Thanks to David Brooks for his superb opinion piece, Why Our Elites Stink

In this provocatively titled article, Brooks discusses how over the last generation, the meritocracy took over from the old Protestant establishment, rising to positions of power in banking and government.  In his view, the meritocracy believes in the power of an individual’s performance, not in the individual’s responsibility to the collective good.

Given the recent cheating scandal at Stuyvesant, the growth of performance enhancing study drug use, SAT cheating scandals, and more, it seems clear that today’s kids feel so much pressure to compete that their character development is at risk.  And nowhere is the pressure so great as in top private and public schools in New York City and Westchester.

Meanwhile, the front page of today’s New York Times is all about financial fraud at major banks.

As a society, we’ve got to turn this trend around.  It’s very hard.  When cheating is so widespread, and pressure to succeed is so great, individuals have less incentive to act honestly and generously.