talk about the meritocracy

  • #1
    Those of us who live in the USA have always had pride in our freedom and our democratic ideals but if you ask me i think the idea that we've worked the hardest to protect is the idea of a meritocracy. In a meritocracy you can earn a better life by working hard. If you work hard in school (which is state provided) and do your homework and get good grades then eventually you'll be as successful as your parents were.

    A meritocracy also presumes that those who've achieved a better life have earned it.
    A typical merit - based argument goes like this:
    It's okay for Lebron James to earn 30 million dollars this year because he's the best in his field and people are willing to pay him that.

    (Before i go any farther i want to point out that it's not for me to judge the accuracy of those statements. I'm not implying that they're true or untrue. )

    A merit-based argument is often used in defense of capitalism. Capitalism may or may not be good. Again it's not for me to judge.

    The opposite of a merit-based argument is a needs-based argument. When you put the idea of giving people what they need at the front of your beliefs it suggests an entirely different economic organization that may (or may not) equate to socialism.
    Again - not for me to judge.

    What we have here in the USA is a culture that is primarily defined by the idea of merit. I think that there's a lot of merit (heh) to the idea of a meritocracy.

    What i'd like to talk about is whether an unrestrained meritocracy can continue to function indefinitely. I believe that a meritocracy is ultimately doomed to failure unless it can be maintained very carefully.

    Not to pick on Lebron but i believe that we can use him as an example of a failing meritocracy. Don't overthink this. Lebron james is paid ridiculous sums of money to play basketball. By all accounts he's a very hard worker but then again there are lots of people who work hard every day. There are waitresses who work as hard as lebron. I think we all know someone who works 40 hours a week, then comes home to take care of their kids and try to finish schoolwork. If you don't know somebody like that yet just wait a bit. You'll meet one eventually.
    It's hard to argue that the meritocracy is working when one gets paid so much and the other gets paid so little.

    Now it might sound like i'm attacking the decision making process that lead to this disparity. I'm not. There were thousands of perfectly reasonable decisions that lead to this end and there might not a single one that you could point at and say "this was malicious intent". No - the ultimate proof of the weakness of a meritocracy rests in the fact that everybody got roughly the reward that they deserved.

    So where is the paradox? Why is it fair for lebron james to be paid x amount of money while the waitress gets paid y? The secret lies in the fact that small disparities tend to magnify over time. If you had no established pay scale for waitressing and basketball and were asked to come up with one you'd probably consider lots of factors such as the relative value produced by each profession and the scarcity of their skills. In the end you might arrive at the conclusion that lebron deserves to be paid more, but how much more? Do you think you would arrive at the conclusion that the waitress deserves a wage that barely covers her essentials to live in a small aparment while lebron james makes more money in a year than the waitress is likely to see in her lifetime?

    This shows that the meritocracy is becoming less effective. It hasn't failed and it hasn't been proven to be wrong. It just needs to be normalized from time to time.
  • #2
    I suppose it depends on the choices each made in their life.
  • #3
    Or... Lebron James is paid that much more because the revenue that he brings in for his respective team/business is absurdly higher than the revenue the waitress brings in for her respective business.

    You can certainly make the argument that Lebron James makes too much ****ing money in absolute terms, and that no single man needs that much. But it is untenable to argue why he makes that much money (revenue stream is absurd), and it's unfair for him to make that much money (it certainly is if you don't think people should be paid according to how much they draw for their business; but if you argue this then you open a whole other can of worms).
  • #4
    No idea is perfect. Pragmatism should rule over idealism. Moderation and balance between the two.


    Oh and lifes not fair. there are millions of wannabee Lebron James...he was just lucky enough to be THE lebron James and there will be Lebron James, no matter what ideology you adhere too.

    I think idealism allows people to become skeptical. Liberal conservative, libertarian, etc, etc......they have these ideals that can never be fulfilled, so disappointment and resentment start and they got to point the finger and the one of a million lebron james who made it, is their target. He is an anomaly..how the hell can you base anything on that? (not said with anger) (more of the criticism of the "big bad corporation")

    Lebron James is not the American Dream.


