Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
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Over the past decade, Americans watched in bafflement and rage as one institution after another—from Wall Street to Congress, the Catholic Church to Major League Baseball—imploded under the weight of corruption and incompetence. In the wake of the Fail Decade, the social contract between ordinary citizens and elites lies in tatters.
How did we get here? With Twilight of the Elites, Christopher Hayes upends well-worn ideological and partisan categories to offer a radically novel answer. Since the 1960s, as the meritocracy elevated a more diverse group of men and women into power, they learned to embrace the accelerating inequality that had placed them near the very top, leaving a new American elite more prone to failure and corruption and more out of touch with the people they govern.
Mixing deft political analysis, timely social commentary, and deep historical understanding, Hayes entirely reorients our perspective on our times by arguing that the public's loss of trust in the federal government, corporate America, and the media has led to a crisis of authority that threatens to engulf not just our politics but our day-to-day lives.
there be a law requiring currency to be accepted by merchants; otherwise, savvy shopkeepers can simply refuse to accept the bad money and its circulation will cease. In our institutional settings there’s an analog: fraudulent actors drive out the honest if the fraudulent actors receive no sanction for their actions. That’s the key to understanding how Major League Baseball came to be so dominated by drug use: in the market for players, there was no distinction between juicers and non-juicers. And
bankruptcy report. The report prepared by court-appointed bankruptcy examiner Anton Valukas showed that Lehman was knowingly manipulating its balance sheet to hide its losses from shareholders and the public. Enron redux. Black was called before the committee to offer his expertise on these kinds of transactions, and he sat before them, just a few feet from former Lehman CEO Dick Fuld. “Lehman’s failure is a story,” he said, “in large part, of fraud.… Lehman was the leading purveyor of liars’
congressional staffers turn to a career in lobbying after leaving Capitol Hill. It’s clear the staffer-turned-lobbyist’s value to special interests depends on the robustness of his or her network on Capitol Hill. According to an August 2010 study, when a lobbyist’s former boss on Capitol Hill left office, the lobbyist’s salary declined by an average of 50 percent in the six months following the departure. Moving from Capitol Hill to K Street isn’t limited to staffers: In 2010, 37 percent of the
$100,000 per week, for one day of work a week. According to his disclosure forms, his net worth at the time he left the White House was between $17 million and $39 million. To replace the multimillionaire Summers, the White House faced a choice between two other millionaires: Roger Altman, a founder and chairman at Evercore Partners who’d served as deputy secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration, and Gene Sperling, the counselor to the Treasury secretary who’d served as deputy
New Orleans that number was 47 percent. What’s more, the city was home to hundreds of thousands with disabilities, according to the 2000 U.S. census: fully 50 percent of residents over sixty-five had some kind of disability. Further compounding the problem was that the storm hit at the very end of the month, a time when those on fixed income, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, were at their most cash strapped. During congressional hearings devoted to untangling what went wrong during