Inequality and the Elite (Video)

OK, sport fans, summertime’s here and the livin’ is easy. The Hamptons are filled to the brim with glitzy wannabes who have paid through the nose to be part of the scene, as is the French Riviera. The latter is a cesspool—the once fabled land that Fitzgerald based his greatest novel on, now filled to the brim with gangsters and harridans, Russian oligarchs, and Arab billionaire camel drivers posing as international playboys. It is bad enough to drive a sane mature man with normal tastes to a monastery in Mount Athos.

However, this column is not about the excesses of the unacceptably rich. It is about wealth, and how that particular condition makes reasonable men and women do and write some very silly things. Take, for example, an Englishman by the name of Trevor Nunn, Sir Trevor as he now is, knighted for directing theatrical plays—his latest called Dessert, an attack on wealthy people in general, and Jeff Bezos in particular. Nunn has often railed against the rich in the Guardian’s pages, never mentioning the fact that he is one of the richest men in Britain thanks to hits like Les Misérables and Cats.

Nunn expresses incomprehension that the man who started Amazon in his garage now has a personal fortune of 83 billion big ones. God forbid that anyone might think I am coming to the defense of that awfully good-looking chief of Amazon—I loathe the man for his invention of a business that put other businesses out of business, but I do not begrudge him for his wealth. Edison and Ford invented things that people needed, so why deny them their profits? Ditto with Bezos, despite the fact that he invented nothing, but thought up a facilitator in order to make our lives simpler—not necessarily a good thing. But let’s get back to that bum Nunn.

He professes a lack of greed because he says his success surprised him. Mark that one up with the other three biggest lies. In his play Dessert, a poster depicts a chocolate cake with the numeral five iced on it. A very small slice of the cake is inscribed with the numeral 95. Get it? The rich own a very large slice of everything, the rest of us a few crumbs. Nunn should know all about the 5%; he’s certainly part of it.

Left-wing politicians and journalists call those who wish to keep their own money greedy, but not those who want someone else’s. Something very wrong here, as the duchess said when she walked into a brothel instead of a ballroom, by mistake. Politicians and journalists are to a great extent dishonest, and picking on the rich is hardly a recent phenomenon. But lately it has become ‘de rigueur,’ as they say in the land of 1000 cheeses.

But wealth is not like a cake, it’s like a seed—it spreads itself as the waistline of those who devour too many cakes does. The question of wealth is that it breeds more wealth, and although it does result in inequality, it also results in a much wider prosperity. Just look at the facts. Since the end of the last world war, higher taxes and higher spending has been the socialist creed that has bankrupted Europe and other socialist-led South American countries. Then came Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, who proclaimed such practices the reason for less investment and less money for public spending. They preached and practiced the opposite, and both their countries flourished—Britain went from being the sick man of Europe to the second richest after Germany, which has been practicing unrestrained capitalism since 1945.

If we banned those who invent things from their just rewards, even unnecessary things like Amazon, there would be fewer inventions and we would gradually grow poorer. Just look at that woman Joy (I only saw the movie starring that beautiful Jennifer Lawrence)—she invented a mop, for God’s sake, and then she, well, if you saw the film you know the result. I don’t know if the mop story is true or a Hollywood story, but I was told that it’s based on truth. Communist countries went down the drain because of such lack of initiative. Why break your ass trying to improve things when something was coming your way— however meager—if you did absolutely nothing at all.

Inequality makes for a good story, good plays, good movies, and all that, but like most of the above, it is based on a lie— and a big fat lie at that. Inequality is the result of invention, of intelligence, and of hard work. Think of that while you’re lying somewhere in the Hamptons, or, God forbid, on the French Riviera.