    The guy or gal or transgender (?) making 60K//yr doing what he loves/like to do is the American Dream.
    Last edited by billydaman: 5/24/2013 9:18:25 PM
    Reading is tech Wink
  • #5
    I believe his salary is fair according to one perspective and unfair according to another.

    That observation almost always leads to an argument about which perspective is more valid but that's a foolish argument to have.

    Don't even engage in that debate. Ask yourself a better question. Which perspective leads to a healthier nation?
  • #6
    Quote from Illinest

    Don't even engage in that debate. Ask yourself a better question. Which perspective leads to a healthier nation?


    A society in which salary is dictated by what the general public thinks is fair?

    I would never want live in that kind of society. I do not like direct democracy very much.

    I feel that I answered your question, which I took to be "In the end you might arrive at the conclusion that lebron deserves to be paid more, but how much more? Do you think you would arrive at the conclusion that the waitress deserves a wage that barely covers her essentials to live in a small aparment while lebron james makes more money in a year than the waitress is likely to see in her lifetime?".

    I'll ask you this though- why exactly does Lebron James deserve to be paid more? If we made the assumption that they work equal hours, shouldn't they be paid equal amounts? By what metric do we determine that Lebron James should be paid more than any other individual?

    Is it because he provides a service that is more "beneficial", or reaching more people? If so, then shouldn't all basketball players who play the same amount as Lebron James, or anyone who arguably provides the same functional service, be paid exactly the same amount?

    You brought this up briefly, but all you did was present something and give no analysis yourself. I ask that you do; otherwise this goes nowhere.

    You also said this " I believe that a meritocracy is ultimately doomed to failure unless it can be maintained very carefully." Why do you think that? I'm not sure if I agree. I think you're conflating capitalism with meritocracy, and they are absolutely not the same. If we somehow magically had an economic system that truly rewarded effort and hard-work like an idealistic meritocracy would, then things would be complete paradise. Of course, such a system might have to assume infinite resources, but that depends more on what exactly is rewarded for each level of effort more than anything else.

    If I had an absolute guarantee that my hard work would get me places, then I would absolutely do it. As it stands- that is not necessarily (in fact it absolutely is not) the case.

    Oh, and the perspective is about the only thing that matters in this debate.
  • #7
    Quote from Illinest
    So where is the paradox? Why is it fair for lebron james to be paid x amount of money while the waitress gets paid y? The secret lies in the fact that small disparities tend to magnify over time. If you had no established pay scale for waitressing and basketball and were asked to come up with one you'd probably consider lots of factors such as the relative value produced by each profession and the scarcity of their skills. In the end you might arrive at the conclusion that lebron deserves to be paid more, but how much more? Do you think you would arrive at the conclusion that the waitress deserves a wage that barely covers her essentials to live in a small aparment while lebron james makes more money in a year than the waitress is likely to see in her lifetime?
    The relative value produced by LeBron James is several orders of magnitude higher than that produced by the waitress, thanks to the magic of mass media. In one hour of work, James simultaneously provides a service to millions of people, whereas the waitress only provides a service to maybe ten. The waitress has to act separately to serve each person who's paying her, but every one of LeBron's fans is willing to pay (indirectly, through advertisers) for him to do the same thing at the same time. This massive parallelism has long been the secret to getting rich - setting aside red-handed plunder, of course.
    Vive, vale. Siquid novisti rectius istis,
    candidus inperti; si nil, his utere mecum.


