There are two paths to success in this world. One is to create things of value. The other is to take things of value away from other people. There is more honor in the former.This is Steve Landsburg in one of two blog posts devoted to explaining the problem of racing.
Take the school-test-scoring race. William K. Lim complains in Science that too much effort goes into test training in some Asian countries. For example, last year in South Korea parents spent $16 billion, and kids spent much of their time, inside and outside school, in test training.
Lim is worried that struggling to "memorize facts for regurgitation" detracts from "nurturing the creativity and thinking skills required in successful scientists." As a result, "Asian science will continue lagging behind the West." "A radical transformation of the educational culture must happen before homegrown Asian science can challenge Western technological dominance."
Notice the irony. Lim rejects the test-scoring racing culture but embraces the scientific/technological racing culture. But both cultures are silly and they are silly for the same reason. Landsburg explains it:
When your kid is an Olympic gold medalist, mustn’t you feel a little sheepish about all the superhuman effort that went into nothing more than taking a gold medal away from someone else?