It is inegalitarian in that meritocracy is inherently hierarchical, holding that some people are better than others.
Life is an obstacle race with no special provision for the law but if one competitor trips up another, the state takes cognizance of this fact; thus compensation is given only when there is negligence on one side but not on the other.
Barry seems to be criticizing the notion of distributing according to desert from a socialist or communitarian perspective, viewing desert as an atomistic holdover from a Capitalist perspective.
So, the argument proceeds, we don't deserve what our talents produce.
Moral and intellectual excellence and superior ability to perform important tasks are from a moral point of view arbitrary and must not be used as bases for differential distribution of primary goods, including economic goods, social status, or respect.
Louis Pojman[*] Justice is a constant and perpetual will to give every man his due.
The principles of law are these: to live virtuously, not to harm others, to give his due to everyone.
Nagel argues that the morally right act is to move to the city for the sake of the handicapped child, thus promoting equality rather than overall flourishing.
Robert Goodin illustrates the principle of overriding desert for need.
Goodin asserts that even if everyone has clear knowledge of the facts, it would be morally outrageous to give preferential treatment to the innocent victim.
The right to equal treatment and to having one’s needs met trumps desert.