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Strategies & Market Trends : 2026 TeoTwawKi ... 2032 Darkest Interregnum
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To: Sultan who wrote (171809)5/16/2021 5:20:56 AM
From: TobagoJack1 Recommendation

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marcher

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In the meantime an article on Bloomberg caught me attention, and



... I clicked into it

bloomberg.com



... very much agreed with the read, especially as it be what I thought in any case, and I quote myself Message 33149335
"Other locals might do better w/ meritocracy as opposed to systemic glad-handing pitched as free-choice. A lot of the wars in recent 100 years were borne of free choice."

But, or rather then, upon completing the read of great merit, I noticed at the tab of the browser window of the read, its 'original' title before suspect Team Bloomberg changed the title presumably to 'improve' the article - hilarious, and a matter of course



... expected, that journalism of the MSM type is deeply troubled.

BTW, put the first part of the title, "China knows that meritocracy", into Google search and first up would be the same article



Of course, the article misses the big point by making mistake borne of bias, claiming that China is emulating Singapore, a knee-slapping point, especially as Singapore is failing, and forgetting the Singapore Confucius-roots, emulating China of dynasty times. Adrian got part of the puzzle correct but entirely missed the point.

Team China is not and had not been 'westernising' or 'globalising', but merely remembering 'confucianising' and picking up where left off, so as to move on past a hiccup.

The West — and particularly the United States — is turning against the meritocratic idea precisely when the greatest geopolitical rival it has ever faced, China, is embracing meritocracy more tightly. China is very far from being meritocracy incarnate, of course: President Xi Jinping, who appointed himself president for life in 2018, is the highest-ranking member of a caste of Red Princelings whose parents and grandparents came to power with the revolution. But alongside, or rather mixed up with, the insider dealing of this rather grubby elite is a very different China (and one that we underestimate at our peril). Xi was a frequent visitor of the late Lee Kuan Yew, the architect of the Singapore miracle. The Chinese educational system is determinedly meritocratic: Children compete to get into the best nursery schools so that they can get into the best secondary schools and then into the best universities. Examinations — most important, the university entrance examination or gaokao that students take at 18 — regulate the race to get ahead. This examination system, which draws on the tradition of civil service examinations that were administered for more than a thousand years, is now more geared to produce scientists and engineers rather than Confucian officials.
The Chinese Communist Party claims that it is trying to create a system based on “political meritocracy,” with senior positions allocated not on the basis of Western ideas of democracy (which the elite associates with decadence) but with objective performance measures; it is certainly shifting its power base from the farm and the factory to the university and the office, routinely recruiting the brightest young students into its ranks. The party’s Organization Department acts as a giant human resources department keeping records on high-fliers across the country. Provincial governors and university presidents are evaluated on the basis of their success in hitting a number of targets. Perhaps all this is a contrived illusion to conceal the money-grubbing of a self-perpetuating clique. But the West should at least prepare itself for the possibility that, albeit messily, China is turning itself into a giant Singapore, determined to use meritocracy as a tool of growth and social progress.

bloomberg.com

Meritocracy, Not Democracy, Is the Golden Ticket to Growth

The price of abandoning it will be less wealth and more poverty.

Adrian Wooldridge
16 May 2021, 15:00 GMT+8

Meritocracy is under assault from all directions. For progressives, it is a tool of White male privilege; for right-wing populists, an instrument of androgynous cosmopolitan elites; and for ambitious parents, a nightmare of sleepless nights and anxiety-ridden children. Black Lives Matter, one of the most successful protest movements of recent decades, puts meritocracy high on its list of targets. Even some of the more distinguished ornaments of the meritocratic system have given up defending it: Harvard’s Michael Sandel calls it a “tyranny” while Yale’s Daniel Markovits dismisses it as a “trap.”

This is more than empty rhetoric. The war against merit is producing real consequences. San Francisco’s Lowell School is one of the most successful schools in the country and has given thousands of poor immigrant children (among others) a chance of an elite education. The San Francisco Board of Education has now banned it from using admission tests and introduced a lottery system instead, with the school commissioner, Alison Collins, pronouncing that meritocracy is “racist” and “the antithesis of fair.” Elite schools in New York and Boston are also under threat. Programs for the gifted and talented are being dismantled across the country. Universities have been reducing the importance of standardized admissions tests, with some going so far as to make testing optional, and putting more emphasis on “holistic assessment” instead. Companies are introducing formal or informal quotas in the name of “equity” (which is increasingly taking the place of equality of opportunity as a measure of justice).

