Saturday, July 21, 2012


In general parlance, the word "meritocracy" is sometimes used to indicate a system in which those most capable are placed in positions where they can exercise their skills. It's nice to have people who know what the hell they are doing doing whatever they do.

But the original coining of the word by Michael Young was more narrowly and skeptically defined as a system in which, "merit is equated with intelligence-plus-effort, its possessors are identified at an early age and selected for appropriate intensive education, and there is an obsession with quantification, test-scoring, and qualifications." In short, a world in which flexibility and imagination are lacking and those who go to Harvard and Yale deserve the silver-spoon treatment they receive.

Perhaps this qualifies as totally useless information.

Perhaps not.


  1. Actively Affirming the Uselessness of MeritocracyJuly 21, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Your little post does not qualify as useless information, but it may fail to fire the imagination.

    The next time you hear or read about such things as merit pay, you might do well to consider just what merit is - not in in your mind but relative to the system involved. Further, consider just how one is determined to be meritorious. You just might find it's just another name for cronyism for a different set of cronies.

    "Here come the new standards same as the old ones...."
    - With respect to The Who and their song Won't Get Fooled Again

  2. From wikipedia... "Young intended the word to have negative connotations, and he later became disappointed with the way in which subsequent governments (especially New Labour) came to suggest that a meritocracy is something worth striving for."

  3. Meanwhile, in China, Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing distributed his own $3 million bonus among his 10,000 workers. This amounted to $314 per employee, compared with Shenzhen Province's minimum wage of $253/month. Though Yang Yuanqing's personal annual income stands at some $14 million including additional bonus money, it's nevertheless refreshing to see a multimillionaire recognize when enough is enough, no matter how meritorious s/he may be.