The Myth of American Meritocracy

December 1, 2012 in Daily Bulletin, Signature

An extraordinarily long and exceedingly controversial essay about the unfairness of elite college admission practices – and the subsequent effect on the United States – has been doing the rounds of the economics blog circuit. Centives’ summary of Ron Unz’s fascinating, if disturbingly presented, argument:

  • Modern college admissions systems came about as a result of overt racism. In the 1920s admission was based on academic merit and Jews were taking all of the top spots. Universities moved to prevent this by implementing an opaque system where the candidate was evaluated based upon an undefined set of criteria.
  • It worked. College administrators were able to suppress Jewish enrollment through a stealth cap that the media couldn’t attack them for.
  • Since then academic institutions have a history of altering how they evaluate students to either make it easier or more difficult for certain groups to get admission.
  • In the present day it’s Asian Americans who are discriminated against. Even though Asian-American students are by far the smartest around, since the mid-1990s there has been a stealth cap on their enrollment numbers. Universities have done this by once again talking up their ‘holistic analysis’ of candidates, rather than criteria based upon objective, transparent standards.
  • Instead the tables have turned and now Jews are vastly over-represented in colleges, even though their academic capabilities and achievements have crashed – a pattern common with late-generation immigrants.
  • This is in part why Asian students are forced to be so competitive. They can’t get into elite universities by merely emulating the feats of their Jewish peers. They must compete at a higher level and this requires them to be hyper-competitive.
    • A fascinating side effect of this is that whites flee neighbourhoods with high numbers of Asian students, because they don’t want to compete with over-competitive Asian students. But the students are over-competitive because there’s no other way for them to make it into the country’s top schools.
  • So how did Jews escape the discrimination? They were able to exert enormous pressure, and reverse the injustice, through Jewish ownership of America’s major media outlets including news channels, television networks and movie studios. That pressure continues to this day. Asian-Americans have no such power and so things aren’t likely to improve for them.
  • The problem is exacerbated by unqualified admissions officers making their decisions under the fear of being labelled anti-Semitic if the proportion of Jewish enrollment falls.

The full essay could easily have been its own book. It covers a ridiculous amount of ground, isn’t as racially antagonistic as it appears, and is well worth a read for the implications that this has for America’s elite colleges…and thus its government and business leadership. Get yourself a mug of hot chocolate and read it over here.

Source: The American Conservative

Via: Marginal Revolution