Boris Johnson hails greed, stakes future on goodwill of rich and embraces Social Darwinism

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Boris Johnson, apparently unsatisfied with his recent hagiography of the super rich in the Daily Telegraph has displayed a quite breathtaking disconnect with the public mood. In the annual Margaret Thatcher lecture, he told Centre for Policy Studies that inequality is essential to fostering "the spirit of envy" and welcomed greed as a "valuable spur to economic activity".

He went on to espouse a theory of Social Darwinism, effectively suggesting that income inequality is down to the stupidity of the poor rather than structural flaws in the current social and economic model

“Whatever you may think of the value of IQ tests, it is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16 per cent of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2 per cent have an IQ above 130,” he said. He added that free markets involved competition between “human beings who are far from equal in raw ability”. Even if that were true, surely it’s a politicians’ job to protect those people and find policies that help level out the imbalance while maintaining economic progress. Not just consign those people to a genetic scrapheap.

Warming to his theme, he said: “I don’t believe that economic equality is possible; indeed, some measure of inequality is essential for the spirit of envy and keeping up with the Joneses and so on that it is a valuable spur to economic activity.”

It seems ironic that the 48 hours after the Pope rubbished the theory of trickle-down economics, the Mayor of London has apparently based his economic model around it.

Repeating his claim that the top 1% paid 30% of income tax, he said "That is an awful lot of schools and roads and hospitals that are being paid for by the super-rich. So why, I asked innocently, are they so despicable in the eyes of all decent British people? Surely they should be hailed like the Stakhanovites of Stalin's Russia, who half-killed themselves, in the name of the people, by mining record tonnages of coal?"

Attempting to temper his paean to greed with a rhetorical fig leaf of social justice, he only really succeeded in amplifying his extraordinary belief in the sainthood of the super rich and betrayed his absolute lack of any policy beyond trusting the rich to bless us

“I hope there is no return to that spirit of ‘Loadsamoney’ heartlessness – figuratively riffling banknotes under the noses of the homeless – and I hope that this time the Gordon Gekkos of London are conspicuous not just for their greed – valid motivator though greed may be for economic progress – as for what they give and do for the rest of the population, many of whom have experienced real falls in their incomes.”

Does he really believe that his comedy persona will offset such extraordinary statements in the long run and that an abject lack of any real policy bar trusting the benevolence of the wealthy will see him elected prime minister? Really?

Written by Cyrus Bozorgmehr - Google+ Profile - More articles by Cyrus Bozorgmehr

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