What is the exact percentage of meritocracy present in capitalism?
Its a malformed question. The USA is a capitalist free market economy. Norway is a capitalist free market economy. But these two economies are far from equal. They differ in size, they differ in what they import and export, theyre shaped in that way by the culture and people and resources of the land. They differ in laws and regulations on labor, wages, unions, monopolization, debt, trading, hiring, etc to a tremendous degree.
So is "capitalism" a meritocracy? It really doesnt make sense to frame it at that level. You really gotta compare systems to each other under the economic philosophy and structure of capitalism. You could also say capitalism compared to other general descriptions of other economic systems is a meritocracy. For example authoritarian communism such that it assigns occupations is less of a meritocracy than any general conception of capitalism.
And beyond that I dont know how you'd measure such a metric in a percentage. Unless it was something like, what percentage of american citizens experience a pay raise or promotion in their lifetime. Or something like that. Then maybe youd have a number.
Speaking more to the general topic the US economy is a weak meritocracy. Its a meritocracy with unequal opportunity. A race where every person technically has the same racetrack but everyone starts at different starting lines. I think that's pretty obvious. Yes I do believe any person no matter how low they start can work hard enough to sustain a living. Every person no matter how destitute does have the resources via the state and their own physical and mental ability to carve out a BASIC lower class paycheck to paycheck life (barring any severe physical or mental trauma of course).
Its clear that there are classes. And opportunity and level of meritocracy are different depending on your class. The poor are fighting over different resources and opportunities than the middle class are and the rich are.
A middle class person can easily recognize the difference in merit and opportunity between themselves and a poor person. However two middle class people cannot easily recognize such a difference in eachother. The barriers preventing them from becoming rich are seen as equal.
The lower you start the more exponentially harder you must work to climb the system. If you start poor it will take you likely your whole life of work to get to the middle class. If youre middle class it will take you your entire working career to maybe reach the top 10-5% if youre lucky. But for the rich you start at the end of the race. You are born at the finishline. You have to do 0 hours of work to attain wealth. Unless youre unhappy with your wealth and want even more wealth. But the way in which youre going to go about attaining that wealth is vastly different than the middle class person.
The middle class person is going to go to college or a trade school. Study hard, get a job or apprenticeship, work hard, take loads of overtime, suck up to the boss, get a promotion, work even harder, skip out on having kids or skip out on seeing them much, save money and be frugal with spending, outwit and outcompete dozens of other applicants and coworkers, and then emerge as the manager or high level employee somewhere making a nice 6 figure salary.
The rich person having already been born rich goes to the best schools for free and graduates with 0 debt. So he doesnt get set back 20 years paying off loans like the middle class person did. In fact he doesnt even have 0 debt because he paid it off with his parents money, he has 0 debt because the University of Columbia didnt even charge him for admission. Because his parents are well-known alumni.
So he gets a free ride to the best school and graduates with Cs and a couple Bs. His mediocre grades and high level connections get him a high level position on the board of one of his dad's company or his dad's friend's company. He makes a 6 figure salary day one. On his 25th birthday he cashes in the multimillion dollar bonds that his family and friends have set aside for him since he was born and he buys a house 3 times bigger than the middle class person's house. By age 40 he's been given 14 pay raises (even on the year where he made an illegal business decision that lost thousands of customers money and important services) and retires. He takes his multimillion dollar fortune and puts it in a hedge fund portfolio managed by his own private manager. He does almost no work whatsoever as his money makes money for him. He lives off the interest alone for the rest of his life and passes the money on to his children who will repeat the cycle.
Sure this is an exaggeration. but the thing is, its only a small one. This is pretty much how it works. The money is trickling up and staying up. And its clear that the rules are different depending on who you are.
The USA is a capitalist free market economy. Norway is a capitalist free market economy.
The US is not a free market economy, I'm not sure such a thing has ever existed. America is a plutocracy, Norway is a social democracy. In case you don't know, a plutocracy is when a handful of bankers, investors and CEOs have the government by the balls and rig everything for their benefit and social democracy is highly regulated capitalism with a lot of social welfare and public programs.
This is technically an oxymoron since communism itself has no state to begin with. If you mean early-stage Marxian socialism in which the communist party which should be in charge of gradually creating communism has degenerated into a bureaucratic dictatorship, it's a valid point though.
Everything else you said is perfectly valid.
The US is not a free market economy, I'm not sure such a thing has ever existed.
I'll go even further than that. It's a complete contradiction in terms. The entire basis of a market economy is that nothing should be free, including operating within the market. To operate in the market you have to be able to afford to pay a multitude of overheads, including wages, rent, advertising, packaging, taxes and marketing.
As various scholars have pointed out throughout the years, the real problem is that -- to a large extent -- the ruling class controls language. They are able to make terrible ideas sound marvellous and then market them to the masses.