It is said that many a true word is spoken in jest and when it comes to the Prime Minister it is probably true. He lies so much of the time it is very hard to tell the wrong from right. Harry S Truman once said of Richard Nixon ‘He can lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, and if he ever caught himself telling the truth, he’d lie just to keep his hand in.’ With Johnson you need to look when he is joking to find what he really means.
So we can believe him when he said ‘The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed, my friends.’ He claimed what was an obvious joke, in reference to the film Wall Street, and retracted it very quickly. But the truth will out Gekko style, Johnson believes that greed is good for the country.
He is wrong. The world cannot sustain greedy people, let alone a greedy country. We can’t keep taking more than our fair share, be it vaccines, energy, wealth or any of the resources needed to keep us alive. We can’t leave our mess lying about expecting others to sort it out.
If the world is ever to turn away from the climate change abyss then over consumers need to consume less. Greedy people need to be more abstemious. Those that take more than they need should be frowned upon rather than revered. It needs to be cool to be frugal.
As Naomi Klein put it in her book ‘This changes everything’, it is clear ‘that we are not apart from nature but of it.’ In this Petri dish in which we live, there will only ever be a finite amount to go around. By taking more it means that others must have less and must suffer for the lifestyles we lead.
It is not possible that everyone will be equal and there will always be some discrepancy between consumption by individuals but we should not encourage greed.
In truth, the greed of which he spoke has led to some countries having more vaccines than they could use while others have none. Johnson, joking or not, should know better.
Greed is bad, after all it is number two in the list of the seven deadly sins.