Mittwoch, 28. Januar 2015

It's the brains, stupid

(c) The Economist
I am glad I started over my blog with Deresiewicz's book about "Excellent Sheep", denunciating the miseducation of the American elite in its education system. It is not for bashing colleges (which I happen to know less) oder law schools (which I happen to know better) in the US. For me it is the curiosity of looking into a system that seems to have developped as the "gold standard" of education globally. An international set of wealthy parents would boast about their children studying at "HYP" (Harvard, Yale Princeton). And I am cautious enough to comment on that from a position as CEO of a law school which was set up for and designed around the needs and aspirations of "highly talented" (Hochbegabte), to avoid the E-word.

This week, the Economist's cover story deals with the inheritance of " brain capital" which proves to be much more difficult to tax than financial wealth when transferred in generations. When Thomas Jefferson (a lawyer and president of the United Statesfrom 1801 to 1809) pondered about the difference of a "natural aristocracy of the virtuous and talented" and called it a blessing to a nation  and an "artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth" which would slowly strangle it, he could not have foreseen that this meritocratic country by origin nowadays produces elites that reproduce themselves. Today's better-off-parents transfer a highly intangible asset than money: brain, the currency of the knowledge industry combined with networks from the colleges ("contacts mean contracts") and a intercultural savvy that sets them far apart from children who have not benefited from these opportunities.

The challenging question for each modern western and open society in Karl Popper's sense will need to find an answer on how to keep the promise of opportunities for social advancement on a meritocratic basis, be it in politics or the economy - otherwise the erosion of society and social cohesion will threaten any "contrat social".

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