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This is a complex topic. If there is a thread I am seeing it is that the US is in love with first order optimization. Whether that is quarterly calls or the overriding focus on getting an entire generation to go to college. As if Harvard or the NFL is the all or nothing outcome in life. Public investments in state university systems and vocational schools suffer as it doesn't fit the individualists dream. Norwegian values diverge strongly on this point as you well know.

As for Gladwell he has cornered a certain market among the (wannabe?) intellectual lay-public. They wish to be absolved of complex moral issues* through a Horatio Alger can-do "it's all up to the individual" spirit. These values are under a lot of stress post-2000 in America, but among a large class of moderates there is a wish to return to a simpler past.

*a kind of first order optimization.

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