One of the main things that, for me, made me doubt and abandon the conservative politics of my high school days, was the fact this just didn't seem true. There were too many luck factors out there to believe that economic advantage is the product of personal merit. I heard about a study that showed that, in today's America, the biggest determinant of your economic success is how wealthy your parents were.
Part of what may be at the bottom of some of this is the Reagan idea that when the government is helpful to disadvantaged persons, it undermines human self-reliance and creates "welfare queens." I think conservatives have the idea that markets are meritocratic, that they distribute in accordance with what people deserve, or at least approximately. Therefore, when the government acts to help people lower down the economic totem pole at the expense of the people higher up, the government takes money from people who deserve it and give it to people who don't deserve it.
Is there something more plausible than this for conservatives to say?