The significance of this is hard to overstate: Meritocracy is one of the great building blocks of modernity, along with democracy, capitalism and liberalism. We need to be very sure of our ground if we are to start dismantling it. Is it really the case that meritocracy is a tool of White male privilege? W.E.B. Du Bois and Ruth Bader Ginsburg might have something different to say. Are lotteries or holistic assessments really better ways of distributing educational opportunities than standardized tests? Most of us would hesitate before flying with a pilot who had been chosen by lottery. Do we really want a society in which group identities trump individual abilities? A glance at the history of India or the former Yugoslavia suggests that we should at least pause before taking this leap.

The easiest way to demonstrate the dangers of dismantling meritocracy is to look at economics. Reasonable people can disagree about questions of social justice — though I would argue that the idea of merit is one of humanity’s most successful privilege-busting inventions. But the evidence of economics is overwhelming: Meritocracy promotes prosperity, and dismantling meritocracy will reduce it. Those who support the current campaign against merit need to admit that they are opting for lower growth. Those who are still trying to make up their minds need to take future prosperity into account.

Growth’s Not-So-Secret Sauce
The surest sign that a country will be economically successful is not the health of its democracy, as some liberals like to think, or the leanness of its government, as some free-marketers imagine, but its commitment to meritocracy. Singapore is a soft authoritarian power. But it has transformed itself in a few decades from a poverty-stricken swamp into one of the world’s most prosperous countries, with a higher standard of living and a longer life expectancy than its old colonial master, because it is perhaps the world’s leading practitioner of meritocracy. The Scandinavian countries have some of the world’s largest governments and most generous welfare states. But they retain their positions at the top of international league tables of prosperity and productivity in large part because they are committed to high-quality education, good government and, beneath their communitarian veneer, competition; in other words — meritocracy.

By contrast, countries that have resisted meritocracy have either stagnated or hit their growth limits. Greece, a byword for nepotism and “clientelism” (using public-sector jobs to reward partisan cronies), has struggled for decades. Italy, the homeland of nepotismo, enjoyed a postwar boom like France and Germany but has been stagnating since the mid-1990s. The handful of countries that have succeeded in combining anti-meritocratic cultures with high standards of living are petrostates that are dependent on the accident of geography rather than the ingenuity of their people. In the post-oil age, they will surely suffer a sharp decline in their standard of living unless they change their habits.

A raft of cross-country surveys reinforces this impression. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a global think tank, has repeatedly demonstrated that high social mobility, a sure sign of meritocracy, promotes economic growth. Both the World Bank and Transparency International show that corruption is inimical to long-term prosperity. Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University and John van Reenen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have collected data on management practices in more than 11,000 firms in 34 countries to produce a veritable Domesday Book of management. They demonstrate that countries that favor recruiting professional managers through open competition have higher growth rates than those that favor recruiting amateur managers through personal connections. America has the highest overall management score, followed by Germany and Japan. Rich-world laggards such as Portugal and Greece, and big emerging-market countries such as India, have a long tail of un-meritocratic and therefore badly managed firms.

Two recent studies are particularly telling. Four economists at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business have examined America’s GDP growth per person from 1960 to 2020 through the prism of talent distribution. They claim that roughly a fifth of the country’s growth during this period can be explained by the improved allocation of talent, particularly the opening up of highly skilled professions to new talent pools. In 1960, 94% of America’s doctors and lawyers were white men. By 2010, that number had shrunk to 60%. This makes for both a more productive and a more just society.

Bruno Pellegrino of the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and Luigi Zingales of the Booth School have constructed a measure of countries’ levels of meritocracy based on data from the World Economic Forum’s survey of expert opinion on who holds senior management positions. The WEF asks questions such as: Are senior managers recruited on the basis of family connections or on merit and competence? Are senior managers willing to delegate authority to juniors? And are managers rewarded and promoted according to productivity? The authors also posit that a country’s level of meritocracy in the business sector is related to its level of meritocracy in the wider society (quality of government, rigidity of employment laws, quality of judicial decisions, size of the black economy, vibrancy of the high-tech sector). They rank the world’s advanced economies roughly in terms of their “meritocracy score” (“roughly” because the data are based on perceptions, albeit the perceptions of experts): Sweden comes at the top and Italy at the bottom. More generally, northern European countries cluster at the top, along with the U.S. and Japan, while southern European countries lie at the bottom.

The authors show that countries with high meritocracy scores have enjoyed much more of a bonus from new technology than countries with low scores such as Italy. Italy’s loyalty-based management style had no negative consequences for productivity growth in the decades before 1995. But when the IT revolution took off, loyalty-based management reduced Italy’s productivity growth by between 13 and 16 percentage points. This result suggests that the meritocracy dividend is growing along with the IT revolution: Meritocracy is not just the secret sauce of economic growth in the long term, but also a secret sauce that is becoming ever more potent.

