Tuesday 12 February 2019

Soak the rich

Hey folks, it's Darwinday 2019, Hissonour Charles Darwin, wherever he now be, is 210 years old today. He shook the tree and rewrote the narrative and mixed the metaphors about where we came from. He wasn't the only mover-and-shaker at the time, but he was extraordinarily well connected with the pacifist-industrial complex: his Wedgwood relatives were liberal anti-slavery entrepreneurs. I used to celebrate the day by buying dozens of doughnuts which all disappeared in a bit of a feeding frenzy without anyone reflecting much on Darwin or his manifold contributions to science and society. Nowadays I make a slab of flapjacks for my work-mates at more or less random times through the year when there is less expectation of a reaction. The Irish Humanists are borrowing a lecture theatre this evening from TCD to host Dr Ian Sanders talking about Meteorites and the Birth of the Solar System. It will be a piece of work to see how he works Darwin into his presentation. Darwin had thoughts about the origin of life "if) we could conceive in some warm little pond with all sorts of ammonia & phosphoric salts,—light, heat, electricity &c present, that a protein compound was chemically formed", the origin of coral reefs and the origin of species but not so much about meteorites.

The birth of the Solar System is long long ago and we have more immediate things to worry / talk about. Did you hear Rutger Bregman's 'elephant in the room' comments about the "T word" at the World Economic Forum this year? He's an economic historian from Amsterdam and knows a bit about the differential consequences of changing the tax-regime and the dominant economic theories of The West. The World Economic Forum is an invitation only gig where the rich, famous and well-connected get to smooze with each other and compare the lengths of their philanthropic yard-sticks. They want to feel good, so they invite some articulate proles to give everyone a frisson of anxiety before they all return to their yachts and boardrooms and carry on as before. They may, in fairness, be induced to donate a bunch of money to the cause espoused by the cutest invited speaker - possibly Greta Thunberg who has gone a bit viral over her concerns on climate change; and so was a shoo-in to be invited to Davos. Davos is a quite like TED in its exclusivity: tickets for 5 days at TED cost more that ordinary people spend on food for a year.

Rutger Bregman's suggestion that we-the-people should TAX the rich (rather than deferentially waiting for them to dispense charity to people they consider deserving) has gone totes viral in the media where millionaires are a bit thinner on the ground than at Davos or TED. Here's an interview where he swats away the suggestion that high taxes for the rich are bad for economies. I'll leave it there; I don't want to start sounding all shouty.

No comments:

Post a Comment