Is "Mimic the Elite" A Good Rule of Thumb?
By Bryan Caplan
David Leonhardt’s defense of education almost totally neglects the strongest argument against education: that much of it is privately profitable but socially wasteful signaling. But his closing sentence changes the subject in an interesting way:
I don’t doubt that the skeptics are well meaning. But, in the end,
their case against college is an elitist one — for me and not for thee.
And that’s rarely good advice.
“Rarely”?! Let’s make an introductory list of elite activities that most people are well-advised to avoid:
1. Buying a mansion
2. Flying first class
3. Owning a private jet
4. Buying season tickets to the opera
5. Giving millions to the ballet
6. Throwing your daughter a royal wedding
The masses do have something to learn from elites. But “mimic the elite” is still a terrible rule of thumb.