    My Helpdesk | Debate Board | Forum Rules | Debate Rules
  • #8
    BS completely nailed it. It isn't that your waitress isn't working hard; it's that the waitress is limited in how many customers she can serve. LeBron has no such limits.
  • #9
    Quote from Blinking Spirit
    Quote from Illinest
    So where is the paradox? Why is it fair for lebron james to be paid x amount of money while the waitress gets paid y? The secret lies in the fact that small disparities tend to magnify over time. If you had no established pay scale for waitressing and basketball and were asked to come up with one you'd probably consider lots of factors such as the relative value produced by each profession and the scarcity of their skills. In the end you might arrive at the conclusion that lebron deserves to be paid more, but how much more? Do you think you would arrive at the conclusion that the waitress deserves a wage that barely covers her essentials to live in a small aparment while lebron james makes more money in a year than the waitress is likely to see in her lifetime?
    The relative value produced by LeBron James is several orders of magnitude higher than that produced by the waitress, thanks to the magic of mass media. In one hour of work, James simultaneously provides a service to millions of people, whereas the waitress only provides a service to maybe ten. The waitress has to act separately to serve each person who's paying her, but every one of LeBron's fans is willing to pay (indirectly, through advertisers) for him to do the same thing at the same time. This massive parallelism has long been the secret to getting rich - setting aside red-handed plunder, of course.


    Lebron doesn't produce anything. His value is entirely dependent on the audiences' ability to pay what it costs to consume it. If the fans stop coming then Lebron doesn't get paid.

    It's not Lebron that provides a service to millions of people. It's the paying customers. If anyone deserves to be paid like the centerpiece of the basketball empire it's the fans.
  • #10
    Lebron is a product of the entertainment industry we call professional sports. He is also a product in the literal sense for the owner of the team he is playing for. Him being on the floor entertaining the masses brings in high dollars for the owner of the team so that owner can pay those salaries. Professional athletes have negotiated hard and gone to court over those salaries. I am old enough to remember when a pro athlete had to have a full time job in the off season because they made so little on the field.

    The waitress who is working hard, is not a product of or for the place she works. She is an employee serving the products. She gets paid by how well she does her job and what those she serves thinks she is worth for the service she provided. Some waitresses make dam good money by being very good at what they do. Is it Lebron money? Nope, but Denny's doesnt pay the salaries of the wait staff, the customers do. In the form of a tip.

    There will never be an equality of pay in America, simply because some feel certain jobs are not worth what others do for what ever reason.

    We all know Lebron barely passed high school and didnt have the grades for college. He got by on his talent on the court.

    I know ladies of the night that went to college and are still turning tricks because they can make more selling their bodies then what they have a degree in.

    That should tell you all you need to know about the American working environment.
    Back to limited, I wash my hands of Modern. It was fun while it lasted, but the format is no longer fun for me.
  • #11
    A meritocracy is only possible if every person has the best possible information* and is truly in charge of every event in their life. Also if there is no nepotism or cronyism.

    The life of a pro athlete is pretty ****ed up unless you're one of the very few who can make gadrillions of cash. Your career is short, damage-prone and doesn't mesh well with other fields. Often your sport training has come at the expense of your formal education.

    Tipping in the US is also ****ed up because waitstaff etc isn't paid a wage they can live on and are forced to rely on the whims of their customers. That's an awful way to organise a job.

    *Preferably as close to perfect as can be because if "the best possible" means really bad information, well...
  • #12
    Quote from Illinest

    Lebron doesn't produce anything. His value is entirely dependent on the audiences' ability to pay what it costs to consume it. If the fans stop coming then Lebron doesn't get paid.


    Lebron James produces entertainment for those who watch basketball. I believe entertainment is marketable commodity. Otherwise all those comedians and actors and athletes would be out of a job.

    You know, there is a reason why the less popular sport athletes make jack **** for money unless they to go to the Olympics...

    Or, perhaps more pertinently, why basketball teams that suck or do not have star-power make **** for money.

    And what you wrote is absolutely the case. That is absolutely why Lebron James makes so much money for this team and owner. The fact is, millions pay lots of money to watch him play. Therefore, his owner and team makes a lot of money, and Lebron James gets paid a bit of that money. Which happens to be a lot.

    Quote from Illinest

    It's not Lebron that provides a service to millions of people. It's the paying customers. If anyone deserves to be paid like the centerpiece of the basketball empire it's the fans.


