I agree that the rich have extra opportunities, but not extra merit. They may earn merit from taking proper advantage of the extra opportunities, FDR and JFK come to mind. But there are also examples of Presidents in the USA that came from rather humble folk. I cannot think of examples from other western countries.
But may I suggest that in many other countries the position of the rich is much more institutionalized, sometimes even by a caste system.
Both my parents were immigrants and factory workers. Yet I was educated and worked for what are considered the best universities and became a millionare for awhile, only to loose it all. So in this country there is downward as well as upward mobility. Do not blame privilege if you have not been successful. BTW, I am much happier being poor. Wealth has its drawbacks.
An another subject, I am reading your posts with Hike Pearson with great interest. He is a rather recent addition to this forum compared to the rest of us, arriving just last November, and the forum has not been the same since. I noticed that he accused you of being Harv. Actually that is his MPD. He has multiple personalities on this forum- about 1/2 dozen. He has even criticized himself. But I do credit him with driving Alex out of this forum by his caustic remarks. Alex was our best physicist and we miss his breadth of knowledge. For sometime I traded caustic remarks with him, but finally found that it was getting too negative for my sensibilities. Thank you for picking up the gauntlet.
Also, I admit to being a also-ran academician. I was not quite good enough to become a professor in the schools I went to and worked for, especially in high energy physics, which along with religion and cosmology is my field of interest. I am now forcibly retired. I was trained in electromagnetics and worked primarily on space-based missile defense, which I eventually protested and was retired from the field. I went into military research for the money when it became obvious that I had not the genius needed for a professorship.