Sunday, August 31, 2014
New Study Shows Britain's Leadership Structure is Elitist.What About America's?
A recent study shows England is elitist. Really? What About the United States? The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission study of 4,000 British leaders shows the “deepest elitist” background of England’s leaders. Cambridge and Oxford, jointly referred to as Oxbridge, dominate the leadership positions in politics, business, media, and the public sector. 75% of the senior judges have Oxbridge degrees, as do 59% of the Cabinet, 57% of the permanent secretaries, 50% of the diplomats, 47% of newspaper columnists, 38% of the House of Lords, and 24% of the MP’s. Not all British prime ministers graduated from college, but of those who did, only 5 failed to attend Oxbridge. Of the past 13 Prime Ministers, two )John Major and James Callaghan did not attend college, Gordon Brown, a Scot, went to the University of Edinburgh, and Winston Churchill graduated from Sandhurst, the Royal British Military Academy. The other nine, Conservative or Labor, including Margaret Thatcher, graduated from Oxford. We Americans like to think that America is not as elitist as England. That is generally true in business and state governments, but not at the highest levels of goverment. Beginning with President George H. W. Bush, our recent Presidents have undergraduate or law degrees from Harvard and Yale. President George W. Bush received his Bachelor’s degree from Yale and MBA from the Harvard Law School. President George H. W. Bush attended Yale undergrad. Presidents Ford and Clinton have law degrees from Yale while President Obama attended Harvard Law School. Losing Presidential nominees Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, and Romney also have Harvard or Yale degrees. The United States Supreme Court is more elitist than the top British courts. Five of the justices attended Harvard Law School (Roberts, C.J., Breyer, Kagan, Kennedy, and Scalia) while three graduated from Yale (Alito, Sotomayor, and Thomas). Justice Ginsburg graduated from Columbia Law School, but only after transferring from Harvard. Nowhere does our Constitution list Harvard or Yale as requirements for high public office. Leadership is more diverse at the state and local levels with public universities and private, often religious institutions, providing the public officials. Admittedly, the United States still provides substantially more upper mobility than England. Several of our recent presidents have climbed from humble beginnings (Ford, Clinton, and Obama), Upper mobility in the United States comes through higher education, led by the public universities, masters colleges, and community colleges. Scholarships, Pell Grants, and fellowships open the doors for many economically or racially disadvantaged high school students. America is a more open economic society. Thus the opportunity for entrepreneurs from all backgrounds to achieve great success in America. The key to Oxbridge, Harvard and Yale is not a monopoly on great professors or students. The key is opening the door, especially the first door, after graduation. The alumni network will help fellow grads who impress them, as will the “elite.” The trite saying is true: “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” The cost to society is that these leaders come a narrow segment, the “meritocracy” in America, and do not represent the people of America or Great Britain.