    What? So Lebron James playing out of the court is not providing a service that people are paying to watch?

    I don't even know wtf you're saying here.
  • #13
    Quote from Tuss


    Tipping in the US is also ****ed up because waitstaff etc isn't paid a wage they can live on and are forced to rely on the whims of their customers. That's an awful way to organise a job.


    I can understand why you feel this way because its so anti-socialism. People actually have to work to support themselves. But in theory its a good system, and it works for the majority. Most jobs that require the workers to survive off those tips can make a very decent wage. I would go as far to say better then average.
    Back to limited, I wash my hands of Modern. It was fun while it lasted, but the format is no longer fun for me.
  • #14
    Don't forget the matter of scale.

    There's only maybe 20 or so LeBrons, only 20 or so Tom Bradys.

    There's literally thousands upon thousands of waitresses, all of whom probably have that same skill set.
    B_S was right too.

    If that waitress was the reason diners lined the block to eat at that restaurant, She'd get her cheddar.

    Thanks to Xenphire @ Inkfox for the amazing new sig

    “Thus strangely are our souls constructed, and by slight ligaments
    are we bound to prosperity and ruin.”

    ― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
  • #15
    On LeBron: he produces. It's not necessary to our life, but as anyone drawn to post on a Magic: the Gathering website can attest, just because something isn't critical to our ability to remain alive doesn't mean it isn't incredibly valuable. LeBron provides value in entertainment and value in athletic competition (which is a different, also valuable thing - athletics aren't just entertainment).

    More generally, we live in a meritocracy where the merit being measured isn't ability to produce, it's ability to make money. In a fundamentally capitalist society, they line up most of the time but they can diverge at the extremes of the economy. For example, in a capitalist society with no antitrust laws, an individual or company that completely dominates a particular category of product can find itself in a position where its optimal means of making money involves reducing and controlling the supply of that product to some extent; it makes more money by producing somewhat less than it would be capable of producing, and it's financially powerful enough to prevent any competitor from taking advantage of the inefficiency of that production to break in and outcompete it.

    A more relevant modern example would be the predatory financial market types who buy companies, tear them apart and make a profit by closing things down and selling off pieces. They extract money for themselves while cutting outputs of goods or services for the society.

    The vast majority of the time, you get ahead by producing more. In most of our everyday experiences, the way to make your life better is by working harder, working more, having great ideas and the will to put them into practice, and generally being a productive member of society. We just need to be conscious of the fact that at the extremes, that incentive does break down and needs to be carefully watched.
  • #16
    Quote from Illinest
    Lebron doesn't produce anything. His value is entirely dependent on the audiences' ability to pay what it costs to consume it. If the fans stop coming then Lebron doesn't get paid.

    It's not Lebron that provides a service to millions of people. It's the paying customers. If anyone deserves to be paid like the centerpiece of the basketball empire it's the fans.
    And if the patrons stop coming to the restaurant the waitress doesn't get paid. Should people start getting paid to go to restaurants? And who exactly would be doing this paying?
    Vive, vale. Siquid novisti rectius istis,
    candidus inperti; si nil, his utere mecum.


    My Helpdesk | Debate Board | Forum Rules | Debate Rules
  • #17
    Quote from Illinest
    It just needs to be normalized from time to time.


    Your bias is showing. How can you sit there for 3 paragraphs and say "who am I to judge" and then bust out a comment that could be peeled off a socialist meme.

    Sports stars are a pretty wild exception. The amount of talent, effort et to be Lebron James is crazy. Maybe he's lucky because he has the talent to begin with, but there are lots of people with the talent who haven't worked hard at it.

    What Lebron does every day affects millions of people. Maybe your waitress waits tables in a sports bar and on TV he's entertaining people who come to watch him and maybe they wouldn't be there to tip her if he didn't? Still think he's not adding value?

    Unless you're a trust fund baby living off what your parents did the value of your income is proportional to the amount of people you provide valuable goods or services too. That's the fundamental tenet of free enterprise.

