The revolving door hints at the larger problem. The United States is supposed to be a land of opportunity, where everyone can pursue their dreams. Throughout our history, many have started with nothing and risen to the top. But those on top today are busy rewriting the rules to limit entry into their club.
In her recent Daily Beast column, “America’s New Mandarins,” Megan McArdle describes a new elite that rates education credentials more highly than any other skills. In this world, having a Harvard diploma means more than being willing to work hard or contributing something of value. Most Americans don’t share this view. Only 3 percent believe Ivy League schools produce better workers.
Given a choice between a worker who gets more done and someone who has a higher level of education, only 9 percent think the person with the higher level of education should be paid more. Seventy-one percent place a higher value on the person who gets more done.
In the New Mandarin world described by McArdle, the best jobs are reserved for those who attended the most prestigious schools. Entry into such schools is restricted to those with wealth and connections. The rest of us are expected to trust the elites to decide what’s fair.