The Myth of ‘Build Back Better’, by the Zman

Building back better generally means tearing down what you have and replacing it with something worse. From the Zman at takimag.com:

On the night of June 19, a fire broke out in some of the shops near the Circus Maximus in Rome. The fire quickly got out of control and burned for six days, before it was brought under control. Then another fire started and it burned for another three days, destroying two-thirds of Rome. The emperor Nero, after assessing the damage, addressed the people and said, “We will build back better.”

That’s not true, of course. Nero would not have been so ridiculous, for fear the people would revolt. Like our modern tyrants, though, he conveniently had elaborate plans ready just in case things suddenly needed rebuilding. He rebuilt much of the city in the Greek style and built a massive new palace for himself. One of the features of his new palace was a 35-meter statue of himself called Colossus Neronis.

If the phrase “build back better” rings a bell, it should. It has become a strange slogan for the global political class. Joe Biden has a section on his campaign website labeled Build Back Better. In addition to the normal political rhetoric lies the claim that “this is the moment to imagine and build a new American economy for our families and the next generation.” Nero would have agreed.

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern used the slogan in her successful reelection campaign. “We will build back better from the COVID crisis,” she said during her victory speech. The fact that all of the damage done to New Zealand during the COVID panic was due to her dictatorial polices was not mentioned. Again, Nero would have agreed with her decision on that point.

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4 responses to “The Myth of ‘Build Back Better’, by the Zman

  1. Yeah – build back better – for whom?

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  2. I think most people in Western societies have been relatively content with our system in contrast to all the autocratic alternatives. Trouble seems to be that the people at the top were/are not content with enjoying their privilege over a society were most people are reasonably well off, but constantly wish to make themselves better off at everyone else’s expense. Perhaps elite people migrating in from autocracies magnify and normalise this feudal mind-set?

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  3. UK universities are now starting to examine the effect of strong lobbying groups from foreign students actively seeking to undermine free speech and introduce partisan politics from their countries of origin to the detriment of impartial academic activity.

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