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The dangerous boredom of the rich.



WHY DOES SUPER-wealthy Bill Gates take such an interest in getting the whole world vaccinated?

Why does super-wealthy George Soros fund numerous organisations around the world that call for open borders, thus enabling the dissolution of nation states, including the United States?

Why does wealthy Tony Blair keep floating around promoting universal religious understanding, dispensing his wisdom on various matters and recently lecturing us on the need for vaccine passports?

Is it because they really, really, really care about people?

I doubt it. I think it’s because they’re bored.

Their wealth has liberated them from the annoying constraints the rest of us have to endure — paying bills, keeping the house warm, travelling on public transport, traipsing to the supermarket and so on. But it has also given their innate seething vanity untrammelled freedom to manifest itself around the world and influence those in power. And in the case of Blair, it is because (I think) he is actually evil.

This combination of wealth and boredom is poisonous. It is most dangerous not when it leads to individual debauchery and selfish hedonism but when it provokes the owner to acts of public virtue. “Look at me,” they say, “wealthy beyond the dreams of most I may be, but I still have a heart that beats with compassion. Look on my works, ye lowly, and praise me.”

The wealthy man who portrays himself as a philanthropist intent on making the world a better place is obviously up to no good.

The wealthy man who portrays himself as a philanthropist intent on making the world a better place is obviously up to no good. Better that he waste his fortune on whores, horses and drink, as so many eighteenth- and nineteenth-century aristocrats used to do, or squander his estate on madcap schemes, than that he should be meddling with the lives of millions without their consent.

You can understand why some politicians turn out like this. Most politics is driven by boredom, by people who are ambitious but bored. Most western politicians believe in nothing except their own careers, and have no real major social problems to deal with, whatever they say publicly. The existence of poverty and crime is ineradicable and intractable. The policies put forward by politicians over the decades seem to have had no ameliorating effect — in fact, the opposite. The existence of poverty and corruption in developing countries is also intractable, despite the decades of foreign aid. But western politicians, charities and NGOs are in love with the fantasy of themselves as beneficent redeemers. They’re bored as well. Some of them can even make a living out of avoiding their boredom by becoming secular saints.

The same goes for sportspeople and entertainers. They secretly realise the source of their wealth and fame is frivolous. Regurgitating cliches about racism and sexism is a cost-free way of appearing serious and philanthropic without them having to sacrifice any of their own wealth.

Occasionally a politician, for instance, may do something that genuinely helps humanity. George W. Bush was smart enough to sucker Tony Blair into helping him with his pointless wars in the Middle East (the eternal graveyard of western good intentions), but at least while President he oversaw the PEPFOR project (the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), which seems to have helped millions of people in Africa in the fight against AIDS and malaria. Acknowledgement of this project has been grudging but you won’t have seen Bush parading himself in the media as a saviour. Blair, on the other hand, became official envoy of the Middle East Quartet for eight years, during which time he made various public announcements but produced no visible results.

Is George Bush bored? I have no idea. If he is then he’s not making a song and dance out of it to the world at large. As for Bill Gates, I’m grateful to him for developing the software that has radically changed our lives — except for the abomination that was Vista — but I don’t want him trying to get me injected with a still-experimental vaccine.

I’m not grateful to George Soros for anything — he broke the Bank of England back in the eighties, of course, when British politicians were so bored they took the pound into the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and crashed the economy. I’m not a fan of open borders, either.

The upshot of this is simple: I have no problem with wealthy people squandering their children’s inheritances on frivolities, I just don’t want them interfering with my life because they’re bored.

suxcoverCurrente Calamo columnist, poet and writer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire. A Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Lincoln University (2005 – 2008), his poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent book is Albion Days (perennisperegrinator press). Sucks to Your Revolution is a collection of his Fortnightly columns.

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