Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Toffs- What They're Good For And What They're Not

I don't have anything against inherited wealth. It frees people up. And sometimes they use it to do worthwhile, interesting and public spirited things. It also nurtures eccentricity .I don't regret the lives of people like William Beckford- builder of weird buildings and writer of weird novels- or Alexander Keillor, the marmalade king, who excavated and restored the Avebury stone circles. The world owes a great debt to men and women of private means. Money that's easy come by is often generously spent- and the rest of us benefit in all sorts of unexpected ways.

But there's this to be said against it. Having lots of money as a matter of birthright puts a gulf between you and the rest of the world. This may translate into philosophical detachment or simple insensibility. Either may it makes you unworldly. Look at George Osborne and the way he keeps racking up fines for infringement of rules he hardly thinks apply to him. He's happy to pay them because it's only money- and money has always been there for him. Which- when you think about it- makes him the very worst sort of person to be Chancellor. If you can wave daddy's cash at every obstacle in your path it's unlikely you'll really have any sense of what money means to the folk who've had to sweat for theirs or how debilitating and nerve-jangling it is to be poor. A government of toffs is a government of innocents. They don't know what they're dealing with much of the time- which makes them soft when they're dealing with the genuinely hard (bankers for instance) and thoughtlessly cruel when they're dealing with the weak.

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