The comparative study of institutions points to the same conclusion as the comparative study of countries. Independent central banks are more successful at controlling inflation than those that are beholden to governments and therefore voters. Independent judges, appointed by technocratic merit commissions, produce sounder judgments than partisan judges, elected by the voters, in the sense that their rulings are much more consistent and much less likely to be overturned. Public companies routinely outperform family companies unless family companies take the precaution of hiring professional managers.

What Happened to the Manhattan of the Middle Ages?
Another way to measure the prosperity-producing power of meritocracy is to look at what happens if you remove it. The City College of New York had a well-deserved reputation as the “Harvard of the proletariat,” taking thousands of poor adolescents, many of them the offspring of immigrants, and turning them into the successful citizens of a knowledge society — doctors, lawyers, academics and, in the case of 10 alumni, Nobel Prize winners. Then in 1970 the university introduced an open-access regime, admitting anyone who had graduated from the city’s high schools. The result was a simultaneous boom in student numbers and a collapse in academic standards. By 1978, 2 out of 3 students admitted to the college required remedial teaching in reading, writing and arithmetic. Dropout rates surged. Talented scholars left. A college that had once specialized in producing the rocket fuel of a successful society — talent — became synonymous with protests and sit-ins. In 1999, a task force led by former Yale president Benno Schmidt pronounced the larger City University system to be “in a spiral of decline.” The college only began to recover after it abandoned open admissions as a failed experiment.

The same thing happened, on a far larger scale, with what was arguably the world’s first global city. Venice is one of Italy’s least favored cities when it comes to natural resources. Yet in the early Middle Ages it was the richest city in Europe. Venetian sailors — there were some 36,000 of them in the 14th century — popped up as far away as China. Venetian merchants invented the prototype of today’s joint-stock companies, the commenda. The same merchants used the proceeds of ingenuity and dynamism to build some of the world’s most spectacular buildings and patronize some of its most glorious arts.

This Manhattan of the Middle Ages owed its success in large part to its unusual openness to talent: Rather than a hereditary ruler, the standard at the time, Venice had a doge who was selected by the ruling families; rather than a royal court, it had a council of wise men whose job it was to advise — and constrain — the doge. Social mobility was commonplace. Daron Acemoglu of MIT and James Robinson of the University of Chicago Pearson Institute calculate that in government documents in the years 960, 971 and 982, new names made up 69%, 81% and 65%, respectively, of those recorded. Institutions became more inclusive: From the late 12th century onward, a hundred new members were added every year to the Ducal Council, which kept the doge under tight control.

Yet from the late 12th and early 13th centuries, the most powerful families took to rigging the system in favor of their children. In 1315 they succeeded in locking their position at the top of society for good by publishing the “Book of Gold” (Libro D’Oro) — an official list of Venetian noble families that was intended to keep the social order exactly as it was. Venetians called this La Serrata: the closure.

La Serrata spelled the end of Venice as the world’s most successful city-state. A self-satisfied oligarchy used its power to hoard opportunities and strangle innovation. The commenda were banned. The state took over trade. Newcomers were kept out or down. The city lost its vigor. By 1500, the city’s population was lower than it had been in 1330. By 1851, when John Ruskin published his magnificent “The Stones of Venice,” it was a byword for decline: “a ghost upon the sands of the sea, so weak ­so quiet — so bereft of all but her loveliness that we might well doubt, as we watched her faint reflection in the mirage of the lagoon, which was the City and which the Shadow.”

Meritocracy With Chinese Characteristics
The West — and particularly the United States — is turning against the meritocratic idea precisely when the greatest geopolitical rival it has ever faced, China, is embracing meritocracy more tightly. China is very far from being meritocracy incarnate, of course: President Xi Jinping, who appointed himself president for life in 2018, is the highest-ranking member of a caste of Red Princelings whose parents and grandparents came to power with the revolution. But alongside, or rather mixed up with, the insider dealing of this rather grubby elite is a very different China (and one that we underestimate at our peril). Xi was a frequent visitor of the late Lee Kuan Yew, the architect of the Singapore miracle. The Chinese educational system is determinedly meritocratic: Children compete to get into the best nursery schools so that they can get into the best secondary schools and then into the best universities. Examinations — most important, the university entrance examination or gaokao that students take at 18 — regulate the race to get ahead. This examination system, which draws on the tradition of civil service examinations that were administered for more than a thousand years, is now more geared to produce scientists and engineers rather than Confucian officials.

