There is inherent bias against many people in the world, not just the "modern USA". The world is more bias than you you give them credit for. (Perhaps you are just poking at the USA again.)
This is an issue (college bribery scandal) that seems to be uniquely American.
Your reference earlier,
If they are allowed to pick based upon what they are looking for, whether that be privilege, equality, social justice, or whatever; then the outcome should not be catching us unawares. Selection based on anything other than standards is wrong.
is a poke at affirmative action in the American college system.... or am I mistaken?
BTW, I recognize that there is bias in many societies.But since we are talking about an American college scandal, its the history of racial and gender discrimination in the US that matters. And the American history of institutionalized race discrimination is much greater and longer lasting than other western nations.
Anyways, I interpreted your comment as an shot at affirmative actions as such, and my comment is a defence of affirmative action.
As much as I desire a comprehensive meritocracy, I don't think a pure meritocracy can exist until all of the candidates are blessed with equal opportunity.
Until those conditions exist I'm okay with certain minorities, or perhaps even identified persons, having a bit of an edge in the selection process. (Affirmative action). The college scandal, and the issue of legacy admissions, is a demonstration of how far from a meritocracy the system is....
As for the application of human beings in college selection... We allow judges to make appropriate calls in criminal cases... As the Chinese saying goes: "To ensure justice, you need a wise judge".
Yes, this can be open to corruption. But I'm okay with a "wise judge" making a nuanced decision, despite this possibility . The alternative of leaving it to some algorithm, means you end up with people gaming the algorithm which limits the diversity of successful applicants.
If there is one thing we should learn from nature, its that diversity leads to success for a species.