Meritocracy That Works

Loren E. Lomasky, National Review, December 5, 1994.


If the aim of social policy is to raise the abilities of the less well-off, without trying to achieve parity across races and classes, then speculation concerning the genetic basis of cognitive abilities is largely beside the point. What matters is evidence concerning the cost-effectiveness of attempts to raise the positions of the less talented. And virtually across the board, the Great Society’s grand initiatives have shown themselves to be impotent, if not counterproductive. No one has more eloquently or urgently catalogued that failure than Charles Murray, and the cogency of his indictment of the welfare state in Losing Ground owed nothing to any deep inspection of chromosomes. It depicted people as responsive to the incentives they confront and to the moral atmosphere in which they take their bearings, not as passive servants of their genome. The Bell Curve tends to blur rather than enhance that message.

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