The Chinese Communist Party claims that it is trying to create a system based on “political meritocracy,” with senior positions allocated not on the basis of Western ideas of democracy (which the elite associates with decadence) but with objective performance measures; it is certainly shifting its power base from the farm and the factory to the university and the office, routinely recruiting the brightest young students into its ranks. The party’s Organization Department acts as a giant human resources department keeping records on high-fliers across the country. Provincial governors and university presidents are evaluated on the basis of their success in hitting a number of targets. Perhaps all this is a contrived illusion to conceal the money-grubbing of a self-perpetuating clique. But the West should at least prepare itself for the possibility that, albeit messily, China is turning itself into a giant Singapore, determined to use meritocracy as a tool of growth and social progress.


A Case of Mistaken Identity
In the 1980s and 1990s, Western intellectuals convinced themselves that they had discovered a firm link between economic growth and democracy. Liberal democracies grew faster than other political systems, they argued, and fast growth led to democratic liberalism, in a self-reinforcing virtuous circle. This discovery created a period of near-Victorian evangelism, with policy makers welcoming China and Russia into the global order on the grounds that they would inevitably evolve into liberal democracies, and a group of neoconservatives even arguing in favor of “regime change” in the Middle East on the theory that democracy and prosperity would naturally replace the toppled regimes.

This vision has not survived the passage of time. Far from becoming more democratic as they have joined the global economy, Russia and China have become more authoritarian (indeed, far from seeing liberalism flowing eastward, we have seen illiberalism flowing westward). And far from producing democracy and prosperity in the Middle East, neoconservative policies have produced bloody chaos. China has grown by about 10% a year for the past four decades. The democratic West has suffered from the worst economic crisis since World War II and a “great stagnation.” Countries as diverse as Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates have chosen authoritarian modernization over democracy.

There are many contingent reasons for this vast intellectual failure: Vladimir Putin’s seizure of power in Russia; the premature dismantling of the Baath regime in Iraq; America’s ideological and economic enthusiasm for granting mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them. Still, one reason is more profound than all the others: The idea that there is a necessary relationship between democracy and growth rests on a false positive. The really robust relationship is between meritocracy and growth.

The West has thrived materially over the past century or so in large part because it managed to fuse democracy with meritocracy. America’s Founders understood that the reason for embracing democracy was not that it made us rich, but that it gave ordinary people a say in how their country was governed. They also understood that democracy could actually destroy prosperity if it wasn’t diluted with a degree of meritocracy. They built meritocratic restraints into the Constitution by giving senators six-year terms and giving Supreme Court justices jobs for life. They also put limits on the power of the state to interfere in the wider economy. One reason meritocracy flourished was that the U.S. made it easy for companies to claim limited liability without declaring an explicit public purpose. Another was that the U.S.’s lax immigration laws and vast territories attracted tens of millions of ambitious and energetic people from more crowded and tradition-bound societies.

Other Western countries pursued a similar policy of fusing meritocracy with democracy: France and Britain competed to produce the world’s most elite civil services, and the European Union imposed even more restraints on democratic overreach than the United States did. During the golden years of the 1980s and 1990s this formula worked because the democratic part of the formula generated political legitimacy and the meritocratic part generated good government and economic growth.

A cohort of rising powers are trying a different approach: linking meritocracy with autocracy of various degrees of hardness. Lee Kuan Yew recognized that the best way to enjoy Western levels of prosperity was not to introduce one-person-one vote but to borrow Western mechanisms such as an elite civil service, recruited through open competition and dedicated to corruption-free government, and graft it onto older Mandarin traditions of the rule of the scholar-bureaucrat. Since then a growing number of countries, led by mighty China, have tried to imitate his model.

The current attack on meritocracy is not just a threat to the prosperity of particular countries. It is a threat to the prosperity of the whole democratic world. Prosperity will increasingly be identified with top-down authoritarian regimes that make up for their failure to give their people a voice by giving them jobs and improving their welfare. Democratic countries in turn will be associated with economic stagnation, populist revolts and racial disharmony, as people try to get ahead in a low-growth environment by emphasizing their membership in defined groups rather than their individual merits.

When John Ruskin visited Venice in the 1850s to write “The Stones of Venice,” the former global superpower had long since lapsed into political decline and economic exhaustion. Much of the post-meritocratic West won’t even have Venice’s abiding loveliness to make up for decline. It will have a landscape of decaying buildings and pot-holed highways — and the spectacle of angry protesters perpetually brandishing group rights and collective resentments.

This essay has been adapted from “The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World,” by Adrian Wooldridge. To be published by Penguin/Allen Lane in the U.K. on June 3, and Skyhorse in the U.S. on June 15.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Adrian Wooldridge at adrianwooldridge@economist.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
James Gibney at jgibney5@bloomberg.net

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