In the general theories about how we are and how we might improve, there are two ideas which often arise. One is Meritocracy and the other is Egalitarianism. They are in my view very distinct from each other. Easier to think of meritocracy as the idea that suggests a good society is built upon allowing everyone to have an even chance to rise in the social ranks through process of competing with each other. It's nice and it's pretty. And easier to think of egalitarianism as giving everyone a chance to do their best and be rewarded by society for doing their best. It's also nice and pretty. One of the problems with meritocracy is the extent to which the opportunity to rise to the top means a winner take all type competition, and to win individuals have to devoted themselves to the activities of winning to such a degree that much of the world and its wonder is lost to them as they crawl their way upwards. Whether it's meritorious or not, one result to society is elites that possess a blinkered single mindedness of purpose that trickles down, kind of like mustard gas.
So in a meritocracy everyone gets their chance, and the question is to do what? The answer to the question, is they get their chance to devote their being to a competition that rewards winners, and even in sporting activities you'll find that quite often winners will, shall we say cheat, which means in a good society, and I'll repeat that, in a good society, one that values uprightness and decency, they don't actually deserve to get to the top of their calling. One of the problems with egalitarianism is that by rewarding and valuing people for doing their best, there's always a suspicion that this or that person is only pretending to do their best and this is especially apparent within the employment relationship, where employers have discovered that in the interest of profitability less powerful people can always be made to devote themselves more fully to particularly blinkered single mindedness of purpose or lose their value to society. Indeed, I'd argue that cream rises to the top, if it scratches and claws its way to the top it's not really cream.