La rebelión de los meritócratas

PARIS – El rescate del sistema financiero fue un momento bizarro en la historia económica, ya que favoreció a quienes más se habían beneficiado de la exuberancia irracional de los mercados -los jefes de las firmas financieras-. Antes de que azotara la crisis, sin embargo, la redistribución de la riqueza (y los pagos de impuestos y seguridad social que la hacían posible) era considerada el mayor obstáculo para la eficiencia económica. De hecho, los valores de solidaridad habían cedido paso al "mérito" individual, juzgado por el tamaño del propio salario.

La paradoja es que una parte de esta evolución puede atribuirse a dos factores positivos: el trabajo lento de la democracia, que libera a los individuos pero, al mismo tiempo, los deja más aislados; y el desarrollo de un sistema de bienestar que comparte riesgos y vuelve a los individuos más autónomos. Con este aislamiento y autonomía, la gente cada vez más tiende a creer, para mejor o para peor, que ellos solos son responsables de su propio destino.

Aquí reside el acertijo. Un individuo es libre y autónomo sólo por las decisiones colectivas tomadas tras un debate democrático, particularmente esas decisiones que le garantizan a cada persona el acceso a los bienes públicos como la educación, la atención médica, etc. Aún perdura cierto sentido de la solidaridad social, pero es tan abstracto que aquellos a quienes la rueda de la fortuna favoreció tanto prácticamente no se sienten en deuda. Creen que deben su estatus puramente al mérito, no a los esfuerzos colectivos -escuelas y universidades financiadas por el Estado, etc.- que les permitieron concretar su potencial.

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