Posted 10 months ago on July 18, 2012, 4:07 p.m. EST by flip
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AMY GOODMAN: —the New York Times columnist, who wrote a piece called "Why Our Elites Stink," in which he took issue with your book. He wrote, quote, "I’d say today’s meritocratic elites achieve and preserve their status not mainly by being corrupt but mainly by being ambitious and disciplined. They raise their kids in organized families. They spend enormous amounts of money and time on enrichment. They work much longer hours than people down the income scale, driving their kids to piano lessons and then taking part in conference calls from the waiting room."
He goes on to write, "[T]oday’s elite lacks the self-conscious leadership ethos [that] the racist, sexist and anti-Semitic old boys’ network did possess." Your response, Chris Hayes?
CHRIS HAYES: Well, there’s a whole variety of things in that. I mean, in terms of his assertion that they don’t get there because—they get there because of being hard-working and disciplined, as opposed to being corrupt, I mean, you can be both. In fact, there’s a lot of hard-working, disciplined, totally corrupt folks on Wall Street, for instance, and I don’t think we have to choose between the two. And, you know, I make a book-length argument to support my contention, so I can’t, you know, refute it here.
I think people really zeroed in on this idea that the folks at the top work harder. I think that caused a lot of frustration and anger in people that read that column. You know, I just don’t think that’s borne out by the facts. There’s been some interesting data recently about people at the top of the income spectrum are working longer and longer, and in some senses working longer than folks right beneath them, and that’s a trend that has happened recently. And it says something about the value that folks have for leisure time. But the choice that’s being made to work harder or longer in, for folks that have—
AMY GOODMAN: And longer might not be harder.
CHRIS HAYES: Longer might not be harder. And also, let’s remember, you know, it’s a very different decision if you are working a job that you find immersively fulfilling, that you love, that stokes all of your soul, that gives full expression to your being, than if you are a caretaker, a home healthcare worker, a janitor, a million different other jobs that people may like or may not like but don’t have that kind of, you know, identity relationship to the way that they are. So—and we all know that people at the bottom of the scale and the working poor work incredibly hard, incredibly hard. So it just seems like a self-justifying story to tell—
AMY GOODMAN: And getting from one job to another to another.
CHRIS HAYES: Exactly. And, you know, that self-justifying story that he tells is precisely part of the problem, because that’s the self-justifying story that’s the heart of the problem of the way we think of meritocracy, which is the people at the top have gotten there because they deserve it.