The Myth Of Horatio Alger That Justifies Our Own Oppression
We were told that electing Hillary Clinton would have been a daring, unprecedented step.
On right-wing media we are told that electing Donald Trump is a bold break with tradition.
Both claims are based on a myth.
It’s all in the family for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — the presidential front-runners are reportedly related.
The genealogy website Geni.com tells entertainment show “Extra” that the GOP and Democratic White House candidates are 19th cousins.
The first Duke and Duchess of Lancaster are Trump and Clinton’s 18th great-grandparents, according to the site's analysis.
“John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, married Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster, and John and Katherine are Donald and Hillary’s shared 18th great grandparents,” reports “Extra.”
This may sound like a weird fluke of genealogy, but in fact presidential candidates being related to the ruling elites of the past is the rule, not the exception.
What do Barack Obama, Thomas Jefferson, George W. Bush and the other past U.S. presidents have in common? Besides holding the coveted title of commander-in-chief, it appears that all of them but one are cousins.
The remarkable discovery was made by 12-year-old BridgeAnne d’Avignon, of Salinas, California, who created a ground-breaking family tree that connected 42 of 43 U.S. presidents to one common, and rather unexpected, ancestor: King John of England.
...The only former commander-in-chief not linked to King John is the eighth president, Martin Van Buren, who had Dutch roots.
As bizarre of a coincidence that this sounds, it gets even more interesting when you keep going down this rabbit hole. Recall that King John was a Norman.
By the end of the process, I had come to a slightly disquieting conclusion: we are still being governed by Normans.
Take house prices. According to the author Kevin Cahill, the main driver behind the absurd expense of owning land and property in Britain is that so much of the nation's land is locked up by a tiny elite. Just 0.3% of the population – 160,000 families – own two thirds of the country. Less than 1% of the population owns 70% of the land, running Britain a close second to Brazil for the title of the country with the most unequal land distribution on Earth.
Much of this can be traced back to 1066. The first act of William the Conqueror, in 1067, was to declare that every acre of land in England now belonged to the monarch. This was unprecedented: Anglo-Saxon England had been a mosaic of landowners. Now there was just one. William then proceeded to parcel much of that land out to those who had fought with him at Hastings. This was the beginning of feudalism; it was also the beginning of the landowning culture that has plagued England – and Britain – ever since.
The Battle of Hastings wasn't just the beginning of feudalism in the Anglo-Saxon world. It was the beginning of a ruling class that has continued far beyond Britain and long past the end of feudalism.
Any idea that you've had of the U.S. political system having some sort of meritocracy is dead wrong.
It's literally a corrupt and extended ruling family that seized power 1,000 years ago.
Now, new research suggests that social mobility in America may be even more limited than researchers have realized. In a new paper, Joseph Ferrie of Northwestern University, Catherine Massey of the University of Michigan and Jonathan Rothbaum of the U.S. Census Bureau draw on a newly constructed dataset about American families reaching back to 1910. Unlike past studies, which have mainly compared parents and children, the new work adds data on grandparents and great-grandparents to show just how fixed the fortunes of many Americans have become.
Some may ask 'so what?'
Well, consider its effects on children.
“Students who are told that things are fair implode pretty quickly in middle school as self-doubt hits them,” he said, “and they begin to blame themselves for problems they can’t control.”
Barrett’s personal observation is validated by a newly published study in the peer-reviewed journal Child Development that finds traditionally marginalized youth who grew up believing in the American ideal that hard work and perseverance naturally lead to success show a decline in self-esteem and an increase in risky behaviors during their middle-school years. The research is considered the first evidence linking preteens’ emotional and behavioral outcomes to their belief in meritocracy, the widely held assertion that individual merit is always rewarded.
When I read that, the first thing I thought was 'why would it be any different with many adults?'
If you grow up believing in a meritocracy, and the media reinforces this myth your entire life, it isn't hard to continue believing it your entire life.
Which naturally means that a lot of poor Democratic and Republican voters have self-esteem problems.
a new report published by the Boston-based non-profit United For a Fair Economy, states. The group has signed more than 2,200 millionaires and billionaires to a petition to reform and keep the U.S. inheritance tax. The report says the myth of "self-made wealth is potentially destructive to the very infrastructure that enables wealth creation."
The individuals profiled in the report believed they prospered in large part to things beyond their control and because of the support of others. Warren Buffet, the second richest man in the world said, "I personally think that society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I've earned." Erick Schmidt, CEO of Google says, "Lots of people who are smart and work hard and play by the rules don't have a fraction of what I have. I realize that I don't have my wealth because I'm so brilliant."
The term meritocracy is defined as a society that rewards those who show talent and competence as demonstrated by past actions or competitive performance. The term was first used in Michael Young's 1958 satirical book, Rise of Meritocracy, which describes a dystopian future in which one's social place was determined by IQ and effort.
Proponents of meritocracy argue that it is more just and productive, allowing for distinctions to be made on the basis of performance. When meritocracy is implemented in organizations, though, it invariably results in hierarchical structures. Meritocracy has been criticized as a myth which only serves to justify the status quo; merit can always be defined as whatever results in success. Thus whoever is successful can be portrayed as deserving success, rather than success being in fact predicted by criteria for merit.
Stephen McNamee and Robert Miller of the University of North Carolina, argue in their book, The Meritocracy Myth that there is a serious gap between how people think our economic system works and how it actually works.
...There is no correlation between hard work and economic success. In fact, those people who work the most hours and spend the most energy are usually the poorest, the authors argue. And really big money doesn't come from working, it comes from owning assets.
McNamee and Miller also challenge the idea that moral character and integrity are important for economic success. There is little evidence that being honest results in economic success. In fact, the reverse is true, as seen in the examples of Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Anderson and the Wall Street debacle. White collar crime in the form of insider trading, embezzlement, tax and insurance fraud is hardly a reflection of integrity and honesty. Playing by the rules probably works to suppress prospects for economic success, compared to those who ignore the rules.
Once the Horatio Alger Myth is exposed for the scam it is, then the entire justification for our political and economic systems come into question.