16 Aug

Interesting thoughts on meritocracy and lead

Matthew Yglesias on meritocracy and lead:

“Obviously the right response to lead and other atmospheric toxins is to clean them up. But the fact of the matter is that we’re not going to eliminate lead from the build environment next year, and we’re certainly not going to go back in time to the late 1960s and clean up the environment that today’s 45-year-olds grew up in. And though lead is very important, it’s also obviously not the only source of relative cognitive disadvantage out there (consider mercury or bad school lunches or just noise). The point, however, is that the unfairness that who your parents were and where they lived 30 or 40 years ago has a major impact on your income and opportunities today isn’t a contrast to the idea that the American economic system in some sense rewards merit—this happens precisely because the system rewards merit and possession of ‘merit’ is largely driven by factors that are themselves totally beyond a person’s individual control.”

(Via Meritocracy isn’t fair: Lead poisoned children are genuinely less able but still deserve great lives..)