Manchu mandarinate was confronted with a changing world. The denial of the 18th century gave way to the decline of the 19th and the collapse at the beginning of the 20th. The mandarins did not become dumber nor were the examinations any less tough; the fact was that the modern, western, world arrived at China’s door and would not go away. The mandarins had no answer to a radical change.
Our mandarinate is, to a degree, innovative. But it is the phoney innovation of people who share precisely the same central world view and argue about the margins. Real change, radical restructuring in the face of a changing world is simply beyond the stunted imaginations of the test taking classes. It was not on the exam.