Sunday, November 26, 2023


Meritocracy is a system of operating a society whereby those who put in effort and strive to the best are rewarded for their effort. The purpose of meritocracy is to push the frontier of society towards advancement, to go where we have not gone before. It is with meritocracy that new investments can be made, additional investments made in new areas of technology - and this, by definition, means growth.

Is meritocracy an instrument for achieving a more equal society? Yes, if meritocracy is clearly shown to be implemented without inequality, ie with favouritism towards the less capable, so that there is great incentive for effort and striving to be the best, for the sake of the whole of society. No, if meritocracy does not excite young people to work and be the best in the world - because one can still go ahead in society and be successful in terms of money made and personal prosperity without trying very hard in technology but in finding other ways around meritocracy such as by political action.

A society that does not value meritocracy is doomed to mediocrity because the society is not being run by the best brains but by those who are easily satisfied with whatever they already have. There could be a case for mediocrity, for one can question the benefit of trying very hard and pushing oneself as if against the wall, when the status quo is sufficient. Certainly, we human beings have a higher standard of living today than the kings of yesteryears. 

However, we must remember that where we are now is the result of the people who had lived before us (especially our parents) and those of us in the current generation who happened to be working very hard and are achieving great advancement in technology. Those who are shouting for mediocrity are precisely those who are enjoying the fruits of meritocracy.

By degrading the importance of meritocracy, it becomes easy to steal by its merits by engaging in the corruption of the system. Corrupting means sabotaging, by creating faults in a well-functioning machinery with all kinds of hindrances - for the purposes of stealing benefits from the system that is working very hard, by putting in parts that do not do any work in the system but create obstacles by demanding toll.

Nothing in this world is equal in all aspects. Trying to create complete equality is a foolish idea, an idealism nonetheless. The earth is not flat. Our faces are not flat. But we can try to emulate those whom we admire because we envy what they have, by putting in effort to be like them, by working very hard. 

There are suffering of all kinds in this world. It is noble to try to reduce all suffering; this must be encouraged. But to degrade the entire system by putting incompatible parts in the structure just for the sale of equality is nothing but foolish.

The answer is that we should encourage meritocracy so that we can create an efficient economic system. We should also give opportunity for mediocrity so that it can also strive, by creating an alternative system where the emphasis is not on excellence. No everyone prefer excellence. Many may be content with mediocrity. There is nothing wrong with mediocrity, except probably the idea of it. We all think we are clever. Even thieves and gangsters think they are clever - and indeed they are. But it cleverness of another kind.

It will be sad to live in a society where excellence and meritocracy is not respected - for we then have nothing to strive for.

1 comment:

walla said...

I was just thinking about you, and here you are again.

As with solar panels assembly before, microchip fabrication investments are influxing into Malaysia these days as a collateral result of the reshoring policy by the US to decouple the world from China.

That the ringgit is cheap is an incenticizing bonus for tech investors. They will buy more land and source more local sub-suppliers, paid in ringgit against their US dollar which is only denting small from its anti-fragile locus.

That they will solidly recoup their investments later should they sell those landed assets serviced by Malaysia's developed infrastructure and logistics operations is also an investment factor against investing in other countries that have higher land and labor costs.

The pipeline challenge is trained labor in sufficient quantity and availability. Solve this and Malaysia need not worry if other countries play the media to degrade her potential as a premier tech hub in Southeast Asia.

One solution is for the government to invest in tech training institutes that offer solidifying supervisory-level vocational programs current to the kernels of all microchip fabrication processes which those investing vendors will deploy on-site.

This has to be done with those vendors since the institutes will be using their training manuals, equipment and material.

Malaysian scholars used to be the cream of the commonwealth. Now, many have pastured elsewhere for better pay and prospect. Wasting innate gifted talent by not recognizing and supporting them only by some irrational basis for opportunistic politics is a self-inflicted national wound evidential of zero-sum short-sightedness.

After all, if the pie gets bigger with meritocracy, even more for the better abled and trained will not mean less opportunities for the bigger majority so that the youths of the latter won't have to pick gig jobs over what they can do with their training.

Sigh, we all love our country. Alas, to bits.