Let them starve

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The Guardian reports:

A US academic billed as David Cameron's new intellectual guru takes a Darwinian approach to economics and says it is wrong for the rich to pay higher taxes to help the less well-off.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a professor of risk engineering at New York University, attacked Barack Obama for increasing his tax bill as part of a series of anti-recessionary measures [during] …an appearance with Cameron at the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) on Tuesday.

In some of his most provocative remarks at his appearance with Cameron, the Lebanese-American academic criticised Obama for increasing his taxes as he harked back to Darwin's theory of evolution.

"I happen to do OK. I am paying more taxes," Taleb said. "How can you have evolution if those who do the right thing have to finance those who did the wrong thing? If you are making money in 2009 – that means you have a robust business in the cycle – you are paying more taxes. If you are losing money in 2009 you get a bigger tax break. It is the opposite of everything I believe in."

Worryingly:

Cameron praised Taleb and said his book had confirmed his own prejudices.

As worryingly, Cameron made clear he disagrees with Taleb on climate change, but not on tax.

So what do we infer? I suggest, first Taleb equates financial prosperity with fitness to survive i.e. wealth = talent, moral well being, good genes, etc. I find this notion utterly repulsive. I have also found not one iota of evidence to support it. It is pure accident of birth that most do, or do not have wealth. that accident of birth is locational e.g. if you are born in the UK you will almost always be richer than if born in Angola. This also utterly ignores the fact that many now wealthy got to that position entirely because of the creation of the post war welfare state.

Second I think we must infer he wishes the poor to be very, very poor – so that survival is in doubt. I presume he means that within and between countries. I call that callus indifference to the plight of humanity.

And Cameron seems to share it.

The signal is clear: he wants to cut benefits, he wants to increase the wealth gap in society, and he doesn’t care about the consequences for a great many in our society.