Viewed from the perspective of an ex ante commitment to meritocracy, these all look like giant bugs in the system. But I think they’re actually features of a healthy ecosystem. Ability and hard work and good judgment are more-or-less rewarded in an all-things-equal sense such that it makes sense for people to try to do a good job, but it’s just obvious that a hazy veil of contingency hands over the whole thing. Wall Street, by contrast, has done the best job of any American sector at ensuring that meritocratic values are upheld. By definition, the people who are “the best” at financial manipulation are the people who make the most money. It’s a total disaster, but it’s very much a meritocratic one.