One of the candidates (it may have been Romney) talked about how the United States was a meritocracy, and that the left was wrong for wanting a more just society.
The free market is not a meritocracy.
The foundation of the free market is freedom … not merit.
A meritocracy is a top-down system where the collective dangles out prizes and the best and grubbing for the prize gets the prize.
A free market starts from the bottom up with the free mind of the individual.
In classical liberal thought, this free mind is a gift from God and each free mind has inalienable rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Each person has property rights. The most important property right is the right to our body and the fruit of our labor.
We have these rights from God … even though we did nothing to merit them.
Classical liberals sought to avoid paradox. One's freedom stops at one's neighbor's nose. A free person cannot have the freedom to take the freedom of another.
The most important things that exist on this planet (from a human perspective) are the human mind, the human body and our individual labor. We each got these wonderful gifts from God without any special merit.
Because we are free there will be some disparity in outcomes; however, since each of us start with the same fundamental things (our mind and body). The outcomes should not be quite as pronounced as they are in present day America.
This is where conservatives keep getting the debate wrong.
In a true free society, there should not be as pronounced a separation in classes as we see in modern America. This disparity shows that we are not a free society, and that we need to examine the underlying structure of our society which is causing this unnatural disparity.
Unfortunately, instead of thinking, reactionary conservatives tend to run at the mouth and defend the artificial concentration of wealth before examining the causes of the artificial concentration of wealth.
A free society is a bottom up proposition that starts with the individual mind.
A meritocracy is a top-down system in which there is a small number of outsized rewards controlled by a ruling elite.
In a meritocracy, everyone is pitted against each other in a grub for the small number of rewards. Those that are most brutal in the grubbing take all and the rest languish.
Feudalism was a meritocracy. There was a small number of rewards in a top-down structure and everyone battled eachother brutally for those rewards.
A meritocracy is the exact opposite of a free market. In a free market our free minds create the rewards. That means there is an unlimited number of rewards.
The bottom-up ideals of classical liberals were so powerful because they led to a more just society.
As we stray from these ideals of the US founders, America loses its exceptionalism and we fall back into the pattern of a class society.
Conservatives have it completely backwards. Freedom is the path to greater social justice. By straying from freedom, America is devolving into a class society.