Thursday, September 21, 2006

Special Harvard admissions for the wealthy: why I approve

One would think a commie like me would disapprove of the practice of special Harvard admission for the wealthy and privileged. Not so. Like the non-legacy admit Mankiw quotes I consider this a reasonable form of corruption, one with benefits for non-legacy funding. (I attended Williams College for "free", doubtless due to a similar sort of corruption.)

How can a socialist-commie-traitor approve of class-based privilege? It's the flip side of my dislike of the enthusiasm for 'merit based' rewards, and is really a sign of my twisted nature. After all, what is "merit" but the results of a genetic and social lottery? Get good genes, have the fortune of a supportive family (or not, in Newton's case), a few good teachers, and you have merit. The converse -- non-merit. To be born/adopted to wealth and privilege is a great gift, probably greater than winning the genetic lottery, but it's not substantively different.

So, all praise to those who enter Harvard by chance-given talent, but also to those who enter on the promise of their parent's future donations, and those who enter by compensation of their economic misfortune. It is all of the same.

BTW, a similar reasoning applies to reforming political corruption. The wealthy would never really accept having the same influence as a common voter; political corruption is the means by which the powerful get just enough extra influence so that they tolerate democracy. The problem we have now is that the "powerful" are being over-compensated with influence, for much the same reason that CEO's are over-compensated for their "leadership". We don't want to eliminate corruption in politics, we merely want to stop over-compensating the wealthy. They'd tolerate a democracy with less corruption that what we now live with.

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