    Capitalism like the system it grew out of Mercantilism is about control of the resources. It is fair to argue that concentration of resources can restrict the flow and growth of those resources, but not always. Wealth concentration is not a cause its an effect.
    If this were a discussion about rising CEO pay as a % of employee pay over time I could be closer to your view because the reason for rising CEO pay has nothing to do with adding value to the company but adding value to those who own the company.
    Your Sig is Now Free to Move about the Forum.

    My thoughts on: Going Infinite | Block Constructed | MTGCatalyst Blog Home
  • #18
    Those of us who live in the USA have always had pride in our freedom and our democratic ideals but if you ask me i think the idea that we've worked the hardest to protect is the idea of a meritocracy. In a meritocracy you can earn a better life by working hard. If you work hard in school (which is state provided) and do your homework and get good grades then eventually you'll be as successful as your parents were.


    What do you mean by successful? It has different meanings for different people. For some money is the alpha and omega but for others a good working environment is worth a reduced salary.
  • #19
    Quote from bocephus

    I can understand why you feel this way because its so anti-socialism. People actually have to work to support themselves. But in theory its a good system, and it works for the majority. Most jobs that require the workers to survive off those tips can make a very decent wage. I would go as far to say better then average.


    What part do you think works in theory? Bosses avoiding payroll taxes or workers never knowing how much money they are going to make on a given day? Exemption from minimum wage laws in general or exemption from federal minimum wage increases in specific? Like, lay it on me, man. Explain that theory. I freakin' love theory.
  • #20
    As much as I am generally inclined to agree with you Tuss, this time you've missed a specific intricacy of being a waitstaff job, which is that it is legally mandated that if your tips do not come out to AT least paying minimum wage per hour by the end of the pay period then your boss is required, by law, to pay out minimum wage for that pay period.

    So they don't really get to "avoid" minimum wage laws in that regard.
    Asking people to remove quotes in their signatures is tyranny! If I can't say something just because someone's feelings are hurt then no one would ever be able to say anything! Political correctness is stupid.
  • #21
    Quote from Tuss
    Quote from bocephus

    I can understand why you feel this way because its so anti-socialism. People actually have to work to support themselves. But in theory its a good system, and it works for the majority. Most jobs that require the workers to survive off those tips can make a very decent wage. I would go as far to say better then average.


    What part do you think works in theory? Bosses avoiding payroll taxes or workers never knowing how much money they are going to make on a given day? Exemption from minimum wage laws in general or exemption from federal minimum wage increases in specific? Like, lay it on me, man. Explain that theory. I freakin' love theory.


    Any type of service person can be paid half of minimum wage including tips. if for some reason they do not make minimum wage at the end of the pay period the employer must compensate them up to at least the minimum wage lvl.

    depending on where you work and how you do your job most waitresses do make more than minimum wage.

    THe only downside is that they do have to claim their tips for tax purposes. this is where most get into trouble as they only claim part of their tips etc ...

    Lebron gets paid millions because he generates millions for the people that he does work for.

    Plus the skill to play profession basketball is much greater than serving people. not that it doesn't take the skill to do that just that the you can train almost anyone to serve tables. not quite true with the NBA.

    For some money is the alpha and omega but for others a good working environment is worth a reduced salary.


    Some people enjoy both. I know i do.

    will i make as much money as lebron? doubt it. i enjoy traveling the world doing work though.

    Headed back to costa rica in a week and then i am off to paraguay in the fall.


    Thanks to Epic Graphics the best around.
    Thanks to Nex3 for the avatar visit ye old sig and avatar forum
  • #22
    Quote from the_cardfather
    Capitalism like the system it grew out of Mercantilism is about control of the resources. It is fair to argue that concentration of resources can restrict the flow and growth of those resources, but not always. Wealth concentration is not a cause its an effect.

    It's both* and it's the central problem of a functional meritocracy (ergo on top of getting it to actually work): what is society to do with those outclassed by the 'winners' - the 'losers'? They will be disgruntled, jealous, frustrated and possibly even destitute. The ideal breeding ground for systemic crime and if left be even insurrection.

