Vanity Fair

What the college-admissions scandal tells us about America’s broken meritocracy

If, like me, you’re an avid observer of human affairs at their most vain and status-crazed, you have been studying the College Cheating Scandal, or what investigators called Operation Varsity Blues, with all the intensity of a rabbinical scholar poring over Leviticus. Each reading yields delicious new details of greed, ambition, hypocrisy, and decadence. “Ah! Vanitas, Vanitatum!” as the author of the classic nineteenth-century novel Vanity Fair sighed. But eventually the mordant fun gives way to the recognition that what we have here is evidence of a serious sickness in the American meritocracy.