The self-serving narratives that define concepts like Meritocracy as a self-evident expression of worthiness, rather than a fluid sort of filter that encrypts class and race based sorting in a vernier of objectivity, are the sorts of narratives that can feed themselves for decades.
The altogether radical concept that poor people are, generally, as deserving and rational as anyone else, yet also more desperate and likely to make very rational yet unfortunate choices based on those entirely transient negative conditions they live in, resulting in antisocial decisions that reinforce the negative transient conditions they live in, is a lost one. Basically it’s easier to imagine the poor as deserving their desperate conditions than accept that but for the grace of God, there go I.
The myth of Meritocracy is alluring because it tells the ruling aristocracy that not only are they worthy, but those which have not yet ascended are unworthy. We can, of course, do better. There is a tremendous amount of wasted potential out there cloaked by the circumstances of being poor and these compassion-eroding narratives: the poor don’t work hard, they’re less intelligent, they’re ultimately less deserving.
The fact is that the poor suffer from a deleterious condition which truly does affect them and their ability to learn and make decisions and it is called “being poor”, and its solution is “not being poor”. The largest, most immediate hurdle to raising the poor up is their poverty itself, a cause and not a symptom; it is not some virtuous sortation mechanism nor an insurmountable obstacle… though that latter assertion is one I’ll have to leave for later.