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Every year since , members of the band have donned red wool uniforms, fixed plastic mouthpieces to their instruments and lubricated them with no-freeze valve oil, attached shortened skis to their boots, and skied in formation as they played.

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Above and below, the band in performance. Comments Off on A marching band on skis. Filed under Curiosities. Guion ; the book is a comprehensive account of the development of the instrument from its initial form as a 14th-century medieval trumpet to its acceptance in various kinds of artistic and popular music in the 19th and 20th centuries. McAdams and Richard H. Filed under Instruments , New series , Popular music. Tagged as Band , Concert band , Wind band. Throw in the counselors, the whisperers, the violin lessons, the private schools, and the cost of arranging for Junior to save a village in Micronesia, and it adds up.

To be fair, financial aid closes the gap for many families and keeps the average cost of college from growing as fast as the sticker price. But that still leaves a question: Why are the wealthy so keen to buy their way in? In the United States, the premium that college graduates earn over their non-college-educated peers in young adulthood exceeds 70 percent. The return on education is 50 percent higher than what it was in , and is significantly higher than the rate in every other developed country.

Not surprisingly, the top 10 had an average acceptance rate of 9 percent, and the next 30 were at 19 percent. For those who made the mistake of being born to the wrong parents, our society offers a kind of virtual education system.

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It has debt—and that, unfortunately, is real. The people who enter into this class hologram do not collect a college premium; they wind up in something more like indentured servitude. One of the stories we tell ourselves is that the premium is the reward for the knowledge and skills the education provides us. Another, usually unfurled after a round of drinks, is that the premium is a reward for the superior cranial endowments we possessed before setting foot on campus. Behind both of these stories lies one of the founding myths of our meritocracy.

One way or the other, we tell ourselves, the rising education premium is a direct function of the rising value of meritorious people in a modern economy. That is, not only do the meritorious get ahead, but the rewards we receive are in direct proportion to our merit. But the fact is that degree holders earn so much more than the rest not primarily because they are better at their job, but because they mostly take different categories of jobs.

Well over half of Ivy League graduates, for instance, typically go straight into one of four career tracks that are generally reserved for the well educated: finance, management consulting, medicine, or law. Not surprisingly, that is where you will find the college crowd. Lawyers or at least a certain elite subset of them have apparently learned to play the same game.

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Similar occupational licensing schemes provide shelter for the meritorious in a variety of other sectors. Copyright and patent laws prop up profits and salaries in the education-heavy pharmaceutical, software, and entertainment sectors. Much of the rest of the technology sector consists of virtual entities waiting patiently to feed themselves to these beasts. Our society figured out some time ago how to deal with companies that attempt to corner the market on viscous substances like oil. Until we do, the excess profits will stick to those who manage to get closest to the information honeypot.

You can be sure that these people will have a great deal of merit. The game is more sophisticated than a two-fisted money grab, but its essence was made obvious during the financial crisis. The financial system we now have is not a product of nature. It has been engineered, over decades, by powerful bankers, for their own benefit and for that of their posterity. Who is not in on the game? Auto workers, for example. Retail workers. Furniture makers. Food workers. The wages of American manufacturing and service workers consistently hover in the middle of international rankings. The exceptionalism of American compensation rates comes to an end in the kinds of work that do not require a college degree.

In , 28 percent of all workers were members of trade unions, but by that figure was down to 11 percent. A genuine education opens minds and makes good citizens. It ought to be pursued for the sake of society. Instead of uniting and enriching us, it divides and impoverishes. Which is really just a way of saying that our worthy ideals of educational opportunity are ultimately no match for the tidal force of the Gatsby Curve. Across countries, the same correlation obtains: the higher the college premium, the lower the social mobility.

If the system can be gamed, well then, our ability to game the system has become the new test of merit. So go ahead and replace the SATs with shuffleboard on the high seas, or whatever you want. How quickly would we convince ourselves of our absolute entitlement to the riches that flow directly and tangibly from our shuffling talent? How soon before we perfected the art of raising shuffleboard wizards? Would any of us notice or care which way the ship was heading? We see the iceberg. Will that induce us to diminish our exertions in supreme child-rearing?

As far as Grandfather was concerned, the assault on the productive classes began long before the New Deal. It all started in , with the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment. It also happens that ratification took place just a few months after Grandfather was born, which made sense to me in a strange way.

By far the largest part of his lifetime income was attributable to his birth. Grandfather was a stockbroker for a time. I eventually figured out that he mostly traded his own portfolio and bought a seat at the stock exchange for the purpose. Politics was a hobby, too. At one point, he announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of Connecticut. What he really liked to do was fly. The memories that mattered most to him were his years of service as a transport pilot during World War II. Or the time he and Grandmother took to the Midwestern skies in a barnstorming plane.

My grandparents never lost faith in the limitless possibilities of a life free from government. But in their last years, as the reserves passed down from the Colonel ran low, they became pretty diligent about collecting their Social Security and Medicare benefits. There is a page in the book of American political thought—Grandfather knew it by heart—that says we must choose between government and freedom.

- The Washington Post

Aristocrats always prefer the invisible kind of government. It leaves them free to exercise their privileges. We in the 9. Consider, for starters, the greatly exaggerated reports of our tax burdens. The poorest quintile of Americans pays more than twice the rate of state taxes as the top 1 percent does , and about half again what the top 10 percent pays. Our false protests about paying all the taxes, however, sound like songs of innocence compared with our mastery of the art of having the taxes returned to us. The income-tax system that so offended my grandfather has had the unintended effect of creating a highly discreet category of government expenditures.

In theory, tax expenditures can be used to support any number of worthy social purposes, and a few of them, such as the earned income-tax credit, do actually go to those with a lower income. And—such is the beauty of the system—51 percent of those handouts went to the top quintile of earners, and 39 percent to the top decile. The best thing about this program of reverse taxation, as far as the 9. The working classes get riled up when they see someone at the grocery store flipping out their food stamps to buy a T-bone.

The unrealized tax liability on the appreciation of the house you bought 40 years ago, or on the stock portfolio that has been gathering moths—all of that disappears when you pass the gains along to the kids. When the remainder was divvied up among four siblings, Grandfather had barely enough to pay for the Bentley and keep up with dues at the necessary clubs. The government made sure that I would grow up in the middle class. And for that I will always be grateful. Along the way, you pass immense elm trees and brochure-ready homes beaming in their reclaimed Victorian glory.

Apart from a landscaper or two, you are unlikely to spot a human being in this wilderness of oversize closets, wood-paneled living rooms, and Sub-Zero refrigerators.

We had to fight just to get the tile guy to show up! The gas guy does, too, and the tile guy comes in from another state. None of them can afford to live around here. The rent is too damn high.


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From to , home values in Boston multiplied 7. When you take account of inflation, they generated a return of percent to their owners. San Francisco returned percent in real terms over the same period; New York, percent; and Los Angeles, percent. If you happen to live in a neighborhood like mine, you are surrounded by people who consider themselves to be real-estate geniuses. If you live in St.