Monday, March 11, 2013

Possessor Emeritus

Eton. Image from Notboxed.
Judd Gregg:
One of the great advantages of America — and the one that has drawn so many people to our shores — is the opportunity our way of life affords to people who work hard, take risks and want to succeed financially. At its core, the nation has been, and to a large extent continues to be, a meritocracy.  
To be more accurate, we have developed over the years into a benign meritocracy. We have social and government structures that funnel huge resources to helping those who need help in participating fully in our society.  But, even so, much of our success as a nation and culture is due to the fact that people can succeed on their own initiative. We do not overly penalize those who accomplish this success, and we certainly do not vilify them.
The Duke of Omnium:
The Conservative who has had any idea of the meaning of the name which he carries wishes, I suppose, to maintain the differences and the distances which separate the highly placed from their lower brethren. He thinks that God has divided [jump]
the world as he finds it divided, and that he may best do his duty by making the inferior man happy and contented in his position, teaching him that the place which he holds is his by God's ordinance.... You are a Liberal because you know that it is not all as it ought to be, and because you would still march on to some nearer approach to equality...
The Duke is being generous, a typical liberal, to the other party here, in putting the best possible construction on their motives—or the author is, but it's well within the limits of the Duke's character; he's being more than a little defensive, too (as he speaks, he's clinging to a do-nothing coalition with those people, mainly because he's become addicted to being prime minister).

Gregg unveils what it's really about, which is not God, except in the role of a kind of pseudo-Calvinist referee. The highly placed are where they are because of their "merit", measured by how much money they have, which is in turn a function of how hard they've worked and the risks they've taken. And then they're "benign" enough to help the inferiors avoid starvation, as long as they take their urine tests and otherwise show the proper respect.

The old Tory aristocrats—and the Whig ones like our Duke of Omnium too—had the honesty to be aware that it doesn't take much work and no risk at all to get born in a castle, and spoke of the noblesse oblige that required them to do something about it after they were born and schooled. Young Tories like Gregg follow their fathers through Philips Exeter to an Ivy college, law school, a small-town rich-boy practice, and the governorship of the state—doesn't everybody?—and start squeezing the less deserving. By the time it got to his generation there wasn't even enough noblesse left in the family for military service (his father fought in two wars).

Now he's 66, and after 34 years in elective office, getting a paycheck for the first time in his life from somebody other than Dad or the government. Guess who he's working for? Goldman Fooking Sachs, where he
joins a group of 17 international advisors and will provide strategic advice to the firm and its clients, and assist in business development initiatives across our global franchise.
“Judd Gregg’s experience and insight will contribute significantly to our firm and our continuing focus on supporting economic growth,” said Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Yes, people, I'm aware that there are lots of more-or-less liberals on this gravy train too.  It's really not the privilege that's making me crazy, though; it's their calm conviction that "I built that". And they'll totally go on strike if they have to pay an inheritance tax because they're working too hard as it is. Counting their money. Meritocracy indeed.
What else are rich elderly husbands good for Barbie, by Heather S.

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