David Leonhardt’s review of Gladwell’s Outliers explains why this book gets under people’s skin.

It turns out that luck, not pluck, explains success. This thesis mirrors the old battle over criminal responsibility between conservatives who blame criminals and liberals who blame society.

“We look at the young Bill Gates and marvel that our world allowed that 13-year-old to become a fabulously successful entrepreneur,” he writes at the end. “But that’s the wrong lesson. Our world only allowed one 13-year-old unlimited access to a time-sharing terminal in 1968. If a million teenagers had been given the same opportunity, how many more Microsofts would we have today?”

Social engineering ought to eliminate crime and turn all of us into Bill Gates-—a Lake Woebegone-ish notion that in all markets, everyone should be a monopolist.