Evidence of an American Caste System?

My father was a high school math teacher. My mother was an elementary school teacher. My younger sister teaches junior high mathematics. I, however, pursued a different path than my parents did. In both the military and in the financial services industry, up to 50% of the people with whom I have worked had parents who also had held similar jobs.

Even celebrities (I would include presidents and senators in this group) beget children who become celebrities. For instance, NBC recently hired both Chelsea Clinton and Jenna Bush Hager as correspondents. Senator McCain’s daughter, who is just 27 years of age, has been named a contributor to the MSNBC news channel. Somehow I doubt any of them have any major experience at a local or even a college news outlet. My sympathies go out to those journalists without an “A-list” parent, who were probably much more qualified for these positions.

Even the United States military appears to be evolving into an American warrior caste. A recent Pew Research study found that veterans are more likely than the average American citizen to have family connections to the military (70% of veterans vs. 62% of all adults). Half of veterans have a parent who also served in the military vs. 41% of the general public, and 43% of veterans reported having a sibling who served vs. 27% of all adults. Veterans are also more than twice as likely than the average American to have a child who also served.

It is also interesting to note that more Republicans than Democrats have military family ties with 73% of Republicans saying they had an immediate family member who served in the military vs. only 59% of Democrats.

I have no problem with a system that provides financial rewards to those in society who create value through innovation and hard work. I do have a major problem with a system that creates unfair shortcuts to success based not on merit but rather on pedigree. In America, talent should triumph.

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About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Conservative clean energy crusader, national security hawk, financial analyst, engineer, and former military officer.
This entry was posted in Business, Leadership, Media, Politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Evidence of an American Caste System?

  1. Let’s be honest, top schools have always given preference the legacy applicants. Those with famous last names have always had advantage, especially when positions are high profile.
    However, I think you have pointed out one of the most critical foundation elements of our society; parents except the greatest influence on their children’s future, much more so than schools or the community at large. Children raised in a home where education is valued and behaviors such as reading and dedication are practiced emulate those actions. It’s not that children cannot find other motivators, or that some will ignore good examples and go backwards. There are many such examples. It’s simply proof a positive and strong family structure is most likely to enable children to pursue opportunities. That they follow in their parents footsteps is a sign of admiration and respect.

    • “Let’s be honest, top schools have always given preference the legacy applicants. Those with famous last names have always had advantage, especially when positions are high profile.”

      Very true.

      “It’s simply proof a positive and strong family structure is most likely to enable children to pursue opportunities. That they follow in their parents footsteps is a sign of admiration and respect.”

      Agreed.

  2. Well said Mr. Hazlett, to which I add:

    1) Talent will win in the end. An incompetent legatee usually flunks out, unless Dad bribes the school.

    2) I doubt the system is designed, for all of history the powerful opens doors to favored ones, often family. And the door keeper is not above trying to curry favor from the powerful.

    3) The Pew study is perhaps a warning? The transition of Rome from republic to empire was accompanied (preceded?) by a transition from an army of citizens to one of professional warriors

  3. Pingback: Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion « Clarissa's Blog

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