It’s just that having lived in the same worlds, read the same textbooks, imbibed the same maxims, been tutored by the same mentors...they naturally think the same thoughts. To these people, the way things are done is, more or less, the way they have to be done. To change the system, you have to change the people; but the people are the only ones who know how the system works.
Gabriel Sherman, NY Magazine, April 10, 2011
There's no official sign declaring it "Under Construction," but the struts and bolts of our nascent American Oligarchy become more visible every day.
Today's exhibit: Meghan McCain and Chelsea Clinton.
In an era when ordinary families have to scrape up tens of thousands of dollars just to send Johnny to State U, these two young ladies are proving that a college degree isn't worth the sheepskin it's printed on.
After all, why bother to actually earn a degree and put together a skill set? Such a waste of time when all you have to do is pick the right parents.
It's Darwinian, really. If you don't have the good sense to emerge from the 'right' family, why should any prestigious employer throw money at you?
Charles Murray must feel so vindicated.
Chelsea Clinton came back to my attention last week when I read an article about her "struggles" as a feature reporter on NBC:
Chelsea just renewed her original three-month contract, but there isn’t much to show for it. “Almost nothing,” is how one well-placed industry observer describes her tenure at NBC.
This is surprising, given the extent to which NBC hand-tailored her duties:
To get the TV gig, Chelsea’s team played off rival networks, holding a series of meetings in New York last fall with all the major television news outlets, including ABC, CBS, and CNN. “Her agent calls, asks if you want to meet with Chelsea Clinton, you take the meeting,” one network executive tells BuzzFeed.
“There were ground rules, what she could and couldn’t report, only good news, no politics, ” says the executive, who felt Chelsea would be a dud and passed.
There was a sense in the meetings that that the news channels were auditioning for her — not the other way around — which rubbed a few of those she met with the wrong way. “They acted like we should be grateful” that she was offering herself to the networks, says the exec.
That is not a job interview. That is ordering resume credits by the yard.
Apparently some of the lower-class NBC staff who stupidly pursued actual training and job experience had the audacity to be displeased:
Not to mention how all the kids in NBC reacted. “The message was, ‘You didn’t waste your journalism degree,’” says one NBC news staffer. “There’s resentment.”
The industry observer, who has had dealings with Team Chelsea, continues: “Certainly she’s not operating as a reporter. You need a regular presence to become established and break through. Yes, she has world wide name recognition at a young age, but you still have to do the work and show up on screen.”
Oh, no you don't. Really. Just wave a birth certificate. What part of "President's daughter" don't they understand?
Or, for that matter, "Senator's daughter":
MSNBC announced Monday that Meghan McCain, daughter of Arizona Senator John McCain, has joined MSNBC as a paid contributor, making her first appearance on "NOW with Alex Wagner."
McCain has appeared as a guest on the "Lean Forward" network since 2009, but this makes her post official -- and salaried.
To be fair, Ms. McCain does have some experience as a columnist for The Daily Beast- but can anyone really believe she would have risen to prominence this fast (she's 28) if she had a different name?
I suppose she can debate that with some of her new co-workers:
McCain joins the likes of Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former President Bill Clinton and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush.
All right. Enough with the sarcasm. Most parents work very hard in the hope that some day they can help smooth the road for their offspring. There's nothing wrong with that.
But when smoothing the road takes the form of a few highly-placed families continuously trading positions in government, journalism and national finance among themselves, you get this:
small governing group: a small group of people who together govern a nation or control an organization, often for their own purposes.
Increasingly, the large mass of people in this country are presided over by the children, grandchildren and BFFs of a few. They trade among themselves powerful positions that shape our perceptions, manage our money and make our laws. In their constant interaction they lose touch with the world beyond themselves. They gradually come to believe that their perspective- or some minor variant of it- is the only perspective.
In this way even very well-intentioned people can do great harm.
It is one thing for a parent to work hard, make sacrifices and leave a thriving farm, business or investment to their children. It is quite another when a parent simply uses their name to propel a child into an influential position for which that child is unprepared and untrained, at the expense of qualified applicants.
I believe that, ultimately, oligarchy rots a society beyond repair. It discourages true talent, which undermines important organizations. It promotes corruption. Worst of all, it breeds the kind of sullen resentment that causes unrest.
Simply put, oligarchy feasts on its own seed corn.
While everyone else is forced to watch the banquet.