I do have to say that yes, compared to the large majority of other countries, the U.S.A. fares well as a meritocracy. China has a lot of cultural customs and economic policies that might give us a run for our merit. We're still suffering from nepotism and cronyism that, in my mind, is virtually inevitable no matter where you go. Human beings are based on their interconnectedness with other human beings. It defines our species as a distinctly social-oriented one. It's never entirely based on how much you know or the breadth of your talent. You have to actually cooperate with others, form important contacts, and utilize those contacts effectively. To get a real feeling on the necessary criteria that defines meritocracy, read Confucious.