Tuesday, July 17, 2012It probably shouldn't be a surprise that a man that thinks women are biologically predisposed to be inferior in science would have a weak grasp of the problem of inequality. And of course here he goes again, arguing that since there's not much we can really do about about economic inequality (driven in substantial measure by financialization that has benefited Dr. Summers quite nicely, thank you), we should focus on "equality of opportunity." Summers' focus in on education (of course), claiming that the K-12 system needs to be improved and that colleges and universities need to do a better job of targeting low-income youth. This from the former president of Harvard University.
Well, I welcome Dr. Summers to the party. But I have to say, as someone who's spent a fair amount of time and effort on the problem of promoting equality in education: education alone is no panacea. Of course we should improve the educational system. Of course we should make sure that talented young people have a chance to join the elite. The problem is that Dr. Summers' vision is both too myopic (or self-interested) to recognize that straightforward means are available for reducing economic inequality, and too narrow in his moral concerns. For should young people who are 10% more talented/lucky/hard-working than their peers really enjoy vast incomes while their slightly "inferior" peers struggle by with meager incomes?
I think not.