Until this morning, few people in Britain will have heard of the works of Wilfredo Pareto (1848-1923). Now, thanks to prime ministerial recommendation, his name is suddenly on everyone’s lips. Maybe he was even the inspiration for the name of Boris Johnson’s one-year-old son.
But was it good idea to raise the memory of the Italian economist and political philosopher? Pareto, apparently, is the inspiration behind the whole idea of ‘levelling up’. The slogan, implied the PM, is derived from the concept of ‘Pareto Improvements’ — improvements, he said, which can raise the quality of one person’s existence without afflicting the wellbeing of another. Johnson is saying, in other words, that public policy is not a zero-sum game.