In this week’s episode of the IEA’s podcast, the IEA’s Associate Director Kate Andrews sat down with Francis Boulle, who recently took part in the BBC Two’s ‘Mastermind’, braving the black chair to win the coveted Mastermind trophy. What made this particular episode of Mastermind special was Francis’s choice of specialist subject for the interrogation-style question and answer session. Francis chose Friedrich Hayek as his specialist subject, one of the most important liberal thinkers of all time. Kate asked Francis to take him through his journey of becoming interested in Hayek’s work, why he decided to pick him as his specialist subject, if Francis believes Hayek is relevant in 2019 and how his body of work can help us navigate through our current political and economic woes – especially given that amongst young people socialism is now in vogue.
In any society there are ‘elite’ positions that command a high income and, more importantly, high status. Unsurprisingly, there is intense competition for these positions. But what happens when a society turns out more people qualified for these roles than the number of roles actually on offer? On this week’s podcast, the IEA’s Head of Education Dr Steve Davies discusses what he calls the ‘over-production of elites’ in society. The problem, he explains, is that elitism, unlike many things, is a zero-sum game – to be in the elite means you are not like 90 per cent or more of the population as a whole. As a result, the ever-increasing number of UK university graduates or American PHDs students leads to bitter resentment towards those with similar qualifications, who have managed to secure elite jobs. Steve talks about how elitism affects our views of a fair society, what it means for the concept of meritocracy, and how societies go about addressing perceived issues of unfairness.