Meritocracy is at its coolest when you're at its upper echelons. You might have seen an unemployed MA reading Pynchon at the subway, but you won't see them reading Ayn Rand.(Not that I support Ayn Rand's sprawling system that touches things she doesn't really understand).
Meritocracy is at its most fun when you're on the rise, and it supports your hungry ego in its need to negotiate your boundaries and privileges. It's possible that meritocracy is at its least pleasant when you're on your way down, but isn't it at least a thread by which to organize the narrative of your fall?
There are theorems to support meritocracies as an optimal social system. But then there's fear and flutter, and even at the top of your game you may just slip so fast, you lose the thread between belonging and performance.
And that's the problem with unrestrained capitalism. People fuck up. For no reason other that they're at the bottom of their souls and by no fault of their own, fucked up.