While The Rich Get Richer …

Yesterday saw the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  Timely issues like the war and Covid will be discussed, alongside perennial threats such as climate change and cybersecurity.

Needless to say, Ukraine will be at the top of the list for discussion topics this year, as it should be, and Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy gave a virtual address to those present earlier today.  But other topics are on the agenda as well:  the post-pandemic recovery, tackling climate change, the future of work, accelerating stakeholder capitalism and harnessing new technologies.  I would suggest they turn their attention more toward the worldwide wealth/poverty crisis.  A few facts for your perusal …

  • The fortunes of food and energy billionaires have grown by $453 billion over the past two years owing to soaring energy and commodity prices during the pandemic and Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine
  • Spiraling global food prices helped create “62 new food billionaires” in just 24 months.
  • Cargill, which is one of the world’s largest food traders, now counts 12 family members as billionaires, up from eight before the pandemic. The Cargill family, along with three other companies, controls 70% of the global agricultural market.
  • Food prices, which are up more than 30% over the past year on average, are likely to push more than 263 million more people into acute poverty than before the pandemic. That would take the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day to 860 million by the end of the year. That is equivalent to the populations of the UK, France, Germany, and Spain combined.
  • Billionaires’ combined wealth stands at $12.7 trillion, according to Forbes magazine’s ranking on the super-rich. That is the equivalent to 13.9% of global GDP, and a threefold increase from 2000. The fortunes of the richest 20 billionaires are greater than the entire GDP of sub-Saharan Africa.

The stated purpose of the World Economic Forum is “… to bring together decision-makers from across society to work on projects and initiatives that make a real difference. Through collaboration between stakeholders with varied perspectives, our projects deliver concrete and sustainable results and make a positive impact at all levels of society.”

While I do not doubt that some of those leaders and decision makers are in Davos with the best of intentions, I very much doubt that any real help will come to those who are struggling for their very survival.  Why?  In part because even the founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, has come to realize that the world he once believed could exist with cooperation among nations, simply isn’t happening.  Says political scientist Ian Bremmer …

“I think this will be the first World Economic Forum where Klaus himself does not believe that it is a Western-led world and that the rest of the countries are just going to align toward it. I think he gets it.”

Yet another part of the reason for my skepticism is the atmosphere that surrounds the event in Davos.  It seems to be a haven for the wealthy, days of sipping champagne and, as Mr. Bremmer says …

“… five days of making as much money as they can because they’re masters of the universe and they’re seeing other masters of the universe and they’re meeting every 30 minutes and getting deals done.”

As I sat writing notes for this post at about 2:00 this morning, munching on a few tortilla crisps, sipping a cup of fresh-brewed coffee, I realized just how lucky I am … and everyone reading this blog is … that while we may groan and moan about rising prices, we can still afford to keep a roof over our heads, the lights on, and food on the table.  Millions, if not billions of people around the globe are not able to do that.

Nellie Kumambala, a primary schoolteacher who lives in Lumbadzi, Malawi, with her husband, two children and her mother, said:

“Prices have risen so much, even since last month. Two litres of cooking oil, last month was 2,600 kwacha, now it is 7,500. Imagine. Yesterday I went to the shop to buy cooking oil, but I failed, I did not have the money. Every day I worry about how I will feed the household, thinking to myself, ‘What should I do today so we can eat?’”

Here in the U.S., gasoline prices are high and food prices are on the rise.  At least half of the people in this nation blame President Biden, for they have been told by their mentors on Fox ‘News’ that anything and everything that goes wrong must be Biden’s fault and they are too lazy or too uneducated to seek real answers.  But the reality is that fuel and food prices are high, not because of anything President Biden has or hasn’t done, but because the wealthy bastards who run the oil and food companies saw an opportunity to stick it to we the consumers, and they grabbed that golden ring, increasing their own profits astronomically while hurting the other 99% of us, particularly the lower economic families.

The development charity Oxfam called on world leaders meeting at Davos to immediately introduce wealth taxes on the super-rich to help tackle “the biggest increase in extreme poverty in over 20 years”.  While I fully agree … I think the wealthy should be taxed to the nines, be made to pay back for all the years they have gotten by with murder, paying no taxes while others starved to death … I am enough of a realist to know that it won’t happen.  Not today, not tomorrow, not next year, and probably not in 20 years, if the human species survives that long.  So, while I think the premise behind the World Economic Forum is a good one, I also think it’s pie-in-the-sky, unachievable, for the wealthy are greedy, arrogant creatures who would happily sip their champagne while the world burns around them.

17 thoughts on “While The Rich Get Richer …

  1. Who is that long nosed male with the money bags meant to represent?
    Why are unaccountable, unelected world shakers, flying into Davos in jets and helicopters and huddling under cover to decide our future? Do they know we have zoom?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. if the premise of this body is so noble, why do they detain some journalists and not allow them to film as in the following example?
    Like they say, if you’re not guilty of anything, you don’t need to hide.
    Would you be outraged if the CPAC didn’t allow journalists to film their conference? If so, and I believe you would be, is it not necessary to be outraged at any group who expressly forbids certain journalists from filming?
    What about transparency and the right for people to know? is that not vital?


    • First, I said the premise was noble, not the reality of it. And … Grease Monkey Videos??? Really, Scott? At least don’t insult my intelligence, but find something legitimate if you’re going to post a video here.


  3. “Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine”
    Errm, beg to differ. Putin – which is a wrong terminology in itself, only the most biased, narrow-minded unempathic people use it – isn’t responsible for the West cutting off their own supply routes. The Russians didn’t stop Nordstream 2 or production and sales of any other resources. In Odessa harbour are now over 40 freighters, fully loaded with grain, waiting for permission to leave. The Russians even cleared some shipping routes off Ukrainian mines … just Zelensky … uh, the Ukraine, on Washington’s orders, refuses to let them go. 😦 And that’s not only food the world urgently needs but also money the Ukraine needs.
    So the West will now not only freeze in the next winter but starve as well. Just so they can say “Take that, Putin!”
    And there you have another reason for why the rich are getting richer. 😐

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess that makes me among the most biased, narrow-minded and unempathetic of people, then, for as I see it, Putin started a war against an independent nation simply to gain more power, more territory for his ’empire’. You and I will never agree on this, so I’ll just leave it at that, for I don’t enjoy arguing.

      Liked by 2 people

        • I think somewhere around 80% of the world would disagree with you 😉 Most people, at least in western nations, believe as I do, that Putin is evil from inside to out. Now … enough. How’s the new puppy doing?


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  6. I think Davos attendees go there now as a thing to do, to read the tea leaves and ensure their fortunes and futures are not upset. Few billionaires care beyond their own nose. They sniff and bestow a few token charities to assuage the thin complaints their conscience might register, knowing that they’ll not starve, not really caring if others do. Cynical? Sure. But how long has Davos been going on? What has changed? As Rutger Bregman cited, how many of those billionaires and leaders present escape paying taxes and sabotage tax laws and political processes to ensure they never will.

    The World Economic Forum — yes, its name has changed through the half-century it’s been going on — means nothing to me. Nothing. It’s just the rich and the powerful exercising some PR.

    Hugs and cheers, my friend. Those words are worth more than you’ll realize from Davos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I’m inclined to agree with you. I think the founder has good intentions, but … I think very few billionaires possess a conscience. Sigh. Hugs ‘n cheers to you too, dear Michael, and yes … those words have great value to me.

      Liked by 1 person

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