    *: Wealth concentration is the product of a meritocracy, but it's also required for it to be brought about for it is the only way enough funds can be assembled to fuel big investments.
    "If the earth must lose that great portion of its pleasantness which it owes to things that the unlimited increase of wealth and population would extirpate from it, for the mere purpose of enabling it to support a larger, but not a happier or better population, I sincerely hope, for the sake of posterity, that they will be content to be stationary long before necessity compels them to it."
    - John Stuart Mill, 1857
  • #23
    Don't mistake a populist argument for socialism advocacy.
    I'm not a socialist. I'm a capitalist - but I'm also not blind to the problems that need to be solved.

    Wealth accumulation is getting out of hand. Read Mad Mat's post. He knows what's up. Even capitalists and the most ardent supporters of a meritocracy will eventually have to admit that we've allowed it to go too far.

    We have too much income disparity


    Bringing this back around to Lebron again - some of these sporting events are already being priced out of the range of the ordinary citizen. I've never seen my football team and I think I probably never will because the price of a ticket is way outside my comfort zone. These sporting franchises still have a broad enough pool of fans to support their costs but some sports are already becoming 'rich people sports'. Football for sure. Hockey is pretty expensive too.

    You aren't feeling disenfranchised yet?
    How much did your college education cost?
    House?
    Hell - what about expensive Magic cards?

    We've all been fed a line of bull$$$$. Somebody taught you about supply and demand and scarcity, etc... and you've been conditioned to think that prices rise because of these factors and only these factors and you're discouraged from thinking otherwise because...
    "What? Are you some kind of a socialist or something?"

    What nobody likes to point out is that there wouldn't be a market for million dollar automobiles unless there's a butt-ton of millionaires looking to buy them. Awesome for you if you happen to be a millionaire.

    And the press - they can't help themselves. You've got these people - your Anderson Coopers and Diane Sawyers and Wolf Blitzers and they're all making millions of dollars a year and they have a hard time wrapping their head around the possibility that they don't deserve to be paid like that. "Of course they deserve to be paid like that! They're the best in their field!"

    Nobody deserves to be paid like that.
    But they didn't really do anything wrong. Even I have to admit that. All they did was negotiate a better deal than their predecessor over and over again. Eventually they reached this point. What's scary is - it'll keep going this way. There's nothing to stop it. 30 years from now you'll still be making an inflation-adjusted 40k/year stacking boxes in a warehouse, trying to comfort yourself with the idea that you'd have a higher paying job if only you'd applied yourself better in high school.
    Those professional athletes and press anchors meanwhile - they keep on negotiating. They'll be making 100 million a year, or 200 million a year.

    On merit of course. Rolleyes
  • #24
    I hope everyone here realizes that college is a scam; I was actually naieve enough to believe that college is a golden ticket to a life of affluence, or at the very least insulation from abject poverty, just like so many young people of my generation who believe in the lie that college equals prosperity. If anything, it is a one way ticket to a life as a wage slave, because tuition has become ridiculouslly expensive, the value of a degree has been diluted nowadays, and there are not enough jobs available in a graduates respective field. The reason I am mentioning this is to help people avoid the college scam and to point out that college isn't really necessary in a meritocracy; it's who you know, not what you know that really counts!
  • #25
    Quote from Illinest
    Nobody deserves to be paid like that.
    How did you reach this conclusion? What determines how much somebody "deserves"?

    Quote from Illinest
    Those professional athletes and press anchors meanwhile - they keep on negotiating. They'll be making 100 million a year, or 200 million a year.
    That's what you think the key is? Negotiation?
    Vive, vale. Siquid novisti rectius istis,
    candidus inperti; si nil, his utere mecum.


    My Helpdesk | Debate Board | Forum Rules | Debate Rules
  • To post a comment, please or register a new account.
Posts Quoted:
Reply
Clear All Quotes