Macron, Scholz, and inequality

During a walk along the Thames by Iffley Lock just now, I listened to the New Year’s speeches of the leaders of France and Germany, Emanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz. I loved both addresses. How reasonable, reassuring, and upbeat! Both Macron and Scholz had the same message: our country will be strong, for we will remain united.

This put me in mind of reflections I’ve had on walks in other, less salubrious neighbourhoods. You find yourself wondering, why does this guy in the scruffy clothes who just parked illegally look a little fishy, and why doesn’t everybody follow the rules? If you’re me, you see the answer to that question pretty fast. The explanation is that those of us who are winners, broadly speaking, have everything to gain from the system, so we generally support it. Those less lucky, gaining less, may not see the point of following the rules so scrupulously. The more extreme the inequality, the more dangerous this gets.

And thus we see why Macron and Scholz had the same common theme. As the elected leaders of their countries, they are the ultimate beneficiaries of the system. Of course they will tell us we should remain united. And I must add: they are right.

[3 January 2022]