Monday, May 17, 2004

TCS: Tech Central Station -Arnold Kling- A Proposal to Fight Cultural Segregation:: Interesting article. Here is my response:

I find his views rather surprising.

Isn't it rather elitist, if not patronizing, to claim a problem with the social make-up of society, and propose a mandated solution, without presenting the negative effects such a social make up create?

“We have lost sight of this notion that all occupations were inherently worthy, and instead we have become accustomed to an aristocracy of talent and education."

Firstly, occupations which require skill and talent contribute more to a society, in the flexibility and stability that come from such positions. People might attack unskilled labor, but they will refuse to do away with it, highlighting the inherent, if smaller, value. This will eventually change with the rise of automation, but that is another story.

Secondly, valuing talent and education is the best way to get more people motivated to be better educated and more talented. Rather than using government programs to solve a problem, our society is self adjusting with norms which optimize individual achievement. Note that an understanding of different social groups comes hand-in-hand with more education, unless the education is biased and elitist, which is also another story.

"We should try to come up with ideas to help citizens become more familiar with other Americans who differ in their outlook."

Really? Who is 'we'? Why should we? To what end? Is there a problem with what people think about other groups? If so, forcing them to fraternize is going to be positive?

I think my basic complaint is two-fold:

1) It is not bad to be elitist based upon performance in society. We should shame those who do not get an education, a useful job, or a stable family.
2) #1 is an emergent property of the interaction of independent agents, under the influence of social morays and mass media. Any attempt to sway culture, either by government action or agenda-based journalism, will probably fail. The basic respect for the dignity of an individual requires a freedom of thought and expression.

So, I will freely judge people around me, and never coerce them to change. Individual social interaction allows for communication and maybe the changing of minds, rather than coercion, but by construction mustn't be mandated.

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