College Guide


November 28, 2012 4:20 PM Fake, and Real, Justice

By Daniel Luzer

Or, to put it simply, it’s very important what Goldman Sachs does; it’s not at all important who works there.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer


  • Zack on November 28, 2012 5:17 PM:

    So, a Columbia graduate who made his way first into a highly coveted internship and from there into the liberal punditocracy is telling me that who gets into the Ivy League isn't really a big deal? Okay....

  • Daniel on November 28, 2012 5:37 PM:

    Not from a social justice perspective.

  • M. Hampton on November 29, 2012 1:35 AM:

    But it does matter who gets into the 1%. Whether its the truly talented and hard-working or simply the offspring of the current 1% makes a BIG difference to a society.

  • ceilidth on November 29, 2012 10:22 AM:

    I get the point and agree that overall it matters more who gets the education that allows them into the middle and upper middle classes than who goes to Harvard. It may not matter that much who goes to work for Goldman Sachs, but it matters a great deal who gets a fast track into the highest levels of government. Compare Romney and Obama. Both are smart guys, but only one of them had ever spent any time outside the bubble of the very wealthy. Romney was absolutely clueless about life below the 1%. As long as we continue to think that Ivy League degrees are necessary for the highest offices, we need to make sure that they are open to people from a wide range of backgrounds. That doesn't mean lowering standards; the number of qualified people who are rejected from these schools is staggering. Or maybe we could try something really different and that is building more top notch universities and universities just below the top tier.

  • DF on November 29, 2012 11:12 AM:

    This post and line of reasoning completely ignore the effects of power on society. The people entering the 1% exercise a great deal of power over society. They have a disproportionate amount of money and influence that allows them to dictate the course of the nation.

    There are two problems with allowing this to remain a racial and/or class privilege. First, a meritocratic objection: the people running our society are not necessarily the people most qualified to do so. This has obvious problematic ramifications for the administration of the country.

    Secondly, a social justice objection: if the people who effectively control our society are allowed to maintain their racial or class-based privilege by locking out other groups, how is this any different from a caste system? And if other groups are prevented from earning, through their own merit, the "keys to the castle," as it were, why should they not seek to destroy the castle? If a tiny minority is in power, and is allowed to guard that power and deny it to others, why shouldn't those others violently resist that minority?

  • Daniel on November 29, 2012 12:19 PM:

    @DF, the problem is the power of the 1%, not its composition. Changing the composition of that 1% (especially to random selection) would fix nothing.

    You write: "If a tiny minority is in power, and is allowed to guard that power and deny it to others, why shouldn't those others violently resist that minority?"

    Right, but, all tiny minorities in positions of great power have an incentive to try to guard that power and deny it to others. The great power is the problem, not who's in the tiny minority.

  • David Martin on November 29, 2012 12:43 PM:

    Elite colleges have always used athletics, "geographical diversity," alumni preferences, and other means to discriminate against students who merely have excellent grades and test scores. I'm sure that by now, there's private schools that work diligently to turn students from Asian backgrounds into prime athletic recruits.