Monday, January 28, 2013

Brooks on Inequality and Meritocracy

I really thought this hit the nail on the head...it is what I have believed for a long time.


Smart high school students from rural Nebraska, small-town Ohio and urban Newark get to go to good universities. ...In the dorms, classrooms, summer internships and early jobs they learn how to behave the way successful people do in the highly educated hubs. There's no economic reason to return home, and maybe it's not even socially possible anymore. 

The highly educated cluster around a few small nodes. Decade after decade, smart and educated people flock away from Merced, Calif., Yuma, Ariz., Flint, Mich., and Vineland, N.J. In those places, less than 15 percent of the residents have college degrees. They flock to Washington, Boston, San Jose, Raleigh-Durham and San Francisco. In those places, nearly 50 percent of the residents have college degrees. 
As Enrico Moretti writes in "The New Geography of Jobs," the magnet places have positive ecologies that multiply innovation, creativity and wealth. The abandoned places have negative ecologies and fall further behind. This sorting is self-reinforcing, and it seems to grow more unforgiving every year.
...
The second problem is the focus on income redistribution. Recently, there's been far more talk about tax increases than any other subject. But the income disparities are a downstream effect of the human capital and geographic disparities. Pumping a few dollars into San Joaquin, Calif., where 2.9 percent of the residents have bachelor's degrees and 20.6 percent have high school degrees, may ease suffering, but it won't alter the dynamic.

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